Hurry up and wait

In my observation, when travel is involved,  there is quite a bit of hurry up and wait. I am at the airport, you guessed it, waiting for my flight which is now delayed. I slept in this morning, and panicked a bit when I woke up. The driver, Nanong, was coming for me at 10am and I woke up at 9:33. I had worked late the night before and set the time for my alarm but forgot to turn it on. Fortunately, I had trusted my intuition and packed the night before. Everything was ready to go, I just needed to get dressed.

We were on our way at 10:09 am and I still had time to stop and print off my boarding passes at the co-working space that I have been working out of while in Ubud. 9 minutes there and a coconut milk cappuccino in a takeaway cup and we were on our way! Even with this, I felt a bit rushed and worried about traffic.

Traffic in Ubud is notoriously unpredictable. You can go for a couple of miles, clear sailing all the way, and then come upon a cremation ceremony that has taken over the road. Or another type of ceremony.  This morning, Nanong, the amazing driver from Outpost, told me ( I think jokingly) that Bali means ‘many days off’ because there are always ceremonies on Bali and the Balinese take these days off.

As you do, we came upon a ceremony in Bali and fortunately Nanong has sharp eyes and turned off to detour us around the ceremony that was slowing traffic down.

From there on, it was clear all the way to the airport, with a bit of a bottleneck at the round about in front of the airport.

FYI, there is construction going on outside the Ngurah Rai airport and it will take a year to build an underpass from the airport which will hopefully clear up the amount of traffic that builds up from all of the cars picking people up when they arrive on Bali. It sometimes takes 30-40 minutes just to clear the airport!

When I was checking in for my flight, I wasn’t sure how much my backpack weighed, so to be on the safe side, I paid an extra $2 CAD for an extra 5kg taking my checked luggage allowance up to 25 kg. My backpack only weighed 12.8 kg. Oh well, this means plenty of room for souvenirs!

I made my way to security where there very few people in front of me, and then went through to passport control, and wound up in a queue behind a good 40-50 people. There were 3 different queues of people waiting to get through. As I stood inline, I watched new people arrive and they would stand at the back of the queue for a minute or 2 and watch to see which queues were moving faster. They would pick the one that they thought would move the fastest in the hopes of what? Making it though to the other side for duty free and pancakes? There would be more waiting on the other side.

We rush to get places and lose sight of the way there. We think, and I’m included in this we, that once we get ‘there’ everything will be fine. Well I’m here at the airport and my flight is delayed. So more waiting. Bali has this way of sneaking a lesson in when I’m not looking. She’s taught me patience, but my western tendencies tend to creep back in occasionally.

The delay allowed me to write this blog. Take that waiting!!! Ha! Suksma Mama Bali.

The Universe: Nice observation Seanna.

Seanna: You’ve taught me well.

 

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Easy buttons and choices

Glennon Doyle Melton said in her Super Soul session talk ‘Quit being afraid of the pain and start being afraid of the easy button.’  Because where’s the challenge and the growth when it’s easy?

There is that part of me that wanted re-entry to Bali to be easy…All the questions, all the answers. The fact that it’s pushed comfort zones has me feeling like I really needed to come back and be here on my own. Outside of week 2 that I was on retreat with amazing women all on their own journeys to healing, I’m doing this on my own and I am mostly quite comfortable with that.

I’m slowing down, relaxing into the pace of the island. It’s starting to feel natural waking up here.  To wander out for breakfast, or have it here, and just feel like I am part of the rhythm of the place.  I had the realization yesterday that, for all intents and purposes, I’m living here! I was sitting in a sweet little cafe on Monkey Forest Road, people watching and feeling like I belonged.

A writing course and watching my Dad stop living long before he died brought me out here the first time. What it gave me in return cannot be bought with money. It gave me a sisterhood that is still connected and a realization that it’s all up to me.  Ultimately I chose this place. No one forced me to come back to Bali…no one forced me to come here the first time either. We get to decide our paths and, for better more than worse, I am choosing this path right now.

Last night I was looking for accommodation for my stay when I come back after my 2 days in Singapore and I thought to myself, “can we just be here right now? Now? Just be here.” And I answered “Yes we can.”

Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable

I’ve been uncomfortable since day 3 of being on Bali. Between the bug bites and the low grade heat rash or some form of eczema, and the need to be near a toilet for the first few hours of the morning, it’s like I’m being asked how badly I really want this. And I’ve only been here for 2 weeks! I have another 5.5 months of this? There is that part of me that imagined that all the questions I had would suddenly have answers and I would be immersed in the magic and bliss of Bali.

For the last week, I’ve been on retreat and stuff has been rising to the surface and rushing out verbally.  Memories and feelings that were pushed down for a really long time and won’t be kept down anymore have been rushing to the surface during meditation, yoga, sharing and a water purification ceremony with a Balinese high priest.  Stuff that I had pushed down so deep, I had forgotten all about it.

But that the thing about stuffing something down…it’s eventually bound to pop back up again, just like when you try to hold a ball under water in a pool. Ever tried that?  You hold it down and then all up the sudden it pops up and brings a huge splash of water with it.  Fortunately it’s only words and emotions that are rushing up to the surface and out of my mouth.

My instinct is to turn and run. Back to the known. Back to where I can hide in plain sight. To where stagnancy dwells and change is turned away at the gate.  My intuition tells me to stay and to sit with the discomfort, to just be still, to root into the unknown and to know that I am being held by Mama Bali. I’m going with my intuition on this one.

The energy of this island, to me, is feminine and very powerful. The goddesses that I’ve met before all dwell here…Kali, Saraswati, Lakshmi, Durga, Parvati, and one that I am meeting for the first time, Bhuvaneshwari, the goddess of sacred space.  I’m going to sit with her for a while and just hold space for myself to be present and to feel all the feels.  The gods are present too, just quieter for now.

There is going to be more cracking open, more blooming more cracking, more blooming and it’s going to be painful and beautiful and healing. And all the while, I’m being held in the safe arms of Mama Bali, which is exactly where I need to be, discomfort, bug bites and all.

Watch where you walk

Ubud doesn’t let you drift away into thought while you are walking down the street.  The sidewalk are sometimes a jumble of tree roots and broken tiles or huge gaps that you need to leap over or walk around, lest you wind up in the sewer below. There are offerings to the gods on the ground in front of shops that you need to step over as to not offend the shop keeper or the gods. There is also dog shit left lovingly, or carelessly, by the many Bali dogs that roam the streets.

I’m struggling with jet lag and looking for a place that ticks all the boxes for a longer stay, for the feeling that I made the right choice in coming back. It’s making itself scarce.  At any given moment, we make decisions and choices that affect our comfort zones, boundaries and mindsets about what we believed was possible.  The jumping off for me was relatively easy when deciding to come back to Bali. I have more cracking, more blooming, more growing and I knew intuitively that Bali was the place for me to do it. I haven’t even been here a week yet and that exhausting inner gremlin voice is questioning everything. It’s being loud and obnoxious and devious and tiresome. Oh so tiresome.

I am out of a comfort zone. I hauled myself halfway across the world, by myself, to immerse myself in a culture that focuses on being present when I’m use to thinking 3 or more steps ahead. I’m rushing through meals thinking I have to be somewhere, when I don’t. I’m hurrying along rice field pathways looking for a place rather than seeing what’s around me.  And it’s exhaustive.

The flow will come. I just need to stand in the middle of the river and allow the waters to rush around me while I find my grounding. I just need my roots to sink in a little bit deeper. And if I fall over while rooting myself, I’ll just stand back up.

Life is going to throw things at us that we won’t always catch. That’s okay. We’re not meant to catch every throw. We’re going to fall, we’re going to question every decision or choice we make and that little gremlin voice, that angry roommate in our heads, will be there, ready to judge and say ‘I told you so’ when things don’t go as planned.  Don’t listen to that voice (and it will get louder before it gets quieter). Get back up and listen to your heart. It will always move you forward.

Seanna

 

 

Bali.

After queuing for over 2 hours to get through immigration, I finally met up with my driver, Putu and a woman that had also arranged a ride through Agung into Ubud.  We then queued for close to 30 minutes in a sea of cars, mini vans and scooters to get through the toll to get out of the airport. Dusk quickly turned to night as we sped along, weaving in and out of traffic on our way to Ubud. The woman and I kept a conversation going for about 20- 30 minutes and then there was just silence in the car. Not that uncomfortable, should I say something else silence, but the kind that spoke of exhaustion, jet-lag and ‘I’m gazing out the window to see something familiar’.

It’s dark out, the streets mainly lit from the headlights from all the other vehicles on the street. We’re whizzing past buildings, shacks, roadside food carts and statues of Hindu deities.

There are many abandoned buildings along our drive, more than I remember. They are large and hulking and dark and for a minute or two I get caught up in the despair that the buildings give off.  Other small businesses are lit by only one, sometimes two light bulbs, casting a stark light within.  Because I’m tired and jet lagged, this starkness and despair starts to sink in and I’m left wondering where the magical place I remember is.

The air conditioning, which was nice at first, had become too cold so Putu turned it off and rolled down his window which signaled it was okay for us to do too. I rolled my window down and immediately the heat and humidity hit my face, along with the familiar smells of Bali, incense mixed with tropical flowers and smoke from fires burning on the side of the road.

With my window open, I watched people look up as we drove past. I wonder what they saw when they looked at me. Did they see the exhaustion in my wide eyes, even wider with trying to stay awake, mixed with the excitement of this adventure?  I smiled at each person that I made eye contact with, even if it was a brief second.

I was dropped off at my accommodation and checked into my lovely little garden room and immediately fell asleep.  When I got up the next morning, I opened my sliding glass door and all the starkness and despair I had felt the previous evening simply fell away.  I was back on Bali, the center of my Universe, the place that magic happens.

The women who came before

In the moments of doubt, of frustration, of not feeling like I am enough or that I haven’t done enough, in the moments where I am wondering if I am doing the right thing, if I have made the right decision if I am truly doing what I want to do, I think of you, the women who came before, whose shoulders I stand on. My grandmothers, both who left homes in towns that they knew for homes, and in one case, a country, that they did not know. My great-grandmothers who said goodbye to their children who were leaving the country of their birth not knowing if they would ever see them again yet letting them follow their own paths. I think of the women that came before and feel them in my bones, in my blood, in my DNA, in the beating of my imperfect heart. Their strength, their love, their frailty. I am here because you loved and gave birth to the women and men that allowed me to be born. Because of you, I exist in this mortal coil, this manifestion of humanity. Because of you, the women that came before, I live in a time and in a country where I can raise my voice and I can vote and I can work and I can wear whatever I want. Because of you, the women who came before, I can rent my own apartment, have my own bank account, drive my own car, live my own life. Because you were born, I was born. I feel the mantle of your love, of your life, around my shoulders, keeping me warm, reminding me of my worth. Reminding me that I am enough. Especially in the moments of frustration, of doubt, of indecision. Because you were born, I was born. Because you lived, I live. Because you were you, I am me. Perfectly imperfect exactly as I am. #internationalwomansday

You do know the way

I’ve often had dreams in which I am running or walking or driving…with my eyes closed. No matter what I do in the dream, my eyes stay shut.

Recently, Friday to be exact, I had another one of those dreams. Later that afternoon I was chatting with a friend over FB messenger and while we were chatting, I realized with sudden clarity what the dreams meant. This is what I wrote to her: ‘I took a nap this afternoon and during my nap I was dreaming that I was driving my mom somewhere, but my eyes were closed but I knew where I was going. I finally realized what it means. (I’ve had many dreams where my eyes are closed and as much as I try to open them I can’t) That I know the way. Deep inside, I know the way. I just need to let go, to surrender, of wanting to control or to see what is coming.’

It was such a powerful realization.

We know the way forward, all of us. We just need to start where we are, in the now.

The Universe: Seanna, you know the way. You always have. It’s inside of you.

Seanna: But I can’t see! How am I supposed to know the way if I can’t see?

The Universe: You trust your heart.