Sunday, December 20, 2009

A little taste of Christmas

I was reading an email from my mom this afternoon, and as I skimmed through the lines mentioning her exhaustion after baking cookies all day with my sister, my mind flooded with memories of all the holiday traditions in my family. The "cookie baking extravaganza bonanza" is one of them, and it is an event that would make Martha Stewart bow down and hand over the golden spatula of domestic royalty to my culinarily gifted mom. Yes, I just created the word "culinarily," especially for this posting. In my parents house, there is a book shelf situated between the kitchen and dining room, and it is filled entirely with cookbooks, some of these being relics from kitchens past, as they have been handed down for grandmas and great-grandmas. In the pages of these dog-eared and grease stained collections there are recipes as well as words of love and wisdom from the hands that so carefully wrote out each measurement and instruction, and I swear they are more valuable to my mom than the house itself, right up there in sentimental value with the baby photos of my brother and sister and I. Each December she sorts carefully through these books for about two dozen favorite recipes, and then sets about preparing the pounds of butter, sugar, eggs, flour, spices and sprinkles that go into making the thousands of tiny masterpieces that come out of her oven after hours of labor. On cookie day, she enlists her army of cookie baking assistants (a different lineup every year) to shape, roll, press and decorate these little bites of Christmas as she whips up a little magic with the mix-master, and mans the oven-mitts, ensuring that each tray is baked to golden perfection. These cookies have distinct personalities every year, depending on the skill and creativity of the helpers, and they are gobbled up happily by holiday visitors regardless of any minor imperfections. Having to miss this testament to the powers of a woman with a whisk makes me a little heavy-hearted, but the comforting thing is that no matter how many years I am away from home for the holidays, when I do come back, I know it will still be happening. Watching "Love Actually" has become a little tradition of mine the last few years, since I have been missing holidays, and I every time I see it I am left a little teary watching the all the story lines wrap up in happiness, and the heartwarming scenes at the arrivals gate in Heathrow Airport. Love is Actually all around us, yes indeed, point taken. But here's the thing: it doesn't come close to the feeling of tying on a ridiculous snowflake apron and working elbow to elbow with my sister at the table, decorating shortbread and comparing sprinkle stains on our fingers.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Ups, the Downs, and the Unexpected...

Most of my November was spent in the midst of adventure, and it seems the whirlwind has slowed down for a few weeks, perhaps to allow me a little rest and reflect on these experiences. The gods of scheduling must have been smiling down on me, and I ended up having three day weekends TWICE last month; I thought the best way to spend them would be to jump on a bus (for 9 hours) and go surfing. This plan turned out to be an excellent one, although I was on the receiving end of many raised eyebrows and admonishments from my co-workers about traveling alone, I survived the bus trips and weekends away without any major incidents, or any major sunburns. I had two weekends in paradise, one at the beginning of November and one at the end, and I enjoyed every minute of them, until the time came to say goodbye to my friend, who had picked my bleary eyed and slightly toxic smelling self up from the bus terminal at 4:30 AM on the first weekend, and ensured that I was looked after for every moment of these little adventures. I spent many hours soaking up the bliss that comes with looking at the ocean and feeling the breeze on your face and the sun on your back and had a little extra skip in my step for a few days after I came back to Depok. I was scratched and bruised from surfing and tree climbing, mosquito bitten and exhausted after the bus rides, but exhilarated with the knowledge that I am capable of traveling independently through this beautiful country. Now the only trouble is that I am greedy for more holidays!

My second type of adventure was not quite so enjoyable, but I suppose if I were the masochistic type it would have been something special. My mom keeps going out of her way to send me packages of goodies from home, and the Indonesian postal service seems to have made it their personal mission to make as much money as possible from these little care parcels. I received a notice that my package had arrived, except that I couldn't pick it up unless I payed a ridiculous fee, essentially ransom. This was the second time my mail was held hostage, only to be released for a fee, and I was steamed up and ready to have a stand off with whatever postal worker crossed my path. When I went to the counter to argue about it in my terribly broken Indonesian I was frustrated to the point of tears because the employees told me that yes, this is just corruption, but they couldn't change it, and if I wanted to barter then I had to go into central Jakarta where the mail goes through customs. The next day, equipped with a translator from the school and a huge sense of indignation, the 2 hour journey to the central post office was embarked upon; the quest for reducing this "Bule fee" was ON. To make a painfully long story short, after three hours of negotiation, acquiring false emails to state the contents of this parcel and their worth, I was essentially told that it was possible to change the price, but that they didn't want to, and that was final. By the time I got back to school to teach after another two hours of traffic I was as exhausted as if I had swum back to Canada for a holiday, and my students probably didn't see me at my best that day.

I have noticed this month that as much as my Indonesian is still very broken, it is like a door has been unlocked in my brain and all these new words are rushing in and introducing themselves to my memory bank. I have found myself understanding a lot more conversations than I imagined I would ever be able to here, and the odd word slips out while I am in the middle of a conversation in English. Traveling alone provided soooooo many opportunities to practice, and being stuck on a bus beside a guy who was determined to know my whole life story, in a language I can't really speak was a testament to the fact that when someone wantly badly enough to communicate, it will happen. It has also left me wondering though, just how many marriage proposals I have had since I got here and just didn't know it, because now that I know what the guys are saying to me, it seems to be a pretty common theme in their line of questioning. "Are you already married miss?" they say, and I reply politely with the standard answer "no, not yet," so as not to give my new friends the impression that I intend to slide deeper into spinster-dom than I already have at the ripe old age of 26. The next question from the boys, almost with fail, is some version of "well will you marry me then?" I am getting to be a pro at turning down these proposals, simply by saying (lying) that I have a boyfriend in Canada. The disappointment on the faces of these poor guys is tangible, and as much as I feel a little bad for them, and for their heartbreak, I have to laugh at the whole idea. Although I have apparently mastered the art of turning down proposals, I still have a lot of work to do on my Indonesian skills. For some reason I have a mental block about learning the days of the week... guess I had better go back to my phrase book and do some more studying until my next adventure begins!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Adventures in Real English 6

In one of my classes there was a brief exercise about talking on the phone. A WRITTEN exercise about talking on the phone... how lame is that! I spoke with my students about why talking on the phone is more difficult than talking in person, and let them in on the fact that the phone totally freaks me out too, especially (oh the horror!) answering machines. We carried on with class, going over a few other exercises in the textbook, reviewing some grammar, blah blah, blah, and if anyone was looking, they may have seen a little cartoon light bulb pop up over my head. I told my nine students that they had one minute to think of a question, because we were going to make a phone call (GASP!) to my MOM in Canada. I explained that she has worked for years in schools with kids of all ages, and that she loves to talk to anyone or anything that will hold still long enough to listen to her, and ran down to the staff room to grab my cell phone. It was about 8 PM at this point, so I told them it would be very early morning for my mom, and that this was a surprise to her too. They all cowered in nervous anticipation, and argued about who would be so unfortunate as to go first. My mom was a little surprised at first I think, not expecting to be hearing from my students at 6 AM, but she went along with it happily and seemed to have a unique conversation with each student. She got questions ranging from "how old are you?" to "what is the weather like in Canada right now?" to "if Miss Ashley were at home, what would you do?" and the kids seemed delighted with the responses. They were absolutely flabbergasted when she said it was about -5 C, which is pretty warm for November... how could a temperature below freezing feel warm???? I described the average winter temperature in Alberta, as well as the brutality of a cold snap in January. Mouths were agape from one end of the room to the other. "Miss, we would die in that weather!" one student exclaimed, and I laughed and responded with "why do you think I am spending my winter in Indonesia?!" When our phone call ended the students, had some really sweet questions for me, and were concerned that I would not be seeing my family until next July at the earliest. We chatted for the next 15 minutes about that conversation with my mom, and I think it was my most memorable class so far. I spoke to my mom later that evening, and she was just as excited as my students. She told me that she struggled with some of their accents, while others presented no difficulty at all, and commended them on having the bravery to talk to a stranger in a second language that they are just beginning to feel comfortable with. I had to give my self a little pat on the back for this impromptu idea, as it drew my family a little closer to me and let them in on a little slice of my life here, and it also gave my students a unique learning opportunity and a major boost of confidence. Only one problem now, how do I top that???

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Learning from my students

Something I am enjoying very much about being an English teacher is the endless ability of my students to surprise me by saying things that have an immeasurable sense of sincerity, or wisdom, or poetry, rendering me speechless and awed by these shy moments of profundity. A few of these such instances stand out to me.

~ Upon asking about the incessant rain and cool weather we were having a few weeks ago, a young girl of only 14 solemnly told me that Indonesia was in mourning for the people that had died in the massive earthquake that hit Sumatra, and the weather was reflecting these feelings.

~ I was observing some of my young students at work on a textbook exercise, and looking down at the little girls, some wearing jilbabs to cover their heads as a measure of modesty, I spoke my thoughts aloud without realizing... "I wonder what your hair looks like under there?" A very bright and well spoken child, who I happened to be standing next to looked up at me and said in a voice older than her years that her hair is a secret between her and her family.

~ The culminating assignment of my conversation classes involves a presentation in front of the class on whatever topic you feel you can speak freely about. I have heard students talk about where they grew up, typing skills, the dangers of skin whitening creams, saxophones and self defense, just to name a few, but I was particularly touched by one student's topic. A quiet girl, always dressed conservatively and seemingly quite traditional shared with the class her views on why women can and should be more than a housewife. She told us passionately that a woman must use her education and find a way to assert independence even while looking after a family and a husband, so that she is self-sufficient. My independent feminist streak was doing a cheer-leading routine while she spoke, and it is refreshing that in culture steeped in rites and tradition, girls are finding a way to balance the expectations of society with their personal goals and dreams.

~ A young gentleman said to me one day that he is learning English because he wants to speak to the world. How lovely is that?

These moments, and there are certainly more, leave me feeling that as I am passing on bits of grammar and pronunciation and vocabulary to my students, they are leaving me with bits of wisdom that go far beyond language learning, always sneaking up on me out of the blue, to remind me of how much there is to learn in this world.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Coming to Terms with Gravity

Gravity is a force of nature that is absolutely unavoidable. It acts on us all in some way or another, whether we notice it in the way of an apple dropping onto our heads, physical exhaustion, or the bits and pieces of human anatomy that tend to head further south the longer gravity has been working on them. For me, it is most apparent in my nearly daily stumbles and tumbles as I make my way from one place to another, and the plethora of scars that I bear as a record of all these mishaps. As a person who has spent essentially my entire life in some sort of physical training, this seems a little bizarre. I began taking dance and gymnastics lessons from the tender age of 3, and transitioned directly from my life as a dancer to that of a yoga student, so what went wrong along the way? Why can't I seem to put one foot in front of the other without losing bits of my skin and acquiring bumps and bruises? Some of my most natural and effortless moments of physical prowess have come to me while I am championing an extraordinarily difficult yoga posture, or flying through the air in the grand allegro portion of a ballet class (take THAT gravity!), yet something as simple as walking up a flight of stairs will more often than not, lead to catastrophe. I have earned the highly apt nickname "Smashley" for these frequent and less than elegant mishaps, and I lived up to it entirely earlier this week.
Walking from EF to the busy Depok terminal to catch an Angkot home from work is usually a fairly safe and uneventful venture, however, this past Thursday it had been raining heavily and this set the scene for a rather dramatic episode of gravity vs. Ashley. I was wearing my comfiest sandals that I have been wearing almost non-stop for the last two years, and needless to say, they are lacking in traction at this point in their lives. I was shuffling along the slick sidewalk in front of ITC, a busy mall, and realizing the precarious nature of my journey, was taking great care with each small step. Before I knew it, something had gone terribly wrong, and I was flying horizontally through the air, umbrella in hand, like a cross between Superman and Mary Poppins. I landed gracelessly in a heap on the sidewalk, noticing that at some point during this highly embarrassing event, my headband had gone flying from my head to land in an unknown location. I scrambled to my feet amid gasps from onlookers, grateful that I was wearing pants and not a skirt, and shuffled away trying to calculate the injury to my aching body. I miraculously landed on a packet of cookies that were in my purse, and having completely obliterated them into a packet of cookie dust, I managed to save my hip from what could have been serious damage. Unfortunately I did come away from this event with scrapes and bruises and aching muscles, and a vivid sense of mortification. One big point for gravity in the ongoing battle I suppose, but really in the grand scheme of things, this could have been much much worse, and I will be sure to get even in a moment of sublime weightlessness while practicing yoga or on my next surf adventure. Now I suppose the only thing to do is to dust off my wounded ego, buy some new sandals, and hope for this force of nature to present itself to me in gentler manifestations... :P

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thanks, Merci, Terima Kasih or Arigato... it is all the same in the end.

Thanksgiving is really a lovely time of year; I think it is the one holiday that hasn't been ridiculously commercialized with greeting cards and shopping extravaganzas (only speaking for Canada here) and turned into some politically correct event that people end up tippy-toeing around. If you have heard about people switching from saying "Merry Christmas" to the non-denominational "happy holidays" or "season's greetings" you know what I mean. When I was growing up, this holiday was a weekend to enjoy delicious food from my mom and dad's farm, and spend time hanging out with usually at least one grandparent, maybe a neighbor, or the boyfriend of the minute, or whoever happened to stop by the house for the feast. I loved helping my mom bake dozens of pies, enjoying the fragrant bliss wafting out of the oven, and later meticulously scooping the filling out of my slice (who am I kidding... SLICES) and handing the crust over to my dad. The last few years that I haven't been home to celebrate with my family I have been lovingly "adopted" for the day, and there is plenty of reason to express thanks for that as well. So far, 2009 has been nothing short of absolutely incredible, and I feel like it is only appropriate to show a little reverence for all the good that has come to me.
These are just a few of the things I am grateful for...
~My family because I think they think I am a little crazy, and they worry about me an awful lot, but they love and support me anyways. I LOVE YOU
~My study of yoga, because it has granted me a lot of peace, and taken away a lot of physical pain leftover from the years of trying to force my body to comply with the ballet aesthetic.
~My past experiences, good and bad, because they give me something to relate my present life to.
~My health: this has been the healthiest year of my life (knock on wood), even while spending most of it in developing countries, and questioning what might be taking up residence in my intestines.
~Studying at KPJAYI in India, learning about surrender and devotion and getting a glimpse of what it means to be patient, as well as crossing paths with some of the loveliest people in the world
~The opportunity to live in Indonesia and have so many adventures, and while I am here, a job that is really useful to others.
~The kindness of strangers.
~The generosity of the universe. One of the friends that I made in India talked ceaselessly about the power of the universe, and ever since I have been throwing my dreams out into the world, they have been coming back to me in the best possible manifestations. It's a pretty big deal!
~My friends who became family. Being away from my family so much of the time has allowed for a few special people in my life to take on these roles with reckless abandon. I LOVE YOU

"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." ~G.K. Chesterton

"Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light." ~Albert Schweitzer

Friday, October 9, 2009

Setting free the butterflies

Last Friday I taught a yoga class for the staff at EF. All day, I felt a sense of nervous anticipation and was vaguely aware of little butterflies persistently flapping around my tummy. I felt like an impostor waiting to be revealed, and that at any moment, lightening bolts might come out of the sky and I would be smited for the audacity of trying to teach others at this tender stage of my practice. The lightening bolts never struck, but there was a pretty spectacular rainstorm, and I slunk into the office with my yoga mat while the other teachers were still in class and took a few moments to try and boost my confidence. A friend that I met in Mysore, India called me a yoga baby, seeing as how I have only been walking this path for a little over a year; it is meant to be a lifelong practice, something that a person might do into a ripe old age, so the comparison is not so far off. What business does a baby have trying to teach anyone anything? I set my reservations aside, seeing how excited the ladies at the office all were, and decided that even though my knowledge is limited, I can share the bit I know, as I have been taught, and hope to pass on a little bit of the positivity and vitality yoga has brought to me. We got set up and I was surprised as one of the ladies changed her clothes and slipped off her head covering to reveal her hair, something that many Muslims will only do amongst their families. It was a group of all women, so there is no taboo there, but it brought a certain level of intimacy to the class. We started talking about breathing and bandhas, basic elements of any yoga practice, and moved on to some slow surya namaskara (sun salutations). There were titters and giggles as I demonstrated the vinyasas and I think I may have heard something like "she looks like a lion!" There was a surge of confidence inside me as I watched these ladies, never exposed to any yoga before, work their way through these first movements, and settle into the structure of an Ashtanga yoga class. Some of the students were struggling, as is expected, and some were managing the asana with remarkable ease, and I reminded them that yoga is not something to be achieved in a single practice, that it is meant to be practiced "slowly, slowly, and all is coming." (Guruji, Pattabhi Jois) When everyone collapsed gratefully into savasana, the final resting posture, I felt as though I had conveyed something of this yoga to my small group of students, and was pleased to share my experience (limited though it may be) with them. It is very special to watch people learn, and it has inspired me all week in my personal practice. Class is being held again tonight, and it looks as though it will be a weekly event, so I suppose I should set the butterflies in my tummy free into the world, and just go with it.... if the universe is pointing me in this direction, then this is the path I will follow.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

An Ode to Adventure

I arrived yesterday afternoon back in Depok after almost a week of holiday bliss in and around the coastal town of Pangandaran, and took a moment to thank the universe for it's unwavering generosity. The trip started off a little bit ominously; what was meant to be a 9 hour bus ride turned into 16 excruciating hours of inching along through bumper to bumper traffic along winding rural roads, and as our swelteringly hot and overcrowded bus (there was a family of 6 occupying a seat intended for 3 people sitting ahead of me) made marginal progress I questioned my choice of holiday destination. After arriving quite late in Pangandaran, my friend Kam and I hopped into two awaiting becaks, little carts attached to bicycles, and asked to be taken to a hotel. We quickly found accommodation and collapsed into bed absolutely exhausted from the journey. My internal alarm woke me up about 6 the next morning, so I sat on the balcony with a coffee and enjoyed the fresh sea air, and then went for a stroll along the winding beach. On the way back to the hotel I came across a sign advertising surf lessons, and as I checked out the info and photos that were posted, I was approached by one of the instructors. We talked a moment and I told him I would come back with my friend, and that I was DEFINITELY interested in a lesson. Upon returning to the hotel, I found Kam awake and puttering around the apartment and soon enough, I twisted her arm and convinced her to come along for a surfing adventure. We made our way back to the Bamboo Cafe and met up with Gopang and Jaja who were to be our instructors. We geared up, borrowing boardshorts from the boys, and surf shirts to protect our bellies from chafing on the boards, and trekked across the hot sand to have some quick instruction before we got in the water. Before I knew it, we were in the water, and with a few quick pointers, I was standing up on my board, gliding momentarily across the water with a giant grin on my face. Jaja set me up time after time and eventually got me ready to catch a wave without his help. After about 3 hours of getting tumbled off the board, scraped, exhausted and deliriously happy, we cruised back up to the beach to rest. I was quickly dubbed "the real Canadian lobster," as I managed to get the worst sunburn of my life on my face, hands and the backs of my legs, even while wearing a generous layer of spf 60 sunscreen. Jaja proceeded to rub cucumbers and aloe vera all over my burn, and you know, I don't think I ever expected to have an Indonesian man rubbing vegetables on my face, but it seemed to take a lot of the heat out of the burn, so who am I to complain? The boys offered to take us sightseeing, and as much as it meant taking a leap of faith, we accepted the offer with a great deal of excitement. It isn't very often that I would hop on the back of some random guy's motorcycle, who I have known for all of 3 hours, and say "sure, take me into the countryside and through the jungle to a remote location where most tourists don't get to go, no problem!" Kam and I both got a good vibe from these guys and it turned out to be the best decision we made, because we didn't only get set up with tour guides for the entire trip, but we made some incredibly genuine friends. They took us everywhere, and hung out with us in the evenings, making sure we got the best food in town and had everything we needed. We got to see waterfalls (I even jumped off one, into a deep pool below!!!), a sea turtle conservatory, a lagoon, a canyon, a fishing/surfing village, and endless miles of countryside, all from the back of the bikes of our new friends. There is no way to describe how much our holiday would have been lacking if we had been in different company, but here's an example of how great these guys are: Gopang picked us up at 5:30 yesterday morning, just to take Kam and I to the bus station, where he waited until our bus pulled out, leaving us with the instructions to call him when we come back to Pangandaran, so he can pick us up at the station. Several hours into the bus journey home, Kam received a phone call from him, just checking on us, making sure we were hanging in there, and asking for us to let him know when we arrived back in Depok. The funny thing is, when I called saying I was home safely, Gopang couldn't stop saying thank you to me... isn't it me who owes him endless gratitude??? I have every intention of going back to this place, not only because it is a beautiful location, but the people will undoubtedly bring me back. I need to see my Indonesian brothers again! My next long weekend falls in November I think...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It is all about perspective!

Something I have noticed recently, especially while travelling in India and Indonesia, is that the standard for beauty is very different than it is at home in Canada. I can walk down the street here in Depok on any given day, feeling a little like a flamingo trying to fit in to a flock of hummingbirds, and a guy will slowly cruise by on a motorcycle, unabashedly staring, and simply say "mau" with a look of longing on his face. "Mau" means want... you know what he is getting at. Equally as often, Indonesian ladies will whisper cantik cantik (beautiful beautiful), and reach out to touch my glaringly white arms or shoulders. This is all happening while I am walking around in the blazing sun, slathered in sunscreen, sweating profusely, and feeling like a cross between Godzilla and a hippopotamus amongst all of these beautiful and delicately built locals. Cruising through the skin care section at the pharmacy there are rows upon rows of whitening creams, all promising to give you a glowing white complexion. This so starkly contrasts the rows upon rows of tanning lotions you see in western pharmacies! It seems odd to be complimented on something like skin tone, something that is merely genetics, and besides that, it is something I have been teased absolutely mercilessly about by certain friends and family members. My sister has called my paleness "the moon tan" and other friends of mine dubbed me "Casper." At least I am a friendly ghost? I think it boils down to the fact that most people want what they don't have, so as I walk down the street here, standing taller than the average MAN with my light eyes and light skin, I am playing up to all those exotic characteristics that these Indonesians just don't have, but desperately want. I guess living here is a way to balance out that awkward phase I had.. the one that lasted from age 6 to 16. Those were some painful years, and they involved many painfully gawky photographs so maybe all this attention is meant to balance that out?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lost in Translation? Not really...

So on Saturday, I was hanging out with Lina, my lovely new friend and neighbor, and as we were driving around Jakarta in her car (more like sitting still in bumper to bumper traffic watching people on motorbikes zip by), a song by Fergie came on the radio. I hear a small voice beside me pipe up... "what does this 'jump in the trunk' mean?" I giggled and thought to myself about the likelihood of conveying the message of "junk in the trunk," or better yet, "my lovely lady lumps" according to Fergie in a way that my Indonesian friend would understand. A quick lesson in pronunciation (jump vs. junk) and on the English idiom took place, and after explaining both the literal and figurative meaning of what it truly means for one to have "junk in the trunk," Lina started asking about who exactly has this characteristic. I started listing a few celebrities, Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, and I was interupted with a statement that showed me my teaching skills are up to par. "Ashley, you are quite slim, but I think you have some junk in the trunk!" This is coming from a 26 year old woman who has had three children but is no bigger than I was at 12... offence coud hardly be taken. We both sat and laughed for a few minutes, and I admitted that yes, I have a little more junk in the trunk than I would care to haul around. She looked at me earnestly and asked "now what about lady lumps? Is that this one?" She points quite accurately to herself (the lady is breastfeeding, enough said) and we both catch ourselves laughing again. Now I only have to wonder what the people in the car beside us were thinking!!!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Taking a plunge!

This year has been nothing short of whirlwind. 2009 started off on a FANTASTIC note in Mysore, India, studying Ashtanga yoga at KPJAYI with two of my dearest friends. After three months of struggling to come to terms with a direction in which to point my future, I hopped on a plane with a mixture of anticipation and dread, and headed home to Canada. A week in Victoria working retail left me anxious and wondering "WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE???", and I realized I had to stop waiting for some sort of divine inspiration, so I signed up for a course to teach English as a second language. A weight lifted off my shoulders as I realized that I had indeed taken a huge step towards a new path, and before I had even completed my teaching course, I secured a job in Indonesia. Breaking this news to my parents was not exactly a walk in the park... making your dad cry is never a good feeling. My mom and dad are the source of both my roots and my wings, and they took it with as much grace as possible. Do any parents really want to hear that their child (forget the fact that I am 25, I am still their baby!) is moving for at least a year to a country know for earthquakes, tsunamis, and terrorism? To me, moving to Indonesia meant opportunity for growth, adventure, culture, sunshine, and a job that would support my wanderlust, hopefully financing a second trip to India. I have slipped into the role of a teacher with no backward glance; it is a good fit for me right now, and it has also given me insight to how deeply I want to be a student again one day(but not yet!). Settling in to my life here has been a matter of rolling out my yoga mat each morning to practice, sending gratitude out into the universe for all the generosity it has bestowed upon me in the last year, and learning to laugh at the twists and turns that occur each day.