The first time I saw the book ‘Eat,Pray. Love’ I was living in Atlanta and the year was 2007. I admit I was intrigued but I was also wondering what all of the hype was about. Little did I know how much that book and it’s author would change my life. My world had just crumbled around me a few years before the sighting and I wasn’t quite sure how to put it back together or if I even wanted to. All of my symbols of success had been blown to smithereens and I seized the opportunity to set my status to autopilot. I was numb or so I thought. It took me another 3 years to buy the book and read it. But when I did….OMG….I could not put it down! For the first time in a long time I felt like someone felt me. Liz was married and I was single but we shared some of the same thoughts about life, marriage, happiness and dare I say it…dun dun dun….motherhood! While I absolutely love children I never thought I would have any. I dated men with children and I think I was a pretty great step parent but the thought of giving birth really freaked me out. What I experienced while reading EPL was a change in the narrative. You know the one…grow up, get married, have kids and die. Rinse and repeat. This is not shade towards the women who have chosen to be mothers. This is a stab at the narrative that is fed to young girls all over the world. There are more options than the fairy tales have led us to believe. There is indeed another narrative, a road less traveled and most times frowned upon. How do I know? Lizzie Gilbert said so! In my mind we are not only birthday twins-true story-but we are besties and she lets me call her Liz or Lizzie because in my mind we are cool like that. Just go with it! LOL! I digress. I know because I was and am still living this narrative today. While I was intrigued by the entire book there was something about one part of the book that stuck with me. Bali.
Beautiful. Love filled. Namaste. Awesome Bali. The way she described every detail it was as if I was right there with her. And then there’s Ketut. Oh how I love Ketut. There is something so special about his simplistic lifestyle that made me want to toss my keys on the desk, sell all my shit and hop on the next thing smoking to Bali! I said a prayer as I finished the book and then I made a silent promise to myself. I am going to Bali.
I’m going to Bali!
And so the imaginary countdown began. I had no clue that it would be 10 years before I would actually step foot on Indonesian soil & in all honesty I forgot about it a couple of times along the journey. A few things changed in my life during the 10 year countdown. I excelled in my career, fell in love and again had my soul completely shattered by it. That small chain of events assisted in my decision to move back across the country to a city I never thought I would reside in after leaving the first time in 1992. Los Angeles. During this time my yearning for a spiritual journey was reignited. I realized I had a lot of unfinished business and self work that needed to be completed if I was going to make it to the next chapter of Kelli. A dear friend from high school started a company that hosts spiritual retreats for women. I stalked her on Facebook during a trip that she previously took and posted about. The urge grew and I knew that I would definitely be with her on the next trip.
Fast forward to October 2016 and I found myself on a 13.5 hour flight 30,000 feet or so in the air on my way to Bali. It felt surreal and I struggled to stay present in each moment. During the first leg of the trip I sat next to Kelly Lynn. (I can’t make this stuff up!) Her energy was mixed but light. She was so sweet and felt bad for asking me to get up to use the potty. She was also in the last year of her 30’s (yay 77) and she had just begun going thru a divorce. She’s a beautiful actress (shocker) and also lives in Hollywood streets from my house. Coincidence? Nah. Needless to say there were a whole lot of “OMG me too!” moments during that conversation.
The entire trip takes about 19 hours however you will have a layover for a few hours in Taiwan. If you have to be stranded in an airport anywhere in the world you want it to be in Taipei. This airport is gorgeous! There are so many random features that you want and need in an airport that hosts international travelers. There’s a mini Rodeo Drive in terminal B, a music room, meditation area, massage pods and an orchid garden. I mean really, say it again slowly. There’s an orchid garden in the airport!!!!
Hello kitty is everywhere. Adolescent little girls all over the world dream of the place where Hello Kitty nick knacks cover every inch of the room. I’m here to tell your little dreamy hearts that is does exist!!! I totally turned into a 9 year old and it took everything in me to remain a calm adult & refrain from spending all my vacay monies in that store! After all I’m on a spiritual journey to Bali to fix my chi not go nuts in the Sanrio store. We find the most American restaurant in terminal B and make our way to a table for two. This restaurant is a little different from the rest. It has white table cloths and the servers speak English very well. Needless to say I was pleased with my chicken fingers and truffle fries. Feel free to judge me for eating this food in Taipei. After a 13.5 hour flight I was not trying to be too adventurous with my food lol! When we got to our gate I morphed right back into my 9 year old self when I saw our plane. You guessed it…..we were flying to Bali on the one and only Hello Kitty plane! The seats, barf bags, silverware and pillows were covered in Sanrio goodness. I wiped my ass with Hello Kitty toilet paper y’all. Mother has lived! Seriously it was Hello Kitty overkill but I was totally there for it!!! Although it was a bit bumpy, the flight wasn’t bad. My only let down was that there were no phone chargers on the plane. Really boo boo kitty??? The highlight of the flight was seeing the excitement of the two young girls behind me. They were traveling with their parents and they were from one of my favorite cities, San Francisco. They were so full of life and they had no problem telling me how much I was going to enjoy Bali. Thank you Samantha & Lillian. Yes I sat in front of a baby girl with the same name as my mom. Things like this happen to me all the time. The Universe really does love to send me confirmations.
We landed in Bali and all I could see was green. Gorgeous green everywhere! It was so humid and I was super grateful that I wrapped my hair up. We quickly grab our bags, go through customs and make our way to our driver. If you have never driven in another country you are in for a treat. I should’ve know something was up when my dear friend from high school jumped into the backseat and buckled up before I could protest. Our driver, Dodi (pronounced Doh-dee) was so sweet I just had to sit with him in the front seat. Let’s just dive right in! There are no rules to the road. None. Get in where you fit in or they will run you over…with love of course. They move through the streets like a swarm of honey bees in the trees. Navigating through the cars, people and animals as if there is a guided path but I assure you there is not. Don’t get me wrong, there a lanes and stop lights but no one is paying them any attention. The people are so sweet and full of love. I know they would feel awful if they actually ran you over but do not let the namaste fool you. Keep your ass off the road if you are not about that moped life and can’t get with the flow! Do not under estimate the moped’s cargo space. A standard moped can fit a full family on it. A father, mother, 2 years old holding sugar cane and a 9 month old. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my very own eyes. I don’t know how I managed to pick up on the cargo space because I had to hide my eyes every few hundred feet. Dodi was no joke! He was in the flow and he too zipped through traffic in his SUV as if we were all on the back of his moped. I was scared for my life and yet I trusted his skills. When he reached for his phone I had to look away and say a prayer though. Dodi got us to our villa safe, sound & a little shook up lol!
There was a lot of traffic in the city so it was dark by the time we arrived. I had seen the pictures of the villa but the night view did it no justice at all. I couldn’t wait to get to sleep so I could see the space in God’s light. We put our bags down & decided to go back into the city to grab a bite to eat. We chose a beautiful restaurant that was perched in the trees but due to nightfall I couldn’t see the view. I secretly hoped we would get to go back there so I can see the view in the daytime. When we walked in we were instructed to remove our shoes. I instantly had a Carrie Bradshaw moment. You know the episode where she is forced to take off her shoes and someone steals them? Yeah I was feeling very uneasy however I didn’t want to offend the natives. Little did I know this would be one of the first lessons about this culture and the conditioning of my own American culture.
The entire restaurant is outside. It almost feels as if it is perched in the trees like a tree house. When we turned the corner to walk up the stairs to the tables we were greeted by beautiful marigolds. These weren’t just any flowers. They spelled out a beautiful message that reminded us of why we all came to Bali. Love Your Self. Simple and to the point. At this point it hit me that I am in Bali and this is my life. I am forever changed and I haven’t even started my retreat yet.