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Eat . Pray . Love

Bali offering

 

You can imagine how often people reference Elizabeth Gilbert’s quintessential tale of self-discovery in my presence.

 

Single white female flees to Costa Rica to find herself, develops a yoga practice, becomes a writer, and never comes back.

 

A likely story.

 

Ubud rice terrace

 

Indeed I have eaten my way across the globe, from devouring fried street noodles in Thailand to sipping harira in Morocco during Ramadan to cleansing with a coconut water fast in the South Caribbean and sampling every variety of spring roll in Vietnam. I definitely know how to eat.

 

uluwatu temple

 

Prayer materialized in my travels through yoga. I overzealously took classes two to three times daily during the rainy season in Puerto Viejo, immersed myself in a meditation center in Cambodia, taught backpackers asana on a hostel rooftop in a party town in Colombia, saw clearly with my eyes closed in a dance meditation in Chiang Mai, and chanted naked in the dirt inside of an Indian Sweat lodge in the Caribbean jungle.

 

ubud bali

 

But on this two-year journey across the world

I evaded the most important element of any good story:

Love.

 

Balangan Bali

 

In the past I even likened myself to an island. Whole, complete, sustained, protected, distant, isolated, alone.

 

While for the better part of my life I wore my heart on my sleeve, on the road I kept it tucked inside of a money belt.

 

That is, until recently.

 

ubud ikat

 

You may remember my romantic episode that took place in Chiang Mai. When I left Thailand for Cambodia and he continued on to Malaysia, I wondered how things might have unfolded if only I let my walls down.

 

Balangan

 

Weeks later at a yoga retreat in Sihanoukville, I meditated on my past pain that caused me to build these walls in the first place. I envisioned a life where these barriers did not exist; where the stories of my past no longer influenced my present. In that life, free from my fear of being hurt again, I imagined myself doing something that to me felt really brave: leading with my heart.

 

ubud

 

I decided to do exactly that.

 

I left the center, I got more passport pages in Phnom Penh, and I flew a few days later to meet him in Bali.

 

Ubud

 

So fittingly, poetically, and full of cliché

I came to Bali

for love.

 

ubud rice terrace

 

Yes, you heard me right.

 

The “fearless”, independent, solo traveler

changed her plans

left Cambodia

skipped over the Thai Islands

spent only three hours in Malaysia

and flew to Bali

for a guy.

 

uluwatu

 

I figured Ankor Wat would always be there.

He, on the other hand, would not.

 

bali hindu offerings

 

This time, certain I didn’t want to have regrets

I opened myself.

I no longer rejected his attention or affection.

I allowed him into my heart.

 

bali

 

But I did not find love.

 

Instead I felt trapped in a disturbingly familiar, insecure place. One that reminded me of the near numbing pain I experienced for three years in a relationship with someone severely ill suited to me.

 

ubud procession

 

So a few days later

when he left for the next chapter of his journey

I felt so relieved.

 

Free from my quest for love

back on my safe little island

and boy did that feel good.

 

uluwatu

 

Then, despite my best efforts, regret crept in.

 

Rain hailed furiously all over Indonesia; I arrived at the peak of the rainy season.

My financial situation became dire as every editorial department in the Western world shut down for the holidays.

Negative comments on the blog left me questioning my mission, my authenticity, and my character.

 

ubud

 

Leaving Cambodia seemed a blaring misstep.

 

The consequences of coming to Bali before exploring the rest of Cambodia and Thailand flooded me with guilt.

I wanted to share so much more of those countries with you.

I was no longer certain if I could afford to go back.

I believed that I failed you.

 

ubud rice terrace

 

By the time I reached Ubud on Christmas Eve, disappointed in myself and my blog, longing for a man who I already knew was wrong for me, I contracted a flu that knocked me off my feet. I saw how far I drifted from self-care and the costs I incurred as a result.

 

ubud

 

Finally then, delirious with a fever, my love story began.

 

balangan

 

Because laying in a bathtub, sweating and aching on Christmas day, I remembered for the first time since landing in Vietnam three months ago what this journey was actually about.

 

bali offering

 

This is not just a trip through Southeast Asia, an extended holiday, or a quest to document the world and share it with my readers.

 

This is my life.

 

uluwatu

 

And I discovered two years ago

when I landed in Costa Rica

where I learned to feel content, happy, and free

that life is first and foremost

about loving yourself.

 

So here starts the chapter of my journey where I go back to doing exactly that.

 

bali

 

Trusting

that the more love I give to my body and my soul

the more I have to give to you

my family my friends

my international communities

and one day the more I have to give the man

who doesn’t dim my light

but who ignites it instead.

 


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Comments

  1. Vunerability makes you stronger. You are so brave, so real, so courageous.

    Thank you for putting your deepest thoughts and feelings on paper for the whole world to see. I one day hope to be even remotely as amazing as you are.

    Your blog makes me dream of another life, the life I wish I could lead. A life of freedom, health, experiences, discovery, fulfillment, pain, and joy.

    Thank you.

    • Camille Willemain Says: January 16, 2014 at 5:47 pm

      Wow, thank you for your compliments Nadine I feel incredibly humbled right now. You are already amazing, believe me, and you can be anyone you want living any life that you want, you just have to believe that you deserve it.

      So much love to you and thank you thank you thank you for reading.

      Camille

  2. I can relate to your journey….thank you for being so open. Always be in the light with not just boyfriends…..but all, family, friends etc. life is too short! You know your innermost being and what’s best. Life has a way of giving us little reminders to make self-care a priority….I think the challenge is to listen when they are small……before they become grand!! Love and light!

  3. <3 <3 <3 !

  4. Iga Maria Says: January 15, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    You are beautiful!

  5. So beautifully captured and so honest, so full of light! Love every word because I can hear them coming directly from your heart. Amazing! xox

  6. alexandrahopeflood Says: January 15, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Bravo! So brave! So beautiful! Thank you!

  7. Thank you Camille for your inspiring stories, and thank you even more so for this honest and open post which I (and I’m sure many) can completely relate to – feeling your true self fade in a relationship, hesitant to stay and hestitant to leave.
    I hope Bali serves you well, Ubud is such a beautiful place! I live in Darwin (the north of Aust and fairly close to where you are right now) and we have been having terrible rainy weather. Hopefully this is drawing lots of rain away from Bali and you will have some nicer, clearer days soon – with both the weather and within.
    xo

    • Camille Willemain Says: January 16, 2014 at 6:11 pm

      Thank you for your kind words Elise. For more than two weeks I’ve been camped out on Gili Air surrounded by loving supportive people, practicing yoga daily, and giving myself a much needed “vacation” from my perpetual vacation. <3 <3 <3

  8. Oh Camille. As one who has lived for nearly 7 decades, I can tell you, you have wisdom beyond your years. I can only hope you enjoy your journey as much as we’ve enjoyed ours, so far. We love reading your blog and wish you well. We’re just beginning another adventure soon too. Hugs from Canada. – Tom

    • Camille Willemain Says: January 16, 2014 at 6:11 pm

      Aw thank you Tom for your kind words! Please tell me how your adventure goes, wishing you all the best in Canada!!

  9. Don’t question your blog, because of negative comments. I have recently started to read all your posts and actually got goosebumps at points. It has been the first thing to inspire me in a long time; I have been writing my BSc thesis for almost a year now, on something that is not close to my heart in a study chosen for all the wrong reasons. I had almost accepted the fact that I would be working this field forever, untill I accidently stumbled on your site. The butterflies I felt reading your blog reminded me of the person I was when I just started my studies and I felt so much better than I had felt in a long time. It made me realise what was important to me, and not to my family. Now I have handed in my thesis, have taken eight months of to travel and am rethinking my MSc choices. All in one week. I have done a fair share of reading blogs during my avoidance of thesis writing and I can say: yours is great. I love it. Thank you.

    • Camille Willemain Says: January 16, 2014 at 6:13 pm

      Wow, Jess, I can’t even tell you how much you made my day with this comment. I am so inspired by you. Your clarity, realizations, and bravery is EXACTLY why I write this blog. Thank you thank you thank you. Please keep me up to do with where you go on your travels, wishing you all of the best on what is sure to be an incredible adventure.

  10. Very beautiful and true. Much love from Costa Rica.

  11. You my lovely are such a light to everyone around you :) I am so happy to say I know you and more so, call you a dear friend. So proud of all your accomplishments and thankful for you being one of my best and FAVORITE teachers. love you.

  12. Bill Dwyer Says: January 19, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Sweet young lady, if you are having all these insights in your late 20s, you are WAYYYY ahead of the game. Most people, me included, don’t have a clue in our 20s.
    You keep moving forward bravely, stay open to the world, take of yourself, and I suspect you will find that person who is well suited for you.

    You’re a joy to read. (Now, write that book!)

  13. Such a beautiful post! Thank you.

  14. […] of you know my time in Bali began with some difficulty. I wrote this post in a moment when I felt like I had reverted back to the person I was years ago, […]

  15. […] So I left Cambodia weeks earlier than I intended and I flew to Bali to see him before he diverged on a path that vastly differed from mine. If you’ve been reading for a while, you already know how our reunion went. […]

  16. This post resonated with me….thank you <3 I have tears.

    Have just been reading through a few of your blogs…I've lived in Cambodia for a year now, and I was just in Laos. I relate to much of your writing…the inner and outer journeys.

    Hope to meet you some day. x

  17. […] In fact I can hardly remember a time in recent history when I ate something, spent money, or kissed someone without feeling self-blame afterwards. I feel defeated instead of elated when I bite into a brownie, I’ve been stricter with my finances than ever before, I get a hangover from just one glass of wine, and I quite literally refused and rejected the pleasure I experienced in the one romance I had this entire year. […]

  18. […] mind wandered to the last guy I had really cared about, who I said goodbye to more than a year ago in Southeast Asia. I knew he wasn’t the guy for me, […]

  19. […] then, I’ve backpacked on my own through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Scandinavia, Western Europe, and Morocco, become a certified yoga teacher, established a home for […]