Photo by Kate Schwager
When I first was invited on the Be Luminary Retreat my initial reaction was reluctance.
I was intrigued but shunned the idea because I didn’t think of myself as a retreat kinda gal. I added to the list of “why I shouldn’t go” on the regular. As the mother of a young toddler and an entrepreneur, I felt overhanging guilt about taking time away from my family and business to spend a week focusing solely on myself. It felt easier to say no, keep comfortably pedaling along, and stay invariably numb to the growth I secretly yearned for.
But the retreat invite kept beckoning.
Eventually a realization washed over me: I was always running, always trying to get somewhere, but I felt exhausted and stuck. Self care had become a distant dream.
I started asking questions.
What was I running toward anyways? Why was I living in a state of survival and emotional exhaustion? Most importantly, why wasn’t I choosing opportunities to take care of myself, feel vibrant, and inhabit a content and joyful body? Isn’t that what I wanted?
I looked back and saw how I had repeatedly stopped myself from considering these questions and instead chose distraction. I thought about how many times in my life, or even in a day, I made the conscious decision to doubt my capabilities and sink back into normality.
After this epiphany I signed up immediately.
The week that followed at the Be Luminary Retreat still feels like a mile marker in my one beautiful and messy life. From the moment I walked up and met the women I’d spend the week doing deep archeological digging with, I felt a sense of warmth, fun, and ease.
When I put myself in situations with no expectations and the ability to be vulnerable I’m more receptive to connection with others. As a mother of a 2-year-old there hadn’t been much time to connect with others or myself in recent years. I felt connected with these women instantly and that only deepened in our week together.
As my time at the retreat started to sink in, the nervousness of leaving my son in a new day care and putting my work on hold started to feel like a distant worry. I suddenly realized how dearly I needed this time out from my daily spin and how much I craved this deeper connection.
The Gifts of a Pause
It was incredibly gratifying to wake up with the sun and sit in silence with other women–writing, sipping tea, and taking visual journeys within ourselves to seek out the nuggets beneath all the muck we pile up. Diving into this work felt both overdue and perfectly timed.
The gifts I mined during that indescribable week with my newfound sisters in the rolling hills of Northern California are too many to name. But a few stand out above the rest.
Space – With so much internal and external change in my life in the last few years, it had started to feel like I was on a treadmill. I was trying to get from point A to B, but not making any headway. The retreat gave me the greatest gift a mother could ask for–space. Space to look, think, be, listen, and allow my thoughts to grow roots.
Clarity – What I value personally became much clearer during that week. The retreat allowed me to look at all the areas of my life, see what was aligned, and decide what needed to go. I gained the tools to put the puzzle of myself together and to see clearly how each piece holds the next one. These angles of my life are all related and I knew I deserved to feel whole again.
Community – Spending a week with 12 other women who shared their own similar fears, distractions, and self doubt made me realize I was not alone. It’s okay to open up to the questions and move through them longing for clarity and a more fulfilling life. It’s actually totally normal and very necessary.
Digging Deeper – Cara and Amber pulled out the deeper questions in me through their inquisitive knowledge and their gentle nature. They opened doorways to places I didn’t even know I needed to visit and to rooms I had closed off since my life took on more complex roles. The iron clad façade I put up–in my initial desire to mostly focus on work, and other tangible, linear parts of my life–soon was whittled down. I began to notice that I had been ignoring my relationships with others, my body, and myself. Amber & Cara possess an overall awareness in how they facilitate the retreat work that makes the experience feel genuine and tangible.
Play – I must also mention their use of dance parties and other playful attributes to weave all those deep spiritual and emotional experiences into our bodies and lives. We are, after all, just women looking to feel more joy.
The tools they facilitated in us will point my compass back to my truest direction for a very long time. For that, I feel so fortunate. Whether we want to live simple lives or grandiose ones, the world needs us, more than ever, to feel capable in our own bodies and lives. This retreat gave me that gift.
I am eternally grateful for my time at the Be Luminary Retreat. I continue to circle back to what I learned there and use my newly cultivated skills often in daily life. Now, when the spin of overwhelm sets in I take a step back. I reflect on how to slow down, move my body, come back to earth, and act steadily in the direction of what I want.
Most of all, I remember that it’s okay to pause – that the world actually needs me to do so.