Thoughts on the “Offer your Story” retreat…

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.

Carla Leon

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

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Is your life your own?

3 Ways to Offer our Life Story Well

In his book, Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer talks about his noble ambitions to live up to a high standard by observing great lives and emulating the loftiest of ideals.  However, in his quest to achieve a high standard of living, he realized how false his life began to feel. In his words he had “simply found a noble way to live a life that was not my own, a life spent imitating heroes instead of listening to my heart.”

What does it mean to listen to our own hearts and live the life that only we are meant to live?

1-We take the time to pull away and listen to the whispers of our hearts.  

What is important to me?  How am I aligning my time and resources to listen to my heart well?  

2-We honor all that we have lived and anticipate more story yet to be written.

How do I honor my failings and my successes?  How do I get to use what I have lived to finish writing my story well?  What is my best to offer the world?  What am I anticipating?

3-We OWN the responsibility of writing our life stories and intentionally offering it back.  Where do I need more support for the story I want to offer?  How do I want to finish well?  What is the legacy I want to leave?  How is Divine Love guiding my story?  What is blocking me?

Why is it so important to be intentional about writing our life stories well and offering it back?

Because just like our own unique fingerprints…so is the story for your life.  The world is waiting for you to show up and offer your story well.

I learned this life lesson well teaching in East L.A.  With a low socio-economic at-risk community of middle school children, I was hired to teach English.  As I learned to trust my intuition by incorporating the arts and integrating the right side of their brain to both soothe their spirit as well as energize their creative thinking, I watched the test scores go up.  I witnessed a population that had consistently failed begin to succeed at high rates.  What if I had passed over this position?  What if I had ignored my instinct to incorporate art?  What if I had dismissed the whispers of my heart to find creative ways to support the journey of these children?

We each have the joy of living fully present with our lives to offer the story that only we can offer.

My heart is with you and for you as you step nobly into your story and offer it to our world, Heather

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