An unlikely moment in an unlikely place is where answers came. Chloe Rachael Gallaway gathers us, each tethered by our desire to fully express our stories. Each of us is filled with love and fear, with excitement and trepidation and the willingness to unveil what some work to protect. For me, it is to be vulnerable. I came here to become a writer of a children's book series that I have carried with me for 20 years. I left with a pull to tell my mom's story first. The small shift in direction came with a visit from my mom dressed as a hummingbird flitting behind me as I shared the pounding of my heart and began the tale of my morning adventure. To be sure she was heard, she came again the next morning, seemingly at the same time, fluttering to the top of dome in our sacred writing place. The space silenced and gasped, as each tried to coach her with words and will back out the door. Typical to her nature, she found the one spot between the dome and yurt fabric, she could flee, confident she delivered her message. Funny, it was that through same spot the rain gently sprayed my face the afternoon before as we lay on our mats preparing for the next writing exercise. It is with a fullness of heart and profound gratitude to Chloe Rachel Gallaway for leading the Full Expression Writer's Retreat Experience, to Carey Gallaway who spoke of truth felt, not heard, to Elaine Lopez-Bogard providing the healing space through her quite grace, to Bonnie Bassan, Matrice Endres, and Christi Rein for hearing my heart, for Bob and Steve for opening my heart, for Barbra Portzline who sees me, and for Melanie, Yvonne, Annie, and Connie for holding me up as I faced my fears.Shawna Shwartz
The trees seemed to whisper to me as if I was an old friend the day I arrived. Even the rocks sparkled in happiness to see me. Nature enveloped and welcomed me. I felt like I was watching a movie about nature and my eyes embraced the vision before me. Perfection. Feeling thankful just to be an observer of pure beauty, I acknowledged this was the setting for the writing retreat and where I would be for the next two days.
The days started early, with yoga. We practiced yoga in a yurt set amidst tall pine trees. After yoga, we headed to the log cabin that was the main dining hall for our first meal of the day. The food was exquisitely prepared, organic vegetarian fare. Any request was met with the smile of our amazing chef, Steve. The first morning I asked if almond milk was available. He immediately turned around and whipped up a batch!
After our morning meal, we met by the yurt for a nature walk. Our nature guide taught us the magic of tuning into nature. We stopped in silence at times throughout the walk to focus on things he pointed out. On the second day we went to a labyrinth. This was my first experience with one and I found it quite profound. We learned through our guide to experience nature in a more holistic way. You may have heard the expression commune with nature. I felt that we experienced that communion and it felt quite spiritual.
The remaining mornings and most of the afternoons were spent writing. Our leader, a writing mentor and author, led us through various writing exercises. She has a unique gift of enabling you to write your thoughts in a way I’ve never experienced before. More magic. Our pens flying over the paper and finally the exercise is over. You look down and there you see a piece of yourself on the paper. Wow, did I write that? We shared our writing with each other by reading it aloud. There were tears and laughter and a community was born. We had in our midst a wide variety of healers. From yoga teacher to medicine woman to physician. Beautiful souls each in their own way sharing words and gifts of healing. Artist, author, life coach, therapist, seekers of truth. I felt humbled and honored to be in their midst. We ended the days as we started with a yoga class and then our last meal of the day.
By the second day, we began to feel a rhythm. Had we always lived together here in nature communing and laughing and sharing? It felt as though we had. When the energy in the yurt became heavy or the day was feeling long, we “re-energized”. I highly recommend this. Music was turned on. And yes if you are wondering, we danced. We danced and laughed and ended each time by throwing our hands in the air and cheering. The last evening our medicine woman held a fire ceremony for us. If you ever have an opportunity to experience a fire ceremony, I recommend it. It feels like you are participating in a beautiful and mystical cleansing. Oh yes, magic.
Friends and spiritual partners were born that weekend. New connections that will endure. We shared our souls through our words and learned to connect with nature in a new way that transcended anything we had ever experienced. Building community through sharing food and telling stories about ourselves around the dinner table. Isn’t this part of what enriches our lives? Feeling safe enough to share our souls and build community. It is indeed magic when you find that.
Note: The Soulful Child by Chloe Rachel Gallaway, will be released in September 2017. What an amazing story she has. She is such a gifted writer and your life will enriched by her words. The location of the retreat was Lindrith in northern New Mexico.