Essays

Posted December 9, 2015

I Dream of Me, in Bali

(More pictures)

I open my eyes in the dark and expect to see a canopy above me with a mosquito net, each panel tied neatly at each corner of the bed. My girl is at my feet, her nose resting on my ankle and I pat her rump. I had missed her doggy snores.

Ubud Aura Retreat Centre

Ubud Aura Retreat Centre

I remember waking with the sun rising hot and bright, the air thick with humidity. Breakfast of eggs, fruits and vegetables, sitting outside under a covered patio by the pool. Yoga classes of thirty or more; holding a pose while listening to the cockerel crow (at all times of the day), to the children playing in the school yard next door. Harnessing the energy of Qigong while trying to avoid the ants scurrying across the wooden floor; watching the geckos and birds on the wall outside.

DSCN2134Stepping-stone paths with frangipani blossoms landing like butterflies at my feet. Narrow

Sudden drops into the sewer.

Sudden drops into the sewer.

streets require mindful walking over unmarked holes that descend into the sewer; dogs with and without collars lay sleeping in doorways or run across the streets, dodging scooters that roar and rumble by. Traffic flows like water. Shop vendors encouraging sales, drivers offering taxi services. Hello, taxi? Maybe tomorrow? The Balinese people are friendly and kind. Aggressive to make a sale, but quick to apologize if they believe they have offended their customer. Quick to smile. Quick to say hello. Palms together. Thank you. Terima kasih.

With my writing coach Bernadette Murphy

With my writing coach Bernadette Murphy

Writing. Sitting on the veranda with my laptop balanced on a pillow, listening to the doves calling to one another and watching the hotel staff next door sweep the walkways. Meeting with Bernadette, my writing coach, fearful that I won’t make my word-count; soothed by her encouraging words. What you’re doing is important.

Afternoon sessions with Mastin Kipp, who organized this month-long oasis. Sessions that explored our fears, our blocks to our own successes, digging deep within ourselves to reveal 20151203_184624hurts we know we must let go. Connecting with one another on a level not one of us could have imagined. Sharing pictures of our childhood selves because that’s who we need to forgive, to embrace, to love. First and foremost. But our love expanded, seeped into each other’s skin like the humid air all around us and we became a family, twenty-seven sisters and one brother (yes, just one man in the group besides our leader); three badass writing coaches (Bernadette, Laurie and Lisa); Marlene, our “mom” who  kept us all straight; and Mastin, our fearless leader.

Water Temple

Tirta Empul with Mastin Kipp

And excursions. Being purified in the waters of Tirta Empul temple near Tampaksiring. Hiking the Tegalalang Rice Terrace, learning to be humble rice. Crashing in the waves of the Virgin (White Sand) Beach. Being blessed by the Hindu Dharma High Priestess of Bali. Visiting the healer or medicine man (not the same one from Eat Pray Love). Giving thanks with traditional Balinese offerings, dancing and food. Rising before dawn to watch the sunrise over the mountains. Every experience bringing us closer to each other, and to ourselves.

DSCN2284

Tegalalang Rice Terrace

We are changed in ways we have yet to realize. Some made life-changing decisions that may topple their entire pre-Bali existence, while others made quiet, smaller decisions that may unsettle specific areas of their lives. Through it all, we wrote, releasing into the world books of non-fiction or fiction, books of pain, of love, of determination and survival. Mastin Kipp brought us together. (He is the real deal.) He propelled us into the unknown; we took up the challenge and watched the sunrise on our new selves. Four weeks of bliss, of challenge, of success, of friendship. Of change.

DSCN2532At home, struggling to adjust to an American time-zone, I am awake in the early morning darkness. Have I been dreaming? I open my eyes and watch the light grow brighter.

 

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6 Responses to Essays

  1. celeste crenshaw says:

    Melanie,

    Looked at your book and read your blog. This definitely sounds like an amazing, transformative and creative experience. Thrilled you were able to participate in it.
    Thanks for sharing some of your time with us through the pictures and words.

    Celeste

  2. I am so happy to hear about your trip. I know it was amazing. There is no experience like it. I can’t wait to see the influences in your next book.

  3. Judi says:

    You captured it well! Beautifully written!

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