Michelle Garside knows something about taking an ordinary day, adding a little intention, mixing in a serving of playfulness, and thus transforming it into the type of day you never want to end and will never forget. And she should as a co-founder and creator of Soul Camp—the premier adult sleep-away camp for wellness and transformation.
Soul Camp’s mission is to educate, inspire and transform through playful and uplifting projects and experiences. Soul Camp brings people together to experience wellness and community in order to help people recharge their minds, reawaken their purpose, and take action to make their lives and this world a better place.
24Life caught up with Garside in time for the winter solstice for some ideas and inspiration, and a dose of joy to carry us through the holiday season and well into the new year.
24Life: Modern lives are full—how can we make the most of days like the winter solstice to reset and connect to what matters?
MG: Set intentional moments. The solstice is a transformational moment or experience. It allows us to look at who we are now and who we can be after an intentional practice. It’s a moment to let go of the things that no longer serve us and to put a stake in the ground or put a footprint on the sand and say, “This is who I am going to be moving forward.” It’s about setting an intention to seek a conscious life.
24Life: How does caring for our body and mind connect to soul care?
MG: It’s all soul care. Mind, body, soul—they are one and the same. They are integrated. It’s all soul care. I love the phrase soul care because so many of us take care of our bodies and we take care of our minds. I think of our soul as integrated. For instance, for me, breathing and moving my body in a loving, nourishing way fills up my soul. I am able to be who I need to be in the world when I’m active in my body because the two don’t live in a silo. What you feed yourself, the way you move yourself—your body is your vehicle for your soul. If your body and your mind are being taking care of, the soul will thrive. I really truly believe that. So consider the atmosphere that you’re creating to be in touch with your soul’s voice and what your soul is longing for and what you’re desiring.
24Life: What does your soul care look like?
MG: Lots of laughs. For me, soul care is definitely moving my body. That’s part of it. Eating really yummy, nourishing food that makes me feel good, and also spending time with my friends every single day to laugh. A really, really big part of my health-care practice is my social life. I think that should be the way to find out who you really are, the way to remember what joy really is. It’s about liking your life—it’s not worth it to just have an amazing muscle-bound body that eats great food but never laughs.
24Life: What does the solstice mean to you?
MG: Create your own unique ritual. It is important to note that you don’t need to go somewhere. You don’t need to go to a drum circle in Peru to have a transformational experience. Transformation is all about bringing awareness into whatever you’re doing. When you take ice out of the freezer and you put it on the counter, you don’t need to do anything else to make that ice melt. Just by taking the ice out of the freezer, it will start melting—and that is the same as awareness. Placing awareness, raising mindfulness, placing attention on something will automatically start to shift and melt it.
To me, the solstice is the end of the old and the beginning of something new. There’s so many different associations with the solstice, and a favorite of mine is this concept of death and rebirth. Look up the various meanings of what the solstice has represented to different cultures and to different societies across different time periods and find something that resonates with you. What that means for me is taking a pause and thinking through what am I ready to let die in my life and what am I ready to offer.
Create rituals in your life or take a moment in the shower and just feel it as an important moment. Last night, I was with three friends, and I felt like shaking off everything that came before that moment. It’s bringing awareness to this moment with the thought that I am placing intention on what I’m about to do. And so it doesn’t need to be this huge ritual where you dim the lights, you get your family and you light all the candles. It literally can be you in the shower placing your hands on your heart and saying I’m ready to let go of this.
24Life: How do you reflect on the year that has passed?
MG: Celebrate the wins. Just like the solstice is the end of the old and the beginning of something new, the same is true for the year. You can’t create a new energy of something you would like to do when you are focused on the old story of what you didn’t like. I’m all about celebrating the wins of the year. My friends, business partner and I get together each December and review everything awesome that’s happened. We frame what happened in 2018 and also what we are excited to see leave our lives.
Think of what you are most proud of yourself for. And then consider what you’re most excited to let go of in this year. I’m hosting a big dinner tonight, and I love bringing people together in a gathering. I plan to ask everyone as they sit down what has been the rose for the year, what has been the thorn and what is the bud for the new year. The rose is the most beautiful thing that has happened in this last year—your favorite thing about 2018. The thorn is what really hurt and that you are so glad is over. And the bud is what is budding in 2019. Put that energy on what you can celebrate. That’s the energy you want as you start to rebuild the new, not the energy of what didn’t work out and what you are so sad about.
24Life: How do you approach the beginning of the new year, resolutions and goals?
MG: Focus on how you want to feel in 2019. The Soul Camp way is not necessarily about things that you want to achieve but rather feelings you want to have in the new year. I want to lose 5 pounds, or I want to find a husband. It’s more like I want to feel freaking beautiful. I want a new life to wake up to every day, and I want to feel cherished and inspired. So really focusing in on the feeling that you want to create in 2019 as opposed to the things you want to do or not do.
Photo credit: Erik Witsoe, Unsplash; Courtesy of Michelle Garside