I’ve been to several Happy Startup School events over the past few years – Week of Nothing (a retreat where 15 of us literally “did nothing” for a week and by doing nothing, we gained something) and of course the famous Summer Camp (where 150 entrepreneurs silently rave their way through their business journey with other like minded souls, singing around camp fires and jumping in lakes).
So, I thought I knew what to expect, when last week I spent 7 days in the French Alps, with the Happy Startup School and 17 other entrepreneurs.
And I was kinda right… and some stuff, I just didn’t see coming.
I knew I’d meet some incredible and inspiring entrepreneurs, who make me feel like I really need to grow up and be “more boss” like them. I knew I’d come away feeling inspired, full of ideas and ready for action – and I did.
I knew I’d make some deep friendships and create both memories and friends for life – and I did.
I also knew I’d come home in a daze, needing time and space to land what I experienced – and I did.
But what I didn’t know was that:
I’d have the safe space from the minute I arrived, to fully be myself. I made a commitment that what I was seeking was “self – expression” and “intimacy” and I truly owned that space for myself, because everything just felt right.
“Self- expression” in being vulnerable, sharing my story and my fears of being too much and yet also not enough. I wasn’t going to censor myself in the way I normally do… so I didn’t. I spoke freely and truly, and it felt liberating. I added humour so others could join me, and in doing so I made people laugh! Win:win.
“Self – expression” in what I wear, owning my body and being in it, Whether that be prancing around in a bikini and mistaking the Alps for Cannes, taking opportunities for Yoga practice and teaching it, whenever the mood takes me, an impromptu night of teaching Salsa and letting it all go on the dance floor – I felt fully embodied and wasn’t afraid to express that.
“Intimacy” with myself. Spending time alone, in silence, in contemplation, getting to find another layer of myself that had not yet been discovered.
“Intimacy” with nature and my environment. Losing myself in watching the veins of water pouring down the mountain side through raveens, canyons and waterfalls, and letting go of some of the pain and destructive thoughts /disorders I occupied until now, as they too rushed with force, away from me, over the cliff edges to create rainbow adorned waterfalls.
“Intimacy” with others. Whether that be through deep and nourishing conversations, through being present in the collective listening to music and song, or in the just noticing when someone needed that hug, squeeze on the shoulder or knowing look – I was available to give it all and open to receive.
“Intimacy” with the world. I watched the sun rise on my left – the day being birthed as I sat watching from the top of a mountain. And to the right of me, the snowy peaks of Mnt Blanc.
I also did not know that I would push my limits when it comes to being risk adverse – in an adventurous sense. Like a total fish out of water, I needed FOMO and some gentle peer pressure to get me where I needed to be. So I did not know I’d go white water rafting, hanging onto the side of a dinghy as it veered it’s way, twisting and turning through speeds of water I’d never experienced before. Despite feeling the fear, I did it anyway. And loved it!
didn’t know that staying in a refuge for the night, after a full days hike up the mountain, would literally make me feel on top of the world. And I did not know I could allow myself to admit to a beauty I occupy, when doing yoga, alone, on the mountain side, whilst listening to a talented human, play the flute. That was real beauty and for the first time in my life, I felt beautiful.
I did not know that when some treasured gifts were given to me at previous HSS events, both at WoN and Summer Camp, I would get to pay them forward at Alptitude23 and leave those who received them, in the state of being seen and loved, in the same way I had before them.
I didn’t know my book idea would allow people to be so honest and open with me and themselves. I’ve become the custodian of some full truths that some had never heard themselves say out loud. How privileged I feel for that, and what greater sign for me that my “big” book needs to be birthed.
Of course, there was also plenty of drunken, dancing, hot tub, thunder storm, and sock related capers, that made us belly laugh until it hurt. And they too are memories that will last a life time.
But my world will never quite be the same again now after #alptitude23. I’ve got to find a place for all this new “me-ness”, and put it into good action, so that the legacy everyone left with me of our 7 days together, lives on forever.