as most of you know.. I have been traveling and teaching throughout the world for almost 10 years now! Crazy! I have taught at huge events where we have had over 400 people in ONE class (NOT recommended) all the way down to small retreats of only 7 (my recent one).
What I learned over the years is that I DO love teaching IN PERSON.. but the reason I love it is because I get to connect with other women who also like to create. I get to form new friendships and I get to see IN Person the growth of my students.. from starting a class and being not so sure of themselves.. to being at the end of a class and seeing the HUGE Smile on their face that they know NOW they can DO IT! That they are an artist and they do have the capability to create beautiful wonderful things!
It's seriously one of the best feelings. What I also found over the years is that when I am in a group of say 50-100 people.. and I only have 2 hours.. or even ONE day with the group. Its just NOT enough. I don't have time to get to know anyone, to bond, to really help them learn. It's so frustrating and totally not worth it. In my opinion. SO last year I made a commitment that from now on.. I would ONLY teach groups of 20 or smaller.. AND i wanted to spend at least 2 days with them. EVEN if I wasn't teaching them for the two full days.. I wanted TIME to get to know them. TO enjoy them! ENJOY YOU!!
I also found that traveling and being gone was SO HARD on my family. Having 6 kids.. and running your own business is hard. When you are gone for a week or even a few days teaching.. you come home not only tired and needing to recharge.. BUT behind in all the daily duties of work and family. I found the more I traveled.. the more my family suffered and the more my business suffered. I decided that my DREAM was to host smaller intimate retreats HERE in my own town. When we found the new old house last year.. and the property it was sitting on. I KNEW It would also be perfect for hosting retreats. It's just such a peaceful safe place. I also knew i wanted the women coming to stay in my own house.. feel apart of my family.. get to know my kids, my husband.. my friends. I wanted them to see where I work each day.. my art studio, my warehouse. I wanted to SHARE my life with them.. in hopes that in some small way.. I could inspire them but ALSO connect with them and create friendships that lasted a lifetime.
This past September.. was my first offical She Matters retreat! I was lucky enough to do a smaller/mini retreat in June with a good friend of mine and her family.. and holy cow.. that was an amazing experience! They didn't stay at my house and we didn't feed them, they didn't get to just relax and be with us all the time.. so it wasn't quite what I had wanted for them.. but it still was magical. I share my experience about it HERE.
But September was my first "what I had pictured in my mind" reteat.
I kept the numbers small, as I wanted all of us to be able to sit at the same table, all ride in the same car (except we ended up always taking two cars because ben and my friends and sometimes kids wanted to come lol).. but I just wanted to be able to connect with EACH person during the week and keeping it under 8 was possible.
I also wanted to created this special magical place for them. Our new/old house wasn't quite finished yet.. but I was able to transform each room into a special place for the girls to stay. I changed out all the bedding on each of the beds to old vintage quilts I had been collecting. I had crisp new white sheets on all the beds, gifts on each pillow..
and had been collecting vintage plates and cups and silverware to have all of our meals with.
Chrissy and Margie helped Ben with making sure each meal was set up beautifully and different. They also took time to get to know each girl and bond with them! Chrissy created a beautiful chalk art piece on our chalk wall in our home.. JUST for the girls..
Margie went into each room adding special little touches with vintage linens and endearing notes...
My kids also were around the entire week and helped with meals, helped the ladies get settled into their rooms, made sure each day they had clean linens, and clean towels and fresh flowers by their beds. THey also helped me each night put special treats and gifts on their beds before the girls went to bed.
My family and friends also come out to the art studio and spent time out there with my guests.. bringing them treats through out the day to snack on, helping them find supplies, and giving them "personal" tours around the property.
My awesome husband ben.. made every meal from scratch and I wanted them to TRULY get a taste of what my life was like. I had ben fix our favorite meals.. like crepes, roast and potatoes, BBQ ribs and homemade corn bread.. dutch oven chicken, funeral potatoes, and even peach cobbler!
He is an awesome cook (always wanted to open his own restaurant) and with the Help of Margie just presented each meal in such a way even I would come in an ooh and awe over the presentation and attention to detail!
I was blown away by my family and friends who helped. It brought tears to my eyes.. because I knew they understood my dream and my vision for this retreat and they helped make it a reality!
I had in my mind a VISION of what I wanted it to be.. and it was WAY Beyond that.. can't even put into words.
The BEST part of it all was connecting with the wonderful, beautiful ladies who came. I didn't know any of them before they arrived. I knew them from online classes they had taken with me, but had never met them in person or really talked with them through email or text before. I remember one moment on the first night that everyone was arriving.. we were all just hanging out in the living room and I looked around and thought... this is really happening! THESE beautiful women are in MY Home! I am SOOO Blessed and SOO lucky they are HERE!!!
there were many times during the week I had tears of joy in my eyes. Many many times.
The whole week was just full of creating. I wanted to create several different "classes" within the event. Whether it was in the studio creating girls, or backgrounds,
Having a Gelli Plate Art Class
having Chrissy teach us her ChalkArt Class!
or outside in the yard painting abstract canvases on handmade door easels ben made for us..
It was just FULL of creative goodness. I wanted everyday for them to walk away feeling filled to the brim. I wanted their cups to "runneth over". I wanted them to feel LOVED and creative and STRONG and capable of leaving my home and spreading their wings and taking on life in a whole new way!
I can't tell you how special this was. The last night we all gathered together in the living room once again.. and just each went around the room and talked about the week, what we had made, what we had learned.. and oh my gosh.. I think tears were shed over and over by everyone as we all went around the room realizing what a special bond we had all created and HOW BLESSED we all were to have each other in our lives moving forward. We laughed at SO many funny moments that happened during the week with each other.. with my kids.. with Ben.. and we also cried at so many moments that were special and sacred and wonderful. AHH! I am crying now just thinking about it all. The whole of it. I am so blessed these women decided to take a week of their life and spend it with me, in my home, with my family.. letting me just take care of them and love them and teach them. SO blessed!
I still keep connected with these 7 beautiful women.. on facebook, instagram.. and even through text. It's My DREAM for them to come back again.. not as guests.. but as FRIENDS and spend time with me! Hang out with me! Just play and mess around. I have been invited to come visit some of them and you can BET I will be.. I miss them so much already. I know I have made friendships that last a lifetime. That was my dream and it beyond.. BEYOND came true!
After the retreat I knew immediately I needed to do this again. I NEEDED to. It wasn't a want.. it was a NEED. I needed this experience in my life. I needed these women.. even though each time they would be new and different.. I NEEDED their sweet souls in my life and to have this experience. Its what FILLS me as an artist. I wish I could host one every month.. haha.. but I think my kids would not love sleeping in the camper for a week out of each month! hahah.. They actually didn't mind it. They had their own personal "house" for a week.. but still. Doing it too much would make it more of a job.. and I want this experience to be something that is not only magical for the women coming.. but for me as well. I want MY soul to be filled from the experience too.
So.. I am excited to share that I will be hosting 3-4 retreats again in my home next year. Two mini retreats and two full retreats. Two in the spring and two at the last half of the year.
We haven't set dates for the last half of the year yet because my son, Braden is leaving on a mission for 2 years next summer sometime. I want to make sure I am not hosting a retreat the week before he leaves.. or even the month DURING he leaves.. because I know it will be hard enough saying goodbye to my son for 2 whole years as he heads out to SOMEWHERE in the world to share Christ's love with others out there. He won't get his mission "call" which is basically his letter of where he will be sent.. until February or March sometimes. so once he receives that and we know when he is leaving.. We will announce the last two retreats for the year.
But we DO know the dates for the two retreats in Winter/Spring of next year. I will be announcing those on Wednesday.. and I SOO Hope that you will join me! I will be sharing with you some thoughts from the sweet women who just attended my last retreat.. so you can get a feel for what the experience as like from THEM.. One of them has already posted about it on her blog HERE if you want to read about her sweet story. LOVE THAT GIRL!!
Thanks for letting me share my heart about this retreat experience. Words can't describe or express what this experience was for ME. It just can't. I just hope someday I am able to have each of you in my home.. letting me and my family and friends.. shower you with love and attention and warmth and goodness! Taking all your cares away for the week and filling your heart and mind with creative joy. Hoping you leave.. feeling like you have a new friend and FRIENDS for life.. but also feeling like you can take on the world and spread your creative wings and achieve the personal goals you have for yourself in life. TRULY that is my hope for all those who come share my home with me.