A few weeks ago I went on a women's retreat at a beautiful home in the mountains called the Heart Center. Now other than a few church retreats when I was much younger, I have never committed to anything like this before and was a little weary about going.
A friend had invited me, and I found out by chance my sister-in-law also was going as well. But other than that I would be spending the weekend with a group of women whom I didn't know.
I love meeting and socializing with people- don't get me wrong! But from the itinerary it looked as if we would be diving quite heavily into the theme of transition and I wasn't quite sure my exhausted brain correlated connecting with a group of strangers to sink heavily into my deepest thoughts was my idea of a "retreat!" I briefly thought about sneaking out to spend my weekend in the sauna room! After all, my life has been so crazy busy of late, silence and SOLITUDE seems much more congruous that group therapy!
As I watched the women enter the center I found my mind making automatic assumptions about why they were there. Funny (or maybe not so much) how I still, after years, cannot stop my mind from false first impressions. For soon after our first gathering my mind shifted to a place of gratitude- for there were women of all backgrounds, ages and stages.
As the weekend progressed (and I did find a bit of time for running and a silent sauna!) I continued to learn more about the colorful tapestry of personalities, life challenges, and beautiful souls of the 20 plus woman that were present. Through activities and discussions I was able to remember that even though we were all at different stages of our lives we all needed one thing through our life transitions: connection! And it dawned on me that sometimes when I pull away out of busy-ness and exhaustion that is the very time I need PEOPLE- colorful, diverse, opinionated, loving, caring, people…so that I can remember that we are all much more alike than we are different!
The retreat couldn't have had a better outcome for me. By reflecting on connecting with others it has prompted me to take action every day to connect with a stranger, whether it is looking a cashier directly in the eye and thanking them for the work they do, or whether it is a smile to a passerby on the street.
I challenge all of us to try it, for something magical will happen, I guarantee! In the process of connecting with others, you find a deeper, more meaningful connection about your place on this earth, at this time, in this place. As I have found many times before, in helping (or reaching, or connecting) with others, we give ourselves the greatest gifts!
So as you go on your way connecting, I wish you all the love and gratitude I feel today!
by Jen Slayden