“The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My Hunger for Peace.” – Today I Rise, A Short Film
Through several real life twists and turns, I felt I had finally reached the point of knowing myself very well. I had become excited and comfortable in knowing my direction in life, that being the launch and growth of The Spa in Me, LLC. Then the election happened, and I felt paralyzed and simply sad for the plight of the population of people who I knew would be impacted by forthcoming policy changes. These are people who I’ve assisted during a significant portion of my legal career and felt bound to their causes.
This article by no means is one about a particular political position. However, it is an article about how the political strife in this country is impacting the well-being of so many. Sure, I could write as if I’m living obliviously to my surroundings, but that isn’t living honestly. It also isn’t in accord with my life’s past work or in alignment with the purpose in which I feel called to live.
My heart felt heavy so I needed to rest and reflect on my direction. I registered to attend the Women’s Retreat at Pine Cove in Flint, Texas, specifically, the Shores campus located on the waterfront of Lake Palestine. Years ago, my husband, sons, and I attended the weekend family retreat at the Pine Cove Crier Creek location in Columbus, Texas, and found it to be a relaxing and bonding time for all of us. My sons also attended the summer camp at Pine Cove Outback in Columbus, Texas, and enjoyed the experience. However, I had never spent time at Pine Cove in East Texas, which is where Pine Cove originated, so I was really looking forward to my stay.
The weekend arrived and the Women’s Retreat at Pine Cove did not deliver any disappointments.
Pine Cove’s History
Pine Cove is a Christian ministry for children and adults. It offers summer, day, and overnight camps for elementary through high school age youth, family camps, retreats, conferences, outdoor education, and leadership training. Officially established in 1967, Pine Cove opened its summer camp in 1967 with approximately 345 campers. Its campus locations, staff, and attendees have grown in number throughout the years. Pine Cove consists of nine different camps. The Towers, Ranch, Timbers, Shores, Woods and Bluffs are near Tyler, Texas. Crier Creek, Silverado, and Outback are in Columbus, Texas. Pine Cove hosts more than 70 day camps at cities throughout the southeast United States through its Camp in the City program. In 2015, Pine Cove opened its South Carolina office, with plans to open Chimney Point, a family camp, in the summer of 2017.
Pine Cove’s Women’s Retreats
As women, we tend to work ourselves to the point of exhaustion. We place unreasonable expectations on ourselves as wives, mothers, employees, etc. Somehow rest has become the reward we receive when we take a vacation. Instead, rest should be a part of our daily lives.
Understanding the busyness of women, Pine Cove created the Women’s Retreat to give women a weekend of rest, fun, and rejuvenation at an affordable rate. For example, the rate for the spring 2018 Women’s retreat is $168, with check-in after 5pm on Friday and ending early Sunday afternoon. When you register, a $50 deposit is required and the balance is due two months before the scheduled retreat. The total cost of the retreat incudes housing, meals, snacks, activities, and speakers. Extra fees do apply when shopping at the camp store or when scheduling a massage.
For the spring 2017 retreat, approximately 158 women registered. Women were from Dallas, Tyler, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kansas, Florida, and other areas of the country. When registering, you can request assignment to a cabin with people you know. Otherwise, assignments are made randomly. The cabins are rustic, but modern. There are four bunk beds, so a total of eight women can sleep in one cabin. You will need to take your own bedding/sleeping bag. There is also a community restroom for each cabin. I attended as a solo traveler and was assigned to a cabin with three other women. Two were from Commerce, Texas, and the other woman drove from New Orleans, Louisiana. Because of the retreat schedule, we weren’t often in the cabin together during the day. When we were in the cabin, we all had similar sleep schedules so I never felt my sleep was disturbed. They were all nice women and we got along well during our stay. The two women from Commerce had attended previous Women Retreats at Pine Cove and were continuing their tradition.
Shared Stories of Joy, Triumph, and Pain
The quality of the speakers at the Women’s Retreat is quite remarkable. There is a main speaker, a worship leader, an entertainer, and breakout speakers. These women delved into their stories of personal struggles and overcoming them. These were not superficial stories. Because they were raw and honest, these women were relatable. As they shared their stories, what I realized is that we all have our stories of joy, triumph, and pain. What was special is that we were in a setting where we actually listened and respected each other’s viewpoint. Listening with respect seems easy enough to do but this simple act is often lacking in our society.
During the retreat, I rested. I even took a nap during our free time. I can’t recall the last time that happened, but it’s what my body needed. I also spent time on the pier overlooking Lake Palestine and appreciating the mesmerizing scenery of the great outdoors. It was so calming to observe the trees, the waves of the lake, and the birds.
We could spend our free time engaged in activities. Some of the activities included zip lining, hiking, horseback riding, cookie decorating, playing volleyball and pickle ball (a mini-tennis ball sport), CrossFit, board games, ping pong, and air hockey. There was also a party Saturday night and it was so fun. We laughed, danced, and enjoyed the music of female empowerment in all genres.
While at the retreat, I posted two pictures on The Spa in Me, LLC’s Facebook page. Other than posting those two photos, I didn’t talk on my cell phone or engage in social media. I disconnected myself from technology in order to connect with those attending the retreat. I also pledged to connect with myself through journaling in silence and solitude. I spoke with women attending the retreat who were new parents and needed some time alone. When I met these young moms, I thought how insightful they are to take time for themselves. I certainly didn’t have that same insight when I was a young mother, but I was thrilled for them. I met a few groups of women attending the conference through church sponsored trips. I met a few women who were also solo travelers, and so it felt great to talk with them. Without any elaboration on the topic, we understood what it meant to truly spend time alone and dig deep within our souls for introspection.
I spent time journaling throughout my weekend. I didn’t want to lose sight of my random thoughts or experiences. As the conference ended, I had more clarity and felt more at ease than when I first arrived. Although I will attend and review more retreats at various locations, I pre-registered for the 2018 Women’s Retreat. I’m going to treat myself by making this an annual wellness gift to myself.
What Did I Learn About Myself?
The day before I left Austin, I had an interesting conversation with a fellow lawyer who happens to be a young father. I later viewed the conversation as yet another seed planted to get to the truth of living in my purpose. We talked about the complexities of balancing marriage, work, parenthood, and staying healthy. Because I had walked that same path while a young lawyer, I hoped that I gave sound advice that he could later implement. I remember at that age not really knowing how to articulate what I felt while I tried to balance the same realities. Because I didn’t quite know what I was doing as a working wife and mom and just figuring life out along the way, I certainly didn’t have anyone to talk to about my insecurities of not taking care of myself holistically in body, mind, and spirit.
On the last day of the conference, I rose early to sit on the pier and journal. I took inventory of my soul and realized that certain seeds were planted in me to blossom at certain moments of my life. When I planned the next chapter of what I felt I would do next in my life, I made the mistake of believing that I was in control and that the next phase of my life would be a breeze.
Well, here are my truths and how I feel I am called to emanate them. I have an inner strength and peace that didn’t always exist. I am a woman who tries to live in a healthy way, and to inspire others to also live a life of wellness through The Spa in Me, LLC. I’m adventurous and enjoy traveling near and far. I love to smile and laugh. I enjoy the outdoors and animals. When I look inside myself, I also see a person who has compassion for those who are so easily cast aside and forgotten. I have love for humanity and hope that my actions show kindness for others. I have certain legal skills and training that I can continue to apply to help those living in disarray due to the current political strife in our country.
I will give myself some credit, because I was mostly on the right track and have always had a good sense of walking in obedience of certain signs presented to me. However, what I now know, is that all of those seeds and signs were also precursors to get to the truth of who I am now. I truly believe that through time and maturity, each moment of my life has been carefully crafted together to help me realize whose lives I am meant to touch and, who will and have, undoubtedly touched mine.
And, yes, attending Pine Cove’s Women’s Retreat helped me to piece all the fabrics of my life together.
"Who tries to sabotage my time and priority in life can never understand the sensible, best choices of my heart." - Angelica Hopes