Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Last year, I realized I was experiencing depression. I'd gone through burn-out, an identity crisis, many high stress life situations (good and not so good), financial crisis, and I was experiencing chronic pain with no solutions. It seemed it all began when I made a huge step to change my life, leave my job, house and business, and begin traveling the world. I started my life with my husband and had a second child. My oldest was having worldly experiences and was happy. Life was truly wonderful. And my downward spiral was beginning at the same time my life was amazing.
I had come to that point in your life when you let your guard down. Maybe I could no longer go on the way I was - go go go.... do do do. I was present for my oldest child. I was lucky enough to know that the years pass quickly so be present for every moment. And I was. And I'm thankful of that because I hear so many people talk about missing their children growing up. I did not miss her growing up, and I loved every moment of it... most of which were as a single Mom. Somehow, and with the help of my parents, I managed to be there for her for it all, have a fabulous career, and take care of my health. I didn't have much money, I put my dreams on hold... but I was happy.
It certainly wasn't a bad life.
We all know, though, that when we continue down a path that imprisons your Self, no matter how good it looks, we will eventually hit a wall.
My life had a lot of meaning. I was a Mom and revelled in my relationship with my daughter. I was in a leadership role in my work and had opportunities to work with amazing people and businesses to create change - personally and organizationally. And I did. But somewhere along the way, I felt I lost my identity and everything began to shift. I lost my purpose. I hit the wall... but I pushed through the wall for a few more years. I was often exhausted and in pain. I found myself lost in business and, frankly, lost in life.
I was lucky to have my husband and oldest daughter to help. I did not have to get up and go to a job because my business income (as limited as it was) was not required to put food on the table. If that had been the case, I probably would have been fired for low performance. I had no idea I was depressed. I fought it really hard. And I probably never would have told anyone. In fact, when my husband suggested I might be, I said I was not. I tried to hide it as much as possible - from everyone.
I shifted my business a kazillion times... never quite fully committing to what I was doing and constantly making changes. I was unfocused and simply didn't know what I wanted. One day, I decided to go after the dream. You know that dream you had when you were 20 but you knew you had to go to school and make money to survive, so the dream was put on the back burner?
That dream for me was having a retreat centre. It was called A Piece of Peace. And it's been sitting in my mind for over 20 years.
So I talked to a business advisor about how to make this happen. She told me I'd never make money at it around here and advised me to not do it.
But, just like in the past when something was really important to me, the fire in my belly took over. Somehow, I drummed up the energy to organize a yoga retreat... and somehow I decided it had to be a yoga AND creativity retreat! WHAT?!
I'm not a painter or sculptor or singer or designer of any kind. But I knew deep down that creativity was key. I just didn't know why. I always enjoyed creative activities - I danced most of my life - but I did not KNOW anything about it. So why did I think I had to have a creativity retreat?
Things happened that you couldn't plan... like... an artist approached me to hold a retreat and wanted to help. I was still contemplating the whole idea and hesitated but finally gave in and said yes. So I worked long hours designing, marketing, and preparing for this yoga and creativity retreat. I had no idea if anyone would register, but I went ahead and booked the space and food. I had many bumps in the road, but the retreat ended up being perfect. It was the perfect size. The perfect location. The perfect people showed up.
Participants gave amazing feedback. I was thrilled I could offer these people something they wanted. Needed. Valued. Some of them had deep insights - not that it is a requirement for a great retreat. And I found something too.
I found myself.
I had forgotten who I was. I lost my purpose. The time leading up to the retreat, I found me. And I realized, I'd been depressed... for quite a long time. I felt like I just opened up a window that had been stuck and I could finally get some fresh air. It was a step towards healing.
I knew I would hold more retreats. And I knew they would help people. But, I still didn't know exactly how... even though I'd had this personal experience and others came to me telling me how the retreat impacted them profoundly.
My next Unleash Your Creative Spirit Retreat is May 27-29. And I've been marketing it without really understanding the whole purpose of it. The other day I realized what I found is what others can find.
A passion and zest for life.
It is not necessary to have lost your purpose or passion to attend this retreat because a dose of self-expression is good at any time. But if you feel lost, overwhelmed, empty, or like you've hit the wall, this retreat can help to give you the space to realize your Self. Creativity is a form of self expression, and when we feel lost, accessing that place where we can truly express ourselves can save us.
When I was in a state of depression, I felt I added no value to this world. I knew it was silly to think this way, but I truly could not see it. I knew people would be sad if I was not here. But I did not believe I was adding value by being here. I felt so strongly about this that I wouldn't dare tell anyone I felt this way in fear of what they would think or say. I was not interested in people telling me I did add value or I just had to change my perspective. I needed to go inside to create space and cultivate something... anything... that felt good again.
The process of creating the Unleash Your Creative Spirit Retreat itself cracked open my soul and cultivated a spark of something that felt good. Although I was leading the retreat, the energy, participation, and feedback from the participants made me realize I did something good. Although this feedback made me feel valuable... the best part of it all was the realization that my true value is simply being here... and taking steps to make things happen that ignite my soul. And that passion will ripple outward, just by being truly me.
The Unleash Your Creative Spirit Retreat offers a step to ignite your soul. If you are interested in this retreat, email firstname.lastname@example.org. More details can be found on the Facebook event page for Unleash Your Creative Spirit ~ A Yoga and Creativity Retreat.