Can I capture the magic of the Soul Painting spring retreat I attended 2 weeks ago in this post? I am not sure if it’s possible, but I will try. Just writing this now brings a well of emotion up from my heart and my eyes are tearing up. The feeling is one of overwhelming gratitude for a soul connection with 19 other gorgeous creatives. But, in truth, there is some sadness and nostalgia intermixed in my emotions too.
Alena Hennessy, intuitive artist and guide, hosted the retreat on the beautiful grounds of Bend of Ivy Lodge, right outside of Asheville, NC. It was my first opportunity to meet her after many years of taking her online courses. She reached out to me personally last fall to encourage me to sign up for the retreat at a time when I was pinching pennies and putting all of my money into starting this website and business. Logically it seemed like I should have restraint with my funds, but my heart was calling for this opportunity. So I let my logical mind rest and gave myself this gift. Sometimes you have to take that leap.
On my drive down to the retreat, I stopped at Shenandoah National park and spent some solo time camping and hiking. It was the perfect way to wash away the stress and busyness that my life was filled with the weeks leading up to my trip. I was in a very quiet and still place by the time I arrived at the retreat on the evening of May 5.
On the retreat, our days were filled with painting in a building that looked like a Japanese-inspired sun room. There was a wealth of supplies for our mixed media creations. So many new colors to play with! I admit I was feeling a bit shy about painting in front of other people (I had not done this since college) but my morning massage on the first day helped me loosen up before I went to join everyone in the studio. With ambient music playing in the background, it was easy to get lost in the process of creating. There were all levels of artists in the room, from beginners to professionals, and there was so much to learn from each individual and their process. I also learned a great deal about myself… how I handled frustration, how I handled my inner-critic, and how I experienced letting go. Frequent breaks were necessary and encouraged and it was a joy to walk around to witness all of the unique artistic expression in the room.
Our evenings were filled with soul-enriching activities and group sharing. We had a restorative yoga class with yoga instructor Sara Levine, a trip to the mineral hot springs in Virginia, a sing-along session with local Asheville musician Luna Kristin Ray, and a Shamanic healing journey with Marianne Mitchell . We bonded over amazing meals cooked by chef Dava Melton with local ingredients, some right from the garden on the property. Having home-cooked meals prepared on a daily basis was such a gift, especially for all of the busy moms who were on the retreat. On the final day, there was time for a morning hike on the property. The trails were so lush with new life and filled with statues and fun surprises along the way. That afternoon we took a trip into downtown Asheville to visit Alena’s new gallery Rosewater Gallery & Gift as well as to wander about the town. A couple of the ladies and I stayed in town for dinner that final evening, feeling the need to get the full experience. I absolutely adored Asheville.
Alena has mastered the gift of intuition with both her painting process and in her planning for the retreat. I left that Sunday morning with more then just 2 new paintings. I left feeling uplifted and encouraged that there is a community of like-minded people in the world. I miss them so and hope as time goes on, I can find my tribe in my local community as well. It’s so important.