What Makes Life Truly Fulfilling? I Find Out In Bali

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What Makes Life Truly Fulfilling? I Find Out At A Very Special Women’s Retreat in Bali

Are You a Chicken?

Chickens are a lot like humans. They experience climatic, environmental, social, nutritional, psychological and fear-based stress and when compounded these stressors can negatively affect their health.

Stress in hens causes significant changes to occur in the gut that lowers the PH and when the PH is low, bacteria becomes comfortable and can replicate. These squawking ladies can have a loss of appetite, exhibit aggression and lose their beautiful feathers if the stress becomes too great. Some even die. Yes, chickens are a lot like humans.

All too often, we let our careers, social and family obligations and the day-to-day drudgery of life’s tasks get the best of us. Our friends can see the stress lines carved on our faces; our families can hear the tension in our voices. It’s as clear as seeing gross pecked patches of bald skin on a chicken: we need to give ourselves a break. For relief, we must  first slow down.

As I see it, there are four pillars to health and happiness: wholesome food, regular exercise (yoga!), rest and community.

As I was searching for a yoga retreat of sorts, that would fulfill all of these essentials, I came across a women’s retreat: Goddess Retreats in Bali, Indonesia. For one week, I could practice yoga daily, eat ridiculously healthy and delicious meals (spinach and roasted capsicum omelets, flower salads, jackfruit and veggie stew, sweet and crunchy Tempe, green juices, fruit smoothies, etc.), have time to relax, nap and meditate and build bonds with other solo female travelers from all over the world—I requested a spot immediately.

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When I arrived at the warm and welcoming retreat—tired, hungry, jet lagged and depleted but incredibly hopeful—I sat at the communal dinner table and listened to stories of what brought these global citizens to Bali. Most of these women were, as you can guess, stressed out and in need of a reprieve. As I grew closer to these stellar souls over the week and learned about their full lives back at home, and the stress that can sometimes be attached with careers—a global human resources VP, a psychologist, an L.A. T.V. editor, a martial arts instructor, a teacher, a medieval clothing connoisseur with wanderlust…—I also learned about some of the pain. One woman was suffering from a devastating breakup and another had tragically lost her husband to cancer and was searching for her place in a life without him. Though our shared stories were diverse, we all had one thing in common: we were all seekers. We all wanted to feel something real, learn and grow, and get in touch with what makes a life truly fulfilling.

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The Goddess Retreats, led by these stunning, serene and blissful women, provided a safe space to look at life deliberately, to stare down our choices and learn, or be reminded of, how to make thoughtful decisions that will lead to peacefulness. I absorbed these lessons by feeding my body every day with salubrious nutrition, practicing yoga (much can be solved through a Sun Salutation), indulging in quiet time, blissing out during spa treatments and allowing for meaningful interaction with others—I’ve done all of these things before, clearly, but rarely exclusively or consistently.

The result: I have an allegorically bright red comb, silken unbroken feathers and a confident voice that croons, “I’m privileged to be alive, to think, to care, to listen, to feel, to love and to be joyful for all of my days!”

namaste

By Wendy Altschuler

Wendy Altschuler

Wendy Altschuler is a seasoned writer, editor and adventurer with many publishing credits under her belt. She writes regularly for several publications, churning out indelible travel and lifestyle articles on the regular. Wendy spent well over four years as a contributing writer and special correspondent for Sun-Times Media and while there she developed and wrote her own parenting column: Wendy City Mom. Wendy's stories have also been published in: MSN, Tribune Brand Publishing, Chicago Parent, Blood and Thunder, Five on Five, Yoga Magazine, Yoga Chicago, Chicago Now, The Listen to Your Mother Show, The Association of Writers and Writer's Programs, The Daily Meal, Spafinder, Make it Better, Modern Luxury, Travel Insider, Simplemost, Red Tricycle and more. Fun facts: Wendy was born and raised in Montana; while earning her undergrad in Chicago, she studied abroad in India; formerly, Wendy wrote itineraries and travel tips for a luxury, boutique travel company; and Wendy, A.K.A. Drew Grit, was an athlete and writer/editor for the Windy City Rollers. She's always looking for an adventure — hello skydiving, trapeze, road trips, urban rappelling and parenthood — and she seeks out stories to write home about. www.wendyaltschuler.com

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