If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I snuck away to an art retreat this past weekend.
Ever since I’ve returned home, I’ve been trying to find words to describe my experience. But, there are none that will fully capture the mixed emotions and magic that flowed through me. All I can do is try to share my story as it unfolded…
As an introvert and someone who’s recovering from childhood shyness, stepping into this experience was SCARY. Sure, I’ve had practice showing up through You-Tube videos and over the phone doing life coaching – but this was IN PERSON and with people I’ve never met. This was the very first time I was leaping with faith to meet new people and show up as the “real me”.
The sheer amount of people at Squam was overwhelming at first. Stepping into the dining hall almost had me spiraling back to my high school days of overwhelm and isolation. But luckily, our first meal had assigned seats. And every person I encountered greeted me with a smile and was genuinely interested in getting to know me.
I was trying to keep an open mind. To stay open to whatever experience wanted to unfold for me. But for the first day or so, I started to think this wasn’t for me. I was telling myself that I would do better with a smaller retreat. One where you’re with the same people for the whole duration. One where I am forced to be with the same group so I wouldn’t have to be thrown into the unknown so often. But of course, that was only fear talking. I was stretching my comfort zone.
I was grateful that it was easy to honor my introverted nature throughout the trip. We were surrounded by fresh air, trees, water, animals, and pockets of quiet. Any time I felt overwhelmed, I was able to slip away to the woods or my cabin to find peace.
I continued to stay open, and allow myself to have the best experience possible; even though I was feeling that I would probably never do this again. As time went on, my ego mind began to realize that this environment was different than any I had ever experienced before. There was an overall vibe of inclusion and love and understanding that was refreshing and comforting. The community held each other up like we were all long lost sisters. There was no exclusion, or judgement, or drama – there was just love and excitement and openness.
And slowly I began to form bonds with the women that I saw most often – those that shared a cabin with me and the others nearby. The world of Squam began to shrink – in a good way. I was no longer lost in a sea of strangers. The closeness and connection I was seeking began to unfold naturally within the expansiveness. But it wouldn’t have happened if I had closed down, if I had run away in fear, if I had given in to the thoughts that I did not belong there.
The magic and transformation I felt within has no words, for I still don’t even understand it fully myself. “It was amazing!” is all I can muster when someone asks me how it went.
I laughed, I cried, I connected, I withdrew, I created, I shopped, I danced, I painted, I ate, I hugged, I hiked, I swam, I stretched, I grew… I experienced what it was like to live in a world run by creativity and love.
And now that it’s over, do I feel like I would do it again?
OH, HELL YES!!
PS I’ve been growing a lot these past few weeks… it’s been quite an adventure! I need to sit with it and let it all sink in. But in the meantime, my secret artist collaboration is coming up quick and I can no longer keep it a secret! I’ll be spilling the beans on Monday. I started this project months ago, and of course, had no idea the shifts I’d be going through now – but it’s a welcome distraction and something that will begin to ground me. I can’t wait to share it with all of you!