Sometimes the synchronicity in life is almost too good to be true. It’s truly incredible when the very thing you need shows up at the exact moment you need it, and the best part is when you recognize it immediately.
A little over a week ago, I received an email from my friend, Lori Snyder, saying that she had one last spot on her first Splendid Mola writer’s retreat in Idyllwild and that she was wondering if I might be interested. I was more than interested. After a rough couple of months, nothing could have sounded more wonderful than escaping into the mountains with no agenda other than to enjoy some beautiful scenery and spend time digging into my personal writing projects. I am pretty sure I replied with a “count me in” within minutes of her sending the email.
Such a spontaneous decision is fairly uncharacteristic of me. I usually tend to sit with things and weigh the pros and cons for a while, but this just felt absolutely right. I had been searching for a way to recharge and reconnect with what is most important in my life and all signs pointed to this retreat being just the opportunity I had been seeking.
And it most definitely was.
I had actually never been on a retreat before. So, as I packed up my car to drive into the desert on Thursday morning, I had a lot of hope for how the weekend would turn out, but also a handful of fears. What if I don’t connect with anyone else on the retreat? What if my roommate and I don’t vibe?? What if I get there and can’t write???
There is nothing quite as liberating as confronting your fears and realizing that you don’t have to allow them to have any power over you, and that is exactly what happened.
I went. I connected. I wrote. I basked in the incredible beauty of nature. And here is what I learned along the way.
Challenge yourself (gently). It is so much easier to play it safe, to not take risks, and to stick to known entities, but there is so much amazingness waiting just outside of your comfort zone. You don’t have to dive in at the deep end if that’s not your style, but take baby steps every day. I have struggled with anxiety off and on for most of my life and there are many times when I am tempted to let it win. Solo travel, in particular, is something that I have wanted to do for years, but have mostly forgone due to my anxiety. I could have stayed home this past weekend instead of trekking off to a place I had never been to stay with people I didn’t know, but I didn’t. I pushed myself to take just a few steps outside of my own comfort zone and the rewards were oh so very sweet.
You are not alone. There are people out there, loving you, rooting for you, thanking the universe for your existence at this very moment. People you didn't even know had noticed you. People you haven’t even met yet. All you have to do is take the risk of vulnerability. Share yourself. Share your story. You will be amazed by how much support you will receive and by how much just sharing yourself gives others permission to do the same, to be authentic and raw and courageously vulnerable. And on that note…
Never question whether or not you should share your gifts. The entire universe and everyone around you is calling for you to do just that. Your offering is unique and if you don't share it, no one else can.
Women rock. I blame it on a very unfortunate 8th grade experience with a trio of mean girls, but I have always been a little leery of big groups of women. However, this retreat absolutely shifted my perspective on that because it taught me that there is nothing more powerful than a group of intelligent and passionate women. Seriously. Screw all of those stereotypes about women being catty and cliquish. They are not true. There were 15 women on the retreat, all pursuing careers in the same field, and not only was there absolutely no competitiveness, I have never felt such an immensely powerful flow of supportive energy. We are all going places and we are going to get there together. No, really. I dare you to try and stop us.
Get wild. Sometimes you have to go to a place that is more wild than not to connect to the deepest part of yourself. The part of yourself that belongs to nature, that knows how to just be. It is there, in the simplicity and stillness, that you'll find your inner well of joy and the source of your infinitely abundant creative potential.
Inspiration is a fire that needs to be fed. For the flames to burn brightly you have to give yourself experiences that engage your senses, your imagination, and your soul. Sometimes that means just taking a walk outside. Other times it means turning your world upside down. Do things that make you feel so alive that you have no choice but to go home and write or paint to express it. Since coming home from the retreat, I have been in an incredible zone of creativity and productivity, and I have no doubt that I have Lori and the rest of the ladies of the Splendid Mola retreat to thank for this wondrous wave of positive energy.
PS: This picture is courtesy of my roommate from the trip, Tanynya, who happened to be the most awesome roomie a first-time retreater could ever ask for.