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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love, travel

Mil gracias, mi Buenos Aires querido

 

Hola to the dear city that I’ve spent the last year with,

Wow, has it been a year since we have been together? Time flies, it really does. In the blink of an eye, I will be packing my bags and trotting to new territories, leaving you and a ton of great memories behind.

At this very moment, I feel like my heart is thrown into the washing machine that is spinning with a mixed bag of emotions. I’m a little sad, confused, nostalgic, hopeful, grateful, all rolled into one. In fact, I’m at a loss to how I should start writing you my message of love and gratitude since I have a zillion and one thoughts darting through my head now.

For a start, I’ve never liked penning farewell letters. In fact, I hate it. They always make me feel overtly sentimental and unnecessarily sad, because they make the imminent departures real. Although they always say that a farewell is never truly a farewell and endings are never truly endings, we all know that a moment can never be fully replicated or relived. To all extents, this chapter of our lives will have to close before new ones can open.

Then again, there is an indescribable beauty in writing heartfelt letters, especially ones that honour the time we have spent together and celebrate the experiences we have shared in unity. It’s no secret that I have always valued honesty despite the vulnerability, authenticity over pretenses. And because you have given and taught me so much more than I can ever imagine, I choose to spend this rainy afternoon plonking myself down at the kitchen table pouring my heart out to you. Just because I have so much to thank you for, just because I want you to know.

People always say that love is unexplainable and illogical. To that, I can definitely verify. Years ago as a young and impressionable 18-year-old teenage girl, my eyes landed specifically on you when I was curiously scanning the world map and daydreaming how the universe out there was like. I promptly read about your stories, your cultures, your myths and your ways of being. I even had friends who spoke to me about you (I know, what are the odds? I mean, you are so crazy far away from where I was living then).

For or against me, I had always held true to the spirit of pure, young and irrational love. I told myself then that I was going to make my way to you one day. I had no idea what you could bring to me, I had no idea why I felt the way I did. The thing is, I would probably never know until I actually make my way to you.

Of course, I took a big detour to reach you almost 2 decades later. I was distracted, lured by other lofty ideals and was experimenting with other things I had encountered along the way. But you know what they say about love? You can’t fight it. The universe sends it to us time and again, and we eventually accept what we are meant to embrace. Many moons later, I found myself finally in your arms.

When I first got here, I had no idea what you could or would give to me. I let things happen and quickly fell into your whirlpool of offerings. And you, indeed, gave me an unforgettable mishmash of experiences –  lessons of love, sorrow, joy, grief, etc, all intrinsically juxtaposed into one big bowl of rojak. You taught me to love, to laugh and of course to cry (buckets!!) In essence, you taught me what it is like to live life day after day, savouring what it is like to be human.

One of the biggest reasons why my stay with you for the last year has been so invaluable is because you taught me so much about people, love and relationships. You graced me with memorable chanced encounters, all of which have one way or the other helped me redefine what loving bravely means. In this journey, I am slowly beginning to understand how love can perhaps, truly exist with no expectations. How love can perhaps, truly be unconditional. How love can sometimes mean drawing boundaries. And how love can sometimes be painful now because it contributes to a bigger ideal down the road.

I am still learning, but you have given me so much courage to bravely love in the manner I believe.

Not surprisingly, I have met people who have stirred my heart in one way or another. Some stayed and the relationships strengthened. Others came, lit up certain days in my life and departed for one reason or another. I used to feel really heartbroken when people I treasured had to go. But I’ve learnt that when we truly love someone, it’s not just about our journeys, but also about theirs too.

We might have had created an adventure together, but we were not ready for each other yet.  Love is not just about possessing. Love is also about letting you go.  

A lot of older relationships got redefined too. Similarly, some people stayed while others went. Beyond the pale aching heartache, I remind myself that their journeys are important as mine – it’s not just for me, but also for them.

However, the biggest relationship I’ve learnt to embrace and be in with is indisputably myself. I am finally beginning to learn what loving myself means, what taking good care of myself is, how drawing boundaries is not a sign of selfishness but self-love. How not to let historical pains of abandonment and doubts of self-worth dictate the choices I make today, how to keep risking and reminding myself to remain vulnerable going for what I want in life. Day after day, I remind myself to live fully in the present embracing all of the person I am at every single moment. It is a constant choice I make and having that choice is beautifully empowering.

Beyond all that, nothing, absolutely nothing, can replace the biggest gift you have bestowed me by far. Centuries ago, you created a beautiful dance through bleakness, poverty and hope in the ports of your city and promptly called it Tango. Today, I got the privilege to catch a peek and learn what it is like to live life dancing through the eyes and spirit of Tango. To embrace the sense of vulnerability, to connect with a complete stranger, to be open in our hearts and emotions, to keep dancing even if things aren’t going the way we intend for them to be.

Through Tango, you gave me a big slice of your heart and soul.

Through Tango, you taught me to live and love through life’s unavoidable ups and downs.

Through Tango, you taught me how to waltz through my days in the most dignified and elegant manner, regardless of circumstances and situations.

Through Tango, you have taught me about strength and vulnerability, about connecting and letting go.

You see, I have always been the quintessential (secret) romantic. I still love fairy tales and happy endings (Who doesn’t? And if you don’t, my dear, life doesn’t have to be so bleak. Why don’t you give yourself a chance and trust that happiness is your calling?)

Through dancing, you have taught me how to embrace my insecurities and to accept me for being me. Through dancing, you have also taught me how to respect people who are willing to display both their strengths and fragility – it takes so much courage to remain delicate in a sea of unpredictable conditions. Their willingness to show that they are human and aren’t omnipotent captivate me.

Oh, and you also taught me how to trust. Wow, I don’t even know where to start for this. You have taught me how to trust so much. Granted, you have taught me when to be careful but it’s never about losing trust. Trust is a choice. If we choose to trust, there is nothing else to fret.

I guess you have taught me that despite the trepidations we have met and will definitely still experience in time to come, embracing what we truly believe about the world we are in and people around us are all that matter.

To be fierce in my beliefs, to be grounded and rooted in my desires, to trust that my visions are worth living for. To love bravely and to be stubborn in my deliveries.

Buenos Aires, you have very unexpectedly taught me about faith, hope and the beauty of humanity. You reminded me how much stronger than we think we are, and how letting go of the fear of losing liberates us to fly.

One of my closest friend whom I affectionately call as Buddy (yes my dear Brenda, hi if you are reading this), has this quote from Mother Teresa as her favourite:

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

I think I am beginning to understand its essence. Vulnerability and strength can co-exist.

More importantly, we have made the choice that we will rather be vulnerable than be broken.

To the dear city who has nourished me to the woman I am today, trust that I will miss you very much. At the same time, you also know that I will be back to you one day; I just don’t know when yet. But we stay close in hearts and trust that the day will come.

Till the next time we meet, stay loving, resilient, fragile and classy. You will always have that special place in my heart, and I will always be saving my love for you.

Te doy mucho amor, abrazos y besos. Voy a extrañarte, muchissimo ❤

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