Date: 9-13 September, 2016

So my plan was to write a blog post every day from Bali, send it back to the office to be loaded onto the FireWorks website, immediately. Almost real time, quick sticks. However, I found the retreat so consuming, any thought of writing blogs went straight out the window as I digested the content and celebrated the revelations that occurred every day. And I realised I had slowed down and started to breathe and was taking some time. Ahhh…….

After our initial ‘helicopter’ course overview with Jem Fuller from Leaders in Life, we were given some homework to bring in the next day, for our first full day of training. We were asked to write our ‘story’, to be shared with the group, and it was to include some insight as to why we had decided to come to the retreat. That sounded pretty easy but as I sat down diligently to think about it and make my notes, it became clear that whilst I tell others’ stories for a living, telling my own story was far more difficult and confronting. Why?

Why? Is it because we don’t feel comfortable talking about ourselves? Maybe? Or is it that by telling our story and revealing some personal information, we become vulnerable? Vulnerable I did feel when I stood the next morning to tell my story. Mine was a mix of personal history, sadness and grief, fun experiences, business snapshots and quickly, I became very emotional. It proves that challenging life experiences – a part of my story – and actually talking about who we are is difficult. And uncomfortable. And revealing. Wow! What a way to start…..

It seemed that it was the same for everyone in the room, with all women sharing their own story in their very individual way. Each and every one was revelationary, personal, surprising, engaging, empowering and emotional. It was absolutely reassuring knowing that we had all faced challenge, experienced sadness, embraced possibility and enjoyed success. This intimate storytelling session cemented us as a kind, unjudgemental and supportive group in a safe, sharing environment. How very special and unusual with people I hardly knew!

“When you take ownership of your past, you choose your own suffering.” Empowering.

Over the next few sessions we set our intentions for the retreat and beyond; addressed core fears; worked out how to rewire our thinking and learnt that we are NOT our thoughts. We talked about the ‘Hierarchy of Beliefs’ and understood that “a belief is just a convenient assumption”. Nice.

We talked about the rules that we create – for ourselves and others – and how the judgement and responses around rules brings us down. And that we all have our own life ‘map’ and that they are all equally valid. We’re all in this together…..right?

We climbed the ‘Four Steps of Learning’, talked about identity and addressed the six needs of the ego. And whilst it’s certainly not a dirty word, it’s nice to acknowledge when ego is around and know when it’s coming into play. It can cloud our judgement but knowing it’s there makes for a whole lot of clarity, particularly around decision-making in both business and our personal lives.

We exercised mindfulness every day with a mix of meditations, visualisations, eye-gazing, slow nature walks and trying to be ‘impeccable’ with our language. Jem referenced books and thinkers and gave us all a whole lot of food for thought.

We revisited our personal ‘why’, looked at it in terms of our business and reset and owned our mission for life. Big time thinking. We looked at the ‘Six Core Needs’ which gave huge insight to the way that we operate and what’s important to each of us. It’s different for everyone.

An understanding of feminine and masculine styles was powerful and I realised that we are a mix of many styles, that change constantly. We discussed personality types, gained an understanding of our own type – again, a moving feast but with a dominant type – and thought about how best to communicate with different types, once we have worked out who is what.

And all of this goodness was wrapped up in a beautiful location with fresh air and nature all around; with clean, organic, tasty food and some rejuvenation time in the spa. It was blissful. We even had one session in the pool! Now that was out of my comfort zone, right there. I felt exposed but had to push through, anyway.

Being surrounded by six incredibly amazing women, facilitated by the only man, Jem, who created a safe, supportive and kind environment, was life-changing. The love and support shown to each of us at different times when we were struggling was overwhelming. I realised that we are all essentially the same, all part of the same universe, with the same concerns, cares and fears. It’s all about humanity and humanity was right there in that beautiful room.

Coming back to reality, determined to make a positive shift – in all aspects of my life and business – is exciting and daunting and overwhelming. However, equipped with these amazing tools, with a support group of special women and Jem, helps to make the change look a whole lot more achievable.

I’m determined to hold the feeling, practice mindfulness daily and celebrate gratitude. Because the opportunity to experience this incredible retreat demands ongoing thanks and gratitude to all who made it happen.

And gratitude for knowing that life actually has no meaning, only the meaning we give it. I’m giving it love.

Kathy Lane