So this retreat thing. I’ve been struggling for 2 weeks trying to explain to everyone what the Fall 2015 Embrace The Wobble Yoga retreat is about. Then in a conversation on Facebook a thought occurred to me: just explain it! Tell your story about it!
And now, my Open Space story.
When I was 22, my mom invited me to go to a conference. She had been to the one the year before and had a good time. Basically, I was thinking all these freeze-dried hippies got together at a nice resort on Lake Superior and sat around in a circle and sang Kum Ba Yah all weekend long, with incense and tie dye. Since my mom was paying the conference fee, lodging, and meals, I figured, “What the hell?……It’ll be nice by the lake at any rate.”
So, on the first day, we all (around 60 of us) get in this big circle, and the King Hippie (A very cool man named Harrison Owen–wearing a hat but no tie dye) begins to explain the weekend, and how beauty and order come from chaos, and how a little of that is a very healthy thing in our lives, and when we are willing to put our issues and challenges out there for others to see and collaborate on, we get a whack load of shit done in a very short amount of time (my words, not his, and PS, there were some very high-powered people in the room, I learned later, and they were more deep thinkers, business moguls, and wonderful artists–with a touch of hippie in there too).
So then, we were all invited to put down topics of interest, concern, passion, or struggle on a sheet of paper and tape it to this big blank wall called the “Marketplace.” A bunch of papers went up. Then, we were all invited to take a look at the papers—the topics—and put our names down on the papers of interest to us. There was a unifying theme to this whole bizarre thing, but for the life of me I cannot remember what it was. I just put my name down on some of the topics that looked fun to talk about.
What happened next was this: I remember not a thing, really, about what was discussed. It was 18 years ago, after all. What I remember is the way I felt. Every group I joined welcomed me fully and cared about what I thought. Some of the talks ended up being about my stuff and the group focused on helping me work through thoughts, ideas, solutions, etc. to whatever we were puzzling through. In other groups I mainly listened and helped others where I thought I could.
Not once did anyone pat me on the head for being one of the youngest people there. Not once was I asked to leave a group or given the once-over, or non-verbally told I wasn’t welcome at the cool kids’ table. Never was it implied that my thoughts and views weren’t relevant or important.
After a life of being on the fringes, struggling to find my place, and feeling awkward in groups, I found acceptance and welcome. I felt powerful and expansive and humbled and grateful all at the same time. I felt extreme joy and the freedom to PLAY with these other weirdos. Maybe sort of like ComicCon, only existential and sans storm trooper costumes? I don’t know. I DO know during the celebration party and dance, I found myself playing DJ and getting the whole room to get up and move. People were asking geeky ME to show them how to dance like I did. Holy shit. How is that even possible?
Needless to say, this was a life-changing experience to say the least.
I went to another such conference a couple summers later, and the theme was different. This time, as a fledgling manager in my job, I came away with all sorts of tools for people skills, leadership, training and facilitation—-everything that has been a springboard for where I am now.
And the same feeling of personal power, importance, acceptance, love, and value permeated the whole weekend.
Fast forward to now. I want to host a retreat because people need escapes that do not require airplanes and four thousand dollars. I want to throw a little yoga in there (duh), but really, I want to create the space for the same feelings described above to occur for a group of 50 of my newest friends. I want to create the opportunity for expanded community and turbo-charged problem solving. I want to create a memorable experience in the beauty of nature with folks who want to go deep and laugh long.
So, if this all sounds good to you, I hope you will come play with me in September. I don’t know exactly what will happen, but I know it will be good. And if there is one thing we all need more of, it’s goodness.
See you in a few months at Dancing Yarrow, Wobblers. And, here’s some early-bird incentive. Register in the next two weeks and save fifty bucks. I REALLY want you to party with me.
To sign up visit our site here: Embrace the Wobble Retreat
Take care and have a great week!