Musings and Adventures!

This writing is from Ubud, Indonesia!

It is hard to believe that one week ago.. I was slinging clothes, luna bars, vitamins and a package of band-aids large enough to cover a small Indonesian village around in my room in a haste to get to the airport to launch for this grand adventure.

I managed to navigate two cities in Indonesia (with more to come – moving as the spirit prompts me to go!). Ubud, where I am currently living, and a small town on the coast of Denpasar. They both have offered a great deal of scenic views and people. Alas, I like the feeling in Ubud. I am living within a stones throw of a starbucks and have vowed not darken the door. The most expensive item in Indonesia is a taxi ride. This has not been a problem for me for I much prefer to walk around the city. The new keens have been tremendously helpful as some of the roads offer a dangerous terrain.

The accommodations and food are delightful (inexpensive – this is the best part of this trip!). It took me a few days to truly understand the U.S. to Rupiah conversion (imagine my near panic as I got into my first taxi cab and he said my ride would cost me 200,000 Rupees – Holy Shit – I thought I went broke upon entry! – Now, I know that that equates to $20.00 U.S. dollars – breathe, Brandi, breathe!).

At the time of this writing, I am staying in central Ubud. It is a rather long walk from the yoga/vegan/raw/food block of the city where I visit each day. It forces me to walk to/from the yoga studio each morning and then onto the place where I am enjoying raw foods.

There is something magical about traveling to a new city. I enjoy every moment of walking around exploring little shops along the side of the roads, visiting temples, meeting fellow travelers while having lunch and striking up a conversation to learn about their life. I love to learn about people. I love to hear their stories, know where they come from and what makes them tick. Alas, there is also something magical about having bits of my former life in place (i.e. the comfort of climbing onto my yoga mat for a practice which always makes me feel like I am home, a little place to come and go from – some kind of structure to my day). At the end of each day, it is the simple beauty of knowing that at any time, I can pack my little bag and head to another part of Indonesia that keeps my heart and life filled with great JOY. I will remain in Ubud for one more week and then head to a town/village closer to the water (which is where I truly want to spend this time).

Seeking Routine:
I have signed up with a little yoga studio and am studying/learning Mysore Asthanga Yoga. It is a practice that I have tried many times (many moons ago!). It is a self practice that requires a great deal of discipline. I like the idea of being able to take it with me (not having to count on my MAC for connection/power or a good yoga podcast). So, I will be staying around this part for a few days to study with a teacher to learn the entire practice. It is good and frustrating to be a beginner again (at anything, right?). The teacher told me today that I needed to surrender all that I knew about yoga if I truly wanted to learn the practice. Here we go!

There is a little restaurant down the street from the yoga place called the Bali Buddha! They have a delicious RAW food menu. So, each morning after I practice yoga from 7:00 a.m. to 9:45 – I make my way to the little Bali Buddha and for roughly $8.00 (U.S. dollars), I can enjoy a RAW food menu before making the trek back to my place in central Ubud (approximately 1/2 mile).

Great News To Report:
http://www.ubudwritersfestival.com/
The Writers & Readers Festival is in Ubud next week. I saw a billboard and promptly came home to check out the details. The cost: $350.00 for attending the full conference. I saw a tab for volunteers and immediately signed up (for this gives one full access to the conference). I walked 2 miles today to meet with the event coordinators. I will volunteer and get free admission to all of the speakers.

On the Eat, Pray Love Front:
I spent the better part of yesterday with Jero Wayan Nuriasih/The Spiritual Healer from Eat, Pray, Love. I met a woman while having lunch on my first day in Ubud. She told me she had fallen and ended up serendipitously in Wayan’s clinic for treatment. So, after lunch, we strolled over and met with Wayan. This was rather serendipitous — I wanted to meet Wayan during my time in Ubud. The yoga studio where I am studying is next to Wayan’s healing center. Wayan has expressed an interest in Yoga, and I have offered to teach her a beginner yoga class at her center.

Wayan recommended that I get the “Complete Package” — So, I signed up!
This included a body reading, balancing of the body, massage, medicines, shower with herbs and roots, multivitamin lunch with fresh organic (all of this guaranteed to make your skin look softer and younger). This entire process took 3 hours. It was a relaxing and interesting afternoon. As the body reading started, Wayan said “you have low blood pressure”. This is true (a result of being a runner). A few minutes later, I got extremely light headed (a result of low blood pressure) and had to take a break and a seat. Now, I have a few week supply of herbs and roots that I take in morning, midday, and evening. The great news is that there were no major findings during the body reading.

I highly recommend visiting Wayan if you have the pleasure of visiting Ubud.

Invitation to the Hindu Temple for blessing and karma cleansing:
I returned to Wayan’s place at 5:00 p.m. for departure to the Hindu Temple. As I mentioned earlier, Balinese people have their VERY own version of time. We left her place at 7:00 p.m. for the drive to the temple. The temple experience was a bit overwhelming. We arrived at the temple after a one hour drive across Bali. Upon our arrival, I asked where the restroom was located. Wayan walked me to the public restroom and promptly announced “I don’t use public restrooms-Do you mind peeing outside of the temple?” Here we go! So, I did.

We waited for an hour as the high priest gave his blessing to a group of people. Then, we made our way to the temple to say our prayers before making our way onto the front stage to sit before the high priest. It was our time before the high priest. The entire session was spoken in Balinesian. Honestly, I really didn’t mind this part of it for prayers are prayers, and we all speak them in a different language.

We received our blessings and our karma cleansing. The priest already knows what you need cleansing for. I decided that I wasn’t going to ask for a special blessing. I was going to simply take the offering of blessing and have my karma cleansed. As I prepared for my departure from the high priest – two women approached me and said – You didn’t ask for a special blessing. I asked each of them if they would mind sharing of their prayers. They both shared their prayer request. One was seeking blessings to cure a health related issue she has been battling for one full year. The other was seeking the other half of her soul (her soulmate!).

Wayan asked if I would like to request a special blessing. So, I said.. Yes, where is the other half of my soul (my soulmate). The priest said I was standing in the middle of two loves. I have my own interpretation of my two loves. I don’t necessarily think it is two people that I stand in between. I think it is my wandering/free sprit (love #1) and my desire to share this with a companion (love #2), and just how to make these two worlds collide into one love.

I was pleased with my experience at the temple. It was truly an experience of a lifetime. I feel incredibly blessed to be here in Indonesia. I feel even more blessed to have the ability to learn/understand more about the Hindu culture. I hold a special place in my heart for the Hindu religion, people, and rituals. This due to a very dear person who taught me so much about living life (May You Rest In Sweet Peace, friend – Bala Lakshmanan).

As we made our way back to Ubud – I looked up at one point and noticed an army of men/women and children marching down the street carrying torches. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what the hell was happening. Wayan said open the window and throw some money out — O.K. – If you say so! Then, I looked up and saw a man/woman (unsure of sex) lying on a bed and being carried down the road by family and friends. It was a funeral ceremony. I later learned that this was a very bad thing to encounter. So, we drove a few more miles and jumped out of the car for yet another cleansing.

In closing, I will say that while I am only one week into an eight week stay in Indonesia, I have enjoyed every single moment of my time. I have met some remarkable people whom I have shared a meal, a bintang, a yoga practice, a life philosophy, or a shot of wheatgrass. I have yet to feel alone. In fact, I have felt more connected during my solo travel mission than I ever could have imagined. As I was preparing for this trip, a dear friend reminded me that I could ask the spirit for what I needed each day. Admittedly, I don’t always know what I need each day. So, I simply wake up and ask the spirit to lead me, guide me and show me the way. The right people, places, events keep showing up. For this, I feel BLESSED beyond what my musings may convey.

I am reading, writing, sleeping, yoga’ing, eating, laughing and having the time of my life. I have literally pinched myself a few times to ensure that this wasn’t all a big dream (even it is it — I’ll take it!).

I have posted random photos on facebook for your viewing pleasure.

“Why do we have to listen to our hearts?” “Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you’ll find your treasure.” (Paulo Coelho)

This quote is rather fitting for where I find myself today. This desire to travel began for me five years ago. I was able to put a band-aid on this desire while I was studying (by visiting three of the most beautiful places in the U.S.) each year – I think traveling abroad is the true place where my treasure will be found.

Find Your Treasure, Brandi J.

The first of many farewells..

To Those I Love So Dearly:

This is my first attempt at blogging. Please hang in there as  I learn to navigate the online terrain. I have arrived safely in Indonesia. I was a bit shocked to realize that I have been here for a total of six days at the time of this posting.

The last few days have been a bit foggy. I have not had any inclination to pay attention to what day of the week it is. There is something about not having a paper due, exam to study for or a meeting to attend (remnants of my old life) that make it easy to forget the day of the week. I have also managed to live in the moment. In the realm of time, I often have no idea what time of day it is. (side note: for two very specific reasons: military time and my MAC books inability to convert to the Indonesia time zone, and secondly, the people of Bali seem to have their own version of time – i.e. all clocks in every location are set at different times).

I spent the first two nights in a small hotel in a small city in Denpasar. It was a quaint little place with a price of $34.00 per night (likely the most expensive place I will stay during my Indonesian adventure). It was a great place to rest as I prepared the launch to Ubud. It was also a great place to reorient after the long flights through San Fran, Denver, Teipei and finally Denpasar. I cannot say with certainty  that I am/have struggled with jet-lag. I tend to roll to my own drum in waking up each day at 4 a.m. each day (something I secretly hoped might disappear if I tricked my body by moving exactly 12 hours behind my normal body clock – didn’t work!).

I have so much to share. I will do so in the coming days. My goal for today was to create the blog and make/post an entry. Goal Complete!

The departure from Dallas was intense and filled with emotions. It began weeks before I actually departed. It was a true blessing to get to see and reconnect with so many of my close friends and family before launching. The ability to share this dream with so many of you was a wonderful experience. I am an incredibly blessed woman with a wonderful group of people who have and continue to  love and support me through the many endeavors and events that have riddled the past six years of my life. Beginning with a divorce, my decision to leave my corporate job, the return to academics, and now my decision to travel to Indonesia for two months – with every hope and intention of keeping on keeping on while exploring/traveling, and meeting new people on the journey of life.

I wish to thank each of you whom have stood beside me, loved me and told me to keep following my dreams. I am doing so. Your part in each of these decisions including the tribulations and joys will never be forgotten. There are FAR FAR FAR too many of you to call out individually. You know who you are. You know the role you played. Please know that I love each of you. I will continue to support you in your endeavors. Now, go make them happen!

I will share with you that packing and my first traveling friend are of significant importance at the time of this writing. I made the decision to shed an incredible amount of “stuff” prior to this launch. This included clothes, furniture, my car, and many other miscellaneous items. The process began weeks before the actual launch (at one time – my things were spread into crafted little piles in three rooms of the house). In the days before my departure, I had made it to one room and my car (with more that needed to GO).

It was by true design that I waited until two days before my departure to sell the car (which happened with the second person who responded to my Craigslist posting). I must take a moment to give thanks to that wonderful car. It was 12 years old and had 222k miles. I was the original owner. I never spent a dime (other than routine maintenance). The car now belongs to a young woman who I believe is starting her own academic endeavor.

Now, it was time to pack the BAG. I purposely waited until 3:00 a.m. the morning of the flight to start packing (too much time equaled to many thoughts of what I could not part with). The great news is that I started with two fifty pound bags filled with enough luna bars to feed an entire village in Indonesia (again, thankful for friends who could convince me that I didn’t need that many luna bars, a rather large box of Band-Aids, and every vitamin I had ever owned). I had a hard time parting with two things – my blow-dryer and my hair straightener (one of them made the trip with me). I arrived at the airport with my backpack and my bag having NO idea of the weight of my bag. As I placed it on the scale, I was fully prepared for a forced removal of items at the airport. It weighed 50 lbs exactly! I was on my way! Now, I have to admit that I brought far to many clothes. I am sure I can find someone/somewhere to off load the excess.

My traveling friend update. One of my biggest fears about this solo mission was how to overcome loneliness (should it present during my time off the grid). I am happy to report that I have met many fellow travelers during my short time. I am 100% confident they will continue to show up. So, I met a family at the airport in San Fran. The elderly woman was making the trip from San Fran to Tei Pei. Her daughter asked if I would consider changing my seat and accompanying her mother on the flight. I agreed without hesitation. I told her I would watch out for her mother and ensure that she arrived safely to Teipei. We made our way to the gate and I proceeded (after a 3:00 a.m. wake up in Dallas) to fall into a dead sleep at the feet of this woman. I slept the entire three hours that we waiting for our flight, and then continued to sleep next to her much of the flight to Teipei. At one point during my slumber on the floor of the San Fran airport, I looked up at her and she smiled and said you are o.k. I am right here watching over you. This woman was my guardian angel (and here I thought I was signing up for the good samaritan award). It was a beautiful experience.

This truly is a brief recap of the events leading to my departure. A friend mentioned that my launch was reminiscent of watching a space shuttle launch. I concur – the emotions of leaving my life for whatever this time will be felt a bit like a shuttle preparing for launch.

My love to each of you who elect to follow me and my soulful wandering.

Brandi J.