where do you gather strength?

I want to share the meaning of the Spanish word querencia.

I learned about it a few weeks ago, after one of my teenage daughters, Maddie, spent 40 hours alone on a beach in Eleuthera, a less traveled island in the Bahamas.

She was on a 40-hour solo as part of her summer program at the Island School, a trailblazing organization where students and researchers learn about native ecosystems and environmental sustainability through hands-on experiences (read: amazing, and holy cow I wish they had a program for adults).

Maddie’s twin Sydney went to the Island School last year and reminded her that being alone is very different that being lonely.

These solos are not a “survival” type of training. The kids are safe.

But they are not allowed to bring many items they are used to having day in and day out.

No phone. No book. No soaps. Not even a watch.

They can only bring a few items to carry on their back including a journal, pen, tarp, yoga mat, and some food and water that they will quickly learn to ration.

And, of course, their undistracted mind.

The purpose of the solo is to reflect.

It’s about taking a vow of silence and sitting with your own mind.

To write, think, sleep, write, think, ponder, decide if you should eat the half of the bread now or wait until tomorrow, write, think, sleep, wonder, dream, and think some more.

When she returned, Maddie couldn’t get the words out fast enough as she explained detail after detail until she slowed down when she got to the part about her second night.

A massive lightning storm had hit the island hard and for 3 hours, in the dark, she sat sopping wet, curled up in a ball on her mat – “in lightning position” – praying it would end.

She said that she was super worried but that also, deep inside, she knew she would be okay.

And she was.


She told me it was because of her querencia.


It is deeply unfortunate that Querencia is a word that stems from the brutal sport of bullfighting.

It is an area of the arena where bullfighters know not to venture for fear of their life, making it almost sacred.

At the Island School, it is taught that querencia is the place where one’s strength is drawn.

Querencia can be a physical place: at the foot of a favorite tree, a cozy corner in your home, any place where you feel safe and serene.

But as Maddie had learned, querencia can also be a place inside us.

It’s where we breathe into our own strength and feel our own certainty.

That’s how Maddie got through that night…and that is why I wanted to share it with you.

To encourage you to find your own querencia.

Seriously, find a place in your home or maybe outside. A place that you can go to physically.

To get quiet. To center. To go inside. To trust yourself, and your own strength.

How often do you do that?

For sure I don’t do it enough. But I’ve decided where my querencia is and I’m hoping it will jolt me back to myself again when I need (remembering it’s also inside of me).

I hope finding your own querencia will do that for you too.

With fierce love,

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