Thursday, February 9, 2012

L.A. Power of Moms Retreat (OR The Best Weekend of My Life)

Okay, so maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it was pretty awesome. To leave the "dun colored heath" behind and go to this in January? Come on:
But the beauty and weather of southern California were just the icing on the cake. The best part was being with so many wonderful women in the same place at the same time. Saren and I flew down together and we seriously didn't stop talking for a second. Both of us had sore necks from having our heads turned the entire time. Then my brother-in-law, Todd, picked us up at the airport and it was so fun to see him and catch up a little. After settling in at my in-laws, I took Saren to super cute and quaint downtown Montrose for lunch at the Black Cow. I was sad that all our other meals were planned because I had about 5 more places I wanted to take her and April! Here we are after lunch:
We headed over to the Palmer's house up Angeles Crest early afternoon to help get things set up. I was happy to do a grocery run for the retreat organizers for some last minute things and thoroughly enjoyed driving around the streets I used to call home with the windows down and the sun on my face. That afternoon's session was April's "Mind Organization for Moms" program that she's adapted from David Allen's best-selling "GTD" book. (She's now a regular blogger for his website.) I can't say enough about it! I have yet to implement the whole program myself, but even the few steps that I do use have changed my organizational life, big time. (And that's saying something, because I'm not one of those people that just loves to organize every aspect of my life, even if I do like the benefits.)

That evening, the three Chapman sisters-in-law (all married to brothers from the same family) put on a DELICIOUS chicken cacciatore dinner with the best dressed up french bread I have ever tasted (equal parts parmesan, mayo, and diced onion on top, baked in the oven) as well as the most ADORABLE dessert plates with four different bite sized treats and a shot glass of milk. Brilliant!
Those would be hand made "Power of Moms" daisies on the top of those delectable cupcakes . . .
That night we had a little slumber party at my in-laws. I could seriously talk to these girls ad nauseum. We pretty much do when we're together, to the point of exhilarating exhaustion. Why is it SO FUN to talk and talk and talk with like minded women?
Saturday morning, ready for the full day retreat at the Palmer's GA-ORGEOUS home:
April's cute mom, Zoe, was there, along with four of her sisters and a sister-in-law:
The morning session focused on "Taking Care of the Person Inside the Mom". I did a presentation on being your own kind of "perfect"mom, Saren talked a little about the idea of "margin" (I'm reading the book right now), April and Saren talked about negative self-talk and "Thought Replacement Therapy", and the author of "Real Moms Love to Eat," Beth Aldrich, talked about moms nourishing themselves with food.

This may look intimidating to have a room full of 65 "supermoms," but I'm telling you, the women that come to these things are a self-selected group that are always surprisingly down to earth, grounded, and focused on things that really matter (family!) so it's hard not to feel an almost immediate connection:
I stole this next picture from April's blog. I wish I had videotaped the whole thing because I honestly can't remember half of what I said. I was refining my notes forever and ever, and had just barely printed them off right before the morning session began, and then I didn't even look at them more than once or twice for a quote. I get so energized by these audiences, and have so much fun when I'm up there that it makes me wonder why in the world I spend several weeks beforehand practically sick to my stomach from anxiety and self-doubt. It was so nice to get positive feedback from the moms there since my preparations for these presentations as well as writing articles for Deseret News/the site is normally done alone in my head in my pajamas late at night. It feels really, really nice to get specific validation from real live people every once in awhile!
More great food provided by Panera for lunch:
Discussion groups during lunch about finding more joy in motherhood and parenting partnerships. GREAT discussions:
Afternoon session on the three family systems: family economy (work and money matters), family legal system (discipline), and family culture (traditions). This is the Eyre's specialty, but both April and Saren presented. Susan Chapman, one of the retreat organizers, also did a presentation on learning your children's love languages. Here's Saren:
Midway through, my sister-in-law's adorable little baby Claire was fed and happy, so I offered to drive her back home to the babysitter who was taking care of her other kids. On the way back to the retreat I couldn't help but take a little drive up the crest where you can see a view of both downtown and the ocean (on the right). I shed a little tear driving up there. I miss L.A.!
After the retreat we got a picture with all the current and former residents of La Canada for a write up in the local paper. Lara (Brandon's good friend in high school), Shauna, me, Erin, and Amy. I had no idea before, but Amy and Lara are cousins, both hysterical, and the two of them together had me laughing 'til I cried! Especially playing "Reverse Charades" the night before. Hy. Ster. I. Cal.
Okay. Crazy, crazy! This is Andrea who now lives in the L.A. area, who I last saw when my family lived in Florida my sophomore year of high school TWENTY FIVE YEARS AGO! So fun to see her and catch up. Neither of us knew the other would be there:

And this is a new Reynolds sister I never knew I had--Taunie. She's actually Saren's cousin, and just one more amazing woman I got to know through The Power of Moms. These retreats never last long enough, but the friendships frequently last far beyond the short weekend:
Pain and agony:
Tears and sorrow:
The retreat organizers/presenters Susan and Sarah, myself, April, Lisa Palmer (hostess), organizer/super chef Amy, and Saren. Please note that I'm wearing skinny jeans for the first time since I last saw Andrea in Florida, like TWENTY FIVE YEARS AGO:
The retreat pictures stop there, but after a Saturday night training session for a handful of moms who want get more involved, April insisted Saren and I perk up and do a podcast with her at like 11:30 back at my in-laws' house! That girl never stops! We were so tired it was just funny. Sunday morning April drove back home to Corona at about 5am while Saren and I slept in and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast with my mother and father-in-law. (I'm so glad we had that time to visit with them.) Then Saren went to my old church with me where I tried hard not to cry multiple times seeing all those wonderful people and the teenage girls I used to teach. (All seniors now.) The classes and lessons were all fantastic, followed by another nice lunch and visit with my mother-in-law after church (wish I had thought to take a picture!) followed by a beautiful walk with Shauna up in my old neighborhood. (Shauna and Todd still live there, just a block over from where we used to live--sniff, sniff!) I couldn't help but take a few pics in front of our old house:

More wonderful visiting time with my father-in-law who drove us to the airport, more neck breaking conversation with Saren on the plane . . . . sometimes I forget just how much I love socializing with adults!! But not just any socializing. I've never been good at endless small talk. Drives me crazy. And that's why I think I love these retreats so much, because we talk about such substantial stuff which leads to other meaningful topics and the result is getting to know people on a deeper level that is just so satisfying. (I already linked to April's post about the weekend. Here is Saren's.)

I think what I love about these experiences, conversations, and associations the most is that they help me to both remember as well as learn more about who I really am and what I can do. That's all there is to it. I wish every mom could make it to one of these retreats!

1 comment:

  1. Loved your version, sad I missed your always great (and funny) comments, hope to catch up soon!


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