Hello from Bali! I am writing this on what must be one of the best Monday mornings I’ve ever had. I’m sat in a co-working space in central Ubud, working on my own fun little projects, surrounded by wonderful people and energies, all living life on their own terms. It’s hot, I can see the sunshine casting its golden glow over the lush greens outside the window. I want more of this please!
At the end of 2015 I wrote an article on all of wonderful things I had come across during the year and just had to share them with you. I promised that I would aim to turn it into a monthly instalment to ensure that I didn’t miss out on too much of the good stuff and also that you wouldn’t have to read ridiculously long posts either.
So here it is, the January edit. Not a huge amount of stuff this month, just down to the fact that it has been a very dynamic month for me between recovering from a busy festive period, completing a huge handover at work, saying goodbye to my 8 year career and then very quickly after that heading out here to Bali. But as always, I hope there’s something that proves of interest and use to you.
Courses, Resources & Communities
- Chelsea Dinsmore of Live Your Legend posted on Facebook that they had attained the 28th spot on the Top 100 Personal Development Blogs list curated on startofhappiness.com. A huge well done to the LYL crew for all their work, earning them this spot. The list is also a great resource for links to many other fantastic personal development blogs with a wealth of knowledge too. Check it out here!
- I can’t believe I missed the School of Life out from my 2015 post but that’s more than likely because most of my interaction with them was during 2013 when I was made redundant and had one of the most serendipitously planned ‘How to be Creative’ classes scheduled in for my first day of unemployment. It was run by the wonderfully entertaining, entrepreneurial and inspiring John Paul-Flintoff who, when I told him that I had just been made redundant the day before and feeling pretty scared at not having a job whilst in the middle buying my first property, said to me “Don’t worry, being made redundant was the best thing that ever happened to me”. That was the greatest gift to have been given in that moment and he was right, as that period of unemployment was one of my most favourite and inspiring times in life and most definitely a catalyst to where I am today. Thank you so much John. The SOL is all about the cultivation of mindful living and development of emotional intelligence in all areas of life from relationships, career, health, etc. With wonderfully titled classes such as ‘Reclaiming Wonder’, ‘How to be Bored’, ‘How to have Better Conversations’ and many more. They also offer one to one sessions with qualified therapists and have a wonderful shop in central London that sells lovely books and stationary, it sits on top of their very cool classroom area. My reason for mentioning them in the month of January is because they released a very aptly (for me) timed and titled video on their YouTube channel ‘The Point of Travel’ where they discuss why people travel and whether it could be done more consciously i.e. choosing destinations according to the benefits they could provide for our mental wellbeing by asking ourselves exactly why we’re going away instead of mindlessly jetting off to random places. Conversely, a lot could be said for staying at home too, check out their ‘Anti-Travel Advert’.
- In line with the topic of travel and the art of staying still, I absolutely loved this TED talk by travel writer Pico Iyer: ‘The Art of Stillness’.
- A resource I forgot to mention last year was Typeform. It is a great online freebie to help you produce all types of online forms to collect data. I used it to design a client project questionnaire and it proved very useful. The free version offers quite a few customisation options to help you get started, however if you need more features then there is a paid pro version available too.
- I didn’t get through as many books as I’d hoped last month due to it being quite ‘administrative’ however last year Yaron Engler recommended one book in particular to me given the journey I was about to embark on and that was Osho’s ‘Courage: The Joy of Living Dangerously’. Osho explains how he believes courage does not mean one is fearless, instead courage is to fully embrace the fear and truly live, undeterred by its presence. He encourages us to not think of courage as huge heroic acts that only the ‘brave’ can achieve (he has a lot to say on the term brave in the book) but the small, seemingly insignificant, everyday acts and situations we may be faced with. Thank you Yaron for this perfectly timed recommendation as in addition to ‘Being not Doing’ being my theme of 2016, courageousness is the other. I’ve found many similarities between points made in this book as in ‘The Untethered Soul’, ‘A Course in Miracles’ and ‘The War of Art’. Osho also offers meditations in the book for helping you approach and deal with your fears.
- On the theme of travel, the lovely Becca Warner of Escape the City wrote (another perfectly timed) article on why she chooses to travel alone as often as possible in ‘Why I Travel Solo’. I read this before I headed out here and agreed with many of her points. And a few days into my solo travels, I find myself agreeing even more so. She followed up with another great article ‘10 ways to stay happy when travelling solo’. Becca writes beautifully and authentically, these are must reads.
- Another must read on Medium is Matthew McConaughey’s speech/article ‘13 Lessons Learned’ his personal thoughts; raw, full of truth and beauty.
- Someone shared this lovely little reading challenge for 2016 on Facebook last month and I thought it sounded great. Definitely one I’m would like to try and do this year. It challenges you to pick up books you’ve previously abandoned, recommended or gifted to you, one that was banned and so on. I’d like to add one more to the list: a book chosen on solely based on it’s cover. Happy reading!
- On the theme of travel and reading, I once gave Alain De Botton’s book ‘The Art of Travel’ as a gift. I’d never read it myself but I would definitely now like to read the modern day philosopher give his perspective on why we choose to travel. De Botton is also a regular speaker at the School of Life in London.
Mind & Spirit
- I bought the book ‘Calm’ as a Christmas gift for a colleague last year and it looked like such a treat, so I downloaded the Calm app for myself. You are treated to a variety of serene scenes for you to gaze at when you need a moment of…well…calm. And there are a variety of guided meditations to try out for free too. I often use the 20-minute body scan to help me drift off, especially so on these sultry Balinese nights.
- If you love and live by affirmations, you may like Louise Hay’s ‘I Can Do It’ 2016 calendar. I was given it as a gift and each day you are treated to a new affirmation to carry with you during the day.
Places & Spaces
- Sushi Samba: one of my favourite cocktail spots in London became even more of a favourite with it’s new, vegan sushi menu – yay!
- The Indali Lounge on Baker Street makes healthy Indian food for all, where they promote their slow cooking process as a way of maintaining the medicinal benefits of the herbs they use. They also cook without ghee and butter, making their food kinder to your heart and waistline. Plenty of veggie and vegan options available here too.
- Wenara Bali Bungalows: my first stop when arriving in Bali, they offer spacious rooms with private bathrooms and a lovely pool, all within a very accessible location and price in Ubud. A great place to get started and find your bearings around the city. A point to note, if you prefer a quiet nights sleep then this place probably isn’t for you as it’s located just off of one of the busier roads in downtown Ubud and you’re often woken to the sound of cats screaming ‘ow!’ instead of ‘meow’ and monkeys hanging around outside your door and windows as you’re right next to Monkey Forest. All part of the fun though and I have really enjoyed my stay there.
- The beautiful Swasti Eco Cottages, also in Ubud, a stunning place to stay. Slightly on the more expensive side but quite the treat. I’ve only been there to dine on their amazing vegan/raw food delights (all the ingredients are grown in their gardens) but they offer wonderful spa treatments, yoga classes and much more within their sanctuary. I may just have to check myself in here on my birthday!
- And so to the place from which I write you this article, Hubud is a co-working space and community based in the centre of Ubud providing you with all of the essentials you would need to work away from the usual, overly air-conditioned, dull office! They offer lots of events to keep you skilled up and in the know with the start up communities in Bali and around the world. This place serves as a great introduction to the life of a digital nomad.
More Bali recommendations to follow in the February edition.
Health & Beauty
Lovely vegan health and beauty treats worth checking out:
- Neal’s Yard provide a heavenly collection of ethical and organic health and beauty products. The store in Covent Garden is akin to going to a modern day apothecary! You can find natural remedies for all sorts of ailments in store and those to just indulge in pure pleasure. I was very kindly treated to a box full of their goodies from my ex-colleagues for my travels. Thank you guys! I also own their book ‘Neals Yard Remedies’ where you can learn how to make their organic treats at home.
- To avoid all the chemical nasties of DEET based insect repellents, try Incognito’s Insect Repellant which is all natural and vegan. Beware of the slightly leaky bottle though (or maybe that’s just my one), keep it wrapped up well.
- Jāsön produce a wide range of natural and vegan sun screen products that are well worth checking out.
- Optima make a great minty tasting, vegan and natural Aloe Vera Toothpaste.
Natural and ethical beauty brands I’ve been using for a few years now and forgot to mention last year are:
- Organic Surge: all vegan apart from their Extra Care Hot Cloth Cleanser which contains Beeswax.
- Liz Earle: some of their products use Beeswax and Manuka Honey so check the ingredients carefully, otherwise they do not use ingredients directly derived from animals.
- Dr. Organic: again most of their products are suitable for vegetarians, just double check where they use any Bee byproducts.
And last on this list but by no means least, my lovely bro and sis-in-law got me a fantastic travel pillow for Christmas called the ‘J-Pillow’! As the name suggests, it’s J shaped which provides you with much more support than your average travel pillow. This was a Godsend for my very long journey here, thanks guys!
Here are some travel related resources I came across last month whilst planning my trip and found really helpful:
- First and foremost, Skyscanner and Kayak were fantastic sites for helping me track down the cheapest flights and super helpful when planning multi city trips too. They trawl all the major airlines and sites to find some of the cheapest flight prices around, which gives you great ground to haggle down your price with the tour operators when finalising your booking.
- And after seeing all the flights available, I chose to fly with Royal Brunei who I’d never used before and I must say I was very pleased. Clean, spacious planes, great staff and service too. On my two long haul flights, many of us were lucky enough to be sprawled out over three seats and enjoying a good snooze, especially so with that J-pillow!
- Booking.com has been an amazing resource for all of my hotel, home stay and hostel choosing needs. Such a great and easy site to use and many of the hotels/homestays in Bali offer free cancellation very close up to the date of your stay, which is really handy if you find something better later on. The best thing to do is just book a couple of days on this site and then extend your stay and get more favourable rates once your on the ground.
- The Balinese visa can be a bit of a confusing matter but this article by Bali Floating Leaf really helps clear it up. I opted for the US $35 Visa on Arrival option which afforded me a bit of flexibility as I wasn’t 100% sure where I’d be in 30 days time when I booked the trip. I’ll be extending it next week which will allow me a 60 day stay in total before I have to leave the country, even if for a day. I’ll report next month how my extension process goes.
- A trip to Australia may also be on the cards and that process, for a British citizen just visiting at least, is much more straightforward and so I got myself an eVisitor which was very conveniently and quickly obtained online here.
- Need to learn how to be ultra spiritual, watch to the very spiritual JP Sears on just how to do it. So funny, I love this, it never fails to make me giggle!
- And because this month has had a travel slant to it and I love all things dog, I just had to share the photos collated by Hunter Lawrence of how his beautiful Golden Retriever joined him and his wife on their travel adventures. So cute, heart warming and beautiful and makes me want a dog even more!
Okay, so I think that’s me done again for this month, I hope you found something useful in this article. Here’s to another awesome month of opportunity and discovery ahead of us. Take care guys and speak soon! Love. Light. Miracles.