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Sheryl Kraft

Sheryl Kraft, a freelance writer and breast cancer survivor, was born in Long Beach, New York. She currently lives in Connecticut with her husband Alan and dog Chloe, where her nest is empty of her two sons Jonathan. Sheryl writes articles and essays on breast cancer and contributes to a variety of publications and websites where she writes on general health and wellness issues. She earned her MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005.

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How One Week Taught Me Important Real-Life Lessons

How One Week Taught Me Important Real-Life Lessons

I'm ready to share the more emotional things that shone through during my week away. Any time I go to a new place, my mind and body are primed to experience something different.

Self-Care & Mental Health

During my stay last week at the famed Golden Door resort north of San Diego, every day I thought of all of you. Each time I learned or discovered something new, I thought to myself, "I can't wait to write this down and share it with all my readers!" Honest.

So now that I'm home and fighting the ensuing jet lag, my mind is slowly taking it all in and sorting it all out. And it'll take a long time and a lot of posts to share it all. Expect to hear from me on some new and exciting fitness tips, nutrition news and more in the coming weeks and months, interspersed with my usual non-spa oriented timely health news.

Most immediately, I'm ready to share the more emotional things that shone through during my week away. Any time I go to a new place, my mind and body are primed to experience something different. Only this time I was overwhelmed at how I was able to relate my experiences to real life. Oftentimes, benefits of vacations are left behind as soon as you get home—a sort of out of sight, out of mind experience. Not so this time. Maybe it's because I didn't want my memories to remain 3,000 miles away. I wanted to keep them with me and open them up; be able to relate them to everyday life, not just one week.

Let go of expectations. I thought a visit to Golden Door meant spa cuisine, exercise and pampering. It took exactly one hour, after my in-depth interview with my personal program interviewer, to realize that there was so much more to the program. After reviewing my personal interests and desires and getting to know me better, she was able to create the perfect schedule for me, leaving plenty of room for adjustments as the week progressed.

How it translated to real life? It proved to me that I should never assume that something is the way it is just because I think it is. A little digging will reveal much beneath the surface. And there are very often pleasant surprises just waiting to be uncovered. And this also opened me up to getting to know people beyond the surface of first impressions alone, resulting in making unexpected and fantastic friendships.

Live in the moment. OK, I know that might reek of cliché. But it's so, so true. A moonlight walk on the beautiful labyrinth (lucky us, it was a full moon!) with soothing music playing in the background absolutely grounded me. There was no yesterday and no tomorrow—only what I was doing just then. My mind experienced a freedom it seldom gets to feel. I had the same experience when I took the meditation hike. It was the third hike of the week, yet the first time I had ever actually slowed down enough to hear the gravel crunching beneath my feet and notice the tiny snails scattered along the path, along with the furry caterpillars hugging the tree trunks.

How does that translate to our lives? So often are we mired in yesterday and tomorrow that we forget about where we are right now. For example: I have to write this quickly since tomorrow is my deadline. What did I neglect to do yesterday that I must get done today? Things like that. Taking a moment out to be just where you are gives you peace, clarity and composure. Since I've always been too ants-in-the-pants to sit still enough to meditate, a walking meditation (thus the labyrinth and hike) was perfect for me.

Lighten your load. Since the Golden Door supplies just about everything you need—exercise clothes, daily laundry service for your socks and underwear, jackets, hats and a week's worth of skin care—I had the option of leaving so much "stuff" behind. While I rarely manage carry-on, this time it was effortless. The freedom of traveling light made me so giddy that I am tempted to give away all my large suitcases. Need one?

How does that translate? I realized that life can get so weighed down with many unnecessary things, whether that be one pair of shoes too many or negative thoughts or feelings that nag at us. Often we don't need everything we think we do. Simplicity has an effect that inevitably calms and nourishes the soul. It's like sloughing off that extra layer of dead, flaky skin. Simplify and you will be happier. Ahhh.

Savor your food and eat it mindfully. Great care was given to the arrangement of food on the plates, whether it was cottage cheese with fruit or miso-glazed cod. And the plates were not dinner-sized plates, but smaller ones of the 8- or 9-inch variety, so they looked bountiful and packed (and the food was always enough to fill me up). The veggies were colorful and artfully set; the plates were garnished with a sprig of fresh herb. Little touches like that made each meal a treat.

Translated to real life, it reminds me to take the time—and it only takes an extra moment—to make a meal visually pleasing. It automatically cues your body into eating slowly and mindfully, as if you are slowly peeling away a creation, not wanting it to reveal itself in one gulp.

Live your dreams (if only for a moment). A confession: I've always wanted to be a dancer on Broadway (OK, writer came second). Any time I see someone dancing up there, I get great pangs. So, you can imagine how I jumped at the chance for one of the many dance classes offered—one offered dancing to Broadway tunes. In fact, I took two, back-to-back. For just a little while, I was that dancer. Someone even asked me after class if I had been a professional dancer. My day was made!
Back to real life now. And no, I'm still not a Broadway dancer. But those few hours gave me such huge pleasure and filled a deep longing whose effects still linger days later. Instead of seeing my name up in lights, what I do have is a certificate that was presented to me the last night at dinner, which unbeknownst to me, was "award night." Dancing Diva, that's me.

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