|The tree swing at Sagrada|
This weekend, I attended the Rebel & Muse yoga retreat at Sagrada Wellness in the San Luis Obispo area (my first EVER yoga retreat). (And, I could write a whole blog post on how amazing Sagrada was.) It was hosted by Melanie and Kaleo Wassman of Yoga Oceanside. Before I even get to the events of the weekend, I need to rewind a little bit. This is a bit of, "wow, what a small world" (or a "thank you, Universe, you always know what you're doing!") that can't be ignored.
In 2003/2004, I attended a Slightly Stoopid concert in San Francisco with my long-time friends, Vanessa and Rachelle. One of the opening acts was a band called Pepper -- three boys from Hawaii, who have come to the mainland to rock out. My interest was immediately piqued, as I had a history with my friends, Sunburn, five boys from Hawaii (different island) who came to the mainland around the same time (1999/2000) to rock out. I was hooked immediately. I certainly enjoy a good mellow stoner band, but Pepper's energy and stage presence were indescribable. I was an instant fan, and for the past 13-14 years, I have gone to see Pepper in concert a couple of times each year. Over the years, I have separately run into each of the three members backstage or wandering big festival shows, and each really does seem to embody the island way of thinking. They were always extremely kind to me.
|The most amazing gift bags ever!|
Four or five years ago, I struck gold. I joined the brand new big Walnut Creek 24 Hour Fitness and met Theresa. I don't know what it was about her. I liked that she made jokes during class ("turn towards the door you'd like to run out of") but she also infused positivity into class. She made it spiritual without completely freaking out the gym rats who couldn't possibly understand there is a difference between gym yoga and studio yoga. I liked her flow and her presence. A few years ago, I was packing up after class, and I vaguely heard Theresa mention the band, Pepper. I ran over and immediately fan-girl screamed: "That's my favorite band in the whole wide world!!!" Turns out that Theresa trained with Melanie, Kaleo's wife, and had stayed at their home many times. Oh yeah, Kaleo is the guitarist of Pepper. What a small world! I was so excited. So we'd chat on occasion about the band, and about the shows when they came to town.
|This unicorn likes tequila|
In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't get into the retreat last year. Although I think I was beginning my transformation period, I wasn't fully ready for the intensity of the emotions that came out of me at the retreat. I think if I had made it last year, I may have been scared off from the work I needed to do -- which I have been doing over the last year. I kept my eye on the website and as soon as I saw the retreat was open for 2017, I signed up.
|Our yoga space|
The last year -- and especially in the last few months -- I really have been on a new path. I have been reading a lot of books about generally making my life better. I love Brene Brown. In one of her books, she specifically states that gratitude is what helps create a joyful life. Before I even read that book, I had named my 41st year my Year of Joy. I've been putting photos in an album on Facebook to remind myself of all of the great things I have going in my life. I also start each morning and end each evening recounting the things for which I am grateful. Another step in creating a joyful life is self-love. I struggle with this one sometimes. On this blog (and the corresponding Facebook page), I constantly preach loving your body and yourself. Have confidence! Be yourself! But it all felt like a lie. I can talk the talk but I don't walk the walk. Deep down, I didn't love myself. And how can I be complete or expect someone else to love me if I don't?
On the way to the retreat, I finished an audiobook, "Mr. Unavailable and the Fallback Girl." I had actually stopped listening to self-help books recently because I feel like they all just point out how fucked up I am and they don't offer any real ways to help fix me. This book was in my queue and I had been ignoring it and I suddenly decided it was time to give it a listen. I feel like it was kind of the final nail in the coffin of old-Lori. Only-half-enlightened-Lori. There's a great line about not accepting crumbs and convincing yourself they are loaves. I am worthy. I do deserve better. And I am a whole and complete person, just the way I am now. I got out of the car feeling like I had truly turned the corner on this transformation period.
|The girls' room|
As people arrived, it became clear that pretty much everyone knew each other. So then I worried I would feel out of place, like I was crashing a party. And it wasn't like that at all. I never felt left out. There were four couples (three of which were celebrating their anniversaries) and three single girls. Everyone was so kind and open. I felt like I was hanging out with old friends. I especially enjoyed watching all of the couples model loving relationships. I also appreciated that everyone was so open to hugging each other. We all could use a little more appropriate touch in our lives. I feel like often when men who aren't family members hug or touch me, it is in a sexual way (whether welcomed by me or not). Here, everyone could hug each other, or put a hand on your shoulder to reassure you, or rub your back to comfort you and there was zero sexual connotation. It was a bunch of people offering healing touch as a gift with nothing expected in return. Later in the evening, we had our first yoga class. I sweat like a pig, but I felt like I totally nailed it. It helps that my instructor was trained by Melanie, so their styles are very similar and I never felt lost. I judge my yoga classes by how often I can close my eyes or stare straight ahead and zone out. I hate having to stare at a teacher whose cues I completely don't understand. Later, we all ate dinner together, and then we were given journaling prompts. The evening group session was a little intense for me, and I let myself be vulnerable and cry in front of strangers (the horror!!!), but everyone was so supportive and sweet. I am realizing we need to let ourselves feel all the feels rather than stuffing them down. Also, I need to accept that, without hard times, I would never appreciate the good times. Crying isn't a bad thing. The group sessions were very powerful. And, the entire weekend was, in fact, filled with yoga and journaling. It was also clear the theme of the retreat was completely in line with my life: let go and love yourself.
Saturday morning, I got up early and hiked straight up a crazy hill to watch the sunrise. Initially, when we arrived at the top, I was bummed because a hill was blocking my view of the actual rise. But then I turned around and realized that all of the gorgeous colors of the sky (and a view of the still-present full moon) was fucking amazing. It made me wonder how many times I had my eyes on a prize in front of me, when what I really needed was right behind me -- I just never turned around to notice.
Saturday afternoon, I had acupuncture for the first time. I didn't have anything extremely specific that I wanted to address, but I told her about some of the emotional stuff I've been dealing with lately. She decided to help me release some of that. She placed the needles and asked if I could feel anything. I kind of felt something near my ears but nothing too exciting. She left me to relax for half an hour or so. I started to fall into that pre-sleep phase. I was aware of the music and the temperature in the room but my mind was blank. Suddenly, I felt like I was going to throw up. I didn't want to sit up or move because I didn't want to knock any needles out of place. So I kind of lifted my head a tiny bit and swallowed it down. I fell back into that relaxed state again fairly quickly. A little bit later, I became aware of my surroundings again. My entire body felt like it was buzzing and it felt like there were kaleidoscopes spinning inside of me. It was a really intense and interesting experience. I left feeling more open. Another step down the path of enlightenment.
|One of my three journals for the weekend|
I told this story during a group session. I truly grasped the meaning of the whole "life is a journey, not a destination" thing when I visited Maui in 2010. People suggested we do the Road to Hana. I didn't do a ton of research, so I just figured out where we needed to go, heard we needed a couple of hours to get there, and away we went. I was traveling with my ex and he is legally blind, so he couldn't really see the views well. He also gets car sick so I was mostly rushing on this windy road to get to Hana. We made it and were extremely unimpressed with what was there. Why is this place special? (No offense, people of Hana!!) It's a little town. There's some water. What I then learned is that the ROAD to Hana *is* the attraction. We should have been stopping to go see beaches and take little hikes. Hana is not the reason you take the Road to Hana. So we completely missed the point and spent a day just driving, when we should have been exploring and going on adventures.
Here's what I feel like I have learned over the last year: I am not broken; I just have some things I'd like to change. I feel like I am finally in sync with the message I put out on this Confessions page. I have been preaching self-love, confidence, and body acceptance for almost eight years. Well, now it is finally time for me to believe it for myself. I am worthy. I am complete. I am whole. I am enough. Just as I am. Right here. Today. Tomorrow. And for the rest of my life.
Thoughts become things. So be careful about the thoughts you allow to creep around in the back of your mind. You may not realize it, but those are the limiting beliefs that are holding you back.
I will no longer stuff feelings by using food, alcohol, shopping, sex or over-scheduling (okay, that last one might take awhile to really get down). I will forgive people for not being what I expected them to be. It generally is my expectations that cause my disappointments, rather than the other person's actions. I will then forgive myself for putting those expectations on others. I truly believe that, with some exceptions, most people are doing the best they can with the tools they have. There's a quote about holding a grudge that I love. It is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. I'm not going to drink the poison anymore.
|The gorgeous sky at sunrise|
So, all weekend, I kind of broke myself down, trying to release those final bits of whatever has been holding me back. On Sunday morning, Kaleo led a yoga class to the soundtrack of Bob Marley's album, Uprising. The album cover is Bob coming out of a volcano with his fists extended in the air. Pure exaltation. It was the perfect way to build myself back up after letting all of the other crap go.
I have so much more to write but I feel like this is already too long. I will organize these notes and put a Part 2 together soon.
Thank you to Melanie and Kaleo for creating a safe space for all of us this weekend, and for intuitively knowing exactly what each of us needed. Thank you for being part of my journey and helping me transform into a more enlightened unicorn. Time is valuable, and I truly consider it a gift when people bless me with their time. I am so grateful for the experiences I had this weekend, and for the people who shared it with me. We all agreed that the right people are called to appear at the times they are needed, so each of us had something to share that someone else there needed to hear this weekend. Being grateful is a practice. It is easy to share memes on Facebook, and it's a good start, but making gratitude part of your daily practice helps keep your thoughts and actions in line with your core values.
Bitches. ;-) (I'm still me, even if I am a little more zen.)
P.S. Just for fun. In 2008, I was side stage during a Pepper show at X-Fest in Modesto. My ex grabbed Kaleo as he left the stage. He was very gracious, although he was clearly tired, hot and sweaty from playing outside in the heat, and we took a photo. Nine years later, we recreated the photo.