Creativity Coach - Artist Desiree East

You want to THRIVE and live in the PRESENT MOMENT. You want to CREATE THE REALITY YOU'VE ALWAYS DREAMED through CREATIVE LIFESTYLE HABITS.You want to tap into that hidden, CREATIVE POTENTIAL that is ready to be UNLEASHED to the world. When your inner voice, your intuitive heart --- YOUR creative genius --- is nourished and pampered, you know you can create profound changes in your LIFE that is the art.

Desiree East is a Soulful Entrepreneur, Certified Master Transformational Coach, Creatively Fit Coach and Visual Artist. Desiree facilitates live creative workshops and retreats, as well as, online art programs focused on personal and professional development. She inspires her clients to create meaningful change in their lives through creative ritual, using art-making as a modality for creative wellness and deep transformation (no art experience required). 

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How to Create Space for the Holidays

Aloha, creative souls! So, I've been taking LOTS of breaks from the social media, as of late, especially since all of the hoopla surrounding the presidential election.

I mean, I had to. For my own sanity.

Did you hear? Someone actually called me the "c" word for mentioning my stance on racism (my stance, being that I will not tolerate it). *control-alt-delete* So, long sucka! That was the first time I've ever had to 'unfriend' a long-time friend on Facebook.


I also kind of had to take a break from all of the recent cyber sales over Thanksgiving Day weekend...oh my gosh, internet people (although, I do admit I have been guilty of this in the past). You know how in the old-school days, when you would walk out to your mailbox to check your mail, and when you opened it, ALL of the junk mail would just kind of spill out haphazardly into your hands?

Well, that's kind of what my email inbox was like, except it was my brain that was spilling haphazardly out of my ears. SO much information.

And then, all of the planning for the holidays. The shopping, the dinner parties, the travelling, the this, the that, and the other thing.

So, I've been thinking...why do we do this to ourselves? It really doesn't have to be so busy, busy, busy. Really it doesn't.

If you're willing to play, I'd love to encourage you to, simply, simplify ONE area of your life that might need some breathing space. Remember, it's perfectly okay to gracefully say, "No" to the things that don't resonate with you anymore.

Honor down-time. Less is more. Quality over quantity.

Honor this season of slowing down, turning inward, reflecting, and just being.

(And, of course, I have to add this one to the mix): 

Honor your creative spirit. Being creative is the best way to sloooooow down time. It's like time almost stops, when you get creative, doesn't it?

So, if you feel like your holiday nerves are getting to you, here are some of my fave ways to take that stress factor down a couple of notches:

1) My fave go-to: be like a hermit and do this ONE simple thing to calm the {bleep} down

2) Throw your camera phone out the window and learn some old-school camera hacks

3) Grab a bottle of wine, chill with your BFF's, and dream a little dream





would you visit an active volcano?

I've been to Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawai'i a couple of times, and it was breathtaking. Well, except for the sulfur smell. And the fact that my slippahs felt like they were nearly melting under my foot. I have images of that trip to the volcano from a long, long time ago. Perhaps I'll dig those up someday... bali volcano. bali, indonesia. photo by desiree east

On clear days, we can see this volcano from the town that we are staying. It makes me smile. I'm not quite sure which volcano this's either, Mount Agung or Mount Batur. We'd like to make plans to see it and hire a driver to take us up there. We figured it might be a trek, so we are going to spend some time in the mountains, and make Ubud our home-base for a few days.

Our initial motivation for making plans to visit Ubud was because we had no running water in the region that we are in right now. Can you imagine? Here's a link to my Trip Advisor forum post, if you want to read about the drama: Does anyone know which Hotels currently have running water?

We've been to Ubud, once, to meet some friends for dinner at a Mexican Restaurant. Yes, I mean tacos and margaritas! We were hesitant at first --- mexican food in Bali? --- but, our friend, Jeff, claimed it. And we were craving mexican like you wouldn't believe (my mouth is watering, at this moment, just thinking about it).

It was really, really good. The Indonesian owner had spent some time working in a Mexican restaurant in (I think) New Mexico --- and he's got some mad skillz in the kitchen. So we are going back.

Not just to eat the food that we miss. But to check out the Balinese art scene (yay, finally) and shopping, of course. Any special requests from home?

Ubud apparently has the best markets of all Bali. It's time to test my ancestral bargaining skills --- my Filipina blood runs thick when it comes to shopping and finding good deals, but I never get to do this in The States: "Half, half...I want half..." 

Or, in Bahasa Indonesia:

"Itu terlalu mahal..." (That's too expensive...)

"Boleh kurang?" (Can you lower the price?)

"Ada yang lebih murah?" (Do you have anything cheaper?)

"Ini tawaran terakhir saya." (This is my final offer).

"Untuk orang Indonesia dijual dengan harga berapa?" (How much would you sell that to an Indonesian for?)

Shoots, that last one is long. I better start practicing.

Because I can easily pass as a local, my Indonesian friends like to joke, "Just pretend you cannot hear and you cannot talk, then you will get good bargain!" 

That would be funny. But, let's face it, I would never be able to pull that off. My PC karma and guilt would follow me wherever I go. And have you ever seen me try to lie? Exactly. I can't do it with a straight face.

BTW, "PC" stands for politically correctness. Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking, "Oh great, another PC snob..." I'm not really, though, if you get to know me. Just buy me a beer or two, and we'll go from there...

Sooooo, unless we find reliable internet service, we might be going off the grid for a few days. A mini digital cleanse sounds mighty fine, right 'bout, until then, I'll catch ya on the flip side --- x to the o

How I brought in the Balinese New Year: Part One

daily surf check. bali. by desiree east bali surf and exposed reef by desiree east

Thursday, March 22nd: the day before NYEPI 2012

Today, like most days, we went to look at the surf. It was low tide. It was a gorgeous day, post rain, with bright, clear skies and fluffy white clouds scattered about. The air was still and the sun was beating down directly overhead. Buckets of sweat rolled off of my forehead from the 10-minute gander at the surf. I'm sure I lost a couple of pounds of water weight.

There was a fast, little, bowly left, about shoulder to head high, sweeping past the half-way-exposed reef. The boys decided they wanted to paddle out. Me? Well, I'm a chicken. Especially, when it comes to shallow, tide-is-still-dropping reef breaks. Thanks, but no thanks.

Even if I wanted to paddle out, I couldn't. My board was out of commission. It's in the ding-repair shop. The first day I pulled my board out of the board bag, I discovered little fragile bits of resin and a huge chunk of crumbled foam among layers of bubble wrap and duct tape. My eyes welled up in tears for about a good 5 seconds. And then, I was over it. I accepted the fact that after so many years of traveling with surfboards, I had finally become a victim of luggage-handler-brutality. I shrugged it off. I guess it comes with the territory. But, that's another story...

pathway to beach. bali. by desiree east

stairway entry. bali by desiree east

We followed a little path that led to down to the beach. A short staircase brought us to a sea cave, adorned with umbrellas, offerings, and the sweet smell of burning incense.

I could hear a woman's voice coming from behind a wall of old lava rock. She was talking to someone else, but I couldn't see them; all I could hear were soft, echoing voices.

After coming down the last step, we stepped  onto soft, white sand, and almost immediately had to crouch down and make our way under the lava rock.

The Indian Ocean greeted us on the other side. Aaaaaaah...time to cool off!

the indian ocean greets us. bali. photo by desiree east

sea caves to the left. bali. by desiree east

dreamy coastline to the right. bali. photo by desiree east

hindu offerings at stairway entry. photo by desiree east

While the boys were surfing, I found some shade under a small  cliff side. I enjoyed watching people come down to the beach to leave offerings throughout the afternoon.

When I first arrived, an elderly Balinese woman left an offering, or 'canang sari' under one of the small sea caves. She came up to me afterwards and said something in Indonesian - or Balinese (I'm not sure).

Always with a grin on my face, I replied, "Maaf, saya tidak mengerti...Saya...ummmm...saya bukan orang Indonesia."

(Translation: "Sorry, I no understand...I...ummmm...I am not a person of Indonesia.") Then, I flashed an even bigger smile, a little embarrassed in my attempt at Bahasa Indonesian.

Smiling back, she responded with something else. Surprisingly, I totally understood what she said.

Just kidding.

What really happened next is beyond me, but I kind of bowed, putting the palms of my hands together and said, "Ma kasih...Terima kasih."

I don't know why I did that. I just said, "Thanks...Thank You." It just came out, whether it made sense or not (probably, because that's all I knew how to say). I had absolutely no clue what she said to me...

She smiled back as she returned to the other sea cave that lead back to the trail.

balinese offering in a sea cave. photo by desiree east

offerings out to sea. bali. photo by desiree east

light thru sea cave. bali. photo by desiree east

The local people often mistake me for being Indonesian, usually saying, "Oh, you have Indonesian face." So, a local Balinese bartender taught me to say, "Sorry, I don't understand. I am not Indonesian." 

So far, it's helped, especially when locals approach us and immediately start having full-blown conversations in bahasa Indonesian with me (while completely ignoring Brendon). It's pretty hilarious.

Back to my story. After the woman left, I could see the offering she had left from where I was sitting, along with the incense stick that accompanied it. It was unlit. Then I thought to myself, "Hmmmmm...maybe she was asking me for a lighter...duuuh."

Perhaps I should start carrying a lighter or some matches with me, just for these instances. And for the fact that everyone here loves to smoke - the locals, the international tourists, everyone, it seems, has a stogie in their mouth, even if it's raining cats and dogs. But that, too, is another story...

seaweed harvester leaving offering at sea cave. bali. photo by desiree east

monkey prints. photo by desiree east

The Balinese leave offerings for the Hindu gods throughout the day, on a daily basis. You can see them everywhere: in front of homes, restaurants, hotels, and businesses; on sidewalks, along roadsides, in the middle of intersections, and in cars and mopeds; in the forests and on the beaches.

They leave offerings to the good spirits, so that those spirits will continue to provide prosperity, good fortune, and good health. They also leave offerings for the bad spirits to keep them satisfied and quiet, in hopes that those spirits will leave the people alone. Daily offerings are a way to thank the gods and to keep the relationships between human beings and spirits in harmony.

With Nyepi approaching, it was a busy day. As the afternoon went on, more people came to leave an offering of their own.

First, it was the woman who didn't have a lighter. Then another woman arrived, alongside her tiny boat over-flowing with seaweed. About 20 minutes later, an elderly man, dressed in temple attire, left another offering. After that, another elderly woman approached with a teenaged girl - the elderly woman dressed in traditional attire and the girl dressed in modern-day fashion. They, too, left an offering, except the girl - like all teenagers - stared out to sea, ignoring the whole offering thing, as if she was daydreaming about her friends and the evening's ogoh-ogoh festivities. Finally, before I left, a young man came to leave an offering.

I sat quietly on the beach, keeping my distance, and exchanged smiles as people came and went.

It was a beautiful thing.

two umbrellas and incense burning. photo by desiree east

balinese offerings on lava rock. photo by desiree east

random and untitled update #1

bali roads by desiree east Hello from Bali! My apologies for not updating sooner, but it has been somewhat of a whirlwind since our arrival. Brendon and I are finally settling into the groove of things.

The internet service is kind of spotty, so my blogging will be pretty random until I figure out some sort of routine for it, as it seems like we get the best connection at nighttime. Because of this, I'm not sure how I will go about updating my blog. So far, I've got two weeks worth of photos and random stories to go with them.

I'm not kidding when I say random, either (because that's just how it is here, no joke). In a nutshell, I've learned quickly, that the best way to adjust to the pace of the Balinese lifestyle is to just 'go with the flow', follow your instincts, accept the blessings as they come your way, and most important, laugh off any little frustrations that might test your patience.

Like the internet connection. (At this very moment, I am frantically typing at a million words per minute, hoping that I am not cut off whilst in the middle of uploading stuff). And I probably won't have time to edit my grammar and such, so cheers to that.

Someone hand me a bintang, please.

On that note, I will archive everything the best I can by dates. Feel free to to click on the calendar (on the right, in the side bar) to see what we've been up to. My success in uploading photos will also depend on how strong the internet connection is, so...we'll see how that goes, too.

Sooooooo...what have we been up to???

For now, I will start with how our day went today...the MELLOWEST day since we arrived. Pretty uneventful, but a nice change, because we have been going non-stop for the last two weeks, while our friend Mike was here. Unfortunately, we had to say good-bye to Mike yesterday. I'm pretty bummed. No more side-of-the-road robot dances.

good-bye beers at the airport. bali.

Today, we took it easy and settled into our new place. We walked around our neighborhood. No car. No driving. No traffic. We strolled around, took our time, and went really slooow. Although, it was very hot - kind of like walking in a giantic, outdoor sauna, or a very large, enclosed greenhouse, if you will - it was relaxing. Oh, except on the main street, where we were dodging buzzing little mopeds and the occasional construction work truck making its way over dusty potholes.

entry towards our street or 'jalan' by desiree east

country road and neighborhood dog by desiree east

We walked further to see if we could find laundry service. We found a little laundry place right around the corner. You can see quite a few of them along the streets of Bali. There are no laundry mats, just laundry services. You drop your clothes off. They wash and hang them to dry for you. You pay by the piece.

It's been raining in the evenings, and it's been very humid, so hopefully, we will get our clothes back somewhat fresh and dry. It could take one day, or two days, or maybe even three or four days. We'll see. That's been our mantra for the last two weeks, "We'll see..."

laundry time by desiree east

On the way back, we stopped by the Silly Snail Cafe. It's also a base office for the R.O.L.E. Foundation (Rivers Ocean Lakes Ecology Foundation).

A Balinese woman greeted us (shoots, I forgot her name), and we attempted to communicate back-and-forth between Indonesian-English and then English-Indonesian, by using the usual hand gestures, facial expressions, and head nods.

She asked if I had any children, then in turn, I asked her if she had any. I thought she said that she had 20 kids, as I repeated after her, "Duapuluh? Duapuluh?" I vainly attempted to count to twenty with my fingers, "Satu, dua, tiga..." 

Smiling, the Balinese woman kept on nodding her head, "Ya! Duahpuluh." 

(I thought to myself, 'how cute...she is so proud of her twenty children').

But, still very confused, I looked at her petite, little frame, and I asked one more time, "Duapuluh???"

After smiling, giggling, and gesturing through a good two to three minute conversation of charades, I finally figured out that she had only one child who is twenty years old, "Oooooh, okaaaay..."

It was pretty comical. While I thought she had twenty kids, she was probably thinking, "Wow, this girl can count to twenty really well..." I think I need to hire an Indonesian tutor.

The R.O.L.E. Foundation provides education to local women and children, and offering programs that cover areas such as:

  • Women’s Literacy and Vocational Skills
  • Children’s Environmental Awareness
  • Eco-Friendly Business Start Up
  • Environmental Restoration and Waste Management Projects

This looks like something I'd love to be involved with. If we end up staying in Nusa Dua, and if I have more time, I would love to learn more about teaching/volunteering here...but who knows, "We'll see..."

the silly snail cafe and ROLE Foundation. nusa dua, bali. photo by desiree east

medicinal plants by desiree east

i heart orchids by desiree east

describe the best road trip you've ever taken

big creek bridge. photo by desiree east The best, best, bestest road trip I've ever taken was during our honeymoon, of course! (The second bestest road trip would have to be any and all trips to Baja). You see, we are simple people, who love the adventure of spontaneity. No fancy resorts or crowded beaches. Just me, my hubby and the open road. For our honeymoon, we decided to spend two weeks on the road and take a trip up the coast from California, up to the Oregon coast. We camped and surfed on the way up and on the way back down. It was amaaaazing (as I bat my eyelashes and clasp my hand to my heart). I'm such a sucker for romance.

Before Brendon and I got engaged, we were both finishing up our studies, separately at college. I was up at UC Santa Cruz and Brendon was at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. We would visit each other between our studies and take mini trips to the Big Sur coast. To this day, we've continued the tradition of camping and surfing up there at least once, if not several, times a year. Sometimes we'd shoot up there by ourselves for a quick getaway and sometimes we'd meet up with friends and family.

It's our home away from home, and it's become a yearly road trip I most certainly always look forward to...

harmony. photo by desiree east

surf check. photo by desiree east

surfer's journal. photo by desiree east

desi and moana. photo by brendon east

transformational creativity coach desiree east

Desiree East is a Soulful Entrepreneur, Certified Master Transformational Coach, Creativity Coach and Visual Artist. Desiree facilitates live creative workshops and retreats, as well as, online art programs focused on personal and professional development. She inspires her clients to create meaningful change in their lives through creative ritual, using art-making as a modality for creative wellness and deep transformation (no art experience required). 

certified transformational and creatively fit coach desiree east

All images, illustrations, and artwork on this site are copyright © Desiree East unless otherwise noted, and may not be edited, reproduced or sold by any party without written permission. 
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