Wednesday, April 29, 2009

April 12 ~ Everyone Arrives & Welcome Dinner

This is Easter and I'm up with the sunrise - excited - my Women's Mexico Retreat begins this evening!! Damaris and I leisurely discuss and go over our curriculum, filling in any holes and answering last minute questions we may have for one another. All feels like it's in order.

Around noon I take a break and enjoy a swim and some sun, soon everyone would be arriving and the "Welcome Dinner" will be in the making. I've finally gotten hold of Maria, our caterer, and she sounds concerned, stuck in traffic. Both Damaris and I sit in waiting, she reading, me, catching up on my journal. I love how all concerns disappear when I take to my journal pages.

Our agreed to time of arrival for Maria of 3pm, comes and passes. Finally around 4pm she and her assistant arrive and bustle into the kitchen, preparing our meal. I continue writing in my journal, but I'm keenly aware of the heavenly, varied smells that have begun filling the air. Maria is making everything from scratch. I recognize the aroma of roasting chilies, which she peels. All in the making of the 3 salsas to go with our chips and guacamole. My eyes sting slightly, while mouth waters in anticipation. Maria is at home in the kitchen!

I start paying closer attention to my watch, realizing the remaining two participants are arriving any moment. Damaris travels over to the participants condo with the extra key to let in Bonnie. When we find Bonnie, she lets us know Lena, who is staying in a small, private studio condo, is being guided to her lodging by our trusty Real Estate gentleman.

Everyone converges just after 5pm and Maria begins serving the appetizers. The salsas are fresh, distinctive and marvelous. To freshen our palette, we are served fresh Horchada and then , move into the large table. Maria continues to garner rave reviews for our dinner of Chile Rellenos, Chicken Enchiladas, Black Beans and Salad. By dinner's end we are cozy with conversation and stuffed food. All of us request an opportunity to take a full moon walk down to the beach before we have room for dessert.

For dessert, we sit at the outdoor patio table and savor the lime pie/cake with luscious wafers floating thru the soft layers. Damaris and I have planned the introduction to the Native American "Talking Stick" in preparation to creating our very own Retreat's Talking Stick to be used each evening when one of us will talk briefly in response to the question, "How has personal growth effected your creative process". Each of us has brought with us a small item, representing what feeling or value we'd like to bring to the gathering. It's comical, all of us attempting to use the wax gun but, finally we're done. This first evening, I chose to share, breaking the ice for being honest, intimate and trusting. After my share, comments are relative and understanding. We are beginning to weave a lovely tapestry together.

Finally, we deliver all ladies to their comfy nests, and Damaris and I return to quietly retire to our comfortable condo. I'm pleased to see the relationships of loving, kind women feeling at ease and playful in this very special retreat. Sweet gratitude lullabies me to sleep.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

April 11 ~ Wild Taxi & Venue Tours

I'd woken to the lovely Mexico full moon and was ready for what the day held in store for me. When I'd learned the condo I so loved, where I would be staying, had been sold to a Canadian couple, I knew I'd best check out other options if I wanted to repeat this retreat in the future. Just last night I'd spoken to Jim (of Jim & Bev Woods, the Real Estate couple who'd helped me secure my participants condo) and he had several potential future venue possibilities for future retreats he wanted to show me. We'd agreed he'd pick me up at 9am. Because of Holy Week the local beaches and an campground were filling up fast. As we drove farther south towards Manzanillo Centro, Jim warned me that the two lane highway would soon be turned into a one-way headed south. All northbound traffic would be detoured east, up into the curvey, arid mountain areas. Y-i-i-i-k-e-s, I'm thinkin'!!!! We visit 3-4 condos and one house, all nice but, I'm favoring a location less in the hub-bub of the city. As agreed, Jim drops me at Walmart (sorry, I will not shop there in the US but, I feel more secure shopping there for my Gringo needs) where I get fruit, yogurt, and breakfast makings. Hurriedly I zip out to catch my cab to travel back north to Club Santiago. But alas, the two way highway is NOW one way south, and my cabby turns up, up, up into the mountains. Zing, zip, whirl - around corners as we pass other cars!! I'm hanging on to my bananas, praying for safe delivery back to my condo. Laughing at my silly fears, he drops me at my door (and my bananas ARE unbruised)!

I take a lil' break down to the pool and hot Mexico sun (purrrr), grab a lil' lunch and call Jim to pick me up for the remainder of the tour. This time we are headed north, away from the busy city hub.

First, we go to a place known as "Casa de Animalias", a home known for the owner who used to have a collection of animals on site - but - I'm renaming it "The Castle"! There are two houses on site, one the "Castle" and another, a smaller "Mexican Casita". The big house is amazing, luxurious, spacious, elegant and beautiful, with 5 bdrooms. Jim suggests we could hire in a caterer for all meals, bring in a Mariachi Band for entertainment and never leave the grounds. I've just started to drool. We move on down on the property to see the "Mexican Casita" with it's 3 bdrooms and warm embrace. Notice the gorgeous floors! Also, available are 2 small private casitas for individuals.

Then, we traversed down to the gardens, swim up bar and swimming pool with a bridge - all to dream about. Honestly, it reminded me of the Hearst Castle! There also was a trail leading down to a secluded beach.

This beach is shared with the next potential retreat venue, Vida. There were 3 condos, some with 2 bdrooms, others with single bedrooms and a large windowed room where classes could be held. The grounds are soothing, rolling and offer peaceful views of surrounding areas while removed from the bustle of town. This venue felt like it had some possibilities too.

The tour came to an end around 3pm, just in time for my arrival back to the condo and greet two arrivals for my soon to happen retreat. Both my co-instructor, Damaris and one early participant, Dorian happen on the scene around 5:30pm. A bit frazzeled from the long plane flights (some beginning around 5am) and then, the taxi drive into Club Santiago.

We get everyone settled and gather momentum for dinner, just down the block, overlooking the beach at the Oasis Restaurant. There's lots of lively music and chatter from the beach activity around us and we chose a table quietly centered on the deck. Conversation is low key and my friends segway into a more relaxed mode. The view and company is relaxed yet anticipatory. Inside, I feel an excitement. A momentum of the exciting coming days of the Retreat is churning, even at this leisurely perspective.

We all turn in early, anxious to see what tomorrow brings.

Monday, April 27, 2009

April 10-11 ~ Travel to Manzanillo & First WakeUp

I'd been woken by my lil beeping alarm clock. No one else would have been getting me up at 2am! I'd wanted time to do my meditation and yoga, to be as centered as I could be for my 7am airplane takeoff. I had leisurely time to finalize my packing and arrived at the airport with comfortable time.

My hubby & I toured the new Medford International Airport, poking and inspecting displays. We took the hint when the guard came over asking what we were doing. Ok, it was time for me to go thru Security. A difficult g'bye, but adventure on the other side. I ran into a woman, long time friend of a mutual artist friend and I pocked a note to deliver when I got back home. I could see the Universe already at work on this trip.

Usual things on plane rides, drinks, peanuts, etc. and wait for my plane change in L.A. went quickly as I bought some more Pecos for my stay in Mexico.

The flight to Manzanillo had an excited energy about it. Lots of people en route to vacation or family reunions (remember, this is Mexico's Holy Week too). The young Mexican mother behind me, with her young child, was crying and an American woman consoled her that the flight was easy and the Manzanillo Airport small and simple to traverse. She quieted down. The lil live-wire sitting next to me was another story. Stu, a spunky, say, 11-yr-old with bright yellow bleached hair topping his brown hair, talked almost endlessly. He was going on Spring Vacation with his family and was so jazzed. In response to his mild, but consistent hint, wanting to sit in my window seat, I gave in. He relished that for awhile - til his Dad, now next to me, put in a movie on his computer. Then, Stu wanted his original seat back. And on and on - I was entertained until our landing in Manzanillo.

Airport routine moved along rather quickly, and although I had hit the random button, with the signal coming up "RED" (which means they search your luggage), it went smoothly and I was moved into a taxi. The air conditioning method in many a Mexican Taxi is "open windows" and as I was buffeted by the warm wind, I realized the lil kitchen timer I'd brought with me (to help me not loose track of teaching periods) had gotten moved out of it's protective position in my luggage. And it was going off every few seconds, "beep, beep, beep" all the drive into Club Santiago, a 20-30 minute drive. I smiled.

I got all settled into the open, sunny Condo. Trotted down the street to the nearby market to get some water and breakfast food and settled in for the night. I spent much of the evening setting up the condo for the Retreat. I moved some overstuffed chairs to make a cozy gathering place in the living room. And to my delight, discovered a presentation easel in the Guest Bedroom that I could use for a drawing & presentation easel. It was late when I got to bed after talking with Roland to let him know I'd arrived safe.

I'd experienced a sampling of Mexican holidays last year when we were here. And since this very weekend is the high point (Easter) of the Mexican Holy Week, I wasn't at all surprised to hear the festivities going on late into the night. Around 5am people began getting into their cars and heading home.

So, it was a brief nights sleep, but I'd planned to get up early anyway, to check out the sunrise and temperature on the rooftop for our planned Morning Yoga. I peeked my head out the sliding patio doors, only to see this magnificent day break sight, the moon, full in it's golden orb, glowing over the night lite brilliant yellow condos across from me. I loved the pinks and reds posing as shadow edges and the tinge of orange and green around the moon. I had to grab the camera to capture it (I sure wasn't going to get a sketch done before the sun came up!).

So here I am, awake for my first full day in Mexico setting up for the Women's Retreat! I'm fresh, invigorated (not from sleep tho) and off on my adventure. Stay tuned for the next entry . . .

April 10-11 ~ Travel Day & First Wakeup in Mexico

This adventure has been a year in the planning. Birthed from a dream I've gestated for nearly 10 years, I am NOW making my dreams come true (hint,hint: you can do it too!). I'd mentioned to a friend, who I'd watched grow thru the pain in her life to graduating with a professional degree in counseling, doing a tandem workshop. Finally, all these years later, with both of us having much experience in our fields under our belts, we undertook

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Back Home!!!!

How can I tell you all how much fun we had?!?!?!?! This intimate, warm, and playful group embraced everything that came our way with such grace, understanding, maturity and harmony I can't help but know it was a divine plot.

There was this delicate interweaving of spirits that took place too, which was fascinating to watch. By no design of mine, these ladies discovered mutual interests, needs, compassions and information exchanges that were magical - or - was it mystical?
Anyway, this is just a short entry to let you know we all had a fine time and have arrived back to our respective homes (save for our Bonnie, the 'Extended Adventurer') who planned an extra week farther north in Mexico for a solitary painting experience. We are already talking about a similar but, transformed retreat happening next year. Anyone interested?
I'll be posting our adventures on a day-to-day format so those who could not attend this time, may have a vicarious Retreat.
Good to be home from a unforgettable holiday. Thanks again, to all you amazing women of the "Talking Stick".

Friday, April 3, 2009

One Week to the Day!

As you can tell from my image, I'm madly, exited-ly packing for the Women's Mexico Retreat!!! It's just one week today for when I hop on the plane and head to Club Santiago, in Manzanillo, Mexico. Well, actually I will get to send some time in the beautiful Los Angeles airport with my plane change. But I'm avoiding thinking about that. The time in L.A. will hopefully give me the opportunity to get more Pecos and start the beginning entries in my journal for this amazing trip.

I'm doing my "palette packing" a whole week early because it is the smartest way to travel with wet pigments (tube paints). As you can see in the second shot here, I'm squeezing fresh paint into my palette and allowing it to completely dry before I carry it on the airplane in my carry-on luggage. I'm trusting, as before, that once my pigments are dry and hard they will not be viewed as a possible liquid carry-on. I also am taking partially full tubes of my paints to squeeze out samples for my participants should they want to try different pigments than what they brought. I'm plastic zip-lock bagging each individual tube then, bagging those, all in another plastic zip-lock bag. Yep, double bagging - it's worth it not to have it spill out all over my clothing! So this is time consuming, but worthwhile.

Not only am I honored and blessed to be teaching this terrific group of women but w-a-a-a-a-y-y-y-y thrilled at the synergy that will be magically/mystically be weaving around the six of us. My co-instructor, Damaris, and I have plotted some introductory projects that will provide some beautiful revelations and some sweet openness that opportunities harmony and closeness. I can't wait.

So, if any of you ladies out there are aching for an escape from the prolonged Winter (like the one we're experiencing here in Southern Oregon - it's going to go down to 28 degrees tonight!!!) there is still the opportunity to join us. IF you hurry! Contact me via email or phone (note contacts in sidebar) and I can get you in quickly.

Come join us in the experience of a lifetime - and certainly a unique experience that won't be ever replicated (did I mention the Condo where I'm hosting the Retreat is now SOLD and won't be available for us next year?).