July 25, 2011

One of the pleasant surprises of my trip was my body’s attunement with nature.  I did not use an alarm clock during my time at Ebbio.  I woke naturally each morning, hearing sounds of nature and the rooster crowing.  This morning, as yesterday, I woke up and after silent prayer and meditation, I donned my running clothes to again stride the Tuscan hills.  My legs were sore from yesterday’s run and the previous yoga sessions.  But it was glorious to be outside in the cool morning breeze and brilliants rays of sunshine.  It was a magnificent day.

Today, as I turned right out of the Ebbio driveway, I had a strong pull to run trails.  As I entered the roadway, a trail forked off to the left. Perfect! I hit the trail and was immediately surrounded by a dense forest and a heavily leaf-covered trail.  Low spindly branches smacked my face as I breathed in the musty aromas of nature. The damp early morning created a slippery path as the sun tried to make its way through the dense canopy filter to dry the leaves.  The trail ended near the road that led me back to Monteriggioni. As I made my way up the steep road to Monteriggioni, I was grateful to reach the level entrance.  As I jogged through the empty courtyard, the doves soared overhead to greet me.

I thought of my book and received more guidance.  I discovered topics, form, content and movement through time and space.  Ideas flowed and I was excited to write and strategize with Stephen to flesh out an outline and game plan.   Unless the locals saw differently, I believe I flew back to Ebbio as Pegasus, at least I felt as if I did.

Stephen provided us with many lessons during the retreat.  One of the more challenging coaching tools was the writing marathon. The marathon consisted of continually writing all day, with a break for lunch.  The requirements were to write one letter per second, don’t look back at what you had written and do not revise your work while you are writing.  It was a free form of writing and while it gave you the space to write prolifically, it also allowed you to process the emotions that were certain to arise during the process.  We did two writing marathons while we were at Ebbio.

During our first writing marathon, I sat at the community table, which was a long wooden table with a matching long bench, in the upper floor of the stone house.  I liked this location because it was inspirational.  I could gaze out the two windows in the great room that overlooked the beautiful Tuscan hills and I felt the magic of this place and the great minds that had been here before me. Everyone found her special place to write.

I decided to write long hand for the first part of the retreat because I love the art of writing.  I like the feel of a quality pen in my hand, gliding across narrow lined paper.  I used my Livescribe pen so when I was done with my writing, I could upload the content to my computer.

The first half of the day flew with ease and clarity.  I felt as if I was a scribe and simply writing the words from the thoughts that flowed through me.  I delighted in describing my surroundings as the backdrop from which my content would take shape.  I wrote from my soul as I shared my recent discoveries from a life that unfolded over the course of the last year.  I acknowledged that this retreat was the gift to myself for having peeled away the layers to self discovery and the joy I experienced in finding myself. And the true gift of loving the person I uncovered.

My writings revealed some of my recent discoveries.  While I’d been at the retreat, I had felt strangely at home.  There was an ease, a lack of anxiety, that felt refreshingly new to me.  I had the innate permission to show up and simply be the newly discovered and freshly revealed ME. From introductions, to conversations, to remembering names, to writing, to sharing. For the first time in as long as I could remember, I didn’t have a filter.  I was unscripted and real.  And I could feel the difference.

I reflected on our dinner conversation from last night.  We discussed fear and vulnerability and having the courage to authentically show up in life, in our writing and in our interactions with others.  I could see myself in these women who are embarking on untraveled paths while trying to allow their true selves to shine in spite of their fears.  I found myself easily contributing, but I wondered about my effectiveness – was I heard?  When the student is ready, the teacher will come.  Not every student is ready and it’s not the teacher’s role to force action or impose thoughts. Share from the heart that which I have learned and come from a place of compassion, not judgment, piety or arrogance. Support and nurture in a manner that is authentic to my style – that IS my style.  Release attachment to the outcome.  Those were my lessons.

I have nothing to prove.  I feel grounded in who I am.  I recognize that I am in a place and at a time when I can powerfully share and help others on their journey to self discovery and enjoy the magic of living an authentic life on purpose.  As if to answer my un-verbalized question, I received a round of applause from the room in response to my powerful recommendations.

And it was from this space, I started to write my book.