Why I quit my job and moved to Bali

Over the past several months, Charley and I have quit our jobs, broken our lease, sold or donated most of our possessions, and flown across the world to relocate to Bali, Indonesia.

There are many reasons why we decided to take a mini-retirement. For one, we fell in love with Bali on our honeymoon last year and wanted to spend more time on this island. Our favorite town here, Canggu, offers a low cost of living with a high quality of life, warm weather, delicious and healthy food, and beautiful beaches. We are one year into our marriage and this trip will offer us extended time to contemplate upcoming decisions about our careers, location, and future children. And as many parents have told me, “now is the time to do it!”

But there is another reason that particularly compelled us to make this transition.

Over the past few years, I’ve identified a host of physical and mental symptoms that have been negatively impacting my health, my relationships, and my life, and I’ve been diagnosed with several chronic illnesses. Managing these illnesses on top of a full time job has been challenging and at times barely possible. Yet through lifestyle changes, therapy, meditation, medication, supplements, mood charting, nutrition, and sleep, I’ve made major progress. The frequency, duration, and severity of my symptoms have been going down consistently since I began a recovery process in 2015.

But there is one condition that is not getting better — in fact, it’s continuing to worsen. I have hypermobile joints, which means that my joints have an excessive range of motion, causing my ligaments to become lax and my muscles to take on extra load. In four years, I’ve sustained ten major muscle injuries across my body. In nearly every case, I was performing a basic everyday activity such as walking, stretching, or bending when the injury occurred. In two cases I became injured while receiving bodywork treatment.

When I get a major injury, the hurt region atrophies and another region of my body is recruited to take on extra work. This results in a cycle of pain, atrophy, and musculoskeletal misalignment that makes me increasingly prone to future injury. What every health practitioner has agreed on is that I need to build alignment and strength to reverse this cycle. Figuring out how to accomplish that without sustaining another injury is the task at hand. 
I’ve been fortunate enough to work with doctors, personal trainers, rolfers, chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, pilates therapists, yoga therapists — the list goes on — for help with my pain and misalignment for over 15 years. I have found temporary relief but never a sustainable solution. At the age of 31, I am ready to take my body and my health into my own hands. We have come to Bali so that I can fully dedicate myself to crossing this elusive threshold of strength in an optimal healing environment.

The first step is to deepen my meditation practice and spend more time being still. For the past two years, I’ve practiced daily somatic meditations while on my back, and I’m starting the slow and achy process of learning to sit on my two sitting bones. My body has been in a chronic fight with gravity, pushing, leaning, cracking and thrashing to stay upright. Turns out, when our bones are aligned, we can actually sit or stand by relaxing down into the gravitational force. I’m working to gradually train my musculoskeletal and nervous systems to rely on the ground beneath me.

I am tremendously grateful for the ability to take a break from work. For my US passport that allows me to travel here freely. For the great health insurance that has covered my care these past few years. For my amazing health practitioners who have helped me heal enough to come on this journey. For my friend Leannah who inspired me to move to Bali. For Charley’s partnership in the toughest challenge I’ve ever undertaken.

Regardless of the specific physical outcomes of the trip, I know I will leave this island with a deeper sense of what my body needs and how I can care for myself. Though my days will center around various healing activities, we’ll make sure to have fun and enjoy all the Bali has to offer!

Special thanks to Zai, Priscilla and Charley for their help editing this post.