I met Karine Willemz at Ubud Pilates in Ubud Bali. Karine is a woman hard to miss, because she fills the room with her presence and grace. I thought she may have been a model I was so intrigued by her I asked if she would be interviewed for the blog about how she came to live in Bali .... this is her inspirational story ....
My name is Karine. I’m French, I’m almost 59. I have been living in Bali for nearly 5 years now.
Before that, I was living in Paris, France, feeling stuck, kind of depressed and unable to imagine that the next ten years of my life would be same as the past. Not enough fun, only duties, I could not believe that life was just about "that", forcing myself to do what I thought I was supposed to do, regardless of what I really like and want to do, that life could not be easy and that I had to be hard on myself to achieve anything.
At the time, the atmosphere in Paris was matching my mindset: unhappy, depressed, people had no enthusiasm for their own future, for life in general, for anything ... So inspiring ! You would smile at people and they would think you were either retarded or that you wanted something from them. So I had had enough. I could feel I was dying bit by bit.
The very first time I went to Bali in 1996, I immediately fell in love with everything. I returned there 3 times along the years and I knew it would not be all. In 2010, as I was going through a coaching process, I had to think about my dreams and at the time, I had written down and cherished this dream that one day, I will have a Villa in Bali, I will live in Bali. Three years later, Bali popped up again "by accident" in my life through a new coaching process along with a potential opportunity to live there ... It struck me that this was something I could not dismiss. At the time, my children were grown ups, I didn’t have a man, didn’t own an apartment, I was living in a furnished place. I was free, totally free. To me, it was now or never and in a month I was here in Bali…. I was 54.
Since I arrived everything proved to me that I was in the right place at the right moment because everything went so smoothly, so positive…. it was meant to be .
I started a personal journey many many years ago but this was the place I could really develop and shift the way I was looking at my life. I feel in partnership with the environment, the universe, whatever you want to call it. I’m not the only one in charge in my life…. I am not the amazon anymore, the strong woman, not the goal setter and goal achiever, this is over because I realized that they were not my intimate goals. Now I work only on what I want and like to do and not on what I could do or supposedly should do. The result is that I’m totally supported in the choices I make.
Three years ago, I started to learn Argentinian Tango with a Russian guy in a hippy (not chic) vegetarian restaurant where people pay only if they have money ... (Only in Bali …) and it was a revelation to me. Today, I travel and dance Tango wherever I go. I’m doing photography too … I’m focusing on what I like what makes me happy. That's the only work I’m doing …. I don’t have time for a job …. so sorry …. I know this is provocative to say but I mean it. My full time "mission" is to develop myself, to take care of myself, of my dreams. Thus, I can love myself enough to give around me and be a source of inspiration for others.
The image above is the view from Karine's lovely little apartment in the middle of the rice fields just outside Ubud.
image by Karine Willemez
I can still live here reasonably cheaply and I know where my priorities are in terms of budget. I have a simple place but which is a 6 star hotel to me. I have extraordinary views on glorious rice fields … I feel blessed.
When you are a certain age like 50 something, instead of thinking of decline it’s so important, to me, to think OK what’s next? What’s the next adventure? What can I discover about myself, what would I like to do, what is my dream…? Strongly believing that anything is possible at any age is so empowering.
It's the best age to blossom … you have some wisdom, you nurture what you want and are clear about what you don’t want. There is no time left for compromises.
I feel Free. It is all about Trust. Trust in Life and in myself. This is the most fantastic and exciting period of my life because it has opened up a whole new world. The environment we are living in is only wallpaper without any walls behind actually. I just had to punch into it and rip it off and I changed my reality. It was time for me to wake up and understand that I could choose my reality and that’s what I did and since then it proved that life has been so easy…. I was scared though in the beginning… the first two years I couldn’t believe that here it was on a plate what I wanted… my life was too easy, for sure I’m going to pay for this…. I was feeling guilty but then I realised I was creating my own luck. It was my choices how I was, how I was relating….
OK when you said I’m doing interviews with women over 50 …. I’m thinking "do I really look like a woman over 50 ?" (kidding), because I don’t think in terms of age, (only maybe when I let fear come in and look too closely in the mirror...). I’m so happy now. I feel unlimited. I was so unhappy at the age of 20 as well as at the age of 40, but in reality it had nothing to do with age, it was a question of substance and fulfilment in my life.
When you have young children you live in a different dynamic, you have to be there for them and it is your "mission" but once they are gone…. It's now on you. It's about what you want…. When you are a free woman or with a - good - match, maybe with a husband, this is the best age to care for ourselves and others. It's just the perfect age, I love to be the age I am.
Even though I’m not a religious person, and I don’t follow any of the Balinese rituals, what I have in common with the people here is that they believe that there is something more than what you see and not everything is under your control.
I think you are responsible for what you choose to believe and thus you are creating the reality you're living in, but you are not omnipotent and you have to be able to surrender to greater forces that will show you the right path. Deciding to live away from my previous environment, is not to be afraid of the unknown, it’s a mindset…. To me, what all expats have in common is that we are able to embrace the change and, most importantly, I believe that I didn’t leave everything…. I went towards something ... A new life and my real self.
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