Elite Cafe Westin Dining Experience in Taipei

A few months ago at the end of 2018, I had the opportunity to exquisitely dine at the Westin Taipei – once at the Elite Cafe, standard Western cuisine, for a full five-course meal, and another at Liu Yuan, Shanghaiese fusion cuisine, for an impressive nine-course meal. The experience I’m writing about here is my five-course lunch at Elite Cafe.

I went on a Friday afternoon, after 1PM where usually people have already finished eating, so most people there were having tall-decked tea cake stands for high tea, and I was enjoying my five-course lunch set. Once I ordered my main course – the rest of the menu was set – I enjoyed myself in a comfortable, relaxing environment. There was calming music (live classical piano at one point!), a comfy green armchair, and a view of a serene, placid fountain pond outside, with maple leaves drifting upon the surface. It was really rejuvenating to sit there, writing, contemplating, and reflecting on my feelings about what had been in 2018, and what was coming ahead for me in 2019.

 

The first dish that arrived was the garden salad on a bed of lightly fried crab cake, embellished with fresh pink grapefruit and a sparkling vinaigrette dressing. I loved the way the crab cake was so lightly fried that it was just crispy enough at the edges, but still light and refreshing to go along with the salad and grapefruit slices. I was initially a little dubious about the dressing – it had sparkles in it – but it added to the visual experience of a dancing, fresh appetiser to open your meal. It was a classic, delicious vinaigrette dressing, with sparkles, which I truly adored and finished every drop.

Those have lived with me know that I love cooking with pumpkin, and I make some really delicious pumpkin dishes. However, I don’t cook in Taiwan, so to be served a hearty, well-made pumpkin soup is always nostalgic and very soothing to my soul. I hardly ever have a great pumpkin soup because I don’t visit these restaurants so often, and this was a deliciously pumpkin-creamy and light soup, with crisp water chestnut pieces and roasty flavors to complement the beautiful, naturally rich taste of creamed, blended pumpkin.

The next dish, a risotto, I was intially also dubious about, just because I don’t take to cheeses so well. Having grown up in Taiwan where cheese is not particularly popular, the quality of cheese is not great, and you end up with a bad stomach. In 2012, I had risotto in Italy, for the first time after a nightmare risotto in a Taiwanese restaurant serving “Italian” food over a decade prior. I realized from living in Italy that when the produce is high quality, it won’t upset your stomach, and it tastes amazing. Italy truly has the best food produce in any country I’ve been to.

Anyways, as for the dish, it was fantastic as well. The braised scallop juices melt onto the risotto, sitting upon a fresh marinara sauce. It was like having a classic seafood tomato pasta dish, but with much more class and elegance. The plating was amazing on every dish – and I completely and thoroughly ate through all of it with pleasurable appreciation.

Coming into the main, I knew it would be an amazing dish – and it was. First of all, I love a good steak, and veal always adds this additional quality of tenderness to a classic rump steak – it’s soft, velvety, and naturally has the delicious flavors of a perfectly done pink-hued steak. It tastes like a steak being cooked rare without being undercooked – perfect for those of us who are irrationally paranoid about the myoglobin in muscle tissue.

The veal was exactly as I hoped it would be – tender, juicy, delicious, perfectly paired with outer encrusting of dijon mustard breadcrumbs. The fried bread on the side was a perfect complement – rather than a creamy mash that fills you up too much, a fluffy, crispy lightly buttered bread tasted perfect with the veal. I truly savored and devoured this dish with great appreciation.

At the end of the meal, there was a chocolate dessert cake – they actually didn’t tell me what it was, but it had a core of what tasted like a thick honeyed chestnut cake, covered by classic thick chocolate cake dusted with dark cacao powder and marron glacé at the top. It was a typical cake – nothing particularly spectacular I have to say – but I always enjoy having something sweet – and best yet when it’s chocolate – to end a beautiful meal and let me know it’s time to go.

Living in Taiwan, you end up accepting that when it comes to Western restaurants, you never know what to expect (and you rely heavily on TripAdvisor). I would say Elite Cafe is not a high-end Western dining experience, but it really hits the spot for when you want a solid, classic Western five-course meal, and can expect the dishes to be well done, produce to be well-sourced, and enjoy a relaxed, calm dining experience where you can also sit and chat easily. I also have to say the service was definitely spot-on – they were always attentive, and I truly felt welcomed. It was clear that all their staff want their guests to have a great dining experience, and I really appreciated that level of service.

 

 

I am eager return to Elite Cafe, and would take people I do business with or just friends for a lunch out to enjoy. It’s great to know there’s places we can rely on to go to in Taipei for well-done, well-managed, delicious dining experiences.

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Okinawa trip, and the fragility of life

In November last year, I took a trip with my mom to Okinawa to visit her older sister, who lives there. From when I was young, living in San Jose, I remember receiving large boxes from my Japanese aunt (she is Taiwanese, but married to a Japanese) with goodies from Japan, especially the Shiroi Koibito White Chocolate Langues de Chat biscuits from Hokkaido. I always had such a fond impression of my aunt, Japan, and Asia, even before I had ever visited, and always felt close to the Japanese culture.

I had gone to Okinawa ten years before, in 2008. That trip, we went as a family and visited all the tourist attractions, as a vacation – beaches, hotel resorts, food, museums, and sea caves. My fondest memory that trip was having “sea grapes” – a green algae seaweed that pops like champagne grapes with fresh sea water when you eat them. And of course, Kokuto – delectable brown sugar produced from a slow-boil heating of raw sugar cane juice from Okinawa. It’s truly a wonderful place.

But my intention this time wasn’t to enjoy these pleasures, even though I did. It was to accept the fragility of life, and see the strength and grace that comes in holding the truth of our mortality.

 

Intentions and the Unfolding of Life

My primary intention for the Year of the Dog was to reinstate my faith in God. The Year of the Dog Chinese New Year dinner was the last dinner we had with my paternal grandmother. It’s still difficult for me to think about it, because while we didn’t get along personality-wise, she was genuinely a good person. And when a genuinely good person leaves this planet, you feel a light go out.

Along with that hardship my parents and I went through for two years in Taipei, an unexpectedly high number of other irreversible illnesses came up in my extended family. It made us all feel quite vulnerable, and changed a lot for my cousins and parents.

That I had made this my primary intention and stuck fiercely to my commitment and decision really tested me that year, but it became foundational to the path I’m on today. What I experienced from the past year was that life is very fragile, regardless of what you believe about illnesses and disease. While I believe that there is a lot we can do to improve ourselves and our lives, I also came to hold true that we don’t control anything. Our Soul has its nature, and we do not have command over that, nor can we prevent something in our contract. I had to learn to not judge the path of another, no matter what, and instead, to trust the path laid out before me, living with a higher integrity for my actions and staying focused in this direction.

 

Strive to Live with Integrity

Going to Okinawa this time, I wanted to visit my aunt before I left Taiwan, and enjoy my time with people while they’re still around. To appreciate them for who they are, to learn not to judge, and to experience how I could be of a greater light in people’s lives while we’re all still here. I found that the single greatest accomplishment we can strive for is to live in the highest integrity we can, as this will affect everything that happens in your future. And never, ever even think you can get away with anything – you can’t.

Over the year, I dropped a lot of dead weight around youthful diversions and things that do not truly matter when looking through a longer time frame. Death and disease really puts those things in perspective for you. I started asking myself if my decisions today would lead me to who I wanted to be in years’ time, and whether what I did today would make those who taught me my principles proud of my character. I began to look for orient myself in ways that could make my life more meaningful, and I stopped feeling cheated out of my integrity by others.

This quiet trip to Okinawa really helped see how much I changed from ten months prior, and it definitely felt good to me. A lot of grace goes into decisions like that, and I’m truly humbled to be a recipient of it, and pray to honor it in every step along my path.

 

2019 Goalsetting

When was the last time you said you really wanted to achieve something, then actually made it? It’s a pretty amazing, satisfying feeling, isn’t it?  Given that it’s the new year, I thought to share some reflections on my experiences with goalsetting, when it didn’t work out, what I changed, and how it has progressed for me over the years. My intention is to inspire you to set your goals for this year, as there is still time to set them for Lunar New Year of the Pig (Boar. Whatever.).

Earlier today, I was chatting with my friend about setting goals and intentions for the lunar new year (which I deem to be more of a “real” new year than that of the Gregorian calendar), and how last year I set intentions for the Lunar New Year of the Dog instead for a change. She asked what I had set, and I remembered my main intention, but I decided to have a look and review at my goals in more detail. I had written five pages detailing the goals I wanted to create, and around 75% of the goals came together, and certainly the most important ones came to fruition.

Why does this happen – what is the mechanic behind setting goals and having them manifest? Once we set our sights on what we really want, we begin orienting ourselves towards that goal. Day after day, decision after decision, it comes into reality as we take steps in that direction. However, it doesn’t always happen that we create the goals we set out for. When goals are set out of insecurity, lack, filling a void that you don’t want to face, or if you have an operant sin occuring in your life at the time, your goals won’t be able to manifest.

 

My Personal Journey of Goalsetting

The first goal I officially set was in Kindergarten (I remember because I told my Kindergarten teacher about it) – I wrote about having two beanie babies in my Hello Kitty journal. I got them a few weeks later from McDonald’s, and a trip to the local beanie baby store with my mom and older brother. I thought this was kind of cool, but I didn’t think much of it.

Later on growing up, I was in fifth grade when we had an assembly in the high school gym, and I saw the banners of Hall of Fame sports players. I remember the exact moment I said to myself, staring at the banners, I am going to have one of those when I graduate this school, no matter what. I had just started playing badminton, but I knew I wanted my name on a huge banner above the word “BADMINTON.” This was a truly clean goal I had, and it carried me through some extremely brutal endurance trainings with my former coaches and training with local sports schools.

Once I hit middle school, I began setting goals on the grades I wanted to have on my report cards. I dreamt of the pride I would feel about my own intelligence – always feeling like I never measured up to my brother’s intelligence – and finally being able to prove that I was one of the smart kids, too. These goals were harder to achieve, because they were highly driven by what other people thought of me.

This miserably carried on for a while, until I was in my two-month internship at Starbucks Taiwan where I was first introduced by my coworkers to “The Secret” and the Law of Attraction. I had always, always wanted a boyfriend growing up. But I didn’t think there was anything I could do about it really, until I learned about this method of goalsetting. I decided I would focus on it, now that something could be done about it! But nothing happened in that department for me until more than two years later. This goal was fully driven by a deep fear and the greatest insecurity of the possibility that deep down inside, I am not lovable. Having a boyfriend, it seemed, would stand as the irrefutable negation of that fearful thought.

The process of pursuing this goal over three years drove me out of a lot of illusions and into a greater expansion of truth. Definitely a quantum leap, as once you truly erase the idea that you’re not lovable, your life changes in incalculable ways. Your perspective of everything changes, and people’s bargaining power and command over you and your energy shifts immeasurably as well.

Until you then commit a sin. Then it gets complicated again.

 

My Year of the Dog Goalsetting

My main intention in my goalsetting work for the Year of the Dog, was to remove a sin I had committed years prior, and all the ways it was still operating in my life. I’m happy to say I live free from this wrong turn today, from having removed everything I had gained from this choice and letting go of the attachments I had to the “benefits” that came from the wrongdoing.

What I learned from constrasting my 2017 and 2018 goals is that when we commit a wrongdoing, life will not let us continue in a “normal” way until we correct for that wrongdoing. My 2017 goals were full of great ideas, great plans and dreams to continue my life in a more positive direction after I had experienced the most emotionally crippling breakup in 2016. I decided I would just “forgive” and “move on,” but after a year of attempting everything and finding myself still fighting the same problems, I realized that we can’t move on until we remove what we had done wrong and deeply processed what took place.

Facing this was the most challenging fear I have had to face to date – I think it was even worse than facing the deep-seated fear we all have that we might not be lovable, because this was about deep, dark shame of acting out our shadow energy. This was me deliberately having done something against what my better judgment required of me, and creating much more damage than if I had held back my dark desires to manipulate the fabric of reality.

It took an entire year – well, almost an entire year, still a week from Year of the Pig! – to remove it from my life. I’m on my knees in grace that my 2018 intentions were to focus on clearing this sin, despite not having stable work and the fears that crept in on my financial situation. I somehow was supported by Life to keep going without needing to resort to depending on someone else. But my main 2018 intention was to reinstate my faith in God, or a greater order of Life if preferred, rather than my own ability to manipulate/”create” reality.

In February 2018, I began praying and working on a spiritual practice. I studied materials on spirituality again. In March and April 2018, I began studying the Catholic sacrament of confession, and penance, and putting it into practice in my own way. In May 2018, I went to Los Angeles to clean up everything I had left behind there since 2016, to clear up the mess. I returned to Taiwan feeling twenty pounds lighter. In July 2018, I held, with the help of my event-planner friend Jenny, my “21st birthday party” a few years late, in a way I really wanted to, including performing music to my friends. I also [very] short-term dated a guy, while holding to one of my Year of the Dog intentions that I love:

Without this intention (which I obviously don’t remember that I wrote when I was dating this guy), I would not have moved forward positively in the way I did, and would have gotten into unnecessary messes. They’re powerful words, and I can say that this was not true of me when I wrote the goal, and today, it is.

 

On the Subject of Goalsetting

So, in this long blogpost, I’ve discussed a lot – goalsetting, when it’s not effective, what happens when you’ve done something wrong and cannot push forward, and clearing the path to have proper goals. Goalsetting is a seriously complicated process. It’s confusing for me as to why we simplify goalsetting into, “Set SMART goals!” Or “Get past the first 21 days of your new year’s resolutions, and it is well on its way!” Mhm, call me when that works out for you.

No, rather, goalsetting takes the most brutal honesty with yourself you can muster up the courage to encounter. It requires you to take full stock of where your life is today, and be willing to change directions where appropriate, with complete disregard of what you think you want. It certainly isn’t about the car you’ve always wanted, or the partner that will prove you’re not an unlovable loser. Done right, by enough people, it can transform the world from the horrors we’ve experienced in the 20th Century and the recent past few years.

My Year of the Dog intentions structures looked like this:

  • Spiritual Goals (7)
  • Emotional Goals (6)
  • Mental Goals (5)
  • Physical Goals (5)

Areas of Life

  • Health (3)
  • Relationships (3)
  • Lifestyle (2)
  • Career (5)
  • Finances (3)
  • Music (5)
  • Education (3)

I then had a breakdown of goals for the months, starting February 2018, up to September 2018.

With this structure, I was able to clear my past wrongdoings and move in a better direction for myself. I hardly compared myself to anyone else in that time, because I just couldn’t, given I had committed this wrongdoing I had to clean it up. It is extremely liberating to see how 2018 unfolded with so much grace and atonement.

 

My 2019 Goalsetting Processes

This year, my sister and I set intentions while eating cakes (mm by the ocean? Kidding) and white wine during countdown. It was great; we really channeled solid intentions that are still in effect for both of us today.

After that, I followed a more structured program for goalsetting this year, with Jordan B. Peterson’s Future Authoring program. It took a total of about twelve to fifteen hours to write the almost thirty pages of goalsetting details for just eight main goals, over the course of two weeks. I had to face a lot of fears about myself and who I am, and course correct a lot from where I was, after detailing out the goals. I stuck to every section of it however, and when I completed it, it truly felt very complete as a set of goals. It is a really powerful process that took what I already did for so many years to much greater heights. I’m looking forward to see how it will run its course.

 

The Human Journey of Becoming

I used to approach goalsetting as if it were my time to get out everything that I want, but after my experience from the previous year, I came to a much higher level of self-accountability and responsibility, requiring a different level of who I am. Goals and setting them is and has always been about the person you become in the process, and that’s the place we should be focused on. Our entire life consists of us creating ourselves as individuals in the relative world – and who we choose to be has always been up to our choice in what to pay attention to. I am profoundly grateful for the fact that I’ve been setting goals since I was five years old, and developed the muscle over the years in the way I have.

As I encourage everyone to pick up goalsetting as well, wherever you’re at, and I offer a lead for where you can start. Start with this simple question: If nothing else were to happen this year for you, what is the one thing you would like to see happen?

If you just get that together, your year will be better than if you paid zero attention to the life you wish to create. While we don’t dictate the outcomes in our lives, I do hold to the truth that we harbor tremendous creative power in the decision to follow our greatest destiny, or to stumble into fated tragedies.

I’ve set my goals for my year, and I’m really, really looking forward to how it plays out. Praying in grace.

Longstanding Asian traditions, strong willed women, and lots of money: My thoughts on Crazy Rich Asians

[Image sourced from http://www.crazyrichasiansmovie.net/gallery]
[Note: Spoilers contained in this post!]

For a few weeks now, I’d been asked if I had watched Crazy Rich Asians by my friends and family. After watching it this past week, I decided there really is a lot of content in it that is worth noting and writing about. I won’t get into summarizing the story, as my friends who are reading this have already watched it, so these are just my thoughts on the deeper themes portrayed throughout the story.

As a movie, it really was a very entertaining and comic film. It was also exceptional at revealing the intimate details of the unwritten cultural rules and codes of being Asian and growing up in a traditional Asian family. That the whole cast is Asian, and that there was not a single fully non-Asian even as extras is actually pretty representative of what you find when you’re in a traditional, wealthy Asian society, at least from a mentality standpoint. Following what my lineage wanted to the T, I would breed within my social class and race, and the higher up in the net worth scale your family is, the higher the importance of these two factors. I wish I could say the film exaggerates this, but that really is something that is still important today.

One thing I appreciated about the film in this regard was that it represented both sides of the coin pretty well. While the traditional, sacrifice for family side was portrayed as antagonism, and the progressive, pursuit of happiness side was portrayed as protagonism, the film did fairly portray both sides. I found myself feeling not sure as to which I would really side with – there are strong, legitimate economic reasons to follow the traditional side, yet the flipside of it is that it feels like a never-ending suffocation prison of having no authority to make decisions in your own life. Further implications of this to follow.

An aspect I felt a distaste for was the wealth and opulence that the story is set in – I get it, it’s titled “Crazy Rich” Asians, not Asians. But seeing all those scenes of the houses and private islands being filmed in that way, the cronies and the materialism – it made me feel like it was being a competing Asian equivalent to Fifty Shades, and the dangerous threat of the rising narcissism in our society today. While I actually like Fifty Shades for other personal reasons (no, not just those reasons), where I think these representations are shortsighted is that it does not show where we got all this money, just the lifestyle that revolves around materialism and narcissism. In a world of social media envy and Instagram perfect, I’m concerned for this for our younger generations and the lifestyle expectations it creates. Yes, I get that it’s fiction, and maybe it’s better than portraying war, violence, and vampiric stalker boyfriends. But I do think it speaks to current power in the collective unconscious of both this materialistic, narcissistic lifestyle, as well as the surprisingly fast rise of China as an economic superpower.

Onto the characters, I really had an issue with Nick as a character, as well as the relationship between Nick and Rachel. Being a complete fit to the “strong woman” archetype myself, I have a real problem with the situation between Nick and Rachel. Just because someone is strong and able to handle a dead gutted fish and threat written on her hotel bedroom at a bachelorette party, does not mean that she wants to! Or should, for that matter. Speaking from personal experience, it’s not good enough in any way to be in a relationship where you’re strong and take all the hits of the situation you in reality do not have to be in, that is also caused by your partner in many ways. If you’re going to have me thrown into your tank of pet piranhas, first of all, I don’t really want to, and second of all, the least you can do is at least tell me what piranhas are so I can do some preparation! Nick leaves Rachel with zero preparation for any of the things she might encounter, and if he spent that much time thinking up a proposal scene, I think he could spend some time thinking about what his family and friends might think about Rachel.

It’s not like he’s clueless either – he knows his mother Eleanor let his grandmother raise him to redeem herself for not being the daughter-in-law the grandma wanted. He knows about Astrid’s relationship, and all the other cousins’ relationships and how the family feels about them. Yet he’s dated Rachel for a year, already has a ring for her, and Rachel is surprised that they’re taking a first class flight. Some serious escaping life he’s doing, and surprise, it doesn’t just go away even if you escape it. It also highlights a lack of forethought when considering marriage and its intentions and purposes.

What I’m most concerned about is having grown up first thinking it’s terrible to be a strong-willed woman (in traditional Asian society), then realizing it’s actually better than having your life be fully controlled by other people (once you get over your own manipulation issues), but now, realizing that in counterenergy to the strong willed Miss Independent archetype, we’ve created this zero accountability man lover archetype. The man who loves you so much because you’re the most capable amazing woman he’s ever met, and so different from any other woman, and you’ll change his life and he won’t have to do anything but propose. F that.

(Clearly someone needs to work on her issues around this, but that’s another story)

Anyways, in the scene where Colin and Nick escape the bachelor party to the hut on water, Colin asks Nick if Rachel is ready for facing his family in a marriage. He reminds Nick that he is untouchable, but Rachel isn’t. Did Nick not ever think about this before considering proposing? I find it selfish of him to not have put Rachel into consideration in a marriage proposal, even if she is a strong woman who can handle anything. The other scene that really hit home for me was the wedding scene where Araminta is walking down the aisle, and Nick was so proud that Rachel wasn’t meekly hiding in the back – that she was the strong, independent woman he loves, facing everything full-frontally. It was an emotional scene flashing between Nick’s in love face, Colin’s in love face, Rachel’s omg I’ve made it this far face, and Eleanor’s face of desperation of what if she really can’t win here. While I was moved emotionally, I thought, why does it have to be that hard? Why does it have to be that hard to be happy in a relationship? Might we girls be too strong for our own good? I’m still trying to understand this whole situation myself.

My final note on this is what my true sentiments about the entire movie is revolved around: the lack of a solid resolution being created in response to the perspectives of the two sides that were portrayed. As I mentioned earlier, the representation and depiction of the issues that face our Asian communities were very well done – they were intimate, intricate, and accurate. Where things fell short and why I couldn’t appreciate the ending was that there was no solution that was created between the two sides – the traditional Asian path vs the progressive American path – thus providing us no better answers than what we have to go off of now.

Maybe it’s the marketing storyteller in me, but stories have to provide us better answers to be valuable. We as individuals (the characters in the plots) have to transform ourselves through stories, when we realize we cannot transform our circumstances. Stories and art are places where we can explore different realities, and this was a lot of exposure, but zero resolution.

Some people wrote in reviews that it’s because Eleanor cares about family that she wanted Nick to be happy in the end, but I really didn’t feel that, because caring about family would ultimately still be about the estate and the carrying down of the tradition, not just one generation’s happiness. The story compensated a little for this by having Astrid and Michael’s relationship fall apart out of their differences with each other, but overall it only provides a solution of one side has to give up their power. I really do not think that is a solution by any means. Not that I suggest compromise where we 50-50 it (à la Americàn), but when there are conflicts with such strong energy and intentions behind them, there are solutions that are equally powerful. This film does not explore that in any way.

This question actually digs into the spiritual truth of All is One. What Eleanor did, to find ways to redeem herself through sacrificing as much as she could for the family, just continued the power structure. She yielded to the tradition. What that does is just pass on a locked-in model of homogeneity (she chose to give her differences up), where it’s more rich Asians carrying down the gigantic empire where one family has six maids and the kids all go to British boarding school. This serves to keep people out, further encourage inequality, and ultimately intertwines with selfishness, greed, stinginess, and the retention of wealth in the upper classes. It fundamentally violates what our soul knows about all is one, even though there are positive externalities to it.

I believe that we’re coming out with these strong personality women and zero accountability men archetypes who do not want to follow the norm and have strong courage because there’s something about this structure that has to break down at some point. Spiritually, it is not sustainable that we continue to violate All is One. We see in any us against them model, that it isn’t just the tradition that seeks to perpetuate the violation of this spiritual law, but also the progressive beliefs of going against the tribe and following your own happiness. While we’ve not matured in these relatively new archetypes enough to find a solution just yet, it’s important to consider it on the horizon as something we’ve to collectively work on in order to move to the next level.

Overall, I have to say it I found it entertaining, and it did illustrate some powerful concepts that I had been grasping with myself. I found myself feeling very ambivalent, especially in the scene where Rachel and Eleanor play mahjong, and Rachel asks, “Don’t you want your son to be happy?” And Eleanor replies, “Happiness is an illusion. We know how to build things that last.” A decade ago going to college, I would have sided with Rachel, thinking what’s the point of stuff if you’re so unhappy? Yet today I’ve found myself feeling ambivalent, thinking that while I don’t seek to accumulate stuff, I don’t think happiness is the answer. It leads to a self-contained narcissistic life, because the world at large isn’t going to give you happiness, not just when your heritage attempts to control it.

While I’m thrilled that this movie was produced and created, I find there’s a lot of work for all of us to do that can’t be concluded with a happy go lucky engagement party. To really resolve the issues the film presents, it is going to take serious spiritual work within us to transform these old structures, so that we can create something that truly lasts – something in the plane where we can take with us when we go.

Competing to Win and Ambition

I had this realization when playing badminton today. I swear if you want to get to know yourself better and have your own ongoing revealing personal development program, play badminton. It is amazing. It lets you know what’s going on in your life based on how you’re playing. I did this talk with another great badminton player about all the wonderful things that happened in our lives from badminton, including being able to see a lot about what is going on personally. It’s not just that you get to see things, you get to apply all these principles you have maybe just read or heard about in a safe context – a badminton match.


Today, I asked to play singles with an extremely well-trained player in badminton. I always have a philosophy to play really strong badminton, however one thing I noticed was my drive to win has been completely absent. I just sought to always play my best game, but since I haven’t been competing, I just didn’t have a drive to win. I had a drive to do well and exercise, but not this strong focus on every shot being engineered for my success.

The other day I was chatting with a friend of mine who is a full-time photographer. I interact with a lot of photographers, and I always have this little jealousy – I know it’s hard and a lot of work to be a full time photographer who is not only doing wedding photos, but oh I so wish I pursued my artistic passion as my career path as well! Aside from telling me I’ll be doing it soon, he told me the most important factor is your ambition. And I was like – oh right! Of course!

I somehow have forgotten about this little (BIG) thing called ambition since leaving a lot of my thought-so dreams. Many dreams that were cancelled from the separation I experienced, or from the jobs I worked not turning out to be positive experiences. It’s not that I completely gave up on them, they just kind of went on backburner mode as I frantically tried to support OPDs – other people’s dreams.

And along with my dreams being quiet was the part of me who is a truly competitive, ambitious badminton player. That ambition to always win regardless of what goes on on the other side of the court and regardless of the end result – that’s the ambition you need in every single match. The opponent may tell you things but you’re fully focused on yourself and your own game. He or she may do something funny but you’re completely focused on yourself and your own game. ALL 100% of your energy is on yourself and what you’re doing – the shots you’re placing, the game you’re playing, the player you’re being. Maybe it’s because I’m not at that high, professional competitive level, but I venture to say that focus on yourself all you need as a “game plan strategy” in badminton, no matter what your opponent is doing. Because experience and intuitive awareness from matches will build the strategy. And sometimes I find strategy not reliable. I was taught so much strategy – if the person is tall do this, short do that, strong do this, stout do that. What a waste of time and energy now that I look back, compared to just placing all of your focus and energy on your own game. Of course it helps and you can win with it, but what’s the point of strategy if you’re not a powerful player already, filled with your own vision and your own ambition and drive to win.

So what happened in my game, I played better than I have in the past 8 years. Maybe in my entire career. With zero training and spares singles games. And I had this realization like what if I approached my entire life in this way? I’ve been knowing I’ve been wasting time regretting some decisions, and trying to forget about that regret. But dropping it and moving on hasn’t shown me to be the answer either. What if I became devoted to my spiritual discipline and practice with this level of ambition? What if no matter what I have to do tomorrow in my job, like it or not, that I just focused on myself anyways? I can see that being a challenge with person after person to interact with in an office situation, but hey – what works in badminton works in real life.

Who do I choose to be then? And what would be different – what would I choose to be different in my life if I apply this?

I’ve been recently coming to a lot of lessons on letting go of pride and choosing to be courageous in that – more posts to come on that.

Expressing My Separation

Alright, it’s time for me to write my truth bomb post. The stuff I didn’t want to share for a while, but now I’m at the point where I’m to share it all. About my separation. On Valentine’s Day.

It’s actually Lunar New Year, and I’ve been preparing for a few things. For my season with the girls badminton team starting soon, for my New Years Resolutions (because Lunar New Year is more of a New Year than the Gregorian New Year), for a new vision boarding experience. But also, I’ve been preparing for my return to Truth, and my preparation to release this story from my psyche.

To say goodbye to this archetype of living, so that I may finally move on. Not to say that I’ve been hung up on it, but now it’s time to get to the grit and grime of it all, and express what I’ve been holding back.

It really shocks me when I think about how many people go through divorce and separations, because that really should be an experience that just brings everyone to return to Healing, Personal Development, Truth, God and the Divine energy. But I guess that’s not the way of most people.

For me, it is. I spent my entire life wanting to be in a happy relationship. I know it’s silly for me to say that since I’m young, but I honestly even remember being three years old, sitting on the lap of Ronald McDonald, thinking someday I will have a less scary looking guy than Ronald McDonald to be my boyfriend, and I was going to love it.

I got engaged when I was twenty. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, going to Italy, with my open wounds ready to heal, healing them in less than two months and creating a beautiful relationship. Similar to what I’m doing now – revealing to myself the archetypal stories I needed to release, and through the power of forgiveness, truly healing. It was a true miracle. My entire perception of life shifted. I saw how we are truly all one. It was what the near death experience recounts sound like, except I didn’t almost die, I just worked on personal development and continuously day after day invoked a higher energy field to come into my experience. I met my soul, and I experienced the presence of God, after an entire life of knowing religion was crazy.

Then, I went back to forgetting. I went back to old ways. My mind felt entitled to this unquestioned premise: You create your own reality.

Sounds fine for the most part, as most personal development books are teaching this. But you actually don’t create your own reality. If you did, you could literally think of pink sealions dancing in full scuba diving gear on the clouds, and it would actually happen (cit. Bug Free Mind Books). No, you don’t create your own reality, and it’s not because of “free will.”

Unfortunately, it took me a year of pain inflicted upon myself and ex partner, then another two years of learning in work to better understand this.

I knew from the moment that we met that my ex partner and I were not lifetime partners. We were certainly soul/wound mates, and I met him at a time where I was very close to my truth, which is why I knew from the first moment that we wouldn’t be able to be together as lifetime partners.

It is with the need to forgive myself that I write here and express that I thought I could play my own cards, because I believed so strongly that “you create your own reality,” that I had free will choice. That even though my intuition said, “this person is a great partner for you, but he will not be the one you can develop your life with,” I responded with, “that’s not up to you, that’s up to me, because it’s my life and I have free will choice to create my own reality.”

We were truly happy together for the first two years, but when I graduated from college and it came time for us to be married, there were so many problems that “needed to be solved” before we could get married. It became the four year engagement, then further, and I grew increasingly unhappy and depressed.

I write with a heavy heart, though truly, I am grateful for the separating, because it was using forceful free will to hold together a commitment that was never meant to be to made to start with, and the truth was going to happen no matter what, just a matter of time.

Sometimes (all the time), it’s not about your perseverance, or creating your own reality. Sometimes (all the time), it’s about the truth you’re able to accept about yourself.

Upon separating, my life changed a lot. Still with open wounds, I was offered a management position at a tech startup company in sales that opened my eyes so much to how much I had held myself back from being with this person. I had always been able to do all this – I just was never able to access these opportunities. I realized that I had been artificially holding myself to a life that was not mine, for the sake of being with my ex partner.

The career piece was actually happening, but at the same time, there’s something related to it that I’m still discovering right now; something that I know when I truly heal this wound I will better understand. Which is part of why I’m writing this, knowing that after repeating a couple of things in career as well, it’s time for me to be broken open and really see what patterns I’ve been choosing to create.

Somewhere in the middle of my most recent career experience, I realized that I’ve not been able to fully let go of what happened. Aside from not having committed to a new relationship, it has affected my career choices which have been sent to me as my “lessons” as well. So long as I don’t forgive, I will be aligned to and can only attract the work situations that trigger the wound within.

It’s actually beautiful, the way it is set up. It is set up for us to be responsible for our forgiveness, for our holding on or releasing, so that we can choose to be who we are. To be who we know ourselves deep down to be.

So as I continue to allow myself to express, let me pray deeply each evening, asking God for forgiveness, for grace, for love, with complete detachment of the outcome it will bring me.

I’m actually doing a lot better, and I’m really grateful for this opportunity to write about this experience. I’ve been fine, 2017 was the most beautiful year of my life so far. I just didn’t get to really create my greatest, grandest dreams because of this lack of expression. And now with this expression, and a conscious decision to be letting these stories release into the past, I’m eager to see where I’ll be next.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Happy Valentine’s Day ❤

Staying True to You

Going deeply into so many recent experiences has been such an adventure. I’ve noticed the way my paradigms continuously require to update to make sense and order of an otherwise chaotic world. Possibly just a domain of the mind, and not necessary for self-actualisation and self-realisation; however it does make you good with words around it. 😉

Experiencing a separation from a relationship a year ago now, my greatest lesson has been how easily we can ascribe responsibility to things outside of us, and that this won’t do. This really won’t do. The level of personal responsibility I’ve been coming to understand has been very mind-opening. It allows me to see Law of Attraction on a completely different level, much deeper than I had ever understood it before.

More than ever before, I’ve seen how so many “problems” are created from situations where we have not fully taken 100% responsibility – putting something or someone else above ourselves.

People like to talk about how you have to put yourself first, oxygen mask analogy, yes sure. I think the question isn’t do we accept that to be true (because most people now do), but to what extent we deliver on that. To what degree do we fully stay true to ourselves, always. Yes, always. Literally, any time we put ANYTHING above us, in my case, making my relationship experience more important than my own inner experience, puts us into trouble where we have to let go of that sooner or later.

What I’ve received from this understanding is that we’re much more creative and filled with things to share than we realize. We’re unable to realize it when we don’t claim enough responsibility. As an example, I stopped playing music for 6 years, even though when I was in high school, my dream was to become an artist someday. I basically felt like I was okay, as long as I was with my partner. My emotional expression became dependent on the ability to volley them with someone else, or simply to express them to – sometimes unfortunately at – someone else.

When I came back to Taiwan, I looked through a lot of my things from high school, and I found stacks – literally stacks – of music. I was surprised at how much music I had learned and how determined I was to become a professional singer songwriter someday. I had rewritten lyrics to songs and written a few originals, all in this portfolio book I carefully polished and printed on special paper. It was endearing to see, and what was most eye-opening was how this all disappeared since moving off to college.

I’ve picked up my music again, so much that my fingers have developed calluses in a matter of days. What’s amazing is I still remember so much of it, and I’m more passionate than ever to create even more deeply than I ever have before in my life.

Here’s a recent creation 🙂

If I could make my stage bigger today and I could speak louder and have more people hear anything at all, it would be to take control of your life and make your own decisions from thinking for yourself. Think for yourself. Think deeply. Even if that means you spin, sometimes negatively, think. Think for yourself so that you know what’s you and what’s not you. So that you stay 100% true to yourself. It’s never worth it to go down anything that isn’t fully true to yourself.

Someday, maybe I’ll create that stage. That will allow me to know I did what I came here for. And of course, thank you to whoever is here already today to read this.

 

Love,

Catt xx

Ending Regrets In Life and Start Living

Hi everyone, it’s Catt here. This article is longer than usual, but I wanted to share something very personal today that has been going on for me lately and has really moved me emotionally. I’ve recently been up to a lot of things – some are amazing like with coaching and working with photographers, and some are quite stressful like moving to another country. Anyways in this blogpost, I’m sharing something personal about a topic that had always been foreign to me: Regret. I intend to share my experiences with regret, and to get you awake if you’re someone who lives with regrets – if you are someone who does, please read this well, and please send this post to anyone who lives with regret, as it may change their life.

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A few years ago I experienced a really bad relationship with a guy I met in college. We were really close friends before and during our relationship, and one thing I remember he always wanted to know was how I had no regrets in life. I had gone through some pretty tough stuff, and I honestly had zero regrets for everything that had ever happened to me. I heard my mom complaining about regrets, I had heard my dad warning me about regrets constantly, but it was the one thing that never rubbed off onto me. I lived with zero regrets, even with the harsh consequences that came with some of my choices.

The guy I was with at the time, let’s call him Alec, would always ask me: How can you have no regrets? Don’t you wish certain things hadn’t happened? And I would respond in total confusion – why would I wish something I chose didn’t happen? Regret simply was not part of my mental vocabulary – it couldn’t even be defined in my life.

We sometimes would go into more detail. I’d ask him what he would regret. He said that sometimes he didn’t study enough and ended up getting grades that weren’t so good, but it would just happen because he just wanted to work on his music more, as it was more interesting than studying. And I said then why would you regret it if you want to work on music more? If you are more drawn towards your music and you ended up choosing to do that instead of studying, why would you regret? If you know you want better grades, you just have to choose to put off some of your music production. Why do you need to regret anything?

Sometimes, Alec would tell me during the times he hurt me “I really don’t know how you can not regret anything, I regret many things in my past, and the list just seems to get longer every day.” Even when Alec hurt me, I could feel terrible, but I never regretted what I chose, because I understood clearly my motivations for choosing exactly what I did, and if I had to change something, I knew where to look.

Well, lately I’ve experienced some regret for the first time in my life.

I experience some regret with getting such a nice car that it’s hard to figure out what to do with it if I’m moving countries. I’ve been experiencing regret to do with working for a company that I felt totally against. I’ve been experiencing regret when I think back on some of the difficult situations I was in, where people I was living with were in critical conditions and I was required to “help out,” only to realize they were using my “help” to not face what was going on.

I couldn’t understand this for the longest time. I had gone through much, much worse situations than these before I experienced my incredible miracle and I thought I would be able to handle these relatively smaller issues. But I felt restless, and I didn’t even recognize that I had been experiencing regret until lately with working on moving. What I’ve uncovered is that in each of the cases I experience regret, for myself at least and the way I experience life, is that they all came when I didn’t make my own decisions and chose to listen to someone else I felt knew more about the situation to deal with.

“Trust your instincts. Your mistakes might as well be your own.” – Billy Wilder

Never have I ever experienced my mistakes not being my own, and for me, it’s absolutely excruciating. In the large scheme of things, it’s fine – I’ve stopped working for something I don’t believe in, I don’t live with “people who need help” anymore, and it’s really just stuff when it comes to things like my car. But the experience of having to live with someone else’s mistakes (even if they come from good judgment), that these consequences stem from following what someone else recommended that I need to be or do, I am absolutely unable to feel empowered and a part of me just “wishes I didn’t do that particular thing.”

In the past while I was in middle school up to college, I had fiercely made all my decision for myself, and it was fantastic, even when it wasn’t. I was so rebellious and felt so strong in my decisions that even if they turned out poorly, at least I would be the one to deal with them. I never felt regret because I knew that each mistake or “failure” I experienced would bring me more understanding, and with more understanding I could gain awareness and insight that would bring me where I desired to go. My rebellious spirit was strong, and I experienced great pain, but also great joy, and that to me is the experience we came from – we didn’t come to make half a world where everything is only good, we came to experience ALL of it.

And that’s something I want to shake the world up with. I want to remind you and myself that trying to play life safe is trying to die, because it’s trying to never live. Being motivated by the safe option is never knowing how much of life you can handle and break through to experience something incredible. In the end, for myself, the safe option became the most dangerous option because dousing my rebellious, fierce, tenacious, driven-to-succeed attitude by searching for safety ended up almost taking my life away – in fact it already has by robbing me of a whole year of trying to do what everyone else wanted of me instead of being me.

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I’m glad I’ve followed some pieces, like my decision to start coaching and this whole project of working with teenagers and also moving back to my home country. If these turn out to be mistakes, I can adjust and course-correct and accept my mistakes. If what other people told me to do turn out to be mistakes, I can only live with regret of consequences in which my energy wasn’t fully in on.

If you’ve been like me lately experiencing regret and making decisions to play it safe, I invite you to accept that you have not made some of your decisions yourself, and ask yourself and ponder on the question: Who are you going to be now?

Life really is one swell ride – and it’s really just a ride – meant to be fully experienced, not hoping that things will be okay and that it’ll be a safe ride. Get the hell outside and experience your life because this is not a rehearsal, it’s not something you can say let me get everything right and then I’ll go outside and be like hey everyone, I’m great. It’s about experiencing every single emotion there is and CHOOSING who YOU WANT TO BE based on EVERYTHING you’ve experienced. Get the F*** outside so that someone else stops living your life, and you do instead so that you can actually get your life back and move it forward. You’ll always be the one who lives with your mistakes, so they might as well be your own so that you can learn and grow from them. You’ve already wasted years in not being yourself – can you really live with more?

What’s the worse that can happen? You make your own decisions that don’t work out? Well at least you know you did what you best knew at the time, and now have gained new awareness so that you can do something about it instead of feeling like this wasn’t what you thought would happen. Live! Live, live, live, and stop dying! Choose for yourself, even if that’s going to give you pain. Pain is one million times easier to handle when it comes up because you followed your own path. And it also gives you the precious jewels of awareness that allow you to get to know yourself and what your path really is.

Starting today, make a commitment to yourself that you will start making how you feel and what you want more important than anything else. Starting today, look at everything that you’re doing and evaluate your motivation for doing them – if it’s to play for safety, break the lie. Break these falsehoods. There is no safety, there is only you making your own choices and living your own life, or having someone else tell you what to do for you. Starting today, get out there and make some mistakes, feel it all, get to know what it is about the things you’re doing that will take you where you want to go. It’s all there, we’re all here, and we can all make more amazing things happen if we can learn to make decisions for ourselves.

That’s all I wanted to say today – please get out there and be you, the world needs you and the world desperately needs people to think for themselves and make up their own minds.

We can do this, one person at a time.

xx,
Catt

Why is personal development not working for me?

I’ve been reading personal development ever since I could read. Ok, maybe a few years after that, but I always loved books and movies that would promise a possibility of a different life through inner change. I am still in love with the possibilities personal development opens us to if we are willing (or perhaps a better word would be eager) to look at the ways in which we can change ourselves, and thus change our lives.

I can’t tell you how many personal development programs I’ve purchased and done online. How many counselors/coaches/therapists I’ve shuffled through. How many books I’ve read and reread, really wanting to improve and up my game so that I could better serve the world (ambitious perhaps, but not delusional!). And throughout the whole journey, no matter where I’ve come to, there is the possibility that I arrive at a time and space where I find myself thinking:

Why is personal development not working for me?

I know in my last blogpost I shared that I really achieved a very pure clarity that allowed me to see everything in my life the way it truly was and not as the illusions that made me suffer. And I also said this:

These systems started to work when I applied them in a certain way.

This quote of “a certain way” comes from The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles. I realized that was what happened as I was writing about what I was doing, and thinking about how it hasn’t really been that way since that experience (as I share on this blogpost, I never seem to get things to work out for me). That certain way I guess could be described as “connecting with my soul,” as my previous blogpost was talking about, but that can be seen as airy fairy and really, what does that even mean if you don’t even believe we have a soul, or don’t know what that means?

Well recently I’ve been humbly inspired to another piece of this “certain way” business that really caught my attention. It came from listening to a couple of interviews and rereading the book of Anita Moorjani, Dying to be Me (which to me is a must read!).

Here’s the idea. Personal development is basically “promising” us that we will live a “happier” (or “more successful” or “more fulfilled”) life as a result of doing what they suggest. While a lot of this information is truly fantastic (and true, and very actionable and real), there is a big pitfall in such a promise. That is that we literally, actually, reality-ly, physically, metaphysically, nonphysically, cannot find ourselves in a space of happiness/success/fulfillment if we are looking for the answer outside of ourselves. And this is the state many people are in when they do come to personal development.

We realize that this whole time we’ve been doing things out of fear of something else, out of avoidance of something, rather than out of true desire. And when we approach personal development in this way, we are signing up for failure, every. single. time. without. fail.

Why?

Well if we accept the law of attraction, we know that you attract that which you fear. Thus, if you’re doing anything for the purpose of avoiding something, you will attract that something you’re avoiding. So if we’re looking at how to become financially successful out of a desperation to avoid being a financial failure, if that is what we are motivated by (this is what I mean by “outside of ourselves”), I personally don’t see how it could, metaphysically/physically/nonphysically speaking, ever work out and have us come out as a financial success. At best, it would be a quick fix or create the longterm struggle, produced purely through action.

If we get on the treadmill to avoid being fat, if we take the job out of fear of not paying the bills, if we marry the person out of fear of never being wanted, if we go to a party out of fear of being rejected, if we think positive to avoid negative manifestations, we will ultimately find ourselves unhappy, even if we are able to keep up with the exterior world. If we apply personal development to avoid being unhappy with ourselves or avoiding a certain situation or circumstance, I personally strongly believe that this is why a lot of personal development “isn’t working.”

Quick story to illustrate the point: I have a set of books called A Bug Free Mind by Andy Shaw. The lessons in this book were absolutely essential to creating my first miracle in relationships. It talks a lot about (ironically) why personal development doesn’t work, focusing mostly on the way our minds are working against us. The first time I read this, it was revelatory to me. My questions were answered through this book, and in that “round of realization and miracles,” it was exactly what I needed. Being in control of my mind was the foundation to creating a relationship I desired.

After my clarifying experience through cleaning my thoughts up, I left that space of pure clarity and I instantly recognized, due to past experience, that I was not in control of my mind – because I had figured this out the first time, and that had been the problem. I was thinking “Oh GOOD, I get to shortcut it this time without going through the worst experiences – let me just get my bum back to cleaning up my thoughts and controlling my mind!” Yet, I went through crappy experiences again. And that wasn’t because of the information (very seldom is it really about the information itself – I won’t say never though because there is some crap out there). It was because I was completely motivated by my fear of wrongthinking, messy thoughts, lack of structured thinking, being out of control of my mind, being controlled by my ego, and living a life I didn’t desire, that I kept reaching for these books and desperately tried applying the lessons! And guess what I got?

(Are you one of these people too?)

Another example is meditation. I see things like this all the time: meditation gives you more time because it relieves your stress and makes you more productive, and you get to connect with answers that you otherwise would spend days figuring out. What is this, the overfunctioning burnt-out workaholic’s special? Where we feed only more of the ego in the promise that we’ll make more things happen and gain more prestige and more money and more more more… (not saying there’s anything wrong with making things happen, prestige, money, or more, but chasing these things certainly doesn’t give us the experience of “having” them!)

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The opposite of this (the certain way!) is to be motivated by desire. This is the complete opposite to doing something to avoid something you don’t want. They may be the same things, for instance, getting married. But one being done out of desire to be expressing life with another vs one being done out of not wanting to feel like an old bag are completely different things!

Reading more and more personal development out of fear of the unhappy life just isn’t going to get you the happy life, as weird and meta as that sounds. Connecting with desire will. Maybe at some point I will pick up the personal development books and programs that do serve me, but it will be after I let myself come from a place of desire rather than avoidance.

Connecting with desire isn’t a difficult thing either; remembering to do so may be, just as creatures of habit, but you instinctively know the difference. A tip is just ask yourself whenever you’re aware of it: am I doing this out of the desire in my heart, or am I just trying to run away from something else?

Always let your heart decide, and get clear on what that means. Trust me, you don’t want to waste your time TRYING SO HARD to APPLY THESE DARNED PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT PRINCIPLES and GOSH DARN IT WHY IS IT NOT WORKING ALREADY?? Yeah, it’s not pretty. I’ll take that emotional craziness for you and encourage you to connect inside starting now, so that you don’t have to do that emotional craziness I did.

And if you’re thinking of applying what I’m writing here out of avoiding not getting what you want in personal development..well just think of what that’s creating!

xxx,

Catt

My Affair with Italy

Italy. I think everyone wants to see Italy. If they don’t they’re not being honest, or they haven’t connected to that part of them that wants to experience beauty in physical, grandeur expressions. If even then they don’t want to come see Italy, well let me share with you my experience and see if you’d change your mind about it…

I was given the opportunity to visit Italy when I was in my third year of college, where I would study abroad for a semester. I might add I almost wasn’t able to go because I hadn’t taken the language requirement before leaving, and my online course was not being completed because the textbook wasn’t arriving (to Taiwan) and a huge mess occurred about three days before my flight where I had to tell the housing in my school that I might have to return to campus. It had overall been a very messy period of my life in general. I knew I had to stop doing those things that I kept doing (partying, spending time with friends judging and gossiping, having closet relationships that were not even relationships..) but I had no idea how. Either way, I knew I wanted to go to Italy, and the opportunity was in jeopardy.

But armed with my metaphysical studies, I pulled out the book Excuse Me Your Life is Waiting, and went to the chapter on Ye Gads, I’m Feeling! And I poured myself into the knowing that I would see the Duomo of Milan in utter awe and see Italy for around 45 minutes before bedtime..and when I woke up the next day I got my desire! This was my first moment of true gratitude for my opportunity to be in Italy.

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Visiting Duomo

 

(By the way, when I actually saw the Duomo of Milano for the first time, I literally gasped out of sheer awe of such grandiose beauty)

I remember the moment I landed in Italy..I flew from Taipei to Hong Kong, then Hong Kong to Milan Malpensa. I remember seeing the lush green trees and fields from above, and the uniform red, red

red rooftops and lush green

red rooftops and lush green

rooftops that I had only dreamed of seeing before. It wasn’t that it was a big deal to visit Italy…but I was actually going to LIVE there for THREE MONTHS and I would get to know something I was never even consciously aware existed.

Soon my excitement became tinted with anxiety, as I felt truly like a foreigner for the first time and I didn’t know anything about Italy. I didn’t know when to say Ciao or when to say Salve or Buongiorno. I didn’t know what Italy was, and being someone who always tried to do what everyone else wanted of me, it was pretty nerve-wracking at the beginning!

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first meal I ordered in Italy

I remember my first meal in Italy. I was still living at the hotel because I had a day before I moved into my host family’s house. I was walking along the streets of Milan, feeling very self conscious, but in speechless awe at the architecture around me – I really felt like I was in a movie set. I felt that when I visited New York, but this was on a completely different, heightened level, as every building had incredible sculptures on the balconies and the petunias overflowing from the windows just looked like a dream to me..or at least a movie set! So here I was looking for something to eat – I actually spent about three hours walking around until around 2pm because I felt way too self-conscious to walk into a restaurant and order something! I felt so fish-out-of-water and I had never experienced that before! I still had a lot of investment in what others thought of me, and keeping up with it was TIRING! I eventually chose some place because I knew I had to eat. I ordered, ate, then when it was time to pay,I had an unfortunate realization: AM I SUPPOSED TO TIP? I felt absolutely awkward. If I tip, I don’t like tipping in coins. Yet the biggest bill I had was 10 euros – for a 8 euro meal. I just couldn’t figure out what to do, I remember looking at the waiters and then looking away thinking “Oh crap.” I wish I could access my internet but I had no phone or wifi. I ended up leaving without tipping, then raced to my hotel room to get wifi access and breathed a HUGE sigh of relief that Italy is not a tipping country. PHEW. Meal #1, DONE!

view from outside my window in Italy

Outside my window

 

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my Italian grandmother and sister cutting a homemade apple pie

As I mentioned before, I knew I had to stop behaviours that didn’t serve me, and I thought at least in the meantime while I still care about what others think of me, I will not do the things I can control that I know I desire to end. Those things included hanging out with people just to hang out with people, drinking, partying, and I didn’t really have anyone to hook up with so that settled itself, but I also did not go out to seek that anymore. Instead, I spent a lot of time with my host family, just being part of an Italian family. I had a host brother and two host sisters, all younger than me, a host dad (who is the most amazing cook), host mom, and her mother so a host

Making gnocchi from scratch with my Italian grandmother

Making gnocchi from scratch with my Italian grandmother

grandmother who came every week. I remember I approached living with them in a state of awe as well – everything they said and did was just so amazing to me. It was so different from the way my family did things, and I felt enormous privilege to watch and be part of the experience. I also watched Italian movies with them and this really strengthened (along with listening to them talk) my learning Italian.

Along with this, in my second year of college, I drank a lot of alcohol. And I mean a LOT. And this, along with not exercising, made me gain a significant amount of weight. I was never fat, but it was clear that I had gained weight, and in Taiwan I was considered very fat (as everyone there is so skinny), and I had been told I was fat all the time it drove me crazy. I was on this personal development membership site and I had wrote to the author for help with how my family was treating me. He gave me mind tips, but he also suggested if I really have a weight issue, I should look into

started juicing in Italy

started juicing in Italy

Slim4Life by Jason Vale. So I had started reading that in Taipei, and when I arrived in Italy, with all the free time I had (just classes and then going home to wonderful dinner) I calmly finished reading everything. Again, without distractions, once I finished the book I simply went out to the electrodomestics store and purchased a small juicer for 45 euros, and started incorporating juicing into my life for the first time. Some days I would just have juice until dinner, and dinner was always fresh made by scratch and I would be in love. But I really started juicing every single day just like that.

 

Also in my second year of college, I had some crazy backend girlfriend relationship experiences. I won’t go into detail here, but let’s just say they were a bit insane, in the no-tomorrows way (naw come on I was always safe, the whole idea of it was just crazy). I never got to be with anyone who really appreciated me aside from shallow fancies of my no-guarantees exuberance that I adopted when a boy broke up with me from the only relationship I had (I was not in relationships with any other guys I was with). While I was in Milan, I met some cute boys I never got with, just talked to, but I would dream of going to places like Venice with a lover, someone with whom I could hold hands (the ex boyfriend never let me) and croon about how beautiful Italy was. My whole life experience was always shaped by my relationships, and the reason for letting go of the cool, popular front I had built up in college was from a painful experience demonstrating to me that it didn’t give me the relationship I wanted.

Venice

mask from Venice where they celebrate Carnevale

 

On one occasion, I went with a quiet friend to Venice. While we were eating lunch, a waiter, not ours, came up to us and said “Dimmi.” And I was like, “Well we were waiting for the bill if that helps.” He started asking me where I was from and why we were in Venice, and he said to my friend, “Sorry I’m coming in like this, but I really have to at least try to ask her out, you understand I’m hoping.” I was absolutely flattered and embarrassed at the same time, as he was older than me (he was 32 if I recall properly), and coming from being backend girlfriends and never even being asked out on a date, I was absolutely flattered. He took us to Piazza San Marco and showed us around, where he then left us, telling me that he would love to see me again but if I’m here with my friend then I’m here with my friend. I told him I appreciated him showing us around and thanked him for his time. Before leaving Venice, I bought a magnet with the street sign that said “Rialto,” which was where I met him, to remember our interaction. It wasn’t so much about a man talking to me that I felt so in awe for, but that I had stayed open enough to enjoy the interaction even if my mind wanted nothing to do with it really (random older Italian waiter guy hitting on me? Please!) (No, no, no, I stayed in “Maybe” energy, which was who I really am).

Anyways, on normal days, I would go to class every day, learn Italian (I absolutely loved learning Italian), then start my journey home on the bus and tram, but sometimes I would walk. I would just meander aimlessly so that I could see the city. I did this on the weekends too. As long as I could find a tram that went to the Duomo (the central cathedral by the way), there was a tram that had a stop there that would take me back to the neighborhood my family lived. So I just meandered, sometimes with my jaw wide open at what I would find hidden in the city – incredible statutes, a facade of a building that looked like it would be featured in a museum, hidden churches filled with incredible artwork (paintings, architecture, etc), the people on the street trying to sell me touristy things…I was falling in love with Milan by looking for these things actively every day.

I kept hanging around outside in the city, sometimes stopping in stores, sometimes hanging out in a cafe or the [one] bagel store reading more of my personal development or listening to it on the way to places. I’ve lived in a city all my life so I knew how to adapt easily to city life. I was also able to do all the things I had been trying in personal development for a while. I kept a gratitude journal in a way that really meant something to me, I exercised a bit every morning, I did yoga, I meditated, I kept applying programs I had already and kept reading, listening to books, and I would post on the personal development groups and interact with people there. It was fantastic – no distractions, no mind mess. No friends, no parties, no country hopping hustle-traveling.

The mug I manifested

The mug I manifested as a gift from my host mother!

These personal development things I applied just started to work without effort on my part. I didn’t have to remind myself to do any of these things, I just did them. They became part of my life. I soon realized I had stopped caring what anyone thought of me because I simply could not even guess. Like I wrote in a previous blogpost, I did things like manifested a mug I was looking for. These systems started to work when I applied them in a certain way. I was pretty surprised to be honest, as I had never seen such clear evidence of the laws of the universe in play until I had cleaned up my own thoughts.

I eventually reached a point where my mind was pretty clear, and I came across a book by Kamal Ravikant called Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It. And I applied what he wrote, and it worked like he said it would. It worked again with little effort on my part, because I already had been so committed, ready to shed the illusions and following through. From the first thought in the morning to the last thought at night was “I love myself” for about two weeks straight.

Then came the super-magic on top of the magic that oh my gosh I had just fallen in love with myself and wow I didn’t even know it was possible. I had started reading Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch for the first time, and for the first time in my life, I felt like I really wasn’t alone. I had said things just like God did to Neale about fundamentalist Christianity and relationships. I finally felt like what was happening was starting to make sense in my life and felt the presence of something that had been with me the whole time. I bought a piglet in the Disney store at San Babila to remember that someone loved me (this was before I applied Love Yourself).

my love - pimpi!

my love – pimpi!

Then I listened to a recording Neale did (after my love yourself experience), and all the pieces came together for the first time. I felt deep, deep gratitude for every experience in my life – not just the ones that pushed me to change, but the ones that I was absolutely certain should not ever be a part of anyone’s life. I realized that I had been it all the time, I didn’t need to do anything to be loved, unlike I had thought before. I didn’t need to do anything to gain anyone’s approval, I already had the greatest approval of all – being me. I was in a space of pure clarity for another few weeks – even while I was in class or babysitting kids, or sometimes I would just not even go to class..I would sit on the park benches in the middle of day when no one was there, and feel the power of what Neale was saying and feel deep inside me “I really am not alone, nothing has ever gone wrong, and I am already that which I seek to be.” I was having a truly revealing experience, much like the ones people go through in their near death experience. It was a pure merging with love which I have described countless times in my blogposts and with others.

So what happened next?

Well. I met a guy. Wait I really met a guy. He was introduced to me by my host family actually, and he was absolutely gorgeous. He looked literally like an angel and the first moment I saw him my heart floated out of my chest I swear. I felt like I had wings on my heart and they didn’t want to sit still. Well by this time I had remembered who I was and loved myself fully and completely, yet I had never really experienced it. I experienced the opposite of it and was grateful for that, but I hadn’t experienced it yet. I thought of the ways I might approach this guy, and I realized one unfortunate thing: I only knew how to get a guy in my bed, I didn’t know how to inspire a guy to be my lover.

So with relative ease (which was not the case in the past – in the past if I saw some guy I went bananas for I would cling onto him until he couldn’t stand it and shook me off), I just said to myself, “Well, let’s go practice how to be me then!” After all, you can’t just read a book to learn how to play basketball, you have to go out there and touch the ball and do it. So that’s what I did. I went online, set up a profile, and practiced being completely myself. I messaged over 150 guys and kept going. My ONLY intention with this exercise was to practice being completely, femininely myself (instead of masculinely, like I used to approach guys). And I did – no matter what it was, a real date or just being on chat. I would share when I felt uncomfortable or when I felt shy, or when I really didn’t want to continue talking altogether. Everything was all about being, not trying to get anywhere with any of these guys. I stayed completely open to whatever would show up for me so that I could work through these things, instead of push them and run away in embarrassment or shame. And I bravely did a lot of it in Italian! (The other thing was I learned most conversational Italian in about three months time – another joy for me!)

I truly did not intend to stay with any of the guys I met, but I ended up in a very long-term committed engagement with one of them that lasted four years. I kept telling myself this was just for practice, and I am appreciative of ALL of the guys who talk to me because they give me an opportunity to practice being myself.

him taking me to my first live soccer (I mean football) match - Go Inter!

him taking me to my first live soccer (I mean football) match – Go Inter!

And to this day I am still remembering who I am in situations I have never encountered, practicing more and more quantities and ways of being myself. It really never stops – the expansion. What has stopped is the behaviours I described in the beginning of this post I knew I had to let go of..those I have let go of and moved into a much more beautiful expression of myself that I could never have planned out.

But anyways…that was my secret affair with Italy..and I haven’t stopped yet, and I will never stop. I am grateful for the opportunity to share this experience with you, and invite you to look at ways in which you may move into a more authentic expression of who you really are, because the experiences that come with that are nothing short of incredibly absolutely breathtakingly amazing.

xxx,

Catt