See the light, be the light…

This past weekend, I went to a retreat with 18 other women. I almost didn’t go. 5 times. I came up with multiple excuses, mostly related to someone else needing me to stay home – even though they didn’t. They needed me to be there, to relax, refresh & reconnect.

When I returned home and my husband asked what we did, I wasn’t sure what to say. Time was strange last weekend – it seemed to go slowly and quickly at the same time. We laughed, we shared, we connected, we caught up with ladies we knew and met new friends. We did crafts, played, ate and sat by the fire. For some reason, I was reluctant to share our spirit connections. Um, I’m an author in a Wild Woman Book of Shadows book… spirit connections shouldn’t be a shock. We connected with loved ones who have passed, we acknowledged and celebrated the light in each other, we shared stories and shed old patterns. We challenged each other to level-up, be the light and share the joy. We did yoga and sound therapy, stayed up late and giggled.

This was our first retreat without our friend. She attended many in the past and this was the first one since she passed away. We could feel her presence. She sent so many signs… some were subtle and some were huge. The photo above is the fire we had one night. I was going to snap a picture because I love the cozy feeling of a campfire. After I took the picture, I noticed the green light to the right of the flame. This was not visible when we were just sitting there. It danced off to the side as I held my phone up. I was able to get a video of it. Again, we couldn’t see it just sitting there, but it was amazing. We knew it was her spirit celebrating with us.

Last year I was spinning a lot and was nauseous, so I made a conscious effort to stay grounded. While we were visiting after breakfast, I knew I needed to step away. I went to the porch, sat with my coffee and a grounding mat. I did some meditation and was setting my intentions for the day. This was the largest group of people I had been around (for the longest time) in a year. I realized it was a little much for me and I needed some time alone. The difference is, that I took the time. I actually put myself on the list of “things to take care of.” While other people might have had big breakthroughs, my small one was a big first step for me. I struggle to add myself to the list. I tend to want to do/help/give and I forget about myself. Don’t forget about adding yourself to the list!

My other “big deal” was that I sat in our circle, far from the door or the kitchen with my back to the window. You may be thinking, “So what?!” It’s a big deal for me because I like to look outside. I couldn’t do that where I sat. I also like to either be by the door so I can quietly escape or to be by the kitchen in case someone needs something. And I acknowledged this step. Silly as I may sound, my friends also recognized this change and pointed out how different it was for me to do that.

My weekend take-aways: 1) add myself to the list 2) acknowledge small steps 3) my family cannot read my mind 4) releasing control is ok 5) allow the support and friendship. There were lots more, but this was a start.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Add yourself to the list every day. see the light, be the light.

Zip lines & spider webs…

2 years ago, I was zip lining in the mountains of CA for a cancer survivor retreat. I like to remember that trip. For me, it reminds me of what is possible. It reminds me I can fly to CA, drive up a mountain by myself (without getting lost), and stay with strangers who would become friends. I can do a ropes course, zip line and do yoga on the mountainside. I can share my story, and listen to someone else’s story without fear or judgement. I grew a lot that weekend. It seems like a lifetime ago, but I think it was a turning point for me. I can do the tough things and still be vulnerable.

It’s bittersweet because we’ve lost some of the ladies from the retreat. My heart aches for their loved ones who have a void that won’t be filled. The kids who miss their mom, the spouses, friends and parents who reach for the phone and realize they can’t call to say hi. They enriched the lives of those they touched, but it still doesn’t make sense why they had to pass. Some things just don’t have easy answers.

The loss reminds me to appreciate my health, to cherish my friendships and to find JOY. It reminds me to fill my circle with people who cheer me on, even if I don’t make it across the ropes. We all have an invisible connection. When I picture it, I see a spider web. It slowly spins as we tell our stories and gain a connection. By the end of the weekend, the web was strong. Roommates, similar diagnosis, similar struggle, similar victories, similar likes and dislikes, with a common respect and a lasting connection.

A zip line in the mountains was where I found my courage. A zip line in the mountains was where I laughed and screamed and almost puked. A zip line in the mountains will hold a special place in my heart. And every year when this memory pops up, I will think of this web of connection woven between women who started with one common thread (cancer), and ended up with so many more. Your tragedy doesn’t have to define you, but it sure shapes you in a different way.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May you find your own “zip line in the mountains” and don’t forget to keep your eyes open. The view is breathtaking!

Trip preview & summary thoughts…

I just got back from a Healing Odessey retreat in California. While I take some time to write more about the event and what I gained from it, here are some things I learned on my trip:

  • Solo trips are a good thing. If you can do it, you might learn something about yourself.
  • People in airports don’t realize there is a volume button on their phone and I don’t need to hear them type or play a game.
  • I am for sure one of those people annoyed by certain sounds. Trying to let that go isn’t working.
  • If you can check your bags (Southwest gives your 2 free), it is far easier to navigate the airport and the plane.
  • Target stores in California have entire aisles of wine. Seriously, I’d probably go broke.
  • If you’re from Minnesota and go to other regions, people can tell you have an accent. (Dontcha know)
  • You can usually purchase another bag if you run out of room (or if you have to waste some time at Target and Kohl’s.)
  • If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.
  • Listening to your body takes practice.
  • Finding people with whom you share a common thread is powerful.
  • It’s ok to be nervous.
  • A double cappuccino means something different at different coffee shops.
  • There is something magical and healing about walking in nature.
  • Hotels close to the airport start their breakfast earlier.
  • If you have a fear, worry or question, odds are high someone else does also.
  • If you tip the airport shuttle driver, it will make his day and he will give you directions on where to go next.
  • Everyone has a story, their surface might not show it.
  • Never say never (except for sky diving, I’m seriously never doing that!)
  • You cannot judge time by distance in the LA area. In Minnesota, if it’s 60 miles away, it will take you just under an hour to get there. I have no idea how to gauge time here.

More summaries and pictures next week. It was an amazing, powerful and inspiring weekend!

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you have a group of people cheering you on!

But I’m not lost…

This week I will embark on a solo trip. I’m flying out to California for a breast cancer survivor retreat. I found out about it from a group I follow on Facebook. Sometimes it helps to connect with people who share a similar part of their story. Everyone in the group has been impacted by breast cancer. One of the ladies highly recommended the retreat, so I looked into it a little more.

It’s very reasonably priced. They have it more than once per year. It’s called Healing Odessey. The retreats run from Friday to Sunday. I’d just need to get myself to CA in time. Oh, and drive up the mountains by myself. In the dark. Alone. Hmmm. I convinced myself I could do this. It might be one of the last things I do like this, since they are usually focused on women in the first 5 years since diagnosis. I booked my flight with airline miles, reserved hotel rooms before and after the retreat (using Holiday Inn points) & reserved a rental car. I’ll essentially be gone 5 days for a 3 day retreat, but I figured I’m worth it.

What am I hoping to get out of this? Am I going to find myself? Not really, I’m not lost. A weekend with strangers normally isn’t on my wish list. As an introvert, this gives me a little bit of anxiety. There are some reassuring things though: 1) Nobody knows me, so there is no “history” or story that they have about me. 2) I likely won’t ever see them again, so if they think I’m strange, I won’t run into them at Target next week. 3) I am going to take time on the flights and in the airport to read some books and just re-set.

  • Old me: I can’t take that time off from work.
  • New me: I need to take time for myself.
  • Old me: I need to be there for my kids.
  • New me: My kids need to see me also as an individual & trying new things.
  • Old me: My husband needs my help.
  • New me: He is completely capable of handling things at home. (He was before also, I’m just acknowledging it more now)
  • I think I’m ready. I’ll make sure to bring my passport/ID an empty water bottle. I’ll pack some headphones and plenty of books. I’ll throw my motion sickness pills in my purse and make sure I have plenty of gum. I’ll bring an open mind and an open heart. I believe things appear in our lives for a reason. I’m taking this opportunity to see what I’m supposed to learn from it.
  • Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you have the courage to say “yes” to something… even if it’s outside of your comfort zone, a little scary (in a good way), or might possibly make you nauseated. Sometimes great things happen just outside of our comfort zones.