Two weekends ago, I had the honor & privilege to attend the Creative Joy retreat in Garrison, New York with more than 60 other amazing women and three incredible leaders. It was held at the the spectacular Garrison Institute (post & photos to follow), and was one of the most incredible things I’ve done in a really long time. There aren’t going to be enough superlatives and adjectives to do this experience justice, but I’ll try to tell you how my life was deeply impacted through playing with yoga, photography, & writing as I nurtured my creative juices.
We all met several times each day in the main sanctuary for morning mediation, the writing workshop, or evening gatherings. I loved the way the group of women circled up, sprawled out on the floor, mats & journals ready for inspiration to strike. I can’t say enough praises for Jen Louden (writing), Marianne Elliot (yoga), and Tracey Clark (photography) who inspired and challenged us throughout the weekend to be silly, try new things, trust ourselves, to listen to ourselves, to tell our story, to be seen, and to embrace our beautiful.
The whole weekend away was amazing & I can’t believe I’ve never been to a retreat before. It reminded me of college- from the tiny dorm rooms to the family style dining in the cafeteria. It was a great opportunity to step out of my normal, everyday life long enough to do some soul-searching, some healing, some thinking, and just plain have some fun on an adventure. Yes, it’s pretty much everything you imagine a group of talented & wickedly vivacious women would do- dance, sing, cry, laugh, share, meditate, and hug!
I bought a special Creative Joy journal from Chickadee Road & loved filling up the pages with writing and jotting down my random thoughts & documenting my weekend. Since returning home, I’ve finished out the small journal by adding lyrics from some of my favorite songs from the weekend & gluing in some of my favorite photos. I’ve turned into a little bit of a journal junkie lately, so I loved seeing everybody else’s beautiful notebooks.
I arrived at the retreat super pumped to be doing 2 of my absolute favorite things in the world- yoga & photography. I’m not a huge writer by any means, but I wanted to get better so I was eager for those sessions too. However, many of the women on the retreat were quite nervous about yoga and/or photography since they didn’t have fancy cameras or had never really tried yoga. My absolute favorite part of the weekend was seeing so many women fall in love with both yoga & photography when it was offered to them in a gentle, fun, supportive way. Tracey & Marianne did such an amazing job of sharing the joy, fun, and passion with the ladies that many were excited and thrilled to experiment and play in a new arena.
To make things a bit more manageable, we broke up into small groups once a day to do a little more intimate checking in & getting to know each other. One evening, we went out side (once they ridiculous heat had subsided) and practiced catching the light during the magic hour just as the sun set behind the mountains on the other side of the Hudson River.
Each evening, one of the 3 women shared a bit of their personal story with us and how they’d overcome various obstacles. Jen, Marianne, and Tracey are all such incredibly strong, smart, and funny ladies and it was an absolute pleasure getting to know them more.
It was such a wonderful weekend for me on so many levels. It’s part of a long slow process to do some healing, do some processing of my thoughts & emotions, to learn more about myself. I’d highly recommend a retreat- even if it’s not a formal, organized one, do a mini-self retreat (Jen’s first book The Woman’s Retreat is on this very subject). I do a ton of traveling, but have never gone away with purpose & it was so valuable, I will try to keep doing it at least once a year in the future. I came away from this experience with so much more than I ever imagined- I just thought I was showing up to a whole weekend of yoga, photography & writing, but it was such a beautiful and awesome transformational experience for me.
GOOD NEWS OF THE DAY: A day late on the blogging all week, but that’s just fine by me.