The Land of Aloha

I placed one foot outside the car and was filled with the sounds of Waimea Bay.  A single rooster crows in the background in a way that I never thought could sound so sweet.  A wide smile ignites across my face as memories of Indonesia rumble through my mind.  Each morning a whole cacophony of rooster crows would fill the Balinese land with its demands and proclamations, burning their imprint in your brain matter.

Oahu’s most scenic coast is along the Kamehameha Highway, with its sparkling diamond sea closely bordered by the steep slopes of the Ko’olau Volcano (which is thought to have first erupted 2.5 million years ago).  Each beach shack town along the way has its own “killer shrimp” food truck and fresh coconut stand.  Vacationer or local citizen, no one here moves very quickly because that would go against the essence of their culture, the spirit of Aloha.   The wheels of the mind have countless hours to turn over useless questions and ideas.  Do you think the island of Java and Oahu were separated at birth?  What was it like when our planet knew few boundaries with its supercontinent, Pangaea?

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Despite the geographical resemblance, Indonesian waters have nothing on that of the North Shore!  Waimea Bay is home to one of the most prestigious surf contests of the year while Kailua Bay is filled with wind surfers and kayakers. With a multi-billion dollar tourist industry certainly the secret has been let the bag, but it does not take away from the inner stillness and presence these waters command.   How effortless it would be to lie here all day and just watch the waves.  Nowhere to go, nowhere to be.  No need to meditate first to help you “enjoy the moment.”  Not on this land of rainbows.   Life just is.

Ah…. yes.  There I am, I thought.  The phonetic pace and jungle concrete of Los Angeles had managed to consume my radiance this past six months with its power lines and tainted air, and I am exceptionally grateful to receive it back from the sparkling diamond sea and sweet sun in the land of Aloha.

killer shrimp shack

Through the eyes of a tire swing

Let’s just say that life is a magic carpet ride these days…

I was wide awake at 11pm, still adjusting to the time difference from Hawaii to Los Angeles, and poking around Facebook to kill time.  (what a time suck that website is, right?)   Remind me to delete my account one day very soon.  Its not often that I post a “status update,” but through sleepy eyes and without much thought I quickly typed, “Let’s just say that life is a magic carpet ride these days.  What a trip.”  I re-read the statement to compute what I had said.  A warm, fuzzy feeling filled my heart liked a little kid receiving an award.  “Life is a magic carpet ride….”  Absolutely, I thought.  That really is how my life has felt this year.  And, holy shit, what an unexpected, nauseating and beautiful ride it has been.

For highschool graduation my mom gifted me the Dr. Suess classic, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, and I recently recovered it pulling storage boxes from our Lake Forest house.  Never can I make it through a single reading without tearing up.

You’ll be on your way up!

You’ll be seeing great sights!

You’ll join the high fliers

Who soar to high heights

Except when you don’t

Because, sometimes, you won’t

On and on you will hike

And I know you’ll hike far

And face up to your problems

Whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,

As you already know.

You’ll get mixed up

With many strange birds as you go

So be sure when you step

Step with care and great tact

And remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act

And will you success?

Yes! You will, indeed!

(98 nad 3/4 percent guaranteed)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!

Sometimes I wonder, with sadness as my song, how the heck this got to be my life and other times I wonder with euphoric heart-filled praise how the heck this got to be my life.

Oh, the places I will continue to go.  The jungles of South America, the heart of one amazing man, the moist soil of a home garden, the wonder of a clear night sky, the curiosity of a giant tree house, the seduction of my own curves in ecstatic dance…  Each is on my list for 2012.

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A Child’s Note

How can you bring another (or many others) light today?

 

 

 

 

Right Now

This card alone would have saved me hundreds of dollars in therapy.

Better late than never I suppose.   Its going on my fridge!

Gratefully Yours, A

Taking a Journey from the Head to the Heart

Every season breeds new opportunity and the close of old business, and along that way I am grateful for my colorful toolbox of yoga, living foods, journaling, and the power of my word to move more fluidly through the ebb and flow of it all. (The conservative white male from Laguna Niguel in his BMW and Morgan Stanley suit is looking at me funny “ That sounds like some hokey pokey yoga fluff…”)

All that I am saying is that I recognize I have the power to choose where I focus and how I focus my attention. “Be careful of your thoughts as they become your words; be careful of your words as they become your actions; be careful of your actions as they become your habits; be careful of your habits because we want to keep our husbands happy so they continue to pay our shopping bills. Wait…,oops! That’s not how the quote goes. I meant, be careful of your habits for they become your character! Right, yes, got it. Now I’m on par with that guru dude from India… or the other one from church down the street. Neither of which I have met by the way. It turns out that we’re made of the same cloth and no matter how many times I regurgitate their “ancient wisdom,” my life remains in my hands, as my masterpiece to create (because words without action produce very little change), and I’m beginning to learn the brightest colors with which to paint come from my own direct experience. No fluff about it.

There is a purpose to my soapbox today.

Motivated through the journey of what I just shared, I’ve created a mind/body program to educate others on how to address both physical and emotional stress. Let’s commit to feeling our healthiest day now. While it may not end all suffering on the planet (because that technology would make me a billionaire) I can say from personal experience that tools, such as yoga and living foods, make a significantly positive impact. Forget any diet, we are talking about foods that make you feel ALIVE! Our own body is more intelligent than the most advanced computer system out there. Learn to use it and trust it as such.

By July 1st my goal is to begin a relationship with 10 new clients, and I am grateful for your help in reaching that. A sample of my client profiles would include (although not limited to):

• Adults suffering from high-stress and without tools for managing or mitigating it

• Mothers trying to implement a healthier/ whole food program for their family, but confused about where or how to start

• A child or teenager that struggles with low self-esteem around their body

• Existing yoga students who simply want to take their practice to the next level

If you want to experience this before referring out my business I am happy to offer a free 45-min session to give you a feel of what the program is like. There is so much opportunity through yoga and living, organic foods, and never have I or will I sacrifice my obsession with dark chocolate. Honestly!

Share this email with others. Consider the opportunity. “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food”

 

Your Grateful Yogi,

Allison Antoinette (Wilkey)

info@gratefulyogi.com

http://www.gratefulyogi.com

The sweet surprise of Yogyakarta

“I’ve got a monkey wrench for you,” I said to Oliver.  He just returned from requesting our final bill at the front desk as we planned to check out the next morning after a weekend of diving off Bunaken Island (northeast Sulawesi).  Our next stop was another nearby island called Siau. “What’s the monkey wrench?” he said.   This would be my last official week of travel, and I was feeling uninspired by the idea of Siau and almost all alternative options.   It was nearly 8:00pm.  “Let’s jump ship on Sulawesi and head over to Yogayakarta.  Big city. Culture. The arts.  I’ve heard great things from other travelers.”   Oliver wasn’t expecting me to suggest that we leave the island of Sulawesi entirely, but I did, and he was open to new adventure.  Yogayakarta was a four-hour flight away, on the island of Java, and a polar opposite experience to life on a remote island.   Can we make the morning flight?  Check.  How much does it add to our budget?  About $50.  Check.

And just like that we flipped the switch.

saying good-bye to our homestay on Bunaken Island

from our balcony

Arriving back into the Port of Manado and onto the airport. One boat, one taxi, and two flights later we would arrive into Yogyakarta.

.  This port especially felt like the slums with shanty street vendors and an astounding amount of trash in the water.

Yogayakarta is a traveler’s paradise and renowned as a centre of classical Javanese fine art and culture such as batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry, and puppet shows. I am not sure which story to share first or elaborate on because we have had an action packed week full of fun surprises.  Some quick research on hostelbookers.com led us to a fabulous boutique “home stay” run by a delightful French gentleman and his Indonesian wife.  We dropped our bags and hit the streets running.  “Excuse me, can we make conversation with you?”  Huh?  I turned around to greet three young university students dressed in uniform asking if they could borrow fifteen minutes of our time for a school project.  “We study English literature, and we have to practice our English with foreigner and record conversation.”  Having just landed in town and starving for decent food, we were initially reluctant, but then happily agreed to “make conversation” at a café.   Questions like, Is this your first time to our country?  Can you tell us something interesting about your country?  Do you have advise for our country? were on the list.  The girls were initially timid and soft in their speech as they blushed each time they struggled to recall the appropriate translation, but they remained enthusiastic for the conversation and incredibly grateful for our time.   They even asked to be our friends on Facebook!  Less than three hours in Yogayakarta and I was already inspired.

Our university students. I promise they were more enthusiastic and full of smiles than what appears in this photo! Cultural difference.

Oddly enough these "becaks" (bicycle with a carriage attached) can share traffic lanes with regular motorbikes. While it was a fun ride, we felt like the turtle in a sea of hares and were often left in a cloud of dust.

Yogyakarta is a centre for classical Javanese fine art and culture such as BATIK. Batik is a traditional art whereby areas of fabric are blocked out by brushing or drawing hot wax over them, and the remaining cloth is then dyed various colors. The parts covered in wax resist the dye and remain the original color.

Some of the finest batik cloth in the world is made right here in Java, a tradition that formed around the 12th century.

“Where is that coming from?” I asked as my curious ears perked up.   We were walking down the dark alley back to our homestay and the faint sounds of a violin filled the air.  Growing closer to the sound we peered down a long driveway at a live orchestra performing in what appeared to be private property.  “Think we can go in?” I asked.  “No its someone’s house” Oliver said.  I didn’t like that answer and hovered at the end of their long driveway trying to get a better look.  “Mind if we stand here and listen for a few minutes then?”  While its not an experience I often seek out, a night at the symphony lights my heart as it sets sail into dream land over the dancing notes.  “Oh! That man is waving us to come over!”  Apparently our snooping was not so discreet, but I gladly accepted the invitation to wander inside.  To our pleasant surprise we walked into a room of thirty teenage musicians practicing for an upcoming concert in April.   Up until now, throughout Indonesia, I’ve only heard performances of the traditional gamelan instruments and so was delighted to see these students studying our western instruments.  (side note – a gamelan is a musical ensemble from Indonesia, typically from the islands of Bali, or Java, featuring a variety of instruments such as metallophones, xylophones, drums and gongs; bamboo flutes, bowed and plucked strings).   The female chaperone quickly organized some seats for us while a few young spectators giggled in the background.  You find here that Indonesian children giggle a lot, especially around tourists, as they are not quite sure what to make of us.  The orchestra continued on with a blend of elegant sound and offbeat chords that warmed your heart for their efforts and bold undertaking of the instrument.   With the first pause we applauded enthusiastically, and the conductor called Oliver up to center stage.  In this moment I was being set aside and separated as a female.  Oliver tried introducing me, but the conductor paid no attention.  Instead he held the students attention at Oliver, engaging him with questions and conversation as if he were alone.  Yogayakarta is predominantly Muslim with smaller pockets of Hindu and Buddhism and the majority of women don the traditional hijab and head covering in public.   Mosques are sprinkled throughout town and five times a day the traditional prayer can we heard over loudspeaker throughout the city (including the first prayer at 4:30am, which woke me up multiple times until I recovered my ear plugs!).   It was most definitely an awkward moment as I captured a hint of life without the freedoms I was born into.  “Do you know Swan Lake?” the conductor asked Oliver.   “Yes!” he said.  Who doesn’t know that one!  We would love to hear!  One cautious chord after another started them off before floating into fluid and timeless symphony.

"hello hello (which sounds like HA-LOW with their accent), can you take our photo?" They giggled as I did.

Oliver on center stage. Where are you from? they asked. First time to Indonesia? As a tourist these are standard questions you can expect 10x a day.

Yogyakarta is also a haven for underground art. Its home to many independent musicians, performance artists, and visual artists. This one says "Fight for Love"

You’ve Been in Indonesia Too Long….

You know you’ve been in Indonesia for too long when – – –

1. Your taxi car gets stuck behind the trotting horse and carriage, and you really don’t mind.

2. The creepy, god-knows-what-breed of dogs wandering the streets start to look cute and friendly.

3.  You rely on the roosters to wake you up for morning meditation.

4. Mosquito spray is your new deodorant.

5. You start to poop better when using the locals squat toilet over the traditional western bowl  (sorry, but its true).

6.  You find yourself bargaining with the waitress over the cost of dinner.  She looks at your like you’re an asshole.  Heck, you can negotiate prices on most everything else, why not food?!

7. The night air is 80 deg with high humidity yet you’re able to sleep soundly using just a weak fan for relief.

8. Your daily dose of vitamins come from coconut and papaya.

9. Sometimes subtle, sometimes strong, the smell of burning trash just comes with the territory.

and #10.  You’ve eaten enough jungle peanuts to morph into an elephant.  Oh, and you dream of a dancing pizza and talking glass of wine.  Yeah…its probably time to go home!

My anticipated arrival back into L.A. is April 10th!  (give or take a few).  Stay tuned.

sending my love back home