I didn’t grow up filling notebooks with short stories, idolizing Joan Didion and Sylvia Plath—I only wish I were that cool—instead, I was busy behind a sewing machine. It was a self-imposed servitude, granted, but my obsession still had me up all hours of the night accidentally stabbing my fingers with pins. Having my head buried in books and wearing eccentric creations left me low on the social ladder, but I was only vaguely aware of that and not remotely troubled.

After receiving a rejection letter, the slim kind, from the Fashion Institute of Technology, I embraced the failure of ten years of pubescent hard work and bought a fuck you plane ticket to South America. With thirteen other real world abandoners, I backpacked along the Andes and Amazon for three months. Crafting emails for family and friends about termite swarms and catching piranhas awoke the adventurer and, consequently, the writer in me.

Drudging my way through a four-year writing degree, I managed to earn a BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2011 and immediately moved to Cambodia. I taught English, but after about five months, realized I didn’t know the first thing about surviving a classroom or a developing country. I returned to the seductive comforts of the U.S. and began hacking away at a travel writing career. A half-dozen part-time jobs and two month attempt at living in Turkey later, I had a confusing resume and a realistically low expectation of ever working for Nat Geo (If one of the editors ever reads this, I’m still interested. Call me).

At this point, I couldn’t help noticing everyone was obsessed with kale. I turned my attention toward health, immersing myself in yoga and nutrition trends and becoming a certified wellness coach. I took my ten-year yoga practice to northern India and completed a yoga teacher training there, as well as studying basic Ayurveda practices. I moved back to Cambodia—I as a different person, it as a different country—and worked like a lunatic as the Editor-in-Chief of a women’s lifestyle magazine. This had an appreciated expiration date and I began writing the memoir I still curse at in the afternoons while punching letters hoping to make the sentences that will finish the story.

I currently live in Siem Reap, without a dog so don’t expect those kinds of photos on my Instagram. My days are filled with bicycle rides down dirt roads and teaching yoga. For now, I contribute to health and wellness websites and businesses, debunking myths about holistic therapies and promoting personal responsibility for one’s health. I focus on building communication between conventional medicine and functional medicine to see a better global healthcare system for the future. You can find my wellness website at Shanti Healing Studio.

Please send an email to margaretulrichwriter@gmail.com if you’re interested in working with me.

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