3. After Bali 2017-2018

What a Coincidence

Saturday, January 6th, 2018

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Ahhhh, fresh start. I am oddly fascinated by New Year’s Resolutions – I also tend to take them very seriously. One of my resolutions last year was to step out of my comfort zone. Welp, safe to say I succeeded with that resolution! So now we embark on 2018. New Year, New Resolutions. 

Here are my resolutions for this next year…and life (writing them down here will help me commit and hold me accountable):

1. Drink more water.
2. Focus on dreams.
3. Write something every day…even if it’s just a quote in my notebook.
4. No drinking (unless event, limit to 1-2 drinks).
5. Most importantly: Trust the Process.

I may delve deeper into my resolutions another time, but for this entry, I really want to write about coincidences…

I’ve had a series of coincidences happen recently that are making me feel giddy and excited for each day. There are countless books and blogs that discuss the significance of coincidences (also: synchronicity, serendipity, providence, and fate) and when I started digesting the information, coincidences started popping up all over the place. One of the greatest books I’ve read on coincidences is “Sidewalk Oracles” by Robert Moss – it is like candy for the mind. Sure, you can shrug every coincidence off and use the negative connotation: “It’s just a coincidence” (i.e. It doesn’t mean anything). OR, you can look at each little coincidence and smile from it. Another book I’ve read about coincidences is called “When God Winks” by SQuire Rushnell. To sum this book up in one sentence: “If you experience a coincidence, it means you’re moving in the right direction.” Alright coincidences, bring ’em on!

So I have two coincidences that I’m still in awe of that have happened this past week.

1. On Tuesday, I visited Portland, OR and went to one of my all-time happy places: Powell’s – City of Books. My goal was to purchase one book recommended to me by my friend’s Mom, and also purchase another book that I would stumble across. I love to go into bookstores and follow my intuition – I’m usually drawn to a particular section, then I check out about 15-20 different books until I come across ‘the one.’ Usually when I pick out the right book, I just know it – it’s odd, but the same thing can be done picking out an outfit, a meal, or even a partner in life! So once I picked up the book recommended to me, it was time to let my intuition lead me to my second book. I walked immediately to the dream section and I’m pretty sure I looked at about 25 different dream books. “No. No. No. No. No….” None of them were speaking to me – and then I picked up a book called, “The Three ‘Only’ Things.” “YES.” I flipped through the pages and saw chapters on coincidences, dreams, and imagination. “YES YES YES.” Then I looked at the author… Robert Moss. The same man who wrote my favorite book: Sidewalk Oracles. Hmmmmm, what a coincidence! [big grin on my face]

Another minor coincidence regarding Robert Moss – I looked up his website to see if he was doing any speaking engagements anywhere near me. He’s from Australia and lives in New York, so I had a feeling I wouldn’t have much luck. Turns out, he must be very drawn to Washington, because he has several retreats (and Dream Teacher trainings) in DUVALL, WASHINGTON. What. Are. The. Odds?? 

2. Now this second coincidence still gives me chills. On my way back to Seattle from Vancouver, I wanted to do a driving meditation. I quickly searched on Spotify to see if there were any guided meditations on driving. Almost every single guided meditation instructs you to lay down and close your eyes. I wanted something that was specific to being behind the wheel. I happened to find one that is actually intended for use while on the road. It was a 15-minute meditation on the podcast called “10% Happier with Dan Harris.” I didn’t know this at the time, but Dan Harris happens to be an ABC News anchor who discovered meditation after he had a panic attack live on-air.

I’m so happy I listened to that meditation because it completely changed my 3-hour drive. I was driving mindfully, noticing all the rushed people zipping by me, feeling content with driving the speed limit, and relaxing my usually-tense neck muscles. I arrived in Lake Forest Park and realized that those 3 hours flew by.

The next day, I was talking with Kris in the living room and she mentioned that she usually catches up on The Daily Show the day after it airs to see the monologue and any guests she finds interesting. She said that the previous night’s guest was indeed interesting and that I should check out the interview. 

“The guest’s name is Dan Harris and he’s written a book…”

[I know that name. Hmmmm…The DaVinci Code. Maybe he’s written a new book.]

“…and he wrote a book on meditation called ‘10% Happier.'”

[WHOA. Whoa.whoa.whoa. Not Dan Brown, the author of The DaVinci Code…Dan HARRIS, the same guy I listened to a day ago in my car!!]

What a coincidence!

So I, of course, watched the interview and loved what he had to say about meditation. The biggest takeaway: even ONE MINUTE of meditation a day can work its magic. I used to think that meditation can only happen in a dark, quiet room, with my legs crossed and my thumbs touching my pointer fingers. This isn’t necessarily the case. You can meditate anywhere, any time…even for a minute. You can even meditate in your car…

Can’t wait to see what other coincidences will pop up. I’m enjoying 2018 thus far and remembering to Trust the Process. I hope you’re having a great 2018 so far and you hold on to your resolutions. It’s going to be a good year…

Beauty in the Mystery

Friday, December 29th, 2017

I’ve mentioned a few times throughout this blog a service called “Notes from the Universe.” If you’ve never checked it out, I highly encourage you to. I woke up this morning to a message from the Universe that put a smile on my face. Since I’ve returned to the States, I’ve been very happy, but also a bit stressed if I’m being completely honest. What do I do? Where do I want to be? How am I going to make an income? Do I need to find a job that I may be unfulfilled in STAT so I don’t go broke? Where am I going to live?

It is very, very stressful not having a job and having bills to pay. It was easy in Bali because practically everything was cheaper than a white mocha; but now I’m putting off my white mocha addiction and pinching my pennies. While it’s stressful, I’m using this as a fun challenge for myself. I’m channeling McGyver, but instead of making a raft with paper clips, a door, and a balloon, I’m figuring out how to live in America with the resources I have at this moment. I’m reevaluating where I’m driving to save on gas, I’m making my food last longer, and I’m looking at my calendar like a Tetris game. With all the plans I have in January, I’m not overstaying my welcome anywhere, and I’m having fun at the same time. I know this phase won’t last forever, so I’m enjoying this strange period of unemployment. Weird, huh? Although it’s a stressful phase, it’s also very freeing. I can make plans for the middle of the day with friends – I can say yes to all dogsitting or babysitting jobs – I can AVOID TRAFFIC.

Back to the message from the Universe…it was exactly what I needed to read during this phase. Maybe it’s what you need to read, too:

Andrea, soon the new year starts, so now’s a great time to:

1. Wipe the slate clean.
2. Focus upon what you really want.
3. Chart your course.

Or is that a bit old school? Feels tiring! Ugh!

How about an adventurous alternative:

1. Give thanks that your life is exactly as it is.
2. Decide that 2018 will be the happiest year of your life yet.
3. Every day, follow your heart and instincts down new paths.

This will be your year, Andrea –
The Universe

Before I headed to paradise, I purchased a new pair of shoes. I wrote about these shoes and how they would be taking me on adventures that were a mystery to me at the time. That’s part of the fun in life…not knowing. Just being. Accepting the moment for what it is.

I had a fresh pedicure the day before I left for Bali and I intentionally didn’t get a pedicure in Bali (can you believe I turned down a $5 pedicure?!) because my nail polish was a weird kind of timeline. Sure enough, these shoes took me on a plethora of adventures that I’ll never forget. I had no idea at the time of purchase what these shoes would mean to me.

Now I’m back in the Pacific Northwest and my adventure sandals are packed away in my Summer boxes. Back to boots. Where will these shoes take me?? It’s a mystery.

I had a thought this morning about my desire to know. I’m extremely curious about everything – two of my favorite questions are, “Why?” and “How?” I’m constantly wanting to dig deeper and find the root of anything I’m learning about. So, naturally, I’ve been wanting to know what my future holds. Then I thought about how I’ve always been curious about how this world even began in the first place. (My coffee this morning was very strong…) Where did we come from? I grew up learning about the Big Bang Theory as well as the Christian belief that God created the world in 7 days. (Disclaimer: I know these are always controversial topics – this is my personal opinion and I respect everyone’s opinion. This is what I believe and don’t intend to change anyone’s mind…just talking my way through this!). But in my opinion, these are simply theories. No one actually knows 100%. This means anything is possible. We don’t know, and there’s a really good chance we will never know how the Universe was created. I don’t know why I was born a human in this body of mine in this part of the world. Is everything scientific and we are just molecules moving about on a giant rock being held down by gravity? Is everything completely random and nothing has meaning? We. Don’t. Know. So it’s up to us to decide what our truth, our belief, is.

For some reason, I’m always wanting to figure out how it all began. I research theories all the time; I read books on different ideas, and sometimes I go down endless rabbit holes. But why do I need to know? It’s a fascinating topic to contemplate, but it will never end with an answer. So I continued thinking about it this morning and told myself, “It’s okay to not know.” I don’t know the beginning and I also don’t know the end. What’s the fun if I did? Life is meant to be unknown – anything could happen at any moment that could alter the course of our expected life…so go with the flow.

Every day, every second, is a new journey for the soul inside of our body. I want to make sure it’s a positive and fun journey, so even though I am in a stressful point in my life, I know there are lessons to be learned, challenges to be conquered, and adventures to be had.

As I reflect on the most incredible, most life-changing, year of my life, it feels as if 2017 will be impossible to top. But someone very wise told me: 2018 will be the happiest year of my life yet. I believe it.

Where will my feet take me next? I can’t wait to find out…

During Home

Sunday, December 24th, 2017

Merry Christmas Eve! 

This past week has been a complete mix of emotions. I have the urge to write and write and write, but I’ll keep this entry short. Oddly enough, what I want to write about is how I’m going to continue this blog. I’m finding it interesting the tiny things that are making me think so much. So much of my adventure was captured in this blog, and in a lot of ways it is what kept me sane during all of the ups and downs in Bali. My writing has become a consistent part of my journey through this period of life.

Whenever I post a new entry, I include a category. The past 9 months, I’ve used “Before Bali” and “During Bali.” Now I’m selecting the category “After Bali.” I can’t help but wonder, what is my Before category now? What’s coming next? The rest of my life can’t be known as “After Bali.” Even my subtitle, “An American Girl in Amed, Bali” will need to change. But to what? I’m sort of in this limbo place right now where I’m home for the holidays and adjusting back to the Western world – it’s a holiday for everyone. But I don’t have clear direction anymore; I’m feeling a bit lost. So once I get back to Seattle, it’ll be time to focus. I am reminding myself to trust the Universe and know that everything will work out, but it is a bit scary. And that doesn’t mean I can just sit on my ass and see what happens. I need to get out there and discover for myself what my next “During _______”  category is. 

I’ve had people tell me they can’t live vicariously through me anymore and that maybe it’s time to find a new place to live and get another job in the city. A big part of me agrees with all of that. I mean, I’m not in paradise zipping around on my scooter anymore and now I need to find a way to make an income. Will I have anything worth writing about anymore? Well, that little voice of mine is telling me my adventure isn’t over…

So my “plan” is to look into organizations that align with my passions, keep having conversations (so many of my experiences in Bali spurred from random conversations with strangers), keep writing, and keep trusting in the Universe and myself. 

Before I get into hustle mode, I’m going to keep enjoying this incredible time with my family. I am so grateful to be home for my favorite holiday and be able to do a little bit of yoga with Claire Bear. Everything will work out – it always does.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas full of joy and love. 

Life is good.

New Reality

Sunday, December 17th, 2017

Back in Seattle…

My tourist visa was up on the 15th, so I had to leave Indonesia once again. I had grappled with what I was going to do – Singapore again? A new country? Back home? And then an image of a face came into my mind…little Claire. I have been watching her grow up the past 4 months over FaceTime and I knew I had to come back to see her in person. So I booked my ticket back to America and enjoyed my last couple of weeks in Amed. 

I ate all my favorite meals (bakso soup and nasi campur), kept volunteering as much as I could, and rode my scooter everywhere. I soaked up the energy until the very last minute. 

I was required to leave Indonesia by December 15th, so I managed to find a flight out at 11:55pm. I was going to stay as long as I humanly could. But the day before I was supposed to leave, I received an e-mail telling me my flight has been changed to 5 hours earlier. This cut my last day in half, but I did my best to not let it get to me. Oddly enough, my very last day was one of the most peaceful days of my entire trip. You know those warm, Summery days when kids are on school break, everyone seems to be outside, birds are chirping, and everyone just seems happy? That’s what this day felt like. Perfect last day. I was terribly sad to leave Amed, but as my driver was exiting the little town, my gut was telling me I’d be back. I don’t know when, but I knew it wouldn’t be the last time I’d be in Amed.

I flew from Bali to Jakarta, then on to Beijing. Beijing was a tough layover – extremely rude people (very hard to transition from the nicest humans ever in Bali to people who just seem angry all the time). Managed to make it through 7 hours without wanting to die, and then it was my 12 hour final flight to Seattle. I barely got sleep, watched 4 movies, and sat next to a really cool 12-year-old who has traveled all over the world. He kept tapping me on my shoulder to ask random questions (“Ummm excuse me, what’s your favorite cola?”) and he actually kept me sane while the baby 4 rows ahead was crying every hour. 

And then finally. Off the plane, through immigrations, and baggage picked up. Mom and Jay picked me up and thankfully my Mom packed a few sweatshirts for me to wear. I was expecting a huge culture shock upon my return, but being back in Seattle was like riding a bike. Got right back into it and it felt like I hadn’t even left. The biggest shock was the coldness.

Of course I had to do a few of my favorite things now that I was back. We enjoyed Starbucks White Mochas at Pike Place Market, eggs Benedict at Pesos, NAP, cheese and crackers, and dinner at Dick’s. Ahhh, Seattle.

So now what? I wasn’t afraid to go to Bali and see where life would take me, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous at all to be back. “Back to reality,” everyone keeps saying. So what’s my new reality? Do I hunt for a full-time, corporate job? I need to make an income if I’m going to travel again. Where will I live? CAN I even live in Seattle anymore? I have a bazillion questions and only one answer: go with the flow. I’ve promised myself to maintain the spirit that I had in Bali. Just because I’m in the Pacific Northwest, doesn’t mean I have to “get back to the grind.” I’m going to still explore, find joy in every day, and follow my intuition. 

I’m at my favorite coffee shop next to Greenlake now (yessss, I’m back at my happy place!), and they’ve since remodeled and renamed it to “The Retreat.” How fitting… It’s seriously odd how it feels like I was only gone a week. Feels like I’ll be waking up tomorrow and getting ready for work. Was Bali just a dream? It was as quick as a blink! When you’re there, time slows down. Everything that happened made it feel as if I was there a lifetime. But now I’m back and cars are driving faster, people seem a bit more agitated, and everything is expensive as hell. The prices are going to be a hard adjustment – I’m going to miss my $1.50 full tank of gas!

But just like my favorite coffee shop has remodeled, so have I. I noticed I was driving slower on I-5 (if you know me, that’s a big deal), and nothing is bothering me. Granted, it’s only been a day… But even though it feels like I was barely gone, my body went through many seasons and emotions. Out of all the times in a lifetime, I happened to be in Bali while Agung was erupting for the first time in 55 years. That volcano shifted everyone that was in Bali whether they realized it or not. It made me look at life in a whole new way. 

In the first week of landing in Bali in August, I found a perfect white sand beach that felt like was meant for me.

Just a few days ago, I went back to the “Stairway to Heaven” beach. It had completely changed. I couldn’t really believe it and I checked my map to make sure I was at the same beach. Within 4 months, a white sand beach had completely been turned into a stone beach. There was clearly a lot of work happening on this beach while not looking. It’s so representative of my time there. I know my brain has shifted and I know my heart has grown. I feel like a whole new person.

While I was in Bali, I was unemployed. But I could play the whole, “I’m traveling” card. But now that I’m back in America, I can’t play that card anymore. Now it’s reality – I’m unemployed and there’s a tinge of embarrassment. Now the pressure of ‘figuring out my life’ is becoming a bit stronger.

I’ve had visions of a few different scenarios. One of those visions has me turning into a lazy, depressed, jobless person… But I REFUSE to let that happen. I could also end up getting back onto the path that I was on before, which seems to be what everyone sort of expects. Or I could keep going with my adventure – see where life takes me… I’m extremely curious to see what I’ll end up doing. If it were up to me, I’d love to dogsit, babysit, keep writing, and not feel the chains of societal expectations again. I want to keep listening to my intuition, follow the signs, and trust that I will end up in the right place. I felt so free in Bali – I intend to keep that sense of freedom. It wasn’t just a vacation like so many people think. It was my new way of life – it was training for a new reality.

So it’s decided, isn’t it? Keep going. Adventure in the Pacific Northwest. No concrete plans…going with the flow like usual. 

Let’s see where this road goes…