Hi, I'm Erin and I'm a retreat junkie
"How funny is this? A line in my book just said 'Erin is a self-improvement junkie.'"
I was on a plane from Mexico City to Puerto Escondido, about to do something completely out of character for me: spend a week at a retreat called "Lucir" with 14 women doing yoga, meditation, latin dance, paddle boarding, and group coaching. Sharon, who had just read that line from "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck" was a fellow retreat goer who happened to be on my flight. Though Lucir had a self-improvement element to it, at the time, the line from the book could not have been further from the truth.
The truth was that I had just re-connected with Caitlin, an acquaintance who is a coach, around the time I was leaving my job at Facebook. I was burned out mentally, physically, and emotionally after a tough year personally and professionally. The same day I left Facebook, Caitlin started a free 21 day program called the "September Reset" focused on setting yourself up for a strong finish to the year. It was perfect timing, so I enthusiastically participated, and soon began working with her one-on-one. All this despite the fact that I tend to be judgmental of the coaching industry. Just a few weeks into working with her, she convinced me to sign up for something else I had never imagined doing - spending a week with 13 strangers (and Caitlin) in southern Mexico.
I was shocked by how much Lucir changed me, and how excited I was to continue the work started that I started that week. In addition to continuing to work with Caitlin one-on-one, I have attended monthly virtual retreats with some of the Lucir participants, returned recently from a second, more intimate retreat hosted by Caitlin, and have already signed up Lucir again this coming November. Not only am I now a self-proclaimed "self-improvement junkie", I've also turned into a bit of a retreat junkie. And since this last one is so fresh in my mind, I thought I would share a few things I learned from these retreats, and put in a plug for this upcoming Lucir in case any of my non-male friends are interested (sorry fellas!).
1. You don't have to go to a big retreat to engage in self-care. Just like you shouldn't just spend one 'Hallmark Holiday' a year showing your romantic partner, your mom, or your dad how much you care about them, you also shouldn't save showing yourself care for special occasions. Retreats are a fantastic way to reset, but true self-care is doing things for yourself every day. Self-care can be small gestures like buying yourself flowers, routines like morning meditation or drinking a glass of lemon water to start your day, or dedicated times for yourself like a regularly scheduled evening for a bubble bath and a book. Before attending Lucir, self-care never even crossed my mind, and if it had, I would have only considered something like taking a big vacation (and I felt I didn't have time for that). Currently, my minimum daily self-care is a morning journaling practice called the Thrive Threesome. I strive to do more than that, even small gestures, but some days are so busy that just the journaling practice is a big accomplishment.
2. We all have stories about ourselves that hold us back. Some of the ways we see ourselves are positive (e.g., I'm a good writer), whereas others are less flattering (e.g., I'm too lazy to start a gym routine). We hold our self-views as facts, but in reality, they are just stories. And stories, unlike facts, can be re-written. The week before I did my Facebook Live series in March, I realized at one of my virtual retreats that a deeply engrained story of mine is that I have nothing novel or interesting to say and therefore nobody would want to hear from me (e.g., a Facebook Live video or a blog series). We dove into where that story came from. Although we tell ourselves the stories, they often aren't truly *our* stories. They are stories we have been told by our parents and teachers, from childhood events, or from others in our personal and professional lives. Sometimes the stories are part of a much deeper story (which probably didn't originate from ourself either). Even as I write this blog post, I still feel the cringe of my story - that I have nothing novel to say - but now that I know it's a story and not a truth, it no longer holds me back in the way it used to.
3. We all deserve to find a tribe of people who truly see us and love us unconditionally. Though I didn't necessarily learn this at my retreats, they did reaffirm what I had already come to know through close friendships and chosen family: there are people out there who appreciate and prefer the real, honest, raw, and imperfect you. Our day-to-day sometimes makes it hard to find these people, as these bonds often require sharing about ourselves at a depth that is not always appropriate in professional settings or common at social gatherings. Curating your tribe may mean going to specific events like a retreat or a conference, but it may also come from finding one or two people you connect with and slowly building a longer-term relationship with them. I came into Lucir knowing only Caitlin, and left feeling close bonds with 13 other humans, and I even consider two of them new "besties".
Now I'd like to turn it over to you. What are some self-care routines that you enjoy? I'd love to add more to my arsenal. Or maybe there is a story you tell yourself that you'd like to share? Or a strategy for finding your tribe that doesn't involve flying to southern Mexico (but seriously, I'd love to talk to anyone who might consider it!).
Much love, Erin