Spark Retreat: Bursting Into Flame


Spark Retreat

I’ve been looking everywhere for the right words to share my Spark Retreat experience with you. I’ve moved from gently prodding myself to strict “start writing now Jessika” prompts and it all just fails to do the week justice. I started out writing about the loveliness of New Mexico and moved on to trying to encapsulate the week in one post-not going to happen. Instead I am going to follow Jenelle’s lead and begin with thank you paired with moments from our week.

spark retreat leaders

Spark Leaders (l to r): Dyana awoke us, Alex invoked us, Sara grounded us, Deanna inspired us, Tania unleashed us. 

Each person I met rekindled my spark and I am so thankful- 

Tania: Your vulnerability and compassion sparked such a response in me. I feel beyond thankful for our time together and being lucky enough to be surrounded by your love. Your improv workshop was 3 hours of pure hilarity and unabashed silliness-something all of us need more of.  Thank you for initiating the whole retreat and being a constant source of kindness. Adoration abounds!

spark retreat

Deanna: Watching you push beyond your self-imposed boundaries is one of the bravest and most beautiful transformations I have ever witnessed. Thank you for the gift of your truth and for working to create a space where we could all explore our own. Spread your wings sister, the sky is calling!

Dyana: Incendiary force of nature & divine goddess wisdom, words are not enough to contain my thanks. Being fully seen by you was one of the biggest gifts I have ever received and I am profoundly grateful. I am making changes to clarify my purpose, focus on my great work, and release my radical revolutionary self online. Thank you for setting my spark ablaze.

spark retreat

Alex: Word shifting muse of awesome! Watching you deliver your workshop was like staring into the face of the sun-so much radiant brilliance it was almost painful (in the best way possible). Your questions helped me unclutter my mental landscape and find the words that have been waiting for me. Thank you is a pretty pitiful gift in return-you deserve showers of roses and chocolates and odes in praise of your loveliness.

Sara: Sassy lady of spectacular sweetness I am so happy to have met you and be witness to your unfolding. Thank you for winding us back down to reality and rootedness in our bodies after a day of being up in the stratosphere. I can’t wait to see where your adventure takes you!

Jenelle: You are one of the loveliest people online ever. Meeting you was one of the highest points of my weekend. We are always chatting online but meeting in real life was like a gigantic gift. You won the giveaway spot but I think I won the real giveaway in getting to share a room with you and experience your engaging sweetness all the time. Thank you for inspiring me with your enthusiasm and general fabulousness-cheers to a lifelong friendship!

spark retreat

Amy: Our big hearts & ideas found an instant kinship with each other. Like meeting the sister I have always wanted. You are an innovative catalyst for community change and I am thankful beyond measure to have the chance to be a part of your life. I’m championing you & Small Town Love all the way and intend on knowing you forever!

Shiopei: You came in all meek and lamblike and left a roaring explosion of pixie dust and sparkles. Getting to witness your ignition was exceptionally beautiful, thank you. I’m going to be watching your ascent to greatness and dancing in my seat the whole time. You are a total rockstar!

Lori-Ann: Getting to meet you in person was so truly amazing! Your gift for words and careful curation of ideas + concepts is brilliant and I will be here celebrating and shaking the pom-poms as you build the business of your heart.

Gail: Your calm presence and quiet grace was a gift to all of us. For the perfectly placed poems, the hilarity of Madame Ovary, your aware stillness, every wise and insightful comment and your incredible book-thank you, thank you, thank you.

spark retreat

Trish: Creative dreamer and spiritual sister I am on fire to think of the artistic adventures your brightly shining spark will be getting into after our retreat. Thank you for the gift of your calm kindness and loving heart.

Karen: I love that you came to support Deanna as her mama, but also as a woman ready to explore her own creative spark. Your journey from accountant to sparkly creatrix is just beginning and I adored every second of watching you open up to your own possibility.

Marlene: Your practical gift to us was holding court in the kitchen and making sure all of us were well fed and physical sustained. Your much greater gift was in opening up to share your story and the self-awareness I watched you find during our time in New Mexico. Your spark is bright and bold and beautiful I hope you never stop sharing it with us!

Cassie: Hooray for you and your beautiful messes! Your leaping into the retreat and volunteering yourself + mama Marlene to feed and care for us was pure synchronicity. Watching you explore your need to create and collaborate was a wonderful thing to experience. Thank you for everything.

spark retreat

Tania met me at the airport with a sign, straight out of the movies, slow motion hugs and all. It felt like meeting an old friend, as if we had just left off our conversation from the last #omhg chat and picked right up again. I didn’t realize how much ease there would be not only in this first meeting, but with every one. Each relationship/meeting felt like a coming home there was such ease in it. Even when the work got intense, and we all ventured into the darker pieces of our hearts and out into the brightness of the other side with Dyana Valentine, there was a huge net of safety around us.

spark retreat

Group photo + picture of Alex, Gail, Dyana + Mr. Paco by Shiopei

I have to admit I was afraid that the warmth of our community on line might not translate into a week of real time. What if everyone decided I was not good enough? What if it was all awkward angles? What if’s that disappeared almost instantly. My biggest realization from our week is that the community we have online is 1000x more powerful when hugs and laughter are involved. The weekend was one giant affirmation that community is my calling and that I live for those moments of true connection. The place where everything else falls away and people truly see each other and celebrate one another is home to me. I think that sense of connection is something we are all looking for and hoping to have in our lives. Before moving my community passion online all my work was face to face and I realize again that I am not complete without it.

I’ve come home more secure then ever in who I am, clearer on what I am here for, and so sure of how I want to build OMHG. On our last night in New Mexico we went around the table to share what our high points of the experience were. I shared one of my favourite quotes, I’ve been carrying this one around since I was 14 but it had never felt more true for me. This is what I found at Spark Retreat that renewed my soul and passion for my work and what I hope to continue creating every single day:

spark retreat, we are all longing starhawk

I rewrote my about page (thanks Alex) and got crystal clear on who I am and what I want to offer (praise be to Dyana!).  I sent off a giant email to start the process of Aeolidia redesigning OMHG with a focus on community. I bought a ticket to New York City in June. I am officially on fire and I hope you are ready to blaze it up with me, this spark is just getting started!


  1. Oh, Jess, I loved reading this…I’m as thrilled and excited for you as I am sad that I couldn’t be there with you for all of this awesomeness.
    Good luck with all the changes- I know amazing things are in store for you- the energy you possess will fuel amazing endeavors, ones which will burn bright and attract all kinds of incredible people and opportunities.
    As for me, I’m keeping the faith, certain that my time is coming and that my time to spark it up is just around the bend…Good God it has to be, or I might just implode-lol!! xoxo Nicole

    • Jessika says:

      Nicole I thought of you immediately after publishing this post-we are going to MAKE your time come, I’m working on it. In the meantime I am sending you big hugs of sparkly goodness and loving and support, I love you!

  2. Wow Jessika! I love your photos in the post – absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing part of your experience with us!

    I love, love, love you about page! It’s amazing. I have only just posted my “about” page this week, one step in the right direction for me – already I’m feeling like I should update it. Your story is beautiful and I have just discovered we are the same age 🙂 hooray!

    I look forward seeing where you take OMHG (and in turn, we will all be along for the fabulous ride!)


    • Jessika says:

      @Alison Thank you so much lovely lady! I’ve updated my about page too many times & put off creating one for a long time-so you are already ahead of the game! I like to think of all this as a giant work in progress, it doesn’t need to be perfect-only to evolve. Love that you are along for this adventure into goodness!

  3. Clare says:

    Gosh, this looks A-MAZING! I’m working through Hiro Boga’s Become Your Own Business Advisor course right now and I can relate so much. Huge a-ha moments combined with a blazing “let me at it” wave of new energy. Hooray for these kinds of teachers! Your photos are beautiful too. Thanks for sharing this 🙂

    Clare x

    • Jessika says:

      How wonderful Clare! Hiro Boga came up a number of times during the retreat-synchronicity everywhere. Throughout the week I was constantly amazed how everyone was a teacher with such gifts to share. Feeling absurdly blessed:)
      Also mega congratulations on your new site-looks awesome!

  4. Moxie Lisa says:

    What a wonderful post Jess! I have to say after reading it, I was even more sad that I didn’t get to attend. 🙁 There will be plenty of time for all of that soon I am sure though with your spark turning into a fire! It’s funny that I have had a very similar reigniting with community in mind. I believe we are all put on this earth for a purpose and the sooner you figure that out, the better! 🙂

    • Jessika says:

      Lisa! You should have been there-hope you are all signed up to get updates about the retreat for next year, nothing would keep me from it!
      I would love to connect with you about your community reignition, already so excited by your site redesign/direction. You + me + hangouts soon.

  5. I love your reflections, it was so hard to approach writing about Spark without immense gratitude and… without sounding like a generic plug. “It was amazing, mind blowing, life altering!” and it REALLY was.

    There is an undelivered airplane note, still in my suitcase addressed to you. It’s full of friendship love, a hey thanks pal, and secret plans to take over the world. I knew there was still more to our story- more adventures to be written. One little note is not enough… until next time.

  6. Shiopei says:

    Why is it impossible for me to read any of your recaps of Spark without tearing up?!?! 🙂 Thank you for this beautiful tribute to our time together. I am taking that pixie dust and glitter definition TO HEART! It was AWESOME to meet you…I hope we will get to do it again in the future!!

  7. Lori-Ann says:

    wow. Such love here. My joyful, love-filled tears stream. Gratitude reigns. And your new about page billboards your big heart.
    Keep it coming sister, keep it coming. xo

    • Jessika says:

      I adore you Lori-Ann & am so overjoyed we got to meet & begin a ‘real life’ friendship (although what I learned in our week is that the friendships we build online are no different from offline ones!).

  8. Deanna says:

    Jessika. You’ve managed to sum up so much! I am filled with love and gratitude for you and appreciate your words. Beautiful and eloquent. And I agree with every word.

    BIG hug.

  9. Your beautiful words bring back all those moments – the tender ones, the laugh out loud ones, the gut-wrenching ones, and those of transformation.

    I’m remembering the moment I held my finger over the Send button on my initial email to you, asking you to come and be a part of something that was becoming much bigger than we first imagined – “will she say yes?”

    Thank baby jesus for saying yes, you powerful princess warrior of love and community! It truly would not have been the same gathering without you.

    Tania xoxo

    PS – at first I wasn’t sure about that picture of me – it’s like the happy version of an ugly cry 🙂 But the more I look at it, the more I love it as it epitomizes the emotion of that particular day – complete all-out exhiliration, happiness, and release. Thank you for capturing that.

    • Jessika says:

      Tania! I’m thanking all the gods & goddesses that you pressed send. Our week sent me off like an arrow to do the work I’ve always wanted to. BEST. FEELING. EVER! Watching everyone else come out of it with similar excitement is so brilliant. That picture of you is so beautiful to me, like your body is too small to contain all the bigness of emotion, which was my experience of you in New Mexico. Unleashed, unabashed & unbelievably gorgeous. Love you!

  10. Clare says:

    Wow, your retreat sounds wonderful – what a beautiful thing to share your hopes and dreams and wisdom with such a creative group of people.
    I have only just found your fantastic blog, but after reading this post, I am ready to jump right in to this community. There is a huge sense of love and support here! I love it 🙂

  11. Sara Wallace says:

    Ah, Jessika you pulled together the week in such a loving way. It has been challenging to fully express the gratitude, love and fun that I had that week. Can’t wait to see what you create next! Sara xo

  12. Joy says:

    Soooo bummed that I didn’t get to go! I’m going to have to start saving up for the next one! What an absolutely beautiful post with such wonderful people!

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