Jenelle - Free Spirit Retreat

I've been saving Jenelle's session from the Free Spirit Retreat for the very end of this blog post series because she had a huge impact on my life since spending the weekend with her. Even now as I type this, there are no words that I can collect to put onto this page to truly express how crucial this individual was to our retreat; she is one of the most incredible souls that I have ever met, and since the moment that we met her, she's been a beacon of courage and vulnerability, regardless of fear, judgement, and outside opinions. I need you to push play and read her words. I just have so much love in my heart for this human being. [audio mp3=""][/audio]


"A huge thing that I took out of the retreat was seeing how empowering women can be and how everyone was lifting each other up. The woman figures in my life—I really don't have any—and I think I've been missing out on the feminine part of my life. The retreat opened my eyes and made me see how incredible women can be. I get really intimidated by women because I've been raised around men all of my life, so I kind of fell into that and lost a little bit of my feminine identity, so being there that weekend totally opened up my eyes to what women really are capable of.

Everybody that was at the retreat was so inspiring and everyone had something to teach me. When I opened up the door and walked into the cabin, I could feel that a part of me was leaving me, and I just knew that I was walking into a new part of myself. The smells, the energy, and everything just hit me. Wow.

I've been inspired by so much from that weekend—I've even made your elixir Kori! Just something like that, I would have never done that before, I was just so inspired. The nutrition was incredible, and the photography completely taught me that I need to be able to live more in the moment—that was one of the big things that I took out of it.


The pictures, honestly, I was more scared to get my picture taken then I was to fly to Vancouver alone. The pictures—that was me breaking through a really tall, strong wall. I felt so completely vulnerable and naked even though I was fully dressed. A big thing was that the last time that I had attention on me, it was really bad experience and I know that I''ve been running from [that attention] for the past 4 years; so those pictures, they were all about me again and so I think that was just breaking through the thing that I was hiding from. I think that's one of the biggest things with this post and these pictures; this is one of the first times since what happened in my past that people are going to see me, and hear my truth, and my deep down feelings about my experience at the retreat and I feel really vulnerable. The last time that I was vulnerable it shook me negatively in the very worst way. Taking these pictures...that was really a big deal.

Were you scared to come to the retreat? Absolutely. Actually before I had even emailed you and signed up, I was really excited about it—to be able to meet people that are open minded like I am and enjoy some of the things that I do. That really made me excited, and just to be able to share and be open with everyone. I signed up, and as the retreat got closer, my mind started to play games with me trying to tell me that I was too young to be going, or that I didnt have anything to bring to the table. I was so scared. Scared and excited.

What gave you the courage to show up anyway? A lot of pep talks to myself, like, a lot. I spend a lot of time at work, by myself, which allowed me to do a lot of thinking. I've had to be really really strong once before, so i just kept reminding myself that I have been through really tough things in the past, and that this is kind of a piece of cake compared to that. This is for me, and for my wellbeing. It scared me so much, which is how I knew that I just had to go.

For the past 4 years I've been playing it safe and staying in my comfort zone. Now that I am back from the retreat one thing that I would like to work on is finding my voice again. I kind of lost my voice throughout just all of the judgement that I've gone through in my past, and I ran from it.

I learned at the retreat that finding my voice again is really big, and that I need to learn how to keep my boundaries with people—because I've really let that slip. The whole retreat just totally opened my eyes to knowing that it was okay to play it safe for a while, but it's been long enough now—enough is enough—the retreat just really reminded me that I do have a voice, and that i need to bring her back again.

I am so happy that I came. So incredibly happy. I took away a little bit from everybody; everyones personality and learning that I'm not the only one who feels certain things and emotions. We all feel it or have been through it, we are not alone and that was really nice to learn. I am not alone in this world, and there are other people who have been though it too, and we're all just holding hands together, helping each other through. It really makes me proud to be a woman."

kaihla_tonai_intimate_wedding_elopement_photographer_3414 kaihla_tonai_intimate_wedding_elopement_photographer_3415 kaihla_tonai_intimate_wedding_elopement_photographer_3416 kaihla_tonai_intimate_wedding_elopement_photographer_3417 kaihla_tonai_intimate_wedding_elopement_photographer_3418 kaihla_tonai_intimate_wedding_elopement_photographer_3419