My three highs and three lows:
1.  Watching the group mob Kyle as he entered the carwash.  The love that pour over him I could feel at the middle of the line.  So awesome.

2.  Having Vicki challenge me in the women's group to get my needs met.  I am grateful for the support and love.

3.  Having Edna as our room mate.  I was so in awe of the children and to have two of them in my room was a gift.

4.  Okay I am cheating...All the mentees that joined our family.  What an amazing blend of human beings.  I felt so grateful for their trust and willingness.  The laughter in my small process group will ring in my ears for a very long time.

5.  Seeing Jayden go through the carwash so trusting more then once.  So incredible.

My three lows:
1.  The unfortunate hospitalization of Kendra.
2.  Seeing Lee on the floor during the "I have" game.  Lee is so petite and I was worried she had injured herself.  Our games are not for the faint of heart!
3.  Not having more children.  I pray we have more next year.  They truly are the future and I would love to have them all touched by each of you.
KyraSong's 3 highs and lows:
3 highs:
1.  Playing with my friends.
2.  Going thru the car wash because of all the things that they said.  
3.  Being in the pool with everyone that played the ball game.

3 lows:
1.  Nothing
2.  Nothing
3.  Nothing  Tehe  Meow:)

Big hug to each of you.  For my Florida family members...
My prayers and safety sent your way.  We will slay Hurricane Irma.
Love to you all,
Joan and KyraSong

Dear precious family,
It was so good to spend the weekend in connection with you. Here are my three highs and lows. 

1. Loved, loved, loved seeing Kyle blossom.  It lifted me up to see you at meditation. Sharing your light with us filled my heart. 

2. Having the dance end early enough to continue connecting. Loved our "Spotify" dancing. It was sweet to look around the room seeing people one on one or in small groups talking. Couldn't ask for a better ending than the pizza party! Thanks Arienne!!!

3. The hands meditation had a profound impact. I will be consciously creating images of the hands in my life.

1. Having to go to the hospital with Kendra.

2. Going over time at closing so missed saying goodbye one on one to everyone.

3. Not going in the pool. 

I'm thinking of each of you in Florida and praying for your safe passage through whatever Irma brings.

As always, I look forward to Labor Day Weekend 2018!

Love, hugs and light,

Every year is unique, one of the reasons I come every year. The connection is the major reason I keep coming back.

-having to get back to reality too soon... my parents called me on my drive home to tell me they already booked a flight from FL to Ohio and wanted to know what my plans were for the hurricane 
-there is never enough time to connect with every person
-the jacuzzi wasn't working and that usually is a place of connection 

Where to begin the entire weekend is a high.
-The carwash had the biggest impact and I keep remembering what people said to me. I struggle constantly with self worth and thinking that I don't matter and hearing numerous people acknowledging my presence is indescribable and makes my heart warm.  I love each and every person who is a part of our Present Family.
-Witnessing so many share and grow especially Kyle and Jayden. I was honored to witness Kyle stepping foot into the unknown and kept showing up for more. Same with Jayden witness this young boy wanting hide at the beginning to going through the Carwash 3 times.
-The kids (young in age and young in heart), playing games with Joan to playing made up games in the pool with Jayden, Kyra Song, Edna, Zach, and Corrie- there were more, these are those who are embedded in my memory.

I am writing this while doing the waiting game for the storm to pass. I am in West Palm Beach, in the house I grew up in, with my wife, my dog, my sister, brother-in-law, niece, nephews, and their pets. My parents are in Ohio. We are prepared and safe.



·       Blush  The first thing I wrote down was playing in the pool.  At first, I thought I was just going to sit on the edge and watch everyone and not get my hair wet, but something in me said to put on my bathing suit and let myself play, and I’m glad I did.  It was delightful to join in and see the kids sharing the ball and seeing what a good time can be had when we all take part (which included Donna and Joan retrieving the ball from the outskirts).  Even though I put my hair up, it was soaked by the time I was done.  Just another opportunity to let go and be a kid again (and to use my blow dryer for the second time that day). Playing and laughing is food for the soul, and I did a lot of it this weekend during games, group, talent show, etc.  (Thanks, Pat, for letting your outrageously silly and spontaneous kid come out.  You always make me crack up.)
·        Blush In my notebook on the plane, I also wrote down women’s group, the dance, theme groups, Monday meditation, and car wash.  All of these things (in addition to many other experiences during the weekend) are steeped in connection and love.  Whether I’m giving love, receiving it, or witnessing its power in the whole group, I feel such a fullness in my heart and a peace that goes beyond explanation.
·         Blush   Besides playing and finding my child within and being swept up by love, I experienced transformation, both in myself in others.  In my notepad on the plane I jotted down - seeing people coming out of themselves.  It warms my heart to see our new family members, including the facilitators, opening up and finding the magic of the weekend. I was so happy to see Kyle at the dance, the meditation, and the car wash, and Zach being playful and silly at games, especially at Musical Chairs.   In my notepad I also wrote down my process group and next to it the words, laughing, crying, sharing, and insights found, especially through Bennie’s sharing.

·       Confused    Because I had a plane to catch, I was not able to say goodbye to anyone in the way that I would have liked to.  I saw Pat on the way out and asked her to give everyone my love.  I hope you got it.

·        Confused  Towards the end of the car wash, I checked my phone because I realized it was getting late.  Eternal time became real time, and I had to use much of what I learned to stay calm in the mist of my husband and step-daughter’s anxiety/tension about getting the car checked in and getting to the airport on time, as well as my own mounting anxiety.  The contrast of feelings from the car wash to the car was too quick and could have been overpowering, but I was able to stay for the most part centered in love and support rather than fear and reaction to their anxiety/anger.

·        Confused   I am sorry that I was not able to spend more time with Arienne, one of my mentees.  She is a wise and beautiful woman whom I hope to get the chance to know better next year.  (Thank you, Arienne, for your words during the car wash.  They touched me deeply.)

Kissing heart  Thank you, Joan, facilitators, and retreatants.  It was a wonderful weekend, and I am deeply grateful to have had another opportunity to be a part of the magic.  God bless you all and keep you safe.


I am aware that I have included more than three highs but I have three groupings of highs.😉 I found it hard to contain myself as it was a very uplifting experience for me.


  • I continue to be filled wIth the feelings of relaxed peace and warmth from Monday's meditation with Joan and the resulting puppy pile. Holding the imagery of being a spoke of a wheel/a ray of sunshine radiating out from the center where our heads together in a circle formed the sun brings energy coursing through me and warms my heart deeply. Feeling the innocent joy and ease of the puppy pile is my new happy thought!
  • The complete experience of this magical oasis called The Present Retreat where love, acceptance, trust, truth, warmth, freedom, expansion (growth) and compassionate caring is present in abundance is a big high for me.  It was thrilling to be new, feeling so welcomed & safe, meeting everyone and putting faces to the names I have heard Pat speak of so endearingly. Getting to witness the Joan magic. 
  • It was uplifting for me to observe the transition in both Kyle and Jayden from Friday when they both appeared to me as withdrawn, guarded and heavily ladened, to Monday when I experienced them as significantly lighter, more engaging and open.


  • Kendra going to hospital.
  • Feeling disquieted by seeing Barbara's distress over not being able to find Kathy.
  • Missing silence at the lake and meditation due to my need for sleep versus an early start to the day.
I am very grateful for the experience, thank you to all.

Take care and be well.
Much love, XXX-

With an approaching storm and challenges, it is important to me to remember positive connections and experiences. 
Vicki’s Three Highs:
1)      GAMES !! Musical Chairs – 3rd place
2)      Being able to silently connect the dots in my life; while I watched and listened to others vulnerably speak and share their truths.  
3)      Connecting with others, being Seen, Heard, appreciated and maybe loved; starting new friendships! I LOVED losing myself at The Present Retreat!
Vicki’s Three Lows:
1)      I would have liked to dance more. I need / want more dance, fun, play, and connection in my life!
2)      The intense anxiety and fear I felt and struggled through prior to arriving at the retreat location.
Be safe, love, and peace to all; Namaste,


Good morning from stormy Jupiter! To everyone in Florida - will be thinking of you and wishing you a very safe couple of days. All my relatives except for one family left Key West and I am on pins and needles waiting for the eye of the storm to pass through there. I still have power and internet so now is the time to write this. Overall, I didn't know what to expect from the retreat but I am so happy and fortunate to have participated. All of you are wonderful! Loved watching people transform, the children show their innocence and playfulness, and everyone treating each other as equals and with respect and love.


Connections: Everyone was so open, vulnerable and genuine. I have lacked connections in my life for awhile and I was overwhelmed at how easy it was to connect with people. Some of those connections will be ongoing (you know who you are!) and I am so happy about that. Also, the opportunity to ask for help and how easily whoever was asked, gave. For someone who never "asks" and always "gives" this really came in handy with Hurricane Irma - I reached out and asked for help and received so much help to make sure my home was boarded up safely. 

Balance: The first 24 hours was very emotional and painful. Listening to those who shared at theme groups, process groups and individually, my heart was breaking. (Yes, this was a high) Yet, thanks to those who did share - pain, hurt and anger that I didn't even know I had, came to the surface. The counter balance to this was the joy and laughter that came out of games, conversations, dance, pool and talent show. I haven't laughed so much in years. Even when our suite mates kept getting locked out of the bathroom!

Serenity: I really enjoyed the massage and the meditation in the morning - felt awesome! Also, walking around "Jurassic" lake......


1 - Commencement was a bit long and we ran out of time to say goodbye and it felt rushed.

2- People getting hurt and sick (there were a few!)

3 - That the weekend ended!

Hope to see you all again - next year. 


Hello all, hope you made it safely through Irma and have power restored (literally and figuratively speaking). My house and car suffered no damage but I am still without power. Because I am special (you all told me so!), I am the only house on the block still affected. Have fans running off an extension cord from neighbor’s house so it’s tolerable now.

My highs and lows — probably a little muddled because of lack of sleep (that’s my story and I’m sticking with it):

1. Getting to see people from last year’s retreat and meeting new friends. It’s amazing what bonds can be formed in such a short time.
2. Talent show — loved everyone’s performances and also realized that I was okay with stumbling through my own. A year ago, I would have been mortified but this time it was just fun.
3. Busting a gut watching Zach (“I don’t dance”) floating around the room in a “Frozen” costume . . . 

1. It was physically difficult or impossible for me to participate in some things. That was a bummer, but sure did appreciate everyone helping me out at every turn. Keenie’s massage relieved a ton of pain as well. 

2. As much as I love games, I would have preferred some of that time be used for additional small groups or other types of more serious sharing. Also, maybe one small group session with people not in your core process group would be good, enabling us to better know everyone.

3. Like others, felt rushed at the end to do the car wash, without enough time to say proper goodbyes. 

One final note (writers also go on longer than they should): At some point during Arienne’s yarn exercise, I took my piece and wrapped it around one of my crutches. Totally forgot it was there and then spotted it in Publix the next day. I decided to keep it tied on so that when I am at the end of my rope, I can hold on a little longer by enjoying memories of our weekend.
Peace, love, and COOL breezes to all,

Dear Present Family,

Now that hurricane Irma and its aftermath has passed, I've run out of excuses for my procrastination. Below are my highs and lows:

1- Connecting with Arienne and Marilyn in the pool. 
2- Hearing the children expressing themselves and participating in the retreat.
3- Holding Pat as a baby. Being held by Pat as a baby. 
4- Preparing and performing the Dance activity with Daniel and as a result being able to laugh at myself with Daniel, Joan and others about my borderline OCD... 34 songs!!!

1- Limited healthy food choices 
2- Rushing through the last part of the retreat.
3- Saying goodbye :-(

Joan and team: Thank you such an enriching retreat. 

Present family: Hope you are all well. Thank you for opening up and sharing. For trusting and being vulnerable.

Until next year!

Xoxo Robin 


1. Snuggling with Edna at Monday's meditation. Our time together was SO SPECIAL to me.  I could literally feel her heart beating in unison with mine as we embraced and rocked.  She whispered in my ear during the car wash "you're fun to snuggle with".    Also at Monday's meditation- seeing Kyle come to participate and snuggling with him.  It made me happy.  I was also super happy to see Jayden go thru the car wash 3 times.

2.  My lowest vulnerable moments were also my highest moments during the retreat.  I literally let go of several "things, issues, beliefs" that i have carried for years if not my whole life.  Even though the emotions did not feel good at the time- I was elated that I allowed myself to be so incredibly vulnerable in order to release them.  It is because of ALL OF YOU that I was able to do that.  Thanks to each and everyone one of you for your beautiful support.

3.  Receiving the bracelets from all the men in the group and the yarn from Arienne at the dance.  When I look at my yarn bracelet I'm absolutely reminded that "I have everything I need" and I'll will cherish it for many years to come.  The bracelets from the men mean the world to me and all the kind words that were spoken to me when receiving them will not be forgotten.  I can't thank all of you enough for your loving support.  It took me a couple of days before I would even consider taking any of the bracelets off.


1.  When Jeff did not make any attempt to give me a mentors bracelet after being instructed repeatedly to do so.  Everyone obviously saw my reaction to that.  It was definitely my lowest moment.

2.  My father had a stroke about 12 hours after I left the retreat.  I was literally in the hospital in "emergency mode" almost immediately.   The stroke was a mild one but his test results are showing something wrong with his brain (not sure what yet)  and his heart is not functioning properly.  He's out of the hospital now but all this is still ongoing.  My mother was in the hospital the entire time I was at the retreat as well.  She is randomly blacking out and falling unconscious and the doctor's are trying to figure out why.  This is still a situation in process as well. 

3.  Finding out a major hurricane was headed our way within an hour of leaving the retreat.  A lot of important decisions had to be made quickly in response to hurricane Irma.  I wanted to linger in my calm, connected, zen like state longer than I was able to. 

Thank you so much Joan and Vicki for the slideshow and music playlist.  I'll cherish both all year!

Much Love to Everyone,


From Trish:

After a hectic week with the storm (came out very blessed), things are beginning to quiet down a bit.  I've had a bit of time to reflect on my highs and lows.  It seems like a distant memory with all that has happened in the last week, but here goes:

3 Highs:

1.  Watching my son go through the car was with his eyes closed and listening to what others were saying was so heart-warming.  My tears were just a glimpse of the joy I felt in watching him get into the process -- especially since every time I touch him gently, he tells me "That tickles" and pulls away -- watching him gave me lots of hope.

2.  I loved our small group time.  I love the opportunity to support others in their journey and watch light bulbs go off.  It's always a pleasure being in group with Vicky and hearing her insights, too.  Barbara's gentle manner is so welcoming, comforting and safe. I felt connected as I processed how I felt after my large group exercise (about parenting Jayden), too, and the group helped me feel safe around that experience.

3.  Connection with others!  I started listing names, and I know I'll forget someone - so just know if we had a one-on one connection, it was meaningful to me.  I missed some of you as our paths really didn't cross too mcuh (and that could possibly be listed as a low). This year felt so different for me...probably because I felt relaxed and calmer this time.  I'm able to see others, feel others, and be with others without intimidation and's because this group is so safe.  Thanks everyone for making the atmosphere feel so safe.

3 lows:

1. The late ending prevented a formal goodbye.  It was hard for me to realize that people "just diappeared".  Even in cleaning up, it felt rushed.  (I did LOVE the modified schedule where we ended the evening a bit earlier).

2.  I missed the meditations.  It just worked out that way since my son was up late, he was sleeping in so I went with it.  I wasn't sure how he'd do with a meditation, so in order not to bother others I didn't attempt it.  

3.  I felt infomplete with the child's program.  On site, a connection with Lee was diverted - I felt purposely.  I got a report that he was working, he was focused, and he did well.  That was the extent of all of our conversations.  We connected briefly on the phone just before the storm, but I'm still hoping to connect this week about his work. However, in our last conversation, I got the impression that she would most likely need that debriefing to happen through a session. I would love to know her observations, and her perceptions. It's hard to stay out of my head about this - lots of spinning going on.

Jayden's highs:

1.  the pool
2.  the food
3.  We got to play games

Jayden's lows:

1. Getting to share a wonderful new experience of deepening connection with Corrie and Sandy while bonding with such a loving, open, and earnest group of new people.
2. The Affirmation/Compassion Circle exercise during the Women's Group on Saturday night. I was exhausted and didn't know how I was going to make it through the Talent Show that evening...but this gentle, meditative, nurturing experience produced a feeling of deep spiritual communion as well as significant physical and emotional restoration. 
3. Getting to deliver my Credo (poem) during the Talent Show. This is always a powerful and rewarding experience for me, and was especially so with you all because I had been able to share some of the life challenges that lay behind it. Deep thanks to those who came forward afterward to share their appreciation. A few of you asked for copies so I have included the text directly below.

1. Feeling so unwell on Sunday evening that I missed the Partner Dance and all the fun socialization that went on afterward.
2. The scary, unpleasant, and escalating allergic reaction that necessitated the unfortunate emergency room visit. 
3. Physical sensitivity, exhaustion, and anxiety about the visit with my brother that made it difficult to relax even after I began to get comfortable with all of you. The visit went well--mostly focused on helping him prepare for the hurricane and his evacuation; everything was warm and cordial. Flying back to NJ on Thursday before the hurricane felt like a gift from God...sending thoughts and prayers for those of you still without power...and all those who have suffered storm losses. 

<3 Kendra

Hello everyone!  

My highs and lows aren't something I can bulletpoint so easily. The highs were the safety and connections I felt and witnessed; I would have to tell you all these little details like the look on someone's face when they took a big emotional risk and were received with love... but at that rate I would need a 4 day instant replay transcript.  For me personally, a difficult phone call on Sunday evening came when I was in bed - which was a real personal low that led to a long-overdue realizaton. That realization was my high and it has been a part of me since.

It is a crazy feeling that I still feel so connected to the group.  Of course, right after we left, I went into  Hurricane mode because I had to take care of  three houses for family.  And once life resumed, I have now been in packing and moving mode while working full-time.  That was also high and a low, being on the emotional marathon from the weekend and  running  another emotional marathon.


Hi Everyone Keenie here,

Hope you all are well.  Here are my highs and lows.

Drumming with Nancy at the dance
Watching Song interact with friends, she is growing up!   Fast.
Giving Song, Edna and Jaden mini massages
Having support from other massage therapists,
  more appointments available for everyone, and a break for me 😁

Hearing about the few interesting moments during the weekend due to      massage appointments,
Missing the second half of the talent show
Messing up a pre-scheduled massage, apologies again. ❤️

Thank you,


1 - Meeting and connecting to new, courageous and loving people (see also High #3).  The aforementioned bravery in sharing from you all was instrumental in allowing my mother (Sandy) and I to break through some of our cracks to be vulnerable and talk about some difficult issues/feelings.  

2 - Enjoying a deeper connection to those in my small group.  Thanks all for allowing me to process and own those parts of me that I'm currently uncomfortable with and thank you Barbara for your wisdom and guidance during our small group sessions.

3 - Connecting with people within the safety of the games which I enjoyed tremendously.  This narrowly beat out my first Uber ride coming back from hospital with Kendra and my MacGyver paperclip move on the locked bathroom doors (the master key would not unlock it) between our room and Sandy and Asta's.


1 - Missing morning meditations sessions due to physical exhaustion.

2 - Incomplete car wash in late closing ceremony.  Mental and emotional distraction -- due to the arrival of our ride (Kendra's brother Brendan!) for departure -- during the ceremony.

3 - Feeling disconnected from the group, post retreat, by temporarily missing this email thread due to a missing character in my email address.   ;-(  I'm sensitive to being overlooked - middle child syndrome.

Lastly, anyone who would like to Facebook me is more than welcome to look me up.  Don't know if that is frowned upon or not.  Not all last names are included in email list.



1. It was extremely difficult listening to everyone's personal stories on Friday night and then having to go through the process of eye gazing. Although the process was very difficult for me, I appreciated going through this process because after eye gazing I felt connected to everyone and I was able to look everyone in their eyes which I have not been able to do for as long as I can remember. 

2. Watching Kyle and Zach open up as the retreat went along. Watching them become more welcoming and open to others was very inspirational to me. 

3. Coming to the realization that there are some good people out in the world who actually care about others well being and who might even come to care about me and want to be friends with me. Thank you Joan for inviting me and providing me with the opportunity to grow and learn while also connecting with great people and making new friendships. 


1. After connecting with people and feeling safe during the retreat I received a text from my wife on Sunday which totally took me out of my space and I felt disconnected in an instant. However, Joan forced me to come back to the group and reconnect. It was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do but I learned how to get back into my space and reconnect which is something I will never forget. Again, thank you Joan for the gift of a life time and teaching me that I don't have to do things by myself and that people do want to help me. 

2. The end of the retreat. I really wish it would have lasted longer and that I had more time to learn. 

3. I enjoyed the time we spent in our small break out groups and therefore, I would have liked to invest more time doing so. Although, I don't know what I would have cut out instead because I enjoyed the entire retreat. 

I am a Late sleeper since we retired in June. 9:00/10:00/11:00 am. So my body and brain were in shock waking up 6/6:30 am to get ready for the busy days.

Yes getting lost was embarrassing for sure. Talked to Barbara about it. That day was confusing in knowing where to go! So I saw the one group and followed them. There was no list or note about where groups were being held...My brain was overloaded and not to speed. I feel bad I did not go with original group. Brain fart! But I did share my story about my dad's death when I was 11, my mom had 6 kids! All the 3 boys and oldest sister went to college. It was a hard time for me!
Btw I did not get lost driving back to Jupiter tho!!!! Yaaaaay! It was nice to drive listening to good music!  Then the hurricane Irma came and stressed everyone out! We did ok tho!
Saying good bye was a low, as I enjoyed meeting you all and had to say goodbye.


Having Adrianne for my room-mate was the best person ever! I thought I was getting a single room, but when we bonded I knew it was meant to be. We had so many things in common, unreal!

Everyone made me feel young and happy! I felt like a mom also at times, when it was needed, I hope.

I grew a lot from the experience. My little girl inside had a ball playing with you all!