This is something I have been meaning to share for a long time. I couldn't bring myself to share it though, and I now think it is because what I want to share is sacred. It is a story about me bearing witness to a dream unfolding into reality before my very eyes.

It all happened in a little cottage on an unspoiled beach on the shore of Lake Michigan.

I asked my mom, Kathleen, to describe this place. She said, "Imagine yourself being plucked out of your everyday life and immersed in a vintage cottage setting with nature - water, sand, trees, and lake breezes blowing against your skin. It is enchanting, and it allows one to be heart connected with self and nature."

Heaven on Earth

It was a dream come true to gather with a group of soulful women in this magical place, a place that is very dear to me and a place that somehow seems to capture the hearts of all who visit. For years and years I had dreamed of holding retreats for women, and one day I decided to go for it - to have a retreat in my family's cottage on the beach.

My mom went on to say, "We just don't give ourselves enough opportunities to step out of what we know into something new - to be nurtured in a safe environment where all our needs are met and we have the freedom to be creative and express ourselves." 

Stepping out of what I know...

The women who gathered with me last September will always hold a special place in my heart. This was my very first retreat in my family's cottage in Kewadin, Michigan. It is a great honor and privilege to be entrusted with another woman's time. Time is such a huge, incredible gift in this day and age. Time is precious. I did not want to take that gift of another's time for granted.

My intention was to make the most of that time - to take away the daily worries that can bog us down, like what to eat and how to prepare it. I wanted each woman to enjoy the freedom of owning her time - to spend it in the ways that work for her, rather than to spend it in ways that revolve around what works best for others. And also to hold space for thoughtful, deliberate experiences centered around art and opening our hearts to each other, our surroundings, and most importantly - to ourselves.

Beauties on the Beach

I asked my long time friend Andi, our personal chef for our time together, to create meals that she would eat if she was taking the absolute best care of herself. She walked in with the most colorful, nutritious, local, and organic fruits and vegetables I have ever seen. Her meals were feasts for our eyes and our stomachs. We were very well fed. And, the best part was, none of us even had to think about it!

Andi's delectable offerings

I asked my dear friend and yogini, Heather to lead us through some heart opening stretching and breathing exercises. Her first class, looking out on the Lake, was one of my favorite yoga classes ever.

Namaste

As I prepare for my next retreat in May, I wonder what it is that makes a retreat so appealing? For me, the retreat experience is about returning to what we, as women, were made to do - to connect and to create in community. This - connecting and creating - is something that comes so naturally to us, and yet very few of us are in the practice of  allowing ourselves to do it. Instead, we spend much of our time helping others to connect and create.

I believe we think we are doing what is best for ourselves, our families, and the people with whom we work. I believe we trust that our time to connect and create will come later. The truth is, with so much being asked of us, we are worn out. We are exhausted and depleted. We can't go on like this. We need to recharge, restore, and renew. We need to fill the well that provides so many in our lives with running water. When we allow ourselves this time for renewal, we come back FULL and we are way more effective at whatever it is we set out to do.

Group selfie!

Making art together

Whenever I find myself in the midst of women creating together, I look around me, and it is almost as if I can see our mothers, our grandmothers, and all the women who came before us, gathered around a fire making meals together or circled around a quilt sewing together. Together, women empower each other. We reflect each other's lights right back to each other. We lift and hold and support each other.

Because we are all connected, we gain so much from connecting with each other. And, feeling safe in the community of one another, with all our needs met and surrounded by the beauty of nature, we can connect to ourselves - to our own hearts and souls and all the wisdom and power that resides within.

Something powerful has occurred in each of my retreat experiences. I have made lifelong friends from complete strangers. I have created beautiful things and eaten delicious foods. I leave feeling blissful and inspired. In reflecting upon these life changing moments, what I appreciate most is that time I carved out for myself. It wasn't easy to do. It always requires a lot of coordinating. It can be a bit of a logistical nightmare.

I never regret it though. Attending a retreat is like opening the front door to my own heart and inviting myself in. Retreats provide time and space to reconnect to myself. That connection - between the me you see scrambling around town and who I am on the inside - that is what it means to be heart connected. Being heart connected means coming home to yourself and living from that sacred space.

The story I came here to tell continues… I'm not done making dreams come true for myself, or helping other women to make their dreams come true. It has become a habit. We all deserve the gift of time and a beautiful place in which to spend it.

I have a few spots left in my upcoming retreat May 1-4...

Your Heart Connected Guides, Kathleen, Andi, Heather, and Anna

And I would love nothing more than for you to join us! Come on, get heart connected!

For more information, click here.
To register for May's retreat, click here.

xoxoxo