Blog Posts, Top, Travel, Uncategorized

Top Post: The lightness of starting over

seashore under white and blue sky during sunset
Photo by Pixabay on

Some days you feel you will never stop crying. I certainly felt that way. The first year of my new life was scary and excruciating. The second, not much better.

Now that we’ve established solidarity over the fact that starting over is hard, really hard and painful–brutal, even–let’s focus on the fact that at some point there is a lightness to it.

Maybe you’ve begun to shrug off the weight of old insecurities. Perhaps you can breathe again. You might have lost some relationships, and that stinks, but you’ve developed new or deeper friendships with people who understand you. You are figuring out who you are now and following a path of your choosing. 

Perhaps you’re not at that point yet, and that’s okay. In fact, maybe that’s why you’re reading this post in the first place. Because you’re hoping there will be an end to those dark, terrifying days.

Perhaps you’re not at that point yet, and that’s okay. In fact, maybe that’s why you’re reading this post in the first place. Because you’re hoping there will be an end to those dark, terrifying days.

There will be, my friend. If you can’t see it now, I’m telling you, at some point you will feel the lightness of starting over.

In 2018 I spent the winter in Southeast Asia because of two highly motivating reasons: it was cheap, and I have an insatiable wanderlust. I worked from my computer, so I took advantage of the opportunity to explore on a tight budget.

Photo by Caron Guillo

I landed in Bali for a week-long stay in mid-March, and chatted pleasantly with my driver as we rambled across the island to a small resort on the eastern coast where I intended to spend the next few days. 

“You know tomorrow is the New Year,” my driver, Komang, said. “Nyepi, the Day of Silence.” A sacred Hindu celebration. 

“Yes. I’ve chosen a place that I think will be perfect for the restrictions.” Which meant no work, no walking outside the gates, no electricity, no talking, no ATMs, nothing. Just silence.

Komang, smiled in my direction. “But tonight you must go to an Ogoh-Ogoh festival.”

“We can help you do that,” the owner said upon check in at the little resort.

Which is how I ended up on the back of a young employee’s scooter. We picked our way through the throngs of noisy parade-goers walking to the village, darted around the gigantic paper and bamboo statues being borne on litters toward the start point. We raced past bright lime-green rice paddies while Mount Agung, a quiet, but powerful, volcanic presence watched from the horizon. 

Once in the village, young Putu situated me on the curb with his friends, happy for an excuse to slip away to the festival. We bought rice and vegetables from an old man hawking them along the street. A hundred locals paraded past us in colorful, traditional dress with ornate baskets or arrangements of fruit on their heads–a symbol of abundance.

Ogoh festival
Photo by Caron Guillo

Finally, darkness fell. Drums thundered and gongs clanged at raucous, deafening levels. Forty giant statues or more representing evil spirits, one after the other, breathed fire or gyrated with the dancing of their transporters. Happy faces, in turns joyful and scary with the flickering light, opened their mouths to defy the statues with chants, songs, laughter, ululation.

My heart raced. I pinched myself at the great fortune to be there, in that moment. To immerse myself in that community for a few hours. How did a girl from Oklahoma end up there?

And as Putu drove me back through the night, more stars overhead than I’ve seen before or since, the scent of soil and aromatic frangipani fresh in the silky air that stroked my bare legs, my arms, I rejoiced.


The next day, the Day of Silence–enforced rest and retreat–created a perfect peaceful environment for reflection. For practicing gratitude.

Those grimacing, frightening statues had been burned after the parade. Dark influences put away. A chapter closed.

A new day had dawned. Lightness had arrived.

And I had survived to jump into it with both feet. Take heart: so will you.

Bali resort
Photo by Caron Guillo

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