The 51st Retreat

Maybe it’s a coincidence.

Maybe it’s a coincidence.

Or maybe it’s the fruits of an excellent memory and natural ability to create synapses across time.Or maybe it’s truly a sign of cosmic alignment and synchronicity.

The facts:
  • In 2007, I went on my first personal retreat to Manzanita, a sleepy beach town on the Oregon coast. I stayed for a week. I was transformed. I was hooked.
  • Over the next 10 years, I retreated, mostly to the same house in Manzanita though a few times elsewhere, at least once a season.
  • A few years ago, I was there. I noticed a group of folks in town (unusual during the week) and the next day ran into them at the public bathrooms by the beach. I talked to a woman in the bathroom and she said she worked at Marmoset, on a company retreat from Portland. As I wandered around the beach that day, I called a close friend and shared the moment of inspiration, the call to lead company retreats for communications at the coast.
  • A few days ago, I was doing background research on the folks participating in the company retreat for communications at the coast that I’ll be facilitating THIS weekend. I almost fell out of my seat when I saw the image of the woman on LinkedIn and her former role at Marmoset. Wait, the woman from the public bathroom is coming on the launch of my new planning retreat offering? WHAT!?

Feels like synchronicity to me.

Julia Cameron talks a lot about synchronicity in The Artist Way:

Learn to accept the possibility that the universe is helping you with what you are doing….The minute you are willing to accept the help of this collaborator, you will see useful bits of help everywhere in your life. Be alert: there is a second voice, a higher harmonic, adding to and augmenting your inner creative voice. This voice frequently shows itself in synchronicity.

I have noticed useful bits of help everywhere in my life over the last few years.Why didn’t I return home to Portland after that breakthrough and launch this offering then?

Short answer: I got distracted and I wasn’t ready.

Long answer: I got distracted by making money on a big contract for Nike and following through on previously designed annual and future goals. And I may have misinterpreted some of the useful bits of help or callings, such as focusing on the education sector (e.g.: by attending SXSW Education, organizing Startup Weekend Education and creating strategic plans for educational organizations), instead of creating an educational business model like I am now (aha!!).


Since that fateful day, I have continued to go on solo retreats, attend some spiritual group retreats, lead custom-designed client retreats and organize annual retreats with my intergenerational, interfaith women’s group.

In February, 26 of us spent a weekend in Lincoln City, Ore. exploring wonder. We wondered at the beauty of nature, we wondered at each other, we wondered about our lives.

One of the participants offered me a wonder-full gift (and useful bit of information) saying, “how encouraged and supported she felt by my presence during the session I facilitated.”

Upon returning, I booked two nights at a retreat center in the Columbia River Gorge for the following month.

There were no distractions and I felt ready.

It was time to “pivot,” as the business folks say.

For six weeks, I prepared by reading the Right Brain Business Plan and working through the exercises in Designing Your Life with my book club. These tools would prime me for this retreat’s focus, answering the question: what does the universe need from me right now?

I got to the retreat center and settled in.

As soon as I was fully alert, the “answers” showed up clearly and concretely. And almost completely within an hour of arrival.

Last December’s Holiday TinyLetter said:

“I have in no way mastered radical focus yet, but I have a strong sense of how it’s steering my consulting engagements and energy toward real-time strategy and professional development retreats.”

No longer an intention, this was becoming a reality.


To be expected given my preparation, but none the less a bit surprising, the “answers,” or rather instructions, extended beyond a new business plan to a new life design.

I wrote them down on a post-it note so I wouldn’t forget. So far, so good!

  • Get blessed by spiritual communities: check.
  • Move/downsize home: check.
  • Bonus: Go on 9-day solo trip to Mexico. Not a retreat. VACATION: check!
  • Join Council business acceleration program: check.
  • Radically focus on building out blog and course programs: check.
  • Launch 54-hour strategy retreat offering: in progress.

The above examples represent a pretty tectonic shift for me and have been a long time in coming (in other words not my average retreat), but do speak to the power of retreat and equally important – the promise of return – that this practice offers.

After being such an integral part of my process of becoming, I am thrilled to bring the power of retreat (and the promise of return) to client teams.

Former clients like Caldera, have proved to me that there are courageous organizations out there proactively investing in planning, training and retreating that inspire creative and practical outcomes.

One of the them is FUEL, a high-performance fitness studio in downtown Portland, run by a sister-brother team who are my Council colleagues, new friends, and incredibly soulful people.

I’m so honored that this exact group of people will participate in this first time.

They bring an all-in, high-performance mindset and we share passions for communication, design, leadership, community building + being in beautiful, natural places!

I woke up with that Christmas morning feeling today wondering “What’s under the tree?”

It’s really here.

Limitless like the ocean are the possibilities as the Dalai Lama (sort of) says.

We have nature, we have healthy food, we have a comfy house to work from, we have creative, enthusiastic participants, I have many activities planned and the rest – the immeasurable value, the magic insights, the deepest knowing – will show up.

After ~50 personal retreats I know this. What I don’t know is if my hunch that facilitating 6 people x 54 hours can build the same thing (or better!) than I can as a consultant in 325 hours? Guess we’ll see!

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