As I pulled up to the curb of the non-descript address on a typical sun drenched LA Friday afternoon, all I could see was a banged up metal door frame that looked like it could lead into a dark and suspect alley; but I knew better. Evasive dingy doors in LA always led to hip welcoming venues. The B Hive was warm and inviting and I felt a sense of calm walking up the stairs to the meet and greet lobby. The Hive held numerous rooms; for sleeping and retreating purposes (yoga, meditation, group rooms to hold workshops in, massage room, etc – you get the gist). The bedrooms were raised platforms beds with billowy and white comforters placed upon them with sparse but fresh décor.
The first ever annual Light Hustler’s retreat weekend was happening and we were all giddy with enthusiasm. I knew this was going to be a truly amazing and inspirational event, just by the organizers alone; the super accomplished and inspirational trailblazers in the nationwide recovery community – Anna David, Ryan Hampton and Garrett Hade. Not even including the forward thinking and motivated attendees; ranging from Doug Bopst, Julie Reiser, Stewart Michaelson, Rosemary O’Connor, Tim Ryan and many other courageous attendees. My initial plan was to stay with a friend in Brentwood, however an overnight spot became available and since Brentwood may as well have been in Riverside with the crawl of traffic it took me to get back to Hollywood, I was excited and eager to join in with the other female Hustlers.
Our Friday night started out with the Light Hustler’s storytelling event. A monthly event that Anna David had been doing for years; not always the same headlining title; but the same format. Sober comedians telling their most embarrassing and hilarious tales from their drunkalogs, and even from their recovery days. We are sick people, just trying to get better. No judgment. The venue was Open Space, in West Hollywood and this show was SRO; standing room only (in case some of you Millennials weren’t sure what that acronym was). Anna was one of the storytellers, along with a great line up, including comedian Bucky Sinister and Allyson Weinhold. The Hustlers had reserved seating in the front rows, where we all felt like VIPS; because we were! What ensued were funny rants on snippets of their lives up until that evening and the laugh tracks were non-stop.
Saturday had us up with breakfast burritos and a full day of sessions and activities for the Hustler attendees. These ranged from a renowned EMDR therapist and meditation teacher, Dr. Stephen Dansinger, to Ivana Grahovac, Outreach Coordinator from Facing Addiction, who shared her story while insighting us to share ours to make an impact within the recovery community, to the ever cool Brandon Johnson from Rock to Recovery showing us how our thoughts and stories can easily be made into a rockin’ song! As insightful, inspiring and collaborative the day was going one of the best parts of the retreat was getting a Tarot Card reading by Erin Smith – who literally knew my mind and my psyche! Along with a soothing and healing session of Reflexology by the calm angelic Nicole Rothman.
With the day winding down and all of us wanting to bond even more, we walked over to our group dinner Wood and Vine; a very urban woodsy kind of spot with a delicious array of small plate shares. After being on the go all day, by the end of dinner I knew my inviting and fluffy bed was awaiting me and having a comfortable sleep while you are away is always a bonus. I’ll be sure to Yelp a 5 star review to the Be Hive for their accommodations.
Sunday morning found us with another yummy breakfast and having some of our own participants sharing some intimate stories with us – what a great way to keep our connecting going with everyone. We had Fee Bell sharing her funny story about why she was nicknamed Chardonnay, to Julie Reiser sharing her touching story about her food addiction and how she’s turning her story into a source of hope for others that are looking to heal. We also were treated to an emotional and touching practice of breath work by the Mortified founder, David Nadelberg. As someone that has done breath work a few times, I found Dave’s practice the most loving and healing to date. Our retreat closed out with Priscilla Caiza, a Heal Your Life Workshop coach and instiller of how Daily Affirmations should be included in your daily practice.
By the end of the retreat, my heart was full with love and connection and spirit. We were hugging, exchanging phone numbers, carpooling to the airport and all of us asking the same question, “When is the next one?”