Today, October 30th 2021, marks the one year anniversary of the divorce from my 20-year long marriage. So much has changed in the past 365 days, culminating with my official name change to Andrea Blythe just yesterday. One day shy of this anniversary that I never thought I’d be celebrating. But here I am. Like a butterfly emerging from her dark cocoon, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, like an eagle spreading its majestic wings and soaring. Here I am, feeling the full power of my name which means Strong Spirit. Here I am, rested and ready to begin what’s next. My mom said it best “For the second time in your life, let me say welcome to the world Andrea Blythe!” Yes indeed. Today marks day one in my rebirth story, and with an overflowing grateful heart, today I want to write about the women who have been the wind beneath my wings throughout it all: Vybrant Star Pixies, this is a love letter to you. Through ceremony, food, laughter, music and love, you have helped me craft a new vision for my new life. You ARE and always have been my soul sisters, the wind beneath my wings.
Ceremony, music, laughter and signs
I was 10 years old when I met Sari, and 22 when I met Sarah and Misty. The roads of life brought us together, then we drifted in different directions, yet we always stayed connected. Three years ago we went on our first friendship retreat together, to Whidbey Island, Washington. It was at that retreat that I first admitted that my marriage was first on shaky ground. We did yoga together, danced, watched the sunset, explored the Earth Sanctuary and of course ate so much cheese. Solid as a Rock was one of the songs that the girls chose for our playlist that year, because at one point we were literally all standing on a solid rock at the Earth Sanctuary and we broke out in song. Like all of our playlists, the songs we select when we’re together emerge organically and later serve as a reminder of our time together. The following year, the divorce was in full swing and coming to a close. We went to McCall, Idaho and surrounded ourselves in the trees, next to the river. We danced in the rain, cleansed our souls with sage, pampered ourselves at the Shore Lodge Spa, laughed and cried, and of course ate so much cheese. The songs on that year’s playlist included I Love a Rainy Night, Venus, Back to Avalon, To All the Girls I’ve Loved before (featuring Julio Iglesias). Called the Shamallama playlist, it’s one of my all-time faves. This October we went to Lincoln City, Oregon where we bathed in the sunlight and soothed ourselves to the crash of the waves. We sought answers to our burning questions and looked for signs from the other side everywhere…and we found them. If you’re wondering if we ate too much cheese, the answer is still yes. Signs, of course, is the first song on our playlist which is appropriately entitled We Are the Vybrant Star Pixies. And yes, Wind Beneath my Wings is also on that playlist along with Let it Go, Sexual Healing and God Rests in Reason. Next year, we are Sante Fe bound.
I’m giving you a brief glimpse into my annual retreats with these women because the power of their friendship and the ceremony that we organically create each year has been my saving grace. Although we don’t live in the same town anymore, we make time to come together every fall for 5 incredible days. These friendship retreats have been a lighthouse in the shitstorm of my life these past few years and it’s because of these retreats that I have come to realize that my next step forward in life is to create and lead retreats for the Let Love Rise community. There are too many women who don’t have the time, energy or mental space to curate such an event. So that’s what I would like to do with this next chapter of my life; I want to create a community for women to connect with themselves and with other women who are on a spiritual journey of self discovery through retreats that will include ceremony, music, journaling, relaxing and of course cheese (vegan and dairy free options available 😉 I’ve been thinking of this idea for a while and have been overwhelmed by Life so I took a step back to catch my breath. While in Lincoln City we had a tarot card reading, and my take away message was to get back to the basics. For me, that means it’s time to return to my writing and to continue taking classes on leading retreats through Wanderlust Entrepreneur. I have a goal to share all the details about the inaugural Let Love Rise Retreat by the end of the year. So stay tuned, and please share this website or my Let Love Rise Instagram with anyone you think might benefit from the healing community that’s being created here.
If there was one sign that was for me while in Lincoln City, it was wings. This year’s retreat came just a few days after I attended the funeral services for Calvin, and the blue butterfly wings are my connection to him. The Seagull is my spirit bird (thank you mom for introducing me to Jonathan Livingston Seagull during my childhood), and they were numerous throughout our stay on the ocean. But the one moment that took my breath away was while standing on the deck with Sarah, looking out over the water after having just rehearsed our performance for later in the evening (I digress). Suddenly, on our left, we saw expansive wings flying overhead. It was a bald eagle. It flew right above us on our deck, and we just stood there in complete awe. I have seen a few bald eagles in my life, but never this intimately. Talk about WINGS! A few days later, we went to the art collective and I was touched by the mixed media work of an artist named Michele Windsley and I purchased this piece of work of hers which says “use your wings”. I call her Rita, a reminder of my divine feminine guide of the retreat, and I have her hanging where I see her and heed her message everyday. As for the performance that Sarah and I gave later that evening? Let’s just say that the culmination was an interpretive dance and lip sync to Bette Midler’s iconic song, Wind Beneath my Wings. On the final day of our stay, we watched Beaches and wept for good friends and laughter and music and love and loss. Then we watched Magic Mike. But again, I digress.
Wind Beneath my WingsOh and I can fly higher than an eagle because you are the wind beneath my wings.
You let me fly so high
So high I almost touched the sky
Thank you, thank you, thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings. ~Bette Midler
Every year when we gather, we come together with a theme and a general idea about the places we’d like to go and the things we’d like to experience, but we leave lots of room for the unexpected. I think that’s a good way to live life too–have a general direction of where you’re headed, but leave space for the unknown. If life has taught me anything in these past three years, it’s that I am not in control of what comes my way, but I am responsible for how I choose to respond to the challenges and the Forks in the Road. When I take the time to tune in to myself and care for my needs, I am able to respond with love and integrity. There are about 50 items on my to do list today, but writing this post made the top of that list because my soul knew that it needed to release some gratitude for the people who have loved and cared for me in my first year as a single woman (again). That list extends far beyond the Vybrant Star Pixies– I am truly grateful to everyone that has breathed some wind beneath my torn and tattered wings. The good news is that my wings have been restored and they are ready to soar. And what’s more, you are invited to soar with me. I hope you will. More to come on my inaugural retreat. In the meantime, Let Love Rise within you. And if you haven’t listened to the title song of this post in a while, crank it up. Who comes to mind? Have you told them lately what they mean to you? There’s no time like today. You can give a shout out in the comments below or let them know in your own unique way. And it doesn’t matter if they are walking this earth or have crossed over; the universe speaks the language of love and gratitude. And I hope you’ll speak a little bit into someone’s life today. Namaste.