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"Life has a curious tendency to give us what we need, not what we want"

We're delighted to share these words from guest teacher Amy Won!

She came to our Tuscany retreat this past April and through her beautiful book, deck and painting classes inspired us to let wonder and  magic come into our daily lives. We all left feeling much more connected to that place within where creative fire lives! 

Emerging From the Other Side of Fear

Reflecting On the Retreat Part 1

A year ago I answered the Call of Adventure and embarked on a scary, brand new experience I'd been dreaming about forever.

The lovely Jane from Radiant Jane Retreats had invited me to host an art retreat with her in an enchanting, centuries-old farmhouse in Tuscany, Italy and I couldn't say no. First of all because it was such a tremendous honor, and secondly because well, it’s a dream come true.

But like all grand adventures into untrodden territory, it was bigger, scarier and tested my creativity and resilience more than anything I had experienced in recent years. And the road there was paved with immense ups and downs of both heartache and breathtaking beauty.

A small part of me was still questioning what I had committed to right up to the weeks leading to the retreat - was I capable of inspiring wonder and creativity in folks who were investing so much time, money and energy in an Italian retreat? Some of who have never even heard of me and might not even be interested in what I have to say?

It's been some years since I've taught in person - the pandemic played a key part undoubtedly - and most folks know more about my Deck for Wonder-Walking than they know about me, the artist behind it. Even though my primary medium was watercolors, I wasn't a traditional art teacher, preferring to guide others on the more abstract, soulful parts of creativity and making art. I had no idea how this will all translate in an intimate retreat of a dozen students in a faraway land!

Wise mentors, and Jane herself counseled me right until the eve of my first class - just be yourself, that's all you need to be. But inside I was wondering - who was I, truly? Do I live up to being a wonder-seeker? What can I really offer others?

These are the kinds of profound questions we find ourselves asking at the crossroads of transformation, and I knew in my heart of hearts that this retreat was such a moment.

Beneath the protective layers that have formed around the wounds of my creative journey, I yearned to find out who I could be on the other side of fear.

I wanted to know what would happen if I accepted the invitation to become someone who dared to walk through the mysterious stone portal into an enchanted midnight garden under the full moon in Toscana.

Will my longtime dreams of a Wonder Retreat in enchanted lands match the reality?

Am I meant to serve in this way?

What soul lessons await me in Italy?

These questions I now realize, in retrospect, were ultimately why I answered this Call for Adventure.

So, you might be wondering, HOW WAS IT?

Here's a little gallery that hopefully shows you what is hard to put into words. I'll share a bit more after this.

(In case you’re still wondering, it was absolutely incredible, profound, and beautiful beyond words.)

“We always get what we need, not what we want.” - Carla Sanchez-Anderson

A few epiphanies emerged now that I have the benefit of hindsight. The first is that life has a curious tendency to give us what we need, not what we want. In fact, this was a theme that reverberated throughout the retreat itself. Unexpected seeds of wonder and creativity were sown, delight was emerging in ways many, myself included, had not anticipated.

For me personally, it was Connection, and this was surprising to me in its serendipitous poignancy. On the third day of the Retreat, under the full Pink Moon in Scorpio, we had a magical full moon ritual in which we sat on the floor in a circle, tapped into our inner, intuitive selves, and visualized the person we could be if we were brave and stepped through the portal into the other side. A pile of my wonder-walk cards laid in the center of this circle and each of us drew from the pile for a card that would represent what awaits us in the enchanted midnight garden beyond our thresholds of safety.

I drew the card Connect, and intuitively knew it didn't symbolize the land like it normally would, but rather, the wonderful folks around me at the retreat, and the wider community of kindred spirits that I have met, and will continue to meet through my Work of Wonder.

The second epiphany that emerged is a reminder to be wary of exactly who is whispering in my ear in scary times.

Before the retreat, I had many moments of doubts and second-guessing, and sometimes it was hard to tell what was real and what was imagined. Fortunately, my sense of curiosity and intrepidness won over (with a lot of support from Jane, friends and family!) and I pushed through all the obstacles with a burning inner faith that I was meant to see this through.

Fear, I can now see, is a trickster, and it will tell us what we want to hear if we pay it any attention. The tragedy of fear is that it can stop us from doing the things that we need most, that has potential to transform our journey profoundly. And boy am I glad I didn't let fear guide the way!

Last but absolutely not least, I learned the importance of taking leaps of faith.

There will be many moments in our lives when an Invitation feels soul-right but we don't know if we should persist, especially if the stakes are high or obstacles are consistently being flung our way. I learned that being able to leap into the void is not merely about fearlessness, but being comfortable with the unknown - essential for developing the explorer spirit that expands our creativity. This is especially true for an artist, as the very nature of being one is to walk the untrodden paths and paint it vividly for others who might want to brave a similar journey.

So yes, my heart feels incredibly grateful to have emerged on the other side of fear. To be able to sit in this beautiful moment of reflection and rejoice at an adventure well-traversed. One that was pure enchantment and radiated with a reverent beauty of place, people, and the art of wonder! I have so much more to share.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I will share what it was like to be there, the wonderful folks I retreated with, how the classes went and what other lessons I learned along the way!

We would also like to share a short reel from Amy from our Full Moon Over Toscana retreat in April of 2024.

To secure your spot on upcoming retreat please visit our retreat page.

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