As I danced on the edge of the Pacific and watched the ocean swallow up the sun, producing the violent layer cake of reds and yellows and the green flash I’d heard about but rarely seen, I thought the world couldn’t be more beautiful—but I was wrong.
I was wearing headphones, listening to “Dance to the Music” by Sly and the Family Stone. Around me were other women following Sly’s command, all part of a Silent Beach Disco that happens every Friday night in Troncones, Mexico. I watched fellow dancers skip through the surf, others shimmy and shake, and still others sway with their eyes closed like willow branches blown in the wind. One woman stood still facing the sinking sun, moving only her arms as if inviting the rays into her heart.
We’re offering the Beach Retreat three different weeks starting in early December. Find out how you can dance at sunset, play more, and connect more here.
It was the last night of our NextTribe Beach Retreat, and many of the participants at the beach dance were women who had traveled to Troncones with me. Women I had gotten to know well over a week of boogie boarding in the waves, horseback riding, lively dinners at the open-air hotel restaurant, or just lying in a hammock or around a pool trading stories of life and adventures. But there were other women, too, from other beach hotels or palapa-roofed homes.
As I scanned the scene of the 30 or so happily writhing bodies, I found it significant that all the participants were women. I knew there were plenty of men in Troncones; I’d seen them on my walks on the beach, out in the surf. Where were they? Why were they not taking part in this magical, festive moment?
Women Dancing on the Beach at Sunset
I think men approach this age a bit differently than women. Most women I know, and the ones I like best, are reaching to grab all the glory and gusto they can at this moment. Men—many men, not all—perhaps feel they’ve had their fill of adventure and experience. Possibly, this is because they’ve never felt obstructed from pursuing adventure and experience through out their lives, unlike women, who have been saddled with the lion’s share of raising children and keeping a family running and content.
I found it significant that all the participants in the dance were women.
This is one reason, I think, women find our NextTribe trips so appealing. Many women on our trips tell me they don’t travel with their partners any longer because he doesn’t want to go anywhere or doesn’t want to see and do with the verve that she wants to see and do. On our travels, NextTribers form a merry band of explorers who will, at the drop of a sarong, grab a bike to see what the next beach over looks like or flock to the sand on a Friday night to experience the sunset in a new, elevated way.
The Magic Hour
My other realization during that sunset dance was how beautiful the light was after the sun left the sky. Actually, it was more beautiful than in the lead up to the big disappearance. The light is warm and soft, rather than blazing and intense. I had the thought that it’s kind of the difference between female and male energy.
We may think that only darkness follows, but really the best time of day follows.
But that’s not the main idea that came to me and made me see this whole experience in a whole new, um . . . light. What if a sunset has something to say about how we think about aging? What if the sun setting is akin to menopause? We may think that only darkness follows, but really the best time of day follows, and possibly the best time of life. There’s a reason photographers call this post-sunset time the Magic Hour.
As I continued dancing, with the light bathing us all in a pure pink glow, I felt new joy and a new commitment to make sure this stretch of my life can be counted as the Magic Years.
Sidebar: Other Dancers, Other Voices
This year, NextTribe took two groups of women to the beach in Troncones. Each week, with its different personalities coming together, had a distinct energy. Women on the second week were more eager to go on the excursions offered by the hotel—kayaking through a lovely estuary, hiking up to a cave with pre-historic drawings on the walls, visiting the home of a local family high in the Sierra Madre mountains. The first week, travelers were more focused on yoga. The delight for me is that the trip, and the NextTribe vibe, is able to embrace all varieties of travel styles and mind sets.
Some things that did not change from one week to the next were the camaraderie and the blossoming, as women found new friends and pushed themselves out of their comfort zones. Here’s just a sampling of what NextTribers came away with:
This trip helped me “let go” and just say yes! I embraced joy and connection for the first time in many years and allowed myself the freedom to just take care of me.
I discovered that learning to boogie board at the age of 73 gave me a sense of adventure that made me feel like a youngster again!
After four trips to Troncones, what I learned and experienced: It changed my life on my first visit. First time came in overweight and unsteady on my feet. Taught me the beneficial practice of yoga to steady my balance. Motivated me to lose weight and get my body in order. Healing deep tissue massage for an injured hip flexor. Having been motivated, was able to get on the horse by myself this year—even though I didn’t go for the ride. Just wanted to conquer that challenge after the knowledge gained from the Troncones experience. A paradise of joy shared with curious women who choose to do.
The beach retreat was exactly what I needed at a particularly stressful point in my life. Going through divorce has made me have all kinds of negative emotions about myself: shame, low self esteem, fear, uncertainty, non-lovability, questionable self-worth. I didn’t know any of the women on the trip, but I connected with almost all of them. I felt so supported with no judgement from anyone. It was so wonderful to hear about everyone’s journey, their experiences and perspectives. I learned that I am not alone going through this process, that there is a NextTribe of wonderful women that I can join to share the experience of aging boldly. With the support of the women I have met, I have more confidence to begin my own journey as a single woman.
I learned about the importance of self-care and self-compassion after a lifetime of caregiving for my family. I learned about the importance of play and laughter, not having participated in either in a very long time!
I felt nourished by the flavors and quality of the fresh, organic meals we ate all week. I felt stronger after a week of daily yoga and bodysurfing in the ocean . . . like an honest to goodness kid again. I felt blessed to have the other women travelers trust me with their stories of love, heartbreak, and resilience. I felt they deserved this break, to take this time to take care of themselves, and that we all deserved this chance to connect with and support each other.
I became things that I had never felt safe enough to be before: a yoga teacher, an ecstatic dance participant, a boogie boarder, and a whole person—more and more able to share myself and my inner journey, and be curious about that of others.
That’s the nutshell version of what I learned about myself after a week in Los Troncones with the Superwomen of NextTribe, although it actually took two tries to sink in.
Last year was my first time on the Yoga Retreat, and I didn’t know anyone. Naturally, I was worried that I wouldn’t fit in or that I’d give off a negative vibe, making people uncomfortable and me unpopular. I needn’t have worried because Superwomen are smart, warm, open, and nonjudgmental.
This year I knew about half the ladies on the trip—all of whom are awesome, by the way—so I signed up with only half as many concerns.
But here’s what I learned this time around: I am a NextTribe Superwoman, too!
That means I can be independent, but I can also ask for what I need—like to borrow someone’s sunscreen; tag along with others; or have a group writing session, all of which I did. One day I can be adventurous and get my first surf lesson; the next day I can decide to hang at the beach by myself.
And most important: I can have intense and meaningful conversations with amazing near-strangers and build friendships and memories that will last way beyond a week in Mexico.
Top photo by Julie Anderson