After every single retreat, I exclaim, “This was the best one yet!” and that’s because they keep getting better and better. April 19-23rd I was holding down space in the beautiful laid back surf town of Santa Teresa in Costa Rica. This was not my first time leading a retreat in Santa Teresa. In fact, my very first international retreat was held just down the street with one of besties Ryan Montbleau. That first retreat holds a special place in my heart and because it went so well I kept doing them.
Not every retreat I’ve done has been a success. I’ve put retreats out there and had no one sign up. Actually that happened this year and I lost a lot of money because of it. I decided to call it a learning investment because I learned a lot! One thing that I learned is that I don’t really like putting on retreats at retreat centers. There’s big energy that comes with a retreat center that isn’t there when you simply rent a house or hotel. My secret sauce lies in creating something from the ground up at a neutral place. The venue for Sparkle in the Sun Retreat was a boutique hotel with a bunch of rooms, a pool, private kitchen, dining area, and space to gather. Because it’s a hotel there was a staff member available to help me with some logistics like booking cabs, bringing in a massage therapist, etc.
I’ve been working on taking all the action that I need to make something happen but also being open to the flow and magic that happens when you let go.
Less than a week before the retreat started our lovely chef had a family emergency and had to leave the area making her unavailable for the retreat. At first I freaked out. Then I took a breathe and wrote to Tom Brady and Gizelle Buchen’s private chef who I had cook a meal for that first retreat with Ryan years ago and asked her if she knew anyone. I hit send and then went to take a yoga class. During yoga my intention was, “The perfect chef is waiting for me to find them.”
I came back to my little glass house located on an island with two volcanos in the middle of a lake in Nicaragua and checked my email. Chef Joanne said that a miracle happened. Her favorite chef just had a cancellation and was available. Minutes later we were talking and I found out that he loves live music and even plays a pan drum which he would serenade us with every night at our plated gourmet dinner.
The day before the retreat started I took a yoga class that took place on a platform up above Santa Teresa overlooking the ocean with the most refreshing breeze coming through it as birds sang through class. I thought, “I wonder if they rent out this to people?” So I asked. And they did. And so I booked it for yoga for the retreat.
Hayley Jane and her fiance Nick came to the retreat and I knew that Nick loved leading workouts. I asked him if he’d be interested in leading workouts in the morning in place of yoga and then shifted things around so we could do an afternoon yoga class. He was so excited, so each morning we gathered surrounded by palm trees as he kicked out butts. It was incredible!!! Yoga on the platform was such a treat that I booked it again for the next day.
That same day I walked by a tattoo shop and had an idea. What if Hayley Jane wanted to design a tattoo for anyone who wanted one, would someone in this shop do them for us? So I went in. And met an incredibly talented kind and talented woman who said not only would she tattoo us, but she would come to the retreat venue and do it. Hayley was down to design that tattoos so she make a design of a sun and a wave and had each person customize it in their own way. I got the Native American symbol for medicine man in mine.
After the tattoo shop I saw a surf shop and thought it might be perfect for surfing lessons for those who wanted them. The shop wasn’t open, but I walked in anyway because I didn’t realize it was closed. I met the owner, his partner and they adorable puppy. I knew immediately he was the guy to teach my people how to surf. And that he did! It was so special because he taught them how to surf at the same place he learned how to surf from his dad years ago.
That same day is the day I sprained my ankle. Just like when the chef cancelled, at first I freaked out. I wrote a message on the retreat page asking for healing vibes and one woman said, “We’ll just carry you around all weekend.” I’m always running around doing everything at retreats and I felt like this was my sign that I didn’t have to do that. So when it came time to arrange the chairs for the evening concert with Hayley Jane I asked everyone to move their chair. It was so much easier!! Lesson learned.
I’m a week away from leading another retreat with Ryan Montbleau. This time it’s a sold-out Songwriter’s Retreat in Vermont where I rented a sweet farmhouse with a hot tub, a pond, and a barn. I’m looking forward to all the magic that’s going to unfold during those super special 4 days. I’ll let you know what happens.
So that’s where I am with retreats now. I’d love to tell you about how I started because it’s a pretty funny story involving a wedding venue. I’ll share that with you next time. I’ll also be sharing a gallery of photos from the Sparkle in the Sun Costa Rica Retreat taken by Hannah of Riptide Photography.