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Welcome to my corner of the world. I'm so glad you're here. Join me in a conversation about how we build a bridge between daily life and the life we're longing for. As you explore, you'll discover stories, some of my favorite things, a whole lot of love, and perhaps even join me in a little lip syncing. Learn more about me right here.

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why retreat (with kimberly kalil)

Today, I am sharing another post in a new series of guest posts from a few of the ladies who have attended my retreats over the last few years. My hope is that these posts will give you a glimpse into the Be Present Retreats and invite you to realize the importance of taking time away from your daily life to recharge, connect with your kindreds, and rekindle your creativity.

Please welcome my kindred Kimberly today. She saved the day at the first Your Story Retreat when she literally put out a kitchen fire. But more than being a superhero in the true sense, she is also a wise, real person willing to share her story so that others will learn they are not alone. I am honored to share her words with you today.


She screams.
Spinning, a fiery top, out of control.
She gasps.
Unable to breath. Smothered by the anger.
She melts.
Fear and sorrow oozing from her feverish abyss.
She hopes.
Palms raised, she reaches out
She believes.
Grasping for light, reverie bound.
She screams.

-She Screams, by Kimberly Kalil
Written post retreat

At the start of 2011, I didn’t eat organic.

I didn’t do yoga.

I didn’t meditate.

I couldn’t write a poem to save my life.   

I wouldn’t even call myself creative.

Looking over the Your Story Retreat description the idea of “daily group gatherings that explore meditation, ritual, and everyday sacredness as ways to be more present in your daily life,” seemed absolutely foreign to me. In fact, it seemed downright nutty. I was raised by staunchly Republican, highly religious and ultra-conservative parents. My dad hunts. He slaughters the cows he raises. And there is never any talk of Zen, Buddha or anything equally as exotic or hippie-esque.

Though I’m many years removed from my parents’ home, my upbringing colors many of the decisions I make as an adult. I’d like to think of myself as somewhat progressive and open-minded, but there are times I’m downright small-town. You can take the girl out of the conservative, but you can’t take the conservative out of the girl.


Signing up for the Your Story Retreat was a leap of faith. I’m not sure what prompted me to do so, other than a desperate need to find a place in the world where I could unload my aching heart. My marriage was on the rocks. Not kind of sort on the rocks, but moments away from imploding. There was rarely a day that went by that I didn’t cry. I was turning into an angry, bitter person. I had no patience and the anger I had for my husband was seeping into every aspect of my life. I was a ticking time bomb often exploding at the most inopportune times and at people who didn’t deserve my wrath, namely my children.

On the opening night of my first Your Story Retreat I broke down in tears. Liz asked us to share a bit about ourselves and why we were there. I couldn’t articulate why I was there. I couldn’t tell the group the shame, anger and isolation I felt. All I could do was cry -- big, gulping, messy tears. My whole body shook as I let go and with tears streaming down my cheeks the most amazing thing happened:  around the circle arms opened, hearts reached for me and nurturing began. I was welcomed into a tribe of amazing, strong and loving women.

My tribe told me I was awesome. They told me I was brave. The convinced me I was strong enough to make the changes that really mattered. Each word spoken was folded up and placed in the sacred space around my heart.

Over the course of the weekend my soul was fed. At some point, I heard the following words:

“We always have a choice. It’s easy to believe we are stuck. But we all have choices … It’s your story. You can write your own story. ”

I went home a different person. I was still angry. My marriage was still in jeopardy. I still felt like a major failure. But I realized that I had to take charge of my life. There was only one way for me to get better -- if I wanted to fix my family, fix my husband or fix my life -- I had to fix me.


I became a runner.

I changed my diet.

I lost 35 pounds.

I started writing more and taking on creative projects that made me happy.

I started saying no.

I moved on and left behind the things that didn’t bring me joy. At one point that included the idea of being married and making “things” work.

Magically, being the change I wanted in the world worked to bring change not just to me, but to my husband, my family and others around me.

My marriage isn’t on the rocks anymore. My relationship with my husband is better than it’s ever been.

I yell at my children less and enjoy the benefits of greater patience.

I laugh more. A lot more.

I still don’t eat organic, though I’d like to try.

I don’t do yoga, though I’m sure it would help me.

I try to mediate, though I haven’t made it a daily practice.

Sometimes I write poetry, but it still feels less me and more forced.

But, what I am is someone in charge of her own story. Each day, I wake up and I decide how my day will unfold; I decided how to react to my challenges; I decide if I will seek joy; and I decided what matters.  Before I met Liz, I felt hopeless and out of control. Today, I know I’m at the helm of my life and my story.

This is why I retreat. 


Kimberly Kalil is a mom to two precious kiddos; wife to one cool dude; busy traveling consultant; crafter; digital memory keeper; and seeker of all things creative. She and her family make their home in Southern Arizona amid the cacti and javalinas. She’s all about the hot, dry weather of the desert – the hotter the better. 

Kimberly blogs regularly about her life, memory keeping endeavors, and creative projects at www.kimberlykalil.com. Each Monday she shares a piece of digital art she created and you can download it for free in 2012.

Read other posts in the Why Retreat series here.


A note from Liz: This September, Mindy Lacefield, Kelly Barton, and I are working together to create an incredible adventure in the Pacific Northwest. Kelly and Mindy will be co-teaching a three-day juicy, soulful painting workshop, and I will share some of my favorite creative self-care practices through mini creative adventures in topics like poetry, self-portraiture, meditation, and a few other good things. Find out more about the Unearth Retreat over here.

Reader Comments (9)

This is awesome Kimberly! So happy for you, the changes you've made in your life. Jodi

August 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterplaycrane

Very Inspiring! Thank You for sharing your raw and honest story of courage and transformation with us

August 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

How beautiful! I went on my first retreat this year & was amazing at how incredible and special an experience it was. It has changed me so much- even more the further I get into letting those changes unfold. Thank you for having the courage to share your story & be seen.

That is a beautiful testimony. So happy for your rebirth Kimberly. <3

August 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGina B.


Thank you for sharing your story.Your writing is beautiful and real. The quote you mentioned from the retreat is such a powerful message.
“We always have a choice. It’s easy to believe we are stuck. But we all have choices … It’s your story. You can write your own story. ”
Cheering you on as you continue to choose to be in charge of your own story.

August 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

Love you girlfriend and your writing is fantastic! Your story of transformation is so important and holds such meaning. Thanks so much for your courage to live it and share it. You rock!

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLiz Ness

as birdie's grandmothers said in hope floats, "my cup runeth over."

it is how i feel every time i gather and then return home. it is why i retreat. and today i needed a little reminder that i am the one who makes a choice each day how i handle my life. i love you kimberlygirl. yes i do.

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkelly

It's nice to hear your words, and a bit more of your story. Not being there the first year you went to the retreat, I was a bit uninformed about your story and your struggles. I never knew the crying, saddened, frustrated Kimberly. I know a Kimberly who is strong, has a voice, and who knows what she wants. I am certain that you are a changed woman due to the retreats and I love that for you and for your family. Thank you for sharing more about your story, I look forward to getting to know you better in the years to come. The friendships I made during the retreat this year are constantly developing. It's feels a bit like starting a book in the middle... then reading in both directions. I think I kinda like it. xoxo ~Erin

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterErin

this is so awesome. i love the story and what kimberly did with what she was given. a beautiful gift you are giving people my friend. xox

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjen goff

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