I began my 2016 holiday season full of beans, in the company of a delightfully exuberant 7 year old for 3 straight days. Come Christmas Eve a day later, I harnessed every ounce of energy that I had left for the Herculean preparations needed for a dinner-for-20 at our home. Clean up time afterwards saw me pushing past my exhaustion barrier so that our home could be spick and span again.... by 2 am. With my adrenal going on overdrive (I have only one left), sleep eluded me until 4. I got cracking again on Christmas morning despite barely being able to lift my head off the pillow .... after all, I had a dish to complete before the late afternoon, when my son's lovely in-laws would be coming over. While eternally grateful for our beautiful family and thankful for all that we have, it came as no surprise when my body cried out, “Enough, you fool! Look what you’re doing to me!”
And then I crashed.....
So I find myself typing this message to you as I lounge on the couch, barely able to lift my head to appreciate Sydney’s glorious summer weather, let alone head to the beach for a revatilising swim. Instead, I’m doing battle with a runny nose, scratchy throat and chesty cough with a nothing more than a box of “Large n’ Thick” Kleenex tissues and a bottle of Nurofen by my side.
As I first did in 2014 when faced with a confronting health issue , I dismissed my woe-is-me attitude and shifted my perspective. Looking at my debilitated state with fresh eyes, I recognized a destructive pattern in myself which adversely affects my wellbeing on a regular basis, the tendency to do more, be more, never saying NO, continually pushing myself to the point of fatigue. The more my body tells me to stop, the harder my mind whips me into a frenzy of activity. Indeed, my body never fails to let me know whether I am making the right choices or not, yet I continue to ignore it. It keeps chugging along regardless, this incredible work of creation. That is, until it’s got nothing left to give......
Thankfully, I listened to my body when I received an email from NZ fashion designer, business powerhouse, and philanthropist Annah Stretton in mid-November, inviting me to check out her latest venture, a wellness retreat set in the scenic foothills of Mount Te Aroha, in the rural region of Waikato (New Zealand). Housed in a beautiful Edwardian structure, this sanctuary from the world is called Te Atawhai, meaning ‘to show kindness or care’ in Maori. Having known Annah since 2003, when I became the sole agent of her fashion label in Australia, I knew that this venture would be infused with the same passion, authenticity and commitment to excellence as her other enterprises.
Domain, Te Atawhai
The more that I read about Te Atawhai - the majestic surroundings, thermal and mineral hot springs, wholefood menu, mountain hiking, equine assisted learning, daily mindfulness practice, massage, general body health consultations, one-on-one nutritionist consultations and the boutique accommodations - the more my body responded with a resounding YES! Feeling excited and expansive, I invited 3 other like-minded women to share the experience with me: chiropractor, nutrition specialist and dear friend, Kate Willesee, my dear cousin Pia from Portland (Oregon) who would be visiting me in Sydney, and my daughter-in-law, Maryanne. They too said: YES to self-care, YES to tranquility and peace, YES to coming home to ourselves.
We now have our eyes set to early February, when together we will embark on Te Atawhai’s 4-Day Wholeness Programme. We hope to learn how to properly nurture and nourish our bodies through a combination of movement, mindfulness, diet and rest. We will learn how to listen to our bodies again and, most importantly, to trust it and follow its gentle rhythms. Keep your eyes on this space as I update you on our NZ adventures next month!
As 2016 comes to a close, I reflect on the new story that I’d like to write for myself for the coming year. I’m reminded of the eternal words of the late American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker , Jim Rohn: “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”
Here is wishing you and your family a wonderful year ahead. Happy New Year!