Even a volcano couldn’t keep us away from our Mother-Daughter Bali retreat.

Have you ever wanted something so bad that you tried not to think about it just in case it didn’t happen? And every time you tried to get it out of your head the universe sends you signals that you need it? Little promptings that will not go away? That still small voice.

Well, this happened to me because I desperately wanted something for my daughter that could only happen this year because next year she would be too old for it.

I was able to jump through many obstacles to make it happen. I even took on a volcano! Sometimes it’s easier to fight for someone you love than for yourself.

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The Yellow Sunflower Cafe, Ubud (Our favorite place to eat)

The first week of the school holidays, my daughter and I had an opportunity of experiencing a wonderful mother-daughter retreat in the peaceful calm jungle of Ubud in Bali, Indonesia. Where hotel rooms and cafe’s don’t have walls, Kombucha is a regular drink on every menu and mosquito nets over beds are used for their intended purpose, not just for looks.

The retreat was the creation of Janoel Liddy and ran by her and two other incredible women who genuinely care about empowering, honoring and celebrating women, especially those young ones about to ‘Step into Womanhood’ and that’s the name of this program.  I knew it was something my 13-year-old daughter could benefit from.

I learned about this retreat from another mother back in February. Once I heard about it, my mind and heart wouldn’t let it go. The next week I jumped online and found out as much as I could. The more I read the more I knew we HAD to be a part of it.

It’s a program designed for mothers and daughters ages 11-13 to talk, spend time together and honour everything about being a woman. (Here is the website again for you to explore…

I spent months churning my wheels in the background doing everything I could to make this happen for my daughter and me. Seemed like the closer I got to taste it, something else would get in the way. I kept plugging away until airline tickets were booked, deposits were paid and bags were packed.

The day before we were due to fly out, Mount Agung, an active volcano in Bali erupted closing the airport in Bali stranding thousands of tourist. It was also my 47th birthday and I spent the night dressed up as my teenage idol dancing the night away with friends at a fundraiser for my son’s primary school. I tried not to think about what would happen in the morning.

All I knew for sure is that the universe wanted me to go but the universe was also telling me something else. My sweet friend, Tui, who had been fighting cancer for over a year moved into palliative care only days before I was due to leave. We parted with a goodbye hug and a promise to see her on the 8th of July when I returned with the small elephant souvenir she asked for.

Everything. was. in. the. Lord’s. hands.

The Uber picked us up at 3:30am. My daughter and I arrived at the airport three hours before our scheduled flight not knowing if we would be taking a taxi back home shortly in the freezing cold. I was sleep deprived and surrendered myself to the will of the stronger current. I had no idea which way it was taking us. As the hours passed it became clear that we were indeed getting on our flight and by that afternoon, we were settled into our beautiful room in sunny Ubud with no TV and sketchy internet. Both of us hardly believing we were really in Bali.

A red dragonfly my daughter pointed out to me just outside our room. Photo credit: Janoel Liddy

Early the next morning something woke me at 4:16am. It was dark and I almost forgot where I was. I got up to use the toilet and went back to bed. I laid there for only a few mins when I received a text message from one of Tui’s sons…

“Mum just passed. She was holding Carl’s hand looking at me 12 minutes ago.”

Under my princess-like mosquito net, I felt encompassed by Tui’s love. She held me while I cried. She was happy, laughing and smiling. She said “It’s ok Love, I’m with Heavenly Father and I’m not in any pain. It’s beautiful here.’ I was able to text back and forth with her sons as well as send messages to those who loved her from our ward.

By the time the sun came up, I was all cried out and ready to start the day with my beautiful daughter. I was eager and willing to take in every positive thing offered to me.

Photo credit: Janoel Liddy

After a yummy breakfast of banana pancakes and black rice pudding with coconut milk (delicious!), we walked down to the Wantilan (a Balinese pavilion). As we stood there waiting for the rest of the group to arrive, I overheard two mothers talking about how unreliable the internet has been except for this morning when it was working perfectly for a few hours. I thought of Tui.

We were welcomed with beautiful bright flowers inviting us up the stairs and then each of us participated in a traditional smudging to purify or cleanse the soul of negative thoughts of a person or place. We all gladly left anything we didn’t need at the door and entered our space with respect, love and openness.

Here was our beautiful space inside the wantilan. Looking at the photo now makes me miss all that space held for each of us. Photo credit: Janoel Liddy

We took a seat on a cushion and spent the first hour getting to know the other mothers and daughters as well as our professional hosts for the week; Janoel, Rose and Melissa. It was comfortable, easy and in many ways, I felt like I already knew all of them.

We were lovingly maneuvered through seamless steps of the program and each part mattered deeply. We learned the importance of the words ‘I See You’ as we looked into each other’s eyes and spoke them. I also learned how it felt to ‘be seen’, something we don’t always allow time for in our busy schedules.

We created a safe space that allowed each of us to build on ourselves wherever we were in life. We cried, laughed, shared and danced. We hugged, embraced, loved and opened ourselves up to possibilities we didn’t usually have time for in our busy realities. We explored yoga and meditation with the gorgeous Melissa and learned about our different personality types with sweet Rose.

We could see our daughters as the little girls they still are sometimes and the beautiful women they are becoming.  To see it all unravel before your eyes was a gift, like time standing still.

We were full of courage as we rafted down the Ayung river one day, then sharing our personal stories through tears the next.

We enjoyed being pampered in the open jungle with massages, facials or manicures with our daughters then talking about our cycles, sex and what it means to be a woman the next.

We participated in traditional temple blessings in the morning then after lunch, we stood in a circle while we each of us had a turn sitting in the middle. The person in the middle sat while everyone around the circle shared what they loved about you when all you could do was listen.

We learned the importance of self-care and part of that is allowing yourself space and freedom when you need it without feeling guilty.

With each new day, new experiences, feelings and understandings about ourselves came to light. A little sadness crept in with each day also as it brought us closer to the end of the week. We left old baggage behind and packed new luggage full of everything we learned and experienced. The things we wanted to take and include in our lives back at home.

This week we spent together I will hold forever in my heart. She’s only 13 now but I hope she looks back on this week with fondness. And may the seeds that were planted grow inside her as she finds her own way to womanhood.



To Tui my Moma Tinker,

You are a beautiful woman who stayed positive throughout the fight. I felt you with us several times throughout the week. Thank you for touching my life.

To Mom,

Thank you for making this trip even possible. You gave both Maddie and me something that we couldn’t give each other without your help. I don’t know how I can ever repay you. I love you.


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