Day 365 in Beijing: HAPPY CHINAVERSARY TO ME!

 

Celebrating my CHINAVERSARY with Jill, Nebraska State Senator Kate Sullivan and her wonderful husband Mike.  A very nice way to ring in the second year in China.

Celebrating my CHINAVERSARY with Jill, Nebraska State Senator Kate Sullivan and her wonderful husband Mike. A very nice way to ring in the second year in China.

This is actually a weird problem to have.

This is my Chinaversary.

I’ve lived here for one year.

Except, that isn’t quite right.

I lost a day in my flight over so I’m never sure if I’ve really been here for one year or not.

I’m going with this is my anniversary since I left the USA on this date and technically would have arrived on the same date if not for the time change.   And, it would also set my “Day …” count off by a day if I didn’t do this.

I can’t really believe I’ve been in China for one year.

And that I’ve written 365 blog posts.

I had no idea that I could find that much to write about, that much to think about that much to keep going, day after day.

I’m actually quite proud of my accomplishment.

I also thank everyone that has been on this ride with me, either physically, like Jill, or mentally/emotionally like my family, friends and readers of this blog.

Some of the things I’ve learned in my first year:

Traffic in China is pretty bad.  I just moved to a new place about 1 block from my work.  It takes me 3 minutes to walk there and my stress load has gone down incredibly.  I used to commute, by taxi, for about 30-40 minutes each way.  The time I get to spend relaxing with Jill and going for walks is priceless.

Beijing is huge.  23,000,000 people, and by some estimates, 25,000,000, in a 200 km city.  It just seems to go on forever.  This has good and bad points.  We mainly have figured out the good points and that there is always something new opening and a new place to explore.  Or, better yet, a very old place to explore.

We love traveling.  We truly love to get out, try something new, meet new people, and see what life is like outside of our “little world” back home.  It gives us a new perspective every time we meet someone because we hear a life story that is so different and so contrary to what we both used to believe about what we could or should do with our own lives.

We miss our friends and family back home.  This goes without saying.  Two dear friends, and one who is basically “my second father” died while I was away.  I did what I could do, from here, but missed the memorials or being able to truly say goodbye.  This is a major downside to being an expatriate.

China is an amazingly dizzying place to live and understand.  It is like the industrial revolution on steroids.  I’ve never experienced anything like it and I’ve been to a lot of major cities around the world and lived in Japan, Australia and other countries.  Seriously, nothing compares to China.  That is good and bad.

Jill and I are an amazing couple.  We have put up with, I would say, was probably one of the hardest years of our lives and have come through with more love and respect for each other than we could have imagined.

Here is a simple list of what has happened since we met, some good, some bad.

I moved to China.

I started a new job.

I moved into a new apartment with very little support or idea of how to do anything in China.

Jill Moved to China.

Jill’s grandmother died.

Two of my friends/mentors died.

3 different visa trips to leave China so Jill wouldn’t overstay her visa.

Jill started Mandarin school.

Dealing with pollution.

Jill’s almost having to start over from scratch on her website because of problems.

The internet being limited beyond belief because of….I won’t state that here.  😉

Jill found out that people very close to her have cancer.

Jill had a breast cancer scare and a biopsy here (everything is fine, thankfully!).

Amazing boss and dear friend in the same person.

Seeing the Great Wall twice.

Having friends from the USA visit.

Salsa dancing in China.

Playing badminton with my coworkers.

Making new incredible friends that keep us continually laughing and feeling like we have a “family here.”

The ability to support and love each other through the hardships and know that we have each other’s love.

A move to a new apartment that is wonderful.

My therapy practice which is doing incredibly well.

Working in situations that I would have never imagined in the USA which includes doing therapy on a oil rig in the the middle of a bay in China among others.

Helping many people feel better and figure out what is right for them.

Not having to own a car.

Seeing the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Tienanmen Square, Summer Palace and so much more.

Seeing Chinese New Year in China!

Having Octoberfest in Beijing.

Becoming vegetarian, together, on New Year’s Day.

Visiting Mongolia.

Visiting Shanghai.

Visiting Malaysia, twice!

Visiting Singapore.

Spending NYE in Singapore with Dipesh.

The ability to take a month off in the summer and go to Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria.

Jill’s websites taking off and becoming a real force for tourism in San Francisco.

A new internet service that is screamingly fast which allows this blog, Jill’s sites, and all the connections we need to stay here and feel more at “home” when we miss people.

Overall, the positive definitely outweighs the negative and I’m sure there are lots more to list but I don’t want to overwhelm people.  Suffice to say that year one was incredibly tough, and taught us so much about ourselves, and each other, that we know year two will be a breeze. We are so much stronger, knowledgeable and resilient to what comes our way that we will succeed and master whatever needs to be done.

We both thank you for all your support, care and love.

 

Day 254 in Beijing: Happy Valentine’s Day!

This is the first Valentine’s Day with my darling, Jill.

We will be spending it, somewhere, in Beijing.

It will a Friday night here, and a day before you experience it, so we will probably go out to dinner, hang out with some friends, and just see what the day brings us.

I work on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays so we will have the whole day to relax, lounge around, and just kick back.

I used to be a pretty reactive and emotional guy.

I dealt with my own depression and anxiety for many years.

I then learned about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and found that both depression and anxiety are primarily lies that I’m telling myself about me.

They are either cognitive distortions or just flat out mistaken beliefs that perpetuate the problems that I’m causing.

It really did come down to the fact that I’m making my own problems and causing them to occur each and every time I had a thought, had a feeling, or did an action.

The joy of this realization is that it also gives me the ability to change all of the beliefs, emotions and actions that I take and become a truly happy and content person.

I think back to the years of pain and anguish I felt and wonder what would have happened if I had learned about this therapy, and began practicing it with my clients, when I was 20 years old or younger.

I know it doesn’t really matter because one can’t change the past and yet I think that is one of the reasons that I practice Cognitive Behavioral Therapy now: It can cure issues very quickly and is far better than any other therapy out there as shown by any evidence-based studies.

The pain you, or someone you know, is going through can be reduced immensely and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or “soul searching.”

Freedom to live your life is in your hands at this very moment.

The question is, “Will you take it?”

I did and I am glad I choose never to go back to those patterns again.

My parents, my society, and my peer group no longer defines what I do.  It is up to me to live the life I want and no make excuses for my thoughts, emotions or behaviors.

This is where Valentine’s Day fits in.

I met Jill 8 days before I left for China.

We met at the San Francisco Carnaval parade.

We spent the next 8 days together and I invited her to come with me to China.

She had been living in Airbnb apartments for the last 2.5 years, and, when her agreement ran out, she came over.

That was 6.5 months ago.

We both take responsibility for our actions, thoughts and behaviors and try to treat each other as well as possible.  There is almost no drama or disagreements because we are open, fair and try to anticipate what the other wants and we make sure each person has their needs met to the best of our abilities.

The way I see it is if we can make it, living in Beijing, and building a brand new life here, everything else will be a breeze.

Happy Valentine’s Day to my darling Jill!

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Day 109 in Beijing: Octoberfest, Beijing Style! Part 2.

As the night continued on, we wandered from tent to tent.

We really enjoyed meeting people on the street and talking to them.

Everyone was in a great mood and it was the perfect location since it was next to a subway station and inside the Olympic Park.  It was beautiful, safe and fun.

We ended up back in “our” tent and when the bands started really rocking, we decided to go to the front of the stage and sing, dance and party along with them.

I was told that we were actually on the big screen in front of the stage many times.

It is fun to think of being a mini-celebrity and being the big screen.

Once again, this is just another experience, by living in Beijing, that I’d not be able to have anywhere else.  There is a freedom to explore, try new events, and be exactly who I am, without judgment, that I love.

That is why I travel: to remember who I am and how the world is not as I think it “should” be.

It is also why I do the type of therapy that I do: I don’t know the “truth” so anything can be possible.  Saying “should” or “must” or “have to” is so destructive to one’s self-esteem and freedom that I’ve worked very hard to rid myself, and help my clients, rid themselves of this thought.

You, and I, are what we are.  We can change that going forward but the past is the past.

The fear of the past, the fear of the future and the realization that we can only truly affect the present is wonderful.  Let go of it and see what life brings you and notice what your expectations were and how they were met or how they changed.

Life is just a path.  Not a destination.

Sorry to get prosaic but drink in the present and forget the past.

Prost!

Day 108 in Beijing: Octoberfest, Beijing Style! Part 1.

So, Jill and I decided to go to the Beijing Octoberfest.

It was, in the most perfect way, absurd and wonderful.

We met up with our new friend, Federica, and her friends.  We had a group of about 8 people.  This would allow us to have a table to ourselves and also the special deal for beer and food.

So we all paid about 125RMB, or 20 USD, each for a 1 liter mug of dark German beer and a bunch of food.

As we entered we noticed 4 huge tents.  Actually, according to the website, Beijing has the largest Octoberfest tent in the world as it seats 15,000 people.  The other ones are only slightly smaller and hold 12,000 people each.

Each tent was decorated differently ranging from just a simple white tent with a sign on it to a wooden exterior then, to my favorite, the red and gold tent.

We walked into the first tent because a few of our other friends were already there and were ushered to our table.  It was a nice picnic table with benches on each side.  We were about 100 feet from the concert stage and in close proximity to bathrooms, which are always a necessity when drinking copious amounts of beer.

You might have noticed that I mentioned a concert stage above.  Yes, each tent had a concert stage.  As we ordered our food and drinks, the stage started to fill up with performers.

The first band to play was a German band that played mostly American rock ‘n roll songs.  They did play some German drinking songs once in a while but mostly stuck to rocking out and this was a blast.

The way I knew they were German drinking songs, since I don’t speak German, is every single German, and specifically the table of Germans beside us, would stand up, start singing and then drink a huge amount of beer when they ended the song.

We ended up become close friends to the group beside us during the day.