Newsflash – contrary to what it might look like, I absolutely dislike being vulnerable. These past few days had me right in that uncomfortable place and cracked open my soul unlike something I’ve experienced before. I hope from my vulnerability there’s something everybody can take away from my long weekend experience.
The beautiful people of Gwinganna invited me to experience all its wonder over the weekend just gone by. I possibly should have known I was going to be peeled wide open, since it took no less than three attempts to get me there over the last 3 years. It seems I wasn’t giving in without my own minds tug of war.
I always have mixed emotions leaving my wonderful husband and two adorable children. Work is one thing – I absolutely know I must continue on my mission to help make women’s lives better. In my head I can justify leaving. But play, that’s another thing all together. Up until now, I had not ever left my children for more than two hours for ‘me’ time, EVER. The sick feeling in my insides only confirmed my discomfort. What would I do without them?
With all that in mind, without detail, it has to be noted that the past two weeks of work have been nothing short of testing. We all face challenges and I know we are all better for them, but I faced what I thought was my total reality, flipped on it’s butt and everything I knew to be true simply wasn’t. I had dishonesty in my life and workplace – that in itself was ripping me out of my comfort zone. Naturally, this had me dealing with my fill of stress in a really short amount of time. “Perfect timing” everybody who knew of my trials were saying – Gwinganna couldn’t have come at a better time. Me, I was nervous, excited and scared out of my lycra Lorna Jane pants.
As the anxiety of going was building inside, a beautiful long-term patient wondered if it would be ok if she happened to come the same weekend as me. That was the first piece of relief I had felt in the lead up to going. Just to have a familiar face was comforting. Little did she know she’d be my saving grace.
On the windy road to Gwinganna, we were all busy chatting, looking at our phones and filling in dinner menu preferences. As we pulled into the wide gates, I was madly sending texts to my husband, friends who were looking after children and confirming basketball ‘coaching’ camps, ticking off last minute clinic issues when, like the click of my fingers my phone became paralysed – I’d lost connection. Like a blow to the forehead it swiftly occurred to me, that there was a chance my phone service wasn’t coming back. SHEET! I admit it – I felt a little (actually a lot) ill. What happened if the kids didn’t get picked up? Or if the clinic needed me? But more to the question, what if I need them?!
After we were briefed, we were escorted to our rooms. My room was divine – big (and I mean BIG) wooden pillars, four-poster bed, a bath big enough for my entire family… in fact the room was almost as big as my house. I sat on the bed. I kept sitting on the bed physically frozen. I actually couldn’t move. I was so grateful for the sun coming through onto my legs, as I lay sprawled across the huge bed, big enough to swallow me up. What came next, I was so not prepared for.
I started to sob, like really cry and I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stay here. What in the world was going on?
The room was overwhelming, I had no phone to call my husband and all I wanted to do was go home. I had by now developed a pounding headache just to really jam it right in, as if everything I was feeling wasn’t enough. I lay there for ages. I didn’t unpack. I just sat and cried for maybe 2 hours. Right as I pulled myself together, I got a bar of phone service and hurriedly (and I mean frantically, like a drug addict needing a fix) called my husband. No answer. Called again… no answer. Dinner was in 20 minutes, and I knew I had to pull myself together.
On the way to dinner, I broke the rules and carried my phone to the higher ground beyond my room. In his forever-beautiful way, my husband encouraged me to stay. His words embedded into my head “everybody is so happy for you to be there, you need feel no guilt.” But I felt all that and more. I continued to cry as I made my way to dinner. I felt rudely sick to my stomach and many times through dinner had to hold back from letting it out. My head continuing to pound all the while everybody else was so delighted to be there. Not me. I just felt overwhelmed and alone.
Over dinner my beautiful friend suggested I change rooms. How could I – this room was gifted and it was epic. But it seemed like a solution – to at least get a night sleep. And so, we all packed me up and I was whisked off to a smaller, less grand room. I barely got in the door and I collapsed into a hazy coma for nine solid hours before being woken for the day ahead.
I’ve done a lot of work around vulnerability and crying. I hate it. I dislike crying so much. i dislike how it makes me feel, probably because I don’t do it often enough. It generally leaves me feeling weak, headachy and nauseous. I also know, I need to be in this space more to really allow my emotions to wash over me. I recognised that Gwinganna was one place I could completely do this – and so I lost myself, in my own web of emotions.
Each day at Gwinganna starts with Qi Gong, a practice I’m no stranger to. For several years during my tertiary training in Chinese Herbal Medicine, we were required to complete certificates in Qi Gong. It’s a beautifully gentle but powerful practice and it brought it all home. As I practiced overlooking the most amazing valley, the next wave of emotion penetrated as if I was dipping into a pool and it was slowly making it’s way up every cell in my body. I had this. I was open to enjoy – I had permission from myself. That horror that was the pervious night no longer lived here.
Whilst we were walking back to breakfast from our morning activities I whispered to my friend – “I’m going to move back to my other room.” The joy on her face was so beautiful. She looked at me and said “good on you! You totally should.” So I did. I was greatly relieved to learn from staff I wasn’t the first to be overwhelmed in that space – seems Gwinganna has a habit of taking people outside of their comfort zones, something I totally knew yet wasn’t wanting to accept.
Simply asking for me was big. Asking to move, asking to move again, admitting I felt horrible, crying, showing myself… really confronting! Firstly admitting that I wasn’t in a good place was really hard. I’m pretty good a helping others, when it comes to myself many others, it’s darn hard. Did I mention I dislike crying. Yeah well, I did plenty! Admitting defeat – an even bigger deal for me! I learnt so much in a spin of 12 hours – I was allowing myself to be vulnerable to the highest degree and it was good. My thing is that I’ve always seen vulnerability as a weakness, but over the years, and since my good friend Jess passed away, I’ve learnt that vulnerability is the greatest gift. Something I continue to feel challenged by, but continually working on.
The rest of my time at Gwinganna was bliss – pure heaven. The beautiful organic meals, the amazing spa treatments (hello rockupuncture – an absolute MUST), the tranquil surroundings, the people… I loved it. Most of all, I learnt a LOT about myself. That I actually don’t feel comfortable being alone (thank goodness for the Justin Bieber album on my phone I eventually realized I could play)! I don’t generally enjoy silence. I’m a collaborative and social being. That’s what I love. And that’s ok. I am me! Admittedly as time has gone by over the last few years, I believed that I needed less of this – seems that’s maybe always not the case! That said, I do enjoy alone time, but I equally enjoy the comfort of being able to pick up my phone and call the kids or jump on social media if I feel the need to be social when I’m travelling alone. None of that was readily possible this weekend but I settled into a new level of bliss and allowed myself to transform, to accept what is, to suck it up and to face fears. Something we all have to do every single day, but some days we are more able to than others.
Gwinganna changed me.
It settled me.
It showed me somebody I can be if I need to be. Everything a woman needs to restore and renew. I’m pretty freakin’ grateful for my time there and I can’t recommend it enough for people wanting to reconnect with themselves, nature and all that is time out from the busy world. I can’t wait to go back now that I got my little fit out of my system! I think Gwinganna and I will be having a long lasting relationship for years to come. Special thanks for helping peel back the layers – it was tough but totally transformational.