Spirit & Sole On Retreat
I admit it, I can be somewhat of a hermit, preferring the quiet hum of Spotify in my private office/yoga studio to the loud, strong sound of social interaction.
The frantic pace of life, the constant technological advances, and an ever increasing pressure to perform on social media, often leads me (and most certainly others) to want to retreat — to delve down deeply into the quiet space within; to renunciate my place in the world and spend my days seeking higher levels of consciousness.
So this past week, I decided that I would, in fact, Retreat, but with a capital “R.”
When I heard that renowned yoga instructor, author of the incomparably beautiful yoga manual The Art of Attention, and dear friend Elena Brower would be leading a retreat at Miraval Resort and Spa in Tucson, AZ, I decided that NOW was the time to finally break away from the varied splendid and not so splendid duties of running a household and being a wife and mommy and take some “me” time, for the first time in five years. I imagined a good deal of time spent in silent meditation, intense asana, and focused writing.
But as we all know, nothing ever really goes as planned. And for me, this was a good thing.
Sometimes, all you need in life is a little synchronicity to re-inspire you and remind you of your purpose. Or, in my case, SAMchronicity.
Samchronicity: when your spiritual life and your sole life blissfully collide.
Or, more specifically, when you go on a yoga retreat to spend some quality time alone, but instead find yourself mat-to-mat with Libby Edelman, of Sam & Libby shoes, and the now ubiquitous Sam Edelman shoe (and soon accessory and clothing!!) line.
Umm....Basically, I literally manifested SPIRIT & SOLE. Whaaa?!!!
As it happened, rather than just doing yoga and meditating, rather than retreating, I was engaging, having fun, fantastical conversations about my favorite shoes and being inspired to follow my bliss, commit to my blog, and have the courage to live my dreams. This is what human connection can do; it can change you, make you better, and insist that life not be lived in one dimension, but rather as expansively as possible.
Certainly, it is imperative to look within for contentedness, but real human connection -- that kind that reaches deeply into your soul and makes life worth living-- can only truly be found without. (Most preferably at a fancy spa with delicious food and beautifully, big hearted fellow yoginis).
E.M. Forster famously wrote the line: “Only connect” and I truly now understand why. We are all already deeply connected, but there is a genuine beauty in courageously stepping out into the world and discovering this for yourself. And what I discovered was a vital and visceral connection to a group of strong, spiritual, dynamic women-- like the luminous Libby Edelman.
And Donna Lennard, the renowned restaurateur, and owner of Il Buco in NYC and the newly opened Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria in Greenwich Village/NYC (Coincidentally, I couldn’t get a table there when I was in NYC last month because the place was booked straight through the long weekend. Tho I'm thinkin' I may have an inside connection now. Just sayin’). Donna has these incredible eyes, whose brilliant blue irises are wider and rounder than any I’ve ever seen before, imbuing her with an almost mystical gaze. And she is funny as shit. I mean, really awesome funny. I literally laughed out loud mid-asana at the stuff she’d say. She has an authenticity and sincerity about her that feels so rare and special in the world these days.
And last, but most certainly not least, was the blessing of meeting a true soul sister, one of the most humble women I have ever met, the indisputably talented photographer, media expert, and mommy Bonnie Edelman. (For the record, Libby and Bonnie are sisters-in-law). At 6’2”, with a model-esque build any girl would envy, Bonnie stands a full foot taller than me; but we seemed to view the world from the same vantage point. We also seemed to see eye-to-eye on everything, from marriage and motherhood, to art and fashion, to style and spirituality. For me, Bonnie is one of those people you meet in your life who you know you have been forever changed by, simply because they reminded you that, no matter your life circumstance, you are never truly alone in the world.
I suppose the great meaning of my three days away with these beautiful women was never more apparent than when we decided to do a walking meditation on the property’s labyrinth.
One by one, we began to walk the circular path. And as I steadily made my way along, noticing the various footprints in the dirt, it occurred to me that, I am but one in a long lineage of women whose aim is to better ourselves and our world. Memories of my Nanny, Sylvia Cooper, who left this earthly realm just a few months earlier at the age of 97 came to me, as did visions my sweet daughter Emerson and what she would one day contribute to this blessed succession of women. I watched as my fellow yoginis slowly, purposefully planted one foot in front of the other and wondered what each was one was thinking and feeling in those moments. But what struck me most intensely was when I noticed our sneaker clad soles cross paths within the labyrinth. This silent passing of one another reminded me that life may seem like a maze, but if we walk with grace and intention, we will always meet with like-minded hearts in the middle. I was reminded that life is a fascinating labyrinth of switchbacks, turns, and straight-aways that always lead you back to your one TRUE SELF.
Of course, I am still reeling at the fact that I went on this trip for purely spiritually-oriented reasons, and I found myself amongst one of my most revered shoe goddesses. Rather than simply marvel endlessly at the samchronicity of it all,I decided to write about it, since it is only in walking the path (which, for me means, among other things, maintaining my blog fearlessly and faithfully) that we can actually get anywhere. And much as I’d often like to renounce it all and join Pema Chodron in a Buddhist monastery, my worldly desires find me time and time again. And that’s perfectly okay. For, as long as we live in this physical world-- with its photography and fashion, blissful spas and platform sandals--it is our right to enjoy it all. As the master of Kundalini Yoga, Yogi Bhajan said: Happiness is Our Birthright. So as long as I’m alive and kickin’, I think I’m going to keep on meditating in the material world.
A special thank you to Elena, for being our guide through the postures and poses of this weekend, and for being a catalyst in bringing us each closer to our SELF and to One another.