To be clear, I am not the type of person to go on a trip with strangers. I love to travel, but with the people I know and love. Leaving them behind and all my work/mother duties was a major decision.
Oonagh had been my bootcamp instructor in the West End of Toronto five years earlier. She was the type of person that exuded positive energy. She was excited about everything, even about working out at 6:00 AM in the winter, and I needed that kind of instructor to motivate me.
I was at work in Toronto on a freezing day in November. My house needed to be cleaned, my kids were coming home from school soon, and I had to rush to make food for their arrival. I hopped in my Jeep and it wouldn’t start, maybe it was the battery. I called CAA and was waiting in my cold car.
I felt exhausted, I thought maybe I’m low in iron or vitamin B. I am so tired. I picked up my phone to kill time and there was a message and photo from Oonagh. It was the most glorious photos of Tulum, the kind of pictures that remind you that tropical paradise exists in other parts of the world. I could almost hear the ocean and feel the sand.
Quite spontaneously, I wrote Oonagh to say I would love nothing more than to come, but I can’t afford it. She wrote back right away. She said something like,
“We all find reasons to prevent ourselves from doing things that ultimately are so good for us. “
How we give time and money to so many areas of our life, but rarely to ourselves.
She hit a nerve and was correct, right then and there, I decided I was going to Tulum when I sat in dreary Toronto in my cold car waiting for CAA.
I had no idea what to expect.
A few months later I walked out of the airport in Cancun and was hit with a wall of heat. The air smelled different and I couldn’t believe I had actually come. I was so happy to see the sun and couldn’t wait for it to bring me back to life.
I felt so wilted in Toronto. February is the longest, shittiest month. The excitement was mixed with a bit of fear, as I looked for the bus that would take the group of ladies I didn’t know. I had a few panicked thoughts like, “What if this sucks? What if my roommate is a psychopath?”
That first night we all met in an open air hut. Oonagh put on music. She was no longer just Oonagh the boot camp instructor. She was all about health but also achieving your dreams and goals. I wasn’t surprised that she had a following.
We all went to bed early that night after having dinner, and one of the best fresh local dinners I may have ever had.
The next morning I walked the beach by myself. I had coffee in a Bohemian open-aired zone of the beach and read before our workout at 8:30 AM. Then it’s brunch before a goal setting workshop.
Write down your goals and dreams, no dream’s too big. It was easy for me. I wanted to make over $400,000 a year, open my own office, have a great work team. Go on adventures with my kids and my lover. Be Mortgage free, pay for the kids university. Have a passionate, respectful relationship. Surround myself with good, strong, confident people that rejoice in each other’s triumphs, and retire in Belize on land that I own. No biggie. Oh, and I wanted to lose 20 pounds.
That had been my ultimate goal for two years and why I joined the 28 Day Transformation to begin with. But somehow, when I came all the way to Tulum, Mexico, on that morning when my focus of my biggest dreams, this is what came through. I forgot about the weight I wanted to lose. How weird is that?
Writing what I wanted was easy. But reading out loud, oh my God. Saying I wanted to make $400,000 will make these women think I’m a superficial bitch. There are doctors in this group that works 16 hour shifts, that save people’s lives. Someone in this group beat cancer, you think her goal is something superficial like money? What if others are just scraping by? Guilt, guilt, guilt.
Another woman went first. She was brave and dreamt big. I went next. If I can’t say it, then how can I think I deserve it? I read it aloud with confidence. I felt when I left the room, I had already made my goals, I felt so excited.
We were told before we hit the beach we had to do one thing for 10 minutes towards our goals, a baby step before the gift of the ocean. By the time I got back to my room, a woman had written that she wanted me to list her huge home in Toronto. Wow! This goal shit works.
After doing a full body workout on the top floor of an open-air, thatched hut, a gourmet brunch with a view of the ocean, a goal setting meeting, this group of ladies that were literally strangers to the day before spent the day lounging, talking, drinking a few Margherita’s and acting as if we had been friends for decades.
I realized just before dinner that we all spent our the day in our bathing suits, even when we sat on the table to have lunch. All different body types, nobody felt judged or self-conscious, nobody, just as it should be.
I woke up today at 6:00 AM, I can’t get over this incredible room.
It feels like a private high-end hut. The sliding doors to the balcony is open, all I can hear is the sound of waves.
I feel like pinching myself, is this heaven? Today, we are boxing, and then we are riding bikes to the ruins. If I feel this great after day one, I can’t wait for day two. I feel a combination of grateful for being here and proud of myself because I made this journey happen at a time when I needed it most.
If I feel this great after day one, I can’t wait for day two.
The next morning, I snuck down to the common area on the beach to get my coffee. A few ladies were there. I watched the beach with Lisa, and watched the sun’s rise. I jumped quickly in the saltwater pool, wrapped a towel on my hair, grabbed a bowl of papaya, and stretched out on one of the day beds on the beach.
A man in the yoga group came over and said, “I love your look.” “Yes,” I responded, “This is how I like to start every Tuesday.” This was only 8:00 AM and I felt amazing.
Next up was just an 8:30 AM boxing class. It kicked my butt. I punched, kicked, squatted and crunched, I’m sore all over. It was challenging, but I pushed myself. Oonagh is the best instructor I’ve ever had. When it was all over, and I was stretching, I kept thanking my whole body for never letting me down. The human body is an amazing thing.
We rode our bikes to the Mayan Ruins. We had dinner under the stars, all these vastly different, wonderful, unique women. This trip was so necessary for me, I had no idea how much I needed this. I crawled into my bed after dinner. I could have picked up one of my books and read about a story of someone else’s life, but instead I stretched out, listened to the waves, and thought of my own long, glorious story. This amazing life already lived, and the pure realization that the rest of my story is whatever I make it.
It is 5:00 AM. I am sitting in a table outside, under the stars, drinking my Bengal Spice tea and writing. The sound of the waves in front of me. I leave today, but I can’t imagine it yet. I feel different in every single way. I feel motivated and alive. I am so excited to start living the chapters that aren’t written yet. I’ve worked out every day, smeared mined clay all over me, swam in the ocean, took workshops on goal setting, and danced with an inspirational guru named Misty.
I have not been alone with myself in so many years, I forgot how great it was to be me. I kept thinking of The Breakfast Club at the end, when the geek writes the paper about their time together. This is how I feel about the ladies here.
We started as the doctor, the lawyer, the broker, the cancer survivor, the business woman, the yo-yo dieter, the computer tech, and the sporty one on the verge of a career change. By the end, we were just a group of amazing women that were way more than all these labels.
These women knew more about me than many people that know me well. There was so much support and encouraging on this trip. I feel like I’m leaving with my own personal cheering section. I can’t wait to see every one of their stories unfold. I won’t forget a single one, and thanks to Oonagh, whose own dream somehow included or pulled us all in to make this happen.