**An enormously large & lengthy post about my return to Bali – so many words : )**
Dear Forrest, your mama said “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” But after 6 months abroad– life feels more like a PB&J Sandwich… filled with Peace, Bliss & Joy! All you gotta do is dig in because, you never really know what it is until you decide to figure out what it could be… and I’m starting to figure it out.
Since returning to Bali, mid November, my life here has blossomed! I feel a sense of serenity and comfort in this land– its scenery and the people with whom I am surrounded. This place is officially “home away from home” and I accept it with gratitude. I have been offered various projects in exchange for staying & feel such appreciation to my two beautiful professors for the opportunities. That duo certainly has their hands full: maintaining villas, constructing a new one, and running an English Language program from 7,000 miles away! So, any exchange of my energy toward any of these projects feels like a worthy endeavor. It is a pleasure and privilege to work with such incredibly kind people… Here is a glimpse of what I’ve been up to:
My work with the kids at the schools in Pejeng Kawan, keeps me busy creating new lesson plans for the classroom. Upon realizing that most of these 200+ children had no idea what a sandwich was, I decided to formulate a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich lesson- which was a hit!
We worked through vocabulary terms as we made our sandwiches & shared in a lot of smiles! It was fascinating to watch them discover this new and different “kind” of food… creating, holding, and consuming it. They don’t really eat sandwiches here like American children.
They were excited to try something that “Many American children eat every day for lunch”. Shopping for this lesson was an event in and of itself. The quality of ingredients is very different- It was a true challenge to find food that wasn’t loaded with sugar and that I could actually afford since affordable buying for 200+ kids!
Since this might be the one and only sandwich some of these kids ever experience – I spiced up the traditional PB&J by giving them more choices.. like Bananas! And, after a long internal debate I took the plunge and bought the chocolate. ( I have every intention of doing a follow up lesson which about the benefits of fruits and vegetables. Because, well… yea… i bought the chocolate lol)
It took many of them a few bites to grasp these new tastes together- especially since the ingredients aren’t major staples in their normal diet. This was Tatik, one of the local teachers and it was her first ever sandwich too! She was so intrigued!
To my surprise… many of the kids would only take very small bites of their sandwich because, they wanted to wrap it up and take it home to their families. Many of them expressed that their own parents have never had a sandwich and they wanted to share it with them. This touched me.
They were hesitant to try it but I encouraged them them to indulge a bit and after some prompting and “What the Heck is this” looks… they seemed to enjoy the new taste!
Over the course of these 6 months I have learned so much about teaching English as a second language. I have enjoyed it but, have also greatly missed teaching dance. So, before my visa run to Australia I made it a priority to offer a few free dance classes to the children.
They were enthusiastic from the moment I turned the music on. And getting to share my art, in this way, will remain one of the happiest in class moments, for me.
To see these children moving to the music, smiling at attempting a new thing, and experimenting with their potential cannot possibly be relayed through photographs but, I’ll share:
Here are some more photos…
I can see now how music and dance are such vital factors to my well being. They are almost as essential to my personal health, as air and water. If this journey has clarified one particular aspect of life for me, it is that I need to be dancing and sharing music.
For the remainder of my stay in South East Asia, I intend to offer as many dance classes to as many kids that want to move with me as possible!
Alongside teaching, I have been recruited to revamp the interior decor at the villas and it has been an absolute experience. I view this challenge as an experimental lesson in balance—
I find myself wanting to move further away from the material world while also simultaneously being surrounded by: Pillows, Lamps, Bamboo Rugs, Musical Instruments, Statues, Wood Carvings, Artwork and much more… as I decorate and shop for Villa Agung Khalia:
So much stuff! SO SO SO MUCH STUFF! Lamps, Statues, Rugs, Pillows OH MY !!!!!!
I am not sure even I knew what I was getting into when taking on this task. I had no clue what I was getting into when I took this all on. I’m a proud thrift store shopper who prides myself on finding the best deals in town. I relentlessly compare and search every before purchasing.It’s a total blessing and curse.
I feel bad a bit for the drivers who have accompanied me on these shopping trips as they are multiple (multiple) hours long! They have gotten use to hearing me say: “What do you think of this one? Let’s try a few more shops, Is this Bali style?” or sometimes… “Get me out of here I can not do a single minute more of shopping!” They have gracefully assisted in breaking down the barriers between an over achieving American and non English speaking vendors. And while obstacles have arisen, at the end of most of these days we share in laughing it all out!
It took me 28 years and the task of decorating a few Villas in Bali to grasp my indecisivness. Let’s just say I am learning to go with my instincts. I am currently undergoing measures to find a healthy balance between choices and making decisions. It’s rough.
I turned a “Pink Pee-Pee Palace” into a more subtle and elegant space for private business 🙂 it was truly an educational experience…
This required going into Denapasar to purchase tile. Odds were stacked against us from the beginning of this shopping day, as there were too many options for this little girl to take in. Let’s just say… Beautiful tile was bought but not after 9 hours of driving to every single tile store in the freaking area only to realize that these stores don’t keep things in stock- shit. I decided on something that I couldn’t ever get in the first place, it was magical. The language barrier has definitely posed obstacles in my dealings with business transactions such as measurements and money. This has compelled me to moments of wanting to laugh and cry at the same time, like a madwoman. Here are some progress shots of me overseeing the Reconstruction of Villa Tatiapi Bathroom:
Another cool thing:
It’s been fascinating to be a part of the construction of a New villa from scratch. It is being built right before my eyes- I am excited to begin doing the shopping to decorate this place and get it ready for its grand opening in April:
New Lessons: I have always been fond of visual design and getting messy with creative projects. This whole thing has given me new perspective. I have spent hours rearranging material swatches and gladly! I am understanding the complexities of the tourist industry– meeting guest expectations — and the important distinction between want and need. I have grappled with finding unique ways to affordably create harmonious space for travelers to rest their heads at night that resonates in this beautiful place. The perfectionist in me is learning a lot as well. I ask the question:
“Why must we seek to create the illusion of order and perfection in an ever-changing imperfect world?”
Side- Side Note: The Staff at the villa has become like family. They offer smiles, laughs, and love regularly- My heart is filled by the companionship they offer…
Thanks to them, I am frequently invited to Traditional Balinese Ceremonies in nearby villages. Attending these have been culturally eye opening:
Let me introduce my Balinese Step Daughter Romy the adorably tenacious, but sometimes sissy, Rottweiler:
(We are currently working through some emotional issues right now, as she is deathly afraid of the neighborhood strays but, I am encouraging break through via fear facing by administering daily doses of love!)
Oh, and … I turned 28! And what an absolute joy it has been to live out another beautiful year!
P.S. I still feel 12!
I have had the pleasure of Visits from friendly faces and I can’t overemphasize the magnitude of feeling the genuine warmth of a friend… I am thankful for sharing in conversation, laughter, and hugs for a brief moment. The presence of these people, have come about strategically and, seem to have been remedies for a lonely travelers heart… what a blessing it is to relate.
It was a gift to share some special weeks in Bali, and a pre- birthday celebratory shot of Jameson, with my Birthday Twin- Phil! Here is to another year wiser and a lifetime more of friendship… Thank you.
It’s true… my best friend is still the Green. Daily walks in the rice patties have me grateful for a place to reclaim my sanity and harmony, at times of weakness. The rainy season has turned these moments into muddy obstacle courses but, I relish in every single dirty moment. I mostly return from these adventures looking like I crawled the entire way but, I must be honest…I thoroughly love the rain and the dirt makes me feel alive! How could one complain about ANYTHING with the chance to frolic in a backyard like this:
As Forrest said, “Mama says they was magic shoes. They could take me anywhere”. Well Mama Rizzo always said I could be anything I ever dreamed … and right now I am soaring. And I vow to reject any part of life that clips these wings and deprives me of the things that are mine for the taking… those things that were uniquely made, for me, meant to help me set myself free…