Gunung Payung Beach, Bali: A Quiet Saturday

It was a cloudy Saturday, but the weather forecast seemed promising. So, with our rented motorbikes, we drove down to the beach.

Our destination was a beach close to Nusa Dua. A friend told me it was a considerably quiet beach. We followed our Google Map faithfully–but it led us through a truly challenging off-road path. We didn’t give up, though, and thankfully, the sign to the beach showed up before we changed our mind.

Gunung Payung BeachGunung Payung Beach
The beach has a cave-cliff entrance–resembling the beaches along Uluwatu, and we need to climb down hundreds of stairs to get to the water. Good thing was that we were surrounded by trees along the way, providing us a shelter from the afternoon sun.

Gunung Payung BeachGunung Payung Beach
The beach was quiet, as promised. The water was crystal clear, calm, and perfect for swimming. The sand underneath my feet was so soft and smooth. Vale was happy to find a huge cave for us to put our stuff and take a nap. It was a perfect spot to lie down on your beach towel and read a good book (I am currently reading Essence and Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume by Mandy Aftel).

Gunung Payung BeachGunung Payung BeachGunung Payung BeachGunung Payung Beach
I love the fact that I could still find people from the village fishing here, along with visitors (and a dog!) who came for surfing, swimming, or having a picnic.

Gunung Payung BeachGunung Payung BeachGunung Payung BeachGunung Payung BeachGunung Payung Beach
There were only a few stalls selling food and drinks at the parking lot (young coconut, instant noodles) but there were none by the beach. And nobody was trying to sell me anything. After experiencing some crowded beach here in Bali, this lovely litlle beach gave me a room to breathe. To just sit still and stare at the sea water lapping at the sand.

Gunung Payung BeachGunung Payung BeachGunung Payung Beach
Hanny Kusumawati



PS. Some of the pictures (capturing me by the beach) are courtesy of Daniele Besana.

What to Do When You’re Feeling Distressed: A 3-Step Listing Exercise

Reader’s Email:

I’m far from happy working in a cubicle and I feel strangled. I’m in a limbo. There are things I want to do for the future that will make me happier. I just wish I could find the courage inside of me to get out of this limbo, pursue my passion, and roll the dice.

— A.S.


A 3-step listing exercise

There’s an exercise I usually do when I’m rolling in distress, feeling dissatisfied, or struggling with uneasiness.

Here’s the thing: sometimes we don’t really know exactly what caused us this distress, dissatisfaction, or uneasiness. Not knowing, sometimes, lead us to further distress.

Thus, the first step I do at this stage is to list down the probable causes of my distress.

Step 1. Create the HATE list.

When I am in a limbo (to me this means: not really knowing what’s wrong, but at the same time knowing that something is wrong), I take a piece of paper and a pen, then start listing down the things that make me feel unhappy, uncomfortable, or stressed.

Sometimes, this is a short list–and other times, a really long one. I list down everything: things I dislike or even ‘hate’. Things I’ve been worrying about. Things that have been bugging my mind. What stresses me out? What makes me feel dissatisfied and uneasy?

But the idea is not about creating an endless stream-of-consciousness journal.

The idea is simply to create a list:

For instance:

  • I hate being trapped in a 9-to-5 routine.
  • I am worried about my parents’ health.
  • I am angry at myself because I feel unproductive.
  • I hate last-minute cancellations.

Step 2. Translate the HATE list into a LOVE list.

When I feel like I have no more things to say, I stop writing and look at my list. There, I can see all the things I hate, I dislike. Things that stress me out, that makes me feel angry, depleted, or unhappy.

But the truth is this: what we hate actually tells us more about what we love.

If you hate injustice, maybe it means you love fairness. If you hate people who lie, maybe it means you love openness and honesty.

So, when we said we hate 9-to-5 routine, for instance, what is it that we actually love?

Maybe hating 9-to-5 routine means we love spontaneity or adventure. For some people, hating 9-to-5 routine means they wish to have more variety in the work they do. For some, this means they simply need a rest, a holiday, a break, the ability to work from anywhere in the world, or a few days in a week to wake up later than usual. For others, this means they would love to have a job that gives them a sense of purpose, or a new challenge.

>>> Related post: How to Make Decisions, Especially When It’s Difficult


Although it might seem that we ‘hate’ the same thing, each one may translate to a different kind of love on the opposite side.

Everyone is different. So, the next step is to turn each sentence in our ‘hate’ list into a ‘love’ list.

For instance:

  • I hate being trapped in 9-to-5 routine >> I love having the flexibility to work from anywhere in the world
  • I am worried about my parents’ health >> I love knowing that my parents are healthy
  • I am angry at myself because I feel unproductive >> I love the feeling when I can finish a personal project
  • I hate last-minute cancellations >> I love having online meetings because any cancellations won’t waste too much of my time

Notice that the ‘love’ list is the way I translated the ‘hate’ list. You might translate the ‘hate’ list into a different kind of ‘love’ list.

Step 3. Turn the LOVE list into a list of SMALLEST ACTION.

All of us can make plans for the future: if I have this, I can be happier. If I am that, I can be better.

Making future plan is good (I love making plans!) but most of the times, we are also making up excuses along the way. I cannot do it right now because of this and that. I need to get this and that first, only then I can follow through with my plan. We all know how it ends: the plan stays being a plan.

Why? Because the action we need to take is too big. Because the action we need to take is too far away from our current situation, condition, and limitation. So, now, looking at my LOVE list, I ask myself: how can I get more of these things I love into my life, no matter how small, with the situation and condition I am in right now?

For instance:

  • I love having the flexibility to work from anywhere in the world. Of course, an ideal action plan could be quitting my job and be a freelancer. But this is big and risky. The smallest action I can do at the moment with my situation and condition would probably >> Work on my passion project for 3 hours this weekend from a place that inspires me. This is something I know I can do, and I can commit to.
  • I love knowing that my parents are healthy >> Cook only vegetable dishes for Dad tomorrow.
  • I love the feeling when I can finish a personal project >> Make a 6-line poem and publish it on Facebook tonight.
  • I love having online meetings because any cancellations won’t waste too much of my time >> Always ask the client to do meeting via Skype or phone call first.

I think you got the idea.

List down the smallest action you can do, immediately. It should be too small to the point that you can’t really make excuses for NOT doing it. If you’re still NOT doing it, make the action even smaller!

How it helps me

In my case, when I started freelancing after leaving my corporate job a few years ago, I was surprised to find myself feeling low and unhappy. It was confusing. Wasn’t this my ideal kind of working condition? To work from anywhere, to work with clients I like, to work on projects I am inspired with? Then, why did I feel distressed?

As I was doing the 3-step exercise, I realized that I was worried because I no longer have a ‘safe’ monthly income. I hated to feel uncertain, unprotected and insecure. I was uneasy with what might happen if I was sick and couldn’t work for a while because I no longer have the health insurance benefit my old company used to provide me with.

I love to feel safe and protected. I love to feel supported. I love to feel at ease.

Some of the smallest actions I chose to do in the following months:

  • Bought the cheapest health insurance I could afford.
  • Say the affirmation “I AM SUPPORTED” 15x before bed tonight.
  • Have no-shopping day once a week so I can save more.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Watch a course on meditation on YouTube,
  • and more small actions follow in the upcoming month.

Buying the cheap health insurance was actually the very first thing I did after making my list. The feeling when I got back home with my insurance policy was amazing. I felt so light and happy as if part of my burden and happiness had been lifted up. Just by doing this simple act, I felt instantly better.

Does this mean I am 100% safe, protected, supported, and at ease?
Of course not.

But that feeling of satisfaction when I knew I have done something (no matter how small) to get closer to the kind of life I want to experience, is enough to drastically reduce my distress, worries, and uneasiness.

I wish you could feel that feeling, too.

Hanny Kusumawati

PS: Feel free to let me know if this exercise works for you, too. You can also email me here if you like to share some of your personal/professional stories 🙂

Ubud for Artists: Social Painting Session by Bartega Studio

I was sick all morning the other day, having a headache and throwing up every once and a while.

I curled up in bed, falling in and out of sleep and being miserable. I felt much better when I opened my eyes around noon and felt hungry. Hunger is always a good indication of my health. When I am not hungry, I am somewhat sick.

Since I had been working from deadline to deadline these past few weeks, and my day started out so late already, I decided to have a break. I browsed around to see some relaxing activities to take while recovering from my headache and found one. At 5 pm, the co-working space Outpost in Ubud, Bali, was having a Paint & Sip activity, hosted by Bartega Studio.

It was said to be a social painting kind of event: where you’ll meet people, learn how to paint, and sip wines. I decided to sign up when I saw an available option for people who do not wish to drink wine. With my headache, I didn’t want to take risks!

What is this social painting session actually?

Bartega Studio (their base is in Jakarta) hosts a social painting event because they think it’s something fun to do: you meet people, you talk to each other while you paint, and in some instances, sip wine together.

I, myself, have always found it relaxing and therapeutic to draw, doodle, or play with paint and watercolors. The idea is not to create a masterpiece, but simply to play around, get my hands dirty, and experiment. Sometimes it’s interesting to just let yourself loose, and see what kind of shapes and colors would appear on your blank canvas afterward.

I also notice that when a group of people creates something with their hands, a certain conversation will flow. A spontaneous conversation without any purpose or agenda, without feeling like there’s a certain emptiness to fill. Everyone is busy making something anyway! So, each passing conversation feels very relaxed, random, and… social.

With some music on and some wines sparkling on the table, we started our session that day: to paint a scene from Ubud’s Monkey Forest.

Benson from Bartega Studio guided us on how to create this painting step-by-step. Some ladies also decided to improvise that day, and it was totally okay. Art is a medium of self-expression, isn’t it?

One lady replaced the temple in the scene with a painting of herself.

“Because your body is your temple!” I smiled.

“Indeed! Oh wow, you got it!” she laughed.

We were painting with acrylics that day, but I was treating the acrylic paint the way I treated my watercolor. The result was a very pale and pastel-y end result (that was my painting on the left in the picture below). However, it was a fun experience, and now I learned one or two things about working with acrylics!

Book your private session

Bartega Studio can also help you set up a private social painting session paired with excellent wine selections. Either it’s a birthday party, an office getaway, or simply a gathering where you want to have fun with acrylics, they can organize a session for you.

Going solo? No worries. Check their schedule for another session here.

There are times when painting is not a solitary act. This is one of them!
Hanny Kusumawati

Ubud for Artists: Making Silver Jewelry at Studio Perak


Studio Perak in Jalan Hanoman, Ubud, has always been my go-to place for finding beautiful silver jewelry with reasonable price. Compared to fancier stores around Ubud, so far, Studio Perak is still the champion for the combination of quality, design, and price. Lately, they have also been making a set of rings with chakra symbols and mantras that I truly adore!

Plus, while in Bali, I’m happy to plant a good karma by being a responsible buyer. Studio Perak shops operate under the principles of fair trade. Silver artisans can set the price of each piece of jewelry themselves. There is no value or payment gap between women and men silversmiths. No children are being employed. Silver artisans in Studio Perak can even work from their own home, according to their own schedule!


A few years back, I participated in Studio Perak’s silversmithing class. It was my first time to make silver jewelry from scratch. I enjoyed it so much and made 2 pieces of silver jewelry. Both were gifted to a friend on the same day. Thus, technically, I didn’t really have my own DIY silver jewelry! And I want one (or maybe two)!

So, this morning, I went back to Studio Perak for another chance: to make a silver jewelry as a gift for myself.

I brought along some of my old stone collections; including this yellow citrine. I wanted to turn this one into a ring.

As I started, I just found out that it was more time consuming to make a piece of silver jewelry with a stone. This is because you need to create a frame for the stone first. Cutting the silver plate and wrap it to match the shape of my stone was taking the most of my time today.

Once the frame for the stone was done, I started to measure the size of my finger and created my silver ring.

“Would you like to put an engraving inside the ring?” asked Bli Ketut, the teacher from Studio Perak and our master silversmith of the day.

I said yes.

He then gave me a set of alphabets to be hammered into the insides of my silver ring. I decided to choose the mantra Ram, a chanting for the solar plexus chakra. Citrine is also a stone that corresponds to this chakra.

And this is how we attached the ring to its stone frame: with a flame. While Bli Ketut molded the ring and the frame together, I pumped the torch with my feet under the table–making sure the air was flowing to keep the flame burning.

Since there was still some time left after this process, I decided to make another piece of jewelry. I wanted to recycle an amethyst ring I found in a random street stall in Pontianak into a bracelet.

The stone was taken out from the frame, and I created a new frame following its shape, to be attached to a silver bracelet.

The most meditative part of the silversmithing process was polishing the silver jewelry. It was amazing to see the dull ring and bracelet that had been hammered and torched suddenly sparkled after the polishing session.

And here they are, shining under the sun!


If you’re interested to make your own silver jewelry, just drop by at Studio Perak and book your class schedule at least 1 or 2 day(s) before. They have 2 classes every day, from 9 am – 12 pm and another one from 2 pm – 5 pm.

For IDR400K, you can get up to 5 grams of silver to work with.This is mostly enough to make 3 rings, or a ring and a set of earrings, or a ring and a simple bracelet.

Browse for design inspirations for your jewelry before the class, so you can consult with Bli Ketut on the design and start right away. Looking for inspirations right there and then could be overwhelming!

If you’re working with stones, you’ll need more silver plates to work with. This is because you’ll have to create the stone frame (and it takes quite a lot of silver plates). For my ring and bracelet, I use up 8.88 grams of silver. For the extra 3.88 grams, I paid about IDR53K.

I brought my own stones with me to the class. However, if you’d like to work with stones (but didn’t have one), Studio Perak has a lovely collection of stones and crystals in different shapes you can choose from. The price is also very reasonable, from IDR10K for a small piece (suitable for rings or earrings) up to around IDR25K (slightly bigger ones, suitable for pendants or bracelets).

Are you interested in making your own silver jewelry in Ubud? What are you going to make?

Hanny Kusumawati



PS: If you’re not into jewelry and more interested in making your own batik, check out this post from my batik workshop in Ubud!

Ketut Darmawan
+62 81 236 51809 or Studio +62 361 974244
JI. Hanoman, Ubud 80571, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
[email protected]



Morning Coffee in Ubud & A Cup of Gratitude.

This morning, I took some time to sit by myself in a coffee shop, accompanied by a warm cup of cappuccino and Alice Hoffman’s The Story Sisters. I started the day early, wishing to get more work done. These past few weeks have been hectic with deadlines, and at times, I felt as if my brain was boiling.

Ubud’s sky was gray. The air felt fresh against my skin as I sat there, sipping my coffee in silence. I left Alice Hoffman on the side, and found myself appreciating my surroundings instead: the dogs barking, the birds chirping, the motorcycles passing, the trees around the Monkey Forests rustling–the sounds of the morning. And I noticed how wonderful it was: the feeling of warmth that crawled from the tip of my fingers that were cupping the coffee mug.

Suddenly, I was still.

morning coffee in ubud

I dropped everything in that fleeting moment: my to-do list, the emails I need to sent, the invoices that have not been paid, the calls I need to schedule, the sentences for a web copy…

For the time being, there was only me, a cup of coffee, and Ubud in the morning.

As the warmth of the coffee mug permeated my skin, a deep feeling of gratitude swept me off of my feet, and I could feel my muscles relax: I smiled. I truly felt grateful to be here: to be back in Ubud, to be able to enjoy a cup of coffee leisurely at 8 in the morning, to be surrounded by the people I love, even to have today’s deadlines and work ahead of me!

And of course, I was lucky.
Of course, I should be grateful.

However, since the first day I came back to Ubud, I hadn’t actually felt it. I had been buzzing around, meeting friends, snapping pictures, painting, attending events, going out, typing away on my laptop, but I hadn’t really felt the wave of gratitude for the simple things: for being able to be here.

To be back.

morning coffee in ubud

I almost forgot how beautiful that magical feeling was: an instant wave of gratitude and appreciation towards life as it is. It was not one of those moments when you say gratitude as a ritual or part of a routine–or those moments when you said to yourself: okay, I need to be grateful. Or those times when something nice happened to you, and you were grateful for that.

I was referring to something spontaneous. A spontaneous rush of gratitude.

morning coffee in ubud

I wonder when was the last time I had this sudden rush of gratitude and appreciation, something so strong and so spontaneous, and at the same time: so fleeting. I could only go back to as close as a few years ago–when I was lying on my back by the beach in Sebayur Island in Flores.

The island was dark and the sky was full of stars.
So full I was almost sure that I could see the whole of the Milky Way.

This morning, the whole of the Milky Way was spinning inside my cup of coffee. And happily, I let myself spinning in it.

Hanny Kusumawati

Will Traveling Make Me Happy?

No. I don’t think so.

I think traveling, especially when you’re traveling alone to someplace far away, will only enhance whatever feeling you’re feeling at that particular moment.

The thing is this: our feelings can be expressed through different outlets.

Those who are sad can wrap themselves up in a blanket or go out to party all night long. Those who are angry can punch a wall, swear on the top of their lungs, plot a revenge, or make a painting with black ink.

The thing is when we travel, our feelings stay the same.
Most of the times, it is our outlet of expression that shifts.

When we are sad, traveling won’t actually make us instantly happier. But being in a new place, meeting new people, or forced to be in an unfamiliar situation, enables us to navigate our sadness differently. We are still sad, but we are channeling our sadness in a different way–a way that may not come to us naturally.

And this is what, most of the times, feel like happiness.

But is it possible to travel sad and come home happy?

Sure, it is.


A post shared by Hanny Kusumawati (@beradadisini) on

However, instead of focusing on ‘how to be happy’, maybe we need to focus on ‘how to be sad’ instead. Sadness, or other ‘uncomfortable’ feelings such as disappointment, anger, or shame, is present to build us up as a person. They are present because we need them in our lives. They exist to impart a wisdom, a lesson, a message–but most of the times, we are so eager to push them aside so as not to feel them entirely, simply because we’re too focused on the neverending chase of the so-called ‘happiness’.

Many things masquerade themselves as ‘happiness’–or the feeling of contentment.

Well, ‘masquerading’ may not even be the exact word, because when we’re giving enough time for the less comfortable feelings to be processed internally, sometimes those feelings find their most appropriate outlets of expression, and transform into a more comfortable feeling, like happiness, contentment, fulfilment, peace, or even pride.

A few years ago, I attended a talk by Dr. Dave Logan about how to feel your anger and use this feeling to ‘unleash your dark side‘. Think of your favorite superhero movie: a lot of superheroes use their anger or sadness as fuels to do something good: something that is much bigger than themselves.

Valiant Budi, a good friend, befriended his sadness, depression, confusion, and pain as he was recovering from a brain hemorrhage, through writing. Recently, he published a novel called Forgotten Colors, where the main character who suffered a hemorrhagic stroke is trying to make sense of the world around him as he grapples the space between imagination and reality.

Writing is also my outlet of expression.

It helps me to process the less comfortable feelings inside of me, and an outlet I am comfortable to use when giving self-discovery retreats, classes, or workshops. For this reason, when I was sad, angry, disappointed, or lost and decided to travel, I would travel to a secluded place where I could write without interruption.

But sometimes, my feelings find different outlets of expression, too.

I told my friend once about this, “When I’m sad, I don’t travel to be happy. I only travel to be sad somewhere else.”

Traveling alone, for me, is not an escapism; not in a sense that I am running away from whatever feeling I am feeling at the moment.

Traveling, for me, is a way to let those feelings in (not out), completely.

It is a way for me to process those feelings clearly–without having to be interrupted or compromised with prior commitments, work meetings, house chores, daily habits, or well-meaning friends wanting to take me out to ‘have some fun’.

Being surrounded by unfamiliar things when we travel forces us to find a different outlet for expression to channel our feelings. When I travel, instead of writing, sometimes the outlet turns into meditating, reading, practicing yoga, joining art workshops, walking by the beach, or even working on a new passion project.

We can feel okay being sad, angry, hurt, or disappointed–when we can find constructive outlets of expression, instead of destructive ones.

And sometimes, traveling to an unfamiliar place, force us to find those constructive outlets of expression, that in return, makes us feel okay, happy, or even content.

It’s not about pushing the feeling away. It’s about feeling the feeling until it becomes love (or at least, something closer to love).

Hanny Kusumawati

How to Make Decisions (Especially When It’s Difficult).

Making decisions is not easy, at least, not for me (speaking from experience).

Having to pick only one from two (or many) options available, we are often hit by a wave of doubts and confusion. To me, the act of deciding becomes increasingly difficult when the stake is high, and the options are both good: when the list of pros and cons between the two is more or less a draw.

How to determine which path to take, then?

These past few years, I have used these 3 methods to help me make difficult decisions:

  1. I ask myself, what would I do if I were not afraid.
  2. I ask myself, which decision would take me closer to my idea of an ideal self and an ideal life.
  3. I listen to the way my body reacts and responds to the available options.

1. What would you do if you were not afraid?

This is my favourite question to work on when I’m considering something difficult.

Often, the reason we ‘choose’ one thing over another is simple: because the other one feels more secure, more certain, more comfortable, or more stable. And there’s nothing wrong with it, really, if security, certainty, comfort, and stability are the things you truly want in life.

The question is: is this what we truly want; or we choose this option simply because we are afraid?

Maybe we’re afraid of not being good enough, not brave enough, not creative enough, not spontaneous enough, and the list goes on. Although deep down we know we’re attracted to the second option, sometimes fear forces us NOT to choose it; and we settle for the first option, instead. Which feels… safer.

But if success is guaranteed, if both choices will deliver similar successful results, which one would you pick?

Regardless of which option we’ll end up taking, or what decisions we’ll end up making, it is always wise to ask ourselves this question first: if I were not afraid, what would I do? Which option tugs at my heartstrings? Which option makes me feel light and joyful?

When we noticed that we have one decision that is more appealing to us; and the fear creeps in, ask again: where does this fear actually coming from? Why do we fear the things we fear? Are there things we can do to overcome this fear?

For example, let’s say we know we’ve always wanted to enrol to an art school. But we are afraid, because enrolling to an art school full-time also means that we need to quit our job; because our job takes too much time and energy. However, if we stop working, then how can we meet our daily needs and support our family?

Now that we’ve looked closer, we know exactly what we are afraid of. The good news is this: once fear is defined, it loses half of its power. Now we can look fear right in the eye and make a plan to eliminate it.

Can we enrol in an art school on a part-time basis? Or are we able to enrol in an art school full-time, and secure a part-time job that is less demanding? Can we sell some of the goods we have at home to add up to our savings account when we’re studying in art school?

A friend of mine, who is 8-month pregnant, decided to get someone to help her clean the house. She posted a job posting and found 'mindless' responses asking about the things she had already mentioned in the job posting. Some just replied with: Message me. "But they are the ones who need to write me back!" She was frustrated. Until she found a nice message. The only one that was written well. All the commas were in the right places. The person introduced herself and wrote about what she can do beautifully. My friend decided to interview her. The girl who came that day carried herself well, dressed well, and turned out my friend liked her in person. Later on my friend found out that this girl is not a full-time time house cleaner. She is a writer. But she needs money and she loves to clean. Cleaning helps her to calm her mind. Her heart. She got the job. When your art becomes a part of your life, everything you do is a form of art: writing a response letter, having an interview, cleaning. Everything can become your medium of expression. #writinglife #wearemarketers

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2. What’s your idea of an ideal self, and an ideal life?

Each one of us cherishes an idea of an ideal self and an ideal life–one we’ve always dreamed about. Our ideal self is how we imagine ourselves to be when we have reached our maximum potentials: we’re happy, content, healthy, productive. Our work is fulfilling. Or we experience the things we love, or we are confident, or brave.

What would your ideal self be like? And what kind of ideal life you’ll be living everyday?

Yes, let’s imagine it for a while. Because what the mind conceive, the mind achieve, they said.

So, if we can be our ideal self and live our ideal life, the one we’ve always dreamed about, what life would be like today?

What kind of person are we?
Where do we live? Who live with us?
What do we do everyday, from the moment we wake up to the moment we fell asleep?
What are the fun things we experience in our ideal life?
What are the good things we can do for people around us?
What kind of life we’d be living if we don’t care about other people’s judgements?

Having ‘seen’ this ideal self and ideal life, now look at the options available to us. Then ask ourselves: which option will actually take me one inch closer to my vision of an ideal life?

Again, regardless of what decision we will eventually make, questioning our options this way will make us aware of one thing: do we, everyday, consciously making decisions (no matter how small) that will bring us closer to our ideal life?

3. Listen to your body.

I believe that our body is always communicating with us.

It tells us when we are full; although sometimes we keep eating because the food is so good. The body also tells us when we are tired and need some rest, even though our mind still forces it to work overtime. The body tells us when we feel angry, sad, or happy, and we can ‘hear’ it through the sensations of heat, cold, weight, lightness, or other physical reactions that come up when we’re experiencing those emotions.

Have you ever seen someone you have a crush on walking towards you? What would your physical reaction be like? Maybe you sit upright, you feel your heart pounding, you feel excited, your eyes widened, and a smile lights up your face just like that. You ‘feel’ your eyes shining or sparkling, though you may not be able to see your own eyes when this happens.

But have you ever seen someone you have been trying to avoid walking towards you? What would your physical reaction be like? It must be so different from the previous reaction.

So, watch closely and recognise the way our body is communicating with us: how does our body react when we are angry, happy, scared, disappointed, sad, excited, bored, nervous, or in love?

Now, when we’re about to make decisions, take a look at the options available to us. Read the options one by one. We can also associate ourselves with that choice when we’re reading it out loud. For example, we can say: “I keep working for this company for another year!” and then “I enrol in this art school and study art for a year!”

Try saying each option repeatedly, out loud, to ourselves: then notice how our body reacts to each statement.

Which option makes our body feels heavy, or shrink, which one makes the mind feels blurry, the eyes feel rather hot? Which option makes our body feel light and open, the mind feels calm, the eyes feel clear?

Or, examine our bodily reaction once again: what kind of physical reactions we have when we are bored, or when we are excited? Try matching these bodily reactions to each option: which option makes the body react as if it were bored, and which option makes the body react energetically?

Which option gives the sensation of pleasure, and which option gives a sense of disappointment?

If there’s one thing I learned about making decision, it’s this: there is no right decision, or wrong decision.

Decisions are just the many paths we choose to travel in, with all the views, stories, people, experiences, possibilities, challenges, and consequences along the way.

Every decision we take will certainly add up to our life experience, and teach us one or two things about life. So this is not about making the right decision; or avoid the potential for making the wrong decision.

It is about making decisions consciously, and clearly. About paying close attention to why we choose one option and not another. To know ourselves. To know that whatever decisions we take in the end, we take them consciously, by listening to ourselves, by listening to our heart.

By being honest.


Hanny Kusumawati




PS: What was the most difficult decision you’ve ever made?

On Losing and Moving On.

Losing ‘Someone’

A few years ago, when I was nursing a vicious heartbreak, I stumbled upon a mother-daughter dialogue in a young adult novel. They were arguing about the daughter’s boyfriend. I couldn’t remember the title and the exact conversation, but it goes more or less like this:

Daughter: But he is my WHOLE world!
Mother: NEVER said that about anyone, ever! Not even me!

And something suddenly clicks.

I have lost people I love–either we grew apart, or we were ‘dimensionally’ parted when they passed away. What follows was a period of mourning a loss and a struggle to move on.

Losing the ‘Feelings’

I started to learn that often times, we’re not just losing ‘someone’. We’re losing the feeling of being with that someone. We’re losing the feeling we have attached to this individual. Thus, when we lost that someone, we were deprived of whatever feelings we have attached to that person.

When my mother passed away, I lost a best friend, a sense of security, a sense of direction… a support system. At other times, when ‘losing a boyfriend’, I lost the feeling of being loved and wanted, a dream… my confidence, joy, source of inspiration.

Now I know why the mother in the young adult novel said that you can’t make someone your WHOLE world. Because then we are making that person responsible for providing us all those feelings we want to feel. We make that person responsible for our WHOLE LIFE.

People go in and out of our lives. And when we put our whole life in the hand of one person, when that person is gone, we would lose our whole life as well. This is when it’s the hardest to move on, because we are grieving a massive kind of loss.

Moving On

These past few years, I learned not to put my eggs in one basket. I tried to get the feelings I want to feel from different people in different places, by doing different things.

More importantly, I learned how to grow these feelings I want to feel internally.

We need to cultivate the feelings we want to feel ourselves; instead of waiting for someone to give them to us. This is how we nurture our heart: by creating those feelings and growing them back when we lost them along the way.

Hanny Kusumawati