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.
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.
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.
SAYING HELLO to sharing the stories of our lives in a small group setting.
SAYING HELLO to the knowledge that we are not alone.
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.
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.
I think we might all benefit from being scared just a bit and stepping out of our normal a little more often.