I Am Not The Same Having Seen the Moon Shine
"I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world"
So I did have SO MUCH written and then I went to bed, went to work and came home and now it's gone. Apparently the browser crashed. SO here I am doing it again. It was so witty. So funny. So almost done being written!
Well anyways. My reason for not updating so much is as follows:
3.) being SO TIRED at the end of the day that I'm thankful that I even have the energy to take showers. This is the longest school year I've ever taught (like literally. a month longer) and to say it takes some mental fortitude is an understatement.
So I'm finally getting around to writing about my first solo travel experience. As most of you know, I traveled to Hong Kong and to Bali, Indonesia to attend the Soulful Escape to Bali retreat. It's a retreat thats held twice a year which focuses on female connection, meditation, finding your creative space, learning some new art techniques and basically everything I'm totally in love with.
I found out about it through instragram and I knew the second I saw it that I was going. I heard it calling out to me. Knew this was something I wanted/needed/yearned to do. I also knew that I would be terrified. I knew that it would be my first time traveling alone and while it really sent me into hysterics at times, I knew it was something that I was ultimately going to force myself to do no matter the amount of freak out that ensued.
So now cut to Tiffany throwing all the extra money into this trip, Justin getting creative with cheap dinner ideas and our social life being nonexistent for a while.
To tell the truth, I've always been envious of these young women traveling alone. I always wanted to have that same sort of confidence. The way they moved so easily through customs or the way they carried their pack just insinuated that they knew they were unstoppable. I wanted that.
However, I am a person who worries. I was worried I would get lost. Worried I would be robbed. Worried that my bank card wouldn't work and I would be broke. I'm also terrified of flying. I'm sure you guys already know that but okay..let me break this down for you. I googled calming techniques for flying and here I am on this flight tapping under my eyes three times each, breathing deeply in and out, thinking 'this is a chair. I am sitting in a chair' and pressing the areas under my eyebrows so badly it would bring tears to my eyes. I sometimes apologize to the people sitting next to me because I sometimes cry. I'm an adult, I swear. Sometimes I just think, "deal with it people! Deal with my authentic emotion!". Hah!
Anyways. I flew on Cathay Pacific which is the safest airline IN THE WORLD and flying is the safest way to travel IN THE WORLD (apparently) and here I am freaking out.
We can't win them all folks.
So the day before leaving Justin comes into our room to make sure I'm all packed up and I'm just sitting amongst my stuff staring at the wall. Husband of The Year pushes me to keep packing and tells me that he is so excited for me, knows that this is something I've always wanted to do and doesn't flinch when I said I wanted to go on a spring break trip by myself. I'm so thankful that Justin is such a supportive partner. He made me feel like I could find that brave, unstoppable woman out there on the road.
And guess what?
When I landed in Hong Kong the thought briefly went through my mind of just hiding out in the airport until my next flight. I had managed to make it this far but now I had to get off the plane, go through customs, get currency and get to my hostel. Then the thought hit me: Tiffany. You've done this SO many times before. What makes it any different now?
So I did it. Just like I would always do. Got cash from the Bank of China. Got to my driver. Got to my hostel. Got dinner. I also really love Hong Kong.
One of the many things I really enjoyed about Hong Kong was it's quirkiness. I felt like everything was miniature from the tiny shoebox-like room in my hostel to the little winding alleyways that led to delicious pork belly vermicelli noodle soup.
I also really enjoyed the hospitality of the people that I met. And by people that I met I mean the driver and the hostel employee. I am really not the type of person to like, go out on the town when it comes to being somewhere new. I usually like to gather my bearings first by going to a restaurant, reading a book, people watching, having a coffee, etc.
My shoebox I loved. Shoebox sweet shoebox.
After perforating my stomach with mass quantities of noodle soup and sleeping in my comfy box at the Homy Inn Hostel I flew off to Bali. I can't lie and say that the soundtrack to Eat, Pray, Love wasn't playing on repeat on way there.
First off I should start by saying that everything in Bali is beautiful. Even the grocery stores were beautiful. Nearly every space is decorated with offerings, Hindu gods and goddesses all while the smell of incense permeates the air. Marigolds can be found draped around everything. I had never realized before just how appealing this flower is; it's big, squishy middle and it's goldenrod color. It's intoxicating.
An offering I made after our group was taught by some super nice/patient Balinese ladies.
Being surrounded by such natural beauty is such a stark contrast from where I'm currently living that I was nearly always gazing at terraced rice paddies, exotic flowers and green so vibrant it was overwhelming to the senses.
I also have to say that the people were so kind. They were very inviting, very patient and very warm. On more than one occasion I felt like I was part of the Balinese community with how welcoming they were. I think because of that positive foundation, it really created an environment for some good vibes and nice creative time. As some of you know, I find it terribly difficult to be creative here. The space really isn't conducive and supplies are hard to come by. The atmosphere of where we live can be quite draining in the energy department and sometimes you feel so depleted that you just don't care to stretch your creative legs. I feel like going to this retreat was like the ultimate way I could take care of my soul.
I was finally stitching again. I was finally painting again. I was meditating. I was doing yoga. I'm sad to say that not all of that has stuck on because of the lack of space and how zapped I feel by the end of the day here. However, I do feel that what occurred in my heart and mind is still hanging tough. I had so much time to really think hard about my life and about myself. I heard once that if you were happy with yourself then no one could ever tear you down.
After so much talking, thinking and alone time I had come to the realization that I was often like a willow tree...bending to the strongest wind. I made a commitment to myself to know myself. To believe in the strength of me. I went to see a healer while there and he essentially said the same thing. That I need to be a banyan tree and I will be strong, sweet and kind but essentially take no one's shit. To which I replied, "yes, yes, yes".
I was so nervous when I first walked into the door of Agus. I was so scared he would tell me something that would haunt me. Something that would hurt my heart. As I was sitting there, out comes this small-ish, gentle looking man with orange lacquered nails so long they went off in spirals around his fingertips. He led me to a room covered in multi-colored tapestries and fabrics. I was told to sit on the floor and wait. I was looking around and taking everything in when he comes in and asks me to stand. I stand and he begins to press on my eyebrows with slow, hard pressure. He continued to do that until I was wondering if I should do something in response. Eventually, after several minutes, he said, "you feel better now? You are so nervous. This is a pressure point and you can do this when you feel anxious. You feel anxious a lot". We then began the palm and body reading portion of my time there. He ran a magnifying glass around my hair, my eyes, my hands. After a while, he sits down and crosses his hands into his lap and begins.
He said there are three types of people in this world. The first type of person is a kind person and gentle person but allows other people to infiltrate their mind and take them over to harm them for their own personal agenda. The second type of person is the one who does the harming. The third type of person is the person who is still gentle, kind and loving but will not allow that second person to ever enter their mind.
He said, "you are the first person. You will never be the second person and you have the capability to be the third person. Stop allowing people to drag you down. It hurts you too much when you give so much of yourself and leave nothing for you. If someone says, 'can I borrow $200 and you have $300 but you know you'll need $200 to pay the rent, you say to them, 'i'm sorry. I only have $100. That is all I can do to help you right now'. And if they do not take it, then that is fine. That is their life. You still have to pay your rent."
Agus also mentioned that I look too much to the past and allow it to color my present. He said, "you will never find true happiness and contentment if you are always looking to the future for the next thing and looking back at the things in the past. Where does this time go when you waste it? Where do you have to take it from?". To that I have to say, bravo. Yes. This is something that I've done for so long it's almost like I don't know how else to exist. For instance, we have five more weeks of school left here. I find myself so desperate to get home to see my family and to be back in America sometimes that it's like I plunge myself into this gloom. However, the difference now is that I know. I know myself. I then try to shake it off and say to myself, look at what is around you...be here.
Towards the end I was lying down with my eyes shut listening to the sounds of roosters and construction when someone walks into the room. I hear some rustling and then feel flower petals begin to fall all around me and I'm completely covered in flower petals. The smell is wafting all around me and I'm totally engulfed in this present moment. It's a fight. I'm struggling.
It's always a fight but now I'm actually fighting back.
Eventually Agus came back to get me, hung a necklace heavy with marigolds around my neck and handed me an urn filled with flowers and incense. We then went out into his courtyard and he said, "we're going to walk around this courtyard and all I want you to do is look right in front of you. Do you not look to the sides and do not look behind you. This is like your life. Be here." And away we walked.
After having this amazing reading and healing ceremony, I went back to our retreat space and continued to stitch and chat and think.
Continuing our healing experience, our group ventured out of the town where we were staying and went to a holy springs. In order to keep this place truly a place for locals, we're keeping the name to ourselves but know that it is truly a magical place.
When you plunge yourself into the falls, you keep in mind something that you yearn for, hope for, pray for. For me, it was to let myself go. To mostly know to the core who I am and to be strong in that fact and to free myself from my own personal prison of the debts of my past. To know that I did or said the things that I needed to do and say at the point and that it was gone. To let it go and to free myself from it was a very important thing I knew that I needed to do. I learned from it. It happened and now it's time to set it out into the universe and stop letting it control my life.
It was an extremely emotional experience for me and I'm so thankful that I got to take part in such a deeply spiritual act in such a sacred space.
And on a much lighter note, I got another tat! Yay! I can't resist trinket tattoos from places I traveled. I considered getting one in Sri Lanka and then I was like uhh....maybe..no.
While this dude and myself were not wearing shoes, he looked like he was 15 and we were stuffed into what looked like a closet, I still got a pretty killer little tattoo.
After the other women of the retreat started trickling out and back to their home countries, I stayed for another day to read, to stitch and to take in some more green. Eventually while my time came to leave, I knew that I was taking away from this retreat more than just a few souvenirs, a tattoo and some new buddies. I knew I had met the woman that I wanted to be and I knew now how to get to her.
”Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
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