Monday, January 30, 2012

Beautiful Weekend in LA - Serious Happiness

I'm totally on a high after spending a glorious weekend of beautiful weather, lots of great discussions and lots of laughter in LA with 65 really wonderful mothers. My well is full. My often-neglected social needs are met. My idea bank is overflowing. My belief in the importance and beauty and wonder of motherhood is at an all-time high. And my love for my own sweet children and husband is deeper than ever. I came home completely exhausted but after a good night's sleep last night and a chunk of time catching up on emails this morning, life is looking good. Very, very good.

This was Power of Moms Retreat #11 and it was especially fun for me. I've now got more confidence and a lot less worries and jitters than I did with those first Retreats. I can go in there and present without tons of preparation and I know pretty well what works and what people might ask and how to handle things. Plus I love presenting alongside April - after doing this so much, we know how to go back and forth and cover everything pretty darn well between us. We had other great presenters there as well who did a fabulous job and as always, some of the best ideas and points and stories came from the wonderful moms who came to the event. The moms who come to these Retreats are a self-selected group of truly amazing people. The sad part of each Retreat is that there isn't enough time to hear the stories and ideas of every single mom there. We had moms who've been through cancer and bankruptcy and hard, hard stuff with their children and rocky marriages and infertility. We had several moms of twins that I wanted to talk with a lot more. We had everything from new moms to a mom of 11 children. What a plethora of mothering knowledge and questions we had there in that room of 65 wonderful moms! (This photo only shows about 1/2 of the moms who were there - we were so busy chatting and presenting that we didn't think to take a photo until half an hour after the Retreat ended and lots of the moms were already headed home at that point. Oh well!!!)

The setting was as perfect as can be - gorgeous weather and the loveliest home perched on a ridge overlooking Los Angeles (our discussion groups and lunch were extra nice outside). We're so very grateful to our hostess, Lisa Palmer, for opening her home to us and dealing with all our little requests for everything from platters to safety pins to refills of toilet paper. (Lisa's sister Julia went on study abroad with me to London about 20 years ago and when she heard we were looking for a place in LA for our Retreat, she suggested her sister's place and it all worked out beautifully. And I found out that the Palmers lived in Boston for many years and that they'd known Jared and my sister Saydi through church there - small world!) 

We're so grateful for Sarah, Susan and Amy - three wonderful women who are sisters-in-law (they married three brothers) and who've attended or helped with a few Retreats now. They took care of registration details and copies and chairs and food and helped make things so wonderful for everyone - especially for me and April who've handled far too many details on our own at some Retreats. Sarah picked up the chairs and got everyone registered with her cute baby on her hip. Susan made beautiful desserts complete with the cutest individually-made fondant daisies (like the Power of Moms logo) and a "shot glass" of milk to go with it all. Amy made chicken cacciatore for dinner that was so delicious I'm still thinking about it. And so many other wonderful moms pitched in to help with set-up and clean-up and everything in between. Plus we're super grateful to Panera - they donated delicious sandwiches and cookies for our lunch. I love that place! Wish they had it in Utah.

It doesn't matter how many times I do a Retreat, I always learn a ton. Here were some little specific resolutions from this Retreat:

  •  Prioritize social time more. I had the chance to fly out and back to the Retreat with one of our Power of Moms writers and presenters, Allyson Reynolds. We talked and laughed the whole way there and back and learned so much from each other. I had great conversations with lots of moms at the Retreat during structured discussion sessions and during breaks and before and after sessions. Everyone has such interesting stories and great ideas. I need to make time for more conversations like this and stop letting everything else get in the way. I just emailed Allyson to schedule a time to get our families together rather than doing what I typically do - keep saying "we really should get together sometime" and then getting around to really scheduling something all to seldom.
  • Start doing awards again. I'll write a post about this soon but as I presented about our Sunday dinner awards ceremonies with our kids, I realized we've been forgetting to do this for way too long and the kids really need and want it.
  • Speak my husband and kids' love languages more. Susan gave a great presentation on Love Languages - not a new concept to me but one I don't think about enough. I've got to give Oliver and Silas more hugs and tell them I love them more (their love language is verbal and physical - they're ALWAYS hugging me and hanging on me and saying how much they love me and I don't do those same things for them nearly as often as I should). I've got to write Eliza more notes (her notes are so sweet and when I actually remember to write her a note, she's over the moon. In fact I'll write one and put it on her bed right now before I even finish this). I've got to hang out and really listen to Ashton when I tuck him in bed at night (he's not a big talker but he has lots of things he wants to tell me about the latest electronic gadget or something that happened at school when I tuck him in - but I'm usually in too big a hurry. He really needs individual time right now in his life and I think some of the problems he's been having are because he needs more attention). I've got to give Isaac more hugs and tell him what I specifically appreciate about him more (he was such a hugger as a little kid and I think he still needs and wants that and he just blooms when he's praised). I've got to do more acts of service for Jared (he's so good about serving me and I know he loves it when I make time to do something special for him).
  • Be more purposeful about what I eat. Someone mentioned keeping a food diary and how that holds you more accountable to yourself. I've been eating whatever, whenever since Christmas and that extra weight from the holidays is going to be mine to keep forever if I don't start paying attention. Beth Aldridge talked about her new book, Real Moms Love to Eat and that really got me thinking about some things...
  • Be more consistent about playing the Bloom Game. When I set those little goals every week and keep that rolling, I feel so much better about my life and prioritize important things way better.
  • Get outside every day. While we sure don't have the amazing green and flowers and sunshine I experienced in LA here, I can still get out and go on a walk around the block and find something beautiful in nature almost every day. I can get out there and feel the sun on my face for a few minutes when it's cold. I can get the benefit of fresh air a lot more often if I make it a priority - and I sure need that. And I've decided we need to schedule a Southern CA or St George trip at least every couple months during the long cold winters here. If I prioritize it, it will happen. 
Here are some of the beautiful things I saw in the snippets of time I had between everything else going on. I love love love the trees - their different shades of green, their different shapes and sizes, the dappled sun that comes through their branches and leaves. I loved seeing the blossoms (it's already spring there!) mixed with the left-over fruits of fall. It was all so beautiful there!


bostonshumways said...

looks awesome sar! I wish I could have been there.

I went to Portabelo Rd. market with Hazel on Saturday and we thought of you and how you'd be jealous that you couldn't be there with us. so, come visit! pom retreat London?

Eyrealm said...

WOW! WOW! WOW! This looks fabulous! Didn't know that you found this great house! How fun to see all those happy moms! This is SO important for the mental(and physical) health of those mothers who are in the trenches every day. CONGRATS on seeing a need and fulfilling it in an extraordinary way. Your photography is nothing less than spectacular too!

We have some new giant bamboo trees to enhance the retreat here in May...if they make it that far. We're looking forward to that!

Let's connect tomorrow before we leave again.

Lori said...

Just wanted to comment that I really enjoy reading your blog, and am waiting and waiting for the next New England retreat. I couldn't go last time because of some family conflicts, but really want to go. And seeing the pictures of this warm weather is making me really chilly in New Hampshire today!

Emmy said...

Darn, sorry I missed the group shot. I had to hurry out of there on Saturday as my husband had a basketball game.

I really was so incredibly awesome and really life changing experience. I have already implemented several of the things (my email inbox is empty) and we have a family economy going (perfect in time for husband to be out of town this week as I need the extra help).
Thank you again for all that you do. I will be blogging about it on Friday.

Cheryl said...

It looks amazing...someday I hope to attend one of these!

(My word verification is laugh....hehe)

Christine said...

I had a fantastic time!! I left with so many easy ideas to make my home life better! I left feeling uplifted and encouraged! Thank you!


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