Thank you, Bali. by Nikki Van Noy

As a freelancer, the idea of travel can be a bit loaded. For most of us, if we're not actively working, we're not getting new gigs or getting paid. It's awesome being your own boss, but one of the downsides is that it’s (generally) not like there’s someone there to pick up your slack when you don't clock in for the day. Even though vacation, downtime, and exploration are unquestionably healthy things to do, it’s nonetheless a bit more of a stretch for us self-employed types.

Last week, I bit the bullet and went to Bali. It’s one of those places that’s been on my bucket list for pretty much as long as I can remember. When I had the opportunity to go there on a “workcation” with a group called Hello Adventure, I couldn’t resist. It was my perfect scenario: creative workshops, yoga up for offer, plenty of time to be creative, and, well, Bali. With just two weeks’ notice, I went on overdrive to finish up some deadlines, corralled my mom on board, and we were off for the adventure of a lifetime.

I’m so grateful that we went. Bali is a largely Hindu island, so every morning my mom and I joined the locals in offering prayer baskets (canang sari). Throughout the day, we would see these baskets scattered around everywhere—on the streets, in cars, in businesses, on the beach. No matter what your religion is or is not, these gorgeous flower offerings were just great little pause point reminders to stop for a second and be grateful.

I woke up right before the sun broke every day to the sounds of chanting echoing throughout the land as owls and morning birds sang back and forth to each other, as if to hand over shifts as night gave way to day. We dashed in and out of the waves of the warm ocean water as incense wafted over to us from the temples on the beachside; monkeys climbed all over us at the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud; we wandered through traditional Balinese village houses (gorgeous!); we watched the sun set over the Tanah Lot water temple; we bartered at the markets; every day was full of yoga on this gorgeous teak platform, lined with prayer flags and surrounded by thick foliage—it was the best when it rained.

Every night, I returned to this incredible, authentic village house imported from Java that was nothing short of enchanted. It was made of beautiful hand-carved wood teak and dated back to the 1900s. That house was alive. Especially at night, it was as though all of the energy that had built up in it over the years seeped out to say hello. Perhaps I should have been scared, but it felt friendly … just very, very present.

My particular village house, Rumah Toer (rumah is Indonesian for "home") was named after Pramoedya Anata Toer, an Indonesian author. It was aptly named because everything about my temporary little teak-wooded corner of the world made me want to put pen to paper. I went through a struggle that I think many writers do between sitting down and writing and going out and living life to acquire things to write about. I did a little bit of both but, in the end, I gave in to Bali and all it had to offer. I’m glad I did because I now have inspiration for days.

As tough as it can be to get away as a freelancer, it’s something we should all do. It’s healthy, it’s inspiring, it’s a re-set. I’m now back with fresh eyes, ready to take on the world, and with the muse on my shoulder.