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.
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!
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.
The other day I taught two impromptu classes to a student one-on-one to catch him up from prior missed classes. I had met him as he was in one of the classes that I observed and knew that he was an energetic and smart little boy! I taught him one block of reading and another of writing with a 10 minute break in-between. He already understood the words and phonetic sounds from the chapter, so we played a lot of games to review including word tic-tac-toe, hangman and some games I easily made with blank paper and markers.
They say that college students are getting younger and younger these days. Apparently they really are, to the point where humans who have only been on planet earth for three years are now attending astronomy lectures. I met Duncan, age three, when I went into my astronomy professors office hours to discuss an exam when he dropped by with his mom and proceeded to give me two cookies and a kiss before he left. Already such a lady-killer! The next day to my surprise, little Duncan and his massive personality showed up in my classroom where he proceeded to sit next to me the whole lecture. To be fair, I had fresh-baked cookies with me; turns out that friendship can indeed be bought. He was the epitome of a good student during class. He raised his and asked his papa (the professor) for more goldfish, told everyone his favorite planet was mars and shared with the whole class that he thought we got the answer wrong. This kid is going places. Before class, I asked Duncan if I could interview him and he said yes, if I gave him another cookie.
My wonderful Ramadan host Ibu (grandmother) teaching me how to make ketupat
This trip was one of the primary reasons that I started this blog turned website. After returning to Malaysia and traveling Southeast Asia with my mom two summers ago..I wanted to start reflection on the past and looking towards the future.
Some of our biggest tests are often our greatest learning experiences and help define us.