The end of my Jesus year (33)

If you’re a spiritual junkie – 33 is significant.

Jesus was baptized at 30. And the general consensus is that he served for 3.5 years before being crucified. There was a rule in the Old Testament that all priests be baptized between 30-50 years old so the best guess is that he was in his early 30s. It’s a fair theory to say, he learned love and preached unconditional love by 33.

Gautama Buddha (Siddhartha) left his palace at 29 to see first hand and understand the suffering in the world. In that famous story, he sat under that Bodhi tree to awaken to “the truth” around 33-35 years old. The truth of self awareness and love.

In numerology, the life path number 33 is about awakening and then using that knowledge and experience for leadership and responsibility. Those with this life path want to use their life to raise the consciousness of others for a kinder and more empathetic world and become spiritual leaders.

For 2015, Numerology had predicted that it was going to be a tough karmic debt kind of year for me. Things would be unfair and not work out and the test would be how I reacted to not getting what I want. Luckily I knew this ahead of time and came up with a pre-game strategy to fail fast, take everything in stride, learn whatever lessons are repeating and popping up and try not to make more bad karma while overcoming these obstacles. (Ha! Easier said than done)

I knew there was no escaping big obstacles and challenges this year. Whether or not I’d be able to get through it one piece was up to me. More importantly how many casualties would I leave in the battle, would also be up to me.

Looking back, it was a truly amazing year.

Love

Turning 33, I conquered my fear of commitment and the system and signed my first mortgage 😉 It wasn’t that bad to finally have a home, in Toronto, surrounded by loved ones. I got to experience Christmas and Birthdays and Thanksgiving with the kindest most loving family in the world. Contrasting that life I used to live as a nomad with a suitcase and no fixed address, this new one where I could have regular meetups and celebrate kids birthday parties and people knew where to find me was pretty cool.

Vipassana

I stumbled upon Vipassana in March. I had never taken 2 weeks of “staycation” before and definitely not to travel inwards 🙂 I’m grateful I did. It wasn’t easy being in an environment where you have no choice but to look inwards and start facing your own issues and listening to yourself. Vipassana gave me a chance to truly dig deep and get to know myself, observe my reactions and really unlocked my understanding of human beings (and myself):

  • how we are wired to react based on our physical sensations
  • how we all have suffered/lost/grieved/been wronged in the past
  • how we all want to be happy and loved, wish for others to be happy and be loved.

It’s not very often you get a chance to pay attention and hear/feel what your mind/body/soul has been trying to tell you without constant new distractions and external influences. When you truly have time to listen to yourself, get comfortable with yourself, you start remembering why you’re here. You start remembering our goal as humans and how we are intricately connected to each other. You start realizing you can’t be at peace if your neighbours are not at peace.

The human experience is such a special one, where love isn’t just an invisible or intellectual concept. You can feel it and actually experience it towards others, towards sunsets, towards lakes and oceans, towards animals, towards plants.

To put it lightly, not only did I become a bigger hippy after the experience – I also knew exactly what my life purpose was. It was very clear what parts of my life were healthy and which didn’t serve me. All that I’ve experienced both the highlights and the tragedies are so that I could tell stories of rising, falling, coping and being comfortable in your own skin. Even if it helps just ONE person overcome abuse, rape, poverty, eating disorders, diabetes, cancer, or inspires someone to also listen to themselves and focus on their creativity – it’s worth it.

Cancer

After coming back from Vipassana, I went to do my biopsy. Not sure if that was a smart idea, but anyway it happened. In Vipassana, you learn that everything passes – all physical sensations including physical pain goes away eventually. You inflict pain on yourself by remembering, being fearful, carrying a grudge. But the actual physical pain, doesn’t last. So when it happens, experience it, in the moment. Then when it’s gone, just let it go. For the past 3 years, I absolutely hated my biopsies. You feel violated. You bleed and definitely feel pain. To makes matters worse, you fear the results. You second guess whether or not you should’ve listened to that doctor three years ago about a hysterectomy. It’s certainly a mind fuck as well as physically painful.

So there I was at my doctor’s office. The piercing gut wrenching pain happened. Cramps happened. I almost fainted. Then after gathering my strength to walk, I threw up. Then I ran to my car, closed the door and cried. It was a deep weep like I never experienced before. And then 15 min later, there was no more physical pain, I met a friend for lunch and that was it. Three weeks later, I came but there were no results yet. Four weeks later, I met my doctor again maintaining our usual candor and differing views of eastern vs western medicine. She finally said,

“Whatever you’re doing is working…because there no longer atypia sized cells. What are you doing other than taking tinctures, potions and vitamins?”

I smiled and said,

“Meditation… and oh… I found love”

Then I bounced out of there, into my car. I started texting my boyfriend, sister, updated Facebook as tears streamed out.

It was again a deep weep. I was grateful-blessed-lucky-shocked-relieved all at once. If you can imagine putting down barbells with weights of anxiety and fear. There are still likely hundreds of reps to go in the future, but just in this moment, you’re done your work out today.

As much as I disliked the fear mongering that mainstream media and people spread in relation to cancer; that once you had cancer, your quality of life quickly disappears and that deadly spiral to surgery, chemo and death was imminent. I spoke out for the past three years against that mainstream assumption but never did I truly admit how scared I had been and how I never really believed *I* could reverse it.

Sitting there in the car, I looked back at every step of my recovery which was the cure? And no it wasn’t just one of these things:

  • naturopathy
  • homeopathy
  • counseling
  • lifestyle improvements
  • meditation
  • exercise
  • cooking
  • reading books about other peoples journey
  • facing the past
  • kindness from others

I approached this whole process with an open mind, curiosity and only hoped that things wouldn’t get worse. I never really thought things would get better but here it was, tangible proof that trusting my gut worked out!

My ego even kicked in to take credit over a non-existent master plan of reversing cancer; that I had learned the secret to healing. But really I could not have planned out how I stumbled onto LOVE and SELF CARE. It was hope, luck and serendipity to meet the right people, and being able to have all the right resources to try anything.

I only learned after my memoir writing class in May, that feeling right then, that teary eyed happiness after overcoming three years of fear, that was joy.

Joy is not the same as pleasure

You can’t really experience joy without the suffering. It’s a priceless memory you will never forget, as opposed to pleasures you can buy. What I learned is that you can’t really know what good is until you experience the bad. The Ying and the Yang, they’re a packaged deal. And if you want to experience joy, you need to overcome pain. If you want to be an expert, you first need to be a beginner.

How do you capture joy? Joy is that first sigh of relief after what looks a lot like pain, sadness and suffering. Joy is worthwhile. So when things are not working out, and you’re in that cycle of suffering, just remember – this probably leads to a feeling of unbelievable joy…eventually.

I reversed Cancer!! (for now)

Then old habits kicked in for the rest year, relaxing my diet, not putting myself first, emotional eating, gaining weight. How quickly we forget 🙁 The one positive thing about fear is that when you’re used to being motivated by it, when it’s gone, that imminent danger is gone. And thus actions like self control and diet. It’s definitely something I’m aware of and a lesson that will keep repeating until I learn. Funny, this whole ability to be preventative and use wisdom and experience to avoid repeating the same mistakes is still something new for me. And definitely not natural. The problem with awareness is that it’s just the first step. You still continue to make mistakes, except now you see it first hand. It’s really not fun to see yourself trip and stumble and keep making the same mistake. I guess this way, you can finally be sick of watching yourself repeatedly fail and start changing for good.

My Career

Somehow I was ready for the onslaught of things that weren’t going to work out in 2015. I knew that my corporate job was not going to work out. I wanted to make the decision rationally and explore all my options and alternatives. So finally by September, it was time to exit.

Honestly it was a rewarding three years of work, I grew personally and professionally, got exposed to pretty cool things and stumbled upon on to my strengths of story telling and articulating that vision to pull off disruptive out of the box things. Being a multipotentialite has lots of advantages – the biggest is that ability to draw from different industry best practices and connect the dots. My pace of change was probably super accelerated by my personal life and fears of cancer, but now that I knew my strengths, I had to start figuring out how I was going to change the world. And I knew, it didn’t serve me or others around me to stay.

After finally deciding to leave, and almost rushing into another tech startup trap, I stepped back for a week at a Yoga Ashram and refocused again on what I wanted to spend a year on. The answer was: myself. I wanted to learn how to become a better story teller. I wanted to explore my curious (and re-occuring) passion for Vietnamese Sandwiches. I wanted to challenge myself to see how I could sustain a creative life as a writer – to inspire others, to help others sustain their creativity and find their tribe. I decided that would be my path. I took the past two months to explore catering, story telling and also consult in Kickstarter campaigns for musicians and authors. Being surrounded by others who support and thrive in creativity is the best decision and path I could’ve stumbled upon.

I even continued with creative writing class and found that writing and telling my stories have allowed me to reflect and bring closure and healing to my past, especially my turmoils with my family. And it’s amazing the kinds of people you meet, like-minded people when you just be you.

There’s really no better way to spend your time than on yourself. Call it what you will, self-asorbed/selfish. But when you do become at peace with yourself, even for a moment, it’s much harder to spread negativity, fear and hate in the world. It’s easier to pause and contemplate before naturally reacting. What I’ve learned is that working on yourself is a big contribution to society as a whole. And these posts and stories, even if they inspire one person – YOU – then it was all worth it.

So here we are. So sure, some things didn’t work out in the entire year. An when it did, I tried hard to minimize the casualties and acting out of anger. But truly this year has been life changing. It’s the year I actually grew up and finally take responsibility for my actions. It’s the year I learned a little empathy and figured out what how karma worked.

Just the same, there’s so much more I need to learn, so many things I still need to work on and so much more writing that I need to do. I can’t wait until to see what will unfold as I turn 34. All I know is that this life we live is the most precious gift. It’s got a shelf life, there’s a time limit to accomplish what we set out to do here.

I’ve got all the pieces and lessons now to make some lasting changes.Thank you for sharing this adventure called Life with me.

Love,

Uyen Thu