Every year, I have the fortunate opportunity to take people from all over the country to play in my home state. I spend a week biking, hiking, and kayaking all around the San Juan Islands with the most amazing, interesting, and strong women. It is an annual tradition that reminds me that we are stronger when we lift each other up than when we tear each other down.
This year, I had the added pleasure of having 4 people from my studio join me. To have people on the trip that our close friends and clients, gave the trip an extra special feeling. It warmed my heart to see these women out of the gym and in nature, challenging themselves, and allowing themselves to have new experiences. I believe it takes a lot of guts to head to a destination you have never been, with a group of almost all strangers, and attempt things that are unfamiliar and out of your comfort zone. I also believe that it is in these spaces and experiences that we grow and surprise ourselves.
To say that this trip is just a biking trip, would not be complete. Yes, we bike. We bike everyday, but that is just a catalyst to the magic that actually happens. If you are a cyclist, you have already experienced the intimacy you feel when you discover a place on two wheels. On a bicycle, you experience everything. The change in temperature, the smells, the mist on your face, the sounds of the birds, the sunshine and the shadows. You see the landscape at a slower pace so that you notice painted mailboxes, a small metal statue, old-growth forests, and in the case of Orcas Island, faces on trees. Riding a bike gives you the feeling of being a kid and the independence to move at your own pace. This feeling creates the foundation for the retreat, a space that is about your feelings in the present, the amazing qualities of the people that surround you, and the joy that can be found when we remove the daily stressors from our lives.
This year, our group was one of the most humble and strong groups we have ever had. They were understated and kind. Helpful and supportive. Grateful and generous. It seemed that each woman’s personality and natural character lifted and supported the group as a whole. One woman mentioned that she was starting to get tired on the hike, so decided to start a conversation with the woman next to her to take her mind off of the work. That sparked an incredible story about travel and adventure that energized both ladies to make it to the top. On another day, at the end of a long day, one woman’s energy burst and laughter made the ride home from the ferry feel like a breeze. There are dozens of these stories from the week. When we allow ourselves to be true and allow others to be themselves, we lift each other up without even trying.
6 days with these ladies felt like 6 years, and I mean that in the best way. It felt as if we were old friends, like we had accomplished and done so much together (it may be that we do A LOT on these trips), that we knew each other so well that we could make each other laugh with just a look. Biking around these stunning islands, having conversations about our thoughts not our to-do lists, and playing with the whales, the seals, and all of nature brings you back to a place of joy and opportunity. Every day feels like a new occasion to celebrate rather than time to just get things done. For me, this acts as a reset button.
So THANK YOU to all the women who joined me this year and to Colleen Cannon, Jacqueline Stanford, Tracy Byrnes, and Women’s Quest for helping make this dream trip come true.