Our first annual retreat last year was an incredible bonding experience. One by one, we arrived in front of Alison's building and packed into a dark grey sedan for our road trip. I wasn't sure what to expect at the end of this weekend but I knew it was going to be transformative. On our way there we played games, joked around, and reminisced on the year that we just had. It was a crazy whirlwind of memorable moments. After the excitement of all the things leading into the marathon we were now able to breathe and look back at it all.
On our first morning, we started with... what else? A workout. After some intervals and strengthening exercises, Amir made his famous banana gluten-free pancakes and we sat down to share a meal as friends and family… Trying to figure out how many bananas Amir used for those pancakes.
Throughout the weekend, we participated in many icebreakers, workshops, and team-building exercises. I vividly remember the first one: write down the name of someone who inspires you and the traits that you admire the most about that person. I chose the Executive Director at the agency I've worked for the last two years. I wrote about her kindness, her thoughtfulness, and passion to help those who need it. Once we were done, we were encouraged to see those same qualities in ourselves. It was a powerful moment because we rarely see the greatness in what we do, but can easily see it in others. That, if anything set the tone for what was to come.
For the rest of the retreat, we thought about how to make Harlem Run better, more inclusive, and brainstormed ideas to be more of who we already are. We had team building workshops where we bonded and experienced emotional breakthroughs. We spend do much time doing the work of Harlem Run that we don't get to spend as much down time as people might think. We got to catch up and talk about tough topics like race relations, sexism and shared our individual life experiences. We found a trail – both literally and figuratively - and together we enjoyed what it had to offer.
On our last day, Kayla made our lunch with lots of love and with the same love we enjoyed it. The entire weekend was full of growing pains and bursts of imagination. We left the house renewed and excited for the new year… And with that, we are so excited for our upcoming retreat and all the magic that will come along with it. Get ready to be transformed and to grow closer this family that we call Harlem Run.