My Saturn Return brought me to hell. But I found my way back.
First of all, what in the world is Saturn Return?
It sounds a little fluffy or what my friend would call a "unicorn frappe,” but I think it's very much real. Saturn Return is when Saturn returns to where it was when you were born almost 29.5 years ago. The slow-moving planet completes one full orbit and brings with it a lot of difficult growth, movements, beginnings, and endings.
Here's a breakdown of my Saturn Return:
Moved to Bali
Lost my grandfather
Lost my job, and the only source of income I had while living in Bali.
Lost my father
Lost my friend a week later.
The dominos fell, and I felt every single one of them shift my core. Thanks, Saturn.
I lost my narrative
I did a 180 in my career and dropped everything to pursue becoming a remote freelance writer. It was risky, it was hard, and that itself presented a lot of opportunities for growth. I bought that one-way ticket in May 2018 with the very little savings I had managed to earn working two jobs, and left with a heart full of hope and perseverance. But the universe had other plans for me, which were to follow.
I lost my identity
One month into moving, I lost my grandfather. Since I was a baby, I have always been close to my Japanese grandparents and held a strong cultural identity to my Japanese lineage. I spent New Years visiting the Buddhist temples, had a full blown coming of age ceremony called "shichi-go-san" when I was seven-years-old, and grew up watching Sailor Moon and Detective Conan (Tom and Jerry, who?).
As I sat at my grandfather's funeral watching the Buddhist monk read the scriptures, I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if my grandmother passed away. I wouldn't have a reason to visit, and it wouldn't be the same without the presence of my grandparents. As I attended my very first Japanese funeral, I felt like an alien observing a culture I didn't know as well as I thought I did.
How Japanese was I now?
Without them, how Japanese would I be?
I felt like I lost a part of my identity.
I lost my mentor
Two months after my grandfather, I lost my dad. My dad was my superhero and my mentor. He taught me about the law of attraction, how to change a car tire, and was my number one supporter when it came to following my path.
"I'm moving to Bali," I told him one day.
"Awesome! When can I visit?" was his response.
After losing my dad, I feel like I lost the connection I had with my CHamoru culture. I was mamålao (shy) to attend functions, and felt a disconnect with my family. The list didn't stop there. I spiraled downward thinking about the father-daughter dance I would never have at my wedding, the Marvel movies I would have to watch alone, and re-establishing a relationship with my mother that I thought I had. Turns out that my dad played a huge role in how we communicated with one another.
I lost my sense of youth
The day my dad passed, I got the news that my friend would be doing voluntary euthanasia. He was my first friend in college, we pledged together for the same co-ed fraternity, and he was the one who inspired me to move to Bali. He did everything by the book– went to college, studied hard, and got a great job. He realized that photography was his passion, and then spontaneously bought a ticket to Southeast Asia to travel. He followed his passion, and it scared me that I was doing the same.
But I gained love
I just turned 29.
It wasn't until recently that I felt the shedding of all the layers that I had used as protection. I wasn't the same person I was prior to my Saturn Return, then again I shouldn’t expect myself to be. But underneath all those layers I finally found it – genuine love and respect. For as long as I can remember, I associated my value and self worth with the way people treated me, the jobs I was able to attain, or accomplishments I felt were "OK" to feel proud about.
Through my losses, I got myself out of bed. Sure, there were days I would sleep all day because the depression would just hit hard but at the end of the day I got up, and I showed up. Through my losses, I pushed forward and found meaning in my work including launching the Dear Gorgeous podcast and Collective Culture.
I showed up for me, and that's truly the greatest love you can have for yourself.
Saturn's Return is impactful. It's a rollercoaster of growth and shakes you in ways you can't even plan for. But I will tell you this – you're going to be OK.
The universe wouldn't give you losses if the gains weren't greater.
In the most recent Dear Gorgeous podcast, my co-host Gilayna and I talk about abundance.
It was in the middle of our G&A session, that G looked at me and asked me what my definition of abundance was. The first thing that came to my mind was having a peace of mind. I was a bit surprised. Many of us associate the word “abundance” to money, but it’s more than that. It’s time, energy, relationships, and appreciating the simple things in life.
My father had taught be about Law of Attraction when I was seventeen years old. I thought it was a bunch of fluff in high school but the older I got, I became more open-minded to this manifestation technique he often talked about. To break it down, the Law of Attraction is the law of the universe that “like attracts like”; this law also is based on your energy and the vibration you send out to the universe. The universe listens and only responds to your vibrations and it’s not your job to worry how you’ll manifest.
Regardless if you believe in the Law of Attraction or not, there is one thing you need to do in order to live abundantly and that’s to get clear on what you want. Now before you go into a panic frenzy, it’s okay to not know exactly what it is you want but you must have an idea.
How to script
First, get clear on what you want and write it as if it’s already happened. Don’t think about how it’s going to happen, but just write it as if you already have it. It can be as long or short as you want. It can also be about one aspect of your life or your whole life in general. There are no limitations to scripting but you must also feel as if it’s already happened.
For an example: I always wanted to be an author and have a writing nook somewhere in Europe.
Today, I walked down to the cafe and ordered me a chocolate croissant and cafe latte. I took a moment for myself and decided to people watch for a bit. Afterwards, I went to the bookstore and browsed around for new inspiration and found just the book! I decided to grab lunch at the park with a good friend of mine as we chatted for hours about what happening including my upcoming book tour. I got back home and settled in my writing nook with so many ideas from the conversation I just had. I’m really loving the weather right now. It’s raining as we speak and hearing the rain is calming and soothing.
This is a very short version of what a “day as an author” looked like in my head. It’s detailed, but not to the point where it distracts me from the whole point of the exercise, which is to let things flow. I wasn’t worrying about which country in Europe I would living at or how realistic it would be to rent an apartment there. I wasn’t worried about my first two books that I “published” and how it was published, and I didn’t have a picture of my friend I had lunch with. Everything I had written flowed naturally and almost easily – and it should be.
Now, give it a try!
As I was scrolling through my notes, I realized that I had once asked 15 people what they thought the world needs more of. I'm pretty mad at myself for not uploading this sooner, but as reread their answers I couldn't help but feel moved.
The world needs more people with drive. The possibilities of what a person can achieve when truly driven really are almost infinite. For the most part, we're all born with the same tools. The only reason that most people don’t excel is that they choose not to - J,N.
The world needs more connections. Actual human connection face to face. We're missing that more than anything these days. - R.A.
The world needs more french fries. The world needs more empathy. - E.C.
The world needs more humble hearts. I just think there’s a lot of people out there who compare themselves to others because lately society or even just people themselves give an image that being smart, wealthy, physically fit, etc. and all other things that don’t necessarily make people happy. - S.I.
The world needs more open-mindedness and acceptance. - S.A.
The world needs more green, tree, and nature. We’re fucking up the earth, man. - M.T.
I think people need to go after their passions more and not be afraid to live. I think so many people are on autopilot and aren’t living their lives; I think more people need to be present and connected and take care of themselves. Really, it comes down to the fact that people just really need to actually live life and live in a way that’s not based on fear - K.S.
The world needs more profitable education - M.N.
Justice, order, and balance - J.R.
The world needs more love. We live in a society today plagued with widespread misunderstanding of cultures and people different from our own backgrounds. We all need to realize what’s happening around us and the thought patterns within us. We need to slow down, open up our minds and hearts to the abundance of beauty this world has to offer by getting to know our neighbors and those perceived to be “different” from us. Only then can we begin to heal the hatred, see the humanity within each other, and lead our world into a better age - S.A.
The world needs more kindness, compassion, and love to heal humanity and increase equality around the world. So we can share the resources we have with those that need more. So we can decrease this gap in society that is based on the color of our skin and our heritage. We need these things so the world will be a better place for the next generation - A.A.
Self-awareness. Too many people caught up in how things affect them. They need to see how things affect both them and the community around them - N.A.
The world needs more laughter. I feel as though people have forgotten how to take a joke or see the humor in a bad situation. Take me for instance: I lost both my parents within a span of almost two years. The first thing I told one of my best friends was: “Hey! I’m orphan!” He didn’t know whether to laugh or not, but I said it was okay. It was my way of coping. I can't reverse what happened and I know for a fact that everyone around me is going to be walking on eggshells trying not to make me sad or cry, so I might as well get a good laugh in. Not to mention, this past year, alone, has been the pinnacle of sensitivity. You can't seem to say anything without a community of people being offended or taking something way out of context. With how upside down the world has been, people need something positive and there's nothing more positive than laughter. It's contagious and universal. Nobody laughs in a certain language and that's what makes it more beautiful and significant. If there's anything that needs to be spread on this earth, then laughter should be it. - N.M.
The world needs more truth. Everyone questions everything so much, but no one really wants to say the truth. How a lot of things are too sugar-coated, you know what I’m saying? - H.T.
The world needs to start to accept what is and move on. Not everything will work out the way you want them to not because it's not time, but because it's not YOUR time yet - R.P.
What do you think the world needs more of?
“Can I be honest with you?” My childhood friend, brother, and the person I go to when I’m in a creative rut was about to get real. He was about to lay it on me and I don't think I was ready.
“You are so finicky with your projects.”
Bingo. I was, and I knew this. I thrive in generating ideas – ideas for novels, blog posts, videos, social media campaigns, interviews, projects, and the list goes on and on. If there’s one gift I’m proud of having and can confidently vouch for myself, it’s creating ideas out of thin air. If there's one thing I wasn't good at, it was committing to myself.
But here I was, never have executed anything to its fullest potential and I wasn’t sure why.
“I know,” I responded. Did I really know, though?
“You're too worried about what other people will think.”
I wish I could say I didn’t care and blissfully go about my life not giving two shits, but I do. This wasn’t the reason.
Also true – but not in fear of success or “making it” or failing for that matter; it was the fear of, “what if this wasn’t my mission? what if this wasn't what God or the Universe wanted for me.”
That was a scary thought because at this present moment I wanted this, and it's all I've known. Since I was thirteen, I dreamt of becoming an author who wrote magical stories about whimsical realms. Yet, I've accumulated years of crafted excuses and a bunch of "I'm too busy" nonsense that prevented me from fully committing to my novel, because God forbid, what if I wasn’t meant to be an author?
So what’s better than facing it? Avoiding it.
Avoiding that moment– if it even exists– that your dreams were not meant to be. If it weren't meant to be, there's a great chance that something better is waiting for you around the corner. If those dreams weren't meant to be, then you were meant for greater things.
Cliche, I know. So I learned to look at it like this instead.
What if we're meant to have multiple dreams? What if the story I had written was meant to be a movie instead? What if I just commit to this for the sake of committing to myself for a change? What if the reason I fail as a fantasy author is that I was meant to be a YA author?
You never know unless you reach that fork in the road. You also will never know unless you start walking down that road.
I mean, whoever said we're limited to just one dream anyway?
So I started my digital nomad journey – and it was not what I thought it would be. You would think picturesque sunsets, coconuts by your laptop, and adventure-filled weekends chasing waterfalls and waves.
Hate to break it to – that's all an illusion. Shit don't come that easy, and this journey so far has taught me that and more.
Within the first two weeks, I got in a scooter accident that didn’t only traumatize me but left me limping for two weeks. I stayed home, had to fork out extra cash to cover the scooter damage and relied heavily on a scooter service to take me around everywhere. At this point, I felt drained.
By the third week, I lost my remote job and my only source of income. To top that off, I’ve been spending six hours a day pitching to companies, following up, and applying to jobs while hustling on my passion projects. At this point, I felt frustrated.
The time week four came around my mom had informed me that my grandfather had passed away. Stirred with grief, I took whatever savings I had left to fly to Japan to give my grandfather a proper sending. At this point, I felt defeated.
I knew it wasn’t going to be easy; I also didn’t know it was going to be this hard. I’ve had more breakdowns in a week than I had all of last year. But if there’s one thing that amazes me, it is how fast my recovery time has become. I let myself feel all the emotions of stress, doubt, and insecurities because those feelings are necessary. Afterward, I release because if you don't those feelings then become toxic.
I then get back on my computer because at the end of the day, “I wanted this."
I finally decided to rent another scooter and have been taking baby steps on the road by avoiding traffic. I charged my co-working membership on my credit card because I knew that there were huge benefits in surrounding myself with like-minded people.
This shit is hard. So damn hard, but there’s an importance in showing up every day. There are layers we need to peel and sometimes are forced to peel; with every layer, you learn how much more you can handle, and it’s always a little more than the bar you had originally set for yourself.
I sometimes think the universe looks at me and goes, "You gonna learn today, girl.”
Maybe the universe is right. But as long as I show up to each lesson, I know I’ll get to where I want to be and nothing short of that.
Welcome to the two-story chic and modernized cafe with some cool and collected vibes. When it comes to Bali, you truly are in the wonderland of creative, cozy, and vintage cafes all spread across the island – Coffee Cartel being one of them.
Here's the Grind:
Where: Seminyak, Bali
What: Dirty Coconut - espresso + coconut water
What’s playing: “Running Back to You" - The Juan MacLean
The two-story coffee shop is a great place to get some work done or even have a private lunch date on the second floor. With gluten-free and vegan-friendly option, it's the perfect place to kick back and relax on some cushioned pillows away from the busyness of the Seminyak shopping malls.
I wanted to explore beyond my soy latte and came across the "Dirty Coconut."
"Hey, a tropical Americano!" I thought. Time for bolder adventures.
Well, it was bold, alright! Way stronger and bitter for my taste and I've had my fair share of Americanos, but was refreshingly different from what I was used to on my coffee roundabouts.
It got the work done and maybe I threw in some sugar in there too. Maybe.