(originally published on August 19, 2013)
I just returned from three days at Kripalu in the Berkshires where I attended a workshop with Martha Beck. Yes, THAT Martha Beck! She's so much more in person than what you read in her books or even as you've seen her on Oprah. A ball of energy, she took us on an emotional rollercoaster filled with so much laughter and, for some, a few tears heaving sobs. Most importantly, she trained us to bend spoons.
I also learned a few unexpected things during my time there:
- I am too old and too me to take the bus. Especially if there is a transfer in Springfield.
- Having your own room and your own bathroom is critical.
- If your access to food is severely limited, you will automatically start hoarding it.
- The one conversation thread that ran throughout the weekend revolved around how starving we all were.
- Always bring snacks. Always.
- Designated silent meals and silent spaces are the best. Except when the person across from you exhales deeply before every bite of food. Jesus.
- Limit my social media access and I get all twitchy. Tell me I can't take photos and I get mean.
- Look where you are going or you might step on a snake. Or a frog.
- Despite wearing no makeup for three days, someone thought I was 32. Must have been my I-am-about-to-pass-out-from-hunger look.
- When you live in the city, the farthest you can see is the next building. Being able to gaze at mountains over a long distance is strangely soothing to the eyes.
- Wearing yoga pants all weekend works well for me.
- There is only so far I'm willing to go with the woo woo stuff.
And then, there was this:
All weekend we talked about finding stillness in ourselves in order to access all sorts of things that make our lives better. Martha Beck shared story after story of weird "coincidences" happening in her life (and those of people she knew) after she was able to be open and still. Like crazy awesome stuff.
On Saturday, Martha instructed us to think about one of our wildest dreams and go do just one thing that evening towards making it happen. So my wildest dream is to be a travel photographer and writer who lives in the Caribbean. (OK, fine, Jamaica. Who lives in Jamaica.) I had been wanting to take photos all day so I knew that I would go down to the lake and do one of my photo walks. (Where you were allowed to take photos.)
I got back in time for dinner and ended up sitting with a woman I met the previous day who happens to work where I do (this happens all the time, by the way. They spray us with some sort of magic scent so we can find each other.) We spent a couple of hours talking about our respective dreams, something I rarely do with anyone. I usually end up being the listener, but for some reason I felt comfortable sharing my dreams of snorkeling everyday, taking photos, and writing stories about my experiences. Afterwards, she went off to write and I went back to my room for quiet time.
When I got there, I opened up my email, and there was a LinkedIn request that came in from someone I do not know. (This also happens all the time. Work in HR and everyone wants to be your "friend.") The time stamp on it coincided with the conversation I had at dinner about my dream. And (deep breath) .... the request was from a woman who is AN EDITOR FOR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC.
Boom. Mind blown. Woo woo!
If you are interested, read Martha's latest book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World. For those of you who are ones-and-zeros people, this will stretch you.