Caitlin joined us on our Redwoods Retreat in Northern California and getting to know her was such an incredible pleasure. She's the most lovely of humans and in addition to having a little Corgi (which immediately endears me to someone), she sews her own clothes (like really really cute clothes) and works in the tech industry! Talk about a well rounded gal! Just this past weekend Caitlin took her Corgi, Tumbles, with her on her own little Wildbride-esque retreat, and it was so wonderful to see her taking time for self care and rejuvenation! Caitlin is here today to share her Wildbride experience. It gave me all the warm fuzzies reading her story. Read on to get her inside scoop into the Redwoods Wildbride Retreat!
My Wildbride weekend - it's hard to know where to even start. I guess it begins with why I signed up in the first place. The photoshoot sounded pretty cool, but honestly what drew me in--what simultaneously scared and intrigued me--was the idea of a weekend of personal empowerment and introspection among some amazing ladies I've never met. For several months, I'd been feeling in a rut--tired, uninspired, simultaneously lonely and exhausted by most of the people around me. I couldn't seem to pull myself out of this by sheer will, so I signed up for Wildbride on the off-chance that it helped me break the cycle. And I figured, worst case, I would still get out of my house for a weekend and have a cool set of photos to show for it.
Three months later, I drove up to the California redwoods from my home in San Francisco, blasting female-led pop music to calm my nerves and get me pumped. The moment I walked in the door, I felt so welcome - a glass of wine, some fresh baked cookies, time to chill and all get to know the three other women (Liz, Kristina, and fellow Wildbride Emily) before a cozy dinner. That said, I was still holding onto some nerves and had trouble relaxing around these awesome women who just seemed so awesome. Later that night, we sat under the stars and set intentions for the weekend. I asked myself to just relax, let go of social anxiety, and try to enjoy the weekend.
The next day was such a turning point for me. I woke up already feeling more relaxed. After breakfast and some nice morning yoga, the four of us all stripped down naked and jumped into the freezing creek behind our cabin. That moment meant so much--Emily and I weren't just guests in this curated experience by Liz and Kristina, we were all in this together, all vulnerable and trusting and supportive.
The rest of the day was a wonderful blur. Time alone to think and feel and journal, showers and getting ready for our photoshoot, and a little ride in the Brave to a beautiful spot in the woods. The photoshoot itself was great. I'm not the most comfortable in front of the camera ("Umm, where do I put my hands? Is my face doing something awkward?"). But Liz was so helpful in guiding me, and Emily came out to help me laugh when I wasn't able to get a natural smile on my own (seriously--that woman is hilarious). I already felt so comfortable around these women that stripping down to my underwear, and then to nothing, didn't really feel that weird. After getting my photos taken in a very cold creek, I huddled in the Brave with some bubbly, wrapped in a blanket and chatting about life with Kristina, and in that moment everything just felt so incredibly perfect and cozy and right.
The rest of that day was dedicated to relaxing, eating, more yoga and plenty of introspection. The pure happiness, support, and inspiration I felt all around me helped me to think through the ways in which those things are missing in my day to day life. By the end of the weekend, I felt ready to go home and embrace the parts of my life that I love, while finally taking steps to change the parts that just aren't doing it for me anymore.
Over a month later, I truly feel like my Wildbride weekend changed me, or rather, allowed a part of me that was trapped to bubble up to the surface. I still have bad days, of course, but I also feel like I have a sense of direction, like I'm no longer stuck in a rut with no way out. I've started taking an intense sewing school class in pattern-making that I'm really excited about. I booked a cabin in the mountains later this month, my own mini weekend away with just me and my pup. And I'm working on finding ways to surround myself with more women who inspire me.
The hardest part of the whole weekend was saying goodbye, knowing that I was heading back to work and responsibilities the next day, and worrying that I would lose everything I felt during that weekend. But as Kristina reminded me after I got home, "everything is already within you, already was within you, and you continue to carry it forward with you." It's not a matter of holding onto that weekend forever, but of finding ways to bring it with me, making it a part of my new normal. I'm so grateful that I got to spend that weekend with fellow Wildbrides, and that I came out of it feeling like a truer version of myself.