DANIELLE - Free Spirit Retreat

"Go back 9 months; I would have told you I am unworthy of love, I am unworthy of nice things, loving connections, and self-care. But meditation, therapy, yoga, and writing has helped me become more confident in claiming my worth and acknowledging that I am the only one standing in my way. I measured my worth against society’s ruler; by income, by relationship status, beauty, weight, image and the accumulation of material things. I’ve been going to therapy, meditating, and yoga practicing my heart out but without a tribe of like-minded she-wolves, I compared my progress to others’ social media sparkling lives, which is an illusion to real life. Connecting and sharing trials, vulnerabilities, and truth with other women was magical and necessary for growth. What is something that we cannot see by looking at this picture? Fear, pain, love, resentment and excitement for life.....you cannot see that in this picture. Most of my life I was run by fear—fear of what others thought of me. It didn’t matter who it was; strangers, friends, coworkers, or family, I was afraid of rejection and judgment. I was run by that fear as well as fear of failing and not being enough. I have no idea who I was trying to be enough for and then a few years ago I began to realize no matter who told me, “You are beautiful, smart, kind...you are enough” it still didn’t make me feel worthy. My mother told me I have to feel the fear, the pain, and the resentment and talk about it and write about it. No more band aids, cover-ups, or pushing feelings aside. I gave in and felt it....All of it. These last nine months I have cried, yelled, and felt everything. And all I can say is it was tough. Healing is so fucking difficult. But you know what? After all the yelling, crying, and feeling....I can get through the day with less fear and more strength. I feel so much more alive, passionate, and ready to stand confidently in who I am, not only as a woman but as a person. This picture frightens but also inspires me; I can’t believe that is me—that strong, beautiful, fierce women is me? This outer shell of who I am has never really felt in tune or reflected who I was/am on the inside but this picture....I finally feel that strength, the healing, the love, and excitement; it’s present and I’m so grateful for this growth and healing. Thank you for listening and giving me the space to express who I am. I’m thankful for this experience but am more thankful for the steps, healing, and lessons that have lead me to where I am today.

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What did you take out of the retreat? Sisterhood, support, and space to feel, to be completely myself. It was nice to find out that I’m not the only one who questions my worth. The connection to other like-minded women was heart-warming and worth the long traveling days.

Were you scared to come to the retreat? Not really, I had more feelings of guilt—that I didn’t deserve to go on a free spirit retreat in the woods. After going I realized that guilt is a habit of keeping myself small—to feel bad about myself. I’m learning to be gentle with who I am and embracing all of me with no guilt—I’ve still got quite a ways to go but I’m progressing, which is brilliant!

What gave you the courage to show up anyway? My mother. She’s been the driver of our family for self-care and healing. She said I deserve to invest in my well-being".

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