It’s been four years since I wrote my Heart Will, a lasting message for people I love and future generations. While I’ve been soul searching most of my life, the events of 2020, and in particular the much-needed spotlight on systemic racism, has accelerated my inquiry into high gear.
For everything that comes to an end there is a legacy. And Willow’s Legacy, Love Letters and Heart Wills Mexico Retreat is no exception. When we recall the many profound observations and revelations shared among our group of 14, we came up with what we consider this collective Manifesto for Living.
Connect deeply with others.
One participant observed, “it was an act of grace how the group came together.” While the beautiful connections elevated the retreat experience, the following sentiments express how connections at the retreat link to living more consciously after the retreat.
- We tend to live in a bubble and the opportunity to be intimate with strangers (in a very skillfully-held way) was very valuable.
- This retreat inspired deeper connection with people in my life. I’m no longer going to live on the surface. I tend to get caught up in the tasks that need tending to and I neglect to focus on the life-affirming values that could easily be a part of my daily conversations with people I love, but also with acquaintances.
- The container made it easy for me to be authentic and thrive in what I wanted to do.
- I think of myself as a grain of sand building a beach. At the micro level I’m doing the best I can by being kind.
Be present and authentic.
One participant said, “The now is amazing! There’s no jumping or pompoms.” I’ve been using this mantra since I returned home whenever I feel an unnecessary rant or complaint rising to the surface. Other participants discovered these gems:
- Tell the truth faster. Search for authenticity, trust yourself and know what you need to know.
- Be of service, but not as a need to please.
- I am committed to staying open and compassionate.
- I got to know myself again and I’m OK with who I am!
Shift the stuckness and let go.
Some participants said the experience helped them to let go of shame, self judgement, and regret. By being cracked open they were able to forgive and shift the stuckness. This ancient saying came up a lot toward the end of the retreat: “Kiss and put on the ground the stone you cannot carry.”
One participant shared that when she let go of the anger surrounding her grandfather’s death she could see the beauty in the trees and noticed for the first time the art hanging in the garden!
Write lasting messages to people you love.
“If I died tomorrow,” one participant explained, “I feel like I would be able to pass on many of the gifts of love and acknowledgement that I want to give. That is such a relief because so many people are important in my life and now they will have some of the messages I want them to have forever.” Here’s what others had to say:
- Writing a love letter to my child, allowed me to get present to my core feeling for her, and generated the kind of excitement like I’m on a new date with life.
- Of all the things I want to do in my life, writing a love letter to my daughter is the most important one. It’s such an emotional weight off my to do list.
- I’ve been thinking about writing letters for five years! And now some are written and I’m motivated to do the rest.
- By learning about these end-of-life tasks I realized that it’s not a painful task, but rather a very joyful way to ensure that what and who I value and love most, is part of the process.
If not now, when?
Finally, this retreat was a call to action. Folks left with inspiration, eagerness, a renewed passion for life and a “do it now” sense of urgency.
“I’m going to run with it” is what one person depicted with playdoh after an inquiry about our one wild and precious life. Another was reconnected with one of her life’s passions through the legacy work we did, something she had previously given up on as an impossible task. She declared that she would be taking it on again “with a completely different sense of possibility.”
Virtually everyone took home the motivation to keep writing, and many were inspired to be an inspiration to others.
What about you?
What’s included in your manifesto for living?
(photo credit to J. Markham)