Recently I packed up my yoga mat and hiking shoes and headed southwest to the sleepy mountain town of Eureka Springs, AR. I’d signed up for the Women's Full Moon Retreat for a weekend of introspection and relaxation. I will have to say, any retreat revolving around moon cycles seems a bit out there for me – spoiler alert: There were snakes, topless women and a few ticks – but, I was looking forward to peace, quiet and some yoga.
For a few years now I’ve felt like I had the work-life balance thing all figured out. I have a trick that has worked for me over the many years of stressful jobs: I pick a tree to drop work off with. I know, now we really are getting hippy, but stay with me.
There is a tree about halfway between work and home. Each evening when I get to that tree I “drop off” all my work-related thoughts. I stop thinking about work right then and there – no exceptions. In the morning when I head back to the office, I pick everything up right where I left it, at that beautiful tree.
But, last weekend turned out to be about more than just work and life and balance. It turned out to be about people! For one, it reminded me that I needed to get away. But, not away like reading a book on the back porch without my phone in my lap. Not just a few miles from the office, but apart from my usual community where everyone always wears his or her shirt and shoes and Apple watch.
I was forced out of my comfort zone on this retreat, and the first thing that slithered its way into my relaxing yoga weekend was a rat snake! I will have to admit that even though I grew up in the country, I screamed and probably jumped higher than I have in years when I saw that snake. I was reassured it was a harmless snake that we actually do want around to control pests like mice and rats. It did get my heart racing, though, and I was more aware of my surroundings the rest of the weekend. What a reminder to be present.
Now we come to the part I know you guys have been waiting for, the part about the topless women. It wasn’t much to write home about, but these women were empowered. They were free and confident. Although I wouldn’t ever advise even the most confident businessman or woman to show up topless at their next meeting, I think we can take a lesson from their boldness. It works to show up just as you are, confidently embracing your flaws. You get seen. You get heard.
Sunday I returned home and to my normal routine. That evening while I was preparing for Monday, I felt something a little crawly, a bit creepy behind my knee. I realized that a tick had traveled home with me. After I got cleaned up (for the second time), I reminded myself that growing includes feeling awkward and uncomfortable while doing something new – even encountering ticks!
I think experiencing new cultures, new camps, new neighborhoods and new communities can recharge your relationship not only with your work and your life, but also with humanity. We are all here trying to connect with something, with each other, with happiness, with ourselves, with God. But when we segregate ourselves into so many subcategories: Religion, net worth, job function, political party, etc., we miss out on learning from people different than ourselves and our subcategory.
I challenge you to find a weekend retreat. Something that sparks your interest but a gathering that none of your neighbors or coworkers would ever attend. See if it helps you leave work at that one tree a little longer. See if it allows you to connect to something other than work. And see if it gives you insight and inspiration you can take back to your work and life.
What gives you inspiration and keeps your mind open to new people and new ideas? Drop me a line to let me know.