I’m Rich

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In the past week I’ve had two conversations with North American women of my age who make a lot more money than I do. One of them had also traveled more, and that made me feel a little sad. Until I realized helicopter tours of Victoria Falls are not the reason I travel anyway, and the idea of sharing a tour around the most touristic sites in Bulgaria, a pretty chill country where English is widely spoken, didn’t seem that exciting much as it would efficiently enable me to check the boxes off.

They both expressed some kind of concern, and maybe even pity for him, though at least with one, I’m sure a sense of competition led her to emphasize her financial accomplishments to get a sense of satisfaction from being better.

In the same week, the universe has seen to it that I didn’t book my planned trip to South America, and instead I’m going to India again (by way of Kazakhstan so as to avoid needing a Russian transit visa or paying a mint through another airline- pls I wanted to see Kazakhstan, because I enjoy comparing post communist places and I’m interested in Central Asia and the Silk Road).

The truth is that I had gotten into my mind I wanted to travel to all 6 (or 7 if possible) continents before turning 30, which would indeed be a wonderful thing. But now I recognize it as just another accomplishment I was aiming towards to justify my life, and also driven by the fear that once I find marital love and hopefully also have a family, my life will be over, I will have no more freedom, and my life is a race against my biological clock.

But a three day weekend in Bulgaria showed me what I needed to know- that I’ll go where the wind takes me, and that’s that. That is what I am most happy with. I had some ideas in mind for what I wanted to do, I packed my hiking boots and wanted to see beautiful nature, but in reality due to weather forecasts of rain (which were not true) and warnings about bad visibility and mud on the mountains, I didn’t actually get out of the cities at all, and the one city I travelled two hours to get to I only saw for 30 minutes or so as I met a lovely fellow traveller and kindred spirit and spent the day talking to him and having lunch instead. And what a wonderful trip it was! It reminded me why I travel- for atmosphere more than for sightseeing, and that rarely is there a specific thing which seeing it gives great satisfaction. Sometimes yes, but only when the desire is somewhere deep in our imaginations or souls and from a guidebook or travel blog.

I travel so I can learn how to live.

I actually realize this is one of the first times I’ve ever written about travel on this blog, which maybe is a sign I’m ready to write about travel, which I’ve been wanting to for years but feeling blocked. Yes, I want to do it to get some things sponsored perhaps and build a readership and get money but also to be of benefit, and I was a bit blocked. but maybe not so much now! Hahaha I love this blog, and I love you for reading it.

So anyway, my point is that if anything i pity the North American girls who see their value as a reflection of their career and bank account more so than what’s inside, even if they value me for my character and experiences or claim to. I could be reading it completely wrong, but just recently instead of thinking I’m the pits and that people who bring me down are right to do so, I’ve realized that sometimes people are genuinely jealous of my life, and I guess that’s the best compliment there is in a way.

Although a bigger one woudl be if someone changes their life in order to like it better thanks to my inspiration and empowerment.

I feel compassion for them because they seem so stuck and rigid in their habitual ways of thinking, and caught in black and white. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you will know how much I suffered from this until very recently, and it really wasn’t pretty or fun at all. it’s only recently I’ve learned to let go of expectations and take happiness where I find it.

And yes, I do intend to manage money better and manifest money better, but I realize finally that the fact that I for example, didn’t follow my taxes on time in a silly oversight doesn’t make a bad person or constitutionally irresponsible. It just means I messed up, and if I have a habit of messing up, it’s just because I haven’t found the right system.

But what I can say is that I have absolutely no regrets about the times in my life I followed my heart and made it work even if things were a little tough. In those moments, I chose my own adventure, took my life in my hands, and exercised my radical freedom. I might have more money or be more comfortable if I didn’t do those things, or I might be stark raving mad and depressed and more self destructive than I already was for the relatively reasonable compromises I made. i would hate for my life to be a tightrope walk of needing to always perform well and follow the rules in order to be happy or value myself. That is no fun at all. That said, money and skills and some amount of rule following can bring freedom, and that’s important to. It’s important to play the game well, but not let the game play you.

Live to love your life, not to work or earn or play in the sense of pursuing only shallow pleasures. Play in a larger sense of everything in your life being on the board. Enjoy the ups and downs, play to win but let it be fun, realize it’s only a game. Don’t take things too seriously, and my hunch is you’ll find that things start to go your way more often.

So in other words, I’m rich, and we’re all in the process of winning.

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Hunger

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I have grown fat with hungers denied

Hungers hidden

Hunger buried under shame.

 

Nothing could sate me

When I did what I was told

I was

Consumed,

always scared and hungry.

 

To fit the mold,

I took on layers of cushion

so my heart couldn’t be seen,

so I could hide the truth from my eyes,

like my feet.

 

I didn’t know I was pregnant

Like a Venus of Willendorf,

Round round full

Beautiful, profane

Primal,

Complete.

 

I didn’t know the life-giving power of my hunger.

I didn’t know it was a volcano scattering earth

In the directions of the four winds

Fertilizing the earth.

 

They stopped me up

Put a cork in all my holes

So the life couldn’t get out.

So I couldn’t breathe.

 

And now, after years of pressure building,

I shake the earth,

It tears in two–

I slough off my extra flesh

Like a sculptor chisels his marble block.

 

Life emerges

All me, a perfect virgin birth

Of the most wanton whore

Like the dragons of Indonesia,

I didn’t need a mate to spawn.

 

I am the beast, and the princess.

No longer a captive, no longer a slave

Not a tormentor, not a victim

I shed my fate like a serpent shedding his skin

Embracing my destiny.

 

They never told me I could fly

A dragon, a garuda.

 

They never told me I’d be beautiful-

A Botticelli, a Venus de Milo.

 

I am so pure

A spring, a flame.

 

I couldn’t express my hunger

I couldn’t even feel it

I couldn’t give it a name,

A young girl who discovers her bleeding.

 

But finally my hunger ate what was me

A black widow devouring her mate,

Nature consuming society

Freedom breaking the iron bars of fear.

 

And now I am something that has never existed before-

A garuda, a sphinx

A virgin taming the unicorn, his horn in her lap.

 

I stopped being good, I stopped being evil.

I started being,

and it was good-

a snake eating her tail.

 

The hunger I denied

An avalanche of me building up for years

Crushing all its its wake-

Emptiness that became somethingness

A soul eaten to emptiness called into rebirth.

 

And now the fire across the sky

The dragon devours the heavens

The maiden fearless beside him.

 

Only a question remains-

Who am I today?

 

 

 

 

The life I really want for myself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Namaste

MJ

Draping nude on the page

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Love you all and Namaste,

MJ

For my handsome stranger/ beau etranger

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I never imagined a future with you–

not even breakfast.

I thought I loved someone else, far away,

a daydream I thought was real.

 

 

I pushed you away as I drew you to me,

Telling myself it was just lust and your kindness.

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

I’d shed

pure, clear tears

of sorrow.

 

I always thought love was knowing

And beautiful dreams, and a perfect match.

 

I never thought you would conquer me,

I never imagined our future.

 

I remember when we parted

The same pure tears

A crystal stream,

A clean wound

No disappointment, only sadness.

 

Maybe it was love because it was only for a moment

No expectations.

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

Afraid to love you too deeply,

to feel.

 

When finally we met again, I really loved you-

seeing you for the first time.

I would have followed you anywhere

I knew you were worthy.

 

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

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

 

And maybe they will always have that same luster,

but you’re not mine.

 

The love I never looked for,

The one I couldn’t get back.

A clear, pure light.

 

 

I miss you, friend.

 

 

 

 

 

A place of deep contentment

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

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

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

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

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

And even more importantly, loves me.

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

A weekend in Paris is still priceless and beyond compare.

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

The other side of sorrow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Panther- Rainer Maria Rilke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Becoming a Buddhist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rainer Maria Rilke

 

I know I need to change my life

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

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

― F. Scott Fitzgerald

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

 

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

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

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

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