Creating change and learning how to turn a negative into a positive is a practice that drives me on a personal and professional level. It led me to write my book, “Change Your Story, Change Your Life: A Path To Success.” As a way to give people constant ideas about how they can take action to create change in their own life and story, I dive into life experiences that are in alignment with this goal. This is what inspired me to go to Rancho La Puerta. I refer to this kind of trip as a corporate retreat for one. The goal is to recalibrate myself on a mental, spiritual, and emotional level both personally and professionally and to inspire future books and products.
The tagline on the website for Rancho La Puerta is a quote by Joseph Campbell that that I’ve used in a past newsletter: “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.” His words encourage and inspire transformation. Rancho La Puerta is the ideal haven to help you connect with self and discover tools that will help to get you where you want to go.
There are many ways that the experience at Rancho La Puerta will help you to transcend your own walls. They fall into four categories: environment, nourishment, activities, and lectures.
It begins with the environment. Rancho La Puerta is massive and beautiful beyond your wildest dreams. It’s very spread out so you will get a ton of exercise, whether you jump into the daily exercise classes, or not, as the grounds are designed to create space inside your mind. You wake up in the morning, walk outside and see bunny rabbits, roadrunners, and lizards. They become your companions. They’re emblematic of the peace that surrounds you. The internal shift that you feel has a lot to do with engaging with nature. The hope is that you will take this awareness home with you and spend more time appreciating nature.
As for nourishment, well, Rancho La Puerta’s food is mostly vegetarian, and it is delicious! It made me wonder why I don’t eat more vegetables at home. You can also choose from a side bar of healthy goodies. The chefs feed you three times a day and offer a snack in the early afternoon by the main lounge. This is usually a smoothie and a vegetable dip with homemade crackers. When I got home, my body didn’t crave sugar due to the amazingly balanced diet I ate there. Rancho La Puerta’s food creates a greater awareness of portion size, food combination, and the reality that there are many extremely healthy options that taste amazing. You will also see the change in your body while you’re there.
The activities include every type of exercise class that you can imagine including yoga, Body Bar, Pilates, cardio fitness, dance, Tai Chi, kettle bells, boxing, sculpting and pool activities. The class selection is enormous. The yoga and exercise rooms are so gorgeous they make you want to work out and see results.
Guest instructors regularly visit the ranch and you can choose to travel there on a week that aligns with guest visitors that appeal to you. The week that I was there, there was a guest yoga instructor, Ann-Marie Ahye, who taught Mindful Yoga and a Body Bar Instructor, Sherry Catlin, who is one of the originators of the Body Bar. Ann-Marie’s classes helped me see yoga more from the spirit versus the ego. I loved the tone of her voice and the way that she taught her classes. She helped me get in touch with learning a more internal way to practice yoga. Sherry’s Body Bar classes were phenomenal. She was definitely one of the best instructors that I’ve ever learned from on vacation, and she delivered a very challenging workout. It made me want to invest in the Body Bar so that I could bring it home with me. With these two guest instructors and all of the regular instructors at the Ranch including Maya and Hazel, I saw changes in my body that continue to inspire me to be even more active.
Other activities include a wide array of hikes. Now, I am not a “hiker” so I started with the 4-mile Organic Breakfast hike. This is a must do if you go to Rancho La Puerta. The hike is amazing. The gardens outside the home where you will have breakfast are incredible, and the breakfast was one of the best that I’ve ever had. During a tour of the garden, you learn so much about the food on your plate, about what to eat and what not to eat. It was very enlightening; I loved it.
After the 4-mile hike, I thought that I was up for the challenge of the 7-mile hike. I dove right in, but realized shortly after we started that I was in way over my head. It was a rugged hike filled with peaks and valleys and a very hot day. I didn’t have hiking boots so I slipped on the path. However, with the gentle guidance and coaching of a couple of other hikers and one of the guides from the ranch, I persevered. There were moments that I did not think that I could make it, but as I moved through my own self-doubt and surpassed each obstacle, it dawned on me that there are heights that I am not yet achieving in my own life. I recognized that by moving through my fear, there is no height that is too high. Completing this grueling hike created a monumental shift inside of me on a spiritual, mental and emotional level. It anchored an invaluable realization that I will apply to my business and personal life.
I was very fortunate to be at Rancho La Puerta at a time when Jennifer Granholm, former governor of Michigan, and her husband, Dan Mulhern, were there as guest lecturers. They spoke on politics, leadership, energy, and what it means to be a couple with two careers. I loved every inspiring moment of hearing this dynamic duo speak. I hit on many “aha” moments during their talks. Another guest lecturer I saw was Beverly Whipple, author of “The G Spot.” She gave lectures on Women’s Health, Sensuality And Sexuality, Beyond the G Spot, and Male and Female Midlife Sexual Changes. There were also many great lectures on nutrition. So, these talks inspired change on all levels. They were intellectually engaging and offered tools that you could apply to your life. Following through is when the real change begins.
I think one of the main highlights for me was hearing Rancho La Puerta’s founder, Debra Szelely speak on Aging By Choice. Debra is 92 years old. Her appearance, demeanor, wit, and generosity of spirit inspired a change in the way that I view age. She made me excited about aging. Debra is committed to creating change on a global level by fostering wellness one person at a time through her website wellnesswarrior.org. Her actions reflect her desire to share her wisdom with others. She is clearly the active hero in her own story, and she inspires change in everyone that comes into contact with her and what she has created.
I give tremendous gratitude for my experiences at Rancho La Puerta. It was a dream retreat. If you want to recalibrate, bring energy into your life on every level, and get inspired to create life long habits of wellness, you want to go to Rancho La Puerta.