Discovering the Power of Togetherness

As I wrap up a long weekend with some of the most inspiring and interesting women I’ve ever been around—I started thinking about honor. And what an honor it was to be surrounded by these powerful women.

Women’s Health brought together a group of 30 female executives in the wellness space for a long weekend retreat at Cal-a-Vie Health Spa hidden in the hills of Southern California. They committed an unbelievable amount of planning, time, and energy to make it an experience where we could genuinely restore ourselves while building relationships with other like-minded women. It was nothing short of magical. 

While I (finally) unpack my carry-on, I find myself thinking about the power of togetherness. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous coming into this weekend, like a little fish in a big pond. I didn’t know anyone. Being surrounded by women who are magnates and powerhouses in the space had me second-guessing my success, but I knew this was where I wanted to be. These are the women I’ve wanted to be.

The female leaders in attendance are doing such big things—impacting so many lives worldwide. But dammit, wasn’t I trying to do the same thing? I reminded myself that at the end of the day, we are all humans, moms, and women, doing our best… and that they started somewhere just like me. Honestly, I bet we are all just trying to figure out work and life. It wasn’t a secret: I was excited and nervous. One of my team members texted me to remind me, “they sit on the toilet and scroll Instagram just like you do.” That is just what I needed to hear. I laughed and entered the experience promising myself that I belonged. 

The goal of Women’s Health The Long Weekend was to gather a diverse group to retreat from our hectic lives as executives, learn together, and live the values we preach daily. Wellness. Self Care. Confidence. Vision. Empathy. Love. What we encountered went so far beyond just massages and networking. Over the two+ days, we became a new type of team I never expected. We left our final meditation focused on loving ourselves. Liz Plosser, Editor-in-Chief at Women’s Health, said we are now a team that lifts each other up, and cheers each other on. So what happened to foster an unfamiliar and unbreakable connection in the hills of Southern California?


Remembering to breathe. 

An incredible company called Breathe Degrees taught us about the power of breath, mindset, and the ability to be limitless once we learn to control each of them. We walked into an old French chapel—shipped to Cal-a-Vie from France—with dozens of candles on an altar at the front of the room. It was like something out of a movie. With ancient statues adorning the chapel, candles flickering at a captivating pace, and light streaming through the arched windows, I knew as I laid down my mat and put an eye mask on this would be an experience

Once the practice started, we were under a spell. Malin, the instructor, was a force of nature. Her voice puts us in a trance. We followed her cues and cadence as music played in the background—a soundtrack to every inhale and exhale. At first, I was light-headed and wondered if I could do it. But I trusted. And continued. My body tingled and became cold. I was amazed by what my body was doing. Malin’s voice and our mindset were all we needed. When the practice concluded, we were simply in awe. No one knew what to expect, and we were floored by the physical, emotional, and some of us spiritual rollercoasters we just rode. As I made eye contact with the other women in the room, I could tell I wasn’t alone. Some were still in a trance. Some had big smiles, and some were just mouthing the word wow.



Channeling (cold) courage.

As we wrapped up and walked outside, we knew we were in for the most feared part of the weekend—a two-minute plunge into an ice bath. After what we had just done, I was on a high. The fear almost became laughable. I had just accomplished something I’d never done before, so why not jump into the next step? We lined up around our ice tubs, nervously pacing and shaking in our swimsuits. We assured each other it would be ok as we were coached through the breathing technique to sustain our bodies through the experience. We high-fived each other. We giggled. Some of the women were terrified and even tried to back out. But we told each other we could do it, counted down, and took the plunge. Together.

The first 15 seconds were torture. My body started pulsing, and I felt like I couldn't breathe. The facilitators reminded us of the breath cadence, and the women waiting for their turns cheered us on, got down on their knees next to us, and assured us we could do it. Watching how dedicated they were to helping us through the challenge was astounding. After about 30 seconds, my body started to settle in. I could take deep breaths, and the sun on my shoulders felt like the most delicious thing. I became an observer of my body and my breath and simply let go of fear. I won’t say I wanted to stay in, but the two minutes weren’t nearly as tough as I thought. I felt awake, strangely calm, and more alive than ever. I was so connected to the women around me, and I knew the weekend just took a turn for the even better.



Strengthening the connection of mind, body, and soul.  

The ice bath experience fully cracked us open. We walked away as a new, more vulnerable, more courageous version of ourselves. And from that moment on, the time together was next level connection. After a little pampering (thank you, NuFace and Cal-A-Vie Health Spa), the rest of the day was non-stop. We did yoga, Pilates, hiked the stunning hills around the property, and walked the beautiful meditative labyrinth guided by the hypnotizing voice of Jay Shetty. We ate food from the gardens, drank wine from the vines on the property, and nourished our bodies, minds, and souls. We laughed like crazy and brainstormed. We told stories and asked countless questions. We were spoiled by inspiring companies that wanted to see women like us succeed. And we closed the night listening to Jay and his wife Radi speak about love and letting go of the heaviness that wears us down.

The Long Weekend was a whirlwind of emotions. From self-consciousness to channeling a crazy amount of confidence and courage, the group of women I was surrounded by has become a club. A club of women with the same values and care about changing the world. I didn’t know, but we needed this retreat to remind ourselves why we are doing what we are doing—and why the long nights and hard work are worth it. We came to collectively say, “yes, we are on the right path” and “no, you shouldn't question your sanity for taking on everything you do” because we are the change we want to see in the world. And this is the reminder, so are you. 

The Long Weekend was the beginning of relationships, friendships, business partnerships, and meaningful connections. We soaked up so many impactful moments together, and I can’t help but think this is the start of something extraordinary. Maybe an experience that these women will talk about for decades. I sure will! I’m left now with a new sense of belonging, and I couldn’t be more grateful for this little-turned-big adventure. 

PS. Did I mention the goodie bags?! It turns out
Nancy Berger, powerhouse leader and SVP/Publishing Director and Chief Revenue Office of Hearst’s Young Women’s Group, has a thing for swag. And she did not disappoint! Thanks to APL, Vouri, NuFace, Simon G., Tone It Up, Intimissimi, and the dozens of other amazing brands that spoiled us like celebs!