It was 2016, I was drying my hair in my bathroom while Bodey was in his Tomato Chair and the thought came over me, “you need to create a retreat for women whose children have died from chronic illness”. The thought came out of thin air, but by that time I had learned to listen to those ideas that were not just random thoughts, but rather divine inspiration.
In the previous few years, I had done massive work and had begun to experience healing in my life. It was a daily choice to keep working, keep becoming, to just keep going. I felt lighter because I was beginning to see the fruits of my work. I had been helped by people near and far. People I sat in front of for help and people I knew through books, blogs, and social media. While they all were my guides, the work was mine alone to do.
Within ten days of receiving that divine download, I had the retreat planned. Things fell into place so quickly I knew it was meant to be. I asked other people I respected and learned from to join me. And before I knew it, I had the most fantastic team of healers.
I’ve had the honor of hosting four Restoring a Mother’s Heart Retreats. Nearly 100 women participated and traveled from all across the country, Canada and the UK to join in. Each woman so bravely said yes to the experience because, like me, she wanted to experience healing and continue a relationship with her child.
After the spring 2018 retreat, I felt a shift. I knew I needed to re-tool a bit. There were some challenges I had not figured out how to overcome, and I sensed that it was time to take a break. I made the difficult decision to cancel the fall 2018 retreat. I felt uneasy about canceling, but when I did, I felt a giant sense of relief.
A couple weeks ago I announced on social media that I would not be hosting a retreat in 2019. I was nervous about writing the post. I didn’t want to let anyone down. Behind the scenes, I received many inquiries about the next retreat. While it’s clear to me there is a significant need to minister to women learning to live with the physical death of their child(ren), I knew that for me, I was supposed to take a break.
Over the past year, I’ve sensed some new things brewing in my heart. A newer calling, a yearning to set a bigger table and to share what I have learned with more women who desire to create beauty in their lives. I’m heavily leaning into these ideas. Of course, I can’t wait to share more with you soon!
Here’s the message I have for you this week, you can change. You can evolve. In fact, evolving and changing is a sign you are growing and experiencing healing in your own life. Your message can change, your beliefs can expand, your passions can shift. Your vision can evolve. Changing does not mean your former work doesn’t matter. In fact, I’ll bet that previous work is the birthplace of the new path. I often feel the weight of people’s expectations. Or maybe better said, I anticipate what I think people’s expectations are and then place that pressure on myself.
But the only expectation that really matters is the one I place on myself. And I expect that I will continue to transform, evolve and become the very best version of Jessica that I can. I trust that I will keep listening to my heart, to God, to the messages that are right in front of me. I do not know where all of it will lead, but I know that in following these breadcrumbs I will go on new creative adventures which excites the heck out of me.
Will I ever do another Restoring a Mother’s Heart Retreat? Yes, I expect I will. Will it look at bit different than the last four have? Yes, it will. What I love about the weekends most are the incredible women who physically come into the space. They sheepishly enter because they want something we can offer them, and in turn, they learn from themselves and us how to create healing in their own lives.
Learning to live with the physical death of Ethan has been the most life-altering thing I’ve experienced. I barely have words for it. I do not say that to be dramatic or to minimalize other painful experiences. I believe pain is pain, but for me, in my experiences, this could have done me in. It was like someone went into my house, gutted it and then knocked it to the ground and told me I had to build it again, restore the walls, add furniture, and décor. And after that, I was to make it a cozy, welcoming, loving home once again. It is a daunting task that on many days I didn’t know if I wanted to do. It’s brick by brick, step by step, one choice, then another. It takes bravery, persistence, and consistency.
I love the notion that I can help women place a couple bricks back in their foundation. I look forward to doing this once again through the mom’s retreat and in other ways on my new adventure. I also love how this life-altering experience has been the springboard for some of the most beautiful work and relationships in my life. I will always call Ethan “my gateway”.
What is calling to you that you are not sure you want to answer? Does it feel uncomfortable and maybe a bit scary? Do you ask yourself, who am I to do that work, or to create that thing, or apply for that job? I hope you will answer this call. I give you permission to shift and change and grow. Some people won’t like it, some will. And that’s okay. Because all that matters is what you think. And how you feel on the inside.
Be true. Be you.
And do this again.
Don’t wait for permission to come from anyone else. Grant it to yourself.