Thursday, October 10, 2013

We Grew Our Wings and Then Some...

So, a couple of weeks ago, we took an amazing, beautiful, awe-inspiring, magnificent, extraordinary, impressive, marvelous, stupendous, wondrous, stunning, exceptional,  incredible, unique journey.  Ok, actually, I don't think there are enough adjectives to describe this journey. Maybe you get the picture.  Most likely not.  So let me try to explain.  I'll try to do so with a few less adjectives, but no promises, 'k?

Now normally when someone says they've "been on a journey" I immediately get this image in my head of hiking some foreign mountaintop to find a Buddhist priest who will tell me the one thing that will change my life forever. Forget image, it's more like a movie with "Life of Pi" cinematography, incredible music and credits rolling at the end.  And the audience dabbing their tears of course.  Or the other scenario would be eating, praying and loving my way around the world (emphasis on eating, I should think...) à la Elizabeth Gilbert style. So you must be thinking, where in the world did they take this journey?  The answer?  Park City, Utah. Hey, there ARE mountaintops there after all!  (Not sure about Buddhist priests, but, whatever.)

We stayed in this awesome house, with gorgeous views of said mountains all around.  Each room was beyond fabulous, and plenty big for all of the guests signed up for the retreat. 

We were greeted by Amanda Herring aka The Quilted Fish with some cute bags full of swag and these little chalkboard reminders in the hallway as we entered the house.

The quotes changed daily, but I happen to love this one! #truth

All over the house there were little tidbits of encouragement through quotes.

And fun stuff like this one where we could grab an Instacam and take little polaroids of each other.  So fun!

We could then add those fab pics to our SMASHBOOKS.  We were each given a Smashbook in our swag bag to document our retreat. And there was a Smash Bar full of goodies to Smash with.  I know you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about, but have patience my pretties, I'm getting there!

The Smash bar had tins full of Washi tape, and pads of paper full of quotes. Cute paperclips and stickers. Buckets full of colorful pens.  Each Smashbook comes with a pen that has a glue stick on one end so you're ready to write or stick something inspiring right into your book.  I'll admit, I got addicted to Smashing.  In a big way!  Hello, my name is Liz and I'm addicted to Smash.

This adorbs "Find Your Lula" name tag was on each door so we could find our rooms.  It now resides on Monique, my studio mannequin who wears it quite well I might add.

At this point you might be thinking, ok, sounds like fun, but honestly, what was up with all those adjectives in the beginning? This doesn't look life-changing.

And yet. It was. 

First of all, how many of us admit to being fabulous?  It takes a lot to look past all the negative things we think about ourselves and find the positive to realize, YES, we are in fact F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!  
(is snarky negative? I like that word anyway...)

And that's what this journey was about, to find out just how fabulous each of us are.  We were a group of creative women who came together looking to find a boost in our creative journey.  To learn new skills and, well learn about US.  Now I'm not talking the "Fried Green Tomatoes" path to self-discovery.  Although, "towanda" would have felt at home here at Lula...maybe they're sisters? ToLULA!

No, it was more like "The Breakfast Club" kind of self-discovery. In that when we first introduced ourselves, we all had these feelings of doubt. Geez, women can be so hard on themselves! Some felt like they didn't belong. We all saw each other as being much more accomplished than ourselves.  We were probably a room full of brainiacs, athletes, princesses, basket cases and criminals (ok, maybe not criminals? haha!)...but then our classes began.

And we blossomed.

We first started Illustrator classes with Douglas of DougsterDesign. We sat in comfy chairs around a big lovely table ready to face our fears of this intricate program. My seat neighbor sitting next to me even admitted, 
"Oh gosh, I'm scared."

But Douglas can I put 
A-M-A-Z-I-N-G teacher! That doesn't even really do him justice.  I think what I appreciated most was that he didn't look at us like we were complete idiots. You know what I'm talking about.  You've had those teachers, right? (hello, math teachers anyone?)

 ^That's Douglas right there, the only testosterone in a sea of estrogen.
(you had to be there!)

He was our Illustrator Super Hero!  Faster than a speeding bullet he had us practicing and memorizing quick commands.  More powerful than a locomotive most teachers he cut through the crap and taught us the things we NEEDED to know. And still, able to leap tall buildings across the table in a single bound to help those in need.  Yet underneath it all, was the Clark Kent to his Superman. 
He was(is)our friend.

(Beth, Sandy Workman, and I)

(My illustrator project, finished!)

We also learned some aspects of Photography from a fabulous photographer, Kristen McMullin Pack (see her work *here)

She challenged our photographic skills. Made even more challenging when your main camera is an iphone. ;) (In this one, I held the egg, Beth snapped the pic. Teamwork!) From Kristen we learned some great life lessons as well:
*Stop looking at everyone else

In other words, don't let your own insecurities get in the way of your progression. Wise words!

And then, we got down to the nitty gritty.

We met Lyn.

CEO and founder of Soul Salt Inc.
A Life Coach.
A life changer.
An absolute inspiration.
And all around Bad Ass.

Soft-spoken, yet powerful, Lyn helped us find our core values. We had to sift through a lot of words to find the ones that best described who we are.  It was HARD! 

We even set aside words we thought SHOULD describe us and that's where this fine quote came from...

Should, she said, comes from someone else's expectations.  Have you "should" on yourself today?  Well don't. Ever.

Lyn had us on an emotional roller coaster where one minute we'd feel the wind in our faces and the freedom of letting go of those insecurities; then we'd shoot back down in the well and find more to toss out on the climb back up.  I'm not going to lie.  There were tears. Maybe even blood and sweat. 
But it was worth it.

    We also met Susan from 
Align Integration and Movement.

She taught us that when we are in true alignment, we will be stronger.  She took us through a number of exercises (not without a lot of noise, grumbling, and laughter from the Lula gallery!) and showed us that with just a few simple daily exercises we can strengthen our core, and find our zone. Who knew that stepping on a tennis ball could give you more balance? Or that a simple daily arm stretch is the key to rid yourself of pain in the shoulder joint, neck and arm? Or that correct deep breathing from the diaphragm could give you such a complete sense of calm and peace? 

And just when we thought we'd learned enough about ourselves (and each other!), we were introduced to Heather Carson. Who scented the air with soothing essential oils and taught us about the kinds of oils that match our personalities.  It was eye, er, olfactory-opening!

She had us all at Wild Orange.

There were so many other aspects about Lula that added to our overall amazing week.  Most of which I didn't happen to snap pictures of as I confess to being mesmerized by my new-found Illustrator skills and wanted to practice into the wee hours of the morning. 

Like, we actually did go out for a night on the town. And there was SNOW almost daily. And feeling comfy and cozy each day in our slippers and stretchy pants (which were a must!).

Because the meals were, unbelievable. We were SO spoiled!  Gourmet meals put together by Miz Amanda and her team. They didn't miss a beat.  OR an opportunity to feed us! 

There was even a room upstairs dedicated to snickety-snacks.  Glass jars filled with sweets and savories of every kind.  And little buckets to fill up and take to class should you so desire!  There was even an old-fashioned popcorn popper, and sometimes the awesome staff (AMBER!) would pop some greasy buttery popcorn and bring it to us in the mist of our deep illustrator concentration.

Did I mention the drink bar?  Ice, water, coffee, tea, sodas and flavorings of every kind. I definitely need this in my house.

But most of all, I'd be hard pressed to explain the pure and simple joy of being together.  As we shared our ups and downs and learned to become better. We laughed. We cried. And we laughed some more. Oh did we laugh. We laughed at Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake's #hashtag sketch which resulted in a slew of epic Lula hashtagging. #smallchange 

And it's hard to describe the bonds of friendship made. Now it's a truth universally acknowledged that when Beth, Liz, and Gina Halladay get together, there will be little to no sleeping involved!  That's what happens when your besties live in two different states.  Add to that our favorite Fishie and new friends who didn't mind burning the midnight oil with us, smashing until our glue sticks ran dry, and laughing until our abs ached worse than doing a thousand crunches... well, that's what we call true kindred spirits. #sothatwasgood 

We finished off the week with Missy the Magnificent who put together this gorgeous spread of baubles

We got to dig in and make a "kitchen sink" necklace and keepsake for our time at Lula.

Mine is full of charms and reminders of our truly creative week.  Including a pair of wings. To remind me that Lula gave me mine.

To Amanda: Remember all those adjectives I used at the beginning of this missive to describe Lula?  Every single one of them applies to you.  Every. Single. One. You are: amazing, beautiful, awe-inspiring, magnificent, extraordinary, impressive, marvelous, stupendous, wondrous, stunning, exceptional,  incredible, unique. Your ability to connect others and help them find their path never ceases to amaze me.  You rock! And I'm honored to call you my friend. (Heck, you're family. You're one of the four H's.)

To everyone else: we learned that each one of us is a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a creator. 

Sincerely Yours,
The Lula Club


If you'd like to read more about our Lula experience, check out the blogs listed on our sidebar under "Lulaites" 
(right below "About Us")

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