I’ve been somewhat MIA from my blog world lately, but for good reason. In my writing journey there have been many projects I have started, many projects that have inspired me, and many projects that rekindled my love of expressing myself through the written word. However, there has never been a writing project this big that I have started and finished, until now.
I have been knee deep in a collaborative project with a beautiful friend, creating a world of color, laughter, courage and dreams in a children’s book. I am so excited that I had to announce to everyone I know that after ten days and 12k words, early this morning I typed “The End” and we officially have our very first book!
This writing project has been the most inspiring and fulfilling I have ever done, and I am convinced it is because when you create with like-minded people with much different gifts to offer, it ignites a blinding light from inside. We are all blessed with a gift, unique to each of us, don’t wish for another’s, nourish your own and then work together to do amazing things!
Now on to the “fun” part of editing, querying and hoping this project finds its way into the hands of someone who sees what we do. To all the artists, writers and creators, believe in your gift, listen to your heart, keep writing, keep creating, as the world needs to hear your voice.
My journey of self-discovery started years ago, and I wasn’t even aware. The components to what would allow me to find my true path in this life as the true me would show themselves throughout the course of my walk before I understood what it all truly meant. I say this because I believe that is true for all of us. There are light bulbs that go on in our hearts and in our head many times during our journey, but it takes experience, love and self-awareness to begin to listen. Today after yet another profound discovery about myself, I was drawn to pick up an old journal and out dropped a single piece of paper with the following written on it, front and back. This was written 10 years ago, before I read the Universe Has Your Back, before I read a single self-help book and at the start of what I will call now my journey to my truth…
I am about to turn 30 and I am amazed even still with the events, people and personalities that surround me. In my opinion my life is “low key”, I don’t party, I have limited friends and for some reason as a few have said I am still a drama magnet… For so long in my life I was such a negative, unhappy, unpleasable person. … I see things different for the most part, a genuinely happy person yet still unpleasable. …., and I am still amazed, shocked and uneasy with the amount of sadness, pain and insensitivity.
I think the one major thing in my life that has massively changed is the ability to forgive. It has set me free but leaves me questioning why we are so shocked at the behavior of our children. ….we live in a society of revenge, hatred and negativity. …. Blame drugs, blame TV, blame others, but really, they learn from watching us, as individuals and as a whole.
Not too long ago, I was talking to a friend and telling her that I was lucky to have not lost, in death, anyone close to me. My “luck” didn’t last long after that conversation, and it continues to remind me every day is precious and beautiful, and to be negative and unforgiving is a waste of time and energy because what you do here, now, reflects who you are after death, and how do you want to be remembered?
While this may sound like rambling to you because honestly that’s what it was at time, this was the beginning for me. How did I want to be remembered, what legacy was I to leave behind, specifically for my children? From that point forward, I was searching for the answer. While there have been many challenges along the way, and lessons I needed to learn, I find that one thing is for certain, forgiveness is the key, and love is the answer.
My journey will continue and will be ever evolving because I believe that is life, and while I am much farther along than I was 10 years ago, I know I still have a lot to learn. My wish for you is that you listen to your heart and the lessons, fill your life with love, and live with good intentions in the journey to your truth.
It was months ago when my dear friend and I had dinner and talked about this crazy idea of taking off for the weekend to experience self-discovery by way of a Women’s Work/Life Integration Retreat at the Art of Living Retreat Center hosted by Jennifer Connelly of Triple W Forum. After discussing the program, the travel and all it would entail, we laughed and promised we’d investigate it, but honestly, we both knew the possibility of actually following through was slim for many reasons. However, the idea of experiencing clarity, centering and relaxation on the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina in the beautiful fall, continued to nag at me as the weeks passed by.
It was a morning on my way to work when the nagging turned into a question of “why not”? Why not travel to a mountain top of serenity?; Why not take time to focus on the one person that gets lost in the hustle…Me?; Why not go to a place filled with like-minded and inspiring women?; Why not go with the intention to find clarity for my heart, my mind and my soul? Why not? I couldn’t think of a good answer, so the second I shut the car off, I sent my friend a message and our journey began. Before we knew it, and after a few clicks of the keyboard, we were off on an adventure that would change our mindset, our hearts and set us on a course of incredible change.
It was an 11-hour drive through the most gorgeous scenery, filled with the colorful paintbrush of nature, and while it rained the entire ride, we barely noticed as we were engrossed in conversation, excitement and wonder for what was to come. Upon our arrival we were in awe of the view and the facility, which spans thirty acres of mountainous forest. After check-in, we explored the gift shop located near registration, and while entranced by the calming smell of incense, I of course, could not leave empty handed, believing I could read not just one, but two, inspirational books while we were there. We were then ready to head to our room which was a short trip down the winding mountain and, just our luck, located right next door to the Shankara Ayurveda Spa. We were pleasantly surprised with our lovely newly renovated room, comfortable beds and spectacular picture window that framed the landscape. Sleep turned out to be difficult only due to the anticipation of the weekend before us.
Waking Friday with excitement, as our schedules were full of 1:1 coaching sessions with Jennifer, massages, Ayurvedic lunch, and our initial group sessions with the 18 other women who chose to ask themselves Why Not? We were ready, even though we had no idea what to expect, but what we discovered is that sometimes, that’s the best way to make beautiful changes in your life. Walk without fear through the opportunities that present themselves.
While I want to include each and every detail in order to give all the events and experience justice, it may start to look like a novel, so from here on out I thought I would touch the highlights to leave some sense of mystery, so that, next time this retreat comes around, you ask yourself, Why Not?
TRIPLE W FORUM (Jennifer Connelly)
So, who was the brilliant mind behind this inspirational weekend? While I believe she would humbly list her tribe and her people, as we cannot walk our paths without the support of an army, our MC and our guide, Jennifer Connelly, showed up as a light for us all with breathing techniques, visualizations, yoga, including at sunrise, forest bathing and the Birkman Method, teaching us information about ourselves we didn’t even realize existed within. If I tell you nothing else about Jennifer, I will tell you this, she is without a doubt living in her truth, doing exactly what she was meant to do in this life.
The concept and flow of the events allowed for the program to be engaging, relaxing, and filled with tools for your tool belt to take with you on your journey home, and to think, she did it all right there on the mountain top. Facilitating the retreat with kindness and ease by way of her company, Triple W Forum, which she founded in 2009 as a way to provide a “transformative platform for professional and personal development for individuals and organizations” she provided an experience I will carry with me always, and plan to have again next year.
As part of the retreat activities we had the pleasure of being introduced to three wonderful speakers. Each bringing something a little different to the table, they presented us with thought provoking questions and practical solutions for implementing positive change in our lives.
Our first speaker was Walter Crawford, Personal & Life Development Coach at Crawford Corner, who with his easygoing and fun personality gave us insight on how expectations show up in our lives. We explored how to recognize these expectations, if they are fairly placed, how to assess their value, and understand that communication is key in managing any expectation in your life.
We then heard from Mary Beth Sawicki, founding partner at Trilogy Effect, a boutique consulting firm that works with people to surface potential. Mary Beth was a sweet soul who gave us a plan on how to face and resolve upsets and incompletion in our lives. Through her personal story (that I will be following up on) she took us through the steps of addressing our upsets by identifying, distinguishing and assessing the situation for what it really is, and moving forward in a positive way.
Last but certainly not least Ellen Burton, Leadership Coach of EJ Burton & Associates, and now Author of “The Civility Project: How Corporate Culture Impacts Wellness, Productivity and Profit” gave us her genuine take on Reverence and how kindness increases your prosperity. In an interactive presentation, Ellen took us through the emotional side of both a negative and positive workspace and how each affect productivity and essentially profit. Wrapping with the conclusion that kindness, respect and civility are the best practices for overall performance.
While each brought a special light to the group, we were also given the opportunity to meet with them one on one for the insight and advise in what was happening in our own individual worlds.
While I am beyond grateful for each of the events and people I have discussed above, the most incredible part of the retreat were the connections made with each and every individual who attended, participants and coaches alike. Getting to know the courageous women, and man, who showed up as their vulnerable, true selves is an experience that I will not forget. Inspired by their lives, their reasons, their passions, and their openness, my heart will forever be changed. Each of us there for our own personal reason, each of us there with very different stories, but all of us there to better ourselves so we can live as the best versions of us.
THE ART OF LIVING RETREAT CENTER
In addition to the Triple W retreat activities we also found plenty to do around the Center itself. Not the traditional cabin in the woods, The Art of Living Retreat Center practices and encourages the practice of Ayruveda, which in Sanskrit means “The Science of Life.” Ayruveda places great emphasis on prevention and encourages the maintenance of health through close attention to balance in one’s life, right thinking, diet, lifestyle and the use of herbs.
Specifically, you will not only find traditional American massage offered at the spa but the Ayruvedic massage therapy as well, which incorporates oils and rhythmic soft tissue massage that not only nourishes your muscles but also your nervous system.
Additionally, their food is an Ayurvedic diet, which is fresh (without pesticides, additives and other chemicals), seasonal, and as often as possible local. I was nervous about this part because I’m such a picky eater, but it turned out, the food was delicious, and it was even better to know I was eating clean.
Now, if you weren’t enjoying a massage or eating in the large beautiful dining room overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains, you could choose to attend one of the Center’s yoga or meditation classes, a guided tour of the grounds including a look inside the grand meditation hall, or make an appointment to create pottery (check out this post for info on Karen, who re-kickstarted her beautiful craft on one of these retreats), or hike the paths within the surrounding 30 acres of nature.
I really didn’t think there would be words to describe my weekend of self-discovery, but I sure did find them. To say the least, this trip was worth every cent spent, every schedule changed and every hour in the car. The experience was one I will carry with me as I walk in the version of me I like best, and I look forward to the next time. I cannot thank the coaches, Jennifer, Triple W and all the amazing connections I made on this journey as I was finding my truth on the mountain top.
I’m so pumped to post about my trip to North Carolina for a Work/Life Integration Retreat, but I’m attempting to take my time in order to give it the justice it deserves. To say the least, it was a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Now, while the retreat itself was incredible, the connections I made with the inspirational women (and man) who attended are those I will not soon forget.
I could write for days about each of them and may still, but I wanted to share this story as an example of why “coincidence” is not a word in my vocabulary, and when you share your gifts with the world, extraordinary things happen.
The first day of the retreat, we were about five minutes in when the door opened and walked in an energetic soul, full of life and fun energy, who expressed embarrassment with a hint of delight all in one breath for coming in late. The moment Karen introduced herself it was absolutely necessary for me to become her friend.
As our activities continued, Karen proved that she brought a certain light to conversation and the people around her, and while I can tell several stories that made me smile and at times, even laugh out loud, it is the story of how she found her gift and her passion again that I write about today.
Karen attended a Triple W Work/Life Integration retreat a few years earlier and at that retreat she was reintroduced to pottery making at the clay studio on the premises of The Art of Living Retreat Center. She expressed to us that she used to love it, but like many of us, life got in the way. However, the moment she sat down at the wheel again, the light inside reignited, and she hasn’t stopped since, even going as far as seeking out her favorite potter in Mexico when she visited.
We were lucky enough to be there this past weekend when she chose to share her gift with us all, explaining to us that the pottery she makes is inspired by nature, incorporating, water, earth and the mountains as it reminds her of where she was when she found her passion once again.
I wanted to thank her for sharing her gift with us by sharing her gift with all who I could reach by way of mine. Each picture is a piece made by Karen, and the love she puts in every one is obvious. If you’re curious, more of these beauties can be found on Instagram @kayclaydesigns. Check her out, it’s my understanding she has just started to sell her wonderful craft 😊
By the way, the coolest part of the story was that this past weekend after noticing the gift shops at the retreat center did not showcase any pottery, she approached the manager to ask if they would be interested in selling hers, and they were! Circle of life…where she found her passion once again, is the same place she will begin her adventure of sharing it with the world. Rock on Karen can’t wait to see your stuff out my way!!
Wow, wow. I can’t even believe that tomorrow marks three whole months since I began the Finding Happy posts along with the Facebook group challenge. This life “project” began as a way to spread positivity, light and love into a world that desperately needs it, but never did I imagine how my own life would shift in the process, and I am overwhelmed with joy. My intention when I began was to encourage hope, healing, and living, and to remind you to believe in yourselves, your strengths and the incredible light inside.
To my surprise, as I walked this path with all of you, I found pieces of me I was never aware of, desires I didn’t know I had, and scars that needed healing. And, while I completed my own personal “paper” goal of posting in the group every day for 90 days, I also accomplished internal goals by facing my fears, reflecting on my past and overcoming giant mental and emotional obstacles that blocked my way to my true path. In addition to these enormous steps in my own life, I have also had the privilege of reconnecting with old friends, making new ones and have had the opportunity to hear your stories of gratitude, kindness, fears and inspiration along the way. There are no words to describe the fullness of my heart.
I cautiously began this journey years ago, but the shift that took place this time around when I jumped in both feet, was a shift I am eternally grateful to have experienced. They say 21 days makes a habit and at 90 days it becomes a lifestyle, and let me tell you, that is no joke. While no life is perfect, and times still get hard, there is a significant difference in how I live them, because now, when the dark days roll in, the light exists in me. I may need to allow myself to feel the present emotions of these moments, but I am better equipped to handle them, and come out the other side at a run instead of a crawl. As a whole, my steps are lighter, my thoughts are kinder, my heart is love and I am happier.
The results are quite remarkable, and it’s a journey I will never regret, especially because my biggest lesson through these last few months has been that good truly does exist. It may be in many forms, and you may have to look deeper, but it’s there, and when you walk in the good, and the more good put out into this world, the more that comes back to you.
For me, there is no doubt that the practice of conscious positivity, kindness, gratitude, love, forgiveness, dreaming, facing fears, and self-care has shifted my internal thoughts, ideas and heart to a better place, and it’s a practice that I intend to continue, and I hope you do too.
For all who have followed me from the beginning, all who joined me in the middle, and those who I have not yet met, I thank you, and I believe in you. Be the good and continue to be the amazing you.
It is my full intention to stay the course and continue posting in the group daily, however, the format may change just a little. I know that many like a challenge, because it feels like something they can begin and end, a task they must fulfill for the day, and it’s something they can mark off the list, I would like to get away from that label, and call it “Finding You, One Day at a Time”. There are so many components to what makes you the you that you are meant to be, and happiness is only one of them.
It is also my plan to begin sharing my stepping stones to this place in my life after years of sadness, anger, blame and rebellion. I have learned through this process that while we all love to hear what we should practice, we are even more encouraged to act when we hear why we should practice.
I hope you stay tuned, as one door closes and another one opens…Welcome to Positively Love, Scene 2319, Take 40, Finding You, One Day at a Time… 😊