Mindfully Restored Retreats: Joshua Tree National Park

Let me just start out by saying that I am not an extrovert. I hate public speaking, hosting or doing anything that puts a spotlight over my head. I’m an introvert and my comfort zone is in the back where no one can even make real eye-contact with me. As a leader, and yes, I consider myself a leader, I’ve really had to combat those fears. I’ve had to move out of my comfort zone and take up a permanent residence in an unfamiliar land, known as Growth. It’s just south of Two Super Sweaty Palms, maybe you’ve heard of it? Well, putting together AND co-leading a retreat that was based on authenticity and building community was definitely uncomfy. Mind you, Kerry (co-host for Mindfully Restored Retreats and the Founder of The Obsessive Outsiders) is an INCREDIBLE and eloquent speaker. She naturally has a leadership energy about her…so yeah, I had some nerves that I wouldn’t be able to keep up.

As clear as I was on my intentions for this retreat, I was still nervous. I’m sure I annoyed the heck out of Kerry with all the “what ifs” that were cycling through my mind. What if I couldn’t make an impact with these individuals? What if they didn’t get along with each other? What if I couldn’t hold space for someone and they didn’t feel that support of community? So much uncertainty and trust me, there were multiple moments that I wanted to back out. My fear of failure and the need for perfectionism was close to sabotaging my commitment to this community. A few weeks before the retreat, I was journaling and I remembered something that one of my mentors taught me years ago. She taught me the importance of showing up, especially in the thick of uncertainty. Commitment and presence being two essential practices that I need to be consistent with, in all aspects of my life. Not having attachments to the way things “should go” and having a heart that is open enough to receive the experience that is coming, not the experience that I think “needs” to occur. Not trying to control the outcome of the weekend. Just showing up and allowing it all to come together…or fall apart. Ah, not a comfy process at all!

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Well, the experience ended up being perfect. Beyond perfect, actually! It was better than perfectionism’s expectation because it was organic. A group of real strangers showed up and opened their hearts to each other. And it was PURE magic. Many of us felt resistant throughout the weekend in different ways, but we all managed to walk away from the weekend feeling connected and changed in some way. There were a lot of breakthroughs (EXAMPLE: KERRY CLIMBING THE ROCKS LIKE A BADASS EVEN THOUGH SHE WAS FREAKING OUT) and breakdowns. All of them were sequential though, each one building on the other.

This entire retreat was centered around the invitation to show up exactly as you are. No masks allowed. Yet, this is where my resistance manifested. I found myself wanting to put a mask on. I noticed that I was placing unrealistic expectations on myself to hide away some of the things that were coming up for me. I kept thinking “ I’m a host, I can’t share that I’m feeling triggered. I can’t show my emotions. I need to hold space for them, not ask them to hold space for me!” So, I called myself out to the group and I asked them to hold space for me, which changed the entire experience, not just for me…but for them. Every person’s energy and contribution count.

One of the biggest lessons/insights that I took away from the experience was that I do NOT need to have it all together to be a great coach and mentor. No one has it all figured out and when I really think about the mentors that I seek out personally, it’s always the ones who are most real about who they are, what they’ve gone through and how they navigate their current experiences now.  It’s always the ones who allow themselves to be human and show their human-ness to the world. Unapologetically. I don’t resonate with the picture-perfect people who filter out their reality on social media, I’m drawn to the people who show their messes to their tribe. The people who own their choices and take responsibility for creating the life they want. When it comes to life, especially in recovery, no one has it all figured out. My process doesn’t look like yours and yours doesn’t look like mine. None of the details matter though. What matters is authenticity. What really matters is transparency and vulnerability. This retreat was such validation and confirmation that having a strong community to support you is the most powerful and valuable tool you can have. It’s also something that never loses it’s value. Ever.

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I’m so grateful for the amazing memories, deep connection and friendships we made!

CHEERS TO FOUR DAYS IN THE (TOASTY) DESERT TOGETHER!