Soul Food

Recently, I went on a women’s retreat (Moms On Fire) in Tuscon, Arizona. I spent four days surrounded my women and moms who cared enough about themselves to go on this journey. There was vulnerability, sharing of stories, laughter, learning, and tears. But the greatest gift, was the sense of connection I felt while I was there. I was there as a keynote speaker to talk about relationships. I spoke at this retreat last September on finding your soul’s purpose and living in alignment with that purpose. Last September, I went as a professional, a speaker, a business owner. It was a good experience, but not a life changing one. When I got back and saw all the participants posting about the relationships they made and the deep experience they had, I did not feel the same. My ego said it was because I am a professional and I knew all of the content already. But another part of me knew that I did not fully show up.

 So this time, I decided to show up. When I was in the classes, I was a participant, not the expert. When I shared, I shared from my heart. I made a point of taking down masks, letting my hair down and even having one too many margaritas with the girls. Not only did I learn more in the classes this time, not only did it not hurt my presentation (it made it better); but, instead of just feeding everyone else, I got fed as well.

 As someone who is a giver and in a helping/healing profession, I am used to giving. I am used to being the professional. I am used to helping others. I am not always used to receiving. I don’t always ask for help; okay, almost never if I’m honest (I don’t want to appear weak or undermine being seen as a professional, I’m afraid it will hurt my business, I’ve learned “if you want anything done, you have to do it yourself”….yada yada yada).

 On this retreat, I both gave and received. I showed multiple aspects of myself to others and as a result, I built connections. It reminded me of the longest running study out of Harvard, which followed participants (and later their children) over 80 years. You know what was the number one predictor of Health and Happiness? It was Social Connection or the quality of their relationships! People lived longer, were happier, were healthier, and had a better quality of life.

 It is easy to think we have a lot of friends or family, a lot of social interaction. But are we really connecting? There is a difference. I am so grateful for this retreat experience on both a professional and personal level because it has awakened so much in me. The reason I love my job is because of the connections that I make with others. I love loving and helping others when they need it. But I also love being loved and helped myself too. And that is not only okay, it’s the secret ingredient to being healthy and happy. It’s Soul Food!

 I challenge you all to give yourselves and others the gift of connection today. I beg of you to show up in your relationships. Let people see all sides of you. Love each other. Give AND Receive. Allow yourself to be vulnerable, even when it feels icky. Let the world see you. Because only then, can you feel truly loved and that will feed your soul!

 I love you.

Dr. Donna