l had the pleasure of spending four days on the Oregon Coast this past week, wearing my collection of humongous scarves and teaching at the Your Story Retreat.
I said this to the women attending at the very beginning and I say it again here: my job, while awesome, can be very isolating. It's just me and my computer and sometimes it feels like with all the online connection available, it's difficult to connect in real life. I do not seek out opportunities to make friends often or give myself time to really dig deeper below the surface.
And in some ways, that (digging deeper) is what this retreat was about. There were 21 of us, for the most part packed into one big house. Everyone, I think, comes in with a different objective and different expectations for what they want to get out of it...escape, inspiration, relaxation, engagement, connection. Everyone leaves, I think, with a little bit of each plus a greater understanding that expectations are sort of lame and so much more happens when you're open to letting them go.
My teaching day was Friday and I taught rubber stamp carving in the morning and then we used our stamps to create patterned paper. In the afternoon, we bound small books with the paper we'd stamped.
This is my sweet spot in many ways. Stamping and book binding are both projects that I have experimented with over the past few years. They are skills that you wouldn't necessarily try on your own because purchasing the supplies before you know exactly what to do with them is overwhelming. I love that there is a clear take away and we get to "finish" a project. It wouldn't be an Elise class if we didn't just execute (ideally without second-guessing).
The other thing that I love is watching peoples' personalities come out through what they decide to carve. Stamp carving is a fun project that allows for a lot of variety and personal style. And then book-binding is sort of the opposite because it's pretty exact and "step-by-step."
I really didn't know what to expect from this trip. The teaching portion was much more comfortable for me than I thought it would be - I think mostly because I loved the projects and more importantly, had spent Thursday getting to know the students (and therefore felt like I could turn the awkward notch down about 74%). I also loved the learning, we took self-portraits, discussed finding mental balance and painted with watercolors (taught by Kelly Barton).
And the other portion, the bonding portion, was so enjoyable. As mentioned, it's so easy for me to keep the distance that comes with sitting behind a screen. Over the years I have gotten very good at protecting myself through text, but in real life, I get to do fun things like use sarcasm and demonstrate listening skills. I enjoy watching people warm up and feel like I really learned 100 new things.
Including how to crochet! Hannah, who totally became a true friend of mine, taught me one evening after I became obsessed with the blanket she was making and purchased yarn and a crochet hook in town. I have tried to learn many times before but this time I was able to commit. I ended up crocheting what can only be described as NOT a cowl. But it was hilarious and therapeutic.
The whole four days were truly.
What a pleasure it was to teach and attend. I came home Sunday refreshed and reminded that I need to step out of my bubble more offline and really relax and show more of ME online. I've gotten a little caught up here lately trying to clarify my thoughts but I am learning that the people who are going to get it, the people who are wanting the connection, the people who I want to connect with and the people who are truly listening rarely need clarification.
Lessons everywhere folks. Even (especially?) on the Oregon Coast. Thank you, Liz, for hosting such a great event and thank you to each the rad ladies who showed up and shared with me.
I'd totally be remiss if I didn't also thank Paul and my sister-in-law Kristen for taking care of Ellerie so I was able to enjoy this time away. Thank you. And one more sidenote, photos in this post were edited with the new A Beautiful Mess actions for PSE.