We’re calling this upcoming weekend the SURPRISE RETREAT weekend. It’s a fairly last-minute location and venue change from Oregon to Seattle. It’s December. It’s in 3 days. It’s so close to Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
As someone just said to me “it’s dirt cheap”. I had to hesitate a moment to wonder if that was a compliment or not. It’s true a two hour session with me is $175, and this is about twenty hours.
With a maximum of ten people, everyone will have time to do their own work on a relationship or issue they’ve been wanting to resolve and change (or two, or three). You’ll have training, attention, and the continuous care of being held in this supportive environment where you can share your most distressing thoughts without shame or fear. I’m with you every step of the way.
The thinking behind the low fee was because the location changed last minute from a deep winter woods resort with hot springs, massages and all meals provided….
….to you getting yourself to northeast Seattle, finding your own place to stay, and acquiring your own meals (there are many beautiful airbnb’s in the neighborhood, and restaurants a block away, by the way).
Plus. Let’s be honest.
People don’t exactly flock to the Pacific Northwest at this darkest and wettest time of the year. Even the airplane tickets are super cheap. (Check with Alaska, by the way, or your favorite airline–you might be surprised–keeping the theme of surprise).
The coffee houses are full of steaming gortex jackets, the time between dawn and dusk is very short, and it appears to be either misting, pattering or downpouring from morning until evening, and often all night as well.
All these reasons actually create a brilliant atmosphere for a SURPRISE retreat.
Because outside it may be rainy and dark, but what are the surprises we get most concerned about?
Surprises that don’t bring us such good news (we think).
Uncomfortable relationship surprises. Worrisome health surprises. Devastating money surprises. Anxiety-filled surprises.
Some people don’t even like positive surprises. (Remind me to tell you about two different surprise parties given for me that were a little, shall we say, too surprising).
- When my parents said “we’re moving”
- When my mom switched off Cinderella the first time I ever got to watch TV when I was seven
- When my high school boyfriend said he preferred to date someone else and take HER to the prom instead
- When my mom told me my dad had leukemia
- When my sister said I was a bi&%h!
- When my boss said “I need to speak with you about your timesheet”
- When my former husband said he didn’t want to be married anymore
- When my daughter said she wanted to change schools
- When my other sister never replied to any of my messages, cards or emails
- When one of my oldest close friends died
- When one of my best friends betrayed me
These situations were so scary. Some of them were life-changing and terrifying.
I didn’t like these surprises. To put it mildly.
And yet, now that I have The Work I have a remarkable tool to really examine each and every disturbing moment.
I know how to handle or work with these kinds of alarming thoughts that scream when I hear surprising news that appears to be not so good.
Which is exactly what we’ll be doing at our retreat. We’ll be inside with mugs of hot tea, pen and paper, sharing in the cozy atmosphere of freedom available to anyone willing to question the thoughts that produce suffering.
Sometimes, people who attend retreat get to write their first full worksheet on a stressful situation in their lives. They’ve been doing The Work perhaps for a long time, but it’s all been in their cars while driving, or on little pieces of paper, or while in conversation with a trusted friend.
They haven’t written out a full worksheet, mindfully–really getting every single thought out about that relationship or situation on paper.
You get to really go for it on retreat, when you give yourself the time.
You get to dump, unedited, unabashedly, without shame or guilt (even if you DO feel guilty, you get to write what you think). You get to be childish, petty, freaked out, furious. You don’t have to do it well. You get to be imperfect and against the grain. You get to really express your pain, on paper.
This first step of writing down your thinking can be the most exquisite relief. No fixing, no hiding, no softening, no re-wording it to sound better, no adjusting the language to be better heard. No worrying about if anyone will be surprised.
No….you get to completely go wild on paper.
Which is not as easy as it sounds.
When I first started doing The Work, I wanted to burn my worksheets, hide them, shred them and I would say to my facilitator “I’m sorry this is so horribly judgmental” or something like that. I was worried what the person asking me the questions would think of such a loser.
I went for it anyway.
You can too.
All it takes is the willingness to answer four questions, with an open mind.
My favorite part of all?
The surprise that continues through questioning each thought with The Work, wondering about the story we’re telling, imagining what it would be like without believing in something hurtful, turning the thoughts around. You find your own clarity, without being told what to think, do, say, feel. No suggestions or advice, no right way to do it or wrong way to do it.
All you need to do is answer the questions. And yes, it is incredibly powerful to get support in how, to listen to other peoples’ answers, to ponder your stressful thought longer than you normally do–all benefits of attending a retreat and giving yourself this meditation.
What do we find out, 100% of the time?
A sense of peace, neutrality, lightness, curiosity, space, breathing room. An interest in continuing the exploration no matter how long it takes. An awareness we might have been missing, often for years.
You had the answers all along.
“Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy.” ~ Henri Nouwen
P.S. My husband Jon will be joining us for Saturday and Sunday. He and I have done The Work together and with and ON each other for 8 years. We made this facebook video on doing The Work on whose movie pick is better for a night out–his or mine. LOL!