This retreat was far from “my first rodeo.” I’ve participated in dozens of resident workshops, retreats, and vision quests over the last thirty plus years… with themes ranging from accessing creativity and life purpose to optimizing mind-body and spiritual well-being. This led to sometimes exotic, or frankly freighting journeys including to jungles and across oceans seeking wisdom and experience from mentors and proclaimed (by themselves or others) Shamans. Some of these teachers were approachable and some forbidding, with offerings that definitely required a white-knuckle approach. So the enduring poignancy of Karen and Michelle’s retreat took me by surprise. I expected to have a much-needed “nice” and “nurturing” break from my routine –which I did receive. But these two are tricksters of the best possible sort. I was lulled, disarmed, and guided into life-changing revelations that I realize, six months later, are a gift that still continue to flourish. It feels as if shifts took place at the core – as if perhaps my DNA and or energetic fields have been altered. Yet everything went down pretty smooth and easy – laced with a lot of joy and laughter (okay, there were plenty of tears too, but the cleansing kind). We created and playfully challenged ourselves. I would like to add, when I first arrived, I discovered my New York City skeptic and jaded cynic had stowed away and come along to the retreat with me! “This is all very sweet,” I thought as our first activity was introduced (making a group talking stick)… “but (eye roll) I’ve done all this before (yawn).” So I was astonished when the talking stick arrived in my hands: my well-rehearsed introduction completely vanished from my head and instead what came out, as if mysteriously unearthed, were teary intentions and dreams I hadn’t even allowed myself to realize before – yet they were “spot on” as if they were coming from a core part of me, my deep heart’s desires, that I hadn’t previously dared to allow myself to know.