Outside My Comfort Zone
We arrived in Paris from New York at 1pm on Tuesday morning.
It was overcast and wet, but did not feel cold. It was a breezy 67 degrees Fahrenheit (F). [That’s 19 degrees Celsius (C) for those of us who can’t process these two readings - I can never convert the to two my head! 😉]
I looked at the faces of the souls around me, observing their dress and customs. At either airports, travelers at Charles de Gulle (French airport) don’t look much different than those at John F Kennedy (American airport).
Parents were minding their children; Asian travelers who appeared Japanese with ball caps and cameras in tow kept to themselves; a couple African women with bright beautiful traditional outfits wandered by.
In fact, just about the only thing that seems different is language. I can’t understand a word of it.
Wait. To to be fair, the Japanese tourist spoke Japanese. Me no speaky Japanese. Nothing new there.
The parents and Africans, however, all spoke French. English appears no good here. Only bonjour and Ça va are honored. 😳
Good Lord. It is going to be an adventure indeed! Secretly, I wondered what we’ve gotten ourselves into on this 3 month excursion. Everyone is speaking French as though they understand it...except me.
“My, this is going to be quite the adventure,” I thought to myself with trepidation.
Indeed. Even getting coffee requires me to step out of my comfort zone.
What Sleep Deprived Looks Like
We took the red eye, as our flight left at midnight eastern time (EST). I expected us to be bone tired but adrenaline and the excitement of being in a new country kept us awake, alert and enthusiastic! To our bodies, it was 7am even if the local time is 1pm in the afternoon.
As we exited, good ol’Starbucks stood front and center of the terminal. The familiar is inviting on foreign land.
Two medium cups of drip coffee and $11 euro later, we realized we weren’t in Kansas anymore! (Literally, we drove through Kansas on our way to Manhattan Island, New York from Santa Fe, New Mexico).
Aside from being at least double the price of coffee back home, we had a real language issue - how does one say, “Medium coffee in a large cup?” I like to take cream with my coffee and leave space to avoid spillage.
Even with google translate, we were not able to communicate that. We settled for 2 medium coffees in medium cups. Oh well, something I’ll need to put on my homework list to learn to say in French. 🤷🏻♀️
We got to the condiment stand where I usually add half and half to my coffee. Only two options were available: “ecreme” and “demi-ecreme.”
“Hmmmm...” I thought to myself, “which is the half and half?” Is Demi half, or is it skim? Doesn’t ecreme mean cream? Is demi ecreme half cream? Wait... what?
After a moment of confusing internal dialogue, I guessed that demi meant half, only remembering the word from Greek literature, as in demi-god, an offspring from an immortal and mortal being (as in Achilles or Dionysus).
I decided that what is before me is milk (ecreme) and skim milk (half milk or demi milk).
Great! How does one say half and half in French!?! Too much effort. I’m going for the milk.
As I reached to pick up the containers, both were empty. Foo-ey! How does one say ‘refill?’ Ack...!!
Sleep deprived and feeling like my head was going to explode, I decided that either one will have to do, and took both empty containers to the counter. I managed to point at the containers and said, “s’il vous plait” which is one of the three French words I know by heart (bonjour, s’il vous plait, and merci - hello, please, and thank you). 😬
The barista kindly filled it and off I went. If you are a coffee drinker, you will know that coffee drinkers prefer their coffee a certain way, and not having your coffee with the usual cream or sugar or milk creates a flavor that sets the day.
I decided to ignore the strange tasting, very expensive coffee I had in my hand and let that go.
Finding Common Ground :: Being Asian in Paris
Our Uber came and a kindly looking, very gregarious Asian man dressed in a suit helped us with our luggage, weaving us through the crowd to get to his vehicle.
He spoke French mind you, but that didn’t stop him from working hard, and for working hard FOR US, no less. I wondered if he knew we couldn’t speak French. And if he did know we were “French-less” whether he would cease helping us? 😬
We all piled in the car and off we went.
In the car, I felt more relaxed and less vulnerable somehow knowing that we were on our way to our apartment. For the duration of the ride, French was no longer a barrier as I knew that he knew how to get us to the correct address.
The Uber app makes it possible for me to get to my destination without uttering a word. Woo-hoo!!
From the Mouths of Babes...
Having a five year old child requires me to explain aloud what is happening. When traveling, this opportunity comes up often.
As I was orienting my children to what we are doing and where we are going, Cliff, my spouse was messing with google translate to ask our driver questions, albeit, to no avail.
God love this man, all I wanted was a break from trying to communicate and here he is, relentlessly trying.
Suddenly, my 11 year old son asked me if the driver could speak Chinese?
How brilliant is that?
So I asked our driver if he speaks Chinese? In Cantonese, he replied, “Yes! I speak Cantonese.”
During our 45 minute ride to our apartment, our Uber driver, Mr. Kong, originally from Hong Kong, father of 2 Twenty somethings, gave us a wonderful orientation of Paris in Cantonese! I translated it to English for the family.
It was a delightful mini private tour that only a local can give. We chatted about safety, best locals places to visit and he pointed out landmarks as we passed them. Even as we drove along the highway and saw a city of make shift tents, Mr. Kong talked about the homeless concerns latent in Paris. I felt I got a tour no red line bus company will ever show me.
It Turns Out that He is Hakanese, Like Me
We even conversed in Hakanese, my native tongue from which my ancestry ordinates.
What is remarkable about the Hakanese is that we are a dying breed. Like Hawaiians and the Cherokee Indians, our bloodline is mixed in with a greater population and the language is no longer passed on from generation to generation.
Of the 200 individual dialects in Chinese, I happen to run into a man who comes from the same lineage as me, speaking the Hakanese language our ancestors spoke. How is that for serendipity?
The Hakanese language in itself is an extinct language. Though many Hakanese have settled in Hong Kong, many do not know the customs or speak the language. He and I are the last of our kind - a dying breed.
I just happen to speak the language because my grandmother only spoke to me in Hakanese, til I was 9, when she passed.
We Hakanese take a lot of pride in our culture, and love for our people is a value that we hold dear.
When a fellow Hakanese runs into another, it is an instant recognition that we have run into one of our own tribesman. We see each other as family.
Of the many blessings I am present to in my life, this is among the greatest. What an honor to be part of an ancient heritage that values and recognizes love and loyalty to its customs!
Mystical, Magical, Serendipitous Life Moments
Meeting this man reminds me of the mystic moment-to-moment unfolding that life is. Things seems to come round and round as life progresses. Each time, as I grow, my consciousness and awareness grows with it.
Prior to my trip, I was very aware that my late Mom had never been to Paris. In my prayers and conversations with her, I told her I would go there, and that she could see Paris through my eyes, if she wanted.
I suppose the soul of my late mom may have had something to do with the remarkable experience I had with the Hakanese man that appeared as our Uber driver. Or not.
But I choose to believe my connection with my mother continues. I choose to believe that I am never alone in the world. I choose to believe that there is an under current to life that supports my being.
Like the unseen current in our oceans, there is a force that underlies life.
This life force takes me from one experience to another, always challenging me to grow, always fostering good and always helping my soul recognize itself.
I have found this time and again in my experiences, because it serves me to believe that I am connected to something bigger than myself.
This is especially true when I am totally out of my comfort zone. Life and the adventures of traveling affirms for me that I am always ever supported to grow and become more of myself.
As I grow in consciousness, I see the interconnectedness of life. I am able to recognize the sacred in the ordinary, and appreciate the mystical current of being, always ever present just beneath my living.
5 Spiritual Practices to Cultivate Personal Growth and Stay Connected to Your Good
Seeing the good and fostering faith in all that unfolds in life requires time and an intentional decision.
One must ask, “Is life conspiring for me, or am I tossed about like a leaf on the wind?”
If you are one to believe that the power of positivity can affect the outcome of your experience, believing a certain way will serve you well.
Whether real or perceived, I believe is that my life unfolds for me. My faith in this has never failed me, no matter how much suffering I appear to undergo.
Below are five spiritual practices that foster my own personal growth so I stay connected to the ever present good that is life.
These 5 steps help me grow in courage and consciousness and allow me to chill out even when I am on the cusp of losing it.
1. Expect Good
There is an order in the universe that is ruled by an evolving conscious. This order is good, unfolding and ever present around me. Everything that happens conspires to evolve my awareness.
As I grow, I become a better version of myself. I expect good to be the result, even when the appearance of good may be hidden, I know the under current of good always conspires for me.
2. Be Open to All Possibility
This one requires me to simultaneously practice non attachment, trust, and committed faith. When I am in the zone of being open and receptive, things unfold better than I plan, grander than I can possibly imagine.
Having tested this time and again, and landing on my feet (eg the outcome is in my favor), I no longer cling to my little idea of what it NEEDS to be. I let go, and let life.
3. Trust the Process
They say in sailing that we can never discover new lands without releasing the shore. Just the same, without a mindset of flexibility, we can never discover new ways of being.
Releasing, surrendering and letting go of the ideas of my ego requires me to trust the process. Choosing to trust the process and practicing flexibility enables me to give way to, and truly receive a greater possibility of good.
4. Let The Process Work
When we plant a seed in the ground, we must give it time to grow. Just as we allow water, soil, and sunlight time to work together to grow the seed, I also allow my expectation of good and receptivity of the universal conspiracy of better and better to work in my favor. Rather than questioning what is happening at every moment, my job is to simply be present to the moment.
The magic unfolds in each moment. Being present means being there - aware and awake in the moment and not living the moment in the past or future.
It was such a gift to be present in conversation with Mr. Kong, my Uber driver. The magic was in the moment, learning about him, which inspired me to revisit and blog about being Hakanese. Being present to our conversation allows the magic to unfold in the moment. Many times, as in this one, I don’t realize the gift I am receiving til the blessing is complete.
This leads me to my last point... to reflect about how this affects me and how to apply the blessing in my life as I move beyond the moment.
5. Reflect and Apply
I have to say that reflection is really a way to relive and unpack the moment.
When I finally got to a place of stillness, I was able to truly process the love and good jujus in my life - to really receive the love by way of meeting great people on my trip.
Even in a French speaking world, I am greeted by familiarity and the blessing of the mystical meeting with a man of Hakanese descent.
Feeling gratitude, and awakening with an open heart in Paris this week, I ponder on about the mysteries of life and what is asked of me as I live my adventure is Paris this summer.
Please Raise Awareness and Share The Love ❤️
What do you think, Loves? I'd love to hear from you!
Do you believe that there is an under current of good in your life that conspires for you?
Have you ever been to a place that fees foreign? If so, what was it like for you overall? If not, what do you imagine?
What mystical chance meeting have you been blessed with that makes you feel connected?
Which of the 5 values resonates with and speaks to you?