Three ways to embrace dreams?
April 24, 2010 1:27 PM   Subscribe

I have accepted a job with the United Nations and will be going to Sudan in the next eight weeks once the visa is cleared. I want to make the next couple of months as personally joyful as possible - help me work in three areas of focus I can do every day.

I want to:
1. Learn to not be bored by exercise and make it less of a habit and more of a job I do because I can enjoy it.
2. Embrace that there are situations I cannot hope to change and learn to break away from them quickly.
3. Keep the people dear to my heart in contact though I will be a world away and won't have access to any social networking except occasionally once or twice a month.
Thank you, everybody.
posted by parmanparman to Human Relations (7 answers total)
As far as #3, if they love you they'll understand. I'd send them all an email before you go telling them what's up and how important they are, and then when you DO have a chance try to send them a little something. Also, it might be hard, but everyone loves post cards. But you just have to sort of accept that your relationships on them will be put on hold while you're in the Sudan (but the nice thing about good relationships is that you usually can pick up where you left off without a problem, at least with the people who really matter).

8 weeks isn't as long as you think. It'll probably be hard and trying to tough, but you're coming back. The people you love will still be there.

As far as #2, I think that this is what the Sudan is going to start teaching you. I don't think you can really learn that except through experience. Maybe practice meditation excercises? Focus on perspective? Anything that can let you detach from stressors and things that weigh on you. I feel that sort of compartmentalization is the only way to manage such unmanageable suffering.

#1 is something I need to do myself >_<
posted by wooh at 1:57 PM on April 24, 2010

Regarding #3, I found when living abroad last year, that having lots of photos around, and a notebook full of messages that my friends had written me helped on my end, and sending regular written correspondence back, whether that was a letter if I had a lot to say, or a (post)card if I just wanted to make contact, helped with staying in touch.

I also came to terms with the fact that not every friendship works long distance, and learnt to especially value those that did.
posted by ellieBOA at 1:58 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

I also came to terms with the fact that not every friendship works long distance, and learnt to especially value those that did.
This is so very true.
posted by wooh at 2:04 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

tai chi - learn it now in an intensive course. it will help and act as a meditative centering device which will be of much use once you're in the field.

also go through the resources on and, if only for hte insights on what its like in random parts of the world, I also find this blog to have deeper insights, Observations from Rural Africa

start a blog that you can update by email like posterous, you will find yourself needing to share the angst at night when it comes upon you but capture the good times now with photos and stuff for you to look back at when you do have internet access
posted by infini at 3:11 PM on April 24, 2010

For #1, I would suggest trying as many different kinds of exercise during the next 8 weeks as possible, including things you might never have considered before, or things you might not have considered to be exercise. The point is to find something you really like to do first, and only afterward see if you can make it more aerobic or more weight-bearing, to make it more of an "exercise". To repeat an old saw, the best exercise is the one you will do consistently - so if that means endurance running or table tennis, as long as you do it with consistency (and at a sufficient level of intensity), then it's good exercise.

#2 there is no easy answer for. it takes practice and self reflection, and i can think of a lot of small things that can help (deep breathing, meditation) but there is no one "method" to work for everyone.

#3. People did manage to keep in touch before the days of social networking. Write to your family and friends, on paper, fold it, put it in an envelope, address it, and mail it. In fact, the UN will probably mail it for you. Bonus, writing by hand is slower for a lot of people than typing, so it may turn into an outlet for reflection, which may help with #2. And don't worry about having to send letters frequently. If you're often in the field with not a lot of access to the post, you can still write, then send a batch of accumulated letters at once. It's great fun to receive a letter in the mail that has been written over several days, almost like a journal.

Keeping a journal in general, even if you don't write much quantity wise, even if you write only occasionally, can be therapeutic, and, bonus, would be a great family archive for future generations. What better way to share with the grandkids what it was like back when their grandparent spent time working in Sudan?

Best of luck to you on your travels.
posted by leticia at 4:31 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

For paper correspondence, you can insert 2 things in one envelope.

The first letter is a personal letter for the recipient. Include things you only plan to share with that one person.

The second letter is general news that you'd write to every single person. Ask the recipient to pass that along to friends or people who'd be interested in how you're doing. Include your address on that sheet. You'll be surprised at who will write you a note from having seen the general greetings message. If you write one person at your old office, then that person can post your note in the lunchroom. It'll let people connect with you an write you the occasional card or letter. These little surprise notes are super special when you're far from home.

Good luck on your journey.
posted by 26.2 at 2:08 PM on April 25, 2010

I ended up not going due to the inability of the Sudanese to comfortably work with the UN on any level. I am going to grad school instead (for industrial and public policy). Sucks majorly that I was unable to go. I learned a lot on the journey, which I am happy about.
posted by parmanparman at 6:46 PM on September 29, 2010

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