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Rejuvenation Through Community

Earlier this month, LYF held its’ semesterly retreat. These retreats are a lovely opportunity for any LYF interns and volunteers to practice their self-care, connect with one another, and refocus our efforts. I honestly love this a lot about LYF because I feel it is all too common nowadays to push our health aside for the sake of outputting work.


Morning


I started my morning tired. To be fair, I start most mornings tired. Tired in a way that aches in my soul. It’s not simply a lack of sleep, but the exhaustion of spending all your emotional energy every day and trying to recover it with no success. I do what I can for myself physically and emotionally. I ensure I get nine hours of sleep. I do yoga on the days I feel up for it (which, let’s be honest, isn’t many). I write and read and give myself time for the things I love. I eat (sort of) healthy. I do what I can. And often… very often… it doesn’t feel like enough.


Arriving


We arrived slowly, then all at once. We filed into Monica’s sister’s workplace, where we gently moved everything to the side so we could make space to sit in a circle. We were waiting for Emily, who was bringing pastries to snack on for breakfast. Because I am bad at sitting in silence and feel a semblance of leadership as the Editor-in-Chief, I introduced myself and what I do at LYF and asked everyone to share the same. Monica would take up this role if she weren’t busy preparing other things for the day. 


The new interns introduce themselves shyly. My own social anxiety takes the backburner, as I feel a need to make them comfortable. 


“Let’s do a little game to help us remember each other’s names. I’ll start by saying my name and what I’m bringing to the party, then Viviana will go next by saying my name, what I’m bringing to the party, and following up with her name and what she is bringing.” 


Everyone goes around. Sierra (me) bringing the soda. Viviana bringing the vibes. Kristina bringing the kiwis. Nicole bringing the nachos… etc., etc. until we get all the way back around to me. 


It works excellently as an icebreaker. Everyone starts talking now. Conversations flow naturally.  Kristina says that I always know the best icebreakers, a comment that instills new confidence in me within the group. She remembers that I did a different one at a past retreat, one where we go around making a story by saying one word per person. I feel a special joy that my leadership was remembered, and fondly at that.


Emily finally shows up while we are doing the icebreaker Kristina mentions. As she brought the breakfast, we deemed her “Emily, who brought everything to the party.”


Workshopping


As always, we start our retreat with gratitude. We go in a circle, sharing what we are thankful for today and introducing ourselves again now that everyone has arrived. Then it’s time for my workshop with Dulshi.


While I have an easy enough time starting icebreakers, I feel a special type of panic now, knowing everyone is looking at me for what I will lead them into.


Dulshi and I guide the team through a goal-setting exercise. It requires us to write down the areas of focus we want to improve, then marking down the importance of these areas on our mental health, our life satisfaction, and our overall life goals. After rating each of these categories, we add them up and focus on the ones with the highest scores. From there, we write specific goals that can help us improve in these areas of focus.


For my top three areas of focus, I had personal development, my career, and my involvement in LYF. From there, I wrote specific goals with specific timelines. For personal development, I decided I would push myself to more public speaking. LYF offers me plenty of opportunities to lead and guide, but I have found myself shying away from them. But the times that I have done so have been fulfilling for me so I decided I would push myself, starting now, to do those public speaking opportunities and grow more comfortable holding the spotlight. For my focus on LYF, I decided to push myself to practice what we preach more often. If I am going to be a part of an organization about self-love, self-care, and sustainability, I want to embody our message as closely as I can. To do so, I want to prevent burnout by being honest about how I am feeling, and I want to spend more time researching and implementing ways to create a more sustainable lifestyle.


We discussed our outcomes and what we are going to implement in our lives to achieve these goals. From our discussion, I learned what other people are prioritizing in their lives. I also recognized that we are all at different parts of our journey; some of us are working on the same goals at different levels of success, some of us are just starting these goals and some of us have already achieved them. This is typically something I would worry about, telling myself I am behind or lost or not even close to doing what others have done. But we were all supportive of each other, and it felt like the most genuine form of solidarity that we all still had work to do, whether in one aspect or another, and we would never be alone in it. 


Our workshop is followed up with a team-building workshop by Emily and Monica and a self-compassion workshop by Kristina and Charlene. Each workshop has its own special revelations that made me feel unified in this group. By the end of our retreat, I feel a strong sense of belonging as though all my worries and doubts about leading a workshop or starting the icebreakers or saying the wrong things are dissipated with the sudden sense of knowing that I am safe here.


Meditating


We close out our retreat through a sound bath meditation. Monica teaches us a little about how sound baths align the chakras. If you’ve never experienced a sound bath, many LYF events include them and they are my favorite form of meditation.


The sound reverberates inside me, grounding me. I take nice, deep breaths that keep me centered. The sound echoes between my ears and creates a powerful sense of peace. The sound is healing, as though it were stitching the pains my body remembers and the pains my soul kept locked inside. 


I take a deep breath, allowing all the energy that keeps escaping my grasp. I don’t breathe it out. I replace all that breath of energy with all my tiredness and I let it leave my body. I leave the retreat feeling rejuvenated and replenished. More than any of that, I leave the retreat feeling good, grounded, and connected.


Connecting


It’s easy to say I will do better at taking care of myself or the world. The words are easy because I want them to be. The actions take work, work that I don’t always have the energy to put in. But through this retreat, I felt that energy coming back to me. I felt the strength to achieve the goals I pushed aside. Only through the connection to others did I recognize the power of my actions and what I am capable of. Only through our meditation did I feel grounded enough to take the next step.


All of this is to say, find your community and really connect to it. 


LYF is my community; it can be yours as well. We love having each of you here, supporting our blogs and podcasts, and every other avenue we venture down. But we want you to know that you are part of our community as well! We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without you. Each blog post, each event, and each podcast is our way of connecting with you. And through attending our events, interacting with our blog posts, or simply liking our Instagram posts, you are a part of our community. Thank you for your support.


Through community, there is so much we can achieve. You are not alone. You are strong. We’re here with you.





About The Author

Sierra is a recent English graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). She enjoys writing and reading with a passion. She is especially passionate about sustainability and human rights and she hopes to use her writing to inspire others in these movements. As the Editor-in-Chief at LYF, Sierra is happy for the opportunity to contribute to these topics. When not reading or writing, she can be found playing video games or binge-watching TV. The things she loves most include strawberries, new stationery, and her bed.












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