525,600 Minutes

After the Holidays end there are certain things that are not acceptable anymore like evergreen and cinnamon scents, egg nog, pumpkin pie, weight gain and loudly jamming out to one’s RENT soundtrack. For me the thing I miss the most about accepted Holiday season delights is playing “Seasons of Love” over and over.

I think the song captures the essence of many of our lives. We go through the days each year we are alive like there will always be a next. It is not until the New Year that we realize another year has flown by and take the time to measure the year that past.

  • Would we do it over again or just redo a few decisions?
  • What have learned?
  • How have we loved?
  • What is next?

The past year becomes a collection of moments, memories and cups of coffee. With each passing year we evolve and the story we write for ourselves has another chapter. We all have seasons of love. Some of us may be perceived to have had too many seasons. But that is okay, that makes everyone’s book a good read, never one in the same. The books of our lives are composed of the collection of years past and moments we spend jamming out to our favorite music, cheering for our favorite team, sitting through staff meetings and brainstorming sessions, times that we cry, times that we laugh and moments when we love.

There are momentousness moments that catapult us into a new chapter and influence the person we will become. Although, the collective moments of sipping Cafe Lattes,walking with our favorite pets and hugging our friends should not be overlooked, these small moments are the bulk of our story.

Walking with my favorite pet

Make every minute sparkle, even when the only sparkle you can find are tears and curse words.

Goodbye Bali, for now

My trip to Bali was exceptional. I tried to blog as much as possible during my trip, highlighting how the experiences, events and moments have shaped me. However, it has been impossible to post about everything and still have time to live it. Here are the highlights of my Bali sparkle that has not been mentioned in my blog thus far.

Jogging Campuhan Ridge

Campuhan Ridge Path

I finally was able to go for a good jog two days in a row, which was proven difficult because of the rain. My body felt it for sure, especially since jogging the Champuhan Ridge is comparable to running stadium steps at Doak Campbell in August. The heat will beat you down and the steep inclines will leave your calves and gluteus burning. Except Doak Campbell doesn’t leave you feeling like you are jogging in a tropical paradise surrounded by Alang Alang and palm trees. Champuhan Ridge allows you to get your head above the noise, literally and figuratively. I am so glad I had a chance to experience endorphins in such a beautiful spot on the planet.

Blurry vision jogging up one of the hills

Business (and Personal) Shopping Denpasar

The main clothing manufacturer, my family has used for more than a decade gave us a ride to Denpasar and Seminyak from Ubud to finish up shopping for the spring line of clothing at Rollick. We visited Double Six Street where I found a new purse and my cousin found some great items for the store.  The main attraction in Denpasar was a fabric store in the Denpasar market where my aunt and cousin regularly obtain the fabric for their clothing. It was so much fun! I think we spent more than an hour searching for fabric and developing ideas for the fabric. My creative side was enhanced during this expedition.

Fabrics at the Denpasar Market

Night out with Anika

My cousin and I went out in Ubud on Saturday night. After searching the city for a place that fit our taste, we found the Laughing Buddha Bar. On Saturday night it offered a Balinese Latino band called Buena Tierra. They were awesome and the vibe was great. We made friends with the bartender and one of the servers as well. They are both locals and I look forward to visiting them when I visit Bali again. It is always refreshing when you meet new people who are warm and make your night better as a result of relationships cultivated.

Love for Obama

President Barack Obama is a very popular man in Bali. Three times while I was there, the U.S. President received a shout out. As a child the president lived in Jakarta, so Balinese feel a connection with the well-traveled President.  When asked by a Balinese person where I was from I would respond with “America,” of course. Three times Obama received a shout out. The shout outs I heard were:

  • “Obama is Bagus” (Bagus = Indonesian for good)
  • “Yay, Obama!”
  • “Obama good man”

Drink Menu at Laughing Buddha

He even made the drink menu at Laughing Buddha Bar in Ubud. Arak is an East Asian liquor that is considered the local liquor of the island, like moonshine is considered the local liquor of the Carolina boonies. Arak Obama was a mixture of honey, cranberry juice and sugar. It was pretty good, but I like the real Obama better.

Fruit in Bali

I ate more fruit during my 12 days in Bali than I eat in one month at home, and I eat a lot of fruit. I ate fruit everyday for breakfast, along with a main course and usually had two fruit drinks throughout the day, such as the watermelon juice below, Yum!!

Watermelon Juice

I tried two different types of fruit while I was there. One was Mangosteen and one was Rambutan. They both were delicious. Fruit is like candy that is good for you.

Rambutan

Trip to Padang Bi and Bloo Lagoon

On my last night in Bali, we drove an hour on motorbike to Bloo Lagoon Villas in Padang Bi. Arriving stressed and soaked from the hard core rain and traffic, we realized this was worth the journey when we saw the view.

One view from Bloo Lagoon Villas

Another view from Bloo Lagoon Villas

Our villa was amazing. Often times as humans, we walk on the earth and not among it. We take animals and resources for granted and assume them for our needs and wants. In a place like Bloo Lagoon, it is impossible to feel unconnected to the earth as you here all the little animals (and bugs) during the night. We went for a walk, soaked up the sun (with SPF 50) and relaxed to the sounds of island. It was the perfect way to end my trip to this amazing island.

Villa bedroom

Patio at the Villa

Journey with my Soul Sista

There are people in our lives that we connect with on a soulful level. Sometimes the person is only in our lives for a short time and sometimes they are with us for the long haul. These people spark us into turning new leaves and allow us to connect with life on a deeper level.  My cousin and I have had many soulful moments during our trip to Bali. I think the atmosphere of being so far away from our day-to-day lives in the States and the current stages our lives are in have allowed us to reconnect.  We are soul sistas!

A couple of days ago we set out to find a few resort type hotels we researched in the countryside of the Ubud area. We are staying in a great location, but wanted to spoil ourselves with a kick ass view for a night or two. We set out on our motor bikes, which is freeing in of itself. We cruised past seas of green, consisting of rice fields, Alang Alang (the grass thatched roofs are made out of) and palm trees. We traveled down back roads in search of the resorts on our list, but Google maps aren’t very accurate here. When we couldn’t find one of the resorts on our list, we stopped at Kupu Kupu Barong Villas and Tree Spa. When we arrived we were taken back by the beauty of this place.

Entrance to Spa at Kupu Kupu


We immediately saw the spa was by L’occitane and knew we were out of our league with price as we walked into the lobby to confirm our suspicion. We were correct. Kupu Kupu was about $350.00 USD above our budget. However, the view from the lobby was the most breath taking view I have ever seen. A table for two was surrounded by water encompassed in dark tile, placed on the edge of a ridge overlooking the Ayung River Valley. The staff let us stay for 15 minutes as we took in the beauty of the location.

Picture does not do this view at Kupu Kupu justice


We set off to find Bali Rich Villas, but found them with no luck. As we were driving back toward the center of Ubud, the sky opened up. We pulled over and put our ponchos on. We wanted to get off of the road, so we followed signs to Rijasa Agung. When we entered the lobby we were giddy with excitement as we saw the view.

Pool View at Rijsa


It was breath taking even though it was raining. The price of the room was in our budget too! We decided to stay for a late lunch at their restaurant, Sayong Ayung. Our pasta was delicious. We talked for over an hour about the events in our lives and what may be to come. As the rain died down we headed back to our hotel, Panorama. We hope to stay at Rijasa one night before I leave, but it depends on business activities for Rollick that need completion. Even if we do not end up staying there during this trip, the memories of the journey with my soul sister that day will last a lifetime.


I Love Bali Dogs

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love animals, especially my dog Reno. Reno is my crutch, the one constant being in my adult life that makes me whole during life’s toughest times. He has my back and I have his. Because of the bond I have with Reno and other dogs in my past who have added sparkle to my life, it is only naturally for me to write about the dogs of Bali.

Bali Dog in Seminyak


We saw the Bali dog above the first day we were in Seminyak. He runs the block. Most dogs run in the streets of Bali. Those who are owned by locals are kept outside to act as protection from intruders and keep evil spirits away. Since they are kept outside in the hot and wet weather conditions, it is not uncommon for them to develop mange and other skin conditions. Some locals have their dogs treated for these conditions, but most do not. The Balinese live on minimal income, and treating their street dogs is not a priority.

Over population of dogs is another issue on the island. Many pet owners do not understand the importance of spaying and neutering. The more dogs that are on the street result in a greater amount of starvation, dogs hit by cars and motor bikes, and the faster rabies is spread. Bali experienced an extreme rabies outbreak in 2008.

To my disgust dogs are also consumed in Bali. Most Balinese are appalled by this, but it does happen among the poorer people that live in the outskirts of villages. The places that serve dog meat are marked with “DR”.

Yesterday I visited the office of the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA). BAWA is an Indonesian based charity foundation founded in 2007 by Janice Girardi, an American resident in Bali for more than 30 years. Before she founded BAWA, Janice supported community welfare groups within Bali for decades. BAWA’s overall mission is to solve the complex animal welfare situation in Bali and relieve the suffering of Bali’s animals.

BAWA's Ubud Shop


BAWA’s mission is achieved through:

The BAWA office is separate from their clinic. They are located about 10 to 15 minutes apart in Ubud. I was unable to make it to the clinic, which houses more than 150 animals at the moment, due to the constant rain. During my visit to their office, I met two puppies and the young office dog, Mia. Mia, born blind, was found by Janice in a flooded market as a puppy. Janice scooped her up and provided her medical care and much needed nourishment. Mia is now a happy, healthy dog living in the BAWA’s Ubud shop.

Mia


I am not sure of the puppies’ stories, but before they are adopted out, their adoptive family goes through an extensive background check. The background check includes a home visit and subsequent home visits after the puppies are adopted. This is to ensure the puppies are living with a humane and loving family.

One of the Bali Puppies

Puppies Playing


Motorbikes, Sunburn and Tegallalang

My dermatologist would be very upset with me if he saw the motorbike (moped) sunburn I am working with right now. I failed to put my SPF 50 sunblock on before our trip to Tegallalang because I was still in “rainy day” mode. On Sunday and Monday, it rained nonstop. My sunburn consists of my shoulders, arms, chest, thighs and tops of my feet, super attractive against my otherwise pale skin. BUT I rode a motorbike on the streets in Bali!!! My international driver’s license came in handy when my cousin and I were stopped by the Polisa to make sure we had them. I would say we were being profiled. Three light skinned women over 5’ 10” with light brown and bleach blonde hair are obviously not locals. No luck for them though, we had our papers!

The rain left us with not much to do during the day. I practiced riding a motorbike in the rain and had a minor panic attack. I gave up that effort and decided to wait until it was not raining to rent one. WhiIe my aunt and cousin went shopping for business, Charis, a friend of the family who is here visiting her dad, and I received an hour long foot reflexology massage. The massage felt awesome, but putting our sopping wet socks and shoes after the massage, was far from relaxing. Our ponchos were not doing us much good as the cats and dogs were raining from the sky and a passing van sprayed us with water on our way back to the hotel.

Rainy Day in Ubud

That night at dinner, my cousin, my aunt, Charis and I went to Sagittarius, a reasonably priced restaurant in Ubud, close to Monkey Forest. The food was amazing and we were greeted by a little friend on the roof. He or she is one of the many street cats in Bali. This one ran by our table upstairs and jumped onto the roof next to us, where I captured its sweet face.

Street Cat

The answer to our figurative sunny day prayers were answered. I decided to try the motor bike again. The result = no panic attack, a trip to Tegallalang, amazing rice field views, awesome purchases and as mentioned earlier, sunburn. The three of us shopped and shopped some more. Most of the shopping was for business, but I managed to purchase some jewelry, a killer blue wooden bowl, two frames made out of recycled magazine paper and recycled metal wall art.

In the heart of Tegallalang, we pulled over to take some pictures of the rice fields. I have seen pictures of these fields in my aunt’s photo albums for years, but there is nothing like seeing them in person. They are an art form, the ultimate visual of layers.

Next blog: Bali Dogs

The Day I Went to Uluwatu

Before my aunt and cousin went out shopping for the day, they rode into the city to find a driver to take me to Uluwatu. They found Ketut, a tall local man who said he would be my driver for three hours for the cost of 250,000 rupiah (approx. $30.00 USD). He had a skater style with a full sleeve of tattoos and many other random tattoos covering his body. I did not see the tatted chest though.

I felt silly for not speaking any Indonesian during the trip. All we had to work with was his minimal English vocabulary which was difficult to understand.  As we struggled through conversation we discovered a lot of commonalities among each other, such as our age, how we prefer the countryside over the club AND, of course, how we both have Facebook accounts. We have completely different backgrounds, but as young and hip adults, we were similar in many ways.

The drive was about 45 minutes to the temple in Uluwatu. When we arrived, we had to place yellow and purple fabric around our waists as skirts. This is etiquette for the Hindu religion. As we entered the path to the temple, we were surrounded by monkeys! There were families of them, little babies and all.

We were not allowed to enter the temple, but walked the path surrounding it and edging around the island. I wanted a picture of both of us, because I thought Ketut was cool and I wanted to document the person who I spent a lot of my day with. He, however, pulled me in for a close picture and tried to hold my hand as we walked the path. If you think this is awkward when you speak the same language as someone pulling something like this, think about how awkward it is when you don’t speak the language. He was pretty cool once I pulled my hand away, but I was not expecting him to go for it with me. Makes for an interesting story though. 🙂

After reflecting over the trip with my cousin later that night we spoke about how minimalized communication can be with someone who speaks a different language than you. Questions are shortened to “You like?” and “You want go?” As Americans, we do not have to interact with people who speak a completely different language than us every day in order to make a living. And if these people do speak a different language, they usually know a decent amount of English to get by, unlike myself who depend on the Balinese to know a little English to help me get by.

Bali’s economic engine is tourism. Tourists come from all over; Australia, America, Japan, China and Europe. I can’t imagine struggling to make conversation with the people I do business with or serve on a daily basis. The Balinese achieve this with such patience. As I returned to our hotel in Seminyak, I felt reviled to carry on a conversation with my family in my own language. We were able to converse about everything under the sun, something I have not appreciated until my trip to Uluwatu.

Uluwatu resembles a place that I have only previously seen in Hollywood movies. As I was thinking about where I was on the map as I was looking at the Indian Ocean from the cliff, I was taken aback by the beauty the earth has to offer. I yearned to sit on the edge and listen to the waves crashing on the rocky earth for hours. It is amazing that this little island offers home to its people and its visitors and ends in such a beautiful way as it hits the ocean. I can’t imagine a better place for a temple to be located. A higher power sure shines with the view offered in Uluwatu.

21 Airtime Hours Later

As I type this I am sitting in a thatched roof covered bed by the pool in Seminyak, Bali. My aunt and cousin have left on the moped to do more shopping for their store, Rollick, in Atlanta. I, however, haven’t braved driving in the streets yet. There literally are no rules of the road, everyone honks and I am certain driving on the left hand side of the road will throw me for a loop. I will rent a moped when we get to Ubud, a less busy village on Monday. Listening to the pool’s waterfall and the wind from the storm rolling in blow through the elephant ears and palm trees offer the peace I am seeking at this moment.

Poolside:

Poolside in Seminyak

The first day (yesterday, January 6) we walked and shopped for seven hours straight.  I have never seen such incredible stitch work and creative design in apparel before.  Despite the runway designed clothing, the combination of the Bali heat, sore tailbones from the airplane and seven hours on our feet in sandals kicked us right into bed at 6:00 p.m.

Busy Streets of Seminyak:

We awoke at 12:45 a.m. and had an insightful conversation on our balcony that I am certain was fueled by the environment and the company. We spoke about the sparkle we have already ignited in our lives, such as our ability to embrace emotion. After all, what is living without feeling ALL of it, the pain and the joy?

We also conversed about the sparkle we wish to ignite in our lives such as the ability stop and allow ourselves perspective and insight among life’s clutter, or as I refer to it, life’s camouflage. Perspective and insight are nearly impossible to obtain in the fast pace life the three of us live without consciously hitting the pause button.

Last night’s spark – “Stopping and allowing myself the time to develop my own philosophies and embrace the energy around me is necessary for a bright existence.”

Preview of my next blog, my visit to Uluwatu – This is where I wish I could hit the pause button everyday: