It’s officially been two weeks since I returned home from my very first women’s retreat. Along with 17 women—mostly strangers—I traveled to a Gitana Del Mar, a wellness resort in Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia.
For five days, we feasted on local cuisine, laid on beach hammocks, rode horses, made mandalas. We were treated to river tubing and personal photo shoots with professional photographers! We ladies communed with each other and nature, exhaled and just relaxed. That is mostly what I came for: the relaxation.
I ofttimes find myself doing things quickly. Eating quickly. Walking fast. Calculating how many tasks I can complete in a certain amount of time. The Self-Care Retreat commanded that I sit down. I wasn’t pressed to go and get it done. Getting work done is important, sure, but peace, clearing your mind and being present is more important. And those acts allow you to work smarter, not harder (another thing I am working on!) I learned the act of mindful eating: really taking the time to focus on my meal, eating undistracted, identifying the elements of the dish while I chew as well as taking more time in between bites. And I have no problem admitting that I can be a control freak, but the spotty internet connection forced me to pray that my small business would survive without me for a few days. (Which it did.)
And the ocean, of course, calmed me and quieted my anxiety. You can hear the waves crashing from all over the resort.
Going in, I knew there would be hearts open and tears shed. This was beautiful to witness. With a dynamic group of Black women—mostly mothers—we sometimes don’t realize how much weight we’re holding until we are told to put our bags down, prompted to exhale stagnant energies and release whatever is keeping us from loving ourselves and being our best selves.
I speak on this often, but I’ll say it again: loving yourself and displaying how much love and respect you have for self will command that same energy from others; anything opposite won’t even have the courage to step to you. And allowing yourself to be loved correctly, allowing yourself to rest well and taking a dang break when you feel like it is something we all need and deserve.
My biggest takeaways:
- I need to slow tf down; it’s never that serious.
- We need each other. Black people are so valuable to one another. If you count just one sister in your corner, you are fortunate. I’m glad to have met and connected with some genuine, loving women.
- We need and deserve rest—physical, mental and emotional. And we need it often.
- We are soft, sweet, emotional beings and need to be a little tenderer with ourselves and each other.
- Meditation makes the world a better place.
- You can always make the money back, but an investment in your wellbeing is priceless. Taking time for yourself has no dollar amount. It’s time well spent.
- I saw myself in most of these women, women I used to be, the woman I am as well as the woman I’m becoming.
- I deserve to get everything I want out of this life. You deserve everything you want out of life, too, if you believe that you do.
- Self-care isn’t selfish.
The creator and coordinator of The Self-Care Retreat asks: when is the last time you did something just for you? JUST for you. Think about that, fam. This was on the ocean with daily group meditation and three proper meals a day in a serene, natural environment. If this sounds like something you or your sister or daughter or wife or cousin or co-worker needs, applications are now open for the 2020 retreats. Even if you can’t take the time for this kind of getaway, implement ways you can guiltlessly unwind and enjoy some peace, even if it’s just for 10 minutes a day.
You deserve it.
photo credits: me, Shanicia Boswell, Brenda Moorer and Melissa Alexander