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“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

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