I am still in awe that only a few short months ago, 15 incredible women from all over the world joined me in my home studio here in Waco, TX for the 2018 Illume Retreat. It fills my heart with so much joy just thinking back on all we walked through during such a short time together! And over the next few days, I can’t wait to recap some of my favorite moments and heartfelt conversations with you. We quickly realized that as we navigated this journey together, we were about to embark on a transformative experience in both life and business.
The Illume Retreat is such a huge part of my heart, only in a retreat format, where we guide attendees through an intentional curriculum that equips them to build a business from a clear place of purpose. This year’s group of women were truly memorable and I feel blessed and humbled to have crossed paths with each and every one of them.
Thanks to our incredible retreat photographer, Shalyn Nelson of Love, the Nelsons Photography, I get to share pieces of this powerful experience with you over the next few days. And I could not be more grateful for every attendee, speaker (thank you Jenna, Ashlyn, Katie, and Shanna!), sponsor and vendor who helped create this space of truth for us all!
Day One Illume Retreat Recap
It feels like just yesterday, when my florist and right-hand gal, Veronicka Thompson of Flower and Ink Designs, and I transformed my home studio into a cozy, intimate welcome space for our sweet attendees. As we placed the beautiful rentals provided by Loot Vintage into the perfectly small gathering circle, we shared the same excitement and anticipation about what it was going to be like for these women to walk through the door in a few short hours. It’s similar to those “first day of school” feels because you don’t know who you are going to meet or what it’s going to be like, but you just know it could be life-changing!
This was the first year I had the honor of welcoming women from all over the world, as far as England and Israel, into the Illume Retreat experience. With a diverse group of women in terms of what season of business they were in, their overall goals, and different industries, I hoped this experience over the next few days would be completely transformative.
As a retreat host, it is my greatest pleasure to surprise and delight my sweet attendees at every turn of their experience. After all, if I’m asking them to show up, let their guard down, and be vulnerable about their biggest dreams, I need to create a space to do so. As Veronica and I put the finishing touches to the studio for our first session, our wonderful attendees checked into the beautiful Harp House. And thanks to Teak + Twine, they found custom-made welcome boxes waiting for them inside their bedrooms. This little detail is such a sweet surprise and truly helps set the tone for the rest of the retreat.
Shortly after, nine attendees walked through the door of my studio with an energy that was absolutely palpable and a smile that radiated the entire space. From those first hugs and warm words of welcome, I knew were were going to settle into three days of laughter, friendship, and true community. But also, three days of digging deep and getting to the very core of what these women were capable of in terms of operating a business with a clear place of purpose.
We kicked off the retreat with wine and cocktails as we gathered together, introduced ourselves, shared our goals, got to know each other and set expectations of what it’s like to walk through the Illume Retreat experience. I made it clear that this is a safe space. A vulnerable space where each attendee can be honest with each other, and most importantly, with themselves about what they want from their business and their lives.
As we navigated our first welcome session, these women really dove in with so much honesty, tenacity and humor. I quickly saw light bulb moments and sweet attendees become long-lost friends as they shared the heart of what they wanted to pursue over the next few days. They intentionally stripped away this idea that everything you see in life is as perfect as it looks on Instagram and they forgot the pressure to act like they have it all together. They were incredibly open and honest with me and my speakers on how we could really equip them and pour into them in the days ahead. And out of that vulnerability, we as speakers, could challenge them to really make their vision and dreams a reality. (cue all the happy tears!)
After the welcome session, we dried our truth-bomb tears and prepared ourselves for even more heartfelt conversations. We made our way out to our transformed patio thanks to Loot Vintage and gorgeous floral designs by Veronicka Thompson of Flower and Ink Designs. We cozied up for an amazing al fresco dinner in the springtime Texas evening, and gathered around the table where we dug into the deliciously catered appetizers and meal by Milo.
And for a quick moment, I sat back and soaked in the beauty around me. The twinkle lights. The sun set. The clinking of silverware. The laughter of women. And I was in awe. These incredible women literally met hours ago, and yet, they sat shoulder-to-shoulder laughing, crying and creating relationships that I know will stand the test of time.
They were so warm and welcoming, and they extended grace and compassion as each one shared their own story, where they were from, and who they truly were at the core of it all. These conversations weren’t your typical pretty surface answers. These women shared the heart of who they are, what they do, why their work means so much to them, and what they were chasing after.
The gratitude behind the intimate
One thing I love most about the Illume Retreat is how cozy and intimate it is in number. We have fewer than 10 attendees who join us every year which enables us as speakers to really pour into each woman exactly where she in this current season of work and life. With a handful of speakers and a handful of attendees, you get the most amazing face-to-face time with women who you might follow or have seen from afar. But at Illume, you find yourself sitting shoulder-to-shoulder sipping wine under the stars and asking those mentors questions like, how they got to where they are today and what encouragement they would speak into your life in this exact moment.
This experience year-after-year is more than any words can express. It’s this special time spent together under the big Texas sky that I look forward to each and every year. And as the sun fully set and the stars came out, we called it a night so we could rest up for what was sure to be a big, exciting adventure together for next few days.
Be sure to check back in tomorrow for a full recap of Day Two and everything we dove into! I can’t wait to share the rest of this incredible experience with you!
If you weren’t able to join us this year for this all inclusive, intentional experience be sure to join the waitlist. Our 2019 dates will be announced soon and we would love to have you be one of the few women who joins us around the table next year as we dive into what it means to create from a place of truth and build a business that operates from a clear place of purpose!