This last year has been so amazing and intense in many ways. My mind and body have been challenged, stretched, worked to the core, and fulfilled to the rim. The leap into WEND has been a 7-day a week calling, so it was time for some self-care to refresh and rejuve.
As fate would have it, a dreamy human named Chandra walked into WEND one day, and we connected on several levels, including an eventual heirloom makeover/wedding ring set (is her hand gorgeous or is her hand gorgeous)???
Chandra's Heirloom Makeover rings in the waters of the Italian Mediterranean
The sparks really flew when I learned that she and a partner run small, highly curated women’s retreats called Finding Wonder, which go to places I’ve only dreamed of. It took me about two weeks to pull the trigger on the next retreat they offered.
The Cinque Terra city of Vernazza - photo by Wendy (using my new I-Phone skills learned on the retreat).
The retreats have a unifying focus, which is finding and capturing WONDER with the medium of photography (via cell phone or any camera).
Wendy in a pesto making class, after eating all the pesto! Photo by Marissa Jillian
However, these retreats are so much more than that. Storytelling (via word and lens), meditation, journaling, connecting deeply with amazing women on a variety of topics, circling up around a bonfire until the wee hours, time immersed in nature, eating the very freshest food imaginable, and absorbing the customs and sites of the place, all while staying incredibly present in the only moment that mattered (the one we were in).
Gamechanger for all 7 participants. Imagine an idyllic bubble where everything is new, everyone accepts you as you are, and they support your visions for sweet-ass photos and growth.
Photo of Wendy by Rachel Dickman
The next major Finding Wonder retreat(s) are to Todos Santos, Mexico and Morocco in 2023. If you have any interest and ability, I promise your mind will be blown in ways you cannot even imagine. Space is extremely limited so don’t wait.
Photo taken in The Medina in Marrakech by Finding Wonder
Finding Wonder’s origin story is important to its mission. You can find more on that here. You can apply for the Morocco trip(s) here (I promise I get no kickbacks). I believe in it that much – go if you can – it will be the best gift you ever give yourself.
Photo of Wendy on a hike break by Charlie Alexander
A few takeaways from the participants
- Empowerment and owning it
- Re-directing life’s mission
- Moving through shame
- Finding comfort in front of (and behind) a camera lens
- Truly understanding that you are enough
- Ending a marriage that had been rocky for years
- Working through body image trauma
- Honoring loss
- Becoming a better photographer
- Welcoming WONDER in all forms
Several people have asked if I've found inspiration from this retreat, and the answer is, 100% yes. I am a changed person. And, you will soon see a new batch of Italian Pebble pieces coming your way.
Thank you for following along in this journey with me. My hope/goal/plan is to make space for one of these each year - it's that good. Join me if you can.