In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that I left for a week to attend a women’s retreat. After a week spent with my family and my dad, I said goodbye and got dropped off 10 minutes down the road to a private beach house where I would be spending 7 days with 8 other strangers.
Days before the retreat, I started to feel a little anxiety. I had never been on a women’s retreat. I mean the only retreat I had ever been on were the religious retreats in high school where you prayed and did group work like “What would Jesus do?” type scenarios.
But a women’s retreat?
A retreat can mean many things. The word itself means to withdraw. And I can be very good at that. I can curl up into a fetal position in record time. I can hit the floor in child’s pose when things get too tough for me. I can keep myself to myself when things get too real.
I began having these visions of clique-esque camp. Was it going to be a glorified slumber party? But what if I miss all the fun because I go to sleep at 9:00pm at night. My experience is all motherhood related. What was I going to be able to offer? Did I even want to share? The amount of yoga I would be doing was daunting too. Could my body move that much for that long in that way? I played team sports. I swing kettlebells. But could I hold a pose that opened my heart (and my hips) to the universe itself?
Before I get into my retreat experience, allow me to rewind and tell you a bit of the backstory.
I had been following Camille’s blog, This American Girl, ever since we began planning for our first trip to Puerto Viejo in the summer/fall of 2014. My good friend/soul sista, Falon, who has just began her blogging journey by the way with some kick ass posts, led me to Camille’s blog.
Although Camille is a single woman in her 20s travelling abroad, and I am clearly not, I connected with her message. I admired her honesty and vulnerability and appreciated her frankness with respect to being a woman traveling alone and wanderlust in general. Her guide and blog posts are informative, practical, and helpful even when travelling with a large family. I also love that my eldest daughter follows her too.
(I also love her hair. It reminds me of my own in humid climates.)
Camille now holds women’s retreats in Puerto Viejo. And as the universe seems to work with such miraculous synchronicity, events unfolded in such a way that placed me in one of the retreats earlier this month.
Attending a retreat costs money and for me, it just wasn’t in the budget when she first offered the retreat. By the time Chris told me, almost forced me, to sign up, saying it was meant to be because the retreats dates fell during the time we would be in Puerto Viejo, the retreat was full. I was disappointed but I knew that if I was meant to be on the retreat, I would be on it. I began to tell myself that it was self-indulgent anyway. I had no business spending that time and money on myself. I was good. I had super amounts of alone time now that my kids are older. I had my shit together too. We would be in paradise for two months, what more could I need?
(I just heard the universe/God/the Divine let out a big belly laugh!)
In the fall, I felt called to start teaching. Another invitation to jump into the unknown. All I knew for sure is that over the summer I had developed a practice that helped me surrender and have faith to start over each and every single day. A practice where I never felt alone or unsupported. I needed to share this experience with others while also honouring the work I did to hone the process. AlI I had to do was accept this invitation. I started to teach these Book of Hours workshops and began to earn a little bit of extra income that I started saving for our trip. I wanted to take the pressure of Chris and have a buffer in case we needed some extra spending money while away.
By late fall, I received this email from Camille:
I hope this message finds you well!! I just wanted to let you know that a space opened up for the retreat January 31st – February 7th, for a shared double room. Let me know if you want to take it before I offer it to the next person on the list 🙂
I showed Chris the email. He asked me how much money I had made from my Book of Hours. It just about matched the cost of the retreat. I tried to justify NOT going to this retreat by saying how we needed the buffer because the kids eat a lot and unexpected things can happen. I tried to convince him (and myself) that we may need the extra cash.
My husband just looked at me and gave me that look. That look that tells me he supports me and that this wouldn’t happen if God was not inviting me to take part in this retreat and that I needed to be there and above all, we need to have faith. At the end of the day, I have to choose to believe.
So I took a deep breath and signed up. Little did I know that this retreat was invitation to love the jungle, to love other women, and above all to love the divine feminine within. But none of it would have happened had I not continued to RSVP a big fat “Yes please!” And I would not have been willing to receive these invites without all the preparation I did this past year and a half. I would not have seen them as invites because there isn’t always specific details of what to expect. You are gently nudged in a direction and invited to follow with faith. I might have seen these messages as junk mail or mail addressed to someone else, someone I wished I could be or someone that I denied being.
With a click of a button, I said YES to the retreat. By showing up without expectation I said YES and by doing that simple act, my heart became an open invitation. The retreat opened a door that led me back home.
Stay tuned for more posts on how we packed this time around and more thoughts on the retreat….
Oh and check out my new little project with my good friend Brooke – a tumblr blog called mama mimesis.
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