I joke that I like gloomy and cloudy days because they are thought provoking days. It’s funny because it’s true. As the days in Shanghai are becoming increasingly more cloudy and cold, I find myself making more time to create through art, writing, photography and my yoga practice. One of the main reasons I love yoga and meditation so much is that it has helped me learn to not think and find clarity in my thoughts that like anyone can look like a Picasso painting exploded.
On the eve of the beginning of December, I am reflecting on the past few months of this chapter of my life. The middle of December marks fourth months of living in Shanghai! I was talking to a friend yesterday over Facetime and trying to describe how “right” my life feels at the moment. I feel to the core of me that I am exactly where I am meant to be and doing what I am meant to do in this chapter of my life. To me, Shanghai is pretty magical. My friends have always nicely teased me when I use words like “magical.” How I feel right now is as close to real life magic that I have ever left. I feel so settled in myself, passionate and excited about teaching, curious about everyday happenings and have consciously surrounded myself with some really phenomenal human beings.
One quality that I really appreciate in a person is the ability to unapolagetically be yourself. And that is exactly what and who Andranik is. I first met Andranik four months ago when I moved to Shanghai and he is a colleague and someone I am happy to now call a friend. Besides fully and always being himself, he is a great conversationalist, gym enthusiast and can give the blue steel look just as good as any model. We love exchanging stories about our very fabulous and hilarious students throughout the day and searching for the best salad places in Shanghai in our off time. I asked if he would want me to take some professional and fun photos for him and we turned it into a morning of laughs, lunch and of course good lighting. After our photo shoot around Shanghai, we sat down over salads and rice bowls and talked life and all things Andranik.
Happy Thanksgiving from Shanghai! Life lately has been a lot of fun, very busy writing midterm reports and of course funny because what is life without humor. A few days ago I was at a museum with a friend and sat down only to be bombarded by Australian high school students who after learning that I was American proceeded to interrogate me about the news. “What do you think of Donald Trump and gun control” was the first thing out of their mouth. Nice to meet you guys too! It was actually a very interesting conversation. They were on a six week trip, spending two weeks in China and then the other four in Israel as they went to a Jewish prep school in Australia.
Part of the most beautiful thing that has come from my move to Shanghai and my own desires is that I have made time to pursue lots of my own passions. Through my daytime job as a teacher I have been able to become a student (again). I would hope that we all want to be lifelong students, but dedicating the time to learn and explore can be challenging when our lives seem like they are going a million miles an hour. Creativity has always been such a huge part of my life and something I use as an outlet for stress, place to find serenity and for pure fun too! Fun and silliness is so important.
This past weekend I experienced a very scary health ordeal that put me in the hospital for over five hours and had half a dozen tests done including ultrasounds, EKG, X-ray and enzyme analysis. I was sitting in one of my favorite cafes eating a Korean lunch on the phone with family when my stomach started churning and a pain in my shoulder and chest overtook me. The few days before, I had experienced some odd sensations in my stomach but nothing that I was concerned about as they came and went fast. I took a cab home, shoved some personal items into a bag and took a cab straight to the hospital. I knew something was seriously wrong and had tears pouring down my face as I tried to breathe. Being sick in a foreign country is really scary! Plus, the level of pain I was experiencing was like nothing I had ever felt and I had to focus on taking slow and deep breathes in and out.
Happy Singles Day! Singles day is November 11th and is the biggest shopping day of the year in China with sales galore. Black Friday has nothing on China’s Singles Day. I have dived into the world of Taobao and Baopal online app shopping and there is really no going back. That being said, I still do enjoy shopping in person. Call me old-fashioned. I thought I would include a few pictures of life lately that have made me laugh, amused me or brought me a lot of happiness (the food). Life in Shanghai remains wonderful and delightful even as the weather gets colder and days get shorter.
November 1st marks my birthday so HAPPY BIRTHDAY to me! I am writing this at my yoga studio (in a journal to be typed later) before an evening class to conclude my first day being 24. It is special to celebrate in China where I was born and turned one years old. I’m in awe of the past 2.5 months in Shanghai and while a lot has of course changed, some fundamental aspects of my life have not. I still have wonderful family and friends who are so caring and kind, I am still and will always be grateful for my mental and physical health and I love ice cream. I also still would like to think that I am funny. If not hilarious.
“Some people feel more alive when they travel and visit unfamiliar places or foreign countries because at those times sense perception-experiencing-takes up more of their consciousness than thinking.”
I have finished two phenomenal books both by the author and renowned spiritual leader, Eckhart Tolle. I finished his first book, The Power of Now, several weeks ago and completed the sequel, A New Earth, just the other day over a bowl of noodles before work! Both books are so beautiful, inspiring and if you are open to the ideas can really transform the small and large concepts and moments in life. The second book took me longer to read as I wanted to soak in the words as much as I could. I have a notebook where I write down all the quotes I highlight while reading to refresh my brain on words that moved me and to keep them all tucked away. Both books are so powerful and I read them in the right time at my life. I can’t say that I would have been as receptive to the messages in the books at past moments in my life given my circumstances and state of mind.
“Satori is a moment of Presence, a brief stepping out of the voice in your head, the thought processes, and their reflection in the body as emotion.”
The quote I started the post with is one of my favorite and so deeply resonated with me when I read it. I have always loved traveling so much with a huge reason being how I felt traveling. I could never really put it into words that fully expressed how I felt. But I always felt so alive. And many people resonate with this feeling of “aliveness” while on the road. Tolle puts is so eloquently; the aliveness we often feel when traveling is because our senses are on overload and often superior to our thinking and mental state that creates anxiety, stress…etc. In a sense, I don’t feel as though I am traveling here in Shanghai. I very much live here in Shanghai and while I do travel around China, it is quite different living in Shanghai opposed to visiting for a week or a few.
“There are no random events, nor are there events or things that exist by and for themselves, in isolation.”
I do feel very much alive here in Shanghai. But not on overdrive, a very balanced sense of being that I haven’t always had, especially consistently. Another huge theme in both of Tolle’s book is relationships; those with other people, yourself and the world. Relationships really are the fundamental core of life and Tolle does a beautiful job of highlighting how everything is connected. The other major theme is the ego in relation to self and how it effects your existence. Everyone has an ego, but there are healthy and unhealthy ways to manage this beast!
“It is not easy to live with an enlightened person, or rather it is so easy that the ego finds it extremely threatening.”
“Another word for non-reaction is forgiveness. To forgive is to overlook, or rather to look through.”
Let me know if you love Eckhart Tolle too and the best messages that resonated with you.
I come to you writing this entry from under my IKEA covers with a 4 liter bottle of water next to me, a pile of kleenex on the other side and half a dozen riccola cough drops tossed around on my bed. Yes, I am sick. I can’t remember the last time I was this sick! I am not a sickly person but this horrendous cough, congestion, fatigue and fever has really done me in these past few days!