Part of the view from the salon. Sit in Europe and look out over Asia!
Istanbul was bigger than Rome and has been around for far longer, so Old Constantinople will be here long after we are gone and current politics are forgotten. Thank God. Because I adore this city.The views, the sounds…It’s Arabian Nights.
If you are someone who has always wanted to live part or full time in Istanbul, this is a chance to purchase at a deep discount.
I’m feeling philosophical about my beloved Galata flat. If it is meant to have a new owner, one will appear. If not, I will keep it. Meanwhile, this blog post is my way of “putting it out there”.
There are gorgeous Bosphorus and Old City views from this sunny 1+ bedroom flat and it is located in Istanbul’s most exciting diverse neighborhood, just below the iconic Galata Tower. The spacious roof terrace on the floor above the flat offers a 180 degree view of mosque studded skyline, the Golden Horn, Topkapi Palace, and it’s the perfect place to entertain or to sit alone with a glass of wine.
You can walk across the Galata Bridge to the Egyptian Spice Market, up the hill to Istiklal Avenue through the modern heart of Istanbul, through hundreds of alleyways leading to antique bookstores, nargile cafes and so much more.
I have watched this neighborhood and nearby Karaokoy transform from an industrial shipping area to an up and coming hipster neighborhood chock full of cafes, restaurants, and pubs. At last count there were over 1000 restaurants and pubs in the area.The tram and the metro are a short walk away.
Your future neighborhood is just to the right and slightly downhill from the Galata Tower, pictured here.
The roof terrace above the flat has even more expansive views of Istanbul’s skyline and busy Bosphorus waterway. Eat dinner in Europe while looking out over the water at Asia or across the Golden Horn at the mosque studded skyline of Istanbul. You can see the Princes’ Islands out in the Marmara Sea on a clear day. Perfect for entertaining large groups.
So why am I leaving this beautiful city?
Three new grandsons, two adult children (who suddenly like hanging out with me), an aging mother, a brother and sister, and so many loved ones are calling me home to California. Bali is calling me back as well.
I moved to Istanbul in 2006 because it was a city located “in the middle” of what I then referred to as an undeclared war between Muslims and Westerners. I was delightfully surprised when I first arrived in Istanbul, by the graciousness and unmatched hospitality of Turks, and by then I’d lived in 12 countries. I hatched a dream that by providing a temporary home in a real Turkish neighborhood (years before Airbnb), that Westerners would leave Turkey with their fear of Muslims shifted forever. I watched it happen. Over and over again.
We’ve taken a collective step backwards my friends, but my dream of helping to create OneWorld remains intact. I will return to Turkey time and again with Westerners to share my love for this country. Turkey is in my heart.
The time has come for someone new to inhabit my Galata Terrace flat. I can’t wait to see who the lucky person will be.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for the most quick reply if you are interested in learning more about this flat. Or fill out the form below. I’ll be in Istanbul March 11-18, 2017 and I’d love to meet you.
Two parting photos of the flat:
I had dinner with 2 friends last night, both of whom have lived in Ubud for over 10 years. What do you think we talked about? Politics? Football?
No, we talked about pigs.
S said that her guests gifted her Balinese staff $500usd to buy 2 pigs plus food and vaccinations. I asked her about this thing with the Balinese and their pigs. My friend Made takes my compost home every day for her pig. “Do they keep pigs as pets or are they fattened for eating?” I asked.
“They’re a great investment, “ S said. “They sell for $100 each in the market, and a female pig can birth as many as 14 piglets per year.” There was more. “The owner of a male pig is paid $175 to pay a visit to a female pig in heat. However, if it doesn’t ‘take’, the owner of the male pig, must refund the owner of the female pig. Artificial insemination is more of a sure deal, and fairly common in Bali (the things I do not know!), but a lot more expensive.”
We talked about a Balinese man we often see walking through town, his 300 kilogram pig complete with huge swinging pig balls, at the end of a leash.
I laugh and say, “I must be in Bali when the topic of dinner conversation is pigs.
M smiled and said, “Well, pigs are cleaner than politics.”
I dreamed of living in community for years, and although I had thought it would happen in Bali, it has come to fruition in Marin, California. I love the lifestyle. In short I live with 8 people in a beautiful home in Novato, California. In our home we have 3 married couples and 2 single women. There are a number of other communal living houses in the Bay Area. I call it an upscale commune.
Here is the view from one of the community homes in Novato, California.
I will write more about my personal experience living in community in the near future, but for now, here is an article recently published in Common Ground Magazine, co-authored by 4 women in my community – Debra Price Van Cleave, Dr. Amore Vera Aida, Teri Bigio Berling, and Fay Freed.
A New Face For Communal Living – A New Day For an Ancient Way of Life
“You have been telling people that this is the 11th Hour, now you must go back and tell them that this is the Hour, and there are things to be considered: Where are you living? What are your relationships? It is time to create your community.” Hopi Elder
If you’re still imagining hippies and hacker hostels when you think about communal living, you may want to think again. Across the Bay Area, from twenty-something tech entrepreneurs to baby boomers, individuals, and couples with or without children, intentional communal living or co-living is often the housing option of choice and with good reason – the benefits are many.
Ancient tradition with a modern twist: Since ancient times, people across the globe have been living in groups for reasons as diverse as safety and security, building cities, developing agriculture, or simply fulfilling the human need for belonging. People then, as now, discovered that doing life alone is really not a viable option for having a thriving life, especially as we age.
Many of today’s communities worldwide are examples of ‘transitional’ lifestyles for a more sustainable future on Earth, rich with goodness but without compromise for the generations to come. This in comparison to the intensive consumption and wasteful style inherent in traditional nuclear families model. Examples of current styles of communal living include the Kibbutz movement in Israel, Findhorn Community in Scotland and Damanhur in Italy, co-housing and farm-based communities across America and worldwide, as well as the compound-style of extended family in Bali. Locally, Green Gulch Buddhist community and a multitude of techies living together in San Francisco and Silicon Valley are current examples of communal experiments.
A Marin County Successful Communal Experience: Let us tell you about our successful intentional community model for the urban-suburban environment. We are a diverse group of boomers and genXers living a thriving lifestyle in various configurations of households for more than 25 years. We are passionate about this powerful, viable, sustainable and timely solution for living vibrant lives.
Over the years, we’ve raised children, created businesses, traveled, invested, celebrated and grieved together. As a group, we’ve supported many socially responsible organizations. In short, we’ve intimately shared our lives and supported each other through all of life’s twists and turns. Community is a lifestyle we feel to be the perfect antidote to today’s fast-paced, stressful, expensive and isolating design. While it’s not for everyone, we’ve found that there are many benefits of intentional community living that might resonate for you, too.
Financial Benefits: Living in community is more affordable, making a higher lifestyle available by sharing. As a homeowner, you can enjoy having additional income and tax benefits. As a renter/housemate, you gain broader access to combined resources, and investment opportunities are sometimes possible.
Personal and Relationships Benefits: At whatever stage of life, you are not doing life alone while having access to privacy and required solitude when you choose. A powerful support system surrounds you in good times and in challenging situations; we solve problems together.
Singles have many more people with whom to interact, and the couples find that their relationships are enhanced by having other eyes and ears around them, as well as learning from others. Children are notably well-adjusted because they experience many styles of adult behaviors. There are extensive resources for their enrichment. By the nature of living together, one is prompted to show your best self. By sharing tasks, many hands make lighter work, and of course it’s more fun as well.
We make a difference as a group: Our lifestyle is more sustainable due to a lighter footprint on the planet. We share appliances (one stove and two refrigerators instead of many!) and bulk purchases of food and supplies; we use solar energy and conserve utilities. We live our lives with a committed purpose that is conscious and mindful.
Life becomes more creative and interesting: Imagine a life filled with delicious gourmet and organic meals together, celebrating occasions, business co-ventures, outrageous parties, multi-dimensional workshops, weddings, memorials, and traveling together!
Many intentional communities in this country and abroad are mission-driven or based on a particular philosophy or spiritual foundation or leader. Our community has no one leader. While we share many common values, we do not share a specific philosophy or religion. What our diverse community homes do share is a practice of appreciation and gratitude, for example giving thanks before a meal. We practice consensus decision-making so that everyone’s voice counts. Regular household meetings assure that all kinds of situations are addressed, with differences and preferences included. This makes for a smoother flow, and more joy and nurturing in community living. We like to say, “In communication, anything is possible.”
Many people ask us how this community got started? There are different ways to tell the story, but the bottom line is that it developed out of the long-standing friendships and sisterly relationships of the women. It was our aligned desire to raise our families in a design different than the single nuclear family model, that of ‘extended family’. The partnership we have received from the men in our lives has made this all possible. (In addition, we were given much guidance and support across the years from friends and experienced mentors.)
This article was co-written by four dear friends passionate about Communal Living: Debra Price Van Cleave, Dr. Amore Vera Aida, Teri Bigio Berling, and Fay Freed (Left to right in the photo.
Fellowship for Intentional Community
Global Eco-village Network
Co-housing Association of the US
Lafayette Morehouse Community, Lafayette, CA
Damanhur Federation, Piedemonte, Italy
I’m meditating. In luxury. Sitting lotus position in a king size bed overlooking the fawn colored Bay Area Hills in Northern California, the San Pablo Bay, my skin toasty from a morning hot tub. A cup of fresh coffee steaming next to me. Sipping a decidedly non-third world green drink.
And I think about the photo I recently saw and re-posted on FaceBook. https://www.facebook.com/robin.sparks.92. The one with the hundreds of boys crowded in a room at the border between Mexico and North America. The one which I captioned, “This is not Syria or the Turkish border. This is America. What can I do?”.
I think about how so many of the world’s borders are teeming with the poor, the frightened, the chased out, those who want only what ought to be a human right. Safety, food, opportunity. The right to survive for God’s sake.
Me? When I want to go to another country, I get on a plane and fly.
The majority of people in the world don’t have that choice. And not only because they don’t have the money, but because of something we call borders and these things we’ve invented called visas. How is it that we erect arbitrary lines between countries, keeping some people out and others in? Why do we do this??? As if there was not enough to go around if only we shared?
Who decided to divvy up the planet? Doesn’t it belong to all of us?
Forget the word belong – This planet and our place on it is on loan, ours for a short time. No one leaves with anything, so why pretend to own it? Why do we want to keep the best places for some of us and erect walls to keep out the not-so-lucky?
The word luck is an apt one. Show me one person who chose the country, the tribe, or the family into which they were born? Why would we who were lucky enough to be born into abundance, want to wall off that abundance from others? Fear and a scarcity consciousness that there is not enough – meaning that we should have lots and they should have none?
These thoughts make my heart do this strange liquid thing. It doesn’t exactly break, but it bleeds.
This is not right. What can I do? What can I do?
I await the answer, knowing it will come. I think about my upcoming trip to LA for my daughter’s bridal shower and that I will be so close to the US Mexican border. Who do I know that can get me into one of these horrific holding places to meet the poor boys stuck there, their families? To tell their stories?
Robin Sparks in Marin, California]]>
Early morning in Ubud, Bali after a predawn lightening storm and a soft, steady rain
and I am so Full. Here. Now.
In this moment, in this skin, feeling this heart, sitting outside surrounded by rice paddies, bare feet, wrapped in a sarong, soft tropical air bathing body, tasting Bali coffee and cashew milk on my tongue, hearing a scooter motor past, birds twitter, and unseen things cackle and crow life into being, the flutter of wings, the buzz of a bee, all of us … greeting this moment.
It is the time of day when my senses are open and the moment pregnant with possibility and JustIsness before the world has had its way with me.
And that overused word, Grateful, is what I feel.
I like to enter the day slowly with waking making love, meditation, padding quietly through the dawning day house and opening windows and doors to let in the day, lighting incense, loving and gently straightening my nest, making coffee, quiet, no words please and then…and then…sitting down to write, to let words flow, to let messages arrive, to hear, to transcribe. Like now. This moment in which everything exists and everything is possible.
Good morning Bali.
Thank you for your womblike warmth. I’ll be leaving you soon to greet another soul who is preparing to arrive on Planet Earth.
In this moment, I birth into a new day on your tropical wet soil surrounded by temples and wildlife and thunderstorms, love and possibility.]]>
Workshop attendees and me dining at Bali Fair Warung.
Milestone. Workshop finished. Writers festival wrapping up. I did not want to come back to Bali, but I had a workshop to teach and so come back I did.
And now? Feeling blessed. Surrounded by friends. Laughter. Wonder. My beautiful home on the edge of the jungle. So much possibility. The remembrance of magic and mystery. The smell of cloves in the land that is Bali.
And a new appreciation for this island. For its Alice in Wonderland quality that always brings me squarely back home or plops me into a world of pain. There is something so other-worldly about Bali. When I told my friend, Claire last night about how the workshop transpired and the organic creativity that unfolded, first we laughed about how seriously New Age this island can be. And then she said, “We forget and take for granted the energy of Bali.”
Yes, we do.
I am watching workshop participant Francesca – who has committed to stay with me this month along with another workshop participant to focus on our books – transform, and she talks about the possibility of moving to Bali. I see the wonder in world travel writer, Don George’s eyes. I hear the roosters calling us to wake up this morning. The water trickling from the ancient Subak to the river below. Bali is magic and I am woven into it, and I am grateful.
Another relationship has come and morphed into I do not know what. But I saw a vision of him floating down the river. Goodbye. Nice knowing you. Now that love has cleared out, and thank you Universe for creating the meetings, the possibilities, the moving away…I don’t quite get the lesson yet, but the short-lived relationship was amazing practice for getting clear on “what I want”, and when seeing that his way did not fit, simply opening my hand and letting him fly. A huge lesson.
And now? Back to the big fat book. Love of my life. I talked to my students about being in relationship to their writing as if the writing were an intimate partner. And so in honor of living what I teach. I’m here to say, I love you writing and I’m committing to more intimate time with you.
Starting Here Now.]]>
Augustinus Wibowo journeyed from Beijing to Pakistan over a 4-year period and has lived in the Middle East and Afghanistan. His most recent book “Titik Nol”, which will be translated into English next year, is a tale of visiting his dying mother and their exchange of stories – his of life on the road, hers of life at home.
Wibowo describes a scene where they are standing around the hospital bed where his mother lay dying. “Christians stood on one side of the bed, reading the Bible and trying to baptize her. On the other a Buddhist priest chanted. My mother opened her eyes, laughed, and said, ‘Bring them all in.’”
“We are human with so many colors,” Wibowo said.
There was more:
“The more I travel, the slower I go,” he said. Wibowo lives with locals when he travels and avoids social media. “ If I’m checking emails from back home, I’ve disengaged from where I am. I am there to connect to the sorrows, the joy and the lives of those I am visiting.”
Wibowo said that most readers of travel books read “to feel connection.”
“Travel is learning to see from a different point of view, and ultimately travel is about discovering yourself, about coming home. We don’t have to go far to travel. Our lives are the real journey.”
This guy was singing my tune.
More gems from the festival:
Don George, editor-at-large for National Geographic Travel Magazine said that good travel writing brings about wonder, dignity, respect, appreciation – that which makes the world a better place.” He added that some of the best travel writing comes from writers who allow themselves to be vulnerable, who take risks.
Mona Prince from Egypt, an outspoken Egyptian professor who has recently been charged with insulting Islam and suspended from her job said, “In 2011 Egyptian women were full of dreams and hopes.” “Aren’t you afraid?” the moderator asked Prince. “I’m willing to pay the price, my life if necessary for our freedom,” the Egyptian novelist said.
Haideh Moghissi, author of seven books, from Iran, encouraged the audience to hear all voices. “So much of the western world excuses the way that Middle Eastern countries treat women by saying that it is a cultural issue. “That,” she said, “is cultural relativism”.
Amish Tripothi, from Mumbai, India, saw his first book, The Immortals of Meluha break into the top seller charts within a week of its launch.The Shiva Trilogy has become the fastest selling book series in the history of Indian publishing, with 1.7 million copies in print.
Amish said, “It took me 9 years to become an overnight success.”
Publishers did not believe there was an audience for his book. And so he and his agent published the book on their own and it sold 45,000 copies in the first 3 months. The publishers then began bidding on it. Amish refused to make the changes that the publishers requested. He said, “You can’t compromise on your book. That’s the voice of your soul.”
“The Greeks,” Amish added, “Say ‘The genius does not exist in you. Your task as a creator is to let the genius use you.’ My characters live in parallel universes and my task is to enter their worlds.”]]>
Most people don’t set themselves up to do things they don’t want to do. So why do I? I can’t really say. All I knew was that it was time.
During the retreat we explored authentic writing that comes from within via deep listening, body awareness, and showing up to the page consistently. We journeyed inside with breath work to stir up and release old blocks, and to mine what we really had to say. After two days of intense, cathartic breath sessions that took the students to places they’d never been, they asked for a day off from “breathing” – their psyches needed a rest.
Fully open, we sat down and brainstormed our projects, mindmapped, designed each students’ unique message, and plotted the way forward. I watched with amazement as our individual books and multi media “ideas” blossomed into real living, breathing things.
What did I learn? That teaching is more like being a guide and involves a heck of a lot of trust, getting out of the way, being still, listening, and allowing whatever wants to be taught, to show up organically.
Oh yeah, I also discovered that I can walk directly into one of my biggest fears and come out on the other side alive.
Stay tuned folks! Several amazing books and multi media projects are headed your way. I’ll be the first to let you know when they are born. And with that, I am off to write.
With gratitude and great relief,
This article was first published in the October 2013 issue of Inspire Magazine.
I’m hesitant to tell people I’m a breath worker. After all, we breathe from the moment we’re born until we take our last breath. So who needs lessons in how to do what we’ve always done and who am I to show them how to do it?
Three years ago I attended my first breath workshop on the recommendation of a friend. The facilitator gave our group an introduction to the process and what we might experience. He demonstrated how to breathe deeply in and out through open mouths, without pauses, and he asked that we continue to breathe in this manner for an entire hour no matter what came up. He explained that we could control the intensity of our experience by slowing down or speeding up our breath.
About 30 minutes into that first session, my body full of oxygen, I experienced what felt like imminent death. The facilitator encouraged me to keep breathing. I did and what transpired next has stayed with me since. A crystal clear knowing came to me that day that the divine existed within —not out there in crystals, gurus, or any other number of teachings we reach for in search of peace. It was inside, all along.
Breathwork brought me home. And I got to lay down through the entire experience. I was hooked and I wanted to know more.
There are a number of breathwork modalities: Holotropic, Transformational, Rebirthing, Clarity Breathwork and more, too many to list here. Breathwork, regardless of style, allows unconscious thoughts and patterns to surface, while offering the means to release them energetically, physically and emotionally through sustained connected breathing. The various modalities differ mostly in length of sessions, speed of the breath, and post-breathwork integration activities. In Holotropic breathwork for instance, participants integrate afterwards with art, whereas, in Clarity Breathwork, breathers share their experience verbally. What all modalities offer in common is an awareness of spirit and an expanded sense of one’s true self.
As a writer, I find that breathwork helps me to write more authentically. When I fill every cell of my body with oxygen for a sustained period, all the bullshit fades to black and that which matters rises to the surface. Suddenly, I know precisely what I want to say. As in life.
Typically the experience for each ‘breather’ is unique each time. Participants may experience incredible peace, painful emotions, lost memories. They may journey — some claim that breathwork is the nearest thing to a psychedelic experience.
On a purely physical level breath sessions detoxify and rejuvenate the body. Under normal circumstances, 75% of toxins are expelled from our bodies through our breath. Imagine what happens when you breathe at full capacity, non-stop for an hour or more. It speeds recovery from whatever ails you.
Whether you would like to recover from writer’s block, painful memories, negativity, the inability to solve a particular problem or whether you simply wish to experience incredible bliss, peace and blasts of insight that will change your life, breath work can take you there.
For more information about our upcoming breathwork/writing retreat on Oct 6-11, 2013 in Ubud, Bali, email email@example.com.
So much has taken place these past 4 months – in Istanbul an East Meets West wedding and a revolution, in Greece 2 glorious weeks of sailing with friends, and in California up and down the coast reunions with family and new and old friends, meetings with my book editor, and taking care of the myriad of logistics that make my nomad life a possibility.
Now what? I’m packing up to return to Bali to facilitate “Breathe Life Into Your Book” at the lovely Kumara Sakti Resort in Ubud, Bali on October 6-13, 2013. We have just a few spots left, so if you’d like to join us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP.
The following is a recent interview with me by the staff of Oneworld Retreats.
Passing on inspiration via writing is not as easy as most think. Experiencing blocks with our creative process is something all writers experience. Robin Sparks describes how she revs up her writing process with connected breath work.
What inspired you to start a writing and breath work retreat?
Robin: While we can learn a lot “out there” about the craft of writing, I have come to believe that it is “in here” where we discover our most authentic voice. I had been writing professionally for 20 years and facilitating writing workshops around the world for 9, when I discovered breath meditation. I loved the way that connected breath for an extended period of time, created a space in which the outer world fell away, so that that which was truest for me, became crystal clear. I took a 4-level training course in breath work so that I could incorporate the two things I love most – writing and breath work, and share this process with others. In “Breathe Life Into Your Book” workshop we will approach writing from within and without.
As a teacher and trained breath facilitator, do you have any specific affirmations / empowering words when you begin a project?
Robin: I meditate with connected breath before sitting to write, and then from that space of knowing, I begin writing without thinking. If I get stuck later in the writing process, I ask, “If I could say only one thing in this story, what would it be?” I then return to writing with the answer to that question informing my story.
What are your hopes for future writers?
Robin: That each student might gain insight to the unique story that only he or she can tell. Once the student knows the story beneath the story, he can put to use the additional support we will provide in the workshop to breathe life into his book.
You have wide experience as a travel writer. What do you love most about your journey as a travel writer?
Robin: What I love most about travel writing is the opportunity to meet people from diverse environments, cultures, and ways of being. I meld into their way of being for a time, listen to them, and then share their stories with the world. What I have discovered, is that while we are a deliciously diverse bunch, all stories as it turns out, are our story. This is why I travel and why I write.
Why did you choose Bali for this retreat?
Robin: Bali literally hums with life. Everything grows abundantly and rapidly here, and nothing stays below the surface for long. The beauty and warmth of Bali along with its unique culture provides an inspiring and nourishing environment in which ideas flourish and projects are birthed. Bali is the perfect place to breath life into your book.
Robin Sparks, is a facilitator and teacher of writing workshops around the globe. Her stories and photographs have been published in hundreds of magazines and newspapers and her online blog has been going strong since 2003. Sparks is enjoying the process of writing her first book about her trans-global search for “home”. Sparks is a Level Four Clarity Breath Worker and a global citizen, who is based in Bali and lives part of each year in Turkey and California. Robin will be leading the “Breathe Life Into Your Book” writing retreat at Kumara Sakti Resort on Oct 6-11, 2013
– See more at: http://www.oneworldretreats.com/bali-writers-retreat.php for more information about “Breathe Life Into Your Book” – a breath work and writing retreat”]]>