A Darling Creative Retreat

Imagine scribbling a few thoughts on paper, some characters and a short story. Minutes later a stranger you just met 2 days ago is reading your story aloud to a group including the Editor-in-Chief of Darling magazine. That powerful surrender can only happen when there’s a deep commitment to vulnerability. Like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, I stepped into a magical land along with other 11 women at the Darling Creative retreat. Together, we laughed, we cried and we celebrated the beauty of vulnerability from the first dinner when we shared our struggles and dreams to our final collaboration on an abstract painting.

What fueled the space for vulnerability each day? Was it sharing a bedroom with strangers, the floral arrangements throughout the house, the peaceful yet powerful ocean outside the house, the awesome food made with love, the event organizer or the conversations? Yes, but above all, the personal stories of each woman. Their love stories, weird dates, battle with depression and career journeys revealed wisdoms I haven’t come across before. That weekend I saw many paths in life through them, which sparked my curiosity to explore and renewed my gratitude for what I can offer to the world.

I also drew strength from the presence of each woman in this community. At the spa, my eyes were burning when I was sitting down inside the eucalyptus steamed room. We were not allowed to speak to each other there. I turned to the side to see the faint shadows of other women going through the same experience and I found the courage to numb the pain for a few more minutes and to dive into a pool of cold water afterwards.

On the last day, we worked together on a big canvas. We started in one corner, gave each other feedback and rotated to the next space until the entire canvas was completely covered in painting. At first I struggled to work with the chaos, rough textures given to me and to let go of the color teal (they were present in all of my paintings!).

“How can I work with what I have?” I sighed every time I came to a new space on the canvas (sounds familiar).

After a few rotations and encouragement from the instructor to not be afraid to destroy our neighbor’s vision, I embraced the complex space and splashed other colors like a kid to overlay a new vision on top of it. Towards the end, I lost track of time and kept going when everybody had stopped. When it came time to move on to the next space, I happily said goodbye to what I created it, just like I passed down my notebook to a fellow writer.

One evening we huddled around the fireplace and asked the event organizer if this is what she had envision for the retreat. We were all in awed at fate when she said the invitation was sent out to a mailing list of 20,000 people and 200,000 followers on Instagram. I really did go over the rainbow this weekend, on painting too! I came to the Darling Creative retreat seeking to re-inspire my mind as I start a new career. Instead, I gained much more than I expected and more respect for vulnerability.

#Vulnerability #darlingretreat #theartistway