“Invest in yourself completely this weekend and commit to everything you can receive and you will be a different person when you leave.” That is the promise of Kristi and Matt Trede’s Burnout to Balance Retreat held at The Welcome to the Big House, 24-27 November 2016. I was not disappointed, having decided that I was ready for some change. As such, I did commit to everything and as such experienced some excited shifts, some which I am still processing.
This is a piece I wrote a couple of years ago. As I re read it, I was struck how resonant it was to be about the retreat. I remembered my own fear at speaking my pain, and observing the look in some of the eyes of the other women. Trying to find the courage and the words to say what our heart wanted to speak, but fearful of releasing them into the world. For some the hesitation was not fear, but the akwardness of the “getting to know you” in a group still wearing their “L PLATES”!
For many years I have been on a path of learning. I left school early, married young and made beautiful babies, and ultimately chose to live separately from my boys’ father after eighteen years. Caring for three young boys required a good return on time invested, so a return to study was needed to lift my qualifications and earning capacity. I commenced tentatively and managed to juggle the demands of work, study and sole parenthood. As I completed each necessary qualification and applied the learning in my vocation, I always found myself presented with new opportunities to explore, new spaces I could enter into and learn to inhabit. New identities I could try on.
Expressive Arts Therapy & Trauma workshop - A Gift from Welcome to The Big House to Rhonda
I attended the Expressive Arts Therapy & Trauma workshop with Cathy Malchiodi, this past week. It was amazing and wonderful to hear the success rate of this kind of work, especially taking place within the US military. The Expressive Arts Therapy practice has now found acceptance as a vital and necessary tool to assist military men and women, along with their families. It is also recognised as a legitimate health care component within the military health system in the USA.
The emphasis during the workshop was to understand how expressive art therapies can be applied in working with children, adults and families. Other practices included self-regulation, stress reduction, the body as a resource for regulation and resilience and posttraumatic growth, as well as self-compassion. On point of interest was that self-compassion is considered a more positive stance versus self-esteem. Additionally, self-compassion also provides helps towards being more compassionate towards others. So make sure you “love” yourself today.
Along with Cathy’s vocal input was the hands-on training. This provided some quiet reflective moments, in the form of doodling, to experiencing lots of fun and laughter, where groups put together individual creations to produce a group creation and then presented it through story, song, drama or dance.
Write with an Open Heart
My time spent at Writing with an Open Heart workshop with Heather Plett was a most delightful and empowering event. First of all, the venue, which was held at The Big House in Pomona, Queensland offered a most spacious and unique place to host such an event. The invitation, for me, was to open my own heart and invite a long awaited, hidden companion, to finally come out in the open. It was a writing muse, who has been a part of me for many, many years, yet for various reasons, had remained silent. I now, amongst 20+ other women found a place where my ‘writing muse’ could come along side and be safe and secure. We shared hearts, dreams, hurts, wounds, as well as delights, joys, laughter and lots of hope for writing in the future.
The beauty of this whole experience was that it was held within the context of Heather’s other space; what she calls The Open Circle. The Open Circle is a space where we hold the stories of ourselves and each other within a safe, non-judgment and accepting place. This was quite impacting for me. Through Heather’s sharing and stories shared amongst the Circle, two major shifts occurred in my life. One was a greater understanding of my recent past and present journey. The other one, which I knew needed to happen, was how can I now be different in the world without feeling like I was always fighting the world. I am now am able to carry myself differently in a world, resulting in more peace within myself, and I am sure for others.