Week 3: Pies

Just before departing for Washington D.C. for staging (the 1-day-welcome-to-the-peace-corps-orientation one receives just before flying to country) I told friends and family that I was going to give myself three weeks before really checking in and assessing my progress. When asked why, I tried to explain that I just wanted to create the space to struggle without judging myself, a bad habit I tend to have towards many aspects of my life. I figured if I wasn’t even allowed to judge or assess my own progress for the first three weeks it might help me just experience it.   Whenever I would start to worry about my progress, or feeling like a lack thereof, I would repeat poco a poco and remember that I would check in with myself at the end of week three.

And here I am. I just finished my third week of PST, of living with a host family in Nicaragua, of trying to learn Spanish. Time for a real check-in.

At my university, my friends and I would often check in with each other by asking how our PIES were. When we write to each other today, we still sometimes use the acronym to update each other on our Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Spiritual health. During PST, I’m hoping to personally check my PIES every three-ish weeks. I thought I’d share my first round with you:

P – Physically, PST is quite an adjustment. I’ve been eating really well, but it’s quite different from what I was accustomed to eating in the states. My diet consists mainly of rice, beans, chicken, and some vegetables and fruits scattered in the mix. As far as food goes, I’m pretty spoiled, as my host mother is a fantastic cook! My tummy is adjusting and I haven’t had any real serious gastrointestinal issues yet. I’m also adjusting to a different sleeping schedule. I wake up early as there’s always some noise going on in Nica. By 6 pm, I’m exhausted. I think my brain is just working overtime in trying to speak, listen, and learn Spanish that by the early evening I have no energy left. Last night I stayed up past 10 pm, and that was quite a feat! Slowly, but surely, my body is adjusting to the new stimuli. Three weeks in, I feel pretty good. I’ve even been working out with my training mates at least once a week.

Andrew LOVES the food my host mom cooks!

I – Intellectually I’m doing fantastic! I wish I could explain how much I’ve loved learning the past three weeks. My brain is exploding with new information. It’s way too much to possibly take in and make sense of, but I’m loving the chance to just be a student again. I have class for around 7 hours a day, then homework in Spanish and English, not to mention prepping for classes we’re now teaching at the local school, and running a youth group. I study with my site mates, Andrés, and solo almost daily. There is rarely a moment during the day where I am not studying or learning something new. I’m really proud of my progress thus far. I know so much more than I did three weeks ago! I can’t wait to see what the next three weeks brings.

Tarea (homework) Galore

E – Emotionally has been a bit harder, but overall positive. For the most part I’ve been too busy to be emotional. I’ve waivered between stress and excitement, joy and sadness–the typical ups and downs of living in a new place. I’d be lying if I said I’ve not felt sad, scared, or homesick, but those feelings are rare and a natural part of transitioning. Being separated from my spouse is annoying, but OK. Missing family/friends in the states is a reality for the next 2+ years, but our Nica host families are incredible and we’re beginning to make friendships here that have the potential to be life-long. The majority of the time I’ve been embracing this new experience as the positive, exciting, and tremendous opportunity it is!

Mi sobrina, Alejandra and her hijo, Diego

S – Spiritually, I’ve been seeking balance and wellbeing in the mornings, before others are up and around. I’ve been taking the time before I start my day to do a little yoga, to journal, pray, meditate, to root myself in love and light. It’s helped me shed any frustration or sadness from the previous day and embrace the new day with all it has to offer. It’s helped me not become overwhelmed with how much there is for me to learn. Instead, I greet each day ready for the opportunity to learn and grow in ways I never knew were possible. These practices have helped my other areas of wellbeing too: managing my emotions, allowing me to enjoy my intellectual challenges, and physical movement though yoga. That hour or two in the mornings I use to take care of myself is incredibly important for not becoming burnt out or overwhelmed.

Who needs books when you can write your own story?

May I be able to set aside self-judgment and worry for the next three weeks until I check in with myself again. May the next three weeks be physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually growth-oriented. And may you also take the opportunity to check in with yourself and see where you can find more wholeness and light in your own life.

I’d love to hear how you are doing.  What are your PIES?  Write them in the comments below.


10 thoughts on “Week 3: Pies”

  1. Love to hear from you sister!!!!!! I am so impressed with how you (and Andrew) have been able to remain so positive and optimistic in the midst of so much stress and transition when I struggle to do so in my normal everyday life. I also love the idea of PIES and want to start using it to check in with myself more often and my friends too!

    1. Awesome, Ryan! You totally should 🙂 To start, you could write one right now and email/FB it to us so we could check in with you and see how you are.

      P.S. Being optimistic and positive is definitely a good place to be, but make sure to be gentle with yourself if you’re not having optimistic or positive days. When we’re feeling down the last thing we need is someone (ourselves) to tell us we’re bad for feeling down, ya hear me?

      1. Totally hear ya, that is definitely something that i am really struggling with. Because i know that i cant always be happy, but I at least want to always be positive about it. Maybe that is not reality though. Not judging myself or my emotions no matter what they are though is something that i struggle with for sure. Il totally email y’all! Love and miss you so much!

  2. Thanks Emily for the great idea of the “PIES”. That reminds me don’t you owe me a pie? I am so glad you are busy and getting to experience so many new and challenging things. I hope you and Andres continue to enjoy your time in Nica. I had to think for a few days about my PIES, but I think I got it.

    Physically- I am doing pretty good. I can run 18 miles in one day and 36 miles in a week. I am down to 254 pounds (38 lbs lost) and probably haven’t been this fit since my Freshman year of college. I have some little aches and pains related to running, but overall not bad.

    Intellectual- I love football season, especially since I am coaching again. I love breaking down tape and trying to figure out drills and things to get the players to execute better. I am also enjoying my new business. I love when I get to sit down with clients and hear their story and help them build budgets. I just wish that would happen more often so I could make a little more money.

    Emotionally- Things are good overall. I have some ups and downs. It has been good to get to know some new people through coaching football. From time to time I get down because of the state of my business or family situations.

    Spiritually- I need to work on this some. Due to the busy fall schedule, and the many things I do at church it sometimes feels like I am not getting all I need in this area.

    1. Thanks for sharing your PIES Doug. I’ll keep sending good energy your way as you work towards your business and dream. Keep with it. Know you have our support all the way down here. Take care and let love and light guide your way on.

  3. I love the PIES idea Emily. On my whiteboard I have a circle with the words “Mind, Body, Spirit, Community” around it to remind myself that these aspects of my life comprise my health and require attention and intention. I also am proud of you for gently reminding yourself to not judge yourself during the tough transition time. Very impressive. Here goes my PIES for the past 3 weeks (how long it has been since I’ve been back in portland):

    Physically- If I compare myself with how I felt a year ago or even 6 months ago, I am virtually healed. While I do have pain most every day, especially in the mornings, I do not feel restricted by it nor distracted by it. I have done two 1.5 hr yoga sessions at the new Circuit bouldering gym in Tigard and did not need to do barely any modifications!!! This is huge progress for me. My neck has been very sore and tight from my hours on the computer searching for jobs, but I have been lucky enough to have 2 massages since being home which have helped some. I have been playing flag football the past 2 sundays and have greatly enjoyed that, I play quarter back when it is time for a girl to be involved in the play. Today I threw a touchdown pass (also threw an interception, but followed that up with a successful pass to another girl). I’ve also gone climbing 3x since I’ve been back and have been doing 2’s (levels range from B to 9 and once you get to 4ish it seems like people start to plateau)!! I have also been volunteering at the Oregon Public House where I end up walking 3ish miles (thanks fit bit) and doing repetitive motions from cleaning and food prep. With all of this activity I am still holding up well!

    Intellectually- I’ve been reading some. Right now I’m reading Ender in Exile. I just finished reading The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson and really liked that one (thanks Bryn for letting me borrow it). This evening I decided that I am going to set time aside to really study Spanish and maybe even some norwegian. Also I want to read more scientific articles and even start writing the research paper for the OMSI kid study I helped Pappa Erik with this past year. I miss school and don’t feel totally challenged intellectually so that is why I am adding on these other tasks. I feel drained from writing cover letters and rearranging resumes, so monotonous.

    Emotionally-The first 2 weeks back home were blissful. Being back with the family and hanging out with multiple friends was so wonderful. Being back in a city surrounded by strangers was such good energy and I have enjoyed the opportunity to volunteer at so many places and do so many different activities. This past week has been harder. I’ve been waking up feeling very sad and distressed, I believe from the dreams I have which I don’t remember very well. I think the job hunt is weighing on me, but I remind myself it has only been 3 weeks and it can take a while. I really think I need to adopt some self-care activities first thing in the morning like you have been doing Emily to put myself in the right head space to embrace the day. I still am so happy to be back in Portland, but realize that my emotional health is still not completely healed and I need to compassionately care for myself.

    Spiritually- I’ve been volunteering in the Living Room again, a peer support group for homeless people with mental illness. Many of the people remember me from this past fall and are grateful to have me back. The staff is especially happy to see me again. I feel loved there and appreciated. I feel as if I have the skills to compassionately engage with the members of the Living Room and it provides spiritual fulfillment.

    Thanks for allowing me to share my PIES with you. I have a job interview on Tuesday and have put in an application for an apartment with Kate Taylor, my best friend so the next 3 weeks are promising.

    1. You sound wonderful Kari! Thank you for sharing your PIES and heart with me. I love that this blog is becoming more of a place to share and connect back and forth and not just for us to write about our adventures. We really hope to be able to foster that spirt of connection as we develop this space. I loved hearing how you’re doing and I’m so happy that you sound a bit more healthy and whole. Love ya sister.

        1. We definitely are still planning on doing that in the future. Probably once we’re already in site though, and have a little more time 🙂

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