Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sacred Life Sunday: Remembering Who We Are...

At this time of year, I remember what it was like when life was different, before Thai culture, before my own transformation into who I have chosen to be today. I think about those who are not so fortunate to discover what I discovered, to choose what I chose and to have my heart literally swell with gratitude for what it's brought me and what it has offered the world. My life is rich because of it.. and that wasn't always so.

There was a time when I sat in a little apartment, wondering why I was such a loser that I couldn't be included in the festivities like others. I remember what it's like to watch one movie after another in hopes that I would simply forget what was going on "out there". In an even earlier incarnation, I remember what it was like to get drunk and stay drunk until it was over. I didn't know or understand that I could really make choices so I kept wearing those ill-fitting shoes until my feet were swollen and blistered.

I put myself through all that torment for absolutely no reason because when all is said and done, the unrealistic cultural expectations foisted on people in every available and technologically possible venue are just ... crap.

They're crap.

It serves no one when we judge ourselves by trumped-up standards and crush our own spirits.

We humans are choice-making beings. We get to choose the lifestyle we'll live. We get to choose to recognize crap when we see it or hear it and cull it out.

For those who are marginalized for one reason or another, this is a good time to remember that families, friends and lives come in an assortment of configurations and all of them are just as valid as the next. Dominant culture sets up an ideal because it benefits a certain demographic to have it that way. If it doesn't serve you, get rid of it. "If it's miffy, let it go."

There are so many possibilities for all of us. This world comes with a huge assortment of ways of life for us to choose. There are hundreds of holidays, hundreds of religions, hundreds of political philosophies, hundreds of choices.

I play with holidays, even in my chosen way of life. I adapt them to fit what I want them to fit and act on them accordingly. One day, I'll write more about that. (And probably piss off some Thai uber-traditionalist who will disapprove but that's a risk I'll take.)

Since coming to the realization that I can choose, my life has improved beyond all of my own desires. I can wish others "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" with a high degree of sincerity because I choose to honor all ways of life. I can even pluck out a thing or two that I like about it. I really enjoy the music of Christmas. "O Holy Night" makes me cry. ( Click here to hear the one that reduces a usually stoic Chani to a pile of wet cheeked, running nose, blubbering. :)

My main point is that recognizing that I have choice widens and expands my world. There's no longer a need to try to cram myself into a box someone or something else constructed and then feel diminished because we can't help it when critical parts of our being fall out the sides.

I wish for everyone that choices will become clear, that the knowledge necessary to make a choice that fits will appear effortlessly and that your life will be enriched by your choice.

For those who have consciously chosen a way of life that is not working out and is leaving you feeling diminished, I wish you peace.



Maddy said...

Glad you figured this out sooner than I did.
Best wishes

This is my calling card or link"Whittereronautism"until blogger comments get themselves sorted out.

MsLittlePea said...

Amen!! It takes while to let go of all the crap (be it religious,marketing,family dysfunctions etc.) that's forced down our throats from the time we're born and start thinking for ourselves...but oh the happiness and freedom when we do.
("Oh Holy Night" makes me cry too)

Anonymous said...

This post speaks beautifully to the same subject I wrote about yesterday. Must be something in the air.

And, this post also demonstrates that you do indeed still have something to write about.

Emily R

crazymumma said...

Totally something in the air as Emily said.

It does truly make me feel a smile knowing that you have found this peace.

Much of it is crap, I try and wrap myself around the extra time I get to spend with my girls, the feasting, the music. I also try and spend time with a couple of friends I rarely see. Other than that, I get pretty darn cynical.

brilliant post Chani.

Angela said...


What a beautiful post. I spent many years feeling like I didn't really fit in anywhere, trying to, but not quite getting there. I was afraid that making my own choices about life would only heighten my sense of isolation, but it has worked in totally the opposite way. The more I honor and accept my feelings and beliefs, while always remaining tolerant of others, the more I feel accepted in the place that matters most - my own heart.

Anvilcloud said...

I will probably never fit well in the larger scene, but I seem to have been able to carve out a comfy niche. You have to be who you are.

Angela said...

And as someone who has only just learned to let go of what doesn't work and make my own choices, I can't thank you enough for this post, Chani. This is beautiful, and I am smiling....what a wonderful post.

jen said...

I am so glad you wrote this - not only because you've so obviously found a place that makes you happy and at peace but also because I have spent some time recently questioning my choices, not because they aren't making me happy but b/c they are not in line with what seems to be the norm and how that may or may not affect M.

So thank you for this reminder.

blooming desertpea said...

Considering that we are all unique in this world, how on earth could we all fit in one box? And who chose this particular box, why not the other one?

There is one line from a "Sting"-song that always swirls in mind and I try to live up to - "Be yourself, no matter what they say!"

Peace to you, too.

SUEB0B said...

Chani, you have articulated perfectly something I have thought about a lot. People attach so much importance to symbolism and forms. We have been given this marvelous freedom of choice, and yet we choose such small corners to shove ourselves into. I am glad you are breaking free.

I love "O Holy Night," too, though I don't believe in a dear savior, other than the one in our own hearts.

flutter said...

I have always wanted to fall on my knees in awe of the voices of angels. encompassed, enveloped, overwhelmed with something larger than me.

That is what serves me. Not what is on sale at Wal-Mart. Yes?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Such a beautiful post, Chani!

I learned early that the path proscribed for me didn't work. Since then, I have taken from the immense smorgasbord of life what resonated with me in all the many ways that add up to a lifestyle. It is my own invention, and I am also my own invention, so most of the credit AND blame belongs to me.

I am okay with that because I prefer to do it my way. Ultimately, that is the only way to true happiness and peace.

Mariposa said...

You are really inspiring...since I started reading your blog, youhave been such both an inspiration and reinforcement for me...

This post said it so nicely...on Friday, I will be attending a christmas party and was asked to deliver an inspirational message and I will based my talked on this post... :)

Rima said...

Thank you for this reminder, Chani. It's so easy to forget about choices living in the culture that we do. Ironically, sometimes it seems as though all this freedom is a little paralyzing to me, and I end up following the herd because of it.

As always, you've made me think (and I have some bling for you over at my place right along these lines.)

Julie Pippert said...

Wonderful. Inspiring. And what a lovely, lovely wish to extend to people.

I think that it will land somewhere.

Using My Words

slouching mom said...

What a beautiful post. I am teary.

Christine said...

and peace to you too, dear friend.

Running on empty

Aliki2006 said...

I can only add to what others have said--what a truly inspirational post this is. And yes, I'm reduced to tears.

Anonymous said...

I thought I responded when i read this yesterday. I thought of it again when I read Julie's post today.

I agree with you, but... you make it sound easy.

I think that the ability to recognize one's options, or to make them reality can be difficult for many, so I second those wishes that you made in your conclusion. Too many people are not living consciously or they don't have the inner strength to do much but languish.

anne said...

Great post. So true in every respect.

I am also with you on playing with holdiays. We often celebrate holidays from different cultures and religions. I think it's a great way to learn about the big ol' world I live in and the people I share it with. What the heck, life it too short - celebrate whatever you can!

Lynn said...

This is my first visit to your site, Chani, and I LOVE what you have written in this most recent post. I agree with you whole heartedly. Choices. Yes, I do believe, for the most part, we create our own lives, (as adults) and we can make them as we want them to be...most of the time.

As a Jewess I will enjoy the trappings of christmas with my best childhood friend on Friday! I will get to smell her fresh christmas tree, see her over the years collections of ornaments, enjoy and add to her collection of Christian crosses on her wall. She in the meantime has sent me and my family a box of Chanukah cookies and given me over the years probably every sort of Chanukah judaica that has ever been produced! Viva La Differences!

Hugs for Happy Holiday celebrations which ever you choose to partake in, when ever they occur for you in your society/community.

niobe said...

Here's a question. What happens when you choose to let go of the things in your life that don't work: the friends who don't care about you, the family that doesn't love you, the traditions and celebrations that never meant much to you, the religion that failed you -- when you choose to let go of all those things, only to find that, without them, your chosen life is an empty one, with nothing to take the place of the things you have chosen to do without?

thailandchani said...

Niobe, you remain open to finding the thing that will fulfill you.

That middle space is a bear, I know. When I made the choice to eliminate negative people and situations from my life, I was also left with nothing for a while.

I searched.. but never quite found it either. Heck, I found my chosen way of life because I went on vacation of all silly things.

I came to the conclusion finally that we can't *search*. All we can do is remain open and the things or people that fill our souls will appear. We have to be open to recogize it though.

There's never anything good to come from staying with or around toxic people, circumstances or cultures.

Believe me on this, please. I know. By the time I found what I needed, I was nearly dead.. not just in the soul sense but physically as well.

Ride out the fallow time. It's worth it.


QT said...

It is interesting what we discover in the silence of our "lonely room", isn't it?

I wish more people would take the time to stop and question why they feel the way they do about certain things... I know it is not an overnight process, but even the longest journey begins with one step, right?

mitzh said...

Beautiful, just beautiful....

thailandchani said...

De, stepping away from the things we've known is never easy.. and I don't mean to make it sound that way.

I came to a point in my life where I decided that languishing was no longer an option. I was physically and emotionally dying and had to do something.

Even though the fallow times were hard, it was well worth the wait to find the thing that feeds me like nothing else ever has.

And if I have the capacity, so does everyone. I am not a strong person. :)

Kathryn Knoll said...

Love the discussion and sharing that goes on here. What makes you so awesome and what make all of us so awesome is that we choose. This is a freewill zone and the One Who Created it trusts us with the process. Now, that is a real vote of confidence! To see that you have done that gives all who encounter you cause to celebrate and be inspired!

Sienna said...

Such beautiful, generous and inspirational thoughts you share; thankyou Chani!

I love the choices I make/am making, the feeling is incredible, the fun, the can be anything you want it to be.

I had no idea (from years ago) how powerful we were in our own universe.


Mary said...

Dear Chani,

First I want to thank you for the beautiful carol by Celine. I had never heard it and it made me fill up. Just lovely.

My Mom was a recovering alcoholic for the last 20 years of her life and I remember the days she fought to enjoy life inside her four walls. A non-conformist at will. A vibrant woman, she was, as you are. She chose to free herself and to BE and to LIVE her own way... Her life was finally full with only a few regrets.

You bring so much humanistic views to those who need affirmation. My Mom would have loved to know you as I do.

Thanks, Chani.

Anonymous said...

For those who have consciously chosen a way of life that is not working out and is leaving you feeling diminished, I wish you peace.

Thank you.

There is much resonance in this post for me.
Thank you.



JCK said...

Your post really resonated with me, too. On many levels. Thank you for bringing peace and serenity into my thoughts as I've had a ridiculously self-imposed stressful day. Nothing to do with the holidays, but it all relates, doesn't it.

"I wish for everyone that choices will become clear, that the knowledge necessary to make a choice that fits will appear effortlessly and that your life will be enriched by your choice."

Thank you for your lovely words. It sounds like you've been on a journey. And thank you for making the journey over to my blog. Much appreciated! :)

painted maypole said...

oh chani. fantastic. thank you. you always expand my world.

Pam said...

The part of your journey that I have seen, from last Christmas to this, has been enlightening. You have found your way to the truth, many don't.

TIV: the individual voice said...

This was a beautiful post about the making of choices. I listed you in my post today on diversity in religion and positive bloggers and wondered if you wanted to comment on the post. I am hoping to develop the topic in future posts and would love your input. Thanks, Chani.

storyteller said...

What a lovely photo and timely post. Differences are a good thing, not bad. Life would be boring if we were all the same! With recent violence in Middle East resulting in the senseless assassination of Benazir Bhutto, it's a sad day in Pakistan ... and for the world. I'm reminded of the simple wisdom expressed in a children's video about "loners" shared by MP J at A Room of Mama's Own ... where the characters agreed they could be "independent together" ... Today, remembering your Blog Blast for Peace a while back, my prayers for peace continue in these troubled times and I believe there have to be ways for people of differing beliefs to remain independent yet live together without killing one another. May 2008 bring us peace, wonder, joy, and gratitude.
Hugs and blessings,