"You are not sad. You are Angry." My second visit with Balinese Healer Tjokorda Gede Rai.

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I just returned home from my 3rd trip to Ubud, Bali. It is the first city I've been to more than twice outside of the US, so it feels very familiar even though it's so far away. About a year ago, my friend Veronika suggested that we meet with a Balinese healer she read about online; Tjokorda Gede Rai. (Cokorda Rai.) The day following that first meeting with him, I no longer had the neck pain that I had been trying to figure out for months. I seriously couldn't believe it. I was sure that whatever he had done had healed me.

I wasn't dealing with any obvious physical ailments on the most recent trip, but something in my heart kept telling me that I should go back and see him again. It had been over a year.. and a lot had changed. I needed some emotional/spiritual healing this time.

The first time there had been only 2 people in front of us. This time there were many more waiting to speak to him. Even though everyone was crowded around him watching him working with others, I hung back a bit hoping people would get the hint and not sit too close while he was talking to me. I knew that I would be more honest with him if there weren't strangers staring at me. Luckily there were only a few people left when it was my turn to approach him.

I walked over and sat down where he was sitting. He asked: "What can I do for you?"  I said: "I'm not sure...I'm just really confused... and sad." He nodded and then did the same thing he had done before, poking at different spots on my head, my eyes and my neck.

Then he started poking at my toes with a little wooden stick. Different places hurt more for different people depending on what you need help with. When he finds a spot on your foot that causes you a lot of pain, he will do whatever it is that he does to heal you, and then when he pokes that spot again, the pain is gone. It's bizarre.

After the initial analysis, he said a prayer over me.  He sat across from me and shook his head. "You think you are sad," he said.  I didn't know what he meant. "You are not sad. You are angry. You wake up every day angry. But don't worry. You are not angry anymore." I cried, obviously, because that's just what I do, but also because he was right... and I hadn't realized it until that moment.

For me, sadness has always been harder to climb out of than anger. I am generally not an angry person. I don't have a short temper and I really don't like to fight with people. The reason I hadn't realized that the pain I was feeling was anger and not sadness was that it wasn't anger directed at another person in a way that I recognized. I was just angry at situations. At a set of circumstances. I was frustrated. I hated that I felt powerless over certain things in my life. I was also angry at myself for not taking better care of myself, physically and emotionally.

Once I knew that I was angry, I saw that I had been doing all of the wrong things to try to feel better. It takes different things for me to turn off each emotion. Sadness feels heavy. There is no energy behind it. It's draining. When I'm sad I want to lay in bed and cry. Anger can actually be a really great motivating force for growth. When I'm angry, I can drive around belting out a P!nk song.. and just be like Whatever! F U! Just watch, I'm gonna do something AWESOME! Ha.. But I'm serious. I've done some of the best things in my life out of motivation that was ignited by anger. It's fun when the anger wears off and you've created something beautiful.

<3

3 Days in Guatemala

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I returned to Los Angeles from Guatemala City late last night. I booked a trip there alone on a whim last week. I was on my way to accomplishing a goal of 33 countries before my 33rd birthday. This was my final one! (Time for a new quest. Suggestions welcome) When I booked the trip, I was immediately bombarded with comments from people who were sure I was making a terrible decision traveling there alone. "Don't go!" "Cancel the trip." etc. Alas, that's just not my style. I had committed, and I was going.

When I arrived I was a little nervous because I had allowed those words to get into my head. Luckily I had taken Spanish all through high school and some of college, so the fear was mostly balanced out by the excitement that this was the first Spanish-speaking country that I had been to alone, and I'd get to test out my Spanish skills. (I would come to find they were very rusty...)

I was staying close to the airport, because as usual I hadn't done much research and I figured that was my best bet. I wouldn't have to worry about getting too far once I landed. The nice man who owned the house I was staying in was there to pick me up. He spoke about as much English as I did Spanish, so we had a general understanding of what the other was saying.  :)

Right as I started to settle in, his son Jose knocked on my door and asked if I wanted to join them for dinner! So nice! I sat with them at the table.. I was awkward, as I usually am at first. He mentioned that there was a big carnival in town because it was a holiday, and that he would take me there if I wanted to go. What?! Yes, duh. Of course I want to go to a carnival! I was already overwhelmed by how kind these people were to me.

I told everyone before the trip that I was planning just to stay inside and do work while I was there, as an excuse in case I really was too scared to venture out. I was like "Psht, I probably won't even go outside because it will be raining the whole time and I have so much work to do!" Thankfully that wasn't the case. That night Jose drove me around town so I could see the city, and the places that weren't safe for me to walk around alone. Then we went to the carnival. No joke, I was like a little kid. It was like the intro to that show Step by Step from the 90s. Anyone remember that? Just me? I almost puked on the ferris wheel because I thought it was a regular one but it was a crazy high-speed one and we had already been on 4 rides so.. yeah, almost a disaster.  Throughout the night I laughed out loud a couple of times at how silly it had been that I was so scared before I got there.

The next day we drove out to Antigua. It was about an hour outside of Guatemala City. On the way, we stopped at the avocado farm this his family owns. This was really the only time it rained while I was there, and it was kind of fun to run back to the car through the garden.

Antigua was magical.

The next day I actually did spend a lot of time working. I went to a coffee shop in town and stayed for most of the day, and then my new friend picked me up and we went to a movie.  It was all in Spanish and there were no subtitles. I think I understood most of what the movie was about, but it was fun to make up my own storyline based on the words I knew and what the actors were doing. Then we climbed the stairs up to the top of the theatre where there was a beautiful view of the entire city! There was lightning in the distance and the city lights of all different colors made it such a memorable moment. That was when I really started to reflect back over the last few days.

In my head the 3 days in Guatemala would be rain and the inside of a hotel room. What it turned out to be was one of the most inspiring trips ever. I saw so much. I learned so much. I conquered fears and made a really great new friend!!

Guatemala, I dig you.

Until next time..

x Lis

My Final Night in Europe

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After 3 days of rain, the sun finally came out today a few minutes after I crossed the border into the 10th and final country on this 3 week journey. When they said over the loudspeaker "Welcome to Switzerland. Enjoy your stay," I got a little choked up. I did it. By no means would I say I did it well.. but I did it. On my own. Of course people helped me along the way, but physically I was alone. On every train, in every weird motel and AirBnB.  I met some incredible new friends. I made so many mistakes. I cried. I laughed. I hurried. I lingered. I lost myself one day to find myself the next. I panicked. I prayed. I processed. And now as I sit here at my hotel in Zurich, I prepare to reflect.

I'm a little bit fearful of my return to Los Angeles, as I'm not entirely sure how I'll see my life when I get there. Maybe I'll be grateful for the stability for a short time and being surrounded by friends who know the version of me that I'm most familiar with. Maybe I'll be comforted by my own bed, and having something other than my rapidly deteriorating combat boots on my feet. There's also a chance I'll realize that it's not the life I'm supposed to be living. Maybe I'm meant to be somewhere else.. making some sort of positive change. Learning new languages and helping other people communicate.. helping to show the world in whatever capacity I can that if we just try a little harder to understand each other and accept each other, things don't have to be so violent. This might sound like some sort of grandiose, nonsensical, rose-colored blah blah whatever, but that's why such a small fraction of what could be done is actually being done. Rarely does someone believe they can really make a difference.. but if you can think back to a time when you were really sad or scared or hurt.. and someone made you smile.. or did something kind for you.. you'll remember how in that moment that person changed your whole world.

 Whether or not one person can change the entire EARTH by themselves, you can certainly change someone's world. And if we can change a world, we are indeed limitless.

 So much love,

Lis

Notes from the Train: Germany to Switzerland

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I am on the train from Germany to Switzerland. My 10th and final country on this journey. I honestly can’t believe how quickly the time has gone by but also how much has happened. I left on this adventure to become a stronger, less naive human. I now realize I was far more naive than I ever imagined... but less so now than 3 weeks ago I suppose. Before this trip I never would have found myself unable to sleep because I was too busy watching Bosnian war documentaries. I want to learn every language. I want to learn every country. I want to know everything! That's an aggressive goal, I know.. but when have I ever been "realistic?" That would be so boring. Part of what helped me to learn so much was that I absolutely sucked on so many levels on this trip. I lost my wallet before I even got on the plane, which I realized half way to London. My cell phone broke. I missed so many trains, I spent more money than I should on busses since I randomly decided a few days before the trip that I wanted to get to Montenegro and Bosnia. I cried in Slovakia because I couldn’t understand how to take the train and I was so energetically off that day so I broke down. You get so spoiled when you everywhere you go someone speaks english and can help you... And then you find yourself in Slovakia at a train station where no one wants to help and it’s kind of scary. Lesson learned.

I can tell you for certain this is not the way I prefer to travel. I don’t need to spend 2 weeks on a beach somewhere, but day trips all over the place to different countries.. Not my favorite. I accomplished my goal but at the same time..I am so exhausted I can barely see straight. I think my next goal will include aspects from things I learned on this one. *Have an open mind but DO at least SOME planning* Otherwise it can get expensive.

Cheers from Switzerland. Country 32. Now I need a new plan.

Thoughts from a Dark Sidewalk in Bosnia

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As I sat on the bus from Montenegro to Mostar I remembered why I very much prefer taking the train. There are bathrooms and a restaurant and wifi on the train, and the first class cars are quiet. On this particular bus today there was a man who walked on drunkenly (I hope) singing at the top of his lungs. He sat right in front of me. He smelled like smoke and sweat and he was ripping at his fingernails which were covered in mud.. or blood.. or something else. He and his friend sat 5 rows apart when there were plenty of seats that they could have taken together, and just yelled to each other and laughed hysterically the ENTIRE TIME. Hours. I did that awkward thing a couple times that you do at the movies when someone is talking loud behind you (I think Ellen DeGeneres did a bit about this in one of her stand up routines) when you turn to the side dramatically but don't actually look at them like “Please please please just stop yelling..” I consider myself to be a patient person but when people are uncomfortably loud in a small space for an extended period of time it can drive me so far out of my mind it's hard for me to find my way back in.

I put on my headphones and turned up my Zen meditation to drown as much of it out as possible and I almost fell asleep when we got to the border of Bosnia. The border patrol officers boarded the bus and once again, mine was the only passport they took for further inspection. On the way to Dubrovnik from Split, I had to cross borders twice because of the small stretch of BiH, a town called Neum, that cuts Croatia in half. Between those crossings and my trip into and out of Montenegro today, I have gone through passport control like 1492 times. They almost always take my passport and no one else’s.

It is now 10:15pm and they just informed us that they don’t want to go all the way to Mostar anymore. Anyone going there (we are still an hour away) needed to get off the bus and wait on the sidewalk in the dark for the next bus. They didn’t tell us when it would arrive. So, I'm here now with just two other people, each of us fluent in a language the others don’t understand, sitting on the sidewalk typing this on my phone while waiting for what I can only hope is a bus coming to get me. Who knows, I could be waiting for nothing. It was hard to tell what the driver was saying, and although two really nice guys did try to help me understand, the language barrier was intense... so we'll see.

Side note:  I bought a bag of pretzel sticks at the bus station in case I got hungry along the way. I couldn't read the bag but I recognized the picture of a pretzel. I just ate one. They are filled with peanut butter. #win. (Maybe I should have called this blog “Little things that irk me, little things that make me smile.”) 

Update: 10:47 - back on the road. Please just let me get to Mostar so I can sleep.  Every night lately I've been like “Wahhh, I'm too tired. I can't do this.” and then when I wake up the next morning I'm like “Fuck yeah, world. Bring it."

So, until tomorrow my friends.. <3 

Lisa Marie  

Notes from the Bus - Driving down the Croatian Coast.

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I'm currently 6,275 miles from Los Angeles, on a bus that is traveling down the coast of Croatia. I am en route from Zegreb to Split and then when I arrive I will catch the next bus to Dubrovnik. I hadn't planned on taking this bus.. I had a ticket for a 7:35am train but the universe had a different plan for me. On my way out of my AirBnb, the front door to the building closed and locked behind me before I realized I had left my phone charging inside. By the time someone walked out of the building I had missed my train by 8 minutes.

I often find myself telling people that I'm never late to work or the airport, but I'm pretty much late for everything else. Somehow I need to learn to add “train station” to that list. I have missed 3 trains already. The other two were inconsequential because there were frequent trains all day between those locations but there were only two available trains from Zagreb to Split, and the second one wouldn't get me into Dubrovnik until after 1am and that was too late to check into my AirBnb.

I quickly looked up the next bus and it was leaving in 30 minutes. It was a 20 minute walk to the train station, maybe more with my backpack which somehow seemed a lot heavier even though all I had purchased on the trip so far was a keychain from an Easter market in Vienna that said "Today is my Favorite Day." I had to figure out how to get a ticket and get on the right bus in the next 30 minutes. It ended up costing me $25 for a bus to Split from Zagreb on top of the train reservation that I missed. Thankfully I didn't write the information for the train on my Eurail Pass yet. Apparently they can be pretty strict about it and I would have completely surrendered a full day of travel.

I made it onto the next bus! Even with the exhaustion and panic, when I actually accomplished something, I always feel this strong sense of pride as if my angels are saying "Go Lisa! We told you that you could do it!"

While the seats are less comfortable on a bus than a first class train, it's an experience I'm glad I'm having, and I'm telling myself the view from the bus window is probably prettier than the train would have been anyway. (I guess I'll find out on the way back up.) I definitely didn't expect to see snow capped mountains. Sometimes not knowing anything about a place before you go is stupid, but it often surprises you in beautiful ways.

*pause*

Okay so I arrived in Split and ran right onto the bus to Dubrovnik as it was about to drive away. About halfway there we stopped at a rest stop in Bosnia and Herzegovina in a town called Neum. I saw two women, who I would later learn are sisters named Lois and Cindy, taking pictures of each other in front of the sunset. I asked if they wanted me to take a picture of them together. Cindy said no at the same time Lois said yes, so after I took their picture we started talking. I found out they had been on that same 7:35am train that I had missed from Zagreb, and this was the earliest bus to Dubrovnik! So, after panicking all morning about arriving later than planned, I realized I would have arrived on this exact bus. Reminder: Worrying is useless... Although the woman at my AirBnb was actually still upset with me because I didn't realize that Booking.com had check in times listed in 24 hour time since I was in Europe and so the woman thought I was arriving at 7am instead of 7pm... and thus she had been waiting for me all day. I'm kind of an asshole. Lesson learned.

All for now.

Check in soon.

Love love love love,

Lis