Cynthia Kim-Eumie Shockley, M.A., NBC-HWC, graduated from University of Minnesota’s Integrative Health & Wellbeing Coaching Master of Arts program in 2020. Prior to her graduate studies, she obtained her Psychobiology B.S. from UCLA, taught yoga, and facilitated mindfulness in the Twin Cities.
She is Owner & Founder of Mighty Mama Wellness, a collaborative community empowering women to and through motherhood, utilizing the many tools that Cynthia has gathered in her 10 years of experience in the wellness space. Cynthia is not only an integrative health coach, but a yoga instructor, mindfulness facilitator, shamanic practitioner, and sensual movement guide. Along with providing a virtual and in-person community to learn from and grow with, she has hosted wellness retreats in Costa Rica, Tulum, and Minnesota.
Cynthia is also the Director of Community Engagement and Podcast Host and Director of Community Engagement of Well Connected Twin Cities.
Cynthia loves hosting thoughtful gatherings in her home, adventuring with her husband, and cuddling with her Australian Shepherd and 2 cats.
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Cynthia: Hey everyone, it’s your host, Cynthia Shockley, and our theme this quarter is to focus in on family care. And something that we’ve been exploring is what exactly is family cares. It’s specifically focused on children. I know that’s what typically comes to mind when we think about the topic of family care.
What about the caregivers? What about the parents, the providers, the people who are invested in the future generations and what does it take to be your best selves so that you can provide the [00:02:00] level of care and love that our children deserve.
So this week I’m actually going to focus in on. The retreats that I’ve been hosting through my own business, mighty Mama Wellness. So my business is creating a community, a village of support for women to and through motherhood. I myself am not a mother yet, but I’m planning to be , one day, and I started out pretty terrified of becoming a mother.
For the longest time, I didn’t want kids because I saw examples of motherhood in my own childhood that felt like a trap that seemed like a lot of the mothers I knew felt a sense of resentment, bitterness, maybe they felt unfulfilled,
I saw a lot of caregivers falling into this trap of not caring for themselves.
Cynthia: We tend to have our ego, or I our identity influenced by cultural norms, [00:03:00] and I think especially in motherhood, there’s this idea of the martyr mother, right? The woman who sacrifices herself for her family , she lets go of any sense of self to completely immerse her identity in the mother.
I have worked with a lot of clients over the years who feel this responsibility and then impending shame over how they are fitting into the good caregiver box. So they end up denying themselves. Actions that truly serve their family and their community.
For example. Prioritizing cleaning the house, instead of getting some exercise, maybe playing with their kids, having fun, or even denying themselves fruit because they don’t want to quote unquote, take it away from their kids. Overbooking themselves with clients to the point where they are burning out, getting sick and unable to show up for their [00:04:00] clients as their best self or at all.
Cynthia: We start to associate our identity, our sense of worth, who we are with, how we can support and show up for others without recognizing the power and importance of taking care of ourselves.
I started seeing this pattern more and more, and it’s something that I wanted to avoid because I. Was terrified of the idea of losing my sense of self, especially when I had gone through a lot to figure out who I was. But I realized that’s definitely a false narrative.
Because as I started looking around, I started finding women who want to experience motherhood differently, who see another way, we can figure this out. We can do things differently.
We don’t have to follow patterns and we don’t have to judge our parents for not doing things the way that we wanna do them. Just recognizing that each generation, each individual is doing the best they can do with what [00:05:00] they have.
I created this business so that women can have a safe and sacred space to come together in that aligned intention to remain clear on their identity. Outside of motherhood as well as inside of motherhood, recognizing the magic that they have to contribute to the world, to their families, and also recognizing that if they play the role of martyr mother and give, and give, and give without ever taking, without ever giving to themselves, that that’s not going to allow them to flourish as a mother, as a colleague, as a daughter, as a partner, or as just themselves.
So something I started offering last winter were retreats, and it started in No Costa Rica. One of our mighty mama members was living there for the winter and she had extra bedrooms and she asked [00:06:00] me, Hey, have you ever considered hosting a retreat? And I.
Said, yeah, that’s some part of my big picture plan, but I’m not there yet. And she looked at me and said, Cynthia, , you know you can do this, right, ? So thankfully I took her up on her offer and we had the most amazing experience And I wanna emphasize too the power of retreats. There’s a lot of science behind it. So there’s something called place cells that we actually have neurologically.
And so different places like physical places, geographical places that we go. There are certain patterns that our brains can link to.
It’s actually called the Hebbian theory that neurons, that fire together wire together. So when we have certain experiences in certain places, these place cells then trigger that same response, that same pattern, because our neurons have [00:07:00] wired together.
Cynthia: It knows when you’re in your bedroom that it’s time for bed. Unless you’re watching TV every night or staying active, that’s why they say an important part of sleep hygiene is to be able to use your bed just for sleep so that your brain starts to associate bed equals sleep.
So same. When we go through our day and we are in our homes where there’s maybe high stress, the kids need you. and you’re giving, giving, giving. You get stuck in this pattern, and our neurons, our actual brain cells, are starting to connect in ways that create these deeply rooted patterns that can be really hard to get out of.
And so what we can do with a retreat is physically remove yourself from the typical patterns that your Brain is familiar with. And you can go to a brand new space where your neurons have a fresh start. Your place cells are recognizing this is somewhere [00:08:00] new and new patterns are possible.
Cynthia: So with these retreats, the intention is to allow these women to remove themselves from their everyday situations, everyday lives, [00:10:00] to rediscover their unique magic, that energy, that light, that love, and to bring that magic home in a real concrete.
Though we did Costa Rica last year. This year we went to Tulum, Mexico, and my personal intention was to trust that I’ve done all the planning, the prepping, the research, everything in my power to make this an amazing week and to just be present once I arrived, to let go of this idea that I could control everything.
So I can just be my best self as I approach each moment. And Mexico did not disappoint in giving me all the challenges to allow myself to exercise this intention . Uh, so just a brief overview of the chaos that ensued logistically with this retreat. I did go a day early with two of my best friends so [00:11:00] that we can get the rental van, do the groceries in advance so that when the other retreat attendees arrive the next day, it would be smooth sailing.
Right. Strong. We showed up to the airport and the rental van that I had booked was unavailable due to a miscommunication when we transferred providers. . So we had to find shuttle services, rebudget for taxi rides. and then I had to also do some research on the spot and find a one day car rental service so that we can do groceries, make it to the hotel, and just get our ducks in a room.
And then this was comical. We were carrying groceries from the car, rental drop off to the shuttle, we had, gosh, we had like maybe 12 grocery bags and a giant cooler and this huge watermelon that were just shuffling back and forth.
And then once we got into the shuttle and we arrived at the airport, then we had to carry all of that out, [00:12:00] shuffle about, and I have. Hilarious photo of me just surrounded by grocery bags holding a watermelon at the airport in Cancun, , and. Of course, it just didn’t stop there. All the attendees arrived and I was trying to coordinate with the shuttle service we hired, and only one driver came when we needed two.
We found out the second driver. Bailed last minute, so they were finding a second driver so we were sitting there with our grocery bags and everyone’s hungry and tired. After their travel, the second driver finally arrives and we’re able to make our way to the Airbnb. Then once we get to the Airbnb, we find there’s no baker.
And we had planned all our meals around baking. There was no laundry detergent and people had things they were hoping to wash. The toilets kept breaking. We had no water for a full day in the entire building. And we discovered about the second day [00:13:00] that toilet paper and paper towels were only provided for the first day, and the rest we had to buy ourselves.
Needless to say, I had plenty of opportunities to take a few deep breaths, and recognize that my clarity in these situations was going to serve the group better than me being reactive. And so we were able to figure everything out, right? We have the power and the capacity to figure things out.
Thankfully, Even though logistically the retreat had its pitfalls, the actual retreat itself was amazing. We got to have adventures which allowed women to do brave things that they normally wouldn’t.
In Tulum, we got to snorkel and Taak Bi Ha, an underground sonte, which was just incredible. One of the women saw an underwater structure and decided she has [00:14:00] to dive under it. And so she shoved her flotation device to me and said, I’ll be right back. And she dove under this underwater structure and popped out the other side and she was so excited. Everyone else ended up following suit, and it was only after this experience that a lot of the women shared that the underwater cave experience was something that originally gave them a little anxiety.
They felt fear. They maybe didn’t like snorkeling or putting their face underwater, but because they were in a safe space surrounded by other women who were on the same journey, they were able to co-regulate to be inspired by others. And the women who were the most scared actually ended up diving under the structure, popping out the other end, and feeling so proud they did something that was out of their comfort zone.
So with these retreats, you’re in a new place, you’re having these new [00:15:00] experiences, but then we need the structure, right? So, The way that I structure these retreats, we have every day an opportunity to sit in a circle and to share. So we had an opening ceremony where we all set our intentions. There’s just such a power in speaking your intentions out loud, being witnessed by a group and feeling that sense of support and account.
So we all set our intentions and then each day we were able to circle up again to touch base on what we did that was aligned with our intentions. Maybe reflecting on what they could have done differently or would do differently moving forward, and being able to share some of the takeaways and experiences that you had that maybe others hadn’t noticed,
For example, the snorkeling experience. I had no idea how scared some people were, but when we circled up in that safe [00:16:00] space, people were able to reflect and say, you know, this was something I was scared of. And I was able to conquer that fear and to be celebrated in that moment by a circle of women.
Woo. It’s powerful.
In these circles too, I recognize there’s an opportunity for individuals to see a truth that they might have missed in their own story by hearing someone else share their story and their learnings. This gives us that invitation to recognize that we’re not alone, that your story is unique to you, and yet the themes, the revelations
there’s almost this blueprint. Of all the possibilities, the emotions, the learnings, the expansions that human beings can go through, and though the characters and the plot might be different, these motifs show up in each of our lives.
Cynthia: Something I realized was. How being in a safe and sacred space where you’re exploring, you’re sharing, feeling validated and seen also gave these women not only the courage to do something physically scary, like. Diving under a underwater structure and snorkeling in the water, but feeling safe and courageous enough to put yourself out there socially
To even possibly risk rejection. During one of [00:19:00] our last days, one of the women
decided to do some exploring while everyone else was at the beach, and she came back so excited that she found a secret sonte behind one of the restaurants, and she encouraged the other women to come play. Come check it out, even though everyone was laying out at the beach. All comfy, cozy. She was on fire.
Her eyes were lit up and she was like, let’s go. Let’s do this. Trust me, it’s going to be amazing.
And though there might have been some little rumblings and grumblings once we got to this secret, sonte. Everyone else got to share. In that experience of magic, of awe, people were jumping into this water, laughing, swimming around, and the original woman who found the InNote later reflected in our circle how glad she was.
That [00:20:00] she did not keep this to herself. That she was brave enough to ask for what she wanted, to invite us into this experience, even though everyone was comfy at the beach, and they might have said no, they might have not wanted to do it, but she followed her intuition. Everyone trusted in her followed suit and more joy was had by all because.
So these opportunities to circle up gave women the bravery to do something adventurous, to risk being rejected, sharing something that brings them joy, but also sharing the stories of shame that hold us back. One woman was able to, in our circle, reflect on a moment of shame that she had.
While we were all jumping into the sinnot with one of our tour guides who was filming, she decided in that moment not to [00:21:00] jump into the Sinnot because
she felt some shame around her body image and didn’t want these images online, and she was too scared to speak up in that moment and ask, Hey, can you not film this? Or, Hey Cynthia, do you mind not posting these online? And so instead she denied herself an experience of jumping into the cenote, doing something fun because she wasn’t willing or feeling ready to.
And in this circle with candles and twinkly lights and everyone circled up to see each other’s faces. It was in this moment that she felt safe to share that this was what she was experiencing that day. And let me tell you, shame thrives in silence. So when this woman was able to speak out loud, the thing that brought her shame, something in her cracked open.
She opened herself up to the [00:22:00] opportunity to be validated by a group of women to be empowered to ask for what she needs from us without concern. And the darnest thing happened the very next day when we had a day at the beach. She bought a new swim cover rep at the beach that looked amazing.
It looked so magical, and she had that on and decided she was gonna do a beach photo shoot. She pulled some ladies over to the water and asked for people to take photos of her. She was laughing, she was splashing in the water she felt and looked radiant. She actually ended up posting those photos and feeling so proud.
I remember she looked at me and she’s like, I don’t know what y’all did to me. I was crying about not feeling good in my body yesterday, and here I am glowing, feeling gorgeous [00:23:00] today, and it just, it hit. We’re not meant to do this alone. When we’re stuck in our shame stories, when we’re spiraling in our heads, we need our community to pull us out
in our closing ceremony, the final full day of our retreat, everyone was able to share what their takeaway was, what they’re going home with, because yes, we can have these magical moments on a retreat, but what next? How can we bring this home and integrate it into our lives so that we are upleveling, we’re evolving, we are making our lives, our worlds a better place.
I’d like to share the takeaways that the attendees all shared in our closing circle. Just so you can get a taste of what is possible when you go somewhere new, when you’re surrounded in a safe space and you’re invited to do some of the deeper work [00:24:00] to heal, to expand, to set intentions.
. During our retreat, I led two yoga sessions, one at the beach where we did some laughter yoga to warm up. We definitely got some strange looks at the beach while we’re all stretching and laughing our faces off. But it was so much fun. We got to feel the sun here, the ocean, but another yoga practice we had was
a little more introspective. And while we were holding pigeon pose, which is a really deep stretch for the hips. One of the women had a deep experience. You see, our hips holds a lot of emotions because when our body goes into fight or flight response, when we’re in that stress state, typically our shoulders, our hips are the areas that get tight. Our body’s getting ready to run or fight from a threat.
And so over the years, all of this tension and stress can build. And so I’ve had a lot of clients have [00:25:00] deep emotional releases in pigeon pose in particular. And if you’re familiar with yoga, you might also resonate with this. While we were holding pigeon pose on the left side. I let the attendees know that.
The left side is associated with the feminine, with the maternal lineage. And so if the stretch on their left side felt different from the stretch on their right, to just be curious to invite that difference into explore it. And during this stretch, one of the women had such a deep, emotional release as she reflected on the history she had with her mother,
and somewhere on the way she experienced a deep sense of forgiveness.
Though she had been in therapy, working through a lot of this for years, something about that sematic, experiencing, crying, having those emotions move through the potty. She was [00:26:00] able to feel a true release to let, go to forgive and to send love to her caregiver.
During the retreat, everyone got to experience a shamonic journey. This is always one of the most. Powerful experiences in these retreats
uh, shamonic journey. If you aren’t familiar. Is a spiritual practice rooted in indigenous cultures. Some form of shamanism has existed. At the root of almost every culture. It might’ve looked a little different, but it was all. Very similar in the guiding principles. And it’s something that I make sure we know is borrowed. It’s something that we don’t own.
It’s something that we get to use and we get to use with gratitude.
I’ve also done some learning around the history and the science of shamonic journeying while I was at the university of Minnesota. And. [00:27:00] It’s a spiritual practice in that. You get to meet with spiritual guides, you get to meet with past versions of self, future versions of self.
Past or future versions of caregivers or ancestors, people who can give you wisdom and advice. With my psycho biology background. I also appreciate the neuroscience of it. This is an opportunity to lay down, close your eyes. Listen to drum beats that are four to seven beats per minute.
At this frequency of four to seven beats per minute. Our brain is allowed to sink into what we call feta wave. And so theta wave, they call it the Twilight states. And it’s that space in between sleep and awake. It’s when we’re maybe daydreaming or half awake in bed. And so it’s that time when our brain is allowed to be a [00:28:00] little more.
And they’ve also associated these drum beats with more alpha wave, which is associated with calm, peace, clarity. So our brain is in this wonderful state of calm. Peace clarity and creativity. And it’s at this moment that a shamonic practitioner might facilitate
some guided exploration.
In scientific terms, I would say I guide a visualization practice.
And in this creative. Open space. We get to visualize characters that allow our subconscious thoughts, beliefs, feelings. To arise to have a voice, you can have a dialogue with a spiritual guide, with a version of self, with some being an ask it questions and answers arise. Whether it is a [00:29:00] spiritual being, whether it is just your subconscious.
The question is not, is this real. The question is always, is this helpful?
So we had a shamonic journey where the women were invited. To meet with a past version of self that they were ready to let go of. And.
One woman had a particularly powerful response.
This woman shared that she was having a tough year. And in this tough year, she had been having some trouble. With feeling resentment or anger and so in this visualization, in the shamonic journey, she met with her past self from a year ago. And. She said initially she felt resentment. She felt bitterness. She felt anger.
But after spending some time with her. She was able to have this moment where an understanding was unlocked. She [00:30:00] was able to realize that this woman. Is her. She got to live. These beautiful experiences and experience such deep joy. And her resentment started transforming. Into gratitude. And excitement as she realized that more good is to come.
That life is full of both joy and sorrow. And this is only one chapter.
Cynthia: Another shared the realization that she was able to ask for support and accept, support this retreat way more than she was able to. At the last one in the previous retreat, she felt like she was suffering in silence, and this time she gave herself permission to feel her feelings be okay with the unknown and lean on this village of women.
If you’re listening and you’re a caregiver. Let me emphasize to you.
[00:31:00] That you are not meant to do this alone. You are meant to lean on your village of support. And you’re allowed to ask for help. You’re allowed to. Except support it doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you any less valuable.
You are human and being human means being part of a community.
Cynthia: For this next woman I have to share. In our opening ceremony, everyone received a quote. It was sitting in their seats. They didn’t know which seat had which quote, but when they opened it, one of the women ended up crying at the reading it.
Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be? A quote by Charles Bikowski while she sobbed at her opening ceremony, reading this feeling so disconnected to who she truly was by the closing ceremony. She read it out loud with ease, [00:32:00] saying that she now felt confident that she knew who she was and that experiences like these would continue to remind her.
And now my personal takeaway, when the van rental fell through at the very first day of our trip, one of my girlfriends who was there said, Hey, I know if this was happening to me, I might be worried that we’re upset with you. So I hope you know that we’re not upset with you. That this is what we anticipated might happen, that’s why we’re here early, et cetera, et cetera.
And I remember when she told me this, I really surprised myself by realizing that I wasn’t even thinking about that. I’ve realized that I felt so safe with these women and so secure in my value and worth that these thoughts didn’t even run through my mind. I knew the things that were going wrong were outside of my control, that I had done my [00:33:00] best, that my friends wouldn’t judge me, and even if they did, it wouldn’t affect how I see.
This realization was pretty earth shattering to me.
In what it meant to be a success [00:34:00] After 10 plus years of self work of intentional alignment, again and again, through yoga, through meditation, through health coaching, through therapy, through shamonic journeying, through sensual movement.
And yes, of course, through wellness and spiritual retreats.
I had arrived at this new chapter. Where my mind wasn’t racing with self doubt. My mind, wasn’t racing with self criticism. I was simply present and able to address the concerns in front of me.
With clarity. And with a much, much more calm, demeanor than I would have had 10 years ago.
Another takeaway I want to definitely address is. How important it is to have diversity within a group experience like this.[00:35:00]
Take life one step at a time.
We had women who have been doing spiritual work for decades. Whereas some women were just starting and maybe even feeling intimidated by the spiritual setting of this retreat.
Is that the diversity of the group is its strength. Because you aren’t going to be everything for everyone, but that other woman in the circle might be able to share perspective. You never thought of. That other woman over there. Might have a solution that you never would have come up with.
Or maybe that woman over there has a tool or a mindset that just clicks for you and is going to be integral in you becoming your best self.
[00:36:00] Ready to learn, ready to grow and Ready to embrace your most authentic self because everyone else around you is embracing you for that.
I’ve noticed that when women come through these retreats, they’re able to go back into their homes and have so much more patience for their loved ones. Have more compassion, more empathy, because they have the capacity. They aren’t depleted. They aren’t burned out because they got to fill their own cups so that they can continue to pour from a place of fullness, a place of abundance.
We actually even have what we call a mighty mama baby from our last retreat, which was surrounding the theme of owning your pleasure. So we do have a [00:37:00] baby that was conceived after the retreat.
It doesn’t end there. When you take care of yourself that love that joy, that bliss, that you’ve cultivated in yourself, radiates
There was actually a study done where women and men were given a certain amount of money. And when they traced where that money was going, women invested 90% of that income back into their families and communities. Compared with men putting 35% of that money back into their families and communities. This is data that points to how important it is for women to be nourished to be their best self to take actions aligned with their intuition with their inclinations because that [00:38:00] is how more good comes into the world
Something a lot of the women on the trip resonated with was the idea that our identity, our ego, gets so wrapped up in the successes and failures of our partners, our children, our clients, when really a lot of that is outside of our control. What we do have control over is being present, being grounded, so that we can move forward with clarity, align to our best self. This retreat really concretized for me, the separating of my sense of identity, value and worth with what’s happening around.
Which I know is going to be vital,
As a business owner and also as a future mother.
If you are a caregiver in any capacity. A parent, a business owner, a provider. My message to [00:39:00] you.
Cynthia: Is give yourself permission to fill your own cup. At this point, it feels like such a cliche, but we need the reminders again and again because society is working against that. We are told the stories over and over again of how being generous, giving, giving, this is where our value lies. But no, there is a magic in you that needs to be nourished, that needs to be supported, that needs rest, that needs care, so that you can do the work you’re meant to.
With that magic radiating, healing the world and making it a better place simply by you showing up
aligned to that version of yourself.
If this is resonating with you and you’re craving an intentional community of mothers or women who are doing this kind of work, I’ll have information in the show notes about [00:40:00] the Mighty Mama membership, how to get involved. We have weekly yoga monthly group calls to set intentions to hold each other accountable to learn in community,
and then we have quarterly in-person gatherings to be able to share that energy in person.
I will also have a link to sign up for updates on our next retreat. It’ll be in Sedona, Arizona. I’m going domestic next year because I think I’m done with international for at least a little bit. After all the chaos of Tulum
But it’s going to be amazing. There will be ceremonial circles, there’ll be shamonic journeys, there’ll be healing, loving, laughing, crying, adventure. All the things to nourish your soul. To remind you of how brave you are.
And to show you that you’re not alone, that you don’t have to do this alone.
You are not the roles you play. You are something much more magical [00:41:00] and infinite.
Whether it’s through a Mighty Mama membership, a retreat, or something else that makes your heart race with anticipation, please pursue that.
Follow that beautiful intuition of yours and trust. That more good. More magic
is coming into the world because of that.