Recently, together with my dear friend and yoga teacher, led a Nutrition For Your Soul retreat in Northern Tuscany. 11 awesome humans entrusted us with their well-being for a week, and we filled our days with yoga, meditation, silent walks, art exercises, and wellness workshops on everything from gratitude to stress reduction.
The whole experience was amazing, and so much hard work, and an opportunity to learn more than I imagined. At end of the retreat we held a closing circle, where everyone could share something they've learned during our time together.
One of the women shared something that went right into my heart and I asked her permission to share it:
Before the retreat, she had dealt with many physical ailments. She had even emailed me to tell me about some of them and to make sure she could still participate in the activities we had planned. I sensed she was nervous and tried to re-assure her.
As the retreat went on, we could see her gaining strength. But more than that, her wit and sense of humor came out bursting, and there was this very palpable joy she brought to all of our times together.
Which is why, as she started to talk during our closing circle, my eyes swelled up with tears:
"I came here completely consumed by my story as someone who is dealing with various physical issues and limitations," she said.
"But what I've re-discovered is how great it feels to laugh, and feel joy and this sparkle inside. I've reconnected with this joie du vivre I'd forgotten, and it's helped me remember that I am not just my physical issues, I'm so much more than that."
All of us have a story we're hanging on to.
Sometimes it's because we've dealt with something difficult for so long that it's consumed us. Other times, we might fear that we won't be accepted by people we care about if the real us comes out from behind the story. I get it, I've so been there and it's take the better part of my life for the real me to stand up.
But there's so much freedom and hope in realizing that there isn't one thing that defines any of us. Remember that whatever your story is, however difficult or challenging or long-lasting, it's not who you are -- it's just a part of you. Take a vacation from it for a bit and you might find some more of your joie du vivre.