Whew. What a couple of week's it's been! Traveling, vacation, becoming a Beautycounter consultant, work - it's all been such a whirl! Today though, I wanted to take a deep breath and talk in more details about my work/vacation trip to Denver last week, as it was a true "soul trip" for me.
Currently, I'm enrolled in the Nutritional Therapy Consultant program through the Nutritional Therapy Association (lot's of words, I know. I'll use NTC and NTA from now on!). This program is a nine month, primarily online program, focusing on six foundations to health: digestion, blood sugar regulation, minerals, hydration, essential fatty acids, and a nutrient dense diet. I'm about a third of the way through the program, and I'm loving everything that I'm learning (yes, I'm that nerd who loves learning and school even still...).
Part of the course also included a three day conference in Denver, CO, which took place May 4th - 6th, hence my work/vacation trip last week.
Knowing my tendency to work myself to death, I purposely scheduled myself an extra day out in Colorado to do whatever I wanted the Monday after the conference, and I'm SO glad I did. But more about that in a minute.
I arrived to my hotel Thursday afternoon and promptly hopped in an Uber and headed to Sprouts, a "farmer's market" grocery store that we don't have in Nebraska. I spent about an hour wandering up and down the aisles, grabbing a few new foods to try that would work well in my hotel for a couple of days without access to a stove. Of course, I also ate most of them that night as well, forcing me to visit Whole Foods on Friday and Natural Grocers on Sunday. Yes, I'm fully aware that I'm about the only person who will go to a three grocery stores while on vacation...
The conference began Friday morning and went all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The days were long, but the time passed by quickly with lots of group work, case studies, and breakout discussions which I loved. It was refreshing to not have to sit in lectures for hours upon end. Plus, I love connecting with people who think similarly to me, hearing their stories, and sharing my own personal story as well. It's really refreshing to be around "my people" who don't look at me like I'm crazy when I explain how I choose to live my lifestyle.
I made friends with a couple of people who sat near me at the conference (there was about sixty of us total), and each day we went to Modern Market for lunch, a small little real food based restaurant about half a mile away from the conference hotel. Luckily the weather was AMAZING all three days, so it made the walk so enjoyable.
Of course, I also walked away from the conference with about 1000 new ideas swirling around in my head, several of which I've already made progress on (no time like the present, hey?!). The first was to contact the local newspaper from my hometown, The Elgin Review, to see if they would be interested in having me write a bi-weekly column for them about health and wellness. The publishers agreed, so I'll be able to further my network back to the community where I grew up, which I"m super excited about! Those of you in Elgin, keep your eye out for the May 23rd issue of The Elgin Review!
Of course, you know about the second bit of progress after my Beautycounter blog post on Monday. I'm excited to spread the word about the importance of safer skincare as a consultant AND get to meet so many more amazing women trying to make a difference in the health and wellness space.
Moving on, the Monday after the conference was absolutely perfect. I started the day at Red Rocks, completing a little workout filled with lots of lunges, squats, pushups, and of course stairs! The views at Red Rocks were absolutely stunning. It's amazing how much beauty is found in nature if you simply open your eyes to see it!
After Red Rocks, I went to Just BE Kitchen, a little hole-in-the-wall paleo kitchen in Denver that I've always wanted to try (the ladies on the Girls Gone WOD podcast talk about it all the time, so I knew I had to check it out!). It was very refreshing to be able to walk into a restaurant and literally order ANYTHING I wanted and not have to make adjustments to the menu. So naturally, I ordered it all: bone broth with sea salt and ginger; 2 eggs with veggies, sweet potato spirals, and a sausage patty; and the most amazingly wondrous nut-free, grain-free blueberry muffin. It was to DIE FOR! I had forgotten what it was like to eat "normal" food. I spent a good hour there, enjoying my food and working on a chapter for the book I'm currently writing (I'm hoping to have it finished by the end of the year and in works for publishing - we'll see!).
After I forced myself to leave Just BE Kitchen (and not go back for a second blueberry muffin), I headed to the Denver Botanic Gardens, which was by far the highlight of my trip. The flowers, scenery, and beauty of nature were so soothing to my soul. It was simply magical! I could've spent all day there without a problem. I also discovered that I want tulips at my wedding someday...
Tuesday morning is when the fantasy ended, and I headed back to the airport to fly home. However, all that travel time allowed me plenty of time to reflect on the weekend that had just happened, and I came to realize several new conclusions.
1. I actually like traveling.
2. Taking vacation time isn't selfish; it's a form of self-care.
3. I'm okay with leaving behind my routine, visiting a new place, and traveling alone.
I can't tell you how amazing it was to leave behind work and responsibilities for a few days and be totally immersed in my trip. I had a basic plan (the hotel I was at, when the conference was, etc), but as for the rest of it, I figured that I would figure it out when I got there. And that's exactly what I did.
I didn't worry or stress about having a plan everyday. Going with the flow seemed natural and easy, something I'm definitely not used to on a regular basis. Growing up, we didn't take many vacations, especially not one that required a five night stay in a hotel, so it was refreshing to get away for that long of time as well.
Plus, going by myself meant that I was in complete control of what I did, when I did it, and why I chose to do it. A few years ago, this trip would've been out of the question for me, as it would've required too many pieces that pushed me out of my comfort zone. But the growing I've done over the past couple of years (even the past few months) has been so helpful in pushing me to try new things and experiences. It's cliche, but you really do only live once, so why waste it sad and unhappy in a safe little box?
I returned to work on Wednesday refreshed, renewed, and rejuvenated. It made me realize just how much I do need to take more time throughout the year to get away, even if it's just for a weekend or a few days here and there. My mental health and work capacity improved so much from such a simple little trip, so I'll definitely be traveling more this year and next, and heading back to Colorado will definitely be at the top of my list!
Stay tuned for more info to come on what else I learned at the conference and beyond, including a series on the six foundations, more about Beautycounter their mission and products, and updates on my writing journey!