back. Well, I had paid up so I figured I needed to at least push through to the finish and I AM SO GLAD I DID.
The first day there, the journals and jewelry bags were the first order of business. By the end, my journal was probably my favorite keepsake from the weekend. We discussed our strengths that we had “tested” on earlier in the week. Mine were pretty spot on. When we explored color, I knew that by the chart Melanie had devised, I needed green (tranquility, growth, harmony) , orange (enthusiasm, fun, open-minded), &
yellow (cheerful, happy, positive, joy, happiness family)! I love my necklace that I came away with and have worn it a lot, getting compliments each time.
The second day, I was more comfortable with this idea of self exploration and intentionally putting yourself in the path for opportunities to grow, at least I was by lunchtime!. When Melanie talked to us about the Law of the Environment, I was truly struck by the fact that you become the average of the five people you are around that most. It occurred to me that if I wanted to become a more positive person, the most important step would be to evaluate who I allow into my personal life. I have slowly been becoming more cynical and negative; though, I didn’t like it, I had no idea how to be any different. One recent experience had actually led me to make the decision to completely give up on people and not try to help anyone ever again. That is so opposite of my nature....I typically love to help people and do things for others. So, although I thought I was protecting myself from further frustration, I was really going against my innate desire to be a helper and taking away my own joy. While making my own self more miserable, I am quite sure my family did not find me the most pleasant or easiest person to live with.
As the day progressed, we worked on painting and just generally getting to know each other. There were ladies, who I now consider friends, from Wisconsin, Texas, Alabama, and Louisiana. Another lady and I were the only “locals” . I was amazed that how by following Melanie’s blog, these women came to sit in West Monroe, LA on a dreary, rainy Saturday. The weather didn’t dampen anything but our potential dinner plans to eat outside on the river. Plans were changed to go to another local spot, where Jennifer was able to serenade us all with “Amazing Grace”!
By Sunday morning, I was wishing that I had the whole thing to do over again! As we had our last “lesson” in the cottage and were taking pictures and saying goodbye, I was struck with how this weekend was a turning point for my life and a new beginning. As my fortieth birthday approaches in a few SHORT weeks, I really needed the wake up call to do all I can with what time I have left here on this earth. I have two children (twins that are 10) whom I want to be able to teach these principles to NOW. My hope is that they don’t have to wait until they are adults to start shaping their thoughts to realize their full potential. So I guess I needed this not just for me, but for my husband and my children, too. Hopefully we will all reap the benefits of this wonderful weekend.
One of our last activities was to make a DREAM necklace. We were to write a dream or dreams on a piece of canvas, roll it up, and stick it in a small corked jar to wear. The purpose was to be a talisman of sorts to remind us of what we brought away with us that weekend. One of my passions is reading. I am “throwing it out to the universe” that writing a book has been a secret dream of mine for quite a while. I already know what it is going to be about....it is based on a lady who was very special to me. SOOO, be on the lookout and maybe Melanie will give it a shout out when it is published. I have also instilled my love for reading in my children; therefore, my next “dream” is to start a mother/daughter/son or parent/child book club. That dream is coming to fruition quickly. I have already sent out inquiries to individuals that I think would be interested and have a group together for an initial book club early this spring!
One of the sweetest memories of the weekend happened after it was all over. I came home to show my family everything we had done. My daughter and son started looking at my journal; reading my strengths and what everyone wrote in it for me to take away. K. said “That is you, Mama”. Just seeing them be interested in what I had learned and me being able to share some of the principles with them was very special. It really made me realize that I not only needed to be intentional with my own growth, but with theirs as well.
Another bonus from the weekend was how I realized a fondness and kinship for my neighbor and host, Melanie. We moved to the neighborhood about a year and a half ago and had met casually a couple of times. I had known of Melanie by name recognition of her physical therapy clinic only for quite a few years, but never had the opportunity to know her personally. Let me just say, that I have found her to be one of the most genuine, generous, funny, honest and sincere individuals I have spent time with in a while. So hopefully, I have not grown personally, but have expanded my friend circle by at least one. As a bonus, I think she has agreed to take me on and be my “life coach”. Last conversation, we were going to start on the morning of my fortieth birthday. Hopefully, I can put to good use what I have learned & will be learning to do great things the next forty years of my life.
P.S. A huge shout out has to go to Melanie’s husband, Todd. He was a wonderful cook on our first night and was a real trooper to let all these ladies invade his home for the weekend, especially during football season!!! And Jessi Carter also deserves huge accolades. She works with Melanie and is the technology guru/organizer who helped Melanie make our weekend so smooth and memorable (and got this blog entry posted).
Thanks so much!