This past weekend, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the annual Escape to Thrive conference hosted by the Bag It Cancer organization. What a wonderful few days! As one of 30 selected attendees, the event created a safe space to learn, share and build new relationships with advocates in all cancer circles.

Our weekend getaway provided the perfect atmosphere to really be present. Held at the AZ Miraval resort in Tucson Arizona, the resort prides itself on providing an environment for all its guests to “UNPLUG” & Be Present. It is a cell phone free property with phones only allowed in designated phone-friendly locations and, of course, inside your room.

One of my favorite little details was that each resort staff member had a unique name tag displaying an “I am ____” emotion that reflects what they want to represent in the world. For example, the resort manager Sherry’s name tag read “I am Love”.

“Love”, is super meaningful to me because of my love for all things hearts and mission to spread love and kindness. The fact that I had stocked up on gifts to give to my new friends which included hearts for each goodie bag seemed meant to be.

I had brought a special heart gift – a pocket stone – knowing I would find just the right person to give it to. It always happens to my #ifonlyforone. The moment Sherry introduced herself to the group and shared the meaning behind her “I am Love” emotion nametag, I knew she was the person and my special pocket heart was meant for her.

I gifted Sherry with my special heart stone (a memento to remind someone that they are loved) and shared why hearts and loving others mean so much to me. <3

Another great experience from this weekend was with the awesome customer service of the staff assisting with check-in/out. I was attended to by a kind gentleman who helped me with my bags and loading my car.

We first connected over our shared names. He is Elvi, and my husband, Mike calls me “LV” (my initials) so we teased that we had the same name. I then joked that I was moving in because of all of the stuff I brought with me. I told him the many boxes were actually filled with goodies I planned to surprise my new friends with.

When it came time for checkout, Elvi assisted me again, and remembered me and asked if people liked the gifts and if I had a nice time at the conference. As he helped me load my car, I told him I had a special treat from Gray Matters for him too. I gave him a gift, thanked him again and I was on my way.

I arrived at home a few hours later and was when unloading my car when I found a special treat for *me*, stowed away in my car! Elvie was Sherry’s helper and had snuck in a surprise gift while helping me load my car. She surprised me with a gift bag which included a beautiful heart pillow with a poem about having a “Giving Heart”.

We all need a little comfort now and then…
A reminder to help us know that we are not alone in the world…
That there is someone in our corner, ready with a hug, no matter what.

Always know you are being thought of, cheered on, and loved for exactly who you are –
Someone who is cherished.

What a perfect way to end such a lovely weekend. I came home with wonderful memories, an amazing new group of friends in my advocate circle, and was blessed with some love – a pillow to serve as a reminder that I am loved and I am making a difference. <3

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