Travel

I Bow My Head In Gratitude and Surrender – Reflections Of Bali

I was gone for 3 weeks – 18 days in Bali, Indonesia (+ outside islands) and another 3 days of travel there and back.

While I was away, I felt as if time had stood still.

I chose Bali for it’s tranquility, peace, spiritualism and beauty. Not realizing that although I craved some solitude in order to dive further inward and put the past behind me in an effort to move gracefully into my future, the truth is – chaos calls to me in a way that makes me feel alive.

It’s funny how we think we want something different, only to experience it and realize that in fact, ‘something different’ is not necessarily what we want after all… however, it may be just what we need.

I’ll admit, by day 10 or so, I didn’t know how I was going to last 3 weeks without going nutty.

Bali is SLOW. And for some, that is music to their ears and soul.

It certainly was to mine before I got there.

I THOUGHT that was exactly what my overstimulated mind and body was looking for to complete my transformation of 2015 and truly begin to soar with the wings of a butterfly…

What I found was completely opposite of everything I imagined.

If you kept up on my daily blogging adventures while I was away, then you know I had some moments of panic, confusion and maybe even a possible sense of regret.

I want to be clear…

I WOULD NOT CHANGE A THING ABOUT MY DECISION TO GO TO BALI OR THE AMOUNT OF TIME I SPENT THERE.

It’s true, I tried to come home early – but $800 to change my flight changed my mind.

And it’s also true that there were moments of discomfort where I felt like screaming and crying and wanting to be anywhere else.

But isn’t that where change happens?

When talking about my experience out loud to friends, I was able to really reflect on all the incredible moments I was so blessed to experience. And although I can honestly say I have no desire to return to Indonesia, I can also honestly say that to have experienced this adventure ALONE in a place so far removed from my comfort zone provided something much bigger than I could have imagined.

Growth, yes.

But clarity.

Like a lot of clarity.

And I didn’t see it while I was away… heck, I didn’t even see it the first couple days I was back home.

Today… that changed. And something in me was ignited, despite the intense jet lag and driving myself crazy over to-do’s and wanting to make sure all of my work tasks were perfect, etc. I found a sense of peace about it all. I don’t believe in lost time or wasted moments. I believe that each second of each day serves to bring us closer to the very person we are destined to be. The person we already are, although we may not know who that is yet.

I am a type-A perfectionist and this does not always serve my best interest.

I’m a work in progress. But aren’t we all?

So while I had originally intended for my ‘reflection’ post to be about all aspects of my journey, I have decided that talking about the things that didn’t resonate with me – serve nobody. Not the people listening (reading)… or me!

Instead, I asked myself this question:

When you reflect back on this journey, what do you want to remember? What do you want to take away?

So that’s what I am going to share with you…

Who cares about the fact that Bali wasn’t a magical place for me. That’s irrelevant. What matters is what I learned from the experience and how I can use these tools to empower myself and be a greater source of energy in the world.

I walked into this “releasing expectations” in an effort to “experience everything as it came with an open mind and an open heart.”

But THAT in itself is an expectation. And with expectations come EGO. Let me tell you, the ego doesn’t serve us. Getting rid of it is tough – it means to be present in this moment. Not the one we had 2 minutes ago,  or the one coming up. The right here, right now moment. And let’s be honest, we live in an overstimulated, technology-crazed society with everything at our fingertips. We want things instantly and for the most part, that’s totally possible. Both a blessing and a curse.

The truth is, regardless of the turtles pace of life that is Bali, there is a lot to be said for the way in which the locals live. There is a reason people go on vacation and never leave… there is a reason (outside of cost) that the locals stay and are completely happy never leaving Indonesia.

HERE are the reasons WHY when I reflect on my first solo adventure abroad, I will always choose gratitude for the 3 weeks I spent disoriented and isolated on an island 8,698 miles away from home.

Because there are silver linings in all things. And I don’t ever want to look back on parts of my life wishing they had been different. Even the shittiest parts provide lessons and because of that, I am eternally grateful.

Kindness

Simply put, the Balinese culture puts a large emphasis on being and doing good. The locals always greet you with warmth and you feel cared for in their presence.

Spiritualism

Every day, the locals walk around town putting offerings at the front of shops, their homes, temples, etc. They pray and leave these offerings as their way of giving thanks and blessing their communities. Each morning, the offerings of the day prior are removed and new ones placed. Children are taught the importance of this from the time they can talk. While women are predominately the ones giving the offerings, men do this too. Although it’s not as prevalent to see it day-to-day.

Real Food

Everything is locally grown. When asking locals about GMO’s and organic food, they adamantly proclaimed they only eat organic food. To them that means food they grow, which is not sprayed with crap and chemicals like we have in the US. As for GMO’s, they looked at me like I was crazy when I brought this up. Nobody seemed to know what that meant. And when I explained it, they were in shock – “WHY?”

My thoughts exactly.

Case in point. In the states, I have a severe reaction to gluten – bread, pasta, pastries, etc. I feel absolutely terrible! And dairy, I can handle it in small amounts, however, it doesn’t make me feel great.

I wanted to test the real food theory and see how I would do in a place where everything was REAL, no fake junk.

So I had a piece of bread one morning…

And then I had gelato…

And then I did this every day I was there…

And nothing happened!

I felt amazing! Even energized! And my digestion was on point! No bloating, gas, skin issues… no mood or sleep disturbances.

Real food DOES matter and it saddens me to know that we are poisoning our very own people here in the US. For profit. To help line peoples pockets with cash, while others become sick and many cannot afford healthcare. Add a pre-existing condition to the mix and those of us dealing with these things, remission or not, are screwed! It’s disgusting and it’s simply not fair.

Smiles

Everywhere you go, you are greeted with a smile. I would be hard-pressed to know if a local was having a bad day. I don’t even know what that would look like! And they are genuine. Something I find lacking in the states.

We are so focused on getting shit done and tend to be self-absorbed (as a whole).

There is an entire universe out there begging for us to show up and be present. I know this is tough given our go-go-go society. But I also know it’s necessary in order to serve others in the way they deserve. It’s also necessary for us individually.

Service

Something that was told before arriving was not to be offended if you went to a shop, for instance, and you were treated beautifully only to come back and not be recognized or possibly even put aside for someone else. Indonesia, at least Bali, is a place of service. They are hard workers and they rely on income to live, like anyone else. They give you 100% of themselves when serving you – most of them anyway. And their energy is used towards those showing interest in what they have to offer. It’s business.

I saw this time and time again and I actually found it quite beautiful to feel so cared for, even if it was for profit, because it was so obvious that they meant it! They truly wanted to provide you with a good experience. This is a place of very little technology being used (I never saw a local on their cell phone or on a computer, aside from drivers for obvious reasons).

Warmth

The people and the landscape. This was their “low season” and it was HOT! 85-95 degrees each day with upwards of 100% humidity! And to think I wanted to bring makeup and hair products. Silly American. 🙂 AC was found in most restaurants, although most were also open air making the AC kind of irrelevant.

I LOVE dry heat… and so does my body (lupus is a rockstar in warm, dry climates). Humidity of this caliber was like nothing I have ever experienced and with rain almost daily, I had flare-ups often (as I do in Seattle with all the rain). But my skin LOVED it and glowed. Every morning I lathered myself in coconut oil and all day long my skin was soft and luxurious. In SD, I tend to have dry skin, regardless of the amount of moisturizer I slather on each day.

Lush Fields

For miles… and miles… and miles. The rolling rice paddy fields are stunning. And because of the incredible amount of rain, they are green and vibrant.

Tropical Storms

One of the things I miss most about growing up in Seattle are the storms. I have the best memories of stormy nights sitting on the porch with my grandma telling stories with thunder and lightening all around us. San Diego doesn’t get much of this, which I am actually quite thankful for. So when I do experience these delicious slices of nature, I revel in the beauty of mother earth. What an incredible display of her power.

Cost Of Living

Dirt cheap. So the flight was pricey (just under $1,000), but everything is SO inexpensive. When I left, the conversion was $1 US to 14,020 Rupiah. I was getting massages (the best I’d ever had) for 100,000 Rupiah. You do the math.

21% tax is added to most things so tipping is not expected, as it’s part of the total cost.

One of my drivers pays $100 US each month for rent. Yep. Can you imagine?

It was funny to go to the ATM and pull out 1 million Rupiah… that’s less than $100 in the US and it would last all week (aside from gifts and excursions).

Connection

As I mentioned already, never did I see a local consumed by technology. When they were with people, they were engaged in conversation and laughter. And even while alone, they seemed to be contemplating, content with the present moment…

I have only done a total digital detox twice – 2 days each. No phone, no computer, nothing. And it was glorious! I think we should all adopt this philosophy on a monthly basis.

Community Tables

When you would go to many of the restaurants, shared tables were the norm. You would sit at a table with strangers, which was a great way to meet new people. I loved this! There were times I opted to eat alone, however. Because I truly do value my time with myself too.

Personal Highlights (all of these are detailed in the travel section of this blog, day by day)

Gili T Island – full of beauty, ocean breezes, kind hearts and delicious smoothies! While there was not a lot happening here, at all (I mean, they get around by horse and buggy – no cars allowed… not even kidding) – the scenery brought peace to my soul and a sense of utter serenity that washed over my heart. 3 days was enough, I would have gone stir crazy if I’d been there any longer. But it was lovely and one of my absolute favorite places in Indonesia.

Visiting The Kiddos (non-profit foundation) – spending time at a school founded by an amazing woman with a heart of gold was magical. Seeing the kids faces as we handed out balloons and the gratitude in the eyes of the founder as we handed her bags of rice. She is the reason these kids have an opportunity to soar. Without her leadership and her decision to take action and do something special with her gifts, she has provided a space for these kids to turn their dreams into a reality. In highschool, I spent a few summers volunteering at an Orphanage in Mexico (I lived in Snohomish, WA at that time) and something about being surrounded by kids in an environment such as this touches me deeply. They are so grateful and they want to be there. Here they study the importance of eating real food, moving the body and learning about diversity while practicing their English. They were some of the most polite kids I have ever met and I left there with a smile that has been imprinted on my heart forever. I loved this day so much.

Working With A View Of Rice Paddy Fields – No need to go into the frustration behind things taking longer than usual. Instead, holy view! Stunning! And even though I feel suffocated away from water, the vibrant green fields that went on forever were breathtaking and something etched within my mind as one of God’s greatest creations.

Walking To The Yoga Barn – Something I actually found hilarious about Bali was their sidewalks. The saying to watch where you’re walking was not to be taken lightly here. It wasn’t that you would step into a small hole, or trip on the edge of rocky cement. No. There were literally holes, as in, you could not see the bottom of them, all over. Not looking down meant you could very well find yourself at the bottom of who knows where, haha! So my walks to yoga were mindful to say the least. With each walk I would focus on my breath and find an intention to take into the studio with me. This was my time to center myself and allow the stress I was feeling about things not getting done in a manner in which I was accustomed to, go. The fact that I was only 5 minutes away was refreshing, especially given that you had to get there at least 30 minutes prior to ensure your spot. Assuming there was not already a line.

Fresh Juice and Smoothies – Nothing to say here other than YUM! Sure, I was indulging to my hearts content, but I kept it real with WHOLE FOODS while I was there and these daily gems were a treat in and of themselves. My personal favorite was my 32 ounces of goodness containing turmeric, ginger, pineapple and lime! Love love love!

Indulging In Pastries and Gelato – Yep, pretty much daily. And I did not gain a pound. However, I may have come back a little “softer” than before due to lack of physical fitness, which I partake in 6 days a week at home. Turns out, I LOVE chocolate croissants! But really, after trying them for the first time there (seriously, I have not had gluten in nearly 6 years – this was a freaking treat!) – who the heck wouldn’t love them?! If you have ever been to Coldstone (maybe it’s a San Diego thing, I don’t know) then you know how decadent and creamy the ice cream is. And the gelato I was having was just like that, only organic and much smaller portions! No regrets at all and ZERO guilt about any of it. I ate my way through Indonesia, no doubt about that. And I enjoyed every second, every bite!

Meeting New People – I didn’t meet many Americans at all. Louise was my first new friend, whom I met in the Taiwan airport on a layover. Both of us traveling from California solo. She is a gem and I feel so grateful to have connected with someone so early. It made adventures more fun to share in with someone. Something I realized quickly was that yes, I would travel solo again. But I would limit it to a week and meet up with friends from that point on. Many of the others I met were Australian or European. I loved learning about other cultures and hearing about other peoples experiences in Bali and other places around the world. Connection is such a beautiful thing and to know that we really are all one is empowering.

Reconnecting To Spirit – I have always been a spiritual person. But when you’re totally alone, you are kind of forced to seek and dig into parts of yourself you may have been neglecting. It can be scary to realize you’ve been holding back parts of yourself that you didn’t realize before. And for me, that was recognizing that although I have always been a work-horse, 2015 10x’d that as a way to stay busy instead of feeling as deeply. As an empath and someone who is constantly striving to be compassionate towards others, I sometimes feel too much… I guess given everything that 2015 brought, I wanted to feel a little less instead. Instead of accepting pain, disappointment, anger and other negative emotions, I flipped them to feel more love, light, forgiveness and such.

Nobody wants to feel the negative stuff and I felt as though I had sat in my shit (thank you, Pema Chadron for this saying) long enough so instead of wallowing, I was working to fix those feelings.  But the truth is, maybe they weren’t meant to be fixed. Maybe they were supposed to be felt so I could break a little more. There is nothing wrong with breaking. I find that in doing so we are able to strengthen our bond with ourselves and our supporters. It can actually be quite beautiful.

So again, I surrendered and asked God to take my burden and do with me what He would. My only caveat was that He use my experiences for good. 🙂 As if He would have it any other way. 🙂

I felt lighter and free… empowered is what I walked into this experience with… feeling like a fucking BADASS is how I left. 🙂

Gratitude – Tears, no joke. So much gratitude I felt as though I would burst. My life has not been a cake walk. When people hear my whole story from the time I was in the womb until now, I often get a look of shock or a look of sympathy (which I hate, for the record). I have been through a hell of a lot in my short life and I am so damn grateful to have been through all of it, even the parts that make me cringe and make others cry. I believe with my whole heart that every single piece served to bring me to this very place and I would not for even one second have it any other way. I love my life and the people in it. I am blessed beyond measure to be where I am in this moment. To say it’s been easy would be silly. And to say that even now I don’t have moments of shear and utter “what the fuck!” But it’s MY life and I choose gratitude. I choose grace. I choose love. I choose ME.

Indonesia, you were certainly an experience. Thank you for taking me outside of my comfort zone and showing me that loving myself as I am is enough. Thank you for reminding me that my struggles have given way to my strength. And for making some freakin’ delicious croissants! I miss them already. 🙂

Write a comment