Updated: Mar 14
This is an experiment, I am poaching my own Facebook posts to see if I can fill in some of the blanks when I stopped writing my travel letters. We shall see if any semblance of coherency can be gleaned.
I spent the beginning of the year in San Miguel de Allende, with my friends, “filled with hope after today's wonderful inauguration (Obama), and happily ensconced in Mexico for the next 10 days”. Ah, what days of hope and innocence those were. As I listen to Cathedral bells and bask in a Mexican sunset.
Back in Bali
Just took a bath holding a very large umbrella, my bathroom is completely open to the sky, it takes about 45 minutes to fill the tub with hot water, then along comes a torrential tropical storm. What else to do? This is definitely an Aquarian life-time.
Back from 4 days of floating in the ocean and having my heartbeat attune to her rhythms, watching the Moon chase Venus across the sky (and catch her!) and the Sun rising straight out of the ocean. Complete body and soul renewal... at my favourite hideaway, Amed.
Watching the astonishing light show of an equatorial sunset, gamelan from the village, the boisterous masculine sound of the boys playing volleyball, a multitude of different birds busily and noisily preparing to roost, the stunning vista of volcanoes, rice fields and jungle.
My landlord's 70+ year old mother with pretty advanced Parkinson's, is out hand hoeing the fields in the tropical heat. When I express concern, she just beams the most beautiful smile, and I am informed she is choosing to because it's what keeps her going.
My married male friend, when asked if he thought a particularly striking woman was beautiful, without pause replied: "I don't know, I haven't spoken to her yet". And I know him well, he meant it.
Headed west again…
Santa Ynez Valley
I adore these rare days when it is permissible, even obligatory, to be a completely lazy, unproductive vegetable. I'm imagining myself as white asparagus... with just a little lemony hollandaise. I'll see the world again tomorrow.
No temple gamelan in the distance, rice fields or offerings at my front door; instead there is hill hiking, yoga under a redwood tree, truly hi speed Internet, seeing into the eyes of my wonderful Californian friends and hearing their laughter from just a few few feet away as opposed to 1,000’s of miles.
I drive an 1982 beige Volvo, with a dented door, and covered in dust from its ranch life. It is all I need and everything I own can be (and is) stored in it. Some people disapprovingly glower at us (me and Volvo), as we look homeless. I always beam back at them, because what they don't realise is that I live the most fabulous life imaginable. Here's to the fact that things are so often NOT how they appear.
Next month I'm going to England for a blind date with a South African who lives in a remote place in the bush and doesn't know how to use a computer, let alone the Internet. I of course live between Bali and the US, and because of my business (and personality) am symbiotically attached to my computer. And the truth is something of this kind could be my ideal relationship, nobody who knows me will be surprised.
I took a hike this morning pondering how the overly privileged and those with a sense of entitlement sadly often have the severest cases of tunnel vision. As I approached my cabin the ducks on the pond made a formation that looked just like an alligator... perhaps it's all optical delusions sending trickster-type messages to the brain.
A yummy day completely alone after 4 full of friends, hugs and laughter. I may not be in a "relationship" but my life is so rich with love, I can never think of myself as lonely or "single". Maybe we need a 3rd category for those of us who may not be coupled but always feel fully included and loved in the different worlds we move through?
In optimistic moments I believe kindness and empathy can be cultivated, then at others it feels like a gene that someone simply has or hasn't... then there is exclusive kindness, given selectively (does that even qualify?). Strange how the word "exclusive" has high meaning in our world, when it actually means to "exclude others from participation".
Leaving again in 3 days, not unpacking just moving everything over to a more functional suitcase. Off to New Mexico then Colorado and driving cross country to the East Coast on a Thelma & Louise type road trip with a great friend. No dramatic cliff flying endings planned, instead just taking off in jet plane to UK from Boston. And we're really hoping Brad Pitt won't pester us along the way.
I have been hiking through hills full of beautiful, gnarled oak trees. All the shapes and twists remind me of how the earliest storms determine the forms that follow, it is a bittersweet metaphor equating this to certain loved ones. I'm not sinking in guilt mire, just working at keeping an honest footing.
About to catch a plane to the high desert of New Mexico to meet two of my closest friends. There isn't a material thing on the planet can replicate the sense of wealth that comes from being in the company of a true friend. I'm a very happy and excited woman.
New Mexico, Colorado
Flight change in Phoenix... 110 degrees and cooking. Tip: don't run on airport carpets in Crocs, they oddly lock and cause one to go head over heels... even when they are the disguised un-clunky cute ones.
In the spectacular Colorado Rockies at 8,400 feet. Spent last evening in a hot tub under a cloud shrouded moon, elk rutting close by (what an eerie, mysterious sound), drinking champagne, reminiscing.
Going cross country with Jeanie, moving her from Colorado to Maine.
Super 8 Motel, Fort Morgan, CO, chocolate covered cherries, champagne out of styrofoam cups, dinner at Dairy Queen... just one slight mis-hap as I took out a cement post at a gas station (pre-champagne). Revelation: a 16 foot truck doesn't have the same turning radius as a "normal" car. But all is great and we are laughing a lot, the adventure continues.
Lincoln, Nebraska... we crossed almost the entire state today, corn, corn and more corn... oh and some soybeans. Very pretty, and considering the edgy astrology we are hanging tight, but neither of us have aspirations to be truckers in this nor any other lifetime. Pizza and tequila are on the menu tonight... for strictly medicinal purposes (says Ms Jeanie).
Crossed all of Iowa today, what a picturesque, scrubbed and pristine state... and still those endless corn fields. Lo and behold some gas stations do have slopes, so all is well, being what we require to get petrol into the tank of the beast we are driving. We are getting better and better at manoeuvring "Bud(get) the Monster" by the hour... concrete posts everywhere can take a giant sigh of relief.
Close to Cleveland, passed through Illinois, all of Indiana and much of Ohio today. We only just found out it is Labor Day... duh (no tv or radio). Lots of rain, and more predicted but we are doing good. Only 674 miles to Boston and a jet plane to the UK... I love, love, love being on the move.
Mercury retrograde sneaks up. We took a northern route to avoid storms, and for the second time in my life I was in Buffalo, NY today. First time was my arrival in the US at the age of 23. Took the train from Canada, but wasn't allowed in because I didn't have enough money, so I was escorted off the train and had to hitch-hike back to Toronto. I persisted (obviously!), so yes I was a bonafide Scottish dry-back.
We made it to Boston, and I fly from New England to Old England tomorrow. Drove past Shrewsbury, Massachusetts today on the way to Shrewsbury, Shropshire, the very town where I transformed from a child to a woman. Straight back into my past and who knows what else... Mercury Retrograde perchance?
Jeanie is off to Maine and I fly to the UK in 3 hrs. Although constantly studying this, I'm still amazed at how each person is so unique and an entire world of ways unto themselves. After the concentrated company of an intense, loyal and rock steady Scorpio Sun/Cap Moon friend, I'm off to stay with my charmingly scatty and impulsive double Aries one.... a smorgasbord of friends is an Aquarian's delight.
To the UK
Only flying into the UK would the pilot announce, "and outside we have a comfortable 60 degrees". Whether he was joking or not (I really have no clue?), it is great to be back in the land of dry and hilarious humour. Sitting by the river Severn watching the swans and laughing... a lot!
Blind date now has eyes wide open, and is a really nice considerate, funny guy, as are his 400 friends (exaggerating just a little). Seems there's been a mass exodus of South Africans to this area of Shropshire, and they are tribal, gregarious, fun, warm, loud and earthy. A serious red meat eating, beer drinking crew; as my friend Melanie (who lives with one one of them) says, they actually think chicken is a vegetable (when finding out I am vegetarian they always offer to cook one up for me).
A window box of brilliant red geraniums, deep purple lobelia, luscious honeysuckles and bright green leaves against the backdrop of an ever changing English sky. I open my eyes to this vision every day in this tiny, tiny room in yet another home away from home).
Spent the afternoon walking through the fields where Charles Darwin played as a child (he was born and grew up in Shrewsbury) and where he apparently developed his passion as a naturalist. He is of course famous in the town but tourists don't seem to have discovered the house or this magical spot by the river... a lovely day, even although I couldn't find so much as a butterfly.
Still happily single... with a great new friend of the opposite sex; much ventured, lots gained (a very mutual consensus), even although I left the ball way before midnight with both shoes still firmly on my feet.
Sept 19: earthquake in Bali was strong, buildings collapsed in Denpasar and about 7 injured. Just talked to Someone there and all our friends and loved ones in Penestanan are safe and well.
Ran into myself 40 years ago today, a young girl staring into the River Severn in exactly the same spot I would go to when looking for some peace and sanity amidst all the insecurities, thrills, uncertainty and disappointments of all those brand new first time experiences. She was a child, I had no idea I was so young at that age.
Spent the day in Ludlow, a beautiful 900 year old Norman market town. Afternoon high tea in timbered tea room dating back to Elizabeth Tudor; Earl Grey tea, scones, blackberry jam and clotted cream too thick to move on its own. I swear I could literally feel road blocks forming in my arteries, I have promised my body to feed it only green leafy things from this day forward.
4:40 am tomorrow on the move again, taxi, train, 3 planes; Shrewsbury, Birmingham, Philadelphia, Phoenix to Santa Barbara. From Roman bridges, castles, river and swans to Pacific sunsets, redwood trees, ducks and vineyards.
Back to the USA
Almost (such a poignant word) made it. Every flight was late (grrr... US Airways), so missed final connection. Spending tonight in Phoenix, 104 degrees at 7pm, and I'm still dressed for a chilly English morn, Ugg boots etc. Luggage at some undetermined location on the planet, and I look and feel like a bedraggled Eskimo in the desert. But I'm chuckling... how to possibly take life seriously at moments like this?
RAGING on behalf of my dear friend whose son was sent to Afghanistan, then was accidentally run over by the US Army itself, and consequently has multiple serious injuries. May the fury of mothers help create a storm strong enough to end the insanity imposed on us by those whose children AREN'T in the line of any fire, "friendly" or otherwise...
Painful childhood, precarious youth, confusing adulthood, yet always lit by a bright beacon of promise on the horizon. Who'd have guessed it would take two thirds + of a lifetime to reach it; playfulness, abandon, peace, joy and finally feeling at home in the world, all realities of the third and final act.
The father of my kids just passed after a long illness. Today, on a coastal road that was a big part of our life, I felt a swell of memories and feelings, and was struck by how abuzz the entire world is with the energy of thoughts and emotions. Then a pair of pelicans started flying parallel to my line of vision, another symbol of our short, intense life together by the ocean. A gentle farewell fellow parent.
Sometimes I write things then immediately erase them (kookie I know). And I sometimes take down comments other people make. I've found permission to do this by friends deleting comments of mine they didn't want up... thank you those who have done so and shown it's okay (no friendships lost). It isn't censorship (we can write what we want on our own profile), it's the freedom to edit what we show the world.
Walking by the Pacific Ocean I realised (for the very 1st time) how completely different it smells and sounds from the Bali Sea, the Irish Sea, the Indian Ocean... or any other body of water I have visited. An unsurprising phenomena for others I'm sure, but a brand new one for me. I wonder how many realisations of such a simple and obvious nature are still waiting to pop out of the psyche?
Many vineyards seem to be choosing not to pick the grapes this year, and they are literally fermenting on the vines. The birds seem a tad more raucous than usual, tipsy in the a.m. perchance? Yet still they don't ever fly into each other during their amazing aerodynamic feats; it's another thing that endlessly fascinates me... birds in flight never crashing.
God(dess) help us, I keep hearing how Hollywood has taken over our village of Penestanan filming "Eat, Pray, Love". Doesn't Julia realise there is already a "Roberts" rooted in those rice fields? Sour mangosteens aside, I am happy for the revenue it will bring the Balinese, but praying they leave things as they found them.
Wide awake at 4 am feeling the tightening Saturn/Pluto square (it touches my Venus). Grinding steely resistance vs unsentimental, relentless change: metal on mettle. The cyber world informs that for others it is a brutal reality; car bombing in Baghdad, another darkly fuelled tragedy born of a seething hatred and fear in humans. How on earth to hold on tightly with open hands and hearts?
Great Blue Heron perched on the fence outside my window looking straight at me. Thank you big beautiful bird; for whatever it is you signify. Be it anything or nothing the exquisite visual reset the tone for the day.
Honouring the mysteries without over romanticising our own existence is a super fine line that is in truth the gaping chasm between sweet acceptance and bitter disappointment.
Perfectly clear, still morning, and the pond outside my cabin a perfect mirror for the world around it. Calm, disciplined equilibrium brings clarity and harmony. As Saturn enters Libra, and moves towards my own Saturn, may I more consciously integrate this awareness into my work and relationships. Thank you Goddess Earth... for gifting yet another glorious image that speaks more clearly than words possibly could.
I'm taken aback when asked if I'm afraid living and travelling alone in Asia, I'm very careful (especially regarding theft), but with the guns, drugs, mental illness, bizarre killings and people that vanish daily here, I hands down feel safer alone there than many places here. Are people really unaware that the USA is more dangerous than many far less "civilised" places... the US crime rate is officially double that of Asia.
Once more packing up my whole life, everything I own in the US fits and gets stored in my car (a sedan!). I like the constant purging, and when I arrive in either home it's like Xmas... because I've forgotten what I own (which reminds me how insignificant "stuff" is). The downside is I could start a pharmacy with all the multiples I take to Bali 'cos I haven't a clue what's there.
Tonight, while soaking in her natural stone, steaming, bubbling salt water jacuzzi beneath a star studded moonless sky, my friend and I agreed that, despite the risks and the intensity, we both unanimously choose to live life undiluted... no matter what.
Last night I watched a powerful film about the Holocaust, then this morning as I packed up my life I came across a piece of barbed wire I took from a fence at Birkenau/Auschwitz in 2004. An odd memento I know, it chills my spine every time I touch it, still it is one thing I keep. I can have no idea how it was being an inmate, merely visiting the place changed my life forever. After watching this I understand why I kept it, I never want to forget either.
Without knocking "The Secret" or any other such self actualisation/manifestation type technique (which obviously engage and empower countless people)... still for me personally, across the board, the most significant life changing/affirming events of my life have occurred as a result of NOT getting what I wanted.
The happiest people I know don't believe anyone else owes them, and for me true freedom is accepting full responsibility for my own life (still working on it!), and the relief of not expecting others to make it better. Relationships are clearer and strength becomes core and unattached to yearning... and anything that is given is a gift. My parting groggy sleep deprived revelation as I head for the friendly skies.
Back to Asia
3:30 am in Singapore on an 8 hr layover in a windowless concrete airport sleeping cubicle in the middle of a construction zone (the gods are playing with me). Good flight, saw 5 movies, had a moment of abject horror as we touched down in Tokyo, had no idea it was a scheduled stop and thought for a second I was on the wrong plane! Yet another sleepless night, but no worries, I'll catch up in Paradise.
Singapore has a fabulous comfortable airport (except for the 4am construction), the only one in the world with a swimming pool. It is against the law to buy or chew gum here... sounds oddly anal. I'm not a fan, but just ran into a life sized ad of George Clooney, and was so happy to see him I smiled and said hi... I seriously need some sleep. Boarding for Bali in half an hour.
I'm home. On the flight to Bali were 63 very happy French(wo)men, all from the same village in France. Every other year all inhabitants 60 and over can go on an exotic group trip (always somewhere different), with the village paying a full half of all expenses for them. What a gesture for their "elders"... plus they have the best health care in the world... wow.
Slept deliciously intensely in one those deepest subterranean caves of the psyche, 8pm to 3am. Awoke to a rice field orchestra; frogs, crickets, countless unknowns... and towards dawn 100 testosterone charged roosters competing in all the villages. Internet down, so prowled the house finding what needs to be fixed... wherever I go, there I obsessively am.
Auspicious day in Bali, in Penestanan we've had no water in the rice fields for months due to a collapsed wall, today we get it back. Fixed t-square dominates, far from an aspect of grace from the western viewpoint, perhaps they see "tension" with different eyes? Sheer hard work, commitment and the shadow are fully integrated here... with no power trips or wars being waged against anyone else. I'm only guessing.
Took the kids to my dentist in Denpasar, and what Tara has been putting off because of a $5,000 quote in the US, will be completed in 3 visits for less than $200. Not exaggerating. With state of the art equipment, UCLA educated, a compassionate young man who loves what he does and believes everyone deserves to get the care they need, it's a bit like coming eye to eye with the dodo bird.
The spectacular fire dance last night was a mythological battle of the gods with the reward for the winner being the Dewi (Goddess) Tara. At the conclusion the lead dancer went into the audience and handed the beautiful flower offering... straight to Tara.
Tara and I have Aries Moons with Mars in water; mine fierce Scorpio, hers emotional Cancer. We love each other intensely, but battle in equal measure, and have since she arrived on the planet! We're blown away by how calm our relationship is here. Bali is balm for the soul, for us Venus is ruling absolutely. Mars may lay claim again later, we know and can laugh about this, but we're truly relishing this odd peace.
Went to Blue Lagoon Beach at Padang Bai on the east coast, and while the kids hitched a ride on a fishing boat to some snorkelling spots, I lay on the beach under a coconut palm having my biorhythms recalibrated by the sound of the ocean. I don't believe I moved a muscle for 3 hours. Bliss.
Hiding in my bungalow. Tara and co left in a huge thunderstorm (they arrived in one too and had perfect weather otherwise). Sinking deeply into that in-between space, a bit sad, exhausted, but still full of joy from the time with my kid. Was it Marlene Dietrich who so dramatically put the back of her hand to her forehead and proclaimed "I'm taking to my bed"? Whoever it was... I'm channelling her today.
The "year of living Pluto conjunct Venus". I can feel my cells right down to the bone marrow already bracing themselves, I'm hoping they're all training in some kind of cellular boot camp. Heart, mind, body, soul and unconscious all in this little boat together, here's to making some great memories while on the inevitable, wildly unpredictable journey (rapids and all).
Pluto Transits... DIY micro surgery on one's own soul with the hand holding the scalpel controlled by the unconscious... and lest we forget, Jung reminded us, "the unconscious is always unconscious". What becomes conscious is then something else entirely.
Was just talking to a friend about something deeply painful... and technically unresolvable. Without saying a word she got up, walked away, returned and handed me a delicious cookie. It was the most sensitive and sincere response imaginable.
It is heartening to be in a place so teeming with life, where things literally grow (and decay) before your very eyes. Countless flying, crawling, swimming, waddling things of every shape, size and colour co-existing, many of them noisily creating the most delightful, discombobulated music. I know the world is in crisis, but life throbs and pulses on so hopefully here in the tropics.
Love my house in Bali, but my favourite thing is that the staff have their own area out back, and it has become a meeting spot for several women. Hearing them talking and laughing, and being surrounded by their energy feels wonderful... I am home.
What a great group of souls have convened here in Bali to take this journey together. A year and half of planning and work (especially on Melanie's part) begins to reveal its mysterious purpose... yes I'll say it again... I LOVE MY LIFE.
A true teacher doesn't preach or presume to "know", but instead opens up a wider world of possibilities through intelligence, heart, knowledge, passion, wisdom, deeply committed open minded research, and raw and conscious life experience. No dull and heavy full stops are served, only bright and luminous question marks. We are in the presence of such a one, the brilliant Melanie Reinhart.
After 8 waterless months, 16 koi arrived at their new home this afternoon, our gorgeous, newly full, lotus/lily pond. There are 16 people in the workshop and today was our Pisces day. What delicious metalogues are being evoked; today's in the form of living, golden, dancing fish... that have had me captured in a happy trance for the past few hours.