Adventure and Gratitude.
I'm home from spending time with an amazing group of women on the Pacific Northwest Coast. YanFamWay 2.0 was life altering for me. No exaggeration.
To be completely honest, after the initial excitement of booking an alumni trip wore off, I was a tad nervous at the thought of spending 24 hours per day for three full days with a house full of women - complete strangers - with a high probability of bed sharing, a certainty of room sharing, and just co-ordinating washroom time, cooking together, and living amongst 15 individual personalities. And, while I'm being honest, I also questioned my reason for participating. Was I doing this just for the opportunity to hang out with such an inner beauty once again? Would there be enough content at this workshop to make the expenses of travel, and time away from my family, worth my while?
What I got out of the entire experience far surpassed what I'd ever dreamed. The diverse group women who attended were not only insanely talented, but each of them were uplifting, thoughtful, inspiring, and SO MUCH FREAKING FUN! We couldn't have had a better group! Then, there was Yan. This woman is by far the most impactful teacher in all my years. She's an old soul full of wisdom, understanding, beauty, encouragement, inspiration, honesty, and a thirst to learn, which in itself is soooo refreshing. She truly knows how to see each individual, whether it be a student in her workshop or the human in front of her lens. She sees you. And, she's got a talent to draw out your inner strengths, like no other.
But beyond that, it was the artful experience she created for us, aside from photography and what she could teach, that really resonated with me. Allowing time for yoga and meditation, for some fun games and not so fun games that literally made some of us cry and all of us wriggle in various degrees of discomfort, for building friendships and forming bonds, for hot-tubbing and party tricks, for cooking with one another and enjoying wholesome meals, and for icecream sundae's!
My head is still reeling from what seems like an incredible dream - if I didn't have the photos to prove it actually happened, I might not've believed it myself. But it did. And, for this adventure, I'm so full of gratitude. This word materialized so strongly in my head on the second day as my body held strong during yoga, while tears spilled over my mat. Grateful for my family who loves me, for this opportunity, for the circumstances that got me here, for just being alive, and for living with an open mind to pursue passions and continue to grow + learn always.
Thank you Yan Palmer, and each one of my new friends from yanfamwaypdx. You guys and this experience will forever be etched into my heart.