Who Am I?

Someone once asked me who would you be without all the labels you attach to yourself?  I thought about the labels I have used to identify who I am.  Mother, grandmother, grand-daughter, aunt, niece, sister, friend, partner, business owner, interpreter, health and nutrition coach, single, home owner, yoga instructor, woman, Caucasian, middle age, fit, spiritual and the list goes on. When looking at these labels I have asked myself if they still serve my soul and if not, why have I chosen to continue to use them.

This journey has opened me wide up. I currently live in a place where nothing resembles where I came from or what I called “home.” This time and space allows me to stand in the void and be open to the possibilities. Mixed emotions arise. Two have taken a prominent stand.  Scared and excited!

Who am I?

Some of me will proudly remain; a mother, a grandmother, a granddaughter, daughter, sister, kin, a human and the rest…well sometimes we have to let go of who we were to discover who we are.

YUM

One of the most enriching experiences I have encountered in Indonesia was during a service trip to Yayasan Usaha Mulia (YUM) Village. Translated into English means Foundation for Noble Work. YUM is a non-for-profit organization that works to improve the quality of life of the poor in Indonesia. Millions of families continue to live below the poverty line, surviving on less than two dollars a day. YUM has worked for more than four decades to support communities, to give them hope and a way out of the cycle of poverty.

They provide in home visits to the elderly. Wellness checkups for mothers and elderly and after school programs for less fortunate village children. YUM’s mission is to work with communities in providing holistic and sustainable support in the areas of health, education and community development. Their goal is to not be 100% reliable on donors and to expand their service projects to include an entrepreneurial program for the youth given that less than 2% of these children will ever experience a college education.

During their wellness clinic I offered to teach chair yoga and movement to the elderly while they waited to see the Dr.

Most of these women who are in their 60’s 70’s and 80’s are still out in the fields everyday working long hours to support their families.

Don’t Worry Be Happy

On more than one occasion I had the opportunity to spend time with the Balinese locals.  I love their outlook on life.  They smile NO MATTER WHAT!  I know this to be true as the “Curious George” that I am, I had to inquire.

On two different occasions I witnessed the depth of this characteristic. One of my drivers was sharing the story of his father who recently died.  He had Parkinson’s. He said, my father was happy all the time no matter how he felt.  He said, my father would say I am so lucky I am just like Mahamud Ali. I said what an amazing teacher your father was. He smiled and nodded.

On another occasion one of the staff at my homestay came the second day and applogized for being late in greeting me.  I said, it is quite alright. He proceeded to share with me that he is sad because his father had fallen at home and hit his head. His father was taken to the hospital and he is not doing well.  The whole time he is sharing this with me he is smiling.  Without blinking an eye he says,  is there anything I can do for you miss?

Healing Waters

Bali presented a time for me to interact with the healing benefits of water.

I took a hike into the forest and followed a path that led to a water fall which was absolutely breath taking.  I happened to stumble upon three other individuals who thought to bring their swimming suits.  I on the other hand did not:) I am not one to do something, especially when it comes to water, without being prepared.  I had nothing to dry off with and no change of clothes. I had a tour guide for the day who was driving me around in his vehicle and I thought about myself being wet setting in his car.  Yes, I was making excuses as I have always done.

This time the water was truly calling me though.  I decided that I will not allow this opportunity to pass me by.

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It felt so freeing and liberating to let go of my own limitations. I wondered why I never opened myself up to this amazing experience before.

I finished my hike and the next stop was the Healing Waters Temple.  This temple is visited by many all over the world as it is said to have healing  properties.  It is used to bathe away ailments of the body and mind.  I again,  was drawn to the water.  I adorned myself with the required sarong before entering and emerged myself in the water.

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I did receive the healing benefits of the water.  As I left the fears around water that no longer serve me.

Relax in the Knowing

I am visiting one of the many temples in Ubud and as I am leaving two little girls about the age of 10 or 11 were standing in the pathway. They looked to be nervously and anxiously awaiting something or someone.  Our eyes meet and it was like our souls connected immediately. Like a bond of trust magically manifested. They were smiling so brightly. They approached me and said “please can you take our picture?”  I said, sure! “Please come,” as the one little girl took my hand and guided me to the destination.   I am greeted by two other little girls all about the same age.  The one little girl who guided me to this special spot says please may I take a picture with you.  I said, with me?  The other little girl said, me too, ME TOO! If they could of jumped out of their skin with excitement they would of! The other two little girls snapped away. They graciously thank me and start to walk away.  I said wait,  I want a picture.

I showed them the sign for I love you and I asked them do you know what this means?  They jumped up and down extactically and gleefully announced, “METAL! ”  We all start laughing. I tried to explain what Sign Language was but I don’t think it translated well.  They knew as much English as I knew Balinese. I showed them the sign for metal, as in what rock bands do, and shook my head. Then I showed them how the thumb extends to change the meaning of the sign. They all started demonstrating.

We conjoin once more to share in our recently established bond and take yet another photo burst of pictures.

We said our goodbyes. I looked at the picture on my phone and I noticed the words “I Know” printed boldy on the little girl’s shirt.  I smiled and was once again reminded we all have an inner “knowing” that connects us to like energy.

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Cat-poo-chino

The worlds most expensive coffee is made from the poo of the Civet cat also known as the Kopi Luwak.

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This little guy/girl loves the ripe purple coffee bean. The Kopi Luwak coffee gets its smooth, nutty, non acidic, 50% less caffeinated flavor from the partially digested process it incures as it travels down the digestive track and then ejected out the other end.

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This gold mine of poo is then gathered washed and sold for $100/lb

I sampled this “Bucket List” coffee to discover its smooth taste.

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The beauty of being educated is that it allows me the opportunity to become aware of the contrast in consuming this, no ordinary, “cup of joe.” In order to satisfy the demand and consistency of this sought after “cup of silk;” these animals are being captured.

For The Love of My Finger

Visiting Monkey Forest was a lot of fun.                                                                                    There is a BIG sign when you enter the forest that gives explicit rules on how to treat the monkeys.

Don’t look at them in the eyes as they see it as a threat.

What ever it is they want…give it to them. Do not try and take it away from them as they will get aggressive.

Don’t have anything dangling like a camera strap or key chain.  They will come after it.

Don’t dig in your purse or back pack.  They will want to too!

What ever you do. Don’t freak out!

It was fun to watch the humans interact with monkeys! Including this one:)

In Awe of the Contrasts

I am officially on Holiday:)

Emotions ebb and flow like ocean waves since I have arrived in Indonesia. It seems that life’s contrasts are more evident.  It’s probably because I am in a different space.  I don’t know if they are any more pronounced here than I would find in the states. I believe I am more open to receiving them.

On my escorted drive from airport in Desapar, Bali to Ubud.  I asked the driver if we could please turn off the AC and roll down the windows.  My head was outside the car window  for almost the whole 1 1/2 drive breathing in the fresh air and fragrances of Bali. Oh fresh air, how my lungs have longed to hold you!

Outside my homestay I have a gentle reminder as to why I am here.

https://rumahjepun.wordpress.com/

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The Sound of Music

I am standing outside my apt. and I heard this beautiful Indonesian music that seemed to be playing outside nearby.

I decided to tool around my neighborhood looking for it but I could not find it.        I drove back home and my neighbor (Emilia is outside)
Hey, I said, do you hear that? Yeah it’s a radio, she implored.  I said, no it’s live.
She volunteered to venture with me.
We discovered it was a wedding.
She said, ok let’s go.
There are times since I have been here that I have wanted to get up close at some event and she has always said, “no.” That’s personal.
The little “rule book” follower changed her mind this time.

I asked Emilia, what are we doing? She would not tell me.  She drug me down a gang way.  (It’s the width of a sidewalk and in cased by walls on either side.)
So when we rounded the corner the once empty lot had been transformed into a fairy land of magic and wonder.
We approached the guest table and she is communicating in Indonesian… What exactly, I have no idea. I am taking in all I can before we are booted out.
She said they want you to sign the guest book. What, I said?  she motioned to sign it. I signed it and then I was presented with a gift for the guests.
An aside… I am wearing shorts, a tshirt and sandals.

This lady out of no where comes and grabs my hand and escorts me to the bride and groom! The photographer gestures. Picture? I gasped… No! The bride Is nodding… No really!
I am gesturing NO REALLY! I look around… Where did Emilia go?
I notice she is talking to another member of the family.
She doesn’t know these people either! I have only known Emilia for two months now and this is not her normal behavior.
I am being led to the buffet table and everyone along the way is “Namasting”me!
I am “Namasting” back. I am trying to get EmilIa’s attention. Whew! She comes to my aid. I whispered, Emilia what are they saying? They want you to eat. EAT?
Seriously?  I am given a plate and led by my escort naming all the foods in Indonesian Bahasa( language).
I have absolutely no idea what I am being fed.

Have you seen “My Big Fat Greek Wedding?” Remember when he is introduce to his fiance’s family and all of the sudden the whole family takes over and the two get separated in the brouhaha of absolutes chaos.?
That was exactly what was happening here!
After my plate was full I was escorted to a seat. I am looking for Emiila.
Oh good lord I am thinking is this amazing or what? Not only am I up close and personal with the sound of music. I have a front row seat with food to boot!
…and this is only the beginning.
Finally, Emilia joins me.
This is crazy, I whispered to Emilia!
I finally am down in a seat and not the center of attention and I look up and the professional singer on stage motions to me!
Emilia? Yeah, she said… they want you to go up on stage.

Have you ever seen me blushing?… I believe I found that facial hue in Indonesia!
Ok, Emilia… What’s the deal, I say? She said, your a Bule (white)! I said I don’t care if I am Ginger Rogers…. I am wearing shorts, t shirt and sandals!
The singer keeps motioning to me and now ALL eyes are back on me!
The motioning becomes beckoning and I am thinking to myself… all this just started with innocent curiosity! I just wanted to here the music.                                 I walk forward to the stage and climb up.  I am standing face to face with a woman who is now singing and gesturing to me to follow her.
So I begin to move my hips and try to emulate some Mudra, Indian, hand shapes.

Emilia I thought was taking a video although later I discovered she forgot to push the record button. Sorry chaps…your just going to have to visualize this one:)
Song over… Lots of laughs and applause I go sit back down.
My tour guide has asked me to eat up and keep eating. She says you come back later tonight after we take a break, Emilia translates. Different band, more music.
Emilia and I run home. She dresses me with the appropriate attire and we go back!
All the sudden according to everyone there I have become some Bule Goddess!
How does a skirt, a top and an hi-jab make me beautiful, I ask Emilia? The answer. I am white!
The morale of the story… Listen to the music. The “rhythm is gonna get you,” and you never know where it will take you!

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The Heavens Are Waiting

I live in a complex where there are no washing machines or dryers in the units. I was told that if I wanted my clothes cleaned there is a nice little shop just yards from the complex. I thought great!
I gathered up what clothes I had to be cleaned and headed off to this “nice little shop.” When I arrive I visualized small but, I have seen closets bigger than this store. I thought for a moment, Oh I am sure this is just a drop off site and the laundry is done some where else. Nope its all done in the closet:) To my amazement there are 4 people pivoting on one foot performing their individual roles sharing this space with me a washing machine, dryer, ironing board, scale, and pay counter. I thought WOW now this is what I call efficiency.

My shoes are left outside as I see others deposited waiting for their owners to return. I am thinking, whose do these belong to? There is no room inside for all these leftovers. I take one step to the counter and lay my pile of clothes next to the scale. I look down at the floor and smiled. I discovered the owner’s of the shoes. The gentlemen gently picks up my clothes and weighs them. I am to be charged by the kilo-meter. He takes them off the counter and begins to count each piece. I begin to blush as my laundry is aired to a man I have never met. And, to think that men in America have a hard time going into a store to buy feminine products for their wife’s or girlfriend’s.
He politely gives me my receipt and off I go.
Upon my return the lady behind the counter is pointing at me holding up one finger and then pointing at the ironing board. Viola I understood all of that:) Translated…Ok wait a min. Your clothes are not done. We need to iron them. I think to myself. Wait. What did I bring that needs ironing? Ummm Nothing. I guess that was my opinion because all my clothes are being ironed including my socks. She picks up my bra and I thought oh, please, no. Whew! She didn’t.
After everything is folded and stacked, like she had attended Military training, she gently picked up each piece of clothing and sprayed it with something that looks like Fabreeze. She then proceeds to tightly wrap and seal my pile of stack clothes. I have such respect for the military but I begin gesturing that her efforts are not necessary. She points her index finger to the heavens beckoning God for my patience while she finishes her task to perfection.