Pack up your troubles…

“If you haven’t got it by now, you don’t need it–just relax.” This advice came from a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) currently serving in Armenia. It is three weeks before my own service begins. 

Ah yes, relaxing. In preparation for Peace Corps I have variously relaxed my hair (in a failed attempt to make it low maintenance), attempted, on demand, to relax my most private parts (those Peace Corps medical checks are VERY thorough) and coaxed my digestive system into an unnatural calm. Yes,  I have completed a ten day Paltrow-approved “master cleanse”which involved gallons of  water, lime juice, maple syrup and cayenne  pepper, supplemented only by a pint or two of warm, salted water first thing each day. The aim was to unblock my internal drains and give my colon a rest. Good for the overall health, apparently, and helpful for a lifestyle reset. Of course I did it to lose weight. (I’ve been back home for two days but I can’t yet confirm how well this worked– I am staying with people who don’t have bathroom scales, so well-regulated are they, and, yes, relaxed about their steady and satisfactory poundage. Imagine…)

In Jamaica on retreat (no goat curry, no conch chowder, no jerk chicken– just a glass of water for me please),  I also worked hard at the yoga and meditation relaxing thing. It is fair to say I am not a natural. While others focus on a spot on the horizon and stand in tree pose, thinking only of the space between their vertebrae, I wobble, teeter and sometimes entirely collapse as I mentally pack and unpack my bag (s) for Armenia. Should the Scrabble come out of its carrying case? Does it make sense to bring Siracha? Can you ever have enough pairs of microfiber knickers? 

My yoga teacher, the excellent Lisa Tai gave me a Thai massage or two and tried to get my chakras aligned for two years of character-building action. Regular readers will be unsurprised to learn that my solar plexus chakra-it’s all about me and my personal power– is perhaps a little over-swelled and unhelpfully puffed up. My heart chakra on the other hand is a sore, stunted, puny, under-performing thing. I am to flow what the Hoover Dam is to the Colorado River: totally blocked. 

This said, a stay in Jamaica is relaxing, what with all that One Love and Don’t Worry carry on. Even traveling in a Toyota mini van built for 11 but carrying 24 couldn’t dent my chill factor. I wobbled when I noticed that there were no seat belts and that the driver was almost certainly stoned but a quick chorus of Could You Be Loved? and I soon stabilized. 

I also relaxed my shower schedule in an attempt to prepare for basic bathrooms and a shortage of hot water. My daughter told me I smelt disgusting yesterday and rolled down the car windows to further emphasize her point. I had missed only one shower, perhaps two. On reflection wearing Birkenstocks still damp with seawater may have contributed to the problem. Still, must pack more wet wipes…

With the exception of all-important personal hygiene items, my shopping for Peace Corps service is now done. I have now only to decide what to leave out. This weekend will be all  about the must-have and would-like-to-have-if- there’s-room piles. Can I make myself pack duct tape and twist ties and implements for eyeglass repair?  Or will a two year supply of Lancôme Genifique serve me better in the end? Should I rip the cover off the crossword book to save weight? What will I do about all those cardigans? Advice is welcome, but will not necessarily be followed…

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