On Finding Myself and Making Sure It Lasts
It has taken me a few days to get the thoughts out of my head, and onto my blog. I didn’t want to rush the process. I have had a major breakthrough this week, and I am hoping I can sustain it.
I just returned from a 4-day spa retreat in Canyon Ranch, Arizona with Dove. As a Dove Ambassador, this retreat was focused around the central theme of nourishment. The theme of the trip was the connection between Dove® body wash nourishment, and the nourishment of your mind, body and soul. On the retreat was myself, another blogger Tara Robertson, Executive Editor of Chatelaine Magazine Laurie Jennings, 2 Dove employees, and the 4 winners of the trip.
I will try and put into words what I felt, what I saw, and how I’ve changed. Grab a cup of green tea and bare with me… this one’s gonna be a while. I will share the lessons, the experiences and how you too, can nourish your mind and body.
It all started last Friday. I kissed my 3 men goodbye early morning, and headed to the airport. It was my first time at a Canyon Ranch Spa, and I was looking forward to a blissful 4 days of peace and tranquility. And maybe a little bit of pampering too.
When I arrived in my beautiful room at Canyon Ranch, a little green journal sat on my night stand. On the cover, it read “cherish the journey.” I opened it up, and this was written on the first page.
cherish the journey.
how sweet it is; the journey of life.
to cherish the journey is, in a way to cherish each fleeting moment as it passes by. it is to learn from the past, celebrate our history and look forward to tomorrow.
to cherish the journey is to shift focus from the outcome, letting go enough to enjoy the process. when we cherish the journey, we know that we are exactly where we are supposed to be. it is to know that there will always be calm after the storm.
when you learn to cherish the journey, you will trust the process and be fueled by faith.
there may be bumps along the way, but the journey is what makes memories. cherish each one.
With this feeling, I began my trip. I was open to whatever, whenever, however. My journal didn’t leave my side, and I documented every moment, everything I felt. There is so much more to my trip than what I’ve written today, I could honestly write a book. But for the sake of today’s post, I will give you the highlights and important moments from this past weekend:
- I learned that I should know what I need, listen to what I need, and not compare myself to what someone ELSE needs. The first morning we arrived, another one of the women on our retreat woke up at 6:30am to hike the canyon. While I very much wanted to do the hike that first day, I knew that I was borderline burned-out, no joke, and needed my rest and the sleep-in more than I needed to wake up early and hike. This other woman has no kids, and therefore we are in two very different life situations. While I felt lazy that I missed out on that canyon hike, as much as I wanted to go, I needed my rest more. I knew what I needed, and I gave it to myself, guilt free. How simple a concept, but powerful and effective. Know what you need, and give it to yourself whenever possible.
- While chatting with another blogger at dinner, she revealed to me her secret for decreased stress in her life. It’s called “letting things slide.” Something I’m not that strong at. But, she has figured out the recipe to balance, and it’s called being okay with not achieving everything in the same day, and letting things wait for her, or get messy, while she enjoys her moments. This is something I need to work on. To practice. I am an over-achiever, and highly productive, and while I’m definitely efficient, I often place too much pressure upon myself and it becomes COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE. It comes at a cost. Give yourself permission to play. The rest of your life can wait.
- I did a World Beat Dance Class and cried for one hour. There was no music, only three men playing the drums LOUD as we salsa-ed, tango-ed and merengue-ed. I let go, and surrendered to the beat of the music, not caring what I looked like in the mirror. It felt like the equivalent to dancing in the rain. It felt free. And it felt magical. I have to do this more often. We all need to dance and release and not give a shit what we look like doing it.
- The words on the front billboard of Canyon Ranch stayed with me: “BREATHE DEEPLY and appreciate the moment. Living in the moment could be the meaning of life.”
- In line with living in the moment, I did a 30 minute meditation session. At the end of the 30 minutes, the teacher explained the importance of living in the moment and being present. When we let our mind wander to the past, to the future, to what we have to do, we don’t realize how this crushes the moment we are in. “When you are driving, be present, and focus on your driving. When you are having dinner with your family, be there. Don’t be on your business, or on tomorrow’s agenda. Be at the dinner table, with your family. Because otherwise, it’s as if you were not there. It’s as if the experience never happened.” This hit me over the head like a ton of bricks.
- I learned that a green pepper has half the nutrients of a red, orange or yellow pepper.
- I learned that 400° is the right temperature to cook your food, from chicken to steak to fish to potatoes to ANYTHING. And to stick a thermometer in your food, and pull it out not before, or after 165°. That’s your magic number.
- My masseuse coined my blog better than anyone. When she told me that my shoulders were in complete knots (no surprise there), and I told her that I’m a writer, and the name of my blog, WomenOnTheFence.com, she laughed and said, “I’m from the south, and where we’re from, we call that, ‘shit or get off the pot.'” Well said, Miss Masseuse! So ladies, this is your reminder to shit or get off the pot. To get off that fence.
- I did yoga, meditation, swimming, walking and two unbelievable hikes through the canyon. There are no words for the high you feel after you do any of these activities. Be active. No matter what. No excuses. Push yourself. A sedentary life will kill you slowly.
- We did a spirituality session, and on the handout was a paragraph titled “Our Deepest Fear.” It touched me to my core.
Our Deepest Fear
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
~Marianne Williamson, Return to Love
- We had a session with a fabulous therapist, and she had us sit in a circle, go around the room one at a time, and say our name, and how we live in our body. Yes, my name is (so and so) and I live in this body with…. I saw that as we went around the room, so many women live in pain. They live in their bodies with great stress, extreme fear and anxiety, insecurities, poor self esteem, abandonment issues and more. I was shocked when, after little thought, I answered, “My name is Erica and I live in this body with great passion and a zest for life.” Yes, this is true, and it is good. How do YOU live in your body? Awareness is the beginning healing.
- I learned that the only time a woman is EMOTIONLESS, is during an orgasm. Hmmmm. Ya think?
- I learned that you can actually change the course of your child’s life through tenderness. That tenderness is transmitted through the eyeballs. That our eyeballs are brain matter, and so when your eyes connect with your baby’s, your brain chemistry actually changes. What this means for us moms, is that when your child grows up in a non-tender environment, they grow up less secure, with less self esteem. Fact. Study after study show us the importance of tenderness- toward our children, and tenderness for ourselves. We MUST look upon ourselves with tenderness. It is crucial to our wellbeing.
- Once I heard the importance of living in the moment (which I already knew), I challenged the experts to give me concrete tips and tools for doing so. This has always been where I struggle. This is my anxiety spot, when I am out of my body, and not living in the present moment. One recommended that I should breathe in deeply for 5 seconds, and breath out deeply for 5 seconds, 3-5 times per day. To make a conscious effort to move slower, and physically slow down my pace. To consciously slow down my breathing. She said that if my brainwave activity was measured, it would probably be very high. The idea is you want to slow down your brainwave activity– something for every professional multitasker to think about.
We also got a sneak peak of Dove‘s new Purely Pampering Body Wash. The fragrances smell beyond yummy, and the idea is for you to use it and feel pampered and cared for. We did.
Here are some photo memories of the weekend…
I learned a lot about myself this weekend. I learned that I need to let a lot go. I learned that we women are a lot more the same than we are different. I learned that most people suffer in silence and that it becomes toxic to your body, unless you release it. I learned that you are not your story- one of the girls on our trip has endured tremendous suffering, but she doesn’t let it define her. She is the most resilient young woman I have ever met. She has chosen to be better, not bitter. I learned that it takes a village to raise a child. I learned that we’re a lot better at complimenting others and even better at minimizing our own gifts and talents. I learned that it’s not easy to keep things together.
But I am glad that I did learn these things, and now my challenge is not to forget them, and to make you see, that you can change your life, at any given moment. You can decide now, that you want a better life for yourself. You hold that power.
I dare you to chase happiness. Because, you are worth it.