inspiration, life, love, motivation, travel, Uncategorized

The long journey back home

 

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Nothing is closer to my heart than dancing Tango. This is my favourite milonga I’ve gone to so far – the open air milonga right in the middle of the mountains in Kolasin, Montenegro during the Montenegro Summer Tango Camp. We danced in the rain and then in the setting sun, perhaps the most romantic and beautiful experience anyone could ask for

Hello there my dear,

Has it been almost 5 months since I’ve written here? Wow, time flies. It’s almost half a year since I left Buenos Aires to continue trotting around the globe in my sporadic, nomadic fashion. And the paths of fate have brought me to Milan, the city I am in now. It’s so funny I tell you; yesterday, I was still living in Budapest, nestled in a wonderful loft apartment which I would love to call my own. And the next moment, I feel like I’ve been teleported to another place altogether. That’s essentially how my life in the last 20 months has been – unpredictable, a teeny weeny bit crazy and nothing really fixed at all. If there’s one thing that can disarm the super planner in me to be more embracing of uncertainties, this journey of fluidity has been nothing short of exhilarating and rewarding.

At this moment, my brain is bursting with loads of radical, new and intriguing thoughts. At the same time, my heart is filled with a zillion and one emotions, because it seems like I am going to be heading back to Asian soil soon for a bit.

It has been almost 2 years since I embarked on this journey, driven by dreams of freedom, creation and euphoria. Metaphorically speaking, I am going to be home soon. To be in the continent where my roots and cultures are, to be near my family, to be close in physical distance to my supposed nearest and dearest.

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Sharing some of my favourite European Tango moments captured in stills. Dancing in Lisbon, Portugal

It is also funny how we tend to be contemplative when we head back to somewhere familiar after being away from it for a bit. How we place the idea of home in our heads, how we wonder if we can fit into a place we used to live in again.

Am I excited to be on home ground again? Oh hell yeahhh. I can’t wait to see my hunny bunnies, to be engulfed in familiar, heartfelt conversations and laughter. Where I can sprout the infamous Singaporean English aka Singlish flawlessly, and be understood everywhere I go. And the GLORIOUS (OMG) FOOD!! Damn, I’m all prepared to put on a few kilos with all the feasting that will surely ensue *giggles*

However, the interesting thing I’ve realised in this journey is that home is really not home.

Home is not a place, because the latter is merely an illusion of comfort and stability. On the contrary, home can be anywhere. Home to me at this point is the world, simply because the world has become my playground.

It doesn’t matter where I am, as long as I feel secured within me. It doesn’t matter if the environments are unfamiliar, as long as I feel connections. And connections are not as rare as I initially thought them to be – I’ve met incredible people, some whom I’ve formed unexpected bonds with, others whom have deeply enriched my life. Almost each and every person I’ve met has taught me a lesson or two about life, lessons that I am deeply appreciative for. To all the wanderers, lovers, friends, acquaintances and naysayers I’ve met, I only have gratitude that our paths have crossed at some point in our lives.

I’ve learnt that home has always been with me, inside of me. Home has always been about accepting and loving people for who they are. Home has always been about loving and trusting myself enough to know that I know the best for myself. Home is not about unnecessary fretting, but taking things easy, trusting that it will all turn out good and having fun on the ride. Home is realising that I don’t need to seek anything else to complete me.

Home is realising that I am complete.

I have always had the travelling bug in me since forever. After completing university barely a couple of years after teenhood, I took all my money in my bank account, had a backpack and headed off to Europe with no return ticket, coming home only when I was penniless, scrawny like crazy but way happier. I continued exploring the world as a flight attendant for almost half a decade. After flirting with the corporate world for a number of years, I left again and continue my journey of exploration, combing new places and finding new inspirations.

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I had the privilege to have my first Tango performance on the Nomad Cruise right in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean!! A truly unconventional venue indeed 😉

As much as I didn’t want to admit, perhaps, a large part of me travelled so much because I was looking for a place to fit in. A place where I feel complete. A place where I could be me. A place I could call home.

After trotting 50 countries, I realise such a place does not exist.

I should be devastated, but I am not. Because I’ve finally learnt that home has always been with me.

Before that, I looked for places where I felt accepted and not judged. But the thing is, I probably judged others to feel that. Home is how I accept the present, people and things for who and what they are.

I looked for places where people could love the true me. But people can only love the true me when I embrace all of myself – the good, the bad, the happy and sad. Home is where I love me for all that I am.

I looked for places where people and societies fit my expectations – but expectations are ironically there to make this conquest impossible to achieve. The more I have expectations, the more nothing fits. Home is loving people, places and things for all that they are.

I searched for cities where my opinions were valued and heard, that I could be the strong woman I am and not feel guilty about it. That place doesn’t exist. Home is accepting and making choices for myself to be this woman I am, to be true and authentic in my own skin, regardless of what everything else tells me. Home is being comfortable and happy being me.

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More dancing photos! On the Nomad Cruise in the Atlantic Ocean

Home is accepting me for who I am. Home is bringing inner peace to every moment I spend. Home is feeling the raw excitement when I do something I am passionate about. Home is advocating causes true to my heart without feeling conflicted. Home is trusting that I know that I can trust myself.

We all have our demons in our closets, and they have been with us in our journeys of life for many years. And the demons will always be there. I know my demons will not disappear; they will always be a part of me. A lot of who I am today, my beliefs and my reactions are largely results of what I had experienced earlier in my years, and these demons are part of who I am.

But that doesn’t mean I give in to them all the time. Hell no. These days, I have firm conversations with them, telling them to stay where they are in the closet while I go out, have fun and pursue the life I want. Stay where you are hunnies, you aren’t gonna control me anymore.

When we choose not to focus on past pains and fears, we can truly live and experience the present. And suddenly we realise that life has so much to offer. In fact, there is abundance in every day. And there is nothing, absolutely nothing to lose, but only more love, compassion and connection to give.

These days, I have been writing lots of articles and embarking on projects revolving around the topic of facing fears. In fact, I’ve started my own life coaching and personal development training business (visit http://www.janetan.net !). And whilst I’m still waddling and figuring my way in this entrepreneurial journey, I have come to recognise how often I have allowed fear to drive me in my daily life.

Fear of getting hurt. Fear of being undervalued. Fear of abandonment. Fear of not being loved. Fear of being incomplete. Fear of not being accepted. Fear that I’m not good enough.

Such a shame to live life this way.

Home is when I let myself live life through the eyes of abundance – that I will always have love to give, always have love to receive, that I am complete in my being, that I do not need more.

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Another quiet moment dancing in Lisbon, Portugal

Home is coming home to me. And coming home to me, allows me to come home to so many people important in my life. My dearest family, my closest friends, the random strangers I meet.

Home is a place filled with love and comfort. And home is not an inch further from where I am now. I just keep practising going home to myself every day, and the journey is beautifully liberating and fulfilling.

I’ve met many people who have asked me the same questions, “Jane, when are you going to be done with travelling? Why are you travelling so much? When are you going to stop and settle?”

These days, I just smile and giggle, because I have nothing to reply. The thing is, I don’t have a destination. This is a continuous journey.

It all started when I was an idealistic (still am), bright-eyed 18 year-old girl who dreamt of creating a global village somewhere out there in the world. You see, I’ve always had this humongous dream of a world thriving on love, acceptance, mutual respect and freedom, where conflicts don’t exist (except for maybe the cute, harmless squabbles that are resolved in a moment or two) and people live together in collaborative and supportive systems, backing each other’s versions of their dreams. I remembered sharing this dream with some of my friends back then, and all I got was, “wow, you are way too idealistic, girl.”

But it is this vision that propels me to do what I do even till today. I travel to understand how universal human beings are. I explore to encourage, support, love and cheer others to do what resonate in their hearts. Sometimes I can be overly emotional and impatient, thus coming across as pushy and maybe, scary (heheheeheee). I can be overly direct and morph into an absolutely painful, stubborn mule. But I do it because I love deeply and fiercely. It can be very painful and hurtful to be misunderstood, but I keep letting my vision guide me towards my dreams of love.

We just let the negativities go, laugh over them and keep focusing on what we want to create. And trust that the good things will come.

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Dancing in the rain…it was such an amazing experience! In Montenegro

The truth is, the travelling is not actually my primary goal. It is a by-product of this bigger dream I have – to empower the people I’ve come into contact with know that they are accepted for who they are and are worthy of the dreams they have. And that’s why I do what I do. The travelling is just part of the process that brings me closer to my dream.

Will I stop travelling one day? Maybe, I’ve absolutely no idea. I am at the disposal of my vision. If my vision requires me to stop, then I will stop. I will go anywhere that my vision takes me to.

However, to all you dream seekers, soul searchers, freedom fighters and the works, keep your beautiful dreams going. And don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot get there. You are worthy of the best life possible, so don’t let anything or anyone bring it down for you.

This is just another pit-stop, just another location. Home is where the heart lives. The journey continues.

Meanwhile, watch me as I fatten myself up in the lovely South East Asia. Damn, I can’t wait to be back to my 2nd home soon 🙂

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all my love, hugs and kisses xoxooo

 

 

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inspiration, life, motivation, Uncategorized

The beauty of a pause

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Starting a series of Tango-related photos with one at the opening night of the new milonga, La Veraniega. Nothing is more beautiful than dancing under the open sky with a generous amount of wind on an unpretentious basketball court, with familiar Tango melodies playing off vinyl records

Happy first post of 2016! I hope the first month of the year has been fantastic for you so far. Summer is getting really hot and humid here in Buenos Aires (hello mosquitoes, mehhhh) but I’m always more of a sunshine girl so I’m not complaining 🙂

Last year this time, I just arrived in Rosario, Argentina for barely a week. It has been a year since I embarked on this new journey and new way of living. It is surreal, thinking back to the courage and conviction I had then to drop everything for this gravity defying move.

One year down the road, I’m still in the same country, albeit a different city. I’m currently nestled in one of my favourite cafes here in Buenos Aires, writing this entry that I would have never imagined penning. I thought I would have visited and stayed in at least 3 countries as I had planned, have exhausted my entire travelling kitty fund and might have moved back to Singapore to embark on a new career. I might have gone back to my banking job. I might have started a new way of working given my normadic lifestyle. I might even have eloped with a man for love ;p I thought I would have gained endless amount of wisdom and happiness. I thought, and I thought, and I thought.

It had been a fanatical year, and a big, grand one indeed. When they say life always works in opposition, it’s absolutely true – we can never predict or control what life throws at us next. It is also true how powerful yet powerless we human beings are – there are so many great things we can do, but also so many things that we cannot control.

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One of my favourite milongas, the unpretentious and hippie Cafe Vinilo, has re-opened its doors again! (credits to the person who took this lovely shot)

When I first got back to Buenos Aires from Singapore, I was desperately searching for my purpose of being here. I had no frigging idea, except knowing that I wasn’t ready to be back in Singapore. I felt the compelling need to define myself. It sucked feeling like a useless bum who was “floating around”, “wasting” money day after day instead of doing something constructive that was “value-adding” to a supposedly fruitful and productive life. Never mind that I was learning Spanish from zero, never mind that I was learning to dance Tango from scratch, never mind that I was learning new things about myself. I just could not see concrete contributions and it was pulling me down.

Perhaps, I saw how my friends were progressing materially when I was briefly back in Singapore and got terrified. They had achieved so much socially in less than a year, but time seemed to have stood still for me. Plus the guilt I felt towards my family. Then I met people whom I had held in high regards disagreeing with my way of life. In some sense, I was seeking for approval but didn’t get any. Truth be told, I felt unsupported. I felt alone. I felt inferior. I felt scared, small and stupid. Really stupid. And in a bid to protect myself, my defence mechanism was triggered and I desperately wanted control of the situation. I tried “forcing” a meaning to the path I was taking.

The need for security, albeit a false sense of it, was taking over me.

Obviously, anything that goes by force will never be sustainable. For the last couple of months, I subconsciously sold myself back to my fear of things. Fear of being useless. Fear of getting hurt. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being stupid. Fear of being judged. Fear of loneliness. Fear that I will never be loved. Fear of the other zillion and one things the universe threw at me. And the scariest part of it all was that I didn’t realise I was fearing so much because it was so easy to be eaten up by it.

Unconsciously, I got myself stuck in a pathetic, miserable rut. I probably had the label “Miss Grumpy” plastered all over my face and “Grouch” was definitely suitable as my middle name.

I got increasingly fed up with things and myself. My attempts at finding answers were really not working and the frustration escalated at an alarming rate.

It sucked. Really sucked.

I was desperate. And annoyed. AND PISSED LIKE HELL.

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Caught in action, looking *very* serious

But here’s the irony. A fiery and wild heart sometimes brings miracles. *sheepish grin*

It was the same frustration that ousted me out of my self-imposed prison. I remember waking up one morning severely in need of fresh air and new space in my head. And because I felt so trapped and sick in the guts, I recklessly stuck my head out of the rut and gasped my first breath of oxygen in a long time.

AND DAMN, IT FELT SO GOOD.

At that very same moment, I realised how thick-headed I had been. I didn’t want to torture myself anymore; I needed a break from all these heavy duty stuff. I wanted to go with my heart and have fun again.

Comedic as it may sound, the solutions presented themselves right up my alley the moment I stopped trying to find them. When I decided to embrace the uncertainty and let go. It was akin to a fog clearing since the paths had been there all along. I just never realised that they were there.

That’s when I learnt that a moment of stillness is not necessarily a bad thing after all.

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Dancing with a great lead at De Querusa

And of course, I found another teacher in the dance, Tango. It has also played a big part in teaching me appreciate the beauty of a pause, allowing me to learn that I do not need answers to everything. At least not now.

It is a paradox since I had earlier intentionally wanted to move away from Tango. I had a ton of sentiments associated with it that I wanted to erase from my memory. But as the old wise saying goes, what you resist always persists ;p

What can a girl do when the fight is futile? I decided to let go and let it be. I stopped resisting and controlling how I was supposed to feel, and faced the feelings that I had been avoiding squarely instead. I know it sounds scary, but guess what? I not only found the beauty of the dance again, but also got reminded of why I fell in love with it in the first place. Perhaps this is what Love is – to keep trusting what we believe about someone or something, and to keep letting the negative associations go.

I’ve allowed vulnerability to take over me again as I danced. I started going with the flow of things. I used to fear the suspense of a pause, the discomforting moment when I felt helpless because I had absolutely no clue to what the next move would be.

Now, I am learning to embrace the suspense. When my partner stops, I stop with him. When he pauses, I give him that extra second more to communicate with me. When he builds the suspense, I build it up with him. When he does something to surprise me, I create the space and allow him to deliver the magic.

It all happens in split seconds. And it has been incredibly funnn 🙂

I found myself enjoying the dance so much more. So playful, endearing, fluid and intensely exciting. I especially love it when the moves are firm yet gentle, definite yet light-hearted. Oh, and the magical embrace and connection. I feel like I am having an exclusive conversation with my partner, and that beauty is priceless.

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At La Bicicleta

Embracing the pause has also taught me to hold and occupy my space. In the course of it, I have inevitably learnt to trust myself, that I will know what to do when the next moment comes.

The idea of letting go, and of giving space to allow things to enter, are invaluable gems that I’ve gained these days.

It’s ironic, it really is. More often than not, we keep our hearts closed, especially when we are hurt to prevent ourselves from getting marred further. Letting go and being vulnerable sound like the dumbest things to do. But when I threw myself out into the open again, it has, on the contrary, given me a new sense of strength, courage, and liberation. And having new-found space has allowed me to create new things and to see unbiased, unadulterated answers. It has given me new energies.

Where did I find all that courage and strength? I have no idea. It just came.

Where did the hurt go?  I have no idea. It just disappeared. Maybe, I allowed myself to be open and started seeing people for who they are again. When we focus outwards to others and recognise that life doesn’t just revolve around ourselves, the negativities often melt away.

So many times, things happen to make us doubt our visions. We start questioning our beliefs and in ourselves. We wonder if trusting the good is stupid. If being open, vulnerable and loving are just naïve and foolish concepts that hopeless idealists believe. That goodness is overrated and we need to guard our possessions and our forts.

That we need to be selfish.

I probably lived the last couple of months in this manner. And I was absolutely miserable.

Because deep down, I know this is not what I wanted and believed. To me, a life and world filled with generosity, love, compassion and passion is so much more worth living.

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A world-renowned milonga that I have come to love, Salon Canning

In the last few months, I’ve learnt to live so much with myself, for myself and by myself. I’ve had miserable times with myself. I’ve had fights with myself. I’ve also had beautiful moments with myself. I’ve literally, been in a relationship with myself and the journey of accepting me for who I am has been a rocky road well-travelled. The good and the bad, the naughty and the nice.

And now that I have once again chosen to embrace my life and open my heart to everything again, I know that I’ve made this choice despite everything I’ve experienced. There’s no need for external validation, there’s no need for others to tell me whether it is right or wrong. Because it’s simple; nothing, absolutely nothing, can destroy my vision of how a beautiful life should be.

It has given me the excitement, motivation and desire to believe in all the things I had lost sight in for a while.

I couldn’t have seen all these if I hadn’t allowed myself that break and appreciate the beauty of a subtle pause. A moment to breath, a moment of respite, a moment of silence from the deafening crowd.

The same pause has allowed me to reconnect with the present and see the answers I have been seeking all along.

I now remember why I made my bold move to embark on this journey in my quest for autonomy and freedom – time to be back in action.

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My latest favourite workplace, Libros del Pasaje in Palermo. Plus a douse of gorgeous sun 

P.S. I love summer, I really do. It’s now 8pm and I’m still shrouded in sunlight. Life is good 🙂

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