I wanted to write a blow by blow wrap up of everything I experienced at the Ultimate Girls Week Away (UGWA) Retreat. The workshop learnings, the people I met, the wicked inspiration from Liz Gilbert. But I can’t. It’s really hard to explain it all in words adequately. So instead, I want to share this very honest personal experience with you: my UGWA Fiji Retreat – a reflection.
I love retreats. I love to plan them, host them, attend them. I love the experience of being away from home, of being away from my children (bless them!), of being away from the supermarket, the running around to activities and the myriad responsibilities. I love the deep work and productivity that happens when you remove all other distractions, when you focus, when there is accountability, and when you only have yourself to worry about. I love the incredible results I’ve been able to elicit from my participants and the exciting energy those results inject back in me.
But my history with retreats has largely been in creating and facilitating experiences for business people, men and women, who want to get specific work done or attain particular skills. Yes we do them in luxurious places with plenty of pampering, but the focus has been on getting shit done. My experience has NOT been in the space of ‘women’s things’. In fact I’ve largely avoided these types of events; I’ve never been drawn to them. So when I knew I’d be amongst a lot of very feminine energy at UGWA, co-facilitating with mostly healers and energy workers and the like, and part of a group of hundreds of women all searching for something (my perception!), I felt uneasy. I didn’t need or want healing or fixing, and I didn’t see myself as the same as them. And whilst I consider myself a very feminine woman who is curious about spirituality and alternative healing, I also consider myself to be very grounded, practical and quite masculine in my approach to business, sport and relationships. I felt out of place.
It’s me not you
Although I’m not surprised at my initial uneasiness, I was alarmed at the strength of my reaction, even right up until the first couple of days on retreat. I’d reconciled that I probably wouldn’t fit in. But I was fine with it. It didn’t worry me to not contribute to all the ‘womenly, soul-filled business!’ I knew I’d still deliver excellent value through my writing workshops and panel appearance and one-on-one sessions and then I’d just go swimming or drink cocktails. At worst I would get a great tan, have a much-needed relax, get to meet my authorly crush – Liz Gilbert – and get a bunch of my own writing done.
I had no idea however, just how powerful the pull to be included would be. Not in a schoolyard FOMO kind of way, but rather because I found myself unable to resist the desire to imbibe new possibilities in my life. I became open to feeling differently, to letting my heart go where it hadn’t gone for a while, to giving my head a break, and to letting my intuition take the lead. I spent a lot of time alone, but also made a lot of meaningful connections. I wondered ‘what if?’ rather than ‘what next?’ I let the tears roll right down my cleavage rather than whisk them off my cheeks. I listened more than I spoke. I was genuinely curious rather than politely interested. I said YES more than NO. I wrote freely rather than with purpose. I moved where the music took me rather than where the choreography dictated. I sought a hug when I needed it rather than dust myself off.
I realised it was actually just ME who needed to be included back in MY life. It wasn’t about anyone or anything else. It wasn’t about seeking validation or new friends or new ways. It was a coming home to the old glorious me I used to trust and treat so well… the young gal who wasn’t so scheduled and sensible and driven to be right all the time.
Thank you Ultimate Girls Week Away for helping me come home to me.