I had the extraordinary opportunity to spend a long weekend at a Breathe the Change Retreat in upper Minnesota. It was gifted to me by a good friend that knows my life doesn’t give me much opportunities to spend time on myself, to pause.
A last minute decision and a logistical nightmare, sometimes the world aligns to make things happen just right. Sophie had just had tooth surgery, which went as expected; meaning there were a few bumps before, during and after. Sophie was reasonably stable and I was determined to go and try to let go of what was at home, to concentrate for this brief time on me. Very difficult for a full time caregiver with is an admitted control freak. My husband, son, and Sophie’s nurses all banded together to take care of Sophie, who needs someone with her 24/7.
The deal was that I would help with the retreat, and in exchange my beautiful friend would cover my costs. I was a little intimidated since Liz was the only person I knew, I also knew she’d be very busy as one of the two yogis. My social skills are pretty darn rusty unless I’m conversing with a non-verbal teen, a special needs Mom, or nurses. I stepped out of my comfort zone, I needed this.
The draw of water has always been in me. My folks retired to the gulf coast of Florida, and visits to the beach have always appealed to me. I swam for pleasure and fitness for years. We have a small koi pond on one side of our home, and a fountain on the other. We used to have a nice big hot tub, but it is in “retirement” because of the prohibitive cost of running it. I miss what little I used it; these bones are talking to me from lifting a 100+ pound teen daily taking its toll.
I’d never been to Lake Superior, the gorgeous view from our villa made it feel like an ocean in some ways. I’m very familiar with Lake Michigan having grown up on the west side of it and having extended family on the east side of that magnificent lake. I didn’t know what to expect of this, the largest great lake.
Lake Superior, when we arrived was almost as still as a piece of glass. Not what I expected at all. Where were the white caps that I’ve grown to know and love from my time on Lake Michigan? We were blessed with a gorgeous sunrise, the winds had picked up overnight and there they were, my whitecaps, my waves. Just one of the many ways that I “put my wishes out there” and they were granted. Familiar with Lake Michigan’s many sandy beaches, I was surprised by the rocky and rugged coastline. It was beautiful in its own way. Could I find a certain peace in this beautiful place?
Helping out actually was perfect for me. I was able to mingle and meet all of these fascinating women, drawn here for many reasons to find a way to pause, to breathe, and to relate to others who enjoy the benefits of yoga, breathing, chanting, meditation, dancing and as promised some “serendipitous surprises.” Liz, paying attention to my needs along with 38 other women, shooed me out the door a number of times so that I could commune with the amazing nature surrounding the Cove Point Lodge in upper Minnesota. The weather couldn’t have been more cooperative for a late October, with the trees still holding their autumn glory. The other four women who made up the worker bees, along with the amazing coordinator, Nancita, became fast friends while we helped to make the retreat run smoothly. I learned new techniques for bringing peace to my mind and my body. Quirky, unexpected surprises in their practices from Liz and Laurie made the retreat fun and full of laughter. Liz and I got to dance together again bringing me deep joy and loving memories, while honoring our long friendship.
Memories made, promises to myself to pay attention to my needs more, to find even more pauses in my overloaded days. Coming home refreshed, determined to apply some of the practices I learned, to honor my own self. Wanting to bring even a small portion of this to all of the special needs moms I know. I believe this long weekend has filled my cup of gratitude and in so doing I can be a better mom, wife, and friend. And certainly a better friend to myself.
If this post leaves you with wanting to know more about our life with Sophie, please explore the rest of my blog by clicking on the various links or the tabs above. Enjoy!