Thank You, Crisis & Paris

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Sometimes you need to get lost in order to find yourself.

Sometimes you only figure who you really are through self-sabotage- and no, the answer is not found in the saboteur, the answer is found in the radiant being they are trying to suppress.

Sometimes you need to suffer and stew and ruminate, far more than is actually necessary given the initial pain or shock, to find the deep roots of joy that don’t depend on circumstance.

I went to Paris, thinking it would last for a year, and stayed until I got a permanent contract. I thought about buying a house, and sometimes I feel like I never want to leave.

In a way I feel like my time here has just begun since I’ve spent so much of my time here stuck in my head and not really enjoying it, but deeply loving it.

But maybe that’s what Paris was supposed to do, give me a beautiful place to be lost in, and such lovely surroundings I was forced to come out of myself.

I do believe that Paris is a moveable feast.

Joie de vivre is simply saying yes to life, to beauty all around and simple pleasures, and most of all, to loving who you really are.

Learning to love my “toomuchness”

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So I’ve been seeing a psychologist, haunted as I am by my inner saboteur, a crisis of values that won’t seem to go away, and the pressing need to make big decisions about what I want from my life. And maybe just a little peace, and a break from feeling so guilty and ashamed all the time.

One of the big questions to resolve is to figure out what the saboteur wants, and how or if it should be satisfied.

It gave me some peace to think that maybe, as she suggested, it is not worth listening to at all.

But then, I have had the feeling that if I continue to satisfy it, it has something to teach me.

Allowing myself to fully experience all this quarter life crisis and extended adolescence and sturm und drang should do something for me, hopefully catapult me higher and keep me out of the weeds for good.

It appears that I probably have ADD. It would explain many of my chronic struggles. Funny how people have responded with “me too, everyone has it,” or”that’s a thing psychologists say.”

This has made me feel, well, less guilty as well as providing a missing puzzle piece to the 2nd most pressing of life’s mysteries, “why do I fuck up all the time? ” (second only to the meaning of life).

My suspicion has been that my struggle for the meaning of life has compounded the fucking up all the time times a thousand, and that in the absence of meaning, chaos has been given the driver’s seat and life seems to be an empty circus on a gray day. Midgets on unicycles, but no audience to make it a happy place.

So anyway, my acceptance of the ADD and the idea that my mind is well suited for a(n) (erratic) hunter gatherer rather than a patient (plodding) farmer and works well a lot of the time and is great, but needs to be tended in certain ways to stop it from giving me less choices through fucking up in a not even purposefully self sabotaging way.

Which brings me back to the original point- why do I self sabotage? I would say a top reason is that I find it hard to believe in myself, in my ability to get results, to define values and have faith in something worth doing beyond results, and a revolt against the cult of utility.  It is also a protest against the fact that my values just don’t seem good enough compared to everyone else’s, and I don’t seem to be in touch with my inner desires, inner voice, or inner compass. ALl my compass can tell you is that I got a little confused somewhere along the line, I have sinned in some way, and some of the debaters in my head will tell you one thing while others will tell you something different leaving me caught in perpetual limbo and fuming internally over the fact that my thoughts are never good enough to trump others (pun not intended, but perhaps every now and then we could use a shot of his bravado). Rather than fucking up the world, I fuck myself up, and hope the world will notice I’m miserable, I guess. I always feel like there’s something wrong with me, with my view of things, and I just need to get aligned and get the bones of my psyche cracked into place to go with the program. WIth the program I”ve been socialized and raised and programmed to think is mine, but is actually what everyone else wants from me. I can never lose enough weight, enough mass of critical thinking, to please everyone, so I might as well drop through the floorboards.

Perfect all or nothing thinking. The inner critic perfectionist is who created the saboteur. The saboteur is really anything but freedom from the perfectionist, since the perfectionist seems to offer the only walls solid and strong enough against te saboteur, as well as the sketchy promises of a better future, “someday,” that are the like of addicts and abused spouses everywhere.

But I think the saboteur, and the ADD, the unintiontional sometime saboteur but mostly genius, always looking for more, and even the perfectionist, they point to something I need to learn to love about myself.

My too much ness. My larger than life ambitions. My big thinking and not enough small talk. My refusal to color inside the lines or stick to fucking type A sorority girl corporate bitch Pinterest when I can be a motherfucking mother Goddess archetypal prototype, a statue cast in my own likeness and no one else’s, a work of epic proportions, the mortal inspiration of a monument of gigantic statues and huge morals, a work not meant for the small or silver screen, and much less the tablet and the smart phone. A work of art to be lived among and in the shadow of, to inspire you all of your days, ever in the background like the Tour Eiffel or Washington Monument. A beacon raised against the sky, a burning supernova and not just a twinkly diamond. An Elizabeth Taylor, Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, Cleopatra, Eleanor of Aquitaine, not a Martha Washington, or Audrey Hepburn, Taylor Swift, or Blake Lively. Not a well behaved, blonde, thin, girlish, pretty but not gorgeous, trim, athletic, girl next door young starlet, but a powerful, influential, intense, fiery, force of nature, goddess personality both on and off the screen. Radiant in herself and not in need of limelight.

I was going to say that the too much ness was the confidence to overindulge and sin and be a little slutty and sloppy and disorganized and chaotic and gourmand, but when I started writing, it appeared I was wrong. No, my inner goddess is not a Jennifer Aniston, had her man stolen by Angelina Jolie, hot at whatever age because she eats nothing and remains America’s sweetheart and is famous for being on Friends, nor a Zooey Deschanel who is relatable and quirky with googly eyesand blunt bangs and a believable “strong fmeale lead love interest” for some socially awkward dork. No, mine is a peerless queen, fit only for a fellow force of nature, even if his is the hidden power of a coursing mountain stream hidden deep.

No less than an Old Hollywoord, Old World, Old Kingdom goddess, not a well behaved perpetual girl child, not too intimidating, who tries to stay perpetually young and innocent.

No, the power that should be me doesn’t have a dress size or a winsome cheerfulness, she is delightful, innocent as the ancient stars, mother, maiden warrior, crone, queen.

A woman in all her splendor, timeless, eternal, beautiful.

The kind of “strong” that need be enumerated no more than the tidal wives of the ocean.

A force of nature, able to launch a thousand ships without lifting a finger, to call up a tornado in a whisper.

Not amoral, no, but a little bit of an Ubermensche , having grown beyond the spiritual illnesses and petty fears of her time, not easy to characterize as good or evil according to shallow conventional mores. No, not Machievellian, but just not giving a shit. A woman who has integrated her shadow, and swallowed all its power.

Yes, this is the woman I wanto be. Not a straight A student, not a super mom, not somebody who is known for doing it or having it all. Not a person who can’t make a choice.

Mostly, just a woman, freely and unapolegetically and joyfully herself. And a little bit more.

 

 

 

The Meaning of Life- for real this time

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Yesterday night, I had a really lovely experience of feeling like a goddess. All my intelligence, strength, wisdom, curiosity, kindness, and inner and outer beauty enabled me to reflect compassion to someone in need of it, missing his adopted home and unsure of himself. He treated me like a goddess, with a flower offering he tucked behind my ear and offering me drinks in loud and raucous English speaking bars in Paris. After looking at me like I was magic, and taking my picture with the rose, he got the message I wasn’t interested romantically but still continued to treat me kindly, and I didn’t feel the need to flee home to avoid embarassment or putting myself in a delicate situation. This guy gave me a chance to feel my innate goodness, and to use my gifts and the wisdom of my experiences, if not to love and admire him in the way he wanted in the moment, at least to offer kindness and compassion.

I came home thinking about the great night I’d spent and the people I’d met, just wanting to find a way to share my joys and also the sameness I found among all the different life experiences and cultures I’d experienced in the space of a night.  The people I met gave me more compassion for my family, far away, and for myself.

This morning, I realize that this is the meaning of life- to be the goddess of compassion in my own small way. I don’t have to write a life changing memoir and sell billions of copies, I don’t have to have a blog with millions of followers, I don’t have to become a CEO or even a director of marketing, I don’t even need to become a schoolteacher then, though I think eventually I’d like to do that- as well as all the other things, maybe.

A psychic suggested I’d change jobs in the next 18 months to 2 years and that business was clearly not my calling. He also said I’d have found someone by now.

The truth is that I don’t want to be a writer isolated in my turret, I want to be in the moment, living the life of the vast majority of people, at least for now. The reason I am not a teacher, yet, is to learn about the world outside of school and take the time to better understand myself. Also I don’t know what subject I want to teach, though perhaps it comes back to my psychologist’s observation of a very  smart and accomplished man who was so humble she didn’t realize he was the convention’s keynote speaker and always made the people around him feel better.

She suggested maybe having meaning and purpose didn’t have to be any grander than that.

I’ve felt in the past few years that kindness and wanting to save the world are just a cop out, since fixing the world, if it’s even possible, would require a fair bit of brain power as wel as material power, and wanting to save the world is just what lost people do when they aren’t sure how to save themselves.

But maybe kindness and compassion are all we are here for, and the world is basically good, and we don’t need to build empires or social businesses or write bestsellers. Maybe all we have to do is live, not seeking great experiences, but allowing ourselves to find them through grace, and to reflect back all the beauty we’ve witnessed.

I wrote earlier on this blog that I wanted to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. Maybe, given the basic goodness of ourselves and the world of miracles we inhabit, all we have to do is offer compassion.

Maybe that’s the reason I’ve lot control and gone off the deep end, lost my will, lost my self control, had my ego broke up a bit, went to the other side of the ocean, and all of it.

Not Paris, not an MBA, not even a bestseller will ever come close to the feeling of really having done something good in the moment like offer compassion to a being in need of it.

And all beings need it.

Voila the meaning of life.

 

A writer who works in financial solutions…

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I think I need to stop believing in my masks, and start taking them off. Sometimes masks are good, or maybe they are our real selves- it’s hard to tell- when you pretend to be brave, and then you are, there’s nothing wrong with that it seems, and maybe eventually you realize you are really brave. On the other hand, you might not realize that you are as lovely and amazing and powerful as other see you, that you are a sham and it’s just an act.

The truth is, we need our masks not because the world will judge us, but because we are afraid of judging ourselves.

And that’s why, even though I have no plans of getting an MFA at the moment, even fhough I am not self consciously a Writer who goes to workshops and rants about the creative life and believes everyone should listen to everything I have to say, I need to own that. I need to own that I am an artist of life.

And admit that most of my problems in life come from the strss I have about coloring outside the lines, and rarely about actual external blockages or obstacles.

What I fear most, to be damn honeset, is the judgment of my family. That is the main blockage stopping me from being an artist of life.

Because I was raised to believ ethat if you color inside the lines, stick to your kind, and don’t question too much, everything will be alright. ANd if you can be a true believer in the ideology, so much the better, you are worthy, and if you do not, you are still a horrible person but at least you pass.

But if you dare to pay a bit of attention to the man behind the curtain, and say Oz is better than “home,” and stay on the other side of the looking glass, well, you think you are betterthan everyone, you are a crazy bitch, you have deserted your homeland, and you never really fit in anyone, so no wonder you’d preffer to be a freak in a place where no one expects you to fitin- no surprise at all.

And my corporate mask, it is a bit of that, but it is me too- I can bring more and more of myself to work- but I think the important thing is that I am my full self all the time, including out of work.

And that means doing things that are important to me- not just traveling, not just working out, not just getting my life in order in general- but especially creating.

The lack of creating is probably my bigges tblockage.

I’m not saing I have troubelwitht hte words when they flow. I think the bigger rporblem is not that i wnat to force them to flow, but that I hesitate to thake them seriously, hsitate to take myself serious.

I don’t let myself live the artist’s life I want, and so I tru to escape from it by fitting into molds that arent mine.

I try to deduce who I should fall in love with, which career I should do, and replace the hand of God with an algorithm.

I googl ethe answer to all my problems, instead of living the questions.

I don’t even use my own logic, I just copy and paste what I think will make people like me more and make sense to the most people when I make decisions.

And I’m done living with that.

I recognize that no man is an island and I have to get along with others.

I can’t hide from them, and I can’t just impose my will on them. No matter what I do, I am never going to be enough for some people, and I have to let that go.

Have to let that go, and let the chips fall where they may.

I can’t calculate every risk in terms of the social capital I will lose.

Ultimately I have to live for myself, according to my own values.

It will take even more courage than I”ve already used, but I’ve got more.

ANd I think when I have the courage to be myself, I will find courage to live the way I want too.

Because I deserve it.

Namaste,

MJ

 

The Adventure Begins

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I just watched Life of Pi, I am seeing a psychologist, I went back to Crossfit, I might go hiking tomorrow, and I’m excited about a recent match from an online dating site.

Life is exciting.

Yesterday, I felt tired and heavy in my bones, very disgusted with myself and all my self defeating habits, and most of all, knowing something had to change, and I could never be happy within the box that I allowed myself. A box that was a big improvement over anything I had expected, but still not enough room for mywhole soul, as boxes tend to be.

The truth is that I want to write, I want to teach, I want to adventure, I want to thrive, I want to lead. Life is so full. I also want to love and be loved, by myself and by other people.

I feel like all my so called troubles are indeed a spiritual awakaening, f no less troubling.

I told my body, who tends to be more reliable than my mind, that I could let go of all my little self sabotaging behaviors. I told myself I could let go of goals as well, as the journey will just continue on. As the guy at Crossfit said, “It doesn’t matter where you come from, all that matters is ta you start.”  Somehow not constantly measuring myself against something seems exceptionally refhreshing. I just have to keep starting, as the road doesn’t end.

Andthis is a road I wnat to walk. I don’t want to continue with my pre scripted life, which, while it might be lightyears beyond what I had previously planned, still isn’t quite working for me. Most of all, I want to change my mind. I want to be kind to myself. I want to learn to let things be, and to feel myself as part of creation rather than having to always be center stage and try to find one true and universal value applicable ot everywhere and everyone. No, I only have to live life as me, and my choices do not have to strive towards some self created avatar of perfection.

What I am most astounded by is that joy is where I am now- no matter how below zero I might feel at times, no matter how fall I feel I have fallen. I can, and do feel happy.

I suspect this was the whole point of why my subconscious dragged me down into the mud. I do hope I can get out of the mud as soon as possible, but I suggest this is ancillary to the point. Indeed, I think the whole point is that there is no scorecard, not even one I create myself.

That being said, I have felt quite frustrated, believin that my values and who I am wil continue to change at a rate that I can enver make my future self happy, and all my decisions made today will just be felt as a heavines and constraint on my fture self. A lot of my fantasies revolve alrround escape, and the idea of wiping thesate clean adn starting from zero, without constraints. THe truth is, the constraints are pretty much just in my mind, andin any event, constraints are what enable creativity. I am ready to welcome my creativity and go on the artist’s journey. I have indeed heard the call.

Before I hoped that some man would come along and be my crowning glory. Now I understand, as so succinctly put by my psychologist quoting Richard Dawkins, both genes and memes enable us to make our mark on the human race and win the evolutionary game, and I suspect I will not be happy just with passing on my genes. There would in that case be many songs that would be left inside of me unsung. And wouldn’t that be a crime against life itself.

I think my inner war between the present and the hazy, unknown, seemingly unreliable future will come to a bit of a truce, as I see that I can enjoy the moment without putting too much burden on the future, both in terms of borrowing against my future self in the idea that I can make up for all my indulgences of the moment, and also by not putting off very important things that I need to do today, like my writing, and setting up a blog. THat’s nto to say that I need to hasten anything.

Adventure comes in many forms, and it’s not only travel. In fact, it is perhaps most often not travel. If I make it on the hike tomorrow, and I do hope I do, that will be a far journey from old selves of mine, and perhaps a rapprochement with a certain part of my childhood dreamer.

I am happy, and calm, and perhpas not quite content but realizing I have and am more than enough, though it might take a bit longer for the realization to truly soak in.

THe truth is, I can do many things, but the trick is, I have to do what is true to me. THerein lies the rub in my case. This is a very fortunate problem indeed to have.

THe world will go on trying to mould me, but I also have to mould the world and make myself as I want.

Complicated.

But I can do it.

Life is good.

Namaste,

MJ

 

Out of love with love

So these days I am kind of thinking that marriage and especially babies are just a hoax of biology to get us to reproduce rather than a real vehicle for personal fulfillment or something transcendental in most cases, and that most women just settle in order to find a guy on time whereas men hold our for their dream girl but then eventually lose interest once they’ve got her.

Or not.

I feel like it’s the weakest thing in the world to be with someone, or even just to make a friend, because you are lonely. Unless you have shared values and the person meets your standards, you are selling out and settling, which seems kind of immoral to me.

Granted, I have “settled,” in terms of my job and other things in my life and it has worked out for me, so maybe I am completely wrong.

While I agree that maybe you don’t need passionate love on crack in order to be with or marry someone and that love can grow over time if you are compatible, I am completely horrified as I watch friends partner off with people who seem to completely not match their values or interests and in general, just don’t seem good enough for them.

Then again perhaps a problem successful professional women have is that they want someone who is at their level, and manbabies don’t seem to cut it.

There are a lot of manbabies.

I’m not really sure what hearts are for anymore. Maybe real, imperfect, gritty, less than perfect love and not what I see in the movies, but maybe they ar ejust there to get you to have babie ad that’s it.

Fuck your personal happiness.

As it turns out, I am having a moment where my passion for travel and new experiences in general is on the wane for a second, much as I don’t htink I could give up these things for a relationship or even a small person at this point-addiction or calling, I’m not sure, maybe just a little self respect to want to keep other sources of pleasure and fulfillment in my life, and above all, independence-

Most of all I”m just pissed off because whenever I have the inclination to settle for just a little bit, or maybe when I find some person who might really do the trick, not sure which, I have a tendency to fuck everything up, not be patient, and make things end ealrier than they might have so I don’t waste my time or let down my standards in a partner.

Being alone sometimes seems noble, as much as it is painful. But probably the reason I am still single is because the pain of loneliness as never hurt as much as the pain of disappointed love, when you realize the object of your affection is not only a flawed human, but one who is flawed in such a way you cannot on your honor continue to be with them.

What I really want, in order to fall in love, is a guarantee that I won’t be disappointed or lose which is impossible to get unless I”m having hallucinations about the person.

Fuck you, C, or rather thank you, you killed my ideal of romantic love and I realize now in retrospect you would have been just a hick to me whose rejection of me stemmed from your own emotional issues and not from some higher standard had things worked out. I knew from the minute I slept with you that it would be all or nothing at all, and I realized it would be nothing since I started chasing you and I wans’t willing to let the dream die.

The notebook love does not exist and if it does, its’ based on delusion. who the fuck restores a house for a rich bitch who chooses money over love? That said, I’m all about not giving up my lifestyle for someone who doesn’t fit me so who am I to blame her? The difference is I am avoiding falling in love with that guy, with anyone actually.

When I met my first boyfriend, I preferred his friend who had a cool, surfer vibe to him plus apparently he was third in the class. Instead I ended up with my ex boyfriend, who was literally goofing off and not providing any support to his team. I didn’t think my ex would like me since he was half asian and seemed more the type to go with a delicate lotus flower of a girl. THe day we met used to seem so romantic, but now it just seems like there was enough between us to be friends and we were horny teenagers and thought it would last forever since we were both lonely in our own way, me more than him.

My second boyfriend who is not even really worthy of the name was a guy I met when studying abroad literally off the street. He adored me at first but ithere was the red flag which you tell yourself is your own sensitivity is that you can’t easily talk about or define thestatus of the relationship.  I don’t think I ever really trusted him, and after a while to be honeset I got bored of him, until I missed him but probably just missed the companionship, and yeah wanted to believe he was more than he was.

I only was able to meet him because I let go for C for a moment, the guy who seemed to check all the boxes and I really, really liked at the time and who represented my future as I envisioned it, not as it happened.

I just talked to my best one night stand ever, who I had no illusions about but who was a gentleman throughout the whole encounter and whose company I genuinely enjoyed. He said evreything happens as it does and don’t stress, these feelings happen to everyone.

I guess the main point when I take a step back is that when I don’t rate everything as failure or success things don’t look so bad, they look like an interesting story. And many things in my life which I didn’t want at one time I actually have and love now, and many things that started out shitty and weren’t what I wanted at the time at all have actually been amazing in the longer term…

namaste friends i will keep you updated

 

 

 

Life and Death, Birth and Art

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If you gaze long enough into the abyss, the abyss will stare back at you. Nietzche

So for me it’s fair to say it’s been at least years I’ve been looking into the abyss and losing my identity. In the past few months, I’ve questioned the need to have children and a partner in this life, going so far as to go on a date with a man who explicitly was reasonably sure he didn’t want (more) children and instead would prefer a life of adventure and romance with his new companion, and even wanted to go to Japan in a few months.  All this was on line, and when I met him in real life the attraction didn’t hold, not to mention the fact that I love babies. But I was willing to entertain the thought.

I’ve also been writing about the single life and how great it really is, and marrying myself first. I’ve ben thinking a while about buying a house in Paris, but the truth is that I think I want ties and roots here and ties that bind but in the end I don’t really want to be bound, as I feel my central purpose in this life is to explore, travel, etc and I hate administration and maintenance- yes I know this would be a huge part of having kids as well, but I think it might be worth it since you would get more love and joy from the experience of them than from a house, at least for me.

I’ve been having dreams of pregnancy, not recently but from time to time I have a spate of them. I thought I was bringing into life a new lifestyle in Paris, and maybe buying an apartment and having my own little form of domestic bliss, but I think the babes might be a little harder to handle than that. In one of my dreams, it was explained to me that what was in my womb resembled a crawfish at that stage, and when the quote above came to mind, I pictured some kind of bison floating out of the void towards me. While I do hope human children are in my future, I think there might be something more along the lines of “giving birth to a new spirituality,” as a friend thought may be the case.

It feels like I”m surrounded by pregnant and wanting to be pregnant women and children. One of my best friends wants to start trying to conceive around the end of this year. Needless to say, we are trying to organize as many fun trips and everything as possible before that happens. My feelings of mortality and finiteness have also resumed themselves into realizing I have a limited time unencumbered by man or baby so I try to travel as much as I can, which as I may have mentioned above, feels like the meaning of life at times.

And sharing my adventures. It appears that even my family, who I know loves me unconditionally and everything, which is huge and not given to many, has come around to admiring my voyages if not completely understanding them especially when I share my experiences on social media. I think I could find a bit of purpose in being a travel writer, particularly one that doesn’t write for the already initiated well-traveled people.

The truth is that while i love and miss my family, I would not trade my life to be closer to them. I have in a very real way sacrificed a certain type of relationship with my family, holidays at home, etc to live a very different life than naything they ever dreamed of.The guilt I feel over this can be immense. I am trying to let the guilt go. I don’t thinkt hey are consciously trying to guilt me anymore.

As for domestic bliss, I was so, so happy ths past Easter, it was a real celebration of life. I went alone to Bilbao, took a surf lesson, saw te Guggenheim, and then I did go to church (in Spanish). I chatted with people from Uruguay and Ecaudor and ate a lot of pinxtos and a Basque treat and some fries. No chocolate bunny needed- or large family gathering, or gathering of intimate friends either.

As for the going to church thing, my beef is not with God, it is with the instiutional stuff and hierarchy. We are humans though, so I guess it’s quite normal for a divine message of peace and unconditional love to be corrupted. Also I think the wonder of Easter is more that Jesus died tan that He rose. Even if He knew He could rise again, to take on mortality is a pretty big deal. And if you believe He is really the son of God and God is all-powerful, the dying thing is more impressive than the rising, I think. Bu tthis could be because I am Catholic, or was born that way.

It’s been a big sort of mortality and other people growing up month or so. A friend who’s been engaged for a long time to her college sweetheart set a date and invited me to come, realizing I probably won’t be able to make it, a very close friend is thinking about having a baby soon, a childhood friend recently gave birth, I got added to the facebook group for my high school reunion, a lot of people are doing well and living in new cities and getting married and having kids and dogs, while a fair number actually died, with some being due to drugs. One of the guys who died was actually in some of my classes. Just goes to show that you have to treat people well while you can and you never know what will happen. Not to mention that the smoke detector went off like mad two nights in a row, completely freaking me out because I was afraid it was carbon monoxide, and I felt pretty alone though some neighbors came by to see if things were ok.

I was also moved by the Louise Bourgeoise exhibit at the Guggenheim. She created small rooms and various metaphors of woman= house to explore her memories and the role of women in society and the relationship with domesticity, the mother, etc. SHe also emigrated to New york. http://www.theartstory.org/artist-bourgeois-louise.htm

I would say thanks to her I feel less inclined to buy an apartment

So yeah, lots and lots of things to think about. but maybe not that many

time to listen to the inner voice and follow my intuition instead of my impulses and open up to joy instead of fear…

 

 

Getting good at saying no

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At this point when I go on dates, I’m not particular hopeful but just try to keep an open mind. I have a better and better idea of what I want, which of course, could go out the window if I meet the right match, I try to base my criteria on values and desired lifestyle, which seems reasonable, but I definitely date outside of that, although perhaps that is a waste of time.

What I have learned is how to say no and how to say goodbye, and when to walk away.

Thanks to my many swipes left, failed first dates, and heartbreaks, I am getting closer to myself.

Rather than constantly try to force something to work and wonder what if, I have learned it’s better to just walk away.

This was not an easy lesson, but realistically, if you don’t meet your true love at 16 or something, you are going to have to say no a lot more times than you say yes.

Here’s hoping you can “no” your way to true love- at least you’ll be open when the moment comes.

If you say no to what’s wrong you are halfway there.

Shattering the glass slipper

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Taking the escalator on the way to work one morning, catching a glimpse of blue sky on the way up, I realized-  I am a self supporting single woman, and I love my life.  I feel successful, finally.  A beautiful work in progress in my own right, complete without a significant other.  As it happens, it was also International Women’s Day, and through serendipity, I was wearing violet.

Up to that moment, I always felt there was something missing, and success somehow didn’t count unless you also had a man. Even when my personal and professional dreams came true and I moved to Paris for an exciting job, I still had the nagging suspicion that something was awry since Prince Charming hadn’t shown up. I Every spunky Disney princess finds her match, after all.

Just thinking about the prospect of remaining single, and the one who “got away,” brought up a bottomless hole of shame and guilt for all the ways I didn’t feel good enough. Surely, I thought, if I really deserved it, the universe would have found some love for me by now.

“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” Gloria Steinem

A certain wise business coached diagnosed my “Cinderella Syndrome,” and advised me to go out and make friends and live my life. I realized I needed to stop waiting, and take every trip regardless of whether I had that special someone to share it with, to make a home in my new city on my own.

Slowly, gradually, I came to realize that I do really deserve love, most importantly from myself. And I don’t need a man to complete me.

A certain business coach called me out on wanting a man to come and save me from the loneliness I felt after making a big move. She suggested I go out and make friends, and helped me become a better friend to myself.

“We have become the men we wanted to marry.” Gloria Steinem

The hero I waited my whole life to save me isn’t coming.  I had the power to break the curse of loneliness all along. No man could have replaced genuine self-fullfillment or made it any less necessary to become a friend to myself. I read somewhere about how you have to marry yourself first, and while it hasn’t been easy to be a friend to myself and never abandon my dreams, I have no regrets.

This is a truly happy, freeing ending of a lifetime of a flawed, harmful belief that my own life was not enough to be happy about. That I couldn’t be a heroine without a leading man.

For the first time, I have unlocked the tower and chosen freedom, turned my inner beast into the beauty of self knowledge rather than loving someone who made me feel like a monster. The evil stepmother, my inner critic, holds no power over me, I choose not to let myself be abused.

The most important arc of the story of my life is not about romantic love – it is about me, becoming myself.

I’m free of the myth that only love can make my life complete.

The glass slipper is shattered.

 

Chaos, Rebellion, Ambiguity…no fixed self

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The past 5 years have been insane and amazing for me. I moved to France for the first time as an English teacher, got my international MBA, saw the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China, fell into a pit of depression and loss of (self) control, moved back to France, started my job, hated it at first, and now love my life here to the point where I never want to leave and the idea of buying an apartment really makes me feel excited even though I am not sure if it is the right thing for me right now. There have been men too that have passed into and out of my life- I lost a very good friend over my disagreement over certain Black Lives Matter tactics though I more than agree that police violence is often though not always unwarranted and criminal, the man who I believed was the one who I believed shared my values and sense of humor is completely disconnected, I live in an apartment that used to house a friend (with benefits) whom I met on Tinder and whose mother I now consider like a part of my family, and my idea of Mr Right never ceases to evolve, nor have I yet caught up with him. My weight has gone up, to my great chagrin though less and less to my shame; I no longer feel like I owe the world a perfect body in order to be loved and I would never again date a guy who makes me feel ashamed for eating both halves of my chicken caesar wrap like my high school boyfriend did. Maybe I didn’t need to be eating both halves of the large wrap, but that’s besides the point. I went from going to Church nearly every Sunday and sinning a lot without believing everything is a sin to not having attended a full mass since Ash Wednesday and believing more in God’s goodness but less in the institutional Church. I went from wanting to save the world and have some sort of policy job which would touch the lives of millions to being content with my 10-6 for a very large company where I feel valued, think we’re not doing anything too evil, and which has made me realize companies don’t have to be single mindedly pursuing profits or amoral. I still want to launch that travel blog, I think, maybe, but I’m not looking to escape from the corporate world into academia or non profit work realizing it’s the same shit everywhere and I am really happy where I work.  I’m 27 years old and have visited 29 countries and 4 continents. I am also about 90 thousand dollars in debt all told. I have a permanent contract and junior executive position in one of the world’s largest and most respected companies and more than 40 days of paid vacation. Life is pretty good. At this moment, I never want to leave Paris. I have also gone from loving and revering my family and the American dream and believing my sojourn in France was a question of immaturity and wanderlust and I would eventually mature and realize that Uncle Sam knows best and come back to marry Captain America but now I want to stay at least until I can get French citizenship, and then maybe “escape” to a new country with higher wages and lower taxes for a while but always come back here. I know in both my heart and my mind that I am really doing amazing, more than ok, and even though I watch my friends get married, buy houses, pay off debt, and have babies, those things will come for me in time too.  I believed that getting married and having a family was the most important thing to me and if you had asked me five years ago, I would have said I’d hoped to be engaged or married right now, maybe in a PhD program or just finishing one up. But in the meantime, I find myself thinking that the MBA/JD that I met in undergrad who said, “Don’t get married till you’re 30,” was perfectly right and there may still be some short term romantic adventures in my future and there’s no need to panic that I haven’t found my white picket fence fantasy home just yet. While it seem like my bottom line is in the negative and my top line is not high enough compared to peers abroad- yet, I do believe that my investment in myself will pay off, and is paying off, in a life I truly love that feels authentic to me. So in that sense I do believe I have already won the lottery about a hundred times over. When I look around, there’s no one that I envy, there’s no one I would trade lives yet but I will continue to hustle, continue to be vulnerable, continue to be intentional and yet let destiny lend a hand.

Forgive me for those who already know this parable:

A vacationing American businessman standing on the pier of a quaint coastal fishing village in southern Mexico watched as a small boat with just one young Mexican fisherman pulled into the dock. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. Enjoying the warmth of the early afternoon sun, the American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

“How long did it take you to catch them?” the American casually asked.

“Oh, a few hours,” the Mexican fisherman replied.

“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” the American businessman then asked.

The Mexican warmly replied, “With this I have more than enough to meet my family’s needs.”

The businessman then became serious, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

Responding with a smile, the Mexican fisherman answered, “I sleep late, play with my children, watch ball games, and take siesta with my wife. Sometimes in the evenings I take a stroll into the village to see my friends, play the guitar, sing a few songs…”

The American businessman impatiently interrupted, “Look, I have an MBA from Harvard, and I can help you to be more profitable. You can start by fishing several hours longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra money, you can buy a bigger boat. With the additional income that larger boat will bring, before long you can buy a second boat, then a third one, and so on, until you have an entire fleet of fishing boats.”

Proud of his own sharp thinking, he excitedly elaborated a grand scheme which could bring even bigger profits, “Then, instead of selling your catch to a middleman you’ll be able to sell your fish directly to the processor, or even open your own cannery. Eventually, you could control the product, processing and distribution. You could leave this tiny coastal village and move to Mexico City, or possibly even Los Angeles or New York City, where you could even further expand your enterprise.”

Having never thought of such things, the Mexican fisherman asked, “But how long will all this take?”

After a rapid mental calculation, the Harvard MBA pronounced, “Probably about 15-20 years, maybe less if you work really hard.”

“And then what, señor?” asked the fisherman.

“Why, that’s the best part!” answered the businessman with a laugh. “When the time is right, you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.”

“Millions? Really? What would I do with it all?” asked the young fisherman in disbelief.

The businessman boasted, “Then you could happily retire with all the money you’ve made. You could move to a quaint coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, play with your grandchildren, watch ball games, and take siesta with your wife. You could stroll to the village in the evenings where you could play the guitar and sing with your friends all you want.”

I am both the MBA and the fisherman, and at times it tears me apart. Because while it might seem the Mexican fisherman has it all figured out, the chase is also worth something if it builds you up instead of depleting you, and with those million you can help the world and give your grandchildren the chance to sit on their asses when American MBAs industrialize the fishing industry and the only work that’s left is 12 hour shifts in a cannery. And maybe there’s some pride and joy that comes from conquering the world though it might not really be worth it.

I haven’t quite figured it out yet.

Maybe this year, I’ll become the fisherman.

It feels like with all the debt and POTENTIAL I have, I can’t afford to be the fisherman. It also shows the degree to which I’ve been conditioned to think of only stressful, extremely high paid and long hours jobs as work given that while I do have a really great schedule most of the time, I do have a real job and I already am an American MBA, 45 vacation days not withstanding.

I had a really seriously fisherman like job as an English teacher before, and damn, I was bored, so I became an American MBA. Now I am happy though and look forward to the new challenges my career will bring me. In any event, fisherman or MBA, change is the only constant.

I’m already living the life that I want. Anything else is escape but then there’s change. As my American MBA, serial entrepreneur, PhD in progress, long time resident of Paris, and now educational administrator told me, “stability is an illusion.”

So here I am.

It feels like the next great turning point is whether to buy an apartment or not in Paris. If I did, there would only be room for me and I’d have to hold on to the property for at least 5 years. I’m thinking I probably shouldn’t do it.

But yes, I want to own a piece of Paris, but then, maybe I don’t need to.

Maybe I just need to stay, and let my life be more simple.

And leave room for more grand adventures, by not tying myself down just yet with a mortgage.

I am aching, yearning for stability, but I think that amidst all this loss of control, what my heart really wants is to know that I will choose happiness over success, although it’s a false choice.

The last time I left Paris, I fell into a depression. When I came back to Paris, it still took me a solid year and half to two years to begin to feel ok again. Now I finally feel like my normal but improved, matured, and also more joyful self who gives muchless of a shit about what other people think an dis slowing letting go of perfection.

I do hope that I will attract greater abundance in my life by appreciating what I already have.

Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It just means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections- https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/8084815/posts/965393138

Long rambly Montaigne-esque sort of blog post, why havne’t I started a professional blog yet-because I am too busy living and relaxing from my exciting life that’s a novel in itself- conclusion-

Thank God.

La vie n’a pas besoin d’un but, elle est un but elle- meme.

Life doesn’t need a purpose, it is a purpose in itself.

 

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”

Alan W. Watts

Namaste to all the brave souls who have read this far!

MJ

 

 

 

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