What I learned at the Illuminare Retreat

The first weekend in December a small group of creative business owners came together for a retreat for creatives called the Illuminare Retreat. It was hosted by the fabulous Amanda Donaho of Amanda Donaho Photography.

I was hesitant at first. I’m a fan of Amanda and believed in her heart and what she wanted to create. But since I’m not a photographer I was nervous that it might not be the right fit or be too targeted towards photographers. But there was something in me that kept drawing me back to it. I reread a few the posts and went through the website a few time. One day I asked if there was any space left and went for it. I signed up. What did I have to lose I thought? Well 3 days away and several hundred dollars could be a huge mistake. Boy was that not the case.

We all arrived on Friday at different times some of us carpooling or flying in. We were greeted with open arms and cozy home. Walking into the living room was intimidating, a groups of women just staring at you. I politely said “hello” as our tour of the house continued. Once I dropped my things in my room and took a hot minute to breath I went back into the living room to meet anyone and find out which one was my roommate for the weekend. We chatted and introduced ourselves while we took turns getting a massage in another room. The massage was one of my favorite parts and I think allowed people to settle in and relax. I was also reminded that I need to use my gift certificate when I get home.

Once most of the group arrived we got started with our first few session and then had a fabulous dinner from Olivia. This woman is a gem, and should should follow her. She literally feed our souls and had food to fit ever special diet all weekend long. Even though I didn’t have a special diet, the extra work she did to accommodate speaks to how welcoming and inclusive they wanted it to me. We tucked away for the night and got ready for Saturday.

Saturday began with a hearty breakfast and warm cups of coffee as the rain began to fall on the rooftop. We got cozy on the couches and under blankets in one of the living room's to start the next chats and sessions. Without knowing how things would go everyone was a bit nervous, but as the rain fell harder, we each began to lower our walls and allow people into our hearts and businesses. We would chat, laugh and challenge each other with hard questions. After 24 quick hours, what was a group of people I didn’t know were women I cared so deeply for.

What I learned is that self-care means being a better person, neighbor, business owner, boss, friend and wife. Sometimes crying is good and it helps you get it out of your system regardless of what it is about. That people, women especially care so deeply for other people that it will surprise you. As business owners we are all driven so powerfully to serve our clients with love and intention that it can at times consume us. We pushed each other a lot and for me that mean leaning into the process and being open to the feedback. They taught me that my story and journey is mine and mine alone. More importantly it is mine to share and it should be shared. Starting with this post you will see me share a bit more about my personal life. One quote range so true for the over the weekend and that is

“ Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Nelson Mandela

I plan to work this quote into our goals for 2019, and maybe use ‘Shine’ as my word of the year. Saturday ended with another great meal, glasses of wine with friends and great game of charades that was never finished. As we each said goodbye on Sunday morning, it felt too quick, but also like we had been there for a week. I formed new friendships at the Illuminare Retreat that I will cherish for a long time. I am excited to support these women, to be a cheerleader of theirs and to encourage them to shine their brightest. In the days since the Illuminare Retreat has ended we have all set new goals, scheduled new dinner dates and continued our friendships. This retreat to me was a gift to myself that has kept on giving.

If you were thinking of signing up for Illuminare Retreat but were held back by fear, doubt, nerves, or anything else throw it all out the window and sign up now. If you have questions I am happy to chat and let you know about my experience. Amanda just released the tickets for the next retreat.

Thank you to Amanda Donaho for hosting! Thanks to Kristin Sweeting and Kaleigh Turner for speaking and Olivia for being our chef all weekend. Pictures below are from my phone but if you want to see more check out Amanda’s post.

Workshop Host: Illuminare Retreat, Amanda Donaho | Speakers: Kristin Sweeting and Kaleigh Turner Creative | Chef: Olivia Tew of Liv Fit & Nourish | Florals: Marti Heard Designs

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