When I told people I had left my full-time job and was heading to Bali and Australia for 5 weeks, I got a number of different reactions…
‘HA – very ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ of you’
‘Why? You love your job…’
‘Oh [insert look of total confusion]’
‘OMG – THAT’S AMAZING. I’M SO PROUD OF YOU’
…and of course the one that was fairly consistent across the board…
‘This trip is going to change your life’
This trip is going to change your life…that’s a lot of pressure for 5 weeks.
But how? How will my life change? Will it be a good change?
To be honest, when I booked this trip I didn’t really think too much about it. If you’re an over-thinker like me, you know what a big deal this is.
Perhaps it was the beautiful acai bowls and fresh fruits, sunshine, and yoga, or maybe it was the idea of stepping into another culture, but whatever it was I knew Bali was calling my name. Initially, I was planning to go on a 2-week yoga retreat where I could destress, quiet my busy mind, and let go of some of the things that were weighing me down and affecting my health, but when I was presented with consulting for a couple of different clients my course of action changed.
I still wanted to go, but I wanted to be able to take on clients at the same time, so after a little bit of research I found Hubud a co-working space in the center of Ubud, Bali’s spiritual and yogi epicenter. I’ll get into the details of Ubud and my journey around Bali in a later post, and if you’re more interested in learning about Bali right now, check out my friend Jenny Sansouci’s post (she was a total life saver for me!) This post is more about my internal experience…so, on with it.
Three weeks before my intended departure, I booked a flight into Bali and out of Sydney (this is SO unlike me!) And let me tell you, those three weeks FLEW by giving me little time to really feel anything towards this solo adventure.
The week leading up to the trip I started pulling out clothes and packing things I knew I was going to need. One large suitcase, one rolling carry-on, and an oversized tote later, I was ready for my 30 hour travel to Bali via Hong Kong. My flight didn’t leave until 1:45 am, which was essential for ensuring I slept a lot, so I spent that day just like any other Saturday. I hit up a workout class, grabbed a yummy brunch, and ran a few last minute errands. I packed up my carry-on filled with snacks (I mean filled – I don’t trust airplane food), ate a yummy hearty, nutrient dense dinner, sipped on a glass of red wine, and waited for 10:30 pm to roll around so I could head to the airport.
As I sat on my couch, waiting for the moment I could hop on a cab and head on my way, I started to feel a bit funny.
‘Wait, I’m not going to be home for the next 5 weeks? I’m going to miss so much. I’m going to be all the way on the other side of the world ALONE.’
Even though I made this choice very intentionally, it just hit me that I was going to be alone.
So, in true ‘Hailey’ fashion, I suppressed my fear and replaced it with excitement. Don’t get me wrong, I was SO excited to be heading around the world, but I also felt nervous, fearful, self-indulgent…
What if this trip doesn’t change my life? What will I tell everyone!?
I landed in Bali in a bit of a fog but ready to take-on the day. I got myself on a pretty regular sleep schedule and caught up with the time difference relatively quickly.
My first morning, I wanted to wake-up with the sun and walk around Ubud to find all of the magic I was promised. I was ready for my life to change.
As I walked out my door and down the hill near my hotel, it hit me…
HOLY SHIT. WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING HERE?! WHAT WAS I THINKING?
The fear rose up like never before.
So in an effort to eliminate fear, I replaced it with control over planning every moment of my first two weeks in Bali:
Long Walk / Explore
Breakfast / Coffee (at new coffee shop)
Make new friends
Try new restaurant
See something new
Talk to someone new
Document every single moment on an instagram story
A few days in, I got a message from one of the most beautiful souls I know, reminding me to ‘flow’ and the importance of allowing myself to disconnect to just feel and move where the day takes me with no expectations.
“Protect the days for you; these moments bring out something inside us. You know it when you can feel it because you can feel your soul.”
I was lying in bed when I read this message and I started crying – a mix of positive and negative emotions. I was so grateful to be in Bali, but I was lonely and a bit nervous about what it would bring. I felt so much pressure to have a new, better, changed life when I returned home, but also felt like I was letting people down if I didn’t do, see, and eat everything. I was going through the motions and experiencing things, but I wasn’t actually living them.
Her message instantly changed my trip and from there on out, I promised myself that I was going to make a commitment to be more present and feel the moments.
It didn’t happen overnight, but slowly, I started to release, let-go, and create space for myself. As I did, I started to notice small, magical moments and opportunity occurring in my everyday life in the most unexpected ways.
If you’re anything like me, the idea of ‘creating space’ seems a bit abstract, and you’re right it is. How we each create space is different, but the benefits are the same.
Here are 3 Ways I Created More Space + The Magic That Occurred
Simplified My Days
Too often, I try to fit in at least 10 things into my day. Some days, my schedule will be so tightly packed that not only do I have too much to do, I’m nearly late for almost everything. This adds a lot of stress to my life and absolutely no space for any new opportunities to present themselves or as I like to put it, magic.
In an effort to remove stress and open up space, I started planning my days less and saying no to things that I don’t truly want to do or don’t help me meet my personal and professional goals. For example, if I’m on vacation, I choose one to two things that I want to do each day and anything else that happens during that day GREAT and if nothing else happens that’s great too. During the workweek, if I have a day filled with meetings, I don’t try to squeeze recipe testing or blog writing into that day as well, I’ll plan to do those commitments on another day.
I noticed as my day was less planned and structured, things started appearing differently, opportunity arose, and I started viewing the world differently. My brain started working more creatively, I felt inspired, I started to daydream again, and my stress reduced significantly.
When I was in Australia, I was scheduled to go to Australia on May 31st but was presented with the opportunity to go a few days early. I was hesitant because ‘this wasn’t part of the plan’, but I asked myself, what do you really want to do? I wanted to go! So, I did it. I went 5 days early and it was one of the best choices of my trip. I felt like I got a big hug from Australia, learned so much about myself, had THE best hosts, made new friends, and really allowed myself to relax.
When faced with ‘nothing to do’, which sounds like a dream, I often don’t know what to do with myself. I pick up my phone for a little instagram sesh and scroll mindlessly; or wander aimlessly around my apartment until I find something else to do. It’s not very often where we find ourselves with nothing to do, no one to answer to, and no commitments, but it’s in those moments where the magic really lies.
I know the thought of being bored is scary –
“What will I think about?”
“What will I do?”
When I start to feel bored, I think about something that would truly add joy to your life. I’m sorry but the answer is not Instagram. Perhaps it’s picking up that book you’ve been dreaming of reading, going for a walk, taking a bath, watching a movie, or journaling. When you do things that bring you joy you give your mind more space to creativity and learn the things you love.
I was rarely ‘bored’ in Bali, but there were times when I was lonely. It was mostly in the evenings when I wished I had a friend to share a glass of wine and fun memories with. Instead of sitting in my hotel room, I went out to restaurants with my computer or notebook and a glass of wine. What appeared on my screen was the beginnings of my 25 page guide that’s now available on my website.
Removing Expectations & Self Inflicted Pressure
I set myself some pretty lofty expectations. Bali & Australia for example…
Expectation of life changing moments and trips
Equals self-inflicted pressure.
Pressure, deadlines, and commitments exist, but we control our reactions to all external factors in our life and most importantly we get to control the entire process internally.
When I started to feel pressure about my trip – seeing, being, eating, and doing everything possible, I was so stressed out. I wasn’t sleeping, I was waking up at 6 am every day, and I certainly didn’t feel relaxed. When moments of anxiety or stress would creep in, I would ask myself kindly to take a step back and reflect on what I was feeling and why I was feeling that way. If any of it related to self-inflicted pressure, I would ask myself ‘what do you really want to do today’ then I started doing all of those things.
I wanted to fit so many things into my last few days in Bali. One of those things included an smoothie bowl at Yellow Flower Cafe. This might seem like a small thing, but damnit, I was determined to get this smoothie bowl in my belly before I left Bali…I mean it was the best one in Ubud! But lunch with a new friend came up on the day I was going to go. I prioritized what was more important, and since people always win, I let go of Yellow Flower.
The magic? Life went on and I had a lot of good smoothie bowls while I was in Bali.
As I reflect on whether or not my life changed in Bali, and while I didn’t necessarily realize it at the time, heck yes it did!
I changed my life by creating space for magic; by allowing the universe to do it’s thang; and learning unknowns about myself.
When we allow space for happenstance, we remove boundaries and expectations of our everyday life and enable ourselves tap into a deeper sense of self. You never know what you’ll discover.
How about you? Do you schedule things so tightly you get anxious and eliminate magic? Let me know in the comments below!