bali

ABOVE EVERY SKY IS ANOTHER SKY.

Above White Lotus Meditation Center in Ubud, Bali

Above White Lotus Meditation Center in Ubud, Bali

Above every sky is another sky.

Agus, the Balinese palm reader said to me.

You've got to be willing to let go of this Sky trusting the next will come. To me, this is not the same as the grass is always greener. It's not about comparison or ego. It's trusting that spirit is calling you forward. It's trusting that the Universe has got you, that you got you, that the energy that brought you to this special place, person, or moment will carry you to the next.

It's trusting that there is a greater plan being orchestrated and you must follow the notes of your heart song towards your next symphony. It's a reminder that playing the same tune on repeat, even if you love it more than you've loved anything before, is to stop yourself from growing.

Evolution is inevitable.

Nature knows this. Seasons change. Leaves fall. Fires blaze. Rivers flow.

This isn't some mystical poetic bs, this is that real real. To deny Mother Nature is to deny gravity. To deny Father Sky is to deny the wonder of our very existence. To deny your soul's urge is to insult the gift.

What are you afraid of that you can't overcome? Are you afraid of falling? of failing? of flying? of going too far? Yes, me too! It's fucking scary but we'll be okay and whoever and whatever we’re leaving in this Sky, will be okay too. Life has plans for them.

So what the hell are we waiting for?

Let's trust ourselves. Know ourselves. Liberate ourselves.

Accept our truth. Our whole unreasonable sometimes hard-to-look-at but powerfully beautiful honest truth.

Look in and ask yourself, if I loved myself truly and deeply, what would I do next?

FLY.

With love x flight,

Lotus 

#freebird #openheart #heroinesjourney

Virgin Beach, Bali, Indonesia 

Virgin Beach, Bali, Indonesia 

SHAKTI EMBODIMENT SHIP

There is peaceful. There is wild. I am both at the same time. 
— sum

I had doubts, resistance, and endless excuses for not joining the Shamanic Shakti & Tantrika Arts Retreat with Anna Maria and Mira Dakini in Bali. The timing, the price, the work I needed to do, this, that, and the other. 

When I shared my concerns, Anna Maria listened to each one so patiently.

Rather than spend time addressing each, she took a deep inhale and said “I hear you.” Then she asked, “what is your intention, what is desire?”

“My desire is to reconnect with my body, my energy, and my spirit. To come into a State of Grace. To recover and reawaken the SHAKTI (Divine Feminine) within me.”

And then I added, “I have never been on a women’s retreat.”

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She smiled radiantly and with her all knowing mystic eyes, she peered into the ancient moonlit caves of mine. In that moment, it was as if she read my soul’s story containing the answers to my future. Then she replied, and I can’t remember if it was words or without but I felt it, “When you’re ready, I’ll be there.”

A few weeks out and I still hadn’t committed. My mind, like usual, was running the various scenarios over and over again, unable to come to a decision. 

Then in a dream, a vision came to me.

I saw Anna Maria aboard a massive wooden ship with white sails headed towards an uncharted island. Like a sorceress, she wielded a staff of pure white light. Like a goddess, her white dress billowed as the wind blew fiercely. Like a warrior, her eyes unbreakable, determined, full speed ahead. 

Then like magic, a dozen other women in all white appeared. I heard the soothing sounds of the Harmonium begin, followed by the embodied voices of these Shakti’s at sea. And then, and then! Just on the other side of Anna Maria, I saw her. I saw a woman that looked familiar but who I had never seen before. I saw a woman who was centered, clear, and true. I felt a spirit that was ready for anything. I heard the heartbeat of a whole, pure, indestructible...ME. 

It became crystal clear, “You’re going.”

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WELCOME TO THE SHIP!

What unfolded on this collective Goddessey is sacred and far more than I could ever express in words. Photos will only scratch the surface but I do want to honor, celebrate and show the world what these women are made of. 

The Shakti Embodiment Ship went full force into the wild darkness of the collective womb. 

Together...WE SANG, WE DANCE, WE SHOOK.

WE SCREAMED, WE LAUGHED, WE CRIED.

SHAKTI-TEARS

WE STORMED. WE BATTLED. WE CAME ALIVE.

WE HELD. WE RECEIVED. WE SURRENDERED.

WE RELEASED. WE MANIFESTED. WE TRANSFORMED.

WE CELEBRATED. WE HEALED. WE REMEMBERED.

WE CAME HOME TO OUR BODIES. 

WE CAME HOME TO SISTERHOOD.

WE CAME HOME TO MAMMA EARTH.

WE CAME HOME TO SPIRIT.

This experience made me feel Activated. Liberated. Reborn.

I had never gone this deep with all women before. 

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I hadn’t realized how much of the time I am “performing”
I hadn’t realized how much work it is to “keep it together” 
I hadn’t realized how little I was breathing until I could finally Exhale

I found peaceful
I found wild
I found parts of me I had lost years and maybe lifetimes ago

And while this wasn’t the end all be all and there will always be more to discover, the Shakti Embodiment Ship was “MAHA MASSIVE” as Anna Maria likes to say.

So thank you to all the YINspiring Shakti’s aboard this epic voyage of rediscovery and thank you to our brave leaders and their infinite hearts guiding the way, Anna Maria and Mira Dakini. We thank you, we love you, we are free!

AHEY SISTERS!

With gratitude & grace,
Lotus

SEE COMPLETE PHOTO ALBUM captured by Shivani Ma, Caitlin Beaver, and Raphaella Caflers.

DISCOVER UPCOMING EVENTS from Anna Maria and Mira Dakini:

::ESSENCE OF SHAKTI:: Sweden, August 14th-19th 

 ::EARTH PRIESTESS TRAINING:: Bali, Indonesia, November 17th-30th

P.S. be sure to check out Mira's Shakti Temple Yoga - yoga designed for honoring women's bodies - one of my favorite daily rituals of the whole retreat! 

FROM QUEEN OF THE SAHARA TO QUEEN OF BALI

Karmay's long awaited homecoming to Bali, Indonesia

Karmay's long awaited homecoming to Bali, Indonesia

Karmay Queen of the Sahara Gorley (Yes, that is her real legal name, I like to call her Koko, Koqueen, Karmen, and QOTS!) will go down in my herstory book as my first true friend.

Koko & KLC at Tucson High Magnet School, AZ

Koko & KLC at Tucson High Magnet School, AZ

We met at 14 years-old at Tucson High Magnet School in Arizona. The way she tells the story is this, "I remember when KLC and I first met freshman year in English class. You were so popular and already had so many friends. I asked you to show me where our next class was and that was pretty much the start of a beautiful journey." 

High School days, Tucson, AZ

High School days, Tucson, AZ

It felt easy and natural to befriend Karmay. She was warm, kind, and curious about the world around her. There were two lunch periods and most of our friends had the other period so Karmay and I would have lunch by ourselves by the tennis courts.

And as Karmay shared, that was the start of something beautiful.

Somewhere in Mexico

Somewhere in Mexico

From there, Jake Michael came into our lives. Another Leo and fearless leader at our school. Jake was Class President every year including Student Body President our Senior year. This exposed Karmay and I to a new way of being, the privilege of being involved, being of service and doing close to whatever the hell we wanted.

Somewhere in Mexico 

Somewhere in Mexico 

We became the "Tres Amigos" and throughout high school went on adventure after adventure. Whether it was across the border to Mexico for a weekend trip or across the street to get Eegee's or Taco Bell, it didn't matter what we did, as long as we were together.

After high school we went our separate ways, Karmay to Westiminster College in Utah, me to Arizona State University in Phoenix and Jake stayed in Tucson to attend University of Arizona.

Jake & Kels' Palm Pad, Phoenix, AZ

Jake & Kels' Palm Pad, Phoenix, AZ

Leaving our Tres Amigos friendship bubble felt like extreme culture shock for me. We had endless inside jokes spoken in all of these accents, I was in it so deep, to the point where I didn't know what my actual voice sounded like.

Eventually, we all adapted and made new friends but remained close. Every winter or summer break we'd reconnect in Tucson. Jake later moved to Phoenix and he and I lived together for three years. It took us close to five years but eventually we even visited Karmay in Utah!

Visiting Koko in Salt Lake City, Utah 

Visiting Koko in Salt Lake City, Utah 

After college, Karmay took a leap of faith and moved to the bright lights, big city of New York. What a brave, fearless, and strong woman I thought. Seeing Karmay fly gave me the courage to take my own leap of faith and move to my dream city, San Francisco.

Visiting Boss Lady Karmay in New York City 

Visiting Boss Lady Karmay in New York City 

Many bicoastal visits later we've taken our biggest leap yet. I've expanded to Southeast Asia and Karmay is my first friend to fly 9,000 miles (as she keeps reminding me) from New York City to Bali, Indonesia.

And this is where the next chapter begins...

Queen of the Sahara visits Lotus in Bali

Queen of the Sahara visits Lotus in Bali

Traveling with friends or anyone for that matter no matter how close you are can be challenging.

We decided to do some pre-work before our trip together to clear the energy and set the space for an adventure of a lifetime. Our intention was to start from zero and to meet the new women we've grown into.

Tirta Empul , Holy Spring Water Temple for Lotus' 28th (Re)birthday!

Tirta Empul, Holy Spring Water Temple for Lotus' 28th (Re)birthday!

We had three calls before our trip where we used conscious relating tools like: Desires, Fears, Needs and Full Presence Listening to see and hear one another fully. We also had a really important conversation about shared expenses and our relationship with money that stemmed from childhood and how our parents managed money. 

These conversations may sound intense and excessive but true friendships require an energetic and emotional investment. And honestly, this stuff works. 

Virgin Beach, Bali, Indonesia

Virgin Beach, Bali, Indonesia

Karmay and I have maintained a close friendship that keeps growing and expanding over the last 14 years because we are willing to have courageous conversations like these. I truly believe that the willingness to work through what matters, together, makes all the difference in the world. 

Naturally, we still triggered each other a few times on our trip but we worked through these conflicts patiently from a foundation of trust, self-awareness, and love. 

This deeper understanding allowed us to experience all things BALI:

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Agus Palm Reader's Home - highly recommend a visit with Agus!

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Tirta Empul, Holy Spring Water Temple for Lotus' 28th (Re)birthday!

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Warrior Women at Virgin Beach

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Treasure-hunting at Live to Love on Hanoman Street  

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Alam Sari Kopi Luwak coffee & tea time - Luwak coffee (only made in Bali) and Ginseng coffee - AMAZING!

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Tegalalang Rice Terrace Mamma Earth loving

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Becoming Miss America at Elephant Safari Park

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Riding all over Bali for five days with our new best friend and the best taxi driver in town, Bagus! If you need a trusted driver in Bali, Bagus is your man (+62 821-4470-2030). Tell him Lotus' and Karmay sent you!

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Beyond the sights, what has brought me the most delight on this trip is witnessing the beautiful evolution of this woman right before my eyes. From the shy curious 14-year-old I met in the sunny Tucson desert to  the smart young woman I met in Utah. To the fierce boss lady I met in New York and now to the gracious Queen of Bali.

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Why Queen of Bali?

Well I was originally calling Karmay "Miss America" because of the way this queen walks in the streets. Waving warmly and saying hello to everyone she meets. Kissing every baby, cuddling every puppy, and connecting with every shop owner and hotel receptionist along the way.

Karmay embraced the Balinese people like they were her own. You could see the radiant energy beaming from her. Here she was able to shed the exhausting armor of being a black woman in America and simply be herself, a human who's just trying to live her best life like everyone else. 

Tirta Empul , Holy Spring Water Temple

Tirta Empul, Holy Spring Water Temple

Later she reflected to me she felt a sense of wholeness and acceptance here like she had come home. What further confirmed this feeling was the Palm Reader, Agus who shared that Karmay is an old soul. 900 years to be exact with roots originating in Asia. 

The Queen of Bali had finally come home. 

Queen of Bali at  Virgin Beach

Queen of Bali at Virgin Beach

Endless gratitude to this Heroine for making the 9,000 mile trip, biting the $1400 plane ticket, and taking 12 days off to come visit me. 

Words can hardly express my love and appreciation for you. From learning how to take care of oneself, to going to sleep early, to trusting one's inner voice, you have taught me so much in our time together. 

Tirta Empul, Holy Spring Water Temple

Tirta Empul, Holy Spring Water Temple

So many blessings to you as you make your voyage safely home.

I thank you, I love you, I celebrate you, I honor you. I treasure you. You are free!

SUKSEME (Thank you), 

Kelsey aka KLC aka K.WO. aka Lotus 

P.S. for a Master List of Bali / Ubud Tips, see shared Google Doc with contributions. Thank you, Troy Swanson and Teresa Yung for spreading the love! 

READY TO BE A WATERFALL

Anna Maria Magdalena at the base of Les Waterfall in Bali, Indonesia

Anna Maria Magdalena at the base of Les Waterfall in Bali, Indonesia

A waterfall doesn’t hold back.

At her peak, she is powerful and mighty. Pouring down with full force, she doesn’t worry about whether she is too much or not enough. She radiates. She cascades. She overflows. Her liquid light reflecting the sun.

At her base, she is nurturing and healing. Running like a river, she is fluid, momentous, and abundant. She doesn’t judge, edit or criticize. She surrounds. She embraces. She gives life. Her unconditional love flowing freely from the Earth.

For so long, I've held back.

Afraid of stepping into my full power. Owning my whole truth. Expressing the immensity of my darkness and my light. Like so many of us, I have been contained and conditioned, repressed and restrained. Whether explicitly or implicitly, externally or internally I've been under control and made to play small.

In January, I was guided through a powerful clearing session when I had a vision. I saw myself at the bottom of a well, rain pouring down, in tears. I saw my father looking down at me, not able to understand my emotional waters. Not sure what to do, he walked away.

I saw others pass by, some filled their cups to the brim while others ignored me entirely. I felt an urge to bring them inside, express myself, share more of me, but I was afraid of being too much. I was afraid that if I showed them who I really am I might drown them or that if I gave them everything I might still not be enough. So for protection, I contained myself in a well. 

Fast forward to May, one of the lead facilitators who had guided me through the clearing session invited me to her women’s retreat in Bali, Indonesia.

The word facilitator does not do this woman justice. This super soul is a divinely appointed Shamanic Earth Priestess, Spiritual Guide, and Bringer of Light. Her name is Anna Maria Magdalena and through her Shamanic Shakti & Tantrika Arts women's retreat, she led 14 Women on what I like to call the "Shakti Embodiment Ship", a collective Goddessy to discover the divine feminine within. 

While the inner work was challenging, all in all, the entire retreat was like the 12 days of Christmas, gift after gift after gift. But the most generous gift Anna Maria shared was bringing us to her home on the sacred land at Les Waterfall in North Bali.

The intention with the Waterfall excursion was to release what is no longer serving us, creating space for calling in and manifesting our dreams. At the base of Les Waterfall there’s a large lingam shaped rock, which they call the “Pillar of Light”. When letting go, you face the Pillar, holding on for dear life. When calling in your dreams, you turn around with the Pillar at your back towards the light.

It was a deeply moving experience watching each woman go under the waterfall one by one. Some screamed, some surrendered. I didn’t know what each woman was going through but I could feel and see the transformation transpiring.

During catalytic moments like these I usually come in with a crystal clear intention. I am strongly attuned to what needs to clear and what I desire to invite in but this time, nothing came. Imagine, a woman who loves words and no words arrived.

I was the last Shakti to go underneath the waterfall. As I walked towards Anna Maria, she took my hand smiling and said, “Welcome to the Ship.”

When I went in, the waterfall engulfed me. She didn’t stop to ask what I wanted, what temperature I liked or how much pressure felt good. She beat down on me relentlessly. She didn’t hold back. I was so struck by her power, all I could do was lean into her and feel her full force.

As I did, my mind started racing, what should I be letting go of? This is an important moment, what do I have to say? I struggled. It was so intense. My mind went blank. The waterfall was so strong that my swimsuit nearly came off. I finally realized there was nothing I could do, nothing to achieve. Slowly, I surrendered.

Minutes felt like hours as I stayed still and listened. Then I heard a soft whisper, “I am done being a well.”

I heard it again a bit louder, “I am done being a well.” Again and again. “I am done being a well.  I am done being a well. I am done being a well.” As this happened, I began to play out all the micro-moments where I had been a well. Contained. Constrained. Repressed. Afraid of my femininity, my sexuality, my sensuality, my power. I felt the pain of holding myself back, controlling myself for years and I wailed.

Then the time came to turn around and face the light. Boundless water continued to beat down and I felt like I might drown. But rather than fight it or fear it, I drank it in and received it.

It was in that moment, drinking in her liquid light that I heard another whisper spring from inside of me,“I am ready to be a waterfall." Another time, clearer, "I am ready to be a waterfall." Again and again ringing, vibrating through my body, "I am ready to be a waterfall. I am ready to be a waterfall. I am ready to be a waterfall."

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Then it all came together.

I bellowed from the center of my womb to the top of my lungs:

I AM DONE BEING A WELL. I AM READY TO BE A WATERFALL.

Declaring my power. Owning my truth. Overflowing in love.

When I came out of the waterfall, Anna Maria was there. I looked into the ocean within her eyes. She held my feet to ground me. She blessed my body and received me into her loving arms. We laughed out loud.

And that’s when I finally understood, I was never a well, I have always been a waterfall. 

Stunning photography by Eva Kroes, Creatress at  Orgone Knights

Stunning photography by Eva Kroes, Creatress at Orgone Knights

Infinite gratitude to Anna Maria and the Shakti's aboard this Goddessy. Thank you for your bravery in crossing the chasm of this epic voyage together.

We are all light. We are all love. We are all beauty.

AHEY SISTERS,

Lotus