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may you feel connected + seen + adored

A day after I got back from my adventure in Oaxaca, I headed out on adventure number two — a long retreat weekend in Manzanita, on the Oregon coast, with a group of remarkable (and mostly new) friends.
What can I say about Manzanita? It is beyond stunning. I mean, seriously:

{above photo by Vivienne}
I want to move there a little bit.

As someone who’s mostly a homebody and tends to be a bit shy around new people, I knew I was pushing myself out of my comfort zone a bit by spending a weekend with a group of new friends. But something in my soul said a big, clear YES to this. I’ve been craving deep connection, deep listening, friends/peers who just GET me, for a long time. I don’t think I quite realized what I’ve been missing by not having this specific type of community in my life for, well, ever, really. 

We talked, we ate, we did morning yoga.
We gathered around each other in support and deep listening. We laughed and laughed and shared stories — of one-night-stands with a celebrity, of a coyote encounter, of name changes, of deep pain, and of family illness. Kelly Rae created the Radiate Sessions, where we focused all our attention on one person at a time, brainstorming possibility, affirming doubt, shedding light on areas where there was blindness, celebrating victories, and sharing ideas.
{above photo by Hannah}
I ran 4 miles on the glorious beach one morning with Michelle:
We took what we needed and put it under our pillows:
{above photo by Andrea}
Vivienne led us on a self-portrait photo walk that changed my world. (Have you heard of the GorillaCam app? Get it.) I learned that the magical hour for gorgeous photos is the hour right before sunset:
{above photo by Andrea}

{above photo by Vivienne}

We couldn’t get enough of twirling in the fading sun, silhouetted in the most gorgeous light:
{above 2 photos by Kelly Rae}

And being still, appreciating everything, this moment, radiating gratitude:
{above photo by Andrea}
I got sherpa-ed across a mini river by Flora, piggy-back style, because I was wearing my TOMS instead of boots. Silly me!
{above photo by Vivienne}

We reveled in the sunshine and strolled the town (here’s Kelly Rae radiating pure joy on the walk home!):
We painted and discovered the thrill of collaborative speed-painting sessions:

10 paintings in 12 minutes!
We painted on each other the words that we most needed to hear:
{above photo by Kelly Rae}

This is one of the moments during the weekend that transformed me the most. You can’t see it very well in this photo, but on my arm was painted: “I am not a burden“. Yikes, that’s as scary to write that here as it was to ask someone to paint it on my arm! But perhaps you can relate to the feeling of wanting to be a little bit invisible, of not wanting to cause a stir, of not wanting to rock the boat or to upset anyone. Yes, can you?
Seeing these words painted on my arm moved me. It woke something up inside of me. I’m NOT a burden. I’m just ME. I have rich experiences to share, and it’s ok to share them. I realized I’ve been playing small by believing what I have to say isn’t good enough sometimes and instead staying quiet. It’s ok to step into my own bigness and truly OWN that I have something meaningful to contribute to the world.
What I learned this weekend, on a deep and soul-stirring level is this: there’s nothing wrong with me, and I’m allowed to let myself off the hook and be gentle with myself. It’s ok. The entire weekend felt like a giant exhale and deep sigh of relief in the midst of a community of loving and supportive guides, teachers, and dear friends. These are my people. This is connection. Everyone deserves this, no matter what.
Since I returned home on Monday, I’ve been quietly sitting with all the goodness and light and sense of possibility that I received in Manzanita.
I am so grateful for the connection. I wish this for everyone. I didn’t realize how much it was missing from my life until I was invited into it, for a nurturing weekend with a group of remarkable women who I’m now so blessed to call my friends.
If there’s something inside of you upon reading this that’s calling out to you saying “I want that, too!”, LISTEN. I’m so thankful that I listened to that calling and showed up for it. And guess what? You can totally create it in your own life, starting right now! (Kelly Rae gives some juicy guidance on how to create your own gathering on her blog here.)
This weekend was just the beginning of my experience in how powerful it is to gather with a group of inspiring and like-minded friends and peers. What a gift. I am beginning to understand how my time in Manzanita with these wonderful women will radiate out into the rest of my relationships, including my relationship with myself. We deserve to be seen, to be heard, to be appreciated. We deserve a community in which we feel supported and uplifted and held, and we can begin creating that for ourselves, RIGHT THIS MINUTE. 

Big love to you, radiating out from me today. May you feel connected + seen + adored, standing up tall in your own light and power!

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