I was stuck. No, not in life, but in my seatbelt. That's how the first day of Chef Ahki's Detox Retreat started for me. We arrived at the sweat lodge and here I was stuck in my seatbelt in a van with women that I didn't know. It was at this moment that I wondered what the hell I was doing here. Maybe this was some sign that I shouldn't be taking a walk in the middle of the woods (even though it was in the middle of Atlanta) to a strange place with strangers.
As I tried to wiggle out of the seatbelt, it tightened. A few of the other women tried to help and it tightened some more. Embarrassed, I sat there muttering how these types of things always happen to me. And largely they do. (I'm short on stories at the moment because I'm telling this one, but I'm sure that if I thought really hard I could come up with a few more times where something absurd happened to me.)
Finally, with a great amount of team work, they were able to get me out and as soon as we arrived at the sweat lodge, I was grateful that I didn't run from this experience (or remain stuck in my seatbelt). Sweating in a little hut under the stars in Atlanta reminded me of how many things I'd been holding onto in my brain since I opened Studio No. 7. Somewhere along the way I'd lost the carefree woman that floated through Brazilian streets.
And these revelations continued through a weekend where I consumed only smoothies (delicious ones), learned about electric and indigenous foods, bonded with women that I would normally never speak with, did yoga in the sun, and took shots of some detox elixir that still causes my stomach to bubble with just the thought.
It's been over a month since the retreat happened and while I can't say that I'll ever become vegan as most of the women on the retreat aspired to do, I will say that 90% of meals are now vegan and unprocessed. My brain feels clear and I'm the happiest I've been in a really long time. I've learned to stop trying to control things and to just live and let my light shine. Most importantly, I've learned to love myself first (including being conscious of what I eat, reducing the thoughts I consume and forgiving my shortcomings on this journey) and from that space, to love others.
As it turns out, the seatbelt has always been me.