Good morning! Happy daylight-savings Monday (she says groggily...) I don't care how you shake it, I would suffer through greater things than a lost hour of sleep to have it be light at 7pm. But I'm a real trooper...
Actually, not so much. I have been a little under the weather this past week, which has landed me in bed for most of it and not doing what I was supposed to be doing like blogging, and making new cards for the spring release and (gasp!) Christmas. Yes, it's the most wonderful time of the year pretty much all the time over here... I think it's why I have such a hard time putting my decorations away.
Last month I did the smartest thing I ever did and took a vacation in February. I can't believe I have never done that before! It is the tail end of a very hectic time in my work schedule, smack dab in the middle of Coach's basketball season and unreasonably cold and crappy here in Boston. Why not GO SOMEWHERE ELSE?!
I realize that I am very late to the game on this. No need to point out how many cruises you've been on or how that's why schools in the northeast get "February Break". I get it.
But MAN was that a good idea!
Since I was traveling alone, and looking for some R&R, my trip was very 'me' focused. For the first part of it I had the pleasure of getting to go to Miraval in Tuscon, AZ. I was there on the highest recommendation of a friend and a very fortunate 'deal' from a coupon site. My trip was delayed a day courtesy of one of the blizzards, but oddly, everyone (including the airline) was extremely accommodating and I arrived like I was meant to be there.
Miraval is an exceptional place. It is nestled in the Catalina foothills, close to nature and bathed in sunlight. The view of the snowcapped mountain peaks is only interupted by huge palm trees and their series of perfectly heated pools. The staff has the glow of actually enjoying their work and loving the people they work with, and not a stone of service is left unturned. The culture is rooted in their core philosophy of mindfulness, which sets an amazing tone for your time there. In that spirit, cellphones are all but prohibited on the grounds (except in your room and in designated areas) which means that you actually talk to other people, introduce yourself, and get to know someone new.
I admit to being a little lost at first in the dining room by myself with no 'device' to hold my gaze and purpose... something to keep me interacting ....but then I realized that what it was keeping me from doing was interacting. We use these things to interact, but also to avoid interaction. To avoid engagement with the people around us. It is certainly a self-preservation mechanism while we are waiting for a bus, or need to not be bothered on a crowded street or on a plane with a chatty neighbor. But when we get used to only engaging with those that we select, I think we miss out on a ton.
Over my 3 days at Miraval, I met so many cool and interesting people with some really rich and interesting backgrounds. At first I made it a little challenge for myself to sit quietly with myself and engage freely, but after a day there, it became something I saught out. I was chatting with everyone! It was like we were all on vacation together, and the community that the resort was able to create throught that one policy (as well as the many fun and exciting group activities) was impressive at the very least.
I filled my time during the three days with trips to the beautiful spa (breathtaking, really) to feel taken care of, hikes in the mountains to feel connected, delicious meals and great conversations to feel nourished, a couple of classes to feel challenged, naps, to feel rested and many many deep breaths to feel grateful. It was the greatest gift I have given myself to date. I highly recommend something like it.
When I got on the plane to head off to the second part of my adventure, I blew a little kiss to those mountains and that place and thanked it for myself back.
The photos above were taken on my first mornnig hike in the Catalinas. The night before was very cold, and what you can't see in the photographs (but that I wish desperately that I could have captured) is the billion tiny diamonds of frost that covered every tiny thing in the valley. It was spectacular! Being my first time in the southwest, I was of course on the lookout for new critters... I saw lots of roadrunners, jack rabbits, quail and even wild pigs (javelinas)!! At night I heard the healthy packs of coyotes howling and one girl I met saw a bobcat and her cubs. I was sorry to miss that. I am such a nature nerd.
Have you ever had a place or experience that you felt gave you yourself back?? Want to share?
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