Posts In: yoga retreat

Holiday Sanity?

December 9, 2018
holiday-wreath


How’s your holiday season ramping up? A few years ago I ran into a yoga teacher I know and we talked about the stress of the holidays. I mentioned that next year I would be doing things differently by choosing fewer things to participate in. Her response? “But by next year you’ll forget.” 

Was she right? I made a pact with myself right then not to forget. I’ve always felt like at the time of year when we naturally want to hibernate, when the days are darker, when our natural rhythm invites us to be more internal, we plan even more gatherings. I decided to be really selective and choose only a couple events each December. 

This year I’m going to Regina, a local sound healer’s event on December 21. Then on Christmas morning my partner and I are volunteering at an event that brings breakfast and some essential items like socks, garbage bags, and flashlights to the local homeless population. That’s it. 

Want to know the other thing that created ease in my holidays? A few years back my sister lived in London and even though I sent my packages weeks ahead she didn’t receive them until after the holidays. In fact, she didn’t receive any of the gifts from my family in time. I felt terrible. The next year I mailed my gifts a month ahead. If I was going to get hers in the mail I might as well send the rest of my families gifts at the same time. 

That was the most restful December I’d had in years. It worked so well that, even though my sis now lives in Washington D.C. area, I’ve continued the tradition. My gifts were in the mail by November 26 this year. I’m not telling you this to pat myself on the back. I find plenty of ways to stress myself out. But I’ve gotten good at keeping the holidays restful and special. 

My challenge to you? Take one minute right now and list the one thing that’s most important to include in your holiday season.  Then take another minute to make a note of some obligation you can let go of. I bet there’s at least one. You really don’t have to attend that staff party you hate or make cookies for the exchange or do the secret Santa thing. Unless you really want to. Be mindful about what would feel good to you. 

By the way, I have two remaining spots in my February Purposeful Yoga Retreat in Mexico. It would make a great holiday gift, don’t you think? You can get the details here. 

I invited the participants in my recent Mexico yoga retreat to bring along some school supplies for Majahua, the local village. I’d seen the school and the poverty and knew they could use them.

Well, my ladies were generous. Very generous. Christy who speaks fluent Spanish and works with children brought Spanish language books. Beverly, an artist, brought along art supplies. There were notebooks, pens, crayons, scissors, glue… suitcases full!

The Traffic Jam

Now we had plenty of school supplies. I needed to figure out how to get them delivered to the school.

One day on my way to do some errands for the retreat I got stopped in the best traffic jam ever.

If you were to see this village, just the idea of a traffic jam would make you laugh. Picture about 20 small homes and two little tiendas that sell chips, candy, pop, a few canned items, and a small quantity of produce.

Even slow traffic stirs up dust on this narrow winding dirt road. Speed bumps are made from either a large rope or the bark from a palm tree. Hot, tired dogs lay beside, and sometimes in, the road. People

walk around the dogs as they head to work, to a neighbor’s, or on their way to buy some fish.

As I entered Majahua, school had just been released. The road was lined with pairs and groups headed home, a brother and sister, a mother and her two little ones, a trio of boys laughing…

Next I saw two piglets dart into the road. When I saw the trash truck headed toward me filling the narrow row I pulled over knowing I wasn’t going any where for awhile.

Jose, about eight years old and neatly dressed in black slacks and a white button down shirt, approached my car with a big grin and an “hola.” He asked how I was.

So I inquired if the teachers were still at the school. “Si.”

After Jose left I chatted with other kids, completed my errands, and then stopped at the school.  I arranged with the principal and only teacher to come back on Friday with the school supplies and some of the women from my group. The ladies were eager to meet the kids and be involved in handing off the supplies.

The Roadblock

Thursday evening our entire group headed to La Mexicana restaurant in Troncones for a traditional meal (my first time for pozole) and to watch regional dancing. We were surprised as we drove back through Majahua to be stopped by a roadblock.

It was dark and at first hard to see who held the rope across the road preventing us from moving on. But as we stopped we saw a petite girl of about five held one end. The other rope holder was a girl of ten. The coffee can they held out explained that they were collecting funds so that the bathrooms in the school could be repaired. El banos weren’t currently working. I deposited some coins and told them we were going to be visiting the school the next day. The elder rope holder and keeper of the can explained that there was no school tomorrow.

My first thought was, “how do I say “ah oh” in espanol.” My ladies were leaving on Sunday. I could drop things off the next week, but that meant they wouldn’t get to be involved.

Something Better

The following day we walked down the beach to Majahua to have lunch at Marta’s, one of the beach side restaurants. On the way we ran into Angeles, a cook at the resort where we were staying, plus her children, and a nephew. She explained she had the kids today because, you guessed it, no school.

As we chatted one of the boys began to write letters in the sand.  Angeles explained he liked to write.

Bingo.

Later that day we delivered to Angeles a custom designed bundle of paper, markers, crayons, even a book for her to read to her six-month-old baby.  

At Marta’s we met Victoria, a ten year old who was helping dad because there was no school. This time we were on it. “Do you like to read?” “Not really.” “How about drawing?” “Yes.” You could see the excitement in her eyes.

Guess what Victoria got later that day? A bundle with art pad and pens selected by Beverly along with some things for Victoria’s younger sister.

We had enough that every staff person with children where we were staying was able to choose something for their child or children. And we still had plenty left for the school.

Way Better

The lesson for me (not the first time I’ve learned this lesson) was to not be attached to the outcome. How I saw things unfolding was not how it happened. What happened was way better. We got to really connect with some individuals. We got to give back to people who had been serving us all week. We got to offer something to this community with which we’d fallen in love.

My work is to remember this lesson, or at least be open to re-learning it again. Act where I feel inspired and then let go. Let something or someone greater offer a traffic jam, a roadblock, a better way. And then go along for the ride.

And you? Is this a lesson you’ve learned (or relearned) like me? I’d love to hear your insights and examples here.

And if a yoga retreat to Mexico is calling your name head here. 

Sharon Roemmel

Practically Enlightened You

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