Holistic Medicine for Makers, Musings

Beijing – The thing I learned about settling

Ayyyooo it’s your girl Chels again, just your favorite unabashed babe running amuck in Beijing, no big deal.

Ok but it’s actually a big deal. This is the first time I have been flown anywhere, all expenses paid, for a working relationship. Food, lodging, the whole nine yards, ya girl is glowing up (insert sparkle, flexed arm, prayer emoji etc).

Now I’m not saying this to brag or do an ‘I’m better than you’ lap, really it’s the opposite. It wasn’t very long ago that I considered myself unfit for work presents or extravagant displays like this one.

I consider it NOT a coincidence, though, that there was a moment in mid-February when I decided that from then on, I was only accepting extraordinary. That I wanted a big life, and nothing that made me feel small was gonna fly. No more scraps, no more bullshit modeling gigs because it’s a minor contribution to my rent or “at least it’s something”, no more partnering with brands that don’t make me say HELL fuckin YEAH, less holding onto relationships because of a fear of the hole they’ll leave and more nurturing relationships with people who inspire me just as much as I inspire them. Most of all, though, no more of anything that doesn’t make me feel like a big, bad bitch. Yep, I don’t consider it a coincidence at all. In my eyes, half the battle is deciding something can be yours, then it’s real.

There is something about that click in our minds when we realize we can have something. That’s the window, and we gotta get there to get anywhere, and it’s definitely the hardest part. There isn’t really a road map to believing. For me, though, it was seeing someone close to me doing exactly what I wanted to do, and I had a hell no moment. Some of it was out of jealousy, frustration, and inadequacy, which obviously aren’t the most healthy emotions to make decisions out of, but they made me just uncomfortable enough to look around at my current dynamic and be pissed.That hell no was the tipping point to all my hell yes’s.

Y’all need to remember that I am so normal. I am not rich, this is so not a rhetoric built on privilege or a safety net of any kind. My parents do not fund my life and haven’t since I was 18, nor have they really been able to with two younger sisters. I’ve had shitty day jobs and made consolations on my self respect for money, I’ve also truly believed there wasn’t anything possible outside of being cut a check by an employer. There was a second, though, when I made that dialogue my bitch, and that’s when my life had a rocket effect. I said HAHA, no, and quit my lowkey degrading day job (I was a courier delivering legal paperwork. I wore the ugliest polo y’all don’t even know). I decided gig based work was it, no matter how unsure it was. I said no to being a cog in a machine that didn’t benefit me at all, and to something I reallllly didn’t want to do anymore and hadn’t for a long time. I made the things I wanted non-negotiables; traveling, self made schedule, and exhilaration, nothing less. I will get down to my last dollar anymore (and have) before I do something that doesn’t feel right for me. And inversely, I will get down to my last dollar to do something that feels right for me (and have). I think it’s important to note that I am still alive, not homeless, and have had more life ever since.

Y’all also need to know that I am not really brave or noble either (bubble popped). Friends/family/what have you try to be like ohhh you’re so brave I could never do that. Um, no I’m not (I’ve literally spent three years cowering via depression and fear), I’ve just responded very favorably to aversion therapy, aka life. I became very good at taking queues from the consequences of my actions (or inaction) and picked up on patterns that correlated morality and my passions with bueno results. I learned that doing something that just wasn’t me, or treating someone less than stellar out of money fear, got me bullshit. It definitely didn’t get me ahead, if anything it put me eight steps back, and I learned that pretty quickly (you know, after like, 3 years of failures). Those decisions always stuck me in a cycle of weird roadblocks, unpleasant surprises, and more shit I didn’t want. But, when I put on my big girl pants and took a leap of faith for something I could feel in my bones (and learned what that felt like), even if it didn’t have the most obvious result? That ended in fulfillment plus money, and I’ve never known that not to be true. So really I’m just selfish, and you can be too.

(Ok I actually care about people too though)

That doesn’t mean I don’t get nervous, but it does mean that I don’t care. I’ve seen them clinical trials and I know what taking the easy way out holds, and I don’t want to be unhappy, do you? Yeah money fear is huge for everyone, but the secret is it comes when you are doing what you love most and when you don’t make finances the center of your world (which is a total mind fuck, I know). There is a wholeeee post of that, though, so I’m going to leave it there for now. Morale of the story is that morals ARE the story, not the religious, man in the sky kind, put the people kind. The kind that tell you that what makes you feel alive is what you go after NO MATTER WHAT. This is how you will not be a broke bitch like me (like I was, anyway), and you won’t even have the opportunity to settle.

So circling back around, settling. Oh settling, what a history we all have with you, a history that stops now, thanks.

You’ve gotta build yourself a not-settling fire, let your sassy bitch out. No more filler. Yell a no in your head, put your foot down so hard that it is now stuck in the floor of want you want and will not come up. Throw a mental tantrum at the idea of EVER having to do something that trespasses on who you are EVER again. Right now you are deciding, and deciding is believing that you can, will, and should have something. Deciding makes it real, and once you have that tangible boundary everything starts to form around it, especially after that first thing you turn down to uphold it.

So what is tantrum worthy for me right now? Well I have decided on, and I will make up my own word, official-ity. Being appreciated for my work and being made real offers that reflect this is what I’m after. Being compensated fairly and at a rate that is more than worth it for me. Being surrounded by people that value me and me right back at them. But even more so, being surrounded by people who think and act the same way about money, people, and career as I do (I’m suddenly having a flashback to LA where creative, hard working people abound, but they moreover believed that stepping on people was the way to the top. If you don’t like who someone is drop them riiiight now). Being offered experiences that I am genuinely like, hell fuckin yeahhhh. No more lukewarm for this songbird.

The more I stick to this, (without being cynical, angry, or taking it to heart when someone isn’t willing to offer my needs) the happier I am and the more money I have.

And this is what, I believe, brought me to Beijing. Knowing it was possible, deciding I wanted it, and not accepting something less-cool in its stead.

Well, anyway, tangents are a true talent of mine. I can practically hear feet tapping. That message being, ok that’s great and all but what did you DO in Beijing.

Ok ok, so Beijing. I didn’t get to see much, admittedly, at least any usual tourist haunts. I did get to see downtown and a building with a hole in it though. I know, I know, but it was a two and a half day trip y’all. That just means I’ll have to go back. Ah, more traveling, what a terrible consolation.

Now the first thing I noticed was just how different the Chinese are from the Japanese. I knew that already but you don’t REALLY know until you feel it. The culture is much more aggressive, their idea of honesty has flexibility (a lot like Americans to be honest), terrible drivers, and it is literally a country filled with ‘only children’, think what that entails hahaaa. Oh yes and the air, can’t forget the smog. Not hating on it really, honestly I accepted this with neutrality and curiosity, but it was a culture shock after Japan.

Now you know I didn’t really get to SEE things but I definitely got to EAT things. The first was… HOT POTTT. Ok who knew about this and didn’t tell me? I am disappointed in you.

Ok, I think I was in fact exposed to some version of this in the past, I vaguely remember cooking stuff in broth at a restaurant in Iowa, but that was like, Iowa. It was definitely not on this level. At all. Apparently the restaurant we went to called Red Bowl is one of the most famous in the city for hot pot. With over 23 million people in Beijing, I’d say that’s a feat. We were dropping bite sized portions of food in a literal vat of wild mushroom broth for over an hour: bowls of raw vegetables, the good stuff, oyster mushrooms and sweet onions, bok choy, purple root vegetable things (unsure), and Asian sweet potato, a ruffage rainbow. Then came the trays of thinly sliced lamb shoulder and Wagyu beef, plus a literal bamboo shoot of shrimp. It was a messss, but the best mess. It’s top of my list if you ever find yourself in Beijing. I also ate some killer French food at a spot called Bistro B (confit duck and seared foie gras au filet, tres deluxe) and the more unique of the Chinese experiences, a fermented tea called pu’er. Not bad really, although I do have a penchant for fermented foods so I may or may not be biased. Apparently this is a delicacy and a digestive tonic (which I needed on this trip), I would categorize the flavor profile as something of a warm kombucha. Add in some gelato, macarons, a crepe, and a little afternoon drink in the lobby tea room onto my Chinese food experience and I was a goner for realll.

We also hit a club called Mei where it was low lit with an air of exclusivity; not until we ordered a bottle of champagne did a table in the main room magically open up LOL. The fruit plate we ordered with our champagne (bouuuujee) was colorful, beautiful, and exotic as hell to my American ass: dragon fruit, lychee, kumquat, yuzu etc. Their cocktails had me on team Mei, too. I had a blue margarita (I miss Texas ok) with blueberry puree and whipped egg white, a twist with a pisco sour I take it. Either way, the shit.

So the long and the short of my food run, I was gluttonous. I have no regrets.

Last but not least, the Rosewood Hotel was amaaaazing and the staff SUPER accommodating. I say ‘super’ because I was an annoying little westerner, ignorant to the idea of blocked websites. They helped me install a VPN on my phone when I was utterly lost as to why ‘the wifi wasn’t working’. I couldn’t access WhatsApp, IG, or my effing email, for instance. Oh yeah, China is communist, le duh.

Pro tip: when planning an excursion to China, go ahead and download yourself a few VPN’s so the hotel staff don’t have to do it for you (lol).

And of course the hotel itself was a wet dream. For anyone that follows me on ‘the gram’ it’s prettttty unlikely you missed that coverage. I mean, there was so much of it, amiright? Short version, my tub was a mini pool and my room spacious and minimal with lowkey Chinese flair. 10/10 recommend.

Well now you know what to do in Beijing that doesn’t involve tourist traps. Because if you’re anything like me, I avoid those like uhh traffic or polluted air or something (oh wait). So a big hell yeah for an alternative Beijing experience, but moreover that anti-subtling mentality that will get you there.

再会,

Chels