"We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection."
I just returned from a magical trip to Italy.
Two days before the trip, I celebrated a milestone birthday.
Several weeks before my birthday, I attended the funeral of my younger brother. The rampant gun violence that is far too prevalent in this country made its way into my family.
The timing could not have been more perfect.
I signed up for Jen Pastiloff's Tuscany retreat last year and have been looking forward to it for months: a sublime blend of some of my favorite things: yoga, Italy, Jen's unique and wonderful workshops. I had no idea exactly what to expect, but left with an open heart (I thought) and an open mind. Ready to dive deep and have a transformational experience.
My heart got blown wide open!
I arrived at the train station in Florence and met up with some of my fellow retreat-goers. We were driven to an incredible retreat center, nestled deep in the hills of Tuscany. Over dinner, we made introductions & small talk; the real work started the following day.
Over the next 7 days, Jen helped us to create a space that allowed us to be vulnerable & raw, empowered & supportive. We laughed, we cried, we danced.
We traveled to the neighboring towns of Siena, Volterra, & San Gimignano.
We had cooking classes, and some rode horses. The food was plentiful, healthy, and delicious. The dance parties (especially on the last night, were EPIC!)
We arrived as strangers and we left profoundly connected by our time together.
I now have an extended family that stretches from Amsterdam to the Caribbean; from Guatemala to Montreal; from Bali to Helsinki.
We created this deep connection by sharing our hearts, one to another.
Choose love, right?
Not always so easy...
These are challenging times.
It's easy to find examples of people behaving at their worst...and lots of them. It takes great effort not to be cynical and pessimistic.
There are also plenty of stories of people behaving at their best....or, at least, trying to be better than they were. It takes great effort to find the beauty in the everyday.
OR DOES IT?
The photo above was taken on my last day in Florence, days after the retreat ended. I spent the day with a few of the girls from the retreat...my new "family". We wandered upon this little courtyard/parking area while walking in Oltrano. The light was incredible. So simple, yet so extraordinary.
In that moment, I was blissfully happy. Pure joy!