Day 59

Stop This Train I Want to Get Off

So ever since I made the decision to follow my dream, my head’s been spinning. My life seems to be caught in a whirl wind, and for some inexplicable reason, I feel like I’m running out of time. I keep telling myself that this is not the case, and I try to practice mindfulness by focusing my attention on the feel my shoes hitting the pavement, or the gentle breeze on my face. Staying present isn’t easy when you’ve got a thousand and one ideas buzzing around in your skull, but that is what I’ve got to do if I’m going to be able to handle all of the tasks that are before me right now.

Despite being really busy, I have never felt more excited about my future, and my present isn’t so bad either. I’m looking forward to what’s on the horizon, so it’s difficult to keep my mind on the present. However, there is still so much work I need to do to make myself whole again, and to fortify myself for the journey ahead. Practicing mindfulness and staying grounded  are my number one priorities now. It will probably be the most difficult challenge I’ve ever faced.

Until next time, I wish you all the very best.

 

Day 58

Inspired. Now, what?

So recently, I’ve been talking about my decision to finally start living my dream, and it’s a wonderful feeling to be following my passion, but I haven’t gotten clear as to where I want to direct my energy. I have lots of ideas, but every time I run them through my mind they dissolve like sugar on the tongue. Each idea like the tiny grains of sugar is sweet, but they lack substance.

I’m starting to narrow down what I would like to do, but I am hung up on the logistics. I tell myself not to worry about the how, just focus on the what and let the universe take care of the how, but I can’t help wanting to take control of that aspect of the plan. I keep overthinking everything. My mind starts to spin, and I feel dizzy just thinking about all the tasks that are ahead of me. It’s a little daunting.

However, I feel certain that this is the path I meant to take. At my core, I can feel the calm serene energy that is driving my decision. I am excited to see how this will unfold. I know that I will be doing something worthwhile and meaningful. I will be able to help many people and I will bring love and compassion to my corner of the world, and the people with whom I come into contact will take it to their corners of the world until eventually there will be little shimmering beacons of light in all the little corners of the world. It’s a wonderful feeling.

So, I know what I need to do. I have a lot of reading and preparing and researching to do before I can come up with a plan, but I’m looking forward to the road ahead. This should be quite a journey.

Until we meet again, I wish you all the very best.

Day 57

The Delicate Dance of Desire and Fear

Lively, inspirational music is playing as Desire dances in the spot light twirling around and around ever outward leaping and bounding gracefully in the glow of possibility. The music changes to a minor chord a sense of foreboding and danger permeates the air. Out of the shadows emerges Fear.

Taking center stage grabbing Desire by the wrist pulling her towards her, she circles around her her arms around her quietly swaying their bodies contracting into a ball, and Desire disappears behind Fear’s arms and back. Fear’s body is blocking Desire from sight almost as if she is shielding her from some unseen malevolent force. Desire is almost completely invisible, and the spot light shrinks so that all you see is Fear her back to the audience, the music is quiet, just strings lightly humming.

Then Fear jerks back. Desire pushes through and Fear releases her disappearing into the shadows. Desire resumes her dance, the music builds and she captivates the audience with her carefree fluid movements that move perfectly in sync with the music; she moves with very little resistance. The music changes. Fear emerges again to take Desire and shield her from the unseen malevolent force, but Desire puts out her hand which causes Fear to hesitate.

Timidly, Fear extends a hand, and now Desire takes Fear’s hand gently leading her in a dance of hope and expansion. Unfamiliar with these fluid and effortless movements, Fear stumbles and jerks as Desire stretches out and leaps. Turning lovingly towards Fear, Desire shows her how to relax her arm. She shows her how to stretch out and move with the flow of the music. Fear stiffly extends her arm out like a tin soldier trying awkwardly to mimic Desire’s fluid movements. Desire nods encouragingly and repeats the motion, and so it continues, Desire patiently showing Fear how to let go and how to surrender to the music and the joy until Desire and Fear dance side by side moving to the music, moving and twirling expanding ever outward in the spot light of possibility as one.

This is the image I get when I think about the two dominate feelings I experience when living my dream. Part of me is elated, excited and certain that I am on the right path while another part of me is like, “Have you lost your mind? Who are you to dream so big? What makes you think you have anything of value to offer the world?” So it is like a tug-of-war in my mind. I feel like I’m on a seesaw going up and plunging down. This image of Fear and Desire dancing where Desire finally teaching Fear how to surrender to the music is my vision of what I would like the two emotions to do in my mind. I’d like them to work in tandem.

For awhile, I believed that fear was an indication that I was on the wrong path. I believed that if I walked my path the fear and uncertainty would vanish and I would be serene and calm in my endeavors. When I finally started allowing myself to follow my passion and the serenity and calm were accompanied by anxiety and doubt, I questioned whether or not my desire to write and to reach out to the world was valid. I believed I wasn’t ready, and that I still had work to do, but then I watched a whole bunch of Teal Swan videos and read her blog, and it was as if she were speaking directly to me. I realized that the fear was part of the experience and to deny the fear or to avoid my dream because of the fear was a form of resistance. I needed to pursue my dream and still allow myself to be afraid.

So I am shaking in my boots. I’m afraid of what will happen. I’m afraid of being rejected and not being seen or recognized. However, I am not going to let that stop me. I am going to live my dream now even though I feel disoriented and terrified. I am going to step into this unfamiliar place and recognize that I am afraid, and feel the fear, and follow my passion just the same. I’ve reached a phase where the fear is no longer enough to stop me.

Until next time, I wish you all the very best.

 

Day 56

Dejected

Excited but a little nervous, I told my husband about my decision to start living my dream today. I told him that I wasn’t going to wait for the perfect time to begin and that ready or not, I was going to start walking my path. I continued, telling him I was going finish out my current contract and leave Japan next spring when the contract expired.  I said we should go back to our home state, regroup, re-acclimate and then see where events would take us. What do you think his reaction was? Well, it wasn’t excitement or joy, it was abject terror.

“A year is too soon. We need to leave Japan with enough money to replace all of our stuff and buy a car and hopefully rent a house,” he said.

Now, mind you, he did not address the fact that I had just announced to him that I had made a decision to live my dream. There was no smile and no encouraging words like, “Well done, honey; not a lot of people have the courage to live their dream.” Nope, he was too busy worrying about how we were going to survive without my income. Wanting to be supportive and understanding, I assured him that the money would take care of itself. I told him that a lot of successful people started businesses and enterprises with very little capital and just a really good idea and the determination to see things through and the unwavering belief in their dream. To this he replied,

“Those people did not have children, and they were much younger.”

Trying very hard not to lose my resolve, I told him that that might be true, but I believed that if I followed my heart and lived my dream everything would fall into place. I imagine that he thinks the whole thing is quixotic, and as I have had 48 hours to think about it and after discussing all of the things I have not fully thought through related to my dream, I am beginning to believe that maybe I am just a hopeless silly dreamer.

When I’ve heard other people’s success stories, they almost always mentioned how important it was to have people who supported them. Their spouses or their parents cheered them on or supported them when they were not making money on their idea at the outset. I had hoped my husband would be supportive, and I know that he will help me and that he will stand by me, but I do not feel like he believes in me or in my ability to succeed.

Perhaps, and it is very likely that it is some part of me that feels this way and so I recognize it in my husband. However, it is still painful to share such a significant breakthrough in my attitude towards life with the person with whom I have chosen to spend the rest of my life only to be met with skepticism and worry. I feel dejected and very alone in this. I hate that I have to sell him on this idea. At the same time, I understand that he is not in a very good place emotionally and psychologically right now.

I am trying to be patient and understanding. I know he’ll come around eventually, but it would have been nice to have heard the words, “That’s awesome, honey. I’m so happy for you and I know you’ll make it happen.”

Despite having the wind taken out of my sails, I will continue to pursue my dream and live a life worth living.

Until next time, I wish you all the very best.

Day 55

A Decision

Eventually sooner or later I knew  I would have to make a decision. I could either keep waiting for the right time, the best situation, and the financial security it would require to start living my dream, or I could just start living my dream now. I chose the latter. Knowing that adopting the attitude that my dream could only be realized if I had the right amount of money and it was the right time would postpone my dream indefinitely, the choice was simple.

However simple it may have been to make the choice, living it is another thing entirely. I cannot help thinking about all the things that could go wrong. I’m terrified. My biggest fear is that I won’t be heard and I won’t be recognized, and therefore it will prove that I made a poor decision that will have cost myself and my family a great deal. However, if things go brilliantly or even well, I will have gained so much for my family and myself. Both outcomes are fantasies as we really only have the here and now. I really don’t know what will become of this decision, but I do know that I feel good about it. I feel like I am finally following my life’s path. Knowing this, even if the results are not all that I dreamed of and more at least I will have lived for my dream, and that’s enough.

Until next time, I wish you all the very best.

Day 54

Fear: My Constant Companion

For as long as I can remember Fear has been a part of my life. She was born not too long after I was. She is my sister. She has big eyes that seem to take in everything–well everything that could go wrong at least. She has been there at almost every life decision. She was there when I decided to leave Japan the first time to get my masters, and she was there when I decided to move back to Japan, and she’s been here insisting that I stay armed with a thousand reasons why leaving is a huge mistake. Fear is ready with all of the really terrible things that can go wrong if I make the wrong decisions. The only decisions she did not seem to be part of was choosing my spouse and my decision to have children. Or perhaps she was there, but I didn’t recognize her true form.

Fear, my beloved companion, is stronger than I am and much more certain. She holds my hand whenever I am uncertain about what to do, and she is always assertive about the “right” decision and she never wavers. Consistent and loyal, I can always count on her to be ready with all of the pitfalls and the risks involved in any choice, and she is always there to remind me of all the things I avoided when I am disappointed with a decision I’ve made as a result of her advice. Her strength has kept me safe, and I have relied on her perhaps for too long.

Now that I have committed to being better to myself which entails following my dream, ever consistent and predictable, Fear is forever in my ear warning me of my desire to follow my heart. She is ready with her list of things that could go really, terribly, badly wrong. She reminds with those big eyes that I could go broke; my children could starve, or I could end up homeless if I ever consider any other plan but the one that is safest and most reliable. She is very convincing, yet I can’t help arguing with her, and at times choosing the less safe option.

It is becoming more and more clear that in order to live a life worth living I am going to have to stop relying so much on Fear. I wonder if I am going to have to find my own way and let her go her way. On the other hand, maybe there is another reason that Fear is in my life?  Maybe she is meant to do more than just keep me safe. Maybe she is not fear at all, but something else. Teal Swan has a great video about this. It is called “Find Your Negative Imprint-Find Your Life Purpose,” and in it she talks about the opposite feeling signature and how it can lead you to your life purpose. Fear is my negative imprint. She is always there to push me towards my life purpose.

As I write this Fear sits opposite me hugging her knees close to her chest gazing at me with those huge eyes of hers. Smiling I return her gaze looking deep within those peepers to see the unmistakable glow of love.

Until next time, I wish you the very best.

 

Days 52 and 53

Looking for a Village

I am in complete agreement with the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and I’d like a village please. Things are getting complicated and raising two kids in a foreign country with no family to support us is really difficult. So far my husband and I have gotten by with help from friends and my colleagues, but like being in survival mode, I’m no longer okay with just getting by. So I am giving myself two options–find a village here or go else where.

I have been trying to build a community here for a very long time, and for whatever reason, mostly that the people with whom I have tried to build a village have been too busy or have a village of their own, I have been unable to maintain a community here. I’m sure this has a lot to do with the fact that I do not speak the language fluently and so that limits the pool from which I can find friends who are willing to be a surrogate family. Whatever the reason, I have been working on creating my own village here in Japan for almost a decade. I think it’s safe to say, there is probably no village to be had here and it is time to move on.

Leaving Japan has always been something I’ve wanted to do, but I have denied myself that option for two reasons. To leave without being fluent in the language is akin to failure in my estimation. I cannot bear the thought of leaving here after over a decade and being asked whether or not I speak the language fluently and having to say, “I could get by, but I am not a fluent speaker.” The other reason I have not entertained the option to leave is for fear of not being able to make a living. I make good money teaching at the university as what in the U.S. would be equivalent to an adjunct. I am able to be the sole breadwinner allowing my husband to stay home and take care of our children. There is also the added benefit of affordable health care. I had two C-section surgeries and two preemies, one of whom was in the NICU for three months and in the GCU for one. If we had been in the States when I had my two children, I think we would have gone bankrupt. I am not sure how I will find an equal or better occupation in the States or Canada where my family and I would most likely go if we left Japan. These factors compel me to stay.

Because of this conflict between the comforts and benefits of living here and my desire to leave, I have been at war with myself for about two years. Before I made the commitment to love myself and be true to my desires and needs, I thought that I needed to change my attitude in order to solve this problem. I needed to deny my needs to have a community and to be close to family and just accept the fact that I would never have that. I told myself that it was better to focus on the things I do have and to forget about the things that I don’t have. However, despite my efforts to accept my situation, the need to have family close and to be part of a circle of friends has always been there urging me to change my life, and now I don’t see a reason to deny myself the opportunity to pursue these dreams.

Part of loving myself is meeting my needs without judgment and with love and understanding. I do not question my children’s needs; I willingly meet them when I can. I take great care to validate their needs even when I don’t understand them, but I recognize the importance of being nurturing with my children, so why not do the same for myself? Why indeed considering those reasons that held me back no longer seem legitimate.

So, I’m leaving Japan. I still have a lot to do before I can pack up the family and go, but we will leave. It may not be this year, and it may not be next year, but everything I do from now until we make our move will be dedicated to finding a way to leave. I am now ready and willing to take the necessary steps that will take me out of this country. It feels great to finally allow myself this option. I am looking forward to finding and creating my village.

Until next time, I wish you all the very best.