Last Monday, I went to Grafton for a women’s retreat organized by Mom Halo. I joined as a day-tripper for this three-day extravaganza, involving glamping overnight in tree-tents (I’ll never miss that boat again!) I am going to write everything I can remember, to relive what honestly turned out to be the absolute best day of my life. Picture it…
I stepped off the mini-bus that I had raced to pick up from Yorkdale, after morning school drop-off. Tote with bathing suit, towel, and novel on shoulder, I was greeted with a flute of champagne. I barely had time to take in the view - the blue lake where some women were learning to paddle board. The sunny patch where a group was engaged in a yoga session. The shady patch where others were listening intently to an expert nutritionist. Still others were lounging around in the hot tub, or floating in the swimming pool, drinks in hand. The sun shone. Calm music filled the air. I had arrived.
I was shuttled off via golf car to my massage appointment at a cabin in the woods. I was greeted by Hannah. The air around her was filled with a soft, relaxing scent, and soft music played as her fingertips danced along my body, relaxing my muscles and settling my soul. I got up from the treatment feeling relaxed and refreshed.
I caught the golf car back to the party where I was just in time for a delicious, nourishing lunch of quinoa salad with roast vegetables. It was there that I started to mingle. I talked and laughed – and connected – both with the friends who had come up with me, and many new, wonderful women with whom we shared the long, communal table.
All women. All moms. All relaxing, eating, listening, and sharing. With each other.
It was time for a dip in the pool, where I was surrounded by more new wonderful women - many of them fellow entrepreneurs. It was inspiring to hear the stories of women, just like me, who had started a business – each and every one a passion project aimed at improving the future in some important way: lessening our carbon footprint by retooling kids’ wardrobes (Phoenix Preworn); mitigating the loss of kids’ belongings (Mabels Labels); supporting kids’ educational journeys (Renew Education, Access2Education), helping families with neurodiverse kids get their needs meet (Alex Leech) (and of course, me: boosting the world’s EQ - Cam & Leo's Emotion School) And these were just the ones I met at the pool!
It was this pool meeting that really got me thinking. THIS! This is what is missing from the world! We busy, hard-working, entrepreneurial moms – we barely take the time to look up, between trips to the potty and spreadsheets. But when we do take time out of our insanely busy schedules to get together with each other, undistracted, it is a convergence of unstoppable energy, cooperation, and empowerment that has the potential to solve the world’s biggest problems.
I was suddenly overwhelmed with feelings of love and appreciation for these women, these powerhouses, these “default parents”, these solution-focused worker-bees, each strategizing and running the lives of the people in their professional and personal constellations, with love and empathy; a balancing act of epic proportion. What’s war, hunger, climate change, disease? – throw it on the list – there is nothing we can’t do.
My heart filled for these beautiful, unshaven, sweatpants-clad defiers of the status quo, who against all odds, decided to drop the ball for a day or two. And, quite suddenly, pick up themselves.
As an extremely busy single mom of three with a full-time job and a side hustle, my life is full of something every minute – I’ve evolved into this productivity machine. I never stop, let alone stop and focus on myself.
At Camp Halo, that’s exactly what I did.
And what I saw, and what the warm, supportive group of women who surrounded me, reflected back, was… me. Funny. Smart. Happy. Beautiful. Me.
The last workshop I attended before mounting the bus back to Toronto (and yes, I did cry) was luxury trifles with Fran Murray. We sat on the long tables, layering cake with cream, nuts and chocolate. Before I could dive in, I was asked to wait while candles were passed around. We were each made to light our own candle to celebrate ourselves, and make a wish.
That’s when something magical happened. Because of the wind, we all instinctively put our hands around our lit candles so that they wouldn’t go out, and the symbol morphed to become not just one of self-celebration, but also of self-protection – we must protect our flames to keep them burning.
So – this is my solemn vow (you read it here): I will protect and never again forget my beautiful, wonderful self. I will carry the ball differently from here on in, and I will drop it from time to time. I encourage all my sisters to do the same.