“Welcome to Rivka Malka’s Dream, said Esther as we sat by the bonfire on the first night of the Retreat. Over the next few days I repeated that line many, many times – When I saw women with sketch books and watercolors sitting in clusters painting and talking; when I saw women coaching one another, healing, growing; when I saw women dancing, shaking off the stress and letting go completely – I knew I was seeing my dream.
When I planned this retreat I had visions. Visions of women in circles, visions of a Paint, Wine and Dance Party, visions of sharing my story and hearing stories and rewriting the script for a stronger, lighter future. And with the help of the Almighty these visions came true.
Day 1 – We set up in anticipation for the women’s arrival. Carefully we laid out the notebooks and paint like the first day of kindergarten where everything is brand new and brimming with possibilities. The table was a sea of Crayola yellow.
In the other corner I set up my jewelry line. Amidst artistic vases and bronze candles I debuted the colorful treasures I’ve been holding on to. This would be the first time women would see them – Would they like them? By the end of the first day every piece but two were gone. ( I will try to have more in by Chanuka.) It was just so seamless and wonderful.
There was a list of thirty descriptions “Giver, Thinker, Self Care Ambassador, Well of Wisdom, Boundary Setter, Life Embracer etc.” Each woman wrote her name on a name tag and then chose an appropriate description. Then, she crossed that word off the list leaving those who came after to choose from what was left.
All of us are in some way all of these so this was a fun way to pull out a label that maybe someone hadn’t tried before. As a matter of fact Self Care Ambassador ended up being the only one left for a participant with a special needs child. What a great label to live up to!
Over lunch, we introduced ourselves and spoke about why we chose the word we chose. The women shared openly and deeply. I think they surprised even themselves!
It wasn’t easy to get to the Retreat. It costed money and time and missed work. There were emails and packing lists and a conference call that preceded the Retreat. I think that by the time we got there we were like fruit that had sat on the windowsill – ripe and ready to be shared.
From there the day moved on. We experienced the Train of Trust with RT Schwebel moving through an exercise that challenged our capacity to be fully connected to another person. After that I spoke about the idea of rewriting your story. In fact, I shared that I was rewriting my story that minute.
My mother and sisters were there and it was incredible to have this healing moment with them to witness.( My mother became the Mommy of the whole Retreat. Note to self – bring her to the next one. We all need a Mommy!)
I invited the women to write their stories and gave them their sacred materials – a sketch book, a journal, paint, crayons, markers and glue. Amidst gaggling and chatting one by one they dispersed, this one to the deck, this one to the couch and that one to the woods. They grouped together naturally in two’s and three’s and painted and wrote and relaxed.
There was a feeling of camaraderie, of friendships that hadn’t been cemented but that were in the air waiting to be explored. There was safety and there was fun.
Dinner came in the blink of an eye and then we went to the Craft Room to experience Blindfolded Painting. Oh the joy; the freedom! It was just as I had imagined it – strange, creative and liberating.
The day ended with an Emunah concert by Tzirel Mitzman a NY performer who had took us through seven heavens with her music and lyrics.
After that we went out to the campfire to continue singing and sharing.
Day 2 started with Yoga. The Yoga room is flanked by floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the fiery autumn scene. The sunbeams flowed through the room giving it an ethereal feel and the music quietly filled the spaces. Alexis, the teacher used touch and oils as well as giving each person personal attention. She was amazing. She truly sees her work as a healing art and you could tell from everything she did.
After breakfast and personal prayer time I shared with the women some Torah thoughts as it related to my personal journey. Then we began our workshop. The topic was learning the coaching skill of asking powerful questions. We practiced for a while and then paired up to continue. While they weren’t expecting to be experts in a half hour, using this skill made for rich conversation and when we regrouped to debrief many people had explored deeper areas then they had thought they would.
Seeing the bonding of the group gave me chills and pleasure and with every passing moment it deepened. After lunch we went on a Wander – at the suggestion of Chaya Sarah. In a wander you set an intention of a question and then embark. You go where your feet take you, where your heart draws you – leaving the question behind and being open to whatever messages G-d, through nature , has for you. For a full hour women wandered. I had thought it would be too much for them but it wasn’t. When we came back it was clear that things had happened.
In a sharing circle beneath the setting sun we spoke, we cried, we epiphany-ed together. If before people were raw now they were reborn. Those who wanted did more writing, more painting, more being.
That night we partied! In one room was paint and cookie decorating with Esti. In the other was DJ Balagan with a rocking dance party! We put up LED lights and strobes and in the dark room danced like teenagers. DJ Balagan sat behind a partition so that we would have privacy and he was awesome!
He had asked me “What is your vision for this party?” I said “I need music that will make middle aged women let loose.” Bam! He hit it on the nose! Song after song got us shrieking ( or maybe it was the wine) and there was a so much joy and fun that we transported to another dimension ( or maybe that was the wine!) He was amazing – and so generous – staying there until we were wiped out.
Day 3 just kept getting better but I will leave you here. After all I may be doing another Retreat very soon and we need to have some surprises! In short, it was transformative, it was hilarious, it was relaxing. We are planning a Reunion already! I brought out some of the clothing from my Modest Bohemian collection that I had never showed to people before. It was awesome to see people oohing and ahhing and buying and feeling beautiful. What a gift!
The women left on a high, thank G-d. They were flying with purpose and conviction and new energy to take on life’s challenges. In just three days we had been through many lifetimes together.
As for me doing this Retreat was the analogy of what I wanted for each women there – to be empowered in her dreams, to be balanced in her life, to be living out her purpose and to do all that through a connection to G-d. That is what it took for me to be in a place to create this.
I feel grateful for being here. I did not get to this place by myself. I had a cast of characters; coaches, mentors, my husband, etc who backed me and guided me and helped me find my voice and believed in me.
I want to give that to other people. I want them to see their dreams in living color, to heal from resentment and pain and to find wholeness and peace. I want them to have happy marriages and relationships. And I want them to be huge in fulfillment. I want them to succeed. This is why I coach. I believe in people’s greatness. I want to help them get from where they are to where they want to be. I want them to be BIG and to shine.
Thank you dear friends and women who came, for being a part of this dream. Without your enthusiasm there would be nothing. I am already scheming up another retreat. I will keep you posted. Until then, be in touch and lets start planning for your visions to come true.
Love, Rivka Malka
PS If you want to be invited to the 2016 Retreat put your info HERE and I’ll add you to the list!