As soon as the plane hit the tarmac in Miami, I knew I’d have another spiritual event ahead of me. As a seasoned She Recovers attendee this was my third She Recovers conference. I went to the OG one in NYC, and then of course the one in LA – my friend Amy Dresner was presenting, and it was literally 2 hours north of me – I HAD to attend, no questions asked. This one however wasn’t screaming at me to attend. It was planned back in 2019 and at that time I was going through a divorce and money was tight, so I didn’t plan on attending the 2020 event. However, as Covid crashed upon us, all our plans and ideas went by the wayside. With the event happening this year, I was able to rally some ladies from San Diego last summer to join me and thus, here I am! This event, as all others were, was held at a beautiful hotel property, the Biltmore Miami in picturesque Coral Gables.
The resort, the weather, the connectedness of others, the love and the hugs with friends I hadn’t seen in years made it all tingle from my head to my toes. Being part of this amazing tribe of women in recovery really gave me pride and fulfillment as the sober woman I am today. It feels like home. As I sit home sick with Covid, which just feels like a bad cold, and yes – I am pretty sure I got it at the conference and guess what – I’m ok with that. You put me at an event with hundreds of women that I was hugging and then getting on an airplane for 5 1/2 hours, I wasn’t surprised that I got sick somewhere in that journey. I’m just grateful that I’m not Covid sick, in the sense of not having really bad respiratory issues.
The event started out Friday night with Nadia Bolz-Weber, Ester Nicholson and Mama Dawn as the keynotes and each woman spoke eloquently and shared their truth. The collected energy in that room was palpable, as I was sitting in a room full of my people. Even though this isn’t a 12-step based event, it didn’t matter as everybody there has had to overcome something personal and challenging to be part of this healing community.
One of the best parts of this trip for me was being able to fly out there with a few other San Diego friends, that I know through 12-step. It’s so special to go with women that you know and have that kinship where you get to share an experience with them. Waking up on Saturday the gigantic hotel pool was calling our name, so we embarked on some pool time until we enjoyed a session in the afternoon. The session I attended included a friend of mine that I’ve known through the years, Pamela Rueda Davenport, Founder of My Bad Ass Recovery, who also had some great merchandise that they were selling. I got a super cute tank that says, “Unapologetically Sober”. I had never heard Pamela speak before and I didn’t know most of her story. Again, I heard inspiration from a woman who had the same story as me, however, a lot of the players and locations were different, but I could relate to the feelings of despair and hopelessness as most women in recovery experience before they start getting better. This entire weekend was about connecting and relating. Because the opposite of addiction is connection and the connections, I was able to experience this weekend will leave an imprint. I met so many new women and talked and hugged with many amazing women that I knew from before; even if it was just a quick hug and smile, it all meant something to me. The trail blazing founders Taryn and Dawn were so gracious each time I encountered them, and they took time to say Hi and chat with me.
Saturday evening was the ever so beautiful and humble keynote speaker, Ashley Judd. I didn’t know much about Ashley, except that she was an actress and had a crazy upbringing. I was amazed to hear her story and how she overcame such adversity. When she was young, she experienced sexual trauma, as well as having depression and extreme co-dependency. She shared her story of hope, resilience and courage and I am thankful for her story. Sharing our stories are so powerful, no matter if you are famous or not – we all have one to share. I downloaded a couple of her movies afterward, as I have a new appreciation for the woman she is today.
The big highlight of the trip for me was the silent disco on Saturday night, led by Annie Love, who is part of the She Recovers group. I had never done a silent disco before, but I had heard about them and thought they sounded fun – but I’m such a bad dancer there was no way I would do that. I seriously am one of the worst dancers of all time, especially sober! A couple of my friends, who are good dancers, were going to do it and said to myself, “Why the hell not?” I went out there and boogied my butt off for almost an hour (I have a prior foot injury that had me in some pain, so I had to stop). It was so invigorating to be part of that disco dancefloor. The music spoke to me loudly and brought me back to a time in my life when things were carefree, and my addiction wasn’t front and center. Gloria Gaynor, Michael Jackson, Naughty by Nature, and of course some current pop hits sprinkled in. The thrill of everybody dancing, laughing, and clapping was such a sensation of closeness. I was feeling held, loved and it didn’t matter if you were a shitty dancer or not, no one cared! There was no judgment. No one giving dirty looks if you bumped into them. It was Women living their authentic lives with dignity, purpose, and freedom.
Sunday morning came with anticipation of the last event that I attended where Dawn and Taryn spoke and thanked everyone, along with Shari Hampton and Elaine Alec. Shari is local to San Diego, so I wanted to hear her and understand her story better. We spoke before and after she spoke, and she is a delightful woman who has found her voice without using a 12-step program. I honor anyone that uses other modalities to get clean and sober. Twelve step isn’t the only avenue to use, there are others, and they work just as well. I just want woman to help themselves and get out of their suffering and pain; no matter how they do it.
After they spoke, I ventured back out to the pool with my friends before I had to go in and pack up for our flight later that day. Since our flight wasn’t for a few hours, I was able to rent a bike with a girlfriend and we pedaled around Coral Gables for a while and just admired the beautiful homes, fauna, and landscape. As someone that used to live in Florida, it reminded me of being back there in that place of sunshine, lizards and palm trees. It’s almost close to living in Encinitas, CA (where I reside), but it had a different feel – it could have been that my heart was full of love, friendship and another amazing She Recovers conference. So, when is the next one?