This is probably my longest blog post to date but it is also the closest to my heart. I ask that you take time to read it and follow me on my journey through Morocco…
Last week I embarked on a trip of a lifetime. I headed to Morocco with a bunch of strangers for a spiritual retreat unlike any that I’ve ever done. It was a radical self-love retreat and I loved every second of it, even the uncomfortable super vulnerable parts. Going to Morocco for this was twofold, I got to learn from other like-minded women as well as visiting a country that has been on my bucket list for years. Flying though is not on my fun list. It gives me anxiety and I’d honestly rather drive except driving to Morocco is out of the question. I will say that nothing says “you could stand to lose a few pounds” quite like an airplane seat and seatbelt. Unfortunately I was stuck in the middle seat so the longest stretch was pretty uncomfortable. I will say though that International airplanes have come a long way since my last time overseas which was 1995.
|I have a #girlcrush and her name is Veronica Varlow|
Before I get into the retreat, let me start with Marrakech, Morocco.
The sights, the smells, the people – it is a complete overload of the senses. When you look at the city from the air, it is brown and green. It gives no indication of the color display in the souk. Upon arrival to the medina where we walked through the maze of shops and people to get to our riad, I was in awe of everything. I wanted to stop and touch and feel and look at everything I saw. There are so many people everywhere and along both sides of the corridor there are shops loaded (and I mean LOADED) with goods for sale. The shop owners are yelling at you to stop and they want to haggle with you for everything. If you have any anxiety about people, crowds and noise then I suggest that the souks of Marrakech are not for you.
|Airplane view- Brown and green!|
|Scarves of every color! (photo credit to Kirsty Marshall)|
|Oh if i had room in my suitcase for all these teapots! (photo credit to Kirsty Marshall)|
|In the souk- not crowded at all!|
|the craftsmanship on some things are amazing!|
I could have spent hours looking in all the shops but what we learned very fast was that if you pick up something to look at it, you will probably end up buying it. They are not very good at taking no for an answer. A lot of the stores carried the same items, similar to the stores in Mexico, but if you spotted a unique item, you better buy it because the chance of finding that exact store again was slim.
|The lanterns are out of this world!|
|I'm sure that is real Chanel...|
In the main area where we were staying there was a smaller medina area that was my favorite to walk through. In the center of the square there were vendors set up with baskets and goods and along the sides were spice and herb shops. It all smelled of spice and you could literally taste the spices in the air. Rose buds, turmeric, saffron, cumin and all sorts of other spices and herbs were placed in giant sacks and piled high waiting for purchase. We stopped at one shop and drank tea with them while they told us what everything was and what it did. They let us try the jasmine and amber rubs and smell the spices. They sold pigment for paint that was so vivid it didn’t look real. Buying mint crystals looked like a drug deal and bottles lined the walls so high you couldn’t reach them. We went to the dyers market and saw the freshly dyed wool hanging to dry. Dodging motorcycles in the slim corridors was a serious talent. One wonders why they would even try to drive down there with so many people. Eating food was always a production. You couldn’t just grab something and go. Meals required at least an hour but the food was amazing. Walking up three flights of sketchy stairs to eat Tajine on the rooftop balconies overlooking the medina is definitely an experience. 5 times a day we would hear the prayer calls and we all took that time to say what we were grateful for. It started around 5 am but I am sure that most of us were not so grateful at that time of the morning.
Twice during the week we actually left the souk. Once to go to Jardin Majorelle and then 4 of us went on an adventurous camel ride. Actually, it wasn’t adventurous at all but it was really fun and we laughed the entire hour long ride. The garden was a beautiful oasis in the middle of the city and it was there that I fell in love with the most beautiful shade of blue I have ever seen in my life. I need to find a way to incorporate it into my life because it just makes my life better to see it.
On our last day there we spent the afternoon at Hammam de la Rose, which is a basically a spa but they have a bath house. The thought of getting bathed in a big steam room by a stranger with your new friends right next to you made me more uncomfortable that I ever thought imaginable but I did it. I decided that I was in Morocco for new experiences and this was definitely a new experience. It was a little awkward at first but once you relax it's fine. The message at the end though was worth all of the awkwardness. I was glad that I did it. It got me outside my comfort zone and have a wonderful experience that I might have missed otherwise.
I must admit that my favorite part of Morocco was the architecture. The tiles, carved wood, doors, alleyways and buildings were amazing. I took so many pictures and honestly could’ve spent a whole day just looking for different buildings to photograph. Here are a few of my favorite.
The retreat….I don’t know how to put this part into words and even if I did, I don’t think you would understand unless you were there. It was an unforgettable time of meditation, self-reflection, rituals, a little bit of #lovewitch magic, tears and laughter. I learned more about myself than I ever have. The funny thing is that I learned nothing new. It was all things that I have heard before but somehow, in this setting it really resonated with me and stuck. I also found out that we all struggle with the same thoughts and that I am not an island. The woman that got on the plane to Morocco was not the same one that got off. I realized, as simple as it may sound, that everything I need to make my life and myself better is within me. I’ve heard it before but I still was looking for external sources for the answer. I was looking for something to “fix” me. What I realized is that I am perfect just how I am. Obviously I have things that I want to improve but how I am right now is just wonderful. It’s kind of liberating to realize this. I stand taller, I speak my mind more (not sure if my friends like this or not), I am enough. I owe this to Gala and Veronica. I learned to let go, to own my sensuality and to how to walk into a room and own it!
What I came away from this experience was that it’s not about being a radical feminist but more about being a woman and owning my power. Being fierce and strong yet soft and vulnerable. There was something magical about having 18 women together. Laughing, crying and supporting each other. Never was there cattiness or bitchiness. We were all there for the same reason. To gain our power back and support each other in the process. This is how life should be. Women supporting each other, sharing secret truths about ourselves and knowing that it will stay in confidence. Never feeling judged but instead knowing that we can say anything and realizing that we are not alone in these feelings. We as women are such a strong force. If we (as a whole) weren’t so busy competing with each other or tearing each other down, we could actually rule the world. It’s powerful to support and hold each other up. I don’t consider myself a feminist. I’m not going to march or protest. What I will do is support, fight for and love every woman in my life as well as the ones that are not. I hear a lot from some women that they would rather hang out with guys because it is less drama. I completely understand this but at the same time I feel saddened for these women. I am a firm believer in #girlgangs. I think every woman should have a couple of really kickass girlfriends in her corner. Friends that you can call when you get your heart broken, get that promotion, fall in love and all the other wonderful and painful parts of life. Girlfriends to drink wine with, shop with, exercise with and just relax with. I’m lucky enough to have a sister that I can do all this with but I also have my #girlgang and they are absolutely amazing. I wish that for all women. I also hope that we, as women, can start to teach young girls the value of support and friendship instead of bullying and gossip. Little girls can be the most vicious awful creatures, so teaching and showing them this power of women is so important. With all the cyber bullying and suicide it’s more important now more than ever.
I’m not asking for you to get crazy with #womanpower but next time you go out, compliment a women. Stop the gossip about your coworker. Listen, really listen, when your friend needs to talk. Support your friends in their goals and encourage them with new ventures. It’s the little things that will help build women up and with that we are a power to behold!