My13-year-old has been checking her blog feed every day and asking, "Mom, when are you going to write your blog post about New York? I'm dying to know what happened!"
Here you go, Alia (and anyone else who'd like to virtually accompany us on this weekend report):
And for those of you who haven't yet heard of Power of Moms Retreats, they are unique, small-group gatherings of deliberate mothers where we learn and discuss powerful ideas that will strengthen us as mothers and as women. This particular Retreat in New York was a "Get Organized" Retreat, where we focused on getting organized personally (with a program we call Mind Organization for Moms) and as a family (with a program we call Family Systems).
In this particular blog post, I'm going to share some photos and details from the whole trip--because I've never been to New York City by myself before, and this is where I'm going to document the adventures. (Just scroll down if you want to see specifically what we did at the Retreat.)
First thing of note was the car service from the airport. I guess the subway is too complicated to navigate with heavy bags, so I hired a car to meet me, and I must admit I was a little nervous. I was hoping the driver would have my last name on a piece of paper, but no. You just stand in the spot they tell you to stand, and you wait for someone to come up and wave you into their car.
I tried to act like I was an old pro at this, but I was so excited to be there that I just chatted happily with the driver during the whole ride there and found out all about his family.
He said I was the first "young person" who had ever talked to him during a drive, and he seemed so happy to have someone actually care about him. He was from Malaysia. He has two children and a wife, and he drives for 12-13 hours a day. He moved to New York to be near his parents, and his dad has bad knees and can’t climb the stairs to their apartment very well. He doesn’t like to sing, but he likes to listen to music, and his favorite thing to do is relax when he gets home.
Isn't that nice?
He gave me a brotherly hug when he dropped me off, and I handed him a little thank you note. He said that was his FIRST thank you note from a passenger. So cute.
Okay, this is the hallway that led up to Tricia's apartment (she's the amazing lady who offered to let us hold the Retreat in her building). The hall is under repair right now, which is why the light bulbs are hanging, but isn't this fun?
Her apartment is absolutely lovely. She's an artist, so everything was decorated beautifully--with bright colors and built-ins to keep everything perfectly organized. In New York, they use their space well.
This is Tricia in the middle with her two boys (fun little side note: she just filmed a Crest toothpaste commercial last week!). Her friend and babysitter, Emily, is on the left, and JaNae (who came from D.C. to present with me) is on the right.
We got to spend Friday evening out on the town. . . .
Here's Times Square:
It's totally set up for tourists like us.
And there were tons of incredible restaurants to pick from. We chose a Thai restaurant that served delicious, beautiful food.
JaNae and I also had a little time to explore on Saturday morning:
Tricia has taken cooking lessons right here at Sur La Table (wish I could go!):
Cute street cart:
Here's JaNae at Central Park. It was a beautiful fall day, and the city was preparing for the NYC marathon, so it was full of runners.
Then before the Retreat started, Tricia and her boys made us a delicious lunch--even setting the table with place mats, which is something I never do. (I'm inspired.)
Once lunch was over, we loaded up this cart with supplies for the Retreat and made our way down the elevator and through a long tunnel beneath her building to get to the Amenities:
This is a lovely garden in their courtyard:
Once everything was set up, it was time for the Retreat! We had about 30 mothers attend the Mind Organization for Moms session, and it was so great to meet everyone whose names I'd been looking at on the registration forms. We had mothers from a variety of religions and backgrounds--all gathered together to learn from each other.
Here's JaNae presenting a part of the M.O.M. system:
And this is a break-out group discussing how to implement the system digitally. I was laughing because only TWO people used paper planners.
I have no idea why more people don't want to carry an enormous planner with them around the city. It really looks great in photos, and it's so convenient to have one in your arms when you stop to get dinner from one of the street carts.
But overall, I think the system applies equally well to moms in the city. Their "Routines and Responsibilities" list doesn't include things like "wash the car" or "get an oil change." It's more like, "get a stack of single dollar bills to use for tipping cabs."
When I was able to use real New York City examples, I said, "See? See how I'm learning all about your lifestyle?" They laughed.
Really, though, I hope that everyone there has great success implementing Mind Organization for Moms. It's completely changed my life, and I love to be able to share it with others.
Here are a few photos I took with some of the attendees who needed to leave after the first session (they are amazing women):
This is Laura:
Tricia and Charmaigne (who has a cooking show at Everything Zoomer!):
Audra, "The Baker Chick" who baked especially for this event (be sure to check out her website):
And Mary Catherine (left) with her new baby:
We took an hour to break for dinner and then gathered back for our evening session of Family Systems. This is where we talk about positive discipline techniques, how to teach children about work and money, and how to create a strong family culture:
This is Emily--sharing some great ideas from her discussion group:
This is Monique and Beth:
I could have taken a dozen photos of the dessert table (and your mouth would be watering), but here's just one quick photo of some of the cookies Emily made. Vanessa, Audra, Tricia, and Laura took care of all the food, and I was so grateful for their help. (You have to have treats at a Retreat...)
Here are a few more photos:
Love these ladies! I wish we could have had a whole week together (maybe at a spa?).
Here are Anna and Megan. Such sweet mothers with lots of great stories and ideas to share.
And this is my friend Mindy, who I knew in Boston about 10 years ago. Love her.
Monique is from Sydney, and she'll be heading back there soon (maybe we'll meet if we do another Power of Moms Retreat there). I love that she came to a Retreat while she still has young children (she has a three-year-old in addition to this darling baby). I get excited when I think about how events like this can help strengthen families for generations to come.
Here's one of me and JaNae. She was wonderful as a presenter, and I feel so grateful to have had the chance to spend time with her.
Tricia, me, and JaNae:
JaNae, Me, and Heidi:
JaNae, me, and Elise:
Honestly, it was a privilege to meet everyone.
After we said our goodbyes, JaNae and I went back up to Tricia's apartment (she was so nice to let us stay there!).
We had been talking about establishing a family economy, and she told us that her five-year-old son creates beautiful artwork that he sells out in front of a coffee shop in the city. (In New York, you don't need a permit to sell art.)
He sets up a little white table and hangs this sign:
Then he displays cards like these and earns quite an impressive income. Isn't that amazing?
Tricia also showed me a birthday calendar that she posted in her office space. She decided that she wants to send a "real" birthday card to a select number of people in her life, and so she made it a project (within her M.O.M. system) to find a special calendar, identify her friends' birthdays, and post them in a prominent place.
She sends cards designed by her five-year-old. I love that.
We stayed up way too late talking after the Retreat (I talked with Saren all about it on our most recent radio show here). And then the next morning, JaNae took the train back to Washington, and I made my way back to the airport (and back home)--gratefully getting to stop in and attend church right there in Manhattan before the car picked me up.
This time, the driver didn't want to talk to me, but I got this fun picture as we went over a bridge:
Here’s what I decided about NYC: It takes a strong, adventurous personality to live there. For those who are actresses and actors, you have to have a thick skin because “failure” is part of your everyday life. You don’t get a job offer with every audition. The competition is fierce. Daily living takes planning and coordination. Laundry in the basement, and there's often cold weather when you walk your children to school.
But the culture is incredible. So many different kinds of people, such an appreciation for the arts, so many hard-working individuals who will do things like give you 10 extra bananas at the end of the day when they’re getting ready to close up their fruit cart.
The moms who live in the city are busy. They’re out and about. Space is at a premium. They are goal-oriented, talented, and deliberate.
What is amazing to me is that no matter where I go for these Retreats (L.A., Sydney, Las Vegas, Phoenix…) the mothers who attend help me to become a better person. Retreats are a huge investment of time. They require a lot of planning and coordination, and I always get butterflies in my stomach for at least two weeks before each event. But once I get there and see the moms in our community face to face, I start to remember why I do this…
Then when my plane returns me to California, and I get to stop by to give my mom a hug,
and when I finally get to see my husband and children,
I remember why I feel so excited to come home.