Returning

by Kristin Morrison on September 3, 2011

in Bali,Gratitude,Inspiring People,Letting Go,Letting Love In

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I’ll be returning to California in less than a week.

I’ve been in deep gratitude for the experience of being able to travel for 7 months. So, so grateful…

Experiencing this deep gratitude makes it easier to say goodbye to all these dear people I’ve met and easier to say goodbye to the beautiful and magical island of Bali. If I’m not in gratitude over this incredible experience I notice my emotion sways to sadness which makes it challenging to stay present while I’m still here.

So I choose the attitude of gratitude.

It’s easier all around.

I had a dream a couple of nights ago that I was in a movie theater in San Francisco. Three Bay Area women I know were seated behind me. They showed me something that was written in a combination of Indonesian and English. I could understand all of it.

I like to think of that dream as representing integration. I’m hoping that when I return to California that I won’t have that deep longing for Bali that I had last year when I returned. It made it a bit challenging to appreciate California while being there.

A woman I know who lives part-time in Holland and part-time in Bali experienced a shift when she went back to Holland last year. Normally she’s experienced grief at being away from Bali but this last time she was able to fully enjoy herself in her native country. “I appreciated Holland for Holland and Bali for Bali. I didn’t try to make Holland into Bali. I allowed Holland to be Holland. And because of that I had a smooth and easeful transition back to Holland for the first time in my life.”

I’m following her example and have decided to let the Bay Area be the Bay Area. To not try to make it in to Bali. Which is like trying to make a cat be a dog or vice versa.

My Bali social schedule has gotten even more ramped up than usual the past week in order to get more time in with all the wonderful souls that I’ve met here in Ubud. The people of Ubud are like a bountiful buffet table–so many wonderful varieties to appreciate and enjoy. And, for me, the table is about to be dismantled and there are so many yummies on there!

I want to put as many of these wonderful people on my social plate and enjoy them all -one more time- before I leave.

…And I look forward to seeing the amazing souls that I know and love in California when I return.

🙂

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Forgiveness

by Kristin Morrison on August 22, 2011

in Letting Go,Letting Love In

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What does it mean to truly forgive?

Different people have been coming to mind these past few weeks…people that I want to forgive and people whose forgiveness I’d like to receive.

A friend and I were discussing forgiveness the other day and my friend asked me, “Do you hold grudges?”

I thought about it for at least a minute, wanting to answer anything but the truth but finally I did reply honestly and said,“Yes.”

(It hurt to hear myself say that out loud.)

I’ve had the opportunity to get to know two incredible women here in Bali who embody how life-giving forgiveness can be.

I think about Felice who lost her two daughters in an airplane crash a few years ago and Diane whose fiance was killed in an auto accident. Both could easily be bitter and angry at the people and events that caused their losses. Yet both are soft-hearted, radiant, and love-filled women. When I asked both these women how they were able to move on they said they had to let it go (forgive) as holding on would eventually kill them emotionally or physically.

For the last few weeks I’ve been mulling over what forgiveness means to me and how I can truly forgive. After picking the angel card ‘forgiveness’ 3 times in 3 days (!) I realize it’s time for me to discover how I can truly forgive.

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Here’s what arose from my heart to my pen:

Forgiveness is bending and twisting and being flexible in order to let the something that wants to stick on my heart slide gently off my back.

Forgiveness means having the capacity –the spaciousness in my heart- to soften and melt instead of harden and stiffen.

Forgiveness is flexibility not rigidity. It is strength not weakness.

Forgiveness is holding something to the Light and really asking myself: ‘Does this truly bother me or am I just want to carry a grudge because I think I should or because it’s comfy to nurse a resentment in my heart?’

Forgiveness is harmony. Inner harmony with self and outer harmony with others.

It’s allowing mistakes to happen and knowing that mistakes will sometimes hurt me while also realizing that mistakes by humans are a fact of life.

Reality check: sometimes people will hurt me.

Sometimes people will hurt me on purpose, other times by accident. Regardless of the motive, I truly am, at the deepest level, hurting myself when I nurse those grudges and resentments. So I then experience two pains: the initial hurt and the holding on.

Ouch times two.

And even if they did hurt me on purpose, forgiveness is getting, truly getting, that they did the best they could at the time.

Forgiveness is freedom.

To not forgive is to carry a backpack filled with stones around for miles and miles and miles…

Forgiveness means saying YES to myself, to people, to life. It is an open gate to inner and outer freedom. Forgiveness is letting go of control. It is trusting that I will be okay even (especially?) when I fully let go.

It is allowing and truly stepping in to an expansive life filled with connection and love.

Forgiveness means a new beginning. Letting go of the past. Not just talking about letting go of the past but truly letting it GO.

Forgiveness is open space, open mind, to see people and myself in a new way. To experience us all in a new way.  It is kindness to myself and another. It is getting that we are all human and doing the best we can.

Forgiveness is dropping the sword and picking up a flute instead.

Forgiveness is fluid flexibility. Being able to see things and people from different angles. Looking at the incident from different perspectives the way one might look at a diamond. Looking straight on doesn’t reveal the light, the color. But from different vantage points the facets reveal something beautiful.

Forgiveness means dropping it, whatever the ‘it’ is.

Forgiveness is not about burying the hatchet for then it is always accessible with a shovel. It is about putting the resentment in the incinerator and disintegrating the ‘it’ once and for all, never to return again.

The incinerator is love. The love of the heart combined with awareness, flexibility and curiosity will cause the resentment to melt, never to return again.

Forgiveness is choosing life. It is saying no to being half-dead and YES to living full on, full out, no barriers to being happy, joyous and free.

Forgiveness is a choice. It is choosing to love. It is active, not passive. Passivity is holding on which is often easier than the action of letting go when one is nursing a resentment or a grudge.

Forgiveness is life-filled. It is taking the higher road. The one that requires more effort but ultimately leads to more freedom and joy.

Forgiveness is self-love. It is choosing love for myself over pain and darkness.

It is choosing to let go of those weights and stones so that I can dance through life easily and effortlessly.

Forgiveness is an open heart that is vast enough to hold life’s pain and life’s joy.

Forgiveness grows the heart. It is the key to expanding the capacity to love and to love deeply.

Forgiveness is getting, really getting that you are me and I am you. I’ve done what I perceive that you’ve done at some point in my life even if it didn’t take the exact form it took with you.

I’ve done what you’ve done in my thoughts or through actions or words.

Forgiveness is pure, undiluted love.

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The Tao of Travel

by Kristin Morrison on August 16, 2011

in Adventure,Bali,India,Life as a Grand Adventure,Travel

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One of my longtime friends, Elaine, emailed me a few days ago and asked me:

Hi Kristin,
Tell me something you’ve gleaned from your extended travels.  I’ll check out more on your Facebook page later.
Love,
Elaine

This is for you, Elaine.
Thanks for inspiring me to jot down what I’ve learned about traveling (and life) on my 7-month journey so far:

~ Let go. Don’t hold on so tight. Release the reins of life. Let your trip (and life) have its way with you. Letting go of control will allow your trip to reveal what it wants to reveal to you. Enjoy the exhilarating ride.

(It’s funny, even this blog is forcing me to let go! The next four paragraphs are stuck together. I’ve tried for 20 minutes to put a space between each of them but the blog won’t let me. I’ve got to let go of the way I think things ‘should’ look…even on this blog…)

~ Lighten up. Your trip (and life) always work out. Always. Maybe not the way you think it will but it always works out beautifully.
~ Don’t be so hard on yourself. Relax. It’s not about seeing all the sights, it’s about enjoying yourself and others. Stop cracking the whip to do, do, do. Let yourself take a break. If not now on this trip, then when?
~ Harmony with others is the most important thing in the world. Cultivate it wherever you are.

~ Eat lots of local food and the food that you most enjoy. Eat without guilt. Life (and food) are meant to be fully enjoyed. If not now, when?

~ Even (especially?) during extended travel one needs lots of downtime. Allow yourself to spend a whole day in bed without showering. Stay in pjs. Without guilt. Order room service. Enjoy your day in bed with the guiltless food mentioned above if you like.

~ Laugh a lot. Especially at yourself and especially when you don’t feel like laughing. Especially then.

~ You are crazy if you think traveling for an extended period of time is easy. It’s not. You will be challenged on inner and outer levels that you didn’t even know you had. That’s okay. It’s part of the journey. Relax into it as much as you can.

~ If you are traveling alone it’s inevitable that you you will get lonely on your trip. When you do get lonely, grab the phone and call a local or long-distance friend. Or just step out the door and smile and talk to a stranger or an animal.

~ The Internet rarely helps cure loneliness. Often it makes loneliness worse. Use it sparingly. Be around real live people instead.

~ Sometimes loneliness needs to be felt and not shoved away with people or activities. Learn to gauge when those times are. Exploring the loneliness instead of pushing it away will cultivate deep intimacy and connection with yourself that will sustain you during future challenges.

~ Prayer and meditation really do help calm the mind. Do it for at least 20 minutes every day to maintain sanity (and connection with self and your Higher Power).

~ Just like you, people everywhere want and yearn to connect at that deep heart level. Slowing down will allow them to see your heart and allow you to see theirs. Remember that seeing each others hearts is all that matters anyway.

~ Do as the locals do to experience maximum enjoyment and freedom in a place. (When in Rome: eat lots of pasta. When in Bali: smile a lot for no reason, ride motorcycles without a helmet, don’t take life so seriously, be late to events because nothing starts on time and you’ll look silly arriving on time anyway. When in India: eat with your hands. Wear a Bindi on your forehead. Get your nose pierced. Don’t worry about wheat allergies-if you don’t eat at least one piece of naan you’ll end up regretting it.

~ Remain calm. No matter what. Even when the taxi driver says he definitely knows where a place is (Me: “I need to go to a shop that sells mosquito nets. Do you know where I can find a mosquito net for sale, Mr. Taxi Driver?'” Taxi Driver, nodding enthusiastically, says: ‘Yes, yes, I do know where to find mosquito net!’)

…and then after 25 minutes of driving around in what feels like circles, and you have to go to the bathroom and you are cranky from hunger and you still haven’t gotten to your destination…just then when you are wondering where the heck you are, the taxi driver looks over his shoulder and says, “So the place we are going is called ‘Mosquito Net’?”

Especially then. Remain calm.

Thanks for this question, Elaine! It was fun to think about what I’ve learned on my travels…

Love,

Kristin


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Saying Goodbye

by Kristin Morrison on August 15, 2011

in Bali,Friendship,Letting Go,Travel

Diane, one of our Soul Sofa Tribe members left yesterday. Back to Los Angeles after being here for 3 months. Wah.

I miss her already.

me and Diane

me and Diane

She’s such a bright light. Wide open heart. Gorgeous soft sweet presence.

She’s definitely one of the comfy cushions of our Soul Sofa Tribe.

Here’s something to know about Ubud: The expats who live here often ask how long you are staying before they let you into their heart.

If you are staying for a long time (6 months or more) you are more apt to be let in.

I can understand why…

I’ve had to say goodbye to a lot of yummy people on this trip and let me tell you, it’s tough saying goodbye over and and over and over.

At least it is for this girl.

And it’s been a powerful lesson in non-attachment and letting go. It’s also helped me trust that the connections of the heart transcend wherever one is in the world.

Whenever any of our friends leaves Ubud we have a going away party for them so there are often many going away parties happening in any given week.

I like that tradition.

It’s so honoring of the person who touched our lives whether it be for 2 weeks or 2 months…

This is the party that we had for Diane a few days ago:

Diane's Going Away Party

Diane's Going Away Party

Zuri had a t-shirt made for Diane that said “Soul Tribe 2011” on the front and included all the words we’d used to describe Ubud on the back:

synchronicity

flow

love

spirituality

connection

and others that I can’t remember.

In our writing circle we’ve had quite a few discussions about how when one of us leaves to go ‘back home’ it’s not really going back but rather a returning. Or a going forward.

People (including myself) experience so many inner shifts in Ubud that going back in the same state that one left in is near impossible.

So if you email me asking ‘When are you coming back?’ you will find me responding, ‘I’m returning in September.’

🙂

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Tribe

by Kristin Morrison on August 2, 2011

in Bali,Friendship,Letting Love In,Life as a Grand Adventure

Brief moment of solitude in Ubud

Brief moment of solitude in Ubud

I’ve had more than a few Ubud friends say to me, “I’m so much more social here than I am at home.”

Me too. It seems I’ve now turned into a social butterfly.

My calendar is filled with more people and activities and parties and events and dinners than I often know what to do with. And since I don’t have a calendar my activities are either in my head or on a sheet of paper which, as of yesterday, I seem to have lost.

Uh-oh.

It’s a lot of connection with lots of people and also really feels right and energizing. The joke around Ubud is that we need a vacation from our vacation. Ubud is that chock-full of stuff to do and people to see and events to attend and well, you get the picture…

And when it gets to be too much for this butterfly I put my phone in the drawer (note: if I’m not answering, that’s what’s up). I then curl up in my extra large cushy villa to watch movies, have food delivered, make popcorn, read, swim, take baths, sleep.

The next day I usually wake up ready to dive into the next social activity.

Not working helps one become a social butterfly for sure. As does not having any of the earthly responsibilities like cleaning the house, cooking or laundry, and paying bills. Yes, not paying bills definitely helps.  (Don’t worry, my bills are getting paid, it’s just that my assistant is doing that while I’m away. Might have her continue doing this when I get back. I realize I really like not paying bills.)

The current group of friends that has taken shape around me in Ubud feels so right. We just gel. There is a feeling of YES with these people, these loving souls from around the world that I get to call friends (lucky me).

They are helping to make this the trip of a lifetime. Without them Ubud would just be a place. A lovely, lush, spiritual place but just a place. Enjoying all that Ubud has to offer with these friends opens up my whole experience of Bali into a more full and rich experience.

I had a tribe early on in my trip in Bali but people in that tribe left the island and things shifted.

When this happened I felt lonely and prayed for people that I really resonated with and who I could sink into.

People that felt like comfy sofas to my soul.

Soul sofas.

Yes, that’s what I needed.

In a short amount of time, I got that.

Lunch

Lunch

I’m so very grateful.

Tribe (with two on the left who just couldn't resist the Soul Sofa)

Tribe (with two on the left who just couldn't resist the Soul Sofa)

I have had so many moments of, ‘When I’m 80 I’m going to remember this Bali trip and be so happy I got to experience that.”

And the thing is I’m so aware these days of how very precious it is to be here now. I’m appreciating most of these beautiful moments in the moment they are happening.

In real time. Not having to look back (though I’m sure I will) and say, “God, those were the good old days.”

I’m aware that these are the GOOD OLD DAYS. Right here, right now. In this moment in time. With these people who have managed to get their butts to Ubud too so that we could all converge at the same time, in the same place.

Thank God!

When I’m 80-

I’m going to remember walking in the rice fields with Diane and talking about what and who brings heart and meaning to our lives.

I’m going to remember sipping wine on Adam’s rooftop deck overlooking Ubud and feeling total and utter peace about my life.

I’m going to remember swimming with Robin in my pool and then us taking a hot bath in the garden bath tub in our swimsuits.

I’m going to remember movie night at the Yoga Barn with the Tribe and eating so much popcorn I felt a bit sick afterward. But it was totally worth it.

I’m going to remember lunches and great conversation at my favorite table at Tut-Mak with Chess and that to-die-for chicken salad that I never get tired of.

I’m going to remember Dream Group with Jane and sharing our dreams and getting deep insights into my inner world.

I’m going to remember Tarra doing Reiki on me and feeling her warm hug that night that I really needed it.

I’m going to remember going to Clear Cafe with Christine and Amber and feeling a synergy of love and connection.

Me and Christine

Me and Christine

I’m going to remember having everyone over for Writers Group on Wednesdays and Saturdays and opening our hearts through sharing what our brains, pens and computers came up with.

I’m going to remember that moment with Zuri where we both felt safe enough to cry about losing our moms at a young age.

I’m going to remember Jen’s party and how we left scratching our heads wondering, “Why was that party so great?” We all had the sense that it was one of the best parties ever but we still don’t know why. The only conclusion we’ve come to so far is that it was probably Jen working her hospitality magic as only she can.

I’m going to remember the dinner picnic on Emilie’s living room floor in her artsy Om Villa and eating salad with our fingers and the flowers she always wore in her hair, each and every time I saw her.

Emilie and me (and her large flower which deserves a mention)

Emilie and me (and her large flower which deserves a mention)

I’m going to remember, I’m going to remember, I’m going to remember.

Yes I am.

Last Thursday we went on a road trip to the hot springs in Lovina for Jane’s birthday.

13 of us. 2 cars and 2 drivers.

Road trip with soul sofa tribe.

Road trip with soul sofa tribe.

We laughed and played games and sang songs and scrunched up in the car together and just had a fabulous time.

It was so much fun.

We started early in the morning and came back late at night. We were blissed out. All of us talked about it. About how much we had enjoyed ourselves and each others company.

We are now talking about a trip to the sea for a few days next week…

And now, I need to end this as I have a friend coming over for dinner in a few minutes.

Such is the (wonderful) life of this social butterfly in Bali.

🙂

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In my last blog post I wrote about wanting to stay in Bali longer. Well, I worked things out so I could be here until mid-September. I’m so grateful to have given myself the gift of 2 more months here in Bali.

I also wrote a little about the simple room with beautiful view that I’ve been living in for the past four months.

Small rooms and small houses are typically appealing to me. There is a cozy quality to them that has felt comfortable. Big houses and big rooms have felt a bit too cavernous.

So I’ve been pretty happy in my simple little room. It’s comfortable and familiar.

But the past couple of weeks a few of my friends here in Ubud began to find these gems to live in:

Tarra found an incredibly private and quiet house with a Balinese temple and rice fields in her backyard. Diane moved into a beautiful villa with a bathtub that could (quite comfortably) hold three of us-no problem. Zuri got an Eat, Pray, Love house with hardly any walls and luscious nature all around. Chess found a villa that he can barely talk about without grinning from ear-to-ear. And of course Robin has her elegant yet homey villa.

And then there was me.

In my simple room with a nice view. On a nice street that I love with my rice field walk at the end of the lane. It feels comfortable and familiar there but…

It comes with:

a bathroom that smells a bit because they never clean it very well.

a lumpy bed that hurts my back.

a pillow that isn’t comfortable yet I keep putting up with.

sighs from the owner when I need more toilet paper. (Excuse me?! I’m a woman. Hello.)

After hearing my friends gush about their new villas or (even more challenging) visiting them in their villas I’d come home to my simple little room and look around and think, “This isn’t doing it for me anymore. I want luxury. I want beauty. I want elegance. I want a bathtub. I don’t want a stinky bathroom or a lumpy bed anymore.”

Last Monday things came to a head:

1) I went out to dinner with my friends and it seemed all they could talk about (bless their little hearts) were their villas. (At one point I said to everyone, “I’m realize I’m jealous when I hear you talk about your villas.” It felt good to tell the truth about it and hearing myself say it made me aware that I’m the only one who is forcing me to stay in my somewhat-stinky, small room (with nice view).

2) I came home late that same night and asked my landlord for toilet paper and he sighed the biggest sigh ever. He then commented on how I’m staying in high season for low season price and that I had to leave and find a new place to live. I convinced him that I needed to stay as I didn’t have another place to go and it was high season. He reluctantly said I could stay until September. This was at 10:30 at night.

3) I was awake from midnight to 5am due to loud music a few doors down.

Since I couldn’t sleep due to the music and my hamster brain, I wrote in my journal about wanting to find a new home.

Here’s what I wrote at about 3:00 am:

I want to stay in a gorgeous place for the rest of my time in Bali. That would be a gift to myself. I’m trusting that the right house will call me and forces will line up to make that happen. I’m completely trusting that. Being here in this small room feels like contraction. I want to expand. I’m ready for expansion. I’ve experienced expansion inside of me thanks to my inner and outer experiences in India and Bali and I’m ready to experience that expansion in a home now.

The energy I want in my new home is: expansive, open, light-filled, peaceful, private, soothing, abundant.

I want my new home to have:

-garden bathtub

-WiFi so I can Skype with my friends in California

-maid 3x a week at a time that is convenient for me when I’m gone

-ultra quiet

-gorgeous nature view

-meditative space

-beautiful and elegant

-a price I can easily afford

-10 minute bike ride into town

-bed for lounging outside

-Bonus: a pool would be nice

And then I wrote: I can see, picture and feel it and so it is out there waiting for me.

Now the above may not seem like a hard thing to manifest in Bali but here’s the thing: it just became high season in Bali. Suddenly there are barely any crappy rooms left let alone really nice places at a good price. It’s a Joseph-and-Mary-looking-for-a-manger kind of a deal right now.

Not the best time to look for a beautiful villa at an affordable price.

But in spite of knowing that I began looking. And looking. And looking. I would feel discouraged when I would see so many houses that were so not what I was looking for. Some moments I would slip into a house coma where I was simply living/eating/breathing finding a new house. Other times I’d be buoyed by feeling into the house that, deep down, I knew was waiting for me to find it.

I had the sense that these ‘breakdowns’ with my small room was a boot from the Universe and Bali to move me into a more abundant, beautiful space.

I also became aware of my hidden resistance to finding a great place because then, I thought, it will be really tough to go back to California. Bali has been so mind and heart-opening amazing already. If I move into a gorgeous place with a comfy bed and a non-stinky bathroom how will I ever pull myself away to return to California?

I became consciously willing to enjoy a great place and to be aware that leaving that great place in September may bring up some uncomfortable feelings.

Oh well.

It’s worth it for 2 months of bliss in a gorgeous place.

And here’s the cool thing: once I started looking for the house I could feel it. Not all the time but some of the time. Even though it wasn’t yet in my physical reality.

It was a really cool experience.

I stopped calling what I was doing ‘house hunting’ because that implied violence. No, what I was doing was aligning with what I knew was already out there waiting for me.

I tell friends this all the time: if you want to manifest something, anything, then take action and let go. It’s simple but not always easy if you are very attached to getting what you want when you want it (which, personally, I usually am).

Manifestation is about finding that fine line between action and surrender.  If I can get into that sweet spot of surrender and I take inspired actions around it then I WILL MANIFEST WHATEVER IT IS I AM WANTING.

Getting to that sweet spot sounds simple. And maybe for some it is. For me, not so easy…

But I could feel myself doing it. Action/surrender. Action/surrender. Action/surrender. A dance between two polar (for me anyway) opposites.

So:

Tuesday: I look at many rentals, all of which are completely not what I want and too expensive.

Wednesday: I look at many rentals, all of which are completely not what I want and too expensive. At dinner a friend casually mentions a villa he’d looked at and loved but he’d decided to go with one that was a little lower priced.  I felt my body respond to this villa when he talked about it. I felt a rush of energy. A quiet YES inside.

Thursday morning: I look at the villa and fall completely, head-over-heels in love with it. Completely. At one point I realize that I’d been to a party at this villa last year and had been blown away at that time by the spaciousness and beauty of this place.

It had everything on my wishlist including a bed outside, a meditation/dance room with 40-foot tall ceiling and not one, but two incredible garden bathtubs (!) and a gorgeous infinity pool (my bonus item).

I offer the Balinese brothers who own the villa less than half of what they are asking.

It’s what I feel I want to pay given it is nearing the end of my trip (and even the amount I’ve offered is pushing it a bit) but what the hell. I’m in Bali. It’s an incredible villa and worth even more than they were originally asking per month.

They say they need to think about it. I drive away. I have the taxi driver turn around and I offer exactly half of what they are asking. They tell me they need think about it and will call me in the afternoon.

They don’t call me in the afternoon. I pace around a bit and then I call them.

“We are 75% sure that we will rent to you. We will let you know in the morning,” is what they said.

(I wasn’t surprised. This happens to me when I want something. My life lesson is patience. Shit. I hate that life lesson. Can I trade for yours? Right now?!)

Inside of myself I could mostly feel that the house was mine. There was a slight twinge of ‘what if I don’t get it?’ but mostly I could see myself living there, holding our Ubud writing circle there, having parties, spending delicious meditative and quiet time with myself, reading in one of the 4 beautiful beds, etc, etc, etc.

Friday morning: They don’t call. I pace around and then I call them.

“Just checking to see if I can rent the house?” I say, trying not to sound too eager.

“You come over,” the landlord says.

“Okay, I come over and bring deposit,” I say.

“No, you come over. We talk first. No deposit. First we talk,” he says.

Oh yes, this isn’t America. This is Bali where you talk a lot and things take time. Oops. I forgot. Thanks for the reminder.

“Okay,”I say.

I bring as much cash as I can stuff in my purse for a deposit.

I walk up to the gate and I can feel it. It’s where I’m going to be living for the next 2 months. I’m not feeling cocky, there is simply a surety within myself. And a connection to this beautiful house.

I see the landlord.

“Okay, you can rent the house,” he says.

This was our talk? But I haven’t said a word.

Instead I smile.

“Thank you,” I say.

I give him the deposit money and he writes out a receipt. “I hope you be very happy here,” my new landlord says kindly as he hands me the receipt.

Two little Balinese kids huddle around the table watching us exchange the cash and the receipt. They giggle.

I do too.

I’m still giggling.

And pinching myself. And hooping and hollering in this very big house that is beyond my wildest dreams.

Manifestation of wishlist villa from start to finish: 3.5 days.

Thanks Bali!

Driveway to villa

Driveway to villa

Dreamy villa garden on overcast day

Dreamy villa garden on overcast day

Garden fountain

Garden fountain

Happy Buddha, Happy Kristin

Happy Buddha, Happy Kristin

Bonus Villa Item: Pool

Bonus Villa Item: Pool

Overlooking the rice fields...

Overlooking the rice fields...

First kitchen in 5 months. (It's like riding a bike, right?)

First kitchen in 5 months. (It's like riding a bike, right?)

Living Room/Dining Room

Living Room/Dining Room

Bedroom #1

Bedroom #1

Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven

Meditation/Dance/Living (really living) Room

Meditation/Dance/Living (really living) Room

Bedroom #2

Bedroom #2

Bedroom #3

Bedroom #3

Garden Bathtub #1

Garden Bathtub #1

(Outdoor) Bedroom #4

(Outdoor) Bedroom #4

Garden Bathtub #2

Garden Bathtub #2

Forgot to mention that there are beautiful rice fields outside my windows and a bunch of ducks that live there.

And many frogs.

And fireflies.

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Soul Rehab

by Kristin Morrison on June 30, 2011

in Bali,Friendship,Letting Go,Travel

In the beginning of this trip (and I still have moments of this) I felt a loss of my self-identity.

Who am I if not the one who runs a business? Who am I if not the one who has a tight schedule? The one who has a house to clean and a million things to do on her to-do list? People to see, places to go. Always looking at the time. Chop Chop. Hurry up.

Now I’m living in a simple, quiet, peaceful room overlooking the jungle and ricefields. I can hear the river flowing below.  A breakfast of sliced fruit and scrambled eggs is brought to me each morning. I make my black tea from a plug-in plastic kettle.

IMG_3371

A soft-spoken, sensitive man named Made cleans my place every day. Every so often I will come home and find that he has put beautiful tropical flowers in my room.

I don’t have Internet in my room which has nearly cured my computer addiction. Sometimes I go many days without checking email. (In America I would go, at the most, a few hours between checking email.)

I haven’t cooked, done laundry or washed dishes for months.

Bali has been all about rehab for my soul.

This rehab has not always been easy. But is rehabilitation ever easy? The word usually implies completely transforming one’s way of living life.

“I’m so busy,” was my mantra in California.

And I can (and sometimes still do) live that mantra here. I can fill up the time with yoga, plans to do this or that with my Ubud friends, lots of classes and working with healers.

But…

…after 5 months of living in a slow culture I’m beginning to slow down.

Finally.

Michael, a fellow Californian, has been traveling for thirteen months and he told me he is still, after all these months, finding parts of himself and his brain that are going a hundred miles per hour.

In the mornings I go on a leisurely ricefield walk on the path at the end of my street. Every time I walk by the coconut stand a tall, thin Balinese man with a sweet smile says,  “Please to buy a young coconut?”

Someday I will bring money on my walk and surprise him by saying ‘yes’.

It’s a simple life here in Bali with lots of time to just be and having this much unstructured time still rattles my ingrained American to-do list consciousness.

In slowing down I was surprised to discover that I still sometimes feel like I need to do a lot in order to justify my being.

I was joking with Sparrow a few weeks ago about wanting to have a t-shirt made for myself and fellow Americans which reads: Get a life, not a to-do list!

I still have a to-do list.

It’s usually in the form of an Internet list. Most of the Internet items are work-related, especially now that I’m looking to possibly extend my trip until August or September.

I’m still working out the details of what would be involved in extending my trip yet again. On a soul and heart level it’s feeling right to stay longer in Bali.

A (big) part of me is saying, “Should I really change my mind and extend my trip? Can I really do that?”

It’s the part of me that is ultra-responsible, very serious and a big pain in the ass.

Here’s what that part of me looks like: She’s a crabby librarian, always telling people to ‘shush!’, hair in a tight bun, pursed lips, she wears a wool skirt that is itchy and not at all attractive. Especially not in the tropical climate of Bali.

But a bigger part of me is saying, “My soul is just beginning to unfurl, finally, after all of these months of traveling. I am not yet ready to go back to America.”

This is the part of me that is becoming more alive while being here. It’s the part of me that is wise, that listens intently to the heart and makes decisions from the heart and not the brain.

She’s a beautiful part of myself.

She’s radiant and graceful. She doesn’t have the word ‘should’ in her vocabulary. She’s ultra-feminine combined with a tiger-like fierceness and (hell yes) she’s willing and able to go after what she wants and values. She also knows when it’s time to be receptive and still in order to fully receive what’s coming to her. She knows she’s worthy of expanding to her fullest capacity in all areas of her life. She is willing and able to enjoy all the time and money available to her in order to create a life that is truly worth living. She’s ready and able (hell yes) to take responsibility for the quality of her life. Right now.

I love her.

She wants me to stay in Bali as long as I can.

Because here’s the thing: I’m learning how to truly live by being here in Bali. To live in a way that has heart and meaning for me. I’m learning this every day, in nearly every interaction with the Balinese people and expats who live here.

Motorbike accidents sometimes happen here in Ubud but what is most common are ‘near accidents’. Where one person makes a near-fatal mistake and the two bikes come within inches of calamity.

When this happens in the States you know what the result is: swearing, fists and the bird raised, driving off in a fit of anger that spews to every other person encountered later that day as a way to release the anger even further.

But here? In Bali?

Smiles.

I kid you not.

I’ve caused at least 10 near-miss motorbike accidents while riding my bicycle in Bali and when we screech to a halt to avoid missing each other the Balinese person I’ve almost killed immediately begins smiling and laughing!

Like I’ve told the funniest joke in the world.

(Maybe near-death is the funniest joke in the world?!)

When an accident or near-accident is my fault (whether in the States or here in Bali) my natural reaction is to get afraid and then immediately angry. At myself. For making a mistake. And if it’s the other person’s fault, watch out.

The default emotion for the Balinese in times of stress is laughter.

The default emotions for Americans (at least this American) in times of stress are fear and anger.

But I’m learning something from experiencing the laughter and flashes of amusement in the eyes of the Balinese in these near-fatal misses.

I’m learning something in watching my reaction: in my heart pounding and uncontrollably-shaking legs and my brain which flashes to some future scene of being in an emergency room in some funky Balinese hospital.

I’m learning something from watching my anger that bubbles up with all of these experiences in my body and then watching the Balinese flash these delightful smiles and laughter in response to our nearly being dead that:

LIFE IS NOT TO BE TAKEN SO DAMN SERIOUSLY.

In other words:  Lighten the *%&^ up.

The lesson of Relaxing about Life learned from the Balinese comes up in other ways too:

“Sit,” the Balinese people will say when I ask a question.

“Oh, it’s okay, I just have a quick question,” I will reply, continuing to stand, one foot already poised for a quick getaway.

“Sit,” they will say, smiling.

I want to get to the point where they don’t have to ask me to sit.

I’m not there yet.

I’m still standing and still poised for a quick getaway.

In Bali, it’s about establishing connection while in America it’s about getting the information and running with it. On to the next thing. Do I even remember what the person looked like who answered my question?

Usually not. Because I was already moving on to the next thing in my mind.

How does one slow down after moving at a rapid pace for many, many years? After 5 months of living in slow culture (India and Bali) you’d think I’d have mastered this by now but

no.

Going slow, having lots of unstructured time, still freaks me out.

Another thing about Bali: people stop by each others’  homes–often- to hang out and just chat. Work of any kind will stop in order to give priority to conversation. To maintaining connection.

What’s also great for me is that I can ride my bicycle to most of my friends’ homes here in Ubud because it’s a fairly small town. I’ve never lived in a small town before and I realize I really like it.

When I told my taxi driver the other day that I was from America he leaned over his shoulder to look at me in the backseat and said,  “I’ve heard that people in America don’t talk to each other. That they are too busy to take the time to talk to each other. Is this true?”

His eyes were sad when he asked the question. My eyes were sad in response.

Anyway, on Tuesday I’m at my friend Esma’s house and, as is typical in Bali, all these people are stopping by. One after the other after the other came by her house to say hello and chat.

One guy from Holland stopped by to talk to Esma about low-tech technology. Low tech?

In California it’s all about high-tech, the latest this and that.

Not so in Bali. Even the technology being discussed is slower-paced.

And speaking of that, now it’s time to get off this computer and back into the face-to-face version of

living life and connecting with people.

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Bonus Bali Round

by Kristin Morrison on June 16, 2011

in Bali,Creativity,Play,Travel

Gili Air at sunset

Gili Air at sunset

You know when you play pinball and you hit the jackpot and win some free balls to play more rounds?

That’s how I feel with having this extra unanticipated month in Bali.

Last weekend (the weekend I would have been leaving Bali) I went to Gili Air with some friends. It is the most charming island I’ve ever seen. Horse-drawn carriages as the only mode of transportation, snorkeling with sea turtles, fresh fish kabobs.

It was delicious in so many ways.

Warning: the boat ride is an initiation. Two hours of hell, each way. Uggh.  And I’m not one to typically get sea sick. I’m still trying to figure out if I’m up for the ride again. A big part of me wants to go back to Gili Air before I leave Bali but I really need to weigh that boat ride from hell to see if it’s worth it.

I’m still not sure.

Despite the hellish boat ride, Bali is the gift that keeps on giving.

Yesterday was the Ubud weekly writing group that helped me tap into some hidden desires that I had no idea were there. It’s also such a treat to be amongst writers who are willing to show up, be vulnerable and share themselves.

This morning was the lunar eclipse. The sound of my neighbors oohing and ahhing over it outside my window woke me up in the wee hours (4am). It was so beautiful and worth the early morning wake up call.

In a few minutes I’m going to a weekly art group in Bali.

So much to do here. So much time still to do it.  I feel nourished on so many levels here in Ubud.

Steeped in gratitude today.

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Inner Healing

by Kristin Morrison on June 4, 2011

in Bali,Being in the Darkness,Friendship

Lunch

Lunch

Sometimes it’s the little things in life…

I’m on Day Five of a seven day cleanse/juice fast at Ubud Sari Health Resort.

This morning I drank my breakfast smoothie and there was a small piece of unblended fruit in there.  What a treat! I got to chew something for the first time in five days. I  swirled the tiny fruit piece around in my mouth. It was delicious.

So I’ve decided to stay an extra month in Bali. I was supposed to come back next Sunday but I’ll be coming back in mid-July. Everything worked out: my managers are fine to continue running my business, the guy who is renting my house wants to stay another month. I’m feeling grateful to be here, and not just in Bali but in this place of gorgeous peace that I feel in this moment.

Last month was a bit intense. A few things happened which, in hindsight don’t really matter in the big picture of my life, but what these things brought to the surface was a lot of inner gunk -intense feelings- and I was at a loss on how to process these gunky feelings so far from home.

Because I’m here in Bali I’m away from my nurturing cottage, supportive friends, work (which in the past has kept me occupied and distracted), my hot tub, my beloved trail. All of the resources that I’ve been able to use to walk through tough times when they have appeared in years past. And yes, Bali has felt like a second home to me but when all of these intense feelings were coming to the surface Bali didn’t feel like home. Not at all.

I wanted to get on plane and leave Bali immediately.

Instead I hunkered down and became willing to walk through the inner fire. I got so much support from friends and healers here. One of whom reminded me that Ubud means ‘healing’ or ‘medicine’.

Which reminded that I’m right where I should be.

Gradually as I honestly faced the feelings that were coming to the surface, looking them straight in the eye, I was able to move through them.

Though I’m still wading through…

…I’m now feeling surprisingly grateful for this opportunity to really break free from past layers that have kept me stuck.

In this moment I’m feeling a lot of peace and contentment.

Peace and a deeper connection with myself happens when I’m willing to sit and be with the tough feelings. When feelings that arise aren’t being felt it’s like putting a rock in the river of my Self. I can walk around the rock by distracting in any number of ways but the rock is still there, still impeding the flow of my life force.

Society has developed many creative ways to not feel our inner pain.

But, by facing the feelings square on I can see that the rock, though not removed entirely, is closer to the shore and my life energy is more able to flow because I was able to be with the discomfort.

As my cleanse date was approaching I wasn’t sure if a seven-day juice fast would be too much for me at this time but I can see now how right it is.

I’m purging on all levels.

Part of the cleanse program here includes a session with a Balinese healer. I had my session last night and this Balinese healer blew my mind. What she was able to do with her hands astounded me.

When I asked her if I could write about my healing she said: “I have to ask the God first. The God give me this gift. I have to ask the God if it okay for you to write about. I let you know when the God let me know…”

Hopefully the God will let her know soon as I really want to share about that session.

(She walked by as I was writing this and I asked her: “Has the God let you know yet?” She said: “I ask tonight.”)

-fingers crossed-

Peaceful

Peaceful

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Hello from Bali!

by Kristin Morrison on April 26, 2011

in Bali,Friendship,Gratitude,Inspiring People

Me and Wayan

Me and Wayan

As I’m writing this,  I’m waiting for Wayan to drop off some holy water.

I’ll be doing a ritual later this week and I need holy water for the ritual.

When Wayan called a few minutes ago to plan the drop off, he gave me the low down on holy water:

“You can’t put it in your bag. You can’t put it lower than your stomach. It’s holy water. You have to respect it.”

And me: “I know, Wayan. I used holy water last year. Remember?”

Wayan: “I don’t know if you forget. I just telling you. Holy water must be the respect. You must the respect the holy water.”

So while I wait for my holy water I will tell you what I’ve been up to…

What to write. Hmmm.

Well, there’s no way I can say it all so I’ll give you the short and sweet version.

For the record I’m having a great time. Even better than last year which I didn’t think was possible.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

A week ago I skinny dipped in a pool with friends while watching Russian fire dancers wave torches and spin around in the full moon. It was so surreal, like many of the magical experiences I’m having here.  While it was happening I was thinking: Am I really in Bali and are there really fire dancers in front of me?

Then there are the countless motorbike rides around Ubud which put such a smile on my face. Sometimes three of us will ride on a motorbike:

Dennis, me and Felice on the motorbike

Dennis, me and Felice on the motorbike

Delicious meals in one of the many beautiful inexpensive restaurants. Rice field walks in the morning while rice farmers and ducks work the fields. Yoga class after my walk.

But what is most yummy are the people who are here from all parts of the world. There is a consistent open-hearted quality about the expats and fellow travelers that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. We’ve developed such a rich community of people in such a short amount of time.

You would love each one of them.

There’s Michael from Scotland who is so vulnerable and willing to share his feelings no matter how challenging that might be for him. And Manuella who lives in Ubud and has a fiery, honest spirit and a gift for color. “Don’t wear light colors, they fade you out. Wear bold colors.” There’s beautiful Tesa, originally from Paris, who quotes poetry in the most sublime way. Charlie from the Bay Area who teaches Body Meditation and with whom I’ve experienced such a heartfelt connection with. Robin who has a zest for life and a knack for creating a beautiful home whenever she lands in Bali. Dennis the lively almond farmer from California who has the bluest eyes you’ve ever seen.

Then there is Marie Jose from Holland who leads the weekly family constellations that have brought us together as a group. RJ from England who had a housewarming party in his new Ubud home on Saturday night. Anthony who has hair like a lion and writes the most incredible stories you could ever hope to read. Eleanor, such a talented photographer and her endearing musician boyfriend Jamie, both from England. Felice from Oregon who gives enveloping, loving hugs. She lost her 2 daughters and ex-husband to a plane crash 4 years ago and came to Bali to heal her heart. Felice has the most joyful spirit and her presence reminds me that if she can have happiness in her heart after her three losses, anyone can.

And many more amazing people that I just could fill this page with…

Slowly people are starting to leave (back to their homes or to other spots to travel) and you know what?

It is hard for this girl.

I want everyone to stay.

I don’t want anyone to leave.

As it is, many have extended their time here to really sink into what we all realize is a rich, unique, loving community of like-minded souls. A convergence of soulful people that rarely happens in one swoop. Who would want to leave that juicyness?

But homes and work and other travel destinations are calling some of these lovely people I’ve met…

As my friends leave I have some fear that I’ll be left all alone in Bali.

It’s just a fear.

My deeper sense, when I get quiet with the thought of the inevitable leaving of these people, is that there will be more wonderful people for me to meet when these current lovely souls leave to their respective places.

I’m trusting that. And like last year’s trip (and life in general) I’m doing my best to stay in the present moment and just enjoy what is here NOW. Not look too far out into the future which is always so compelling yet so undefinable. How can I know what will happen even later today or tomorrow?

I do know that will be returning the Bay Area in mid-June or mid-July depending on what feels right.

And meanwhile I’ll keep in touch on this blog as that feels right.

Sending you love from Bali!

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