Sunday, July 15, 2012

Nora's Story: My First Women's Retreat

Ever wonder what happens at our Women's Self-Renewal Retreats? Curious why someone would carve out time, line up child and/or parent care and jump through hoops to get away and spend a weekend with other women?

Nora Livesay, a mom and graduate student in the Linguistics PhD program at the University of Minnesota was the winner of our Year-of-Self-Care Mother’s Day Giveaway (read more and meet Nora).

She recently returned from our June 22-24 New Way of Being: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat at the beautiful Kripalu Center for Yoga and Wellness and graciously offered to talk about her experience at her first women's retreat.

Nora, how was the Kripalu Women’s Retreat with Renee; what did you most enjoy? The retreat was an incredible gift that arrived at just the right moment in my life. I enjoyed so many things about the retreat that it's hard to pick one as most enjoyable. Perhaps it was the space created for reflection that the New Way of Being teachings and time away from all other distractions provided. I found myself finally slowing down enough physically and mentally to be able to hear the quiet voice of insight (what Renee calls “Your Wise Self”) in that space. And believe me, for someone with ADHD who feels a restless need to be constantly in motion, that's quite rare.

What pearls of wisdom or teachings did you most enjoy or take away? I took away three important teachings from the retreat that I want to embrace in my daily life. 

The first is to not just listen to my Wise Self but to allow and trust that quiet voice to guide my daily decisions. Over the past couple years of being in Sarina La Marche’s Minneapolis Personal Renewal Group, I have gotten better at attuning to that voice, but have had trouble trusting it. I've made excuses -- I'm too busy... I don't have the resources to make it happen..., etc. But at the end of the retreat, I drew an inspirational card from a basket that Renee sent around with the message "start delegating" and it then it clicked. I have to make space to allow and trust my own voice by delegating other responsibilities.

The second teaching I learned was that movement is a path for me to hear my own voice and to renew my energy. I've always known I was a kinesthetic learner -- that I learn best by doing. But I've also felt that with my ADHD, the constant movement of my body and thoughts was often a negative thing that got in the way of other goals. I've never thought of movement as a way to connect deeper until it happened during the retreat when we danced (Kripalu offers an awesome class called YogaDance). I want to challenge myself now to find ways to experience movement in a joyful way and to be purposeful in channeling my movement.

Lastly, the realization about movement also led to another, perhaps the most important. To be Nora Ellen, to be all of her. To me that means accepting and embracing all of who I am, even the parts of me I get frustrated with. Each day at the retreat, I walked past a quote on the wall that said, "Yoga is the practice of tolerating the consequences of being yourself." The Bhagavad Gita. It reminded me that I want to practice not just tolerating, but truly accepting all of me. And the first step is tolerating my mistakes and failures and challenging the negative dialogue in my mind.  Yesterday, I turned on the wrong burner on the stove (which I seem to do every single time I cook) and instead of heating the fry pan to cook my egg, I set the entire egg carton on fire. Luckily no damage was done, and I put out the egg carton in sink. Instead of berating myself, my family and I had a good laugh at my latest kitchen misadventure. It’s definitely about baby steps. 

What surprised you about the retreat (and have you attended retreats before)? I've never attended a retreat like this before. I was expecting lots of information to download and absorb, and to have the days filled up with activities or yoga, and instead I was surprised by how the teachings/exercises were spacious, how much I slept and how little I “did.” It felt like I was catching up on months’ worth of much needed rest. I was also surprised by the depth of caring and comfort that all the women held for each other in the circle. It was palpable, like a soothing balm on raw skin. 

I was also truly blessed to have one of the other women invite me to spend a couple days at her home in the mountains before I flew back to Minnesota. The time we spent together over the next two days was like an extension of the retreat and really helped me ease back into my everyday life. That we could form such a strong connection and friendship so quickly is really a testament to the power of the circle of women at the retreat and the compassionate, nurturing environment that was present.

Would you take another RTA retreat? Absolutely! I would definitely recommend Renee Trudeau’s retreat to others. I want to go back next year and bring my sisters and friends with me. Even if those I love aren't ready to take in the insights/tools, just the experience of being held in loving kindness by the women's circle and of being in a peaceful place away from the busy-ness of life would be well worth the trip/investment. If you've never done anything like this, do it!

What did you think of Kripalu? Kripalu is an oasis of peacefulness. The beauty of nature in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts, the simple, but comfortable accommodations, and the food -- the incredibly delicious food -- combine to make it such a restful and healing place. I'm already thinking about how to get back there for another retreat! (Huge thanks to the generous folks at Kripalu for donating our all-expense paid retreat for the Year-of-Self-Care giveaway!)

INVITE: Interested in having your own unique retreat experience? Join me Oct. 19-21 for our New Way of Being: Women's Self-Renewal Retreat if you want to join us at the beautiful Kripalu Center for Yoga & Wellness in Massachusetts! Peak leaf turning time! I'd love to hold the space for you to rest, connect with your needs and desires--and hear what your Wise Self most wants you to know.

P.S. Have a background in PR/Communications and interested in joining the all-women Renee Trudeau & Associates team this fall? Learn more about our Part-Time PR Coordinator Position.
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Photos at top: The beautiful Nora Livesay; Kripalu June 2012 retreat participants on the front lawn at Kripalu after a writing exercise; colored mandalas from a few of the retreat participants.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Great story and most memorable ones.Women’s Self Care