Asia

The best time is now

The best time is now, summer! Summer in Chicago is very great. It’s basically a bundle of joy in a million ways from concerts to rooftops to beaches to festivals and on and on.

So many people out. Dogs everywhere too. I say hello and pet some. I say hello to some dog owners too. Sometimes people look at me with bewilderment when I do. Others seem relieved to meet a friendly stranger and respond warmly with an exhale. And this is very good.

This is what the world needs. The simple stuff. Or is it? Wouldn’t we be doing more of it if it was? Kindness, patience, honesty. Sensitivity. Little or big gestures that leave the world a little brighter. Letting people finish crossing the street instead of honking at them while they hurry across. Acknowledgement. Saying hello. The dogs do it!

Dogs are the best teachers. My Dolly Lama taught me so much. They live pretty simply. They rest, play, eat and make new friends unabashedly. They’re devoted to the present moment. It’s awesome how free they are. They greet pretty much everyone openly and they listen to unspoken energy guiding them. And they’re pretty direct in telling us (guilt-free) when they want some space.

Who’s in for circulating all this? Kindness, patience, honesty. It’s all around. Our eyes and hearts have to be open to it. Sometimes we are too busy complaining to notice. Or too distracted. Distracted by stories in the news that make us fearful of each other instead of unified. Distracted by stress and counting down the moments until the weekend. Distracted in our homes filled with the general desire of restoration from all the stuff that depletes us.

Can we stop this madness?

It’s no surprise that I bewilder some by the ways I live that are a little different, whether it be by saying hello to strangers or other ways. Many of you want to live this way too (and you can!).

Fortunately, I’ve gotten used to people looking at me with bewilderment. Growing up in a small town in Missouri. Going back to Korea as a young American in 2006 and 2009. Going back in 2018 after almost a decade of space. Other experiences in between. Life’s experiences are all teachers. The most uncomfortable and difficult experiences have been the greatest ones.

Here’s one. I’ve been told I was wrong for being me. I think we all have been told this in some way. Korean. Missourian. Woman. Too Asian, not Asian enough. Seen but unseen. Too much this, not enough that. Too bold, too quiet. Varying opinions, demands, judgements and expectations from the world. So much noise. I listened to it all! And I became ashamed of me.

Screw all of that.

Shame can be quiet and isolating. Why we allow the noise of the world to influence us is a baffling mystery and yet makes complete sense. At some point we’ve all let external sources and forces (and other people) define us through benchmarks like grades, titles, labels. So much noise.

We are who we choose to be.

There’s always gonna be someone who doesn’t like you and what you do. Sometimes this is warranted. Sometimes not. Oh well either way, really. There’s always gonna be someone who tells you can’t do something, even when you know you can. Ever have a boss/friend/family member/anyone tell you can’t do something? I have. Every boss I've ever had actually. And I used to believe them.

“If you are willing to look at another person’s behavior toward you as a reflection of the state of their relationship with themselves rather than a statement about your value as a person, then you will, over a period of time cease to react at all.” ―Yogi Bhajan

This is your life. Block out the noise of opinions and judgements so these don’t hold you back. Been there, done that, don’t recommend it. Be free. Free from the noise of other people defining you and your life.

Let people be bewildered! Let everyone be however they choose to be. Keep being you — even when it’s hard to do (it will be at times). Bewilder yourself.

You can live a life that defies the norm. You need not explain or justify to anyone. You need no approval or permission except your own.

This is why I’ve decided to leave the city I’ve called home for over five years during the very best time of the year. I’m heading to Asia in less than a month. I’m going to Thailand and Korea and I’m going to discover the paths and details along the way.

Exhale.

This is a bittersweet adventure. Going somewhere like India or China feels easier. My time spent in Korea is mostly difficult memories for me. Many I don't remember. As such, I want to call this whole adventure off about two ten times a day until I remember I have a lot of space to make new good memories in Korea. My 2018 visit was about declaring to this country that I am who I am and I accept and love all parts of me. I have some great memories from this trip (photos below). Oh how I used to wish for ‘the normal life’ — a life that didn’t involve this sort of life-disrupting self-discovery travel. Sometimes I still wish for this now, then I remember “normal” is overrated and is just a word. I embrace and celebrate unique. Life is more peaceful this way. It’s more fun too.

This news has been met with great support — and bewilderment. I have some amazing people cheering me on with simple yet powerful words, “I am here to support you, how can I best do that?” and “how are you doing and is there any place/restaurant on your Chicago bucket list I can take you?” A dear friend already talked about visiting me in Korea. We decided the best first step is getting a passport! And I feel nourished and uplifted. There’s also been, “so, what’s your plan?? Where are you going?? Are you getting paid for your work?? Tell me what you are doing exactly. What, you don’t know?! This is crazy! You got rid of all your stuff to go to Asia?? Why do you even need to go to Korea?” And I feel depleted and quiet.

My plan is simply this: I trust the flow of life. I trust where the world will guide me. I trust myself.

I literally began my life this way. I was up for an adventure as an infant, despite circumstances at my birth that were not entirely in my favor. I was very sick when I was born. And determined to live. I got on a plane before I was a year old, with a stranger, flew across the globe, not knowing what was exactly in store for me, open to what America would show me. Bewildering! I navigated, created my path and here I am. And I might have been scared but I trusted life would work out in my favor.

It has.

The best time is now to take another leap of faith across the globe.

I don’t know my way around Asia at all. I know two Korean words and two Thai words (thank you and food, not surprising to any!). I do not know where I will live/work/play. I don’t care. I love the unknown. Even when it is hard to do (now). I’m a little scared and life is currently pretty uncomfortable. So I breathe. I still trust life is working out in my favor.

These days, I am cherishing time with supportive friends and clients. I’ll continue to do coaching sessions via video/phone (we’ll have some time zone changes to make) and I am ready for the insight and perspective this adventure will give me to share. I’m cleaning out and procrastinating cleaning out. Researching and planning and not. Loving imperfection. Eating American foods (cheese in high quantities). Feeling grateful for this life I’ve had in Chicago and the people in it. Feeling all the tough stuff too. Then setting this stuff free. Being a human. Breathing, deeply. Meditating a lot. And leaving lots of space for magic.

I don’t know what the world will show me. There is freedom in this trust. There is peace in the surrender. I do know this is an enormous opportunity to grow and discover more about myself and the world. I will take the wisdom from any challenges and difficulties with me wherever I am.

The best time is now.