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On Being Present

Hello Heart

I felt like there was a lot of saying hello to things this past weekend.

Last August I received an email from Liz Lamoreux inviting me to be a mentor at one of her Be Present Retreats. The specific one she was inviting me to was focused on the theme of Your Story. As I read the details I thought, yes, that sounds like something I'd like to be a part of...and something that scares me just a bit. Being scared just a bit is something I'd been feeling like I needed even if I don't particularly like being scared.

What was I scared of? A much smaller group than the workshops I usually do (more intimate), coming out from behind my computer, the mention of poetry, the possibility of my own personal growth through the experience.

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I already love the coast. It's a big part of my life story - both past and present. Trips there tend to represent relaxation and a homecoming in so many ways - to myself, to my family, to my history.

Driving over I was full of anticipation. Hopeful. Noticing the quiet. Beginning to relax. Using my camera to capture things I was witnessing along the way.

Hello Joy

Each day of the retreat was a different theme. We focused on beauty & joy, truth, and then passion & love. We wrote, we listened, we took pictures, we shared, we ate, we walked, we took deep breaths. Liz's voice is pure magic for setting the scene. She has such a talent for creating a safe, welcoming space for all the participants. She's one of those people that has really found her gift and is wholeheartedly sharing it.

Here's some of the things I found myself saying hello to:

SAYING HELLO to poetry. Accessible, life-affirming poetry that feels so much better than the poetry I encountered in high school and college. Some that I already loved (Mary Oliver, Rumi) and others that were new to me - specifically David Whyte.

Seeing

SAYING HELLO to sharing the stories of our lives in a small group setting.

SAYING HELLO to the knowledge that we are not alone.

Piece Of Me

SAYING HELLO to an expanded view of storytelling. Words, photos, and spoken voice. I think the theme of voice is one of the things I'll be taking away from this weekend - it's something I'm already passionate about but this weekend really drove it home for me all over again. The beauty and power of personal voice - and really specifically the spoken voice.

SAYING HELLO to making new friends. More than friends. The kind of friendship that comes from sharing an intimate experience of stories and lives and fears and joys and coastal air.

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I wish this sort of experience for everyone. A chance to remove yourself from your everyday experience to be able to go back to it refreshed, renewed, awakened and maybe even changed for the better.

If you are looking for something to help you become more alive, to reconnect with yourself, I highly recommend a retreat with Liz. Her next retreat is called Create Magic and runs October 5th through the 9th at a location about an hour south of Seattle.

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I think we might all benefit from being scared just a bit and stepping out of our normal a little more often.

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39 thoughts

  1. Susan Sherrer says…
    06/22/2011

    Yes! It takes courage to step out from behind the computer but so worth it -- we all have stories to share. Each of us matters. Thanks for sharing, Ali.

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Jessica Kopp says…
    06/22/2011

    You summed up the retreat perfectly. Thank you for sharing this journey with me. I will forever be changed by the words & stories you & everyone shared.

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Damiane Lucas says…
    06/22/2011

    Hi Ali,

    Sounds like you had lots of fun! These photos are fabulous! Are the photos of you self-portraits? Beautiful!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      06/22/2011

      Yes - self portraits.

  4. craftstea says…
    06/22/2011

    My daughter is getting married this weekend. Project life is NOT holding all that is happening this week. I happened to take a closer look at your suggestions on recording a week out of your life. I think this week needs it's own album! I started in December with the daily December album. It was my oldest daughters 1st married Christmas and I wanted to record it. Then in January I started project life. Now, I am relieved to find an idea for capturing my 2nd daughters wedding. I feel so good being able to record these moments and know we can look back and be reminded of our life story in the years to follow. Thanks for a very practical inspiration!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. dawn says…
      06/22/2011

      WOW 2 weddings that close together, how exciting for you. Congrats on both of them and on your December Daily and PL. I just did a week in the life for the first time last year and loved it. This would be a great week for you to do that and add extra pictures to your PL and/or make an album just for this week. Good luck and have a great wedding day.

  5. annie says…
    06/22/2011

    YOU, are absolutely amazing.

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Sandi Keene says…
    06/22/2011

    Could you BE more inspiring? Seriously yummy post. Thank you as always for sharing.

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Amanda says…
    06/22/2011

    sounds like a lovely retreat!

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Denise says…
    06/22/2011

    It sounds like a great time for personal growth. I get that any time I visit the shore. There's nothing like the salt air and surf to rejuvenate!

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Julia says…
    06/22/2011

    The pictures are so inviting and calm. Looks like you had a lovely time!

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Maureen says…
    06/22/2011

    Out of one's comfort zone...always a chance for growth. Glad you took the leap of faith, but then you KNOW it always works out for the best. ;-)

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. jennifer Camplin says…
    06/22/2011

    Amazing.. glad that you could get out there.

    ~:->

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Jenny Pitcairn says…
    06/22/2011

    What a fabulous sounding retreat. And a strange and wonderful coincidence for me - I read and loved some of David Whyte's poetry some time ago, but had forgotten his name. I was thinking about it earlier today for the first time in months, wanting to read again and read more, wondering how I'd find it again, and then here you are posting a link.

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. dawn says…
    06/22/2011

    Ali, these photos are gorgeous. Love the self-timer ones of you. I would love to go on this kind of retreat, wish there was one on the east coast. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Christine says…
    06/22/2011

    I love the photos. They make me want to run out to the nearest beach.
    Kudos to you for steping outside of the box and partipating in the retreat. I look forward to hearing about your Creative Escape trip.
    I'm hoping I can go (gotta convince my husband) as this would be an amazing trip.

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Sharon in California says…
    06/23/2011

    Fantastic!! Being scared is definitely a theme for me lately. Acknowledging and working through it. Questioning what really scares me and why. Such an interesting experience. Thank you for sharing this wonderful experience with us.

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. carol in seattle :) says…
    06/23/2011

    Dang, I wish I could afford that! Liz's retreats look like the perfect escape - one that I really need right now. Thanks for inspiring me to try something new!

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Gypsy Chaos says…
    06/23/2011

    I've felt the urge to take a retreat for several months. This may be the shove to seriously look into doing it.

    Your sand dollar photo immediately brought to my mind your OLW: light!

    I had to giggle at your self-portraits - you're wearing a COAT! And you have it zipped!

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. Kathi says…
    06/23/2011

    Ohhhh - yes that sort of intimacy is intimidating. I get that part.

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. Elaine says…
    06/23/2011

    Hello Ali,
    As an avid follower of your blog I just wanted to say that I love your posts and to mention that I've just started my own blog. Please check it out if interested - visualmeringue.blogspot.com
    Thanks!
    Elaine.

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Alison Richardson says…
    06/23/2011

    I love the work of David Whyte - see my latest blog on his poem THREADS. I have been asked to lecture part time at a South African business school - the though scares me. Maybe being scared is ok and I'll do it anyway. Maybe....

    Looking forward to seeing you in Italy in October

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      06/23/2011

      Oh that is lovely Alison - thank you. I've got his book River Flow on order - looking forward to diving in. And thanks for letting me know you'll be coming to Italy in the fall - we will be starting a Yahoo group soon :).

  21. Kelli says…
    06/23/2011

    oh to have the money to travel there and go...but it does inspire me to create something similar, if not for myself, for a group of women. I love. what an amazing idea!

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. Kimberly says…
    06/23/2011

    You, your words and your spirit amaze me. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity for attending this retreat and sharing this experience with you and all the ladies. Thank you and thank you for summing up the retreat so beautifully.

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. Jacqueline says…
    06/23/2011

    Changes can be quite scary, but it opens up to whole new directions and possibilities in our lives. Good to see that you go ahead with all the new things, Ali!

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. AbbyS says…
    06/23/2011

    Thank you for sharing this reflection, this amazing experience... this retreat sounds like something everyone should experience once or twice in their lifetime. Working through our challenges, acknowledging it and allowing others to witness it definitely says something about a person. I'm inspired, Ali... a continued feeling I always go away with after reading your posts.

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. Kerry says…
    06/23/2011

    I would love to go on some sort of retreat and just to be able to be away from everything oh it sounds bliss xx

    Reply 0 Replies

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