I arrived to the Swasti Eco Cottages in Ubud, eager to see the familiar faces of my yoga instructors arriving from my last hometown, Key West… The first known faces to me since I left the states March 13th… The Bali Bliss art and yoga retreat was organized about 10 months ago, before I’d even dreamt of the idea of long term traveling, so when I left Key West, I told Sofia, my favorite yogi, “I’ll meet you in Bali baby.” That’s how this beautiful Indonesian island ended up on my travel itinerary.

Now that the group is here though, all 15 of us, I’m a little caught off guard by the mixed emotions I’ve been feeling and how my energy has been different since their arrival. Huh, Eryn, what is going on here? This isn’t feeling so good… Screech, halt on all the peace, love and happiness you’ve been exuding… WTF man??

The majority of the group are strangers to me, a few from the northwest Seattle area, a few from the northeast, Maryland and D.C., some locals from Key West that I know from the yoga studio or around town, and some new faces. It’s always interesting how these retreat groups form from across the country, and sometimes the world, but somehow we all come together as a cohesive little happy group…

I remember how surprised I was the last yoga retreat I attended, my first trip to India in 2012 – it consisted of 10 Japanese (only 2 spoke English), 2 Israeli’s, 1 Venezuelan, 1 Russian instructor and me. I had no idea I was the only American when I signed up for that retreat (not that it would’ve changed my plans)… Actually, it greatly added to the experience, pushed me outside of my cultural patterns and provided friendships that are ongoing today. As a matter of fact, I am meeting Carolina, the Venezuelan, in Israel in a few weeks for her 40th birthday, and we will be visiting and staying with Dalit and Irena, the 2 Israeli women for a portion of our trip. That’s how Israel ended up on the itinerary.. How lucky am I to have connections in these foreign lands?

So back to the mixed emotions… I’ve had some time to decipher them now, and I suppose they are primarily springing up from my friendship with the owner of the yoga studio, Sofia, as she rents her studio space from my now ex-husband in the office building we worked out of. So many layers to this with Sofia and that building… Huh…

Let me give you some context with a little history, for those that don’t know… Mike and I bought an office building in 2010, completely renovated it from it’s dilapidated warehouse state, to a gorgeous, modern, New York style loft studio with 13’ ceilings, exposed beams and some really amazing design elements. I mean, as contractors, this is what we do… from concept to completion… And we were good – really good! Mike and I were a great team on the work front – we could take any ole’ crappy building, residential or commercial, and turn it into something amazing! I did the floor plans and interior design details and Mike worked his magic to bring to life all the crazy design ideas I came up with… I’ll never forget, he told me early on when we met, “If you can dream it, I can build it.” I remember thinking at the time, muahahahaha you silly silly man making a statement like that – I accept that challenge!! I certainly put him to the test many times over the years with my off the wall, sometimes complex ideas…  

The whole place was one big open warehouse space that looked like this – it was in a sad state… We fixed that!

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Of course this is how it looked when we had our office there, now it is transformed into Sofia’s yoga space

Anyhow, after a short period of having our office in the newly renovated building, it was apparent that we had way too much space for our small company, so we decided to rent out a portion of the building… Enter Sofia and Shakti Yoga… They moved in and took over the large front studio space, and the two offices that Mike and I used to occupy. Marino Construction moved to the back of the building and we shared a kitchen space so I would see Sofia often during the day as we both floated in and out of the kitchen. I also lived in the back of that office building in a studio apartment for about 7 months when Mike and I separated, so I am inextricably linked to that building, to Mike, to Sofia, and the memories of that place – good and bad…

It’s also a reminder that I have left the only career I’ve ever known and am forging a new path for myself out here in the world, with the future unknown – this part isn’t really sad, just scary for me to not have a clear path of where I will land and what I will do for work… I was always very Type A about having a secure career and although my personal life was often shaky, I always had my shit together when it came to my work life, so to regroup and start all over at 37 feels really strange… But I know it’s all just a part of my story and the path for my long term future WILL present itself in due time… It’s ok Eryn, you got this… It really will work out… Just roll with it… “Roll with it baby, c’mon, you gotta roll with it baby…” Steve Winwood, 1986(?) song, anyone? Anyone?

So, I suppose seeing these familiar happy yogi faces, all the way across the globe here in Bali, is taking me back to some sad memories from my Key West past. Sad that my marriage failed… Sad that we built so many beautiful buildings together, but couldn’t build a beautiful marriage… Sad that I’ve left my last hometown, the friendships I’d formed and the potential life I could’ve rebuilt for myself there… (Even though I haven’t questioned my decision to travel once since I got on that first flight from the states) Eryn, it’s ok to still be sad about it all, just move through the emotions… It’s just part of the recovery process… You know leaving was the right thing to do… And you can always go back to Key West if it feels right in the future

For some reason though, even after leaving Key West, I still have an attachment to that damn office building… Grrrrr… I know how ridiculous that sounds… But when you put your heart and soul into the design and construction of a place, it’s kind of like your baby… Then to work in that space, live in that space, and do yoga in that space, I have a lot of mental associations that have all come rushing back all because I’ve run into my favorite yogi, Sofia, here in Ubud, Bali.

I’m struck by the irony of my mixed emotions – Because yoga is what actually saved me. When I was in a dark place, so despondent and numb, not seeing a way to be happy in the marriage, yet unwilling to admit defeat, the only time I was at peace was when I was in yoga. I can’t really articulate it adequately, but yoga ended up being therapeutic for me. It allowed me to further my journey inward, come to grips with the reality of the situation and ultimately gave me strength to take responsibility for my emotional health and leave the marriage. Isn’t it ironic – don’t ya’ think? Alanis Morrisette 1995(?) song, anyone, anyone?  

It’s been about 9 days now that we’ve been in the retreat and, luckily, the sad associations and feelings have faded away – The Key West yogis have taken on a new form in my mind, and now, I see less of the Key West associations, and more the whole group, collectively as my little Bali yogi family. We are at the most amazing bungalows, Bali Eco Stay in Mt. Batukaru, a few hours away from the city where we met, Ubud, and I do believe the rice paddy fields are the most beautiful natural scenery I’ve ever encountered… The varying shades of green are like no other I’ve seen and the whole place just oozes serenity… Ok, the peace, love and happy energies are starting to return now… Ahhhhh…

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Here are some of the group – don’t have a complete group shot yet…

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I know when my Bali yogi family leaves me on Tuesday morning, it will be a sad day for me… I’ll say goodbye again to Key West and to my Bali yogi family that I’ve grown pretty attached to… It has been nice having a steady group of friends for the last 9 days…  I’m sure I will shed some tears as I wave them goodbye and send them back home to MY office building… Hahaha…  No, seriously, it’s been really incredible spending time with all of them here in Bali and forming these new friendships, even though it’s brought up some unexpected emotions… And it’s been a lesson that there’s always a lesson in everything we experience, and a reminder of the ever-changing impermanence of life…

Love love love to all my peeps across the globe… XXOOO

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