It’s hard to believe that I’ve been back in the states for almost three months now. I know I’ve been a bit silent, but it has been a whirlwind and, to be honest, the words just haven’t been coming easily. If you are new to this blog or don’t follow me on social media, let me catch you up. I left Tennessee on August 24th to spend 15 months traveling abroad, coming back home for just a few weeks over the Christmas holiday. My first stop was Bali, and I spent a heavenly week there soaking in the unique culture, inhaling delicious food, and taking in spectacular views in Ubud (the photo above was taken on my walk home one evening!).
Bali is magical. You should absolutely go in your lifetime for views as amazing as this.
On Saturday morning, September 2nd, in the middle of an Indonesian bahasa class, I received news that my dad had gone into cardiac arrest at a local restaurant and was taken to the hospital back home in Memphis. This situation was literally my worst nightmare and a scenario that I had run through my head multiple times in the months prior to leaving. What if something horrible happened to my family while I was gone? Learning that my father may not live, and if he did there could be significant brain damage, from across the world was terrifying. I can’t put into words the overwhelming sense of helplessness and loss of control that I felt. I moved up my flight home to Sunday evening and proceeded with the 48 hour trip home, unsure what I would be returning to.
Fast forward two and a half months, after quite the journey , Dad is out of ICU and back home. He is talking more than ever, and has absolutely no brain damage, which is a miracle considering his heart stopped outside of the hospital (I was told that 90% of people who go into cardiac arrest outside of the hospital don’t live and, of the ones who do, a majority have significant brain damage). Our family could not be more grateful for all your thoughts, prayers, visits, meals, etc. over the past few months and are ever so blessed to call you all friends.
All that being said, now that Dad is healthy again, I have had a lot of people asking me how I feel about coming home unexpectedly, living in Memphis, and if I’m going back abroad. Well, after much thought and reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that this was all necessary and a part of my journey. I’m grateful for the revelations I’ve had and moments that have been possible because of this rewrite of my story such as:
Maybe not complete. But a step, at least. If you are someone who is close to me, you know that I have been facing a bit of a faith crisis that has shaken me quite a bit over the past year. There have been more moments than I can count where I’ve felt abandoned by God, which has led to questioning His goodness, His love for me, and even His existence at times. Maybe some of you can relate.
Anyways, if you read my last post, you know that I felt an overwhelming anxiety before I left for Bali…wondering if I would feel extremely lonely on the road or if I would be able to make friends easily. Welp, I was given more than I could have asked for. Within a week, I met wonderful humans who supported me during crisis.
Ericka, Erin, Becca, Lisa, and I at Umah Pizza in Ubud, right before I caught my flight out. Not sure if you can tell I’ve been crying my eyes out.
Becca, who having met me only minutes before, hugged me as I got the news about Dad and was basically my full time friend until I left (love you!).
Leo, who made me a cup of hot tea when I was an emotional wreck.
Ericka, Lisa, and Erin, who offered to pray with me, helped me pack my bags, and have checked on me consistently since I returned home.
Badra, the sweet Balinese man who took me to and from the airport, offering to pray to God for my dad’s healing while I cried uncontrollably, solidifying that even though we may be part of a different culture or practice a different religion, we are more the same than different.
The Hubud staff who sent me lots of kind words, helped arrange my airport transfer, and negotiated a refund for my lodging when they really didn’t have to (FYI Hubud is the co-working space where I worked…they also arranged my accommodations, etc. while I was there).
Badra and I right before he dropped me off at the airport. Again, copious amounts of crying had been just commenced.
For these moments I am grateful. This was the first time in a long time that I felt like maybe God saw me. That he was watching out for me and put people in my life at the right time and in the right place to love me. I’d be lying if I said that this just fixed what is going on inside me, but I am nonetheless thankful, and it’s been a healing experience.
LETTING GO OF CONTROL
For 9 months I planned. Some of it was necessary – getting my house reading to sell, leaving my job, booking my first plane ticket, etc. But some of it was too much. I had basically planned where I would be my entire 15 months abroad. After a few days in Bali I was already doubting if this had been a good idea. When Dad had his episode and I came home, I realized that planning that far out had been in vain. My plans didn’t leave room for any spontaneity or adventure, which is what I wanted after all.
So, this time, when I go back, it will look different. I have booked my plane ticket and have my first week’s lodging booked, but that’s all. Everything else is a mystery. I might be gone 6 months, a year, three years. I have no idea. I know I want to embrace the people, places, and experiences I encounter as they come. That’s the plan and I couldn’t be happier.
Proof that I thought I had it all figured it out.
EMBRACING EVERY OPPORTUNITY
Life may not always go like you planned, but you can still embrace adventure and opportunities that arise. When I was in Ubud, I was determined to do yoga every day….or at least on a regular basis. I had dreams of drinking green smoothies, getting massages, and floating through Bali like a zen goddess with my Bali glow (please note, that the Bali glow is a real thing….I can attest).
And then I was back in Memphis, a place I haven’t really lived in 17 years. But I quickly learned that you don’t have to fly across the world to achieve a goal or do the things you love.
After dad was stable, I quickly got involved with a yoga studio here in Memphis that I love (if you are ever in Memphis, you must give Delta Groove Yoga a try). If you follow me on Instagram stories, you know that I committed to a personal 40 day yoga challenge. I didn’t quite meet my goal, but I was pretty close, and I’m okay with that. I found that I LOVE yoga, so much so that I really want to do some type of yoga retreat abroad next year. I’m so happy that I didn’t wait until I was in what I thought was the right place to start something new or I would have missed out.
First time practicing at The Yoga Barn in Ubud. I’m a shadow, but that’s okay. Look at that view. The open air studio is to die for.
Additionally, I’ve said yes to other opportunities that have come along that I wouldn’t normally have the freedom to partake in. By the time I head back across the pond, I will have spent time with beautiful friends in Seattle, New York, and San Francisco. I get to go to my beautiful friend’s baby shower next weekend in Knoxville and then spend two nights unplugged in the mountains. I was able to attend Business Boutique, a seminar for women entrepreneurs, in Nashville. I went to a yoga and writing workshop. I’ve had the joy of reconnecting with old friends back in Memphis. And, last but not least…..
HOLDING MY BABY NEPHEW AN HOUR AFTER HE WAS BORN
This was hands down the best. Originally, I would have missed Owen’s birth and seen him a few weeks later when I came home for Christmas. But I am so glad that I was able to see him and hold him the day he was born. I can’t wait to go back abroad and send him about a million post cards that he can’t read yet. And I may be partial, but I think he’s pretty cute.
My mom and me with my nephew Owen. This picture was taken just an hour after he was born!
In a nutshell, I learned that no matter what your circumstance is, you have the freedom to CHOOSE JOY. Choose new experiences. Choose to take risks. If you have been waiting on that “right time” to step out and do “that thing” on your heart, dig around inside and ask yourself what you’re waiting for. What are the next steps? What can you do right now?
SO, WHAT’S NEXT?
Like I said before, I am going into this adventure the second time around by giving myself more freedom. I have a one-way plane ticket to leave Memphis on January 16th, and I am so excited to tell you that I will be heading to……..NEW ZEALAND, the land of Hobbiton, lush green countryside, and home to my favorite wine region in the entire world, Marlborough. I am now taking recommendations for places to go, experiences to have, and tips on how to drive on the opposite side of the road. If you have any of these PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE leave them in the comments below!