“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”
I am once again on a plane as I write. This week I am in route from Chacala, Mexico back home to Colorado for a week. My skin is browned (okay, maybe a bit burnt), my guts are grumpy (mostly because I had more corn chips and tortillas then I typically have in a year), my mind is more clear and my heart more full. Lucky for you, this blog is going to be about my mind and heart, not my skin and guts. Ha!
About 8 month ago, my mom asked me if I would join her in Chacala, Mexico on a yoga retreat. She had just gotten back and the experience held a place in her heart. In the last several years she has really embraced yoga in her life and I know how badly she wants me to do the same, so I agreed, for her. I mean, what could be so bad about a week in Mexico with one of my best friends?
A week ago, we left the freezing cold of Vail, CO to Chacala via Denver and Puerto Vallarta. The trip started out with a bang when I was upgraded to first class (well my mom was, but she let me take it). This was my first experience in first class… shut the front door! Hamburgers, cheesecake, endless leg room and whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it. How will I ever sit in the back again?
My seatmate was an older woman named Frances. A few minutes into the flight we started small chit chat that lasted until we hit down in Mexico. This lady was hilarious and had stories upon stories. She was raised in small town Iowa on a cattle ranch. She moved to California to help a girlfriend out and never left. She worked directly with Walt Disney before Disney Land was even a thing. She was there for the inception of Disney Land. She sailed around the world with her husband for a year. She still works on the ranch (goes back every other month). She teaches. She travels. She volunteers. She lives.
As we were descending and needing to fill out customs papers, she asked me to complete hers for her as she couldn’t see the small letters. When we got to her date of birth she said 1925. What? Wait a minute? Quick math. I asked, “Frances, are you 92?” With a bit of a sassy smirk, she said, “Yes.” This woman was totally with it, physically and mentally at 92 years old, traveling to stay in Puerto Vallarta by herself for 2 weeks. I asked for her secret and she said, “Use it or lose it, honey. Staying physically active is the key. I still workout for an hour every day.” She then told me how important my job is to this world. Speechless! What a testament!
I parted ways with Frances and soon realized that my encounter with her was going to be the first of many for me throughout the week. A young woman learning from the women who have stomped the grounds ahead of me.
I blindly agreed to this retreat looking for a week away with my mom and being throw into yoga because I really did want to want it to be a part of my regular routine. I had no idea what to expect though. I jumped in the van from the airport in PV to Chacala and realized quickly that I would be the youngest there by about 20 years. Not a big deal, just didn’t expect it.
After 2 hours of getting to know each other a bit in the van, we arrived in Chacala. Picture this… a quaint Mexican village with a population of around 400 people. A perfect soft sand beach lining the front of town looking out into a little cove. The other 3 directions are covered in cliffs and mountains of thick tropical jungle. The town has streets made from stone. The downtown buildings consist of bamboo structures with straw roofs. There are dogs and cats and chickens and children running and playing everywhere. There is a sense of gentle peace and kindness with the locals. It seems like a simple life in paradise.
I could write a blog for each day I was there, but will sum it up to save us all time. We started mornings with meditation (either atop the casa overlooking the sea or on the beach). Breakfast then consisted of either green smoothies made in our villa or eggs made from the house staff). A mid-morning asana practice followed. From noon to around 4 each day we had “free time”. Some days I had to spend behind my computer (poolside) as I am launching new business. But we also took time to go whale watching, hiking to petroglyphs from 1700BC, paddle boarding, shopping, or relaxing. Following our free time, we had an afternoon yoga practice consisting of some asana and then yoga nidra. Dinner most nights were on our own to explore Chacala and support the local community.
During the week in the Chacala, there was a lot of chanting Sanskrit words in prayer. There was a lot of focus on breathing and energy and quieting the mind and body. When I think of yoga, I know that asana (the physical part) is only one of 8 limbs. However, for me, at this point in my life, it’s what I want. It’s the part I want to challenge myself with. Is it what I need? After this week I realized no, probably not. Well, I could always use some additional stretching and I enjoy it. But if I’m being honest with myself, I need the spiritual, mental, emotional and meditative aspects. I tried so hard to be there, to embrace it, to feel it, to be it. At times, I was there. At times, I hit that place between awake and asleep. At time,s I was able to be completely present. And at times, I was thinking about all the work I had to do, about how awkward I felt doing something so foreign to me, about the bugs that were biting my legs, about if my clients were being compliant while I was gone, about how much I missed Marcus. My mind wandered.
I watched the other women deep in meditation. I observed their peacefulness, their embracing the moment, their devotion to the practice. I tried to mimic it. I tried to feed on their energy. I realized I have so much to learn and so much growing to do. But I also realized that right now, I am not ready for that. I have limited “free” time and “me” time in my life. At this point I would rather choose to go for a hike or do my 5-minute morning meditation or get a workout or read a book. Is it wrong? No, I don’t think so.
I really want to do and be a lot of things. But one thing I know more than ever, is that I am me. Trying to be someone I am not or someone I want to be, is setting myself up for inauthenticity and that’s just not me. I’m an open book. What you see is what you get.
Chacala is a magical place. Faith, the instructor of the retreat, is a beautiful soul. My mom, is one of the brightest lights in my life. And me, well I’m me and I’m totally good with where I am at. Someday I may be that spiritual goddess, but for now I am my own goddess. A bit chaotic, a bit messy, a bit together, and perfectly flawed.