It is the nature of women to look at our hearts, minds, and physical appearance and only see the flaws. We examine the pieces of us that we consider to be imperfect or broken and focus on them so much that we ultimately view ourselves as less valuable. At the Yoga Retreat we learned that although we all have weaknesses and have faced hardships in our lives we are indeed, not broken. It is natural that we feel pain, worry, heartache, fear, insecurity, and all the negative emotions that pass through our hearts and minds. They are a part of life and feeling them is not indicative of being broken.
We had a total of 16 women on the retreat and stayed in a beautiful brick laden AirBnB in North Logan. We kicked off the retreat with a 4 mile hike to The Wind Caves. The sun was shining, the women were brave, and the views were spectacular! After settling in at the house we enjoyed a delicious and healthy dinner prepared by Chef Lindsey followed by a workshop taught by Niki Olsen, a licensed therapist. We learned tools used in Mind and Body Bridging, a therapeutic approach that helps women understand that their pain and emotions have a powerful effect on their physicality. She taught us that we can, with practice, lessen that effect. Doing so can leave us feeling more powerful and in control of our emotions and negative thoughts leaving our bodies and minds relaxed and available to connect with those around us and feel joy in our lives. We finished the night off with an outdoor yoga session with Jasmine and cleared our minds with peaceful meditation as we watched the sun set over the beautiful Cache Valley.
On day two we prepared our minds and bodies for the day with early morning yoga under the clear blue sky. In this session we learned about the meaning of chakras and offered gratitude to our powerful bodies and the gift they truly are. We followed it up with a 3.5 mile hike up Richards Hollow where we stopped and had lunch at the bottom of a waterfall, giving us the opportunity to chat and connect with one another. Upon returning we were treated with a follow-up workshop with Niki, furthering our skills in bridging the gap between our bodies and minds. After another delicious meal from the chef we enjoyed a sunset yoga session and finished off the night with chatting, connecting and a lot of laughter!
Get Out There Girl retreats are intended to empower women. The Yoga Retreat did just that! Women from all walks of life made lifelong friendships through adventure, pushing ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally. We spent time together crying, laughing, and most of all learning that we are not broken after all and that none of our so-called “flaws” have anything to do with our value as women. We also learned that we have an indelible power to manage our negative thoughts and utilize them as fuel to bring improvement, peace and joy to all aspects of our lives.
When the opportunity arose to attend a Yoga/Hiking retreat with Get Out There Girl, my first thought was that I was too scared to go. I don’t love traveling (an understatement), and I feel an even more intense separation anxiety when I travel without my family. However, someone I love had attended a retreat previously and I saw the way it changed her life. My heart ached to experience a similar change in my own. The idea of reentering the world of yoga was intriguing, but I wasn’t excited about hiking. A few years ago, I had heat stroke and I suffer from PTSD whenever I am in the heat. This led to me feeling fearful about the whole trip. Going with people I don’t know, experiencing things that are hard and my fears screamed loudly that I couldn’t do it. One thing pushed me forward.
My greatest desire is to live anxiety free. Thus far in my 53 years, anxiety has been my continual companion and every effort made to conquer it has fallen short or failed completely. This time in the world with the pandemic has been especially difficult so I took advantage of a brief moment of bravery and signed up. Honestly, I almost canceled many times. But I chose to go and I will be forever grateful! There are a couple of significant things, among many great experiences, that made it worth all the worry and anxiety.
The first is that we had two workshops with one of the most amazing, talented and wise women I have ever met. Her name is Niki Olsen and she walked us through a method called Mind Body Bridging. The process was overwhelmingly impactful for me. Personally, I felt a change in my heart about anxiety. I now believe that, little by little, following this process will help me understand why I respond the way I do and allow me to move through it. Niki is a person I want to be like and I wish with all my heart she lived next door to me! When difficult things happen, I usually fall apart. However, the night after I got home from the retreat my son broke his collar bone in a severe manner and had to have surgery. There was definitely anxiety, but I put in to practice the things Niki had taught and I was far better than I would have been before the workshops and retreat.
The second was on a hike. These women didn’t know anything about my past or difficulties, as I didn’t know theirs, and I didn’t want to appear weak. As we started the hike I began to panic and my heart raced as I worried that the heat would overtake me. I had to stop a few times to breathe and put every effort into believing in myself. It wasn’t a difficult or demanding hike, but my anxiety started to overpower. My self-talk was negative and, with every part of my heart and mind, I had to push myself to keep going. I tried to tell myself I could do it and, step by step, I did it! The chatting among the women, who quickly began to feel like friends, and following them pushed me forward. There were many times that my belief in myself wavered, but I made it. At the top we rested at a beautiful waterfall and took pictures and had lunch. The others didn’t know what a triumph it was for me, but it’s a personal victory that I will always remember. And better yet….I want to go hiking again!
Our time practicing yoga was also amazing. We were outside in the most beautiful scenery and breathing in the fresh air among the trees. The view of the mountains and green grass was healing and invigorating at the same time. The entire weekend was important for me and I believe a turning point in my journey through this life. Bravery and adventure are not my strongest traits, but I am a few steps closer.
Ever since GOTG was created I have heard hundreds of women’s stories. My heart has grown as I have listened to women’s struggles and triumphs. I have discovered that women want to share. For so long we (women) have put our best foot forward and only showed the parts of ourselves that we think people want to see. This is exhausting. I’ve learned that one of our deepest desires as human beings is to be seen. We want someone to see all of us and love us regardless. We want someone to see how far we’ve come and how hard we have fought to be who we are. We want someone to see ALL of us, our strengths and our weaknesses and love us. We don’t want to hide parts of us.
As I have heard countless stories I felt strongly that others needed to hear them as well. We need to connect with each other through our humanity. I haven’t met a woman I didn’t love after hearing her story. I want you to hear each other’s stories and connect. Every Monday I plan to share another woman’s story. I hope you read the stories and see the connection you have with other women. See your shared humanity. See your similarities. See the courage. See the strength. See yourself in each story.
In this very unique circumstance where social distancing is required, I find myself longing for human connection outside of my family. Last year, my most profound experience with this type of connection occurred while I attended a self-compassion and yoga retreat put on by Get Out There Girl.
Looking back, it’s pretty easy to see there was a void in my life at the time. That void was the exact reason I started following Get Out There Girl in the first place; I watched Brittany post about these retreats and I knew I needed that in my life. Still, it took me some time to take the leap of faith required to sign up. As I sit down to write this post, the warm feelings from the retreat come back to me and I wonder how to paint an accurate picture of that precious experience.
It took a lot of bravery for me to book that trip. All the reasons I needed to go brought up all my fears about actually going. It all came down to friendship and connection…it was frightening to admit how much I needed to make some new friends. I didn’t sign up with a friend. What if everyone else brought a friend and I was left out? What if they didn’t like me? What if I didn’t fit in? Where had my self-confidence gone?
The more I asked myself these questions the more I knew I needed to go. My doubts and fears were worth pushing through. Then a new retreat was announced with the theme of yoga and self-compassion, two things I desperately needed more of in my life. I booked the trip which was the best thing I ever could have done for myself.
Lots of opportunities to test my self-compassion came with our first activity. A hike. The fast pace of the other women surprised me and before long all of the other women were so far ahead of me, I couldn’t see anyone.
But I was in nature and it was beautiful. I wasn’t going to waste this opportunity by getting upset, so I didn’t. Even though I felt like I might die walking straight up the side of a mountain all alone, and although I wished I was a faster hiker, I just kept telling myself I would get there, and it was okay.
Before too long the steep hill flattened and I was able to walk on a flat path, much more comfortable than the initial ascent. Then someone noticed that I had a slower pace and she came back for me. Due to my strong desire to stay positive, I hadn’t been upset at being last, and yet this small act of kindness was not lost on me.
As I knew we would, we finally arrived at the top of the mountain and rejoiced in the beautiful view. Twice I had abandoned my comfort zone. First in booking the retreat, and second in walking up the steep hill, yet only through putting myself through that discomfort was I able to enjoy the astounding view with the other women.
We treasured our moments there on the top of the mountain. No one seemed in too big of a hurry to head back down. We took lots of pictures, introduced ourselves, told stories, laughed and joked and lingered and I rekindled my friendship with Brittany. Some had come in groups and some had come alone, but we were all there for important reasons. To get away from the regular pressures of life, to be outside in nature, to learn, to connect with other women, to feel a part of something. To have fun…a concept increasingly foreign in my day to day life.
We enjoyed a relaxing walk back to our cars, drove to the campground, ate dinner prepared by a real-life chef, and practiced yoga together. The enchanting location overcame us with its beauty and charm. We slept in tents that had been set up before our arrival. The next morning, we rejoined the yoga circle and listened to the rain pick up, nervous that the intensity of the rain would increase and cut our yoga short.
Not only did it cut out second yoga session short, but it proceeded to pound down on us. We huddled under canopies and enjoyed our lunches while the rain came down. We chatted, we sang, we laughed, we ate, we bonded.
Next, when the rain had finally settled down, we went to an art class where we painted a picture. I remember thinking that I wouldn’t paint the picture with everyone else. I didn’t want to go to the effort, and I didn’t think I would be able to make my picture look good enough, but I talked myself out of bowing out, and I did just fine. When I got home from the retreat, I put the picture up in my family room where it still sits on my mantle, to remind me that I am a person. Part of, yet separate from my family and my role in my family.
A self-compassionate workshop, was followed by our final yoga circle, the most powerful one. Then we ate one more gourmet meal and our adventure was complete.
I left the retreat feeling like my old self, more confident that I could talk to and make friends with people without so much fear of not being accepted. Inherently, people are kind. Women need each other, and when put in a situation where they have the chance, they will draw close to one another. I am a wife, and I am a mother, and I am a daughter, the caretaker of my aging mother, but I am also more than all of that. I am me. And now and then I need a chance to just be me. This Get Out There Girl retreat gave me a profound opportunity to do just that.
Earlier this year Lisa, from Free Spirited Yoga, contacted me out of the blue and said she had been following us on Instagram and loved our mission. She told me she had a dream of doing a camping yoga retreat and was hoping we could team up with her to pull one off. Of course I said YES and it turned out to be a retreat of a lifetime!
We met up Friday afternoon and hiked up to the Powerhouse Overlook in Springville, Utah. It was a steep 3 mile hike and it was worth every step. The views were incredible in all directions. It is hike I highly recommend. I could have spent hours up there soaking it all up.
After the hike we headed up Spanish Fork Canyon to a place called Beaver Creek. Remember how a week before the retreat I had to switch locations because of spring run off?! It was a lot of stress but it ended up being even better than I had originally planned. Isn’t it funny how life is like that sometimes? Sometimes we have one thing planned that we think is fantastic but then life has something even better in store for us. We just need to surrender and trust.
Beaver Creek was one of the most beautiful campgrounds we had ever seen. We are so grateful that John Pestana let us use his land for our retreat. It was magical.
After setting up tents we did our first yoga session. (We had 3 that weekend)
After yoga our chef, Bailey with undertheknife.cooking, made us an amazing dinner that we all loved! Eating good food during this retreat was the cherry on top. Bailey is amazing!
That evening we relaxed, connected and got to know each other. There were several women who came not knowing anyone. I am so grateful for brave women who step outside their comfort zone to try something new. We all made a lot of new friends.
Day 2 started out with a morning yoga session. It started raining on us during this session. It was just a slight drizzle and ended up adding to the magic of the moment.
After yoga the rain picked up. We changed some of our plans to accommodate the rain (another life lesson) and everything turned out great. We split into two groups and did a self compassion workshop taught by our yoga instructor Lisa, while the other group did a paint activity.
The Self-Compassion workshop was one of my favorite parts of this retreat. Lisa did such a fabulous job teaching us and facilitating a discussion where we all felt safe being vulnerable and authentic. Using self compassion in my daily life has changed my life. Not only am I kinder to myself but I am kinder to those around me. I am also able to accomplish more now that I am not so hard on myself. Having self compassion is a beautiful thing that I hope to spend the rest of my life sharing with others.
The paint activity was so fun. Robyn from @paintnightpallet helped us apply what we had learned about self compassion and chose a picture that would remind us with it’s symbolism.
Swag bags were a fun addition to our retreat. We are so grateful for the company’s who donated items for us.
After the workshop and paint activity the sun came back out! We were able to paddle board on the pond, get henna tattoos, do another session of yoga, a drum mediation and eat another fantastic meal.
Later that night several women headed home to sleep in their own beds. About a dozen of us stayed another night and spent the night chatting by the campfire. It was a wonderful way to end the day.
This truly was a weekend we will never forgot. Being in nature, connecting with other women and learning about self-compassion was the recipe we all needed and felt impacted by.
I’m grateful for so many women who shared their talents with us and helped make this weekend a reality. It is a beautiful thing when women come together.