I wasn't exactly sure what type of retreat I was looking for or if these resources even existed, so I did a Google search. Time and time again, I would be brought back to the same expired websites or dead ends with outdated information. Nobody wanted to host my version of a sabbatical and truth be told, I wasn't looking to be dumped in the woods to hike my way home or to go white water rafting with my cancer sisters who would become my "breast friends." No, in fact, I wanted to be alone. I wanted to collect my thoughts and piece myself back together so I could revitalize and recharge my positivity and fighting spirit.
Aside from being alone, I knew I wanted to be somewhere quiet where I could practice meditating and write, or read, or sleep, or just do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to do it. I wanted massage therapy and stretching or yoga for my aching bones and I just wanted to breathe different air. This was a tall order and it was virtually non existent. I was resigned to the fact that it wasn't going to happen when a real life game of telephone got started among people close to me and this person told this person who told this person, that I didn't seem like myself lately. It was true, but I didn't realize it was that noticeable. Well, you've met my friend Angie, in my previous blog. The operator of the telephone game got to her before it made it's way back to me and she exhausted her extensive lists of contacts trying to help me, but ended up not having any luck either. However, in her typical "never say die" fashion (Oooh, is that only funny to me? Sorry, sorry), she pulled out all the stops and she planned and paid for my dream retreat, right down to taking me to the airport at five o'clock in the morning. Do you have an Angie? If you don't, put down this blog right now and get one immediately. Even if its a miniature pocket-sized version, carry her everywhere and never take her for granted.
So, mid-fall, I boarded a plane alone and I headed out to Miraval Spa in Arizona. As soon as I stepped into the Arizona air, I felt my shoulders relax a little. The hour shuttle ride was narrated with stories about Oprah's last visit, how obnoxious the Kardashians were during their visit, and that Gwyneth Paltrow is sweeter than she appears. I couldn't believe that I was going to spend the next three days in such a cool place. I was so excited that I could have swung from the ceiling! Oh wait, I did swing from the ceiling when I was enveloped in a silk fabric, (similar to those used by Cirque Du Soleil artists) and did aerial meditation with a lavender pillow over my eyes while listening to a woman play music using glass bowls. That was real life and it was my favorite experience and the most relaxing thing I have ever done. I enjoyed it so much that I've even considered replacing all the chairs in my parents' house with suspended silk swings... The wheels are turning, people.
Despite being a spa, I chose Miraval because they offered a lot of energy healing that I was looking for. I would wake up early and watch the sunrise over the Arizona mountains while I was in stretching class, I walked the meticulous grid work of a stone labyrinth carefully placing my rocks of intention among so many others. I also napped in the warm sunshine by the pool, I started and finished a 400 page book, did different types of energy cleansing and healing and got a couple awesome massages. My only mistake was signing up for a hour stone massage. That sounds really cozy and relaxing, doesn't it?? I thought so too, until I realized that every hot stone that touched me would cause huge flares in my hot flashes and crank up my body temperature by a zillion degrees.
Even though time flew by too quickly, I was able to look in the mirror on my last day and see a face that I recognized again. The dark purple circles under my eyes had lightened and the knot in my stomach, that once could challenge any boy scout, had finally untangled itself. I had found exactly what I had been looking for in that three days, I had found me again. Instead of just ducking and dodging the blows, I simply shed the heaviness of the negativity and left it to die in the desert. I'm back in a good place and ready to fight harder than ever, just in time for my second Cancerversary.
Photo Cred: Kristin Lenda