I haven’t written on this blog in 7 months, and I am not surprised. I have thought about it often and realized I have left the blog unloved, perhaps looking back I can realize my lack of writing is also tied to how I am doing on some inner level along with the fact my daughter and I are still apart. I haven’t written a post about my feelings on it, and yet I think I will at some point. These past 9 months have been hard on me between work and my personal life and it has reflected in my mental and physical health.
Mentally, I am okay with no deep dive into depression, but I have waves of sadness that is normal for a mother separated by choice from her child. S is currently in the village and is having a ball and this past month I have been so thankful that she did not get stuck in a two-week lockdown with us here in Chengdu. There are always ups and downs in every decision in life and how we handle them will unfold in time. Will I have guilt in the future? Absolutely, yes. Will I have a yearning for a time I can’t replace? Absolutely. No life or path is perfect and we try to do the best we can in our circumstances.
I’ve struggled going back to a full-time job in the last year, and after talking to my friend, L, I realized that as I worked 12-hour days my dopamine took a hit and I was trying to replace it through coffee, bread, chocolate, and sugar. That caused me to gain 16kg (~35lbs) in the span of 5 months. I have struggled losing weight for the last 7 months. Always going in a cycle of losing 2-3 kg and then going right back up, because I keep relying on something to carry me through the day for energy. What I learned from my friend is when you are breastfeeding you receive a dopamine hit and as you wean your dopamine levels drop and you try to replace it.
Yesterday, I happened across a talk on Impact Theory with Dr. Andrew Huberman. “DOPAMINE DETOX: Take Back CONTROL Of Your Life & STOP LAZINESS!” you can check it out here. My takeaways were dopamine goes in waves of pleasure and pain, and the higher the pain then the higher the pleasure after. Many people confuse dopamine with the goal when actually dopamine is the motivation in seeking, and you will find more pleasure from seeking than the goal if you can retrain your brain to learn that by refraining from over-the-top excitement when a goal is achieved. By saying no more often you learn to endure a little ‘pain’ in your seeking journey in order to better enjoy the journey and eventually in my opinion the gratification after the joy of the seeking. I’m hoping the talk can help me in figuring out my dopamine better and in turn trigger me to eat better again as I learn to say no to the things I have been using to power through when I can pause instead.
But enough about dopamine. I have been busy adjusting to yet another new job and schedule this year that I was hoping would be easier by having fewer classes, but instead, they split four of the classes into a and b levels and I teach more afternoon specialty classes so I am still teaching roughly 33 classes a week. In a preschool/kindergarten, 33 short 15-30 minute classes are exhausting. I give my all for the kids in class with energy so I’m pretty drained by the end of the day.
This week is National Week and we have a one-week vacation. Honestly, I’m mad as my school did not send out a notice for what to do for national week until 6 pm on Friday after I had already conversed with a fellow foreign teacher at another school in my company that their coworker stated 3 covid tests were necessary to leave. Which meant I couldn’t leave until Sunday/Monday. And I would have to return on Friday. I read a news on an Expat news source here in Chengdu and the county where my husband is from requires 3 covid tests 3 days in a row upon arrival for outsiders, although I am married to a local, I assume that I would be required to maintain this and figured it may be a hassle. Then Saturday morning a notice in the news came out that Chengdu is doing city-wide testing and all students and teachers should be tested on Friday, October, 7th in the morning and everyone else in the afternoon and early evening. China still has this stupid makeup day rule for holidays so although we had 7 days off, we now need to work the next 7 days starting on a Saturday to make up two days from the holiday.
I’m annoyed and pissed about this, but I am trying to accept it at the moment. I know my mother-in-law has promised to come down with S at some point after my brother-in-law and sister-in-law return from herding the yaks on the summer pastures, which should be about one more month, and then there is a big prayer period for a week. I reminded my father-in-law I would like it if she came in December since it is S’s birthday, my birthday, and Christmas. I also have a week off for Christmas so we can enjoy more time together. So I am looking forward to that and thinking of what we can do. S finally likes the yak I made last year and her and her cousin, J, have been carrying it around everywhere. Perhaps I will keep myself busy with making Christmas stockings for me and Dondrup. Maybe I will make one for a friend and their child, it’s a lot of sewing, but maybe lots of little projects would be nice.
I also have been sitting on a few children’s book ideas related to Tibet and Tibetan culture based on what I know and have seen and have had a few close friends read them. Two are ready and need to be illustrated and published. One of those needs to be translated to Tibetan. There are three more in the works, two are written and need to be edited and reviewed before being ready for further steps, and the last one is an idea I need to write. My husband really liked the ideas so far and thinks I should publish number 3 first or the idea that isn’t written first before doing the others. Finding and paying illustrators will be expensive and then navigating the book publishing process will be expensive. I don’t expect to make a lot of money from it, but I hope my daughter can see more books about Tibet in English, as well as my friends with Tibetan kids. And at the same time, the books that are bilingual can be a bridge for Tibetan children to practice Tibetan and English at the same time. More than likely publishing outside of China will be easier and have a larger audience versus trying to sell the books here in China. Buying children’s books is still not common among many Tibetans here, but is changing in the cities as parents themselves are more educated and see the importance of many books.
My husband asked if the books would make money, and I said I don’t know. I don’t think that is important so much as having a book that makes them visible and able to share their culture. There are many books written in English about Chinese, Korean or Japanese culture, but very few about Tibetan culture. Education and kids are a passion of mine and I hope I can see these books get published and shared and loved by many.
This year, I haven’t achieved much of anything I set out to do, because I have struggled to adjust to not having S with me, feeling lost would be an understatement …I have become mindless at best. But I am a mother trying to do my best, and even when I am mindless I can learn and still become a good example. There is always a chance to turn around and do good.
On a positive note out of the plants I tried growing from kitchen scraps, the green onions are thriving and survived their transplantation into the dirt, the lettuce looks iffy, and the celery started doing good, but it had water rot and didn’t survive the transplant into the dirt. So I think we’ll just stick to the green onions and maybe the lettuce, if the lettuce dies, I can always try again. Perhaps the biggest lesson in life is just to keep moving forward one day at a time.