I'm in Bali and here's how it happened.

Hi from Bali! I know it's been quite awhile since my last post, but my travels have sparked a need to share in me. Mainly because I've received an abundance of messages and texts asking what I'm doing, why I'm doing it and how it all happened. So here's the story...

After quitting my full time job and starting a business a few years ago, I experienced a flood of emotions. Excitement, insecurity, doubt, empowerment, elation, anxiety and depression. Within a short span of time, I went from being unmarried, living in a low maintenance townhouse and working a regular 8-5 job in fundraising and event planning to married, historic home owner (meaning a wealth of renovation and construction in my future) and an entrepreneur. Basically, I went from independence, financial security and stability to well, everything but. Flash forward to February 2015, I'm sitting in a completely disorganized home office on a dreary southern winter day feeling a strong case of the winter blues. It was a cold, rainy Monday and I was overcome with the reality and responsibility that I was the only person that could dictate my success, future and joy. WHOA. It felt big. It still does. There's no manager or supervisor to help guide, praise or criticize me or my work. IT'S ONLY ME. For an extrovert, that's a challenging truth. 

I decided I needed support, training, travel, basically any external source of wisdom. So began the search for further education. I sat in my cluttered office googling every combination of nutrition, yoga and wellness training I could imagine. I knew that I wanted something that combined yoga and food. I searched all the big wellness education centers in the US, but everything was so expensive. Thousands of dollars for a short, inconclusive training that didn't include my airfare and sometimes lodging. Then, I found it. Attuning to the Seasons by Swara Yoga in Tuscany, Italy.  Call it dumb luck, call it excellent googling skills, call it divine intervention - who knows. I stumbled on a website that to this day I have not been able to find through search, only typing in the exact web address. I was totally enthralled. Two yoga classes a day and 1 cooking class everyday all centered around balancing your body to each season. It was affordable and I could use sky miles on Delta to get there. I searched more to figure out if this was even real - was it a scam? Are they Yoga Alliance certified? It all checked out. But the big question, can I do this? Can I leave and just go to Italy by myself? Later that day a close friend and workout buddy, Jenna, countered that question with why not? Why couldn't I and would't I do this? After a month or so, I booked it. Done. I was going to Italy by myself for 6 days in Tuscany learning about yoga and nutrition according to seasonal changes. 

What I experienced there was more than I can put into words, several blog posts on their own. In short, I can tell you that I truly discovered how nourishing and balancing the right combination of yoga and nutrition can be. It was profound. That training combined with the experience of 10 days solo travel changed me. I felt direction and passion in a way I had never experienced. Truth be told, when I got off the train in Italy, I half expected not to be picked up. A big part of me wondered if I had transferred money to a scam artist. But it worked out - the way life does when you are living your truth and on your path. I met amazing people from all over the world (I was the only American there) and experienced 6 days of clean, sustainable living. 

 

As the training came to a close, I learned about their 300hr Yoga Teacher Training in Bali. A 30 day immersion from October-November 2016. I asked a lot of questions, but mainly tried to convince them to offer the training in Central America. I explained all the reasons I could NEVER leave for a month for Bali. I told them it was too far. I would miss my husband, my parents & sister, my sweet Lollie girl. I couldn't leave my clients. I didn't have the money....blah blah blah. One limiting statement after another. My teacher explained to me why the training was in Bali (Spiritual Center) and why it had to be an immersion (depth and gravity of content). 

I thought about the training almost daily. I thought of every reason I couldn't do it. However, just like my decision to leave my cushy job and start a business, I continued to feel a strong pull to do this. I've always had a take the road less traveled way of life anyway. So in spring 2016, I began emailing with the instructor and eventually went through the application and interview process to be accepted. After a million conversations with my husband and mom, I pulled the trigger. I put down my first deposit and set the wheels in motion. 

Leaving BHM with my ginger tea

Leaving BHM with my ginger tea

So, now I'm in Bali washing clothes in a sink, staying in a bungalow with no AC or hot water for $27/night and I'm loving life. It took me 42 hours to get here and I really have no idea what to expect, other than certainty that this is right for me. I will be in training from October 26-November 25 with limited access to the internet. There are several people and elements that came into play in preparing for this trip that I want to share, but that's another post. For now, I'm in Bali for the next 6 weeks. My husband will meet me here just before training ends, so we can relax and enjoy this unique experience together. My normal life will resume on December 5, but I imagine "normal" will be redefined, as it is after life changing events. 

For now, I would like to leave you with one quote. This quote was read in my very first yoga class by my first teacher and over the past 10 years, it has had a sneaky way of reappearing in my life and just the right moments. It reminds me that I am meant to be great and that anything is possible, when you are living your passion and truth.  Our Deepest Fear, by Marianne Williamson. 

 

Let there be Peace on Earth.

Let there peace on Earth…

and let it begin with me. The idea of “holiday stress” has always seemed solely cliché and never applicable to me. That’s most likely because for most of my life all I had to do was wake up, run downstairs, open the gifts, eat the ham and sweet potatoes, and revel in the magic of a holiday that brought so much happiness and cheer. As an adult (and mother) with gifts to buy, really long car trips to conquer, and multiple family occasions to attend, stress has surreptitiously slunk its way into my favorite time of year.

Since we were married, my husband and I have never lived in the same city as our families, both of which live in the same city. We kill the proverbial two birds with one stone when we make the haul home and get to spend time with both sides, which is so wonderful. However, this once-absent holiday stress first appeared when we started trying to be everywhere, for every event, for everybody. Well, not for everybody, for us. We didn’t want to miss anything if we didn’t have to, but this all-inclusive RSVP meant a lot of time bouncing around, a lot of sneaky glances at the clock, a lot of late arrivals, and for me, a lot of guilt. Add in two babies and very little sleep, and the whole thing was just plain exhausting. I felt like I could never really be anywhere. In my mind, I was already on to the next meal at the next house with the next family member, and the anxiety of disappointing someone was ever-present and ever-growing.  Talk about an out-of-body experience… We needed everyone’s patience and understanding, but we needed our own most of all.

In talking to friends and family, I learned I am not the only absent-minded guest at the brunch table (sub: dinner table, dirty Santa game, cocktail party). This year, I am making a resolution before the ball drops; one that will serve me well for what is left of this year. I am making a promise to myself to forgive. That’s right: forgiveness is the stuff peace is made of. How you ask? That stress (which leads to anxiety, which leads to edginess, which leads to guilt) can be curtailed with a little compassion and a lot of grace. And, it starts with me…or you. Instead of beating myself up for the array of things I should have done better, namely not getting so stressed in the first place, I vow to pat myself on the back, forgive myself for whatever I am thinking or feeling, and remind myself that I really am doing the best I can. When you are easier on yourself, you can be easier on others, and that is how grace can grow and peace can spread.

That said, if you Google “holiday stress,” you will stare down link after link of helpful coping tips and ways to ward off what seems to be a cultural norm. I browsed through several, and there is some really useful information out there. From sniffing citrus to taking a walk to just saying no to at least one holiday obligation or request, everyone has a list of go-to stress busters in easy-to-navigate slide show format. My biggest takeaway was a simple one. Nothing is perfect. Every family has conflict, every dinner has an overcooked turkey or undercooked potatoes, every gift exchange has at least one unscraped price tag. Try to shake the expectation for perfection à la Stepford and see that life is unfolding as it is meant to. It’s okay to be down, underwhelmed, or irritated at the holidays, just don’t let those emotions take root. Acknowledge them, let them go, and make room for joy. Don’t miss the smile on your child’s face when he opens his first present, the cold, creamy taste of the egg nog, or the familiar chorus of your family laughing in unison.

The peace is actually always there. We don’t make it; it was given to us long, long ago. It is our choice to deem ourselves worthy of a calmer, happier existence than is possible when our lives are stifled by stress. We deserve this always, but especially now. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? We have been given the ultimate gift. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Wishing peace, joy, and love to you and yours,

Melissa