Jumping in the Lake + Riding Butterflies
My Experience at Entrepreneur Camp
Last month, I went to camp. YES, camp. I just turned 30 and I packed myself off for a weekend of arts and crafts and people I didn't know. Camp GLP is hosted by Jonathan Fields, founder of The Good Life Project. I only sort of knew what I was getting into, and am so glad I took the chance and made the decision to invest in myself and go to this fantastic 3 1/2 day retreat for entrepreneurs, movers and shakers.
How I Ended Up At Adult Camp
Back in April, I spoke at a Femfessionals event in Lake Norman North Carolina. I sat next to Brooke, a tall, bright eyed, California native with a laid back vibe and infectious smile. We introduced ourselves and connected so quickly that we looked around at the table full of other awesome women and were like..."Oh..maybe we should meet some other people too while we're here...".
During our conversation, she talked about this entrepreneurial retreat called Camp GLP that she wanted to go to. She was having doubts and weighing the cost of attending with how much work she needed to get done and other future business expenses. I told her that it was obvious that she was pulled to attend this thing that would make her feel good, and she would also be inspired, and in the company of other entrepreneurs like herself, so essentially it would be good for business, and probably give her the break she needed, which would also help her be more productive. Not even knowing Brooke, or knowing about Camp GLP, I was super supportive and had convinced her to go.
She emailed me a few weeks later saying, "Yep! I'm going. So...are you going to join me?"
Of course, I had to go through the "Well, I don't know, I'm so busy, and should I spend that money somewhere else..." blah blah blah. She basically told me the same thing I told her--great advice, by the way--and I went ahead and bought my ticket.
Camp GLP showed up in my schedule like a package I had ordered online and forgotten about: a surprise gift! I had just celebrated my birthday, and completed four major projects a couple weeks prior, so I was starting to feel exhausted from working so much and not having had a real break in a while. I wanted to just relax, recalibrate, and set intentions for my business. Camp GLP was right on time, and the excitement kicked in right as I began my planes-trains-and-automobiles-like trek to upstate New York.
Every time I set foot into Manhattan, I can't help but have a moment of awe. From the minute I step out of a cab, I take the time to stop on a crowded street corner to do a 360 turn in my carefully chosen stylish-but-practical outfit to take it all in, carry-on luggage in tow, with my hair blowing in the wind, and "Things will be great when you're Downtowwnnn" playing in the background. I know, cheesey as hell, but NYC is truly magical.
Brooke and I met up, and enjoyed fantastic local fare from City Kitchen, and took the bus together to Rockhill, NY. On the ride up we talked about feeling like kids with camp jitters because we had no idea what it was going to be like and whether or not everybody else would be as cool as we were (ha!). Luckily there was a Camp GLP veteran within earshot named Anne, who happened to be really awesome and reassured us that everyone was cool and she was returning for many great reasons. She was immediately in our new circle of friends.
The camp was held at Iroquois Springs, which is the home of the kind of magical summer camp grounds you see in the movies or were lucky enough to go away to for the summer. Equipped with cabins, pools, tennis courts, basketball courts, a beautiful lake, paddle boarding and kayaking, trails, and more, it was hard not to be relaxed just standing in the middle of it all.
So yes, I made friends. Yes, the food was great. Yes, the speakers and workshops were awesome. Yes, there were really cool swag bags. The workshop line up was the kind where it took forever to make a decision because there were so many great topics to choose from. We could do guided meditation, yoga, dance, or running in the mornings. There was plenty of room for down time, and campers were encouraged to do as much or as little as they wanted. There was a bonfire (yes, we made s'mores!), and there was a really corny but great camp theme song. There was a talent show. There was an old school field day with relay races and tug of war. There was a fantastic dance party with a DJ who had led a really cool art and music workshop hours before. Plus, I even went paddle boarding for the first time. All in all, it was basically everything that camp should be and more. But what I really want to focus on, are all the things I experienced in between the workshops and activities.
The most important thing about my trip was not just that I was open to all of the new experiences and people in the first place, but I that I was also very intentional about taking things a step further and digging deep through whatever came up during those experiences so I could release them and grow. I challenged myself to truly show up.
Of course, when you tell the universe that you want to show up and grow, all kinds of interesting and sometimes not so pleasant things start to show up. Being completely honest, I can't deny all of the feelings that came up for me on the first evening of camp. All 350 of us campers were gathered in the main hall, enjoying a chat between Jonathan Fields and Susan Piver (awesome woman, doing awesome things). There I was at the start of this amazing experience, really trying to take everything in, and suddenly an awful nagging feeling set in. I couldn't really listen or tune in and I noticed myself having the urge to roll my eyes, cross my arms, and basically shut out something great that was being said. I'm big on being present and learning, so I had to stop and really check in on what was going on with me, because I couldn't be in the room and experience what was happening fully. I realized my heart was closing because of the anxiety I had about my own stuff.
Digging a little deeper, I noticed a voice that kept coming up saying:
"See, the things you feel and think and want to say, they've already been said and done. Those retreats you want to have, they're already being had. Someone else has already built the kind of community you want to have. Someone else is already thriving and making money off of the values you want to share. There's no more room. You're not saying anything unique. You might as well just pack up and quit your idea. Look how great they are. Look at how much they've accomplished. They're better than you. You won't be able to do it on this level. You're not good enough. You haven't worked for it enough. You're not writing enough. You're not on social media enough. You're not facilitating that Facebook group well enough. You haven't done any more videos. You haven't written that book....."
Nasty, right? Who's voice is that? Where the hell is that coming from? I'm having a great time. These people are awesome. Yet, on that first night I was totally resisting it all. A part of me, didn't want to let any of that beauty in. My recovering perfectionist self was winning, and I couldn't see the success of the people in front of me as evidence of my future success. I was fighting with my true self on the inside; the loving, chill, and present Evi was trying to claw her way back to the forefront.
In my heart I know that inner, harsh, perfectionist version of me isn't saying anything real. I'm here on this earth to shine in my way, and there's room for everyone because that's what we're all here to do. And as I reflected before bed later that night, I realized my mind had been spiraling downward with thoughts like this because I'm getting closer and closer to the soft launch of my new business brand.
Before I left for camp I had posted a quote on instagram from Steven Pressfield:
"The more important an activity is to your soul's evolution, the more resistance you will feel to it--the more fear you will feel." There it was. It was happening right now, and I had the choice to dig in and work through it, or continue to be in this tug of war between monkey brain and heart.
There were so many gems and takeaways from every workshop or event at camp. The few that I'm mentioning here are incredible to me, because they were all connected to the story I wanted to release and the intentions I had set from the beginning.
One of the workshops I signed up for was "The Synchronicity Experience: Awakening Your Spiritual Rebel" by Monica Kenton. It was about being in the right energy to listen and be clear enough to attract and notice whatever it is we're seeking. We did an exercise where we focused on what we were willing to let go of over the course of our time at camp. Easy, right?! It's hard enough identifying the false story you're telling yourself, and then on top of that making the decision to let it go. It's much more comfortable to stay in that fearful place most of the time, because you know what it feels like, even when it doesn't serve you.
So in the workshop, when asked what story I was willing to let go of I wrote: "It's already been done. They got to it first. I'm not saying anything uniquely profound."
I also wrote that I wanted to marry my rational mind with my heart's message and intuition.
During a guided meditation and visualization in the workshop, I released this fearful story, and the vision I had of being that beautiful, deep, radiant authentic and expressive version of myself replaced it. The message that came to me was simply "She's already here." That version of me that I kept saying I need to return to or get back is here and I simply needed to embrace her and let her in.
It was in that workshop that I had space held for me, and I was also able to hold space for a new friend to be vulnerable and explore their story as well. Words really can't describe how transformative it all was, because we were all so open; there was definitely a dramatic shift in me after that moment.
The next workshop that was really powerful for me, was Cynthia Morris's workshop on writing. She stated it perfectly when she said "Getting the negative voice out onto paper, actually releases the champion. If the negative voice stays in your head it will rule your mind."
These words truly resonated with me and I realized that not writing and continuing to procrastinate on writing projects, was helping me avoid all the feels. While I could have just categorized this as simply self-sabotage, it goes much deeper than that.
The work of expression through writing can be so cathartic, painful, and beautiful. It helps us transcend and transform. Words on a page allows our souls to come through, and helps us grow and understand what's in our heads in a completely different way. After the workshop, I realized that blocking myself from the activity of writing helped seal the bricks on the wall I built between mind and heart. I avoided really diving into writing in the way I used to and so I didn't get to feel the pain, the deep emotions, and the tears. Which meant I also didn't get the light, the relief, and the release. I had been letting the inner perfectionist win by keeping it all inside and unchecked.
In Marsha Shandur's workshop on storytelling, I was captured by the science behind the mental and emotional bond created between listener and story teller while a story is being told. Among the many great gems during the workshop, this fact in particular reminded me not only the important role that stories play in terms of bringing people together, but also how important it is for all of us to share the stories inside of us. I was also inspired to add a little more story telling to my writing, in the way that I used to when I was writing more often in my younger days before all the writing baggage. We did an exercise where we thought of something that we had strong emotions about and then described what it was like physically as a way to help us paint a better picture if we were to tell a story about it. I thought of how excited and terrified I was about my upcoming soft launch and immediately felt like instead of there being butterflies in my stomach, I had butterflies in my chest trying to fly out of my throat.
Later that evening, Jonathan Fields did a wonderful talk about his 10 Commandments of Epic Business. He had a great quote that was something along the lines of "Instead of trying to beat fear and kill the butterflies in your stomach, find a way to ride the butterflies." After hearing that I felt like that was all I needed; I could go home right then with just what it felt to hear that in that moment.
So, I returned home feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, inspired and excited to continue connecting with a handful of new friends. I had no idea of what I was truly getting into, but I stayed open, dug in to my own icky stuff, and noticed the connections among the beautiful messages and energy shared with me over the weekend. I'm sure there are a thousand more things I'll realize as time goes by, and I've been taking the time to write and doodle more to capture everything that comes up on a regular basis. The resistance hasn't gone away completely, but it's getting just a little easier to quiet that inner perfectionist voice. I'm too busy dancing with and riding butterflies.