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Bali: The Spark That Lit My Soul on Fire



Where do I even start? Bali blew up my entire life from beginning to end. Bali was my awakening, the flip of my light switch- from the moment I said “yes”.


I had checked off so much shit on my list of ‘things that mean I’ve made it’. I got the big girl job, I released so much toxic crap, discovered what it meant to be independent and travel as a nurse, paid off the car, had the house… so why wasn’t it enough? I had just begun to get my toes dipped in the pool of meditation and yoga. Zero desire to have a business, zero desire to teach yoga. I just knew I felt better when I did it, had some bomb experiences and wanted to know more. So, I Googled and Audiobook’ed my way through diving a little deeper. I had such an amazing time as a travel nurse living on vacation. I met the coolest people and finally had FUN. Seriously…what the hell was I missing?


On one of my travel nurse adventures, I met one of the brightest lights on my path- to this day. The Burn ICU in Phoenix did a lot to grow us both. We spent our night shifts busting our asses floating to new units together, talking about the ‘more’ that we knew was out there. I didn’t know how or why, but I knew my path with her wasn’t done. I left the Burn ICU and came back to Iowa for a gig near home. Working nights there, I was growing my yoga and meditation practices, and I was just starting to shake the sleeping soul inside me awake. I had watched my brave, adventurous Burn ICU babe and her partner check off MY bucket list for almost a year, and I loved seeing it happen for someone I knew and loved, but I still perceived it as this thing that “those people” do. I watched their labor of love, American Wanderlove (check them out) take off. I watched them build my dream adventure retreat in Bali right before my eyes. I even looked at booking it for my GOLDEN 30th birthday (it started on my birthday)- how badass would that be as a gift to myself? I checked it out, and it was full- of course. So I made other plans with my money and my life, kinda. Then it happened…


I was sitting at the desk on my night shift, checking out more woo-woo shit about meditation, energy and all my witchy goodness. And she reached out. She said, “We have two spots left in our retreat group in September; I think this experience would be perfect for you.” I sat back and thought….hmmmm, I kinda already decided no on this…. and I went back to work, still rolling it around in my head. I finished my shift and started my hour and ten-minute commute home. And I began obsessing over getting to Bali. Could it work? Could I swing it financially? Could I do it alone? I would definitely love it, and I would definitely love to be back in the company of this incredible soul and see where she’s at in all ways right now. I would have a blast, and it’s something that would feel incredible to accomplish. The Island of the Gods…Asia’s #1 tourist hotspot- I’d be an idiot not to try, but we’ll just see what happens.


I’m standing in the shower after said night shift. I’m washing my hair, soap suds everywhere, music blasting. I start BAWLING. Because I knew. I knew right that second that I was going to Bali. And I knew it was more than just going to Bali. I didn’t know why in my mind, but I knew deeper than even my bones. My soul knew it was time to wake the fuck up and start remembering who I am and what I’m here to be, to do. The eyes of my soul finally snapped open, ready to get to work. I reached for my phone and hit her up. I told her I was coming. After that, there was no stopping that momentum. I didn’t care about money, vaccinations, travel, being alone- none of that was an issue. I was going to Bali, that’s it. And tested I was.

I had to run between about 5 different doctors to try to find someone to get me the vaccines the CDC recommended (which I probably wouldn’t get again). I pissed off the hospital I was working for at the time by missing my last couple shifts to make my trip and new job work out. I burned the shit out of my finger days before leaving and got to dance around flying with a giant blister going up to altitude and watching it deflate, then landing and watching it fill back up to near-explosion multiple times, while also hoping I didn’t get some gross disease in it while overseas. My flight to NYC was delayed, and because I booked separate itineraries, there was no rearranging. I called a company and just handed over my credit card info and said get me to JFK! And they did ($400 later), zero hesitation or worry! And I got my exhausted, happy ass on a plane and flew across the world.


As soon as I landed and took a breath of that magical air, I was in love. My driver was waiting for me. He was learning English by driving tourists around the country. If you ever get there, he is the MOST incredible human and he delivers the most amazing experience. A self-made priest with a rough history, he follows the three major Eastern faiths, while still being real as hell. We got immediately to the heart of humanity, life, love, wisdom, the soul in each of us. I got to meet his family and see his home, the temple where he worships. All within 2 hours of touchdown. I knew this was one of the many homes for my soul.


He dropped me with American Wanderlove- the duo that I had NO CLUE were my Soul Mama and Soul Papa at the time. We had dinner on the most amazing porch of my BnB (also please hit them up- D’Tepi House, Ubud) caught up a bit, and then I crashed HARD after an almost 24 hour commute across the world. I still remember exactly how it looked, sounded, felt, smelled. This was Bali. I had a room with giant glass doors, a big- ass bed to myself, and a room that overlooked the jungle canopy, with a flowing river and waterfalls just below us. Hand crafted, fresh, organic breakfast made with ACTUAL LOVE. I mean this is pants-shitting amazing already.


I woke up to new neighbors as parts of the group arrived, and we had time to adventure before the retreat started. When I say I fell in love with everyone on that retreat, I mean it. Each of those incredible humans breathed new life, inspiration, and love into my soul. I learned SO FUCKING MUCH. I learned about how I’m not the only one wandering around going okay, when the fuck do we start living? This rat race isn’t it, right? I love following them still and seeing them literally around the world meeting up wherever our paths cross years later. I miss them and I hold them close.


And let me tell you about the Balinese people. Wow. Soooo humbling. They have nothing, and will give you all their nothing with a smile on their face and love in their heart. They are the happiest, most grateful, generous, loving people. They create time 3 times a day to show thanks with beautiful offerings from nature. They want to know you. They don’t give a shit about Instagram likes and keeping up with the Jones’. The give a shit about who you are, are you well, happy? They are graceful, strong, patient, and you can feel their smile deep down inside.


I motorbiked around the most beautiful countryside, roomed with a soul I can only describe as Western Ghandi, had a spa day at one of the top-7 spas in the WORLD, fell in love with mango, cacao, nature, water, and best of all humanity in ways I couldn’t dream until I lived it. I hiked an active volcano at 2am to watch the sunrise both outside my body and inside my soul. I played with monkeys, snorkeled the most beautiful blue waters, brought out little Kaitlyn on the Bali Swings, had the most gorgeous views at the temple before an INCREDIBLE traditional fire dance, and turned my body into a canvas for beautiful art once again. But more important than the adventure was the growth that came with it.


I experienced a new form of yoga I had never tried. I had my first introduction to energy work and breathwork. I felt things science and Western anything can’t explain. And I can’t unsee it, unfeel it. It’s real because something more than rationale knows it’s real. And it lit me on fire. I sat in circle, I shared. I didn’t feel like I had to be cool or smart or pretty or posed. I felt at home in myself, with my tribe. I HAD A TRIBE! Of course, I have family, and love in so many ways, but this was next-level- that thing that makes all the other stuff make sense. I did the workshops and I discovered things in a single evening about myself that I hadn’t had the opportunity to discovery in 3 decades of life. Finally, someone asked me about me. Not my roles, not my accomplishments, ME. Who am I when you strip all of that away? What do I desire at a soul level? And with all the bullshit of life stripped away, the answers came pouring out. The fear of not finding clarity I was looking for in Bali was gone. I handed over my credit card to American Wanderlove and said, “Whatever you got, I want that- take all my money.” And I would pay a billion dollars to experience this over and over.

Because of this I am RUNNING at what I discovered I desire. Because of this, I gained THREE coaches of my own, built a business of my own, acquired a partner, manifested a tribe of my own, discovered the gifts I have always had and gave them energy and life, and created more abundance than I knew was possible back in my Iowa nursing days. I am healthier than I have EVER been. I travel the world and connect, play, and grow always. I am in love with this body that is the perfect vessel for my most perfect soul to come home in this human experience. Because of this I worked through burnout in a career and life I was miserable in for a long time. I found new meaning in old things, people, roles, as well as redefining what I wanted in my space, in my life. And I continue to give myself permission to be, do, feel, experience what is authentic to me without apology, approval, or second-guessing.


I hesitated ever trying to put my Bali experience into words, because experiences of the soul are cheapened by this limiting boundary of words, but if this is what lights the fire under someone else’s ass to go BE, LOVE, GROW themselves, then I will sure try damn hard to do it a sliver of justice. Find your Bali, find YOU in your Bali. Maybe it’s in your backyard, at your mom’s house, in your own bed, jumping out of a plane, in a cup of coffee… wherever it is, I can’t wait to meet you there, in the flames of your soul.

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