March 20, 2009

3/21/09 Spring = Change

Yes, spring is definitely in the air. The temperature is increasing along with the number of pickpockets targeting Westerners with fewer layers on, even one's wearing grubby Carhart's. Don't worry, they didn't get anything, guess my 'big city' radar is still working but it's a strange feeling to see the 'trap' close and you just missed getting 'caught'. But, also with the changing weather, I got my first flu bug. The Cafe was so nice to bring soup up to my room when I didn't get out of bed until after noon. Maybe it's all due to cabin fever and everyone's need to 'get out' and do something different after the 'force you back inside' kind of winters we have here. But, on a personal level, it's the perfect time to try out some positive changes.

The night before I was laid up in bed with the flu, I completely re-arranged my room which is difficult when you only have three pieces that are movable. But, in the end, it seems I've doubled the amount of free space. At least I can stretch out on the floor without bumping into things. And in an effort to get a handle on the myriad of projects I have going at any one time, I now have a 'project' board on my wall. Instead of post-it's, I have scraps of paper tacked up with 'blue-tack'. Now, every morning I can see what is the most pressing thing I need to do that day, although just the sight of the whole thing laid out can be a bit daunting.

Oops, I think I've added more to my lists.

Along with everything else, I've decided to try and change some of my work habits that just weren't healthy. Remember when I was working 24/7 in my room only coming out for class or meals, and then I moved into an office with some of the other staff. Well, that was getting to be the same 24/7 in the office and never away from work. Definitely not healthy, and sometimes not that productive. So, now I am not allowing myself to go to work until after 10 or 11. (remember I don't finish teaching until 8pm sometimes). I've kind of set up a 'personal' desk in my room and a 'work' desk in the office. And the same goes for after class at 8, no work.

That, in theory, should give me time to do 'other' things besides work. What else could there be? Well, the plan is to look at taking care of myself a little better. My morning routine is written out on paper to look like this; stretching, 20 minutes of yoga, my prostration exercise routine (that's sort of a Buddhist joke, sort of), and starting off walking in the morning after cleaning the stupa which I hope will lead into running again soon. After breakfast, it's a solid 30 minutes studying Mongolian. As it gets warmer I want to start sketching outdoors. I'm fascinated with all the shop signs that have a humorous mix of Mongolian and English. And after work, it will be time for a book and I can maybe try and learn to play my Technopipe, my electronic bagpipe.

But there are a lot of other things happening personally too. I finally got caught up with all my emails - how many people can say that! Sent letters and postcards out to very-patient friends and family. Filed my taxes although I didn't get as big of a refund as I had hoped, being so poor and all. I helped Glenda set up a tsa-tsa workshop so she can make tsa-tsa's anytime she wants (she has a commitment to make 400,000 from Lama Zopa) but we hope others will want to come down and learn too.

Our tsa-tsa space

On the work front, I definitely am not left holding an empty bag. Visitors to my English class website, jimbagsh.blogspot.com seem to be increasing every week. I finally got Roy going with his own blog for his 'Lamp of the Path' NGO, so if you want to read about the work he is doing check out LampofthePath.org. Work still goes on getting ready to launch DharmaEnglish.org sometime at the end of the month, or beginning of April. Just waiting on the first recordings from "Prince Siddhartha: The Story of Buddha" author Jon so we can set up the poscast and begin the book 'online'. With much delay, Tsetsgee and I are finally starting to rough draft the first lessons for the Beginner book (10 lessons each for three books). I still think June is too optimistic to print the first copies of 'book one' but who knows, we could experience a miracle. Sometime in April, I will complete the transition to a new curriculum, moving from rote grammar to entirely conversation for all my classes.

That's just on my work ticket. Roy left last week for a long overdue holiday and Glenda will leave next month where both of them will be at a month-long retreat in France. But I will be far from lonely. Venerable Gyatso, an Australian monk, has arrived and will be staying just down the hall from me for the next six months. He was the resident teacher here for four years and then he just finished a three year retreat. Everyone is delighted that he agreed to come back to Mongolia. And the Ani's hopefully will be regular visitors every weekend too.

And if all that isn't enough, I've added more 'work' to my schedule. Now that the Ani's are here, I can have a more formal class setup with Geshela. I printed off an English for Tibetans textbook for all three of them and now we have lively discussions with their beginning English. Baiglama, the children's program coordinator at Dolma Ling, has asked me to help her university translator's class get more English practice. So, every Saturday afternoon, I'll teach another conversational class like my Intermediate-1's. Don't worry, I'm sure I'll add more 'work' in the near future. [laugh]