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As many of you might know, I took a chance last year. I was working at a "safe" job, decent pay, good resume builder, working in my professional field. But when push came to shove, I just wasn't happy, and honestly hadn't been happy there for a long time. The work environment wasn't what I would call positive, there was zero camaraderie and next to no positive feedback. There was little communication which led to frustration everywhere (let's TALK TO EACH OTHER!) There was also always the threat that you wouldn't have the job the next day looming over your head. We always joked that if we didn't come to work on Monday, we would be safe (people notoriously got let go on Mondays).

But I will cut to the chase. I had a particularly rough week after a series of rough months, and although I was doing what I wanted in my field, I was not happy. So I mustered all the courage I had and gave my notice to my boss (a lovely 3 weeks, I might add). I felt an immediate wash of relief, like I was finally taking control of the way I wanted my life to go and to end an unpleasant situation. I knew I had made the right decision. Later THAT VERY NIGHT, my friend texted me "You should go to Bali", and I had no idea what she was talking about. Her next text just said "Check Facebook". So I went onto Facebook, and saw that I had been tagged by another friend in a post needing a photographer for a yoga and women's empowerment retreat happening in 3 weeks. I am an avid yogi and have been needing some female bonding in my life, so I JUMPED at the chance and messaged one of the co-founders of Shakti Sanctuary. Without really thinking much, I got signed on, and bought my ticket to Bali. Kind of crazy and impulsive. But I won't remember the time I didn't go to Bali.

Kali & Alexandra from Shakti Sanctuary

This post is about Bali, not about the retreat; I will save that for a later post. I notoriously take opportunities to travel whenever they arise, whether it's local or international, to wander and explore with my camera. Isn't it every photographer's dream to work for National Geographic? I know it's mine. And although I am far from the incredible level of those photographers, it's so much fun to search and wait for the shot given my circumstances and equipment.

I was most blown away by the genuinity and kindness of the Balinese. They help you out simply because it's the right thing to do, no motives. Because for them, Life is Religion and Religion is Life; there is no separation. They widely practice Balinese Hinduism, and it was really interesting getting to be a part of these rituals. Growing up, I was raised Catholic, so I am no stranger to formal traditions. However, the way that the Balinese carry their religion with them is so humbling. They truly practice what they preach, whereas I know many practicing Christians and Catholics that do not. They pray 3 times a day, and each time they give an offering to the 3 main Hindu gods, Brahman, Vishnu, and Shiva, each time setting out offerings. And they are everywhere. And when I say everywhere, I mean EVERYWHERE.

Balinese Offerings

They pray in the morning to thank another day for coming. They pray in the afternoon to be grounded and present, to thank the day as it has been progressing. They pray at night to say thank you to the full day, and to prepare for the next. Coming from the US where we are so divided on issues, many stemming from religion, it was just a really nice refresher for me. And having been a practicing Catholic for half of my life, it was also nice to be a part of a religious ceremony again. I felt the unity wash over me for the Balinese people and it filled me with joy.

These are some of my favorite photos from the trip; at least the ones I have had time to edit. Returning to the states with just me as my sole form of income is both liberating and terrifying. It's going to be a LOT of hard work, but I am ready for it. I truly thank Shakti for taking the chance on me and hiring a photographer they knew nothing about. I hope to work with Shakti again, and there will be another post about that amazing experience later this week.

Until them, enjoy some photos from Bali. All images copyright © Owl's Iris Photography 2019.


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