Joy in the Journey

Originally posted on Morning Story and Dilbert:

Morning Story and Dilbert Vintage Dilbert
July 29, 1998

If you have ever been discouraged because of failure, please read on.

For often, achieving what you set out to do is not the important thing. Let me explain.

Two brothers decided to dig a deep hole behind their house. As they were working, a couple of older boys stopped by to watch.

“What are you doing?” asked one of the visitors.

“We plan to dig a hole all the way through the earth!” one of the brothers volunteered excitedly.

The older boys began to laugh, telling the younger ones that digging a hole all the way through the earth was impossible.

After a long silence, one of the diggers picked up a jar full of spiders, worms and a wide assortment of insects. He removed the lid and showed the wonderful contents to the scoffing visitors.

Then he said quietly and confidently, “Even if…

View original 201 more words

Choosing not to have problems- Defining Success

Tags

, , , , ,

Now that the problem of what I iwll do for work next year and where I want to be have been solved, praise be, my tendency is to want to pick other areas of my life to improve, or rather, get up to speed.

Because everything is a problem.

Becuase there is some fixed ideal of how I should be.

Because life is meaningless without something going wrong that I need to make ight.

Because my ego wants to cling to the idea that “I” know what’s best for my life and that the means of achieving it are all within my power- related to this being the belief that anything that is “wrong” is a reflection of my lack of worthiness and the fact that I “don’t deserve it.”

Well, Ifinally recognize that this is not the answer.

Achieving goals is not what gves my life meaning- life is meaningful within itslef.

I don’t deserve happiness because I achieve something, I deserve happiness because I  am a child of the light.

I”m not talking about living a life of denial when something’s really wrong. Or being ocmpletely without hopes and dreams.

But desie can be quite empty.

And seeing everything in your life as a project is really exhausting.

Living my life as a problem to be solved or a question to be answered isn’t eally working for me.

So let’s try something else- being happy and going with the flow, and not making my “results” my identity.

Because ‘m a whole lot more than that.

Well, I recognize that living like that is not the answer.

Satisfaction and Peace- Changing the inner landscape

Tags

, , , , ,

So, as mentioned, I do love France, and I feel at home here. I haven’t lost my spirit of adventure, but I’m not looking to leave anytime soon, and if I do leave, I would like to be able to easily come back.

Not everything is perfect in my life, and I am far frmo a perfect person.

But despite my imperfections, I am satisfied.

My life is realy full.

Like I said, that’s not to say ther’s no room for imrovement.

But hey, that’s part of life.

And “m happy, and not looking to be anywhere else or change my life in any particularly dramatic way- except finding love, btu that’s something I really give up to GOd.

I’ve finally come t othe conclusion that no mater how many wants or dreams I achieve with the grace of God, there will always be more. And many times when you get something you want, even though you love it, there will be moments you kind of hate it to.  But it’s worth sticking with.

That might be the most valuable lesson France has taught me.

And somehow, dreamer of many dreams that I am, this is the dream that I least expectedly to come true, least expected to stick  with, and least expected to love so deeply.

Yes, love.

I don’t know what the future holds, and I do hope to continue traveling and maybe one day finding a temporary home.

But you know what, this is it.

I don’t want to say this is as good as it gets, but I do hve to say, in an imperfect world where there’s no where that’s Heaven on Earth,  I have found my little hexagon of preferred residence.

For now, and maybe forever.

And that’s really something.

THis is  huge change to my inner landscape

TO all my “plans,” and schemes

And also, to the false gods of materialism and fashionable pessimism

To melancholy and excess and being a spoiled child.

I can’t go back to th eperson I was, either.

I am truly changed.

Always adaptable, but really not the same, never the same person.

And I dont

This is a big change for me.

It doesn’t show up on my miles logged, but it does feel like I’ve found a completely new wrld within myself.

And this has forced me to see the place that’s now becoming famiiair, and dear, with new eyes.

ANd I”m not tired of it.

Going with the flow, and self acceptance

Tags

, , , , ,

For a change, I’m not trying to swim agains the current and buck the tide.

I’m actually overall pretty happyw ith the direction of my life.

I’ve come to see my career as a string of beads with each bead as a unique experience, and not just about a destination. Yes, there is a comon thread, but ultimately each moment is beautiful in itself as well. ANd maybe I’m not yet all i want to be , but it is about the journey- because that’s what ife is.

I cn be fulfilled in my career even if I’m not doing anything and everything I think I might like.

I’m working from a place of satisfaction, allowing my cup to runneth over, and not lack.

I realize now that a happy life is going to have a lot of ups and downs.

The best decisions you make can still leave you guessing, and they are usually the easiest/hardest to make.

ANd now I am here.

And here is really, truly where I want to be.

I’m so blessed.

I have accepted my secret, even from myself, wish to stay in France indefinitely.

I accept that I found myself here, as an expat, and don’t really want to go back, thoughI Love my country and my family and friends.

I thank God for that, and remain open to the universe.

And so, so happy. A deeply satisfied heureuse, and not just a momentary contente.

Good vibrations

Tags

, , , , , ,

So I went back home for vacation and to a wedding in North Carolina. I marveled at the space, at how cheap clothing and shoe are, at how happy and optimistic people can seem, and how I felt like I had taken five pounds weights off my feet I’d forgotten were there. HOw easy it felt, to be at home?

NOw that I’ve accepted a permanent contract in France, spending time at home doesn’t feel like a quick break to see family but rather a real vacation, something different entirely. Kind of the level of ease of sitting on the beach at an all inclusive resort all day. It doesn’t feel like going home, really, it feels like going to see my parents and family and friends where I grew up. Because I come “home,” to France.

I couldn’t believe what I put myself through on an everyday basis being in France. It felt kind of sadomasochistic to force myself to go so far in the name of growth.

But actually that’s a big fat lie, “m not forcing anything. And it’s not only for growth or to accomplish something that “m here. I don’t feel like I have anything to prove. I do want to stay here longenough to be bi-cultural, but it’s not like I have a specific timeframe on a to-do list, except to speak even more kick-ass French.

I went to Philly, where I went to grad school after studying abroad in Paris and was miserable. Seeing it with fresh eyes, it was a cute little city with a fair amount of cultural stuff, a nice downtown, and wasn’t too expensive. Not a snooty place either. What’s not to like? I asked myself, why didnt I like living there? WOuld I try it again someday?

And the answer is, much as i enjoyed revisiting to my little haunts of an afternoon, I just felt a bit out of sync with the city. SOmething just felt off. ANd i could see how it was like trying to play a piano that was out of tune. THe vibration was just off. Ijust didn’t feel good there. WHile i can think of many potential explanations, the shseer fct tht was it just didn’t fit.

And I”m beginning to think fit is one of the most important things in life.

So I had another perspective on why I got so down in the dumps /I thik if I hdn’t already experienced Paris, or even DC, I might hve really enjoyed PHilly.OR maybe it was just never meant to be amy city, I don’t know. I di dhve some goo times there, but it just wasnt’ quite right and no amount of trying to convince myself would change the feeling.

I cme back to Paris, in my “populaire” neighborhood with concrete high rises and not just Hausmanien facades, and I felt good. I was really happy to be there.

When I went to go red a book next to the Canal, I felt the concrete welcome me.

Inexplicable, or t east, not entirely rational, but very real.

So her I am, loving Paris. ompletely aware of its flaws, swept up into the rhythms of dily life, having learned to coplain like the best of them, but here nd quite happy, and all me.

And I”ve accepted the fact that the center of gravity of my life, personal and professional, has shifted here.

And I’ve accepted myself nd the fact that I love it.

This has made a huge difference in my quality of life the last few days, realizing this.

Makes me feel a ton of gratitude.

And more confident in myself for having taking the leap.

And quite proud of myself in a way for having left to continue my studies. It was really brave of me to leave the firt place I ever felt truly at home and accepted, and I did it. I saw the the whole world and this is where I’ve chosen to stake my claim.

And someday, I hope, I’ll have the guts and opportunity to try something else for a little while, if only to come back. If only to make me appreciate more where I am home, and feel again the sweetness of first discovery.

But here is where I did it first,where I lived on myown as an expat, and some part of me took root here, and also, perhaps I did always feeel a bt of a call.

Even if I did’t dare admit it to myself.

My life is not maximized here, nd I can’t optimize everything because I am not a robot. I am not the person that I thought I should be eiher. I think I’m a prson that somewhere deep down I really wanted to be and didn’t dare, including my flaws which I ow and try to take responsibility for.

But I have anything I need to be the person and live my lfe the way I want to, nd this is the background tapestry I chose for my life.

THere’s no place I rather be.

Even harder truths

Tags

, ,

So I just talked to my friend whose place I’m staying in now. just before he left to go to brazil indefinitely i realized i might possibly be able to develop feelings for him, so i was sad to hear he’s probably not coming back any time soon.

anway we did some talking about life

i told him i really want to find true love, and he says it doesn’t exist in a person

it exists in realizing the truth of what you are

– part of the universe, not separate, all that jazz, part of God

so yeah, he’s right of course

i think that’s reallyimportant to remember

i just came from a friend’s wedding, where finding a soulmate seemed to be pretty paramount

but yeah, finding your soul is more important, even if your ego would rather prefer you to go chasing your own tail on match.com

have also realized i would much prefer to work in an academic environment and be some kind of teacher- in a way i feel like i didn’t do a good job of answering the earlier calling but i did the best i could

and the truth is that just because you are standing in front of a classroom doesn’t really make you a teacher

you can be in a purpose driven environment with much nicer people working for a huge coproration rather than in a backbiting non profit or in academia where people are so worried about their careers they don’t have academic freedom

there is hypocrisy everywhere

but

luckily

th epurpose of my life is not my job

or my marriage

and whether i am good or not doesn’t depend on my weight or income or place of residence

i am part of the unvierse, and it’s really alll good

and there is purpose, but it is not to be found easily looking just at my individual life

and there is love, all around me, regarldess of whether it has manifested in a relationship recently, and i am love

quite literally

and maybe i can cut myself some slack for my dark night of the soul, my weight gain, my mba, my career ups ad downs, my escapades,

even the risks I took

becuase it is kind of all part of the dance

it doesn’t have to all be resolved and make sense right now inmy life

i don’t have to hae all my desires fulfilled

and even if i did i would still have more, and be unsatisfied

and that’s ok

just part of the dance

so yeah maybe my biggest problems are not tactical, they are mystical and philosophical

there are some beliefs i’ve been holding on to that i need to let go

life will make sense regardless of when i get what i want

life is good now

there’s nothing to worryabout

even with all the death and destruction and corruption

there is a grand design

and maybe that’s what we need to remember more than anything else

Getting What You Want Won’t Make You Happy, Unless You LET Yourself Be Happy!

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Really.

I think that’s how I can some up, wel, maybe the last two years.

I wanted to do business school, and get a scholarship to go.

I did it, and I second guessed myself 90% of the way.

I wanted a job, and sometimes I say I see no meaning or purpose to what I do.

Most of all, I wanted to come to Paris mroe than anything, I came here, and I was still miserable.

Maybe not as miserable as before, but still deep in the merde and fog of depression.

Things didn’t seem to go right, even though I had followed my heart- even doing so through pragmatic means, so there was no real reason to fret- both reason and passion should have been satisfied.

But no, I continued my excessive and self destructive and self sabotaging behavior, although perhaps less than before for some things.

I stayed in the fog, felt guilty for being ungrateful and unhappy, ad beat myself up every time a challenge occurred, blaming myself for it all and scorning myself for not having taken an easier- or suposedly easier- path.

In other words, I had everything and more to be happy- nothng at all reallyto complain about- but I still found reasons to complain.

It wasn’t perfect, but it was what I wanted- and I didn’t really want to change it and did nothing to that effect- but I still was not happy.

With every tangible success, with every proof there’s more to me than I thought, with every time I have courage to go for what I really want and face the unknown, with every truly roaring success story that I can only see as a failure in some twisted way, I have faced ever greater resistance.

At one point it was subconscious, but now it’s come out of hiding for what it is- just another form of the inner critic, ego at its worst.

It’s the voice that says, you are a horrible person for not going to the gym.

It’s also the voice that says, it is gonna suck if you go to the gym, you are so out of shape, you’ll be falling behind, you deserve the shame and humiliation.

It is the voice that says, if things were right and you hadn’t fucked up your life you would have no problem going to the gym.

ANd it’s the voice that will say, look I told you so, it’s already been proven before, you have no willpower and you are a failure at everything that matters.

And it gets worse- look at you wasting your most fertile beautiful years being fat, how do you ever expect to meet someone decent looking the way you do? Your stock is going down.

And when I do meet someone who likes me as I am, they are inevitably not good enough for me some how, not compatible, or really the guy is just lying.

So yeah, there are many ups and downs of living in Paris, but it’s nothing compared to the rollercoaster inside my head.

I’m a bit lost and struggling.

My sense is that I just have to push harder, but the more I push thinking the only way to justify myself is to achieve to prove the voice wrong, I’m not sure if it’s just another form of strengthening the voice.

Can’t I just heal, and do things that are good out of love for myself, and not needing to prove something?

Can’t I just be happy, and be motivated positively instead of always thinking I”m not enough?

Can I learn to achieve without hating myself into it?

Can I be happy even when I haven’t made it to the top?

Will I ever be satisfied?

Can I ever just be happy for myself and proud once in a while?

I am getting there, and I think it’s possible. :)

Home Sweet Home

So I have moved, and, been offered a full time permanent position, which would enable me to stay in France indefinitely.

I just got wifi today.

And I feel really happy, and like I belong, and at home.

There have been some tough moments lately.

Yesterday I was tempted to walk away, when faced with a small problem that was actually easily solved. And later on in the day I had an incredible evening at a book signing with the guy who wrote the book “A Year in the Merde” and many others about anglophone impressions of France.

And most of my problems, after all, while they can be aggravated by France, are mostly linked to growing up, and struggling with existential depression/being overly self critical and judgmental/general negativity.

I’ve realized most of my bad habits are actually about self hatred when it comes down to it- not feeling an inherent self worth, I feel an enormous pressure to succeed at the usually unrealistic goals I set for myself. But then when I”m feeling sad or mad especiall, or I go and compare myself to other people, or somethign happens ot pique my self hatred, or really just habitually, I will do the opposite of the thing I know is good for me, which will give me the guilt/shame high that I need to perpetuate the cycle. ANd then I will nurse those feelings in unhealthy ways, and then hate myself more.

I feel like I’ve done this from a young age. I would like to exorcise the self hatred which would also require letting go of control of my life in a big way and not being a perfectionist.

In general I’ve got pretty ogood gig and I want to just go with the flow.

Sometimes it’s the thins that you weren’t supposed to fall in love with that make you the most happy, no matter how hard you try and fight it.

And sometimes misery is just so comfortable, and self criticism is such an ingrained habit, that we waste very precious and special moments of our lives just to gratify the self hating ego.

WHich is the only real mistake you can make, becausyou are depriving yourself of experiencing life.

And that’s the only thing thatwe can’t in the end get more of.

I finally have come home- it just wasn’t on the same side of the ocean as I intended.

And that’s finally ok.

The Journey to Wholeness

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

“You are never farther than when you don’t know where you are going.”

THe past few years have been really tough, but I’ve gotten to a point where I have accepted the place of not knowing. so much of my life was spent chasing after illusory certainty; in the form of achievement, co-dependent relationships, and trying to fit an ideal of beauty, goodness, correctness.

Though I met with uncommon success in many endeavors, I never really felt happier than I have at some of the lowest moments, when I just relaxed and prayed and smiled at the fact it was such a beautiful day. Or just the peace and joy of being alive, although growth often means following rocky roads. I have grown exponentially, I have shed misguided paradigms and let go of neuroses: coming to a point of realization, beyond jadedness and cynicism, to this; this is it, and reality- including the real me- is enough.

There was perhaps no more vicious battleground in the conquest of success to wipe away the constant feeling of shame and unworthiness than my body. I truly believed I had to have a certain body to be worthy of love, and to call myself a successful person. Recently I have rebelled against this idea, and gone to the extreme of sensual abandon and gluttony- but overindulgence is just another form of the same disease as self-starvation. I really can’t remember any moments in my life, except recently, where I felt perfectly at home in my body and happy with it. WOrking out helped me embrace my power, as well as beauty, and my sexuality helped me turn inwards to appreciate all that I am capable of experiencing in this form. The admiring, accepting, non-judgmental eyes of men were incredibly therapeutic to be quite frank. And seeing other women with similar forms as beautiful in the “embrace your curves” campaigns has been really helpful as well. Incredibly, even when I was losing weight and quite healthy without making any real effort to watch my weight, I still didn’t really feel happy with myself and mourned the fact that no matter what I did, I would always e “too big”- never a size 0 or 2 or even a 6 or 8, never tiny and petite and delicate, never willowy or really slender. And eventually I turned to food in times of stress, since I never really felt good anyway, and gained quite a bit of weight. Through the grace of god, this weight has shown me what unconditional love people have for me- that I don’t have to be perfect, or striving to be, that even if I fall of the wagon for a moment or even if I stop off of it entirely, there are still things about me to be proud of, and there’s ultimately nothing wrong with me. And it’s in this body, with more than a little extra, that I could love myself as I am, that I could love the so-called imperfections, that I could be not just slightly rebelliously overweight, but just cheerily thick and plump. I htink in the beginning it was partially to draw attention to my inner suffering, and to ward off men, and in away to express how unlovable I felt on the inside and how much I feared my own deep desires. Now it feels more like a much beloved home that I have neglected a bit, and I feel like I am finally able ot focus on being healthy instead of only being healthy in order to be thin. I htink I can finally do good for myself without being motivated by shame that I”m not good enough as I am or that there is something inherently wrong with me and I need to fix myself.  I don’t even need to be striving for the perfect body; I can just take care of myself- out of love, never shame.

So yeah, I’m feeling good.

Pretty much for the first time in my life.

In terms of going to business school, where I put on most of said weight and generally suffered a lot on the inside, even though on the outside things seemed to be going really well, I just realized the depth of the friends that I formed, and that alone was worth something- a lot actually. I found a career that I like, that I never would have imagined doing, that was never my plan, but works for me and lets me live a life I love right now. ANd to be honest, I really like my job most of the time. Leadership, communication, travel, cross-cultural stuff are my passions, and I get all of that in my current career. I have changed a lot, but in general it’s for the better. I do miss teaching at times and I would like to be some kind of freelance writer, but those things will come with time I think. And whatever I do in the future, even if it has nothing to do with business, I’m learning life lessons and how to work with people, which will be valuable my whole life. Plus, it helps me stay in France, and French is a really passion for me.

SOme days I feel closer to being able to put my finger on why. I am very articulate in giving a brekadown of what doenst work here, whereas what does work is much more difficult to put in the words. Suffice it to say I’m happy here for the moment, and that is enough. ANd I am learning and growing a lot.

For my love life, I feel much more like a complete person already, which is great. I feel less and less ned of love, though more and more want of it. But I realize it will be an exhilarating and terrifying at times new adventure. I am getting used to the idea that with the right person, I won’t be held back but rather lifted to the sky; and I am also more open to who that right person might be and how he may come to me. I don’t think real love is the clingy, saccharine, linear,well-defined thing I learned about in films and movies and even in the supposed parable of my own parent’s marriage. And I feel more and more confidence that it will come in it own time, when I am busy making other plans- although maybe I will leave a bit of room in them. At this point though there are still miles of things left to do on my bucket list, and I am not always the person I would like to be, I am a pretty awesome work in progress and whole as I am. Maybe in the future I”ll look back and say, wow, I didn’t know shit back then. But at the moment, I feel calmness and relief and spaciousness and peace like I didn’t ever really know before. ANd I think if someone wanted oto come share some of that space now, it would be ok.

ANd I hope he will stay forever and our paths will never part, but I know I will be ok without him if it comes to that. I don’t think true love is about fear of losing someone as much as it is what you gain by loving them, and letting yourself be loved. Love is powerful stuff and if you let someone love you, it certainly will change your life.

My perfect man is probably not a Catholic, white American like the cheese, slightly right wing, adorably in touch with his feminine side, Notebook-loving Marine turned economist anymore. Especially not when that person is not really open to giving and receiving love, and the timing is not right, let alone all the other ways in which the person may be great in theory but in practice probably couldn’t love me the way that I want to be loved. Who would love like a settling down but not necessarily an adventure, who is not necessarily able to put more out there and risk more than he has to give. My true love is not someone I have save, or teach, or make excuses for, but he may not match up to the fantasies of my fragile ego and will belong to the path I am actually on, and not the road not taken, that I always thought I would take by default.

No, maybe my lover is a true man like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-tW0CkvdDI

incredibly masculine and proud and strong and beautiful, though maybe not muscle bound and straight-edge.

ON an even deeper level, I’d say my vision of God him/herself has changed too. I continue to practice as a Catholic and even participate in special prayer novenas, but I definitely don’t take the pope as God’s representative on earth and instead of calling myself a progressive Catholic on the edges of the community and posessed of the most genuine spirit of Catholicism and not the anti-body, neo-Platonic bs, I’d say that my walk towards GOd, while enriched by my Catholic community, is more of an individual path through the twists and turns of my life more so than the institutional CHurch. I would still want to baptise my baby and probably celebrate my marriage in a church, but I know that churches are there for men and not for GOd, GOd does not need the big beautiful building but we so often do. ANd it’s beautiful and in service to God, so there’s nothing wrong with it, but there’s also nothing wrong with realizing He really is everywhere and in everything. I haven’t really worked it out yet and I don’t expect to. I want very sincerely to please God and I hope I am corrected if it is obstinacy and not genuine understanding that makes me take space from the church, but at this time I remember the spiritual courage of all those once excluded by the church now revered as saints and I feel that that is also a way to God, and quite possibly a truer one.

So my understanding of God, life, love, and even having a body, has expanded considerably. I no longer have a goal or welldefined ideal; I’m not even trying to define one. But what I do have is a direction, and the whisper of my heart, and the lapping of the oars against the water as I row further and further away from the shore, not really sure of where I am going, but ever more sure of the Way.

~

I am actually about to move to a new apartment and won’t have internet there for a few weeks. i’m also going to morocco and very excited about that. I”m not really sure about whether I’ll start up the blog again, this seems as beautiful an ending to a tumultuous and incredible time in my life that prompted me to write the blog as any.  So maybe I will see you again, and maybe I wont; or perhaps it will be in another form.

In any event, please know that your support has been incredibly transformative for me. You have been a big part of the path and I want to thank every one of you who read even just one time. I hope I’ve been able to give you something as well.

God bless you and namaste.

MJ

Silence is a good sign!

Tags

, , , ,

I feel like I have less to say and think, and more that I am just accepting.

I’ve been tortured over whether to stay or go, but I know I”m going to stay, and I’ll find a way to make it financially viable.

I’ve found my voice, and learned to listen to my heart, so while I will deal with practical matters, I won’t let greed or ambition or social pressure drown out my inner voice.

Most of all, I won’t let my need for achievement crowd out my happiness in the moment. I will let myself feel happy no matter how “imperfect,” I may be or how far I have strayed from the plan.

I will let myself find my center, and my bottom, and feel my bottomless ego driven desires fulfilled by something deeper and more spiritual.

I will let myself love France, and Paris.

I will even let myself love my corporate job. I’m not working for the man; I’m working for me.

ANd most of all, I will open my heart to love in all its forms. Even if it doesn’t come the way I expected, even if it doesn’t fit the checklist, I will receive the person who fills my HEART with JOY and my soul wih Rapture, and I will let this person into my life and give him a place to stay, permanently.

I will let myself commit.

I will let myself folow God’s path for me an dnot the one that I planned on.

I will let myself love life.

I will stop striving for any outside ideal of perfection.

I won’t put off being happy.

I won’t be fooled into thinking that things or achievements are what life is about.

I will find my meaning in discovery, in giving, in learning and leading, and teaching, and most of all in loving.

I will finally let me love myself.

I will throw away the checklist I had for myself, asking only that I b happy, healthy, truly wealthy, loved, in love, loving, kind, and wise- to be radiant, inside and out.

I am so grateful, and so ready for more good things no matter how far they take me off course! Life is for living.  I’m glad I finally get that.

Truly I am better off than a mere billionaire= while I am open ot change in my life, at this moment I am really, truly, happy an dI have the grace to know it.

I pray the same for you.

Namaste,

MJ

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 474 other followers