A planned trip around the world morphed into a life-changing journey from chaotic New York City living to a humble tent in Maui. Me-Shell Mijangos reignited her passion for yoga, surf and the outdoors which ultimately led to the discovery of a reinvented life centered in bliss. Realigning her priorities in a way most of us only dream about, Mijangos left behind the corporate world to start SwellWomen, a surf camp and wellness retreat for women. Founded in 2003 SwellWomen caters to women of all ages, offering a full service luxury retreat experience, including a variety of activities such as snorkeling, windsurfing, and of course, exploring the Hawaiian Islands . And most recently, SwellWomen added SwellCo-Ed, surf and yoga retreats open to men, women, and couples.
The SwellWomen experience is as much about internal wellness as the external. Mijangos gets it . . . the rat race, the stress, the obligations, the never ending tasks. She’s been there. She’s done it. And now she can show you how to sit back, take a deep breath, and treat yourself to some swell-deserved bliss.
Life of Riley: Much of your career focused on empowering women in some way. Why has that been such an important element of your work life?
Me-Shell Mijangos: I don’t know really. It’s just something that makes me feel good–there’s a real purpose behind it. I see the strength in women and like seeing women blossom in their personal growth. We (as women) really have so much to offer to other women.
LOR: People dream of leaving behind the chaos of every day life and searching for a more peaceful existence. How were you able to do it?
Mijangos: It was easy for me, I followed my bliss and it led me to Maui. I made some sacrifices to live here, i.e. going from Soho to living in a tent for a month in Maui. Then, I upgraded to a converted garage studio. I was in alignment with my purpose, and even though I was living much more simply than I did in NYC, I was happy. I was happy to be back in nature.
LOR: While you were living in New York, you took a trip around the world, and it turned out to be the trip that changed your life. How did the idea for that trip come to life?
Mijangos: It was a dream of mine that kept on ‘nagging’ at me. I love NYC—it was a wonderful time in my life to be there and it’s a place that I will never forget. However, I knew it wasn’t me to be there. I saved up all my pennies from my corporate job and took off on a wild adventure that I never completed. That’s how I ended up in Maui.
LOR: Why Maui?
Mijangos: The surf, the sunshine, the aloha spirit, the slow paced life, why not? 🙂
LOR: What was the inspiration behind SwellWomen? Tell us more about the company.
Mijangos: During my trip around the world, the first stop was in Costa Rica to participate in a yoga teacher training program. It was there that I started to teach fellow yogis and yoginis how to surf. I took the concepts and poses of yoga and transferred them onto the surfboard. I really enjoyed teaching and using yoga as a teaching tool. Fast forward to Maui, I ended up getting a summer job as an assistant director at a teen surf camp. While I was there, my ideas of owning a wellness retreat that incorporated two of my passions—surfing and yoga—began to take shape. I knew Maui was the place for that to happen!
LOR: Who are the women joining your retreats? Is there a specific SwellWoman?
Mijangos: Our SwellWomen come from all over the world and range from 19 (our youngest) to 68 (our oldest). They are from all walks of life from business owner, doctors, CEOs, full time moms, and everything in between. One thing in common is their sense of adventure and wellness…I think that’s what draws them to our retreats.
LOR: What do you hope these women take home with them?
Mijangos: I hope these women take home with them more ways to incorporate bliss into their lives. This can range from spending more time on themselves, taking yoga classes, eating more healthy, taking walks, or as extravagant as a career change.
LOR: Have you found your bliss?
Mijangos: …yes, and then some.
LOR: For those who can’t leave their current job or change locations, do you have any empowering tips to help them achieve a form of bliss in everyday life?
Mijangos: Yes, find out what feels good for your body and do more of it. We disconnect so much from ourselves when we get caught up in the rat race of life (I’ve experienced this personally) and we ‘forget’ what brings us bliss or makes us happy. Pay attention. Go play. See what happens. It could be sunshine on your face for a few minutes, a new brand of tea, or taking 5 minutes to be present with your child that can bring you bliss. Blissful moments…they are wonderful.
You can learn more about Me-Shell Mijangos and SwellWomen at www.SwellWomen.com. Check out the SwellWomen Promo video for a very blissful overview of this amazing adventure. And you can also connect with SwellWomen on Twitter and Facebook.