The only way to truly recover from breast cancer and get to a new normal is to take the time to heal. Time certainly helps. But when you think about all the attention your physical body gets through and beyond the process — from radiologists, pathologists, surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, plastic surgeons, physical therapists, etc — it’s no wonder that your mind, spirit, and emotional being feels neglected. Who is taking care of your feelings and thoughts, which also take a huge hit upon diagnosis and treatment? Plus, the beyond part isn’t any easier. It’s a rough ride. So what do you do and where do you go to heal and recover?
One very special way to revitalize your spirit and restore your sense of well-being is to participate in a Wanderlust Festival. Wanderlust is a 4-day event featuring top yoga teachers from around the world, musicians, DJs, inspiring speakers, chefs, hiking guides, massage therapists, acupuncturists, and countless other leaders in the mind/body field. The festival is offered in five beautiful places around the USA and Canada, and now in Chile. While yoga is the main physical activity featured, there are so many more things to do, including meditation, stretching, hula hooping, and burlesque dancing. Musical and theater performances are available throughout, including such performers as Quixotic and Beats Antique, burlesque artists Gypsy Lane Cabaret & Co., hip-hop artist MC Yogi, and headliners Ziggy Marley and Ani DiFranco.
Breastcancer.org originally connected with Wanderlust when one of our staff members wrote a letter of appreciation to Nick “MC Yogi” Giacomini after hearing (and loving) his music. Not only did Nick and his wife, Amanda, express interest in Breastcancer.org’s mission, it turned out that his manager, Jeff Krasno, was also very interested in the work we do. Jeff is one of the founders of the Wanderlust Festival. Quickly, it became clear that Breastcancer.org’s Think Pink, Live Green mission had a lot in common with Wanderlust’s mission: creating a community that makes mindful choices about exercise, nutrition, the environment, and honoring one’s spirit to live the healthiest life possible. Jeff invited me to present Think Pink, Live Green as part of the Wanderlust Speakeasy series — informal lectures and discussions around mindful living. I enthusiastically accepted.
Together with members of the Breastcancer.org team, we made our way up to Stratton, Vermont to participate in the first of four Wanderlust 2012 events. Stratton is a lovely mountain and countryside location, with a cluster of stores, restaurants, and venues around the base of Stratton Mountain.
As soon as we arrived, we got caught up in the programs — participating in a whole range of classes such as yoga standing positions, stretching and relaxing, burlesque, hula hooping, and meditation. Some of the best instructors from all over the country were there: Schuyler Grant, Desiree Rumbaugh, Seane Corn, the Yoga Slackers acrobatic troupe, and burlesque teacher Nicole Rizzo, to name a few. Classes were full but not too crowded. The students came from all over and were of all ages and body types. People were friendly, noncompetitive, and helped each other. It was a refreshing and nurturing environment.
It was inspiring to connect with festival-goers when presenting the Speakeasy on breast cancer and recurrence prevention. Not only did I have the privilege of delivering our prevention message in the auditorium of a chapel, afterwards we held a lively discussion about risk-reduction strategies. Our audience included loyal members of the Breastcancer.org community as well as people with no prior history of breast cancer. The presentation highlights strategies to reduce the lifestyle and environmental risks of breast cancer and recurrence. Many questions were asked by mothers of young children — what bottles to use, types of milk, kinds of diaper wipes -– as well as questions about safe cookware and sunscreens, and strategies for maintaining a healthy weight. It was wonderful to meet and talk with audience members afterwards.
The following day, we led a trek to the top of Stratton Mountain with a lovely group of women and men, all interested in learning more about the everyday steps they could take to protect their breast health. It was a clear day and we could see the whole Green Mountain chain from the top!
In the evenings there was plenty of entertainment, including music, burlesque, and performance art (even fire-eating dancers!), as well as a beyond wonderful Farm to Table dinner pulling in delicious foods and beverages from the state of Vermont.
We also had the chance to meet and interview some of the leaders in the yoga and “global peace” movement. Yoga teacher Schuyler Grant and teacher and performer MC Yogi were particularly inspiring.
My Breastcancer.org team met some amazing people all along the way — including a number of our community members, who continue to inform and inspire us. This experience really taught us the power of retreat — the chance to get away, change environments, regroup, reconnect with our feelings and thoughts, and take the time to regain strength, peace of mind, relaxation, comfort, and a renewed sense of optimism. Trying something new is energizing and exciting. We’re already planning for next year in Vermont, and we hope that more of you can join us!
What do you do to support your body, mind, and spirit? We’d love to hear how you do it in the comments section below.