It's been five years since I lived in China. Guys, it's my #CHINAVERSARY!
I've had considerable distance (physically and emotionally) from the experience, but it somehow still seems so fresh in my heart. During that period of 2011, I blossomed into the foundation of the woman I really always wanted to BE, but never had the courage to DO while living in my "comfort zone." It took my brother dropping me off at the United Airlines curb on a gloomy June morning (with 100 lbs of my belongings which would be the only remnants of home for the next few months) for reality to hit me, and in those moments after he hugged me tightly, the entire weight of what I was about to experience gripped my bones. I felt like crumbling to that nasty concrete curb at LAX. I was devastated that I didn't know what was coming, and simultaneously ELATED and immediately panicked that: I HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS COMING.
Long story short, the job experience with Disney, the independence, the fairytale relationship, and ultimate self-reliance I found in China inspires me to this day and begs me to listen to my gut and my heart. I learned to re-listen to my deepest desires while I lived in China, and it began in part with the following journal/poetry entry exactly five years ago, on July 8th, 2011... My state of mind when I wrote this is a mindset I've been revisiting often over the past few weeks, and it's still as good of a reminder for my 2016 self as it was for 2011 Riana. Somehow, it just seems fitting to share it with you today. :)
July 8, 2011
There’s something about traveling to a strange place alone with a specific purpose which clarifies how one sees the world and one’s self. I believe this is why people travel to soul-search and “find themselves.”
To venture to an unfamiliar place in the physical sense cultivates an open and nurturing environment for the cerebral to flourish and thrive; nourished by the persistent onset of new and unusual information. With the presence of familiarity and routine of relationships, places, schedules, and self, I don’t think someone is able to truly decipher how they behave, how they truly feel, and how they are. However, imported into an environment where every sight, experience, word, and smell is impressionable, the mind is in “sponge” mode and assumes a clean slate as to begin full absorption of information. The body and spirit too, can soak up and assimilate a new environment, but not without first cleaning house to return to the root self: the real self. Removed from “normal life” without specific wants and needs creates new perspectives, fresh intentions, and a clearer soul. I’m realizing I can forego what I think I want, and somehow what I have is truly what I need.
Here in China, in just two weeks, I have all I need and have set aside what I thought I wanted in this new culture, trading those things in for increased practice in flexibility, positivity, and open-mindedness. Adopting a new routine, new food, new work, and new relationships in a foreign culture gives me great cause to cling to the only thing that up to this point has been consistent: myself. I feel compassionate with myself for this reason. I am kind, light, patient and peaceful with where I am on a daily level. My spontaneity and ability to flex at a moment’s notice is heightened, and my generosity to feed myself soulfully and spiritually is at an all time high. The desire to do things alone and in solitude is strong, though I make a point not to isolate myself because the social influx, too, impresses upon my mind’s canvas with beautiful brushstrokes of rich culture and foreign language. I am passionate to explore, but feel equally productive to sit and reflect. This beautiful Saturday morning, I'm taking some time to myself without the pressure to get to work or see the city bustle and scatter. I got up early and sat outside in the morning heat, drank strong black coffee, and ate at my own pace a leisurely breakfast of bok choy, toast with hard boiled egg, and cucumbers. I also wanted to document how I felt thus far here, aside from the bizarre tales of mystery meat kabobs and touristy adventures. Ideally, to feel happy and peaceful consists of living in the moment: taking each day as it comes, not concentrating too much on the past or the future. I’ve realized my stress level is actually quite low here. I’m here to work on a set schedule, and everything else is just an awesome exploration! It’s given me great freedom to place little (few) expectations on my own heart, and is allowing my soul to travel and guide me through the day, and so I’m constantly surprised and delighted with every twist and turn. I thought before coming here I should document my days closely in photos, video, and writings to confirm and also to decide how I felt about myself and China day by day. Now, I think part of the beauty is to not decide to decide how I feel. It’s better to just feel... and to use my writings and photos to just mark brief pauses along the way of process.