It wasn’t what I expected. Actually, I’m not even sure I had too many expectations. I came on a whim, in a flight of fancy . . . I really came as a last minute support for a friend who had wanted to attend one of Arise & Be’s retreats for a while. She had been wanting to go, but it always seemed like life got in the way. As moms of three kids each, both of us are more than a little busy! But stress had escalated to a breaking point. Life was unraveling way too fast. Now was better than later! So we traveled across several states to attend our first Arise & Be retreat.
Now, having been utterly unprepared, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m a adventurous person. Even in the unknown, I knew I’d be fine. Well, I wasn’t expecting this . . . Really. I could have easily handled an enthusiastic, in-your-face motivational speaker. I could have easily handled someone selling me a problem so that they could then sell me their solution. I could have definitely handled yet another “miracle cure available only today for a steal of a deal” ploy. You
know what I’m talking about – we face them every single day. Truly, this day was absolutely none of these.
Nope. Instead, a few minutes after I arrived I found myself with tears streaming down my face. Scary? Hell yeah! But why?? It took me a little while to find out. But when I did, I was shocked. I was overwhelmed by how welcomed I felt, how genuinely cared for and accepted. The depth of caring and nonjudgmental love was palpable, real, unlike anything I had experienced. It had been such a very long time since I had felt that, that my emotions responded in a fully unexpected way.
Don’t get me wrong – I was terrified. I don’t usually let my emotions out quite like that! Control is the name of the game, baby. Am I right? Are we not taught everywhere that emotions should be restrained at the very least? Nobody seemed to mind at all. In fact, the understanding and acceptance continued. In mere minutes, I was calm and peaceful, wholly absorbed in creating an artistic expression. After the introduction, we were transitioned to creating a simple, yet meaningful piece of art. Dr. Heather Penny talked to us about her research, including how art was so pivotal in both relaxation and learning.
As I drew simple lines (I’m more of a stick figure kind of person, to date – though I expect to develop as I persist :)), just the simple lines brought me peace. I absorbed what I was learning, how I was feeling, what I was making . . . it all flowed so effortlessly. The rest of the day continued to flow, the activities, the teaching, the creative time – each added together in such a well-thought out way. The atmosphere of genuine caring deepened and expanded throughout the day.
In fact, not only did I learn from what we did and what we heard, but so much of what I learned came from how I saw Heather, Sharon, Michaela, and Meredith interacting with each other and with us. That was another surprise. I’ve been to many events, conferences, etc where the speakers sort of disappear during breaks. (Am I right?? You know what I mean!) Each break all four of them were making connection and conversation a priority. (In fact, they individually
sought us out – no lines to meet the speaker here!)
Throughout the day, Heather, Sharon, Michaela, and Meredith each shared their story. They shared who they had been before, their journey, how they had met each other, and how their dream for Arise & Be had developed. Each had such a unique story, such a different set of skills, different ways of arriving where they are today. Yet what stood out the most is how their unique stories created in them this deep passion. A passion for creating a place where each of us can learn, grow, explore and create exactly the kind of life that we want most.
Bottom line, everyone, here’s the deal. This is my honest experience. I haven’t met people like this. I haven’t been somewhere where I felt so welcomed and valued. And where the value is for me, as a person, not for my customer potential! (Seriously, you know the “customer potential” feeling??) People this genuine and compassionate are beyond rare.
Turns out I was utterly unprepared for this Arise & Be retreat. I was surprised in the best of ways. I learned about myself, learned about embracing who I am, my journey, my story . . . I gained practical knowledge and tools for creating exactly the kind of life I want most. And the best part? I experienced an overwhelming sense of love and acceptance. I caught a glimpse of what deep meaningful friendships look like. I met 4 amazing women building a business they
are deeply passionate about, but who are even more passionate about the people who surround them.
Am I going back? (Seriously, do you even have to ask?? :))
– Carla Leon
March 15th, 2015
The sun was shining, the trees were swaying with a gentle breeze, and the birds were singing their hearts out. What a beautiful beginning to a fabulous day. Each one of us on the Arise & Be team were beyond excited to meet each of the women who signed up for our ‘live your journey’ retreat. Our hearts are so connected with what we get to offer, and we couldn’t wait to meet the beautiful souls who bravely stepped out of their comfort zone to spend the day with us. A day, not only relaxing, but a day filled with growth and vulnerability, intentionality and purpose.
We learnt all about honoring the whole self. We got to listen to Heather talk about intuition and Left and Right brained activities. We created masterpieces with oil pastels (use that right side of the brain, ladies!), discovered new terms like: space within and space between. We explored the words: Clarity, Kindness, Confidence, Growth, Receptivity, Vulnerability, Faith and Abundance…. and then used those words to create our ‘Life Map Cards’ for our journey. Deep conversations, sharing in our groups, beautiful questions being asked. Playing with putty as Heather read us a story. One of my favorite things was seeing all the blankets spread out under the trees as we all took time to rest after lunch. Oh, what a glorious day.
Thank you Michelle F, Shelley S, Rebecca, Shelley W, Cristal, Paige, Marjorie, Erika, Raley, Jennifer, Darlene, Amy, Jill, Jaime, Kacee, Michelle H, Lexi, Lisa W, Liana and Lisa H.
Each one of you inspired us. We are so FOR you and we can’t wait to see each of you soar.
Live deeply and with freedom, dear friends.
What a ride 2014 has been! With the launch of Arise&Be and the incredible growth we witnessed, I think of my word for the year — ENJOY — and I realized how during this incredible journey of stepping outside my comfort zone, I experienced joy like I never had before. I think of it like the roller coaster that terrifies you and thrills you all at the same time and even though you want it to be over…you find yourself back in line for another ride.
I came to learn how joy has many faces…and being uncomfortable for the sake of creating a larger life to engage in an adventure of a lifetime…does bring joy. Even when you’re risking like you’ve never done before.
More specifically, I witnessed how joy is manifested and how it can be so elusive…so unexpected…so unplanned…so surprisingly authentic. Honestly, I’m still trying to understand my journey with ‘Enjoy’. But what I observed most about joy was how it is often stolen…and how I allow it.
For instance, when I kept my focus on ‘What I am Doing versus Who I am Becoming’, I lost my compass and I’d find myself anxious, frustrated and restless. It was easy to compare my achievements with others (which we all know zaps the very joy out of anything and conjures the green-eyed monster of jealousy) and I strived more with less results.
I found that as I switched my gaze toward ‘Who I am Becoming’ such as being a person who offers peace and love, it empowered me to return to my life path as it simultaneously engaged my compass for next steps. I stepped into conversations better, declined invitations that didn’t align with my values, and initiated steps toward inspiring goals. And I felt myself exhale with a ‘there you are, Heather’ sense of well-being. Peace with myself and the life I was choosing was restored.
As I end 2014, I realize I have only scratched the surface of enjoying life. I want more. So, for 2015, I’m engaging this word again with the phrase, PRECIOUS PRESENT, to remind me how staying fully present with my life keeps me enjoying what’s right in front of me.
My heart is for you as you engage more joy in your life for 2015.
With warm thoughts,