Month: September 2016

Milestones

So far my experience here reminds me of two things. The meditation retreat I went on, and Burning Man. Realistically it’s not like either, but I have a long running inside joke with a friend of mine, that everything reminds me of Burning Man. This stems from when I was a kid- well, my early twenties, but that’s still kind of a kid, right? This friend of mine used to get so irritated because I was constantly saying “oh my god, that totally reminds me of Burning Man! …that totally reminds me of Burning Man! …THAT totally reminds me of Burning Man!”

In hindsight, Burning Man was the only thing outside of my normal life/comfort zone that I had ever really experienced at the time. It was the only thing I had to compare to. So anything that was reminiscent of my experience there or evoked a similar feeling “totally reminded me of Burning Man.”

Here are the ways in which I find my experience in Bali similar to my experience of Burning Man:

-Walking around in a disoriented state of awe, taking in the mass amounts of stimulation and newness.

-Wandering around confusing back pathways trying to figure out where my “camp” is.

-Finding little restaurants (“theme camps”) hidden way back in the middle of nowhere along these confusing back pathways.

-Roofs but no walls.

-Heat.

-Dodging unruly motorbike traffic (at burning man it was non-motor bikes)

-Making sure to carry water with me everywhere.

-Being glad I brought a headlamp

-Showering outside (open air bathrooms)

-Brushing my teeth with bottled water

As for the meditation retreat connection, that is simply because I haven’t really met anyone yet, so I’m really alone with my thoughts- and having a lot of them! I’ve been journaling a ton! Thank God Truth I love, and am well versed in, the experience of “thought watching” and really being comfortable with riding my internal experience. Also, thank God Truth for my journal/writing. It’s a great way to unload and process my thoughts and experience, then transferring it to this forum allows me to take you all with me on this journey!

So here’s where I’m at today. I am getting ready to move to another homestay. A lot of the places I was looking at with pools were already booked for these next few days. But there was a place that a friend of mine recommended, when I first started planning my trip, which had openings for the next couple of nights. The place has a lot of rooms, which means more likely to meet other people and it also seems closer to some of the popular yoga studios.

There is a couple of yoga studios that I have read and heard a lot about in my whole trip planning process. I’m not that into yoga. I have my little morning routine, but other than that I have little interest in the yoga scene. And I really was feeling put off by the idea of traveling across the world only to be surrounded by more white yogis. But I have to say, I wouldn’t mind finding some white yogis now. Just to feel a sense of familiarity to give me some more grounding.

There are lots of white people/westerners here, but they are clearly tourists passing through. And seems like mostly couples. This is a great place for a single woman traveling alone. Not such a great place for a single woman not wanting to have ‘being single’ rubbed in my face. Which just proves the old adage- wherever you go, there you are. I have to say though, I have been amused at the amount of couples I have walked past, who were in mid-argument. I guess the stresses of being strangers in a strange land have gotten to them.

Anyway, I have to admit, I think I have not ventured away from the most touristy areas yet, so that is likely part of the issue. I find myself seeking two kinds of people right now. The expats, and the gays.

This isn’t a place where you can go waving a rainbow flag or same-sex couples can walk around openly being a couple, but I have good gaydar, and I’m keeping my eyes open. In most of the experiences in my life where I have taken big leaps outside of my comfort zone, it was the gay folks who really greeted me on the other side. They were my first friends when moving to a new place, my first clients when starting a new business, my cheerleaders and supporters. I have so much love, respect, and gratitude for the gay community. So I’m looking out for my gays.

Yesterday I did finally branch off the beaten path a little bit, and finally started to find some areas that felt a little more along the lines of what I expected Bali to be like. So far, in this particular area, here in Ubud, there is a lot of hustle and bustle. I find myself craving open spaces. All of the houses are cramped together and the streets are buzzing with motorbikes, taxis, and tour busses. So it was nice to find some more quite side roads.

Aside from finally branching out a little bit, I experienced a few milestones in that last couple of days. My first blisters. My first rip off. My first bargaining. My first encounter with a street dog.  All of which were bound to happen at some point.

So let’s break it down…

I mentioned how badly my feet swelled from the plane ride. I have yet to tighten the straps on my sandals. They are not as bad as when they were on the plane, and they are better when I first wake up (especially if I sleep with them elevated) but this heat has definitely caused my feet to swell a little and therefore I’ve gotten my first blisters. Fascinating, I know.

Next, I did my research, I know that you are supposed to bargain here- which was one of the many fears that arose in the trip planning process. I hate bargaining. Some people totally get off on it. I fucking hate it. But I also realized in that process that it would probably be really good for me to get comfortable and confident with it. There is an undeniable and inextricable connection between money and fear in my life. And those fears have arisen a lot, not only in the planning process, but since I’ve been here as well. I’ll get more into that later.

So I know you have to bargain, but from what I’ve read, you bargain with the street vendors, but inside the shops you do not bargain. Some of these “shops” are in a grey area. I’m still getting the hang of it all. And I really wanted to try to find a place where I could buy a SIM card for my phone and get my Balinese phone number set up. I wasn’t seeing anyplace, until finally I happened upon a little shop that had a giant rock outside with gold letters etched into it “SIM card”. I asked him how much and paid the price he asked. It was roughly $15 USD. When I got back later I did some googling only to find that I could have easily gotten it for about $5 USD. It felt shitty when I realized, but my first rip off could have been much worse, so I lived and learned.

After that, while booking my next homestay, I asked if they could send a driver to pick me up. I asked the cost and they quoted the equivalent of about $7. It’s a short drive, which I could easily walk if I didn’t have heavy bags to carry, plus I still find getting around very confusing so I just wanted someone to take me exactly where I needed to go. But even for that, I know that $7 is ridiculous. Again, I’m still not totally clear on which situations you are supposed to bargain, and which not. I’m paranoid about offending their culture here (that’s just one of my many fears I am being confronted with). But bargaining is part of their culture and I thought to myself, I have spent way too much of my life worried what other people might think of me, and not wanting to offend anyone. What’s the worst that can happen if I just ask if they can bring the price down? Like I said, this is a difficult, yet important, practice for me to gain confidence in, here, and in my everyday life. I bargained the price down to $5 which, after the fact, still seemed like a rip off, but it’s a start. Baby steps.

Later is when I finally decided to branch off the main drag and found some charming little streets. There were lots of beautiful doorways with statues in them- I couldn’t tell if these were doorways to temples, houses, or businesses.

Whilst making my way down these streets there were many more street dogs than on the main road (there were plenty on the main road as well). I had assumed that it would be a struggle for me, as an animal lover and particularly a dog lover, to try to ignore them, but I have had no problem at all. These dogs are scrappy. And savvy. I made the mistake of making eye contact with one, and he proceeded to start growling and barking, and my heart started racing. Another fear: rabies. Or, rather, rabies in a foreign country. But it was fine, I looked away and kept walking while making a note to self: do not make eye contact with the street dogs- they know what’s up.

I’m realizing on a whole new level just how much this trip is about confronting the mass amounts of fear in my life. I think that’s why the first half of this year was a little rough for me. I was stuck in a state of fear and I was letting that fear control me. Just deciding to take this trip was an act of facing my fears. Even before I decided to do it, just contemplating it was facing a fear.

I remember the fear I had around simply spending the money on buying a Lonely Planet book on Bali. Because deep down, I knew that it wasn’t just a book, it was a step. And if Neil Armstrong has taught us anything it’s that one small step can actually be a giant leap.

I leapt and I’m here. And now I am being confronted by my fears on a whole new level. Especially my money fears- getting robbed/pick-pocketed, getting ripped off- by vendors, by money changers, spending money, which could lead to running out of money. But I have to remind myself that here, I am literally a millionaire!

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RIP pretty hippy messenger bag!

Yesterday I looked around for a legitimate place to get my money changed, but I’m still having trouble figuring out what is considered hole in the wall here. I think I’m starting to spot the difference. I ended up just going to an ATM, but I can’t avoid it forever. I also can’t avoid the vendors and the bargaining. Because I definitely need to buy a few things. My hippy messenger bag that I love, especially because my nephew gave it to me, the zipper broke. Thank God Truth it made it through the trip over here. I also need to buy some clothes. I didn’t pack a lot and what I did pack was pretty light, but not light enough. My leggings and tank tops feel like sweaters here, so it’s time to pick up some of those flowy Balinese dresses.

I will be happy to have clothing more suited for this weather. It has been especially hot the last couple of days, which I will also note, has made the water in the “bum gun” hot. “Bum gun” is a term, I think coined by the Aussies, for the water sprayers used to clean yourself, instead of toilet paper. TP is only used for drying purposes here and is not to be flushed. So anyway, hot water on the bum was a little startling.

On that note, I’m off to find some more suitable clothing.

 

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Eat, Pray, What The Fuck

I had a pretty powerful epiphany a few weeks ago. I wrote a little about it in one of my previous posts, but I want to write a little more about it, because it’s pretty profound for me and it’s been slowly and gradually sinking in.

It has to do with my belief in “God”, or, my preferred term, The Universe. I realized that my belief system, which I’ve always had a long explanation for, can be summed up in one word: TRUTH.

Truth is all that is. Truth is the undeniable and the absolute. The oneness of all things. The Ultimate IS. (In fact that would be a pretty cool alternative to the word God- the great and powerful IS). And isn’t that description pretty much how people describe God?

The truth is the truth, whether you believe it or not. In short- Truth is my religion.

When you live in ultimate Truth, integrity, and authenticity, you are tapping into the flow of The Universe, the Ultimate IS. You are existing on a different plane. And that is how manifestation works- when you are aligned with the Truth, all other things that are true, all other beings that live in Truth are in the same flow as you. People look at manifestation like it’s some kind of magic super power or something. It’s just about tapping into the right vein.

So, yes, Truth is my religion. Truth is the god that I pray to.

I’ve been having fun playing around with interchanging the words. So, instead of saying “ask God/The Universe for answers or guidance, saying “ask the Truth for answers or guidance.” Even in just the reframing of that statement the answers become more apparent. Where is the Truth in the scenario? What is the Truth in the scenario?

This is what I do anyway, but it’s taking it to a whole new level. And what better place to start practicing that new level of truth-seeking than here in Bali?

So let’s talk about my Truth…

It would be a lie to say that Eat, Pray, Love had nothing to do with me wanting to come to Bali. It would also be a lie to say that it was The reason I wanted to come to Bali. The only influence it had on me deciding to come here was simply that Liz Gilbert described a beautiful place, and it sounded very appealing to visit.

I’m not going to deny that Eat, Pray, Love is without question one of my two all-time favorite books. There are many, many people who love that book and have many connections to it for many reasons. For me, it wasn’t simply Liz’s candor, or saying the things that I felt, letting me know that I wasn’t alone in this world, that made me love that book. What really did it for me were the prolific and profound synchronicities I experienced while reading it (and in the movie!).

I was going through a very similar rock-bottom, soul searching, turn-my-life-around, tragedy-to-triumph experience when that book came to me. I was even learning meditation at the time, while reading about her learning meditation. I didn’t plan that, I was already in the process when I started the book. I would struggle with the challenges of learning meditation, then I would give up and pick up that book as a distraction, and there Richard From Texas would be, explaining to Liz the solution to the very challenge I was having. It felt like the Universe was communicating directly to me directly through that book. I was even reading that book one day while sitting next to Ryan Murphy, who would then go on to write and direct the movie. Seriously.

Anyway, in case I didn’t already make it clear- I by no means had any intention of trying to recreate Liz’s experience. For one, I couldn’t no matter hard I might try. Her experience was hers. It doesn’t belong to me. I have my own experience to create. But also, to be honest, I just did not want to be that girl. Y’know, the one who tries to get closer to the artist by retracing their footsteps. I did not come here to try to get closer to her or to that story. I’m already as close as I can be to that story, and I have no desire to make it anything more than it is. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Liz in person and interacting with her on Facebook. And she is just as lovely as she comes across in her writing. I feel no need and have no desire to get any closer to any of it.

I am here to get closer to Me. To experience myself and my life in new ways, and to find a new kind of Truth, whatever that may look like.

I’m here at my homestay, still very much getting my bearings. As I said in my last post there was a mix up, and I got my first night in a nicer room than the one I originally booked. I was moved to my correct room yesterday, and that first, nicer room was, well, nice. This room does nothing for me. It’s not bad at all, it’s just not anything else either. And, to be honest, it’s a little overpriced for what it is. Plus, there are no other people staying here and a lot of construction going on all around. I want to start meeting people! And I’m only booked here until tomorrow, so either way it’s time to find a new place.

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The view from my balcony

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The most exciting part of this place

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My first sunset in Bali!

The thing is, I’m doing this trip on a budget. Everything is really cheap here. But I’ve been going for even cheaper. I’m trying to stretch my dollar the furthest I can. I only booked my first four days here because I wasn’t sure if I would even want to stay in the same area once I got here. I was originally thinking about renting an apartment, but I just wanted to wait and see. Now that I’m here, and now that I experienced the nicer room, I’m thinking about what a gift to myself the trip is, for all of the years of hard work I’ve poured into Me, for all of the loving things I’ve done for others, for being brave… it’s time for me to give myself the most rich and fulfilling experience I possibly can. Plus, there’s that whole saying “YES” thing.

So, although I want to stretch my dollar as far as I can, you know what else I want? A pool. And that’s the truth. I didn’t come all the way to the opposite side of the world just to continue thinking about what I wish I was experiencing. This trip is to finally start experiencing the things I’ve wished for.

I hopped on airBnB and started looking for places with a pool. The thing is- I am finding super nice places that would easily be a couple hundred dollars a night in the states, for $20-$25 a night here. Now, even as a gift to myself, I can’t be spending $25 a night for my entire stay here. $25 dollars seems like nothing, but after six weeks that really adds up. But I’m open to maybe a couple nights here and there. That’s fair.

So, in my search, I find this beautiful, incredible, spectacular, absolutely heavenly looking place- with a pool, for $26 a night. My heart is a’flutter with every photo. I read the description… and wouldn’t you know it. It is the house (compound really) belonging to the famous (and recently deceased) medicine man, Ketut Liyer, from Eat, Pray, Love. Are you fucking kidding me? I did not plan this. I did not seek it out. It found me. I was drawn to it before I knew the truth about it. How can I say no? Especially with the whole “YES” thing. Of course there are very few dates available there, but there happens to be a couple of nights open next month during a Writer’s Festival that will be taking place in the area. Hmm, symbolic much?

When I really check in with myself on this, and listen to my Truth, everything in my being is already saying YES. I just need my mind to catch up. Or maybe a more truthful thing to say is I need my mind to get of the way so I can do this!

My therapist will be so proud of me!

Bali Bound

“I am so terrified.” Those were the words that kept going through my head when I got the inspiration to spend six weeks in Bali, and, like, actually try to make it happen. I know there are plenty of other more valid reasons to feel “terrified”, and to a well-traveled person it might not seem like that big of a deal, but as someone who has always dreamed about traveling, but managed to let Fear keep it far out of reach from me, it is a huge deal.

At some point soon I’ll probably post some of my writing from that fear processing. But I have so much to say now, so much going through my head that I need to get out.

So, here is my experience so far…

From when I left my doorstep to arriving at my homestay, it was well over 24 hours of travel. On the car ride from the airport, I was informed that the people staying before me in the room I booked decided to extend their stay one more night. So for the first night I was set up in a nicer room in a different homestay, owned by the same people.

I was beyond delirious and disoriented when I arrived. I wore sandals, and kept the straps loose (a little too loose) so I could slip off and on easily while going through TSA at the airport. I was planning to tighten them when I got to my destination. By the time I arrived my feet were so swollen from altitude/air pressure, lack of circulation, and shitty sodium saturated airplane food, that the sandals were tight on me. I couldn’t wait to put my feet up, but what I wanted more than anything was to brush my teeth.

Before I could even gather myself to do that I just ended up walking around in circles in my room, starting to do one thing, then thinking of another, then realizing how disoriented I really was. When I’d actually stop for a minute I felt like I was still moving, the way you do when you get off of a boat and feel like you’re still rocking back and forth. Only it was two planes and a couple of car rides that I was still feeling the motion from.

Aside from the teeth, I knew I needed food and sleep. So finally, with great relief I brushed my damn teeth. I really did not want to have to use my brain anymore. There was not much of it available for use at that point anyway. But I managed to drag myself, with all my might, around the corner to the first restaurant that caught my eye, hoping that I wouldn’t start stumbling around, like a drunky, from the motion I was still feeling.

I order a chicken satay with peanut sauce and it came out with rice that was steamed in a banana leaf and steamed vegetables. It was delicious. And seeing that the beer cost less than $1.50, I couldn’t resist.  Even though I was so disoriented already, and I am sensitive and to the effects of alcohol, I wanted that damn beer! Part of the appeal of coming here was that it is a haven for people like me who love healthy living. Lots of healers, yoga, vegan food, juices and elixers. But the funny thing is, as soon as I got here I felt like smoking and drinking. I’ve never been much of a smoker, but every so often,  maybe 1-3 times a year, I might smoke a cigarette. I lost even those rare urges several years ago. Now, here on the Island Of The Gods, I could really go for a cigarette.

Anyway. I ate my dinner and dragged myself back around the corner to my room where I showered, took a melatonin, and went to sleep at about 8:30pm.

I woke up at about 5:00am and could tell that, because I am so sensitive, it is going to take me a few days to really start to feel like a human again. I was so relieved to have internet access, and that Facebook existed, so I could feel some sense of connection to my normal existence. I stayed in bed for a while before starting the day off with a hot bath in my beautiful open air bathroom. And I could feel in my entire body how badly I needed coffee.

As I was drying off, I walked from my bathroom and could see out my window, a mug, hot water, and coffee fixings waiting for me on my little table on the balcony outside my room. My reaction was somewhere between a little kid on Christmas morning, and the Road Runner, who takes off so fast that you can only see a cloud of dust and a ghostly silhouette of the character.road-runnerMy morning coffee and journaling is a very sacred (necessary) part of my day and I was happy to start getting into some sort of self-care routine. I had been jotting some things down in my journal, when I glanced up at what I wrote a few minutes earlier before I had any coffee. I couldn’t stop laughing:

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What I meant to write was “I think coffee will help me feel normal!” And my brain lapse proves that.

As I sat with my journal, waking up to the warm, thick air, they brought me breakfast. A bowl of yellow watermelon and papaya, and green banana pancakes with coconut shavings.

When I was little I used to throw up when I’d eat banana. As I got older I think I became able to process it more, but I always associated the taste with vomit, so I’ve not been much of a banana person. But on my recent birthday, and upon planning this trip, I vowed that this would be my year of saying “YES”. And I’m so fucking glad because what went through my head when I was eating those pancakes was “this is everything a pancake is supposed to taste like!” I’m not even sure what I meant by that, because obviously they are not going to taste like what I’m used to, but basically I kind of wanted to cry they were so good.

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As I was eating breakfast, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. No big deal.

As I was eating breakfast, I noticed something mooving out of the corner of my eye. No big deal.

When the coffee started kicking in and I was able to start thinking a little more clearly, and I could start to start processing. I just wanted to write- to get some of what was in me out of me, but I started thinking “I’m in Bali! I should get out and go- start taking it all in! Then I got real with myself…

It’s ok to go slow. It’s ok to take my time, I have plenty of it. I am going to be here for six weeks. I am not going to “should” on myself while I’m here! If I feel like staying in all day and writing, if I feel like going out and not writing, if I feel like smoking or drinking, if I feel like meditating for six hours- I am going to say “YES.” I came here (among other reasons) to experience myself in new ways. The “shoulds” are not Me. The “shoulds” are what get in the way of Me. They are just judgmental thoughts, the influence of being around people throughout my life (mostly in the past) who have encouraged me to stay afraid, even implanting Fears in me. Coming here at all was basically me saying a hearty “fuck you” to my Fears.

When the plane wheels first touched the ground, and as I took in the scenery on the way to my homestay, what struck me more than anything was not so much that I was here, in Bali… it was that I did this. I spent so many years making excuses instead of making plans, and now I am here, inside of the experience that I created.

I am in Bali. This is a dream come true. And I’m still getting my head (and heart) around that. This morning, as I sipped my first cup of Balinese (instant) coffee, the words in my head were “I am so happy.”

Ghost.

Investments made

In bonds and trust

Broken like banks

Crumbled like dust

Betrayed in ways I never thought

Taking a loss

At the greatest cost

Well played games and unwalked talk

Lip service just to get what you got

Dividends of self-interest

A friendship rendered a conquest

Valuable words used as tools

To carefully cover my eyes with wool

Untruths unearthed

A besmirched sense of worth

Taken to the cleaners and told it was church

I believed what you told

I bought what you sold

What I got was a jackpot

Of solid fool’s gold

In silence so much has been said

You’ve shown me how you made your bed

And lied when you said ‘friends til the end’

Now bonds have been severed

Trust has been broken

All because of what remains unspoken

~JRM

 

~Maktub~

Truth IS

Yesterday, when I was talking with a friend about the self-work I’ve been doing, she (lovingly) told me that I’m way too hard on myself. She’s said that before, and I hadn’t quite put my finger on why it stung me so badly to hear that. I didn’t feel like I was being hard on myself in the context of what we were talking about. So why did it sting so badly?

Usually, when friends kindly call me on my shit like that, I appreciate it. And if you are really solid in Who You Are then it doesn’t matter if someone has a mixed up perception of you.

I figured out why it stung, it was because it touched a wound. And that wound was from spending so much of my life misunderstood by others, but being blamed, criticized, and abused for their perception of me.

I’ve heard all kinds of interpretations of my self-work over the years, I’ve been told a few times that I’m too hard on myself, that I’m insecure, that I need to not think about these things so much- I’ve been told these things as generalizations of who and how I am, not as assessments for particular situations. I’m human, and, yes, at times I am hard on myself, I do have insecurities, I can overthink. And I tell my stories, I expose my wounds, and I share, in real time, my journey to healing these wounds that we all have. I think because of that sometimes people see my wounds more than my healing process, and how these processes make me better, stronger, wiser, healthier… happier.

This self-work is just like getting a tattoo. When you get a tattoo you willingly have someone drag a needle across your skin, and scrape the same places, over and over. It’s painful. But in the end you have a beautiful work of art to show for it. And this art will be a part of you for the rest of your life. Something about that formula creates quite a rush. It can be addicting.

The same is true of this self-work. Sometimes you have to keep scratching the surface of your skin to get through to deeper layers. It can be painful, but in the end you have something beautiful to show for it. Only this time, YOU are the work of art. And the work that you’ve done to get there will be a part of you for the rest of your life. The formula can create quite a rush, and it can be addicting. I’m addicted to it.

The big difference is that a tattoo is something you are adding to you, and self-work is about removing layers, the illusions of self, to get closer to the truth.

And that’s just it. I believe that God, or The Universe, is simply Truth. The words could be used interchangeably. When you live in truth, integrity, and authenticity, you are tapping into, and aligned with, the flow of the Universe. But as the divine Miss Gloria Steinem said, “The truth will set you free. But first it’ll piss you off.”

In doing this work, in trying to become the best version of yourself that you can possibly be in the moment, in getting closer to the truth, before you are set free, you might (probably) find yourself in some form of pain for a bit. And that’s ok. As long as you keep going- so you can transcend past that pain, and live in truth.

I’m a firm believer in “you gotta feel it to heal it.” Allowing yourself to really feel everything, even if it’s not pleasant, is actually a way of being loving with yourself. When you fully inhabit what you are feeling, instead of pushing it away, you are no longer at war with yourself.

That means that if you need to cry, cry. I actually really enjoy crying. So many people see crying as a bad thing. I do not at all. Crying is a catharsis. It’s a way to drain the wound. You also release toxins and hormones through tears. Which means it is literally good for you to cry.

So let yourself cry. Let yourself flail around in the experience of your emotions. But be gentle. Just like when you get a tattoo, you must take good care if want to properly heal and be the beautiful work of art that you endured all that pain for.

We are works of art. Divine beings carved from the Universe. But we hide our truths to protect our wounds. And sometimes we have to tend to the wounds, and endure pain, to access that truth. It is not a bad thing. It is a beautiful thing. It is not being hard on yourself. It is being loving with yourself. And living in that pure Truth is better than any drug- recreational or medicinal.

My friend did me a favor. She showed me another piece of myself, which only helps me do this work that I love so tremendously.

So I will continue to do my work, to keep investigating until I hit gold, and to keep exposing my wounds, and showing you my truth. For I am a truth seeker.

~Maktub~FB_IMG_1463967625813.jpg