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I knew that Karla had worked for months to come up with the right themes and speakers for each of the afternoon sessions. So, I was very excited and intrigued as to what we were all in for.

I AM

The first session on my schedule was the I Am seminar with Ria Ray. She is an artist, creator and spiritual leader. This session was based around each of the participants finding their own manta.

This took place in a tent that was right along the water where we were asked to snuggle up on a variety of carpets with some pillows. Many of the participants came in fresh off of getting a snack and mingled before the session started. You could tell that there was a little bit of apprehension – with us not yet really knowing what the day would entail – but there was excitement at being at Karla’s event and together for many as well.

The seminar opened with Ria reading a letter from Karla about her intentions for this session. The letter spoke about how after her diagnosis, Karla realized the power that words can have in helping to give us purpose and a sense of stability and comfort. She wrote about her own mantra:

“I found mine and they are my fight song… I am Grateful. I am Strong. I am Loved.

I am Grateful reminds me to constantly appreciate the good in my life.

I am Strong reminds me that I am mentally, physically and spiritually strong.

I am Loved reminds me how incredibly I am surrounded by love.”

Ria then told us about her trauma and how she came to find her path in life through the experience of losing her entire immediate family in an accident when she was in her early twenties. This propelled her to look within to not only find her own purpose but also examine the meaning of life in general and why we each must face tough circumstances.

Ria then led us through an exercise where we all were able to answer a series of questions for ourselves to help come up with our own personal mantras. This was more about finding an intention that could help to pull us through the current stage of our lives rather than something that would encompass us as a whole.

Read the full letter and watch the workshop here.

I AM LOVED

Sandra Dowek was the facilitator for the I Am Loved seminar. This session took place in the main tent, glowing in a soft pink that couldn’t have been more inviting or warmer. Sandra added to this welcoming atmosphere and she too opened her talk with a letter from Karla:

“I thought to myself… the only privilege of any importance in this world is the privilege of being loved. I coined in my mind the phrase “love privilege”. When a child has this, they can triumph over any obstacles. I could feel my passion and purpose rising. I wanted to put all my effort into becoming an advocate for children in the foster care system!

Sandra then opened up and told us her story. After a traumatic childhood that many would have a difficult time overcoming, Sandra became a mother when she was still young to her first child. She has had a number of challenges to face since and has approached them all with strength and without giving into sadness or anger.

Sandra has a simple mission for all of us – to be able to honestly say, “I love myself”. It seemed like an exercise that anyone would be able to do without much thought or preparation. Sandra asked us to get to know a partner and first tell them that we love ourselves. Then, we were all given hand mirrors and asked to look ourselves in the eye and say the same.

What seemed like an easy exercise was definitely something that made each of the participants really think about how they not only felt about themselves, but also the love that they put out in the world and the impact the love that they were offered.

Between sessions we had a little time to mingle and grab some snacks or a drink from the bar. People were enjoying the view of the water or exploring the many different decorative elements that had been created for the event. There were paper butterflies scattered on trees, paper flowers exploding out of the ground and lights starting to be turned on in the mystic garden.

Read the full letter and watch the workshop here.

I AM GRATEFUL 

Next on my schedule was the I Am Grateful workshop. It was led by Maristela Beckman, a reiki master who has personally worked with Karla to help her understand the power of gratitude. The session again started with some words from Karla:

“Hearing that I had stage 4 cancer has rocked my world and it would be very easy to become depressed and anxious and to focus on the darkness I feel at times. For my mental and physical salvation, I have adopted a practice of gratitude. I am learning that no matter how bad things are, there is always something I can be grateful for. When I become aware of any negative thoughts or uncomfortable situations, I work hard to change my perspective… for example when my chemo pills cause my pain to intensify, I think, “I’m so grateful for these meds and the work they are doing to fight my cancer.”

In this session, all of the participants were asked to talk to a partner first about things that they are grateful for. You could sense that people were becoming more relaxed and open as the day went on, with more chatter, laughter and less inclination for some to try to fade into the background.

We were then all given postcards and asked to write something we are grateful for. These postcards would be mailed back to us as a reminder in a few weeks’ time. (I just got mine the other day!)

Read the full letter and watch the workshop here.

I AM VULNERABLE

As I found out more about this event going into it, the session that I was most interested in was the I Am Vulnerable segment. Led by holistic nutritionist, energy facilitator and speaker Judith Cline, this seminar was one that I know Karla put a lot of thought into. In her letter, she explained:

“I was going to call this session “Shame”, but shame and vulnerability are intertwined and ultimately the great learning for me has been around the power of vulnerability. In my youth, I was not an outstanding child for whom, parents and friends help high expectations… The question was, would anyone notice and give me a chance?”

While it was great to connect with some of the other women present, this session was all about looking internally and being honest with ourselves. It was not only about digging deep and seeing what was there – whether it be shame, scars or hidden wants. It was also about letting go of things that were holding us back.

We were each given a card where we could write down one thing that we would like to let go of. This could mean letting go of an old image of ourselves, an expectation or putting a past experience with someone else behind us. We were then asked to hold onto this card, as we would need it for the Letting Go Session that was to follow.

Read the full letter and watch the workshop here.

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