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.


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.


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.


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.

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39 thoughts

  1. tara pollard pakosta says…

    have you read ONE THOUSAND GIFTS?
    I am reading it now and that's what it's all about, being present! love it!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…

      I've got it here in my pile to read. Being present is one of the themes of my life -

  2. lindsey says…

    these few moments you captured are so fresh and breezy. i can't imagine what it must have done for your soul.

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Teresa says…

    Thank you for sharing this, I completely agree with you. What scares us in life is often what we most need to embrace.

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. How Simplicity Encourages Creativity | Be More with Less says…

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  5. Jill says…

    I loved reading about your experience, Ali. And I love David Whyte - such wisdom. What I know for sure (thanks Oprah) is that taking time to reflect on what is in my heart, at a place that is away from my everyday life, is the best gift I give to myself and those close to me each year. For the past 7 or so years I've gone to a retreat center about 100 miles away on an old farmstead. It's totally low-key, very unstructured and a simple setting and guests are welcomed to make the experience their own (in complete solitude, in silence, sharing community meals with other guests, etc). I go in August and have expanded my time from one overnight to now a week-long experience. I go alone, but eat in community and each year am amazed by and blessed to meet the other guests - most stay fewer days than I do. The retreat center staff feel like extended family to me. It's such a special place to me. Each year I start my time by reading Gift of the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindberg. Highly recommend it if you haven't read it. I have yet to go on a guided retreat like your experience and I'm adding it to my goal list - thanks :)

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…

      That is so awesome Jill - I would love to do something like that.

  6. Stacey Meredith says…

    Love the self portraits...were the photos shown in your car from n instant camera? If so, I'd love to know more...

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
  7. chaotickristi says…

    Ali...I blog, I take pics, and I live on the coast.. but I have not evolved nearly as much as I think you have (based on this blog) ... kudos to you! and, thank you for sharing yourself with such a wide audience. If you didnt, I would never have gotten to read these lovely moments of inspiration.

    Reply 0 Replies
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