The life I really want for myself

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The truth is I do really want to be thinner. And not only for health reasons. I do want to have the “cool” body that fits in with the people around me and what I see on TV and even if I will still be technically plus sized since I don’t think I’ll ever be smaller than a size 8, at least a bit less so. I don’t want to lose all my curves, but there is some surplus I would like to be rid of, for good. I don’t hate myself now, and I know my body is beautiful, but i personally think I would look and probably feel better if I released a few pounds.

I have been loathe to admit it since so much of my energy over the course of my life has been dedicated to the battle of the bulge, and the only time I was the weight I would like to be effortlessly well I didn’t make any conscious effort. That being said, I was in a different environment with little money for junk food or eating out and walked two hours a day and had little day to day stress in my life besides existential ennui and most of my diet was eggs salad pasta in at home portion sizes and some yogurt and chocolate and eating out twice a week- getting a sandwich or wrap usually nothing more elaborate.

Sometimes I miss my simpler life, bu tI was also quite bored.

The other thing which I might as well get out while I am admitting stuff is that I would like to be financially stable and do something else,s omething a little more aligned with my heart. I do like being a manager and the feeling of being a bonne eleve and a leader, but deep in my heart I know I don’t want to do it forever. I do like the relative prosperity it brings me. What I’m doing now was never a deep dream, though I am pretty happy and extremely grateful on the whole.

My soul dreams of doing something else, of being an adventurer, a travel writer, a writer tout court, and that this might be the truest part of me once I will have played the roles of teacher and manager, maybe real leadership will come through the word- not to denigrate what I am doing now. The truth is that I don’t want to be doing what I’m doing twenty years from now, maybe not even five or ten years from now if I can get financially prosperous enough to make it work. And I truly hope I will.

The thing is these are not new revelations. I’ve written about them a thousand times on this blog, then buried them under layers of guilt and shame and distraction and procrastination and thinking I’m not allowed to want what I want from life and my desires aren’t wise.

Yesterday I went to a friend of a friend’s house for dinner and it was magnificent. If I were ever to own a place, I hope it would be like that. Not because it was perfect and bourgeois and everything in its place, but because the living area was a gallery for all kinds of art and knick knacks the owner bought here and there throughout the years, and he used his house to store art, which I think is a worthy use indeed. But when I asked him where he got the Kuan Yin statue and if everything was from his travels, he explained a lot came from auctions and he hadn’t travelled enough to accumulate those things on his own.

That being said, it would be great if, some day, I had a lovely space of my own and money and wherewithal to travel, but for the moment I don’t think I want to invest my energy into that. Because to renovate an old house and bring out its soul the way he did demands a lot of time that I would rather be on the road!

And it’s ok that I want to be out there in the world, there is nothing wrong with that. It’s not an escape, it’s just seeing life in different ways. Even if in the immediate future I don’t have plans to stop everything and just travel for months and months, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking trips and working even if it doesn’t leave as much room for spontaneity on the road. It does help ensure variety though.

And my life in Paris is getting more spontaneous. New circles are opening up to me. I have found some really cool people recently.

The Buddhist center is another really cool and unexpected piece of my new life. I didn’t think I would ever become a practicing Buddhist, but that seems to be what’s happening, slowly but surely.

Things are changing and quickly. It’s completely possible that within a few years, by the time I get French citizenship, I could be financially free and clear to travel the world and do something else. Perhaps not completely without debt, but in a position to take a sabbatical and or start a new career or even go back to school.

I can’t believe I’m only a year and a half from turning 30. I thought I would have all the answers by now and be well on my way to a predictable upper middle class life- hence why I got the MBA- that I would have the boyfriend, probably also the ring, and I owould be hitting those life milestones at the expected age and hitting the ball out of the park in all aspects of my life.  And there was the not so distant time I felt I should strive not for the extraordinary but for the everyday and be content with being above average and normal.

I have fire in my belly now to change my life, and this time, I think I have the wisdom not to let it burn me. And in any case, it’s time to allow the buds to blossom.

 

Namaste

MJ

Draping nude on the page

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Back in high school I used to write poetry and publish it on message boards.

I haven’t written a lot of poetry since, but one of the comments I received has stayed with me, “you aren’t afraid to drape nude on the page,” and I think this blog is living proof of that.

That’s also been a big part of how I’ve lived my life, and my turn to Buddhism is a big part of that.

I don’t think I’ve ever done something that felt more subversive than doing a vajrayana meditation practice alone in my hotel room one night. I felt like the Buddha slipping out on his wife and child, and far far from my family and home and the way I was raised.

And yet, every sound is a mantra, every being is a Buddha, and we are all on the same path.

So that’s been a big part of what’s been going on with me.

I’ve also had ups and downs of feeling like, o, i did the right thnig getting on the management track, and actually I should travel less and focus on building a home more.

But now, I am back to writing and travel, though both in balance with home and my current job. And there’s nothing wrong with either.

I’ve been put to work training/mentoring a colleague who is also a close friend and incredibly emotionally mature, but not always professionally so. It’s been a challenge emotionally to keep myself under control and remain kind and patient. I dedicated my last meditation to her, that I would do the best job for her.

I’ve accepted I am on the path, and I always was, come what may. And that’s ok wherever it goes, even if i don’t hit those milestones as expected, even if I don’t get everything I was pretty sure I wanted out of life. It’s even okay that I was dpressed, gained weight, spent too much money and let things get completely out of control. That too was part of the path. And I can have compassion and forige myself and just keep moving forward.

It is such joy not to be depressed anymore. It may be afternoon ad I’m still not up and dressed as I was before when depressed, but ti’s not because I have no energy. Right now I am just recharging, and I have faith in myself  to get things done. Even if everythign is not perfect with a snap of my fingers, even if everything never will be perfect, it’s all good, and I’m growing. It feels like my car has finally stopped hydroplaning, and my tires have grip and I’m moving forward instead of stuck in slush, or quicksand.

 

Love you all and Namaste,

MJ

For my handsome stranger/ beau etranger

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I never imagined a future with you–

not even breakfast.

I thought I loved someone else, far away,

a daydream I thought was real.

 

 

I pushed you away as I drew you to me,

Telling myself it was just lust and your kindness.

I never imagined four years later it would be you, that

I’d shed

pure, clear tears

of sorrow.

 

I always thought love was knowing

And beautiful dreams, and a perfect match.

 

I never thought you would conquer me,

I never imagined our future.

 

I remember when we parted

The same pure tears

A crystal stream,

A clean wound

No disappointment, only sadness.

 

Maybe it was love because it was only for a moment

No expectations.

But I pushed you away as I clung to you in passion,

Afraid to love you too deeply,

to feel.

 

When finally we met again, I really loved you-

seeing you for the first time.

I would have followed you anywhere

I knew you were worthy.

 

I thought perhaps, your heart doesn’t really belong to her.

Your eyes are still the same when you look at me.

 

And maybe they will always have that same luster,

but you’re not mine.

 

The love I never looked for,

The one I couldn’t get back.

A clear, pure light.

 

 

I miss you, friend.

 

 

 

 

 

A place of deep contentment

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This long weekend, I had planned for an extended trip to Macedonia and Greece that quite simply just didn’t work out despite all my efforts.  What’s more, I had no plans on how I’d spend the Easter holiday.

Well, as it turned out I needn’t have worried. The magic of Paris intervened, and I had a wonderful adventure of a weekend filled with new friends and old, and most importantly, I found that I don’t have to move to be happy.

France is still something very special, after all this time. And in parallel, as I’ve spent more and more time with people who really appreciate me, I realize I am a work of art no less perfect and lovable in my imperfection.

The past few years have been a time of intense searching, and a fair amount of suffering. My life wasn’t so bad, and yet I wasn’t sure if something was wrong with me, if it was ok to be happy, if I was in the right place.

This weekend, the answer has come loud and clear- the still small voice still loves that I am here.

And even more importantly, loves me.

I found what I was looking for, thanks to a series of seemingly unfortunate events. Maybe now I don’t need the universe to go to such lengths to impress that lesson on me.

A weekend in Paris is still priceless and beyond compare.

And I know, deep in my soul, I am in the right place at the right time, and full of profound, enduring joy.

The other side of sorrow

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For the past few days I have been feeling blue, but overall moving forward. I am not the person I thought I would be. I distanced myself from someone I considered a friend although I never fully trusted her. I have felt the pain of loneliness keenly, and the ever present shame of my realized fear of not being the person my parents wanted me to be, especially in regards to my turn towards Buddhism, which at least right now seems to be a liberating spirituality that releases my inner joy!

There is also the lingering sorrow it is hard not to beat myself up about- the fact that I wasn’t confident and mature enough to get back together with my ex when I came back to Paris and now I see him with new eyes and he’s unavailable. I know it’s not all on me, but I am still disappointed in myself, especially now that I realize he was the nicest guy I ever was involved with. If we had been together I think there are some parts of growth I wouldn’t have experienced, but right now I just want someone to hold me and I wonder how great I am be without a partner, without my basic emotional needs met.

I’ve also been moving forward in terms of the small habits that will help me take care of myself- I’ve been recording what I eat, keeping an eye on my accounts, and I did start cleaning my apartment. Though last week I only went to the gym once, I have been seeing and feeling a difference, and it scares me in a way. I am proud and happy, but it scares me.  I must believe that I deserve it, and look in the mirror and see the changed person and own that this is me.

I am a completely different person than when I was depressed.

I know this even more deeply since I have hesitated in my choice of holidays between a return to India, to see Ladakh near Western Tibet, without much of a fixed itinerary, and South AMerica, where I could see most of the highlights of Bolivia, Peru, and a bit of Chile in a whistlestop tour. I think I have found the balance though, and will leave some of the highlights for another time so I have a little more than a week completely at play, unscheduled. And since I just discovered a Tibetan restaurant within 15 minutes walk from my apartment and I already go to the Tibetan Buddhist center, perhaps there’s no need to go all that way, and I feel like I will get there eventually.

So in short, I am not the person I used to be.

Where I once sought, trying to find a home in one of the Abrahamic god’s many mansions where I spent my life feeling ashamed of my humanity, I have found a man of India who claims I am already a Buddha.

Where I once wanted to see all the treasures of the world as fast as possible for fear of missing out, I now seek depth in addition to breadth, and I know travel (and life) is about what can’t be captured in a photograph.

Where I once recoiled from life in learned helplessness, depressed and constantly at war with myself, I am slowly but surely becoming a friend and taking care of myself no longer feels as strange.

Where I once wanted to be normal and to fit in, especially with my family, I am haltingly coming to a place where I feel complete and good in myself. As friend told me, “You don’t need validation, you need a mirror.”

So things are going well, and I am fighting with myself less and less, becoming more and more honest, and letting many things go.

I am going to a new place I have never been before, to become a new person. I have already had to leave so many of me behind, and I know now that once a self is sloughed off like a snakeskin, it is gone forever. With its faults and its false comforts, its pleasures that will not be experienced as such again, its particular pains that have become so familiar they are almost a comfort, its familiar cage proscribing my range of motion.

 

The Panther- Rainer Maria Rilke

His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly–. An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.

What is a panther when it leaves its cage? Space and joy- all conditioned things are impermanent.  Both the cage and the panther are an illusion. This next stage of Meganness is but a shadow play upon the wall.

And the light, rather than coming from the beauty of the forms, of the ideal of pantherness or of cage, comes from the truth of formlessness, of infinite potential, of the fact that all things were and are and will be and could be and are not.

I am not real, I am a dream, and I am the dreamer.

“I” is not real, “I” is a dream, the dream is one with the dreamer.

Where is the sorrow in that? That fairy stories are no more true than I make them, and I cannot force them to be.

 

The secret reason I don’t have a boyfriend (yet)

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So basically at some point I got it into my head that the relationship would happen when I was “finished” and I should wait until I get my shit figured out. Even a good friend told me that it wouldn’t be possible for me to be in a lasting relationship because I am growing too fast.

But I think the real reason Is because I thought that my growth would stop or slow down. I didn’t tink my relationship woud be my teacher and I did think there was something kind of brave and proud and feminist and holy about being a woman alone in the world, not answerable to anyone.

i was/am afraid of altering my life for someone who might not be there to morrow.

I have been very afraid of not being my full self because of whatever person being around there, that there is so much to discover in me that might remain buried due to the desire to stay the eprson that my lover fell in love with.

But I think a real good love sweeps the sand off the buried treasure, even if I will have to do the heavy digging. I think it is possible to be with someone and continue to grow, even though there’s a possibility to grow beyond or in different directions from each other and the relationship.

And the truth is, my growth is the most important thing to bme, period. I wouldn’t consciously sacrifice my growign self for a relationship. And perhpas alwas going for guys who were in some way unavailable was a way to get the high of romance without the commitment and chnage.

Well, I think that I would learn a lto from letting a great person into my life.; I think there’ sno reason why being in a coupl ehas to be the endof wandering, solo travel, r just the many aspects of my life I’ve come to enjo/

But I think I can finally trust myself to fall in love, because I really really know that I love me first.

Becoming a Buddhist

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So apparently without any great deal of ceremony one can be a Buddhist without knowing it, so long as one identifies with the 4 marks of Buddhism: https://www.lionsroar.com/what-makes-you-a-buddhist/

But for the past few months I’ve been going to a Buddhist centre, and I’m really happy to be there when I’m there and happy to be around the people I’ve met there.

I spent a weekend listening to teachings, and it was the first time in my life I felt that I had no reason to feel preteternaturally guilty for everything and part of a broken and fallen world, but rather something good because everything is basically good. I had a glimpse of this one day when I was in a Zen garden in Japan looking at lotus flowers, which inspired my first tattoo which I got a bit on impulse though I’d been thinking about it forever.

I still love the teachings of Jesus though, and I”m not 100% sure he didn’t rise from the dead, or that there’s not something to the whole Catholicism thing. Like Buddhism, it absorbed the rituals and traditions of the pagan religions that came before it, and there are som ereally great and specifically Catholic Christian things in this world. And the Dalai Lama, while nothing like th ePope and not speaking for all Buddhism let alone all Tibetan Buddhist schools, says one should be left alone in the faith tradition they were raised if not they risked great confusion. My Buddhist center definitely didn’t proselytize, and it was me who came to them and they accepted me without question, even when I acted a bit weird on purpose and scoured the internet to find reasons to think they were maybe not so great as they seemed.

I also decided I really want to go to Buddhist Northern India this summer, and I’m already reading travelogues about it. True, I could change my mind in a few weeks but I think whatever happens with my personal relationship to Buddhism it would be an amazing trip and I would learn a lot about myself.

Buddhism makes me so happy and fills me with a lot of calm but also a lot of questions. It’s just such an exciting thing to explore. I think I probably will go all the way with it, unless something in my heart speaks to stop me. Now I can feel it is mostly my mind, and fear of Hell, that causes me ot resist. Yet I am sure that Jesus is good.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

 

I know I need to change my life

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“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”- Hugh Laurie

“For what it’s worth… it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.”

― F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

So I want to do something amazing in addition to my regular job, something that comes from the heart, and I want to improve my regular job, and probably change within a certain period of time. I want to work from the heart. I want to do something I am proud of on my deathbed. I don’t want traveling to be the only thing that keeps me going, and I want to have wow moments in my professional life. I don’t want to struggle financially, and I want to have everything I want and need. I do believe I am incredibly blessed and things are quite abundant, but I could use a big more abundance ot become debt free and have more money to travel and save and do interesting things with like invest in projects that are important to me. I want that money to come to me and I want to keep it, or invest it wisely.

I’m not really sure exactly what I want to do, but that’s an exciting thing. I am coming from a place of openness. I am likely to make some discoveries along the way taht could change everything. I want my life to be full of surprises and adventure and yes, abundance.

There is more to me than I give the world now in my professional life, and I want to make a bigger contribution, and receive more abundance starting now to help me make that contribution and pass it on to others.

My life is really good, but I want to really make it rock and give it my all to live consciously happily abudantly andjoyfully.

I want a man who loves my fire

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You cannot use someone else’s fire; you can only use your own. And in order to do that, you must first be willing to believe you have it. Audre Lorde

Once, rising from bed, the proud goddess that I am, my lover caught my eye, and he saw my light. I could see it reflected from him. I felt myself, in all my strength and independence and power, and I could see that it attracted him. But he wasn’t quite strong enough for it, and it was not his to catch.

In fact, he appreciated my strength but it also repelled him. He wanted a woman who gave chase, who didn’t love him too much, who didn’t have any more emotional courage than he did. Once he told me, he would do another to be with the woman he loves but he wouldn’t know what to do once he had her.

That woman is not me.

A few weeks ago, seeing an ex-boyfriend from years ago, I realized what it means to have someone look at you as if you were magic. I saw him again, and I was my shining, saucy self. Today I’ve just dedicated an essay to him, and sent it to him. Yes, I am chasing him, a bit. But if he isn’t repulsed by it, if he’s been waiting to know for sure what I want (he does have a girlfriend), maybe he will make that change and cherish me instead.

I deserve a man who worships my fire but doesn’t completely bow down to me. I deserve an equal who will only fan my flames, not snuff them, not tell me I am crazy or out of control or that he doesn’t like how I dance or how many lovers I’ve had.

I deserve a man who is not scared of me, who is not going to try to hack off pieces of me to get me to fit into his mould, who wouldn’t change a thing, who will still love me when I’m no longer young, and in the brief moments my spark falters.

I want a love that will set my world ablaze, and me with it.