Woah. What a weekend.
I can't believe that just last year our team retreat had 12 people (of which three were interns) and this year we had 32 team members take part.
It was one of those moments where I was able to take a beat and realize this growth and the potential of our "little engine that could" and felt the gratitude flow through my veins. You know, when moving so fast (even if I do a gratitude meditation almost daily) it's still hard to take a real moment and "smell the roses" and this was a weekend filled with roses and lilies and daisies and every other flower varietal in btwn.
This team is special. Even before going up to the house, the team hung out after work, are besties, do facials and vagina steams, sleep over, support each other during breakups and or breakdowns, date boys from the same band and take a lot of selfies together :-) Most of this team was brought in through friends of friends and so there was an underlying trust already built in. But this weekend took that trust and vulnerability to the next level.
We rented my friends' amazing retreat space called Passage house at "Shakespeare on Hudson" in the Hudson Valley and piled into two big vans and drove up 2.5 hours on Friday late morning and had the entire weekend prepared for some MAJOR team bonding.
*Special shout out to our culture leads Kejal (VP of ICON) and Jasmin (Head of Community) for organizing the weekend!
The only things we made sure people brought were an all white outfit, a bathing suit, a towel and an open heart. Everyone had to sign up to cook a meal or be on clean-up duty post meal and some people like Chef Keshmoney - who is our CFO and also amazing Chef (hence her nickname) volunteered to cook at every shift. What a G.
The itinerary was as follows:
Play in the pool or swim in the Hudson.
Radical Gratitude Circle
Play in the morning
Practice talent for talent show
Play some more
At dusk, put on all white-outfit
Silent walkabout alone
The playtime was great and everyone frolicked, relaxed, danced and sang to every pop song there ever was ever - but for me, the best parts were the radical gratitude circle on Friday and the the silent walkabout/release ceremony/poetry sharing part on Saturday.
The radical gratitude ceremony consisted of everyone going around the room and sharing something about themselves and what they're grateful for and the stories that came out were so deep and powerful and filled with authentic vulnerability - a vulnerability that can only be shared in a completely safe space. I sat in the corner tears streaming down my face the entire time, asking myself what I did to deserve such a loving, brave group to work with.
On Saturday evening, right before dusk, everyone put on their all-whites and joined together in the living room. I painted each one of our teammates faces with tribal paint to unify everyone. And then gave them the instruction: "for the next 30 minutes, this is a silent exercise. Everyone must walk about on their own and I'd like for each one of you to write a poem about a time in your life when entered a situation one person and left a completely different person. Every one of us has those stories within us. I also want you to write something you want to let go of and something you want to invite in for yourself."
I started the timer and everyone silently walked out of the house and sat in silence on their own in nature and wrote.
Once the 30 minutes were up, everyone silently walked to a fire that was set up and we stood around it a circle holding hands and chanting an earth song as each person took the piece of paper that had the thing they wanted to release and threw it in the fire one by one. It was a cathartic experience. Jasmin led us in a meditation ceremony and it was perfect.
Everyone was invited to share their poems and a few brave ones did and they brought the HOUSE down. Everyone cried and was so so moved by the sharing.
The "mandatory" talent show was hilarious and showed me how creative each person really is. Kelly (my amazing Executive Assistant) and team did a scene from Vagina monologues and ended up in orgasmic moans.
WOW. Just wow.
What an amazing opportunity to peer into the windows of the lives of each of our beautiful teammates. The brave vulnerability that was shared by each one will forever be etched in my mind.
Thank you all for coming into the space with open minds and hearts. ('Cause you know, this could have gone the other way too, now that I think about it.)
Feeling utterly blessed.