September 26, 2010

Life Is Barely Long Enough

This guy has got me laughing out loud! I really like what he said in this short clip.

"Life is short. We don't have that much time. And it's too short to do what we feel that we have to do. It's barely long enough to do what we want to do."

Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar teaches the most popular classes at Harvard, nicknamed Happiness 101, about Positive Psychology including discussions on Mindfulness Meditation which is what I hope to study with a Fulbright Scholarship after Peace Corps. I've still got my fingers crossed on that. To see more of what Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar has to say check out his page on BigThink.

September 19, 2010

Accelerating Our Lives

Maybe it's hard for any generation to imagine what it was like to live in generations past. We live better than kings lived hundreds of years ago, but it's just another day for us. We can communicate with hundreds and thousands of people while sitting at home on our couch, we can eat food that has been flown to us from across the world, we can fly across oceans at hundreds of miles per hour or cover distances in a day that used to take months. We live in an amazing time and yet some people are still looking ahead of where we are to see where we could be.

I admire Chris Anderson and his work with the TED community, a worldwide conference-based group of incredible individuals living amazing lives. In his recent TEDTalk he spoke about crowd accelerated innovation and the idea that the internet, especially now with streaming video, is pushing humanity forward so that we now compete, learn, and share ideas at a world-class level. Before speakers were limited to small groups or, with select media, maybe hundreds of thousands of people. Now "millions of hits" on a video or website happens overnight and anyone, absolutely anyone, can be heard, watched and shared by millions of people. I know this technology has changed the way I look at Peace Corps (with this blog being a perfect example), and I believe it offers all of us an incredible chance to accelerate and innovate our own lives for the better. 

What do you think? What inspires you to live a better life and create the world as it should be?

September 13, 2010

New Life In The City

Our new apartment has really been a blessing for Tunga and I, a wonderfully large place with room for many people to sit, talk, rest, eat and play together. It has a large living room, kitchen, separated shower and bathroom and large bedroom with a wonderfully large bed. I've never had anything larger than a twin sized bed, from childhood all the way through college, so it's pretty crazy to be able to roll around and not roll off the bed.

Tunga and I spent a lot of time our first few days cleaning, rearranging things and organizing the new place how we would like it the most. Now we spend most of our time just living and relaxing, which has been really nice. I can sit in the living room writing on the computer while Tunga and her friends enjoy a nice snack around the kitchen and a Peace Corps friend takes a hot shower. This is quite a change from our relaxed countryside life in Sukhbaatar but so far it's been really wonderful and fun to experience together.

The past three weeks have been full of Peace Corps training events for our first and second year Volunteers. I was able to participate in sessions that closed Pre-Service Training for our newest Volunteers before they swore in and left for their 70+ new homes all around Mongolia, as well as help lead Mid-Service Training for our wise group of 50+ Volunteers who have just finished up their first year. It was really great to see so many new people and get to know them over the course of these few weeks. As PCVL, I will have a chance to work with them all year which I think will be a blast.

Now that all our Peace Corps trainings are over for a few months, we have started to relax a little more in the headquarters office this past week. We have a lot of work to do, but it's all great work supporting Volunteers and thinking of ways to improve our country. The capital is a huge place, very different than what my last two years have been like, but I'm excited to explore the incredible opportunities being here offers me. I'm very humbled by being PCVL and I feel very fortunate to serve all of our volunteers, staff and host country friends this year. 

September 8, 2010

The Before and The After

It feels like Peace Corps moves faster than anything in my life has ever moved. When I sit down with my Peace Corps friends and talk about arriving in Mongolia two years ago or when I think about how much has happened since I first opened that invitation packet, I become more and more confident in telling current Volunteers that it will fly by. Maybe because it has been fun, new, exciting, unbelievable and confusing or maybe because it's been unlike anything else I have ever experienced in my life... two years in Peace Corps goes by amazingly fast.

I had a wonderful dinner tonight with great friends, the first Volunteers I met and shook hands with more than 30 months ago as we flew across the ocean together to serve in Mongolia. As Judy, a wonderful Peace Corps Volunteer who I admire greatly, said tonight, "Sometimes it feels like it was yesterday and sometimes it feels like it was an eternity ago." I couldn't agree more. As I looked into the eyes of my fellow Volunteers, my friends, it's almost as if I could see both people - the before and the after. I can feel that in myself. I am the same as I was and I'm different. I'm still naive and crazy, even though I do know better now in many cases. I still eat crazy foods and don't exercise as often as I should, even though I weigh 60 pounds less than I did before Peace Corps. And I still have the same unreasonable idealism, even though I have seen more difficulties and inequities now than ever.

Maybe it feels like yesterday and an eternity ago because, at some level, there is a part of us that is still experiencing every moment as if it is the first time. Almost as if the soul doesn't experience time at all. And if there is anything that I can say about the Peace Corps Volunteers I saw tonight, and all the ones I admire, they have a lot of soul.