Journey to Joy
Snap, Click. And Yank.
I’m frantic, trying to stuff my life back into a 36L pack and not be late to the airport for the next leg of my trip to Vietnam.
After wiping the sweat off my forehead, I plop onto the bed and check my phone. There is an email from Jetstar.
The Subject line reads: "Your flight has been canceled"
“HELL YEAH!.” A wave of relief followed by excitement comes over my body.
I can’t wait to share the news with my friends.
I have been working in tech for over a decade, but I have been made redundant. My whole department has. I need to look for more work soon but not sure how to proceed.
I’ve started coaching, but part time in the evenings and weekends. My plan is to travel around Southeast Asia for a couple of months while coaching, and return back to the states to grow my practice full time.
The problem is, I am falling in love with Bali.
I feel myself becoming more of the person I want to be. A manifestation of my ideal self. Surfing, cooking healthy meals, practicing Bahasa (the Indonesian language), and getting more comfortable driving a motor bike are part of my everyday routine. There is more time and more space in this world, and there is beauty everywhere I look. A friend tells me during his visit, “You’re thriving here”.
A few months prior, I was sitting in a dull cube fantasizing about days like these. The daydream is now real, and I am desperate to figure out a way to make it last.
How crazy would it be to stay here?
One morning on the beach, I pull out my iPhone and start making some calculations. I realize that it is financially feasible to stay; and far more affordable than returning home. There is my answer: I will remain on this gorgeous island indefinitely.
"When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it." - Paulo Coelho
Once I make the decision to stay, amazing people enter my life and incredible events begin to happen.
Superstar clients ask to work with me - ones who I find so interesting and inspiring, it almost makes me second guess myself as a coach. “How could I possibly help them be more awesome than they already are?” I wonder. They are (and always have been) successful at their day jobs, but they are also writers, yoga teachers, healers, and coaches themselves.
I find love two days after I decide to stay. Disney movie kind of love. But the way we meet is pretty un-fairy tale like - he tells me I “almost killed him" with my surfboard. It works like a charm, and we’ve been enamored with each other since that day.
I cannot imagine life getting any better, but it does.
A few sensational women come cruising into Bali, and straight into my villa.
We work together to create businesses, retreats, workshops and magazines. We are mirrors and sounding boards for each other. Being part of a group like this, to support and be supported feels fucking fantastic. I am lucky to have a squad of soul sisters to help me grow personally and professionally.
Sarah and Casha, who run Hello Adventure give me a beautiful opportunity to conduct a workshop at their signature retreat for entrepreneurs. I teach movers and shakers how to create and move towards their ideal life.
Natalie, an ultra talented writing coach, inspires me to create this blog post and also gives me more confidence to show up more authentically through text and in the outside world.
I am on Cloud 9, then the bitch starts to rain.
I start to lose clients. Out of the blue, a dear family member back home falls sick and gets put on life support. I am crushed.
I feel real stress for the first time in Bali.
The freak out questions commence.
“What if I have to go back home?"
“What if I stop being able to support myself?"
“What if I lose all of my clients?"
“What would happen to my relationship if I went back to the states?"
Then comes the anxiety.
While assisting a coaching workshop in Singapore, I am sitting in a circle with the teachers and other assistants. One of the teachers looks straight at me and says, “I just want to rip you apart”.
Shocked, I glance around at the others. My facial expression reads, “Did you guys just hear that?”. But a part of me knows exactly what she is talking about.
The way I’m sitting gives it away. My legs crossed, long flowy skirt, hands clasped prim and properly on my lap.
“There’s something about you that you’re not showing,” she continued. Others agree. I feel singled out. Why is all of this attention on me?
Is it that obvious?
I am not showing up.
I’m trying to be someone else. Maybe THE model coaching assistant. Really, who I’m being is a people pleaser.
I submissively try to sit in a way that is more relaxed, more “me”. This is going to take some work.
I spent years in corporate trying to sit this way and now she’s trying to get me to undo it?
I return home to Bali exhausted, feeling lost and confused.
My off-center behavior becomes even more noticeable after Singapore; kind of like the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, where you learn about an obscure word for the first time and then start seeing it everywhere. It happens most when I am entertaining guests who stay at my Airbnb, and when I’m around people I am not very close with. I am constantly “on,” with rarely any breaks to re-energize, and it is draining.
I become so tired from it, to the point where I desperately need a night to be alone, in my own space and with no one else’s energy around.
My poor boyfriend, who very rarely talks about “feelings”, tries hard to understand, and like a gentleman helps me downstairs.
I curl up in one of the vacant guest rooms.
I cry. Breath. Journal. Meditate. I read... a meditation book.
I take the time and space to process. I want to get deeper into what is behind me not showing up as myself.
I sit with my discomfort and find it: subconsciously, I am afraid of being judged, of not fitting in, of not being loved. All things we as humans fear.
To avoid any of them from happening, I’ve been striving to consistently be a good coach, friend, and hostess. No time to pause and reflect. No nourishment or self care.
My needs and desires have somehow become less of a priority and it shows in how I interact with people. As I lean into the root of this discovery, something remarkable happens: the stifling feelings of overwhelm transform into a spacious place of strength and empowerment. My suffering dissipates, and I am suddenly at peace.
I drift off to sleep.
“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”
And all we have to do is listen. To our intuition. To canceled plane flights and really direct feedback. To the good, the challenging, the light and the dark.
When we listen, we allow significant physical and emotional changes to happen.
For me it looks like picking my body up and moving it from San Francisco to Bali, and staying there. It also includes more self-awareness, and confidence to show up and put myself first.
And we can’t choose just one or the other. I might as well be in a fucking cube if I’m going to be in Bali trying to make everyone else happy but myself.
All sides are necessary to move towards our full potential.
The next morning I wake up alone. It is still dark, and the house is silent. I open my eyes and find that my mental fever has broken. I peel off the sheets, put both feet on the floor, and walk towards the door. I open it and exit, ready to be extraordinarily me.