I had a “Lessons in Gratitude” post all planned out and perfectly timed with the Thanksgiving holiday. Thankfully, a retreat I attended this past weekend interrupted my regularly scheduled programming.

We can make our own plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9

This season of my life is driven by these words – “Listen. Trust. Obey.” This blog post is an attempt to honor the Holy Spirit’s directive.

I attended this retreat because 1) a wonderfully gifted girlfriend posted it on her social media and I knew whatever she was involved in was going to be amazing. And 2) candidly, it’s been a challenging season. I felt the spirit nudge me toward it because I desperately needed it. I believed it would be soul-nourishing, refreshing, and replenishing and indeed it was.

From my conversations with people from all generations, backgrounds, and genders lately, I’ve heard and felt a spirit of heaviness. And yes, even as an abundant life enthusiast who exudes peace, joy, and light, I can honestly say that I’ve felt this heaviness personally. So when the promotion for this retreat promised a day filled with intentional self-work, radical self-care, and revolutionary self-love, I said inwardly, yassss sign me up!

There were many beautiful aha moments and nuggets that I took from this experience. I get the title of this retreat may be deceiving (I’ll get to that in a minute). But, immediately upon surrendering myself to the moment I knew I wanted to pay it forward. Share all the yummy goodness that I received from it with my beloved tribe.

Of course, there is nothing like the power of experiencing something for yourself. But, let me share a few insights with you that I hope will have power for you, nonetheless.

Our facilitator Jessica welcoming and introducing us to being SELF-ish’

The title of this retreat was simply SELF-ish’. In the self-serving, self-gratifying, self-indulgent world in which we live, one might wonder why we need anything else that serves the interests of self. But the facilitator of this event, a beautiful, dynamic young woman named Jessica Camille challenged the negative connotation of this word at the genesis of our time together. In fact, she left it up to us as the participants to redefine what this word means by setting an intention for the day.

I landed on, “Being unapologetically me, loving of myself, and intentionally focused on me.” 

I know those who have felt a heaviness in this season have felt it for a number of reasons. For me, part of that heaviness has come from my empathetic spirit – I tend to take on other people’s hardships emotionally, mentally, and physically. That can be especially challenging when you have your own “stuff” to manage. And even more so difficult and depleting when you don’t have an outlet to release it all and replenish yourself in the process. 

In a vision book exercise facilitated by my friend Michelle McKinney who spoke at the event, I was instructed to look at all the roles I take on and operate in. Business owner, ministry leader, volunteer, travel consultant, public relations consultant, friend/family member, etc. (there’s a whole list chile). I realized the majority of these roles involved me giving a lot of my time, attention, and focus (thus, myself) to others. And that is not a bad thing. But, it wasn’t until I read her example role of self-caretaker that I realized I wasn’t on my own list of priorities. No wonder I felt so depleted. 

My beautiful friend Michelle who gave an incredible workshop on vision casting.

If you are someone like me who often tries to pour from an empty cup, I have news for you. Your love and care for yourself need to be prioritized too. And I don’t just mean setting aside time for physical rest or pampering yourself with massages and pedicures here and there. Although those things can be a part of an amazing self-care regimen. I mean intentionally looking at yourself as a priority and asking, “what is it that I need to be and live out the best version of me?” Then make a commitment to yourself to do those things…consistently. 

It was a year ago that I first did this exercise with Michelle’s Vision Playbook. (By the way, be sure to get yours, it’s amazing!) Clearly, I needed to be reminded of how important that CONSISTENTLY part was. I also had to recognize that as I grow, my challenges will manifest at the level of that growth. That means I have to be prepared to reevaluate what my self-care looks like regularly. Hence, the beauty of this retreat. The most powerful nugget I received was recognizing what this next level of caring for myself can and will look like.  

As each person’s life and journey are uniquely different, I can imagine the myriad revelations that came out of this experience. But I’ll close with a few quotes and insights that encouraged me and supported my empowering aha moments. My hope is that at least one, if not all, will resonate with you in some way.

  1. If I release the spirit of “should” and “have to” and replace them with “could” and “want to,” I can operate from an entirely new perspective that motivates and excites me.
  2. Be yourself. Face yourself. Pace yourself. Healing starts within.
  3. Everything I’m looking for is within me.
  4. Setting boundaries and telling people no is not negative. It gives someone else another avenue and opportunity to be creative and make something happen for themselves.
  5. Trust yourself and be kind to yourself.
  6. Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Self-care is about taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.
  7. Be patient with yourself and give yourself grace.
  8. Wellness is my birthright!
  9. You are better off than you think you are.
  10. Whenever you’re doing the work growth is happening (whether you see it or not).