We’re more than half-way through our first week-long Wild Heart Expressive Arts Teacher Training retreat in Calistoga. As I go deeper into the process, I’m bumping up against my own edges in new ways. From the start, I showed up here with confidence in myself. I’ve asked for what I needed. I’ve been really practicing being big and staying with that, even when it’s uncomfortable. This is quite a shift from my normal pro-longed “warm-up” period that usually lasts from a few days to sometimes mid-way through a program. I used to need more time to find my footing and to find my voice in a new group setting. So, it’s been interesting to be in this new place.
My painting process has mirrored this experience for me as well. I even showed up at the retreat with a huge painting, literally taking up a lot of space from day one. My large painting had unfolded over the course of a few months. I gradually added panels as I allowed myself to move toward the discomfort of growing bigger. By the time I completed the painting the other day, I had grown quite fond of how the painting transformed and how it transformed me. The painting’s progression reminded me of my build-up toward being comfortable showing up fully.
My next painting, on the other hand, exploded out of the gates with fierceness and size. The pages multiplied quickly. I painted fast and furiously across the entire surface area, almost not able to keep up with myself. I even woke up early one morning to paint out a feeling I was having rather than write in my journal. This painting demanded to engage with me from the get go. While it’s been exhausting for me, I’m aware of how this painting’s version of bigness is challenging me in new ways and is providing me with more opportunities to grow and learn.
I’m really appreciating the sacred circle that’s forming closer and closer each day. My fellow creative goddesses are a constant source of inspiration, growth, support and laughter. I learn so much from them through hearing them share about their own process.
The other night I drew an angel card for Purification. It was so befitting given that I’m in the process of clearing out my old ways of feeling small. The last time I was at this retreat center four years ago, I struggled with feeling good enough, trusting my instincts, asking for what I needed and clearly articulating what I stood for as a leader. By the end of that retreat, I had somewhat reclaimed my footing, but it took me almost a year to fully recover from that experience and I never, ever wanted to come back to this location again! Returning to this same place now with such a grounded confidence has definitely been a purifying process for me as it has symbolized shedding the old me to create room for the new me to blossom more fully. It’s also been quite powerful to reflect back on and honor how far I’ve come since the last time I was here.
I look forward to two more days of being immersed in the intuitive painting process. This work continues to amaze and inspire me as it works its magic in mysterious ways!