TRAVELER TESTIMONY :: Barbara - Washington DC, USA
We were so lucky to interview the beautiful Barbara for the latest post in our Traveler Testimony series!
We often describe EAT.PRAY.MOVE as a family, and her own family is a testament to that. She attended a past Moroccan retreat with her husband, Teo and returned over the New Year in Iceland with both her husband AND her son, Miro! In addition to being a devoted wife and mother, she is a writer and editor who is now transitioning into podcasting. In addition, Barbara is quite the sojournista herself — she just wrote an article for National Geographic about her family's roadtrip out west, but we will get to that in a moment. For now, enjoy Barbara's experiences with EAT.PRAY.MOVE!
Barbara and her family in Iceland
Can you share a little about yourself?
We are a family of three living in Washington DC, where both myself and my husband work as freelance writers and editors. Previously, I was story development editor at National Geographic Magazine and editor-in-chief of Health magazine in San Francisco. I am currently stretching new muscles by learning how to produce audio stories for public radio. My husband, Teo, was previously deputy editor at AARP's website and before that at the Center for Public Integrity and WebMD. He is currently working as an editor-at-large at Mindful magazine, based in Nova Scotia. My son, Miro, is 16, is an avid debater on his high school teams, a jazz pianist, and a science and math nerd. I take dance and am in a jazz singing group. Teo loves poetry and literature. We enjoy living in DC, where we moved 11 years ago, but we miss our previous homes in San Francisco and Austin and try to get back there as often as we can.
What drew you to EAT.PRAY.MOVE Yoga Retreats?
Our first retreat was Erin's Morocco trip and we stumbled upon it while looking for a special trip to celebrate our anniversary. I usually plan my own trips/itineraries but was so busy at work that I had no time to plan. I was leery of signing on to a "group trip," fearing that we might not luck into a copacetic group, so I thought: what about a yoga retreat? I take classes twice a week, but I'm no yogi, my husband even less so. But I figured the kind of people who would sign up for a trip with that kind of focus were bound to be cool, free-thinking, and flexible (pardon the pun!) And I was right! We loved the folks we met on the trip and spending time with them was totally additive to the whole adventure.
What was your most recent retreat?
Our second and most recent trip was to Iceland in winter, and it was totally amazing! I did not know what to expect, given that I usually like to go to warmer climes in the winter, and I had not really thought about the fact that the daylight hours would be limited. But the whole trip was really magical and otherworldly. We seriously felt like we had taken a break from out normal lives and ended up on another planet with breathtaking and startlingly different landscapes and hot springs bubbling up everywhere. The twilight hours, which lasted so much longer there, made everything seem dreamy and ethereal. The itinerary planned by Erin was perfect: just the right mix of touring the countryside, relaxing in the hot springs, dining on good vegetarian food and spending a few hours every day practicing yoga, sketching and drawing the landscapes we'd seen.
How did your trips compare to your expectations?
Exceeded them for sure. It was so relaxing to go on a trip and know everything was taken care of for you, yet to still have so much free time, independence, and not feel over-scheduled.
Barbara and Teo keep warm in the cold
What did you learn on your trips? Did anything surprise you?
I loved meeting the other people. Despite being a bit shy, I realized how much more fun trips are when I share them with other people.
On retreat at The Blue Lagoon
What was it like to have Erin Lewis as a guide?
Erin is the perfect guide. She takes care of everything and makes it seem like it all falls into place magically, but I know how much effort goes into making these kinds of trips come together smoothly. She is very laid back and easy to be with. She sets the tone for the whole group to be positive and grateful for all we are getting to see and do, while also being authentic and not fake or forced in any way. There is a quiet and peaceful vibe to her, but she is also vibrant and full of fun.
What were the top moments from your trips?
Oh, so many!
From Morocco: the trip to Essaouira, where we did yoga on the beach and took a camel trek through dunes and waded in the ocean; getting henna tattoos around the pool with lovely appetizers and drinks before going out for an amazing dinner where I cavorted with a belly dancer; exploring the medina, sidestepping snake charmers and haggling in souks for the antique jewel-encrusted pointed slippers and camel bags that now hang in my house...
From Iceland: Walking into the freezing air in my bathing suit at the Blue Lagoon to step into the warm and steamy waters of a huge natural pool at 10:30 a.m. on our first day there, just as the sun rose, a beautiful huge golden circle that colored the sky in amazing colors; snuggling behind my 16-year-old son on a snowmobile as he drove over a remote glacier with snow swirling around us and the moon on the horizon, feeling tears of joy to be experiencing this with him and my husband in front of us; Spending New Year's in Reykevik with a memorable dinner in which we all picked a color and a word for last and next year, then went to a bonfire, fireworks, and a nightclub...one of the most memorable New Year's of my life.
Barbara and Miro snowmobile on a glacier
What lasting impressions did you have?
More travel! More living in the moment! It was the perfect break to launch me into a new year that will be full of challenges and opportunities to be creative. I hope to bring some of that energy and excitement I felt then into this year 2015.
What was it like to experience a retreat with your family?
I think most of the people who tend to go on Erin's retreats are single and mostly women. So bringing my husband (and 16-year-old son on the last one) was something I wondered about. But I have to say it worked out so well, and perhaps even better, than if we'd traveled alone. It gave all of us a lot more freedom to do what we wanted to do, when we wanted to, and to have other really interesting people to talk to and get to know their lives and their hopes and dreams. I was so appreciative that the others on the Iceland trip were so kind as to treat Miro as his own person and talked to him as an-almost peer, which is so important at his age. He loved the trip as much as we did, and I think it's because he felt like he was treated just like the other adults. I feel we grew closer as a family as a result of sharing this amazing experience together.
Thank you sincerely, Barbara, for sharing such a heartfelt and vivid picture of your time on EPM's retreats. You, Teo and Miro are truly representative of what we envision for our retreats, and we hope to see you for more adventures in the future!
To read about more adventures, check out
Barbara wrote for National Geographic
retracing the route from Oklahoma to California taken by the Joad Family in John Steinbeck's
The Grapes of Wrath
spent 3 weeks traveling along Route 66 talking to people about the current drought at farms and ranches and helping out at homeless shelters and food banks along the way. She is currently working on an audio story about the trip called The Mother Road Trip.