New York: Creative Retreat #1

family New York Fashion Week

New York Fashion Week 2020 - What a blast.  What an INTENSE blast!!

I guess I always knew it was going to be pretty intense, but if I am honest, I didn't fully appreciate just how intense it would be.  So much growth in such a short period of time, well that takes some integration to get the full learning out of it.

Luckily for me (in hindsight - I didn't think it was all that lucky at first) getting flights back to New Zealand in the middle of a global pandemic meant that I needed to spend quite a bit of extra time in the USA.  Initially I was worried about being in a country where the media tell you that the Pandemic is out of control, where there is massive civil unrest, where people are frantic and desperate and where it could be very unsafe.  However, there is another side to this story.

When I finished up in New York, I caught the train (train travel in the USA is wonderful!!) about 4 hours south to Washington DC, and then onwards to the historic township of Harpers Ferry, another hour by rail.  My brother and sis-in-law recently moved to West Virginia and I was lucky enough to be able to spend a week with them.  Oh, and what a week it has been!  Let me tell you about the beautiful Hāpua Quarry Retreat...

hāpua: to be hollowed out, a lagoon or body of water

Hāpua Quarry is a beautiful 25acres that features a deep water-filled abandoned quarry surrounded in Black Walnut Forest and inhabited by a myriad of creatures including a few very special humans...  humans I am proud to call whanau/family!

Set in the state of West Virginia, this area has a rich historical context that reaches right back to the foundation of the United States; the Civil War.  Harpers Ferry, about 10 minutes up the road, and the lovely old community of Shepherdstown were literally on the front line of the Civil War back in the mid 19th Century.  If you want to understand why a nation presents to the world as it does, you need to go back to where it began.  It's no secret that I love the USA, and it's sad to see how it is portrayed to the world right now, when much of this amazing country is vastly different to what the media would have you believe.

I digress...

I arrived at Hāpua quite exhausted.  And I was literally enveloped by my family and the woods and the lake and simply taken care of.  I call it a creative retreat but it was much more than that.  Yes, I got a heap of photography done, updated my website, worked on orders, made important connections for whatever comes next.  Yes, I worked hard on all the "behind the scenes" that keeps the engine room going.  But I spent quite a lot of time walking in the woods, watching squirrels harvest walnuts, listening to woodpeckers, being buzzed by hummingbirds, feeling the sun on my shoulders!  Creatively it was a gift (wait until I tell you what comes next!!!).  Physically it was a relief.  For my soul, it was an awakening!

Creative retreat 1 hāpua quarry

Just yesterday I sat in the village of Harpers Ferry listening to the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers bubbling away as they joined together, and a flock of about 50 swallow birds swirled overhead.  These were the first swallows I had seen on this trip, and the landed on a wire right above my head, chittering and chirping their sweet song to me.  And I realised something important.  These little birds, messengers of the Gods, were telling me to slow down, pause and extend some appreciation towards myself.  I tend to be always moving - looking forward to the next thing - rarely stopping long enough to consider what I have done to get me to this place and time.  

And I honour the opportunity that I took, the discomfort that offered me growth, the fear that allowed me to be brave, the people who have gifted me with their wisdom and love.  

Appropriate really, to sit quietly and listen to the tune of the universe.  I realised just how important my whanau are to me.  How much I am driven by this connection.

Now, I sit on a plane high above the middle of America - somewhere over South Dakota I think - writing this, and moving onto my second creative retreat of this trip.  It's time to get making again, creating again!  And wait until you see the beauty of the Pacific Northwest...  

I hope you are going to join me for the rest of this adventure!!



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