travel

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

WHERE ONCE THERE WAS GREY THERE IS COLOR.

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I’ve been working on a rebrand project for  DSIL Global trying to conjure and call in its brand essence.

Something that rings true to every multitude at the table.

  • Something that speaks as clearly to the wise old sage as the 5th grade adventurer
  • Something that represents the world of the rebel revolutionary and the architect
  • Something that embodies the heart and spirit of the olympian from the ghetto, the riser
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What we’re talking about here is something that can’t be quantified or qualified but only felt.

  • Business people will call it the UVP.
  • Spiritual junkies will call it the soul.
  • And everyone else who can’t quite put a finger on it will call it magic.

For me, I can only attest to how DSIL has radically rerouted and reframed my life and it all started four years ago with the girl who cried, “Southeast Asia.”

Four years ago, I was highly considering leaving my job to seek adventure. I had seen photos of a friend’s travels in Southeast Asia and something about the vibrancy of the aquamarine waters and the pungent hues of street side delicacies drew me in.

I had to go.

I was living in Phoenix, Arizona at the time and Southeast Asia seemed like a far off and not commonly visited destination. Nevertheless, without a plan or a budget, I put my thirty days notice in with the intention of getting out there as soon as possible.

Long story short, I didn’t end up making it. I postponed that dream for another. I moved to my dream city, San Francisco, California.

Rooftop dance parties at Sunrise beneath San Francisco's infinite sky.

Rooftop dance parties at Sunrise beneath San Francisco's infinite sky.

Fast forward three years later, after living happily in San Francisco, I still had the Southeast Asia itch. When I wasn’t working I’d spend my free time pursuing personal growth at social innovation institutes, global leadership programs, and changemaker intensives.

Often at these types of things there’s an opportunity to introduce yourself and make a pitch or an ask. My ask was always the same, “Hi I’m Kelsey Wong. I’m passionate about people, culture, and community. If you know of any fellowship programs or courses in Southeast Asia, please send them my way.”

While many people sent me ideas or places to visit, the only program that was sent to me consistently was the DSIL Course. This globally certified executive leadership course includes a ten-day field immersion in Thailand/Cambodia or Indonesia and a virtual classroom setting for teaching design thinking, conscious leadership, and inclusive development applied to social innovation.

After receiving knock after knock, I finally looked up the site. To my surprise, I recognized the course, when I was living in Phoenix and first considering going to Southeast Asia, a social entrepreneur friend, Courtney Klein had taken the course and had encouraged me to check it out. At the time, I had read “Executive Leader” and been too intimidated to pursue it. But by this time, I had honed more of my leadership skills and creative capacities and could see myself doing something like this. Then, to my even greater surprise, as I was scrolling through photos of the current cohort, I saw a former mentor and dear friend, Tom.

The stars aligned.

Tom put me in touch with the two partners, Courtney and Katy. It took a bit of time coordinating schedules but Katy and I finally had a chance to Skype. After just a twenty-minute call, I was hooked. Katy was so real, down-to-earth and yet for all intensive purposes, such a badass. Her extensive design and teaching background, the complex problems she was working on and the countries she was working in really amazed me and I was eager to learn more.

The badass that is Katy Grennier, Partner at  DSIL Global.

The badass that is Katy Grennier, Partner at DSIL Global.

It felt like synchrodestiny. I expressed my enthusiasm and said as soon as the course application came up I would apply.

When applications opened I didn’t think I could be more stoked and then I read the application itself. Never have I ever loved applying for anything so much. The questions felt different. I felt different. Never had I applied for something where I felt I could be my whole self and breathe into my fullest possibilities. 

On top of that, I had manifested an opportunity to travel to Thailand and Vietnam six months before the course with two friends. I mentioned to Katy I would be in Thailand and she instantly volunteered her apartment to us. Remember, I had only ever spoken to Katy on Skype for 20 minutes and yet she offered me her house. WHO ARE YOU?! I thought. 

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In December, I did stay at her house. While I was there, I knew she was my people when I saw on the inside of her door that you see as you walk out, a hand-written note that said, “How are you contributing today?”

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Fast forward, not only was I accepted to the course but after spending the month in Southeast Asia I knew I had to be here full-time. So I made it happen. Katy and I had kept in touch along the journey and in May she started a dialogue about capacity gaps DSIL had and asked if I was interested in collaborating more with their consulting team.

I was simultaneously flattered and floored. I signed up for THEIR course, why would they hire me if I’m trying to learn from them?

We talked and she asked if I was interested in working together and even co-facilitating on an upcoming project to test it out we could. To say I was keen is an understatement; I was thrilled.

A week later she sent me an invitation to join her in co-facilitating a leadership development program with the Australia Asia Organization Combating Human Trafficking in Bangkok the following month. I was in Bali at the time and was so ecstatic receiving the invitation I let out a full-bodied YES.

Katy also let me know she’d be in Bali the following week and invited me to meet her local team.

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So this is where it gets interesting.

The day before I met Katy in person I had a life-changing tarot card reading.

After a series of wild events, I found myself frazzled as I checked into the White Lotus Meditation Center. After sensing how disoriented I was, Sandee, the owner asked, “What’s going on? Are you okay?”

After I flooded her with neurosis she made me some tea and asked if I would you like to do a tarot reading. She thought it would be good for me.

I nodded and so we did.

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I’ve only done a few tarot card readings in my life but the times I have were spot on.

Sandee had me shuffle the deck, lay out the cards and take a deep breath.

The first card she asked, “Which card represents you?”

I closed my eyes and sensed for the light. Wherever a golden light beamed in my minds eye is where I chose.

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XIII 

TRANSFORMATION

in the Major Arcana, depicting Shiva sitting in a flaming lotus with a phoenix rising above his head. 

Fitting.

The next card she asked, “Which card represents your current work?”

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SORROW

I felt into it and pulled a card. I flipped it around only to see the card of Sorrow staring into my face. When I saw that card, I felt like the wind got knocked out of me.

 

My gut tightened. My face paled. I didn’t want to believe it but I knew exactly what it meant. I saw the hunched over monk in the darkness crying and I saw myself working late on my computer in the dark unhappy.

Sandee shook her head, “if you stay working for this company, this will be your life.”

I didn’t like hearing her say that but I knew deep down as much as I loved my team, that she was right. I had been working remote with a U.S. based company for the last four years and while it was an amazing ride and wonderful place to practice my skills, now that I was living in Southeast Asia, the time difference wasn’t healthy and the opportunities to grow were limited.

She asked me, “What other possibilities are opening for you?”

I told her I was meeting someone tomorrow that was a partner at another consulting firm I was very interested in working with.

She said, “What’s the name of this person you are meeting?”

“Katy.”

“And what’s the company?”

“D/O consulting."

“Pull a card that represents Katy and D/O.”

Again, I closed my eyes and sensed for light.

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XIV

 

INTEGRATION

The light shined on a card right in the middle. I picked it up and turned it around to see the card of Integration, XIV in the Major Arcana.

Looking at the two cards next to each other. Sorrow and Integration was like night and day. The card of Integration represented a world of color where the card of Sorrow was all grey. Furthermore, the card of Transformation, which represented me, was 13 in the Major Arcana and Integration was 14, a natural progression, the next step.

“The next card is the most important,” Sandee said, “It represents what you need to do now.”

Again, I paused and took a deep breath, looked for the light and then…boom.

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POSTPONEMENT

At first, I thought that meant postpone meaning the D/O opportunity is not going to happen. The card showed a woman in grey looking into a frame of color.

But Sandee said, “No, what this means is that if you don’t act soon this opportunity for color will be gone and you’ll be stuck living in the grey. This is the most important card for you. If I were you, I’d resign today.”

My heart stopped.

Was she serious? That’s crazy. I can’t do that. I’ve been with this company for four years; I’m not just going to throw it away after some tarot card reading.

Yet even after thinking that, I knew she was right. Agh. She was really right. The writing was on the wall.

I wrote my letter of resignation that afternoon and though it took me two weeks to have the conversation, eventually I did. And to my surprise I received so much love and support.

Today, I write this blog post from my room at Prado Farms. It’s a biodynamic farm, eco-resort, and inspirational sanctuary that DSIL is living in and working out of for the next two months. I’m on the new team of four core staff leaning into the business as it undergoes a [r]evolution.

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Not only did I complete the DSIL course in Thailand and Cambodia in September, but I’m working with the very team I was so intimidated by years before.

In short, I can’t believe I’m here.

And as I dive deep into this [re]brand and organizational transformation I can’t help but see what’s real and true.

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This company, this course, these people have given me the lens of possibility. I’ve been equipped with new tools for designing, building, and doing. Together, we practice new ways of living, being, listening, and seeing. Creativity is streaming out of me like never before.

So I say again…

  • Where once there were roadblocks there are rivers.
  • Where once there were walls there are worlds.
  • Where once there was grey there is color.

With love x light,

Kelsey Lotus

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.

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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. 

TRAVEL IS EDUCATION FOR LIFE.

Grand Canal | Venice, Italy

Grand Canal | Venice, Italy

People often ask, why do you travel so much? 

TWO WHY's:

  1. Travel is education for life. It exhilarates, liberates, feeds, challenges, and teaches me.

  2. I am an explorer and it allows me to learn about myself and connect with others.

But how do you do it? How do you sustain work and travel?

TWO HOW'S:

  1. First, you have to consciously CHOSE this life. It’s not for everyone and it’s not all glamorous, it can be ridiculously frustrating and exhausting. You must tune into yourself and really get clear on your vision for your life's journey. My end game is to live a life rich in life experience and so for me, the juice is worth the squeeze. Take the time to determine what's right for you. 

  2. Second, look for companies that value Freedom. Seek forward-thinking organizations that are designed to give you the autonomy, flexibility, and trust to do the work.  More and more organizations are getting that the best employees live full, whole lives and aren’t robots. They want people who are passionate and purpose-driven. They get that Go-Getters who are also Go-Givers are the real future. If you can’t find a like-minded team, keep putting it out there, it will come. If all else fails, build it. To learn more from on how many organizations are rethinking work and wellbeing check out Arianna Huffington's post here.

An important thing to note is this way of life didn’t open itself up yesterday. Three years ago, this was not my reality. Three years ago, Phoenix was my city, my community, and I was hellbent on seeing it flourish.

That said, I had a vision beyond my known world.

I believed I could be a Global Citizen and a part of many communities. I believed I could design a life where I was paid to be myself. I believed I could work with an organization that would see my passionate curiosities and personal interests as assets rather than distractions. For me, it wasn't about "Millennial entitlement", I knew if I couldn't pour my whole self into something, I would be disengaged and average at best. Centered in this vision, I've been designing my life ever since and while it certainly wasn't clear looking forward, the dots have miraculously connected looking back. 

The key I have found is unlocking your vision, listening to your callings, and building your own personal curriculum from there.

Aegean Sea | Hydra Island, Greece

Aegean Sea | Hydra Island, Greece

It feels good to be lost in the right direction. — Unknown

A few resources to support:

VALUES

  • Values are a tool for helping you make decisions big and small. Once you can clearly articulate your values, you can determine what LIVING those values looks like. For example, one of my top values is Freedom and one way I live Freedom is by traveling :]

  • Knowing your values will also help you direct your energy more towards what's important and redirect your energy from what is not.  (Email me for the Delivering Happiness Personal Values Exercise: kelsey@deliveringhappiness.com).

VISION

  • The Vision Conversation - This organization hosts workshops and writes about manifesting your vision. Founder, Kristin Hayden is a true Visionary who speaks all over the world (read her blog).
  • Ideal Day Vision Exercise by Martha Beck - Very useful visualization meditation to help you picture your ideal day, which allows you to see it, feel it, and then plan backwards.

TRUE COMMUNITY

  • HIVE Global Leaders Program - This was a really powerful program that includes workshops on Designing Your Life and Finding Your Purpose. I've written about my experience here. If you're interested in going I am happy to connect you with their Community Team. For a discount, use HIVEALUM for $200 off tuition.
  • StartingBloc - For social innovators and changemakers, this is an amazing global community of people who want to dedicate their lives to doing good and also want to be able to support themselves financially. At present, they have four institutes a year in the U.S. - New York, New Orleans, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles. 
  • Under30Experiences - I am new to this community but WOW, this group is full of digital nomads, adventurers, and life enthusiasts. They see travel as a vehicle for transformation and meaningful connection. They facilitate group travel excursions worldwide from Costa Rica to Iceland, Bali to Peru. 

Much love on your journey. Safe travels and happy learning!

With gratitude,

Kelsey Lotus Wong

 

NO MUD. NO LOTUS.

NO MUD. NO LOTUS.

Key learnings and practical tips when taking a leap of faith.

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Nature is not in a hurry and yet everything is accomplished. — Lao Tzu

I read Lao Tzu’s words one morning on a little paper square strung on my cup of tea. The wise one in me agreed. The practical one scoffed. 

Finding your center, living in the present, and moving gracefully through the world sounds so easy but in modern day society it is one of the hardest things to do. In the Matrix, every day is a battle. We have become so conditioned into this reality that we forget to ask ourselves, what are we really fighting for? 

In the Celtic book of wisdom, Anam Cara, John O’Donohue says, “one of the reasons so many people are suffering from stress is not that they are doing stressful things but that they allow so little time for silence.”

He continues, “only in solitude can you discover a sense of your own beauty.” 

We work, we push, we delay our dreams for years to earn refuge from the noise. We bet on some faraway hope that one day we’ll lay in a hammock on a quiet beach and be free. 

Like so many others, I subscribed to this set of beliefs. I kept thinking if I work harder, when I get better, I’ll beat this game. Then I realized, you don’t beat the game. 

The only way out is to do the inconceivable, to SURRENDER.

What’s so ironic is, as soon as you let go, you realize surrender is about liberation not defeat.

In that realization, you are no longer a slave. By freeing your mind, you get to make your own plans and prepare for the real journey ahead. 

Heaven's Gate | Pura Lempuyang Door, Bali, Indonesia

Heaven's Gate | Pura Lempuyang Door, Bali, Indonesia

You may be asking, "But where do I start? Am I ready? And what journey?"

  • Start where you are. As you are. Step by step. Breath by breath. Today.
  • You will know you are ready when you’re done suffering.
  • As for the journey, Swedish diplomat Dag Hammarskjold says, “The longest journey is the journey inward. Of him who has chosen his destiny, who has started on his quest for the source of his being."

Your journey will be unique to you but I believe much of the mental, emotional, and spiritual mud we must go through in realizing our dreams is the same.

From what I’ve found in preparing for a five month travel/live/work trip abroad, getting through the mud requires three key steps: 

    1.    SURRENDER
    2.    LIBERATION
    3.    PREPARATION

Anthony Gormley Sculpture

Anthony Gormley Sculpture

STEP 1: SURRENDER

When it comes to change, the most profound shifts are not in your thoughts (cognitive) or your behaviors (action) but in your state of being.
 
All things change when you do (or at least your perception of all things). 
  
Start surrendering by asking yourself:

    •    What am I fighting for? Why do I show up each day?
    •    Who am I being now?
    •    Who do I desire to be?
    •    What do I need to let go of?
    •    And if I loved myself truly and deeply, what would I do next?

Listen to yourself and your own wisdom. Not the voices of others. Though they are trying to help, you have all of your own answers.

Once you surrender into yourself, you’ll see, hear, and taste the underlying truth that always existed and was just waiting for you to slow down and let go. 

STEP 2: LIBERATION

The most vulnerable time for a new flame is just after it is lit. As soon as you’ve reached clarity, you’ll undoubtedly meet doubt. Doubt is a cousin of fear, riddled with insecurity, and dresses itself up as being helpful. 

Negative introspection (extensive analysis and criticism) damages the soul. That doesn’t mean destroy it, it will only fight back harder, it means befriend it. The negative contains valuable insights into ourselves. Like in alchemy where lead is transformed into gold, this capacity to embrace and accept allows us to see the infinity of our interiority and reminds us to love the darkness and the light.  

    •    MENTAL LIBERATION - Change the mental loop. Rewire the brain. When fear speaks and negativity arises, respond with “not useful” or “thank you for sharing.” Of course, some fears keep us safe but be able to distinguish a true physical or emotional threat and a mental one. Ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen? Write it all down. Face every fear. Then write why each fear is not real and how you will overcome and/or befriend it.
    •    EMOTIONAL LIBERATION - As you make space for this new dream, leap of faith or adventure ahead you’ll need to let go of things that are no longer serving you. Emotionally that may look like relationshifts (shifting the dynamics of relationships – friends, family, romantic). It may also take the form of releasing yourself from unnecessary and unhealthy commitments. Take stock. Get free.
    •    SPIRITUAL LIBERATION - Whether you believe in spirit or not. There is an undeniable energy that connects us all. People talk a lot about extrinsic technology as this great power but we completely forget about our intrinsic technology. The miracle that we are. As you navigate your next steps, be in conversations with your higher self, your source, your God. Ask for guidance, protection, and support.

West Lake, Hangzhou, China

West Lake, Hangzhou, China

STEP 3: PREPARATION

"In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

When preparing for the unknown, it’s impossible to know what to expect. In my opinion, the most important life skills to nurture—which will help in any and all situations—are the abilities to adapt, learn, and be “game.”

1. Adapt: Being able to adapt means being in unfamiliaroftentimes uncomfortablesituations and adjusting your disposition to meet the challenge in front of you. With the speed of technology, many have coined this time period the “Adaptive Age.” In the Adaptive Age, this life skill isn’t a “nice to have,” it’s a “need to have.” One note: being adaptive is not the same thing as being reactive. It’s a combination of analysis, intuition, and action. Remember that what worked in one place may not work in another. Be willing to let go of what you think you know, let go of your expectations, and go with the flow. It will be much more enjoyable of a journey if you do!

2. Grow: Be willing to see challenges or “weaknesses” as opportunities for growth. Be humble, coachable, and willing to learn. The commonality between every successful person I’ve met, from world travelers to CEOs, has been their passion for growth and their resilience in getting back on the horse. It’s not about how many times you fall, its your willingness to get back up. When you realize the highs and lows of life are all interconnected, you’ll see how much you have to gain from what may look like a setback. Trust that when you come out of the storm, you will be a better person than when you went in.

3. Be Game: People underestimate the value of enthusiasm. Being “game” is enthusiasm combined with a willingness to try something new. How “game” you are will of course be affected by others and what’s important to you (e.g., your family, your kids, your community, and your career path). Know yourself and your values. Also, keep in mind that when opportunity knocks, it’s often not at a convenient time. So when you get a call and they ask, “How soon can you be on a plane to Hong Kong?” Think about what your answer will be: “Tomorrow,” “Two weeks,” or “Two months.” Dream-makers are risk takers. Be courageous in your intuition. You’ll know what’s right for you.

Red Lotus Sea | Udon Thani, Thailand

Red Lotus Sea | Udon Thani, Thailand

Thich Nhat Hanh wisely said, “No mud, no lotus.” If you know the legend of the lotus, they are flowers that grow in darkness, in the murk, and the mud and somehow miraculously rise above the surface of the water, fresh, pure, clean, and luminous. The lotus is a symbol of rebirth and transformation but without the mud, there is no lotus.

Wherever your journey takes you, there will most certainly be some mud along the way. Don’t let that stop you from pursuing your dreams, answering your callings, and trusting yourself in taking that next big leap of faith. 

My sense is you will be rewarded. And, if nothing else, you will certainly learn something new.

Godspeed and safe journey,

Kelsey Lotus Wong 

P.S. to read more on specific TRAVEL related prep tips, check out BIG TRIP TRAVEL TIPS.

Zen Beach |&nbsp;Koh Phangan, Thailand

Zen Beach | Koh Phangan, Thailand