growth

2018 INTENTION: YEAR OF SURRENDER

IMG_8443.jpg

When starting a new year, I don’t just choose an intention, I chose a teacher.

I ask, what is most important for my growth?

2016 was a “Year of Courage”, of finding the inner strength to make important changes.

2017 was “Year of Lotus", of creating spaciousness for inner transformation, illumination, and florescence (the process of bursting into a flower).

2018 whispered to me this morning during sunrise meditation that this is the “Year of Surrender”.

A wise friend shared with me that humans have two major superpowers, the ability to identify with and the ability to surrender. 

In the external world of measurement, I’ve become well-practiced at the superpower of identifying. 

Since I was a little girl I loved playing dress up. I would dive into my dress up tubby to find my mother's old dresses, in one moment a flamenco dancer, another a Hawaiian wahini, and the next a business woman. To this day, the act of adornment is something I treasure, collecting items from around the world to express my creativity.

I've also worked since I was fifteen and have held twenty-four jobs. All vehicles for learning, growing, and discovering myself through the act of service. I've traveled through thirty-three countries, attended workshop after workshop and explored community after community. Even the consulting work I do in its essence is helping individuals and organizations do the "archeology" of identifying their hidden truths and then consciously bringing them to the light, creating and building from there. 

If identifying comes easy to me, the other superpower of surrendering seems incredibly difficult to do and maybe that's because it doesn't require thinking, doing, or having, it's about being.

It feels like jumping off a cliff. A swan dive into the darkness. I haven't got a clue.

A friend shared that he believes we are all born enlightened and that our real work is about recovery, reconditioning, and regressing. A return journey to that sacred place.

What I've discovered about this process of surrendering is it's emotional, it comes like waves and includes a hell of a lot of letting go.

But through this process, I've also discovered that my emotional range is vast. In the past few weeks alone, I’ve experienced anger, resentment, frustration, irritation, defensiveness, rejection, confusion, joy, ecstasy, clarity, compassion, inner peace, and gratitude.

I’ve picked up many tools along the way to assist me in resolving these emotional triggers towards healing and repair but my sense is instead of addressing each one by one, I need to go to source.

So after eight years of conscious internal archeology, I’m surrendering what I've discovered so far.

Insight isn’t healing. 

And though I've unearthed many things, it's time to drop the weapons, the tools, the ideas and identities and surrender myself to the mysterious ball pit of life. 

With that, I've decided to spend the next two months or more at Hridaya Yoga & Meditation Center in Oaxaca, Mexico. A conscious community dedicated to returning to "Hridaya" the spiritual heart. 

May I surrender to what's real. May I surrender to what's true. 

Blessings on your journey's.

Lotus

IMG_8445.jpg

STEP 2: COMPLETING THE HERO’S JOURNEY

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

Step 2: Completing the Hero's Journey follows Step 1:  Conceiving the Heroine's Journey.

Over the past seven years I’ve gone alone. 

For my twenty-first birthday, my dream was to go to New York City to celebrate. I spent months planning the trip and invited my best friends at the time that said they were "IN". When push came to shove for many reasons whether it be money or time constraints, they couldn’t go. I was left with a choice, go alone or stay back with my friends. 

I chose to go.

I knew a couple people in New York and on my birthday itself I had planned to meet a friend of a friend. For some reason, her phone went straight to voicemail and no matter how many times I tried, she just couldn't be reached. We had planned to go to the Museum of Modern Art and by noon I finally stopped waiting. “I’m here. I’m going.” 

Through that experience and many others over the past several years, I've learned that pursuing your dreams often requires a solo journey. 

Biography drawing depicting my life in seven-year stages 0-7, 7-14, 14-28 etc.

Biography drawing depicting my life in seven-year stages 0-7, 7-14, 14-28 etc.

A psychologist friend recently took my colleagues and I through a powerful exercise called “Biographies” (above) where you chart your life in seven year stages. In each stage you record the significant events and then examine it for themes and unfolding patterns. What I discovered from looking at my "going alone" stage from twenty-one to twenty-eight is that it strongly correlates to the “Hero’s Journey”

After decades of studying ancient myths and stories, Joseph Campbell, developed the “Hero’s Journey” to describe the “monomyth” or universal storyline present in each. The general arc of this story unfolds where the hero (often male) hears a “call to adventure” and leaves the “known world” of home and family to undertake the “unknown world”. Whether alone or with the assistance of minor characters helpers, the hero conquers adversaries, obtains treasure and returns home with greater status or goods where he is welcomed and validated as a new leader and master of two worlds. 

herosjourney (1).gif

What Campbell also discovered through his studies is that we can apply this same storyline to our own lives and that each of us is experiencing our own hero’s journeys.

For me, my hero’s journey has been one of growth, learning, and exploring. I’ve traveled across twenty-five countries from the U.S., Europe, and Southeast Asia. I’ve held over twenty-four jobs ranging from serving in restaurants to managing graphic design firms to leading coworking spaces and doing global culture consulting.

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

Through these adventures, I've been blessed to meet many mentors, helpers, and friends and though it's taken many forms, I can see that the Hero's Journey is a cycle I’ve repeated over and over and over again. I answered every call. I went all in. I threw myself into the ocean and became a “Yes woman” or “Yes-mad” a digital nomad that says “Yes” to life. 

As I round out this last year working and traveling in Southeast Asia, I see my hero's journey coming to an end. While it has been an incredibly insightful and useful framework, I’ve made a new discovery.

 “The Hero’s journey is a search for one’s soul and is chronicled in mythologies and fairy tales throughout the world. This quest motif does not, however, address the archetypal journey of the heroine. For contemporary women, this involves the healing of the wounding of the feminine that exists deep within her and the culture.

In 1990, Maureen Murdock wrote The Heroine’s Journey: Woman’s Quest for Wholeness as a response to Joseph Campbell’s model. Murdock, a student of Campbell’s work, felt his model failed to address the specific psycho-spiritual journey of contemporary women. She developed a model describing the cyclical nature of the female experience. Campbell’s response to her model was, “Women don’t need to make the journey. In the whole mythological tradition the woman is there. All she has to do is to realize that she’s the place that people are trying to get to” (Campbell, 1981). That may be true mythologically as the hero or heroine seeks illumination but psychologically, the journey of the contemporary heroine involves different stages.

heroines-journey-model.jpg

The first part of the heroine’s journey is propelled by the mind and the second part is in response to the heart. The heroine has been working on the developmental tasks necessary to be an adult, to individuate from her parents, and to establish her identity in the outer world. However, even though she has achieved her hard-earned goals, she may experience a sense of Spiritual Aridity. Her river of creativity has dried up and she begins to ask, “What have I lost in this heroic quest?” She has achieved everything she set out to do, but it has come at great sacrifice to her soul. Her relationship with her inner world is estranged. She feels oppressed but doesn’t understand the source of her victimization. (Article: Heroine's Journey, Maureen Murdock)"

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

The Heroine's Journey describes with absolute accuracy what I am experiencing now. I’ve achieved a “successful life”. I’m doing work that I love, traveling around the globe with the support of a community of family and friends but in the process I’ve sacrificed much of my body and soul.

Though the soul is eternal and cannot die it has still suffered and been silenced beneath the noise of my mind. Additionally, my body has struggled to do all the things I demand it to do. My inner man has been in control with lofty performance goals and ambitions to live a life rich in life experience. And while this journey has been enriching it has also left me quite exhausted.  

The body is an amazing vehicle for the soul and at a young age, I’ve found tools that allow me to heal just enough so I can keep going. That said, this isn’t sustainable. One mentor has said to me, “the biggest reason brilliant people fail is they burn out.” I know I have an inner journey of healing to surrender to do. My soul needs me to slow down, to listen. 

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

Though I've been offered a full-time role with an amazing innovation company in Southeast Asia, I've decided to shift my focus from "doing" to "being" by taking the next three to six months off. 

Sounds easy but keep in mind, I've built my entire identity on what I do. In making this decision my spiritual teacher asked me, "What feels like the hardest thing you would have to push yourself to do?" I replied, "Letting go. Letting go of "what I think I know" and "who I think I am" to explore my undiscovered multitudes, my "unknown unknowns" asking gently, who am I?" 

As I step into my next seven-year stage from 28 to 35, my sense is carving out space to reset the currents of my life is timely. 

“Finding out about being instead of doing is the sacred task of the feminine. Being requires accepting oneself, staying within oneself and not doing to prove oneself. It is a discipline that is accorded no applause from the outside world, it questions production for production's safe. Politically and economically it has little value, but it's simple message has wisdom. If I can accept myself as I am, and if I am in harmony with my surroundings, I have no need to produce, promote, or pollute to be happy. And being is not passive, it takes focused awareness." (The Heroine's Journey, Murdock, 1990, pg. 128)

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

So here’s to the next stage, a time of going inward, of healing, recovery, and rediscovery. 

With gratitude and grace,

Kelsey Lotus Wong

HEARTBROKEN. HEART OPEN.

You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens. — Rumi

You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens. — Rumi

Today, I feel homesick. Really homesick.

Why?

  • Maybe it’s because I’m growing and it’s scary.
  • Maybe it’s because I’m letting go and questioning everything I thought I knew.
  • Maybe it’s because I’m going farther than ever before, risking a good life for an unknown but potentially remarkable one.

Maybe it doesn’t matter why and it’s just okay to miss home.

I shared this feeling with my friend Tanya who said…

“Love. You are the deepest part of you all the time. I want you to bring history (herstory) forward. And your future back. And allow yourself to miss it. And to let it live inside you as part of your life. Part of your being. You are immaculately beautiful. And all the things you miss are with you forever.”

Damn, this wise woman is fucking right!

The people, places, and moments are woven into the fabric of my life story. Never to be repeated the same way twice. Furthermore, these people, places, and moments are rooting for me, loving and supporting me every step of the way.

IMG_2716.jpg

And after three months in Southeast Asia and seven months on the road, now is a good time to remember why I made this choice.

Why I nonsensically flew halfway around the world, by myself, to a remote island where I had spent less than a week and knew less than a handful of people.

  • I flew halfway around the world to show myself I loved myself. My body begged me to take better care of her. My spirit was suffering and my energy was depleted.
  • I flew halfway around the world to give myself space to be. My inner child asked me to BE with her, to PLAY with her, and to CHOOSE her first.
  • I flew halfway around the world to step into my womanhood. My divine femininity felt shut down. My sexuality and sensuality contained. My creative power and life force blocked.  

Here I have had the space to reconnect and revitalize.

  • To come home to my body.
  • To come home to my spirit.
  • To come home to my energy.

To enter a State of Grace where purpose, presence, and divinity meet.

To invite the vibrant, expressive, creative child within me to play.

To allow the wild, howling, untamed woman within me to be free. 

Above every sky is another sky. Beneath every ocean another ocean.

I’ve come this far only to see, I am only scratching the surface of my immensity.

And yet, I can't help but look backwards and wonder if it’s too late to turn around; to swim back to the sunny shores of my comfort zone. To return to the places and people who know me or at least who knew me.

Even if I were to turn back now I ask myself: Will I be accepted and understood as this newly revealed me? Will my past life fit anymore? Will I revert back to my old patterns? Will I lose myself once again?

Though these sound like fears, deep down they are expressions of love. Love for what I've found and love for what I've left behind. 

They say if you love something, set it free.

So today my soul surrenders. 

  • I surrender to heartbreak.
  • I surrender to homesick.
  • I surrender to vulnerability.
  • I surrender to the unknown.
  • I surrender to love and I set her free.

With gratitude and grace,
Lotus

p.s. this is a collaborative playlist I created called HOME. Feel free to add songs that bring you comfort on your journey.