Reverse Pregnancy

I am eaten from the inside out
Down to nothing-liver, spleen, ego
Consumed by the dark fire that is She
Soon nothing will be left
Not fear or hate, not anxiety or love
Certainly not that love that is clinging,
For attention, for approval.
No, She is gnawing me down to negative space
Erasing all my memories, all my shame
All the things that made me.

Nothing remains but the pregnant pause
Ex nihilo, the fruitful emptiness
I spring forth
Emerging from a slit in the spacious sky
Nothing but glory, beautiful and terrible.
Being, not belonging.

Neither owning nor owned,
She has come to rule the world,
She has come to surpass it.

Advertisements

Reverse Pregnancy

I am eaten from the inside out
Down to nothing-liver, spleen, ego
Consumed by the dark fire that is She
Soon nothing will be left
Not fear or hate, not anxiety or love
Certainly not that love that is clinging,
For attention, for approval.
No, She is gnawing me down to negative space
Erasing all my memories, all my shame
All the things that made me.

Nothing remains but the pregnant pause
Ex nihilo, the fruitful emptiness
I spring forth
Emerging from a slit in the spacious sky
Nothing but glory, beautiful and terrible.
Being, not belonging.

Neither owning nor owned,
She has come to rule the world,
She has come to surpass it.

Womanunculus

I want to grow down
to a womanunculus
So I can pass too tiny to notice
without springing a single mousetrap called “should”
I want to be born as the child that never saw the light
Lost in the matrix, killed by an itsy bitsy spider
trying to deserve the love that came for free, without asking.

Things I’m a little bit mad at my mother for

Tags

, , , , ,

That time you told me that I like going abroad because I’m weird and in France it’s normal for me to be weird because I”m not from there and not supposed to be normal while in the US I’m just weird

that time you told me no wonder I have a boyfriend with all that weird stuff I post on facebook, and then one day once other people started liking my stuff you did too

that time you told me, “I don’t know what you want- you want everything, to have a family and a career.”

the numerous times you told me you were afraid I would be one of those parents who just gave money but not time to their children

that time you told me I must travel alone because I don’t know how to be part of a community and I am selfish

all those times you told me that if I loved you I would have stayed, in so many words

that time you read my fantasy book and you told me you couldn’t understand why I liked it

that time when I was a little girl and I told you I wanted to run away because I felt like no one understood me and you told me I was an ungrateful brat

all those times you used shame to make me be a good girl to the point I still wonder if I’m a good enough person no matter what I do

the fact that you socialized me to be a doormat like you

the fact that I fear motherhood because I might just become a self sacrificing martyr like you and lose my identity

the fact that I filter everything through the way that you think and have probably missed out on great guys or didn’t give them enough consideration because you think that you have to share the same country and religion to be a good match

when you tell me to shut up about my fears about being single forever, because if I can’t talk to you then who can I talk to?

when you tell me it’s normal my best friend has changed completely and given up most of her interests since getting into a serious relationship, getting married, and now pregnant

the fact that you can’t confront people and are passive aggressive adn I go to great lengths to try not to be like you

the fact that you are so good and generous that I feel like a horrible selfish ungrateful bitch to think even one ill thing of you

the fact that I’m almost thirty and I just now realized that maybe you aren’t the person you taught me to idealize you to be, and maybe my family is not as ideal as I was indoctrinated to believe

the fact that you will always be the last person to go ahead and fly my freak flag proudly, because you are afraid of people and just want to blend in and be socially accepted and have no backbone

the fact that I am mad at you just after I am reasonably sure I have your approval since I’m the only one of your adult children who is independent

the way you reacted when you found out I had sex and didn’t tell you. Of course I wouldn’t tell you! It is fair to lie in order to do what belongs to myself.

the fact that you are normally so good that I fear thinking one bad thing about you.

the fact I can’t imagine life outside of your template

the fact that you continued to send me to Catholic school when I came home terrified I would go to hell

the fact that you told me you lovED me so much as a baby you didn’t want to go back to work, although you did because just taking care of a baby was boring and you liked adult company, so you went back part time. What does that mean if I don’t love my baby enough to want to dial down my career?

the fact that motherhood is as close as you ever got to empowerment in your life, that you are only confrontationwith your children and husband and not towards anyone else in your life, and you never got a chance to be an individual because you spent your entire life suffocated by your family

the fact that i feel like a horrible person because I find love suffocating and co-dependent

the fact that you never let me fail when I procrastinated, or let me feel like I failed at anything

the way you explained it away when other people performed better than me to make me feel better and that I shouldn’t expect myself to overcome barriers

your general distrust of management which makes me hate myself as  a white collar person even though this is what you wanted me to be

you don’t have the balls to love me when I am weird and different

you treated me as an ugly duckling and only let it be ok to be different when I accomplished something

you always gave in to my sisters and taught me to be non confrontational and self sacrificing like you

mostly the fact that I fear becoming you so I fear having a family of my own, because if I don’t do it by your rules I will hate myself, and if I don’t do it by my own rules, I will hate myself

the fact that motherhood robbed you of any chance of having a life outtside of caring for others

all of the anxiety, perfectionism, and self loathing you bequeathed me

not modeling good boundaries

not being someone i could talk to without fear of judgment

feeling like you didn’t even know me even if you took care of me without fault|

that your voice is my inner critic, and i feel i have to listen to you to be safe :/

My Sacred Space

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

home sweet home. I’ve been trying to write a bit for the real world, both in the form of facebook posts (rather than prolific sharing I’ve been trying to write down my own thoughts) and my more professional official wordpress blog, which I hoped would make me money and has drifted into somewhat artsy posts like this rather than focused and tight writing, although I am pretty proud of some of my meandering essays.

 

I’ve been toying with the idea of buying an appartment, my gut has said it’s a good idea, or at least that’s the story I’m going to tell myself, for a while, but I’ve found any number of reasons not to. I feel like I want a sacred space for myself, a piece of land I call my own, ideally all my own, before I get partnered up, if I get partnered up, barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. So full of joy when I behold my newborn that I lose all sense of individuality, afraid of becoming my mother, who switched to part time work for a time after I was born, that being said her career choice was in honor of her mother. That’s my mother, a living oblation, a dutiful soldier, someone who gives everything without complaining. I don’t want to become my mother.

It recently came to me that space is not empty like a vacuum, but pregnant with possibility, like an empty womb. Space is the space inside the worm, not a terrible void, nothing like nothingness.

These are the things you think of when you are deciding to be a Buddhist, but o wait, you actually kind of are, even if you miss Christianity and are afraid of going to hell. I’ve recently found a bit of an intellectual out for potentially professing to believe despite the many contradictions of the Gospels and contemporary sources, and yet, is that the home I want to go back to?

God, I love to just riff on random themes. I wish someone would pay me for this, but then if I got paid perhaps I would be blocked, because money is evil and all that. Studies show that when given too many incentives people become less creative. I suppose creation ahs to be for it’s own sake, it’s not a matter of Thaler-esque nudging.

And don’t I feel like such a special person making references to Nobel winning economists. Once, I wanted to be an economist, and invent a new economic system that would lead to greater human flourishing and self realization. I wanted to think of a new paradigm, which integrated sociology and history and humanities rather than so much calculus, which might have scared me more than it should as a perfectionist girl who feared learning by doing and not getting the right answer the first time.

So do I need to indebt myself further, and actually buy a place? How much is it worth to me? Forgoing Russian lessons? Taking one haul flight less? Is it even possible in the next few years? Not sure.

I need a job because I am not able to create value for myself, I need someone else to tell me what to do and that it has value. I can’t just make things, write poems, without direction. I need someone to tell me to organize a party or make a goddamn brochure. I fear being freelance would be more of the same.

I wish I could hold a space for myself, and make something I could be really proud of rather than the drivel I have to do to make a living. Sometimes what I do isn’t so bad, but to be honest I don’t really enjoy being a team player, and I am smarter than a lot of other people, and because I am young people don’t always listen to me even when they should. I am reaching an uncomfortable point in my development, which can also be full of potential, where I realize just how capable I am and how little I am let to do, for fear of me making a mistake, for fear of my potential perhaps at some level. But mostly, because that’s the way things are done. I understood pretty early I wasn’t going to be let to do anything too important, and it has made me a bit unmotivated. Now the world has started to take notice of me, and they want me to do more big girl stuff, which is good but I am still stuck in a fucking girl job and in the end I’m going to do a million times more and not get paid more and it’s still going to be 20 years before I will do anything intellectually interesting. And that makes me sad. And I have to keep going further down the rabbit hole of my industry, which I just fell into my chance and not by choice. so that’s something to think about.

Why do I need an audience to rant? Is it that I am that narcissistic? or self-sabotaging that I risk this falling into the wrong hands. Maybe a small part of me wants to be discovered, told that the jig is up. But I don’t really want that.

What I have really wanted is to avoid moving forward too fast, because if I disprove too much my family and the conventional world’s paradigms of how things work, people will hate me. I will hurt their feelings with my excellence. Maybe I will never find a man, or worse, maybe I will be a self-absorbed workaholic mother who is not really present to her children and jsut gives money instead of time as my mother accused me once.

Maybe I just want to remain trapped enough to have the satisfaction of saying I could do great things if only, and not having to take the risk that they won’t pan out and fail. I am very hard on myself for my failures. In fact, I think I chose some of the most to my mind loathsome failures I could do and did them on purpose just so I could find myself repugnant, or perhaps I did already.

I don’t know if i can’t hear the little voice of what I should be doing because I’m afraid of success or failure. I don’t know if it’s because my desire to be a good girl is drowning it out, or my ego because the dream is too small and not fat enough.

Another thing I have realized during the past few days of being home with the flu, besides that my apartment is a huge mess, is that nearly all of my worry around food is just stupid. It’s something I could deal with pretty easily if I wanted to by changing around a few things. I don’t necessarily need to go full paleo or any of that. If I didn’t have anxiety and strong feelings to soothe and dopamine fires to stoke I would probably be much better. Maybe I should spend the money on learning Russian and Egyptian dancing to satisfy these aspects of myself. Not sure- but then that’s money not going to debt repayment or towards a down payment.

I don’t even know who I am, who live in a very messy flat that has the potential to be really nice, who don’t like anything to do with adminsitration or paperwork or maintenance, to think of buying an appartment. Especially since I’m still waiting for the day that my prince will come and take me away and I won’t have to live alone anymore, even though I like living alone a lot to be honest, and I’m always so relieved after seeing other people to be by myself.

Quoi d’autre? Yes, my sacred space. I think that one other reason I keep fucking up is that it stops me from feeling ready to engage in any kind of relationship. Because I won’t let myself commit before I know who I am. And what better way to stall then to throw the mist around who I am?

And yes, whenever I take that massive action, it is going to push some people away. It is going to mentally and phsycially and emotionally move me. I am not going to be the same person. I won’t have any more excuses. I will be shamed into acting by my own high principles- up, up, and away!

Because it feels safer to remain forever up in the air, and when you grow roots, you can’t pretend you’re someone else anymore.

 

Au revoir for now

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’m not really sure why I’m not writing as much here. It could be that I am more busy and much less lonely, and it oculd also be that maybe I’m growing beyond fillefrancofun as I had claimed so many years ago soon after I started the blog.

I think a lot of my demons have vanished into a puff of smoke, and while I definitely am in the experience othe Buddhists call “groundlessness” as in, I’m nto really sure which way is up and I have no f not no but not so many fixed beliefs and hangups,

I think with Buddhism I have found what I was looking for, and in France I’ve gotten a somewhat blank canvas to decide who I want to be.

I also think a lot of my healing is done. The scars are disappearing, and there’s a new person here I didn’t know before

A girl who likes mountains, surfing, and deadlifts;

A shrewd non-self hating business woman who doesn’t hide behind self contempt and fake moral outrage over the global capitalist system;

A woman who accepts her past, warts and all;

A single lady, and kind of fucking proud of it;

A person who is giving her gifts to the world, and in healing herself, helps others find their path

A self transformation junkie always searching for the final door who realized at long last that the path doesn’t end and once you are on the journey, you never real come back, or cross the finish line

A seeker who has learned to live, not comfortably, but bravely, in the questions and no longer obsessed with a response

A native daughter of middle class Catholic central NJ who is now a certified wanderer, a global citizen, and who has seen too many tribes to take her own seriously anymore

Someone who has lost her identity too many times to count, plans to lose it again and again, and has learned to find peace and comfort in that

There will be no settling, no final destination, no moment where  I click my heels together to go home. There will be no person, no love who justifies my existence or who comforts me in my existential woe. There is not even a spirit in the sky of a God who hears my cries, nor a dumb materialist universe without poetry either. There is cause and effect, the infinite wisdom of the compassionate heart, the free play of space, and that’s all there is. And to know it, and accept it, is enough. No nothing will ever comfort my sad ego need to know everything, to be in control, to be the center of the universe, to have something outside of myself save me and make sense of everything.

 

Self responsibility is about more than paying your bils on time, and it’s more than taking a leap of faith and accepting the consequences. Self responsability means accepting that even you yourself are a construct, a product of the mind, and that training that mind to do no harm is your highest duty.

Yes, to live a full life on earth, even if joy is suffering, to have a full human existence, sparing the less pleasant bits as much as possible, that is something to aspire to as well.

And maybe they are one and the same, the punk rock post colonialist explorer and the blissed out monk neither taking the world too seriously but aware of beauty, inside and out.

This blog was about France, and mostly about Paris. It was about my renaissance as a thinking human being, coming of age in the cradle of post modernism, finding my passion and still being depressed, healing the wounds from feeling different and unworthy, not pleasing enough, and most of all, getting over the existential fear in not believing dogma, but rather trusting one’s own experience.

The sacred is a glorious human invention, and it exists as much as anything. As love, as romance, as glory and grandeur. But like any form of meaning, it does not exist from any objective viewpoint. It exists because we choose to believe in it.

We search for God, but instead we find the seeds, the raw material beauty in a pit filled with offal. We look at the stars, at Van Gogh’s starry night, and we know we are here, and that’s it, and know we are neither alone nor is the mystery and grandeur of the universe something that comes in a box. God cannot be separate from His Creation- as we created God he created us.

Yes this world is an illusion, and full of pain and suffering and maddening impermanence, but i is the free play of space, and so are we. And I love it, in open hearted surrender, knowing my heart will be broken again and again, that the ground will shift beneath my feet, that every castle is built on sand, that one desire will always succeed another- I will keep climbing mountains just because they are there and I want to know what’s on the other side, I will keep spinning the globe and going to wear my finger points, that once every calling is answered, every Grail Quest is completed, another will spring up like a mushroom in its place. I will russle up the courage to create even though today’s creation might seem like crap tomorrow and will never in any case match all that I imagined.

I surrender to the creative process of life, the joy of connection, and the bliss of the journey.

 

Namaste and thank you for following me.

 

 

On Growth

Tags

, , , , , , ,

When you always strive for the path of greatest growth and possibility, there are bound to be some growing pains at times, particularly if the hunger for growth is not accompanied by the patience and self compassion of a growth mindset.

A growth mindset, if you are not familiar with the term, is about believe it’s not about innate potential, it’s about deliberate practice and learning from your mistakes. And the fact you don’t get it on the first try doesn’t mean that you never will.

I have never had a growth mindset or that much kindness for myself. For a long time, I’ve struggled with all-or-nothing thinking and also the belief that I am no more than my successes, that I don’t have any worth outside fo that.

I believe the past approximiately five years of struggling with depression in various forms and amounts is a pretty clear picture of the end result of that. if my choices didn’t lead to roaring success and happiness on the first try, and if I fucked up one bit, I blamed myself and believed I was no good, which just created a vicious cycle of mistakes I watched almost as a bystander and I couldn’t take my foot off the gas pedal watching myself self sabotage. I also felt I just didn’t deserve so many good things given that I didn’t take the riskiest most fantastical route to success, I made soem strategic accomodations to practicality, that made  me feel like a sell-out of the first degree.   I then fantasized about all kinds of ways to escape and made escaping my mind and its gloom a first priority over self care, self love, and self respect.

That meant eating food that didn’t nourish me, spending money I didn’t have for moments of temproary relief, blocking myself off from the possibility of a real love relationship, and in short, believing the answer was somewhere out there and I just had to find it. That there was an ideal job, an ideal man waiting for me, that once I found myself all would ecome clear.

And as I understood myself, I felt more and more trapped by my previous decisions. With the self knowledge I have now, I am not entirely certain I would have made the same choices- but then, isn’t that how I learned who I was? To an extent, no amount of navel gazing could have  saved me, but on the same hand, I had such fixed ideas about who I was and who I should be that blocked me from envisioning those possibilities. And let’s face it, my mistakes have given me strength, experience, and wisdom I wouldn’t have had if I had gotten it “right,” on the first try. If I was some kind of explorer journalist or travel blogger, I would not have the lived experiences of being in business which for good or bad defines so much of our world. I don’t know if I could have had such wisdom if I had gone straight into a communications or education focused career. My greatest weakness or worst mistake in my mind will set me apart- I am a lot more than a communicator or explorer, I am a decision maker and a leader and will have learend the highest arts of persuasion adn a damn good bit of how the world works.

So long story short maybe I am not a dirty sellout who doesn’t deserve true happiness and maybe I should stop being so hard on myself. Even all the debris created by my depression is nothing compared to the person I have become. And I believe, though I could be wrong, that with the beliefs I held, there was no possible outcome but depression. It was my very strength and willingness to be hard on myself that drove me into the ground. If I was an inch less of a rigid person, I would not have suffered quite so much. And thorugh this, I learned the suffering comes from the mind.

Which is a priceless insight and the only one that can lead to enlightenment.

In terms of the Buddhism/Christianity thing, I would say they are describing to an extent two different things. Buddhism is taking about the mind and awareness, which we can observe. It teaches there is no creator god or external savior, that only we can save ourselvs by working with the mind. There is no good or evil, just consequences that arise from our level of awarness of the true nature of things, namely that there is nothing real beyond the free play of space and time and even we ourselves are stories being experienced by mind.  Mind is reincarnated countless times before reaching understanding.

Chrisitanity is concerned with the soul, with a god who has always existed and who judges our souls before death, a god who was loving but also righteous in that the only way mankind who had chosen to sin could be redeemed was through the form of a blood sacrifice, which God made himself in the form of his son. Sacrifice for others is the highest good, and the best we can hope for is to reconcile us to God to avoid eternal punishment and achieve salvation.

So the units of understanding are much different. Christianity is the story of the universe, yes, but specifically our planet and the human race, with a focus on the Jewish nation until the birth of the son of God at which point the religion becomes more universal and less focused on norms within an ethnic tradition dedicated to monotheeism.

One demands very specific articles of faith, in events that happened in a physical place and time of a very supernatural nature, namely the death and ressurection of the Son of God. The other presents a path to deeper understganding of oneself and the universe through the examination of mind. In either case, actions have consequences. THough one merciful forgives sin, good and evil exist as distinct entities, and to serve others one is denying oneself in order to fulfill the will of God. So the most important thing is to sacrifice the self in one form or anything to achieve holiness. In Buddhism, there is no real distinction between self and other, and bad actions arise frm confusion, not evil. Self denial just reinforces the belief in the self, which is in the end just another story distracting from the reality of things as they are. In Buddhism, the whole point is to avoid suffering which comes from this lack of understanding of reality, whereas in Christianity, suffering is a virtue that can lead to eternal salvation through the miracle of God’s mercy.

I think I stopped really being a Christian last year when I went to Christmas mass and was reminded of nothing so much as animal sacrifice by animist people. That being said, I had met many people who mixed Catholic and animist beliefs and practices, which might not exactly be orthodox but both kind of agree that things exist in a solid form. Buddhism is kind of the opposite, pointing our attention to the space from which the galaxies arise. From nothing comes everything, because nothing and something are one and the same- one field of possibility. And there is no thick black line separating me from you , God from man- we are neither shadows playing on the wall of Plato’s cave, there is no purer world beyond this, there is nothing sacred nor profane, nor are we simply matter with no hope of spirit, because there is no real difference between them, both are an illusion. We are matter, we are spirit- we are awareness coming to understand reality beyond the forms.

A long time ago, I thought that even if Christianity were a big lie, and there was no god, I wouldn’t be disappointed that I had did my best to do good things in my life, or even that I was stepped in incarnational Western Christianity which is really about the spark of divinity in man and man surpassing his individual self. I think there is really something to it.

The thing that seems most interesting to me at this point, is that Christianity could be 100% real in all its claims, including the ressurection of the son of a creator God, Heaven and Hell could really exist, and I don’t think that even really poses a problem for Buddhism. Buddhism can let them all exist, and also pass away, because all compound things are impermanent, and even a creator God cannot be eternal, unless that which is called God is rather the field of possibiliy that is the union of space and bliss. I also personally think that there is not really that big of a conflict between a mind that reincarnates and a soul that is judged. Of course awareness will continue; the soul, the story of me, the essence of me that is an illusion anyway, that can exist on some level and then go to Heaven or Hell I suppose. What’s even more interesting is that Jews at the time of Jesus did believe in reincarnation after a fashion and asked Jesus if He was Elijah returned. I think the image of God as judge/compassionate father and human worth as a score card/legal record with the possibility of sublimation if one professes belief in the love of God for man in the form of Jesus and His ressurection, which in a way is a form of non-duality and the union of God and man, is quite interesting. If all sounds are mantras merely for the fact that they exist, why is this any different tahn the Buddha forms one meditates on to gain awarenss? It is an image that can bring some degree of understanding and freedom from selfishness. And I thinkt aht both truths can exist simultaneously, if one drops the Western/Christian habit of dualism. If you can lose your concept of a paternalistic, solid god that was a patron of a particular tribe which to a large degree hijacked him to codify their customs (see Leviticus) and became a universal God (largely due to contact with Greek thoughts particularly Platonism) coming to save Jews and Gentiles alike but still being something of a judge on his throne, and one single, exclusive truth, I think you can have your Christianity and eat it too to a certain degree. Whether its helpful or not for realization and enlightenment beyond it is a separate question.

So those are the things I have been thinking about. I did think I would go back to Christianity, but I think that even if at first I just thought I was a visitor, then a participant observer, my real aim is to believe Buddhist and to give up some of the old beliefs and sometimes flawed ethics. I don’t blame Christianity for my depression, but I don’t think it gives a critical mind a partiuclarly robust hold on things. Everything rests on whether there is that one absolute truth or not. I believe this insistence on knowing the absolute truth of things sets us up for frustration and insantity to a degree, as not eveyrhing is absolute and black and white. Perhaps there is a richer Christinaity than that which I have experienced, but I havne’t discovered it yet. I have heard it said that God expects us to sin and loves us anyway and we are meant to depend on him for forgiveness and that’s how he wants it, which I suppose is a bit non dual, but for me the insistence on figuring out which action is good or bad and trying to figure out the best option has been really hard on me as an adult. Christianity isn’t that kind to business, unless you’re of the sort that thinks God loves rich people and so blessed them on earth because they are divinely predestined according ot Calvinist doctrine, even though the Roman Catholic Church is one of the most successful and long standing organizations on the planet. Maybe I should go learn more from the Jesuits.

As my perspective has expanded from being an ethnocentric American who really believed in eternal progress and that there was one beste way of organizing society and something along the lines of captialism was it, to a globnal citizen, with quite a bit of Frenchiness in me, seeing America as just another power flowering and fading onthe world stage, it has led to a lot of deep questions. And as I’ve realized the relativity of beliefs and just how long time is, the chants coming down from the early Christians who were perhaps in their way, the “deplorables” spoken of by Hillary Clinton, the unlettered masses unable to grasp nuance who were willng to get thrown to the lions for their beliefs, seem much less old when you have been in contact with civilizations much older like that of the Indian subcontinent, whcih also had something that came before and is considered not even that old by some. It’s hard to exist in this kind of relativity if one is holding on to some absolute truth or other. Perhaps the thing that I needed to hear most during business school, which completely tore me apart, was “there are many truths,” from the woman who accompanied us during a part of the study abroad portion.

I think there is a lot in Buddhism that is just ethnic and not particularly that helpful, but I think every religion gets confounded with culture from time to time. And perhaps monotheism to non theeism is an interesting leap for a human like me to make. From polytheeism to monotheeism and from tribal to universal religion are meant to be quite important leaps in the story of humanity, and the accomplishments of Western Christianity, particularly Protestants, in subdoing the rest of the world have been menat to be proofs of its superiority, but now in todya’s world, I don’t think that’s the end of history. I think all things are born, grow, mature, fade, and die. The West is losing power on a relative scale, although I hope some of our better ideas stay and influence the rest of the world and our legacy is not just McDonald’s. It’s interesting that China is takig back its historic place in the world, although my money is that it will collapse in its current form. Maybe the West will come back stronger than ever, and the US will be able to fundamentally adapt itself.

I’ve shared with Buddhists taht I don’t know if I could have made the leap of mind to Buddhism without my experiences living in France, but they said there is something in me that would have called me even if I had stayed in the US. Perhaps. But for me its hard not to notice this part of the story. ANd while I love France, I love that which is not French as well. I also struggle with my identities as American, Parisian, French, and global citizen. As a Buddhist in a way I am not even properly Western anymore. I am a do gooder who got disenchanted in a way and went into business and I don’t want to hate myself for it anymore, taking care of myself is important too.

And taking care of myself is taking care of my own small section of the world, one of the few things I have much power to control or influence, and making the most of the blessing of another day.

It feels good to write.

 

I’m a buddhist and I’m unstuck

Hello friends,

It’s been a while. Life has been mostly pretty great since I recovered from the parasite I caught in India. I feel less fearful and down and conservative.

I’m back to Buddhist meditation and I love the sangha and I really feel good in buddhism, so I am going to stick with it. I am ok with he fact this makes me perhaps not very Catholic at all or just a very unorthodox Catholic that at least believes in the Beatitudes if nothing else, but I’ am trying ot get over the guilt thing.

Secondly I am working on a travel blog, I feel inspired to write and create and I am really excited abou tlife again. I’m still getting things in order but wow, I truly do feel like a new person.

Being perfectly honest, I do want to take a sabbatical and just fuck off and see where life takes me, I don’t care that much about moving up in a big corporate organization, and I do want to choose my job based off the experiences it gives me and feeling excited to go there in the morning.

I love the people at my job and my job itself is not so bad, but I came back to work after a week with my family and I again felt not quite dread but reluctance telling me there’s more to life and I need to do more to align with my deepest values.

And yes, if I can let go of status and hierarchy and comfort to an extent, I can do amazing things a bit outside the norm, which is where I want to explore anyway. I have given corporate life a chance, it’s not too bad, bu tthere is a whole lot more I can give the world.

So it’s been a while

I feel like a different person since the last time I wrote this blog. In the meantime, I’ve travelled to India on a spiritual quest, thought I would convert to Buddhism and then pretty much decided against it after calling on Jesus and letting myself be guided by the maxim “we walk by faith and not by sight,” in my time of need, stayed with a Muslim family in Srinagar, camped out in the mountains of Kashmir for five days, learned to sit on the floor instead of  on chairs, caught a parasite, drank from mountain streams, was violently ill very far from home, came to quesetion the valeu of travel, and finally took the last few steps out of depression and witnessed the death of the voice of self sabotage in my head. I also realized I would like to have a family, that is, children of my own some day, and I am on the right career track, no major transformation needed at this time, and just how grateful I am for my little life here in Paris.

I am not sure if I am going to keep up on this blog. I thinjk I really should start a new one perhaps and be much more serious about it, whereas this has captured my musings and word vomit from a very confusing time of my life. Now I see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I truly believe the worst has passed. I feel in some ways like I am back to my old self.

Another thing I believed I have learned is that suffering is not necessarily helpful or necessary in the quest for personal growth and to realize life’s truths. It is not something we should seek out, and we don[t need to constantly put ourselves in the most uncomfortable positions in order to grow and realize things. And sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with staying on the tourist track and just enjoying yourself. Another thing I realized is how much I want to walk through life with other people beside me, and that includes travelling with friends not just desperation for a relationship.

And travel isn’t necessarily the gateway to greater happiness or understanding, and a life of nomadism, at this time, is not what I really want. I want to be happy in Paris and stay in a corporate kind of job. At the present time I want to be a leader of an organization, not a full time freelancer. I want to go to CrossFit and do hiking etc regularly, but I odn’t need to go live in the mountains. I want to write, and take it seriously, and hopefully even earn money from it, but I want my career to give me the opportunity to be a leader and make strategic decisions, not just communicate the choices of other people.

I want to make really good money, both in my regular job and when my first book flies off the shelves. Having money gives more freedom and choices, and means I can help people more and enjoy my life more, there is nothing wrong with that. I want to own an appartment in Paris. I want to be able to help my family and to spend money for adventure activities on holiday. I want to have money in the bank that I can fall back on. I want to pay off all my debts including my student loans. I want to accumulate wealth. Someday I want to have a million dollars in the bank, why not?

And I want to spend money wisely and save it. I want to deal with the present realities of my financial situation without borrowing from my future self. I don’t want to be alarmed when I look at my bank balance. I want to know that even in the case of an unexpected expense I have enough and then some to stay in the black. I want to have a bit of cushion so even if I don’t transfer money to the US on the right day there will still be plenty to pay my monthly bills.

And yes, I do want love but I think I need to let it go in order to receive it. First of all, I need to stop making compromises before a relationship even starts. I need to go for guys I’m really excited about, even if I’m afraid they will reject me. I need to go for guys who are completely crazy about me and make me feel special. I need to just have fun and not worry too much about the end result but yeah, I need to go out with guys I am really attracted to, on all levels! I need to stop settling. I need to know that I deserve to get what I want.

In terms of my health, I don’t want to be obsessed with my weight, but I want to take care of myself. I want to live a long and healthy life where I can do adventure sports even when I am retired, and that includes not putting too much strain on my body by being significiantly overweight. I need to love my body as it is and appreciate its strength, and maybe not pay too much information to the number on the scale but really focus on my fitness and all that my body can do. Health is so important and my daily choices need to reflect how much I value it.

In short, it’s time to stop playing small and to dream, think, plan, and act big. It’s time to create the life I really want, understanding that it’s not a big transformation or a change of place or career that will give me satisfaction, it’s doing the absolute best I can going after what I want in my current situation, which I do already really like and is a solid foundation. It’s about trusting my intuition and allowing myself to be and do my best. It’s about taking one step up the mountain at the time and believing in myself that I am going to reach the top, and having the everyday courage to face the things I fear.

Good luck to you all in your endeavors.

MJ

What it means to write your own story

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Five years and one day ago, I moved to Philadelphia to begin business school. I had been interning in DC, and I envisioned having a career that touched on public service or at least public affairs. I had met a man that I thought would be the love of my life, who would fit into my family, religion, sense of humor, even though inconveniently he hadn’t wanted to pursue a long distance relationship and showed some signs of bro-iness I didn’t love.

I remember moving into the apartment hotel where I would stay for six weeks before moving again to Paris, where I would study for four months before returning. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed by the much greater work experience of everyone there, and the stark contrast between my life as an English teaching assistant in the French countryside and an intern paid just a bit more than my rent, and my experience-seeking, idealistic, slightly do gooder self compared to the seemingly cold nad corporate world I was about to enter, which had never held a lot of interest for me. And yet, my greatest mentor had suggested to me to come to business school, I applied to programs with a connection to France, and was accepted with a large scholarship. I was the second youngest and the least experienced of anyone in my group, and I had never held a full time permanent professional job, but perhaps I was also the bravest and most open.

A few weeks into the program at Philly, just before going to France, there was a cocktail party, as is often the case in business school, and we talked about where we would end up after. I said Washington DC was my home, I had never felt better anywhere, and I had a strong conviction I would return to live the life I’d planned and this was just a last taste of France before becoming a real adult.

Within a month of uttering those words, I was deeply in love with Paris, despite having visited it several times before without forming any great attachment. I felt truly at home and like I belonged for the first time in my life, and I nearly left the program to stay there and just get a French degree. I didn’t take that leap of faith, and was plunged into a crisis of whether I had completely abandoned my ideals, and what those ideals were, as I found myself in America feeling like a misfit more than I ever had before, going to school with people who did not see the world in at all the same way as i did, which made me fear for finding my professional path through business.

About a year later, I returned to DC and it was just a ghost of the city I had left, feeling both provincial yet oddly particular in its obsession with politics, which I at that point realised are not the center of the world for the vast majority of its citizens. I got a job offer in NYC to work for a think tank dedicated to studying corporate responsibility and globalization, but I turned it down, because I wanted to continue the search for something to bring me to Paris.

I was willing to take anything, even another crappy English teacher job.

Out of nowhere, an offer to work with a blue chip French company came along, and I took it.  It took six months to get the visa and I seriously considered abandoning the offer.

But I wasn’t happy. I thought of leaving. All my friends had gone and I never saw the boyfriend I had during study abroad. My best American friend seemed like a bit of a lost soul, and I continued to wonder if something was wrong with me for wanting to live outside of where I was supposed to, for rejecting my country and abandoning my family, and not being the person I planned on being. My mom made it really clear she was not a fan of the move, although she supported me, and I lost yet another cherished role- dutiful daughter.

It took me a long, long time to finally come back to the surface, and I”m almost there now. Depression is no joke. Therapy is the best investment I’ve ever made. And through it all, I’ve struggled to be my best self, because I wasn’t sure of who that was or if I was truly the second string player I believed myself to be.

In short, I’ve been afraid of my greatness, and it hasn’t been pretty. I have made a lot of mistakes along the way. Depression has colored many memories that had all the elements to be beautiful and enjoyable at the time. And yet, it was my human experience.

The feeling of losing my ground as Buddhists say really affected me. I am not the person I planned to be, and my greatest fear has been the changeable nature of myself and my desires, and the fear that everything I worked for was in vain.

This journey has taken me a long way and will take me farther yet. On Friday I’m going back to India, which was one of my dream destinations that I really enjoyed during business school. I am going in large part to decide whether I want to commit to the path of Buddhism.

Something of my Catholic self remains, and the Sermon on the Mount is engraved upon my soul, and I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. And yet, I don’t know if I can pretend to go along with the Catholic hierarchy anymore, and to what extent i want to remain culturally Catholic. Can resurrection and reincarnation cohabit? I don’t know, although I can say I’m pretty sure my beef is not with Jesus.

In the meantime, I’ve come a long way from sub clinical anorexia/compulsive dieting as a teenager to binge eating as an adult to CrossFitter, sometimes with or without the overeating, binge eating, and emotional eating issues. But now, I am an athlete, that’s for sure, and i want to be healthy, I want things for my own good.

Through all this, I have pondered every road not taken, and tortured myself with what ifs. If I had become a teacher, if I had stayed in the US, if I had become a digital nomad blogger person, anything and everything. It’s just this week I put the digital nomad dream to rest. I want to travel, but I also want to build a home in France, and my current job allows me to do that. And that’s why I haven’t taken any real steps in that direction, despite a bit of talk. Yes, I would like to hav ea travel blog and all, but it doesn’t have to replace my daily life. I don’t see it with rose colored glasses anymore. Same with taking a long pause from work. It could change something, but I dont’ think th echange I need is so dramatic.

The change I need is just to take care of myself, eat well, sleep well, work well, have friends, have lovers, and hopefully find my one steady boy someday. And continue to travel! Just keep grinding and moving and dancing to the beat of my drummer, who did not indeed lead me astray.

so today I have to clean my apartment, wash clothes, and get ready for India. I have to breka through the mess I’ve creaed because I couldn’t deal with the pain from all the unfounded regrests and all the fears.

Throughout it all, I have to say my desire to find love has not wavered. And my faith is slowly coming back.

For the past few years, I have felt a victim of change, and my shifting desires.

But now I know, I am the one writing the story- not in charge of everything that happens to or for me, and many thngs are out of my control. But I wrote this story, and I do have the life I want most of the time. It’s not radical change, just a shift in perspective that is needed. There’s no where I would rather be…

And so dear readers, wish me luck !

\