Have you ever been given an opportunity to participate in something outlandish and also quite vague? I have, and it was delightful.
Allow me to explain
I am someone who heartily believes that there are no accidents. You attract the people you are supposed to meet. When things happen, good or bad, there is a lesson, new connection or miracle that will unfold. I believe in the art of allowing, but also have this annoying logical side that prefers to have all the details, a full agenda and a plan before taking serious action. Maybe it was time to practice more allowing in my world?
My invitation to attend the THINKtreat in Ellicottville NY came as a result of the Jennassis Speaker Showcase, less than 1 month earlier. Sue and Craig James, the organizers of this event had heard me speak and intuitively decided to invite me to be one of the 12 participants who would explore ways to effectively lead positive change for the benefit of the greater good. Upon checking my calendar, I realized that I had NOTHING scheduled during the time proposed. That itself was a strong sign that I was supposed to do this. The group would be made up of diverse leaders from Toronto and Cleveland – 5 men and 7 women with impressive professional backgrounds. Knowing exactly one other invitee, fellow coach Jim Smith, coincidentally also provided a positive buddy to share the 3-hour drive. Still, I wondered – what was this really about? Would my husband be suspicious about me heading off for an overnight in some unknown cabin in the woods of New York filled with strangers and minimal cell service? If he was worried, he never said a thing. I’ll admit that after I said yes to the invitation, I remained a bit concerned about what I had gotten into.
Arriving at the cabin after dark, we were warmly greeted by our hosts and shown around the place. There was a roaring fire in the fireplace, luxury accommodations, fascinating people, delightful conversation and some amazing food and wine. “Let the allowing continue!” my heart sang.
The retreat officially began at 9am the next morning. After Craig shared an introduction and overview of our schedule, we met Gordana Biernat, a Swedish creative strategist and thought leader with over 50K twitter followers who connected with us via Skype on a big screen (yes we had internet, but no cell service!). Craig and Sue had developed a solid relationship with Gordana via Twitter over the past year. As Craig interviewed Gordana, I was impressed by her poise, passion for her work and skill in sharing an authentic message. She emphasized that great leaders don’t make things happen, they ALLOW! It was easy to believe her.
As our day unfolded, participants introduced themselves by sharing their approach to positive change making. It was evident that we had very open-minded people in the room. Toward the end of the morning, Craig asked if I might be willing to share an exercise using Emotional Freedom Techniques with the group after lunch. While a 15-minute time slot would limit what I could share, I was secretly pleased to be given this opportunity. I settled on doing an exercise to help each of them release an unpleasant memory of being harshly judged while trying to implement positive change. They found those memories quickly, we tapped and they felt better. This may have been exactly why I was here. Energy Psychology has infected yet another segment of the population who were ready for it!
The afternoon continued with lively discussions and some vigorous role-playing too. As our final minutes together approached, we agreed that something good had begun AND it was okay not to have a detailed plan. It was time to walk the “ALLOW” we had talked about all day. That’s fine by me. Things continue to develop. I’ve already set up appointments for follow-up with several of these new friends and I am open to see where this leads.
Just as I returned home, I had exactly one day to get my agenda together for the retreat I would lead for a group of women on Sunday. Due to procrastination or too many priorities, I had not yet settled on the specifics of what would happen during the 4 hours I would share with these ladies. It has been my experience that God likes to give me the directions at the last minute. My job is to listen for them and leap when they arrive. On Saturday I found myself putting together the physical pieces – baking pumpkin bars, shopping for healthy snacks and setting up the table where we would work on the creative tasks with scissors, glue, markers and magazines. I was mindful that there needed to be a flow combining movement, silence, voice, stillness, meditation, creation and social connection. I was waiting and nothing was coming in. Feeling overwhelmed. I grabbed a book from my shelf to help nudge some ideas, randomly opening to a page which I didn’t dare to read, but marked with an index card.
As I closed that book, a notice flash on my laptop alerting me to an email from Craig and Sue, who were enjoying an extra day at the cabin in Ellicottville. It was a note of gratitude with a beautiful photo of the bottle of “Karma” Pinot Noir I had given them next to two glasses, overlooking the snowy meadow. This was an important reminder – it was time for me to enjoy the day too! I put on some funky love songs from the 70’s and finished the physical tasks I had started and declared that it was time to relax, trust the agenda and whatever was on that page marked by the card in the book. It could all wait until Sunday morning.
On Sunday morning I removed the notecard from Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book “Something More” and found the perfect passage. I decided I would read it to them like a story as they enjoyed a snack midway through. I had an opening ceremony planned and just minutes before the guests arrived I found myself posting only the first half of the agenda on the dry erase board. I guess I would be waiting for Divine Directions while facilitating!
The good news is that it all clicked about as beautifully as you could imagine. The group connected and shared. They flowed nicely from breath-work to activities, from silence to voice and from speaking to listening. Some of the healing work took place in-group, and some of it occurred individually. The story from “Something More” worked incredible magic and allowed one of the women to share a powerful story as she shed tears of joy. The group supported one another brilliantly. Everything flowed so easily. I am grateful for the precious day it became.
My intuitive muscles have been stretched and I have grown when it comes to allowing things to happen without knowing or controlling the agenda.
Are you are facing a decision that involves some uncertainty, yet have a good feeling in your heart or gut about where this will take you? Consider a deep breathe AND that risky first step toward accepting vague things. You too might come away with new friends and a few miracles too.