Visiting Scotland – finding myself by the sea

By Gretel Trejo

As a female who never had many female friends, I tended to gravitate towards friendships with men instead. As a result, I feel like I had lacked a lot of women-empowerment kind of bonding activities with fellow females. Thankfully, I was privileged enough to participate in of Anna’s WanderWomen retreats. Having never attended anything remotely similar, I had no expectations of what was to come. Boyyyy did Anna surpass everything I could have ever hoped for!

Our retreat began simple enough, we took a trip out to the coast of North Berwick to meet Anna where she was kind and thoughtful enough to provide everything we needed! Food, warm tea, water, seating pads, miniature yoga mats, etc. One thing that captivated me the most was her very essence of being. She was very kind and soft spoken, almost like her voice had the ability to lull you to sleep just by carrying a conversation with her. Despite never having met her, she made me feel at ease and extremely comfortable being in a foreign place. She had this sense of calmness and tranquility I’ve only seen in a few other individuals, and I’m grateful for that because her demeanor allowed me to open up and have a meaningful conversation with her about my goals, my educational career, and many other personal aspects of my life. I consider myself a very private person, so for her to have brought my guarded walls down just with the soothing sound of her voice really made an impression on me. 

She stressed the importance of walking mindfully and in silence for the most part. Even helping me unlock hidden parts within myself that I would have not readily had access to without her guidance. As we walked (some of us barefoot to really create the connection with the natural world) along the beach, we were encouraged to listen to our inner voice and be mindful of our surroundings, taking in the scenery and really just being “present” as most of us tend to overlook something so simple. Walking in silent meditation for the first part of our retreat allowed us to tune in to our inner selves and have meaningful dialogue about whatever worries, troubles, or concerns we had within ourselves. She guided us through some of the most beautiful green grassy hills, to a private escarpment along the coast that appeared to have been created just for us, and once we had found a suitable spot overlooking the beautiful Scottish coastline, we were asked to take a seat and get comfortable. Anna recited some of the most BEAUTIFUL meditation instructions, transforming us from human beings to single droplets of water beginning in the highest cliffs and journeying with us from droplet to stream to river to a grand ocean and back to a droplet again. I’ll admit it was such an amazing meditation experience I was emotionally overwhelmed several times and broke a couple tears of happiness. Upon finishing, we worked together as a group to create a beautiful mandala made out of shells and stones we had come across during our silent walk, and although I never felt much connectedness to a group of women, I felt as if the creation of that mandala had tied us all together. Just when I thought our experience couldn’t get any better, she informed us we would keep trekking forward, to find a more suitable place to build a beach bonfire and enjoy some sea swimming!

Building a bonfire was something I had never experienced even at 31 years of age. As a matter of fact, I always resented myself for not knowing how to build a fire; the thought of not having basic survivor skills made me feel socially inferior and somewhat frightened that I would not have the ability to save myself need be. Once we found our perfect little spot along the ocean, we worked together finding driftwood to create our fire, and after putting all our efforts together were able to round up enough to feed a fire that would last for hours! As we set up our little campsite and began to organize our pile of wood, I eagerly watched her show us how to create a fire out of pinecones, cotton balls, and her mini flint kit. I was determined to help and decided to stay onshore to watch the fire instead of join in sea swimming! (It was a little too chilly for my liking as I’m from south Texas and accustomed to more tropical waters) In many ways I’m so glad I did. Although I was able to hear the girls cheering and laughing as they entered the frigid waters, I was dead set on managing the bonfire. It had become a more personal goal of mine to get this going so I could have the satisfaction of knowing I’d be able to survive in bleak situations.  To some, building the bonfire would not have been a big deal, but to me it spoke volumes. I had accomplished something I never thought I was capable of, and I was damn proud of myself for sticking around to learn! Had Anna not had the patience and kindness to teach me, I’d still be a 31-year-old with no knowledge of how to build a fire. She was such a positive influence that upon returning back home I also ordered my own flint kit!

After the girls dried off and returned to the warm bonfire, Anna laid out the most delicious picnic spread! She had provided everything for a perfect picnic! Warm tea, coffee, sweeteners, fresh muesli bread, fine cheeses and the sweetest fruits! She even provided chocolate dessert! Our beachside bonfire picnic had surpassed any and all expectations and I was kind of bummed we had to leave when we did. Anna’s company was wonderful, and I believe that I was meant to meet her when I did, so that I could be reminded of the simple joys in life like the soothing powers of a calm voice and the bonding that occurs when a group of like-minded women join forces and share meaningful connections. 

Thank you Anna for being a spiritual Jedi and guiding us through our journey through one of Scotland’s most beautiful beaches! I am eternally grateful to have met you and been inspired by your kindness, inner peace, and confidence in yourself!

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