My Six Year Search for Baking Soda – The Danger of Assuming That We Know What We’re Looking For!


I took many things for granted before moving to Bali six years ago. I assumed that:

  • days were warm and nights were balmy
  • rainy season was the occasional thunder storm
  • hair products and cosmetics were available
  • I’d have a kitchen
  • not only a kitchen, but a shower and flushing toilet
  • earth tremors were nothing more than a gentle massage

Reality proved to be a variation on that theme.

  • days were hot and nights with a fan on high were tolerable
  • rainy season was a continuous deluge from January through April
  • hair products and cosmetics proliferated but not for blond Norwegians
  • kitchen meant a two-burner camp stove on a counter that hit just above my thighs, a doll-house sized fridge, and no oven
  • the shower was a concrete reservoir with a dip-pour bucket that also served to dump water into the toilet bowl to flush it
  • earth tremors were uncomfortable – earth quakes left my nervous system on high alert for days

Over time I built a house with a real shower, flushing toilet, and a state-of-the-art-kitchen, Bali style. (Still no oven.) I found a hair color that worked. Cosmetics – not yet. My body acclimated to the heat and I learned to appreciate the months of rain in ways I had never embraced snow.

The absence of an oven significantly reduced the need to stock certain ingredients. But baking soda has a multitude of uses beyond its leavening properties, so every few months I cruised the grocery aisles searching for the familiar box.

baking soda


The day I found it was the day after I’d eaten a heaping plate of too spicy, too greasy, mei goreng.

mie goreng


My stomach revolted. If only I had bicarbonate of soda! The two-mile walk to the grocery store wouldn’t hurt my condition so I set out with singleness of purpose. Once there, I made a bee-line to the area that stocked flour, sugar, salt, seasonings, and spices. The unusual packaging and foreign names of things had become familiar but a sudden revelation dawned. Maybe, just maybe, I should look for something other than the orange box.



Seconds later, in a wire bin in the dark corner of a bottom shelf, I found it.

20171110_130651 - Copy

Soda Kue – 3,450 rph = 25 cents. The package was minuscule – a little larger than an egg.


No doubt it had been there all along. If I hadn’t been fixated on the orange box, I could have been enjoying the many uses of that simple white powder for years!

As I walked home, I wondered how many other things had escaped me because I was locked into images from the past. How often had I predetermined what an outcome should look like and closed myself to the magic of discovering something new? The more I thought about it, the danger of defaulting to unconscious settings became clear. If I wasn’t paying attention they’d kick in automatically, and hinder the potential for surprise in my life.

I got home, stirred up a glass of water with soda, and drank it down. Ugh! Same disgusting taste. But the gurgling and belching that ensued brought instant relief.

Awareness is tricky. It runs counter to old programming, and challenges core beliefs. It’s easier to remain in the realm of the unconscious, thinking how we’ve always thought and doing what we’ve always done the way we’ve always done it. But I want more than that from life, and now when I catch myself assuming I know what I’m looking for I hit the pause button, and run it through the Baking Soda Test.






18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Karin Grouf
    Nov 10, 2017 @ 19:50:59

    Pepsid tiny tablet can be picked up next time in states and charcoal also great

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Julie Shobe
    Nov 10, 2017 @ 21:12:03

    Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Anonymous
    Nov 10, 2017 @ 22:20:08

    This is a fun one. Glad to hear your heart, mind, and body continue on a fulfilling path Sherry! Hugs from across the big pond, Rose McInerney

    Liked by 1 person


  4. Jan
    Nov 11, 2017 @ 00:34:26

    What a great reminder to guard against our often-times false presuppositions! Glad you finally found what you were looking for :-).

    Liked by 1 person


  5. sageblessings
    Nov 11, 2017 @ 00:46:29

    Great metaphor for moving out of our comfort zones. Also fun memory of my mom’s (and subsequently my) many uses for baking soda. I buy the biggest box I can find!

    Liked by 1 person


  6. Kate
    Nov 11, 2017 @ 00:57:22

    What a great reminder — from how we can adapt, sometimes without realizing it… to the importance of something we won’t do without and finding it… to opening up and making the quest allegorical to life. I love this! I have been thinking about you, Sherry, and that silly, scary, rumbling volcano. Stay safe and forget the cosmetics – you are gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person


    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Nov 11, 2017 @ 07:24:58

      Thanks for the lovely compliment spoken by someone who has never seen me WITHOUT cosmetics! Actually, it’s too hot for anything more than eyeliner and mascara here. Everything else melts and runs off with the sweat! As for the volcano, Agung is less angry right now and the warning has dropped from the danger level 4 to a cautious level 3. Thank you for your concern and for reading.



  7. Jan Moore
    Nov 11, 2017 @ 02:21:48

    I love this article! So many lessons contained in it. You also gave some valuable insight into living in Bali.

    Liked by 1 person


    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Nov 11, 2017 @ 07:40:46

      Thanks Jan! But don’t take my Bali comments too seriously. I tend to exaggerate just a bit to make a better story! The bathroom and kitchen stuff is all true. The weather, though, can be really chilly June through August. I wear socks to bed and have the duvet up to my nose! Will even wear a long-sleeved hoodie during the day! It’s glorious!



  8. shanemac
    Nov 11, 2017 @ 07:23:25

    Great story. Your words always create clear mental pictures. The funny thing about the baking soda in the orange box is that we do have it here but it is nestled in with the laundry products, not the baking goods.

    Liked by 1 person


    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Nov 11, 2017 @ 07:31:22

      No way!!!! Are you serious? That’s another lesson: ASK! It’s funny because I never look at the cleaning and laundry products. If I need anything I borrow it from Ketut who does all that shopping independently of me. Thanks for letting me know, Shane.

      I’m rather fond of my little Kue Soda packets, though. They’re a sensible size. I remember having the same orange box sitting in the cabinet for years – literally! I bought 2 little packets and they will probably last as long as I do. But the unused one stays sealed and fresh until I need it.



  9. soulfulreading
    Feb 11, 2021 @ 02:47:26

    Nice article! That is life! I have experienced it – when the answer I was seeking was always there but it took a very rude man who I had never met before to come and shout it out at me. The same even now perhaps? Or will it take another trip to Bali? I don’t know?

    Liked by 1 person


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