Why I Created The L.E.A.P. Retreat | Part 1
Hi family & welcome back to the blog!
This is my first blog post since my family's move to Caye Caulker, Belize and with the retreat having just ended a week ago, I'm finally in a space where I can put words to the overwhelming amount of emotions I'd been feeling these past few months. I wanted to take a few minutes to contextualize my inaugural retreat, The L.E.A.P. Retreat and give you some insight into why I created in the first place!
Ready to get into it?
So, as many of you all know, my family and I travelled to Belize with Josiah in May 2021 and stayed for one month, while pregnant, in the middle of a pandemic (yikes!)..but truthfully, it was one of the most profound experiences that quickly shifted the trajectory of our lives.
Although it was our third trip back to Caye Caulker, it was by far our longest stay. We wanted to spend a month on the island because we were beginning to feel called to create a life here and given that we were both already working remotely and our child(ren) were really young, it just felt “right”. Before we officially made the decision, however, we wanted to give ourselves enough time to ensure that the island offered us everything we needed outside the haze of “vacation lenses” which is all we’d ever known the island to be. During that time, our souls were filled, our spirits vibrated higher than they’d ever before, we began to make connections with locals such that many began to feel more like family than friends and it was during this month-long-stay that we decided that we were going to take the leap and move our family to the island in March 2022. Yes, there were tons of unknowns and even 3 months into this experience, there’s still so much for us to learn about this little piece of paradise but our hearts, minds and spirits are completely open to whatever this experience has in store for us.
It was during our time in Belize last May that I was standing on the balcony of our hotel room with CB and we were joking around at how infrequently folks travel to Belize. At the time, Mexico, Jamaica and a few other Caribbean islands were "hot spots" for Black millennial travelers and I'll never forget saying to CB, “damn, so many Black women could also experience the pure magic of this place but I feel like fear gets in their way. They just have to push fear aside and take the leap!” I paused, received the download and shouted, “I’M GOING TO DO A RETREAT!” I continued, “…and it’s going to be called The Leap Retreat”. It wasn’t until later that I decided that “Leap” would actually become an acronym for “Let Everything Align Perfectly” which fit because although I’ve always believed in the beauty of intention and hard work, I've always been a firm believer that one should still leave a little room for faith in things aligning as they should.
As the planning for the retreat began (truthfully, I started planning the next day after the balcony conversation with CB), I knew that my primary & sole intention for creating The L.E.A.P. Retreat was to curate a powerfully sacred space for 25 (2+5=7, often considered in numerology as the number of completion) Black women to come together in the spirit of openness, transparency, authenticity and a whole lotta love. Having spent essentially my entire life in the US as a Black woman and basking in the 4 years that I was educated at Spelman College, I knew firsthand some of the atrocities that Black women have endured but at the same time, I also knew how deeply healing sisterhood could be, too.
My awareness of some of the atrocities inflicted upon Black women, specifically as it relates to Black maternal health, deepened in 2019 when I got pregnant with Josiah. The information I received about maternal mortality rates among Black women was petrifying. I pondered often on how something as miraculous as pregnancy could be reduced to such a traumatic experience for Black women merely because their pain or other health needs aren't taken seriously by professional medical practitioners. I didn't think I would ever have to say this to my husband, but upon entry into the hospital to deliver both of our children, I grabbed his hand, looked him in the eye and said “please make sure that I leave this hospital”.
Often in so many tragically ironic cases, a Black mother takes her last breath just as her child is taking his/her first.
Despite having survived childbirth twice, the fear of motherhood persisted because I began to consider what my two sons would inevitably face as young Black boys in The United States. Imagine the stress/anxiety/fear a Black mother experiences on a daily basis with the reality that she could tragically lose her baby due to gun violence, police brutality and/or acts of violence. Even for those women who have not (by choice or otherwise) become mothers themselves, they have Black friends, parents and family whom they love and value deeply and for whose life they may fear because of century-long realities that plague Black people in the US. The energy exhausted from this daily fear, stress & anxiety while still showing up to work every day while attempting to maintain their own daily inhibits these inherently nurturing women from pouring into and loving themselves, leaving them feeling spiritually and emotionally-malnourished.
...but not for much longer...
With all of these truths running rampant in the country I'd once called home, I felt called to create an opportunity where 25 Black queens could retreat from their emotional/physical obligations, responsibilities and commitments and take off their proverbial “hats” for a weekend of radical self-indulgence, powerfully healing & transformative workshops created to uplift, reset, renew their minds, bodies and uniquely beautiful spirits.
Even though I've left the US, my love for Black women & commitment to their healing and nourishment will never waver. With everything that they must endure, my sisters deserve s safe space in which they can be honored, respected and loved up on. And since I have found myself in a position to use my inherited talents of hosting, tied together with my profound respect for sisterhood, I ensured that for one weekend on the Belizean island I now call home, my 25 retreat sisters would return to the States with their cups overflowing with joyful abundance & a gentle yet powerful reminder of the divine existence.
…but what actually happened when the girls arrived & what transpired during their time here in Belize…
Now that...whew I don’t think anyone was prepared for.