After three weeks of driving across the country and back again selling art work, meeting clients, teaching classes, interviewing galleries, reuniting with friends and family, and generally burning up the shoe leather, we are now south bound for Rancho La Puerta, or Eden, Heaven on Earth, Shangrila, or even, for Tom and me, our own personal Nirvana.
It took us a long time – too long – to learn the value of rest to our lives and work. Perhaps it is the nature of being young parents, with the constant tugging of little ones at your knees with rent looming and crises around every corner, external pressures of life and survival dueling it out with internal pressures to connect with our native gifts and find our creative path.
Whatever it was, the idea of a vacation just never really caught on in our little family. Work was always paramount. Out of necessity or inclination, idle time simply didn’t exist and we didn’t seek it out. After a while you lose the capacity to slow down, do nothing. And you lose something else when you lose that. You lose space. You lose spaciousness. You lose the breathing room to refill your lungs, your heart, your soul. You run on empty, and believe me, you can run marathons that way, climb mountains, conquer goals. But it is like building a castle in sand. Eventually, what you have built begins to erode. You cannot take joy in your work, you are too tired, too bitter.
It was my mother who first brought me to Rancho La Puerta. I didn’t think I could afford it – the money or the time. She helped me with the first, and Tom helped me with the second. “go!” he said. “We will be fine. It’s just a week.”. Picking up the slack for me at work and at home, he gave me his blessing and sent me off feeling free to enjoy the experience with no guilt.
Within a day at the Ranch I knew I had discovered something beyond wonderful. I discovered breathing again. Walking on Mount Kuchuma in the mornings, I found myself alone with walkers ahead and behind, creating a safe bubble within which I could hear the mountain speak. At night I dreamt dreams I remember to this day. Each day I found my body relaxing more deeply, my heart opening more fully. During one cranio-sacral session, I began to cry so hard my chest hurt from the pain of sobbing. Memories – good and bad – surfaced allowing me a chance to reclaim lost joy, while understanding early traumas in a safe environment and from an adult perspective.
At the end of the week I truly felt like I had reclaimed a kind of vitality I felt I had lost long before, with faith that I could carry the healing and wisdom of the Ranch experience into my life back in the real world.
Part of what happens is physical. Good food, clean air and lots of breathing, exercise and the mountain. Part is spiritual. The mountain talks to you, if you are ready to listen. Part is interpersonal. Somehow you always meet the people you are meant to experience the Ranch with. And part is simply beyond explanation. MystIcal? Maybe. Magical, definitely.
I will always be grateful to my mother for introducing me to the Ranch, and have repaid Tom by bringing him along as a fellow teacher the last six times we’ve visited, as presenters now, teaching art and photography and cultivating community through creativity. In these past several years, our lives and work have been transformed. I credit much of the change we have undergone to our weeks at Rancho La Puerta, gaining understanding and perspective in a sublime environment which allows us to rest, relax, and restore ourselves to our innately joyful and energetic selves.
Today we will begin our seventh week of teaching at Rancho La Puerta. Next time, I hope we see you there!