Getaway or murder. These are the words I uttered a few weeks back. I reached my limit of same old. The three-ring circus of summer had ended and with the start of school, life didn’t miss a beat. Professionally, I’ve been in search of direction. Personally, I was falling off the rails. Parenting was becoming hard and as a result, so was I. Life’s treadmill was moving fast. I needed to breathe before I got sucked in and spit out the other end. (Splat.)
A gals weekend would have sufficiently soothed my soul, but my heart knew I needed to be alone. A three-day retreat at Kripalu was my destination. Life Is A Playground: A program designed to ‘help you release old conditioned patterns of fear and strategy and tap into your natural flow state of creativity and unlimited possibilities.’ (Yes, please!) The kicker (And selling point!) the presenter was a Comedy Central headliner and New York Times best-selling author, Kyle Cease. (I’m In!)
Ever a skeptic, I planned for the worst. (Yoga ain’t my thang.) Anxious about just how hippie-dippie this weekend could be, I asked all the important questions prior to handing over my credit card.
Is coffee available upon opening my eyes?
Hair dryers are allowed?
Meat is a deal breaker. Do you serve meat?
Spa treatments, yes?
Emergency yoga retreat essentials were purchased along the way:
Wine (twist top and a little mason jar)
Beef jerky (what if they were lying)
Safeword. (If I accidentally signed on to a cult, then I had a plan–don’t think it doesn’t happen.)
I hit the road, arrived on time, checked in to my room…It was pristine, serene but not quite my dream.
From the few episodes of the OA I’ve seen, I was sure, upon arrival, that my soul would be extracted at midnight. The on-trend elements of simplicity had gone too far. Cement floors and headboard, bright white, tight corners…felt all too convenient for a swift clean up of horror movie aftermath.
I made my way to my event. One hundred-ish people gathered in what felt like a church. (Oh boy.) Our speaker introduced himself and instantly put me at ease. He’s funny. Like, really funny. How are all these things colliding? He’s calming. He seems so normal! (Keep reading.)
My fear of joining a cult was no joke. When the transformational comedian (I’m going to call him Kyle from here on out– until of course, I refer to him as Daddy–kidding!) actually did tell a joke of ‘sounding like a cult’ leader. I froze! Was he testing the water about how we feel about joining a cult? Kind of like that couple that ‘jokes about swinging.’ to see how outraged or interested you are? (Please tell me that’s happened to you, too!? No? Me neither. And no this isn’t me testing to see if you’re DTS (Down to swing). This is getting uncomfortable (Or is it?) We should move on. (Or should we?)) Errrrr, anyway…
Transformational Comedian. Brilliant career path! Hilarious and unbelievably evolved. You have my attention.
After the session, I took a pass on the yoga classes that were offered and ate dinner alone. I felt a bit lonely, insecure and quite different than everyone else. My skepticism had put up a wall I wasn’t quite ready to shed. Like a college flashback, I had some wine and M&Ms in bed and fell asleep watching reruns on my phone. My soul, oddly enough, was not extracted that night. I lived to see another day.
You have no idea how much mediation puts a kink in my morning routine.
An hooouuuur of meditation prior to class. (Shoulder slump.)
It went something like this–
This is so stupid.
Why aren’t these pillows softer.
I didn’t die last night. Win!
Should I hide the wine in case the Kum Ba Yah patrol raids my room?
–10 seconds of silence–
I’ll bet it’s been close to an hour.
(Opens eye, checks the phone. 2 minutes haven’t even passed.) Fu&k.
–A few more seconds of silence–
Fast forward through 40 of similar thoughts. Stuck, some floated away.
I quit early to dry my hair and go on my way.
Breakfast at Kripalu is silent. Turns out all of my meals were; I hadn’t made new friends. (Gasp!)
I’m not going to bore you (It’s not boring.) with all the details of my class/program/induction-into-the-sacred-light. What I will share though, is that I’ve been going about things all wrong (And I love it! –inside joke.) In addition to needing a break– a real (and healthy) hiatus with sleep, and quiet, and thought and growth–I also came in search of unrealistic findings. A roadmap for a career, a parenting bible of sorts, a relationship index that spares me the angst of feelings. You know, the typical things you’d expect from a three-day event. (duh.)
The afternoon rolled around and my daily classes were complete. I took much from the day and felt a bit of firmness under my feet. Tucked away I found a space to write. I’ll share it in a bit.
Although I swore I didn’t want yoga, I was sure I’d regret not taking at least one class. For the love of all things holy, you couldn’t have dragged me to dance yoga– the freak flags were a-flying! Had you shown me that before I signed up, there’s no way I would have obliged! I opted for genital yoga (gentle, GENTLE! Damn auto correct.) and was so glad that I did. I dined alone again and watched the sunset from under a tree. I felt fulfilled and tired. I forwent the Saturday night entertainment. I took a pass on the wine and the snacks. An early night led to a much needed ten-hour sleep.
Fer Fuchs Ake another hour of meditation.
It went something like this–
Does this stuff really work?
‘The Art of Trying Not To Fall Back Asleep While Meditating’ sounds like a book that needs to be written.
Should I be offended that I’m not actually be invited into a cult?
I’ll start my own cult!
Should I be offended that they didn’t try to extract my soul?
–so many moments of silence–
A toot. (Hey, they served a lot of vegetables!)
–some more moments of silence–
Likely a few more ideas.
Some antsy moments of wondering when it will end.
I’m amazed at just how many meals this place can sneak asparagus into. How do I know? Well, much like an STD, you’re reminded of it every time you pee. (I’ve been holding that joke in for weeks! Nailed it! No STDs to report, thank you very much!)
I entered the final session feeling like I’ve done some good work. For all the self-help books I’ve read over the years, this all felt different. A little more rooted and real. Certainly much more kind at the heart of it all.
The final conversation took a turn, that not even ‘our leader’ could expect. One mother shared a story that had a ripple effect. This conference was not about parenting, nor was it why I came. Tears flooded my eyes. Things suddenly made sense.
I came on this retreat looking for the answers.
How can I be more successful as a writer, an entertainer, can it be a career?
How can I be a better friend?
How can I be a better mother and wife?
How can I do it all?
Here’s (an abridged version) of what I had written the day prior.
My whole life I have aspired to be a mother– and with that, an entertainer, a creator, a writer, a cook, a teacher. (No pressure!) All these things have swirled around me for as long as I can recall. For the first time in my life, I’m doing all these things with conviction– sharing my strengths, experience, humor, and love in the most authentic way I know how.
Through the years careers have come on gone, along with my self-worth and sense of success. Continually needing to prove myself. Taking on more. Needing to be more than I am. It’s never enough.
For reasons I can’t explain, I had never fully recognized that it’s all right before me.
family, growth, intention,
I’ve got it all.
There in that final session, I felt it completely. I am enough.
. . . . .
You can’t call it a getaway without a massage. I doubled down with a two-hour massage with an Intuitive Healer as my last hoorah.
I couldn’t help but wonder what she would have done differently had I gone when I first arrived, but I’m glad I waited. She had hands like magic; I’m still sore a few days later.
I became mildly concerned and dually intrigued as I silently wondered how much of my thoughts she could actually read. I will never finish a massage and not question why happy endings can’t be legal. Never not wonder!
Could she intuitively hear me? Apparently not!
Either way, the trip was a success. I feel rested and grateful and ready to start again. Murder is no longer on the horizon. That in itself can be declared a happy ending.