Since returning home to Oman from summer break, everyone has been asking “How was London?” Though I technically was in London for an entire week, most of my time was spent at The Big Reconnect Sleepover (TBRS) in the countryside. We were geographically in London but spiritually elsewhere. The sisterhood we developed in less than five days reattached me to a universal bond that I have only experienced in several special places around the world. But most importantly, I reunited with myself and rediscovered a few truths that I had forgotten.
My family is attached to me…in a healthy way.
Remember when I told you that my children have spent every day of their lovely little lives with me, and I wasn’t sure how they would do without me? Well, guess what? They did perfectly fine! My family missed me and looked forward to my evening calls but lost not a single night of sleep nor a day of play to cope with my absence. They understood that our separation was temporary, eagerly looked forward to our reunion, and enjoyed their time with other family members in the meantime.
I don’t ask for much, but I should give myself more.
I consider myself a low-maintenance kind of person. With nourishing food, clean air, love, sunlight and travel, I get along pretty well. I don’t invest a lot of time and money in having other people pamper me, but that doesn’t mean that I should let my pragmatism prevent me from buying or doing things that make me feel good. At the TBRS retreat, we received goodie bags with really lovely gifts like The Big Reconnecting Self-Love Journal, a natural shampoo bar and organic handmade soap from Halal Goodies, and other little treats that made me feel especially cared for. I’m often so focused on our spending as a family that I belittle buying things for myself. So, yeah, more of that because if all it takes is organic soap to add a little joy and self-love to my day, why not?
Travel really is my love language.
Amazing things consistently happen to me when I travel. I meet and reconnect with amazing souls that really lift me up and shine a pure light on my own circumstances. Case in point: immediately adjacent to our retreat was another group of Muslim women who invited a speaker from Edinboro, who just happens to be the very first student I met while studying in Hadhramaut, Yemen ten years ago! Or, how about the beloved teacher, mentor, author, and sister friend of mine that I first met fourteen years ago in Pennsylvania, who just happened to be visiting her family in London only 20 minutes away from my retreat site! Or, lastly, the distant family members that my brother and I met who were not only plant-based, but also very earth-conscious, spiritually-conscious souls that were proud to show me their compost pile and honored to have me pray in their meditation room. Travel always reminds me that I am in God’s care and it was really amazing to give the gift of travel to my brother who joined me. The travel bug has bit him so hard that he’s already planning his solo return to London.
Everyone loves a good plant-based meal.
As part of the sustainability policy I helped put together for the retreat as their Glowing Green Ambassador, we planned meat-free meals and no one complained. Mind you, we were a small group of less than a dozen, but there were absolutely no qualms about all of the meals being vegan with a vegetarian option for breakfast and a meat option for dinner. Credit is due to our “wholesome halal” chef who rose to the challenge of vegan cooking and made such creative and amazing meals that no one felt our spread was lacking. I really felt loved by the intention and thoughtfulness that went into every meal and was in tears by the end. To have my lifestyle choice respected and accommodated without ridicule or criticism was a refreshing reminder that times are changing and people are reexamining traditions and customs based on current circumstances.
I need my sisters, and my sisters need me.
What I enjoyed most about being away from my children was the ability to be fully available to other women. No interrupted conversations or mad-dashing to keep appointments. I was able to be present and listen intently to the stories of other women without my mind being distracted or preoccupied about what my children are up to with or without me. Being away from my family didn’t mean acting like I was single again. I was able to share my family life without the responsibility of actually having them around. Without our families, we were fully able to retreat. We took long walks, picked berries, rode horses, got facials, drummed, reflected, and cried in good and healing ways. My sisters helped remind me of my dreams and goals, what I love about myself, and what I love about my family. I left the retreat realizing that instead of masking my need to connect to other women through social media binging or planning play dates for our kids, I should be more honest with myself and let my sister friends know that I just want to spend time with them. Sisterhood is valuable and I’m grateful for the way TBRS helped cultivate it for us all.