I’m going through a rough patch right now with my broken foot and this made me feel good. Really really good. This was written by Sunny Beeker, an incredible woman who just attended my Mother’s Day Manifestation Retreat in Ojai. I won’t lie- it kind of blew me away. Thanks, Sunny! You should write a book. Not kidding. And thanks to everyone who was there. If I and to break my foot, there is nowhere I would’ve rather been than in the middle of dinner with you at my retreat. Okay, it was just before dinner. But you get my point.
I had to write about my experience at Jennifer Pastiloff’s Manifestation Retreat in Ojai this past Mothers Day. It was an experience of possibilities, magic, and real human connection. A big dose of what we all need from time to time.
This is what she greeted me with when I walked in the door. There stood THE Jennifer Pastiloff, giving me a hug and saying “Welcome! What’s your name? I just opened this beer, do you need one?” – in her very distinctive, strong voice. It kind of threw me seeing her standing there, the woman who’s writing, adventures and spirit I have admired for so long, just offering to show me to my room. My first thought was – she’s so tiny and then I felt a bit intimidated and a bit in awe. What do I say to her?! Our social media relationship (chatting before the retreat in her FB group) seemed so easy, but now I have to be THAT person. And then she’s handing me her beer! I don’t even like beer! (Yes, Jen, I lied when I said “sure I’d love one.” I never drink beer.). But in that moment, she became a real person and I was able to relax into the experience. And the beer tasted great.
That was the start of my I-have-no-idea-what-to-expect-why-did-I-come-alone weekend at the 2014 Manifesting in Ojai Mothers Day Retreat. And what I walked into was an amazing mixture of women (and a few men) from ALL walks of life and ages, open hearts, vulnerability off the scales, flowing tears, soul baring, singing, laughter, sweating, chatting, eating, wine drinking, star gazing, major a-ha’s, and some heart stopping spontaneous moments that took your breath away. Deep connection, compassion and self expression displayed in its purest form – with total strangers.
Then she broke her foot, our beloved leader. And while she weathered the intense pain and frustration and tears, the air/tone that she set earlier in the day never changed for the rest of us. We all carried on and sent an incredible amount of love Jen’s way, all of us believing that love is a vibrational force – which we knew was all we could do for her. So that’s what we did, let her process and carry on. OK…that was just the first day, if that gives you any indication of how strong the love was flowing.
There was no disappointment, even if you were expecting this to be a “yoga retreat”, which many did (and she has a broken foot!). Even they all said in the end – it was soooo much more. Yes, we did some yoga, but it was what happened in between that was extraordinary. Jen walks the walk she talks and writes about – even on one foot. Being human is every emotion and every experience…and believe me, she did not stay quiet about how she was feeling about her foot. She let us see her process (the very real and human ups and downs) with so much trust and honesty, and in that space I think we all felt safe to share the secret parts of ourselves. It was “Mothers Day” weekend, after all, and all the emotions that brings up. It was amazing to behold. I can’t imagine trying to explain what “a retreat with Jen” is like because I suspect it is different every time. Hate to overuse the word “amazing”, but there is just no other word. Even after, back home, I found it hard to describe what it was like. Oh and did I mention the unbelievable setting in the hills of Ojai, perfect weather, and the hot chef (Culinary Therapist!)-slash-singer/songwriter, Caspar Poyck, who cooked every meal for us and then took us on a food/self exploration in his “cooking class”?!
I came because I was looking for something. Rejunvenation. An intro to yoga. To get away. To treat myself. To be by myself. I’m not exactly sure what…but, something. I remember thinking, as I was eating and laughing my ass off and having the deepest conversations ever in my life with these strangers – Is this the real me or is the real me the one I left at home? Who is this person (me) these people are getting to know, no holds bar? I’ve never felt so present and in the moment – not holding back, not second guessing, not checking out, not wondering what they would think if they only “knew”. Not judging. I felt completely safe to be myself. Jen created a space and forced us, in her way, to let it all go. It was refreshing to simply be myself, surrounded by smart, vulnerable, powerful women (and men) – who give a damn. Because she does. And I carry that with me today.
In a nut shell – it was nothing I expected, but it was everything I needed.
If you follow Jen’s blog etc. – she kinda makes this shit happen. Honest, open, vulnerable, human, kick ass kind of shit.
An experience I will never forget. Grateful – for the leadership, the company, the wine and the memories. Can’t wait to do it AGAIN!”
I’m humbled by what Sunny wrote and what I experienced last weekend. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I hope i see some of you soon at a workshop or retreat. Love to you all, xo jen
Next retreat in Ojai is Labor Day and New Years. Book here. (Labor Day is almost full.)