Someone asked me a few weeks ago "Tell me how you want your guests to feel when they are at The Retreat Napa, what's your vision?"
Well, grab a cup of coffee or herbal tea and I'll tell you....
2012 and 2013 were terribly hard years for me. I had a broken heart and a never ending stressful new venture that seemed like it would go on forever. I had financial worries and I had ruined friendships because I was in such a state of unending professional stress that if it didn't have to do with my career, I simply could not afford to give anything else my attention. I worked 24/7 and it was like joyless running in quicksand. For two years I felt as though I had a car battery attached to my adrenal glands continuously jolting adrenaline through my body until those glands, and my brain, were just little fried raisins.
My Dad invited me to visit him in South Dakota where he grew up then retired with my mom, who since has passed away. I agreed, but really South Dakota? Ugh. South Dakota is just so...not San Francisco. South Dakota is just so slow...I mean, Christ, there's no decent cell reception and my Dad's feelings were hurt every time I called my friends back home or checked my email or my Facebook or LinkedIn or bank accounts, and God, how much time were we going to spend in that garden of his looking at his tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini? (Hey, no one has ever accused me of not being an asshole.)
I arrived at my Dad's house near the Black Hills (Yep, cell reception faded about 10 miles from his house.) My Dad threw open the doors and hugged me, and took my suitcase and bags. I set my phone down because for once it was not buzzing and lighting up and and pinging me all the latest offers, news, questions, demands and gossip of the day. It was dead. My Dad informed me there was a new yoga studio in town and if I hurried I could make the 4pm class. Huh? Yoga in Rapid City South Dakota? I am a teacher in San Francisco and Marin for God's sake. Ah well...after a 6-hour flight, I stumbled to his car and gunned for it.
The studio was lovely, warm and modern. The teacher was super skilled, challenging and kind. Halfway through class I started to breathe...deep breathing, for real breathing...the vise around my chest seemed to loosen. My daughter was with her father back in California, so for once I was not worrying if I was going to have to leave early to make it to daycare to pick her up on time. I wasn't making grocery lists and 'to do' lists in my head, and worrying about work. I listened to the music, I worked my ass off till sweat was rolling off my body. As class was winding down, I laid there and for ONCE I didn't sneak out early and make that 'I'm so sorry, I really like your class but my daughter will get kicked out of her over-priced after school program if I am late one more time' wave. For the first time in two years, when the teacher said "Be grateful for what you have..." I didn't want to kill her.
When I returned back to my Dad's house he said "Let's take a walk and look at some of the flowers in my garden before the sun sets...the lilies look really pretty!" And I took my Dad's hand and it felt warm and dry and all of a sudden I wanted to do nothing but look at flowers with him forever. They were beautiful, and so vibrant and he was so proud. It was the first time in so so long I could remember feeling connected with someone again. Some one who knew me and loved me and didn't give a shit whether I was rich or successful or wearing Lululemon or my car needed to be washed. It was just us, marveling over how seeds, water and dirt could create such radiant colors.
After looking at his flowers we went to his vegetable garden and it too was thriving. I didn't realize that carrots grew so bunched together and sorta popped right up out of the ground, and the zucchini and tomatoes were falling off of the vines they were so ripe. The onions we pulled up smelled so good. By now I was HUNGRY.
We walked into the house and made ratatouille by simply chopping everything up, and throwing a little olive oil into the sizzling pan with some sea salt. It bubbled and stewed and something near goddamn magic happened in that pan. We lit candles, had some fresh bread and sparkling water with the fragrant ratatouille. We laughed when I told him how badly things were going at work. Then we howled. It seemed so ludicrous...all of it. The striving, the failing, it was so darn funny.
I went to bed that night and slept for the first time in two years. The weekend went on like that. Yoga, hiking, long runs, picking vegetables, cooking. We visited with neighbors, we swapped stories around the fireplace, we reminisced and covered the big issues. We went and visited a friend's horses one day. My Dad's health is such that he couldn't ride, but it was beautiful to be out in the country. For four days I got up with the sun and we had total and complete days, and I went to bed with the sun.
On the plane ride home, I felt like a new person. I had stepped away from my self-created insanity feeling better, calmer and more connected. It wasn't long after that weekend that I went back to the career that I thrived within and loved, and also refocused on my love of fitness, health and teaching yoga.
My vision and hope is that when our guests join us for 5 days and 4 nights at The Retreat Napa, they feel something like how I felt on that plane ride home. Healthy, clear, vibrant, filled with laughter and clearer purpose. Our world is too often set up to make us feel disconnected, unhealthy and alone.
So, I hope you join us.