On November 18, 2011, we shared our first SPARK Essentials Women’s 2.5 Days Soul Weekend Experience with 19 women. That retreat, and the 13 others that followed, created the space for individuals to rediscover their essence, build their capacity to give and receive love, and live a more purposeful life.
We reached out to some of the incredible women who have participated in SPARK Essentials over the years to discuss how it impacted their life and how they are keeping the SPARK alive. One of these women is Claire Snyman, an inspiring individual who was recovering from a brain tumour diagnosis and subsequent brain surgery when she attended our June 2014 retreat. Over the weekend, Claire worked hard to define her values and purpose, refocus her energy and “repack” some of the baggage that had resulted from her journey. She has since become an advocate for patient and healthcare collaboration, inspiring people to put their health into their own hands and collaborate with their healthcare teams. This is how the SPARK Essentials retreat helped Claire let go of the “baggage” that was weighing her down and use it to empower and inspire others.
What were your key takeaways from the retreat?
I realized, after much soul searching, that the time had come for me to ‘repackage’ my brain surgery baggage. A wise friend at the retreat passed on a quote from Lena Horne, which really changed my perspective on things. The quote was: “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” Everyone has baggage that we carry through our lives. It is what shapes us, what makes us and we can never really get rid of it, nor should we try. It is what makes us who we are. But it is like a backpack or suitcase and can be as cumbersome, uncomfortable and exhausting to carry. What we can do is reshape it, repackage it and move its contents around so it does not hinder us, or make our journey through life uncomfortable or tiresome, and hold us back. I realized that my ‘brain surgery baggage’ had been holding me back in certain areas and anchored me to a time in my life that was traumatic and desperate. I needed to go through that time; it was part of my recovery. But now I needed to let it go and repack that bag. Yes, I had a brain tumor and brain surgery and climbed my mountain of recovery, but now it was done. I needed to let it go for my sake, for my son’s sake and my husband’s sake.
How did you apply this learning to your work everyday life?
I felt that the energy I was using, whether subconsciously or consciously, on the whole experience of my surgery and recovery could be used on other things. The years from my surgery and recovery will always be part of my baggage, but now that bag feels lighter, more tightly packed and not so awkward to carry. My frustration with my energy levels, vestibular migraines and other health issues post-surgery may well continue, but I refocused my energy towards embracing life, loving completely and living my purpose on a daily basis. I worked hard over that weekend to discover my own personal values and purpose and here they are now on paper before me. Then I moved them into my everyday life.
What are you doing to keep the SPARK alive?
Can you offer any advice or guidance for the group of women who attend the upcoming SPARK Essentials retreat?
Don’t go with any expectations other than to be present, open and honest with yourself. You could be surprised by what you learn about yourself, what you need versus what you want and how you can live your life on purpose.
Our next SPARK Essentials is coming up on October 26-28, 2018, and will include inspiring conversations that connect to the light and shadow areas of our being, sustainable practices that are easy to integrate into your everyday life, and a focus on developing strong and loving relationships with yourself and others. To learn more, and to save your spot, please visit bit.ly/SPARKRetreat.