Oh, the Things You Do for your Spiritual Self

After going to the yoga retreat in India this past spring, my love affair with all things strange, yogic, and spiritual began. Most recently, I forayed into the potentially loony-bin-type-crazy events, including a guided meditation replete with a gold cleansing, a sound bath with Tibetan singing bowls and a gong, as well as an urban purification sweat lodge. While reading the descriptions of all three, I was certainly intrigued, though left feeling each event slightly empty of some emotion that I was unintentionally seeking. I wanted there to be a breakthrough, an aha! you’ve touched your Divine Self, a “you are finally spiritual” awakening. That has yet to happen, but I certainly am glad I’m trying and enjoy that I’m doing something different. On another positive note, I left all three of these feeling more open-minded, more relaxed, and like karma is on my side.

Guided Meditation with a Gold Cleansing

It was a Sunday morning, after a rather teary Saturday night in. I was being a total girl, worrying about a silly boy. With tears still in my system, I decided that a meditation session would be a great way to cleanse myself of bad boy-juju. After about 50 minutes of guided visual meditation, including blowing up roses aka emotions and bad energy, the facilitator decided that he wanted to cleanse my aura and bring me gold light. He could sense my negative energy when I arrived (he was right), so without touching me, he sent positive light to me. That included wiping away the negative, and sending in the positive. Cooky, I know, but it was nice to be noticed and it’s the thought that counts, right?

Sound Bath with Tibetan Singing Bowls and a Gong

A time to purify yourself, students lie on their mat with their feet facing away from the instruments so that negative energy leaves the body through the feet. For over an hour, the artist played the bowls and a gong – seriously, who knew that the gong could make so many different sounds?! It was rather relaxing, but I found myself too out-of-tune with what was supposed to be happening. My mind kept jumping around and not allowing itself to be overcome by the sounds. When the gong was really loud, though, I could feel the vibrations passing through my body, and I’m pretty sure that’s how it was meant to feel the entire time – the bad shit leaving through the feet. While I only really gleaned 5 minutes of cleansing, I did get in a nice rest and relaxation time, so it wasn’t a total bust.

Urban Purification Sweat Lodge

Facilitated by a student of a Native American “grandfather,” this sweat lodge was the city version of an Indian sweat lodge. Butterfly Woman, our guide, walked us through what a traditional experience would be like, including sharing our intentions, as well as prayers for ourselves and others. Again, this was a chance to purify our energies and obtain positive light within ourselves. With the lights off, sitting in a sauna, 8 women passed around a turkey wing (haha, yes, a turkey wing; it’s meant to symbolize the attunement with Mother Nature) and shared what we wanted for our life, our loved ones, and for the world. It was very ritualistic and it felt good to say out loud everything I desire for the upcoming year, and the hopes I have for my family and friends. If your nose itched last night, that might mean I was thinking about you and sending positive energy your way.

At the sake of sounding like a madwoman, I’m quite glad I’m opening myself to new things and trying stuff I would’ve never done before. I had a few self-awakenings during yoga teacher training, and I’m sure that more will come with more practice and when I find the right guru or medium to get me there.

Confession: I am a Dating Dumb-Dumb

I graduated in the top 10% of my high school graduating class, cum laude from undergrad, and with a 4.0 in my Masters. But this post isn’t one bragging about my accolades, it’s actually quite the opposite…I may be smart in school, but I am dumb when it comes to guys. I’ve dated cheaters, hillbillies, heartbreakers, and liars. I’ve also dated nice guys, of course, but no matter who they are, I suck at dating them. I get jealous, I worry that I’m not good enough, and I want attention that they’re not willing to give (and not in the attention whore kinda way). 

Hence one of my New Year’s resolutions: chill the f*ck out. My brain is running on constant mode, which means I analyze every situation with a guy. Will he call? Does he like me? Am I being too overbearing? Why hasn’t he drawn me a picture in Draw Something?? 

This is why my friends tell me to date multiple guys at a time. You can’t fret as much about multiple guys because you won’t have the time. My theory is a bit different: when I find the right guy, I won’t need to fret because he will call, he will show that he likes me, and he will draw me pictures. This guy doesn’t have to be Mr. Right but should be the right guy for right now. 

Now, the trick is finding this “right” guy. In the past, I’ve met guys at bars and through friends…I’m still single, so you can see where that got me. But because both of these methods are the “traditional” way people meet, I’m still willing to try. Online dating is also still going strong out there in the world, but that makes me nervous and I hate picking out profile pictures. Also, paying to find a date is against my moral code (for this month anyway). 

I want it to be easy. (While looking toward the sky)…please let someone fall in my lap who likes my quirky style, the fact that I’ll blog about him, and will wash dishes. 

I read an article once where a girl interviewed all of her exes to see why she wasn’t “marrying material.”  She was surprised to find out that all of the reasons why she thought they’d broken up were vastly different than the reasons the guys had thought. After reading that, I’ve always wondered what my exes would say. First, I have most of them on Facebook, so a simple message of “mind meeting up to tell me why I sucked?” would be in order. Then, the grueling question and answer sessions would follow. I’d cringe, probably cry, and hopefully learn a lesson or two. With said lessons, I’d be prepared for what I need to do differently next time, for the “right guy.” 

But, until I get the courage to email every ex I’ve ever had, I’ll stick to winking at bartenders over martinis, rubbing elbows with hotties on the train, and looking toward the sky praying a good one will fall down on me.

Project Happiness, 2013

I have so many great, wonderful things in my life that make me happy: my family, my job, living in Chicago, new friends and old, a past to be proud of, but I still feel a tinge of unhappiness or sadness, like I’m missing something. As if all of the puzzle pieces but one are there; I’m incomplete. And this one missing piece is the final key to happiness. I’ve looked in small towns, across the world in big cities, on yoga retreats, and on the streets of Chicago. What am I searching for? Is it love and companionship? Is that what’s missing from the puzzle? If so, I can’t wait around for it; I need to start being happy without it. And then when it arrives, I’ll know how to be my true self, my genuinely happy self with that person and not because of that person. 

This means that I need to start a happiness project of my own. How can I become this truly happy person that I deserve to be? First, I think I need to start partaking in activities that I find fun, pleasing, and relaxing. So, find/start a book club, join a yoga studio, start meditating, take ballet classes again, and cooking more at home are all New Years’ resolutions. I also need to find my Sassy Hong Kong. I’m jonesing to get writing again and to see my name in print. Yoga, of course, is important to me, too, so I want to start looking for teaching jobs. I had a lead the other day that I’m excited to see where it may go. 

Next, I need to make new friends. I’ve been lucky to meet some great girls in the city so far, but I need more great people in my life. Whether that means going to more meetup groups by myself, talking to more people in social settings, or meeting friends of friends, I need to get myself out there. This includes dating. In the modern day and at 29 years old, I think dating is a fun part of life that doesn’t necessarily mean love, but the chance to try new things and meet new people. 

Lastly and probably most importantly, I need to learn to let go. Relax. Stop being a control freak. Stop judging others and worry about me. Chill the f*ck out. My new (but learned long ago) trick is every time a negative thought crosses my mind, a positive one needs to follow it. For example, my roommate left a nasty note the other day. Instead of responding, I simply threw it in the garbage, and every time her rude comments flitted back to my mind, I told myself, “It doesn’t matter, it was just a note.” I didn’t talk about it to other people, and didn’t fret over it. Now, I don’t care about it. This is where meditation and yoga come into my life more often. I’m also hoping it’ll help me be nicer to people, especially my mom (there’s another New Year’s resolution).

I’m not much for resolutions, never really made them before. So here’s to sticking to a plan and becoming happy. Cheers!

Real World: Chicago!

This is the story of 4 strangers picked to live in a house and have their lives blogged about in order to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real. The Real World: Chicago!

For the past 5 years, I’ve lived by myself, even choosing in college to live in a single room for a year and a half. That means I took out my own garbage, washed my own dishes, and put away everything. When I got my job in Chicago, I knew it was a financial necessity to have roommates; I also thought it would be a great idea to make new friends since Chicago is a new city to me. Overall, it’s been pretty good. My roomies and I all get along well, with only a few hiccups in the past six weeks.

We certainly couldn’t make good television, but we can make for a pretty darn good blog post. Here’s what’s happened so far that just might make producers pick up their cameras:

*The second night of living in my apartment, I was sitting on my couch enjoying my first-ever DVRed show, when in storms one of my roommates. She was a sobbing mess. She’d just caught her boyfriend sleeping with someone else. I consoled this stranger, supplied a hug, and gave her advice on getting over losers. Bonding moment!

*A week later, I’m peacefully sleeping at 1:30am, when into the house busts roommate #2. She’s screaming at her boyfriend, “I can’t believe you flirted with her! And by the way, you owe me $300. If you don’t pay me, I’ll take you to small claims court, Judge Judy style.”

*My landlord is the oldest, randomest man I ever did meet. His house was 96˚ and his wife is a chimney. He told me that the only way to get over the squeaky floors that were waking me up was to imagine sleeping through it; after 10-14 days I’d be cured! Welp, he was wrong.

*Heard this one the other day: “Why the f*ck would someone send me a Christmas card of their baby? I want a picture of my friend, not their f*cking baby!!”

*I’ve lived in a foreign country and I know what it’s like to be in a room full of people speaking a language that I don’t know a lick of. In Asia, it’s not rude because I was the foreigner, but in the comfort of your American home, it’s rude when there are others around who don’t know the language. It makes it seem like they’re talking about you and usually not nice things. I’m sure that’s not the case, but you just don’t know. Please speak in English, you know how.

*The notes, oh the notes! It was too late one night to take the empty toilet paper roll to the recycling downstairs, so I left it on the bathroom counter. The next morning, I woke to a handwritten note ON the toilet paper roll: “Please take this to the can downstairs <3”

*I was warned of this before I moved in, but we have a chore list. One of the roommates made it, never cleaning the bathroom. “I’m just really good at cleaning the kitchen.”

Squeaky Floors

Usually when I write my titles, I try to come up with something witty to describe the situation, but this time my title is the flat out truth. I guess I could’ve called this “Pulling my Hair Out” because that’s what squeaky floors make me want to do on a daily basis, but I think the honest truth here works. 

It all started the morning after I moved into my new apartment. With bright eyes and a smile, I woke up before my alarm, having just gotten 8 straight hours of glorious sleep. I was back on my old mattress and fate was most certainly telling me that I’d made the right choice in apartments. 

Two days later one of my roommates walks in the house sobbing; she and her boyfriend just broke up. The next morning at 5:30am, the torture began…she was actually home in the morning instead of frolicking at her boyfriend’s, which means she had to walk on her incredibly creaky floors. That also means I was awake with her at 5:30am…for an hour and a half. I was awake before my alarm again, but there was no smile and no bright eyes. Because my flatmate and her bf stayed broken up, she has had to sleep in her bed, and walk on her floors, and wake me up every day for the last month and a half at an ungodly hour. 

So yea, maybe “Pulling my Hair Out” would’ve been a good name for this post. 

Here’s what I’ve done so far so as not to go crazy:

1.    Ask my dad what he thinks could be done. He said the hardwood underneath could use a few more nails. Rip the carpet up and get ‘er done.

2.    Tell these ideas to my landlord, attempting not to whine, but pleading to the best of my ability. He says he’ll think about it. Then proceeds to tell me that if I just think about sleeping through the noise before bed, that after 10-14 days it will no longer bother me. He did a study when he was in college…70 years ago…and it worked back then. 

3.    Try the crazy guy’s suggestion…doesn’t work…of course. 

4.    Politely inquire if my roommate cannot organize her closet at half past 5 in the morning. She agrees, but continues to walk in a circle around her room every day.

5.    Play my radio everyday at 5:30 to help me fall back asleep. Instead, I hear Kenny Chesney over and over again just below the din of the squeaks. 

6.    Call the landlord again, this time with a bit more whine. Tell him that the study he did in the past did not work on me. He says he’s considering his options. 

7.    Consider moving out every morning at the crack of dawn, but rethink that because I’ve already moved 12 times in 15 years. 

8.    Put a white noise machine on my Christmas list and hope that Santa thinks that I’ve been a good girl this year. 

9.    A suggestion of your choosing would be especially helpful before I go bald.

Thankful

The thankful season is upon us and with this time, we reflect upon all that makes us grateful and appreciative in our lives. I have a bevy of things and people to be thankful for:

*My parents are the best! Not only have they moved me 12 times in 15 years, they’ve sent me away to live in a foreign country for 2 years, helped me financially when I wasn’t on my own two feet, let me live at their house when I needed it, and all around are supportive of my choices. When I said that I wanted to move to Asia, they were shocked and sad, but let me spread my wings. When I said that I wanted to quit teaching, my mom didn’t even flinch when she told me to do what made my heart happy. I am definitely lucky!

*My entire family may be a bit on the crazy side, but they, too, are extremely supportive and open-minded to the many changes I’ve made in recent years. I get frequent texts from my Aunt Joyce telling me how proud she is of me and that she loves me. My cousins are funny and we all get along so well. Matthew and Kristen are star-quality siblings who gave me an adorable, sweet niece whom I love to pieces.

*I’m so glad I’ve had the experiences in my life that I’ve had. Even the “bad” things that’ve happened to me have helped me grow to be a more independent and well-rounded person. Having lived in a small town, in Hong Kong, and now Chicago means I’m lucky to have choices and an education to support my thirst for new things. Illinois Wesleyan was the perfect school for me to attend, living in Ottawa taught me life lessons, and living abroad taught me the self-determination to do what I need in my life.

*I’ll be forever grateful for yoga being a part of my life. Everyone needs a stress relief, and not only do I get relaxation from yoga, I also get peace of mind, flexibility, strength, and all-around happiness. Also, the fact that I really wanted to do yoga teacher training allowed me to not go back to teaching and find a job that I hope will really fulfill my career needs and my heart’s needs.

*True friends are few and far between, but because they’re true friends that means they’re genuine people who care for each other. I am fortunate to have met so many great people living in HK that I can still call friends. I also have friends from high school and a select few from college that I know will be at my wedding someday (in the not so near future). Thankfully, I can also call my family my friends because they always have been and always will be there for me.

*Lastly, I’m thankful for the opportunity I have at hand. A job that really impacts others’ lives, money to afford a nice apartment with funny roommates, and a bright future full of friends, family, and love.

Taking Chicago by storm…one date, one yoga class, one salsa lesson, one blog post, one trip, one drink, one meal, one new friendship at a time.