Miami Herald, Written by Leonard Pitts, Jr.
I woke up this morning to the sounds of the Caribbean Sea. The uber-attentive house staff brought me my morning carafe of Blue Mountain coffee and a plate of fresh papaya, mango, pineapple and ortanique orange at 7 am, and I sat outside on my verandah (that’s what Jamaicans call a patio!) relaxing and watching the turquoise waves gently rolling up onto the powder-white sands as the morning sun quietly made its appearance. Although I’ve been to Jamaica many times before, this is my first visit to this part of the island. Bluefields. What an apt name. The ocean is incredibly blue and stretches out as far as the eye can see. Fields of gorgeous, turquoise-blue water! I like this side of the island. It’s quiet and unspoiled. The throngs of tourists are nowhere to be found. Here it’s just lush and green to the north, and blue to the south.
I’m here at the invitation of Dr. Cindy Cork, and I’m a guest at her Reignite Your Flame retreat center. This incredible 30 room waterfront oasis is the site of her extremely popular Reignite Your Flame Experience. It all began as the culmination of a six week online program that she started to empower women, but as it gained in popularity, the interest by more and more men pushed her to add a program for couples. These retreats are in high demand, and there’s now a 2 year waiting list!
Dr. Cindy gave me a rare inside view of her guests’ activities during the Experience, and I can see why the waiting list is so long! Not to give too much away, but each of the seven days consists of different activities designed to soothe the soul, empower the mind, and cleanse and feed the body. There are some mind-blowing experiences that definitely will push you out of your comfort zone, but the expressions on the faces of the guests that I’ve seen tell me that they are getting their money’s worth and then some!
Later this morning, Dr. Cindy is being interviewed by Ellen Degeneres. The show is being taped at the retreat center, and 25 lucky Ellen viewer couples have received an all-expenses paid Experience. Ellen and Portia came in last night, and my wife and I had dinner with them, Dr. Cindy and Dr. Birger and Dr. Cindy’s parents. I could hardly swallow from laughing. Ellen just would not let up with the jokes, and Dr. Cindy’s dad had a few doozies to add to the mix. He’s quite the character!
It’s about 11 am, and we are about to start taping! We are on the large verandah that serves as the dining area at night. They’ve set up a settee (Jamaican for “couch”) at one end, and then rows of chairs in semi-circles going back. I’m sitting in the front row with Dr. Birger and Dr. Cindy’s parents. My wife is so excited she can hardly sit still. The 25 lucky couples are all abuzz as they meet some of Dr. Cindy’s high profile guest speakers. (Sorry, I can’t divulge any names or else I will spoil the surprise for future guests.)
The music starts, reggae of course -we are in Jamaica, after all! Ellen and Dr. Cindy enter showcasing the latest dancehall moves, and soon we are all up and dancing! After several minutes, we sit down and the interview begins! Ellen is wearing knee-length khaki shorts, a emerald green short-sleeved polo shirt, and a pair of Jamaican rasta-slippers. Dr. Cindy is in an airy turquoise blue wrap with a sky-blue tank top and bare feet. The audience is served a glass of Jamaican rum-punch and the mood is festive.