Vulnerability + love = JOY

Hello lovely blog readers,

I hope your week is going well. I have been down with a bad cold but I’m on the mend. All that time in bed, let me truly reflect on all that has happened in the past month.

Many of you know, I had an Art Retreat on Bainbridge Island about four weeks ago – the Intuitive Muse Retreat.


goodie bags for the students

Where we focused on trusting our creative instincts and quieting the critical mind. We set intentions, journaled and made A LOT of Art! It was an amazing experience and a great honor to teach on this magical island – a place I had been two times prior but as a student! The women that joined me were incredible souls, all beautifully open and excited to delve into learning more.  (Little did I know, just how much I would learn along the way.)

So let me share with you a little about the journey…

Robin and I were lucky enough to stay in a sweet spot just a few steps away from the farm. It was the perfect place to center myself for the teaching that lay ahead and with a view of Seattle like this…well…it was beyond gorgeous and did much to soothe my anxious mind.



The days leading up to the retreat were spent drinking tea and practicing my lessons with Robin. She was so kind and patient, listening to me go over things a thousand times! LOL.


That’s the funny thing about what I do – it kind of terrifies me! I actually get very nervous when having to speak in front of a crowd. Online, in front of the camera, it is somehow easier but sitting in a room with a many sets of eyes on me – oh boy – it makes my hands shake and my nose sweat. (Yes, my nose sweats when I’m nervous, it’s very attractive – I assure you.) 😜

I knew that the hardest part would be the first night. The introductions. The part where I have to talk about myself.  I knew that if I could make connections, I would soon relax. I wanted to get to THAT place as quickly as possible but as time would have it, I needed to experience each stage as it came. There was no fast forward button on this gig.

That first night, we gathered at the ranch house for the welcome dinner.  I was greeted with beautiful, warm hugs and even a few excited tears. It humbles me each and every time I meet a student “in real life”. The connection I feel for them and them to me is a true thing. What a gift to receive. It amazes me to this day, how powerful the internet is and how very real the connections can be. Invisible heart strings that somehow manage to go through the computer screen. Magic indeed.

When it came time to sit in a circle and do our introductions, the ladies did the rounds first and I listened intently,  shaky hands folded in my lap. Each woman lit a single candle to represent her presence and placed it gingerly on a beautiful old artist’s palette – a treasure from Serena’s family. It was a sacred thing to behold.


image by Serena Berry

I was stunned at the similarities of our stories. Before me, was a group of 10 women from all different backgrounds, all different ages and family situations but the common thread was apparent. We were all seekers. We had lived a life seeking out our creativity, searching for our joy and the connection to our soul. We had all jumped through careers, or passions – each coming in with force and usually fizzling out until we followed the next pull. The next insatiable curiosity. Photography, crafts, scrapbooking, cooking, gardening and even creating skin creams! We had all jumped through multiple phases on our journey towards Art. The fact is, Art is seeking. It becomes the vehicle of expression to discover the deeper layers, the hidden parts, the shadowy darkness and the shining light we all carry within us. So, while on the outside we had our differences, really, we were of one mind. One heart, hungry for more.

This helped ease me a bit as I felt the circle close. The bonds forming already – in a matter of minutes! But, my hands and slightly glistening nose gave away my nerves as I began to share myself with the group. I hoped they wouldn’t notice but I know they did. I hoped it wouldn’t matter or make me look unprofessional. I hoped, with all my heart, that I would be accepted. And there it was – Ahh – hello VULNERABILITY!


This is where I was. Where I had to be. Exposed and vulnerable, yet doing what I wanted to do so very badly. Connecting and guiding and teaching. So with a deep breath, I accepted the uncomfortableness of it and just spoke my truth, trembling hands and all. I don’t know everything that I said but I knew when I had finished that I was safe. These women made me feel so and I was grateful.

The rest of the blissful days glided by full of hard work and wonderful art! The women battled it out with their inner critics, we laughed and shared stories and helped each other solve problems in our compositions. I was at ease, in my role, soaking up the precious time I got to spend with each student. Carefully listening and helping to guide them through projects they could enjoy and learn from.


They created pieces that pushed them out of their comfort zones, slipping into the unknown, the fear – where the good stuff starts to emerge. Where the left brain retreats and our intuition begins to lead us. The sweet spot. The flow state. I could tell from the class when people were going through it, they worked intently in silence, not pausing to judge or worry. Just moving. Creating. It is one of the most joyous things to witness as a teacher.



Art time was interspersed with walks among the mystical places on the island,  like the Labyrinth where we silently followed the stones that wound us gradually to the center. And we all enjoyed the special Buddhist Bell that rings out after you have spun it just enough times while focusing on your truest wish and intention.



Looking back on this magical weekend, I am so filled with gratitude for the opportunity. The chance to not only encourage others to trust themselves but a chance to step into my truest self as well. Each time I teach in person, I feel myself grow. Each time it gets less scary and every time I walk away knowing that this is what I am meant to do. It is where my JOY lives. If it means I have to push up against the vulnerability then so be it – I’m up for the challenge! 😉


A big thank you to our warm and gracious hostess, Serena Berry, who was nothing short of perfect – spoiling us with delicious food and ensuring everyone was comfortable. You made the retreat truly lovely and relaxing for our guests and for me too!

Thank you to the amazing women who attended! You each taught me something and inspired me with your open hearts and creative spirit. It was such a joy and honor to spend the weekend with you! I’ll cherish the memories of this special time, always.


Much love to you all!









Filed under Art friends, art retreat, creativity, Learning, Love, mixed media, nature, News, Student Work, teaching, Thoughts, Travel, workshop

10 responses to “Vulnerability + love = JOY

  1. teresacash

    Thank You, Ivy, for sharing your story and your vulnerability with us.

  2. Didi Arias

    Beautiful blog story, Ivy. I felt like I was there, creating with you all. Thank you for this.

  3. Thank you Ivy for sharing yourself and your story with us all. It is appreciated and beautiful. One day I hope to attend one of your retreats too. xo

  4. Carol Collier

    What a wonderful experience!! What a great job you have! And you rose to the occasion and sailed on……what an inspiration to everyone!

  5. Glynda DeVore

    Ivy, you’re such an inspiring person. You definitely have the gift of giving, which, I think makes you a wonderful teacher. I’m so excited looking forward to May “Outlander” . Yippee

  6. Carolyn Eitel

    Ivy, I have found that the most “professional” teachers are willing to go to that space of vulnerability. It creates a safe space for the students to open up. Thank you for your sweet heart and the caring soul. The first time I heard your voice, I knew that here was a teacher that cared deeply about her students. I look forward to the time that I can take an in person class with you.

  7. vwdjeweler

    It was so nice to hear about your experiences at your art retreat! I’ve been to Bainbridge Island and would have dearly loved to have been there, partly because it is beautiful but also because it would have been great to meet you and make art with you.
    Who would have guessed you feel scared and vulnerable?! Thanks for being honest and sharing that. I was just watching you on a classroom video today and marveling at how together you were; so very polished but also so willing to take your students along with you as you explore and maybe even screw up!
    Some of us begin to think we are the only ones who are nervous and anxious in new situations with new people! It meant a lot that you shared your sweaty nose and shaking hands! I’m glad you are honest and authentic. It just makes me like you even more. I’m so glad I’ve discovered you and your classes ( and your friend, Robin!) I hope someday our actual paths will cross.

  8. I taught sculpting all over the world and was always amazed how my students had already linked in with who I was just by looking at photos of my work, so know how you felt. My students never ceased to amaze me with what they took in and put into practice in the class. I am now a spiritual counsellor and healer and always say I sculp people not art dolls now. Lol. Keep on giving us your inspiration and your honesty for that is how true artists connect with each other and their audience. You have a special gift of beauty together with soul connection to share with people, so never doubt yourself and what you produce, in yourself, or others.

  9. Angela Stevens

    I love this–so inspiring. It really spoke to me. I knew I want to join next year when I got to “we were all seekers”. Your writing is as lovely as your art. I’ll keep looking to you for inspiration :-) Thank you,

  10. This really inspires me. I love how honest you are about your art and teaching journey. Thank you for writing about your experience and for inspiring us so often.

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