It has been almost 2 ½ years since I was last in Bali.  I have had Bali withdrawals so bad!!  Covid was challenging but being locked out of Bali was much harder.  Since starting my business 14 years ago I come to Bali usually 4 times a year.  This is my motivation to work hard and then my carrot is a trip to Bali.

This is my shopping time but also my me time, my recharge,  my time to get my mind, body and soul back into the Bali Balance.
I work hard when I am here but always fit in a yoga, a healer, a massage and of course healthy local food with no additives.

Each time I come to Bali I get blessed in holy water to clean my body and soul.
My suppliers always say "I am Blessing you and your Business Ms Ibu Annie". My suppliers do this so that my business does well so I can come back, support them again and to grow their businesses. 
It has been quite an emotional trip reconnecting with my Balinese friends and suppliers and hearing their stories of how they survived covid. 
As difficult as it was, we tried to support our suppliers as much as possible by making remote orders through Whatsapp. 

 I absolutely hated this, filling containers from photos sent by my suppliers. Part of the reason I travel so frequently to Bali is to feel and touch the items and to connect with my suppliers.  I had no choice!  They needed me more than ever now, so after the initial covid shock that the world felt, I had to create a new way. I picked myself up and said ok we have to work this out.

I had to put  all my staff off as no sales were coming in.  I went to the warehouse by myself daily trying to stay positive and think of ideas.  We were closed so customers could not come to us so we had to get to them online.   Melbourne was the most locked down city in the world!   We needed to get into people's loungerooms as they could not leave home.  I  gave Cassandra, one of my team a computer to work from home as she was good at graphic design and creating video content.  As I got ideas I asked her to create what I needed for our social media.     Everyone got used to covid being the new normal after some time and we started to get a few orders coming in. 

Thanks also to the Government for introducing Jobkeeper as this allowed me to get my team back just in time to unload our Bali container that had just arrived in Melbourne.

Luckily for us with hard work from my entire team through covid we have been one of the lucky ones to survive.   I really feel for those small businesses who did not make it to the other side.

I really believe all the blessings and prayers from the Balinese that the universe made sure we were one of the survivors. and for that I am truly grateful.

It is so good to be back in my second home.  My friend of 10 years who is now Mangku (like a priest) asked me to come straight to his house offering to pick me up from the airport so he could bless me before I started work.   He added "you need it!".  I arrived up past Ubud to their home late afternoon.   We all had lots of big hugs as we had 2 and  half years to make up for.  I was then treated with a freshly picked young coconut as they know I love fresh young coconut juice. 

Mangku Istri was busy making her pisang goreng (fresh cooked banana fritters)  for a snack as that is another one of my favourites. 

I was then asked to shower (this is to get rid of any negative energy and make your body clean) and put on my sarong and Kebaya to go down to the river Temple  for a blessing. 

They had a new small dog called Porky who took to me straight away and constantly sat next to me making me feel right at home.  They told me someone came recently and he barked and growled at them but he seemed to like me which is good as this is my Balinese family.

We went down to the river for a blessing and it got dark as Mangku’s ceremony went for some time. It was so relaxing and nice to hear the  sound of the Balinese Bell and the Mantras being chanted.  Finally I felt my body starting relax back into the Bali energy. 
After Mangku had finished he asked me to come to the river.  His son Made had to go into the river for a blessing,  I was surprised we were going in the river in the dark and said “am I doing this?” and he said “yes we need to make your body, mind and soul clean it has been more than 2 years you need it”.  Reminding me again that it had been along time between Bali blessings. Ok he was right so I watched Made as he cleansed his body and soul then it was my turn. 

I went into the water in my sarong taking off my Kebaya  which just left me in my bra, this is quite common at ceremonies if there is a water blessing and no-one thinks anything of it. 

I walked out into the middle of the river feeling my way around the rocks on the river bed, the current was so strong you had to hold on so you did not get swept downstream.  Mangku told me about a rock in the middle I had to find that and  hold onto it with two hands.  I eventually found it and held on tight.  Then took a deep breath and went under the water to wash away all negative energy and then when I surfaced take in the positive energy.  I had to do this 7 times.   This felt so good that when you went under you did not want to come up.  Imagining all that negative covid energy washing away.  On coming up bringing all that positive Bali energy in.

I had never done this before but felt amazing so peaceful under the water yet it was flowing so fast.  Once I had finished this process I sat on the edge on a rock and then when I got out I was blessed again with more holy water and also drank some holy water 11 times.  Mangku and Manku Istri were both happy I had my first blessing but already they were telling me I would need more as it is 2.5 years!

Afterwards he told me this was the first time  he had ever done this at night time however he was determined to bless me as soon as I arrived.  We all agreed how nice it was to do this in the peace of the nightfall.

Two days later was the full moon ceremony Mangku said this is a special one only held once a year this is a good time for you to get another blessing. 

Shops were all closed and I was still just finding my way back into the Bali life.  At home it is always such a rush and here everything is so relaxed.

The ceremony was at his father’s home and they invited me along with the aunties and uncles and brothers and sisters.   After the Full Moon Ceremony in the family home I was blessed again and then Mangku said “now you can go shopping and are free in Bali!”. 

Now I was starting to feel a bit more like my Bali self however my mind was still busy I had to constantly calm my monkey mind that I had plenty of time to get everything done.  
Back to Bali Mode “Don’t Worry Be Happy”! So nice to be back in Bali surrounded by these beautiful people and the culture.  My driver many years ago would always tell me life is like a river you just have to go with the flow.

Thank you Bali for welcoming me back :)