As Kelly, Ali, and I gather goodies and ready the lodge for the Your Story Retreat participants, please enjoy another guest post in this series of posts from a few of the ladies who have attended my retreats over the last few years. My hope is that these posts will not only give you a glimpse into the Be Present Retreats, but also invite you to realize the importance of taking time away from your daily life to recharge, connect with your kindreds, and rekindle your creativity.
And today, I am delighted to welcome Jojo Blöndal who is a kindred spirit I have been connected with since the days of Poetry Thursday way back when. Thank you for sharing your light today Jojo!
I am learning that sometimes I actually have to leave home to find home – a novel concept, but one that really is becoming true for me.
A few months back I did just that: I left my home to sink into more of me in the dew and mist of the Pacific Northwest. I traveled 1135 miles to create magic with kindreds. Strangers, really, but like-minded souls, artists and adventurers who did the exact same thing: traveled mile upon mile to escape their lives and find themselves in maple leaves, moss, and the enchantment of tall, green, majestic woods… and in an actual log cabin, no less.
I left home with a small(ish) bag filled with art supplies, fall weather gear, a slew of Moleskines, and a big desire to peel back layers of my being. This is an idea that seems strange to some: that you would get on a plane and travel, off to paint, write, eat, and commune with folks you have never met. And though two of the retreat goers were friends I had recently met, communing with strangers is a concept that fuels me. Yes, it speaks my language: adventure. An adventure with art, words, food, photography, trees, women, exploration, the sea, the forest, coffee, tea, and a labyrinth. I’m in! I left home with a few small bags, but I’d come back with bigger things. Things tucked in my heart and under my belt. Lessons learned about myself. Lessons I’ve learned before and may learn again (and maybe again). But each time, the path to this place inside me becomes more clear.
I left my husband and furry feline back in LA to go on this adventure. I said goodbye to all the things I push myself to be: überwife, recognized artist, good friend and neighbor; dependable daughter, sister, and aunt; and an irreplaceable service to my clients. And I said goodbye to the things I do, like keeping a tidy kitchen and bathroom, and making sure the linens are washed, dust bunnies corralled and plants (as well as my husband and myself) fed. I push myself hard! I do it out of love. But I stretch myself with so much grit that most days, grace seems to slip away. And eventually I must say hello to the yearning to refill my well, the whispers of an old friend that knows.
It is becoming clear to me that retreat, for me, is a necessity more than a luxury.
I arrived at my destination, welcomed with smiles and hugs and a handwritten name card. It warmed my heart to know that someone was awaiting my arrival. It reminded me that there was room for me here, that my adventure was in full swing and that I’d most certainly carved out some space to grow. I’d made it to the shade of the forest, and I sank in, with eagerness and ease. I sank in, even after surviving introductions–because as much as I love wandering to new places, the excitement (and uncertainty of it) always makes my stomach drop. I was immersed in every moment. I found new ways to look through my lens. I scouted new words with which to craft poems. I rooted about with a long brush and tubes of color to paint my story. And right next to me were beautiful strangers cracking open their tender souls to do the same. I think we were all eager. And we were all willing. And magic was made. It was inevitable.
I am learning what my heart already knows. I am learning that I must retreat to come back home. I am learning that I don’t have to be all that I think I am supposed to, to be accepted or survive or succeed. That I already have all I need. And I sit here with a smile because I will learn this again (and maybe again), but each time the path becomes more clear.
Jojo Blöndal is a graphic designer, artist, and creative personal blogger. She nurtures her soul and strawberry patch in the foothills of the Angeles Forest where she lives with her musician husband.
Jojo’s passion for creativity is rooted in celebrating the ever-changing perspectives and ever-present rhythms of her days. To preserve herself in a big city, she finds comfort in analog things - from growing succulents and herbs, to writing letters by hand and exploring daily habit with her film camera. When she’s not pushing around pixels, you might find her in a local cafe soaking up tea and sinking into a Moleskine journal.
Visit her artwork here, photography here, design work here and heart here.
All photos copyright to Jojo Blöndal.