Half a year living on the beautiful island of Bali.
174 days to be really precise.
That’s 27 Mondays where I’ve woken up to a bright blue sky and the freedom to manage my schedule.
And it’s also a big fat total of 0 days where I’ve woken up thinking : Ah fuck, this is gonna be such a long day.
-or- How I wish I was somewhere else today…
And that’s not because everything here is absolutely perfect.
Not because I don’t miss anyone.
Not because I don’t care about the weddings, birthdays and rad openings I’m missing out on…. I do !
I don’t wish to be somewhere else for the sole reason that being here is a choice I’ve made. And I wake up every morning honouring it and feeling blessed to simply have the luxury of making such a choice. Even when I feel lonely. Even when I’m craving the fresh scent of the Canadian mountains and forests. Even when I’m in terrible pain and I wish my mom could come fix it all with a Lipton soup.
You, me, we have this freedom of choice. Choosing where we want to wake up every morning… You want to wake up every morning in the mountains? Make it happen. You want to wake up every morning 4 mins from the beach. It is in your power… ! At least, it is a question worth asking yourself.
Yes. And those past 6 months of waking up in Bali have been an absolute blessing, and I know it is only the beginning of this lifestyle for me.
I still remember so clearly how incredibly excited I was when I jumped on that one-way plane last May.
I could barely contain my joy and I kept pinching myself in the air, no kidding!
This was happening, I was finally free, so freakin’ free and, sweet jeez, the future was exacting !!! Excited to a point that I was honestly scared I would die in the air and never get to live it up! It was just too good to be true…
Looking back on those past six months, I realize now how much of a bold move this was. But it felt easy, it felt natural at the moment, and there was nothing I wanted more; I was finally jumping into a life a was ultimately craving.
… But there was one thing I really didn’t think of. I guess I knew all along, but it wasn’t something I had planned:
Once you take the leap, once you finally manage to say ‘fuck it’ and you leave, there is absolutely no going back to your old way of life…
Not because your “old life” won’t be there for you if you choose to come back -it will honestly always be there- but rather because yourself will have irreversibly changed. Don’t be scared… such change doesn’t hurt. It happens really smoothly, easily.
But your self-confidence, your general outlook on the world, your vision of the range of possibilities, your connections, your notion of normality, your notion of home, your sense of what the “good life’’ means to you, and how possible it is to actually live it… This will all change !!
I am going to tell you the biggest thing that happens when we chose an alternative way of life…
You mind finally breaks free from the unidirectional mindset of Western society.
You break free from the heavy pressure of how things should or shouldn’t be.
You break free from the fear of failure.
You break free from the fear of missing out on the good life.
You ARE free.
You start living according to your true self. You get to discover that there is no right or wrong way to create YOUR OWN life. Remember, we were once wild.
The society we’ve been brought up in has implanted parameters in our brains, directing our thoughts and actions… But there is a world on the other side my friends. And it is not just reserved to a few lucky ones.
What do I enjoy the most about life in this South East Asia paradise?
As you can probably imagine, everything here is very different from life in a first-world Western metropole… the culture, the habits, the language, the transport…I sometimes feel like EVERYTHING is different from my life in the city.
Ceremonies almost everyday for reasons that you don’t really get. A language that is so very different from yours. That little scooter that becomes your absolute best friend, riding you everywhere, hair in the wind. Getting to connect with people from every corner of the world everyday. Noises, flavours, flow. All different.
But damn I love it !!
Of course I enjoy the weather, or rather the fact that the weather is no worries. During this sunny season, it’s always nice, it’s always comfortable… you can trust Mother Nature on that, I’ve literally seen 3 hours of rain in the past six months. When it finally rained, we danced !
I also enjoy the amazingly low level of stress and anxiety of everybody around. The Balinese are the most positive, happy, and easygoing people. Things might not always be done your way, and you can’t expect it to be done at a really precise time, but things always get done anyway. They seem to be working day and night, not really constrained by any schedule. They just make it happen when it feels right. And as for us, the expats, the island vibe also grows on us… we learn to let things flow more freely, trust the universe a bit more, and in case of worries or stressful thoughts, just run to the ocean for a swim. The ocean effortlessly washes your troubles away…Every single time.
And that is the other thing I love the most about life here: the proximity and accessibility of many outdoor activities. Or put more simply, all the time spent outside. The ocean is free and there for you 24/7 to swim, surf, kite, play, dive, snorkel, fish, kayak, paddle, dance with… There is easily more than 100 yoga studios across the island, all open-air, and you can find such a vast range of classes, styles and teachers from the four corners of the globe. You can explore anything from sacred geometry meditation to capoeira to flying yoga. There are volcanoes to hike and mountains to ride downhill. There are some really good bootcamp, crossfit, MMA and Thai boxing centres. The accessibility to sports- and by accessibility I mean within 10 mins of scooter – and the eternal sunshine contributes to the general level of happiness and stress-free vibe of everybody.
What has my life been like on a daily basis?
The perfect day generally consisted of a yoga session in the early morning, followed by a $5 breakfast and coconut with friends, then crush work from 10:30am to 5:30pm, and then head to the beach for a little sunset surf session. Pit stop at the local restaurant on the way back for a $2 buffet style meal, then home, relax a little bit and ready around 9pm to catch a Skype meeting with my client, business partner or friend that are just starting their day on the other side of the globe.
If you do the math, it still means working easily 30-40 hours a week. It still means having some kind of routine or structure. It still means having obligations. And it certainly still means that I sometimes had to set my alarm at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning to launch a project at 5pm Canada time. It still means there was some period where everything seemed to be happening at the same time, where I didn’t reach the ocean for a good week and thought “F*ck, working that much was NOT part of the plan !”
Meanwhile, there is still some people from home asking me how my holidays are going …. ?
I am not on holiday mate. This is living!
But then again, It does require a lot more discipline as the temptations that could make you slip away from your purpose are omnipresent. Week and weekend days blend into each other really smoothly here.
However, those last six months have also been paved by a lot of rough patches. That is the truth, and that is what needs to be mentioned somewhere.
#LivingTheDream is one cool hashtag, and I am very conscious that I might have made dozens of you feel like your life was shit compared to mine on Instagram. That wasn’t the goal. You should all know there are some things that can’t be put into images anyway…. the loneliness, the incomprehension, the instability.
There are the lows of somehow knowing you are #LivingTheDream and still feeling incomplete some days…
There is the feeling of not truly belonging anywhere anymore…
And as ironically as it might sound, there is also a huge overwhelming sensation that comes from having way too many possibilities… I am really where I should be right now? Or is there something more incredible waiting for me elsewhere?
I am so free that I could just pack my shit and relocate anytime. That crushes me sometimes. As if it has all somehow become too easy, too accessible, and perhaps I’m losing sight of what my quest is in this vast world… what are the solid pillars in my life ? Where would I like to settle ? Will I found someone to share this unconventional lifestyle with ? Questions that you can’t escape…
Above all, the biggest issue that comes with this kind of lifestyle is the superficiality of the majority of your interactions. You meet new peeps every single day. You chit-chat the time of a hand-shake, a drink or a plane ride. But there is only a very little amount of those ones with whom you connect on a deep enough level to know that they will stay in your life.
Far too many people seem to be strangely avoiding any deep involvement. Knowing that travellers come and go, we keep our guards up, way too afraid of opening to someone who’s going to leave us anyway… so we’d rather play it safe, keeping the discussion quite shallow, asking the same boring questions. Hit and run love.
And that is really what pulls you down at the end. This feeling of having nothing to hold on to. No one to truly rely on. A lot of hand-shakes, far too little people that would really be there to catch you if you’d fall.
All that being said, life here is generally very pleasant, and there are a million reasons why I’ve totally fallen in love with Bali. As the days are escaping me, and the end of this Bali-2015 chapter is now here, I feel my whole heart squeezing. I feel powerless against the impermanence of everything. Everything that once felt infinite…
But life is an amazing motion, and perhaps the goal of it all is simply to experience it. Simple as that. We are alive so we can enjoy this amazing adventure, ride its waves, enjoy its physical experience with our senses, enjoy our ability to choose and to manifest. The meaning of life is in the NOW and in our ability to LOVE everything and anything with all our being, without being afraid to lose.
And so Bali, thank you for the comfort, the sunsets, the waves, the million coconuts, the good vibes you’ve offered me. You’ve changed me, you’ve made my life evolve in a way I could never have predicted. You’ve made me one of the luckiest girls alive.
I am being torn between nostalgia for this place that has become so familiar and an urge for the foreign strange. For new challenges. For fresh air.
It is with a pocket full of love and sunshine that I am turning the page and jumping into the next adventure: Off to El Salvador to meet all these girls that are ready to open up, play, connect, evolve, and challenge themselves. The Salty Souls Experience part.1, NOW is the time.
I am on my way.