Scheduled for January 20-27, 10 weeks beyond my IBM life, its timing was perfect. By then, I had visited with family in Arizona (twice), spent the holidays with my favorite humans in New Jersey and New York City, updated my resume and interviewed a handful of times, wrote my will (ya…), turned in all my tax materials to my CPA, launched my website and handled all of what my friend Adrienne calls “life’s admin”: around my condo in Virginia, every closet was purged and organized, every paper put in it’s place. As a bonus, I also serendipitously contributed to an autonomous vehicle start up, leading up to a wonderful experience at CES earlier in January.
The retreat’s timing was indeed perfect: it was time for some me time.
Time to reconnect with that beast I know I have in me. The one who is disciplined, determined and dynamic. Focused, fit and fun. Curious, courageous and coquette. Real. Fierce. Time to go back to my roots. To listen to the voices. Time for some healthy eats, some rigorous physical activity and some alone time for self-reflection. Alone, but also together time with other like-minded women, especially my BFF Danielle.
In as few words as possible: time to crush some goals.
I expected to:
-Reset my nutrition with some clean eating: no sugar, no dairy, and no bread
-Participate in as much physical activity as my body would allow
-Get some good rest
-Drink a lot… of water
-Write about my experience and mostly…
-Enjoy every moment.
I. Did. All. That.
Sure, it feels good to set a plan and get it done. I expected it.
What I didn’t expect however…
It took less than 5 minutes into sharing a ride from the Cancun airport with two of the other women from Toronto for me to realize that the week was going to be about much more than my personal goals and accomplishments. I thought: “I am so interested in these women’s stories!” Soon enough, my need for solitude would morph into a deep desire to be part of a community of 10 compatible women, majority of them from a different culture. What?! The cultural experience I so passionately seek after was right in front of me. In a van to Playa del Carmen! Score.
I had never much interacted, let alone “hung out” with English Canadian women before. All of my girls from the Canada days were French (évidemment!): I was 16 years-old when I left my country for America. That was way before I could explore, let alone understand Canada’s vastness and cultural diversity beyond the south shore of Montréal. Way before I knew that, as an immigrant, my own bi-culturalism would inspire me to question the meaning of home and make me crave for more cultural discovery and diversity. Way before I called myself both Canadian and mostly Américaine. There is a difference…
Yet in Mexico, it took me about half a day to let go of what I perceived to be our cultural differences. Some of us simply say “sorry” (with that sexy accent!) more than others.
Quickly, I consciously recognized that we humans are more alike than different. In that moment, our similarities were just too obvious and extensive to focus on our differences. What united us women, 5 Canadians, 4 Americans, 1 Argentinian, at least for this week (and for sure beyond), was our desire to bond with that beast that is inside of us, while connecting with each other. So that through this newborn community, our fitness retreat experience would live well beyond a week in Mexico.
Each. And. Every. One. Of. Us. We all crushed our goals. No doubt. But in the end, we left stronger women because of our bond to each other and because we shared in this experience together.
In a place where I expected to spend more time by myself, I found that culture brings us together more than divides us. Thank you Jodie Becker.
Follow me on Twitter @SeriousCaroline
Photo credit: Rachel Holt of Reach Creative