As a Dutch artist, I have been living and working in Asia for over 9 years. After spending the first 5 years in Saigon (Vietnam), I decided to move to Bali, the Island of the Gods, with my 2 daughters, then 8 and 5 years old.
I arrived here, a recent single parent, with 2 suitcases, 2 kids, and my ‘holy’ Jura coffee wondering if I had made the right decision. What I knew for sure is that I was in for an adventure, choosing extraordinary over predictable, and that this choice was likely to be a catalyst to help me live my life at its full potential.
From day one, Bali treated us well and we quickly adapted to the rhythms of this beautiful place. It felt like home to such an extent that I decided to buy an old farmers-rice-field where I could build a house – a beautiful villa surrounded by nature with my very own creative studio facing the back garden.
And here we are today, almost 9 years later, my daughters and I plus 2 ducks, 2 rabbits, 2 chickens, 3 cats, and a Bali dog named Charlie, happy and feeling very much at home.
Living on this island taught me many things which helped me to be who I am today. Or should I say, it helped me be me again, supporting me in the process of rediscovering what was there all along, I just needed guidance in remembering.
Bali has a gentle way of nudging you with insights that help you get closer to the core of your being. It teaches you to ‘listen’ carefully as her whispers are often subtle. She suggests several mindful practices originating from the locals’ culture of offerings and ceremonies, including the yearly Nyepi celebration where we stay inside our homes for 24hrs in silence in the hope that the bad spirits will think everybody has left the island and therefore urging them to leave as well. These mindfulness rituals, including the regular energy purification Balinese people do at their temples, taught me to pay attention to what I feel inside and to listen to even the faintest of whispers. It also taught me that our body is sacred and very powerful, and that it tells you what you need know to stay healthy and balanced. It also made me see that there are greater forces surrounding us than those seen by our human eyes, and that we can ask for help and guidance simply by connecting to our inner world.
The Balinese people taught me to go with the flow, that it is important to have time for a chat or a smile, and that doing ‘nothing’ is a beautiful opportunity to practice mindfulness. They follow the cycles of the moon and consult the calendar to decide when the energy is good for whatever activity they are planning. They do not attempt to control nature, instead, they believe they are part of it. They follow and use the flow that is there. They adjust their agenda to the lifeforces that run through them instead of the other way around. An interesting perspective, or I would even dare to say an interesting ‘truth’.
I now realize that raising my two daughters on an island such as Bali has shaped them into children of the world, where they do not belong to a specific religion, but to the Universe, speaking a universal language. They do not relate to one culture as they are surrounded by many, through the diversity that characterizes Bali. Living here helped them to remain true to who they truly are, and be the very best version they can be -a version most of us adults spend a lifetime searching for.
Thank you, Nyoman, Made, Wayan & Ketut for raising my kids as your own.
Thank you Bali, for finding me.