A recap of my experience and journey to becoming refreshed and realigned.
Friday, March 4th through Monday, March 7th I embarked on a solo trip to Cancun, Mexico as an attendee for Refresh 22 Retreat - The Secret Sauce To Success. The Secret Sauce To Success is hosted by Monique Rodriguez, CEO of Mielle Organics. I had the opportunity to meet Monique as the winner of the Mielle MiMommy Makeover in April 2021 at Mielle Organics Headquarters in Indiana. During that opportunity, she was extremely kind, helpful, and poured into me as a mom, wife, and entrepreneur. I mean she even let me borrow the J&J combo (Jatina, professional hair stylist and Jerlicia, professional makeup artist). Can you say honored?!
This experience is what led me to take a liking to The Secret Sauce To Success platform. According to its' website "The Refresh Retreat is for the aspiring and established woman entrepreneur who wants to elevate her life and her business mentally, spiritually, and financially." There was no better time for me to attend this retreat. With the recent changes in my family dynamics, lifestyle, and a decline in my business's sales and personal profits, I felt so lost.
I went to Mexico with zero expectations. I was open hearted to anything that was to come my way. I came to Mexico with a weight on my shoulders and I left Mexico feeling full and overall refreshed mentally, spiritually, and physically. The financial? That will come. I am not too worried about that because my community has increased. My understanding of my value to my community has clicked. I was also realigned with my purpose, which has given me the drive and boost to stay steadfast on my goals. Spiritually, I left feeling an increased connection to God, which has helped me these past two weeks since the retreat in regulating my emotions and feelings towards things that I am not in control of. I constantly remind myself, God's timing, God's plan. Lastly, let's not forget the sisterhood I gained of like-minded businesswomen. I like to call them my Refresh sisters.
So now that I have given you the briefing, the synopsis, I am sure you really want to know the juice? The tea? So here it goes!
My flight to Cancun was smooth. Upon arrival to Cancun International Airport my bags came out to baggage claim fairly quick and I was well on my way. This is my 3rd time in Cancun so I always chuckle walking past the timeshare and taxi cab drivers. When you talk about hustle, they show you the ultimate hustle. But I kept my eyes on the prize, the Refresh 22 sign, held by Amstar. I mean who doesn't love Amstar!
While waiting for transportation I met a young woman from Boston, Camille. Camille was also a participant for Refresh 22. Within moments another young lady, Tiffany arrived. We mixed and mingled, did our "CEO intro", you know answering the typical prompt, "So what do you do?". I always laugh when someone asks me this because I offer a lot of services within Divinely Ayahnna, LLC. I always have to hit people with, I serve through artistry. Oh and guess what? Tiffany is my Soror you know us Delta’s, we are everywhere!
During our ride to the resort, we learned more about each other's careers, passions, family, and that we are all married! Super dope right?! All the talking seized as we pulled up to the resort because we were in awe of the scenery. Refresh 22 was held at Atelier Playa Mujeres, an all-inclusive luxury resort in Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico. The resort was beautiful. It also smelled good. There was this luxurious scent that immediately brought you peace and comfort.
Check-in was smooth. After receiving our room key we received our retreat gift bag! The cutest hot pink beach bag with some memorable favors inside. Although the other ladies' rooms were not ready we made the best of it by getting our day started immediately with lunch and drinks. Now I really feel like I am on vacation. The weight I carried leaving Maryland was still there but not as much of a thought at this point. Let's just say cheers to a safe arrival, a nice ice breaker with new ladies, and a smooth check-in.
Meet & Greet: "Coming From America To Refresh"
Friday evening meet and greet was super dope. Seeing the diversity of black women dressed, styled, and dolled to the 9's in their African attire and garb was beautiful. Everyone was mixing and mingling, smiling at each other as we passed by one another. The music by celebrity DJ E-Clazz was perfect. Although I am not from Chicago, I was very familiar with a lot of the classic Chicago songs he played. Shoutout to Howard University and all of my Chicago friends from college. Took me way back to the early 2000's. But DJ E-Clazz made sure to show love to all areas, ATL, Philly, West Coast etc and it set the mood for the entire weekend.
Monique made her appearance and danced the night away. It was so good to see her again in person! One thing about Monique that I am observant about is how intentional she is to get to know people, embrace you, listen to you, and give the best feedback that she can. She took pictures all night long with attendees. I do not know how she had the stamina to do it, but I do appreciate her humble spirit as it is very infectious.
Not only did Monique get down but yall, my Refresh sister Camille can DANCE! She was moving non-stop all night. I thought I was the dancer of the room, ha! Not tonight! Tune into my Youtube Channel I may have a clip of her in my recap video.
Looked to my left and who do I see? The beautiful and famous India Ky, an Official Mielle Maven. India is the sweetest. Thankful we connected this weekend and was able to help one another here and there. I had some very vulnerable moments during this retreat and India was right there, just like a little sis, checking in to make sure I was good.
I also loved being able to reunite with Nolita, Jatina, and Jerlicia. Nolita is my Soror, and J&J pampered me with hair and makeup during my MiMommy Makeover. One thing about these beautiful souls, they always embrace me and show nothing but kindness and love. I may have come alone to Mexico, but it felt comforting knowing I was there with people I could text or direct message if I needed anything. That dang on Nolita! A true big sister! She knows why!
The lesson in this is when you meet people, or when you are presented with an opportunity, take it seriously. Be yourself, intentionally connect, and do not be afraid to build and grow relationships with individuals. I do not talk to these ladies daily, but the experiences I have had with them face to face have made an impact. Meeting black women that are always positive, uplifting, and authentic is a rare find. I do not take it for granted! I am thankful that God blessed me with the opportunity to be in their presence again, because little do they know they are stuck with me forever.
Booty Camp 7am
First and foremost, I woke up tired. Not physically tired, but drained because I am still carrying this weight. But baby, the way Regina built Monique's body, oh nothing was going to stop me from walking down to that beach at 7 am. I was determined to meet Ms. BYOB fitness herself. Working out on the beach with Regina Sams, Monique's personal trainer, was a great experience. I am very tiny and have goals to increase my weight, muscle mass, and muscular endurance. After I stopped dancing in 2012 so much of my athleticism, and muscular agility has decreased. I also hang on to stress more now vs when I was more active. So, I made a promise that 3/5/22 Booty Camp would be the start of my new beginning. We focused on gluts. She empowered us to go at our own pace. Although it was a group setting I felt that she was able to provide personal love and attention to those that needed it. She immediately saw me utilizing incorrect posture and technique during half-kneeling. As she was correcting me I immediately was psyching myself out that I "could not do it right", I said "I can't because of my knee" She said "You got this, open your feet wider" So catch my drift. There is no such thing as perfection or always “having it”. But when you are guided correctly and you surrender to that guidance, "it" begins to feel natural because you are allowing things to flow. It may not be perfect but working through it begins to feel good. That's how I started off my retreat! Having to surrender to the guidance that was placed upon me during fitness was my theme and tool to carry over for the rest of the retreat. I needed to learn how to surrender to what is, personally and professionally. I noticed that God immediately spoke to me on day 1. I journaled about this later in the day and it helped me through the rest of my weekend.
On the opposite side of the beach, there was another session "Reclaiming Your Mind" held by Love McPherson. I could not attend both sessions but my Refresh sister Camille attended and if you tune into my Podcast in April we will hear from her on some gems she learned from this session.
Educate and Empower Sessions 10am
We all may have had those moments as business owners where we are trying to find the answers yet do not really have anyone to turn to. There are people who withhold information for whatever reason, or there are people that tell you incorrect information which may further delay your process. Well, the educate and empower sessions provided us with real answers, from the most authentic, knowledgeable, and wise businesswomen within an array of topics that were relative to those of us present.
After a 2 hour break, you had the option of choosing from the following educational sessions.
Transitioning From Your 9-5 with J. Renee or Tips on Trademarking with Kyona McGhee. I completely missed Tips on Trademarking with Kyona, but for good reason. I was still carrying that weight and I had some soul releasing to do before emerging myself into this new community of women. I still did not feel like the bubbly outgoing Ayahnna and I had to hurry up and fix that before 11am! Nonetheless, I will be sure a Refresh sister updates you all with some gems from those sessions on my Podcast, “Be Divine”.
The educated and empowering session I did attend was Funding Your Business with Regina Cross. Regina Cross is Vice President of Goldman Sachs in the Investment Management Division. She is an experienced investor and financial advisor. Regina provided gems on many resources and avenues on where you can find funding for your business, for example, grant programs are available to help fund your business.
If you follow me on Instagram, I reposted an IG reel that Clair Sulmers tagged us in. Blogging for Bosses is why I am finally betting on myself and my creative and descriptive writing as it pertains to my traveling experiences, beauty, and lifestyle topics.
The tips Clair dropped were PHENOMENAL. This session is where I felt the most comfortable and in my element. I had a ton of questions for Clair and she guided and helped me by answering one of them during the session. One thing I learned from her session that I can pass on to you all reading is... Get an Attorney! No worries, if Kyona McGhee is reading this she's on my "to call" list.
Aligning with Purpose with Monique Rodriguez 3:15pm
Ok shoutout to the theme entrance music. Monique loves to dance. When she enters events to themed music it is a whole vibe. Every event seeing her I felt like a proud momma, then I cheer on like a proud little sister. But then I smile in awe of the tenacity, the drive, and the humility that this black businesswoman possesses with the world watching and cheering her on. Oh, and whoever styles her, yea hi! Bomb dot com.
Monique's entrance set the tone for her educational and empowerment session. She was smiling, happy, dancing, yet focused. Her topic was about Aligning with Purpose.
Some gems dropped that resonated with me during her empowerment session were:
-Networking is key
-Your belief system drives your purpose
-Building your community
-Visible and vulnerable
-Be soft like water
She had so much value to offer us during her empowerment session. I highly recommend this retreat for any businesswoman that is looking to be poured into and that wants to gain wisdom and knowledge to apply to their lives personally and professionally.
Fireside Chat with Ivy McGregor & Monique Rodriguez 8pm
By 8pm, a sista was starving. I know we would be having dinner during the fireside chat so I tried to wait it out to eat. But man ol man, the salmon and chicken was so dry. I was drinking my beverage heavily just to wash down the food. This isn’t a review of the resort so I will not get into depth about the food. However, it was rough for me because I am a foodie.
As we waited for the fireside Chat there was more mixing and mingling, people partaking in some light dancing while DJ E-Clazz played some amazing hits. The ambiance of the evenInc was stunning, beautiful table arrangements, encompassed within beautiful hanging lights. The setting of the stage and lights with the pink glow to set the mood for the evening was stunning. When Monique arrived I quickly mentioned to her that I needed to talk to her. I felt nervous because I was vulnerable. But I was empowered to talk with her because I wanted to make sure I left this retreat with new tools and a new perspective.
We were blessed to have conversation with Ivy McGregor. Ivy McGregor is the Executive Director of BeyGOOD, which is the philanthropic umbrella of global icon, Beyonce Knowles-Carter.
Ivy connected with us in a miraculous way. There was no topic for the evening so the conversation held encompassed all that we learned about the entire day. One of the main gems I took away from her conversation was the discussion about "who is in your circle? Do you have 1's, 2's, or 3's?"
-1's are the people who are going to pull you up and that you look up to
-2's people that are on your level, some walking beside you, others keep you stagnant
-3's people that look up to you.
“Brunch En La Rose” Faith & Business Brunch
Brunch En La Rose was very fulfilling. Seeing everyone dressed in their beautiful pink outfits and connecting with God was beyond moving. It started off with a panel discussion hosted by Dr. Kym Lee-King. Hearing the testimonies of the ladies on the panel was reassuring. Reassuring me that God places you in the right room at the right time. At the right table at the right time. Be intentional and give him praise and all things are possible.
Keynote speaker Pastor Alexandria Ward spoke about building a legacy. A legacy build on God's plan. A legacy that will outlive you. One that is spiritually driven. Pastor Ward preached! She made it clear that when you do not invite God in do not expect for things to just happen. Her key takeaway points in regards to building a legacy through God's word were:
-Pure Intentions & Motive
There was so much to receive and take in during brunch. God was present! It was the perfect official ending to the retreat.
Are We Refreshed?
I hope that my descriptive nature of sharing my experience with you was not overwhelming. The retreat itself was paced beautifully and left participants with many options to relax and reflect. Building a community with like-minded women and being empowered to step into my power with God as the CEO was my main take away "call to action" from this retreat. I encourage you to follow The Secret Sauce to Success platform and invest in this retreat next year. You will not be disappointed.
~Ayahnna of DivinelyAyahnna