Since my mood is 1000% better now and I finally feel like I”ve gotten out of my funk and am even more happy and resilient from before, I’d like to share some things I’ve learned.
Finding joy in life is all about the little pleasures and realizing the gift it is to be alive, and to be alive as yourself living your life.
Imagine you were just born a second ago. What would seem incredible to you?
Imagine you were going to die in a few minutes. What would you pay attention to? What would you notice? What would you revel in one last time?
Both of these premises are completely true. Each moment is completely new, and each moment will never come again, when it it is gone it’s gone.
As a wise hostel manager in the south of France once explained to me, “The same thing may happen again, but it will never happen in exactly the same way, in the same circumstances, with the same people.” So checking people into their rooms was an adventure for him every time, no matter how many travellers or tourists he’d seen of that sort, no matter hwo many times he showed them how the door code worked.
Don’t just live like you are dying; live like you are newborn.
Faith for me has meant that I choose to see the future as a field of possibility, not threats. It means I have faith that there is something higher than me, that there is some sense even if I can’t see it. Obviously, I have no proof of this idea, but it does change how you perceive life.
And faith in yourself is also life changing. THe feeling that I, with the grace of God, will deal with anything that comes my way, is a powerful one.
I have tended to worry far too much about external circumstances permitting X, Y, or Z to happen as I plan. Getting rid of the plan is also important- admitting there is an intelligence higher than yours and having faith in order to improvise is key. Life is more like jazz than classical music at some moments. We need to have faith to look within and above, and see the stars shining down on us instead of just wondering, O, why me? when we get papercuts.
The key to happiness is about 99.999% getting rid of your expectations. Very often, we set goals and conditions under which we will be happy. WHen I attain X, I will be happy is a common formula. But what we fail to realize is that even if the outcome has been Y, and not X, we can still be happy! I don’t know about you, but very few things have turned out according to my expectations. THe college I went to and ended up loving and that opened many doors for me, both literally and figuratively, was actually the list on the list. I sent in an application at the last minute because it wasn’t too much trouble. I ended up getting a shcolarship, and the rest is history.
The first time I cam eto Paris, I wasn’t really impressed. I wasn’t really impressed the second time either. But the third time was a chram, even as I reassured my mother that there was nothing too special about it, it was just a big French city, no longer the center o the world. But now ti is the center of mine.
One of the main reasons I haven’t yet found love is due to my long standing unwillingness to let go of expectations. He must be tall, barrel chested, weigh more than me….already very hard criteria to fill in France! Now there’s nothing wrong with liking what you like, but maybe the reason you want that is because you are not comfortable with yourself- or maybe it’s just what you like. But yeah, I htink that being inflexible in my demands has probably played a role.
On the other hand, I am happy with my life now though I would like to be iwth a a special someone, enough so that I would let go of some of my preconceptions (though not core values) of what I want.
There’s nothing wrong with having specific ideas about what you want, but when it doesn’t exist, or something that’s not technically what you wanted works just as well if not better and you are still not adapting, that’s a moment where you are choosing nto to be happy.
Case in point- I thought I wanted a studio in one neighborhood, and it would cost a lot and I dind’t think I could do it. SO I was willing to stay with the status quo. And then, just recently I started looking into flat shares in different neighborhoods, and it turns out there may be more than one way to get a bigger apartment closer to the city center at a reasonable price! And maybe I will make a lifelong friend in the process, or just have osmeone to motivate me not to leave dirty dishes in the sink! Could be killing a few birds with one stone, but just have to wait and see.
In the meantime, my current apartment is pretty nicely decorated, so there’s that ;)
So chillax and enjoy your Saturday!
About to go to the hairdresser- hope I can keep an open mind and take my own advice!
before I drive myself crazy–
The truth is that, no matter how much of a scary crazy badass independent woman I might be, I want so much more than that.
The truth is that while I can at times separate my body and mind and heart, I can’t do it forever. My heart wants to love and be loved, and my body would prefer that too.
My mind is just, well, afraid.
My mind would rather create melodramas and act the puppetmaster to another sad bad romance than actually give up one ounce of control.
My ego would rather see me jerked around by somebody than actually open up to really love them and manifest a real relationship with them, it would rather crash and burn knowing before it starts that I’ll lose than take a real risk that somebody will change my life, really break my heart, and leave me empty
not that my heart doesn’t feel too. It just doesn’t hear the excuses about waitingfor x, y, and z to line up before getting attached. And it doesnt get attached unless it wants to stay somewhere, with somebody. actually my heart mind probably tried to clue my ego in on this from time to time, but it’s not that my heart is without fear.
But at some point, I have to stop either rationalizinthe fear away, rationalizing whatever already known to be futile action.
The truth is that I”m happy where I am, and I am ready to step into the ring again.
But first atht means to step out of stupid dating, and start like, opening up my eyesto see.
ANd givingpeople a chance I wouldn’t have thought of, and loving and accepting the real me knowing that will manifest he best love of my life, and hopefully one that iwll change and grow with me.
I used to think fragility was about letting a crystal glass fall to the floor and shatter, and berating myself for mourning it when I knew it was going to break anyway.
It was more about pushing the hero off the pedestal, making demands that time wouldn’t allow him to meet,
showing more of myself than I was ready to tell.
It meant saying I love you to someone who didn’t have the time of day for me, because I couldn’t be less than honest, I couldn’t do less than strive, no matter how hopeless the situation.
It meant letting someone let you down over and over again, until the Sevres plate was chipped beyond all recognition and had to be thrown out.
It was about leaving silk out in the rain and knowing you’d have to throw it out, but not being willing to take it out of the elements since that was where it was left, where you wanted to put it.
It was more about putting myself in the way of disappointment, and hopeless, Candide faith that wasn’t worth a damn. It was about letting life let you down, letting people let you down, opening yourself up to be eaten alive, diving in knowing you were going to drown.
There was a certain self abnegating, Rainbow fish quality to it. LIke the giving tree left as a stump, it seemed like love, even though it just left me as a stump.
It came somehow out of the feeling that my feelings weren’t really worth much, and a resignation, a fatalism that any slipper than that wasn’t a perfect fit was futile- even if the perfect one was made of glass and even after searching every cellar and table, there was no Cinderella to found.
And no one but you had seen Cinderella at the ball, but if you squinted just so, there was a prince instead of a toad.
And you just kept on kissing him, only to find he’d given you warts!
And the same thing happened, when you ate the magic apple and fell into a deathlike stupor,
And history repeated itself again and again until finally, you kissed the wolf in Grandma’s clothing and he ate you whole.
Then finally, by the grace of God, the whale spit you out on the shores of Ninevah and I stopped mixing metaphors.
And finally, you began to understand. It took some locust eating in the desert and some more imagery from the accursed city where you fasted and prayed, but it happened.
one day, you found that the tree that had been sheltering you had become a friend. ANd the tree had a soul, and even eyes and ears and lips.
The tree was not a feature of the landscape, but he might as well have been since you decided he wasn’t Prince Charming. His skin was mere bark to you, his shade just a moment of respite.
Until the tree, or rather the man, earned your trust. It took a while, but then all of a sudden, your body began to recognize him. Your skin felt it first- not bark, not plastic, not stone- not a statue, not an idol, not a carven image, but a real man.
But he didn’t look like Prince Charming, and he wasn’t treating you like a princess either, so you continued not paying too much attention to him- or he to you, honestly- and you just enjoyed his shade from time to time.
It was companionable, much as it was disconcerting for you both to look each other in the eyes.
Then one day the message finally traveled to your head- This is a real boy! And your mind had plans for him.
What role could he play? WHat mask should he wear? How can he be seamlessly integrated into the soap opera of your life?
Which of the 12 storylines in the world is this, and how can we edit the story so, “it had to be you?” and by what means can we catch him, uproot him, and plant him in our garden? No better, how can we take off a branch in the briefest of spring flowers, and make it stay as a flower forever, under glass, unchanging, un growing, un dying.
And how could you bare your heart to him in a way that would make him give up his? How could you use your honesty to manipulate him? How could you make sure you got the happy ending, finally, and make sense of all those past wrongs and hurts and mostof all, your own mistakes? How could you keep the story going, so you never had to settle, so you were always the victim, if only ofyour own desire, how could you kep the dream of riding off into the sunset alive?
Finally, it became clear, listening to all that nonsense.
You said, “I don’t want to turn someone into a prop in my fantasy.”
You said, “I want to find someone to love who will become my fantasy, and my reality.”
You said, “I want someone who feeds my imagination, but I want to let go of my illusions and delusion.”
And at that moment, it was a new story.
You turned to another chaper, where the plot was as yet uncharted, the end unwritten.
This was a story you couldn’t quite predict, and you wrote it with care.
First, you stopped thinking of him as a tree, or Mr Prince CHarming. ANd you noticed how over time, you liked him more.
Second, instead of telling this being that you loved him, you waited. And you decided to get to know him.
Third, you were patient, and you didn’t try to force an opening when there was none. You stopped playing tennis without a partner. You were interested but not obsessed.
and Fourth, you let him go, when life was calling him elsewhere. (He wasn’t a tree after all.)
Knowing that he didn’t have to be Prince Charming, knowing that you didn’t have to control the end, and most of all, that you could wait to see what happens, that was your Valentine’s Day present to yourself.
ANd just knowing that it will all be ok, regardless of how it turns out, was monomental.
Now you are fragile, in love with your garden, with your puppy, and not with your reflection in the funhouse mirror.
Now you are building something,and letting all roads lead to Rome which wasn’t built in a day after all.
Now, you are letting things go, simply because they are too heavy. ANd that includes the checklist an dall your far too heavy expectations and that narrow box you wanted to put him in.
Now you are letting things go, letting your old self go, your old patterns and habits.
And ou are makign some space to, when the time comes, let someone in.
And until then, you are just happy.
And after, whatever may happen, you are just happy.
Because love is not te crystal glass or the diamond ring. It is the light hat makes them shine and cast rainbows on the wall, and it is yours, from deep within.
There are many potential reasons why I am still single, or why someone who is married is married, and on and on. There are a lot of reasons we’ll never be able to fully identify.
But some truths have finally come to light for me, and I want to share them with you.
I did not want to fall in love. I wanted someone to carry me into the sunset, and have a guarantee that I would remain unscathed by any of the ups and downs of life, or love.
I wanted to fall in love, I didn’t want want to dribble and drop and gradually sink into love. I wanted Cupid’s arrow to strike, to know beyond any doubt “this is the one,” from square one if possible, and be able to neatly incorporate the person into the life I planned.
I didn’t want love, I wanted romance. I wanted to go on a rollercoaster where my safety and security were all but guaranteed and every curve and hill was just part of the drama, with no real danger or illusion of choice. I just wanted to get my butt in the seat for a wild ride which would take me to exactly where I started- no major change or transformation, just a little person to take along with me like a clay doll.
Lifelike, but not alive. Fragile but not as precious as porcelain. Something that seems like it could be replaced so you don’t have to worry about it too much, that you can tell yourself I’ll just go fishing in the pond some other day, and one day, my duck will have the right number or my fish will be the right color to get the prize I feel like that day.
And of course, though I purport to love this person, and I do take care of them and devote myself to them, they are really just using me and I”m just using them. It’s all about mutual wish fulfillment, never about compromise. And I don’t even like the person as much as the life I decided I wanted when I first met them, I just want them to help me act my dollhouse fantasy.
I want to watch the movie version of 50 shades of grey, and I want them to hit me with a whip when I say so, but never in a million years would I shed one ounce of real-life control to this person. After all, this fantasy is more about finding pleasure, avoiding pain, and defining myself by the life I want than it is about the person who is a prop in thefantasy sequence, just providing a necessary body part here and there and helping to lie to myself that I’m not really alone in the universe.
Well, that was both true and uncomfortable.
But mabe love is something different. Maybe it builds over time. Maybe it is like a clay pot that is scupted from a rough slab of earth into something beautiful, with patience and precision, and above all, grace.
Perhaps love spills out of us, little by little, drip by drop. Maybe it is not an explosion, or a lightning strike, or fireworks, so much as a hole, what may start as a leak, and ends up setting a whole river that was forced into a lake free.
Maybe it is not a wave crashing into shore, but an ocean; whose mysterious swirling tides and swells are all but unknowable, and no matter how many times you bathe in it on a sunny day, you never really know it; and the storms are just unavoidable, a force of nature.
Maybe it’s not about catching a falling star and putting it in your pocket to save for a rainy day; maybe it’s about slowly but surely taming a wild horse, and a wolf
Maybe it’s about the rose that we love back on our planet, that we love because we tended it, because of all we lost for it.
Maybe it’s about knowing that there is no guarantee but signing on for the ride, and promising to stay on the train, without knowing where it will take you- or what will become of you
Maybe it’s not about dreams becoming reality, or finally daring to realize a fantasy-
maybe it’s about letting go of a fantasy to see the heart of a friend in the cold light of a rainy day.
Maybe it’s not about a bolt of lightning or the quickness of an arrow, maybe it’s not about falling, but gradually learning how to fly
gradually learning to let go of the beloved and of the parts of yourself which are not loving
maybe it’s about building a garden, even though you don’t know what the seasons will bring.
And maybe it’s about protecting and tending the rose inside of ourselves, acknowledging our fragility, and waiting for the right moment to open up, to bloom.
It’s not about forcing or planning, and least of all a checklist-
it’s mostly about realizing what’s in front of you, and not taking it for granted, even if it doesn’t look quite like you expected.
Letting go is also letting in; opening the door to a new and unrealized beauty and awakening- https://knowthesphere.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/letting-go-and-letting-in/
Depression is just a different disguise of the same problem.
We chase success and expect it to make us happy
We optimize and engineer for happiness, but we lose our joy
When sadness comes, we treat it as something that is not part of the plan, and lose our joy
And sadness just kind of stays, because we are afraid to find success, happiness, and joy only to lose them again
And anger, jealousy, and fear take their place, and sadness just kind of sticks around.
We want to change the world, believing there is something fundamentally wrong with it
We want to chage ourselves, because their is something fundamentally wrong with us
We see all the bad in the world and don’t hesitate to label it, fight it, and just all around forget that there is anything else but to see it, anything else but to do something against it, anything else but to feel like giving up, anything else but to cry and shake our fists at the futility of our sad, short, utterly imperfect, completely going off our expectations, lives
We strive to define what is good and then can’t find the good anywhere- it was gone the second we started looking for it
Amidst it all, we hate ourselves most of all. FOr our powerlessness, our petty quarrels, our mortality, our limitations, everything we know that we are doing to sabotage, to fail to avoid facing the light of day with our illusions, to continue to pretend we are in control, to always feel disappointed, and most of all by yourself
And then it goes one step farther, one step deeper
But you probably will never see these roots, ever, because they are the most unforgivable and seemingly intractable sin, the largest weed that ever grew in your soul.
The idea that there is just something fundamentally wrong.
That God, the universe, the firmament of the universe, is just fucked up.
That we belong ANYWHERE and EVERYWHERE, but the here and now.
That this of all possible worlds is so far from the best of them, an dwe could have done it better.
Yes, there is a bit of pride. But seirously, how could you think otherwise, with the war, with famine, with child soldiers and sex slaves, with all that passes for love and is really just a game of control!
and then, by grace, never by your own knowing or wisdom,
someday, the soul of the world will come to you, and you will catch a breath of air
and you will go back into the darkness
and every now an d then, the clear, cold, free light of day will pass through
And someday you will realize the darkness was an illusion, and only the light exists.
You will have that moment, whether it is in your childhood bedroom or a Buddhist temple in Japan, when you glimpse the basic goodness of life.
There are problems in this world
ANd no one, no matter how hard they try or how blessed their birth, can avoid them entirely.
But life exists, and God is good.
ANd someday, perhaps a long year or even two after, you will realize that same truth about GOd applies to you, His/Her creation!
you will say, I am not what I intended to be, but I am something beautiful no less!
ANd you will look out at the world, and realize, just like I am of God, theworld is of me, and the world is in God’s hands too, and is created by God. Therefore, by improving myself I improve the world, by saving myself, a bit of the world is saved too.
ANd you will realize that the imperfection wsa mostly in your mind.
es, there is real sufering, and wrong.
Yes, you have made real mistakes.
But someday, you will find love, and see again the basic goodness.
You will have faith in God, and in yourself, and you won’t despair so much of the world.
You will join life again, and everyone around you will be so happy! THey will be happy to see you rise from the dead.
And you will have captured so much truth, so many lessons when you were down in the abyss-
The truth that stability is an illusion
The fact you have no control
The reality that we only have one precious life,
and finally, that love is all there is.
And you will resurrect the world.
Your heart will open, and you will live, and love again. Whatever may have happened in the past.
You will live, and love, again.
In the past few days, but especially today, I have woken up full of energy and happy to great the day after a long stretch of feeling slow and heavy, like I was just getting through life.
The biggest irony is that my heart’s wish of living and working in France had come true, yet I still wasn’t happy.
I was weighed down by guilt and expectations, and afraid to be happy, I think. Afraid of not pleasing people, afraid of giving up all the important things in life in order to be here, afraid to get too attached or to commit myself. Afraid of success, afraid of failure, afraid of trying.
And living with my fearful mind in the driver’s seat filled me with constant tension. I lived in limbo between should I stay or should I go in almost every thing I did in life. Not only did I second guess my location, but I also was filled with what ifs about my career choice, love life, and couldn’t stop beating myself up for mistakes made along the way, thinking that was a clear sign I was going in the right direction.
And then the radical notion that real transformation requires letting go of everything in order to follow your inner voice, even if it’s completely irrational. And the fact that so many things were coming apart was actually a sign that I was doing the right thing. ANd mistakes are made because there are lessons we haven’t learned yet. In making my rebirthday cake, a bit of milk was spilled and that’s ok.
By forgiving myself, I let a lot of negative energy go.
I feel 1000% better even if not everything is fixed yet, I still believe everything will be all right, and in fact, it’s actually pretty great now. Perfect in its own way, even if I can’t see it fully now.
And I accepted myself and the person I”ve become, the desire to live this life which is so far from anything I ever consciously dreamed of.
“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.” Joseph Campbell
It’s so true, and it was a very difficult thing to do.
But now, I’m happy.
It’s worth it!
I realized talking to someone at a party last night, who suggested I look at jobs in the place she works, which is an international organization and would have been my dream job a year or two ago, that I actually like what I”m doing. It is a career that enables me to live life as I please for the most part, and I like what I am doing in itself. What started as a means to an end has ended up being a pleasure in itself. ALthough I of course will go with the flow and see what life brings. But it’s good to feel like I did the right thing! Perhaps I would have felt exactly the same way in the opposite case, but I don’t think so because I’m glad I tried something new, if I had really been committed to the other thing I wouldn’t have switched. So vive le business!
And the other thing that’s come to my attention on Valentine’s Day is that not only has being single been awesome and there is nothing wrong with it- who better to spoil and pamper me for a day but me-but that the right person will probably meet all the criteria on the miles long checklist. A long time ago, I seemed to meet the perfect person, or rather a person who fit the checklist, but life took us down different paths. I resisted and tried to hold on, but it was painful. And the truthis that I wasn’t in love with him so much as with my fantasy of him and what I thought we could have been together. IT was very hard to let go. But the real him just doesn’t fit in my life, and I don’t even really like him anymore.
On the other hand, I have just the stirrings of a crush for a friend who I had mroe or less put in a box and forgotten about as any kind of real romantic prospect. And I find it extremel hopeful, because e is very different than what I had in mind, but someone like him would probably be a better fit. He is someone I have shared my fantasies with, and I’m realizing that it’s not really the fantasies I want as to know and love a person. If you want to be with someone because he fulfills your fantasy, he’s just an object you are using- even if it is mutual. But if you find someone you really like, no matter what the checklist says, you better throw it away and flow with life and let the perso become your fantasy instead. Get excited about seeing your boyfriend with all his quirks, not the romantic moment you’ve planned out a thousand times in your mind. I think these things have to meet in the middle somewhat, and I”m not saying not to have standards or to be clear onwhat you want. I’m just saying to let some of the non essentials go and leave room for life to surprise you. In a good way!
This same non-violence and openess is also important to keep in mind in dealing with your body. Just love what you’ve got, because it’s yours and this is your one life to live and it’s your own! That’s it! And take care of yourself. Don’t worry about outside standards or someone else’s rules. Give up your dreams of “I’ll be happy when I”m thin,” and just be happy! Maybe you’ll be thin, maybe you won’t be. But as long as you’re healthy, who cares! Be gratefulf or the beauty of the body you get to experience life in- it’s a privilege, the greatest gift you’ll ever receive!
Bottom line of this whole story: Stop trying to be someone else, even if an idealized version of yourself. Let go and let God. And just be happy! There’s no reason why not, and finding the joy within is the best Valentine’s Day gift we can ever give ourselves!
Namaste and bisous,
to stay in Paris as long as my heart finds its deepest contenment here and to stay in France as long as it keeps making my soul happy; to always answer the call of life wherever it takes me
to stay open to life and always touch the joy and peace within
A job where I am able to make my highest contribution and am valued, esteemed, and rewarded for it; a positive, warm, friendly work atmosphere; to continue to develop my talents in leadership, communication, diplomacy, and persuasion; to have more opportunities to lead and manage; to continue to work in a rich multicultural environment where my language and cross cultural competence can shine; to be richly compensated
to live in material abundance; to have plenty of money to pay all my bills and pay of all my loans, including accelerating my student loan repayment, while saving and investing in myself
a new apartment in paris that is significantly larger and better appointed than my current one, in a location that is a good fit with my personality and desires; a place i can envision making a home for the 2-3 years because it meets all my needs and most of my wants; no more than 40 minutes commute from my job and hopefully less, ideally situated so that i could walk to work
to continue expanding my circle of friends and my expat family; to strengthen my bonds with my alumni community and take a leadership position among them; to continually try new things and meet new people while establishing a core group of loving, loyal, steadfast friends who can provide advice, perspective, and encouragement as well as having a really fun time with or being able to just do nothing at all or the same old thing; to find people who i can support to their highest good, make them laugh, and provide a space so they can feel completely at ease with themselves
and, when God pleases, a man I can build my life with; whose desires in life enhance my own; who treats me like a queen, like his best friend, like his wife, like his lover, his partner to love and cherish forever; who I find sexy, adorable, witty, and sweet; who finds me beautiful just as I am and loves me, flaws and all; who makes me better but always lets me know i am worthy and lovable just as I am; who will be a great dad someday; who is independent and strong and will continue to be my hero
and most of all, I desire health and happiness for all the world but especially for those I love; that everyone in my family be cured of all diseases; that they learn to love themselves and find inner peace; that they continue to love and support one another and that i can be the best daughter, sister, niece, cousin, and friend that all of them deserve. that they continue to show the world what love is and all that family can be.
an end to war, an end to the senseless suffering of women especially; that peace and prosperity and unity in diversity reign on the planet; that people have the freedom to realize their best selves and live in societies that support the quest of the individual; that the world stays small but rich in its differences
and that i get to see a whole lot of it!
So as I was sitting in the metro today coming back from La Defense, with a heavy bag of groceries and the prospect of going up 7 flights of stairs, surrounded by tired people coming home from work, I realized that this is it.
There is no place I’d rather be. This is the life I’ve created. In the most ordinary of moments, on a rainy Friday night, I realized that this is what it has come down to.
And while I’m not blissfully happy every moment, this is my bliss.
And even though things aren’t perfect, even though I’m not perfect, I enjoy my life. I enjoy being here. I enjoy my job. I enjoy my blossoming social life. I enjoy my friends. I enjoy my travels. I enjoy my life as it is.
It is not necessarily any better or worse than any where else in the world, and in some places I probably could be materially better off.
But, at this moment, and for the next year or so or twenty, this is where I want to be.
And the cost of being here is the cost of living. At some point, you have to close every other door you could have gone through.
You have to stop gazing with nostalgia or regret in the past or projecting with fear or fantasy into the future.
This is it.
This really is it.
This is my life.
And I wouldn’t change a thing.
Not even the mistakes. The mistakes were the cost of being the person I am today.
I went to Chipotle, thinking of it as a kind of Valentine’s treat. Plus I just felt like it.
Besides the fond memories and the guacamole, I didn’t even really like it. The food didn’t seem so flavorful, somehow. ANd the burrito was too big. My stomach hurt after eating it.
Now I am not a delicate rose petal with no appetite at all. I enjoy food a lot. I’ve never been one to get overfull. But in this case, I was uncomfortably full.
And I realized, I am not the person I once was.
I am not.
And I never will be again.
So I raised my glass of Coke Zero with the limes that always made me appreciate Chipotle more in recognition of the person I once was.
I think I have held on so long because she never felt the love she needed, from me.
I am not the same person as I was when I first went to France. I am not the same person I was when I moved here last year. I am not even the person I was when I came home from Christmas break in the US with my family.
And I”ve had it, waiting for things to be perfect. I’ve had it, hoping one day things will stop being a mess. I’ve had it, withholding love and fun and friendship from myself until one day when I will be perfect.
Not only because that day will never come, but also because I want and deserve that self love NOW.
And if I can’t love myself with credit card debt and a few extra pounds and not having it all together, it’s no love worthy of the name.
If I can’t forgive myself the few misteps I made on the amazing road that led me here, I’m completely missing the bigger picture.
The price of being human, of being alive, of being an imperfect perfectible being is that we learn by making mistakes. If we already knew, we wouldn’t have to learn- and that’s what we are all here for after all, in my view.
So I’m going to finally stop being hard on myself. Not only because it’s not working and never has worked, but also because I want and deserve to feel good.
Because this moment is really all we have.
This is it.
Time to be happy.
And I”ve been thinking back to when I was miserable, pitching a shit fit every day because I didn’t follow my heart and stayin paris, because I made the wiser choice and had faith I’d find another way to come back and followed my head as well as my heart. Because I went from the place I felt like I belonged to other places that were uncomfortable, in order to grow.
I salute that person, who managed to somehow pack on about 10-15 pounds in three months and make my clothes not fit. Thank you for telling me that I needed to be here.
And to that girl who called that guy countless times, who made excuses that didn’t even make sense for him, to the girl who always held out hope but never really believed in anything, least of all herself, to the girl who tried to go back to the way life could have been, to someone who dared to make a fool of herself every day and care enough for someone to overlook their weak points, I love you. Without the hard lessons you taught me, without your patience and inner strength, without your fearless heart, I would not love myself so much now, or have the same sense of what love really is and is not.
And to the girl that finally made it to Paris and still couldn’t do anything but complain, to the one who just couldn’t seem to find her groove even though she got what she wanted, to the poor girl who was lonely and neglected and really confused and not sure if she’d made the right choice, I salute you. you made it through, you persevered, you asked all the tough questions and ou got your answers. WIthout you, I wouldn’t be sure of myself or where I am today. Without your ceaseless critical inquiry, I wouldn’t be able to have the same peace. Without your doubt, I couldn’t have found my faith. Thank you.
And to the girl who’s always running a little late, who doesn’t plan things ahead of time, who’s still trying to get it together, thanks. You are doing just fine and there’s really nothing wrong with you and you are fixing all the small stuff- and it is all small stuff.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
From the time I was about 10 onward, I wanted to be president or have some sort of very grandiose role. In my teens, I started reading the economist magazine and thought about acareer in business or public policy, or even becoming a phd. In college, I had a few internships in DC and thought that was where I would end up. I worked as a department sales person, then a substitute teacher.
And then I went to France, after not finding a job. Just for a few months of teaching English…and applied to business school.
Since then my path has taken the turns I would have considered the most unlikely, and probably the least desirable as well- I’ve made a career out of my lifelong love of language, in a business setting. I am not a do-gooder by trade, though I consider myself an unofficial diplomat- both as part of my career and just the reality of expat life and wanting to show the best side of my country.
I’m also doing pretty well at my job. Working in a business setting has been pretty fun, and the public policy wonky world of DC is just a dim image in the rearview mirror. I miss my students, but I can’t imagine getting up and doing the same thing everyday and planning lessons and all of that. I enjoyed being a charismatic mentor, but I’m not sure I could take the everyday routineness of teaching.
After scorning the idea of staying in France and saying it was completely impossible, I found myself possessed of a desire to stay, then left, and came back, only to feel I could never belong here.
I’m learning a lot, by virtue of working in a company where there is always something else to do, and find that I”m probably much more satisfied than if I were in a PhD program. I may be an intellectual, but at this point I think I’m more of a student of life than an academic scholar.
In other words, in very large part, I have gotten exactly what I wanted- an intrinsically motivating career that has every hope of becoming more and more materially rewarding as well, living in a place that is literally the stuff of dreams, where my everyday reality thrills my inner bohemian romantic, and yeah, I speak French fluently, which is something I always wanted since I was a child. Still can’t tell you why. THe more I know, the more there is to learn, and the pursuit of mastery in French is really one of the quiet, hidden joys of my life. It is an understated pleasure I take for granted but have found it sad to live without.
I have every possibility of going to new climes as well. In addition to having a corporate job, I”m writing a lot and being published. My job has, ironically- though why should it be ironic for a job to be helpful- rekindled the joy of communication and writing for me, and while I thought communications and PR were rather light and frivolous and I should be doing more serious “strategic marketing,” or something like that, I’m finding that the gift I take most for granted, and the strength I nurture with great joy, has indeed helped me earn my daily bread. Not everything at my job is the joy of writing, but the art of communicating well- especially in a cross-cultural setting- is part and parcel of my everyday existence.
I am like a fish in water, so incredibly blessed. I was about to say lucky, but the truth is that it’s more than that, and I shouldn’t give away credit. There was a lot of hard work along the way. ANd the hardest knocks came from inside me.
I have made a lot of mistakes on this path. In losing myself, I have lost control of some aspects of my life I always thought I had figured out. I gained a bunch of weight and I charged up my credit cards.
I seemingly lost my motivation to excel while in school, and thought about dropping out every day for a semester.
I have fallen in and out of love, and finally admitted that the person I thought was my soulmate, even if he did love me, would not be right person for my life’s journey. ANd probably, someone who I would never have thought will be a much better fit.
Because I am not at all the person I set out to be. It’s been hard to let go of the person I should be- not least being that I live thousands of miles from my family when I love them a lot and my moom’s only injunction when I gradutated from colelge was to have a US mailing address.
Saorry not sorry Mom. ANd By the grace of God, Mom isn’t sorry too- she’s proud of me, and not just for the travel and the accomplishements, for the fact that I do and dare to follow my heart. Even when it seems selfish and rebellious.
Accepting who I am, and accepting my destiny- and the talents and gifts I had no idea I posessed- has not come easily. I’ve always been quick to point out a flaw, but in this case, I have to scrap the whole project of who I thought I was supposed to be and call myself a fialure. ” This wasn’t my dream,” I thought to myself every day. But I don’t see myself anywhere else, doing anythng else.
I am where I am meant to be. For now. And the path I’m on todesn’t have signs, but I am following it, with sheercourage, better every day.
This is my life, this is my path. I am this person.
It hasn’t been easy to accept this revlation at times. Not because I wasn’t racived by others with love, but because it was hard to receive my self with love.
SO hard to banish the fantasy, and the inconvenient, uncomfortable turth that you don’t always get wht you want. You dont’ often know what you really do, nd youd desires are choosing every day.
But somehow, in the end, you are both the enfant, the nouveu-ne, and the wise elder in the back. At all times.
But let’s go back to being merry and bold and bright and cheerful.
And believe that not only does God have a plan for us, but it far exceeds our own.
I know tell that to all the suffering people whose maladies could be cured but for want of money, or to those who cant be cured.
Once thing is certain- in this life, if we are living from the place f GOd within us, is not goig to be easy.
And we have to give up a lot of things along the way. not just bad things, but good things that have reached their stopping point. And that’s ok.
God be with you Peace! Namaste,
I don’t know what’s next
And that’s tremendously freeing. Life is easier this way, floating with the current, but fully intact, fully aware that in no small part, it is my hopes and dreams I am floating on.
Accepting my treasure has not been easy.
But I’m here now.
Just needed to let thouose boundaries go, instead of defining my life away.
And more importantly, thank God for the person that I am. THe person He/She made me to be.
I went to the doctor today with a few minor complaints, mainly so I could get a prescription to go see a physical therapist to rehabilitate my ankle, which I sprained this summer, hoped would get better, went back to the gym and it was worse than usual, and just recently twisted which has made it start hurting again.
When I was at the point of not being able to leave my room because it was so swollen, I was filled with gratitude for all the things I took for granted that I can normally do without thinking. It is very hard hard to smell the roses or even get outside when you have aches and pains, an injury, or a real disability.
My mom has a health problem and can’t walk very well anymore. Everytime I post a picture on facebook of my travels, I am seeing for her what she may never get a chance to see. It makes me feel very sad to think that, and sometimes I have felt guilty for leaving her. But you know what? I am living more fully because of my mom, and for my mom, and I think that’s the whole point.
SO anyway I was at the doctor and feeling super ashamed of showing him the little plantar’s wart on my foot to get an opinion, and he was like, “o no problem, the dermatologist will take that off for you.”
And I told him about trying to get healthier since I assumed he noticed I was overweight, although all he did was ask whether I’d had a blood test and said my blood pressure was perfect. He didn’t say a thing.
When all was said and done and I had referrals for a few specialists and his advice on weight loss, during which he assured me I should not deprive myself nad should take things slow and easy, I said, “while I”m in France I have to take advantage of the health system,” and he said, “rather, enjoy your good health!”
And that put things into perspective for me a bit. I may have warts on my feet, some extra pounds on my body, and a still recovering ankle, but overall I am in pretty tip-top condition.
And such is life. I have made a lot of mistakes, yet in the main I”m doing very well.
And in the case of my ankle, as for other things, the fact it took me so long to admit how bad the problem was probably increased the severity and the healing time. With the ankle, there was the whole matter of getting my health insurance straightened out, but even stil, I should have taken care of it earlier.
But you know what? I am living in a foreign country, killing it at my job, speak French so well sometimes people don’t even compliment me on it anymore, they just go about their business of treating me or whatever it might be, and yes, I got health insurance. And o by the way, I dealt with being immobile and out of work for two weeks this summer with a lot of help from one friend but navigating a foreign medidcal system on my own, from emergency room to finding a doctor who would come to me since I couldn’t leave my apartment.
It sounds more overhwleming than it felt at the time; I just dealt with it.
But sometimes for me it’s a delayed reaction, and I”m just thinking, damn, that really sucked, a few months or weeks or whatever after the fact.
I was soo sad after seeing the doctor. His compassion and not being hard on me when I was being hard on myself just really let a lot of feelings come out.
I’ve been in a good mood and pretty high energy, especailly after cleaning my room from top to bottom and geting rid of a bunch of stuff, but this just brought me back to my dark days- of first world problems.
Tha tbeing sad, it was pretty hard.
The truth is, your dreams don’t come true and you don’t get the life you want without a little bit of resistance and pain. SOme things have to die to make room for others to grow.
The life I am living is the one I want now. Though sometimes, we dont get exactly what we want, or what we want isn’t what we thought it was, or what we expected.
Although in my experience, when you are acting from your most authentic self, GOd and friends and a friendly universe lend a hand.
Though I ask myself, why did I suffer so much in the midst of so many good things happening to me? WHy was I so sad when I had every reason to be happy?
And I think the reason comes from thisese circumstances forcing you to confront old beliefs.
Old beliefs that almost everyone holds.
Like, I am a horrible person for not being a size XX.
Or, I should always mange to save some money, especially since I”m finally making a good salary.
Or, why do I keep making the same mistake with the sam eguy, over and over? WHy did it take 3 years for that lesson to sink in? If I’m so great, why doesn’t anyone want me?
And on and on like that.
Instead of saying, I am beautiful, but I have flouride stains on my teeth making them appear more yellow and I am too heavy and am not slender and elegant and willowy, why can’t I say, I have a beautiful smile and gorgeous curves?
When I make my plans for myself, I alway s exepct the absolute best from myself. Like today, when I said I would finish my cleaning job but I didn’t because I was feeling down and had low energy.
That being siad, that justified a whole lot of inaction on my part in the past few years, and led to all kinds of problems, but sometimes you have to just relax for a bit.
Sometimes that’s the best thing you can do for yourself.
And you know what, I’m only human.
I need to forgive myself those mistakes, the frustration.
I need to stop feeling like i have to make up for everything before I can be forgiven, before I can get back to zero. I will have to bear the consequences, sure, but ultimately, I need to feel good about myself too.
Punishing myself hasn’t really helped.
It just makes everythin ffeel like shit, even when you do do a fabulous job, because nothing is ever as you expected it to be.
But you know what, that’s ok.
I am not living the life I expected, I am living the life I imagined, more and more.
It’s amazing, but it’s not “perfect.”
It is not hte Platonic form I hd in my hea. I am far from the Platonic form myself.
But maybe life is not about finding Platonic forms where you expect to, or perhaps not the form of perfection you expected.
Maybe it’s about living in Paris.
Maybe it’s about finding the perfect partner, but the one you least expecte and wouldn’t have picked out on your own. I have always struggled with this.
Maybe it means that you are not in the career you wanted to be in, which was initially a compromise but now you are no longer attracted to your original dream. It requires a bit of an identity shift.
And you may fin your new job, lover, or lifestyle, has the very essence of what you hoped for, if not in the form you imagined.
It is a huge blow ot the ego to not gt what we thought we wanted, or to find that something we idn’t expect makes us happy. It’s really hard to admit ou are not the person you thought you were.
And when you take the blinders off and stop looking for somethnig in particular, life as a whole is pretty beautiful.