As the year wraps up and I look back, I am amazed at how my own agenda differed from the path that actually unfolded!
It’s been quite a challenging year… with incredible blessings mixed in.
I came to Japan just a year ago, and I’m still here in Tokyo!
To be absolutely honest, I had set priorities that I felt certain needed to happen before I could enjoy the other aspects that I desired in life. I was so sure that I needed to first and foremost achieve certain business and financial goals that would help expand my horizons and opportunities, that all my other wishes will fall into place from there. I also had certain fitness goals and physical healing goals that I had decided would make the rest of my life so much easier and more enjoyable. And I SO wanted life to happen the way I envisioned it.
But it didn’t. Instead, some of my other wishes came true in my life… all in the wrong order!
Tracing back 1.5 years, in the San Francisco Bay Area:
I was stuck, feeling a low-grade but constant frustration that I was not moving forward. I was struggling with marketing my work. I had the abstract visions and particular instances of service. I had pieces of the puzzle, but not enough to cut through the market while feeling true to myself.
Although the part-time job I had, managing an osteopathic and homeopathic clinic, had its perks, I had outgrown the position and my employer knew it too. I was loving the bits of childcare I had taken on to keep me afloat, wondering why on earth I had gone through graduate school and all the stress that came with it, when I felt such bliss while holding a crying 6 month old. While I didn’t truly regret getting my master’s degree – in Integrative Health Studies, with a subfocus in Sound Voice Healing, with certifications in Integrative Wellness Coaching and Management, it had yet to pay off in a way that I had hoped. And deep down, I was longing to move on with my life to a place where I was caring for my own children, and paying others to help out in the process.
I’d been feeling the itch to move, possibly to Arizona or New Mexico, maybe Vermont, but I wasn’t quite ready to leap that far without having a plan.
Although there was much to be grateful for, including my charming living quarters at an affordable price, something needed to shift, and I couldn’t seem to tap into it.
Early June last year, I hiked up my favorite trail in Berkeley, and once again called out my life’s questions into the stunning views. Just as I was starting to descend, I experienced what felt like a lightning bolt of insight hitting me, and I knew then what I needed to do.
I accepted my Swedish friend’s invitation to sing at her wedding – plane ticket included, with housing. I hadn’t sung publicly for years after stage fright had gotten the best of my singing, and I had just started to feel ready again. Actually no, not ready. More accurately, terrified but even more terrified to miss this precious opportunity. I left my jobs, and decided to focus my European stay on getting my business in place while staying at various friends’ houses. Yup, I had a number of people mentioning that I could stay as long as I wanted… what does that mean?! 3 days? 3 weeks? 3 months?
Well, I stayed in Europe for 3 months, between 4 friends’ houses, 2 in Stockholm, one in Helsinki and another in Hamburg, plus two occasions of adventurous and primarily successful couch surfing. I’m so grateful to have spent time staying with fantastic friends and exploring the cities while meeting new people.
While people seemed to assume I was living a glamorous life in Europe, my business and marketing pursuits were leading me into further confusion and exhaustion, the Swedish costs were catching up with me, and even though I didn’t particularly feel stressed out, my nervous system and hormones were more out of whack than usual, and I had an insatiable appetite that haunted me, and the clothes I had brought became tighter and tighter…
I flew straight from Europe to Japan mid-November for my sister’s wedding, and although it was rather intense to be with my family as they helped prepare for the event, it turned into a beautiful day to remember. I got to sing a duet with my sister, and another song with my father, which were both precious experiences.
In December, to bring in some cash, I began working at Gymboree Play & Music, which was a nightmare of a job for various reasons, and I stuck it out for a few months but the stress was so unbearable that I seriously feared for my rapidly shortening life span! Apparently every single staff member that I knew back in April with has since quit also. I learned a lot in those months, but I’m certainly grateful they are over.
Being in Japan for longer than a month for the first time in 15 years, this year naturally carried a theme of coming full circle, in very deep and subtle yet important ways – in life, childhood, family, and self.
Who knew, at my age and being so independent, that I would enjoy staying at my parents house for more than a couple weeks?! I have since moved on and into central Tokyo, a move that we were all ready for after 8 months! Still, after living in The States alone for 15 years, I’ve really enjoyed the amount of time and connection spent with my family this year. The biggest gift, though, is the level of ease and joy I am able to now experience when being with my father. No, we’re not best buddies, nothing like that, but my body doesn’t tense up in his presence, and I’m able to receive more of the love that he is trying to share. Truly feels like a miracle.
I also managed to go all the way until May without feeling depressed, which my mother and I celebrate as a huge breakthrough in my history of visiting Japan. In the past, it only took a couple weeks before I would break into hours of unexplainable tears. There is something very grey and subdued about Japan that seems to affect me deeply. Or perhaps traumas from childhood have left deeper marks in me than I realize. This time around, however, it took over 5 months before the weighted veil of depression darkened my world, and even then, it only happened during rainy season when it seemed to rain non-stop for some weeks, burying us in blankets of grey.
Another fabulous happening is that I met a musician who wanted to make music and perform together, and gave a duo concert in Roppongi, central Tokyo. I’d been deeply wishing for the right opportunities to make music with others, and possibly perform, and given the path I’d been on with singing, also has felt like a miracle.
I also met my sweetheart. I’ve always felt confident that the right partner would show up, and it was about time!
It’s been an amazing 8 months so far!
There were times when I noticed what Gay Hendricks calls the “upper limit problem” emerging, when it’s so good but so unbelievable, unfamiliar, and outside of our belief system of possibility that we begin to create situations to sabotage us from receiving fully, or fully accepting the role and opportunity. With this awareness, I simply noticed it and focused on being present in the moment, reminding myself that rather than it being too good to be true (and needing to somehow prove the falsity of the situation), that it’s so good AND so true that life can be phenomenal to this level and keeps getting better.
We have our share of challenges of course, including the fact that he wants to live in Tokyo indefinitely and I’m ready to leave Japan indefinitely! It’s no piece of cake but I am amazed at and grateful for the challenges we’ve overcome together already, and how we keep coming back to focusing on love and respect for each other, and how we can support each other on our paths. We also live with the awareness that our relationship may be shorter lived than we’d like, due to the big gap in what each of us seek in our surrounding environments for optimal living. We take it one day at a time, knowing that there may be unimagined solutions that arise, and also learning to make peace with impermanence and the unknown.
Although I’ve lacked the physical stamina to implement a lot of what I had hoped to accomplish with my business in the recent years (more on that later), there have been some exciting shifts leading me into the upcoming chapter in my work – coaching mothers who struggle with the soft skills of nurturing. There were hints and suggestions to work with mothers around conscious parenting for some time now, and the vision is finally clicking. I’ve started working with a mother who lacked maternal nurturing as a child, and strives to not only provide a deeper level of nurturing than the instructions provided in parenting manuals, but to enjoy being a mother and enjoy her children for the wonderful beings that they are. It’s been tremendously gratifying to share her journey of insight, healing and empowerment, and I’m learning a lot in the process.
As grand as the blessings have been this year, so have the challenges, the top few being my health, finding edible food sources, my physical environment.
There were some classic signs of what they call spiritual bypassing, where I would feel deeply challenged, yet move on prematurely to try to work through it with a positive spin on the situation, without fully allowing and accepting my sadness, frustration, or any other emotion I may have felt. This is new for me, and an improvement in some ways, as I used to simmer in the negative emotion and not know how to let go of it, getting sucked in deeper and harder. I also realize that being immersed in the fields of personal growth and spiritual development, there were elements of shame in admitting – even to myself – how low I felt, how I felt betrayed or abandoned, how lost I felt, and the worst, how ungrateful I felt!
I say things happened in the wrong order, because many events and aspects of this year have been important to me and on my vision board, intended to happen down the line after my other desires came true. I was so focused on what I thought needed to happen and in what order. I felt that I had failed somehow. I was reluctant to acknowledge and celebrate the gems that sat right in front of me, and it took some time and reflection, and feedback from my support team to turn my view around.
There is definitely room to explore better ways to approach my goals. But life happens, and it’s not always as we planned it.
So often our ego-driven agendas don’t match up with what life has in store for us. It’s challenging.
I’m learning a deeper level of trust in divine timing, to surrender to the flow of the universe and create with it from a place of gratitude and harmony, rather than a space of resistance and defeat. And despite feeling grateful for the gems that showed up, I still have a list of deep yearnings that feel urgent and highly important. It’s been rough, but I’m beginning to find peace with a lot of my current conditions. Not as an act of giving up but of having more faith in the magical unfolding of events, a terrifying act of letting go, which rewards me so blissfully when I follow through.
I left the comforts of my Bay Area home with one large and one small suitcase, with the intention to stay abroad for 6 months unless something extraordinary swayed me otherwise, and I have yet to go back. As much as I crave for some of the things available to me in my past environment, I know very clearly that I would not choose to unwind the clock. No matter how undesirable some of my current conditions seem, I know deep down that my challenges have not been for nothing, that I’d rather be me today than who I was back then, feeling stuck and stagnant because I was too scared to leap.
May you feel encouraged to keep working on any goals that have yet to be checked off, and to remember to give yourself credit for all that you have accomplished this year, no matter how insignificant or invisible they seem, and to find gratitude in the blessings that knocked on your door!
I’m very happy to report that I’ve found a missing piece to my compromised health, and am focusing the coming months to healing my body. Through a method called NAET, I am being treated for allergies and sensitivities to a wide variety of things that I didn’t realize I was ‘allergic’ to (I bracket the term because in this method they use the term allergy to refer to anything that weakens one’s body and compromises the system, including those that are not official allergens) – for instance, sea salt, chicken and calcium… It’s a process that requires patience, and of course is not a cure to all problems in life, but it’s been a tremendous relief to notice the positive changes that have slowly begun. Combining this with continued efforts to heal my under-active thyroid, I’m so excited to be enjoying food again, to wake up with energy and be able to get work done!
Thank you for reading thus far. It’s not the same as enjoying a live conversation with you, but for now, I’m grateful for the connection from afar and look forward to hearing how you are. And let me know if I can be of support in any way.