It all started with a question I posted on Facebook. “If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why?” The answers were both inspiring and surprising. Then an old friend turned the question back to me. Without missing a beat, I said “Italy” because it was always a dream of mine to go there. My former Husband and I planned to go there for our Anniversary, but life got in the way. A few days later a private message popped up about a Women’s Retreat in Italy for the following Summer. I was intrigued and made an inquiry. It was a Yoga/Art Retreat. Well, Yoga I could do but Art – not so much. I went to Fashion Design School but did not consider myself an Artist. I felt that this was above my abilities. The instructor emphasized all levels were welcome. I contemplated going but did not commit.
I was not even a year into my separation from my (then) Husband. The life I had known and loved for almost 30 years was no longer. Where was my place in the world? Who was I without my kids and my partner? I had devoted my entire life to being a Mother and Wife. When my marriage ended I felt like I was floating on a sea of nothingness with no life jacket. I couldn’t make sense of my situation and at one point I remember thinking “will I EVER stop crying”? My emotional state was serious enough that I questioned every thought and feeling I had. It was a roller coaster that I most certainly wanted off of immediately. In the back of my mind I kept thinking of the retreat and how I could make it happen. After a series of unexpected events I found myself without a place to live. I booked the retreat, booked a one-way flight to Europe and booked a Pod to store all my belongings (mostly Fluevogs but that’s another Blog) and off I went! Two months in Europe. I was scared to death but at a point where I knew I needed a shift of consciousness, something to take me out of the endless reverie of my mind.
I spent 3 weeks in England before heading to Italy. I cried as the plane flew over the village lined peaks of the Italian countryside. My heart ached that I was there alone, but I was learning more every day that it was my truth and my soul that was the love I so desperately longed for. Isn’t it interesting how we adjust to our circumstances and learn so much from the hardships and heart aches. At this point in my life I was so lost that I felt I had nothing to lose by travelling alone and searching for some meaning in my life. My identity had always been so and so’s Mom or my “wasband’s” ( a phrase coined by my art teacher) wife. Who was the Ilana that had dreams of her own and independence beyond the security of the family structure? I journaled and journaled, cried myself to sleep many a night and kept asking myself “what in God’s name are you doing here? You are a walking Cliché’” If one more person said to me “Oh, you’re doing the Eat Pray Love thing right “? (side note – I arrived at the Retreat Centre in Tuscany to find in my room the book – you guessed it “Eat Pray Love – you just can’t make this stuff up)!
When I got out of the car and smelled the lavender I was intoxicated! The scenery was right out of a movie. I was moved beyond words. 10 days of this! How Blessed am I! I settled in, met some amazing Women, ate delicious food and had the best sleep of my life. Oh, and did I mention wine? We can’t forget the wine ! And lot’s of it. It was ITALY for Heaven’s sake.
The next morning started with yoga and then a breakfast fit for a Queen. The Italians love cake for Breakfast! This, I could get used to. After breakfast we met in the Art tent to start painting. I told myself that I could always go to the pool and hang out there if this painting thing didn’t pan out, which is exactly what I expected. The instructor was beautiful and so talented I was instantly infatuated with her. She did a demo and then we were to incorporate what she taught onto our own canvas.
I remember grabbing the paintbrush and feeling a rush of sensation that coursed through my entire body. Brush stroke after brush stroke I moved my hand and body in rhythm with the Universe and felt a flow of oneness in my being. I was home. I was in my groove. I didn’t care what it looked like all I cared about was how it felt. I lost myself. I felt the tears flow down my cheeks and was cleansed. This was the beginning of my healing. This connection that I felt saved me, it took me out of the stuckness of my divorce and gifted me with the creative presence of bliss. Here is where I can find what was lost. I can explore the unknown in a way that I never imagined possible. I was no longer a woman going through a divorce. I was Ilana, free to express my uninhibited creations.
I found myself on that trip- a journey really. A soul retrieval of sorts. She came back to me and reminded me of the Woman I always was. I was so enmeshed in my “roles” that I let her slip away, never completely gone, always there waiting to be noticed. Now, my creativity is expressed through many mediums. Painting opened the door for all the creations stored inside me. I vacillate between all avenues of Art, always exploring the unknown and allowing for the felt to be seen.
The journey continues…….