HERSTORY: INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

Her Place Is In . A Bay Area group of diverse women who came together to create a platform to inspire the world.

Her Place Is In. A Bay Area group of diverse women who came together to create a platform to inspire the world.

HERSTORY: From One International Woman to Another

I used to have a lot of judgments towards women who stayed home. Who chose to raise families. To give up their lives, their youth and their freedom for those they love.

Caregivers. Homemakers. Mothers. Grandmothers. Sisters.

I couldn’t see them or understand their choices, their struggles, their sacrifices, their pain.

Like many, I perceived passivity, softness, and sensitivity as weakness.

I wasn’t immune to social conditioning or sometimes so subtle most times blatant patriarchy.

With eyes of duality and difference, I went another way, I aimed to be a powerful woman who knew her worth. I aimed to break the notion of not enough-ness by being BRAVE and tapping into my spiritual awakening.

For 2.2 years I flew across the globe East to West and I met women from all walks of life. I heard so many stories. I thought I was courageous in leaving all my privilege for the unknown but I encountered women who’s COURAGE & BRAVERY far exceeded me. 

Her Place Is In . A Bay Area group of diverse women who came together to create a platform to inspire the world.

Her Place Is In. A Bay Area group of diverse women who came together to create a platform to inspire the world.

I met a Grandma in Thailand who had lost everything. Her husband, her children, her home. She spent many years living under bridges without running water or electricity. This woman wasn’t famous, she wasn’t world traveling but I’ll never forget her or her story, her soft yet resilient heart that has been through more than I can bear to imagine. Pain binds us and I felt so connected through her story. She held my hand, she didn’t judge or see difference, she smiled at me.

I met a young mother and entrepreneur in Cambodia who against all odds received scholarships for her education. While in school, she would ride her bike an hour each way to and from work on the night shift to make money to feed her family. She now works for a design agency, supports the orphanage where she once lived, helps her husband’s family financially, and is raising her own newborn. If that wasn’t enough, she’s starting a business to help women run their businesses legally, financially and sustainably. When I mapped out her life my jaw hit the fucking floor. But it’s not just what’s she’s doing, it’s who she’s BEING, she is one of the most humble and kind souls I’ve ever come across.

In my own life I have a brave mother, sister, soul godmother, aunties, cousins, mentors, guides, coaches, soul sisters, brothers, and allies. 

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And though I may live in a bubble, all over I see signs of LIFE...the Divine Feminine rising.

Women hosting sacred retreats, circles and workshops on every topic related to our Women’s health, wholeness and healing.

 Yes, the world is going through some crazy shit right now but this is also a RENAISSANCE of Divine Feminity.

 Femininity doesn’t just speak to women, it’s essence exists in all beings. Yin&Yang, Feminine&Masculine, Shiva&Shakti.

 And this isn’t a takeover or an overthrow, it’s a REBALANCING.

So let’s CELEBRATE. This is it loves! We’re here and we’re in it together. Let the bells sing!

Her Place Is In . A Bay Area group of diverse women who came together to create a platform to inspire the world.

Her Place Is In. A Bay Area group of diverse women who came together to create a platform to inspire the world.

Here’s to the women! May we know them. May we love them. May we BE them.

 INTERNATIONAL. INTERGALACTIC. OTHERWORLDLY.

 Happy International Women’s Day Global Family!

With love,
Kelsey Lotus Wong

 #internationalwomensday #heroinesjourney #togetherwerise

HER PLACE IS IN is an organization dedicated to social action through art.

Focused on building community, celebrating diversity and empowering femininity, we are committed to sharing stories, advancing social education, and creating spaces for conversations that lead to real change.

2019: YEAR OF DIVINE

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“The problem is not in your being. The problem is in your seeing.” ~ Hareesh

Every year I chose an intention that defines the year. It began with Year of Courage in 2016. Year of Lotus in 2017. And Year of Surrender in 2018.

 And finally this year has revealed itself as Year of Divine.

This clarity came from a personal experience that led me to see that there is no greater power.

Something happened that showed me the power of the Human Spirit…the power of the Divine, the unrelenting, unstoppable power of Love.

It begins with a simple story, for the third time in the last two years, I lost my passport traveling in a foreign country. Not once, not twice, but THREE times I’ve lost my passport!

First in Mexico, then in Vietnam and today in Thailand.

Each of these are developing countries that many people from my own country have told me are unsafe to travel in. And yet each time, without fail, it has been ordinary people, like you and me, who went through extraordinary feats to bring it back, just in time, so I could go fly back home.

One shipped it from Costa Rica after finding it in a seat back pocket.

Another expedited it from a hotel in Hanoi through busy city streets to the airport.

And finally, today, the cabin crew discovered it in a seat back pocket in Bangkok before my flight home.

While part of me shakes my head and says “Pay Attention. Be more responsible!” I also see the beauty of each of these moments.

Each time, it was returned with haste, not for a reward or for any kind of fame and definitely not out of convenience but out of the pureness of their hearts.  

This isn’t the only mishap I’ve had while traveling. I nearly missed my flight from South Korea to Vietnam and they held the plane for me. I lost my iPhone in Prague and a family went out of their way to find the only Czech number in my phone and contacted them before I planned to leave for Spain the next day.

Time after time the generosity of the human spirit and our divine nature prevails!

But it’s not just these individuals who have offered me their love. Country after country I have visited has welcomed me with open arms. I’ve always been greeted with kindness, generosity, understanding, respect, and love.

When I gratefully received my passport back today I looked more deeply at its contents…

Issued by the United States of America…

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Prosperity do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

“We have a great dream. It started way back in 1776 and God grant that America will be true to her dream. ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

“The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, or a party or a class – it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity. ~ Anna Julia Cooper

“Every generation has the obligation to free men’s minds for a look at new worlds…to look out from a higher plateau than the last generations.” ~ Ellison S. Onizuka

 Have you ever looked in detail at your passport? The tributes that line the pages of the USA passport speak to a vision that goes beyond individual gain, they speak in reverence towards the Greater Good.

And while I have some resistance towards and I acknowledge the pain of many people particularly indigenous and immigrants who have suffered under the oppression of this countries past and present leaders, in this moment, I feel proud.

I feel proud to be an American. I feel grateful for my great grandparents who braved dark times and rough seas to start a new life in this country. For better or for worse, without clear certainty, they journeyed forth and I am the living manifestation of the future they could only dream of.

I see that I have enormous privilege and that I am the fruit of their labor.  

And from all of that hard work and sacrifice comes a little booklet that gives me access to the whole world.  

As I flipped through the pages of my passport, I saw stamps and stamps and stamps, almost all from Asia.

  • Thailand

  • Vietnam

  • Cambodia

  • Malaysia

  • China

  • Taiwan

  • Phillipines

  • Indonesia

Seeking, searching, exploring, trying desperately to find my roots. To belong.

Looking at my passport in full, I saw myself.

Western on the inside.

Eastern on the outside.

Eastern on the inside.

Western on the inside.

 In that moment, I no longer saw Asian or American. I saw both and neither and both.

 All I saw was Divine Union. Completeness. Whole.

 I felt I could finally integrate the parts of me that seemed at war with each other.

What does it even mean to be Asian American? What’s our story? With two years of traveling outside the U.S., I’m only beginning to find out. 

But I just want to say…these divisions we create between ourselves, between others, between country, culture , and creed,  between sexual orientation, gender, class, and everything else, I believe that God doesn’t make mistakes.

The way I see it is we all come from and dissolve into the same source. And it is from that eternal source that we come to exist in infinite forms.

You are not simply a human having a (spiritual) life. Or a spirit having a human life.

 You are both.

 And it is only the confusion of separateness that creates our suffering.

 Separation from others is separation from ourselves. Division within is division without.

In the tantric view, the core of the teachings is to see the world through the eyes of non-duality and to see the Divine in all beings.

“The problem is not in your being. The problem is in your seeing.”

And it is only when you can align your seeing with your being that you can truly cut through the veils of separation and come into the fullness of your own Humanity and your own Godliness.

Final words that my Soul Godmother and Coach said to me after I got my passport back.

“In my life, I have found walking in the Divine is probably the most mysterious journey in life. Safe travels and don’t forget to say thank you to the Divine. Stay in gratitude and I will do the same.” ~ Sally 

So what better way to honor this year than with that.

With divine love and gratitude,

Kelsey Lotus Wong

2 YEAR TRAVEL ANNIVERSARY

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Today is my 2 year Travel Anniversary 🙌🏽

730 days ago, I packed my bags, put my stuff in storage, and left the life I knew for some unknown but remarkable life.

There were many things that led to this choice but there’s only ever one choice, to follow your conditioning or your own true heart.

The poet Boris Pasternak once said, “When a great moment knocks on the door of your life, it is often no louder than the beating of your heart, and it is very easy to miss.”

This knock came loudly and softly all at once. Through people, places, signs, feelings, whispers, shouts, all pointing to the moon. After so many unmistakable knocks, I finally answered my soul’s call.

On the outside, it looks like one big adventure. An around the world traveler, digital nomad, modern day gypsy and that is true. But that’s only about 10% of the story.

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The Hero’s Journey within a Heroine’s Journey. An Adventure of a Lifetime within a Greater Quest for Healing, Wholeness, and Truth.

To know myself. To trust myself. To love myself.

As I am, completely.

Bruce Lee says, “to know yourself takes a lifetime.”

I would add, “to love yourself takes a lifetime.”

Who knew in my quest to love myself, I would fall in love with God.

And in doing so, I would discover there is no difference. Our essence is the same. Our essential nature is love.

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What is God? What is Love?

God is the name we give to the Nameless. God is the invisible that loves the visible. God is the formless that manifests in all forms.

God is Love and Love is God.

You may call it the Universe, Life, Truth, Karma, the Mystery, Spirit, the Divine, Atman, anything you like. Or maybe nothing at all. It doesn’t matter. It is eternal, everlasting, omnipresent whether we acknowledge it or not.

Above thoughts and feelings, goals and ambitions, ego and personality, values and beliefs, there is something stronger and that is faith.

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Faith moves mountains. Faith makes miracles. Faith leads you beyond possible.

And I don’t just believe this to be true, I know it in my heart from direct experience as the single truth.

That there is a source that which all life is a stage. There is a background of stillness from which all beings sing. As humans, we experience this phenomena through our senses, the sound of birds chirping, the crashing of waves, and most of all in silence. Such a divine gift.

And after experiencing sensory experience after experience, staying in over 150 places and 10 countries, I see there is one thread that weaves together all of existence. Upon this realization, I slow down, sit still, stop fighting, and find a place to rest my head.

On God’s pillow 🙂

I feel myself opening in a deep surrender, finally coming home to myself. To my heart. To my own true nature.

And once you taste this honey, this freedom radiating from your heart, you never go back!

So THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for this journey.

These two years on the road less traveled. This opportunity to fly fly fly! And thank you to the catalysts who made it possible Vickie Lau for bringing me to Thailand and Vietnam, Daniel Mullerworth for loving me and sharing this adventure of the heart, Max Mendoza for believing in me, Troy Swanson for kicking my ass out the door, my family for their unconditional love, trust and support Audrey Huie de MondetJustin WongLauren A. Wong...and many many many more...thank you!!!

“Love says. 'I am everything'. Wisdoms says, 'I am nothing'. Between the two my life flows.” ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

With love,

Kelsey Lotus Wong

ONE-WAY STREET TO WHOLENESS

Insight on why "releasing feelings" doesn’t work and how to accept what comes no matter what.

Written by Daniel Mullerworth with love and support from Kelsey 'Lotus' Wong.

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Sometimes we get triggered. We feel hurt, or angry, or sad. And maybe many other things too. Understanding what’s going on can be like trying to pick up soup with chopsticks. Confusing and frustrating.  

Moreover, very often it’s the same pattern playing out, the same old trigger. Just dressed up in a different set of circumstances and pretending to be a completely different problem.

Often people talk about how we should “release” such feelings. As a result we may feel we have to act, to do something special to get rid unwanted of feelings so they never come up again.

This language of releasing is such a distraction. We tie ourselves in knots searching for some way to “do releasing”.

How does it play out? We go to a therapist, or a workshop, or give ourselves some special experience in the hope of shedding whatever feelings we don’t like. Afterwards, if we feel better we may say to a friend “Oh my God, it was so powerful, I had such a release!”

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Such experiences can be cathartic, and that feels great. But at some point that pattern reasserts itself and those feelings reappear.

Or if we don’t feel better, we may tell a different story about failing to release. About  being impossible. About being a failure.

The truth is that the idea of releasing is all back-to-front. There’s no option to remove aspects that we don’t like. There’s no garbage heap for unwanted feelings.

We’re on a one-way street to wholeness. There is no separating our self from our self; we can’t go the other way.

We have just two options:

  1. We can try to get on with life and leave those feelings for another time.

  2. Or we can make space to integrate them into our being.

 This is the whole menu that we get to choose from.

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The first is like hitting the pause button. There are times when we really need a rest. We need a breather and some space to get our shit together and come back to ourselves. In those times taking a break is the healthy thing to do.  

Pauses are good and pauses can be really important and helpful, but pauses are temporary.  

Unfortunately, taking a break can become a strategy for hiding from the feeling. Then it becomes a subtle - or not so subtle - form of self-rejection. We tell a story that makes it easier to get by. Yet it includes pushing away the aspect of self that is having a problem. Essentially we are saying to that part, “Shut up, your feelings are not important”. So, we hear that our feelings are not important. That hurts.

The second option is the only clear direction we can take, which is to integrate what we have inside. This means coming to peace with the plain fact that these feelings exist. It means accepting them as part of ourselves and treating our whole self with kindness.

It’s the inner recognition that, “OK, so there’s no releasing. And my choice is Wholeness Now (integrate), or Wholeness Later (pause). How do I integrate?”

We must show ourselves that we are willing to sit with the feelings even if they last forever.

San Mateo Mountains, Oaxaca, Mexico

San Mateo Mountains, Oaxaca, Mexico

Imagine a little girl who has no friends in school. She just doesn’t believe that anyone could ever like her - so much so she won’t try to make friends. She may even sabotage relationships just to prove she’s right. She believes she needs to protect herself from rejection, and it’s going to take quite some convincing for her to change her mind. 

In the same way, we may need quite some convincing. Especially if we already have years of experiencing self-rejection.

The convincing happens only if we become big enough to always offer space to ourselves. Over and over again. Your feelings are always invited; you’re always invited.

That’s it. There’s no lightning bolt of release. Just gently applied love.

If you practice this, maybe the feelings will dissolve this time, or maybe they won’t. Maybe they never will.

This is a practice of self-love. And the thing about love is that it is its own reason for being. Love doesn’t need a result, ever.

"Love says I am everything. Wisdom says I am nothing. Between the two my life flows.”   ~ Nisagaratha Maharaj

"Love says I am everything. Wisdom says I am nothing. Between the two my life flows.” ~ Nisagaratha Maharaj

Sitting with the feelings just as they are in this present moment. Inviting ourselves in with a feeling of patience and kindness and welcoming.

Then, and only then, is that little person free to let go of their fear and come to the party.

"Love says I am everything. Wisdom says I am nothing. Between the two my life flows.” ~ Nisagaratha Maharaj 

If you can’t practice self-love in this moment, practice self-acceptance.   

Ask yourself, “Can I accept this feeling?”

If your honest answer is “No", ask instead, “Can I accept that I can’t accept this feeling?”

If again you get a “No", ask, “Can I accept that I can’t accept that I can’t accept this feeling?”

Eventually, you’ll receive a “Yes”

This is the real release. Through acknowledgment and acceptance, we allow our feelings to be present but not to run the show. You ride the wave instead of letting the wave ride you.

There is always an opportunity to accept. And as you exercise your acceptance muscle it will become so strong that you eventually you will be able to accept anything that comes.

What could be more powerful and liberating than that?

San Mateo Mountains, Oaxaca, Mexico

San Mateo Mountains, Oaxaca, Mexico

Daniel Mullerworth is a transpersonal hypnotherapist and former Buddhist monk. Daniel's passionate curiosity is helping people come into greater resonance with dharma - finding alignment with self, in relationships and the natural world.      

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia |  Jamen Percy Photography

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

It’s both incredibly important what we name ourselves and it’s also just a label.

In Buddhism, when we chant, we see the power of words, which when repeated over and over become well-worn grooves that carry our prayers to the eternal.

In the Kabbalah faith, they believe your name becomes your destiny. That it is already written.

And in Numerology, it is your name that determines your soul’s urge and life path.

Practically, we use our names nearly every day, it’s usually the first thing people ask us, “What’s your name?”. And because that name means “me” it typically becomes one of our favorite words consciously or unconsciously.  

The Power and Significance of Your Name says that:

“The one defining characteristic we all share, the one unique and profound element of each and everyone of us is the name we are given. From the reason to why we were given such a name to the historical lineage and significance of what a name has come to represent, our name, beyond it’s objective purpose, encompasses what and who each of us is. It’s essence is at the very heart of our existence.

It signified what tribe you came from. It represented the language and dialect you spoke. It made others aware of the region you came from. And grew into characterizing the nationality you came from. It effectively describes us in a manner more than we truly understand or choose to realize. It was the mark you put down when coming to the New World, the signature that made your home and the last thing that is ever read in a letter by the one you love. Your name is utterly more powerful and significant than simply the characters that represent it.”

And yet, words are linear. They are carriers of energy but they don’t come close to encapsulating the dynamic aliveness of what they describe.

I think it’s interesting that we have a practice of picking out names for our children before they are born. How can we chose that without knowing who that little soul will be? Is it the name that writes the destiny or the person who makes the name? 

I’d say both.

Lotus pond | National Palace Museum, Taiwan

Lotus pond | National Palace Museum, Taiwan

It’s a rare thing but I recently met someone who chose to wait for 3 months before naming his daughter, Lotus.

While there was a lot of outside pressure, he and his partner decided they wanted to see/feel/know more of who their daughter was before making such an important decision.

I love that.

So what happens when we choose our name or when it chooses us?

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Over the past four to five years, I’ve been experimenting with receiving a new name, “Lotus”.

My dear friend and past love, Max, used to call me “Divine Lotus Butterfly” and when he passed away, I went to the Temple at Burning Man to honor him. After the ceremony, I went adventuring into the night and climbed a big art sculpture. It was there that I saw a massive Lotus art car that transformed its colors from purple to fuchsia to red to blue roaming across the desert into the deep playa. I felt my heart swell and I heard a whisper, “Lotus”.

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I’ve been testing the waters of becoming Lotus ever since.

Two years ago when I journeyed to the East, I shed my Western identity and became Lotus. I found a spaciousness from self and the rise of another aspect of my being. More yin, spiritual, graceful like a crane or swan.

I also discovered that the Lotus is highly revered as a natural phenomena.

One of the most ancient and deepest symbols of our planet is the lotus flower. This flower has the ability to grow in muddy water and rise above the surface to bloom with remarkable beauty AND no evidence of the mud...as if untouched by the impurity. Because of this, the lotus flower often represents purity of the heart, body and mind.

As Thich Naht Hanh says, “No mud. No lotus.”  

The Lotus represents transformation and rebirth.  

The perfect theme for my own personal transformation.

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia |  Jamen Percy Photography

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

And now as I return to the West, I am Kelsey. My mind knows this is my name but it hasn’t been resonating strongly. Almost foreign. It feels like a label.  

Today, my coach asked me, what is the meaning of Kelsey?

I hadn’t ever asked myself this question. After all this soul diving, spiritual seeking, and meaning making, I hadn’t ever looked up the meaning of my own name.

So I did. According to SheKnows:

  • The name Kelsey is an Irish baby name. In Irish the meaning of the name Kelsey is: Brave.

  • Norse Meaning: The name Kelsey is a Norse baby name. In Norse the meaning of the name Kelsey is: From the ship's island.

  • American Meaning: The name Kelsey is an American baby name. In American the meaning of the name Kelsey is: Brave.

Numerology

Soul Urge Number: 1

People with this name have a deep inner desire to use their abilities in leadership, and to have personal independence. They would rather focus on large, important issues, and delegate the details.

Expression Number: 5

People with this name are excited by change, adventure, and excitement. They are dynamic, visionary and versatile, able to make constructive use of freedom. They fight being restricted by rules and conventions. They tend to be optimistic, energetic, intelligent, and to make friends easily. They may be changeable, restless, untidy, and rebellious.

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia |  Jamen Percy Photography

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

Wow…

KELSEY LOTUS

BRAVE TRANSFORMATION

BRAVE REBIRTH

All this time, 29 years, I took Kelsey at face value. Thought it was dull and never inquired more deeply.

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How often do we do this to ourselves and others? Live on the surface of things. Judge a book by its cover. Pass by ourselves without noticing.

It makes me think of a poem by St. Augustine…

What a beautiful lesson to see that the ordinary is extraordinary and the extraordinary is ordinary.

As humans we have the ability to use our awareness and perspective to see the realness behind things. However, as humans we often get confused or stuck in the mud and miss the point.

But that is our nature and that is our opportunity to learn and grow.

I believe as human beings we are both human and divine (being).

Our humanness allows us to make meaning, connect to ourselves and one another in a profound way. It allows us to chart our destiny and become masters of our ships, all the while knowing there’s a cosmic orchestration at play.

Our divinity, reminds us that we are also part of this grand eternal mystery that is unchanging, immovable, destined to be. It came before us, lives on after us, it is ever present in both its darkness and luminosity.

In Eastern tradition they call this the “Tao”

“Tao is the nameless beginning of things, the universal principle underlying everything, the supreme ultimate pattern and the principle of growth.” ~ Bruce Lee, Artist of Life

In other words, “the truth”.

So whatever is your truth, whether it be in your name, your voice, your identity, your history, your work in the world. I encourage you to explore yourself, make it a self-study.

Inquire deeply into the nature of who you truly are.

“To know yourself takes a lifetime.” ~ Bruce Lee, Artist of Life |  Jamen Percy Photography

“To know yourself takes a lifetime.” ~ Bruce Lee, Artist of Life | Jamen Percy Photography

Enjoy the journey!

With love, light, and curiosity,

Kelsey Lotus Wong

p.s. you have to be Brave.

PROGRESS ON MY PH.D. (PURE HEART DEGREE)

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BACKSTORY:

Over the last several years, I’ve been seeking.

I’ve been looking inside, outside, everywhere, on a journey of self-exploration trying with determination (and sometimes desperation) to find myself.

About two years ago in late 2016, I recognized that while on paper, I had “made it” achieving my dream in the material world, something was missing...

ALIVENESS

To quote the wise words of poet Mary Oliver, I was, “breathing just a little and calling it a life”.

I projected this feeling of dissatisfaction externally. Even though I was living in my dream city with a meaningful job, a loving partner, and freedom to travel, I still felt stuck. It seemed mad. I didn’t understand.

I wondered:

  • Who am I?

  • Why am I here?

  • What is my purpose in life?

  • How can I contribute to the world in a meaningful way?

  • Where will I go next?

My colorful messy process of self-inquiry...

My colorful messy process of self-inquiry...

This self-inquiry hit an existential tipping point and I decided I needed a change. Without a clear idea of where to start, I took a more traditional approach and began looking at higher education somehow thinking this strategy could solve all my problems. I began a lengthy research process and over the course of a few months, I looked into about 45 schools and graduate programs mostly in the U.S. and some abroad.

After all that research, I couldn't find a single program that fit my variety of interests and budget. The average cost was $60,000 USD for two years!! Which was all of my savings and I couldn’t justify that when I didn’t even feel the programs fit all my needs. I felt frustrated and deflated.

Finally I said, “Fuck it”.

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I decided to design my own customized self-funded curriculum that combines traveling, working, and learning. My friend Ann also decided to pursue the path less traveled with an alternative education all her own.

We both yearned to go deeper and awaken our hearts to love in every form, so we made a master spreadsheet full of everything from yoga retreats, meditation, Ayurveda, Thai massage, divine feminine gatherings, social innovation institutes, design thinking workshops, global leadership programs etc. and we began calling this process, "Getting our Ph.D.'s = Pure Heart Degrees". (See her blog post on her journey.)

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Almost two years later, I’m in the thick of my Pure Heart Degree (I wrote another post at the start here: "Pursuing my Ph.D. Pure Heart Degree" ).  With all of this travel, learning, and growing many friends and family have asked, "How do you do it?" While that question involves far more than I can put into one post, I decided to document the journey and share my progress so far.

May this serve as an inspiration for anyone who is ready to take a leap of faith and is interested in designing their own life curriculum. If you’d like any support on envisioning the next step in your journey, I am happy to provide some visioning coaching and guidance for you. Reach out to me directly – hi@kelseykwong.com.

Hridaya Yoga School | Mazunte, Oaxaca, Mexico

Hridaya Yoga School | Mazunte, Oaxaca, Mexico

PROGRESS ON MY PH.D. (Pure Heart Degree)

START WITH WHY:

The first step when starting anything is to ask, why? what is your intention? For me it was:

  • To heal and purify the heart

  • To expand my capacity to lead, love, and create in the world

  • To return to my true nature

  • To become an instrument of generosity and love

Next, what do you value? What is important to you in your learning journey? Make a list of those important elements. For example, for me it was important this experience include:

  1. Variety of Interests - psychology, spirituality, nature, culture, art, social innovation, conscious leadership, international development, dance, movement, creativity etc.

  2. Experiential Learning Environment – on the ground in person learning as well as flexible online learning for digital nomads

  3. Cost – for the costs to be manageable and allow me the freedom to work minimally and travel as much as I want

  4. Process – to be playful, dynamic, and flexible, an ability to move with what’s present in the moment and not to be rigid or take oneself so seriously

  5. Love - the most important ingredient for anything. Self-love and self-care seems to be my ongoing lesson and something I struggle with often. It was important that I design the right conditions to care for, nurture and love myself through the journey. Being able to take breaks and slow down when I needed to.

Words of wisdom at Hridaya Yoga School | Mazunte, Oaxaca, Mexico

Words of wisdom at Hridaya Yoga School | Mazunte, Oaxaca, Mexico

While many people separate work, education, and travel, I chose to integrate all three by funding my travels and education through my consulting work. What makes this more achievable is that 70% of my work is remote and 30% is in-person, on-site. Plus I worked for American based companies but lived in mostly Southeast Asian countries so my dollars stretched much farther and I could work far less than if I lived in the America.

While this all makes perfect sense in retrospect, I will say it didn’t when I started. But something in me told me I had to do this so in December 2016, I said farewell, put my stuff in storage and took off!

And slowly but surely the path has formed.

WHAT I’VE BEEN UP TO SO FAR:

COUNTRIES TRAVELED:

  1. Thailand

  2. Vietnam

  3. Indonesia

  4. Australia

  5. Cambodia

  6. USA

  7. Mexico

  8. Taiwan

  9. Canada

DSIL Global Course  | Bangkok, Thailand

DSIL Global Course | Bangkok, Thailand

EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION:

1.) LEADERSHIP : Designing for Social Innovation & Leadership Course – The DSIL Global course is a 5 month executive leadership course certified by the UN University of Peace. The course is designed to expand one’s creative capacities and develop one’s skillset in design thinking, conscious leadership, entrepreneurial mindset, sustainable development, and social innovation (Bangkok, Thailand; Phnom Phen, Cambodia, and Virtual Classrooms).

Tantra Heart Yoga Retreats  | Koh Phangan, Thailand

Tantra Heart Yoga Retreats | Koh Phangan, Thailand

2.) TANTRA HEART YOGA:·

Tantra Heart Kriya Yoga is a profound and playful way for learning to live in bliss. What distinguishes Tantra Heart is the focus on realizing your true Self, attention to emotional flow, and the skillfully designed sets of yogic techniques for safely activating your kundalini (most powerful and creative) energy.

Hridaya Yoga | Mazunte, Oaxaca, Mexico

Hridaya Yoga | Mazunte, Oaxaca, Mexico

3.) HRIDAYA YOGA & MEDITATION:

Hridaya Yoga & Meditation School - Hridaya is a school dedicated to teaching students to live with an open heart and discover their life's potential.  Through meditation sessions, Hatha Yoga classes, silent meditation retreats, and daily life awareness practices, Hridaya shares a path for the revelation of the Self and a way to live a life of joy, compassion, and gratitude. This is the path of the Spiritual Heart.

Social Enterprise Fellowship Program with  Unbound  | Sydney, Australia

Social Enterprise Fellowship Program with Unbound | Sydney, Australia

4.) COACHING & CONSULTING WORK:

Delivering Happiness (DH) started as a book written by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, on his business philosophy and lessons learned in focusing and prioritizing company culture and employee happiness. Today, DH is a coachsultancy [hybrid coaching + consulting], working with individuals and organizations around the world to create successful companies and meaningful lives.

  • Organizational Development and Culture Transformation consulting projects for six companies ranging from 75 to 10,000 employees on behalf of DH (USA and Hanoi, Vietnam)

  • Internal culture development and special projects for DH - 6 months part-time (online, remote)

DSIL Global Consulting - DSIL is a Bangkok-based design company that is dedicated to building creative capacity in people so that they can build innovation, together. DSIL Consulting serves teams in progressive companies working to learn design thinking as a process for development and as a path for innovation. 

  • Social Enterprise Fellowship Program & Changemaker Summit – facilitating experiential workshops for 14 Fellows and 30 Changemakers from 17 countries with Unbound (Sydney, Australia)

  • Branding & Marketing Strategy for 2 months full-time with DSIL Global (Lubao, Philippines)

  • Co-facilitated a Leadership Development Program for AAPTIP with 8 Program Directors for 1 week (Australia Asian Program to Combat Trafficking In Persons)

  • Co-facilitated a 2 day “Design for a Resilient Mind” POP OUT class with Stanford d.school and StreetCode Academy.

Design for a Resilient Mind Pop Out  with Stanford d.school and StreetCode Academy | Palo Alto, California

Design for a Resilient Mind Pop Out with Stanford d.school and StreetCode Academy | Palo Alto, California

More consulting work on my own:

NUTS & BOLTS: HOW

How much did 2 years cost?

  • $19, 800 Education

  • $24, 000 for travel, lodging and expenses to 9 countries and staying in approx ~80 places

  • $14,800 other misc expenses

  • TOTAL: $69,600

How much did I work over 24 months?

  • 60 hrs/week for 2 months

  • 40 hrs/week for 8 months

  • 15 hrs/week for 8 months

  • 0 hrs/week for 6 months

How much did I make? ~$78,000 + used some savings to fund my travels

How much fun did I have? WOW – I can’t even begin to describe this. More than I could have ever imagined and worth every penny.

Practicing my life-juggling | Nogales, Mexico

Practicing my life-juggling | Nogales, Mexico

LESSONS LEARNED:

I don’t think I can compile these in bullet points. While so much of it has been practical, I can’t say it’s concrete. Who I am is what I’ve learned. I’m living, practicing, and breathing it day by day, moment by moment, breath by breath.

The learning journey continues. But somehow I’ve found a resting place in my heart. I’ve discovered that though life will take many forms, there is something unmovable and unchanging, a background of stillness, of peace in my heart. And a really simple but profound truth, that my essential nature is love. I don’t need to do anything to become this love, only to let go of everything preventing me from being what I naturally am.

What's next?

My intention for this year is to SURRENDER.

To be as open and available as possible. To live in alignment with the divine, continue deepening my spiritual practice, to activate the artist of life within, and to engage in meaningful consulting projects along the way. That said, who knows what’s in store, many wise people have reminded me to listen to my heart, it knows the way.

"The only spiritual authority is the sacred heart."

With gratitude and grace,

Kelsey 'Lotus' Wong

A visual expression of the life I want to create with an inner feeling of WHOLENESS and a spirit of ALIVENESS.

A visual expression of the life I want to create with an inner feeling of WHOLENESS and a spirit of ALIVENESS.