And Though She Be But Little, She Is Fierce
Wednesday, Day 3 of the Haven Retreat, was truly the BEST DAY! Seriously! I loved Wednesday. If I could relive the day over and over and over again, I would be ecstatic. It started bright and early with a quick class to go over a section in our Reclaim Hope workbook. We then had a scrumptious breakfast. Remember those sourdough blueberry waffles with homemade buttermilk syrup that I mentioned in my previous post? Yeah, we had those on Wednesday. See, I told you it was the best day ever.
After breakfast, our group put on our workout clothes and tennis shoes and headed once again to the stunning pool house. This time we took part in Muay Thai.
Also known as “The Art of Eight Limbs,” Muay Thai is a form of martial arts that combines breathing and movement to help you focus on your body, feel empowered, and feel in control. It’s a great way to reconnect with your body. – the Younique Foundation
Muay Thai was my absolute favorite activity from the entire retreat. It was incredible.
Only our group of 8 participated during this particular time slot and we had 2 trainers working with us. This means that we were able to split up and get a lot of contact time over the hour long class. During each rotation, we learned new techniques: Jabs, Hooks, Uppercuts, Kicks and Elbow Strikes and we were given different combinations to try. Our trainer held pads and we were encouraged to hit and kick as hard as we wanted. This was our opportunity to give our body the chance that it didn’t have during our trauma experience. This was our time to fight back.
Others started their combinations before me and as I watched the other women punch and kick, I was overcome with emotion. Our group had become so close over the past couple of days. I knew their stories, I knew their struggles, I knew their pain and to watch them release it in this way moved me to tears. When it was my turn, I channeled all of my focus and energy into each punch and kick and I was seriously transformed. There are no words to describe the release I felt, but something definitely happened inside of me. I felt strong and powerful! I felt alive!
Finding Joy in the Journey
At the end of our Muay Thai session, only 4 women from my group remained. The other 4 had ducked out early to take part in their makeover and photo shoot. We immediately congratulated each other for a job well done. We had kicked serious butt and we were hot and sweaty. One of the therapists, who had attended the session with us, told us that sometimes groups choose to jump into the pool right after Muay Thai. We all looked at each other with mischievous smiles, slipped off our tennis shoes and made a beeline for the diving board. We jumped in, workout clothes and all, and it was the absolute best! The four of us left that pool house filled with joy. You should have seen the genuine smiles on our faces. We were grinning from ear to ear!
After we changed out of our wet clothes, I wanted to continue on the childlike fun and I decided to go down the slide next to my bedroom. Yep, just outside my bedroom was a super fast, red twisty slide. IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!
Overcoming Shame & Assertive Communication
Overcoming Shame and Assertive Communication were two of the six educational classes that I took while at the retreat. They were chock full of information and I am grateful for all that I learned.
“When you internalize shame, you feel like nothing about you is okay. You feel flawed and inferior; you have the sense of being a failure. There is no way you can share your inner self because you are an object of contempt to yourself.” – John Bradshaw
During our shame class, we defined what shame is, learned how it affects our thought patterns, and discussed what shame looks like, sounds like and feels like. We learned how childhood sexual trauma relates to shame and the 5 key strategies we need to implement daily in order to overcome it.
My biggest take away from the class was learning about the power of speaking positive affirmations while walking. During a walk, I simply repeat a mantra over and over again, such as, “I am Enough.” I speak one syllable per step, which not only allows me to work both sides of my brain, but also rewires my brain. It’s such an easy thing that can start making a world of difference in my life.
“You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.”
– Tony Gaskins
To be assertive means to be honest, without anxiety, in a way that respects your rights and the rights of others. During this class, we defined passive, aggressive and passive-aggressive communication and figured out which ones we identified with most. We discussed the best non-confrontational way to share our views and the importance of learning to say “No.” We also learned various techniques that will help us remain calm when trying to stand our ground. As someone who has struggled with assertive communication, this was a very beneficial class for me.
Other classes that I took while at the retreat, that I have yet to mention, were Healthy Body Image and Healthy Sexual Relationships. We also learned about power poses and how much difference a simple power pose can make in building up confidence and rewiring our brains. Check out this Power Pose Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy, author of Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges.
Before lunch, a portion of our group went on a Nature Experience/Mindful Walk around the Haven Retreat property. I definitely didn’t want to miss an opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of this serene place.
Thank you to the awesome participant who let me use her pictures. 🙂
My favorite part of the walk was when we rested in the grass and took part in a mindfulness exercise. First, we did a few deep breathing exercises. Then, we stayed in the present by becoming aware of our surroundings. We used our five senses, one at a time. We looked at the way the leaves danced in the wind. We listened to the sound of the nearby creek and the songs of the birds in the trees. We smelled the fresh, crisp air and studied the various shades of green that painted the grass, trees, and bushes. It was incredibly relaxing and peaceful. I could have taken a little nap right there in that cozy spot, but it was time for lunch and I was not going to miss out on another delicious meal.
Healing Through Art
After lunch, a group therapy session and dinner, my group headed back to our cabin for a fun evening of creativity. Magazines, markers, paints, brushes and watercolor paper covered the table. We had several options for the night. We could choose art journaling or we could work on a vision board. Some chose to do both. I ended up super focused on creating a vision board for myself.
While we got crafty, a massage therapist came into the cabin to provide another pampering session for just the 8 of us. It was a wonderful treat, especially after the Muay Thai workout earlier that morning.
Our Night Case Manager also had a surprise in store for us. She built a fire in our cabin and encouraged us to create one art journaling piece that focused on the negative aspects of our trauma. We then took turns throwing our art pieces into the fire, a symbol of the warriors we had become. One of the warriors in my group had covered her paper in globs of different colored paint. When she threw it in the fire, the flames became a bright emerald green. It was mesmerizing! I looked up what the color green represents and you wouldn’t believe how fitting it is: Green, by nature, is the most calming of all the colors on the color wheel. It encourages growth, reflection, peace, and balance. It also represents healing. Did you just get goosebumps? Because I totally got chills when I read that!!!
Some of the girls stayed up a bit later. Our case manager had put out all the Fixin’s for S’mores and even Starburst candies for us to roast, but it was midnight and I was officially turning into a pumpkin. I knew that the next day brought with it another 9-hour road trip back home, so getting some good sleep was important. I went to sleep with a giant smile on my face. It had been a perfect day!
Stay tuned for Day 4.