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).
CONFESSION TIME: I wasn't going to post this video of me, because the very moment I pressed record, I was not at my best...I mean, LOOK at how tired my eyes look. (Someone hand me some sliced cucumbers. Sheesh.)
But, I changed my mind, because I wanted to show you how far TOO easy it is to get burned out. On work. On life. On whatever is sucking the energy out of you.
Burn out sucks.
BUT...Here's the thing. I also, want to share with you how EASY it could be to break away from the overwhelm.
And simply step away from the chaos and into the act of creating SACRED TIME + SACRED SPACE.
To quiet your mind and find peace in your heART.
To take a break from the left-brain commitments and TREAT YOURSELF to the gift of right-brain, present moment awareness.
To just BE.
I wish I had taken an AFTER shot after this video. Following my little meditation and doodling session on the beach. I felt like a TOTALLY different person. I felt REFRESHED, CALM, and had more SPACE in my head to think clearly.
((Ha!! Actually, I DO have an AFTER video of what I looked like immediately after meeting with one of my Divine Self-care Sister Circles thank you for working your magic, Elena Lipson. This is what it's all about, anyway:
I haven't talked about this much (and I've been MIA to make space for this), but I've been practicing the art of putting self-care on my daily list as a PRIORITY.
And it's been life-changing.
Fortunately, I have an amazing support system (business accountability partners, mastermind groups, and self-care circles) set in place to help me in this journey of balancing the art of being a creative professional and new mother...I am EXPANDING in new ways, all directions, different levels, and there is no way I could do this alone.
This is why I decided to develop 'Creative Art Meditations' Virtual Retreats + Sacred Mastermind. So that I could do the same for other CREATIVES that are on the brink of burn out. To connect with my people (that would be YOU ) and PAINT our hearts out. And connect back to the REASON WHY we CREATE the ART.
My intention is to make this process as easy as possible for us to connect, and I'm going to need your help and feedback to make this happen. So if this interests you, please click the link below and learn more:
Enjoy the (BEFORE and AFTER) videos, and please comment below if you have any questions!!
P.S. For the local peeps, I have been having a pull toward hosting ONE DAY in-person painting retreats, as well as, starting a Women's Creativity Coaching Circle...so, if you are interested in any of that, please comment below and let me know.
Okay, so travelling in general could be very stressful at times, no matter who you are travelling with and no matter where you are going. Planes, trains or automobiles, kids or no kids, friends or foes, something bad is bound to happen, no matter how minor or major the incident. Travel incidents just come with the travel package, right?
Well, let me tell you, the first two days were hell. Ironically, it was not because we had a baby in tow. In fact, Kirra did soooooo well at the airport waiting in long lines, plodding through TSA, and she was a champ (in my eyes) on the flights to and from Hawaii. She got a little restless toward the end of our flights, but who doesn't? (You should feel my biceps...talk about workout).
TO MAKE A LONG STORY SHORT:
American Airlines, you suck.
There were no clear signs of where to check-in, nor were there clear, designated fancy red line ribbon thingies. What happened to the fancy red line ribbon thingies??
There were no regular check-in lines to check into. The only thing available were these little self check-in kiosks, scattered throughout the floor, underneath the big American Airlines signage.
"No problem, I've got this shit. I'm a computer nerd. I've done this before, we'll be done in 5 minutes flat..."
The self check-in kiosks were not working properly. 1 out of 5 computers in our line were in working order. There was ONE employee that was available to assist our entire area (which was filled with a massive crowd of unorganized, helpless, desperate souls).
Then I looked outside to the Valet check-in. LIFE SAVER. We tipped our dude $20, worth every penny.
Because of said disorganized check-in lines, we were were one of the handful of people to get on the full flight. I even saw a guy sitting a couple of rows behind us roll his eyes, as poor Kirra started to fuss. In my mind, I was like, shut it, dude. Shut your rolling, judge-y eyes.
Yep. No matter how prepared we were and no matter how early we got to the airport, we were that family.
And NO time for a diaper change.
SO much drama for this mama. Sheesh.
SINKING INTO ISLAND LIFE - BLESSINGS ABOUND
Even though our trip didn't start off as smooth as possible (does it ever?), there is always that moment when you step off of the plane and breath in the tropical air that is filled with the scent of sweet plumeria leis...where everything slows down and everything is ooookay.
We crashed out pretty darn early on the night of our arrival, only to wake up at 5am the next morning to find out that there was a Hawaiian blessing and ceremony taking place on the beach where we were staying.
I took this as a sign, and decided to use this opportunity to introduce Kirra to the ocean water for her very first time, as well as, honor my transition into motherhood. The releasing of being a maiden and honoring my role as a mother for Kirra (which was quite the journey, especially with her wanting only me during the entire trip) was something I've needed since she was born. Some sort of meaningful ritual to make it all legit.
And this was it.
Coincidentally, it was also the anniversary of my beloved furry family member, Moana (my other daughter - no, really) passing, and to add to that, the name of the chant was about 'Moana', and it took place in front of the iconic Moana Surfrider resort. Whaaaaaaaat?
I swear, I didn't plan it that way.
And the funny thing is, is that Brendon and I have always believed that our dog, Moana, was the one who sent Baby Kirra to us. That, my friends, is yet, another story.
This beautiful "Ho 'ala" (or awakening) was a Hawaiian ceremony of renewal of mind, body, and spirit, and it took place at sunrise, facing Diamond Head. It was a practice of getting into the correct mind-space, cleansing body, mind, and spirit, focusing our minds toward a future, filled with renewed vitality, hope, and happiness.
An ocean blessing of sorts.
Kirra loooooooooved the ocean water, and she had a big grin on her face when we took her past the shore break. It was such a special moment. Of course, we didn't get it on video or capture any photos, but it was definitely memorable.
At Dusk. Quiet. Still.
Diamond Head in the background.
Perfectly peaceful, as we chanted toward the sunrise:
E ALA E
E ALA E
KA LĀ I KAHIKINA
Awake! The sun is in the East
I KA MOANA
KA MOANA HOHONU
At the ocean, the deep ocean
PI'I KA LEWA
KA LEWA NU'U
Climb to the heavens, highest heaven
AIA KA LĀ
E ALA E!
In the East, there is the sun, arise, awake!
So, there was a point during our trip where Brendon and I decided to stop trying to plan and control every single second of our vacation time (because, naturally, that's what we had been doing all along to make the vacation happen, right?!).
Let go of needing to figure what we needed to do next.
Let go of figuring out where to eat and when should we eat and what time should we eat and what about the baby?
So much pressure, man.
And once I decided to consciously let go of control (damn post-partum OCD. There is such a thing, isn't there??), all was good in the Hawaiian hood.
And I applied that to tending to Kirra the entire trip, too. Letting go of having to be the perfect vacation mommy. Letting go of having to be the perfect vacation wife.
And my, oh my. Everything just fell into place as easily as it could in paradise.
FAST FORWARD A FEW DAYS
As I was sitting on my surfboard, salt water dripping from eyelashes and onto my lips, a dear friend and beautiful surf sister that I've known for many years gently shared this little piece of a truth-bomb that was given to her from another friend, on being a mom:
"Your life is no longer your own..."
What? Ouch!No, no, no. La, la, la,la, la, la, la...
"I know, how depressing, huh?" Thank god she shared the same sentiment as me.
I really didn't want to hear that, and my instant inward, silent reaction (being a life coach and all) was, "Pfffffft...there you have it, another limiting belief, disguised as wisdom, promising to hold me back from doing all of the things I want to do in my life."
But the truth was that I had only a small window of time to paddle out and enjoy my very first surf session since I became pregnant with Kirra. And the truth was, was that I was thinking of Kirra every single second I was out there.
What was she doing?
Is she playing with Daddy?
I hope she's not crying.
Is she having fun?
I missssss her.
And, it was true. I have been admittedly been playing this game of denial with my former maiden-self for quite some time now. "What?? My life isn't going to change that much. I wish people would stop telling me my life is going to change. Bah, humbug. Not happening over here. Because, see look: #TRAVELLINGWITHBABY"
And then, my break-time was up.
Long gone are the surf sessions that lasted for 2 hours at a time.
Long gone are the surf sessions that had me staring off blankly into the horizon with no care in the world.
Long gone are the surf sessions where both Brendon and I could surf together, wherever and whenever we want.
Long gone are the carefully planned surf sessions, perfectly synced with the tides, the wind, and the swells formed from stormy seas thousands of miles of away.
Yes, this is all true. BUT, it doesn't mean I have to give up the things that I love and stop doing the things that make me feel complete. Otherwise, I will really go insane. And that is not good for me. Nor for Brendon. Or for the Baby.
So, let's reframe this, shall we? ('Reframing' is an example of a pretty awesomely simple coaching technique, where we change the meaning of an unwanted situation in order to gain a more positive perspective on the outcome...incredibly useful stuff, if you're feeling stuck!)
MY LIFE IS STILL MY OWN AND NOW I GET TO SHARE ITS BEAUTY WITH MY LITTLE BABE
The flip side to this new mamahood thing is a whole 'nother world that has opened up in tremendous ways. New ways of being. New ways of seeing. Now I get to share my love of life, of travel, of the vast ocean and its blessings, with my little girl. I have a whole new perspective of ocean-life from the eyes of a child. And it has been magnificent. And soooooo much FUN!! So much laughter (Kirra is a really funny baby, guys!) And the LOVE, I can't even to begin to measure.
As soon as I got home, I had a conference call scheduled with my fellow Creatively Fit Coach Team members. And it was just what I needed to seal the deal of this whole transforming into motherhood thing (although, I suppose it never really is a process that ever ends, is it?)
In speaking with my colleagues, something kept ringing in my ears loud and clear:
So, as a new mom (and your Creatively Fit Coach), I'm going to practice what I preach and go back to the canvas and commit to my personal painting practice for four months straight. So I could allow myself to re-connect with myself.
To make time for me (selfishly, how dare I do such a thing, that thing they call self-care?!)
To connect with creative, kind souls (are you ready?)
To connect with mother nature (I hear the ocean waves calling to me as I erratically type)
And to just beeeeeeee...FREE, INDEPENDENT, SELF-EXPRESSIVE and LOOOOOOOVED!
AND, I'm going to commit to my creative coaching practice and my clients, my people, I miss youuuuu!! Whew...cheers and big MAHALOS for sticking with me through my transformation. I hope to support you with the same.
Well, 2013 is slowly coming to an end, and to celebrate, I've decided to invite a few smart, beautiful and talented women whom I've met during my online journey to blog with me during the month of December. And then, I'd like to help YOU bring in the NEW YEAR with a bangin' creative online workshop called, 'Vision Board Dreams'. (SAVE the date for JAN 5th, 2014!! Details to follow, below).
In the meantime, these wonderful guests will share their wisdom on how they've followed their dreams through the power of manifestation --- with a little envisioning, hard work, and a belief that anything is possible, allowing yourself to receive the gifts you truly desire in your life could be materialized in ways you'd never expect.
vision board dreams with artist desiree east
If you know me well, you know how much of a dreamer I am! Anything is possible, if you put your mind to it.
It's not simply about 'wishing' and hoping things will happen - you gotta take action to get where you want to be or have what you want to have. Nor, is it having the belief that, "Oh, only rich people get what they want..." or saying to yourself, "I'll never be able to have a life like that...".
It goes beyond the material wealth - your desires reside in the core of your heart, and the work starts when you recognize those needs and give them the attention they deserve!
So HERE WE GO! Some of the topics we'll cover this December include:
Which brings us to my first guest, surfer girl, Mercedes Maidana. As you know, being a surfer girl, myself, I have a special place in my heart for other surfer peeps, especially those who embrace such a sacred and soulful lifestyle and extending all of that goodness to ALL areas of their lives (and sharing it with others).
manifest your sweet desires into reality
As a surfer chick and woman entrepreneur, Mercedes amazes me with her willingness to GO BIG - she is a courageous big-wave rider, owning it out in the water, and she is the epitome of expressing what it means to live a life full of ABUNDANCE. Today, she shares her story of how she manifested something this past summer: adorable Ella, her surfer dog side-kick!! Such a cool story...
Ella and Mercedes photo by Mercedes Maidana
LEARN THE SECRET TO MANIFESTING YOUR DESIRES (IT STARTS WITH 'R')
by MERCEDES MAIDANA
Last week I fell in love, hard. She is strong, fun, loving and beautiful. She makes my heart jump with joy each time I see her. Her name is Ella and she is Labrador, a year and a half old. She is literally my latest manifestation from the Universe.
One day I said to my husband, “If God wants us to have a dog, it will be manifested on our front door.” A week later a friend came knocking on our door, asking if we could adopt his dog.
So, what happens when we ask for something to the Universe and then it manifests itself? Do we give in to fear and reject the gifts that are waiting for us, or do we trust that the gift is the manifestation of our prayers? Do we embrace the R word?
I’ve discovered that in order to manifest our dreams, we not only have to ask very clearly for what we want, but we need to be open to RECEIVING what is given to us.
I invite you to watch the video that I just made on the beach (no make up, no tripod, no professional mic—just me hanging out on the beach with the new love of my life).
Just press Play and learn more about the R word so you can tap into more abundance in all areas of your life.
Mercedes Maidana is a Motivational Speaker, Abundance Business and Life Coach and Surf Ambassador for Patagonia. She is a three-time consecutive finalist at the XXL Billabong Big Wave Awards, nominated as one of the top three female big wave surfers in the world (2009/2010/2011).
Through her work as a coach, Mercedes guides women to go for their dreams and take action steps to live life to their highest potential. Mercedes is based in Hawaii and travels the world surfing while inspiring others to follow their dreams through her motivational talks, coaching and writing. She is currently working on her first book, a guide to manifesting our dream life.
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU WANTED SOMETHING AND 'MANIFESTED' IT? IS MANIFESTING NEW TO YOU? HOW DO YOU ALLOW YOURSELF TO RECEIVE THE GIFTS IN LIFE THAT YOU TRULY DESIRE? PLEASE SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!
CLICK HERE to register for 'VISION BOARD DREAMS' workshop!
So, if you know me by now, I like to do these fun little art projects from time to time, through Brooklyn Art Library's Arthouse Co-op. I had recently signed up for The Map Project - Secret Adventures, where we "go out and plot the course to a new adventure or chart the path to an adventure you've had that can be shared with others."
Fun! If you really, really know me well, you probably know how much I LOVE maps. I have been fascinated with maps since I was a little girl. My parents used to have this light-colored, aqua-blue Atlas, and I would lug it into my bedroom and flip through the pages --- time would stand still.
To this day, I have a thing for putting maps on my walls...of places I'd like to go and places I've been, with the corners of the maps worn thin by thumb tacks. (I know that's totally ghetto, but whatevs). Perhaps, one day I will make it into art, along with the gazillion photographs that are taking up valuable space on my computer...
It has almost been a whole spankin' year since we left the comforts of our home to explore magical Bali (we departed on the leap year, February 29th, to be exact!) And my husband and I have been reminiscing quite a lot lately, of our adventures.
This little project from Arthouse Co-op couldn't have come at a better time.
When we arrived in Bali, I sadly found the nose of my surfboard crunched to pieces. Yes, my eyes welled up a bit, but who cares? We were in Bali...!!
So, as the first few weeks went on, we were trying to find out where the heck we could find a ding repair shop. It's not like you can just go online, look up the phone number of a local surf shop, and bring it in right away. We kind of had to ask around...that took about a good five to seven days. And then we (kind of) asked for (mediocre) directions. After all was said and done, we found out there was a local surfer, named Yoga, who did excellent ding repairs, and he was just a few blocks away...yaaay!
"Just go that way, turn at the end of the road, and look for the broken surfboard..."
So, if you ever find yourself in need of ding repair, here are some little tips and a little map on how to get to Yoga's ding repair shop if you are anywhere near Nusa Dua, Bali.
HOW TO FIND A DING REPAIR SHOP IN NUSA DUA, BALI:
1. Ask around: "Di mana saya bisa menemukan toko reparasi ding?" Use that handy little Indonesian dictionary, or even better, try Google Translate. Or just ask any English-speaking surfer, or anyone that works at any of the surf shops. Although not always advertised, there are a lot of locals and little shops that do ding repair. You just have to ask around. And ask again.
2. Carry a pen/pencil and paper with you - always: Be prepared to draw a map or write down directions. Street signs are usually not posted, so become familiar with landmarks.
3. If and when possible, support the locals: They can probably use the money more than any of the corporate shops or the occasional surfing ex-pat trying to make an extra buck. If they do an excellent job, tip them well, or give a small gift as nice gesture...perhaps, a bar of wax (surf wax is somewhat expensive in Bali, averaging about $4 USD per bar) - or something special from your country, that might be hard to find in Bali.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT MAPS? HAVE YOU EVER CAUGHT YOURSELF IN A SITUATION WHERE YOU HAD TO DRAW ONE FOR YOURSELF OR ANOTHER PERSON? IF YOU HAVEN'T TRIED IT BEFORE, DRAW A SIMPLE LITTLE MAP OF YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD OR ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE PLACES, JUST FOR FUN!
It's been nearly six months since we left for Bali, and I still haven't wrapped my head around the fact that we are back home. I pretty much go in and out the state of denial. So if you ever bump into me, and I look like I have my head in the clouds...please forgive me. Just hand me a glass of wine, and I'll snap back into reality.
It feels great to be back, no doubt about that. Bit by bit, we've been reuniting with our family and friends (I love you guys), and now that we live smack in the middle of downtown Ventura, we've also been bumping into people we haven't seen in ages...no seriously --- AGES.
As in, "Whaaat, your son is starting Middle School??? Are you on Facebook?"
Every moment has been a pleasant surprise, and we still have yet to connect with of our other fave peeps (Love you guys, too!You know we didn't forget about you...)
The thing is, I barely (today, actually) unpacked my last suitcase --- not out of sheer laziness, mind you, but because I have been hustling my toosh off to get things done.
Planning. Prioritizing. Cleaning. Painting.
(Yep, that's what I said. Call me anal).
Throwing in new carpet, slapping fresh paint on the walls. You should have seen this place before we moved in...Can you say crack den? Now it's fresh and clean and ready to go.
We had an opportunity to move back into the lovely little beach bungalow on Hollywood Beach, but decided to pass, because this time, our hearts longed for good ol' Ventura.
So here we are, in a little, late-1800's Victorian. It's cute. It's small. It's got character. It's got just what we need to live simply, and the location couldn't be better --- everything is a short walk or bike-ride away.
That's it folks. We are settling in, and it's back to business as usual, along with some new projects in the horizon.
I don't know what was more of a whirlwind: preparing for our trip before we left; flying by the seat of our pants during our adventure abroad; or attempting to settle back into a daily routine amidst the chaos of moving and running a business.
All I know, is that I am already itching for the next trip...donde??? Only time will tell...
I'm gonna keep this one short. But, by all means, please keep the questions and emails coming. Our friends and family have all been asking if we've settled in; if Bali has been what we expected; if it's all that we've hoped for; if it's getting easier...
Our two-month anniversary of living in Bali is here, and I can definitely say that we have found our groove. A routine, if you will, and a very nice one. It almost deserves a Marvin Gaye soundtrack to go with it. Seriously. And I can talk for hours on end about what we did and didn't expect. I think I might save that for another post, because I will just get all philosophical about it, because that's just how I am.
That said, I have a gazillion photos to share, and we haven't even really done any touristy stuff yet. We are just getting started...so I will keep shooting and promise to share more later.
Besides, the truth is, we just bought a bunch of pirated DVD's for super cheap (my apologies to my brother, Kalae, but that's all they have available to sell here, in the malls and everywhere...and somehow, it's completely legal???), and I just want to veg out in front of a movie in our cool, air-conditioned studio...aaaahhhh.
For now, here are some photos. This is a typical day for us: wake up, stretch, eat breakfast, check the surf, paddle out, eat again, and work on business/creative projects at home when the waves aren't good --- maybe go sightseeing, if we feel inclined. And then, Repeat. It's going to be hard to leave, and I don't know how we're going to break it off to beautiful Bali gently when the time comes...
For weeks on end - no, wait...months, actually - all I've heard from my darling husband is: "All I want is to get some, barreling lefts... just a nice, clean, hollow left." This statement is almost always accompanied with him posing in a front-side stance, along with sound effects of what it's supposed to sound like when you get barreled.
"Wow, babe, you're good. You'd make an excellent sound-effects dude, too." I always told him that he could go into voice-over acting. You should hear him, he's really good.
As you know, we are blessed with a wide variety of waves in Ventura County. Well, all of California, for that matter. And Mexico. And Hawaii. And we've had our share of travelling to other states and countries, as well, to seek out fun, rippable waves. It's what we do. Mandatory.
But, what we all love (we, meaning regular footers) about California and Baja are the plethora of right-hand point breaks...makes me all giddy inside, just thinking about it. However, being married to a goofy-footer makes me realize, well, how badly I feel for all the people who have to ride back-side on a perfectly, peeling right-hand point break. Like, all the time. (Can you sense the sarcasm?) No, but really, I feel for you...
Brendon has had a taste of the Mentawais, and he's been itching to spend more time in Indo. So, after a series of unfortunate events - coupled with the perfect timing of a down economy - we decided that after all was said and done, time is more valuable than any material wealth. So, we put our rose-colored glasses on and decided to stretch our dollar in Bali...and here we are.
Several weeks ago, the Bukit finally turned on. Seasons are changing, and the trade winds are blowing off-shore on the west coast of Bali. And what perfect timing: a significant swell hit the shores of Bali.
And Brendon lived to tell about it (because it was that big).
I bribed him to write a little blog post for us, just because. So, just grab a beer and pretend like he's all salty-dogged out, and doing his usual hand-gestures and sound effects. I wish I could have gotten his reaction when he came in from the water, but this is the best I can do for now. Hopefully, next time, I'll have the video cam on stand-by...
Guest Post written by Brendon:
I think that was the biggest wave I’ve ever duck dove.
It was my first time paddling out at this spot, and it was firing. I was watching the other people jump off at the paddle-out zone. Some of them made it out clean, without having to push through too much duck diving drama. Others were getting caught at the wrong time and getting sucked down the break, while having to duck dive, like thirty pretty good size waves in a row.
I must have calculated fairly well before paddling out, because I didn’t have to duck dive a single wave on the way out - except for the one right when I jumped into the water; the current started sucking out so fast, I ended up dry-docking it with my fingers in between the board and the reef. Great.
So, I make it out and try to find my place in the lineup and noticed, along with my now freshly sliced index finger, that there are guys way outside and some on the inside. I know there are bigger sets, but I get antsy and try my luck picking off some of the smaller, head-high ones bowling up nicely on the inside section.
That was a dumb move on my part. Out the back, came one of the biggest sets that I had seen all afternoon. Shit.
I started to paddle out to meet a giant wall of water that seemed to keep getting bigger the closer we came together. At that point, I started to think to myself, "Can I even duck dive this f***ing thing, or should I ditch my board?"
It was at least triple overhead.
Usually, I would just ditch my board and swim down, but I had an old leash on (another smart move), which could easily snap. The last thing I wanted to do at that point is take the rest of the set on the head without my board.
At the very last second I decided to duck dive it.
The wave breaks about ten feet in front of me, and I had about 10-12 feet, like ceiling high or more, of white wash coming toward me. I pushed down into the water super hard and tried to time it to avoid getting annihilated. I got bounced around pretty good, but somehow managed to hold onto my board.
After duck diving the next 15 waves and getting pushed further and further down the reef, it was over.
Out of breath, super hot and exhausted, I manage to make my way back out and sit on the outside corner for a couple. I was clearly under gunned that day but managed to get a couple.
The next day, was a bit cleaner and smaller, but there were still some decent size sets coming through. I paddled out with my buddy, Ken, and he makes his way up the break past the crowd. I went the other way to try and pick off one of those wide, swinging ones.
Just as I get in the line-up, the first wave of a set comes right to me, so I turn around and take it. I don’t know what happened, but I think I caught my rail when I dropped in on the wave.
Snap. There goes my leash.
I started to make the long swim in with the rest of the set breaking on me, but it wasn’t too bad. This is where a pair of reef booties comes in handy, because the reef is sharp with urchins hidden in the cracks. Urchin fest.
Some ladies kicking it in a tide pool grabbed my board.
Oh well, at least I got some exercise from the swim in. I called it a day, went in and got a Bintang and took some video footage from the warung. It's true, be careful what you ask for...
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...
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!
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.
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.
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...
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.
I think I've lost my identity.
Culture Shock. It's invevitable.
Travel does some weird things to your body, your mind, and your soul. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it's kinda like this:
One minute, I am in love with the adventure of finally stepping foot on Bali soil. And the next minute, I'm thinking to myself, "Wait. Why did I come here? Oh, yeah...because of 'A, B, and C'. That was the plan."
Except in Bali, there is no such thing as 'planning'. You just do it. Or you don't. And that's okay.
And everything that we have planned for, has been kind of......well......let's just say we are still in limbo. We haven't quite found our comfort zone yet. It's a strange and uneasy feeling, and for the most part, we are 'okay' with it, but still I find myself thinking, "Have I always been this much of a control freak? I thought I was always the mellow one..."
Maybe I'm just tripping out.
How do I explain?
To start, just a little FYI, all is not 'Eat, Pray, Love' on the lovely island of Bali. In fact, I heard somewhere that someone was selling T-shirts that said, 'Eat, Pray, Leave'. As for the surf, it's not exactly like the 'Drifter', nor is it anything like the perfect, empty line-ups you may have seen in glossy surf magazines...well, at least some parts of it (wink, wink).
Not that we were expecting all of that glam. (Of course, anyone can have the glam and glitter, but it always comes with a price). We've been warned. And yet we come. Along with the other ex-pats, the tourists, and the business venture-ers.
We came to Bali with high hopes. We did as much research as we could, spending countless hours on internet forums and well-earned money on travel guides and maps. We contacted friends who call Bali their home and asked all of the questions we could possibly think of.
But no matter how much research you do, and no matter how prepared you think you are for long-term travel or moving abroad, I am learning that you will always go through some sort of culture shock - especially when you know for a fact that you are not going back to the comfort of your home after a short two-week vacation.
The culture shock that I am experiencing have been coming in little waves throughout the past several weeks. I have adjusted to some things quite easily. And then there are other things that have taken me several days to accept as cultural norms. As an ex-pat friend said over dinner one night, "Give yourselves AT LEAST two to three months to adjust." (That's not the first time I've heard that).
Here's the kicker: one moment I might be completely fine, doing happy-food-dances in my mind, because of the delectable local cuisine; another moment I might feel a sense of helplessness, because of the poverty and the state of the environment (in the photo below, local seaweed harvesters are barely hanging on by a thread, while tourism and development continues to raise environmental and sustainable issues on an already small island busting at the seams); and then, there are many moments where I simply long for the comforts of home - where I can brush my teeth using regular tap water without suffering the consquences of dysentery...and yes, I would love to pet the neighborhood dog, without fear that it may be rabid. But that ain't happening.
Am I paranoid? Or am I suffering a case of ethnocentrism?
I hope not. I don't want to be that person. So, how do I deal?
I've accepted the fact that I am not visiting for a short two-week vacation, sipping pina-coladas by the poolside (although, I am totally guilty of that). We have committed to immerse ourselves in the culture, and we are taking each day as it comes, accepting the good moments with the bad. Hopefully, we can learn from the beliefs of the Balinese, of the duality of nature - good and evil, male and female, light and dark, life and death. It's been a huge learning curve, having first-world expectations in a third-world country, however the richness in the culture and the daily lessons learned is more than making up for any adversities that come our way.
Yes, it might be two to three months - or more - until we find our comfort zone. Or, it might be two or three months when we decide to come back. Or, we might just completely fall in love with Bali and figure out a way to stay. Who knows? The 'plan' is, is that we are willing to stick it out the best we can...or at least until we run out of money...which ever comes first.
I count my blessings everyday...every moment, in fact. Our Indonesian and ex-pat friends have graciously welcomed us with open arms and open hearts, giving us great advice (and some hard-core driving lessons, at that). And the warmth of the Balinese people have made it that much easier to settle into our new environment.
Whatever you want to call it - culture shock or ethnocentrism - I am ready and willing to accept all of Bali and its dynamic culture, as well as, its little idiosyncrasies.
The best that can happen is that I come home more humble and a little wiser.