I Went to Bali, and Things Got Weird

It feels like five years have passed since I sat down and filmed my “Happy 2018” video on Youtube, which has now been deleted along with most of my other content. I can’t believe it was this year I published BEYOND MY DYING MIND. Time is a strange thing.

Changing Course

I never could get comfortable creating Youtube content, so when Youtube rejected me from the Partner Program a few months ago, it was the final sign I needed to change direction. Although I enjoy being on camera and editing videos, I don’t like talking about myself. At least, not enough to maintain regularly scheduled programming about my life. I like doing other types of content that aren’t focused on me, but having to come up with ideas for my books, two Youtube channels, and all the articles I write for my day job was stretching me too thin. Something had to give. 

If you’re subscribed to me, hopefully you’ll stay subscribed. The Youtube dream might be dead, but I still enjoy making the occasional video, like the recent film I made using clips from my trip to Bali (and a layover in China). 

For now, my main focus is back on writing books. I’m 35k words into a draft at the moment. It’s another afterlife fantasy, this one with lots of supernatural elements. I’ve been tinkering with it since 2012, and I’m not sure how it’s going to end up, but that’s part of the fun.

Going Far

This year, I was determined to get out and do more. I spent a month in Bali, and it was one of the weirdest experiences of my life. What a strange and magical place with many powerful energies at play. I faced a new, difficult challenge daily, something I hadn’t been expecting from such a blissful-looking location. I didn’t get a relaxing holiday, but I did get one perspective-shifting moment after another. Through the conscious abandonment every crutch, I had set myself up to suffer, but it was the best kind of suffering. The kind that takes you deep within and helps make you a better you. 

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I was going through all this alone, which made it harder. I’ve traveled enough to know that some trips, you make a bunch of friends, and some, you end up mostly solo. Bali was the latter sort of trip. Despite being surrounded by fellow yoga enthusiasts and healthy eaters, I didn’t really click with anyone I met. I did have some nice conversations, however. A few times, due to various challenging circumstances, I was forced to surrender control and be vulnerable in front of strangers, and I was grateful for the kindness I received. Along with most travelers who come to Bali, the Balinese people are chill and nice to be around. I’m thankful for how everyone treated me while I was there.

There were also the times I can always count on, plentiful or sparse as they may be. The moments you’ll always remember. Every trip has them, and Bali was no exception. Like the night I shared my fish dinner with that hungry cat, or the evening of the rainstorm, when that beautiful release of pressure normalized my inflamed system, and I sat there watching a waterfall pouring over my balcony. All those mornings when I’d wake with the rising sun to watch monkeys scampering over the rooftops and collecting fruit from the trees in the garden. The day I arrived in Amed, found that ancient tree on the beach, and sat on its thick roots, surrounded by a graveyard of washed-up coral. From there, I watched the wild dogs play near the crashing waves, red flower petals fluttering down from the branches above. I remembered: This is why I travel. 

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Going Further

In 2019, I’m entering new territory. A lot changed this year, and I have higher standards for myself now. It’s going to take work to live up to them, but I’m no longer limited by the idea that my wildest dreams are unrealistic. Not when so many of them are already coming true. 

A tall mountain is high, and there’s no shortcut to the peak. In 2019, I plan to keep climbing. I want a thriving career. I want to be strong, flexible, and amazing at yoga. I want financial freedom. I want to create a comfortable home where I can offer warmth and safety to others. I want love. More than anything, I want my stories to touch someone out there. I already have accomplished some of these things, but I take nothing for granted. Success is not final, and failure is never the end. It’s like plank poses in yoga. You hold ground with every trembling, burning part of you. You accept the work.

I wish everyone reading this a happy holiday season! What are your plans for 2019? Will you be traveling anywhere? Are you in the process of climbing your own tall mountain? I hope amazing things are coming for you. 

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BEYOND MY DYING MIND just 99 cents on Kindle and FREE on Kindle Unlimited! Check it out and please leave a review to help a new author! 

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My WWOOF Experience Part Two: Bees, Barns, and Other Good Stuff

When I arrived at my WWOOF homestead in North Carolina, the owner and another worker were busy tending to a beehive. This made things a little awkward, because I couldn’t get close enough to talk to them, and there was no one else there. Being thankful for any act that could help the bee population stay the course with the rest of us, I was not going to complain!

I explored around the main house a bit, the inside of which was as interesting as I’d imagined an old North Carolina homestead to be. When I was done, they were still busy with the bees, so I sat and watched them for a while. That was when a few of the other woofers showed up. I was relieved. Backpacking taught me how to go with the flow, but it was still nice to be officially welcomed. I had just driven four hours, and I was hungry and ready to settle in.

Plucked from my Imagination: Life Imitates Art

As I was shown around the property, I began to see how similar everything was to the book. Of course the layout was different, but most of the elements were there. There were gardens and forests all around. There were hens. The other woofers were all nice, nature-sunny-summer-yellowwell-traveled, and intelligent in the same way I had envisioned my characters.

The place had a main house, a smaller house, a trailer, a few different garden areas, some hen houses, some grassy areas, and a big barn. The barn was where I would be sleeping—with a dude roommate.

I know this sounds like a good setup for a romance novel, but nothing of the sort occurred. The sleeping areas were far enough apart to be separated but close enough where we could still see each other and talk if we wanted. Yeah, super awkward. He was nice, so it ended up being okay. Not romance-novel okay. Just normal, polite okay. Life imitates art, but not that much.

WWOOF-USA: Roughing it … Sort of

There was a bathroom at the main house, but it was pretty far away and unavailable at night. At the barn, we only had the woods or the compost toilet, which I won’t describe in detail except to say that it wasn’t the most private setup ever. I didn’t mind going out to the woods, especially in the middle of the night. It was peaceful.

One of the options for bathing was a pond not far from the property. Pond water didn’t exactly make me feel clean, but the pond was nicer than I had envisioned. I was okay with it at first, but then I started waiting until I could shower at the house, which I was originally told I could do. There ended up being issues with that, but I’ll get into it on the next blog.

I’ll also wait to get into the food situation. It wasn’t as I’d hoped it would be, but it wasn’t like we were starved, either.

WWOOF-USA North Carolina: The Stuff We Did

My duties as a WWOOF worker were a little unclear at times, but when I was assigned tasks, they were always enjoyable. The list includes things like:

  • Caring for chickens.applegirl
  • Harvesting beans and produce.
  • Preparing food.
  • Building or fixing things.

I don’t remember every single assignment at this point, just that most of them were okay. I liked the core mission of the place, which seemed to be promoting sustainable living.

WWOOF-USA: What I Learned from My Host

There’s a lot I could say about my WWOOF host, but since I decided to keep this anonymous, I’ll just say that she’s a person with many great achievements under her belt, and I respected that very much. Once she was finished with the bees and could actually talk to me, she taught me all sorts of things about cooking and canning food, working in the garden, planting, and taking care of animals. It was inspiring to see the life that she had made for herself.

Check out My WWOOF Experience Part Three: Why I Left Early, where I share the negative aspects of my experience.

For what led up to my WWOOF experience, check out Part One: California to WWOOF-USA North Carolina.

 

My WWOOF Experience Part One: California to WWOOF-USA North Carolina

Disclaimer: Part one doesn’t actually detail my WWOOF story. It explains everything that happened leading up to it.

Other disclaimer: I’m going to keep my WWOOF host and all participants anonymous. This was a really long time ago, and I might not remember everything right. Plus, people change, and I’m no longer in touch with this WWOOF host or anyone involved, and I have no clue whether they would like to be mentioned online at this point.

Setting it All Up: Why I wanted to WWOOF

I wanted to go “woofing” long before I started writing Edge of Something More. The book became an ongoing daydream, a process that allowed me to explore what a (highly romanticized) WWOOF experience might be like. I was too locked in my circumstances to try it at the time, so I spent a lot of time reading WWOOF experiences online. A number of things made it attractive to me.

  • I was fascinated with the idea of showing up at a place and being accepted as a member of a community.
  • I was obsessed with the idea of “getting off the grid.” Now that I’m in my thirties, I’m focused on using the grid to build as much success as possible, but back then, I just wanted to vanish into thin air.
  • I always wanted to learn more about gardening, composting, and other “green” things. Composting in particular.
  • I felt like since I had daydreamed about this for so long, actually doing it would surely mean something amazing would happen to my life. Something like what happened to Devin.

CA to NC: The Journey and Not the Destination

Halfway through the writing process, I took a break to travel for a while. I went backpacking overseas first, and then I returned to the United States to do WWOOF.

When I packed my car and said goodbye to California, I figured it might be a long time before I came back. I didn’t know the experiences I had on the way would be so life changing. I left for North Carolina about a month before I was planning on arriving at my WWOOF location. I should have known better, really—a lot can happen in a month.

lightningJust a warning: If you want an epic experience, the universe will give you one, possibly sooner than you had planned.

I’ve driven across the county a handful of times now, but this first trip was one I’ll never forget. There were so many things.

  • Blasting classic rock during a huge, middle-of-the-night lightning storm in Arizona.
  • Coming over the hill and seeing the golden lights of Albuquerque just before sunrise.
  • Meeting some rapper guys outside my hotel who were following the same path as me on the 40 from Los Angeles to Kansas City. They had their car all tricked out and painted with their portraits on it, and they gave me a CD, but I lost it. I wish I could remember their names!
  • Having the entire front bumper fall off my car in Kansas City and fixing it with duct tape.
  • Stopping a couple weeks to hike and explore around Columbia, Missouri, where I experienced mysterious forests, good food, and some romance I had been hoping for.

All of these adventures were amazing, but they were distracting me from my upcoming WWOOF experience.

Asheville NC: I Didn’t Count on Falling in Love

After Missouri, I got back on the road for a couple more days and met up with another good friend in Asheville, North Carolina.

Although I’ve long since left Asheville, it remains one of the prettiest places I’ve come across. As soon as I saw it, I fell deeply in love. The cascading mountains, the lush woods, the waterfalls, the colorful little city, the pretty, crunchy people—it was everything I had been hoping to find. All I wanted to do was start looking for a job and apartment.

However, I had already committed to visiting my WWOOF location a few hours away, and I couldn’t back out now. I decided to try it for a few weeks, and then I would return to Asheville to get set up for my new life.

Check out My WWOOF Experience Part Two: Bees, Barns, and Other Good Stuff.