Before I visited Bali for the first time, I’d heard about it from several people. They gushed about the beauty there and the peacefulness of the people. Many said if I went, I wouldn’t want to come back. I was intrigued to say the least. Finally the day came when I held a ticket to Bali in my hand, wondering what awaited me. I would be traveling for a month alone and I was little afraid I’d feel scared and lonely being so far from home. Thanks to my friends on Facebook, I connected up with a friend of a friend in Bali, Lisa.

“I came for the yoga, stayed for the free-diving,” she told me as she casted her flip-flops onto the sand. She’d taken me to the local dive shop in Amed, a small village on the northeast tip of Bali and introduced me to her friends she’d made there. “They’re like my family away from home. They’re the best.” Lisa had been coming to this dive shop every day for almost 6 months. Everyone knew her and teased her like a little sister. She goes on to tell me about free-diving, which she has taken up since being in Bali. A self-proclaimed fraidy-cat of the water, Lisa decided to face her fears and can now dive to over 100 feet, unassisted by an air tank. “I came to Bali, intending to stay for 3 weeks, then to go to Thailand for another 3 weeks. Instead I stayed for 4 months.” Despite frequent trips back to NYC to visit family, Lisa has been living in Bali for over 4 years now.

Working as a highly stressed out litigation attorney in New York City, Lisa had a whole other life before she discovered her next adventure. “My days used to be spent in a small office surrounded by reams of paper under harsh fluorescent lights. Now they're spent in the Bali Sea amid multi-colored fish and coral.” With a yearning for travel, Lisa finally pulled the trigger on booking her first trip to Bali when a friend said, ‘take your laptop and go.’ And the rest was history.

Lisa rents out her apartment in New York City in order to make her new life in Bali work. She also works remotely now, but instead of law she’s taken up other interests and says the change has changed her for the better. “Most of my friends are extremely supportive. Some think I'm crazy,” she says to me as we look out into the crystal blue waters and prepare for snorkeling. I glance at her and ask if I can take a portrait of her, just as she was at that moment, wrapped loosely in her sarong. Her skin was aglow and hair tasseled from the sea air. I couldn’t really imagine her anywhere else.

A few more …

About the currency project

The Currency Project challenges us all to see the beauty through the pain, the positive that can come from a negative and the heartbreak that can turn into a new beginning. Life is uncertain but our faith, hope and love can never be taken from us. Our true currency in life is what we make it.