Change Yourself…Change The World.


How to Fully Love Life
September 24, 2012, 11:34 pm
Filed under: Paraguay

I love the Peace Corps because it constantly changes my perspective, and forces me to appreciate everything in my life, both big and small.

The little things- take a regular Newman’s Low-Fat Sesame Ginger salad dressing as an example. There’s a big supermarket in Asunción where, if you’re lucky, you can find the rare American food item. Paraguay is home to many fresh fruits and vegetables, but the plethora of easy-to-make food options in the United States (such as frozen meals, easy micro-wavable dinners, or sauces and spice blends) just don’t exist here. Paraguayans don’t use salad dressing (their version is plain mayonnaise over lettuce), so it’s rare to find even balsamic vinegar in the capital. But as I was recently perusing this supermarket, I stumbled upon an aisle loaded to the brim with American products- they had just gotten a giant shipment. There were Pop Tarts, Barbecue Sauce, Nutella, Kraft’s Mac and Cheese, Bugles, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, fresh ground coffee… and rows upon rows of salad dressings. Ranch dressing, Thousand Island dressing, Raspberry Vinaigrette, and yes- Sesame Ginger. Low Fat.

The American aisle at Supermercado Real exceeded my wildest dreams, and before I was even cognizant of what I was doing (or the firm promise I made to myself to only spend 10 dollars in the store on vegetables I couldn’t find in Caazapá), my shopping cart was suddenly chock full of crunchy croutons, creamy peanut butter, simmering sauces, and salad dressings. I’m not even going to disclose how much it cost, but let’s just say that I have 5 days before I get my monthly salary, and I’m down to four dollars.

But it was totally worth it. For the past few days, I’ve been in salad heaven. What a difference store-bought salad dressing makes, rather than the weird honey-lemon juice-garlic dressings I try to whip up. I have literally eaten nothing but salad for the past two days, and I’ve savored every. single. bite.

Meanwhile, a year and a half ago I would have gotten into my car, driven 5 minutes to the nearest super-market, and stared dismally at the salad-dressing aisle (yes, an entire aisle) in the United States, paralyzed by choice. Do I go for low-fat honey mustard? Fat-free french dressing? Gone all the way with bacon ranch dressing? I would’ve grabbed whatever random package I felt like without a second’s thought. Instant gratification. My mind would rapidly move onto the next want or need, and I wouldn’t truly taste or appreciate my salad that night.

Back to the present moment in Paraguay, I find it so funny how much I took these things for granted. Salad dressings, hot showers, washing machines, air conditioning, private transportation- these are all now extreme luxuries for me. When I do suddenly have access to these treasures, I wholly worship them. Taking a hot shower is a ritual. Using a hair-dryer is an rare and opulent occurrence. Living a tarantula-free existence is a dream. We’re not even fully cognizant of how fortunate we are in the United States to have these small things. It’s pretty incredible to recognize that they are not necessities, and what it means to fully appreciate them.

But while this lack of luxury items forces me to fully appreciate the little things, it also makes me realize how unnecessary they are to have a happy, fulfilling life. I am much more grateful for the big things than I have ever been before. I have everything, absolutely everything I could possibly ever want or need in my life. I have an incredible family. Wonderful friends who care about me all over the world. A job that is incredible, where I get to speak two different languages, constantly learn about myself and grow as a person, and experience a completely different culture and perspective than I’ve ever known. I have delicious food to eat, clothes on my back, and a house with literally every creature comfort imaginable. I have a spectacular education and a degree which brings so many opportunities, it is literally mind-blowing to consider.

We get so caught up in our everyday lives. I get stuck thinking about what I need to buy the next day, stressed about completing a project, or frustrated over a tiff with someone. But instead, I should marvel at all of the people that love and care about me, and the incredible opportunities I have in my life. I need to always remember to be grateful for salad dressings and sun sets.

I strive to be blissfully happy every day. Thank you, friends.

Thanks to Chris Gagne for inspiring this post.

For more inspiration, read this.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

hahaha, girl, i have that sesame-ginger dressing in my fridge right now! got it at real 2 weeks ago and have been dousing everything in it since then (who know it cooks up well with rice & lentils?) 🙂 it was my favorite purchase of the day (and i admit, i went over 200mil on that aisle alone) i love that it inspired a post. i love you!

Comment by Sybilicious

Miss you lady!!

Comment by brittanygoesglobal




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