Retreating

A little over a week ago, I headed towards Ojai with my pal, Tiffany.  I already mentioned our entertaining road trip.  We were heading to the Creative Alliance event. After packing up our stuff, we headed towards our destination, Calliote Canyon.

After reading the first few sentences, you are probably thinking, “Oh great, Julie is going to another blogging event, whoppee.”  After reading some comments on Heather’s blog, I actually hesitated on posting my experience in Ojai, so I took some time to reflect.

As a working mom, it is somewhat hard to find some “me time” to hang out with girlfriends.  Yes, I have people at work that I talk too, etc., but it is not the same.  I’m having a hard time, finding the time to get some face-to-face time with my friends. Many of us have kid(s), husbands, and very busy schedules.  We live in different cities; we work; we have children’s activities; etc.  Yes, I have met friends for lunch while the kiddos played, but really, most of the time is spent chasing down the kids, in between idle chit chat.  I have great phone conversations, but it is really not the same as talking to someone in person and having adult conversations. There are always things going on in the background, like conversations that have to do with small children going potty, or having a time out.  With all that rambling, what I really meant was that I seriously crave adult time with like-minded people, without husbands, co-workers, kids, etc.  So, yes…I admit I may have gone to a few blogging events this year, but they were all paid for either overtime from work, or other forms of petty cash that I have put aside.  I even used mileage from my mom’s American Express Rewards account to fly to New York City in August.

I feel like I had to write that above paragraph as a disclaimer.  So after driving around a curvy road, we arrived at this:

Calliote Canyon, Ojai

I think that these photographs show how beautiful the location was.  I haven’t been in such a quiet place in a long time.  Upon arriving there, I lost my security blanket.  Well, my electronic security blanket that is.  I often use my iPhone for distraction/fidgeting.  I focus on my phone because I get shy/nervous/insecure and it helps me focus.  It is a really bad habit, but I could have worse habits besides my iPhone and Dr. Pepper addictions, right?  We did have Wifi, but it was a bit sporatic.

When we arrived, everyone was eating breakfast and barely waking up.  I was able to chit chat with some of the women while everyone was getting settled.  I think took a little walk to explore the location and to take some pictures, obviously.  Most of the pictures in the collage above were taken on my nature walk.  I also took some other random photographs of the people I walked with Tiffany, Jessica, and Cynthia.

Tiffany, deep in thought...
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Don’t they all look so inspired by nature? I think so.  It is a good thing that this women are my friends, because I’ve been having way too much fun with using thought bubbles on these pictures lately.

While waiting for our event to start, which had a perfect start time, at mid-afternoon, I introduced myself to some people.  I knew many of the women attending this event, but there were some people that I’ve never made a connection with.  I know, shocking, right.

Lee Vandeman Speaks
After having a delightful lunch, well not-so-much for me, Lee stood up and spoke. I have food issues, stomach issues, bread issues…just plain issues, so I had some fruit for lunch.  Lee talked about how the idea of this event came together, and her thoughts and feelings about all of this awesome.  Lee is very laid back, and calm.  I’m not so calm or laid back, but I appreciate other people who are.

We then split up into smaller intimate groups and had some topic-driven discussions.  Seriously, everyone was so interesting, I can’t really remember what the topic was, or what I was talking about.  I had already had a long week and I was overly tired.

We then headed towards the yurt to hear Tiffany speak.  She was speaking on the topic of, “Making Things Happen”.  You are probably wondering what a yurt is?  Well, this was my first time hanging out in a yurt.  A yurt is a portable, felt-covered, wood latice-framed dwelling structure used by nomads used by the steppes in Central Asia.

Tiffany started a great conversation.  After Tiffany’s introduction, we went around the room, or the yurt and introduced ourselves.  We talked about our blogs and sites, but we also talked about our dreams and aspirations, or the next step in our lives.  For some, like me, it was scary to tell my story and what I want to do in the future.  I never get to tell my story, or share what I am about in the blog world. When I spoke at Bloggy Boot Camp in San Francisco, it was my first time to really share more of myself with the blogging world.  I was actually the last person to introduce myself, and I felt a little cleansed after sharing.

Angry Julie in the Yurt

Kim Prince took this photograph of me.

After feeling the love in the “Yurt”, we headed outdoors again for some snacks and a presentation in the area of the fire ring, which was similar to an outdoor theater type space.  We were introduced to one of the event sponsors, Paper Culture. which has awesome cards which are printed on 100% recycled cardstock and they give back to other charities, along with planting a tree for every order.  I will be doing another post at a later date, just about Paper Culture.

It was beautiful sitting out there in the stadium seating near the fire ring.  You could actually “hear” nature with the birds chirping and the trees whistling in the wind. We also may have seen a few creatures (of the smaller variety) scamper around.

A beautiful catered dinner was served after this along with dessert.  In the midst of the darkness a fire was being started in the fire ring. Before Tiffany and I left, we spent some time chatting with the other women.  I may have caught Kim pouring wine from a box.  She was pretty proud of her box o’ wine.

Fireside at Creative Alliance

After saying our goodbyes, Tiffany and I headed down that dark road towards home.  We were both exhausted and tired but happy.  You are probably thinking, why did they not stay the entire weekend? Well Tiffany had a conference that she was hosting the very next weekend, and she tries to spend only one weekend a month away from her family.  I desired to spend a Saturday off with my family, plus motel rooms for the entire weekend was an expense that I could not afford.

It was great to finally spend some time with people without running around like a crazy person.  I would like to thank the sponsors Moji and Paper Culture for participating in and believing in an event like this.  I would also like to thank everyone involved in planning it.

P.S.  Big smootches to everyone who listened to my anger and frustration in the “yurt”.  I rarely tell my stories, and there are so many that I can’t EVER even blog about, but I appreciate you listening to me.

16 comments
Andrea
Andrea

Lovely pictures and I am so glad you were there - I think you are fantastic! I totally agree with Kim:)

Kim Tracy Prince
Kim Tracy Prince

I was so glad to see you there. Whenever I see you in a crowd of faces, my spirits lift and I feel comfortable.

Megan
Megan

one of husbands co-workers LIVES in a yurt. with his wife and kid. I dont get it. hope youre feeling better :)

Rachel {at} Mommy Needs a Vacation
Rachel {at} Mommy Needs a Vacation

I love your pictures. They are so beautiful. It looks you had some nice time away with the girls. And I so know what you mean about not being able to blog about all your stories. Grrrrrr....

Jen
Jen

this looks like a fabulous event. Makes me wish that I lived in California so that I could be closer to all these cool things. And girl, you take time to go to blogging even whenever and how often you need to! Its your time, your money and your life.

Ellie
Ellie

You got some really beautiful photos! It was great to kind of/sort of meet you - I wish we could have connected more, but I'm glad you were there for the whole yurt experience. And I loved how you summed up why these things are important for you - I feel exactly the same way. -Ellie

Lee Vandeman
Lee Vandeman

Hey Julie - great to hear your take on it. My brain was so filled with thoughts and organizational stuff the entire weekend that hearing other people's thoughts really help me see the weekend in a different light. I love your photographs....just stunning. And I love the one that Kim took of you. Perfect. Now you've inspired me to get off my ass and write my own recap.... See you soonish... :-) Lee

Kristi
Kristi

What a beautiful place and awesome pictures! Your comment about food issues, intrigued me. If you ever feel like sharing PLEASE come and comment on my blog (or post here: http://www.kristibug.com/2010/08/yep-steamed-rice-and-boiled-shrimp/ ). Ever since I got preggo with #2 (3 years ago!) I have horrible reactions to food. So right now I am trying to get myself back to normal, heal my body, and then slowly introduce the foods back. Its just one of my hopes that I will get back to normal. I'm not sure what your issues are, so I thought I would comment and ask!

Heather of the EO
Heather of the EO

I'm so glad you were able to be there as much as you could be and appreciated you, your humor and your refreshing perspective. You are a brave woman, in work and well...in all of life! So glad I got to yurt with you :)

Leeann @ Join the Gossip
Leeann @ Join the Gossip

Beautiful photos! I know I have heard of the area but I can't place it's location... And good for you doing what you want to do. It is your life, afterall. Forget anyone who would make you feel bad for doing blogging related excursions. Have fun, you deserve it!!

Amy @ babybabylemon
Amy @ babybabylemon

I love Ojai. I live right near there. I'm glad you had a good time. It is such an amazing place to recharge.

Karen Duggan
Karen Duggan

Sorry I didn't really ever get a chance to talk with you, but I really enjoyed your energy while you were there! Maybe next year. Incredible photos -- I feel like I'm back in the canyon just looking at them!

Natalie
Natalie

Time away is really so important...it helps me regroup and remember to appreciate all that I have. And girl time? Is even better :) There's nothing like a day out with the girls to reenergize my spirits. This sounds amazing, Julie!

Ann's Rants
Ann's Rants

Wish you could've stayed for day two, but I'm glad we got to hang that first night at the pizza joint. So sorry about your problem(s) at work. Great recap. Ann

Just Plain Tired
Just Plain Tired

Every adult with small kids deserves some "me time." No need to justify it to me. Those are awesome pictures. It looks like a great get-away spot.

Kristen
Kristen

I can relate to every word! It is so good to get away. Awesome pictures. You really captured it well.