Last month I went away by myself for a few days. After the deluge of recent revelations my inner voice told me that I needed a little space. I have never done anything like this before, but I knew it would be good for me. I also knew that it would probably be a little lonely. And it was. And there were moments of fear. But I’m glad I listened to my intuition. I did need some time alone. Healing happened.

As it turned out, the purpose of my time in Calistoga wasn’t what I thought it would be. I envisioned it being a chance for me to clear my head and wrap it around some of my epiphanies. Instead it turned out to be an opportunity for me to start reconnecting with myself. And not by reading self-help books (though I brought plenty) or soaking in the hot spring fed pools. And not even necessarily by meditating. I thought it would be about doing “the work”. That there was a correct way to do this personal retreat thing. So I did some reading, and I did some soaking. I even practiced a bit of mindfulness. And I waited for clarity to hit. A few days in, on February 14th, I decided to stop worrying about how much I was getting out of my solitude, and I took a hike up the mountain behind the property. During that hike I felt a loosening. I put in my earbuds and blasted music. I sang loudly, letting go of the fear of embarrassing myself should I pass another hiker. I even danced, right there in the middle of the trail, arms and legs flailing with wild abandon. And I laughed and felt fully whole & embodied for the first time in a very long time. Oh Joy.

A new insight. Cultivating joy is a direct line to my essence. Doing active joyful things when I’m feeling well and doing quiet joyful things when I’m not. Experiencing joy connects me to who I am at my very core: playful, curious, imaginative, confident, passionate, hard-working, awestruck, game for a challenge, believer in magic, exuberant.

My Valentine’s Day hike became a beautiful gift of self-love. It allowed the walls around my heart to crumble a little more. I became softer. Spiritual moments can happen anywhere. My favorites are those that occur on mountaintops.

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