I had started 2016 by ringing in the new year around a campfire in the desert under a billion stars painted across the sky. I spent several days camping out in Joshua Tree National Park on an acroyoga, Thai massage, and rock climbing retreat with a group from Los Angeles. Despite the bitter, biting cold, the sense of adventure and awe for nature shared with new friends was undoubtedly worth the discomforts.
A few days after my return, I received a job offer for a position I thought would fulfill my professional goals. The position started off well and full of excitement, as all jobs do, while the itch for another adventure emerged soon after.
In February, I traveled to Ecuador for another yoga, acroyoga, and Thai massage retreat, where I bathed in sulfuric mud, hiked a mountain with a local tour guide who didn't speak any English, and again, spent time with a community of fun, loving, beautiful people.
When I returned to my desk a week later, rejuvenated and fresh from the tropical sun, I already wanted to plan my next trip. Staring at a computer all day was draining me, and although the work was fulfilling, it did not satiate my need for connection and creativity. Friends were hosting a yoga retreat in Hawaii in April, so I decided to join for yet another adventure. Swaying palm trees, a helicopter ride over active volcanoes, and a bit of snorkeling were memorable experiences I could take home with me.
I returned back to the grind of New York City and life continued as usual, while the seed of discontent continued to grow. I wondered if there was a more balanced way to work and live, a way that didn't leave me feeling so exhausted all the time.
Then quite magically, at the end of a quiet summer, I decided to launch my own business planning wellness retreats. I spent an afternoon on the beach listening to the sound of the Atlantic Ocean, while a few friends and I exchanged ideas for business names. Several late nights later, I created a website for a service that combines my professional skills with my personal experiences, and Bliss Without Bother became a reality.
At the same time, I also decided to enroll in herbal school at ArborVitae School of Traditional Herbalism to study medicinal plants and a variety of healing practices, including Western herbalism, Ayurverdic medicine, and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Both decisions - to launch a business and to study herbal medicine - provided opportunities to shift my life into something more meaningful and fulfilling, personally and professionally. Working in an office no longer aligned with my vision, so I needed to leave.
Shortly after my last day at work, I boarded a plane to Costa Rica, where I visited several retreat centers to start building my own community. Every moment of the trip, although not perfect, strengthened my confidence that I was doing what I was meant to do - connecting with genuine people, experiencing nature, and expressing my own creativity.
These past few months I have been connecting with the wellness-minded community all over the world to introduce my service, including taking a road trip upstate, NY to visit retreat centers closer to home. My intention is to create extraordinary experiences that connect people with nature, each other, and themselves. The best way to do that, I've discovered, is to let go of the idea of life as it should be and embrace change for exactly what it is.
I chose bliss.
- Maria Christodoulou, Founder