Asking Questions

IMG_7332While I was living in Jakarta, Indonesia,  I left for a workshop in Sumatra, and a bomb exploded in Jakarata.
When I came back to Jakarta from Sumatra, a volcano erupted in Sumatra.
I felt guilty in both experiences, wondering why I was spared, and other living beings were injured or killed.
While in Florida,  I lived through a hurricane, and again I questioned why I was spared from harm or death.

I have asked myself, WHY? Why am I here???

I realized, a part of my “I” is being chipped away each and every time. These situations are helping me to pull the  focus away from me, and my attachments, and more on the needs of others.

If we are never given the opportunity to ask questions, it will be impossible to expand our awareness.

Thank You Indonesia

 

Its a bitter sweet goodbye for now. Whether we meet again in this life time or the next. Thank you my friends.  I am heading back to my homeland in a week.  I am excited to reconnect with my family and friends back home. Indonesia you have been my home away from home. You fed me spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically, you cheered me on, you kept me safe, you rescued me, supported me, enlightened me, guided me and listened to me. We laughed and played, we expressed love and appreciation for our differences, we shared our dreams and desires for our future and most of all we shared respect for each other. I want to pay tribute to this archipelago of love. You opened my heart and opened your arms and the words THANK YOU can never truly express the gratitude I have for the gifts I am taking home.

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It was an honor and a privilege to work along side this amazing young man.  Thank you Tobin

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My confidant, friend, travel guide, Yin yoga teacher, and photographer. Thank you Audrey.

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Nurlifa and Siti my security guards.  Grace and the Gang From PetLove Clinic
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My neighbor Emilia and family                   This little guys I met at a drive by wedding.

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I taught these little guys some signs language at a small village school in Puncak

Thank you, Rudolf, Kiki, Stacy and all my other animal friends who taught me how to open my heart.

 

 

 

 

A Pilgrimage

Before I leave Indonesia, I was told I must visit the oldest Buddhist temple in Indonesia.

Built in the 9th Century, Borobudur Temple in Central Java is the largest Buddist temple in the world. This majestic temple took over 80 years to construct, spans 1,300 square feet and rises to a height of 115 ft. It draws visitors from all over the world including myself.

Located approximately one hour from Yogyakrata by motorbike, seemingly my favorite way to travel in Indonesia, I decided to hire a guide who picked me up from my Losmen (guest house) at 3:30 am. In the wee hours of the morning, it was hauntingly peaceful as we meandered through the narrow tree lined roads acting as corridors to the open countryside. As we neared our destination, a silhouette of Palm trees looks as if they are standing guard of this mighty masterpiece. Mist gently blankets the entire area.

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I began to ascend the temple stairs and upon reaching one of three platforms I stood in silence and bathed in the temple’s energy. I graciously waited to catch a glimpse of the Holy Grail of enlightenment as the sun kissed the temple steps; signifying that my journey of enlightenment is a pilgrimage.

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Oh What a Relief It Is.

Via Via Cafe is open to world travelers in 12 countries. Each one is different offering its own unique flair.
http://www.viaviacafe.com/en/home

I visited Via Via in Yogjakarta in East Java.
http://www.viaviajogja.com/
The ambiance is open and inviting to every race, culture and belief system. Via Via is not just a cafe it was my home away from home.
Upon returning to my mother’s arms, I felt catered to; I was greeted with a smile and a kiss to my senses. I was offered an array of homemade breads and pastries with Gluten Free  options, as well as other culinary treats that would satisfy any intended or accidental tourist looking for their mommy.
Whatever your craving whether it be noshing, crashing, sightseeing, exercising, cooking, shopping, supporting local economies or the environment or just relaxing Via Via can cater to all your needs just like mommy.

I decided to partake in a variety of experiences Via Via had to offer.

In this post, I will elaborate on my bicycling excursion through a Javanese Village.

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I did not know peanuts grew underground.

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Making bricks out of mud.

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” I Left My Heart in Indonesia”

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The process of making Tempe

Harvesting rice

Lastly, no pictures but a tale of relief.
There are two things I never leave home without here in Indonesia, sanitary wipes and tissues.  Many bathrooms are lacking two things; toilet paper and a trash can. On this tour, I seem to be the only person who could not wait for four hours to relieve myself. My guide Uut kindly asked a woman if I could use her bathroom. Do you want to guess what was missing?
As I exited the bathroom, waiving my tissue, I ask my guide where is the trash can? She looked at me like this was a foreign concept. No pun intended. We were kindly escorted outside where I deposited my napkin in a bucket. I turned around and asked Uut if she would like to shake my hand. She started laughing and said are all Americans like you, and I said no there is just one of me. Americans, I am sure, are relieved to know that I excused them.

Rest assured I washed my hands before shaking her hand goodbye.

A Willingness to Act

I was recently inspired by Al Gore’s newest TED talk, “The Case for Optimism on Climate Change.”

An individual act or even a community’s endeavor to create change can seem daunting or even pointless when the issue seems larger than the effort of a single act.

It is no secret that Indonesia has a lot of trash laying around. Some say its a lack of education and others say it is a lazy habit to throw garbage anywhere and everywhere.

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Recently a nearby grocery store implemented what Robert Bjork coined a “desirable difficulty.” They started charging a small amount for each plastic grocery bag.

According to Bjork’s concept, the implementation of charging for bags will have a desirable long-term outcome, preserving and creating a pleasing environment. The difficulty is that it presents a challenge for the consumer as an inconvenience. This “turning of the hand” will force the customer to either buy a bag or juggle their purchased goods out the door, at least, the first time. Future visits can merit a bag from home.

Charging for a plastic bag may seem like an insignificant act but its a step. The little grocery store made a statement that has stimulated awareness by its willingness to act.

Al Gore would call this “willingness to act, renewable energy.”

Mysteries of Indonesia

I often ask myself why…

*In the middle of a traffic jam, the guy on the scooter behind me continually honks at me to move. I have one of two options; to drive into a coverless manhole on the left or run over the mother with a child on her scooter on the right.
*While shopping for apparel the store clerk says, “that looks so pretty on you.” It doesn’t seem to matter the long sleeve shirt ends at my elbows, or I can’t zip my pants.
*If I ask for directions, I will end up south of “more lost.”
*A person can smoke where ever he/she wants, but it’s prohibited to pee behind a tree. They have decorated holes on the ground for that.
*There are more designated Muslim prayer rooms than stray cats. To give you some idea how many stray cats there are, it rains cats and fried rice. *You pay more for a “pretty” phone number. Before making the decision to purchase my ordinary number, I should have asked if having an appealing number would change the nature of my incoming calls.                                                 *Going out to eat you order what you like and you like what you get. There are no substitutions. But, I say what if I want onions in my omelette instead of tomatoes. The bewildered waitress looks at me, smiles, shakes her head no as if to say I am sorry the ingredients on the box says tomatoes. *Indonesians always smile. ALWAYS!
Maybe it’s because they have never seen a Caucasian, who cannot zip her pants.

 

I Choose Love

Have you ever noticed that sensationalism is like some voodoo magic? All of the sudden you can go from one emotion to the next in less than 60 seconds. If you don’t believe me, watch what happens to your body, mind and soul when you allow yourself to get caught up in it. I have found myself becoming negative, doubtful, scared, angry, powerless, protective and closed off when tuning into the media.

As easy as it may seem to take the path of fear it can be just as easy to take the path of love. This path opens our hearts, provides hope and insight, dissolves anger, and spreads light.

There are those that voice; it’s easy for you to say this when you are not living in the middle of it. I agree. I have been feeling a lot of pain lately both physically and mentally. It’s a challenge to find the light and feel the love when your in the middle of it. There are moments when I can become still and connect with source and feel the love. I can also find a ray of light while reading a post from someone who is also choosing to spread the love and or connecting with someone who is not allowing themselves to be guided by fear.

I currently live in a country where over 80% of the population is Muslim, and I can tell you what I see being shown in the Media is not what I am witnessing here. Those I talk to are sad that the media is capturing the Muslim population, as a whole, in this light. Oppression lies in stereotyping an entire culture in one light or the other due to an act captured by the media; this creates more anger and more violence.

I am choosing to be the change. I may be one, but I have the power of many when what I share does make a difference. Being love creates a ripple. Not only in giving but also in receiving.

 

 

A Smile a Hug and Handshake

I had the opportunity to visit an elementary school in the Puncak mountains in West Java.

Simple joy can be found in a smile, a hug or handshake and a little bit of sign language:)

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I asked a question in Indonesian Bahasa.

Apa Kabar which translates. How are you?

Then I signed it while the instructor translated.

I then share with the boys they are handsome and the girls are beautiful.

The instructor asked me, So this is the sign for “I am handsome”  I repeated, and then he asked so “I am young and handsome” and I signed back.

The kids thought that was hysterical.

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.

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.