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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Visa response and flying time

My 6 month visa to India came through! Yes yes yes… My passport arrived in the mail on Sunday, signed, sealed and delivered, with my visa attached… There’s no turning back now…

The relief I felt when I saw my ‘ticket to freedom’ was unreal. Once I’d taken a moment by myself to open up the envelope and see if it was actually approved, I couldn’t contain my excitement. I ran into the office, on overdrive. All the teachers were just sitting around, waiting for class to start. Suddenly I started jumping around like a mad woman, holding my passport and shouting that I’ll soon be out of here and that I’m on my way…!!! Oops… it probably wasn’t the thing I should’ve done in that moment, but I just had to let my excitement out… The response I got… hummm… there were a few colleagues who were happy for me and then a few who cursed the fact that I was leaving. The rain COULD’VE started to fall on my parade, but I refused to let it. It was my moment and nobody’s cursing was going to steal it! So I childishly cursed them back, and said that nobody was going to bring me down. I wasn't going to hide my happiness for the fact that I’m leaving…

At the moment, I’ve still got to teach until Sunday. 5 days left. I’m not too sure when exactly I’ll leave Jinzhou, either the 29th or the 30th. Counting down the days may seem as though I’m wishing my time here away. But I realized I’m not wishing it away, I’m just seeing how long I’ve still got left to tie up loose ends. I actually wouldn’t want it to be happening right now. Because I’m not ready! Haha… However, when Monday comes, I know I’ll be ready and then it’ll be time. For now, I know exactly what I still need to do, who I need to meet up with and what other small details I have to sort out – such a transferring funds, getting train and bus connections, packing things up, passing things on and sending things home. And this week of teaching, I have to approach with the mindset of: my job is already done, the pressure is off and there’s nothing more or less I can do now… Except enjoy my classes with the kids and perhaps be obliged to explain my unexpected leave to the parents. This is the most important thing at work, this week.

It’s strange, but the closer the move comes, the calmer I’m feeling. To others around me, this has proven to be something they can’t comprehend. “Niamh, EVERYTHING in your life is about to change… your home, your contacts, your job, your environment, your diet, your finances… EVERYTHING is going to change so quickly! How can you be so calm!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!???????????? When will you have time to process, when you’re moving and being distracted by the chaos in the world…”
These aren’t questions I’ve asked myself, but they’ve come from people around me… And my answer is simple: This is something I’ve done before, and I feel so strongly that it’s the right thing, so there’s no need to be nervous or stressed. It’s going to work. I NEED to change EVERYTHING, so the places I go to and the people I meet are in accordance with the visions my mind has been holding onto for months. It’s so simple.

In regards to ‘processing the process of change’, this is something I do as I literally travel. I consciously make the actual journey into a longer one by choosing flight connections that are drawn-out or train journeys that last for days… I don’t care if I’ve to wait for 12 hours at the airport… or sleep 2 nights on the train. It always gives me the chance to find a place and write about where I’ve just come from and where I’m heading. It means I’m totally experiencing the journey. And I actually love the waiting. Some of best moments of writing have been done in between flights, or on planes. On stop-overs, time flies. After one flight has physically landed and before the next one takes-off, time is nowhere, time zones are irrelevant and I loose myself so happily. When making a ‘drastic’ change, I make each journey into a memorable one, because of the writing I do, whilst being in transition. And that’s the ‘processing of the process of change’. It’s releasing the experiences, step by step and so, when the time comes to step-off the plane and into the new part of the world that will be my place for as long as it feels comfortable… then I’m totally recharged, fresh and ready for the experience.

This actually makes me feel totally fine to know that I’ll have 12 hours in Shanghai airport next Thursday, and 40 hours on a train, once I land in Mumbai next Friday morning while making my way down south to Kerala. Happy days await 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Kerala calling

In exactly 2 weeks I SHOULD be on a plane to India. Thursday the 1st of September. Can’t quite believe it… I’ve not received my passport yet, so I’m still waiting for that to be my ‘ticket to freedom’…

At times I‘m almost afraid to NOT focus on India, because I feel something might come along to disrupt my intentions and it won’t happen. I know it’s because nothing feels to have been secured in reality yet… like the visa. As well it’s because things have happened so fast and it’s all ‘last minute’… And I have to keep believing and being patient; if now is my time to return, then it’s going to happen.

So, what are my ‘plans’ for when I do finally get there? It’s to first go to an ashram for a month. I need to refuel, to chill-out and to do as much as possible that involves doing as little as possible… apart from yoga and writing…  I’ve nearly got my heart set on a particular place, just in contact with them at the moment and checking out availability and train tickets for when I get to Mumbai so I can travel down south.

Of course I’ve been thinking about whether or not to continue teaching once I’m feeling grounded again. And, I already know, that yes I do want to teach. For some reason I want to be with these kids. I don’t know who I’m referring to, when I say ‘these’… but that doesn’t matter… Kids are kids everywhere in the world and I want to be around them…

3 weeks ago when I first realized I needed to move onwards to India, there was one person who came to mind. I hadn’t thought about him for months. It was the chairman of the Art of Living association. This is the association I worked for, when I first started teaching in Kerala (the southern state in India) and he was the one who gave me the job. That particular teaching experience, which only lasted 5 short weeks, was the one I’ve wanted to go back to, ever since leaving. It’s the experience I’ve compared THIS current teaching job to, as well as the second teaching job I had in Kerala (which was the boarding school called Ebenezer). Even when I was back in Ireland writing my book, the chairman would ring my mams house in ARKLOW to see if I wanted to come back to India to teach for his schools again. This I always felt to be the strangest thing… Because my time in India felt, and still often feels, to have been a dream, but home, in Arklow, is…. reality… and for him to call from a place, that I never classed as being apart of the ‘normal’ world, was many many things that I can’t put into words in this blog. Anyhow, I was always tempted to go back. I actually knew I would teach for him again. But then the China opportunity came along, and I jumped at the chance of experiencing something different.

And so, the chairman stopped calling my mams house. He thought I’d not get in touch… Until 3 weeks ago; lying here on my couch in my ‘perfect’ little life, in China, in floods of tears wanting to break free, feeling that my heart was actually departing Jinzhou in that one particular breakdown… and wishing so badly to be free. And who pops into my mind; the chairman. After so long, he was the person I needed to connect with.

And I did. I emailed him within a few days. I set the ball rolling. He replied, delighted to hear from me, stating he had a few positions in Kerala that he needed to fill. And one of them was mine, if I wanted. That’s when the relief came and I couldn’t believe my luck… The world started to feel open again…

Right now, we’re still emailing back and forth, but nothing has been set. I’ve said that if I start work, it won’t be until mid or end of October. Because I need to properly distance myself from China and gear myself up for India, whilst being in the ashram. I figure, as the weeks pass, I’ll know if I’m meant to be teaching for his schools again. Either way, it’s an environment I’ve always wanted to experience again. And if it’s something I simply need to do, then it will happen at some point along the way. If there’s anything I’ve learnt over the past weeks… it’s that, no matter how down I feel in the office environment and how withdrawn and isolated I’ve become, once I step into the class… I’m me again… I’m open, I’m happy, I’m appreciating my job and I’m loving the kids. So it’s something that will travel with me and I know that the opportunities DO stretch beyond every boarder and that they are all only temporary, but all for the purpose of moving me forward… even this current experience is proving to have been for that same purpose…

Movement requires us to be static or stationary in a certain place for a certain length of time, until the time comes to take the actual step.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Communication is... where?

It’s Wednesday morning and the start of another week. I teach until Sunday the 28th. I can only hope that the next weeks will be easier than the ones gone by.

It’s really strange where I’m at right now. I can’t say that I feel happier at work, just for knowing I’m leaving. I can’t say that I walk around with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. It’s pretty much the opposite. I’m withdrawn, I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders, I can’t bare the sight of my frown and I’m drained constantly. However, once I’ve totally distanced myself from the work place and I’m in my own space, then the bounce slowly returns and the smile starts to appear. My own space, by the way, is my apartment and the occasions when I’m having great conversations with the few people I can connect with here.

Needless to say, I’m in between 2 worlds; no longer really here in China and not yet in India. I feel India is so near though. Because whenever I close my eyes, it’s all I see… but then when I open my eyes, I’m still here in Jinzhou, China. I still have to face reality. I still have to be here and force myself to focus on the job. I still have to feel the pressure and stress that now just comes from being outside of my apartment in the streets that burden me in many different ways. In a tired state I still have to smile and still have to enjoy my last weeks in China… just to be appreciative and to be happy… I still have to take pictures and be the traveller… and still have to realize that savouring the moment will move me on to better things.

This is what’s been happening: I no longer walk through the streets. Well, I do, but ONLY when I’m totally in a happy place in my head. Once upon a time, I’d walk along and feel amazing as I’d be inspired by what I’d see and I’d never mind for people to give me the exact same looks of amazement or shock for what they were seeing (which was, and still is…me). Now though, the stares are a burden. The way the people STILL look at me, after I’ve been walking the same route for so many months, is something I can no longer appreciate or feel comfortable with. I used to return a smile. But how can I now smile and feel happy for others to see me, when I don’t want to see myself in this city anymore? It’s impossible to give a smile to the stares that come from the thousands of strangers who see me walking to work, day in day out.

So, I’ve taken to hopping on the bus each day. I feel that’s less stressful, less of a burden… and my mind is clearer. And I then I sit… I stare out the dirty window and I’m gazing at the Chinese people doing their daily things… buying fruit, going to the bank, riding their bikes, shopping for clothes or just sitting and talking with each other to pass the time. And then there’s me… sitting on a bus, in Jinzhou. Feeling so distanced from society. And there’s no way I can ever break through… because of the language…

How nice would it be to buy some fruit from the market, and have an easy conversation with the stallholder about the… weather? the new produce? The…whatever…???!!!! Yes, it would be so great to communicate with these people. Because they ARE all good, they are all WARM people. But all I see and feel are the first initial stares that come from the thousands of eyes that may have never seen a foreigner before. And because I’m not happy, I can’t smile and break the ice. And because I can’t speak Chinese, I can’t even have the lightest of chit-chats that would brighten their day as well as mine. And, right now, I’m touching one of the main reasons for me to have been feeling alone, isolated and withdrawn: LACK OF COMMUNICATION… Wouw… how much we can take it for granted; the simple act of connecting with a stranger.

Months ago, when I decided not to study Chinese, I consciously chose not to make the effort to fully experience China. The language here is the culture… It’s the main thing, in Jinzhou especially (as it’s so ‘backward’ compared to most Chinese cities), that will shake foreigners about. Only if you’re planning to be in China for quite some time, then Chinese is the thing to study and the efforts will eventually start paying off… even though it can take years to master it fully. But I chose not to be apart of China in that sense. And by having made that choice, I was actually closing myself off from the culture and the people and most things I value in life as I travel: a flow of new people that would bring new opportunities into my life whilst being apart of a society that’s different from where I hold my roots. I wasn’t willing and chose to focus on writing instead.

Not all foreigners choose to learn Chinese. But they have… each other instead… and so they have the communication they need. They feel comfort in their own group of foreigners, who they can relate to. And that can be enough for them to feel happy in their job, happy in their Chinese lifestyle and open to embracing ‘travel’ whilst being ‘stationary’. For me, comfort never really came, in the foreign connections. Or maybe I’ve had moments of comfort, but they started to vanish, ever so slowly and so I started to sink deeper into my own world and started to create my dreams that are now becoming reality.

For the fact that what I was creating is now starting to appear, I don’t have any regrets whatsoever. Really I don’t. I’m totally at peace with the focus I put on writing and I don’t mind that I never broke through into the Chinese society. Those with a passion for China would embrace it fully. But I personally never had a passion for China. It’s never been a place I longed to visit. I’ve always had a ‘list’ of so many countries in the world I’d long to visit… but China was NEVER on it… So, it’s really no wonder why things have planned out the way they have done. And it’s only making my love for India and my passion to write, become all the more real. I know these 6 months have set me up in such a way, that I’ll appreciate India more than I would’ve done, had I not come to China first.

As for the communication ‘thing’, I hear you ask: doesn’t India also have different languages? Yes, it does. BUT it’s a heaven for travellers, in the sense that English is spoken everywhere. When I was there last year, many things shook me about, but the language was NEVER one of them… India can be a country that’s not convenient and many challenges can arise when doing the smallest of things… BUT it’s a luxury in terms of communication. Why is there so much English? The British were once upon a time the rulers… I’m not going to make this post into a history lecture. It’s way too long already… haha… So I leave it on a lighter and brighter note… Everything is moving forward as it should and I feel good. Maybe, just for 2 more weeks, I might show smiles to the strangers staring at me, when I’m feeling happy as a result of what’s appearing.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Materializing 'stuff'

It was Monday morning and I wasn’t intending on doing much. Only booking a train ticket for the 16th of August, to go to Beijing where I’d apply for the Indian visa, in person, at the Embassy. That’s all I’d planned. That gave me a week to sort the documents and get my head into gear. But, by the time the visa would be processed and I’d have my passport back, I’d only have a week left in China. That was cutting it fine – leaving me hardly any time to sort any unforeseen obstacles that could get in the way. But I didn’t see any other of doing it.

UNTIL Monday morning that is. I went to the train station to book the ticket to Beijing for the 16th. Helen came with me, to translate. We were told we couldn’t book the train so far in advance. Okay fine. Leave it for another day?! Hummm…. Suddenly I thought… can I not just get a ticket for tomorrow? Instead of waiting another week? And that was that… the decision was made. I bought the ticket for train that was leaving the following morning. However easy that was, suddenly the pressure was on… to get all the documents sorted by Monday evening, and get my ass on the train to Beijing by Tuesday 8.30am…

Sorting the documents brought me to suddenly be sorting out a lot more than I expected. The main thing being: before heading to Beijing I had to BOOK MY FLIGHT! The embassy needed proof of my departure from China and a confirmed flight was the only was in which to do so. Oops… this was totally unexpected. I thought I’d not book the flight until the visa had been approved. I’d thought to put off booking the flight until a week or 10 days before actually leaving. Monday was suddenly the day I to book, IF I wanted to keep the ball rolling… and I did need to keep things moving, so yes, I sussed out my exact dates and booked! I got my head around things pretty quickly. There was no time to start doubting my decision… And so, it became as final as final can be. My last day at work is on the 28th of August and I’m flying from Beijing to Mumbai on the 1st of September. This gives me time to pack up my things and explore Beijing properly for a day or 2, before flying out.

It was pretty nerve wrecking and of course I panicked, felt queasy and had moments of thinking myself to be insane for actually following this through… But those were, again, only fleeting moments. And once I was calm, I knew why I was taking these steps. It wouldn’t have mattered when I’d book the flights, because I’d have always need to take action. I’d always need to make that step; the one from fantasizing about the dream to actually making it real. After dreaming about it, crying over it, nervously telling others about it… yes, it would always need to become a reality. And on Monday evening it became real, there was no going back and I knew: “Hey! I don’t even want to go back! Forward is the only way!”

Tuesday, moving forward meant a daytrip to Beijing… What an unexpected visit… The first time to visit the capital, that’s only 3 or 4 hours by train, from Jinzhou! I found it actually pretty odd for the first visit NOT to be for the purpose of discovering China, but to actually be for leaving China. But, that’s how it was obviously meant to go. Being there was brilliant though. I felt so much life and energy and was totally shocked by how Western it is… People will still stare, but it’s different than the stares I get ALL THE TIME here in Jinzhou. And the amount of unfamiliar western faces I saw in the 5 hours I spent wandering around, was more than I’d ever see here, in the space of 6 months. Any western people I see here are the people I know and work with or the tiny bunch of contacts outside of the office. For a short instant I wondered if I’d been too hasty to want to leave China, if there was a place so near to Jinzhou that could offer such a different feel… But, that was only short lived, because after 3 or 4 hours I was reminded why I’m leaving China, why I’m not a city person and why my first encounter with Beijing had to be for reason of leaving… Simply because China is not my place for now… And it’s okay.

Being in the Indian Embassy; this was so cool! Man, I was so excited; especially when I saw a few Indian people and heard that familiar accent again. Yes, this was good… a slightly strange scenario though: an Irish citizen, in Beijing, applying for an Indian visa… humm… what are the odds.

The next step; waiting for the visa to come through, which could take up to 10 days. I’ve only got all my fingers and toes crossed that will come through, without anything getting in the way… I know there’ll always be a solution to any problem, so I trust that I’ll be on that flight, that’s due to leave in only 3 weeks… wouw.. What a weekend this has been. I truly did get what I wished for 

Silly expression

Everybody knows. I told my colleagues on Friday about the move and of course it was making the whole thing all the more real. I felt nervous and relieved and closer to them, just for opening up. And my withdrawn behaviour and my unpredictable moods of the past few weeks, or months even, were suddenly making sense to everyone… As well as the exhaustion that others would see wearing heavy on my face and the chatting I was only ever able to do, if work wasn’t playing on my mind. Everyone had suspected that something was going on with me, but they didn’t know that it was so bad, that I’d chosen to leave. I can’t say they were delighted to hear of me leaving – on the contrary. But once they knew I wasn’t happy, they were willing for me to do whatever I felt was necessary so as to be happy in myself.

I told them my next step: India… I can’t even believe the words I spoke, when I ‘revealing’ what was going on and my reasons for going there: “I’m going back, to… find myself!” Why would I say something so farfetched! My god, I’ve met travellers before who’ve said the same thing… and I actually thought it so ‘off the wall’! Going to India, to find yourself!!!! What a joke! Well… on Friday, in the office, I was saying the exact same thing, but I had no other way to describing WHY I was choosing for this to be my next move.

I could go to many places to find myself… I could go to Ireland… I’d like to say I could go to Australia, but I know the side of me that I’ll find there, and it’s not the one I need right now. The same probably goes for Ireland too… I know what side of me I’ll find there, and that’s the side that doesn’t need to be focussed on right, not fully… ‘Finding myself’ in India – it’s a familiar place to me… and I know I can first-off experience everything I that I’d become temporarily out of touch with, here in Jinzhou. And once that starts happening, I know I’ll discover even more of myself by simply being in a place I love so much. It’s almost like I can see that Ireland would bring me deep down into a grounded routine where the writing would possess me. And in India, because I’m planning (for as much as planning is possible) to first go to an ashram for a month, I’ll probably ground myself there and yes, writing will be done, but it will be to free myself from anything that China has subconsciously burdened me with, so I can move forward and experience India through brighter and lighter eyes.

Yes, so the statement: “I need to find myself again”… is a ‘legit’ phrase to use when putting it into perspective like this… India is a land with such diversity and so it’s only natural that by ‘finding’ yourself there, a person will be forced to find the diversity within themselves too… especially when wishing to experience comfort in the surrounding environment. It just means a person becomes even more flexible when adjusting to whatever the country of contradicting contrasts presents them with. I know that by refuelling and distancing myself properly from China, by first-off going to a place where I’ll only need to focus on myself for a while, I’ll get myself to feeling my ability to bend and flow with the Indian world and it will be an amazing experience.

As soon as everyone heard, I was feeling even better… Already I felt to be free again. And on Sunday I started wishing for things to materialize. Things needed to start happening just to keep the process ongoing, and for it to become even more real. Sure enough… I got what I wished for. Unexpected, unplanned… the weekend unfolded…

Friday, August 5, 2011

Confirming the move

Over the past few days I was still going round and round in my head, questioning my decision… And I’ve had a few minor panic attacks when I realized that this change really has been set in motion and I now can do nothing else, other than follow it through. This panic reinforced the questioning of course… But, once it subsided, and I felt calm, the answer still remained the same. I want to do this, it’s what I need.

So I stopped searching for justified reasons as to why I’m leaving. I’m settling now in what I’m doing. It’s also become more real as I’ve confirmed with my boss that I’m going. I did this yesterday. What a day it was. Of course, he wasn’t happy and I had to have understanding for this. He played the guilt-trip; I was letting others down and I was creating a problem for the school and it’s not what ‘you foreigners’ should be doing… I was quite emotional but managed to contain myself and, whilst sitting across from this man, who doesn’t know me at all… who doesn’t care about me one bit… but who wants the power to control my decisions… I said something I never thought I’d say to anybody, especially NOT MY BOSS: “My health, my mind and my body are more important to me than anything else right now, no matter how much I love to teach”. This was huge. I was saying something that once upon a time, would have been a reason for me to hate and loathe every part of myself, causing me to bring destruction into my life. But, I did it… I can’t say I instantly came out on top… Oh no… I was feeling awful. Again, that was okay…

Right now, it’s like I’m temporarily in between 2 worlds. When I’m in my apartment, alone, I’m feeling good, I’m happy, I’m writing and things are flowing. I working through what I need and looking ahead. Then, the time comes for me to go to work and I come down a peg or 2… instantly, just by stepping out into the streets. I don’t walk and smile at the people anymore and I don’t want them looking at my face that is one appearing to bear the weight of the world… For this reason I can’t bear them to look, nor can I bear to smile… Something is stopping me from doing so…

But, again, that’s okay. It’s the way it’s got to be and it will pass. This is what I know for sure… It’s just a process of change…

At work, in the office, I’m so cautious who I talk to and what I get tangled up in… Because, by doing so, I feel I’ll be losing myself again and right now, it’s so important that I keep my other world unfolding… The world that isn’t here… the one that’s outside of China. That world has become my source of energy and the lightness in my life. The things that are appearing before me enable me to teach the way I want and I’m still being here in the moment. However contradictive that may sound: planning and dreaming of beyond, but still being able to be totally present in my classes, so I can appreciate and enjoy them… How odd…

So, the plans for India are starting to unfold, with everyday that passes. Nothing is definite just yet, but I’ve been in touch with a school I was teaching at when I was there last year. As well a few close friends from there have also being giving me options. The opportunities are coming my way. My vision is opening up again and, as this is only the beginning. I know soon enough my smile will come naturally again and the world will show me it’s magic. It’s already happening, as I’m moving forward... one step at a time.

The shortest blog entry ever!!!

Only 3 days since I’ve started to open up about what’s been happening here in Jinzhou.

My leaving has only just become common knowledge to myself as well as to others and I can’t begin to say how much everyones support means to me. I’ve actually been shocked from how many parts of the world it’s been coming. I’ve learnt over the days, how important this is… because, when you’re travelling alone, and things go wrong, the result can be loneliness… and you need to know that others are ‘there’ to back you up and not speak such words as: “I knew it was a risky decision!” or “I never wanted you to do this in the first place”… But instead what’s needed is somebody who is ‘there’, wherever in the world that may be, to just listen to the ‘stuff’ that’s coming down the phone or to read of the emotions in blogs or emails… I never asked for an answer over the weeks, but I only wished for the support to be just be ‘there’… that feeling of a presence (even when I’m not able to see them or hug them) was the only thing I needed… And this is what I’ve been getting, my wish and my needs are met… simply by expressing and opening up all that’s going on in my world. And I know so well that these words: “I told you so” or “I never thought it was a good idea” won’t be spoken. My family and friends feel so close to me right now, because of them being ‘there’… reading and listening. Thank you thank you thank you…

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

At the crossroads

I’m trying my best to keep these updates as short as possible. But it’s proving difficult… as so much has gone on… So I’ll try to keep focussed.

Once I’d found that I wasn’t happy and that I needed to change, of course I instantly wondered: where to go? Ireland actually never came to mind, until Mam said to come home. It was the strangest thing to hear her say the words that were urging me to return. And my reaction wasn’t one that told me I needed to go back. Not yet anyhow. But, before making any definite decisions, I tried not to feel pressurized into coming back but at the same time, I didn’t want to turn away from that option… This meant if I WERE to go back to Ireland, I’d know that it was truly because it’s what I’d WANT to do.

I sat for days and days, in a massive daze… in between 2 worlds almost. One world was the world of teaching… I was trying to plan lessons and teach my classes in the fragile, emotional and somewhat depressed mood I was feeling so intensely. The other world was travelling onwards… trying to decide what to do, trying to contain my emotions in the office whilst being around people and not letting anything slip. I was trying to keep this feeling of leaving as close to me as possible and to ignore any voices that would urge me to give it another go. I was journaling like crazy and looking like a zombie, even though I was sleeping okay.

I told my boss and the ‘head teacher’ the news, only a day after I realized I had to leave. I didn’t even feel nervous or bad for telling them that I didn’t want to stay the full contract. They were actually really supportive. That could possibly only be for hoping that for suddenly giving me understanding, I’d be convinced to stay. They said for me to think it over some more. I said I would, even though my decision has already been made. I’ll talk to them again this week, just to confirm my decision. On hindsight I realize I probably didn’t sound too convincing at that point, because I didn’t know where I was going to go. I only told them that it involved leaving China. But I didn’t care whether I was convincing them or not, I was just taking small steps so as this move would become my reality.

I got through the week… by journaling my heart out. I went from feeling so fragile and down to feeling a little stronger and little lighter each day… And once I felt less pressure, all options were open. I knew then that the answer as to where I wanted to go would come… And sure enough, everything I wanted and needed was pointing in one direction… India…

Why did I choose not to go back to Ireland, even if it were for a short 4 or 6 weeks, to refuel and put this Chinese experience into perspective? Well, there’s never just one reason. For one, I truly don’t feel it’s time. I know now what Ireland offers me - apart from my family of course. It has every ingredient to bring out the writer. And for this reason, I don’t want to be passing through just for a month. I don’t want to be trying to get to India, when a story needs my full attention, not like I was trying to get away, the last time I was there. At the moment, yes I still want to write another book, but what I’m living through right now, is the material I need so I'll reach that point once again. And I’ve not yet gathered enough... I’ll know when it’s time for me to fully ‘go there’…

Also, China may have been a false start to the adventures that I can experience, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I have to return home to ground myself. It just means I’m learning through travelling… And if I claim that travel is the main thing I need in life then I need to be able to trust that when the going gets tough I will always be able to sustain myself on all levels, independently, as I move and grow through the challenges this chaotic world can present me with. I need to do this for myself, and it’s not to prove anything to anybody. It’s not to fill out any expectations… I guess to simplify it once again; it’s to finally STOP dreaming about being back in India (which I’ve been doing since leaving in July of 2010) and just to START LIVING it again.

When making a decision we can never know if it’s the right one or not. And it’s not until we follow things through do we find if it’s for us or not. I needed to experience China, to realize it’s not for me. And the same approach goes for my next Indian adventure. If it’s right or wrong, I can only know by trying. But the peace and safety I feel for knowing that it’s happening so soon, is enough to tell me that it can only move me forward.

So… where do I stand now? It’s Tuesday the 2nd of August and I’m feeling relieved and safe again, now that I know where I’m heading. I’m still in between letting others know what’s going on, both here in Jinzhou as well as on the home front. But everything will come in due time. Even though I was dazed all week, I was able to think of the practicalities involved in moving to India. And I know it’s all possible. I’m still processing everything though and working on ideas as to what to do and when exactly to go. But I already know of certain things I need right now and India offers them. For now though, I think this is enough exposure on my part. Sorry that these entries have been never-ending almost… But I’m happy to have shared it now… It’s just means it’s becoming more real. Keep you posted on how the week unfolds 

Finding Reality - 2

This all might come as a shock – as it did to me too. I never realized how unhappy I was until everything exploded in my face last weekend. And this is my problem: I’m shocked at how deep my unhappiness was and how strongly I was able to show to everyone at school, everyone at home, as well as to myself, that I can be happy in a Chinese city. I was ‘proving’ that I can feel and see amazement in the world, no matter what I do. This how deceivingly strong my mind is; before coming to China I’d said it would be amazing, and so I did everything I could to make it into exactly that: an incredible experience that would benefit me – even when it wasn’t really what I wanted. My strong mind switched-off to notions that were telling me on different occasions: “staying in China is a waste of time”, “you don’t want to be working here”. I chose to focus ONLY on positive things in my surroundings and so I’d become ignorant and blind to the things that were anything less than amazing.

I now see that, by having travelled and experienced many amazing thing, I’ve set the standard of positive living so high that I can be terrified to let that standard slip and come down a peg or 2. Terrified, as it means I’d be admitting to have made the wrong choice… I’d be admitting to the fact that there’s a country in Asia that doesn’t serve me a person, that doesn’t make me feel open and free, that doesn’t keep my naturally feeling on top of the world… My mind is so strong and my blog and journaling has been so powerful and giving me all the boosts I’ve been in need of to keep myself believing I was happy and coping with life.

Truth is, my journaling and blogging HAVE been real – to the extent where my emotional dealings have shown what’s NOW my reality and what I want my reality to BECOME, so I can be happy and open again… My powerful journaling only meant it was a matter of time before the reality was to present itself. And when it appeared, it was painful.

Ever since releasing the pressure I’d been applying, that was in aid of burying my deep dissatisfaction in this current situation, I’ve been to hell and back. I’ve sat here in my beautiful apartment, in tears, for days. I’ve felt depressed and couldn’t fathom why I needed to leave and how I could be so ungrateful for all that’s been given to me. I felt in my heart what I wanted, but was scared to act as it meant owning up to the mess I felt that suddenly had become of my life – all in aid of NEVER wanting to admit that I’d made a choice that has led me to be secretly lonely and isolated.

Over the past week, I’ve been the bottom of my whole self it feels, to get to the bottom of what this situation has done to me… in body, mind and spirit. And of course, everything has been effected… My weight has dropped a little, my mind temporarily lost sight of reality and my spirit was lacking everything it needed. I know so well that without my spirit receiving the light and life it needs, the rest of me withers away.

I’m only touching the surface of what has arisen, as it’s something I can write about forever. But the most important thing I want to say is that I’ve realized what road I could’ve been heading down, were I not to have been so reflective and honest when witnessing the vicious circle and feeling my isolation and loneliness. I know just how lucky I am, that I’ve almost an inbuilt warning system that goes off, whenever I’m not in a place that’s serving ME, fully, as a person. And those warning signs come in the form of my old habits. That’s when I know that I’ve made the wrong choice… I’ve accepted this fact of the matter, and with my acceptance, instantly change is welcomed.

The change is the move. And it’s only forward. I know with all my heart that I’m not running from anything, I moving towards something instead. I also know (as I’ve questioned this too…) that I’m not afraid to settle or to commit… (I’d actually LOVE to find a home in Asia…one that’s in a community where I feel safe, accepted and open). I know I’ll happily commit to things that serve me. I’ll give my life to doing things that make me happy… Does this mean that I’m the committed traveller, the committed writer? For now, yes…

Actually, at the moment, I’m committed to doing all I can, to change my circumstances, in the most honest, sensible, gentle and easy way possible… and whether or not I let others down, by the move I’m making, I can’t fully establish, but I know that I’ve not to let myself down… And that’s what’s most important at this stage in the game…

Finding Reality - 1

I ended my last entry – 2 weeks ago - on an extremely high note and I’m about to start this one on a lower one. I’ll cut straight to the point and say what’s going on… I’m leaving China.

This silence seems to have lasted forever. I’ve not been able to update because of the big change that has come out of nowhere… I hear you ask: What’s happened? Well, if I’m honest, nothing really has happened EXCEPT for the fact that I’ve realized, I’m not happy here and I’m not sure I ever was.

Over the past weeks I’ve been looking back over the long 5 months and I’ve been reflecting on how my entries here on this blog have been only focussed on my rollercoaster ride of emotions that has so far come to stand as being my China experience. By seeing this, I was forcing myself to actually question: WHY have my entries mainly been about my emotions and not about the Chinese world and my daily life? WHY has this experience been such an emotional time for me, when it was ‘meant’ to be a chapter in my life where I’d embrace a new culture in a different part of Asia?

Well, the answers came last week, when I suddenly grew so tired of the vicious circle I felt I was in; the circle being one where I’d be constantly dealing and releasing myself of the issues that would arise in the presence of others…and most times in the presence of only myself, whilst constantly forcing myself to be the best teacher I can be AND finding things to do with my life here just to keep me happy, safe, contained and distracted from China… and feel ‘on top of the world’ (the position I always too eagerly wish to uphold). What was the answer? It was a simple but painful realization: China is not for me.

Last weekend the truth of my circumstances was rising and I felt there was a change coming. I was secretly wishing for something to happen, so as I’d have a justified reason to leave. The biggest wish/dream I had was the following: the agent in Dublin, who is still reviewing my book, calls me to say he’s passing it on to the publisher and my assistance is needed! For that reason only, I felt it would be okay to leave China. But the call never came… so… something else needed to happen for me to break free. Something needed to snap… something needed to break… and it was me.

The vicious circle I was starting to witness was literally eating away at my sanity, at my body and my spirit. The prospects of staying in China until February of next year, felt to isolate and trap me. I’d become so stuck on the vision of having a ‘1 year contract’ that I was afraid to go against what the school expected of me, and what I felt everyone else expected of me too. But I’ve become increasingly lonely over the past months… with little means to express myself the way I want to and I’ve been searching for so many things to fill my time with, so as I’d have reasons to stay and I’d be distracted from what was really going on…

I also justified my behaviour with the thoughts that being a writer means to be isolated and quiet. But how wrong was I, to think that just because I’d created this gorgeous writers’ apartment that it was now up to me, to sit here for the next 7 miserable months staring out at the congested Chinese city, with the clouds hanging overhead, dreaming of being out in an open space surrounded by nature and free to move in whatever direction necessary. I’m NOT meant to be an island! And, even though I know I’ll always want and need to write, this still doesn’t mean I have to become isolated and cut off from the world and the people in it. Nor does it mean I have to become stationary forever. I need a flow of people in my life, I need a flow of experiences and I need to see the road ahead as an open one. Here I’d come to see the road ahead as one that was closed. And so, it only makes sense that I was feeling trapped.

I knew that once I started to feel lonely, whilst being around people as well as being by myself that something was wrong. Because, I’ve been alone many times before and so happy… and those were times when I was comfortable to be me and happy in the life situation I’d created… But here, I was starting to hate my moments alone, because all I’d be creating were journal entries telling of how much I wanted to be elsewhere…

So, really the thing I’ve missed the most, is communication. I miss talking with people who I can relate to. I’ve only 2 people here who I can be 100% real with. I’m so grateful for them both, as I know that there are people out there who have even less. But it doesn’t feel to be enough… This isn’t greed; it’s human nature to want to be around people who you feel total comfort and freedom with. Given these circumstances, the connections are unlikely to change – because of the language barrier and lack of foreigners. And so, any thoughts that will tell me to stick it out, as the situation could better itself, I ignore… Because I’m done trying, when this simply isn’t working…