32 years: 5 continents, 4 jobs, 3 loves, 2 kids, 1 story.
Every day is an episode of this curiously adventure-filled journey called life.
I’m only 32 and life has already proved to be a grand adventure. I’ve lived in Singapore, Paris, New York City and more. I’ve landed amazing jobs, married the best man for me, we’ve traveled the world, started a family and I get to play with them every day — to learn who they are and to learn the best lessons in life.
Life seems to work out best when I release control and let it happen. I see the world with open eyes and an open heart. I trust that my life will teach me what is good for me, even when I find myself resisting the lesson. Now, I consciously let go again and allow what will be, be.
I have a tendency to dictate to the world but I’ve learned to collaborate with the cosmos. When I release what I think should happen, when I let my good intentions flow — something even better usually comes back to surprise me.
This is episode 2.
My husband taught me how to be present, kind of through osmosis. He gracefully exists in any given reality and is always present. He is French.
We met in Singapore, so I didn’t fully appreciate that his conscious presence was a cultural cultivation until we moved to Paris a year later — and then some, because it took a few years to understand before I could assimilate.
Initially, my Parisian colleagues shocked and infuriated me with “c’est comme ça” and the shrug of a shoulder, a flip of the hand, or the very French pfft lip puff or pout and an air of complete nonchalance.
C’est comme ça is a full release of trying to control something that it is not meant to be. It literally means “it’s like that.”
C’est comme ça. It is what it is. But, of course! Bah, voilà!
I was set in my ways and very ‘American’ — a pretty permanent full-faced smile ambitiously planning my reality and trying to bend everything to my will as rigidly and controlled as my teeth were straight and white. Perfectionism was my game and I had it all under control until my environment didn’t match.
At first, I was truly foreign and I fought it. I kept my walls up and guarded my perspectives as the way it is or should be.
The way I saw it, letting life come or exist as it is without ‘creating it’ felt incredibly lazy to me. I allowed my frame of mind to serve as the ultimate reference guide for reality with which I created easily justifiable judgments and to protect what I knew to be true.
My driven and controlling ambition created dissonance — an icky and stuck feeling I wasn’t loving. The way I knew to flow wasn’t working — it was weird and difficult, and it kept coming up.
With determined grit, I pushed perpendicular to the current, I tried to force the flow but it was exhausting. I’d miss my perfectly calculated mark even if I powered through because I hadn’t taken the current into account. I hadn’t even noticed, I was blocked.
Sensing something had to change in myself, I declared patience as a theme, a life lesson I was surely supposed to learn this time around and I placed my focus there — it seemed noble and productive. I could wrap my head around releasing control in the name of this virtue.
Turning Point #7
The first time I understood the concept of a ‘true’ decision — unlike all the decisions I had thought I’d been making — was from my bilingual Bikram yoga teacher in a 40°C (104°F) heated room that smelled exactly as you may imagine. Struggling to find my balance, my teacher walked over and looked at me, her eyes piercing into mine. She told me to ‘Decide.’ Her voice and stare were filled with such grace and gravity that I instantly adjusted my state of mind from the swarm of thoughts belittling myself for not being able to balance to one simple intention — balance. And then I did.
A true decision is p-o-w-e-r-f-u-l-!
A decision can be so solid and true that it is made once. No wavering, no wobbling, no what if, no worrying. A true decision is simple. Of course, simplicity is sophisticated.
It takes conscious attention to allow for simplicity. I’ve practiced the art of simplicity in many forms, but making that first conscious realization is key.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” as Da Vinci so eloquently said, although the quote may have come from an ad and spread as urban lore… Bref. (French for ‘short’, in context, meaning ‘whatever, it’s not important right now.’)
Patience allowed me to let go, allowed me to grow, to expand faster and farther than I knew how to hold on because I’d finally released control. Helping me to slow down and perceive myself in my present, my decision to call patience into my life showed me a new way — how to open my perspectives to perceive the best path to my dreams given my present.
I started to perceive new information, to understand my environment and to sense the new boundaries of my reality set for this particular path. Stepping in tune, the forces I fought became my new subject material in my lesson-book for life. And then I let it soak in. Mmmmmmmmm…
Ah-ha, c’est comme ça!
Remembering to decide and then to let go is like a mental muscle I have to consciously release, and it automatically fires up when I am stressed or afraid. Discovering my triggers for fears and anxieties helps me to release them faster and waste less time worrying. The joys, seriously.
My mind opened and allowed me to see the French nonchalance for what it really is — something rare, beautiful and very alive!
Throughout the five years living, loving, working, wandering around in Paris, a subtle transformation occurred bit by bit, piece by piece, layer by layer. I began to understand the beauty in letting things flow — to experience life in the present. What a concept!? It was mind-blowing, really.
Life is a balance. The way I see it, being nonchalant means giving up worry and fear, accepting the flow of life to bring what it will. It does not, however, mean we’re free to give up, give in or throw in the towel — just look at any French maman with a 4-month-old and you’ll understand how this applies.
To be open to receive all circumstances as they come and to use my intellect to decide what to do with that information — that’s where I find my flow.
Tips I’ve found that help me:
Make a decision. Let go. Believe it will. Allow that decision to guide other decisions. With grace and gravity, we accept that this decision will be.
Every moment we are present, life presents opportunities to make more decisions that we can align with those we have already made, allowing ourselves to prove that we remember our decisions and are actively participating in integrating our dreams into our realities.
If it feels too easy, you’re probably doing it right!
True decisions rock my world now, and they’ll rock yours when you feel it too. It is so easy that it feels wrong, but it’s not. It’s so so so right, so much more fun and definitely more efficient. Just trust that it’s true and keep moving forward.
If it feels hard?
It usually feels hard because it probably scared you because it felt too easy right off the bat, so you decided to re-decided that it would be easier if you kept control. It’s difficult to release! It’s okay. But the sooner you realize that when you decided to re-decide, you original decision for simplicity disappeared. Sound familiar? Forgive yourself gently and decide again.
I find I sometimes tense up a physical muscle, clenching my teeth without realizing it when I’m stressed, for example, or my hip-flexors when I drive. Then, when it gets sore, I realize what I’ve been doing and let go. Instead of beating myself up for doing it or dwelling in the soreness, I appreciate that it was brought up to me — as a way to call my attention to what I may fear it so I know that it’s there and can give it thought and energy to heal.
The mental muscle works the same way. Pay attention to what is tender, give it energy and practice releasing it. It’ll likely come up again, so just let yourself realize it’s there, and practice letting it go when it does without judgment.
Focus on how you want to feel.
I’ve found the best intentions aren’t concrete but rather flowing states of being — happiness, wellness, wisdom, wonder. When an intention is set with a precise focus on how you want to feel, giving it the energy and attention it requires is easy and the opportunities begin to flow. Notice the things that go your way and help you to achieve your desired feeling — even the tiniest things. Appreciate them. This is what your flow feels like. The more you practice, the more powerful it gets.
Enjoy the ride and smile — I never intended or expected to live in France, to learn French, or to find a French husband in Singapore, but that’s how it happened. I am so happy I let life surprise me — it’s quite the experience.
This is a story to inspire women (and men, anyone who is open) to be bold, to go, do, and live with intent — creating the best version of yourself that you can today and every day. Thank you for sharing this time and space with me today. Recommendations and shares are greatly appreciated.
I look forward to expanding in Episode 3. Please, kindly let me know what you seek in the comments and I’ll do my best to share my parallel stories so we may grow together.
Gratefully yours, Jennie.
If you liked this story, you’ll likely enjoy reading episode one too. Thank you! ❤
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Originally published at journal.thriveglobal.com