This year was my second year at the NEXT idea Creativity Retreat. This is New England’s Creativity Retreat where you can learn, connect, try new things, go deep inside, and have lots of fun. Last year I was at a different place in my life, just starting my Creatively Fit Coaching Certification program. I was quieter and more of an observer at times, learning what the retreat was like and getting to slowly know people, which is my style anyway as I am quite the introvert. I made some good friends. It is amazing to go someplace and just know you fit here. These are “my people.”
So this year, I was more comfortable and more confident and I was so in need of this retreat. I was going to see friends and meet new people, try new things, do some introspective and innovative work, and release a lot that was weighing me down. As soon as I arrived, I went in to register and saw my friend and fellow creatively fit coach Lynette, who had just arrived before me. What great timing! She kindly helped me find my room and carry my bags and I got settled in.
Since there was time before the first official opening event, I decided to venture on the grounds and found the labyrinth. I wasn’t feeling very relaxed or grounded so this was a good opportunity for me to get centered. I set my things down, it was getting dark but I could see the main buildings from where I was and I just took deep breaths and I walked. I started to worry, oh my god what if a wild animal finds me and no one knows I am here?!?! Then I told myself outloud, you are safe and protected, over and over again. I have been needing a lot of root chakra work and this was an example of that. I needed to get grounded and feel safe. As I continued through the labyrinth, something amazing happened and I completely relaxed. I felt so calm and peaceful by the time I was done that I did a short reiki meditation before heading back to civilization.
Our opening event was Zentangles. I had books on it but this really walked me through the process and I finally got it. It is really relaxing and centering, I guess I needed more of that because it felt great. After that we had dinner and social time. I actually socialized until very late, so unlike me, but it felt good.
Saturday started early with times for sessions and you could choose one of 3 options for each one. My first session was taught by Judith de Zanger and it was Soar With Your Strengths. It was a session about focusing on using your strengths instead of on improving your weaknesses and combining those strengths with your values and passions. I had taken the quiz for strengths beforehand and was not entirely thrilled with my results, though both my boyfriend and Judy herself told me my strengths were great ones to have. I of course longed more to be like the things I scored lower in. She made sure I was aware that we all have all of these qualities, we are just stronger in certain ones. This made me feel better, as well as the exercises that followed. We had to choose a random item from the table. One of the exercises involved a free writing activity about the item we chose and we shared what we wrote afterwards. I was told that I should post mine somewhere, so here it is.
I am a piece of driftwood. I have lived a full life that shows on my surface. I am rich and full of texture. My striations are unique and only I have them. I am covered in patterns and designs from nature, not man-made. I have broken pieces but that makes me beautiful. I am shaped like a flying bird or an airplane. there are sparkling bits of sand on me, reminding me of where I have been. I am many shades of a color, not just one. I am rough and smooth at the same time. Even though I am rough, I am still delicate. Be gentle with me. Treat me with kindness. I represent nature. I have cracks on my surface. I have many layers. I am full of bumps and curves. My wavy lines show you the place I come from. ~Heather Shalhoub
I got very emotional while writing this, and while reading it out loud to share. It hit me while I was writing but when we shared, we were asked if what we wrote was about ourselves. There was so much in this workshop, I am in disbelief that it was only 90 minutes long. It was just that good.