Join Zuri as a Featured Guest on the Radio!!

September 12, 2013
8:00 PM to 9:30 PM

Join SIS and our special guest, Zuri Walker, for an Evening of Self- Expression: Writing from the Soul. This interactive experience will encourage the writer in you to emerge in full glory. A seasoned writer, or aspiring writer — this evening is for everyone who would like to take time to spontaneously write, share, and reflect.

Writing from the Soul is an amazing experience where you find your true self through the gift of free writes. Engaging in intuitive writing can help you open the channels to deeper, more soulful expression and access the abundant source of powerful material hidden inside you. During the experience there will be no critical evaluation: we “freewrite” for the joy of it!

Zuri will facilitate the evening and share evocative starting prompts and we’ll just let the writing flow! We then share our writings without praise or criticism. The resulting self-expression will be both enlightening and restorative.

Zuri Walker is an intuitive coach, lifestyle facilitator, public speaker, and yoga teacher. She began her career in management consulting, where she worked with large-scale private and government organizations seeking to make significant changes and improvements. It is in this context that she began coaching managers and executives on becoming more impactful leaders while also building more fulfilling work and home lives. This was where her internal spark was ignited – to support people to live happier, more complete, passion-filled lives. For more information about Zuri be sure to visit here website, Zuriwalker.com.

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How to Participate:

Date: Thursday, September 12, 2013 – 8:00 p.m. Eastern

On the day and time of the webinar dial: 1-347-838-9886

You can also join the show online: Click here.

You can also blog about it here. Are you a writer? Have you ever participated in a Writing from the Soul session? Let us know your thoughts. Blog responses are also shared during the show.

Remember you can be a part of the radio show by dialing in from anywhere, or you can log into the web site to listen and chat. Sharing is caring: pass this invite on to friends and family!

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The battling thoughts of a mourner

I should be writing a blog post about my life at the beach – diving with friends, eating good food and embracing the beauty and tranquility of solitude. But life has a way of crashing down around us sometimes. It literally did just that to a very good friend of mine yesterday. She was riding her motorcycle home, literally two blocks away, when a terrible storm started, causing a tree branch to crash down and fall on top of her, instantly breaking her back. I won’t get into the details of what’s happened or happening with her, as that is her story to live and share, in her own time. Although her life is forever altered, she survived, and I’m so very thankful for that.

It’s like there was a crack in the time-space continuum and everything that I saw and knew was turned upside down upon itself. My personal island paradise suddenly became Alcatraz. The constant easterly winds blowing a gentle breeze through my window became suffocating, wrapping their transparent hands around my neck, giving a relentless squeeze. The endless reflective shimmers on the ocean waves merged to form horizontal bars, ending my feelings of freedom, now trapping me in on an island 10,000 miles away from being with a friend, to show support, to hear first-hand how she’s doing.

My night and morning of mourning have been filled with alternating bouts of crying, pacing, texting, talking, and silence. My head has been spinning like the spokes from the wheel of fortune, with a different emotion surfacing each time the wheel is spun: thankfulness, worry, fear, faithfulness, guilt, confusion.

Part of me wanted to just get on a plane and come home. But hopping on a flight back from Asia is no quick, cheap, or easy feat. Out of needing to hear status updates, I stay put. Then I realize there’s a reason that this happened while I was away. That I am meant to be here. I allow the stillness to take over. Or is it post-crying lethargy?

My heart aches for a dear friend who’s life is now forever changed. I pray. I pray some more. I am comforted. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is more than strong enough to survive this. I know she will better than cope with this; she will triumph. There is a gift and blessing waiting for her through the dark, scary clouds that may lie ahead. But this heart-felt reassurance does not provide enough comfort. I default to my old ways, letting my head take over.

My thoughts swarm around my head like vultures looking for their next prey. They launch into a full-force attack, using every negative emotion in their arsenal…

  1. Guilt: What kind of friend are you that you choose to remain in Bali living your own life and not come home to support a good friend?
  2. Fear: How will she and her friends judge me for not coming home? Am I now bad friend #1?
  3. Pity: It sucks that I’m here, alone with have no one to comfort me!! I’m a mess! I need soothing for feeling so bad about such a tragedy! I can’t sit with anyone; there’s no one to hug me and give me reassurance that she will be ok. Why am I here by myself? What am I doing all this self-search, self-journeying for, anyways?
  4. Selfish Fear: Such a random, tragic accident happened to someone so near and dear to me. What if this happened to me?!?! Nothing in this life is guaranteed. Period.
  5. Self-centeredness: By not being there, I don’t get to show how caring and generous a person I am! I don’t get to be in the know! I don’t get to be one of the almighty helpers!
  6. Shame: Have you lost your mind? What kind of person thinks such crazy thoughts?? Why aren’t you focusing all your time and attention on your friend and her recovery and well-being?

But it’s from worrying about my friend and trying to cope with the shock of such a terrible, fluke accident that has sent my mind out of control. Thank God the dust settled quickly. That I only experienced a quick and dirty attack, and the genuine warmth of my heart provides a shield, preventing any of those negative missiles to take any sort of significant hold over me.

This was an important lesson, however. A quick journey into experiencing and observing the web of craziness that comes about when we allow our egos to take over. The difference is that now I have learned to recognize it when its happening and to deal with the ‘ugly’ side of me instead of just ignoring or pushing it aside as many of us so often do. I can’t be an authentic friend until I’m authentic and accepting of myself.

I’ve lived through tragedy and the long, hard road to recovery with my mom and her many phases of battling cancer. Sleeping overnight on cheap hospital chairs; cheering at the small successes in rehab; supporting, not enabling, through the failures of adjusting to a home life completely different; feeling the sweeping flow of relief when it all starts to come together and normalizes. It’s hard. It’s ugly. It’s challenging. It works out in the end. It shows everyone’s true colors. It strengthens and builds enduring bonds. It reveals and severs the weak bonds.

I guess my role this time around, for now, is to provide support for those who will undergo this journey. Truth be told, I’m going through a bit of my own challenging, ugly, true-color-showing journey of transformation. I’m thankful for being able to continue on this sometimes scary road and welcome the opportunity to learn how I can show love and support to my friends and family while staying true to myself.

Writing this helps. Getting all these emotions out cleanses, nurtures from within. Now I am able to sit with the ‘ugly’ so that I can return to the truth and the light. The truth that there is a higher power controlling everything, even the seemingly chaotic. The truth that the ‘ugly’ parts of us that we hold in shame are not really ugly at all, but simply a part of the human condition that we all share. The truth that even when I am by myself, that I am never alone (thanks for reminding me, Erin!!). The truth that I am so thankful that my friend is surrounded by so many people who are filled with nothing but genuine love for her.

I am reassured knowing that she has everything and everyone that she needs, and that we are all exactly where we need to be. I find comfort knowing that there’s nothing I can do but provide my love, faith, support, and prayers, and that distance holds no boundary for that.

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Making a new friend

It is now the Bali Arts Festival, a month-long free celebration of all forms of Balinese culture held in Bali’s capital, motorbike Mecca, Denpasar. Last Sunday my camera and I meandered amongst a magnificent kick-off parade of colors, sights, and sounds. Cherry red dragons danced spun mid-air while beautiful, Balinese dancers flicked their delicate wrists and necks as golden flowers rhythmically bounced atop their heads.

Even the hot sun danced its own delightful jig amongst their elaborate costumes, highlighting the brilliant hot

pinks, lime greens, and deep yellows. My ears delighted in hearing everything from traditional Gamelan orchestras (played on a range of xylophone-like instruments) to American-style marching bands with a Balinese spin!

Two days ago my adopted Auntie (the Balinese princess, Cok Ratih) dropped me off to visit the Bali Arts Center where the festival is held. Under the hot Bali sun I strolled around the beautiful outdoor facility. I glance to my left and see a stadium where modern music from a Balinese band spills out from over the high walls. I continue walking straight ahead, along an adorable little river that spans the length of the Center, with bridges crossing at the head and feet of the complex. To my right are different performance pavilions surrounded by stretches of grassy areas. Farther down I see brightly colored booths selling everything from food to jewelry to antique knives. Surrounding me is the familiar hum of people, all local Balinese families enjoying themselves. I am amazed at how this complex is abuzz with activities and exhibitions, yet manages to maintain a certain serenity. There are quiet spots where one can peacefully just sit and stare out at the lotus and floating lily pads.

I allow the traditional sounds of a Gamelan band lure me to the right, past a row of policemen and food booths where fresh chicken satay on the grill taunts me. A young Balinese woman has just begun her traditional dance routine and is gracefully swirling around the large center stage. I decide to play my “ignorant foreigner with a camera card” and carefully inch my way towards the front of the packed pavilion. People seem happy to make space for me. I brush many shoulders, knees and other parts as I pass by; their warm, curious eyes urge me to move forward, proudly inviting me in to experience their culture, to see their lives. I remove my blue striped espadrille shoes and take a seat at the front, on the thin red carpet among the children. Some greet me with huge toothless smiles while others sneak peeks at me, too shy to offer more than a glance at a time. I can’t help but chuckle and wave. One young girl sitting near me is beyond adorable. She has a 20120622-013252.jpgshort mushroom haircut, pink shirt, beautiful large brown eyes, and a 10,000-watt smile. Her shyness keeps her from doing anything more than smile at first. I ask to take her photo, but she shakes her head no. Too shy! We continue exchanging smiles and after a bit, she scoots backwards and nods, giving up her space for me to get closer with my camera. I’m so touched that she’s willing to sacrifice her view for me. I scoot partially forward to receive her gift, but leave space and pat the floor next to me so she can still enjoy the view. I have made a new friend!

We watch the graceful dancers and laugh together as they begin to interact with some of the audience, pulling them up on stage to dance with them. I still can’t quite figure out if some of these people are “plants” because they are so good and know the routine, or if this many people study traditional Balinese dance and are just that talented. I soon learn that not everyone is a “plant’.
20120622-012904.jpgA couple of the fathers around me wave their hands to call over the dancer, as they have decided (against my will) that I should join her. Her face lights up when she sees that it’s a western woman that she has been summoned to pull on stage to dance with. She ties a sash around my waist that indicates I am officially dancing with her and the crowd cheers in excitement (and I’m sure entertainment)! They soon erupt into a roar of claps, cheers and laughter as I flex my fingers, turn my wrists, and squat down, assuming the Balinese dance position that my Auntie has taught me. I smile, knowing that they are shocked that I know any parts of their dance. With every foot flex, twist turn, and arm motion that I make in my attempts to mimic the dancer, the crowd goes wild in support. I can’t describe the elation and energy that I felt running through every fiber of my body. As the dance continues, I kick off my constraining shoes. The crowd goes wild. I have crossed over and am now really a part of the dance, of the people.

I return to my sitting area and everyone is all smiles, holding up big ‘thumbs up’ signs for me, the little girl especially. She smiles at me proudly. The walls have come down and now she even allows me to take a photo of her with dad. We sit and enjoy the dancers for a while longer and I decide to move on to explore more of the Festival.

There’s a serene space on a bale (pronounced bah-lay) perched over a tranquil lily
20120622-013022.jpg pond where two soft pink lotus flowers remain in bloom. It calls my name. I sit at the edge letting my feet dangle over, pondering life and a bunch of nothing. I soon
hear the patter of small feet approaching and see that my new friend has come to join me. Her shyness as left the building and she has come alive with chatter. I just wish my basic grasp of the Indonesian language allowed me to understand more of what she was saying! My friend (who’s name I didn’t quite grasp) soon pops up to go find her father, as its time to go home. I ask if she’s coming back again and she says yes. We say our goodbyes with the promise to see each other again the next day.

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It’s the next day. The day got away from me and it doesn’t look like visiting the Art Festival is in the cards. But memories of my friend stay with me, warming, then haunting my thoughts. I sit on a sofa outside on the large granite patio to write about the great time I had meeting her the day before. Rocks start forming in the pit of my stomach. The clickety clacks of my fingers on the keyboard seem to trigger ever-growing feelings of dread and guilt. Is she there? Has she been looking for me today? Is she upset that I didn’t show up? I attempt to console myself with thoughts that maybe she forgot, they didn’t go, or some other excuse.

Deep inside, however, I know that isn’t true. How many times do adults disappoint children by things they promise, but never do? Shoot, adults and their shallow promises still disappoint me! I didn’t want to be that adult. I stop typing and look at my watch. Only 5:00. Maybe she’s still there! Resolve takes over. I call over Wayan, the driver (yes, my auntie employs a full-time personal driver) and ask him to take me there. My heart beats faster as adrenaline pumps through my veins. I can’t disappoint my new little friend. His motorbike races through the traffic-laden streets and we soon arrive at the Art Center. A crowd ten times larger than before has replaced the serenity that I felt the day before. My heart sinks. How on earth can I find her in such a crowd? I start to scan every bright-eyed, adorable face under 4 feet. We make our way through the vendor stalls, across the park, to the pavilion, and back to the bale where she and I spent time. I start to feel silly, almost child-like that I thought I could just come back and bump into her at the right time and place. But magic like that happens to me all the time in Bali!

The sun starts to set and my hopes of finding her wane with each ray of light that disappears over the horizon. I never did find my friend. As I mounted the bike behind Wayan to ride home, I glanced back over my shoulder to look once more at the grand spectacle of the festival. I tried. I came back to look for her. I want to believe that she did the same. Somehow that makes me feel better. One may think me silly for making such a big deal out of a simple interaction with a little girl. But for me, life is about the connections that we make every day. The energy exchanged and given from one to another, sometimes in its most simple form, like a genuine smile. I connected with that adorable girl, and our short time together has warmed my spirit and united me to Bali in such a special way. She became my family. Even if I never see her again, I will carry her beautiful smile and loving energy in my heart always. Perhaps she will feel the warmth of my love too!

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I’m like a kid when i fly

There are a lot of children on my Lufthansa flight from Philadelphia to Frankfurt. My first instinct is to worry. Will I have seven hours of a poor baby crying because they cant equalize their ears from the cabin pressure? But as I pay more attention, I realize that these are happy children.

“Look, mommy, we each get our own pillow!” squeals a chubby cheeked 3 yr old boy as he grabs for his sterile-wrapped pillow/blanket. His slightly older sister opts to play it cool as she pushes her Dora the Explorer backpack on wheels under her seat like an old pro. Her dancing bright brown eyes and suppressed smirk, however, give her away. I chuckle to myself as I place my too-heavy backpack in the overhead compartment. “It’s cute how excited kids get about every little thing on a plane,” I state to the retired German-American couple seated behind me. They agree.

After hearing the lovely wife’s backstory and travel plans, I launch into my “get settled” routine for travel… Make sure passport is safely returned to its place in purse. Turn off phone. Take out journal, socks and eye mask. Tuck water bottle and scarf into pocket in front of me. Flip through flight magazine to see if there are any crossword puzzles or other fun brain games. Feel disappointed that there aren’t. Scribble pre-flight thoughts and feelings in journal…

As I slide my feet into my long, smooth, compression socks and fluffy travel booties, I realize that there’s a pep to all of my actions. Wait a sec… I’m happy, dare I say excited, to be settling in on the plane for the long haul. I’m no different than those kids! Who am i kidding? After all these years of travel, i still get giddy and excited about all the little accoutrements the planes offer. I love to fly! And now that it’s no longer for work, but purely to take me to exotic places around the world, I love it even more! It’s not even just about the destination (though that certainly helps!), but the journey and all that I experience in the process. (funny what a perfect analogy that makes with our own lives!) Granted, I may not still feel this way after 24 hours of flying time, but for now, I’m quite content sipping my complimentary adult beverage with not a care in the world besides selecting what movie to watch!

Cheers!

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And so the journey continues…

Last year’s packing craziness – Before

Last year’s packing craziness – After (thanks to the invaluable packing sacs!!)

It’s time to go back.  Since returning Stateside last November, I have had a return ticket that has been sitting in the corner of my room flipping through old travel magazines, waiting patiently for June 4th to arrive, wondering whether it will be put to good use.  Well, June 4th is just 12 days away, and my little ticket is now scurrying around the house, running errands and trying to decide what to pack this time.

One would think that going away again would feel like an old routine by now, right? That one would be wrong. While the last journey transformed me in ways that I still work on giving words to, embarking upon a new journey is just that – new.  And with it comes all the hopes, fears, anticipations, and nerve-wracking feelings that doing something new and crazy evokes.
Last year I left with the overwhelming need to completely separate myself from my old life and career.  To finally come to the place of knowing, being, and living authentic Zuri. Bali gave me that.  I went exploring deep within my thick jungle of my internal paths and found my own double rainbow centered around the seat of my soul. For the first time in life I can say that I had truly fallen in love with myself. I came home refreshed, renewed, and ready to start my new life.

But what is and will be my new life?  I’m still working on the answer to that.  I disappointingly discovered that personal transformation cannot be simply worked through in an organized fashion like the strategic plans I had become so efficient in constructing and executing for my client organizations in my days of management consulting.

Finding my Bali bliss last year – grilling fish fresh from the ocean over an open-pit fire dug in the ground!

Creating a life lived on purpose, in passion, has proved to be a bit of a different beast.  In a way, it’s a lot more simple. I am not guided by the expectations of the world, of the need to have, prove, or be successful, especially by the western definitions of success.  But when you stop living your life for others and only yourself, then the only person left accountable for your life IS you.  That’s a bit more challenging! It’s SO much easier to blame everyone and everything else for why we aren’t happy or living the life of our dreams.

So with that, it’s time to go again! This time around I am committing to being more active (and responsive) in my blogging as you join me, once again, on this crazy, scary, exciting ride that is my life!

But first, some of the nitty-gritty details that some of you may want to know:

When do I leave?Monday, June 4th

Me learning to dive last fall

How long will I be gone this time? 3 months.
You said that last time and it was 7 months. Seriously. I even have a return ticket this time, set for September 10!
Where are you going? Most likely: Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Bali
What will you be doing? Exploring, scuba diving, photographing, writing, blogging, eating, personal journey-ing, yoga teacher training (more on this to come!), resting, contemplating, more transforming, and every other -ing verb I can manage or imagine!

“See” ya soon!

Travelingly yours,

Zuri

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Today is the Day!

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Today is the day that I truly step out without fear. Today is the day that I start the next chapter in my life. Today is what I have been bit by bit working towards for the past two years. … Continue reading

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Coming Home

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I’m home! Ok, I’ve been back for a bit over three weeks (has it really been that long?), but it feels like just a couple of days. I left peaceful, serene Bali and jumped right back into the fast-paced DC … Continue reading

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Bali Departure: The Packing Saga

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Dinner potlucks and herbal tea meetings abound here, in Ubud. Quite often you will hear talk about how Bali will always give you what you need – healing, peace, insight, inspiration. And when what you need is to leave, Bali … Continue reading

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The Magic of Street Corn

I’m coming home. Back to the States. Back to my dad’s house where I grew up. Lying in the bright red hammock in my wall-less open living room I look out into the verdant forest of coconut trees across the … Continue reading

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Coming Back to Self – An Interview (a deep one)!

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Hello! It is my pleasure to be back interviewing Zuri Walker as we document her journey abroad and into self. Zuri, it’s been quite some time, we were beginning to worry! Yes, I know. I have no excuse, I can … Continue reading

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