Inspiring, hopeful, empowering, full of tears & and laughter ~ it was all that it was designed & and created for!!!
Blissful Escapes began with the creator of this event arriving after all the moms!!! They were very excited to get this weekend going! I had been chatting away with a mom that I picked up to carpool with. I missed the exit!!! We finally arrived at 5:45. In a way I was thankful. It was very humbling to see all the women gathered around the table at the Caring Cabin when I arrived. I sensed it was the beginning of not just a very restful and restorative weekend but many, many more to come for Moms of Children with Cancer.
A yummy assortment of gourmet pizza and Caesar salad was provided by the Pelican Brewery and Pub. Wine, water and juice were provided by The Inn at Cape Kiwanda. After dinner we sat down around the table to begin an art project. Kirsten Carpentier with Art Creates Hope kindly guided the moms through a Mandala art project. When deciding this particular piece of the weekend I honestly was hesitant. I am not an artist, however Kirsten works with cancer patients and she mentioned that art tends to bring out deep emotion within us that gets stuffed. She was right. One mom commented that she also had been hesitant. . . she ended up in tears twice. I along with a few other moms went for the tissue as well. The art began to open up a healing that needed to take place.
After our time with Kirsten we gathered around the fireplace, vino in hand and began to play a game called, Be the Gift. Be the Gift is a card game with questions specifically designed to get to know each other. It felt good to laugh and think about bucket list items after the emotion gushing art project! Our first raffle ended the evening together which was donated by Tina Eiffert of Red Door Studio. She is also a boot camp instructor. She donated a boot camp to a mom. I also wish to say a special thank you to Tina as she donated her time and photography to Blissful Escapes this weekend!
Saturday morning we had a blessing – sunshine!!!! It was so beautiful! Mediation was first on the list and the few that made it to bed early attended! Jill Getty provided a very calming, soulful mediation for the moms. This was followed by breakfast and then spa time! Liza Tapp offered massages to the moms while Danielle Watkins from Sorelle Spa offered haircuts and styles.
During this time a few of the moms took an opportunity to visit their childs rock. A rock is given to the child with cancer when the family stays at the cabin. The rocks line a path from the cabin to the lake. It has the childs name and date on it. I had not yet seen Austin’s rock since we had been at the cabin in April. Our stay was last minute so they had not had time to prepare his rock. A temporary rock was placed in the meantime. I learned another mom had the same situation happen to her. So we were both there visiting our childs rocks for the first time. A third mom went in search of her rock as well – same situation. . . . however she could not find her rock. So Kacy went to look in the box and YES, it was there!!!! So Dayna took her daughters rock down to the path and found a home for it. A fourth mom also had the opportunity to visit her son’s rock. She was visiting for a few hours on Saturday – she was able to spend a few moments as well, just opening up and healing.
We had a special visit from Lori Falkner Volkman with Lens of Hope. Lens of Hope was created by Niccole Wallom and Lori Volkman. Niccole had been taking photo’s of a close friend, Vikki Jensen and their family while their son fought cancer. Vikki shared her journey and how grateful she is to have those photo’s of her family. Lens of Hope provides photography services to those families that are affected by cancer. Vikki was so kind to bring a gift for the mom’s, a new tradition for their families. A glass jar with rocks to write gratitude notes on. Lori brought a gift from a local artist, Michelle with michellemybell, a piece of artwork that has the word Hope on it. I was surprised to learn at how many of the moms had “words” that they “held on to” during their child’s cancer journey. For Vikki, it was Hope, for another mom it was Courage and myself, Joy. These word’s help carry us through.
Lunch was provided by The Riverhouse. The ladies had time to journal and reflect during this time.
Early afternoon provided an opportunity for Restorative Yoga by Kathleen Finn. I heard words of hesitation from the mom’s when they learned it was an 1 ½ session, however, they walked away feeling restored, calm, and strengthened!
Andrea Hirsh Nakayama from Replenish PDX brought dinner prepared by Andrea Caplan Livingston with Phyto Foods. We enjoyed Kale Coleslaw, Curried Butternut Squash and Pear Soup topped with Coconut cream and for dessert Raw Cacao Tart with Strawberry’s. It was delicious and healthy! The moms learned so much about health and how vital it is to be aware of our eating habits. Andrea generously answered questions. One mom asked her, “If there is one thing we could do for our child and their eating habits what would you recommend”. Andrea suggested to remove sugar – I know I will be contacting Andrea for some healthy recipes to replace sugar!
Saturday evening we were entertained by “Time Out! The Mother of all Comedys”. They are a group of professional and new performers who are moms of all ages and family configurations. They deliver clean and intelligent entertainment that puts a hilarious spin on parenting. We ended our evening again with staying up late, very late, connecting and lending support to each other.
Sunday, again we woke up to sunshine!!! I woke at 7;45, late. . . . I went to do the dishes, Rosemary and Jill went to meditate. I was going to send the moms their way when they woke up. . . . ten minutes later, Jill came back and said she was going to finish the dishes after mediation that I needed to come join them. . . . .the mom’s were still sleeping!!!!! God is so amazing. I needed that time to clear my thoughts and just be with him. I had struggled the night before. This weekend is bittersweet, bitter because it is almost over. Sweet, because it is here and it has been perfect. I was clearly shown, just follow Him, like the lamb with a shepherd, just follow. So I will. . . . . . . . back to the main house. . . . ahh now we have a few moms awake! By ten am I awoke the last mom from her much needed sleep. Sleep that is so precious to us moms yet so rare! We began one more inspiring talk. Rosemary with Rosemarys Solutions had come to share with us about antioxidants. We learned about a product called Zeolite as well as tasted some yummy antioxidant chocolate. That was heaven! Healthy chocolate!!!!
The final event was the Wellness Circle. I summed up their weekend events offering valuable questions for them to think about as they go back home. We worked through body, mind and spirit, discussing each and ideas on how to create wholeness in our lives as women while our children fight cancer.
I did happen to forget all of the other raffles except that first one so we had a grand finale!! I often had wondered why I was so incredibly forgetful last year while Austin was at Doernbecher. I learned there is a name for it, “Doernbecher Brain - lol”. . . . . . Four more raffles were handed out – Photo Session with Red Door Studio, 2 facials with Spa Above and a 6 month coaching session with my business, Empowering Grace.
Well I thought the weekend had come to an end, however I soon learned that NONE of the mom’s wanted or needed to leave. So we had left over’s for lunch and talked some more. We stayed until 3pm, connecting, laughing and truly embracing being together as moms of children with cancer. We found a deep connection with each other. Now moving on, there is more support for each other. I realized this weekend was as healing for me as it was for them. I am truly thankful to each one of these moms’ for stepping away from their families for 2 days to restore and connect.
I am truly humbled and in awe over this weekend. I really could not have asked for a more perfect weekend. There are so many to thank that contributed in some other way – I want to note those below - without them – this weekend would not have been the same awe inspiring weekend!!!!!
With Love and Gratitude ~
Childrens Cancer Association
Tami Nonamaker with Natural Awakenings
Becki Neuman with Sensaria
Be the Gift
Caryn Plinksi with Scentsy
Gretchen Gettles with Stella and Dot
Fundraising thank you to Sorelle Spa and Blessed with Cancer