That brilliantly sunny day will be burned upon my memory forever ~ the one earlier this year when I opened that email inviting me to join approximately 40 other women on the inaugural Permission to Hustle Retreat. The event was to take place aboard a Carnival cruise ship in September for five days and take us to ports in Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico. Truth be told ~ I had a very difficult time believing this was for real, that this was actually happening. I mean, they willingly chose ME???
Then “Insecurity” reared her ugly head…
How? Why? Is there a mistake? They must have the wrong person because I am seriously nowhere on anybody’s radar! Who and how many people backed out, leaving this vacancy to be filled so desperately?
I know, crazy talk, but I promised you honesty and that is honestly how I initially felt. Mind you, it was still pretty exhilarating. I mean, this was one of those coveted invites and only forty slots were being offered. The entire retreat was the dream child of two powerhouse women whose desire was to gather like-minded women in one place with the sole purpose of deepening relationships, broadening the knowledge of our craft and providing each other an intimate support system.
So, obviously there was no way I was going to turn this down (neither would Hubby let me!). It didn’t matter why or how I was chosen ~ I was still offered an amazing opportunity! Not to mention, this was giving me a much-needed chance to kick back, relax, soak up some sun and leave “footprints” in new places. Yeah – this was a no-brainer, people!
However ~ here was my personal obstacle.
I’m a little bit of an introvert and kind of terrified of social situations.
I mean, it’s one thing for me to enjoy a few hours or a day with a bunch of people I don’t know. That’s fairly easy to muster the courage to do. However, to spend five days aboard a ship I can’t escape with about 40 of them? Sort of been there, sort of done that ~ a little nervous to do it again. So, I’m sure you can imagine the “waves” of fear that kept washing over me once I finally committed (which was, of course, near immediate, by the way).
“The Devil is a Liar!”
Ha! I know that had to make someone chuckle, but it’s the truth! Right up to the moment I walked onto that ship, found my room and then met up with my roommate (who, by the way, was the ONLY person on this retreat I had previously met face to face), I was in constant prayer. Yup! While my heart was all about making the most of this, my brain was terrified that there would be that one moment where I would say something foolish, give a strange look, be misinterpreted or come off the wrong off way. At that point, I expected I would find myself spending more time in my cabin than with the group bonding. Of course, before I got on that ship, the question wasn’t really IF this would happen….it was which DAY OF THE WEEK it would take place.
But it didn’t…
People, I’m being serious. It didn’t happen ~ at ~ all!
This was honestly and truly the best, sweetest, most accommodating group of women I have ever met. Audrey McClelland and Vera Sweeney, the two warriors behind Permission to Hustle and the masterminds of this retreat, hand-selected a group of business women whom they felt would be willing to work TOGETHER and build each other up. To be honest, I don’t think this could not have been done without divine intervention. I mean, these two did a miraculous job at constructing this team.
So, how DID we all connect so well?
I think it had to do with two things:
First, it had a lot to do with the way the entire week was designed. The lay-out and schedule lent themselves to providing numerous opportunities for us to build that cohesive quality I believe Audrey and Vera were looking to accomplish. Whether on the ship or off, during meetings or while dancing, we all found ways to laugh, cry, encourage, inspire and motivate each other. We made unforgettable memories TOGETHER.
So – let’s talk about how that all happened…
- We initially met collectively for a cocktail reception in the Leonardo Lounge just hours after the ship left port. This also allowed us to meet our amazing Carnival PR connection, Joyce, and some of the other crew members who would be serving us that week.
- Dinner was scheduled every night TOGETHER in the same place at the same time and we were encouraged to rotate around our five designated tables to stretch our personal reach just a little bit further.
- For our day-at-sea meetings on Tuesday and Friday, as well as for a Wednesday evening round table discussion, Carnival set us up once again in the comfortable Leonardo Lounge, providing us with an ample supply of light snacks and beverages to keep us going. Getting to know each other is much better when comfortable.
- As an added bonus, Carnival hosted an opportunity for each of us to experience one of three group excursions during our day in Grand Cayman. Whether we chose to swim with stingrays, ride on a catamaran, hold baby sea turtles or snorkel with marine life, we found a way to make memories TOGETHER, laugh TOGETHER and solidify just a little more of the bond that was beginning to form among us.
After dinner most nights and in the pockets of time that we had free during our “at port” days, we found ourselves dancing, singing and watching shows TOGETHER. We intentionally found moments to just chat, learn more about each other and share silly stories.
I mean, the point I’m making is that the conversation wasn’t all about who had the higher numbers or who was scoring the best sponsored posts. We weren’t trying to “steal” information or one-up each other. We weren’t competing for best MOZ score or Google ranking. Instead, we were asking where we met our spouses, sharing hilarious parenting successes and failures and finding ways to simply build each other up as women.
We also shared the “why” behind our individual hustles.
Each of us had a reason to be on that ship. We all have a reason why we work as hard as we do. It’s not about a “free” meal or a “free” trip – we spend hours upon hours writing, taking pictures, editing, SEOing, pitching, learning, networking and perfecting our words because we love our families and want to provide the best for them through a craft that we all love so much.
Gosh – it just felt so good. It felt good to not feel as though I was under a magnifying glass or in the judgment seat. In that group, there was no hierarchy. There was no one placing themselves at the top ~ though, I admit, we all probably wanted to place Audrey and Vera on thrones and “praise” them for the hard work they put into this dream come true.
Ah – in fact, that leads me to the second reason why I feel this all worked out so well. Even those who put their blood, sweat and tears into organizing and speaking at this event were asking questions, sitting among the group, learning with the newbies and dancing with those who have never danced before. That, in my opinion, is what set the entire tone of the week for me. Every woman ~ no matter where her business stood ~ was eager and ready to learn from and support those around her.
So – what did I personally take away from this event?
- First and foremost, I need to unapologetically be ME. Nobody else. Just crazy, little ol’ me. There is no one else out there like me and you guys follow me because you like what you see. (THANK YOU!!)
- It’s important that I focus on my niche and four pillars – family, food allergies, travel and entertainment. I need to create authentic content showcasing each in a way that speaks effectively to you. It’s what I’m good at doing and I need to keep moving in that direction.
- Video ~ I need to start adding more video. Though I’ve known this need for some time, I simply don’t like my nose, eyes or teeth! There – I said it. However, I have to then go back to the first statement and remember that there is nobody out there like me. People aren’t looking at my nose (though you probably are now), but it’s okay…because content is king and that is what keeps drawing you back to this blog.
- I CAN get along with other women. I know some of you are laughing right now, but let’s be honest. Women are catty! Women are competitive! For some reason, women are gifted at finding ways to tick each other off and send each other off in an insecure tizzy. That did NOT happen on this trip. Sure ~ a few of us had insecure moments ~ but they were self-created and not provoked. Not to mention, they really didn’t last too long whenever we all got together.
- And finally ~ I DID deserve to be there. Yes. I AM a hard-working, butt-kicking driven woman with a desire to succeed. I love my “why I do this” and am willing to push myself to ensure I am always learning, constantly growing and willing to do what I can to provide them the life they desire. Compromising myself is not an option, but I will stretch myself and only do what I believe in and love to do to the best of my ability.
So – let’s talk about the word “advance.”
So, it’s standard to use the word “retreat” when it comes to going away for a little relaxation and likely some educational or spiritual benefit. When I was living in upstate New York, we would do the same thing with the women in our church. However, we didn’t like to use the word “retreat.” That word tends to indicate “going backwards” or “running away.” No ~ instead we wanted to “advance” in our spiritual walk. So, in light of that, the term used during those events was adjusted to signify our desire to move forward.
I want this “retreat” to be my “advance.” From this point on, I want to see this blog provide more and more encouragement, inspiration, motivation and opportunity. I also need to “advance” my skills so that I can make this blog profitable and beneficial for my own family. In order to do all that, I will be spending days, weeks and months working to incorporate all the tools shared with me on this amazing adventure. It won’t all happen at once ~ so, don’t expect that from me. However, do expect to see growth. Do expect to see changes. Do expect to see a difference.
From the bottom of my heart…
I cannot thank YOU for following all of these adventures. I am grateful beyond words to Audrey and Vera for taking a chance on me, for the speakers and their inspirational instruction and my friends (new and….seasoned) for their unconditional support.
Here’s to making Footprints in Pixie Dust the success we all need it to be.
Stay tuned because there are more related posts to follow! I want to tell you all about our host, Carnival Cruise Line, and how 40 women do five days at sea! Not to mention, I have food allergy travel news for my food allergy families! Keep an eye out!
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