decisions, decisions

Have you ever thought about the actual process you use to make decisions? Sure when it comes to what to wear, eat for dinner or whether you should paint your walls a new color, it may not seem like a big deal… unless you end up painting them too dark. Either way, none of those seem permanent. What about bigger decisions? Is this a fruitful partnership? Does this stream of consciousness serve me? Should I move to ___ ?

Grounded perspective: I realized recently that up until this point I haven’t had to make any seemingly “major” decisions. What college to go to? Maybe…. Whether to keep seeing my partner? It seemed life-altering at the time but wasn’t the beginning or the end or the end of the world either way. Recently what has been on my mind was whether I should move to central China. As I observed my thoughts I noticed a pattern that would arise any time I thought about actually moving there. The thoughts would go something like this:

  1. I don’t speak the language…
  2. and central/mainland China isn’t like Shanghai or Beijing where you may stumble across someone who speaks English…
  3. I am allergic to nuts and shellfish which are common in Chinese cuisine
  4. Did I mention I don’t speak the language so I can’t communicate this to anyone at a restaurant?
  5. Not to mention that they don’t commonly have “peanut allergies” in China!
  6. I have asthma and the air quality isn’t that great. It is better than in the North but not like the east coast in America.
  7. I don’t speak the language so making friends will be hard…
  8. Then there is the “great firewall of China”…
  9. Soooooo does this mean I would have to cook for myself for a full year…?
  10. And never buy processed food because I can’t read the ingredients…
  11. Or signs at the train…
  12. Or anything for that matter!
  13. It will also be obvious I am a foreigner
  14. 我不会说普通话 *
  15. I won’t be able to see friends or family for about a year
  16. Also, I don’t ______

This could also translate to…

  1. Fear
  2. Fear
  3. The biggest fear
  4. More fear
  5. Fear
  6. A little bit more of fear…
  7. Add some fear…
  8. Mix it in…
  9. Sprinkle in some more
  10. Fear
  11. Fear
  12. Fear
  13. Fear
  14. Yikes
  15. Fear
  16. Oh and finally to top it all of…

Notice a pattern? This is all out of fear. I am afraid of being somewhere that is totally unknown, I probably won’t be comfortable all the time and I won’t be coming home any time soon.

What does my heart/gut say? Go for it! Sure it may seem unknown and scary now but it will be incredibly expansive in ways that can’t even be known before experiencing living in China. What I realized was that whether you believe in God/Source/Spirit or not isn’t really the question. The question is: how do you want to make decisions in your life? Do you want to make them out of fear (because if you look at thoughts 1-16, all of them come from fear) and consequently continue living your life from a place of fear? Or would you rather live from a place of love?

Spiritual perspective: By the way, living from a place of “love” doesn’t mean you are guaranteed all ‘roses and milk tea’ all the time. That took me awhile to figure out. Yesterday, I was sitting by the ocean and it asked me what was on my mind. I asked the Ocean whether I “should” move to China. It simply answered, “you’re asking the ‘wrong’ question, there is no should“. “Wrong” doesn’t mean “bad”. The Ocean was pointing out that what I was asking wasn’t really what I wanted the answer to. My mind wanted to know whether I would be “safe” moving to China. So I rephrased my question: “what do you have to tell me about moving to China?”. The answer was, “expansion”.

In a nutshell what I learned from the Ocean/Spirit was that within the material plane/first density, China may be uncomfortable. However, within the fifth density/Unmanifested/Source, there is no polarity. Whenever the Universe gives you something, it is an unpolarized gift. You decide whether you hold it in polarity and call it “good” or “bad”. As for the original answer, there is no way that you “should” be living yourself because there is no “right” or “wrong” way. There is only whatever you choose. Even if something doesn’t seem “ideal”, you have the power to select meanings from that experience that empower you.

Does expansion sound like a “good” thing? It sounds wonderful! It can still be uncomfortable. More importantly than deciding whether to move to China or not, I was deciding between living “mind-first” or “soul-first”. The mind will always have questions and fear. That’s a “good” thing. There is a healthy sense of fear that keeps us from placing our hands on the stove. However, there is no reason you need to let fear run your life. It’s not as if I decide to listen to the Universe, move to China and then everything is “perfect”. With that expectation, I could easily fall into the trap of being upset and confused with the Universe every time I feel uncomfortable when in fact, the Universe never promised me comfort. It only invited me to expansion.

Back down to Earth… sort of: I find so much healing in photography. A couple of weeks ago, I was at the botanical gardens photographing the peonies. Any time I go to take photos it is just to calm my mind and spend some time in silence with nature. Peonies are my favorite flower and were/are in full bloom. Since photography is more of a relaxing activity, I take my time and nearly photograph every single flower. After all, peonies are my favorite. However, I rarely see anyone else do this because who needs over one thousand photos of peonies (not an exaggeration)? There was another man there photographing the peonies as meticulously as I was. I looked over watching the way he took photos and noticed it was similar to the way I did. I didn’t think much of it and spent the next couple of hours with this section of peonies.

Then I decided to go to a more hidden section of tree peonies that not many people know about within the gardens. Guess who was there?

A couple days ago I decided to go back to the gardens because there were some species of peonies that were not in full bloom when I went a couple weeks ago (it’s a healthy obsession) and the rose garden was in nearly full bloom. I photographed the peonies first and then made my way to the rose garden. It was breathtaking and there were so many varieties I spent about four hours there.

About two hours in, guess who I saw?

I wasn’t sure at first. I didn’t ask for the man’s name the last time. All I could remember was how he was dressed, his camera and that he was likely from China since he spoke some Mandarin. I looked over again, recognizing his camera and the way he took the photos. He smiled at me and I was sure that was him.

So you may be thinking, “Okay so what, you saw a Chinese man a couple of times with your favorite flowers?”

Well there is also this:

No, this does not mean that because I saw a Chinese man with Chinese flowers that I am going to move to China. My mind was wondering if this meant that I was going to let flowers and coincidental meetings with strangers run my life. It wasn’t about the man and the flowers, it was about the feeling.

Let’s be real, that man on a surface level is a stranger and besides a smile and a feeling I actually don’t know if it was the same person or not. I did not confirm that. As long as we are talking abut “signs”, I was at a lotus (significant flower in Chinese culture) garden last weekend, completely surrounded by these beautiful spirits. Does that mean anything? For me, something is a sign if it invokes a certain feeling of knowing. I felt as if it was the same person and what came into my mind is that if two seemingly very different people can both find love and a home in the same thing (peonies), then there is no reason to be afraid of going somewhere unknown because I can find a home there, too (just like him).

It may be a funny coincidence that my favorite flowers have always been peonies, they have been a great source of healing and my favorite variety happens to be native to central/southern China (the heavy, rounded varieties). However, there is no way to even describe with words how I feel around those flowers other than they feel like home. Does this mean that China will feel like home? Possibly. But what it has taught me is that the concept of “home” is far more expansive and inclusive than we give it credit for. We have the opportunity to find “home” in many things.

I decided to move to China. For the majority of my life I have lived “mind-first”. I am curious to see where “soul-first” takes me. I don’t believe this is how everyone “should” make their decisions, because there is no “should”. More importantly, how do you want to make your decisions? How do you want to experience your life?

with love, katie

*disclaimer: even though I am currently learning mandarin, I am not that far along and I needed to use Google Translate for that one so apologies if it is not correct but it is meant to translate to: “I don’t speak Mandarin”.

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