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Reflecting on a Life-Changing Month in Bali…

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28 days. A world class mentor. 13 women on a mission. 13 first drafts completed. Forever Friendships.

I’m back from Bali, and I want to tell you all about it, because I have a feeling that there’s something within you that wants to get away, pitch a proverbial tent, and immerse yourself in something. Whether it’s a creative project, or yoga, or healing, or simply your journal. For me, Bali was an immersion of all four, and as I write you these words I feel a little closer to myself, a little more connected to my source, and with the bones of something (my book) that will be the catalyst for great change in the lives of many. If you’re keen to hear how it went down, read on.

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Where we stayed

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Many people have asked me where I stayed in Ubud. Seeing as I was there for 28 days, I thought it a little inappropriate to share with the Whole Entire Internet, but now that I’m back on the beaches at Burleigh, let’s have at it and let rip!

Ubud Aura was our home; the place where we worked, ate, played, learnt. Mastin and the team chose it specially as it’s sandwiched between Zen Bali Spa and the world famous Yoga Barnwhich also hosts the highly addictive Garden Kafe (a place I frequented multiple times, daily); home to wheatgrass shots and raw vegan delights and the best damn oatmeal I’ve ever eaten.

The staff at Ubud Aura are divine, the pool’s amazing, they give a mean massage, and the laundry service? Pressed underwear?! Don’t mind if I do!

The only time I left the ‘compound’ was on group outings and for the occasional shop and change of location, and the freedom-loving-traveller in me battled with this. I’m in Bali! I need to see BALI!

No, Tara. You came to Bali to write a book. Sit your ass down, and write.

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Yoga Barn

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Yoga Barn hosts some of the most incredible teachers I’ve had the privilege of practicing with. One month at The Barn has deepened my commitment to yoga, and has reminded me of why yoga found me – to remind me to embody love.

Gypsy was a stand out teacher for me – her Hatha Flow class is friggen sensational; intentional, energising, giggly and feminine. She encourages joy through movement and her personality is almost as addictive as the yoga she teaches. On Halloween, she came dressed as a pirate, and remained in character from start to finish, without skipping a beat – moustache and all. I almost wet myself, holding in laughter that wanted to explode out of me while trying to find balance in tree pose.

Morning Flow with Tanya was also amazing. Such integrity, and attention to detail. And sweat. And verbal Hah!‘s.

Ecstatic Dance

Every Friday night and Sunday lunch time, the Yoga Barn transforms into a stage of self-expressive freakiness. Back in January, I wrote about my Sober Big Day Out. Well, ecstatic dance was that experience, but on organic ‘roids.  Yogis unit to stomp and twist and twirl and sway to electro beats, chilled beats, house beats. The rules? No talking. Be the music. And it was ecstacy. As the sweat poured, egos dissolved and the smiles became bigger. More than just a sober rave, this is a place where people come to feel closer to God. I know I certainly did.

“To sweat is to pray, to make an offering of your innermost self. Sweat is holy water, prayer beads, pearls of liquid that release your past. Sweat is an ancient and universal form of self healing, whether done in the gym, the sauna, or the sweat lodge. I do it on the dance floor. The more you dance, the more you sweat. The more you sweat, the more you pray. The more you pray, the closer you come to ecstasy”. – Gabrielle Roth

Soooooooooo who’s up for some sweaty, praying, ecstatic dancing with me tonight???

This was a Facebook comment in our retreat thread, posted by one of our girls, Kate. It got a Hells yes from me. Next time you go to Ubud, go to Ecstatic Dance, leave any judgement of yourself downstairs (with your shoes) and allow the music to pick you up and do with you what it pleases. I dare you not to leave a changed person.

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On non-writing days…

We purified our souls in holy water…

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We climbed rice terraces…

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We ate at Sari Organik, Clear Cafe and Alchemy (for juice and raw chocolate)…

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We made the trip to White Sands Beach near Candidasa…

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We watched the sun rise up over the volcanoes…

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We were treated to cultural delights in the home of our guide, Agung…

… where we made Balinese offerings, ate authentic local cuisine, prayed in the family’s temple, and sat in awe as his 12 year old twin daughters danced for us. It was beautiful.

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… and I got a tattoo…

… one dot at a time…

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So, what’s this Mastin dude like anyway?

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As someone who shows up online and shoots straight from the heart, one of the biggest compliments to receive is: You’re exactly how you seem on your blog in real life. Authenticity is a beautiful thing to have affirmed back at you. And this is exactly what I’d say about Mastin, although, what I was surprised by, was his tenderness.

I’ve followed The Daily Love for years, applauding him for blazing trails and taking to an online space which is filled with a generation of women. What I want to acknowledge him for here, is his heart. His presence. His ability to hold such potent, sacred space for us. The man’s a pro – no doubt about it – but he’s also refreshingly human. Imperfect. He’s still  learning, but he’s choosing to carry people with him as he does, which I adore.

Our twice weekly sessions with Mastin were outstanding, emotional and super-insightful. He instigated breakthroughs and A-ha!’s like there were going out of fashion, but mostly – and I think I can speak for all of the girls here – in him, we found a mate. And he was right there along with us for the journey; writing the third draft of his book while we all chipped away at our first. We inspired him with our commitment to ‘finish’ just as much as he did, us.

I want to take a little moment to virtual hug Jenna, Mastin’s girlfriend. So humble. So lovely. SO HILARIOUS. you are a Goddess, lady and you literally lit up the room.

And my writing coach, Kelly (although it would probably be more fitting to call her my therapist) was a force to be reckoned with in my 28 day bubble, in ways I don’t think I can articulate.

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Kelly’s in the pink pants. This is Team: Prescriptive Non Fiction

The woman is inimitable, with laser sharp intuition and a presence that shakes the earth. Her knowledge of words, story flow and the publishing biz (she’s a Hay House editor) was invaluable to us freshman, and I’ve left the retreat confident in the future of my book, thanks to her.

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The friendships..

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I’m truly having trouble finding the words here. How can you translate the soul connections, and belly laughs and ugly cries and frustrations and sheer determinations of women that were simply meant to enter into one another’s lives with the written word?

As if I didn’t already feel utterly blessed enough by my tribe here at home, I’m now thrilled to report that my tribe’s gone global: Edmonton, Los Angeles, Seattle, Dallas, the Mid-West; the list goes on. We all knew we’d signed up for something gigantic when we said yes to Bali – what I don’t think any of us expected was that the goodbyes would be so painful.

On the final night as we sat in our closing circle, watching a montage of images captured from the previous month on an overhead projector, I sobbed. Tears uncontrollably creeped out of both corners of my eyes in a constant flow, which – now that I’m writing this – reminds me of something a friend told me recently, regarding tears:

Love is washing you with love.

And I believe it – that’s what is was. Deep love for a dozen women who I’ll hold in my heart, forever.

I learnt what it feels like to love a group of women, without judgement, or comparison, or hierarchy

Those are the words I found coming out of my mouth when it was my turn to share my lessons from the retreat. Kamina reached for my hand and I held on tight; more tears coming when I realised that after today, I won’t be seeing her beaming, beautiful face everyday.

I came away with a bulging first draft of about 68 000 words, but the book is secondary to the angels that I sat in a circle with; around the dinner table with; bared my soul with.

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 What my days looked like

Very different to everyone else’s, that’s for sure. The whole month was an experiment in How Does Tara Work Best? The answer?

A 4am alarm.

2 hours of writing in the dark before a 20 minute 6:30am meditation with a few of the girls.

A 7 or 8am yoga class.

Breakfast.

Another few hours writing.

Lunch at 1pm.

And after lunch, I was quite literally spent. Exhausted. And sweaty.

This wasn’t easy for me. A lot of the other writers were just hitting their stride at lunch time, and I found that I had to constantly remind myself that it was quite alright to retire after lunch, seeing as I had already written for six hours, and more than exceeded my daily word count. Comparison’s a bitch.

Afternoons were spent swimming in the pool, strolling the markets, and eating raw brownies. On the days that I did manage to write after lunch, I deemed myself worthy of a medal. In fact, I ‘finished’ my draft after 10pm at the restaurant next door, and when I did, I guzzled the rest of my mineral water and packed my notebook away. I was done, with five days to spare. Again, it was hard not to jump back in and start restructuring, perfecting, editing.

I came to write a first draft. I did. My work was done.

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Oh yeah. The book.

My book’s working title is The Party Girls Guide to Peace, and it’s entirely different from the online program; with more of a memoir angle. Lessons, unlike the program, are explored through my own experiences; using reflections and contemplations as the change catalyst for the reader.

I’d be lying if I said that writing this draft was easy. It was certainly no Spirited feat. Almost every word felt like a grind to tap out – which was a constant reminder of how important the message is, despite it requiring me to open up about periods in my life I thought I’d rather keep to myself.

You thought I was open and transparent already? Oh dear.

Some days, I woke up grumpy. Often, I’d dream about what I was to write about, and I’d awaken with a petulant No! I don’t want to write about him today! But I’d find myself opening my notebook and scribbling nonetheless. (The hard parts were always handwritten) Fuck! was a mantra of mine; this draft was born of blood, sweat and tears.

I should say here that I’m new to this whole process of writing a book, and I don’t know how much is an appropriate amount to share about this piece of work that is still quite honestly riding around on training wheels (and there’s a long stretch of road ahead yet), but what I learnt about the book as I continued writing, is that the Party Girl archetype, and my experience with her in my late teens and early twenties, is a vessel for me to teach what it means to wear a badge of self-respect. The book is about seeking, and about testing the ominous waters of authenticity. And being more loving.

Yep. The Party Girls Guide to Peace is a love story.

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Phew! Props to your for making it this far! I hope you found this post useful – I’d love you to share it with your peeps; I have a feeling there’s a few of us out there who daydream about running away to Creative Utopia to birth projects 🙂

It’s good to be back. I missed you. I love you.

Beaming you bliss.

PS – I want to chat more about the actual writing process. What do you think?

PSS – Things are changing a little ’round here. Think: more videos. Better. Brighter. Focused on YOU.

PSSS – Holy smokes! From where I sit, the next 6-9 months already look huge, and when that happens, it’s a divine reminder to sit in stillness – for longer , and more often – despite how busy our minds tell us we are, or need to be.

Everything comes from the void. Let’s access the everything by committing to doing nothing every so often.

You with me?

PSSSS – Doors are open for the Daily Love Writers Retreat 2014. What are you waiting for. Apply.

57 Responses to Reflecting on a Life-Changing Month in Bali…

  1. Jasmine November 8, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

    Welcome home XO

  2. Amy November 8, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

    Oh how I’ve missed you! Absolutely adored this post, makes me want to go back to Bali so much. Welcome home beautiful xxxxx

    • Tara November 12, 2013 at 9:48 am #

      Thank you babe x

  3. Claire // This is Lifeblood November 8, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

    Yeahhhhh girl!!!! What a month you have had. I’m off to Bali next week and guess where I’ve booked my accommodation – Ubud Aura! Synchronicity! Will have your tips and tricks bundled under my arm and I’ll be sending you love from my mat. xx

    PS. YESYESYES to more chats on the writing process. Welcome home!

    • Tara November 12, 2013 at 9:47 am #

      Can’t wait to hear all about it sweetie xxx

  4. Erin November 8, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

    Tara! I devoured every single word and wow, I’VE MISSED YOU. I haven’t commented on a blog in months, but I had to pop by and send my gratitude for this baby.

    It sounds like you had the most beautiful, inspiring and pivotal trip away. I’m so happy for you and I can not wait to read the end result!
    Everything about this post is stunning.
    That’s it, I’m feeling so inspired, as well as incredibly JEALOUS! I’ve seriously got to get to Bali! Asap!!!
    Welcome home lovely. xx

    • Tara November 12, 2013 at 9:47 am #

      I’ve missed you too, Erin!

      No need to be jealous honey… you know what you need to do..

  5. Kristen November 8, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

    Oh Tara, I can feel a change within you. My favourite words strung together are “Still the same but changed forever” and thats what this post made me feel all over. Welcome home.

    • Tara November 12, 2013 at 9:48 am #

      This really touched me honey. Thank you.

      (and I do feel changed) xx

  6. Yvette Luciano November 8, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

    Proud. Inspired. Heart full of love.. only way I can describe how I felt reading this.
    Loved your beautiful energy spark today. Was just what I needed.
    Love you. Welcome home baby xxx

  7. Yvette Luciano November 8, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

    shit’s about to get real 🙂

    • Tara November 12, 2013 at 9:47 am #

      Bloody hell you are divine. Thank you gorgeous.

      (And yep, I can feel it too)

  8. Sophia November 8, 2013 at 10:29 pm #

    Thankyou for sharing this Tara, I am lit up with inspiration! Ive recently been working on a piece of writing that has forced me to dig deep + look at uncomfortable parts of myself, my past, and at times i wonder why do i put myself through this? but bloody hell its worth the effort. your authenticity always shines through xxx

    • Tara November 12, 2013 at 9:46 am #

      If I can offer you anything babe, it would be to change your strategy when resistance strikes.

      Write in another location, break for a massage, write in a different notebook, naked dance around the house. Just do something – ANYTHING – to get the energy flowing again…

      GOOD LUCK

      • Sophia Somerville November 12, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

        Thankyou for this Tara! I just danced through some resistance. Worked a treat. x

  9. Sadhbh November 8, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

    Great to hear about your time in Bali, would like to hear about the writing process too. Glad to have your regular blogging back after the break 😉

    Best wishes from sunny Chiang Mai

    • Tara November 12, 2013 at 9:45 am #

      Can’t wait to share more about it too! Will make a video shortly 🙂

  10. Ashlee November 8, 2013 at 10:52 pm #

    Every word I just read = stunning. You really are such an angel my love. So brilliant and inspiring.

    Welcome home. Love you xx

    • Tara November 12, 2013 at 9:44 am #

      I love you too x

  11. Rachelle November 8, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

    Well I’m certainly convinced that a retreat is on the cards for me in 2014! A beautiful post – looking forward to the book and yes, please write more about the whole writing process x

    • Tara November 12, 2013 at 9:46 am #

      🙂 Do it!

  12. Katherine - The Beauty of Life November 8, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

    Wow, Tara, this post gave me chills. In a good way! What an incredible experience, I decided instantly that I have to do this!! Welcome home, beautiful. Can’t wait to see what you’ve got coming x

    • Tara November 12, 2013 at 9:44 am #

      Thank you so, so much! Feeling the love over here 😉

  13. Leah November 8, 2013 at 11:45 pm #

    Thank you Tara so very much for opening right up here and hearing all the details of your beautiful experience – which really does sound life changing. And hey, you deserve it! Bali, and in particular Ubud, is my healing ground. I was there is April for my sister’s gorgeous wedding and spent 4 days following the ceremony in solitude in all the places you have mentioned. Going to the Yoga Barn, sometimes twice daily, and loving myself with traditional Balinese massages and exquisite food brought me that bit closer to me. It sure is the home of Gods and will have me returning there for many many years to come.

    Lovely to have you back and firing. Yes to all your pocket rocket ideas too!

    • Tara November 12, 2013 at 9:44 am #

      So lovely to be back here writing for you guys again.

      Thank you x

  14. Mandi November 9, 2013 at 1:20 am #

    This sounds so beautiful! You lucky woman. I would loooove to hear more about your writing process, as a new writer myself i always am so excited about how others write and use their creative identities!

    • Tara November 12, 2013 at 9:43 am #

      Done! Keep your eyes peeled!

  15. Yvette November 9, 2013 at 2:32 am #

    How inspiring! I could feel that loving energy simply by reading your post. I can only imagine the actual energy with you and all those lovely ladies in Ubud! Know that you have many supporters and all who are excited to read your new book when the time comes! Blessings!

    • Tara November 12, 2013 at 9:42 am #

      What a beautiful thing to say!

      Thank you!

  16. Ruby Toad November 9, 2013 at 5:05 am #

    Awe inspiring babe! So grateful for your authenticity and openness. You’re on such an amazing path and it’s a joy to be able to follow along with you <3

    • Tara November 12, 2013 at 9:42 am #

      I’m grateful for you, too!

  17. Jen // Creating a Colourful Life November 9, 2013 at 6:55 am #

    WOW – what a truly amazing experience!

    I got to meet Mastin & Jenna, & spend a bit of time with them, when they came to Sydney for the Enter the Heart Tour as I was volunteering & attended all 3 events, & I totally agree with every word you said. Spending 28 days with them plus a group of amazing women….life changing for sure!!

    Yes to more about the writing process – if it’s something you feel you want to share, I would love that 🙂

    And thank you, my love – this post has left me feeling inspired & you know that PSSS note…I really needed that. Thank you.

    xoxo

    • Tara November 12, 2013 at 9:42 am #

      Thank YOU Jen!

      x

  18. Amy November 9, 2013 at 7:55 am #

    Oh Tara, thank you so much for sharing this, for opening your heart even more! I love how you’re so honest about the good and difficult times, it feels so much more real.

    I am so excited for your book, a love story – how perfect. A huge YES on more writing and videos. You are an inspiration. Thank you. And welcome back, it’s so nice to have your presence back on the web again, I’ve missed you xxx

    • Tara November 12, 2013 at 9:41 am #

      And it’s so nice to be back beautiful! Thank you x

  19. Vicki November 9, 2013 at 8:49 am #

    Thankyou thankyou for being so inspiring!! This is the stuff that dreams are made of… Thanks for being authentically you and living your truth and giving me permission to do the same xx

    • Tara November 12, 2013 at 9:41 am #

      Any bloody time my girl!

  20. Welcome back, Tara! Thank you so much for writing this post. I was hanging to hear all of your juicy Bali goodness so badly!

    After spending just a few days in Ubud by myself earlier this year I would harness an opportunity like this with all my energy and you’ve got me wanting to lock in the writing retreat next year. I don’t have my idea nutted out yet but I have huge goals and writing a book is one of them, so why not lock it down now, eh?

    I would love to read more about your process, and the actual nitty gritty deets of getting your first draft down on paper and I’m sure many others would, too.

    I am so impressed and inspired by you and I can’t wait to read your book when it comes out!

    Celeste x

    • Tara November 12, 2013 at 9:41 am #

      Hey babe!

      Consider it done – can’t wait to share more about the process of a ‘first draft.’ Keep your eyes peeled !

  21. Tracy November 10, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    Thank you for this post, Tara. I read and loved every word. To be able to attend the Daily Love Bali Retreat in 2014 would be a dream. x
    PS Would love to hear more about your writing process.

  22. Kylie November 11, 2013 at 11:09 am #

    What an amazing post, and an amazing month. I don’t even know what to say – except right now I really want to give you a big hug + a happy dance for all your have achieved. I think I’ll have to settled for a virtual high five. WELL DONE Tara, and welcome home xx

    • Tara November 12, 2013 at 9:40 am #

      You are beautiful. Thank you gorgeous girl. Appreciate you so much x

  23. Sophie November 11, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

    It sounds truly amazing. Watching your journey over the last month has made me inspired to ramp up my writing, change up my scenery and be more confident to tell my story.
    And so so excited to see where your draft travels now.
    x

  24. melisa November 12, 2013 at 4:46 am #

    tara – thank you so much for this post. i was accepted to go to bali for the 2014 retreat and your post just sealed the deal for me. thank you so much for sharing!

    • Tara November 12, 2013 at 9:39 am #

      Melisa – CONGRATULATIONS!

      Have the most amazing, gorgeous time. You’ll never forget it x

  25. Hayley Carr November 12, 2013 at 8:19 am #

    Welcome home girl! x

    • Tara November 12, 2013 at 9:38 am #

      🙂

  26. Alex November 12, 2013 at 8:33 am #

    Amazing, beautiful! Sounds like the trip served its divine purpose. How could it not?! Cannot wait to hear more about the magic that was experienced. Big love! x

    • Tara November 12, 2013 at 9:38 am #

      It sure did! Thank you xxx

  27. Hayley l hayleyrich.com November 12, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Wow Tara, this is a truly beautiful and awe-inspiring post. I can sense the inner shift and am so looking forward to hearing what’s ahead for you.

    I’d love to hear more about the writing process too 🙂

    Hayley xx

  28. Kate November 12, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    I’d loved reading this post Tara and as a side note I never comment on blogs but when I read your PSSS – ‘Holy smokes! From where I sit, the next 6-9 months already look huge, and when that happens, it’s a divine reminder to sit in stillness – for longer , and more often – despite how busy our minds tell us we are, or need to be.’ I felt compelled to say thank you. 🙂

  29. Amy November 12, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    I’m with you beautiful! I’M WITH YOU!! and yes please to more on the writing process. I have missed you!!
    x

  30. Kamina November 13, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    Petal – you are freaking amazing to me. You’ve capture our experience with so much radiance and love and eloquence I am so ridiculously grateful that I was able to meet you and write next to you and laugh with you and cry with you on this amazing, dreamlike adventure. Thank you for creating this testament to the cocoon of love we created in Bali. I miss you and our sisters so so much!

    Forever love – Kamina x

    PS – All other porridge has been ruined for me forever! Ahhhh!!!

  31. Katie - Conquering Fear Spiritually November 14, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    What a mighty load of wow. So, so enthralled and humbled by your experience my darling- makes me went to book flights of Bali right this second.

    Every single thing you write about and photographed is so chock full of love and spirit, it makes me feel all glowy and light, so I can only begin to imagine how you must be feeling! Beautiful tattoo as well, by the way.

    Welcome back my darling- xx

  32. Helene November 17, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

    Wow, thank you so much for such an inspiring post. It looks like you had an amazing time 🙂 xxx

  33. Claudia Mazzotta January 26, 2014 at 8:54 pm #

    Hi Tara you don’t know me but I just wanted to say how powerful and raw you were in sharing your retreat. I usually start to read a blog and after the fourth line get disinterested but I have to say your journey sounded amazing, electrifying and whole heartedly life changing. So thank you for sharing and I can’t wait to buy your book! Your living your dream can’t get any better than that. Regards Claudia

  34. dawn lauria May 31, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

    Love is washing u with love…..your description of tears…I am always being washed in love…I find my tears are heaking….your blog may have given me the courage to go on the retreat….I have a down deep story to reveal. …I want this..I need this…..I want what u have……ty for shating your heart and soul…..♡

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