Self Love: Follow Your Own Path

 

Why is it so hard sometimes to follow our own path? I am here by myself in Iceland in the middle of winter, and I honestly have’t felt this free and happy in a long time. It’s hard to describe this sense of inner freedom. I think my environment is merely reflecting my own personal growth. 

To change, you have to be willing to take a step forward, away from your comfort zone. For me, my comfort zone was living in the U.S., being close to my family and friends, doing work that wasn’t really inspiring me. I can only speak for myself, but I started change the moment I decided that I would change. I set the intention that I would be a different kind of person than how I use to be. Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. It’s very true.

Self Love_Einstein

So, how do you get out of this rut? That’s the million dollar question isn’t it? Little by little, I would say. It really isn’t some dramatic event like I thought. Like my teachers from USM said, “growth is a process, not an event.” 

I started with something minor. I decided I would do a little bit of exercise, mainly ab crunches, hip raises, and reverse crunches. I started out with 30, and then I added one extra every single day, until I get to 100. Now, I can do 300 ab crunches, 100 hip raises, and 100 reverse crunches in a single session. It’s nice to see the physical change in my body. As a result, I feel stronger. 

10-30-18 Self Love_Meditate.jpg

A simple change can trigger other major changes. Then, I was called to come to Iceland. I went through a lot of contemplation about this. It’s not an easy thing to do obviously. There are major obstacles emotionally and financially. It just seems so “out there.” I do feel like I am on Mars right now. It just feels so crazy that I would be looking at the ocean and mountain in Iceland. 

What I did first was that I bought a one-way ticket. The financial commitment was a push. It was only $290, not so expensive that it will derail me in any way. I thought, if I didn’t go, it wouldn’t be a big deal to waste the ticket. It made it easy for myself in my mind. I needed to soothe my little ego because it was freaking out! 

10-30-17 Self Love_Airplane.jpg

Then, the next step was to find some kind of housing. I waited until a couple of weeks before I left to book the room on Airbnb. The process of booking required me to listen to my heart. Originally, I was just going to book the cheapest ticket. Then, I thought, NO. I would find a room that really called to me and would benefit me somehow. Before I knew it, I found a room at an artist's residence!

It’s crazy, but this whole place is called the Studio in Iceland, owned by someone who has a record label company. I am SURROUNDED by artists. They have 5-6 pianos, several major recording rooms, and a concert-hall like room with all the equipment. My heart just dropped when I saw this place. 

I guess you just never know where you would end up. So, follow your own path. Go down that rabbit hole. That’s the only way you can really let the Universe surprise you with amazing things in life. 

Xixi ChengComment
Grace Through My Eyes, in Italy
Florence_Italy_Duomo_1.jpg

 

Looking back on my journey to Italy, I wish I had written more, but it reminded my love of Italian, painting, and the country.

9-13-2013

I came across a book called Grazia at a store randomly (if there is such a thing as “random”).  It means “Grace.”  The little book is written all in Italian by an Indian spiritual guru named Sri Chinmoy.  I understood the introduction enough that I wanted to buy it.  It says that the teaching in this book will help people understand how they can receive more Grace in their lives.
Honestly, I feel that I am very much in the Grace of God as I am now.  How many working adults, “grown-ups,” get to spend 6 weeks studying Italian and painting in Florence with absolutely no purpose other than the simple pleasure of speaking Italian and moving a paint brush? I am grateful. I am living here everyday through Grace and in Grace.  I have no agenda other than breathing in the beauty, artistry, and creativity that come alive in this city. As a note, a related word to Grazia is “grazie,” which I say every day, and it means, “thank you.”

Florence_Italy_Duomo_2.jpg


I LOVE speaking Italian. I have an amazing Italian teacher. We spend 4 hours a day together, and very often he would take us on a tour of the city, which is his way of teaching us Italian, while he tells us which gelateria is his favorite in Florence. Sometimes he would take us to some back alleyway into a secret church or to the back entrance of the leather-making school. Luca, that’s is his name, bespeccaled, humorous, and kind. The name Luca is originally from the ward Lucius, which has its Latin root Lux, meaning Light. Yes, how befitting that I would have a teacher whose name means Light. He is my guiding light for the next 6 weeks. Grazie.

Mother and Child - a study.jpg


I LOVE painting. As a new student, I am learning to paint a piece by Mary Cassatt, an American impressionist. It's hard to do impressionistic painting because there is no straight line. I cannot be “perfect” in a way. My painting teacher Stefano keeps on telling me, "Don't worry. Don't worry about er-rrror,” with his heavy and beautiful Italian accent, while the stereotypical Asian straight-A student in me is thinking that he is totally wrong. Another funny saying that he always tells me is, “piano, piano,” which more or less means, “slowly, slowly” or “take it easy,” or “don’t sweat it.” Anyway, this is a new way of being that I am learning -- learning to let go and Let God. What better place on earth than Italy can show me and teach me this lesson?

Tuscany - a study.jpg


Tonight I am spending the evening with my two 18-year-old friends who also just arrived in Florence to study painting and Italian. By spending time with them, I realize that I am healing and loving the 18-year-old inside myself.  I didn't think I would get a second chance in life to be an 18-year-old again.  Now, I get to do things like roaming around Florence all day while eating gelato and dancing until the morning.  This, is Grazia.


Grazie.

Xixi ChengComment
How to Say What You Really Mean

One of the challenges that I used to have is saying what I really mean. If you are like me, you will understand this on a personal level. Sometimes it is hard to be vulnerable and say what you are really thinking in your head, for the fear of other people's judgments. 

There seem to be two types of people. One type is that you are more comfortable sharing yourself with your closed group of friends. The other type is that you are more comfortable sharing with strangers.

I actually used to be in the second type. I was more comfortable saying what I mean with people that I didn't know because I didn't care if they judged me. I didn't know them! Why would I care about what they thought of me? So, in a way, I was more authentic with strangers. With my closed friends, sometimes I would avoid having the hard conversations. 

Then, the other day I was having a talk with an old friend. She belonged in the first camp, which is that she was more comfortable sharing herself with her family, but not with strangers. Of course, a lot of people are like this. Either extreme is probably not too healthy.

So, how do you express your authentic voice? 

It's like everything else. It takes practice. Really, you have to start somewhere even if you can't do it perfectly the first time. When you know that you have something to say, but you are not, then it means the Universe is presenting a perfect opportunity to practice. Yes, you know it in your gut when that uncomfortable feeling is coming up. 

1. Ask yourself, why I am feeling uncomfortable right now?

2. Then ask, what do I have to lose by sharing what I really want to say? Is that even real?

3. Well, you just have to try it out even if it sounds stupid.

It's best to share your microscopic truth. This means, sharing with the person that you are feeling uncomfortable with what you are about to say. Be completely honest about it. State your intention. Perhaps say that you don't want to cause any hurt feelings, but it is important that you speak up. You'll find that most people will receive your words much better if you come from a loving and authentic place. 

 

Ignore Everybody And Do What Makes YOU Happy

Sometimes I wonder why we are all trying to be someone else. It's like we have been brainwashed the moment we are born to be a "some-body, " except that "somebody" isn't YOU. Don't you hate that? 

I was the good little Asian student who played the piano, got straight A's, and went to a prestigious university. Oh yes, I also got the nice paycheck that came with the 9-5. Then, I thought, "Is that it??"

But before this "normal" life, I was a bright, carefree, little girl who loved playing at the playground, drawing and coloring, riding bicycle with my friends, and having so much fun. I said what I wanted to say. Other than going to school, I just did what I felt like was "me." At age 6, I knew more about myself than when I turned 26. So, something is wrong with this picture. Don't you think?

Why is that? I honestly couldn't figure it out. I read many self-help books out there. I sent myself to grad school to study Spiritual Psychology. I hired a life coach myself. I then found Subtraction Meditation. Now, life is finally on track. After all of this! It shouldn't be this difficult. I feel like I have PhD with a specialization in Self-Help. Not joking. 

I have finally come to the conclusion that I actually do know what I am. You, you do know what you are. You just forgot because your mind has been clouded by so many layers of "shoulds," "have-tos," and "to-do-lists." For just 10 minutes, sit down and close the lab top. Ask yourself, "what makes me happy?"

I bet if you ask yourself that question and start writing out the answers, you'll eventually be able to point yourself back to the right direction. If you don't take time for yourself, who will? I am sure there are people who love you, but everyone is self-centered, and rightly so. So, be self-centered (centering on your spiritual self, your Soul, your divinity). 

Ignore everybody and do what makes your happy. #beingme

 

 

 

 

 

 

Xixi ChengComment