Anticipation: 5 Days ‘Til Bali

My favorite part of getting ready for this trip (aside from picking up a very thick wad of brightly colored Balinese rupiah at the bank) has been saying “no.”

For the past few weeks, I’ve been divesting myself of obligations and saying no to new work, new projects, new requests, and new ideas:

“No, I’m sorry, I can’t read your manuscript.”

“No, I’m sorry, I can’t meet with you.”

“Oh that’s a really good idea, but I’m going to have to pass right now.”

“I agree. It’s unfortunate that you just joined my class and now I’m taking the summer off. But I’ll be back in the fall.”

“Call me in September about that.”

“I’m not interested in doing that any more. I’m moving in new directions. I’m sorry.”

“Look, if you want to do that, go right ahead. But I don’t think it’s going to work, and I don’t want to be part of it.”

“I haven’t decided if that’s something I’m going to continue. Check back with me in the fall.”

In the midst of saying “no” to other people, I’m well aware that the person who requires the biggest “no” of all is myself. All those wonderful, creative ideas that I always seem to have—the ones that seduce me, but require 80 hours of work to manifest—I’ve started to say no to them, too.

It reminds me of the time I went to visit my hippie cousin, Miriam. This must have been thirty years ago. At the time, Miriam and her family were living way up on top of a mountain in Boulder Creek on a piece of land called Omland. Every spring, they had an annual party, and all of us—family and friends—would hike 1/3 of mile, pretty much straight up a mountain to get there. Miriam would be waiting up top with a ladle full of water, to “water the guests” as they arrived.

One year, I arrived early to help, and Miriam was running around panicked, her to-do list clutched in her hand. She had to carve the little triangles on top of the watermelon boat, sweep the dirt floor of the outdoor kitchen, make the fruit salad and add hibiscus blossoms to the punch. There were just too of items on Miriam’s list.

photo credit: Scott Miles Love via photopin cc

“I know what to do with that,” I said. And I took the list from her, lifted the black sooty cast iron lid of one of the burners of their old wood-burning cook stove and tossed the list into the fire. Miriam looked at me in shock and then burst out laughing. “Oh, I feel better,” she laughed. “I feel a whole lot better.”

Now, as my departure looms closer, my to-do list is getting shorter. Even before my official vacation begins, I’ve had more time for friends, more time to read, more time to cook.

I think, “Why don’t I live this way all the time?”

I guess that’s one of the many questions I’m going to have to ponder on this journey.

15 thoughts on “Anticipation: 5 Days ‘Til Bali”

  1. Eileene Tejada

    I am learning the beauty of ‘no,’especially at work. Liberating indeed!!!love this post Laura. It is so affirming.

    1. Well, I guess we just have to keep practicing. NO! Or to be polite, “I’m so sorry. I wish I could. But that’s not going to work for me right now.”

  2. thank you for this post. I grapple with the feeling of “rush” every day in my life. i could feel the relief when you burnt that to-do list.
    Looking forward to reading about your upcoming experiences.

    1. Leslye, I’ll look forward to you following–because I know you know Bali and I hope you’ll throw in some of your own remembrances in your comments, too.

  3. Maureen Cleary

    I have learned that my saying no creates an opportunity for someone else to say yes and step into a space of new possibilities-for both of us.

    1. Yes, but there’s that scary limbo in between when the habitual is not there to hold on to–and what emerges? Feeling and thoughts that are usually pushed down and away. For me, it’s the willingness to face those and to question “business as usual” that makes the no hard to say. Momentum is a protection, no?

  4. Laura, thank you for sharing your journey of transformation and discovery from these very beginning moments of your Bali adventure. The mindful preparation is all part of the trip! You inspire me to keep open and be aware of the gifts in everyday living. Blessed travels!

    1. Thanks Vicki, I’m very much looking forward to this journey. Even though I’m not leaving till Wednesday, I’m in effect done with my regular life here as of today. My cousins from London, and their three yummy young children are arriving today and staying till the day of my departure…so I’ll be having a few days of a staycation with them revisiting some of my favorite things to do with young kids in Santa Cruz. And then….bon voyage!

  5. PS. It’s a luxury to be able to respond in real time to your comments–once I’m overseas, wifi is a lot spottier. Sometimes I may only be able to read your comments and not always respond–but I definitely will get a boost seeing what you have to say!

  6. As you prepare for Bali I am preparing for Commonweal. I have that “list” in my head and it is getting longer every day. It is time to put it on paper lest I forget, and that not be a pretty site. 😉 Love your blog. And yes, it is time to say “NO” to lots of things.

    Just a reminder, always keep yourself safe.

    1. Keeping myself safe has sometimes kept me too safe, if you know what I mean. I actually want to take more risks, not less! But yet in the global sense, I will promise to make good choices.

      I’m really looking forward to meeting the woman on the page in person in Bolinas in July!

  7. It is wonderful to let go of all the ‘doings’ and focus on the ‘beings’…and just breathe. I’m glad to be going on this virtual vacation with you, bringing back fond remembrances.

  8. Have a wonderful trip Laura. And thank you so much for creating this wonderful warm and supportive community xxx

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