“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!
“The quality of our lives depend on the quality of our relationships.” -Esther Perel
Lately I have been focusing on the different relationships in my lives including with myself, friends, family, colleagues, students and the new people I meet everyday in Shanghai. Esther Perel is a psychotherapist who is most known for writing about intimate relationships in her best selling novels, TED talk and podcast that I have started listening to. She is so in-tune with relationship dynamics and I continue to listen to her podcast which is groundbreaking in its approach and look into different relationships and the complex elements that life brings.
“Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.”
One of my goals post-college and moving to Shanghai is to read more books. I have always loved reading, but college took it’s toll on my personal reading given I had dozens of books and textbooks to read every semester (especially when I had an English class which was often). The first week I was in Shanghai, I found a great foreign book store near People’s Square and have frequented it numerous times since. Sometimes I just go and read a book in the store, however I have splurged on four books so far, one of which I have completely finished and ADORE. The latest book that I finished is “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanith which is about Paul’s journey as neurosurgeon who is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Paul wrote this book as he was dying and it is filled with such profound lessons about life, love and following your passions. I had not doubt in my mind that I would move to China and teach English. However, I would recently learn that this decision I made would come with unexpected heartbreaks.
A few days ago marked the completion of my first month in Shanghai. And what a month it has been! Shanghai still has an energy to it that I don’t forsee myself feeling like it’s become tarnished or old. We all get to choose our perspective and put in the daily work towards happiness and joy and I consciously make an effort to so. The overall happiness I feel is not because of one thing I did nor does it happen instantly; rather it’s a series of decisions and moments. This post is not themed, but just a fun update on life lately.
More than ever, I am a strong believer in intuition and female intuition is a VERY REAL thing. Sorry guys, our intuition is one of our many superpowers that you just don’t have. This is speaking in terms of the gender normative language. People always ask how I ended up in Shanghai teaching English and I usually give some simplified answer of wanting to move to another country because I love traveling and teaching seemed a good door into that. However, it really is a lot more that. Over five years ago when I was young and naive (more than I am now), I started reading blogs of people who moved abroad to teach English after college. People did it for various reasons with the most popular being: to travel and see the world, see if they liked teaching, runaway from their unfulfilling jobs and because they had no clue what else they were going to do. I wouldn’t say that my reason is really any of them or a combination. Rather it was my intuition. I just knew that’s what I was going to do because it felt so right. And it does now that I am here!
I decided to take a moment to do some yoga meditative poses on my nightly walk and reflect on the past few days and challenges that have come my way. I’m so proud of myself for how far I have come as a person and my growth in learning to truly feel my emotions and to do my best to lead with kindness, empathy and compassion for myself and others. The past few weeks I have learned what are essential things to always have with you to make life easier and for basic survival skills. I thought my backpack I got at REI and it has been the perfect bag. It’s canvas, light, durable, has lots of room and I’m so happy I brought it. The first thing I learned was to ALWAYS bring an umbrella with you because rain or shine, the umbrella is critical to surviving the weather extremes and changes of daily life in Shanghai
I’ve only truly fallen in love once before. Love is the most inexplicable emotion that doesn’t quite make sense but is like nothing else and perhaps the purest of all the emotions. When it is real and lasting, there is nothing better. There are so many variations and types of love. I fell in love with school from a young age, have a true love for food and love traveling. I have also received the most pure and unwavering love from my family that as I get older continue to be so grateful for. I know how fortunate I have to have a lot of love in my life from my family and friends. There is a great quote from the movie The Fault in Our Stars that perfectly summarizes love for me.
“Falling in love is like falling asleep, it happens slowly then all at once.”
During my commute on the metro back home this afternoon, it dawned on me that it is September. I arrived in Shanghai the evening of August 15th and the last few weeks have been somewhat of a blur between surviving the heat, welcoming afternoon rain showers, moving out of my hotel, training for work and exploring Shanghai. I recently received my schedule for work and was informed that I have the first week of October entirely off for the autumn festival. I can only imagine that this week is hectic with celebrations and busy assuming that most of the country has the week off.
This post is all about apps for my phone that I have found CRITICAL and mostly about WeChat…how China functions. WeChat is an app where you can message people, pay for almost anything and make posts like on Facebook. You will not find a person who doesn’t have Wechat. The messaging side is similar to WhatsApp where you can make free phone calls, however WhatsApp is blocked in China (without a VPN). In order to use the wallet feature, you really need a Chinese bank account which can be challenging to get in China for a foreigner without a work visa. You also need a local number, local address (not a hotels), your passport and sometimes your work contract. I use the back ICBC because it is internationally recognized and you can wire money to accounts back home. Also, there are branches everywhere and most have at least one person that speaks English. The wallet side of WeChat I assimilate with the popular app Venmo where you send money back and forth to people. China, especially major cities are moving away from cash.