November 15, 2011

Returning to Mongolia

Well, it shouldn't surprise my readers that I am returning to Mongolia. With barely enough time to let my Thanksgiving feasting digest, I'll be on a plane back to Ulaanbaatar. I will be returning to my old teaching position at Shedrup Ling Buddhist Mediation Center. The new semester should start in December. As far as I know, my contract will last until September. Not sure what will happen then, but I hoping for a change and maybe a new job (with the same organization) teaching in Erdenet, about 4 hours outside of the capital city.

My four months back home

It's been a nice stay in Kansas City, living first with my brother Mike, and then moving in with mom. It allowed me some quality time with both. And while my mother would prefer I stay close to home, she understands my wanting to help others, like the students in Mongolia.

In hindsight, I got a lot done while at home, but then a few things just didn't happen. Probably first and foremost, I decided to lose weight, and lose weight I did. To date, I've lost 42 pounds since returning state-side. My secret: don't eat. Yes, it's that simple. I ate my three meals a day, but they were all pretty small. And then exercise. I kept up my running and bodyweight exercises too.

The running has really taken off, probably partly due to the fact that I'm now 40+ pounds lighter on my feet. In October, I ran almost 150 miles for the month, including a half-marathon distance (13.1 miles). My farthest distance so far though was 15 miles. I think that doing the International Ulaanbaatar Marathon next summer is very doable now. I have to say though that I couldn't have done it without all the support and comoraderie I get on If you want to get motivated and stay motivated with others, this is the site for you.

And I've also continued to do my bodyweight exercises care of I'm amazed at how I can finally do the exercises now. Simple and quick, these are great workouts for anyone, any age. Amazing.

Biked as much as I could but wish it could have been more. To date I've put over 870 miles on the bike since I got home in August. Maybe by the time I leave, it will be close to 1000. I'll definitely miss the bike in Mongolia. But if it looks like I'll stay a long time again, I might bring it back with me next time I visit KC.

Had lots of school projects I wanted to get done but there just wasn't enough time for most of them. Thankfully, I got a lot of my textbook conversations recorded for my students. That's huge. Thank you very much Peg, my wonderful sister-in-law, and my mom's super cool next door neighbors, Holly & Jason. You guys are the greatest.

A new start in Mongolia

I've had a wonderful time back home. I really needed the break. But, I hope I also learned my lesson about my "workaholic" lifestyle. This time I will be going back trying to start fresh, and stop making the same mistakes so I can stay healthy, relaxed and happy longer. That not only benefits me, but everyone connected with me.

My plans include:

  • Work less, play more - I really was working 24/7 for the last three years. And while it was all worthwhile, it was not healthy at all. I was literally drained all the time. I can't help my students if I get like that again, at least not long term. So, I'm hoping that with a more reasonable workload, I can actually accomplish more because I'll be rested and energized, not dead tired and drained.
  • Study Mongolian every day - I want to immerse myself in the language as much as I can in my situation. That means private lessons at least 4 times a week. I'll ask Tsetsgee if she'll teach me again, but I also want a second tutor that will get me out of the center and away from work.
  • Study the morin khuur (horse head fiddle) - My students were so generous to give me a morin khuur as a going-away present back in August, and I really want to learn it both for them and myself. So, I want to start weekly lessons as soon as possible.
  • Get away from the computer - This means getting away from work. I will try to leave the computer in the classroom and use my new iPad in my room for reading and drawing. I wasn't able to read for the last 3 years but with the iPad I can check out electronic books from both the KC library and the JoCo Library. I can even buy books if I want too. Looking forward to this feature.
  • Stay healthy - I'm taking my scale to Mongolia with me so I can continue to monitor my weight. And I'll continue with my running and bodyweight exercises. If all goes well, I will enter the International Ulaanbaatar Marathon next summer. That will be a huge milestone.

At least, that's the plan. [smile]

I hope to update this blog more often too. I'm trying to look at this new year (my fourth) in Mongolia as a new start, a new beginning, and will try to see Mongolia with new eyes again. That means getting out of my classroom more and really getting to know Mongolia and the Mongolians.

PS: With this new beginning, I might also change this blog website a bit too.