Lessons Learned

Keep Going

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

It finally hit me. The emotion. The homesickness. The minor meltdown. I was always wondering when it would happen. I thought it would happen while I was still in Seattle, packing up all my belongings, saying all of my goodbyes. But it never hit me.

After a few weeks on a new island, instead of thinking when, I started wondering if it would ever hit me that I uprooted my life and left everything I knew to start a new path on the other side of the world. It was a hectic 3 months preparing and it confused me that I never got very emotional about it. But yesterday, it finally hit me.

“What the hell am I doing? I left an awesome job with wonderful people. I left a city with so many of my friends that I could call at any moment and grab a cup of coffee with. Instead of a 4 hour drive away from my family, I am now a 24-hour travel day away. I sold half of my belongings and moved away from my happy place, Greenlake. I left the comforts of home. For what?”

It was especially frustrating that the emotion hit me after such a positive yoga class where we were guided to think positively and trust the Universe. But during the day, my mind was swirling with all these negative thoughts that have probably been waiting to come to the surface.

Did I make a mistake? Am I doing the right thing or am I just putting my life on hold for an “extended vacation?” Maybe those couple of people who doubted my decision were right. Maybe I really am crazy for doing all of this.

My main hurdle is not feeling a sense of purpose. Each day, I sit at a beach or a different warung and soak up my surroundings. I am meeting people and I am delving deep into the culture of the Balinese. But am I making a difference? Maybe I am supposed to work 40 hours a week in order to feel like I’m contributing to the world. Maybe I’m supposed to be in America and find that person I’ll marry and buy a house and have a child.

Why was I called to Bali? Why did I have to be so drawn to a place that is so far away?

What I do know, is that I’m not quite ready to leave. Regardless of what my crazy mind is thinking, my gut is telling me to stay. Maybe I don’t feel a sense of purpose…yet…but I trust that I am supposed to be here. I just need to keep going.

Something that brought me comfort during my mini meltdown was this picture. This reminder of support. I am so grateful for my friends and family for believing in me. Right now, I’m struggling to believe in myself and there’s this little voice that’s telling me to pack up and go back and find a job and get back into ‘reality.’ But a stronger voice is telling me to not give up.

My little nieces are a huge part of my heart and they are infatuated with the movie Moana. Yesterday morning on FaceTime, Avery sang “How Far I’ll Go” and it made me so happy. I watched Moana pretty much every morning I was with my family before I left for Bali. Claire is especially obsessed with it. It’s actually the perfect story for me to think about right now. Even last night, I was walking on the beach and a man said, “Watch out, I’m catching something!” He reeled in his fishing line and instead of a fish, it was a manta ray. It was absolutely beautiful. The fisherman pulled out the line from its mouth and placed it back in the ocean…but I couldn’t help but notice my timing and how I was in the right place at just the right time to see this beautiful creature. And I was reminded of my nieces and Moana at that moment.

See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me
And no one knows, how far it goes
If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me
One day I’ll know, if I go there’s just no telling how far I’ll go…

I’m going to keep going. Let’s see how far I’ll go…

Love you all more than you know.



Friday, August 25th, 2017

I’m sitting at a restaurant (warung) on the beach, the sun is setting, and the waves are rolling in. It’s absolutely gorgeous and I still can’t believe I’m here. And I especially can’t believe that I’ve been here only a week. Feels like it’s been for so, so much longer. 

I’m getting a feel for the little things… When to stop opening my door before it squeaks, where the big pot holes are to avoid on my scooter, and which warung has the best wi-fi for posting here (Ganesh Amed…the one with all the books). Wi-fi is nearly nonexistent at the homestays where I’m living. For the first few days, I thought about changing homestays so that I could find one with better wi-fi. But I’m actually kind of enjoying being “off the grid” completely. I’d love to be able to easily go down to the beach and write, but instead, I’m taking this time to live

The past couple of days I’ve been working on getting my Scuba open water certification. It’s an accelerated class, so it only takes 3 days, as opposed to weeks. I was supposed to complete it today, but the visibility at the last dive was going to be poor, so we decided to postpone til tomorrow or Sunday. Taking this course made me feel like I was back in school again. Reading and studying like crazy to pass my final exam (I did!).

My first dive was amazing, but terrifying at the same time. We went down to about 12 meters and a few times I looked up and thought, “Holy shit, I can’t make any mistakes down here. If I want to give up, I simply cannot because I’d harm myself…and pooooossibly die.” So needless to say, the incredible aquatic life around me wasn’t really on my mind. Water kept leaking into my goggles and there was a period of time I could barely see and was trying to talk myself out of a panic attack. I channeled my inner yoga and just told myself to take long, deep breaths. “It’s all good. You’re floating and you’re a fish right now.” Thankfully, I survived… 

I don’t want to say too much about my instructor, but I’ll say that when I asked for a new mask because water was leaking in, he grabbed a smaller one and said, “Here’s a mask for problem faces.” Uhhh, thanks. Let’s just say, I didn’t really mesh with him. He treated me like I was an idiot (which in some cases I was…I’ve never dived before!). And oddly enough, the ‘problem-face mask’ helped me enjoy the last two dives far more.

During yesterday’s skill set and exam, my instructor said he was surprised by how well I did. Uhhh, thanks again… It was an interesting couple of days with him and after our dive today, I called him out on his assholeness. He apologized and things seemed to get a bit better. One more dive and then I’ll (hopefully) be certified!

Last night I tried Durian for my first time. The “stinky fruit.” It’s true…it’s really damn stinky. I had several conversations with my old co-worker, Trayton, about Durian and have always wanted to try it. Golo brought a small one that was about 30,000 rupiah (a little over $2.00). In the states, Durian can cost up to $9-$12. It’s essentially considered a delicacy and paying $2 for fruit here in Bali is VERY expensive. Isn’t it funny that the most…*ahem* female-looking foods (durian, oysters) are considered delicacies? Anyway… We opened it and apparently it wasn’t a very good one, but there were sections we could eat out of. It reminded me of a mix of an oyster and a big lima bean. There’s a little bit of ‘meat’ around the seed that kind of tasted like a sweet garlic in a way. Very hard to describe. I was surprised that I didn’t hate it… 

I ventured out on my scooter in the dark for the first time last night. I’ve already discovered my favorite snack here (Twistko corn chips) that is sold at a little store about a mile away from my room. Perfect reason to take a night time ride. Is it weird that I was giddy when I returned back to Diver’s Cafe in one piece?? Getting more comfortable…slowly, but surely. Like I mentioned before, I almost returned my scooter because I didn’t think I’d want to drive it anymore, but I’m really glad I didn’t. Just like diving, and everything else in life, it takes time. 

And the next installment of “Things Cheaper Than a Starbucks Tall White Mocha”:

May I present the most incredible fried banana on the planet.

By the way, I miss you all. 


Lessons Everywhere

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

So many things I want to write about. Maybe I’ll just write about them all…

– Chickens are more common than squirrels here. They are everywhere! There are three chickens that hang out in front of my room every morning. I’ve also come across a frog on my steps, and even a gecko in my room. Chicken = Ayam. Pig = Babi. Frog = Katak.

– A lot of the children walk the beaches selling items for money. The money they make goes toward school or classes to learn English. The younger kids (I’ve seen as young as 4 years old) usually sell bracelets and bags of salt. Most people don’t buy anything, but when they sell something, there’s a mini party after the ‘close.’ Every other kid runs up to the seller to marvel at how much they were given. The older men sell sunglasses or mini fishing boats and the older women sell massages.

– Speaking of massages, another item in my “Things Cheaper Than a Starbucks Tall White Mocha” list: a 60-minute full body massage by the pool. $4 (including tip). I should add that it’s one of the BEST massages I’ve ever had. 

– Time. I have so much time now. The days feel like they last forever because everything seems to move a bit slower here. There’s never any rush, no obligations. With all this new free time, I’ve loved sitting on different beaches and observing everything around me. I watched this little girl approach a group of tourists and try to sell them bracelets. She had her official working voice:

“Hello! How are you? Where you from? What’s your name? Nice to meet you.” 

This little girl didn’t sell anything to the tourists, so she went back to her Dad’s fishing boat and waited with her little sister for their Dad to get off work. As she was waiting, she noticed her shadow and started making hand puppets, then started dancing.

I so loved it. As we grow older, we tend to stop dancing. When I walked back to my room, I turned on some tunes and danced on my patio. Thanks, little one, for inspiring me!

– Ahhh, my scooter. Last night, I told myself I was going to go back to Putu and tell him I don’t want it for the month. He could keep the money (about $75) and I could rent it whenever I needed it. Everyone I’ve spoken to has reminded me to be careful on the scooter. In my head, I’m always thinking, “Don’t you understand that I am going to be the most careful scooter driver on all of Bali?!” I don’t know why driving it scares me so much. Scared = VERY CAREFUL. 

I am mesmerized by how the Balinese drive. Riding a scooter is like walking for them. They’re so at ease – one-handed, holding large items, using their cell phone. I wonder what they would think if they rode along I-5. 

I don’t have plans to be that comfortable on the scooter – that would take years and years. And last night, I told myself that it wasn’t necessary I scooter. I was afraid and hearing the orchestra of “Be careful!” in my head. Best way to be careful is to just not drive. Plus, yesterday’s ride definitely got me out of my comfort zone. I drove out of Amed and made a left on the “highway.” I do alright on the roads, it’s just when I need to turn around that I start to panic a little bit. The requirements for me to turn around are a large, flat area, not bumpy, not on a hill, and no people watching. I get extra nervous when the Balinese are watching me (and laughing). After 10 minutes of riding, I finally found a spot that was easy to turn around on. Then when I needed to get back on the road to Amed, I got too nervous and kept going straight. Since their roads are opposite, turning right isn’t the right-of-way. I was worried I’d screw up the roundabout, so I kept going straight to find another flat area to turn around and go back to Amed. 20 minutes later… My nerves just got the best of me and no flat area looked safe enough for my elementary skills on a scooter. Once I returned, that’s when I decided the scooter was just too much for me.

But this morning, i woke up and had an urge to ride it again. I changed my mind and I decided I’m going to hold on to the scooter and just drive it up and down Amed. No need to go much further outside of town. So I hopped on and scootered to Lipah bay and started getting more comfortable with the turn signals and the curves of the road. Sure, I have garbage trucks passing me, but I’m learning to enjoy the feeling of scootering. 

– This is the strip of the road I live on.

I’ve gotten to know the Tourist Information guide. Putu. His shop is right across from my hotel. He’s essentially the friendly guy who knows everyone, speaks decent English, and refers everyone to his friends who own businesses. He’s a human Yelp. 

I’m loving this little road. I’ve been wondering if I should change it up every week and check out other homestays. A big part of me is telling me to stay at Diver’s Cafe for a while. I’m getting to know the staff and the neighbors. The more I get to know them, the more I get to know Bali. 

– And this is something that is confirmed every moment I’m here. Bali is beautiful.

One Square Inch of Silence

Friday, July 14, 2017

One month. One month and I will be in Bali. Whoa. It’s slooooowly starting to hit me. Just last week it felt like I had so much more time, but now? Time is flyin’. 3 weeks of work left and then 1 week with family. Then who knows… As I write this, there is a big smile on my face – it’s coming up quickly, but I’m READY!

I want to rewind to last weekend. I spent the weekend with my colleague and friend, Robin. She told me a while back about the One Square Inch of Silence. It is deemed “very possibly the quietest place in the United States.” This is one of the many things I love about the Pacific Northwest – I’ve lived in the PNW for 30 years and I’ve never heard of this place. So many surprises. What will I learn of next? When Robin asked if I wanted to go find it, I immediately said yes.

People have been asking if I have a “bucket list” of things to do before I leave Seattle. I did, but it only had one item: One Square Inch. Last weekend, I checked it off my list. I’m so damn grateful for the experience.

Thursday afternoon, we took off on our weekend adventure to the Olympic National Park. I don’t think anything makes me giddier than knowing I’m going to be camping for a couple of nights. Campfire food and s’mores while unplugged in the middle of Nature. No computers, no wi-fi, no schedule. We read, we ate, and we had great conversations. Ahhh, camping. Nothing better.

We woke up bright and early and made our way to the trailhead in the Hoh Rainforest. We found it amusing that even the Forest Ranger knew nothing about One Square Inch. We printed out the map and began the trek. The map said it’s 3.2 miles from the trailhead and takes about 2 hours to get to the stilted tree. “Ha! 2 hours to go 3.2 miles? Nah, that’ll take us maybe 1 hour.”

3 hours later, we finally made it to the stilted tree…

When you’re in the middle of a rainforest, expect to move a little slower and spend a little more time on the trails. Such an incredible environment. Robin and I stopped several times to admire all the foliage, trees, the Hoh River, and surprise waterfalls.

On several hikes, I have told myself that Nature is my favorite museum. This “museum” on the Olympic Peninsula? It may be the best. I saw new dimensions of the color green and I heard bird calls that were more ornate than “Flight of the Bumble Bee.” And the trees were absolutely enormous. Man, if trees could talk…

So we found the first checkpoint on our scavenger hunt, the stilted tree, and walked through the “door.” I loved that as soon as we passed through, we both became completely silent. We wanted to respect the silence, so we didn’t speak a word. We meandered along the elk path, then made it across the wet clearing, and found the mossy log. X marks the spot.

We found the red stone and the “Jar of Quiet Thoughts,” signifying that this was it – the quietest place in the United States. OSI was designated on Earth Day in 2005 – the independent research project discovered this area as completely free of human noise. Nothing is heard, not even planes, except for the rustle of the leaves and the various wildlife creatures.

Robin and I both sat down…and listened.

I had found a comfortable spot and crossed my legs and prepared to close my eyes to meditate. I realized that in this spot, I didn’t actually need to close my eyes. What I usually visualize during meditation was right in front of me.

I don’t meditate as much as I should, but it’s becoming a fairly regular practice for me. What I like to do is visualize and quiet my mind. Most times, I picture myself sitting in a forest, surrounded by trees and the sun is shining. Birds are chirping and there’s a sense of peace over everything in sight. While I was in One Square Inch, I was sitting exactly where I usually visualize myself. It was a very special moment to look in front of me and see what I so often imagine. It was even more special to know that this was a place where people come to find that same sense calmness. The energy was very, very positive.

Eventually, I did close my eyes and sat still for about 45 minutes. I listened to the birds and paid attention to my breath. There was nothing to distract my often-wandering mind. Even where I am right now, I’m sitting still, but it’s not complete silence. Cars, the hum of fans, planes in the distance, and a lawn mower. Try it right now…what do you hear?

45 minutes went by and when I finally opened my eyes again, it felt like I had taken the best 2-hour nap of my life. I was so happy and I felt completely grounded. Once fully back in reality, we made our way back out to the trail. It was a sweet surprise when I found a clover attached to my shoe. I find joy in moments like these…

We made it back to the trailhead and began our journey to find a new campground to stay at. After a couple “Full Campground” signs and a wrong turn that made for a 2-hour detour, we finally found the Queets primitive campground along the river. All was good. We made some delicious fajitas, ate s’more s’mores, and hung out in the hammock over the water.

And just when I thought it couldn’t get better, we visited the Tree of Life the next morning.

I spent my 30th birthday at the Tree of Life because it represents growth and strength. This Tree has nothing below it, yet it’s roots are helping it float. On rainy April 29th, my 30th birthday, I stood in front of this Tree and thought about my life and what I knew, deep in my roots. It was while standing in front of this tree that I listened to my gut.

“Leave the nest. Make a change. Don’t renew lease. Let go. Go to Bali.”

It was an honor to visit again. At this point, what my gut was telling me months prior was coming true. I’m making that change. I didn’t renew my lease. I’m letting go and I’m going back to Bali. My roots will always be here, but it’s time to leave my nest.

What I believe is that silence is in the mind. There is a “One Square Inch” in all of our minds, we just rarely take the time to tune the rest of the world out. It’s amazing what you learn when you don’t listen to the Outside and Start listening to the Inside.

What do you hear?

Beauty Everywhere

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

This past weekend was spent in the Olympic National Park and it made me feel so grounded. I’ll share more of that incredible experience when I have a bit more time.

While in the Hoh Rainforest, I saw so many different types of flowers, trees, and forest creatures.

I was struck by this dandelion. Isn’t it beautiful? It’s perfect. Yet, we call it a “pesky weed” and purchase products to get rid of them. It makes me wonder, what other things do we look at and don’t even notice how perfect they actually are.

I thought of this dandelion when I drove by a homeless person this morning. A man with ripped up jeans and a dirty jacket was slumped over on the corner of Mercer Street, his bedroom, and people just walked right by him like he didn’t exist. Like he was a weed. He’s a human with a childhood and a favorite food and a unique laugh and an eye color. He needs love, but he is still perfect.

There is beauty in everything and everyone.

Bird Set Free

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

I walked out of my apartment of 5 years for the last time this morning.

So many memories are held within those walls. 5 years ago, I was beyond nervous to live alone. I debated whether I should move in or not; I didn’t think I was ready to live without a roommate – a safety net. I’m so glad I challenged myself and moved in to the Eileen. I grew so much while I lived in the little one-bedroom near the lake.

When I moved in, it was such a perfect spot for me that I distinctly recall saying multiple times, “The only reason I’d move out is to move in with a boy.” Well, that didn’t quite happen, but it still was the perfect place for me to spend the last years of my twenties. And to be frank, I’m moving out for a better reason that to “move in with a boy.” I’m moving out to start a new life, completely on my own.

This doesn’t really feel like a new chapter in my life – it feels like a new book.

Closing the door for the last time this morning, knowing I’d never walk back into apartment #102 again, was very bittersweet. It will always hold a special place in my heart.

And the song that just started playing as I write? “Bird Set Free” by Sia. Hmmmm…

6 trips to Goodwill, furniture donated, 4 boxes of items sold, countless garbage cans full – every thing that matters now fits in my car.

Thank you, Eileen, for 5 incredible years.

When one door closes, another opens. I believe it. Here we go…


Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

Turns out sleeping on the floor of my apartment isn’t the greatest for my back. Feeling a bit sluggish and achy today, but I only have two more nights left! The light at the end of the tunnel is lookin’ pretty bright right now!

Yesterday, I did another huge Goodwill run; plus, dropped off more books to the Free Little Library, cleaned my blinds (oh man were they dirty!!) and sorted out a few more to-do items.

The best was canceling internet at Comcast. As I was at Comcast, the clerk asked me why I needed to cancel. Other than the fact that I was paying an arm and a leg for internet and Comcast is the devil (I left that part out), I told him I was moving. A conversation began about my adventure to Bali and he asked if I was nervous. I immediately said, “Not at all.”

To me, it’s somewhat shocking that I don’t have an ounce of nervousness or worry. Who am I?!?! I used to be nervous arriving at a bar earlier than my friends because I’d have to sit all by myself and wait. Sad, but true.

I told the Comcast guy that I’m going into this new chapter with a blind faith. I can’t predict or expect anything to go a particular way, so I can only go with the flow. Anything can happen and I’m ready for it all. Canceling Comcast and going to a foreign country with no agenda? Now that’s freedom.

This morning, I came across an excerpt from a book I read over a year ago: How to Be an Adult by David Richo. It’s amazing to see the progress I’ve made since a year ago – finally following my intuition. It’s fascinating paying attention to how your body physiologically responds to decisions, interactions, and thoughts. When it comes to me leaving work to travel, it just feels right. No doubt, no worry, no ping at the heart.

It seems so simple, but it took me a long time and a lot of work to start paying attention to my heart, rather than my head. Start noticing – I promise good things will come from it.