It is called the Island of the Gods for a reasons. You feel Spirit the moment you step off the plane. Each morning the Balinese people practice a 5 step gratitude practice to thank God for everything that they are graced with. It is humbling when you see that the majority of the Balinese people live off of $1/day. The breeze is fragranced with frangipani flowers, which are what I imagine God’s garden smells like. It penetrates your skin and your soul, I still have moments where I have phantom frangipani memories, sitting in Minnesota (where everything is covered in a layer of lovely snow).
When I arrived in Bali, I had been traveling for almost 2 days; I got off the plane in Denpasar, Bali around 1 am, prepared to gather my luggage and get my tired tush to my hotel. I had planned everything PERFECTLY. I was a little plane sweaty but so thrilled I had set my feet on Balinese soil finally! I soon was told that because of the quick layover in Seoul, my luggage had been delayed. Now, I’ve travelled a lot in my life and I’ve never had this happen. I even put a moonstone crystal in my bag to ensure that it arrived with me (Moonstone had other lessons to give me). The amazing people at the airport were so kind and accommodating, they had me thanking them profusely by the end of our talk because they were going to take care of me and get my things to me ASAP. God Bless the Balinese, seriously! They did an absolutely amazing job and did get me my bag; only it was 5 days later.
Lesson #1: I Can Be So Happy Without All the “Stuff”
I am a bit high maintenance-I can own it. I like my hair things, my makeup, my clothes. I like to look a certain way. But do you know why I like to look a certain way? Because I think that it makes me more valuable and powerful. If my hair is straight, and my nails are done, and I have the cutest workout clothes, I am more (fill in the blank): loveable, powerful, relateable, enviable, sexy, desireable, acceptable. But I never stopped to ask myself, “do these things contribute to my ultimate happiness”? Prior to being without all my stuff in a foreign country, where I knew no one, and was completely alone, I wouldn’t have been able to answer it.
The answer is a resounding “no”. I had attached so much worth to things that I had lost the forest for the trees. Things are nice and make us comfortable or are an expression of self, however they are not our essence. They do not necessarily make us better. They hold energy and can actually weigh us down when we do not charge them with proper intention. When we assign such incredible meaning to our “things” it is easy to lose sight of our true divine spirit.
I spent those 5 days wearing the same Lulu outfit I had worn on the plane for 2 days, a swimsuit I had bought at the mall when I got there and a sarong I was gifted when I arrived at Escape Haven. I didn’t wear makeup, I didn’t do my hair. I was so Bali Basic and I loved every second of it. When my suitcase finally arrived, I was grateful, and slightly indifferent. I had stopped caring if it showed up because I was so blissfully happy with the clothes on my back (isn’t that always the case, when you stop caring and focusing so hard on something, it appears).
Since coming home I have had the opportunity to look at my home, my closet, my heart and begin to declutter and slough off the things that do not serve me, that assume energy and attention, and that don’t contribute to my ultimate happiness.
Thank you Korean Air for losing my luggage, without that experience I would never have seen how I was losing myself in the image.
Lesson #2: People Will Judge You. They Are Just Holding Up a Mirror. Thank Them.
The beautiful retreat I was staying at, Escape Haven, normally hosts 14 women at a time. Due to the threat of volcanic explosion on the island, there were only 4 guests staying there during my week. This intimate setting was exciting to me; I couldn’t wait to meet and befriend the other three women. I instantly clicked with a beautiful woman name Kyla from America, but living in South Korea, with the yoga instructor Kin (also from America but living in Bali), and with the GM Renee (who had the most gorgeous Aussie accent that I had ever heard). I had good vibes with this quiet, lovely woman from Amsterdam, Ann, although we both recognized we were fundamentally different, we still had a great time getting to know each other. The last woman in the group was Amber, from Melbourne. From the moment she met me, she made it clear she did not like me. We had an intro night where we all met each other and as I introduced myself I noticed out of the corner of my eye she rolled her eyes at some of my words. She was consistently unkind and sharp with me throughout the week, saying snide and snarky comments about Ky and I.
A typical version of me would be upset by this; but, because of the ridiculously amazing backdrop, the incredible staff and literally nothing to complain about, it was so clear that this woman’s anger and unpleasant attitude had nothing to do with me. So often, we walk through the world, taking personal offense at people’s unkindness. Sometimes it is REALLY hard not to. Sometimes it feels fucking GREAT to step into self-righteousness and judge that person right back...well, it feels great until you remember that you always reap what you sow.
I was having a facetime date (in my personal hot tub...damn I miss Bali) with my spiritual coach, Vanessa, and telling her about all these archetypical women and was curious about who they all represented to me in my life. Amber, I realized, was the Judger that I have been and the Judger that I have experienced from others. I was having a revelation that I was allowing my reaction about this woman’s behavior justify my judgement towards her. She was just holding up a mirror for me….uhhh….Holy Spiritual Awakening moment!
Thank you Amber from Melbourne, for holding up this incredible reflection of where I judge myself and others. I will continue to welcome this lesson into my life and be grateful to you for being a teacher where I lovingly needed one.
Lesson #3: Your Truth Is What Heals
As I have laid out in previous blogs, I was ignoring my truth for a very long time. I went to Bali to connect with it again. That was the main goal: to leave distraction behind and heal. Previously, in my life, I have planned out trips thoughtfully and very adult-like. I did not plan this trip like that; I felt a calling. I felt pulled to this island (or maybe pushed). I had never thought about going to Bali before October of 2017, yet, when I started researching women’s yoga retreats this one was the only one that spoke to me. Within one week of finding Escape Haven, I talked to two people and asked their opinions and, between clients one day, I booked my ticket. It was the most impulsive, yet the most sure I have ever been about a choice. This was my truth: I needed to Escape and find a Haven from the chaos and uncertainty at home (corny AF, I realize, but very accurate).
Back in Minnesota, I had a difficult time admitting to myself that something was very wrong. That my body had been rejecting what I had been force feeding it: that this relationship was right. My body was angry with me, screaming at me to stop; fatigued, shutting down, breaking out in rashes, fluctuating weight, pits in my stomach, knowing in my heavy heart. I had ignored it all because I trusted the words of someone else over my own truth.
In Bali, with the noise, the clutter, the ruts, and schedule gone, I started to really hear my voice again. I broke down crying one of the first days when I asked myself “Why is it so easy to be happy here?” The answer was simple: because I was doing what I wanted. What I loved. I wasn’t concerning myself with anyone else. I wasn’t focused on anyone else’s needs. I wasn’t analyzing words, or worried what I looked like. I wasn’t stressed about operating on anyone else’s schedule. I ate what I wanted. I wore what I wanted. I slept. I was free. I was nourishing myself-mind, body and spirit- for the first time in years.
I realize that in daily life we have to take care of external needs, we can’t be on vacation mode constantly; yet, what is possible? How do you take your God Given Holy Truth and honor it as much as possible? I keep asking myself, ‘what would make it really easy to be happy right now’? Often the answer is “rest” or “meditate” or “write” or “receive love”. They are simple; of course, a regular trip to Bali wouldn’t hurt, yet truth can be found anywhere you stand, as long as you are brave and true and ready to hear it.
This trip prepared me for calling in the Truth once I got home. It was Warrior’s Work and through it I have found so much healing in my heart and soul.
Thank you Bali for gifting me the truth that I knew all along; you allowed me to be ready to hear and receive it.
Lesson #4: Kindness and Friendship is Possible ANYWHERE
The Indian man on the plane who was so kind to me. The Korean stewardess who ran like a banshee through Incheon Airport to get me to my connecting flight. The amazing, kind and beautiful staff at Escape. Kyla. Kin. Renee. My masseuse, Wati. Janine, the owner of Escape who I never met, but who offered for me to stay another week because she heard great things about me. The people back home who cheered me on, told me I was inspiring them, asked me questions about my travels. The lovely woman at The Practice who smiled at me when I laid my mat down (entering a new yoga shala alone can be intimidating). Emily, the gorgeous coach, who launched her own swimsuit line after she moved to Bali. And countless other amazing interactions I had in the short time I was there.
Throughout my life I have felt like an outsider; I’ve pictured myself like a little girl peering in a window at a warm house where everyone was accepted and welcome, but somehow I didn’t belong. I realized through my travels to Bali that I was the only person who was in my way. No one was guarding the door to the house, I had created a story that prevented me from entering. This trip reset something for me in my heart; I was loveable, likeable and wanted. I had discounted myself so many times, I just assumed that others must do the same thing. This was a freaking fallacy!
It was so easy to connect and allow others to show me kindness and love as I ventured across the world alone. I didn’t feel guilty or unsure of myself. I promised myself once I got home, I was going to open myself up to friendship and love. Historically, I have kept people at bay, limited contact or told myself that they wouldn’t want to be me “real” friends with me. I vowed that I would stop creating these limitations for myself immediately. I had witnessed how powerful opening myself up to relationships was in Bali, and I didn’t want to lose that amazing feeling.
In setting this intention, and since I’ve been home, I have never had more beautiful friendships emerge from the woodwork of life. Relationships that had been acquaintanceships have blossomed into sisters, trusted confidants, collaborators, more genuine and authentic in nature. I have continued to push the boundaries of what I was previously “comfortable” with and continue to ask Spirit to hold space for whoever is meant for me to continue to show up, and for me to show up for them. I pray for whatever relationships need repair receive that repair; I am grateful for every single person who has reached back when I reach out. It isn’t scary out there; it is abundant, it is rich in amazing people who also desire love, kindness and authentic connection.
Thank you Bali for the reminder that people are kind and true and I desire and deserve connection.
....(Part 2 coming shortly....stay tuned!!)