Monday, October 26, 2015

I'm Exactly Where I Need To Be.

Something about 'now' seems right. I don't have everything that I'm working towards, but I have enough. I am not perfect, but I am enough. I can't make everyone happy, but I do enough.

Sure, I've repeated this mantra in seated meditation, during my yoga practice, or moments just before a complete emotional meltdown.. but it was today, whilst doing nothing, that clarity snuck up and kissed me on the forehead. I'd like to try to articulate what clarity feels like to me, but I don't think it's possible. It's like suddenly, nothing hurts anymore. Everything is immensely significant yet obviously impermanent. And I can just accept that.

I think having such a beautiful weekend that allowed me to have a lot of quality time with myself and my surroundings really paved the way to this revelation. It was a picture perfect weekend, by Rae standards. The weather demanded wool socks and rain boots, the Sunday morning jazz station tugged on heartstrings, and the honesty and insight that came pouring out of the souls I spend my weekends with filled me up. Countless times I stopped to think, "I am so lucky."

I spend each Saturday and Sunday sitting, laying, meditating, flowing, laughing, and sharing atop my yoga mat with seventeen other souls. We are completely honest and open and utterly supportive of one another. We've known each other for seven weeks and I love each and every one of them. They've allowed me to open my heart and my mind and let the world come spilling in.

I understand that people want to be good. I know that they can be trusted. It is clear to me that there is an endless amount of love to be felt. I just had to let it happen. I had to surrender.

So it was just a minute ago that I stripped myself of my weekday costume, stood at the window to admire October, and came to realize that everything is in its place. I am exactly where I need to be. Nothing before this and nothing that will come after this holds the same weight as right now. This is it.  This is everything.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

It's Not the Destination, but the Journey.

This phrase keeps making an appearance in my life. Or maybe it has always been there but is just now starting to resonate with me. I have found myself at the beginning of a new and incredible journey. I am not worried about where I am going because I have my nose buried inside of the roses that are lining my path. 

The literature that I have been studying for my yoga teacher training has restructured my mind, the discussions with my classmates have opened my heart, and the work that I've put into my practice has strengthened me both physically and emotionally.

I'm peeling off the layers of domestication. I'm forgiving myself for the years of abuse that I not only inflicted on myself but also accepted from others. I am letting go of all the extra weight that I've been carrying around with me. And it feels so good.

Beneath it all is the raw and wild inner me. The very best version of myself. I can go back to this untamed, unmolded, untouched version of myself. We can all go back! We can go back with an advantage. This time, instead of innocent, we will be wise. 

If you haven't read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, get your hands on a copy. And after you read it, tell me you're not already a few layers lighter.

I'm standing near the edge of something huge and I've decided to run towards it and dive into its vastness. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Fun Runs.

A few years ago I placed first in my age group for the Whiskey Row 10K... my claim to fame. I had trained pretty seriously for months and my hips had taken a beating from running six miles several times a week. After opting out of an MRI and taking [lots of] time off from running, I turned to other sources for cardio. 
Ellipticals were my jam and I was pretty dedicated to my relationship with them for over two years. The only problem with the ellipticals were that they lived at the gym. The type of gym that stays open 24 hours a day and is filled with plastic women and meat-headed men. I hated said gym. I had to drag myself there. On more than one occasion I had driven there only to sit in my car and whine to myself until I would put the car in reverse and go back home. 
Finally, in June, I ended my contract with that soul-sucking place, taking a ridiculous hit from cancellation fees and membership fees and hidden fees galore. But it was worth it, I was free! So I signed up for unlimited yoga through my favorite neighborhood studio and have been going religiously ever since. Unfortunately, I had little to no cardio in my weekly routine before I decided it was time to start running again. 
Let me just say, I had never loved running. I enjoyed the challenge, the benefits, and the competitive side of it but I rarely looked forward to my runs. Until I turned them into Fun Runs. I started these runs with my roommate when we still lived in Arizona. We'd go to the local high school and race each other around the track or up the stairs. From there we'd run through the surrounding neighborhoods saying "sprint to that yellow mailbox" or "I'll race you to that stop sign." It was a blast. And we still have fun runs when our schedules allow. But when he's not available, I take myself out for a fun run. I realized that if I stopped mapping my distances or timing my miles, I actually enjoyed the run. 

Here's how I do it:

1. Beat the Heat - Texas has been a very hot 102 degrees or higher for the past few weeks. After a horrible experience running during the hottest part of the day, I've learned to beat the heat. Run early in the morning or well after the sun has gone down. The roads are usually quiet, the sprinklers are usually on, and the temperatures are usually perfect. 

2. Rainy Runs - Just before or just after a rain is one of my favorite times to get out there. If you're lucky enough to have an opportunity to run in the rain, do it. If you don't smile through most of it, then I can't help you. 

3. Music is Everything - Make a playlist, please! Nothing can ruin a run faster than a bad song sneaking up on you. AND if you have Spotify Premium, you have to try the Running tab. It syncs a techno beat to your pace and it's hilarious. I had a super energetic run to the Blissed Out beat. Try it! If anything,  you'll laugh.

4. Treat yourself - Make your run special. Some mornings I'll take myself down to Town Lake to run while the sun comes up. Or I'll take the extra scenic route around the neighborhood. And on every single run, I snag a sprig from the rosemary bushes that I pass. If you rub it back and forth in your palms, your hands smell amazing for your entire run. If you ever start to feel like shit on your run, cover your face and inhale deeply. I bet that you'll feel less like shit after that. 

5. Bring a Friend - Runs are always more fun with a friend. I recommend someone who has a similar stride or pace than you. Challenge each other, make a game out of it, and catch up with each other's latest. If you don't have any friends, make some at a run club. I win free merchandise and drink discounted beer after my run club runs!

6. Don't time yourself. Unless you like to. But I find it unnerving to hear that voice interrupt my music just to tell me how much better my mile was yesterday. Just go, and run, and don't think about how far or how fast you're going. Just enjoy the time you've set aside for yourself, enjoy the capability and strength of your body, and enjoy your run. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Twenty Five, Lately.

Twenty five felt different than any other birthday. Maybe because I was staring up at the most perfect sky in Bali on the side of Mount Batur when I made the transition from "twenty four." Or maybe because I finally feel like I am present, like I'm exactly where I need to be and I'm doing exactly what I need to be doing. I want my life to be full of adventure, and passion, and contentment. And I'm at a place in my life where I can make all of that a reality.

I'm raking in the frequent flyer miles this year. Portland in a few weeks, New Zealand in a few months, and endless possibilities beyond that. Travel has become my biggest priority and I would spend every last dime that I've ever earned if it meant seeing the world.

I'm working too much. But it needs to be done. Not only to finance my travel expenses, but also to pay for my out-of-state tuition for my bachelor's degree. Putting myself through school has been pretty rewarding, considering I really had to push myself to enroll. I'm finishing up my second session with a 4.0 GPA. And damn, it feels good.

Another expense was my enrollment in a yoga teacher training program through my favorite studio. I start my 10 week training after I return from Portland. Needless to say, I'm going to be a busy girl this fall.

I feel as if a lot of doors are about to start opening for me. And I'm ready to take some chances. Because twenty five seems like the perfect time to do so.

Stay tuned, sweet peas.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Fish "Tacos"

Although my second attempt at a month of clean eating was not as successful as the first, I still try to be as compliant as possible.

If you don't count all of those margaritas and bowls of queso that I've recently consumed...

When I saw that the local grocer had recently started carrying raw jicama "tortillas" I just couldn't resist an opportunity to create Whole 30 tacos. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my squeaky clean, super delicious, feels like 'you're cheating' fish tacos.

What you'll need: 
1-2 filets of any fish of your choosing (I used pangasius because I always seem to have that in the freezer)
Olive Oil
2 Jicama tortillas, I use these.
Cabbage, shredded
Cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered (another ingredient that I always seem to have on hand)
1/2 Avocado, sliced
Cilantro, chopped
Lime, sliced

What to do:
Heat olive oil in a pan on medium heat
I rubbed both sides of the thawed filet with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper but you can season the fish how ever you'd like. 
Add the filet to the hot pan and cook both sides until crispy. This does not take long.
While the fish was crisping, I was shredding the cabbage. Shredding your own cabbage is so much better, but I don't blame you for buying it pre-shredded (but really, it's your loss.)
Remove the filet from the pan and set on a paper towel to cool. 
Chop the filet and add to raw jicama tortillas.
Top your tacos with shredded cabbage, tomato, cilantro, avocado, and a squeeze of lime juice. 


..Then make two more...because they literally takes less than 10 minutes to make. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Before I begin my yoga practice, I sit atop my mat and dedicate my energy and strength to an intention that I set. Many times it is for the people I love, maybe someone who may need it a little bit more than I do that day. But other times, I just pick a mantra. Something to focus on when my mind starts to wander or my breath becomes erratic. Something to motivate me when I'm losing speed. Something to inspire me.

Lately, my mantra has become: Try.
Try something new. Try to make a difference. Try not to continue bad habits. Yeah, we've all heard it before. Sounds like a New Years resolution, doesn't it? And how well do those ever work out?
This sort of "try" that I am striving to cultivate within myself is the effort that I put forth towards these resolutions.  Really try. At first, it was just within my yoga practice that I was applying this to; pushing myself a little harder, attempting the bendy poses that I once believed I couldn't get myself in to. But I quickly realized that the reward I was getting from my yoga practice could easily be found in all aspects of my life.. if I would just try.

The job that I was ready to walk away from has become something that I am beginning to enjoy again. I'm not only pursuing my bachelors degree, but I am really excelling at it. That hill that I usually find an excuse to walk up is now something that I sprint to the top of. It doesn't matter what it is that I'm trying to accomplish, the result is always the same. Reward. Satisfaction. Pride. Happiness. All of which are things that seem to shine out of you, the kind of things that power you to keep trying.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Sweet Life.

Life is funny, and magical, and romantic. It can be cruel. It can be ironic. But ultimately, it is special. There is something incredible to take note of, in fact, there are many. And they are all around you.
It is the song in your earbuds that makes your heart flutter to the familiar soundtrack of an old love. It is the warmth your black coffee brings both your throat and your soul. It is the low hanging clouds that support yet another outstanding sunrise. It is the dampened dirt and pine perfume that only an Arizona rain can stir up. They are everywhere.  You just need to stop and stare. Soak it up, unashamed of your greed. Because if it brings you even a glimmer of bliss, gobble it up and beg for seconds. Fill yourself to the brim and let it burst out of you. Life may be ironic and full of surprises, but it is also short and if you don't take advantage of what it's offering you, you're wasting it. I swear, whoever said "it's the little things..." had it all figured out.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Dear Diary,

My relationship with journals is almost identical to the relationships I have with men. I pick one that usually catches my eye, something a little different but always really cute. Maybe it even has like gold pages or some little profound saying on the front. I get pretty excited about the blank pages and and starting over.. because you know that last one is only full of pages I don't care to relive. But eventually that one gets old too, and those pages are made into grocery lists...
I know that this sounds awful. But hold on.
There are two journals that have withstood the test of time and my fickle heart. Two very important little things housing my most vulnerable moments and some of my most beautiful memories. 

The red one. I sought this one out when I was 21 (those pages are definitely not my favorite to reread.) And I've written in it ever since. Sure, there are long stretches of months that go by with nothing to report or no time to share it. But always, I go back to it. Usually when something is troubling me or when I'm feeling inspired. These are the pages that are interesting to reread. I often turn to my past level-headed self and read the advice she has given me when her head was clear and she wrote with purpose. I am grateful for her for taking the time back then to sit down and spill her guts out. 
Inside, the pages cling to their spine, fragile from the few that I have torn out (with good reason, I'm sure.) Tucked in the creases are napkin doodles, a note in my mother's handwriting, pictures of my 6 year old self, and a map of Bali. Even love poems.

I am so thankful for this little bound book and the little stories it keeps. It's the first thing I would save in a fire, no doubt.

And there is the other. A 5 Year Journal that I was gifted for Christmas a few years back. This is year three and I cannot explain how much I have enjoyed writing its daily entries. Each day there is a prompt or a question to answer, discretely mapping your day to day life for half of a decade. Each day you can compare yourself to the person you were over the years, laughing at your responses or remembering things you had nearly forgotten. Some pages question you about your biggest regret,  some prompt you for a haiku about your day, others are simply asking how much change you have in your wallet. Regardless of the day or the question, it is a beautiful journey to travel with your self. 

Since reading old journal entries has almost always resulted in a cringe and a pile of torn out pages, I used to think it was a bad idea to reread your journals. But when I look back at these pages and what I had to say, I can recognize that I'm revisiting the moments that formed me. I get to travel back in time each time that I read an old entry. It's magic. I encourage everyone to keep a journal and use it as a place to be open and honest. Don't write as if someone will ever read it, do not censor yourself. Spill your guts out. You'll be really glad that you did, I promise. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Me & Charlie Talking.

     As humans, we change constantly. Our style evolves, our taste in companions and music change, and our minds are never actually made up. We're growing each and every day, navigating our way through life through experience and belief.
     A recent school assignment has lead me to Charlie, a seventy-three year old woman who lives in my neighborhood. The project is to create a blog about an elderly person, to tell their story, and to listen as they reflect on their lives. Within the first few hours of knowing Charlie, she opened my eyes to what she believes are the three things humans require to survive. Somebody to love. Something to do. And something to believe in. 
     At this particular point in my life, these are the things that I find myself desiring or questioning most. Falling in love is easy and I've done it frequently throughout the years. A serial girlfriend by all accounts, I've found myself entering and exiting many relationships with little time in between. Since moving to Austin, I've had some time to myself to realize that this is all I need right now. Love for myself is more than enough. Whoever it is that you have to love, hang onto them. Love is a light source, love is a gift, love is the most special thing you can ever know. 
    Doing what you are passionate about is exactly what you should be doing. Where ever that takes you is exactly where you need to be. And whether it is through your career, your hobbies, or through the love you have for your cat, you have to find what you're passionate about. This passion is what will save you when you're doubting everything else. This passion is what will remind you why you wake up with purpose every morning. And if you haven't found it yet, find it, and let it fuel you.
    Charlie's beliefs made me explore my own. And she's right, everyone also needs something to believe in. Something that brings you a great deal of comfort when life is making you uneasy. Maybe it is your faith, maybe it is the yoga that you practice, maybe it is your own personal philosophy. Whatever it may be, let it guide you.
    Be healthy, be human. And let yourself enjoy the beautiful things life is offering you. 

Sunday, May 31, 2015


I had every intention on blogging my experiences while I was in Bali, keeping friends and family in the loop but with days packed with temple trekking and motorbike trips across the island, I had little time to sit in front of a computer screen. Although, I didn't mind.

I left off on Saturday, only day one.
Sunday, we stayed close to home. Sort of. We headed towards Ubud to seek out the Tegalalang Rice Terraces. We did have portable wifi and some access to GPS while we were there but quickly learned that with the poorly marked streets and underwhelming maps we were better off just asking locals for directions. On our way into Ubud, a man pulled up next to us while we were driving. Asking us where we were from, what we had done so far, and if we had seen _____. I couldn't understand him because of his accent and our HIGH SPEED but he told us to follow him. So we did. 
After a wild ride, we found ourselves in front of another coffee plantation. We were beginning to realize this is where the tourist traps are. Obligated, we entered and this time I bought of bag of Balinese coffee for mom. The man we followed had introduced himself as Nono and had one more stop for us...a waterfall. He led us to Tegenungan where he left us to hike down a few hundred steep steps and to cross slippery boulders. Amongst the other tourists, we snapped a few photos and headed back up the steps. We ran into a couple of Canadians who had picked up a fallen coconut and shared with us its juice. Off to the Rice Terraces.

We followed the GPS to a town claiming to contain these Rice Terraces and we found ourselves lost, on a bridge in the jungle, asking a few women on mopeds where to head. One pointed one way, another in an opposing direction, and the other had nothing to say at all. So we followed our guts. Still lost and nearly out of gas, we asked two little girls heading back towards town where to get gas and where to find the terraces. They helped, but in return we had to buy two packages of Bali postcards from them. They pointed us in the right direction (one major road over) and off we went!

The Rice Terraces were incredible. We slipped our way down to the base and explored what we could in our flips flops before getting back on that scooter to find the Sacred Monkey Forest, something I had read to be a "must see" site. 
We again found ourselves lost, in Ubud, near the infamous Yoga Barn, a yogi's wet dream. Two girls on the street who had just come from yoga encouraged us to stop there, get lunch at their Sunday Vegan Buffet, and utilize their wifi before heading to the Monkey Forest.

We did.
In true Thomas and Rae form, we made it to the Monkey Forest after a few wrong turns.
As we were walking to the ticket kiosk, monkeys were running amok out front. One very nervous visitor was squealing and begging her boyfriend to sell their tickets to someone else after she witnessed a monkey run up to a women, grab her grocery bag, and bite into the container of milk that she was carrying. The monkey trailing behind to lap up the spilled milk....Tucking our cell phones and motorbike keys into my purse, we entered the park.
Women sat at carts offering food for sale to lure the monkeys towards you.
"Banana? For the monkey?" A saying that is still stuck in my head. Anytime there were monkeys anywhere in Bali, there emerged a woman asking, "Banana? For the monkey?"
Thomas bought a small bunch of bananas and within seconds a big ass monkey owned those bananas.
Determined to try again, Thomas bought a second bunch. And this time, with the help of a woman and her slingshot to ward of the Big Daddy monkey, we were able to play with the smaller monkeys nearby.

This one nearly ripped my shirt off.

I wish I had stolen more photos of the park from Thomas' phone because that place was beautiful. Something straight out of Indiana Jones. Moss covered statues, bridges over streams, and vines hanging from massive trees in which the monkeys played. 
Once we had our fill of monkeys, we headed to Pasar Umum, the Ubud Market. This place was crawling with tourists! Booth after booth were were approached by a local trying to sell us I love Bali shirts, jewelry, or penis shaped bottle openers. After a bit of haggling, we headed home with a few souvenirs. 

Day Three.
Knowing we had a LONG trip northwest planned for Tuesday, we wanted to give our asses a rest from the motorbike and rest on Monday. So, we headed to partyville, according to locals. 
Honeymooners, fabulous gay couples, and bachelorette parties galore.
 We roamed the streets for awhile in search of a cocktail. It's nearly impossible to find a decently priced or poured cocktail in Bali. The locals don't seem to drink and when they do, its Arak. After reading a handful of cocktail lists, we settled for a large Bintang. Our go-to beverage in Bali.

We walked back to the beach to chase a buzz at La Lucciola, a fancy little restaurant facing the water, with only three sides to the building leaving one side open to allow the beauty to come spilling in.
We blew a large load of Rupiah on Lychee Lemongrass and Ginger Caipiroskas, Coconut Daquiris, Martinis, and Granitas. 

Worth every rupie.
With empty pockets and a little buzz, we spent the afternoon in the sun. Playing in the water, laying in the sand, and watching an hour long photoshoot of four Australian teens trying to master the perfect sandy ass cheek photo for their Instagrams.
We did the same.


We had originally planned to seek out more cocktails but barely made it down the beach before Thomas made a deal with some locals on surf lessons and a beach lounger for me. He surfed for two hours (and did pretty well aside from nearly losing his nipples) and I fell asleep in paradise.
We ate some spicy street corn before driving home in the worst possible traffic we'd ever seen. Losing a saddle bag, our minds, and any hope for Balinese traffic laws in the process.
We made it home, barely, and took ourselves out to dinner. I believe we walked that night...

Day Four.
The next morning we woke up before the sun to set off on our long journey to West Bali. Thomas had arranged for us to take a boat out to Menjangan Island to do some snorkeling. We were told this was the best location to snorkel so it was worth the three and a half hour drive up there. It was a long trip. And after 40 minutes on the motorbike seat, your ass is screaming at you. Stopping only for gas and directions, we finally made it there after almost landing ourselves in Java on accident. When we got off the scooter, we hugged and laughed at each others soot covered faces.
We met the Sea Rover staff in Pemuteran and hopped on their speed boat. They drove us out to the island, a serene little place with only a temple atop of it. Abdul, our guide, told us that nobody lives on the island. You are only allowed to worship at the temple and then you must leave. We snorkeled, a first for us both, and had an amazing time. We saw fire fish, a giant eel, fish that I liked to call 80's fish, and all the beauty that came with the coral reef. We opted for the staff lunch, which we still aren't certain of the name, but we're in agreeance that it was one of our favorite meals. The boat broke briefly so Thomas made his own fun snorkeling and I made mine laying in the sun, falling asleep on a boat in Bali. Once the boat was fixed, we snorkeled a bit more before heading back to shore.
We sat around taking in the scenery, drinking Balinese coffee, and talking to Ditta, a cute little staff member. She encouraged us to take a more scenic route home, through the mountains. As she pointed off into the distance at the mountain she described, we asked if the heavy gray clouds above it suggested rain. She said pretty confidently that it would not rain.

It rained.
We found ourselves heading up the mountainside in shorts and flip flops, soaking wet with rain and shivering from the elevation. I haggled some ladies for a couple of ponchos and we pressed on, laughing at the fact that there is never a dull moment on the back of that bike.
The ride certainly was scenic. We drove through villages along the coast and jungles along the mountainside, passing fields of hydrangeas, strawberries, cabbage, and corn. We stopped at the top of the mountain to look out over a lake and the villages below. There were monkeys sitting along the wall and passerbys were stopping to throw food out of the windows for them. Without fail, "Banana? For the monkey?"
With still an hour before getting back to Sanur, we stopped along a road lined with warungs offering Babi Guling, suckling pig. Thomas had been wanting this dish since we had arrived. We stopped at Betty's Depot and split an order. Spicy, tasty, and Balinese to the fullest.
Another hour or so, a few more wrong turns, and we were home. That night we had dinner at the compound. Sarita, our host, served chicken, rice, vegetables, and salad. We shared a Bintang with a lovely gay couple, Panos and Alex, and talked about our adventures before turning in at 9:00 pm.
Unfortunately, we hardly took any pictures of this day.

Day Five.
We had yet to set foot in a temple so this day was dedicated to doing so. We had asked Sarita what her favorite temple was and she told us about Tirtha Empul, the holy water temple near Tampaksiring. We figured we'd hit other temples on the way home and we'd just feel our way around. Being two big white kids on a motorbike, we pretty much scream "we're not from around here." We attracted yet another local on his moped. He drove alongside us asking where we were headed. When we told him, he informed us that his village was near the temple and he'd show us the way. His name was Wayan and he drove to Denpasar every day to learn English and French. Soon, he'd be leaving for Germany on the Celebrity Cruiseline to work as a waiter and he wanted to practice his English on us. 
Like Saja, he was a wonderful photographer too.

We made it to the temple and toured the grounds. At the center of the temple was the Holy Spring, a pool of water with black sand in the middle where the fresh water bubbled up from. After getting our fill of statues and koi ponds, we were ready to bathe in the holy spring which the Hindu Balinese believe has purifying powers.

Locals and tourists alike were in the pool, chanting, praying, and washing away impurities.
The water was cold enough to take my breath away and by the final fountain, my eyes were filled with tears as I thanked the temple for having us. 
This was one of the most precious moments of my life.

Just down the road was Pura Gunung Kawi, another temple. Set in a valley, only accessible by walking down hundreds of steps, were ten shrines standing 23 feet tall, carved into a cliff face. I felt so small here. This temple was less crowded and we were able to walk around it leisurely, observing workers restoring hand painted houses for the Gods and rebuilding ruin. 

After hiking out of the temple, we were all starving. And because we turned Wayan down when he tried to take us to ANOTHER coffee plantation, we offered to treat him to lunch. He took us to the cutest little place with little individual huts containing tables facing out into a gorgeous field.

I had Nasi Goreng, what Wayan ordered (we learned to take the recommendations of locals when it came to ordering food.) It was delicious. Thomas had prawns, another go-to on menus while staying in Bali.
That night we ate out at Three Monkeys, a swanky little joint along the beach in Sanur. Lots of resorts, lots of tourists, lots of great food on this particular strip of shops and restaurants. We ate like kings. I even ordered wine and Thomas had whiskey. I had a Thai pumpkin soup with a ginger steamed seafood salad (I wanted the avocado in that salad mostly) and Thomas had Pepes Ikan, fish cooked in a banana leaf. We splurged on dessert, chocolate mud cake and tiramisu. We gave a new meaning to Bali Belly that night.

While I'm talking about food, I'll mention our breakfasts at the compound. Sarita had basically the same spread each morning but we never grew tired of the fresh fruit, coffee, toast, and yoghurt.

Mangosteen, papaya, bananas, and strawberries. I'd swirl in some passionfruit guava jam into my yoghurt and cover my toast with the apple jelly. We looked forward to going to sleep each night so that we could wake up to these breakfasts.

Day Six now.
We headed East on the trusty Scoopy to seek out what the Bali travel book had painted to be magical water palaces and gardens. Of course, we had some trouble finding our way until the GPS led us right to Tirta Gangga. We had lunch (more rice and seafood) before wandering around this water palace.

We had a pretty good time declaring it to be our palace and continuing to master the "jumping pic." The days we spent without a guide were typically our favorites. We'd run around, laughing and exploring and feeling our way through history.

In the next town over, we found Puri Agung, another palace. Without a guide we didn't learn much about the history of this particular palace...although there was a handout that contained some information. We mostly just wandered and I took in all the beauty of the doors on the grounds.

I love those little Bali doors.

Down the hill in yet another town we sought out Taman Ujung, a water garden. This place was a dream. With paths along the edge and through the garden, locals used these walkways as a running track. As we took pictures and walked the grounds, people all around us were running up stairs, jumping rope and stretching in the grass. If this were where I went to work out, I'd be in the best shape of my life because I would LIVE there.

Another successful day exploring Bali. The drive home was dark but Thomas was a professional at this point and we got home quickly and safely.

The last day.
Our flight wasn't until 11:00 pm so we had an entire day to spend before we had to go back home. Since we had covered most of the island already, we decided to take Panos' suggestion and head south to see Uluwatu.

Pura Luhur Uluwatu is a temple that sits at the edge of a 230 foot cliff. The view is incredible. We walked along the cliff taking in the scene. I bought a bracelet from an old local woman, haggling like a boss. 

At the opposite end of the cliff, we met another fabulous gay couple. Exchanging photography and stories of our travels, we learned that they were currently living in Thailand and had just arrived in Bali on holiday. We recommended a few places, feeling proud of our discoveries and headed down the mountain to find a secret swimming spot.
We never did find the swimming spot. But we stumbled upon a warung with cold beer and a surf competition. So we had lunch, a few Bintangs, and watched all of the drunk Australians talk about surfing. We bartered our way through a few purchases and headed back to Sanur to spend the last of our Rupiah before returning our motorbike and packing our bags.

With souvenirs and cupcakes in tow, we headed back to the compound at Padang Galak where I drove the final stretch home. Yelling out "Hallo's" to all of whom I crossed paths with. Skidding into the driveway, unable to figure out the handbrake, we were home. Laughing, tears running down my dirty face, and with four cupcakes and one good friend to enjoy it all with.
We had a swim in the pool, I had a soak in the outdoor tub while Thomas bought us our last Bintang, and we had one last dinner at the compound before a driver picked us up to take us to the airport.
The perfect trip.

This trip has been planned since November. A trip that originally had started out as a romantic get away with the man I loved. A trip that then turned into a personal challenge; a way to push myself out of my comfort zone and rediscover myself. A trip that ended up being a wild adventure with an unexpected friend that stirred things up inside myself that I didn't know existed. Worry and fear of the unknown blew off and away from me on the back of that motorbike, with the wind in my hair and soot on my face. An empty space inside of me was filling up with each new stamp in my passport and an intense desire to see more left me still hungry with wanderlust. I left Bali full of rice, full of happiness, and full of a love for discovery that I hope never fades.