Listening To Your Heart. Finding A Way.

by | Apr 21, 2024 | Articles | 0 comments

Before the pandemic turned all of our lives completely upside down, I had a thriving, in-person retreat business. I held weekend and four day non-residential retreats at my Oakland studio and took people on week long residential retreats in fabulously beautiful places like the red rock landscape of New Mexico, the mountainous High Sierras, the forested California wine country and the California coast overlooking the ocean.
I loved the healing magic that would happen when I invited people to step out of their normal routines and leave home to devote a number of days in sacred circle with other creative folks painting their wild hearts out and listening deeply to their souls and intuition.
But even though Creative Juices Arts was born almost 30 years ago, the retreat part of my business didn’t happen right away. For the first 5 years of my new practice I offered only weekly Wild Heart intuitive painting classes, Creative Juices classes and ran a couple of creativity based women’s groups out of my studio in Oakland.
I opened the doors to my creativity classes in November of 1994 and my business grew slowly and steadily over the next 5 years. I also continued to attend workshops and classes as a participant to fill my own creative well during this time. And in September 1998 I took myself to a painting and shamanism retreat at a place called the Ghost Ranch Conference Center in Abiquiu, New Mexico and fell completely and totally head over heels in love with the land Georgia O’Keefe made famous with her skull and desert paintings.
And I was determined to one day hold my own week long retreat there. It took a couple of years but in January of 2000 I sent out a snail mailing ( this was in prehistoric times before social media and the internet) to my existing list of maybe 500 people and within a week had filled the event that was scheduled for September of that year.
I had organized and facilitated a couple of weekend workshops at my Oakland studio prior to this time, but taking people out state for a WEEK to a venue where I had to build a studio, get all the supplies there, organize the lodging and deal with peoples meals was a brand new experience and a BIG stretch for me.
It was a LOT of work but essentially this first retreat went off without any MAJOR hitches. And as far as I was concerned it was an unequivocal success.
Facilitating this retreat made me ecstatically happy … for real… and I couldn’t WAIT to do it again. I felt like I had truly found my creative calling. So I booked another retreat with Ghost Ranch for the following September.
I live in California, and for the first retreat I flew into Albuquerque, rented a van, bought supplies and drove the 2 1/2 hours from the airport to the venue. And was planning on doing the same thing for the second retreat.
On the lead up to that second retreat there had been some wonky stuff happening. I was planning to ship some of the supplies and there had been problems with the mail service. Some people from the first year weren’t happy with the existing lodging and I had to find some different options. There were food issues. And reshuffling of participants. All normal retreat stuff but it seemed like there was a LOT of it. And a few days before the retreat, things were beginning to calm down and I started to feel like I could relax.
The retreat was scheduled to begin on a Saturday and I remember waking up on the Tuesday morning prior to the workshop and lying in bed thinking that nothing else could possibly go wrong.
Which is something that I have learned since to NEVER, ever think again. Because the date on that Tuesday was September 11, 2001.
Now remember… there was no internet at that time. I didn’t have my phone or my computer feeding me the 24 hour news cycle. I had NO idea that the world had actually blown up until I got out of bed and walked to the post office in my neighborhood. I could feel that something was off. People were freaked out and in shock. And when I got to the post office I asked someone in line ahead of me what was going on and found out about the attack on the Twin Towers. Of course, my first reaction was total disbelief and overwhelm like everyone else.
But almost immediately I was thinking about the retreat that was supposed to begin in four days on September 15th and asking myself, what in the name of all that is holy was I going to do about that???
I had two immediate choices. I could either cancel the retreat or still try to make it happen.
I took a bit of time to connect with the soul of the retreat and asked it what IT wanted. And it was pretty clear that it wanted me to take the risk to go ahead with the workshop. Plus I really hate canceling ANYTHING that I have put in motion. I must have had a past life in the theatre because I am definitely “The show must go on” kind of girl.
So I said OK. And began making plans. I couldn’t fly because all the airlines had shut down. And I had no idea when the planes would start flying again. It was Tuesday and I found out it was a 20 hour drive, door to door from my home in California and the Ghost Ranch Conference Center. So I knew I had to leave by Thursday to get there in time.
Tim was still working a full time job in the corporate world and wasn’t too crazy about the idea of me making that drive on my own. So he started looking into what would it mean to take that much time off so we could drive together. Then one of my retreat participants stepped up and said she LOVED road trips and would be happy to take her car and drive with me to New Mexico.
So we packed up the car and got on the road. At this point I STILL didn’t know if any of the other participants were going to be able to make it because they were coming from all over and needed the planes to be operational.
As we were driving across the country I spent a lot of time perusing the skies that were strangely and weirdly empty. Praying that ALL the planes would begin flying soon. Because if they didn’t, it was going to be a very small and very expensive workshop for me.
Because there were no cell phones or computers I didn’t know what was happening with my participants while I was on the road. I had called them all before I left town to let them know that as far as I was concerned the retreat was still a GO! And there was a shared sense of trust with us all that somehow this was going to happen.
My student and I got to Ghost Ranch on Saturday, September 15th with all the supplies and by the time the workshop was scheduled to start that evening every single participant had showed up.When we came together there was such a sense of camaraderie and celebration that we had all managed to get to the event in the face of this incredibly daunting obstacle.
This unexpected adventure taught me a LOT about trust, about listening to my heart and about my own resilience in the face of an apparently impossible situation. Because the truth of it was I really WANTED to do that retreat. More than just about anything. I couldn’t imagine NOT doing it. It meant way too much to me. And I wasn’t about to let a little thing like a national emergency get in the way.
This was a direct experience of how the power of my heartfelt and authentic desire could help me find a way to deal with whatever life was throwing my way and make this thing I wanted a reality. Even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
It taught me to trust in my deep intuitive knowing. And also taught me to remember that my heart is often way wiser than my head. And reminded me that just because I can’t always see a clear path ahead, doesn’t mean that there’s not a way to move forward towards my visions and my dreams.



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe To Our Newsletter



Come and be a part of my wild heart circle of creative soul revolutionaries, magic kingdom makers and the sacred clan of intuitive painting wisdom. I will send you my monthly newsletter and occaisonal emails about my events and classes.

You have Successfully Subscribed!