One of our adventurous retreat goers last month arrived early for breakfast to thank me for creating a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for she and her partner at Arctic Hive.
Without skipping a beat, I humbly replied “You’re so welcome,” as I’ve been taught to do... I smiled graciously, as I’ve always done.
But then she went on, trying to put into words how deeply this place has touched her, and I watched tears well up in her eyes. Just then, something clicked in my head.
I remembered how the week earlier, another retreat guest had walked up to her cabin every afternoon for four days straight and exclaimed, out loud, “Today was the BEST day!”
And I remembered another retreat guest shared how he stayed back from an excursion to meditate on the deck of the Igloo, and felt as if he could hear the mountains speaking to him as he meditated and memorized the outline of one peak at a time.
I realized that we hadn’t just given our guests a “good time up north.”
We facilitated access to a sacred space to heal.
How do I know for sure? Because Sean and I have felt it, too. Healing is the foundation upon which our retreat center was built — which didn’t really dawn on me till that moment.
When the COVID lockdown happened last March, Sean and I were thrown together in the same space for an undetermined amount of time, and all our plans to bring people to the Arctic that month were cancelled. All that time together was something we hadn’t experienced in years, given the haphazard schedule we’d been maintaining for work.
So even though it was uncomfortable at first, we took that opportunity to re-imagine Arctic Hive, build our dream retreat center, and build up our relationship that had suffered some wear and tear from our intense entrepreneurial lifestyle.
This sacred ground — which we were so lucky to purchase from an Alaskan Native family as some of the last available land in the entire Brooks Range — helped us relearn each other. It helped us learn more about ourselves. It helped us create a shared vision for our future.
In short, Arctic Hive changed our lives, and our marriage.
And incredulously, in that moment standing in the kitchen, hearing this woman’s words, I realized that healing capacity of Mother Nature wasn’t exclusively for Sean and I. That side effect of eye-opening self-discovery after spending time here, so close to the earth, is available to everyone... anyone who’s willing to show up, sit in quiet and listen to the heartbeat of Mother Nature — 270+ miles away from the nearest shopping center, town, and reliable internet.
Here, we can hear Her feedback and wisdom. We can integrate Her teachings slowly, and steadily into our own lives. This is the way we were meant to be — one with Her, and thus one with all. Everything — and everyone — is interconnected.
Sure, these retreats are filled with adventure, yoga, laughter, good food among good company (you'll see a photo recap, below!). But I now understand on a deep level that this land, so far from the hustle and bustle and yet in the middle of one of the most delicate ecosystems in the world... the Arctic... it’s here to jumpstart healing. Not just for us, as stewards of this property and visitors to Arctic Hive. But healing for humanity — and Mother Earth herself.
I always tell folks that environmentally-speaking, what happens in the Arctic should be the concern of everyone, everywhere. It’s ground zero for climate change — which isn’t even debatable anymore. The changes happening here trickle into everyone’s life, no matter where you live around the globe.
And now I know it can also be ground zero for reestablishing that connection with Source so that we might tread a little lighter on Her soil. So that we may be more conscious in our connections with others. So that we may live a more spiritually-sound life.
With that, I’m honored to open up dates for our Fall 2021 retreats, as well as Winter 2022. We also have just one more spot open at our women’s 200-hour YTT happening in September. I hope if you’ve been thinking about it, you are able to join us — and if the timing isn’t right, we’re not going anywhere. We’ll be here in the Arctic when you’re ready! (Enjoy the photo recap, below!)
Here are some highlights of what's coming up:
PS - Enjoy the photo recap!
First, we left Fairbanks (the nearest town to Arctic Hive) and drove 7+ hours on the famed Dalton Highway. The views are... epic:
We crossed the Arctic Circle...
We yoga'ed in the Igloo with incredible views of the Brooks Range!
All abilities are always welcome at yoga... from yoga teachers to first time yogis! Some folks took a day or two off to just enjoy nature. Everything is optional, with just the right amount of programming to keep you comfortable and having fun!
We went dogsledding all over the arctic landscape, even (shown here) on the Koyukuk River!
Guests brought their cross country skis to enjoy the scenery during our downtime...
Dinners in the Igloo were one of my personal favorite times of the day... afterward we'd share stories, play games, make malas and enjoy time by the fire before the northern lights would come out!
and come out, they did!
Bonfire under a full moon...
And our Arctic Safari road trip north for a day was incredible... we saw hundreds of Caribou from the Central Arctic herd and had high hopes of also seeing a Muskox. This photo with the full Brooks Range Panorama in the distance looks like a moon landing, doesn't it?
And what I’m about to share has been one of those things I’ve been holding close.
Seven years ago, my dad, Steve — a 65-year-old Green Bay Packer loving attorney with a knack for cribbage, who was devoted to the happiness of his wife and two kids, who had built his entire life in a marvelous small town in central Wisconsin — was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. One of the brightest minds we knew had decided to make its excruciatingly slow exit from this reality. The diagnosis left my mom, my brother and I scratching our heads. Why him? Why now? It’s one of those life changes you can do nothing to prepare for... and you can do nothing to change.
It just... is.
My teenage fascination with the movie, “The Notebook” has been constantly on my mind as I’ve watched my mom navigate what I can only imagine is a prolonged traumatic love story. An unraveling. A re-writing of a future she never imagined she’d be living when she married my father over 35 years ago. And although I can watch that play out, a love story isn’t mine to write.
So why bring up Dad’s story at all?
I guess I feel like there have been enough silver linings, love-filled moments, and learning lessons that dad would approve of other folks learning from our experience now... or specifically from his experience — his world, and all of us living in it.
His condition is not a secret anymore like we initially felt it needed to be. We moved Dad into a local nursing home last week, so now there’s no turning back. Even though it’s been that way from the start... today feels more concrete. More certain.
And as hard as it is to adjust to my own perception of the situation, Dad is seemingly settling in with ease. And I’ll tell you: When he laughs? He laughs SO HARD. That’s the biggest thing I’ve noticed about his manifestation of this disease, especially over the past few years. Emotions cannot be hidden. Forgotten, sure. But in the moment, his emotions ride his face like a wave in the ocean — unmistakable.
Like any disease, every person and every body handles it differently... and even though there are less emotions and far less words for Dad overall, when he does feel, he feels big. In contrast to his relative silence, his emotional moments, hugs, and laughter fill the space more than usual.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot as I reflect on my own ability to cloak my feelings... to cushion my own vision or soften my opinion so that others won’t feel uncomfortable. (Even though, as I teach others frequently, I have exactly 0% control over everyone’s reactions to my actions!) What good does this habit do? Sure it might make a whole crew of folks feel good in the moment... but the more comfort and insulation I build for others, the more raw I feel inside of myself.
And then as my brain fog settled in, pondering how to end this story for today, I paused to open up my dad’s old binder of sermons and notes to a page titled, “My Conversation with God.” Dad wrote a series of reflections in the early 90s after picking up a newly minted copy of what became his favorite book, “Conversations with God,” by Neale Donald Walsch. And right there in one of the first paragraphs, I realized that 20+ years ago, Dad wrote a perfect conclusion to my story today. His story.
“Feelings... these are considered the language of the soul. [God] says that if you want to know what is true for you about something, you must ask yourself how you feel about it. Hidden in your deepest feelings is your highest truth... and these are the defining characteristics of who we are.”
So today— for the sake of getting in touch with your Highest Self, the Universe, Consciousness, Earth Mother, God... whatever word(s) feel good to you... please don’t feel sorry for me, or my dad, or my family. He wouldn’t want you to feel for him. Rather, do as he does and FEEL FULLY for yourself, through yourself. And know that even if it’s uncomfortable, it’s your highest truth coming out. And that interplay of noticing your feelings without judgement? That is the greatest conversation with God we can have.
In light, love and big feelings,
Originally hailing from Wisconsin, Mollie is a cheesehead transplant to Northwest Montana, with degrees in Retail and Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, she lives off the grid, half the year in a Tiny House & half the year in a yurt — both of which she and her husband, Sean, built by hand. Nonprofit Executive Director by day, Mollie also owns and teaches at Yoga Hive — a chain of community yoga studios in the valley.