Monday, April 23, 2012

You have to go there to come back...

This past Sunday I consecutively had my best and worst experiences since I have been in Bali. As most of you know, I ran in the Bali marathon and as I told my two biggest supporters in an email, this next part could be on the top of the list as one of the hardest things I've ever had to say.... I did not finish the marathon. Instead, I took an ambulance ride to the hospital. This whole journey in Bali wouldn't be complete without a dramatic trip to the hospital right? More on that in a bit, I'll let you read about the good stuff first!

The gun went off at 5am and the first mile or so kids and adults, dressed in their traditional ceremonial clothing lined the streets with torches since the roads were pitch black. As the course was fairly hilly from the start, looking ahead was out of this world. The rolling hills were just lined with the flickering torches and all of the torch holders had extremely proud smiles on their faces.

The sun started to come up around 6am, at which point I had, what seemed like never ending, green rice fields on either side of me. In my 15 years of running, I have run many races while watching the sunrise and this was by far, without a doubt the most beautiful and peaceful sunrise run I have ever experienced. When I looked out onto the rice fields with the sky as the backdrop it was as if everything stopped. I was in awe. Then, as my mind normally does, possibly as a way to hold the memory, I came up with the song "Fields of Gold" by Sting, which all of my life I have thought the lyrics were "Upon the fields of Bali". I have very recently learned that the lyrics are in fact not what I thought for my whole life and when I say my whole life, I mean since 1993 when the song actually came out but they are "Upon the fields of Barley" and I am utterly heartbroken that Sting did not write a song about the fields of Bali! For this experience however, I am going to use my lyrics instead.

Along with the spectacular sunrise that I had just seen, the rest of the first half of the race villagers lined the streets to cheer everyone on. Kids that were dressed in their school P.E. uniforms formed tunnels to run through holding out their hands so that we would high five them as we ran past. They had noise makers (Balinese style) and chanted "Oleh, oleh, oleh" as everyone ran past. I honestly felt like a superstar, could not stop smiling and had chills throughout most of the first half. It was beyond words and unlike anything I have ever experienced.

Now onto the second half of the race, which did not go as well as the first half. It was almost as if the race coordinators forgot about the second half. There weren't any water stations for 6 or 8 miles and at that point the sun was full blast and it was about 85 degrees and I didn't see a kilometer marker from 23km until 31km so I had no idea where I was in the race. I made it to 38km, less than 4 miles from the finish and my body just gave up on me. Luckily, a police officer was near by and when I passed out he somehow got me to the nearest medical tent on his motorbike. At the med tent, where I came back to consciousness, my body went into panic mode and every muscle from my jaw and neck muscles down to my toes cramped up. I think since I was yelling in agony and was in no condition to speak, not that they understood English anyway, the situation was out of their hands so they put me in the back of an ambulance. It was the most scary and hectic situation I have ever been in. I was in and out of consciousness, I had tubes in my nose, there was never ending honking in the background (no sirens??) and people were yelling at me in Indonesian. The only thing I understood was when they called out "satu, satu, satu, enam" (1116) my bib number. Then there is the experience of being rushed into a hospital, in a third world country nonetheless, on a stretcher. All you can see are the fluorescent lights on the ceiling rushing past you. Like I said scary and hectic.... I lived to tell the story though and thus I have my best and worst of Bali so far all wrapped into one!

There is a lot of learning for me to take away from this past Sunday because as I said, saying that I didn't finish is extremely hard for me to say but I suppose it's all part of the journey...

Monday, April 9, 2012

On to the next year...

Last year, as well as the year prior, the weeks coming up to my birthday were spent dwelling on the fact that I was turning yet another year older and still hadn't found my way or even anything that remotely resembled the path that I was supposed to be on.

Thankfully, this year it's an entirely different story. For the first time since graduating from college in 2008, I feel like I'm in a great place in my life. Other then the fact that most of my students think it's crazy that I'm about to be 27 and I'm not married yet. My older students have asked if I came to Bali to look for my husband! Apparently, biological clocks move faster here in Bali and perhaps they have seen "Eat, Pray, Love" one too many times.

I'm living on the amazing island of Bali, teaching is going great and for the first time in a while, I don't have the feeling that I'm in the dreaded survival mode. Granted, it hasn't been all butterflies and rainbows since I have been here but all of the ebbs and flows are part of the learning process and I'm definitely learning a ton about myself. Along with learning about myself, I'll have some cool scars to tell my stories. I am currently sporting healing road rash on my left leg and the slice on my right knee from falling in a hole and my newest addition to my right leg, an exhaust pipe burn. So.... 27 here I come, ehaust pipe burns and everything!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

After hours, it's kind of a funny story...

So, here is what happened after hours and after watching the Ogoh- Ogoh parade...

As you read in my previous post, Nyepi is a day of silence in which all of Bali shuts down and you are not allowed to leave your house. Everyone on the island has to be in their house by midnight otherwise you turn into a pumpkin and by pumpkin I mean, you get arrested for disobeying the rules of the holiday and you get taken into custody. I had watched the parade with some friends and then went back to their place for a little while before making my way back for the 24 hour lock down. I left at 11:15pm which should have been plenty of time for me to get back to where I had parked my motorbike. Had everything gone smoothly I would have been back by 11:45 at the absolute latest. However, since all of my great Bali adventures seem to end in some sort of injury, i.e. monkey bites, motorbike accidents and the latest falling in a hole, I was definitely not back by 11:45....

As soon as I left to make my way back it started raining and here in Bali, raining usually means the sky opens up. Naturally, I started running. Little did I know, I was running in the wrong direction. By the time I figured out that I was lost and still going in the wrong direction, it was 11:50. Shortly after, I found the bypass which is comparable to Federal Highway in Palm Beach, except it was pitch black, as they had already shut off the power in most of the villages and I was so turned around that I had no idea which direction I needed to go in. As I continued to run in the rain, in absolute darkness (where was my headlamp when I needed it?), with people shouting "Taxi, Taxi?' at me because they knew I had about 2.5 minutes to get off the road before being arrested, in what I thought was the right direction, I fell in a hole... 

Now, this was not just any old pot hole that I twisted my ankle in; this was a man hole! I was just about eye level with the sidewalk and in any other situation, I probably would have said to myself "holy crap, I just fell in a hole", would have assessed the situation and then climbed out. Somehow I must have generated some sort of super power because I got out of the hole just about as quick as I fell in and managed to come out with just a clean slice on the side of my knee, from what, I am not sure. Needless to say, I found dry land, called my friend that I had just parted ways with and asked her if she had any idea where I was in relation to my motorbike. Somehow, she figured out where I was and was able to tell me which way to go. It was then that I was able to laugh out loud at the fact that I had just managed to fall into a pretty large hole!

I made it back to my place at about 12:30am and luckily did not get arrested...

The evidence that doesn't look like much but will probably leave a scar to remind me of that one time in Bali when I fell in a hole!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A silent day in Bali...

So, here in Bali we just celebrated a holiday called "Nyepi". Nyepi is a Hindu holiday in which the whole island of Bali literally shuts down. The airport closes, there are no cars or motorbikes on the road, as you are not allowed to leave your house for 24 hours, you are not allowed to use any kind of light or electricity and you are to have no fun. It is a "silent day". The idea of this silent day is to ward off any evil spirits that might try to cause trouble in Bali. A very interesting concept to say the least.

As part of warding off the evil spirits, on Nyepi Eve, children and adults carry around these massive glutenous monster/demons or "Ogoh-Ogoh" as they refer to them that they have been making by hand for weeks on end. The Ogoh-Ogoh are made from bamboo and paper mache and as I said, are just massive in size, definitely not something that is easily carried around in a parade. After the parade, a few of the Ogoh-Ogoh are chosen to be burned to get rid of the evil spirits that are believed to be inside. Not all of the Ogoh-Ogoh are burned and it is an honor to have your Ogoh-Ogoh as one of the chosen few to be burned. It was so amazing to watch the proud villagers carrying around their Ogoh- Ogoh on these bamboo platforms. All generations involved, kids, teens, adults are so proud and just so full of life on the Eve of Bali's silent day. I absolutely loved it!

Monday, February 20, 2012

When Life gives you pot holes...

...don't make lemonade but hold on tight, hope for the best and yell out "holy crap, that was a big one!"

Today was one of those days that I could look back on and think "what a crap day that was" and if I were anywhere else other than Bali, I probably would have done just that. I had a flat tire, I stepped in dog crap and I lost my favorite pair of very expensive sunglasses. None of that seemed to faze me though. Okay, maybe I was a little upset about my sunglasses... Here's how we handled the flat tire though, After lunch we drove to a friend of a friend's Cafe, told the waiter/bus boy, who is a local that I had a flat tire and could he help us out (if I would have done it myself it would have cost me double the price), he then took it to one of his friends, we drove off on my friend's scooter, looked around in a store for a bit, came out and stepped in dog poop, went back to our friend's Cafe about a half hour later and my scooter was park outside with a brand new tire. Now that's service, a brand new tire in a half hour and I didn't have to do a single thing and it only cost me 35,000 rupiah plus I gave our waiter friend 5,000 for helping me out, all together, that's less than $5. 

It's kind of hard to have a bad day when everything is so laid back and people genuinely want to do what they can to help you out. Bali just continues to amaze me...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Finding the pyromaniac...

I have this kid named Jason in one of my younger and beginner classes. He is 7 and a handful. Up until a couple weeks ago, I had kind of given up on him because he had been making very little progress. I had already sent him to extra help and trying to deal with him one on one when I have 8 other students to attend to was just frustrating. Recently, I decided to summon all of my patients in an attempt to make a difference with him and what do you know... I have seen a change in this kid! I had an "aha" moment when he came up to me during class the other day as the kids were labeling a body parts worksheet. Jason had labeled a few body parts wrong and so I pointed to his knees and asked him what they were. He proceeded to motion and sing "Head, shoulders, knees and toes", I have played that song for them numerous times while learning about our body parts, and then he shouted "KNEES!" It was a pretty cute moment and it definitely made all the trouble he has given me worth while!

On a similar note, I have a group of 14 and 15 year olds that just have all the attitude in the world and up until a couple of weeks ago, I absolutely dreaded Tuesday and Thursday nights when I had to teach these kids. My dad's advice was to just give them some extra love, easier said than done. I didn't give them extra love, per say but I did change my attitude about them and as with Jason, I have noticed they are a little more at ease now. While they aren't my favorite class just yet, I don't dread Tuesday and Thursday nights anymore!

It's funny what can change if you just step back, take a look at what's going on and then decide to shift and make it different. One of my favorite quotes comes from the book Fierce Conversations,  I don't know the exact quote but it goes something like this: "Find out who the pyromaniac is instead of continuing to put out all the fires and the pyromaniac is often you." Love it, such a great quote....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

When was the last time you cut your grass with a sickle?

The park that I have been doing most of my running at is fairly large. There are probably 12 to 14 soccer fields surrounding a large monument in the center and it's probably about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) around the sidewalk that borders the soccer fields. There are workers, both men and women, there everyday that keep up the maintenance of the park. Since I'm training for a marathon, you can imagine that I run several laps around this park everyday. Unfortunately for me, running on the street is NOT an option so many boring laps around this park it is! As I run, I watch these workers, that I am positive make next to nothing for the job that they do. And it is no small job considering that they cut most of the grass with a sickle. I have seen a push lawnmower, however, even that would prove difficult when keeping up with 12 soccer fields, but apparently it was not working today since I saw several people just chopping away. There are always patches of grass that are longer than others because by the time someone gets done cutting one section by hand another section has already overgrown! They also sweep the sidewalks to clear away the leaves and any garbage with brooms that can hardly even be considered brooms. They are more like bunches of straw tied together. It's amazing what we take for granted back in the States...

Speaking of things we take for granted... I haven't taken a hot or even a luke warm shower for that matter in 2 months, so think about that the next time you scald yourself because you've turned the water on too hot!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Makes me wonder...

I was running at the park the other day as I normally do, the park that makes me feel as though I’m a bit of a celebrity. I’m the only westerner I’ve ever seen at this particular park and as I run my laps, I get several smiles, waves and thumbs up. I even get the occasional person that tries to stop me to shake my hand and have a conversation, only to realize I don’t speak their language. Enough about me and my celebrity though, as I was running this guy took a picture of me as I went past him. It didn’t bother me in the slightest bit but it did make me wonder about how many strangers have pictures of me...

Do you ever look at a picture of yourself and see a stranger in the background? How many moments of other people's lives do you think you have been a bystander in? Have you been in the background of a picture when something eventful was happening or when someone’s dreams were coming true? Just think, you could have witnessed a big part of someone else's life and not even known it…

As you can tell, I have a lot of time time to think on my runs!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Music to set your life to...

So, I have been adding to this playlist on my itunes titled "50 songs to save your life". So far it has exceeded 50 songs but it's not quite to 100 yet. Music is one of the loves of my life. I have always loved hearing new music, reading lyrics and making meaning out of those lyrics. It might be cliche but I really believe that music can save your life, or it can mine anyway. For me, one song can change my mood in an instant. Whether it's a song that just makes me smile, a song that has deep meaning to me or a song that makes me think of some significant memory. It's no wonder that I started creating this playlist when I got to Bali; I needed something to make me smile and something that would remind me of home and great memories!

I have a couple of friends that are going through hard times right now so I wanted to post the list in hopes that there's a song or two that might make them smile or get them through a rough patch. Like I said, some of the songs just make me smile but there is the occasional depressing song (everyone needs one of those every now and then) and maybe even the occasional cheesy song. I would love to explain why every song is on this list but I'm afraid that would end up being an extremely long post, so you'll just have to make up your own meaning as to why I have certain songs on my list!

They are in no particular order (except for #1, that one always remains at the top) and the list is never complete... Enjoy!

1. Imagine - John Lennon          
2. Return to Innocence - Enigma                                  
3. These are Days - 10,000 Maniacs                           
4. Into the Mystic - Van Morrison                               
5. Heartbeats - Jose Gonzalez                                     
6. Talkin about a Revolution - Tracy Chapman            
7. Dare you to Move - Switchfoot                              
8. Inside of Love - Nada Surf                                     
9. Just Say Yes - Snow Patrol                                    
10. These Days - Gregg Allman                                  
11. Queen of Hearts - Gregg Allman                           
12. Detours - Sheryl Crow                                         
13. I Shall Believe - Sheryl Crow                                
14. My Favorite Mistake - Sheryl Crow                     
15. Forever my Friend - Ray LaMontagne                  
16. True Colors - Phil Collins                                     
17. The Verve - Bittersweet Symphony                      
18. Harvest Moon - Neil Young                                 
19. Hell on Heels - Pistol Annies                                
20. Lightning Crashes - Live                                      
21. Good Life - One Republic                                   
22. One - U2 and Mary J. Blidge                              
23. Untold - Pete Francis                                          
24. Kind and Generous - Natalie Merchant               
25. Yellow Ledbetter - Pearl Jam                              
26. Fumbling Towards Ecstasy - Sarah McLachlan    
27. Hold On - Sarah McLachlan                               
28. New Strings - Miranda Lambert                          
29. Brandy (You're a fine Girl) - Looking Glass         
30. You Got It- Bonnie Raitt                                     
31. Can't You See - Marshall Tucker Band
32. Where I Stood - Missy Higgins
33. September - Earth Wind & Fire
34. A Long December - Counting Crows
35. A Whiter Shade of Pale - Procol Harum
36. Sara Smile - Daryl Hall & John Oats
37. Lean on Me - Bill Withers
38. She Said - Collective Soul
39. Say Goodbye - Dave Matthews Band
40. #41 - Dave Matthews Band
41. Have You Ever - Brandi Carlile
42. Lovers in Japan/Reign of Love - Coldplay
43. Hard Sun - Eddie Vedder
44. Babylon - David Gray
45. Please Forgive Me - David Gray
46. Streets of Philedelphia - Bruce Springsteen
47. My Hometown - Bruce Springsteen
48. Walf of Life - Dire Straights
49. Pictures of You - The Cure
50. Close to Me - The Cure
51. Your Song - Elton John
52. Bennie & The Jets - Elton John
53. Heart of Life - John Mayer
54. Keep Breathing - Ingrid Michaelson
55. Can't Help Falling in Love - Ingrid Michaelson
56. Count on Me - Jefferson Starship
57. Peaceful Easy Feeling - The Eagles
58. Gypsy - Fleetwood Mac
59. You are so Beautiful - Joe Cocker
60. Don't Give Up - Kate Bush & Peter Gabriel
61. Hardliners - Holcombe Waller
62. Only God Knows Why - Kid Rock
63. Non-Believer - La Rocca
64. Doctor My Eyes - Jackson Browne
65. The Trouble With Love Is - Kelly Clarkson
66. What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
67. Young Americans - David Bowie

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The simple things...

As you might imagine, life is pretty simple in Bali and if you know me pretty well you know that most of the time it's the simple things that make up the "highs" of my day. My family plays this game at the dinner table where we say the best and worst parts of our day and who we helped. A few days before I left for Bali, we played the game as usual. My high that day had been when I was driving down A1A at about 8am with the windows rolled down and the song "Doctor my eyes" by Jackson Browne came on. Great song and great simple moment. Today I had a very similar moment. I was driving back from a run at the park with my windows rolled down (I always have the windows rolled down on my scooter) and "Gypsy" by Fleetwood Mac came on. Again, great sing and great simple moment! That's when I just smile, take in the smell of Bali's Frangipanis, in between breaths of gasoline and pollution since I live in the city and realize just how lucky I am to be here...