Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Inside My Brain.... For a moment...

As I sit here on my balcony gazing out into the forest
I hear the rain breathing on my roof.
Breathing soooooooooo loud…

I contemplate.
My day.
My life…
This very moment.

This forest looks very different from what I know,
But now, it is starting to feel like home.

Rainy season is embarking on this tiny island.
I feel the seasons changing.
I feel it here.
I feel it at home.

It’s confusing… I know…
My home, that is.
The problem is
my home feels to be in many different places.
Will she always run around?
Will she never settle down?
You ask…
I ask…
……………….
Home?

Pause.

Hmmmm…. I contemplate this thought.

Like many, I was raised to think there was only one home.
My warm cozy bed, with all of my belongings placed exactly how I liked them.
My family sleeping sound under the same roof.
Bitter sweet contentment.
Gold
to a child of innocence.

But, for me,
Things
Changed.

My father left,
Then my brother left,
Things weren’t so cozy anymore.
It was bare.

Naked.

Then I left.

Years later, my mom left.
Now, on its last leg
this house
that I thought was forever to be my home
is empty.

So…
On the opposite side of the planet,
I challenge the word home.
Is it an actual place?
Or just a feeling?
Is it possible to have,
or to feel
this “home” sensation in multiple places?

They say “Home is where the heart is”
I contemplate this.

Pause…

My heart is in me…
It is in what I do
In what I say
How I learn
In the people I love
In the people I meet
In the journeys I force myself to endure.

Again,
I challenge myself
To find comfort in discomfort
And call this my home.
To see the things which are hard to swallow
And call this my home.
To embrace each person that I encounter
And to call them my home.

For,
if my home
when I was a child was a box,
It would be a small box.
But!!!
Measurement is damaging.
So, for now, I will say my box is…..

~Ever-expanding~

Bless the realization today that
THE PLANET IS MY HOME!
And
where ever I may run off to,
It is there
Where I can
Call each place
My home.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Science & Spirituality.... My Balance

Thursday, November 3, 2011, might be one of the most symbolic & powerful days of my life. It all started in a bamboo science lab & twenty 10th graders who were eager to dissect the bloody pig hearts that sat patiently waiting in front of them. “What, Brynn? Dissecting pig hearts? Who the hell am I becoming?” after all it was dissecting pig parts 10 years ago which triggered my passion for vegetarianism to this day. But now, it is all clear. As we cut through each & every vein, artery, valve, and muscle it became clear to me what our hearts are made up of, down to each & every cell. I looked at this huge heart in my hand & I felt my pumping heart inside of me & it was then that I realize what this amazing place, space, thing… is capable of.
After school I went home to ground myself from my day at work, my breathing exercises allowed me to transition into a much more sacred space for the next journey I was about to embark on. As soon as I heard someone was bringing the old Native American sweat lodge tradition to Bali, I jumped on it immediately. All sorts of amazing people in the community also jumped on this opportunity; somehow I manifested myself a spot. I didn’t know what to expect at first, through all the readings I have done & all the stories I have heard, there was nothing that could have prepared me for what I was about to experience. It was my own.
Let me start by expressing that every person’s experience is their own & will be very different from the others around them, as well as each time they do it. To truly understand the fullness & depth of this ritual one must experience it for themselves. Therefore it is hard to put words to this whole experience, but I will try my best to explain what it is I went through.
The lodge was constructed of bamboo with a canvas cover, at the center was the pit where the hot rocks simmered & steamed. Seven women & two men entered on the left side & crawled clockwise to the other side of the hut (you cannot stand in the lodge, it is only waist height). One man stood outside, tending to the fire, tending to the rocks, providing us with selfless service. Without him there would have been no ceremony. He brought us red hot rocks four different times, as there are four different sections of the ceremony. One of the other men inside the hut led us through the different stages, he was our chief our leader, I could feel his Native American roots seeping out of him as he sat right next to me.
My Native American roots have always been a part of me, inside of me like an instinct that guides me in the right direction. On this night it was amplified, when he started beating the drum & singing traditional songs of the Native American people tears dropped from my eyes. This is a truly strong force that lives within me & I felt at home just by hearing it vibrate my ear drums. I never knew I could sweat like this. If you have been in a steam room or a sauna, it is on a whole new level. It is a spiritual ritual to cleanse oneself, to purify, & leave behind the sweat of the past, the pains, the burdens. Each section is initiated by the opening of the flap door & the invitation of new rocks from the fire. We welcomed six rocks in the first round, one in each direction & a few extras in the middle. These rocks were sizzling boulders the size of a melon. The first round was dedicated to recognition of the spirit world. At the top of our lungs, and with the warmest smiles we welcomed them to join us, and we asked for their guidance. I could feel the resistance of all the people who had joined float away at this point. Presence in this moment was all that mattered. As he threw water over the rocks the temperature increased & so did our awareness. Our consciousness collided; there was strength in knowing we are all one. When the flap was lifted & our fire tender came to the door, gratitude spilled from my heart to him as he held the space for us, singing along from the outside.
As they entered the dark lodge, the next set of rocks were glowing, this time there were seven. The second part was the peak of presence, the climax of transformation. The intention of this round is to recognize courage, strength, and endurance. The reasoning for this is quite timely because this is when your heart starts to race, your body is struggling to achieve homeostasis, you are sweating like you have never sweat before, and the steam burns your face & the heat gets to you so bad all you want to do is give up. To step outside & feel the sweet, crisp, cool air on your skin. In this session you have to dig deep because in this round the leader throws on double amount of water on the rocks. I didn’t think I could do it anymore, my body was collapsing, I was worried. I was scared. I wanted to give up. But I didn’t, I stuck through it, and my endurance took me on another path, a path towards enlightenment. For the first time in my life I realized that enlightenment indeed lives inside of me, it is not some force outside of me that I have to spend my whole life trying to discover. It lives inside of me! This was the turning point. Two minutes later the flap opened & the sweet moonstruck air engulfed my face, my body. I have never felt so alive. I gave thanks to the planet for possessing such gifts to offer life. Appreciation, acceptance, love swirled out of our lodge into the rest of the world.
The third set of rocks allowed us space for prayer & expression. We passed around a little teddy bear which traveled from the America’s to the other side of the planet, it was given to our leader from his mother; her last gift to him. Similar to the talking feather tradition in the Native American culture, when you held the object it was your time to speak & the others turn to listen, although, our leader did chime in from time to time to articulate his wisdom. I was towards the end of the circle, and I knew the longer the heat persisted by the time it was my turn to speak I would be on another plane. I listened to the others, each one describing their pain & the healing they yearn for. Each person offered their own form of expression, their own stories, and their own levels of openness. The rest of us sat in silence, listening, and occasionally exclaiming in agreement “Aho!”
When it was finally my turn I held the bear with my moist hot hands & gave myself a minute to breath and become centered so I was speaking from my heart & nowhere else. My first prayer was to the Native American people, the ones still living today & to the spirits who were joining us tonight, I could feel their presence. I gave recognition to my emotions, because it was such an emotional experience my voice was trembling. I gave thanks for the ride my emotions have given me in this lifetime. I gave prayers to the children of tomorrow, may they do better at protecting our home. To the Balinese people who are enlightened on levels I am still trying to grasp, and to their children to stay strong enough to maintain their cultural traditions in the turning of time. I forgave myself for being so angry at the people who destroy our planet, and I forgave them & I found peace in the new turning of consciousness in humanity. And I said prayers for my ego, & the judgment I place upon myself, may it be humbled, and may I allow myself to tear down the wall that is getting in the way of spreading my love & beauty to the whole world. I sent prayers to my family in America, as we have been through a lot, let us see the light that is within us & inspire others to acknowledge the same. My last prayer was to the new family sitting around me, sharing the space, having their own experience. Thank you for being here, sharing this with me. Namaste.
The flap opened & in came the precious resource: drinking water, I could have collapsed in my gratefulness. Clockwise, we passed around the cups & nourished ourselves internally & externally. It felt like my body temperature was brought down 20 degrees. What a relief. WATER! WATER! So precious!
The flap closed again, the final round of rocks was dedicated to spiritual healing. To self-renewal & recognizing that from growth & maturing, healing comes. “It is time to consider healing: healing of ourselves, healing of a loved one healing of adversaries for peace among nations, and healing of the harms done to Mother Earth.” We chanted songs, we contemplated, our lungs vibrated to the sound of the drum beating, together we healed. Together we thanked ourselves, we thanked each other, we thanked everything we could possibly muster. “Oh Great Spirit, I pray for myself in order that I may be healed, Oh Great Spirit” we yelled. This session brought some of the greatest lessons, the perfect words that soared through my soul at the exact moment I needed them. One of the strongest was the lesson of generosity. Our leader challenged us to examine our commitment of giving, is it enough? “You should always question yourself in every situation, on every occasion: How can I help?” I accepted this gift of wisdom humbly.
The ceremony had now come to an end (it was maybe 3 hours in total). We gave thanks to the rocks for cleansing our bodies, our souls, our minds, and we left behind the sweat of our old selves. As we walked out of the lodge a new beginning had unfolded. As I gazed up at the bright sky & connected again with the moon I sensed a state of balance like I never have before. I walked out of that lodge acknowledging that the darkness & negativity that has entered my life has come for a reason & it is as important as the light & positivity. I should welcome them both as a sister & brother born into my family.
I am ready for this next stage in my life. I am open to the transmutation my soul stumbled upon on this beautiful evening. And I am willing to bring this wisdom into each and every day, every moment.
The next day I sat with my grade 10 students (the ones I dissected the heart with), we sat in a circle with the HUGE smoky quartz crystal between us. The energy of this crystal is almost as powerful as a pit of burning hot rocks. I taught them about the rituals of my people, the sweat lodge and the talking feather. I started with the feather & shared my sweat lodge experience with them, I told them this was one of my most powerful experiences in my life, and I asked them to share a powerful story of their own. As the feather passed from one child to the next I learned things about these children that I would have never guessed. We all sat enchanted by each others stories, listening, crying, & giving empathy & love. The dorks, the jocks, the druggies, the “cool” ones, all completely connected.
No matter what shape, size, color, or texture, we all have our own stories, our own pain & happiness, our own struggles & our own achievements. May we all find the beauty that lies within ourselves, and the light that lives within each & every walking, swimming, crawling, flying soul on this beautiful planet Earth, because we are indeed,
ALL ONE.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Reunion in Bali- Al's gift...

Wow! How fortunate am I that I live on the complete opposite side of the world yet I am able to share it with one of my very best friends. Last week I was blissed out with one of my favorite partners in crime, Allison Damon, aka (for those who know our tight connection) Altron... She bought her tickets before I set out for the states this summer, so I wasn't too bummed when we weren't able to bond as closely as I wanted during the music festival rampage we were on.
The clock was ticking & butterflies swarmed in my stomach for weeks before she was about to arrive. I was so excited to share my life over here with someone I love, with someone from my other home.
Matt & I arrived at the airport at 12:30am & by 1:45 I was seriously starting to get worried. At about 1:15 I realized that I had not given her my phone number or address, so if anything went wrong there was no way I would know as I stood there waiting...
Finally she arrived, and as anyone would expect, I yelled from the top of my lungs "ALTRON!!!!" running over to her. Gave her the FATTEST hug & realized "wow, you just traveled serious lengths to hang with me," this is something to be noted.

It took her a bit to adjust from America time to Bali time, but I also didn't give her much time to think about it, I through her right in to the Balinese culture the next morning. After I showed her "life at Greenschool" we set off on our motorbikes for a long day filled with ceremonies, jungle trekking, & sacred water cleansing rituals. Did I mention I crashed us?? On her first day here I toppled over the bike going about 1mph, it gave us some bruising & scars to immediately smile about.. We didn't have time for any big injuries, we had a big day ahead of us. Luckily, she smiled & said "that damn gravel!" I looked at her with a big smile, while blood dripped from my knee and exclaimed "Welcome to Bali Al!"
The ceremony & water cleansing ritual was not only a unique experience for someone from the outside world, I also grew a new love & passion for this amazing culture I live amongst. At about 9:30 when our eyes were growing heavy from all the cultural immersion, dinner was to be served. We sat barefoot & cross legged in the middle of a Balinese compound & were served a delicious authentic Indonesian meal which we ate with our bare hands. This was quite a treat, for all of us.
The majority of the trip was spent hopping from beach to beach, traveling by motorbike & jumping on boats to give Al a good ol' island hopping adventure. We sipped glasses of wine, ate incredible dinners, sipped coconuts, played with our hula hoop, wrote in our journals, had great conversations, played cards, laughed, smiled, did yoga together, joked about stories of our past, the list goes on...
The best part about it all, was that we were together. It didn't really matter what we were doing, what mattered was that we were together. It made me realize how much I not only miss Allison is my life, but it also made me realize how REAL & GENUINE my relationships are here in Bali & in the states. It made me grow a whole new appreciation for the simple fact that people have impacted my life in so many ways & how grateful I am to maintain & manifest incredible people in my life. It also made me grasp how much I have changed as an individual since I have left the states & because of that my friendships are being forced to evolve in the most beautiful way possible.
On Allison's last day in Bali I had a real treat in store. Our whole adventure allowed for some serious (much needed) relaxation, but this spot was going to be the most beautiful & relaxing of all. We took her to our FAVORITE spot in Bali, far away from the beaches, in the middle of nowhere. Surrounded by rice fields & positioned perfectly at the base of Mount Agung (a large active volcano) lays quite little Sideman (pronounced seedamon). It was here that we spent our last hours together gazing at the incredible view of the most sacred mountain in Bali. The infinity pool reflected the clouds & the tip of the crater, & the outdoor living room possessed the comfiest cushions one could possibly ask for. It was here, in this place, where we reflected upon the serious bliss we encountered over the week & realized that we are three VERY fortunate human beings.
When I took Al to the airport I gave her the warmest hug I could possibly offer & thanked her for succombing to the long travels (in the end it is so worth it!). As I hugged her it was definitely not a goodbye, but an "until next time" departure. She walked away & turned around for one last glance & I hopped in the car with the biggest smile on my face coming deep from within my heart, & saying to myself "wow!I am so fortunate to have such a beautiful friend!"

Now, I wonder... Where will we meet next time???

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Awaken

Life is an offering.
life is for sharing.
Life is precious.
Life is ever-changing.
And the only certainty is death.

In our daily life it is easy to become lost in our stories & our disillusionment, we forget about the real reasons we are on this planet. The real reason we were gifted with consciousness & intelligence. We succumb to our addictions & fall unworthy to our day to day trails & tribulations, most of which are mindless, numbing & distracting. But we become absorbed by them. They become the meaning of our life. They become our reason for being here.

Do you believe that some people can go through life asleep?
To be asleep is to allow life to pass you by, to not be grateful for each day & each moment, & to take this gift for granted.

Death is one thing that can wake a person up & make them recognize their purpose, make them recognize they should love unconditionally, among other things.

Do you believe a person can awaken without such an extreme?

Is your life conscious or unconscious? In your interactions are you reactive or responsive? When you think is it surface level or deep? When you love is their reservation or non-resistance?

Are you awake?

At some point it's time to wake up. And when this happens you will see life for all that it is worth. You will understand that your presence, interactions/relationships, love, & dreams are really all that matter.


Although I pride myself in living a conscious life, today I was re-awakened.
and love pours from my heart to all the ones I love,
to this planet,
to all living & nonliving.
To the depths & lengths that my small insignificant body can possibly send out.

Friday, August 26, 2011

FOCUS

Everything has happened so fast. The transition I mean. Although my summer was fruitful, pleasurable, and intimate; time flies when you're having fun, right? On our last weekend in the states we danced our butts off in the CO rocky mountains until Sunday morning then drove back down to Denver to catch a plane to Bali at 6am the next morning. We arrived two days later at midnight on Wednesday, then had to be at school (work) the next morning at 8am. It took us a few days to catch up on our sleep, come back to reality, and a weekend to make our house feel homey. Through all the rushed rampage we have slowly managed to ween out of summer mode and back into focused mode.
Through a chain of events that occurred one after another we are bursting with excitement to be back in this very different developing world.
The first weekend we were in Bali a HUGE ceremony was in line for the cremation of the Queen (A VERY BIG DEAL). We dressed in our Balinese ceremony clothes & headed to Ubud where the ceremony was being held. People had traveled from all over the island (tourists and locals) to see this big event. People were everywhere! It was my first time seeing Ubud this packed. The queens remains were put in the huge structure (you see in the picture), it took 1,000's of Balinese men to carry this immaculate casket about 1-2 kilometers down the road where they eventually burned the whole thing. This is a very rare ceremony celebration, and was definitely one worth seeing.
A few days later we were invited to John Hardy's house(founder of Greenschool) to have dinner with the rest of the new staff at the school. He always has tricks under his sleeve & this time I was thoroughly impressed with his planning. He wanted all of us to experience real-life Bali and what a better way than through food. He had banana leaves spread out on the floor and 50-70 people sat and shared an authentic Balinese meal off the floor with our hands (no utensils provided). As I sat next to the people around me having good conversation, butterflies flew through my stomach with excitement to be back in Bali.
After this Matt & I had a few of our good friends over for a house warming celebration where we feasted & projected a movie in our living room. There is nothing better than returning to good friends. The party left the house filled with an energy full of togetherness & love.
Returning to a focused life hasn't been all that bad (besides the whole waking up to an alarm clock part).
I have many goals, visions, and dreams to accomplish this next year in the Southwest Pacific, and this weekend I will be exploring all of the ways I want my consciousness to evolve.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Home

The journey "back home" thus far has been amazing! Time has grabbed me by the waist and taken me for a quick ride through it all. As I embrace each moment I still wonder how I can make them last longer. We are mid break and have had a plethora of great memories and tremendous amounts of reunions. Life is a sweet sweet fruit I must admit over here in America.
I first felt at home when I smelled those sweet dense Aspen trees in Rocky Mountain National Park, and everything since then has also hit home, I've pulled the trigger and admitted to myself that "God damn I miss this place" and "God damn I love these people." And yet, I still have so much more of this country to see, people to hug, and memories to store.
Thick family bonds & ultimate friendship connections have been the glue of this trip and have made my heart more plump & delicious. Instead of coming to America with a distaste for what's wrong I have reminisced in the sweet nothings that I may not have taken the time to be grateful for in the past. Like the barrels of hay lined up in the farm fields of Michigan, the wild flowers that frame the borders of the highways & streets, the happiness, creativity, & togetherness of the people, the pets, the cleanliness & gratitude for sacred beautiful land, and my god the GOOD beer.
Matt & I went to our first festival in MI and everything within us was sparked. Surrounded by amazing people, incredible music, ample amounts of creativity & passion, my heart was bursting at the seems. I held my heart so many times this weekend in gratitude for the space and time, and my matching grin showed that there was nowhere else on this Earth that I would have rather been.

Through our reconnections with the people we love the most, Matt & I have felt a healing inside of us that could not have happened in Asia, Africa, S. America, Europe or Antarctica.
Only right here at home.

Now we are gearing up for a road trip to the NorthWest Pacific. A place I have been dieing to explore for a loooooong time, and we still have two more music festivals to participate in. Then, at the end of all this bliss I am fortunate enough to leave to one of my other favorite places in the world. Bali ;)

Living & Loving this life I have chosen.

Exploring
Dreaming
Discovering

Friday, June 24, 2011

Embracing the Difference

For the last year of my life I have surrounded myself with something VERY different from what I was used to. I have seen my (American) culture from an outside perspective & everything in my world has changed drastically because of it. Today is the first time in a year that I will return to my home country and see it again after my inner transformation. I forgot how intense the American culture is (in its many forms), it has really been a while since I have emerged with it.
Today is the big flight travel day, we flew from Bali to Seoul (Korea), then to Tokyo (Japan), then to Seattle, and finally to Denver. It all hit me once we were in Japan, we walked to our terminal and almost simultaneously as I saw the sign for Seattle (USA) I got a HUGE wiff of McDonalds. I choked it down and walked to the desk to change our seats (Matt & I were scheduled to not sit by each other during the loooong 10hr flight). Only to be in line behind an obese pissed off Guchi wearing American woman screaming at the Japanese clerk about God knows what. I noticed her thriving off the fact that she was causing a scene as she was twisting her head like an owl to see who was watching her. I felt anxiety rush through my blood & disgrace fill my being. After this episode we moved on to another obese individual (mind you I haven't seen an overweight individual in a long time) who was struggling for each breath just from standing in place. Again, I choked this down, took a deeeeeeep breathe & said to myself "OK, here we go!"
One of my goals returning to the states is Non-judgment, I think I underestimated how difficult this task would be considering all of my mental shifts about America. I will stay strong with this and remind myself that we are all connected, and although I see & live life differently, I too could have been in their shoes in a past life.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
4 Days later....

From Rustic Bali to luxurious Denver my mind is filled with difference, indifference, beauty, and openness. Today I really felt at home and in my body as I took in a deep breath of the sweet fresh Colorado Rocky Mountain air. It was like medicine to my soul. When I am in the city I am shocked by the constant development & consumerism, but when I am here in nature I am awe-struck by the exquisite natural beauty this country possesses. There is nothing like the fresh smell of sprouting Aspen trees & pungent Juniper pine needles. We bought an annual pass to the US National Parks. I am so eager to spend the summer in some of the most geologically beautiful places in the world!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I woke this morning reading this:
"Joy is transformative as I allow it free and fill expression through my thoughts, words, and actions. Joy fills my heart as I hold the hand of a loved one in need. Seeing past any human flaws and frailties, I behold their true essence. Our connection is life-affirming and joy-filled.

Focus:
No attachment
No Resistance
No Judgment
Accept
Enjoy
Presence
~~~~~~~~~

Be Bold
Be True
Be Kind
Be You.

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Top 10 Favorite Things I Love About Balinese Hinduism

(in no particular order)

The Karma: The people live by means of Karma. They believe their actions in this life will lead to the life & privileges in their next life. This inevitably creates people who are highly conscious in their daily interactions, resulting in a very calm, peaceful, & safe environment. I have NEVER felt at risk or in danger here in Bali.

The Temples- Bali is filled with temples, they are all sacred places of prayer & gratification to the Gods. They are immaculate, every section of the temples are intentional & beautiful. There are large temples that belong to each section of the community, all people of that community gather at this temple for their ceremonies & celebrations. The majority of Balinese people live in a compound, which means their whole family lives inside of little houses that are attached to each other. Each compound has their own temple where they visit daily for prayer (these are also beautiful).

The Offerings- Everyday they prepare offerings to the spirits. These offerings are made from natural materials, the main material is banana leaves, they use these leaves to form a little box & inside the box they fill it with flowers, incents, and some type of food (usually candy or rice). All additions are placed carefully inside the box with their own significance. The food represents their gratitude for being given the opportunity to have food in their daily lives. These offerings are placed all over temples, in front of doors, on cross roads, on the front of cars/motorbikes, etc. You have to watch your step constantly, they’re EVERYWHERE. They are the symbols of the Hindu’s gratitude & appreciation of the offerings they wish to return to their gods.

The Ceremonies/Celebrations
- The ceremonies happen at least twice a week, they gather to rejoice all kinds of celebrations. The people here are extremely happy, helpful, & compassionate; I believe this has a lot to do with their persistent gathering & celebrating. This culture always has something to look forward to, something to prepare for, & something to work for. A majority of their money goes towards ceremony costs, but it is the way of their life & they are happy to spend the money on their beliefs & rituals of their religion.

The Gratefulness for EVERYTHING!- They have specific days to celebrate silence, metal, fire, rice, motors, water, etc. etc. They literally celebrate all the gifts they are given in their lifetime, because they acknowledge their potency & realize how much they affect their lives.

The Incense-Bali smells amazing because incense are lit all the time, I have never seen such large packages of incense at the store. They use them to purify the air; this is an item of one’s everyday life here.

The Music- an everyday affair, some nights I fall asleep to it & some mornings I wake to it. The best part is when I am cruising on the motorbike & pass by a Gamelan (a group of Balinese people jamming away at percussion instruments), they are always dressed up, even if they are just practicing. Sometimes there are parades marching down the streets, whenever I see this I feel like I am in the middle of some magical dreamland. These visions & auditory awakenings always make me feel smack dab in the middle of Bali.


The Outfits-The Balinese ALWAYS dress up when it is time for gatherings or ceremonies. They have very specific outfits depending on the celebration. But the typical outfit is stunning, for both men & women. The women wear sarongs, and a handmade blouse that hangs down to their thighs, with a scarf wrapped around their waist, and their hair pinned back in jewels. The men also wear sarongs, with button down shirts, and a wrap around their heads which forms a hat. Every time I see these outfits I smile because not only are they so beautiful, they are also so unique & so traditional to their own culture. The Balinese definitely have their own “style.”

The Prayer-paying respect to the Gods is a daily ritual. The song for prayer is belched out to the whole community when it is time to pray. They pray during designated times, but they also pray on their own time, especially when they give an offering or enter a temple. Their connection to the higher power is highly dedicated.

The Thick Sense of Community, Togetherness, & Wellbeing-
with all the gatherings & ceremonies the people are constantly together. Their sense of community is a way of life, an expectation of the others around them.

After I go to India I know this list will change, for instance yoga will be added, but I couldn’t add it now bc I haven’t experienced the Hindus here in Bali performing yoga (mostly just the western bohemians who pass through). Anyway, my writings & ideas are always up for transformation. What an incredible cultural journey it has been to live here.. All my love & gratitude to these amazing people I have been introduced to, I have so much to learn from them.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

positive. and. negative.

I wrote this a few years back, just happened to stumble upon it... It's quite intense I must admit...


It hurts my gut that we walk along the same soil...
............................................
I say fuck your confounded bombs!
Fuck the way your pride thickens your skull,
and the way your testosterone runs through your blood
so dense
that
your neck becomes broad enough to hold your heavy head.
.....................................................................
Clear visions
for the country folk are a desperate mile away when
their own hierarchy is stoned out of their minds on steroids and power.
............................................
But people like me are the enemy,
I smoke joints.
I sit in trees.
......................................................................

"GET THOSE DRUGS OFF THE STREETS!"
You scream.
....................................................................
I call your bluff
YOU hypocrite!
.....................................................................
You're more stoned than me!

********************************************


I have one exquisite weakness:
I love when I come across a good soul.
I feel it deep
like we've been anxiously reaching out
for each others encouragement.
It's these moments when my faith restores.
.....................................................................
Walk with me you mindful creature.
Dance next to me and let our spirits
explore
the beauties of life!
.....................................................................
Realize with me that being able to
See true beauty
is more powerful than any weapon.
...................................................................
Challenge me!
to think expansively
In the most gentle fashion.
......................................................................
Water my seed of wisdom
With your tears of joy and pain.
For a lifetime or
For even a moment.
....................................................................
Thank you for coming across my path
I will remember our unification.
.....................................................................

I say lets celebrate life!
The purest beauty of existence.

Monday, May 23, 2011

On Vulnerability

It is quite interesting what one might experience when vulnerability comes knocking at the door. What is even more interesting to me is the way we hide it, mask it, store it, numb it, or run from it when it so vividly enters our lives.
It is true, no one wants to feel weak or submissive, but in times when we embrace the act of being vulnerable I believe we learn and grow the most. And we are in fact much stronger than we may be sought out or fear.
Whether you are the first to say "I love you", "I'm scared", "I don't know" or "I need a divorce" you are taking a risk towards the unknown (which unfortunately often times leads to judgment, our fear).
What is hard to realize... is that... one learns the most once they enter the unknown, and through this you are taking your life by the reigns.

Vulnerability is Power.

As the Tao Te Ching suggests:

"To be whole, let yourself break.
To be straight, let yourself bend.
To be full, let yourself be empty.
To be new, let yourself wear out.
To have everything, give everything up.

Knowing others is a kind of knowledge;
knowing yourself is wisdom.
Conquering others requires strength;
conquering yourself is true power.
To realize that you have enough is true wealth.
Pushing ahead may succeed,
but staying put brings endurance.
Die without perishing, and find the eternal.

To know that you do not know is strength.
Not knowing that you do not know is a sickness.
The cure begins with the recognition of the sickness.

Knowing what is permanent: enlightenment.
Not knowing what is permanent: disaster.
Knowing what is permanent opens the mind.
Open mind, open heart.
Open heart, magnanimity."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable."

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Day in the Life

The Famous mud pit at Greenschool... Fully taken advantage of.

video

Monday, May 16, 2011

Just Another Day @ Work :)

Matt & I took our little 3rd graders on a field trip to the butterfly park in Tabanan last week. This park was fully loaded with 40-50 different butterfly species, about 10 different LARGE insect species (including the stick bug & rhino beetle featured in photos below), scorpions, monitor lizards, frogs, etc. etc. It was incredible in a variety of ways. One, it was Matt's first field trip-his first time teaching outside the Greenschool boundaries. Two, the kids absolutely loved their lives, we heard several times "this is the best day ever". And three, not only did my students learn A LOT, I also had the opportunity to learn a bunch of new stuff. This is what I have decided is my favorite thing about teaching. This "work" allows me to be a life-long learner. Whether it's learning more about butterflies, sustainability, patience, biology, being present, gardening,
relationships, etc. etc. teaching constantly presents endless opportunities to learn as I go --> forth.

Talk about "hands on" learning... I LOVE MY Job!




















Monday, May 2, 2011

Arachnophobia.... psshhhhhh!

Before I came to Bali I had a God awful fear of spiders. I mean, that movie Arachnophobia, scarred me seriously! When I came to Bali I had many fears, I held them tight, they were a part of me. The funny thing is, I've accepted & swallowed this fear that I thought I would never budge on so much easier than I ever thought.
There is something very unique about Bali, and many people run from it, but I have learned to embrace it. In addition to the immense & vibrant energy that radiates through the air, Bali is extremely confrontational in a very deep & spiritual context. There have been many deeeeeeeep personality, ego, & past dilemmas I have consciously tackled since being here... All people who have REALLY given Bali a chance would all agree that this place presents you with ALL kinds of surprises (even some that you really weren't ready for).
The arachnophobia thing isn't so deeeeeeeep, but its a simple example of one of the accomplishments I have achieved since being here that I thought I could never get over.
The spiders here are huge!! I have never seen anything like these creatures. I mean these babies are bigger than my own hand. They are colorful, and their webs are immaculate. My fear started to disintegrate when I made the decision to let an ENORMOUS scary ass looking spider crawl on me. This was the first step, and once I allowed myself the space to feel the fear & anxiety & all the other emotions that tag along with true arachnophobia, it all just started becoming easier.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not interested in walking through a fat spider web, but now I look at the creatures in such a different light.
I made a vivarium with my 1st grade class (a cage with spiders in it) & they all were too scared to catch the spider, and I was teaching them all about how spiders are our friends & we should love & appreciate them even if they seem a bit scary. This was the second step. When we went on the hunt & I was the "spider catcher," I played off my fear like it was my job (I guess it is my job-lol). I found 3 different species of spiders before I came across this amazingly huge yellow arachnid. When the kids saw it they all screamed "I want that one! I want that one!" Not only was I already nervous, this spider had made a huge dark white X mark in the middle of its web, saying "don't fuck with me." But I knew I had to get it. So I gulped hard, took a deep breath & went at it with my bug catcher with all the courage my fast beating heart could offer. Today I looked at that spider with absolute amazement, we've been feeding her for two weeks now, and paying attention to her behaviors. She just hatched 100s of little baby spiderlings, & I was in awe to witness such an incredible force of nature right before my eyes.
Now, when I see pictures of spiders or come across them along my path, I no longer cringe. I accept their gift & am grateful for their unique presence here on Earth.
Again, this arachniphobia achievement may seem small & insignificant, I admit it is only a thin layer off the top an extremely layered chocolate cake. But I think you get the point where I am heading with this.
I have felt a fearlessness here in Bali, in ways that is hard to explain & in ways I have never felt before.
My wings are open & ready to soar!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Learning Bali Through Surprises

Whether it is on Greenschool campus or elsewhere in Bali, Mother Earth is constantly surprising me with her complex gifts of nature. Each new gift gives me the opportunity to learn more about my ecological surroundings & the life that coexists around me. Today a 3rd grade student presented me with a foam nest on a large leaf. I knew it was an egg sac of some kind, but I was clueless as to who laid it. I had never seen such a thing, it looked like a huge flem ball. I did specie classification in school & everything, but that was in the states... Now, in this tropical environment it is a whole new ballpark of plants & animals. I took it to my fellow scientist Martin & once we had established that it was not something coughed up by my boyfriend we both started researching.. By the end of the day we were happy to announce that the Greenschool is now home to the foam nest and eggs of a foam nesting Golden Tree Frog - most likely a species of Polypedates. For further details follow this link:
http://www.amphibia.my/page.php?pageid=s_foundk&s_id=91&search1=Polypedates%20leucomystax&species=Polypedates%20leucomystax&submit=Search!
Also, Last week a rare fungus popped up on campus, we were privileged to have a fruiting body of the amazing 'Dictyomorpha indusiata' species on campus. This species of fungus is related closely to the common stinkhorn. It was one of the most attractive fungi we have seen on campus.
The main part of this organism, as with all the fungi, is of course its extensive mycelium, the network of hyphae (feeding tubes) which spread underground through the soil, digesting and breaking down wood and other organic matter. It is a very important saprophytic organism, naturally recycling organic waste and turning it into soil. Many scientists predict that fungi will play an essential role in helping humans to take care of the planet, by breaking down all kinds of waste to form....soil. Paul Stamets has written an excellent book on the subject - 'Mycelium running'. Highly recommended!

Keep your eyes open to the wonders & wildlife around you!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Earth Day @ Greenschool

As we all know, everyday is Earth Day at Greenschool. It is a daily ritual to teach the kids how to plant trees, flowers, & plants, as well as make them knowledgeable about their impact on the planet. But when the actual holiday comes around, its a pretty big deal here in Sibang Kaja, Bali. We stop the whole school day to celebrate this special time. And who else would be better to plan the event than the "Green Studies" teachers...? Needless to say, Matt & I had a lot of planning under our wings, but when all said & done, the day went as smoothly as we could have hoped for.
The morning began with a huge gathering on the soccer field, all students from pre-k to 10th grade were present as well as all the teachers. Matt & I set up 10 stations which all the classes rotated between, and each station had a different Earth friendly relay. For instance, one of the relays was kinda like the ol' egg & spoon race, except they were carrying mini planet Earth balls (they had to save the planet-obviously, it couldn't drop!). At Greenschool, each student is a member of a house, they are either a member of Earth, Air, Fire, or Water, these "houses" create a healthy rivalry where the kids compete against one another on a continual basis. In this event they were split up into their houses & competing against each other, so they were very competitive in a quite positive manner. By the 10th round, the kids & the teachers were exhausted~it was beautiful.
Matt & I also organized an assembly which started with a presentation the 10th graders had put on to teach the rest of the school about the history of Earth Day. They also went into detail about their "houses" and explained how each element is very much their own entity, but they all depend on each other for survival. After the 10th grade was done, there was a dance for Saraswati Day (a Balinese Holiday which also falls on Earth Day). It is a celebration of the goddess of knowledge & education. After that we had a few musical performances, and then it ended with a
very deep drama production by grade 6. They set the tone for the rest of the assembly, and reminded everyone why it is so imperative for us humans to start making a difference & respect Mother Earth. Their presentation was called Altars of Extinction, they made large cut outs of extinct & endangered animals & performed a ritual which was accompanied by a women playing the singing bowls. The whole crowd was silent as one of the students introduced all of the animals & stated whether they were extinct or endangered. It resonated with everyone, our hearts all collided with empathy.
The last part of the day was very student oriented. We arranged with all the teachers for each grade to organize their room with their own Earth Day theme, where guests could tour the school & see what they had prepared. We also had NGO's in the heart of school & many students were raising money for worthy causes like Japan & non-profits like SOS (Sumatran Orangutan Society). There was everything from paper making, planting seedlings, Earth day pledge signing, to Green Smoothies for Japan & massages for monkeys. It was a pretty neat tour. And did I mention that John Butler was present.. ;)
Finally, the day came to an end as we all gathered again in the Mepentigan for one last song. Our staff band performed "Living in Bali" (our school song) and everyone in the whole school sung it at the top of their lungs. It was an incredible way to end the day..

"There is hope if people will begin to awaken that spiritual part of themselves, that heartfelt knowledge that we are caretakers of this planet." ~Brooke Medicine Eagle