Category: personal development

A dream realized (scenes from the BEYOND Retreat)

Nearly three weeks ago now, nine women came together in Southwest Michigan to refresh, recharge, dream, and get inspired at my very first live event – the BEYOND Retreat.

Our charming rural lodging – a spacious farmhouse on a wooded lot a few blocks from Lake Michigan – set the stage for a relaxing and luxurious weekend.

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There was plenty of time for group conversation and one-on-one connection. We set goals and offered each other suggestions for making more time for ourselves, identifying our values and priorities, and incorporating our dreams, big and small, into our busy lives.

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There was time for yoga, walks on the beach and in the woods, a vision board session and even a guided craft.

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We also spent plenty of time just talking and laughing. The awesome food, prepared by my husband Jon, seemed to magically appear before us at just the right time. Sharing meals added to the sense of camaraderie and community, which was already strong by the time we’d spent an hour together on Friday evening!

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We came together (mostly) as strangers from different backgrounds, with unique challenges, and hailing from all over the country – but by the end of the weekend, we had become friends and mentors to one another. I am so honored that these women took time away from their lives and traveled to make my very first in-person retreat a huge success, and very happy to say that I think they all took a lot of value away when they returned to “real life.”

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And the feedback I’ve gotten has been nothing but positive. From one attendee, Jacquie: “Thank you for such a wonderful weekend.  The retreat was exactly what I needed – dedicated time away from my responsibilities to just be.  I really liked the size of the group and the balance of activities and down time.  It was also the most rested I have felt after being away from my kids.  It is amazing how much energy is required to make decisions like what to do next and what to eat.  Having that taken off the table was fantastic.”

Here’s where I admit that doing an in-person event has been one of my goals for the past, oh, ten years or so, putting it off year after year for some good reasons (lots of little kids and other logistical issues,) but also a lot of fear. Was I organized enough to pull it off? What if no one signed up – or worse, what if people came and the event didn’t meet their expectations? What if it turned out to be a huge failure?

When you’re thinking about doing something completely new, it’s normal to be a little apprehensive. Indeed, there were definitely times in my life over the past decade where pulling off a retreat would have been more difficult for a variety of reasons. I don’t regret waiting until I had the time and resources to pull it off well, but at the same time, I’m very glad I didn’t let those lingering fears – though they were still definitely there, hovering in the background – keep me from jumping when I knew it was time.

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If you missed BEYOND this time around, don’t worry – it was such an awesome experience that I’ll definitely be planning at least one more next year (possibly two.) To make sure you find out as soon as the next retreat is announced (and when anything else of note is happening!) join my email community.

But in the meantime I hope you’ll use my experience in creating the BEYOND retreat to examine something you really want to do but have been putting off. Are you really as un-ready as you think? Or is it possible that if you just committed to making a reality and got out of your own way, the details might start to come together with a lot less effort than you’re anticipating?

You’ll never know until you try. And I hope that I get to hear all about your big dream at the next BEYOND retreat.


Knowing myself, knowing others: my uncomfortable – but revealing – afternoon with the Enneagram


I’ve always been a sucker for personality evaluations. I’ve taken Myers-Briggs tests at least two dozen times (ENFP. Always, always ENFP) and as a girl, would always turn first to the “Who’s your style icon?” and “What’s your friendship quotient?” type quizzes in any new issue of Seventeen magazine.

As a person who’s fascinated by personality, psychology and the way the human brain and heart work, there’s something tantalizing about the idea of being a little more in touch with my psyche, or – let’s be honest here – sometimes, just having a flattering assumption validated.

So when I stumbled across the concept of the Enneagram via Jennifer Loudon, I figured it would be just more of the same: an analysis telling me how essentially creative, enthusiastic, and optimistic I am. Sign me up!

Before taking one of the many tests available online, I briefly read descriptions of the 9 basic personality types as defined by the Enneagram, and immediately identified with type 7, The Enthusiast:

Sevens are extroverted, optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous. Playful, high-spirited, and practical, they can also misapply their many talents, becoming over- extended, scattered, and undisciplined.

Yep,” I thought, “That’s me!” Playful, high-spirited, extroverted, optimistic, spontaneous…these are all words I’ve used to describe myself for years. I took the quiz, fully expecting it would validate my 7-leaning assumptions.

But instead, the results told me I was most likely to be a type 2, The Helper. (In fact, The Enthusiast wasn’t even the second possibility…it came in as a distant third.)

The Helper? From the initial description, Twos sounded, frankly, boring.  Continue Reading