Early this month I hosted my first retreat. A group of five women came together in a beautiful house in Boerne, TX to relax and spend time together. This was the retreat that almost did not happen because there were so many things that went wrong from location issues, to yoga instructors canceling to not having enough funds to do all the wonderful things I had planned. Being a person that will not accept failure I pushed through all the obstacles but realized that they were not obstacles at all, instead beautiful gifts that came to me as learning lessons. I discovered early in the process that if I could see my way to the retreat I set out to do that I would learn things I had not even imagined. I was right.
Getting things together for this small gathering of women was a lot of work. It started with hosting weekly mixers with food and gifts. Then for the actual retreat were the sleeping arrangements, creating an environment and experience that would help them relax, coordinating the art events, dinners, yoga teacher, massage therapist and other meaningful moments were all the parts that together had me busy for many months. I had hoped for at least ten women but five proved to be really all I could handle.
The highlight of the time together was a ceremony titled “From Fire to Forgiveness” that I facilitated. It was just heart-warming to be present.... listening to each woman as they let go of a situation that deeply hurt them. I had preprinted small sheets of paper. One side read Fire... has someone or something hurt you? What have you been holding on to? It is time let that go! The idea was for them to write down and, if they liked, to share what no longer serves them....take it out of there body, mind and soul by writing it down....each on of these girls were so moved...they participated whole-heartedly and were almost aching to release the burden they had been carrying. In my imagination I never thought it would be such a wonderful experience.
I could feel myself being present in strength for each one of them. It was so easy to stay there, be there....so strong... in love....through the tears and laughter.
On the back of each preprinted paper was the word: " FORGIVENESS...I surrender...I let go...I let go right now!" we recited it together each time a woman threw her “fire” into the pit....My "fire" was deciding to let go of trying to be everything, for everyone, all of the time...focus more on my self and evolution as a woman and all that is included in that which I am calling my soulful metamorphosis. It could not have been any better!
I could have canceled this function because NOTHING went as planned! Absolutely nothing! But something inside of me said I needed to go through with it. One reason is because I don't like going back on my word but also because it would help me with the soulful metamorphosis I am experiencing and writing about each day. I hope to share that process soon in a new e-course I am writing.
I also learned that I know women crave these experiences and retreats! Getting women to value their souls and the nurturing they must do for themselves is a hard thing to do. Retreats are about looking inward, reflecting and then coming away with a new perspective or new intention for how to live. Women need to do this often! Choosing to invest in self is a commitment to honoring our souls and their desires.
I came to this place as a result of questioning my own life and my purpose. I wanted to discover more deeply my innate creative self and the yearning to let go of those things that no longer served my life. I could take a vacation and go to Paris or Rome and come back refreshed but the core of my life would not have changed.
Retreating to myself with the sole (or soul) intention of stepping out of the everyday, reflecting on what is really important to me, discovering things about myself, delving into the challenges of my life… I can come away with a deeper knowing that I can change what I want to change about all of it!
This is why I feel retreating is so important to women.
For the record I realized that hosting retreats is not what I want to do :) Although it was very touching, moving and a great way to connect with women...it was just very draining for a highly sensitive person like myself. I enjoyed teaching the art events and was very comfortable in that artistic space, but putting it all together…I am going to leave that to the Linda Barthua’s and Melody Ross’s of the world.