I have been thinking about how I wanted to make my blog a travel blog and post pictures of the places I’m visiting, and talk about my adventures. And I think that’s where a misconception entered the stage: I suddenly had this idea that I couldn’t talk about what was really going on with me anymore. Plus, after redoing my website so that it also serves to showcase my work, this had suddenly become „a serious place“, where I didn’t feel like I could just „put stuff out there“ anymore. But what stopped me above all was this thought „You get to do all these wonderful things and see all these wonderful places – you have no right to feel bad about anything, let alone speak about that. That is just complaining, and besides, it would worry your mom so much if she read this.“ So I kind of stopped writing.
Change – It’s never about the situation but always your perspective
As you can tell, something has changed, and as always, it’s not the situation but my perspective. Yes, this trip is a big deal, especially right now where it’s still shiny and new (although it’s really not, I have been living out of my backpack since February) so of course there are and will be pictures of the places I am visiting. However, and this isn’t much of a surprise to those of you who know me: it’s the inner journey that I am much more interested in. So in that sense, I don’t think this blog will ever change. It will always be about what I am going through because it’s the only thing I can write about with passion. Not because I am such an egotistical or narcissistic person but because my perspective on life is the only one I can speak about with confidence. Or, as Thoreau put it in his foreword to Walden:
„In most books, the I, or first person, is omitted; in this [Walden] it will be retained; that in respect to egotism, is the main difference. We commonly do not remember that it is, after all, always the first person that is speaking. I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well.“
What happened to the Blog title anyway? Why I dropped Road to Walden.
My trip around the world – Why the beginning has been a shock
So, yes, I do get to do a lot of wonderful things, see all these amazing places, meet people who are truly kind and generous to me. And still, the beginning of this trip has been a shock. Simply because this journey is something different from what I thought it would be. When I decided to do this after my separation last year, I thought I wanted to explore the world, see some friends that I hadn’t in a long time, and figure out what I want to do with my life because all I knew was that I couldn’t continue the path I had been on. I had painted myself in a corner, and it was time to get out of it.
When I came to Amritabha, it was to get to know myself better, which I did. One of the big realizations I had there was acknowledging the truth that going on this trip also had a lot to do with running away from myself. I’ve written about this before, and I probably will keep writing about this because it’s what everything I am going through at the moment seems to revolve around. Credit where credit is due, I didn’t just have this realization that I was running away from myself. Jaruh, spiritual teacher and Amritabha resident, pointed that out to me. Of course that didn’t go down smoothly at first, I was deeply offended and rejecting the idea at the time. I wrote about that and why I changed my mind here.
Stop running away from yourself and find the home within instead
Once I was over being offended and able to see the truth of his observation, I thought, „OK, then I’m going to make this trip about not running away anymore. I am going to make this about finding the comfort and security that I’ve been seeking in other people and external factors (e. g. long-term employment). I know that this kind of security does not exist „out there“, it’s in me, and I am going to make this trip about finding it, so that I can feel at home wherever I am – and so that I will be able to settle in a place (and a relationship) eventually without burdening my future partner and my environment with the demand to make me happy and provide that security that only can come from withing.“
2016 | The year the seed for this trip was planted
Well, as always: be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. And it might look very differently from what you might have expected. It usually does for me anyways. This reminds me of the beginning of 2016, when I read Agni’s prediction (I think it was his anyway) that this would be a year of healing. I thought „Oh that sounds great!“ I also wrote three words in big bold letters that I put on my altar, because they were qualities that I thought were desirable, and I wanted the poster to help me focus on them. The words were „Happiness – Courage – Trust“.
Healing sometimes means acknowledging pain
Guess what happened that year? It presented me with plenty of situations where healing did happen – by old pain finally coming to the surface, sometimes with violent force. It was a year that presented me with many situations where I needed to be courageous. It gave me ample opportunity to practice trust, because there was nothing else left. Much of what happened that year was a shock, and not at all what I had in mind when I wrote those words or heard the term „year of healing“: panic attacks forcing me to face the fact that I was burnt-out, my employer insinuating to my doctor that I was pretending to be ill, realizing that I needed to break up the relationship with the man I had been with for almost nine years and whom I had tied the knot with just three months earlier.
Happiness amidst the pain
And amidst all that, yes, there was happiness, too. Big time. I did the crystal healer training with Dauri Neumann. It was such a milestone for me: not only did I realize that I was so much more perceptive and able to follow my intuition than I had thought. It also showed me that that part of me is always working, always functioning, even when I was so overwhelmed physically and mentally that grocery shopping seemed like an insurmountable task even with a shopping list. This training also showed me that I hadn’t just „become“ a healer but rather that being a healer was a huge part of me that had already been there, I had just unveiled it.
Intuition | That thing that always works, no matter what the circumstances
In between the training blocks we were supposed to practice by giving healing. I have a tendency to doubt my own abilities but somehow I had no problem renting a treatment room at Butik Ametist, the local esoteric shop run by the lovely Therese. With just the right amount of trust and naivete I just created a Facebook event, asked Therese if she’d share it on her business page (which she did), and asked my spiritual helpers to send the people to me whom I’d be able to help. My first day I ended up giving five treatments back to back, realizing that four with a few breaks in between probably would have been better but hey: I was just so stoked that people actually were interested in what I had to offer. And that the whole time I could feel the same certainty that I felt during the training: this is me, I can do this. I cannot even remember ever having felt this way before in my life. I had always been the type who excelled while simultaneously struggling with self-doubt. Doing something while also feeling that I was capable of it – that had never happened. So, yes, this was definitely a big fat happy moment of that year.
My wedding | Not a lie, just different from what I thought it was
As strange as it may sound: so was the wedding. There was never a moment, even during the break-up, where I felt like it had been a lie or where I could see how something had felt wrong that day (or that week, we had so many friends and family coming pretty early that it felt like a week-long celebration). It simply wasn’t what I thought it had been. I think it was a celebration of all the love Peter and I had in our life at that time, and I think it opened my heart to accepting the truth that I was holding on to our love for the wrong reason, which was fear. Fear of there not being any love in my life except for this one. And between the fear that there might not be any other love, and the truth that we were just not compatible as a couple, the fear had always won. The wedding showed me how loved I was, am. Like I said, I think this was needed for me to be able to face the truth and let go.
Truth | Sometimes happy and painful are all rolled up into one
And that is maybe the most important „happy“ of that year: acknowledging the truth. I remember how in the middle of the pain and the shock of the realization of this truth that we had been in denial about, I could feel that finally all was well again. That while this was not how I wanted for things to turn out, that was exactly what had caused the suffering: putting all my energy into forcing something (or someone) to be something it wasn’t. Truth is happiness because truth is allowing people and things to be who and what they are.
Not living our truth is what makes us unhappy
I meditate on the mantra „I am happy, I am love, I am light“ in the mornings. And although I cannot claim that I feel this at all times during the day (well duh, if I did, I didn’t need to meditate), I believe 100% in the truth of this mantra. Happiness is at the core of our being. At the same time, we are here as very specific beings, with different qualities. What makes us live out that happiness is different for everyone. It’s when we deny ourselves to express our individual happiness (and most often we make others, especially our loved ones, the excuse for not living ourselves) that we „fall out“ of our truth, and that makes us miserable. When we broke up, we were facing the fact that we had been doing that for a long time. And that was already living our truth again, which is why I could feel how everything was well again at what might seem like the lowest point.
Coming full circle | What last year’s lessons have to do with today
As I am writing this, there’s part of me wondering „OK, where are you going with this? This is just another one of your rants, and how many times are you going to keep retelling yourself the story of 2016? What does this have to do with anything right now?“ And I guess part of it is true: I like to rant, I cannot for the love of me keep things short, I get side-tracked, and lost in details (it does help me get to the core of things, though). But aside from that, there are actual reasons for why all this 2016 stuff is coming up again:
1. Sometimes it’s not a question of love whether you can build a life together
It was pretty much exactly a ago that Peter and I broke up. In fact, right about now must have been the time when we went through the phase were we were constantly crying, talking about everything, and when I was wondering how it was possible that there could be so much love between two people and yet that didn’t change the fact that there was nothing to put back together, that this was still the end not a new beginning, at least not together.
2. Deciding to do things differently doesn’t mean you instantly know how to do it
Because even though I kept telling everyone that asked me when I was starting my trip, that it had already begun, I too, must have had ideas about the significance of the external journey, especially the part that was leading me farther away, to the other side of the world so to say. So now that that part has begun, I am confronted with the reality that so far I have been able to comprehend but maybe not feel right down to the bones: that it’s all one journey, my entire life. That the decision I made last year to leave the path of self-denial and misery was only the first step.
It might seem like I have come far since then but in some ways it’s mostly the physical mileage. Because taking that step didn’t mean that I instantly knew how to live any other way. It’s a learning process. Here I am, moving from place to place on the outside, and it’s making one thing very clear: you still have to take the steps on the inside. You will find yourself in the same kinds of situations no matter where you go for as long as it take for you to learn how to do things differently. This is where the running away part and the making myself at home on the inside comes into play. Because as wonderful and amazing everything and everyone is, I am being confronted with situations where I feel so out of place and home-less that it physically hurts sometimes.
3. When you desire a certain quality, life will probably not just hand it over to you but present you with the opportunity to do cultivate it yourself
This brings me back to the beginning of 2016, where I put those words happiness, courage and trust on my altar: life presented me with situations that helped me cultivate those qualities then, because I had wished for them. Life is now presenting me with situations that I believe are exactly what I need in order to find home within. There is no other way to find it than to be confronted with situations where it’s impossible to fool myself into believing that „I’ve found it out there“. I suppose finding myself in situations where the sense of not belonging is so strong that it sometimes hurts is just a way of making sure I’ll get there fast, so that I won’t be spending the entire trip being homesick and trying to chase an illusion that maybe there is a place after all where everything will feel right …
True isn’t always the same as Easy but Untrue always leads to Dis-ease
That’s where another aspect ties in with 2016: this is happy even though it doesn’t feel like a walk in the park at all times because I am being true to myself, just like I was then. True is still not the same as Always Easy but I’d pick True on any day of the week over the dis-ease that comes from avoiding it. True is hard sometimes, if it weren’t then why would we avoid it. But the hard part is really the fear of the unknown, it’s never really the unknown.
Change takes time, setbacks are part of the learning process
It’s still pretty recent that I quit looking for home and stability „out there“, and making my choices at the expense of True. So if that is how I’d been used to living for 30 plus years, it’s not so strange that I still catch myself from time to time blaming circumstances for my feeling of „homelessness“. It’s simply conditioning, that’s all. When I see it that way, I can appreciate what a big accomplishment it is that I can interpret my homesickness correctly. I know that whenever I feel it, it doesn’t mean I am missing a certain place. It means that I am not in touch with myself. I am fortunate to know how to re-connect with myself, and I am also fortunate to have people in my life who help me when I can’t get there on my own. In other words: I have everything I need.
Running away from myself & Life is beautiful wherever I am | There’s always two sides to the truth
One of my major anchors right now is another truth Jaruh pointed out to me this past summer: life is beautiful wherever I am, if I make it so. I like how the two most important epiphanies of this year (so far anyway) – that I am running away from myself, and that life is beautiful wherever I am – were brought to me by the same person. Thank you Jaruh. (See, even though I take notes from our conversations that say „I am a strawberry“ or „My mind is the center of my nothingness“, my heart remembers the important stuff.) I also like how they seem to contradict each other, because that’s what truth is – it’s always both.
Making life beautiful | Sometimes it takes a little help
So this is where I am right now: I haven’t been sharing much lately because the beginning of this trip didn’t feel quite as wonderful as I had anticipated. Even when I am so caught up in things that I don’t know what’s going on, when I just want to blame the world and when I really can’t appreciate anything, I still don’t want to put that out there like that because I know it’s not the truth of a situation. (Also I really don’t want to worry my mom. I felt pretty iffy just posting about the food poisoning.) Yet when I am in such a state I also feel like I can’t just post a bunch of „happy stuff“ when it’s not really what I am feeling. As little as I want to put out complaints or any „poor me stuff“, I don’t like the idea of creating the illusion that all is well when I can’t genuinely feel it.
Therefore I am very happy that I am back to being what feels like myself again – happy. It means that when I remind myself that „Life is beautiful wherever I am, if I make it so“, ideas start coming to me of how I can „make it so“. That just didn’t work when I was in this state of shock at the beginning of this trip. It also means I feel like sharing again.
I would like to thank my mentor Irka because this was one of those situations where I was unable to pull myself out, and she was the person who helped me gain perspective and create rituals to help me re-connect with myself – and stay in touch. I love working with Irka because although I hired her to help me start my own business, I firmly believe that you cannot separate different areas of your life. I believe that it’s all connected, and I believe that in whatever area of life we are striving for success, being well is the foundation for everything. I love having a coach who knows this and who is able to see the whole picture and work on all levels. Thank you, Irka!
I used to be a hard worker. I thought that all my accomplishments were made of blood, sweat and tears. That stressing out and not resting until I was completely exhausted was a necessary part of the process. That that was basically what got me the good results. Yet there were times where I didn’t study as much as I thought I should, and I still got good results. And although the thought occurred to me that maybe I really didn’t feel like studying more because it wasn’t necessary, I never trusted that part of me. I thought I was lazy – and lucky, if I got good grades despite my „laziness“!
I think differently now: I believe that everything I have ever succeeded at was not thanks to hard work. I think I succeeded despite it. Of course I can’t know how things would have turned out if I’d done things differently. But when I look back at all the things I have done because I thought I had to, it turns out they were not that important. And the things that were important happened even when I did things that could have jeopardized them. More on this in my post On Control. I do know that it was doing too many things for the wrong reasons, the main one being that misguided work ethic, according to which work equals hardship. Eh, it was not just work, I was under the illusion that basically everything worth having requires sacrifice. Except when you believe it, it’s not an illusion. It’s your reality.
Fortunately, even going down the „wrong“ path eventually gets you on the right track. Like Eckhart Tolle says: Suffering is necessary until you realize it’s not. Up until a year ago I thought that as long as I was suffering all was well (I always thought that if I was unhappy, I wasn’t done adjusting to whatever it was that made me unhappy …).
I have always had a voice in the back of my head that wouldn’t shut up when things were at its worst. That voice kept saying that this cannot be the way life is supposed to be. I want to be happy, that voice insisted, and I cannot accept a life where there is no way for me to be happy. For the most part, I managed to negotiate with that voice, reminding it that I was happy, just not in some parts of my life. But that, of course, was normal. Last year everything just kind of crashed and it felt like there was nothing left. That was when there was no bargaining anymore with that voice. First health, then work, then marriage. Once you allow yourself to see that basically all areas of your life have been ruled by the belief in sacrifice and hardship, you can’t help but admit that the only lesson is this: you cannot go on this way. That is when the suffering finally becomes unnecessary.
Don’t get me wrong: there have always been moments of happiness in my life. I am not ungrateful. That is what made it possible to negotiate with that voice in the back of my head in the first place. The ability to make lemonade can be a bitch, though. Because in reality there is more than one choice. Life may be handing you lemons, and maybe you enjoy lemonade. But the thing is: you could also pass on the lemons altogether, trusting that life will offer you something else.
I’m not going to lie: there are a lot of days when my head is having a difficult time trusting that I will be fine if I follow my gut instinct on what I want and what not. (I am having one of those days right now.) But I’ve done it enough times now to know it’s worth it. I never have to wait long for the proof that it is the right thing to do. Same goes for the opposite: whenever I catch myself making a decision based on the fear that I have no other options, I can almost physically feel how this is only setting me back on the path that I have just left. And I am not interested in going in circles.