Setting my sights on Bali: Travel in 2012

Bulgari Resort, Uluwatu

I'm beginning my preliminary mental preparations to visiting the beautiful island of Bali. I don't have the money saved, I don't even know where the money is going to come from, but I'm a firm believe in the Law of Attraction- so I will be in Bali in 2012!! You heard it here first!

 Why Bali, Indonesia, you ask?
  • Elizabeth Gilbert enticed me with her cultural observations (re the caste system, how people are named in the order they are born, etc) in Eat, Pray, Love.
  • I had to write about the super-expensive Bulgari Resort for Bridal Guide Magazine, and the place seems magical!
  • I met a couple who honeymooned there and I was secretly jealous.
  • Many people don't know where it is, which is a good conversation sparker.
  • I've haven't been to that part of the Hemisphere yet!
  • There is a group on Meetup.com (Travel Chicks Rock) that is planning a trip in 2012 with a group of women and I think that's a great reason to go!

Where are you setting your sights on to go in 2012? What steps are you taking to get there?

Inspiring Women: Immaculee Ilibagiza

For the month of April, my book club's Member Pick is a memoir written by an incredible woman named Immaculee Ilibagiza who survived the Rwandan genocide by hiding in a secret and cramped bathroom for 91 days with 7 other women in the home of a family friend. The book is called Left to Tell : Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust  because she was the only survivor from her immediate family of 6 (her parents and 3 brothers) and she believes God spared her life so that she'll be able to tell her story and teach all around the country on the power of forgiveness. Many of you have seen Hollywood's adaptation of the genocide through Don Cheadle's amazing performance in Hotel Rwanda but this book goes deeper. It's a first hand account of the evil that unfolded and a bit of the background of the history of the tensions between the tribes in Rwanda. This book is not for the weak at heart, Ilibagiza doesn't get grossly graphic but the she doesn't try to sugar-coat the daily realities of being hunted by neighbors and people that she once trusted. I learned so much from this book, about what it really means to feel abandoned and how God works in the most unexpected ways. It's also a short read (about 200 pages) and although a lot of the suspense is overshadowed by the fact that you know she survived in the end, one can't help but relate to her wanting to give up on her faith, and admire her strength and determination to keep hope in such a horrendous situation. Here's one of my favorite quotes:
I was certain that God had a greater purpose for me, and I prayed every day for Him to reveal it to me. At first I was expecting Him to show me my entire future all at once – maybe with a flash of lightening and a clap of thunder thrown in for good measure. But I came to learn that God never shows us something that we aren’t ready to understand. Instead, He lets us see what we need to see, when we need to see it. He’ll wait until our eyes and hearts are open to Him, and then when we’re ready, He will plant our feet on the path that’s best for us . . . but it’s up to us to do the walking.
How she strengthened her relationship with God through the experience is the focus on the book, but it's not heavily and overbearing. I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the genocide, or looking for a good source of inspiration! Ms. Ilibagiza currently travels around the U.S. talking about faith, hope and forgiveness, check her website to see if she'll be in your neighborhood soon. If you live in NYC, she'll be in town on April 14th at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Brooklyn. Maybe I'll see you there!

Photo credit.


On Love & the B Word

 Love is a topic that I will never call myself an expert at. The romantic kind of connection most of us desire is akin to a flame; it can represent beauty and passion in one second, and in the blink of an eye it can be the cause of unbearable hurt and pain. Plenty of love songs have been written to try and capture both the good and the bad, the butterflies and the bitterness, all and everything that comes with being vulnerable to a person that otherwise has no connection to you. It's not something I discuss heavily on the blog not because I didn't enjoy the benefits of a committed relationship but because it's something I cherished so-- my little flame that I didn't want to boast too much about for fear of loosing it. I recently felt open enough to have a guest post share my flame with the (web) world. Well, I don't know if I lost the flame, or if I helped extinguish it but I'm facing the dreaded B Word. No, not the defamatory insult. The Break-up.

I've been consumed by the B word. I've been consumed by the shock to my world, and the crumbling I see all around me. I know I'm not the only person in the world who has gone through this, yet, there is no one formula for everyone. The ugly side of the flame is all that's visible now, there's no way to retreat the inital emotions of the how-we-met story, or the first kiss, or the first time someone blurted 'I love you'. There's only pictures, distorted memories, e-mails and all the tokens of love that are leftover. None of that is enough to change the circumstances, because I've learned that a real and final breakup is usually a beast in the making, not necessarily one bad argument. All the signs are usually there, whether we choose to see them or not. 

Selfishness becomes the precedent on the road to recovery. Because how do you, as a hurt person, genuinely help another hurt person? Ultimately, whether by intention or just by the passing of time, the single mentality of 'I've got to look out for me!' enters the picture. No longer is your partner your primary or even secondary concern, because after all, once you stop e-mailing, calling, texting or even 'seeing' about them life can continue as if you never knew them at all. And because this person has no real connection to you, except what you two decided at one point you would pursue intentionally, then life goes on... And time heals the wounds of the battle you either conceded to or lost fighting.