Women Gather in South Carolina to Exchange Gifts for the Soul

Women Gather in South Carolina to Exchange Gifts for the Soul

Peace. Artistic Expression. Adventure. Beauty. Sisterhood. Self-care.

My holiday season commenced with a road trip to Rock Hill, South Carolina where women of all ages gave and received gifts that nourished the spirit. Ruth Surface of Mended by Hand Massage and Wellness organized the event which benefited Keep It Real, Mommy,  a nonprofit organization empowering women to care for their emotional, physical, and spiritual needs.

KIRM Founder Danielle R. Adamczyk shared her story and goals for the community she has created–women brave enough to be transparent about the challenges of motherhood. Plans include a life coach, chaplain, and counselor on staff to support women through miscarriage and grief, overcoming childhood trauma, and learning self-love.  Danielle wants mothers to know they are not alone. A fast-growing organization based in Charlotte, North Carolina, KIR plans through expansion and legislation to positively impact women’s lives nationwide.

Keep it Real Mommy
Danielle of Keep It Real Mommy: “50% of the women who are going to experience postpartum depression begin to spiral during their pregnancy. A good way to jump ahead of that is with a community base–a place where everyone is welcome regardless of motherhood philosophy or religious background or beliefs. A place where everyone is accepted warmly.”

Ruth asked me to read travel tales of living in Morocco and offer guests ways to chart their own adventures–local or global– in the new year. Bonus was meeting Ruth’s friends and family while spending time with her mom, Sally.  Sally and I have been soul sisters since kindergarten, and she was driving down from Virginia. I couldn’t wait to see her newest jewelry line, Chérie, inspired by the photos I’d taken on my journey in Africa–a continent Ruth and Sally called home for nineteen years. 


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As is the tradition in Morocco, those who attended made new friends and deepened old ties over mint tea and treats. Catering was provided by Food Taylor Made.  Guests sampled classes by Ceramics and More, soaps and lotions by Raw Essence, essential oils and massages by Mended by Hand.

Sally made her amazing Ma’amouls– Lebanese cookies made from a buttery semolina pastry filled with exotic dates, imported nuts, Mediterranean spices, and Middle Eastern essences.  Ma’amoul is also Sally’s grandmother name which she says has  become a symbol of life’s sweet blessings and delights. 
Photo by Blakely Dixon
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Gifts for the Soul Organizer Ruth Surface (left) and Keep It Real Mommy Founder Danielle R. Adamczyk (right)

I shared that self-care was foreign to me until I unexpectedly became a single mom when my children were one and three. I hated the times when they were away, but wise women convinced me to use the space to recharge. Over the years, baby steps—lunch out on a pretty patio, walking through the woods or a museum —eventually turned into strides—an overnight stay at a B and B, learning Latin dance, leading students and volunteering on trips abroad.  Beauty and adventure infused me with superpowers  moms, teachers, and creatives need–wonder, confidence, calm. And when my kids grew up and flew away, God called me to fly away, too. In Africa I felt like a girl again and a woman much loved. Chérie means “cherished” in French, the language of Niger and Morocco where Sally, Ruth, and I lived.

Some who attended were young moms. Others were grandmothers caring for their  parents. Most said wistfully they’d like to travel solo, with a spouse, or a friend. I offered a calendar to intentionally schedule timeouts in the new year–be they massages, art classes, trips abroad or across town.


Practicing what we preached, Sally and I explored Rock Hill, a southern city just south of Charlotte reminiscent of the Kentucky hometown of our youth.  First stop was Ruth’s new salon smelling of newly sprouted grass, essential oils, and fresh paint. At Milk and Sugar, Owner Yolonda Licea, as delightful a lady as you’ll ever meet, makes staff and clients feel like family. Though busy preparing for the official grand opening, she sat cross-legged on the floor telling me the story of her heaven-sent space. I believed her. After my long drive from Tennessee, the facial from Jess James and massage from Ruth were as soothing as naps under angel wings.

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Yolonda Licea, owner of Milk and Sugar, Rock Hill, South Carolina’s Premier Day Spa

To book a massage with Ruth (see below), go here.

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Ruth Surface


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Jess James
Women realizing dreams at Milk & Sugar Spa and Salon

We drove to East Main Guest House Bed and Breakfast Inn which proved to be the place to stay. Though the Rock Hill square rocked with live music (Food Truck Friday), we opted not to walk into town but to relax in our beautiful surroundings. Once the home of the town doctor, the inn is now a healing haven of southern hospitality. Our room was perfect–pretty and overlooking the garden. The twin beds brought back memories of my sharing a room with my sister and birthday sleepovers (called slumber parties when Sally and I were kids). We enjoyed meeting other guests at breakfast and seeing signatures from around the world in the guest book. If you want to experience a charming, quiet getaway or need a venue for a southern wedding or women’s event, this is your place. Tell gracious Innkeepers Scott and Donna Peterson I sent you.





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Just a couple of blocks away is Amélie’s French Bakery & Café. Sally loves this spot and now I do, too.


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For more information on Chérie, please see brochure. And in the new year, remember to follow your heart, walk in faith, choose adventure, wonder at beauty, seek and find.



Thank you to East Main Guest House Bed and Breakfast Inn and to Ruth of Mended by Hand for your hospitality.  As always, the opinions here are my own.





Four Seasons Marrakech Spa and Pool Pass For Escape & Self-Care

Four Seasons Marrakech Spa and Pool Pass For Escape & Self-Care

Updated on April 23, 202

Last Monday the temperature in Marrakech reached 108 Fahrenheit/42 Celsius making it the hottest day so far this year. Here pools can be enjoyed year-round, but in May when temps typically range in the 80s and low 90s, the burning question expats and tourists are asking is where to find a cool pool. A Mermaid in Marrakesh, I love doing this kind of research — especially at an iconic 5-star hotel. Four Seasons Marrakech offers a spa and pool pass for escape and self-care for a week or a day.

At the end of March, I returned to Morocco from spring break in Italy, packed away the down jacket I’d been wearing, and grabbed my bathing suit.  Truly, the name of the world-revered brand couldn’t be truer than in the Red City.  Here spring, summer, fall, and even most of winter, there’s nothing but blue skies, green gardens, and birdsongs.  I relaxed by the Quiet Pool … a peaceful place for adults only.

Four Seasons Marrakech offers a safe haven and the best of all worlds… a place to gather with friends and family…a romantic retreat…a space of one’s own. The 5-star luxury resort is designed with the serene, palatial gardens of the Palmeraie yet is only minutes from the magical medina, Marrakech landmarks, and New City Gueliz.  Here tourists — especially solo travelers — concerned about navigating a new city will feel secure and experience the exceptional service for which the brand is known.  

True to Moroccan culture, Four Seasons Marrakech is family-friendly, so if you’re traveling with children ages 4 – 12, check out the Kids Club as well as activities for older children. Some of my best memories with my children happened while exploring the world. This is why I write guides for moms traveling with children. But I also appreciate that Four Seasons does the planning for moms and provides a family and an adult pool. 

Still … Four Seasons is not only for family time, weddings, honeymoons, and anniversaries.  It offers women a way to celebrate the sacred relationship we have with ourselves. I was forced to learn self-care twenty years ago when I became a single mom. It was a slow process. I started with going to movies alone, then restaurants, then a B and B annually in the Tennessee mountains. I eventually traveled solo to Costa Rica. After my children left the nest, I moved to Marrakech. Here I’ve found fulfillment in my work, new adventures, and kindred spirits. I’ve also found at Four Seasons a much-needed beauty break for the soul. 

I love Veronica Shoffstall’s poem, “Comes the Dawn” (printed below). I would like to find a life partner, but I don’t wait for a honeymoon or a husband to enjoy beautiful escapes. Shoffstall writes, “Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.”  In Nashville, I once had a garden of fifty roses. Here, I enjoy them, too.

Four Seasons Marrakech Quiet Pool
Enjoy the Quiet Pool for Adults Only on a Four Seasons Marrakech Spa and Pool Pass.
Four Seasons Marrakech roses
Four Seasons Marrakech brims with bouquets of roses that make a woman feel special.
Grounds of Four Seasons Marrakech
The garedns of Four Seasons Marrakech as sunshine for the soul.
Four Seasons Marrakech Quiet Pool
Enjoy a drink and a book in the shade.
Cindy McCain Southern Girl Gone Global at Four Seasons Marrakech Pool
Perfect Day
Four Seasons Marrakech Spa robes and roses
Mom and Daughter robes and roses in Four Seasons Marrakech Spa
Four Seasons Marrakech Spa
Four Seasons Marrakech Spa
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