"...and while I'm here I want to allow myself joy."

Boston, you're beautiful. But today, you were just too windy and I didn't want to go outside and do things, and I'd probably have gotten run over by everyone and their cousin training for the Marathon. #bostonstronger #25days

No matter. It's been a whirlwind of a month (pun intended) filled with terrific company. But solitude is a truly beautiful thing. And I'm grateful for this moment to I reoccupy my little inspiration corner of letters and tokens of love from friends and get back to writing.

Aside from adjusting to the silly diet, I've been up to a fair bit this March. I went home to North Jersey to see my grandmother, hosted my dear friend Lucy for an unofficial Comp Lit thesis bootcamp in my apartment for a week, and even had 30 or so people over for a house party--my first since August (which went well enough that I might make some sort of casual-but-classy get-together a monthly to-do). Parties and performances were plentiful, movies and meetings even more so. But naturally the experience I'm most compelled to share is my time back in New Hampshire at one of my favorite places in New England.

I had a lot of anxiety coming back up to Dragonfly Yoga Barn, its new celebrity in Real Simple's April issue aside. It's a place that catalyzed a tremendous amount of personal success (the August retreat led to my starting Zen Cookery and applying to MIT), but it also served as the backdrop to some of my lowest moments (the February retreat I attended with my mom I remember more for the fights than for the fun). The first time, I came home on a pink cloud of love and the second, in spite of all the yoga and meditation, on a black one of resentment and self-loathing.

I knew more people attending this trip but had no sense of what the dynamics would be in our group of 15. I wasn't looking forward to being on an extremely restrictive diet in a place that has some of the best homemade food I have ever encountered, gluten-free or otherwise. And I wasn't feeling particularly optimistic (but was feeling particularly queasy) as our car of three drove over frost heave after frost heave on Route 113 in New Hampshire.

But once the group circled up for the first night, I knew that this experience was going to be neither like the first nor like the second--it was going to be a retreat with a story all its own. In one word, it was a story of surrender.

Every time we gathered into a circle, we drew at least one tarot or tarot-inspired card. Before picking up cards, we're supposed to speak or think about a situation in which we want guidance or a question to which we're seeking some sort of answer. Naturally, I was meditating on the next steps for my business and other action-oriented decisions. As I looked to the cards to lend some sort of insight, the messages were consistently clear, all to the effect of slowing down, taking care of myself, and focusing on relationships (with self and others). If that's not a sign to ease up a little on entrepreneurial pursuits for the next few months, I don't know what is. I certainly didn't come home with the resolve to change the course of my business overnight this time around.

The theme of the whole weekend was balancing masculine and feminine energies: giving and receiving, mind and body, logic and intuition (and so on with the Jungian list). This retreat, I was really feeling the whole receiving element. I gave in to myself and went to bed before 11 every night as much as I wanted to stay up later and bond with the group, as we only had three days together. I didn't go on the snowshoe trek and just sat and read and wrote for a while. As a group, we made drawings of male/female mandalas, did partner yoga and intuition exercises in pairs, and went through my favorite vulnerability/bonding activity in which people stand if they identify with a given statement ("Stand if you have sisters," "Stand if you've ever lost someone you care about," etc.)

But the most unusual activity was one in which we were divided into two groups of seven and one person in each group got into the fetal position in the middle of the circle. Seated, the six women surrounding put their hands on the person in the middle, who essentially acted out being reborn from the womb, moving against the pressure of the six pairs of hands and "hatching" before falling into the lap of someone in the circle. It felt pretty ridiculous at first--I actually asked the facilitator if we could have a minute for all of us to crack up. But once we had a moment to laugh over it, most of us were able to enjoy the sensation of safety and comfort that came with being held by six pairs of hands and loved by six different hearts. It was a liberating feeling--not having to do anything and being cared for simply for being in the middle of that circle, simply for being alive. Completely receiving in the present moment.

It couldn't have been more perfect that my Sunday night back in Boston was spent watching the movie "her," and hearing the line: "We're only here briefly, and while I'm here I want to allow myself joy." The movie is brilliant, and you could discuss it for days, but in that moment, I was reminded once again the importance of being present and living in joy. We live in a world that provides us with so many distractions that get in the way of us making meaningful connections with other people and of remembering the gifts of everyday life (as simple as having 10 fingers and 10 toes). Or, as Catherine Hummel might rephrase, we live in a world of distractions "that keep us from remembering the truth: that we are love."

At any rate, I love coming out of these retreats with new friends in the area (and deepening my friendships with the ladies I already know). If you're one of them and reading this, let me take a minute to remind you of two things:

1. You're beautiful
2. You look awesome in tie dye.