As most of you know, I came to Chile a little over a year ago looking for something – rest, recuperation . . . perhaps a renewed purpose. I have intentionally stayed away from the “vision quest” aspect of my journey, with a few exceptions. This week, I stray back into that territory. I feel right now that my story is kind of incomplete without it.
So if you’ve no interest in vision quests or anything related, please feel free to depart now! 😉 Otherwise, you’ve been advised, and I welcome you.
Back in October, I accepted an online position with a tax preparation company, specifically serving American expats. My job is essentially to be an administrative assistant for an accountant. I organize and prioritize the Inbox, and often, the day. It’s an intense job (as anyone who knows anything about being an aide can testify), but – it’s part-time and doesn’t require me to be in an office. I can work from anywhere (and often do). I can travel and work. I can do fun things in the middle of the day, and still get my job done. No one cares how much time I spend in the “office” because there isn’t one. No one notices if I leave early, come in late, take a long lunch or a Friday off. It’s pretty amazing. The pay is not much, but my living expenses here are not high.
Theoretically, this part-time job would also enable me time to write, to learn Spanish and have a life here in Chile. The reality as tax season picks up has been far different. The Inbox simply does not stop, and I have found it difficult to keep up. I have also found myself stressing. This is me – I can’t help it. When I have a job, I give it my all. It doesn’t matter that I’m not getting paid much. It doesn’t matter if my role is “insignificant” (though my boss and the one above have already said how much value I’ve added, and it is nice to be appreciated).
I’m also a person driven by deadlines. Knowing certain things have to happen every day drives me to complete those things. I have deadlines for work. I even have deadlines for fitness (love having a test twice a year to keep me running and lifting!). But no one is tracking my Spanish or asking me to submit writing, and so those things naturally fall off first.
But this was supposed to be my year of writing! I am supposed to be putting out blog posts and writing articles. As I sat down this morning to reflect on the first three months of the year, I am forced to admit what I already knew. I haven’t written nearly as much as I’d promised myself. And my Spanish is worse than it was five months ago.
This is not the life I envisioned.
So how do I change it? Because of course, I’ve never been one to take things sitting down. 😉 I am the one who quit her life a year ago and moved to a foreign country where she didn’t speak the language.
The short answer is – I’m not sure. The longer answer is – changing the way I approach my day.
I need the job, at least for now. It covers my living expenses here. It’s also a good job. The people are great; the online aspect is great, and it’s the most flexible job I am going to find. In the meantime, I think I want a couple of things.
First, I want to find a way to limit the amount of hours I work each day. That means I need to set weekly goals, and work on meeting them.
Second, I want to find a way to re-incorporate the things I love into my day. My writing needs not only to happen, but to include a “so what” factor. Nearly three years after MCFIO submitted its report to the Commandant for consideration, does the work we did matter anymore? I think so. But in light of events such as Marines United, the new Personnel and Studies Oversight Office (PSO) and women making inroads into previously closed units and specialties, I think there is more to tell than just the story of what we did.
Regarding my Spanish, the hardest part has been and continues to be my ability to hear what someone is saying. I am still not able to participate in a basic conversation without someone speaking extraordinarily slowly (or already knowing what they’re going to say – restaurants and grocery stores are pretty easy nowadays – thankfully!!). So, I’ve decided that I need to be able to understand my favorite show – without subtitles. I have just finished all 86 episodes of La Niña. I loved it!!! The main character is such an inspiration, and the series was binge-worthy all the way through. Who would not adore a young woman who survived the guerillas in Colombia to become a doctor, to find love, family and friends, and to recapture her life? I’m completely content to re-watch and use this to practice listening.
That’s my plan – subject change based on success or failure, and changing times. It’s turning to fall here in Chile. The weather is still warm, but the leaves are turning. I’ll be heading back to the US soon to do some work for the Marine Corps, so my plan will only have a few weeks to blossom. As always, thanks for listening. I’ll be sure to keep you updated. Abrazos y besos!
Just a few of my favorite pictures this week.