I’ve been back home now for two weeks after my month of travel in Europe and have so much to share with you!
In early May, I set out on the first leg of my trip to Italy, where I co-led my second yoga retreat with my friend and fellow Yoga Teacher, D’Andre Clayton. After countless hours of hard work and planning, the months of anticipation, small hiccups along the way, and a long journey, we finally arrived. Perched atop a mountain peak accessible by small windy roads in the countryside of Italy was our home for the next 7 nights. I remember getting out of the cab and warmly greeted with hugs and kisses by Paola and Irish, life partners and co-owners of Locanda del Gallo, a beautiful country house and yoga retreat center.
After settling in we gathered for our first dinner. Maybe it was our intimate group or the crisp Italian air, but everyone opened up to one another so freely and from the first night I knew that we would become a family. Every day we gathered for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We meditated together, practiced yoga together, and learned together during the daily workshops. We further bonded during our adventure to the medieval town of Perugia, wine-tasting in a castle, and a cooking class where we learned to make pasta and dessert. It didn’t matter that D’Andre and I were the “teachers” and they were the “students,” we all had valuable stories, experiences, and lessons to share with one another and grew because of it.
At the close of our final day together, the air was bittersweet because we all knew it would be our last night. As I got ready for dinner, I wondered where my boyfriend, Xavier was. My friends who came on the retreat told me he was probably at the pool and that as soon as I was done getting ready I should go get him. As I finished up, I rushed out to get Xavier thinking that he wasn’t ready for dinner. Yet, as I approached the steps to the pool, there was a path of flower petals leading down to the gorgeous infinity pool overlooking the Italian countryside. There, he was waiting for me. As our eyes met we both cried because we knew what was happening. We grabbed each other’s hands as I listened to him speaking intently. And then, he got down on one knee. Before he could even finish asking, “Will you marry me?…” I already nodded and said, “Yes!” It was such a special moment. And, so much sweeter because we were able to share that moment with our retreat family. So, together on our last night we all celebrated with champagne, great food, and of course great company.
As dinner came to a close, we went around the table and shared our key takeaways from our experience of the retreat. Everyone shared something they found of value that was personal to them, and yet, the messages were all universal and relatable. We laughed, cried, toasted, hugged and kissed each other. When it came time for me to share, I smiled with contentment and said, “I am exactly where I need to be.” Everything just felt right. I was humbled by the whole experience and yet so proud to stand at that table surrounded by amazing people doing what I love with the man I love by my side. The entire process leading up to that moment; doubt, failures, late nights, hard work, risk, discipline and persistence gave me the opportunity to enjoy the sweetness of those moments.
Hi, I'm Lauren and I am here to support people to find freedom in being authentic and the power to carry that out in their lives and community. Writing is one way I like to explore that for myself. Here is my archive of reflections.