Day 18 // 365 Days of Gratitude

Today I am grateful for the taxi driver/师傅 who drove me home after my TCM massage therapy session. Our brief chat was deeply light-hearted and left me smiling. His ability to laugh a little at even the heavier topics, like politics and the state of migrant villages, was a refreshing reminder that we don’t have to take ourselves too seriously. He told me about his new taxi driving job, being a good driver, a funny incident with an elderly passenger… And as we navigated through the narrow backroads of a vanishing migrant village, I commented, “以前村子在的时候更乱。(This road was even more chaotic when the village was here) To which he wittily said, “那也没共产党乱!”  (Still can’t be more chaotic than the party!) We shared a laugh. Several times, he dove into a serious tone and then resurfaced saying things like it’s not a matter of good or bad, releasing tension. Our interaction ended with him wishing me a happy life. 祝你生活愉快! And I walked away smiling, replaying his parting wish over and over again. This guy isn’t some famed philosopher, he’s just another human being who’s lived life long enough to hold wisdom. With his peasantry background and my international school upbringing, our worlds could not be more different. Yet, at the same time, if we choose to look deeper, we are still just two human beings living life to the best of our abilities.

Day 17 // 365 Days of Gratitude

Today I am grateful for the magic behind social media. Namely, the connections I can make with like-minded, like-hearted souls around the world. The more I put out, the more I get back. Loneliness creeps up on me often when I’m made to seem like an anomaly, and I make myself feel worse by only seeing the differences and not the similarities. People tell me, and I tell myself, I’m

With my blog posts and YouTube videos, I’m finding that the more I put out, the more I get back in connections made. Even if it’s not a full-on relationship that develops, that sparkle of inspiration or resonance I feel with someone is beautiful on its own, too. Loneliness creeps up on me often when I’m made to seem like an anomaly, and I make myself feel worse by only seeing the differences and not the similarities. People tell me, and I tell myself, I’m

Loneliness creeps up on me often when I’m made to seem like an anomaly. People tell me, and I tell myself, I’m too idealistic, too weird, too loud, too happy, too depressed… the list can go own if we want it to,and I’m able to make myself feel worse by only seeing the differences and not the similarities. I’m trying, though, to reroute these thoughts patterns to focus on the deep interconnectedness of things.

Whenever I experience something, I want to share it with others. It’s just too much to keep it all to myself. My blog and YouTube channel are merely manifestations of this incessant desire to share my joys, my sorrows, my fears and in hope that you feel able to do the same.

A Fear of Not-Doing-Enough (Day 16 // 365 Days of Gratitude)

Today I am grateful for the challenge of doing less. I am grateful that I am able to take this time for myself, with the moral and financial support of my parents.

Believe it or not, doing less is harder than it sounds. Even as I’ve removed many external pressure to do, I still find myself caught in the vicious cycle of do-do-do. For someone who has grown up in a fast-paced, capitalist society, it is ingrained in me that productivity and efficiency are top priorities. The thinking goes that if I’m not producing anything, I’m wasting time. So I always have to be on the move, on to the next thing. But the thing is, doing less doesn’t equate to wasting time because doing less frees up so much more room to simply be, for reflection and contemplation, which are central, in my opinion, to living fully. If all we know is to move onto the next thing, without pausing for reflection, are we really making the most of our experiences?

I am so good at doing that I’ve forgotten how to truly sit with myself. When difficult emotions arise, I immediately clamp down on them, pushing them deep into my unconscious mind. The mechanism that detects and acts on said emotions is so well-tuned it operates subconsciously. Quite scary to think that sometimes I’m not even aware of what I’m doing to myself.

During these months off school, I’m relatively free of any onerous responsibility. So naturally, I am doing less. I know this period of healing is a necessary, balancing act. Yet there are still many nights when I lay awake wondering, Am I doing enough? Am I fully utilizing my time away from academia? Should I be doing something different? In my head, I am answering yes to all those questions. Yet, there is always that voice inside – my own worst critic – trying to skew the answer to no.

The greatest challenge is overcoming those negative voices. And in the process, learning to treat even the darkest thoughts with love and compassion because fighting them is not the solution. I must try and empathize with my fearful selves for they are just as much of me as my hopeful selves.

I’m a (real) good talker when it comes to promoting self-love… slowing down … noticing ourselves in this moment. All that good stuff. You might read these blog post thinking, Wow, Claire’s really got it all down. But let me tell you, I don’t. I really don’t. I say these things because I need to hear it from myself. I’m far from getting it all down and frankly, I don’t think that’s the point of it all. We can’t just tick off ‘Love myself’, ‘Slow down’, ‘Live in the moment’ and be set for life. We need to be reminded of these things throughout our lives, because in the darkest moments, those voices of fear and hopelessness will nevertheless find their way back to us. With strength and bravery, we can face those moments and come out stronger.

Suffering, hardship, and pain are inevitable. It is not in our power to expel them from our lives, but it is in our power to learn how to deal with our pain – openly and tenderly. Friends, there is no deadline. There is only life.