Friday, March 7, 2014

Lessons Abroad

My name is Lia and I'm a change-aholic.  I like to ditch my situational discomfort and hit reset by going somewhere new and having a clean start.  I'm in recovery.

What made me admit this to myself?  I'm sure you can guess it was my recent trip to Kenya.  More specifically the question posed to me by my friend Tahir.  He asked me one day WHY I was getting rid of a bunch of things and people that I loved.  I loved my boyfriend, my lifestyle in Chicago, the people I lived with and worked with, my job, the money I made, yet all I could think about was ditching everything and leaving.  My plan was to go to Kenya in Feb, Phoenix in March, Europe in April, Minnesota from May-September, and Australia for a year after that.  I ended things with my boyfriend and my job and packed my bags.  I told my roommates I actually wasn't going to be staying anymore.  And that was that.  I think this is called a major freak-out.

I believe that I am so not used to being comfortable and stable that it made me freak out that I would get bored of myself, of my life.  I needed something to happen.  I needed change in order to grow.  One of my biggest fears is stagnation, and I was so worried that that's what was happening.  I was stagnating.  But stagnation, I discovered, is a choice and stability does not have to equal stagnation.

But then I flipped my world around and realized how important stability can be for growth.  A great example is one's yoga practice.  It just cannot develop and grow without consistency.  Or an exercise routine, a way of eating, a relationship.  A relationship cannot grow unless you ACTUALLY commit to the growth of it.  It's easy for me to commit to the fidelity part.  The growth of it, the patience of sticking things out, that kind of commitment scared me so much.   But now I'm aware of something I wasn't aware of before.

Right before I left Chicago I stumbled upon a quotation saying that fear is a great indicator of what you should be doing.  Fearlessness is a quality I am working on cultivating within myself, and pursuing my dreams scares me.  So, I'm going to pursue my dreams.  Running my own business and believing in my awesomeness scares me, though I do generally think I'm pretty awesome in the way that all people are.  So, I'm going to run my own business.  These are all things I know will make me happy.  Being with Harry, the good and bad, makes me so happy.  So, I'm putting my fear aside and I'm giving the relationship my everything.  What's the point of being scared of doing things you think will make you happy?  What's there to wait for?  Next time?  Maybe you won't be so scared?  Maybe you'll be more deserving?  There really isn't a next time.  Only this time.  One shot.

Marie Forleo
I've joined Marie Forleo's B-School, which is a great first step toward building my business, helping people on a greater scale, facing my fears, and NOT stagnating.  I'm very excited about this step I'm taking.  It's going to be scary awesome hard work and I couldn't be more excited about it!  

I've readjusted or cancelled a lot of my travel plans for a while.  I still love and want to travel, but not back to back to back.  I saw it for what it was, an escape plan, and I've readjusted because now I'm aware.  Awareness is necessary for prevention and I was so NOT aware of a lot of this stuff before.  Harry and I are together again and I'm staying in Chicago.  I have a bit of cleaning up to do here and elsewhere, changing plans affects other people (imagine!).


I also had this very rational epiphany while I was in Kenya, that it's all the same.  We're all humans and have the same foundational wants and needs.  Culturally we vary, but, interestingly, none of that really matters.  Cultures shift individually and globally.  It's all temporary and not all that defining.  People everywhere that I've been still worry about their bodies to different degrees and for different reasons, they still worry about their romantic partners and finding good ones, women still like to stick together and talk for hours, while men still like to focus on their projects and work (and sex).  The details change, but human nature does not.  It severely dampened my desire to travel.  Not in a bad way, but in a way where I felt like I found something I was looking for.

It also gave me a great perspective on what we do and how much it matters.  Every community gives to others in different ways.  In NYC there is an emphasis on the CEO billionaire being of greater value than the janitor.  In the Masai tribes the most valuable position or persons have a completely different definition, and in Switzerland, Mexico, the Middle East, it all varies.  Within Portland, Nairobi, or Bluche people value very different things and people impact each other in very different ways.  It doesn't mean that one way is more right or valuable than another.  It is arbitrarily defined.  So I can do whatever I want.  Everyone can contribute in their own way and whatever they choose is of equal value to everyone else's choice.  That's so comforting.

I hate to burst a whole bunch of people's bubbles, but comparing yourself to others is therefore impossible.  Yay, you're free now.

Here I am looking for a "better" place to live.  The community here is mine.  It is where I contribute, and I'm finally happy with that.  It is a space I can help to grow.  I can help to improve.  I can educate people about food, health, and happiness.  I can do my little part to make this country a better place.  It IS my better place.

Who'd have thought it would take a trip to Kenya to make me more patriotic.


Vegyogini said...

Thank you for your sweet comment, Lia!

You are receiving great lessons through your travels, wow! I love learning about the many differences in human nature. I'm very rooted and so found it interesting to read about your ability to let everything and everyone go for a couple years of travel. It must have been a beautiful experience to then choose to stay where you were and reconnect with your boyfriend. Your openness is inspiring.

Kelsie Bellfield said...

Lia, you have been a hero of mine since the moment I met you. I wasn't even supposed to be in that class.... I have a great, stable job, a loving man, great friends and I am truly happy. But I still can't shake the feeling that maybe I should drop everything and go to Africa, India, Croatia, Austria etc travel, explore and learn I read your blog and usually feel a bit envious. But this one made me see the importance of what I am doing right now.right here, than you for that.