I heard a call and my wild soul responded with action. Late in September I gathered with a group of amazing Soul-full artists from around the globe in Somerset, England at the Majestic Croydon Hall. It took a plane ride, a train ride, a few taxi’s, more trains, a city bus and another taxi ride all with a toddler in tow, and oh it was worth every second of the sometimes-not-so-pleasant travel!
I’m not sure words can ever explain the magic that was created that weekend with over fifty women, a few token men and a flock of babies all interacting, connecting, creating, and collaborating together.
We all showed up to answer Erin Faith Allen’s (Creator of Call of the Wild Soul Art Retreat) call for her tribe. She put a call out for Wild Souls to come and play at her artist retreat that she named, Call of the Wild Soul (COTWS).
The location couldn’t have been more sublime. Croydon Hall is laced with gorgeous, ancient trees that buzz when you walk near them. The lush gardens meandered deeper and deeper into the corners where roses whispered soft messages to my soul while stoic trees stood guard so we could let go and dance with our creativity and watch what magic would unfold. The mushrooms that sprouted in abundance let us know that the faery folk were active on the sacred grounds and I heard of more than a few mystical encounters and visits (Maddie & Larry).
Erin asked me to speak on the opening evening to all the wild souls. Feeling so honored, I jumped at the chance to share my ideas about art, healing and Audacious Ubuntu. The concept is to boldly, bravely even brazenly step into connecting deeply with others with soft eyes and an open heart because we can never fully know our depth until we see it in others. Ubuntu means, I am because you are! (I will blog more about the talk later).
I followed up the talk with a deep listening exercise that I hence forth will call “The Ubuntu Exercise” because those who participated with their heart and soul, despite the intense vulnerability, truly fell in love with their partners or at the very least they made a new connection to carry them through the weekend. My desired outcome for this exercise was for everyone to feel connected and not an outsider. I had seen the power of this exercise before in a large group of women so I was pleased to see how transforming it truly was for everyone at this retreat. After the exercise I invited everyone to go deep in every conversation they had this weekend. Skip over the trite questions and ask, “So what is your wild soul calling you towards?”
As a result of Erin’s intention, Croydon Hall’s energy and this invitation I experienced a deepening that occurred amongst all of us present that I had never seen or experienced in other art workshops.
I believe the best gift of all this weekend was what I learned about myself through the eyes of all those beautiful women present. We can all be such beautiful mirrors for one another.
Karina who lives in Switzerland but hails from Chicago has a husband that is working to eradicate polio in India (no small task – a true hero) asked me, “So besides being a public speaker, what else do you do?” I let out a guffaw and told her that I am not a public speaker, but her view of me opened a crack in my armor. She said that I seemed so natural up in front of everyone exclaiming we were about to have wild sex. I responded, “Did I say that?” I had forgotten my opening line. In this brief conversation with her after the retreat was over and most had left on their journey’s home, she mirrored for me an image of myself that I had definitely desired to see but hadn’t truly embraced. Thank you for that Karina.
Another armor cracking event happened when I walked into the lounge on Wednesday before everyone arrived and saw Maddie Mulvaney sitting at the computer. Maddie is a woman I have admired through her blog and taken her course, Persisting Souls, but had never met in person. My heart started racing a bit as I approached her and when she looked up she shot out of her seat with a squeal, “Katariina!” She exclaimed, “Its me Maddie!” Then she threw her arms around me. I was in shock. How was it possible that she even remembered me? Me, little ol’ me? We quickly fell madly in love with each other over the weekend and I can’t wait to spend time with her again.
The depth of her soul and her ability to authentically live in alignment with her soul unadulteratedly without compromise brought tears to my eyes on a few occasions. While in her class Persisting Stars, I wrote in my journal, “Madelyn’s sharing is so deep and powerful. I’m cracking open, I’m going to cry but I’m not sure I want to right now.”
If you are not familiar with her blog or her e-courses, I highly recommend them for EVERYone. Her blog transports me to a time when life was simpler, more poetic and curious. I love checking in on her ever so often to see what journey’s she has travelled, what new discoveries tickled her interest, and what poetic image or experience moved her. She is truly a magical being.
So speaking of magical beings, Erin Faith Allen is a SUPER WOMAN! She puts out an invite for an art retreat (her first retreat) and fills it to capacity, births a gorgeous baby ten days prior to the workshop, shows up elegantly lounging with a baby on her breast, sells her artwork at the art show, is continually making plans for her next workshops, looking relaxed, gorgeous and emanating so much big love to everyone. I don’t know how she does it but she is a powerful woman that I feel honored to be orbiting around.
She read my blog after I signed up for the art retreat last spring and she invited me to speak before she ever met me. She saw in me what I couldn’t pull together and by inviting me to speak she gave me the opportunity to step up and step out in front of an audience. I’m telling you, the putting together of the talk was incredibly healing and I learned that I do love being in front of people speaking about what I am passionate about and sharing my stories.
There were so many more women that touched me deeply by sharing what my talk stirred up or inspired in them. Such immense soulful sharing.
What I took from this weekend was summed up in the words of Graca Machel (a Politician and Humanitarian now married to Nelson Mandela) in her Keynote speech to the graduating class of Oprah Winfrey’s Leadership Academy for Girls. She said,
“Here I am!
I claim my humanity
with no fear and no limits
and no one,
not no one, can take that away.”
She was speaking to South African Girls who didn’t have half the opportunities we have just by being born in a township and with dark skin. But I find this message universal for all women. I shared this in the closing prayer of my talk, but it is our time to get off the therapy couch, turn off the television, stand up and exclaim to the world, “Here I am! I claim my humanity with no fear and no limits and no one can take that away.”
This is my coming out year! Wooo Hoooo! Howling at that star filled, full moon sky!
I felt pretty lucky to be roomed up with two of the most handsome and soulful men I know; Larry and Finnegan. It was fun to watch their transformation from being present around all that luscious creative feminine energy. It was juicy for both of them which added more juice to my life. As a result, I came home pregnant . . . with possibilities for creative collaborations with some of the conscious creatives we met that weekend (tee hee).
So the message to me and all of you who have ears to hear, “The time is now, wake up and don’t go back to sleep!”
The End!!! :o)
OMY and I so thought that you toured around giving that talk over and over. you are definately a natural and off you go into the world and do more of your amazing work!! what a story and how you held us all and transformed us on that first night!! thank you for your key integral part of making the soul retreat so soulful and special. And how wonderful to have the menfolk and the children around us (I was totally a bit in love with Finnegan) too. All showing us how menfolk can be in the world, not against us, but with us. xxxxxx
Awesome post and fabulous photos. Your opening night speech was riveting and touching and I’m thrilled to know you. xx
Congratulations on your pregnancy! Sounds like an amazing experience 🙂 Your photos are always so breathtaking that I can’t stop looking at them XO
Ooh reading this is like being there all over again! Your words have captured the magic and weaved them back into a memory spell. What a delight! It was an honour to meet you beautiful lady. Lisa xx
Congratulations to you all. Wonderful news. You touched my soul that week end and I am sure your baby will be so special because of you.
Sue, I hope it doesn’t disappoint you to say that I wrote that I’m pregnant with possibilities!!! Not a real baby! I didn’t mean to fool you, I was trying to be a little funny but . . . my apologies. :o)
So much big love, Katariina
Great post Karariina, it was a pleasure to meet you at Croydon Hall. You are in inspiring woman. Big Love AJ
This is so gorgeous and of course you were magnificent! Thanks for the reminder to follow the call of our wild, true nature!
Woooohoooo…giddyup…juiceness is bursting forth!!! As always, I love to be a part of your ripening journey, Katariina…thank you so much for sharing!
I love it baby! So happy to be dancing with you in life! Keep it going! Write, speak and live wildly!
Loved reading your amazing post and committing to myself that I will do a special art retreat next year…somewhere, somehow. Your photos and words have inspired me! ♥ ♥ ♥
Shelly, do it! Art retreats transform and inspire beyond words!!
Thanks to all you luscious lovely beings. I feel fully embraced & welcomed by my tribe.
Big Luscious Love