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Trip to Baja: Journey into My Heart

(posted: December 1st, 2022)

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a week-long retreat at the Modern Elder Academy in Baja California.

This is something I've been trying to do for a few years now, and the stars finally aligned. And it was the most incredible, eye-opening, self-care experience!

I want to share my experience and some of my "a-hahs" with you, in a moment. But first, I need to come clean.

The Practice of Self-Care

Something I talk about a lot is taking care of yourself. At this point, we all understand that without attention to your own health and wellbeing, you can't perform at your optimum level. Well, I have to admit that I've never been very good at this myself. It will surprise exactly none of you that my default is to go-go-go, and downtime makes me uncomfortable. It is easy to feel like you have to be constantly working, especially when you run your own business.

For me, going away for a week to...relax? Refresh? Recharge?...was a bit of a struggle. Make no mistake, this is a trip I wanted to take, but when it came right down to letting go and being unavailable for 7 days, it was harder than I had imagined.

So, the first "win" for me was accepting that it was okay to be out of contact.

And once I did that, the rest of the experience fell into place like magic!

The Modern Elder Academy's (MEA) compound in Baja is beautiful and serene. The perfect place for a retreat, and it’s on the beach, which I love.

Chip Conley, co-founder of MEA, describes them this way: "MEA's programs allow mid-lifers to audaciously reframe their mindset on aging while inspiring a regenerative lifestyle. It also offers an engaged community of curious, wise, and playful souls dedicated to long-life learning and a generosity of spirit to make the world a better place."

Becoming a Modern Elder - 4 Takeaways

I had four main takeaways from this experience, which I'd like to share with you.

1) The heart of it all was compassion. I learned that for me, everything is based in mindfulness and self-compassion, which has to happen before anything else.

The core values I identified during this journey are joy, happiness, and compassion. But I can't express them fully without some limit on my drive. Our shaman said to me, "You are glowing with so much joy, but you need to center it. This has been a year of transformation, and I can tell you are burned out. Your glow and energy is a gift; you need to learn to use it wisely so that you don't end up exhausted and drained."

2) In addition, I need to focus on curiosity and kindness. I am the one to ask more questions, draw others out, enhance communication and understanding.

3) Another moment was realizing that if I am making a difference - at work, for clients, in my life, for my daughter and my friends - then I don't need accolades or approval. I am in charge of my own happiness, and my self-worth is not dependent on other’s attention.

4) And finally, the clarity, the joy, has to start within me, with me continually recognizing and understanding what I need to be whole and strong, so that I can then be joyous and compassionate for others in my life.

Experience of a Lifetime

My time at MEA was truly a magical experience. The deep sharing, or "sharing from the third vault" was amazing, and I found 18 new "best friends" in my fellow attendees. We named our new "family" Mudita, a Buddhist term for "finding joy in other people's joy."

I really dug into who I am, who I want to be, and why, to the benefit of both myself and my clients.

I am especially excited about how the value of this will carry over to my clients, letting me create even safer spaces for them to share and grow. And when we cultivate real conversations in a safe space, anything is possible!

How do I bring all of this back to my day-to-day life? It truly is one day at a time, starting with patience and compassion for myself, and then extending them to everyone I have the opportunity to encounter, whether that's in my work or in my personal life.

Dr. Shauna Shapiro was one of the wonderful teachers/facilitators at MEA. Her philosophy, which resonated with me, is to start the day with meditation and by asking "what good is going to come today?" This way you consciously start the day with a positive mindset. Shauna says, "What we practice grows stronger."

Another gem from Shauna, based in science: “It is never too late to rewire your brain for clarity and joy.”

If you are ready for some major soul searching and soul awakening, take a closer look at the Modern Elder Academy.

Below, my shot of the splash of a Humpback whale from the beach. It felt like a sign, since Humpbacks signify abundance, which is my mantra for 2023 – An abundance of joy, compassion, and glow for everyone!

I'd love to hear your thoughts - Please join the conversation in the comments, below
  • How are you finding ways to be compassionate with yourself?
  • What do you do to center yourself so that you can help others around you?
  • How can you best live your core values?
  • How can you be patient as the seeds you’ve just planted grow to fruition?
  • Please share your thoughts and additions in the comments below.

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2 Comments

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Thanks, Jo and YES, it was amazing, and happy to connect if you want to discuss. Happy Holidays!

Posted by kristi

(on Dec 19th, 2022  2:41 PM)

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So great to read of your experience at MEA. I've heard about it so love getting your gorgeous 1st person reflections! Thank you for sharing Kristi!

Posted by Jo

(on Dec 19th, 2022  7:38 AM)

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