Whoa, what a week I just had! Where on earth do I begin to tell the tale?
If you regularly read this blog you’ll know that whilst traveling in Peru a couple of years ago I met a remarkable family – and after two hours of sharing our stories with each other, we (a) formed an instant connection, and (b) promised to get together again in the future. You might also know that last week I honoured that commitment and flew out to Charlotte, North Carolina where I finally met up with JD Lewis to participate in his 3 day workshop – “The Artist’s Weekend”- which he holds at the Mountain Light Sanctuary, a spacious and beautiful retreat facility deep in the Pisgah National Forest, near Asheville, North Carolina. Let me say right now that the MLS is clearly one of the most gorgeous and peaceful places I’ve ever been to in my life, and an ideal place for gatherings and retreats such as the one I attended.
This place has to be seen to be believed; everything from it’s multitude of different (and very funky) sleeping quarters (including a “Hobbit” style hut named “Frodo’s”) to it’s sprawling lawns and massive main lodge, complete with a huge porch and deck, places where we spent much of our time stretched out and/or huddled in groups as we worked away at our projects. The cool thing is that every single space on the MLS property – both constructed or landscaped – has been designed with one goal in mind: To help busy souls slow down, catch their breath, and take time to find inner peace through the beauty of all the nature surrounding them. I must say, it is truly is a magical spot.
What? It’s Been A Week Already?!
Wait – let me back it up a minute. I find it hard to believe that just 8 short days ago, I was driving to airport at 4:30 a.m. with absolutely no idea what to expect from the upcoming week; because – truth be told – I’d only spent a couple of hours with my host, J.D. Lewis, during a chance encounter two years ago. I didn’t really know much about him, other than the fact that I was spellbound by the things he said that day whilst we were all riding the train down the winding tracks headed for Machu Picchu. I do however, clearly remember meeting a man who was brave, adventurous, a good father, a globe-trotting philantrophist, incredibly interesting, and above all, a kind, giving soul who truly, truly cares about other people – this was my impression of J.D. after just a couple of hours; an impression that was strong enough for me to instantly know I’d want to be around him (and his ilk) a whole lot more; hence the exciting adventure I was finding myself in.
Come to think of it, maybe I did know J.D. after all; or at least I knew the kind of person he was. Because as this past week has proven, he’s all the things I believed him to be, and so much more; and maybe – just maybe – as people, we need to believe that it only takes a few hours for us to learn to like (and love) the really terrific and incredible people who enter our lives every now and then – you know – like, let’s say, a random meeting on a train halfway around the world.
And here’s the best part – just like I got to know J.D. Lewis even more over the last weekend, I also got to meet (and fall in love with!) a group of exceptionally bright, talented and wonderful people as well – these being the students and participants at the workshop. I can honestly say that I’ve made a few friendships that will easily endure the test of time; and for that, I’m very excited!
The Artists Weekend
I won’t get into specifics about activities etc. that make up the program, since the weekend has a bit of a “Vegas” rule to it (You know, what happens in Vegas… etc.) and to mention any of it here would betray the trust of my new friends; however I will say that in addition to meeting 21 incredible people, I personally came away with more clarity and a sense of purpose than I’ve had in a very long time. The weekend forced me to verbalize both internally and out loud some of the bullshit excuses I’ve been making for not chasing my dream harder, and made me confront my fear of making the next big change of my life come faster and more ferocious than ever. It gave me new friends who will not only hold me accountable to get this train rolling, but who I know will be there every step of the way to support me (and make me accountable) in my own journey, just as I will do for them.
Even now, just writing these words I feel a much greater sense of power, especially knowing that my team members have my back, and will press me to do my best at my tasks; we’ve agreed not to let each other settle for half-assed lives, and have vowed to do whatever we need to do to support one another… Thanks guys, I WILL be calling on you a lot!
Like I said, it’s hard to imagine that “The Artists Weekend” was a full week ago, because it is all still so fresh in my mind! And despite the hectic “hair straight back” (“It’s a metaphor, people!”) schedule I’ve had since leaving N.C. – including 3 flights, 2 stop-overs, a night in Calgary (due to a missed flight) and one in Vancouver (on route to taking Tristan to camp in Squamish) I’m still feeing strong, powerful and totally committed to the promises I made to the group; and I’m ready and willing to do whatever I need to do to support the good people who asked for me to hold them accountable to their own commitments – and all in all, these are great feelings to have – feelings of power, love, friendship and above all, loyalty to each other. Did I remember to say “Thanks Guys”? I hope so, because it can’t be said enough.
Two things I know for sure: This past week my life changed in a big, positive way, all because of the quality of people I was able to meet and connect with while at “The Artists Weekend”; and secondly, I’m excited to see them all again next year when we do it all again… as long as they’ll have me back! (And yes, I’ll even “Bring the Maple Syrup”!)
P.S. – One final “Shout-Out” to the remarkable person who brought us all together – J.D. Lewis. I just wanted to tell him that I’m so grateful that I picked the seat that I did to sit on during that particular train ride a couple years back; and that that one choice has created an domino effect that has made my life so much more fulfilling and awesome than if I’d sat elsewhere on that train… So frickin cool! All I can say is that I love you my friend! – oh, and I can’t wait for the “WTF” to take shape! Cheers!
And with that: Fish… OUT!