Before I share with my thoughts about our newest retreat event program, "From a Mess to Your Best in 28 Days" I wanted to shed light onto how our newest team member, Kristina Pejovski, entered my life as a volunteer and is coming back to Suncokret as a co-hosting events teacher; a true-to-life, repeating example of how one thing always leads to another in this beautiful and mysterious labyrinth of a dream-manifestation-life I am living.
Kristina contacted us in March 2020 with a request to volunteer. We were a few weeks into the lockdowns caused by the newly announced global pandemic and for the first time in over a decade, we were facing uncertainty about our future, specifically whether we would be able to host retreat or not.
As the only means of income for our family, this was a very stressful time for us, to say the least.
Having a volunteer with a skill set that varies from mine as the Program Manager and Senior Yoga Teacher and Holistic Lifestyle Coach, Resident Healer, and de facto Office Manager, Website Builder, Social Media publisher, etc. is always welcome.
We have had several volunteers in the past and, the most important one prior to 2020 was the 2017 and 2018 summer collaborations with Andrea Diaz.
Andrea is a Columbian-born marketing expert (and tech wiz) who was interested in exploring the ins and outs of the yoga retreat marketing business in Europe, while enjoying the benefits of staying at a retreat in Croatia during the heavenly summer months.
Andrea Diaz enjoying a Partner Yoga Break
Collaborating with Andrea was an amazing experience. Andrea got us up to speed with many important facets of running a small business, helping us migrate our initial domain to our current website host, importing years of contacts into a mailing list and setting up a newsletter system for us to go forward with, opening an Instagram account and helping us understand how to post in a way that was meaningful for our followers, including the use of hashtags!
She also took lots of photos to help build our media kit. She helped us set up Facebook ads and run them. She also recorded a few instructional videos of me and the team to add to the newly created "Member Zone" on our website that she insisted we have. Content building was key to business success in the Social Media Age, she claimed, and this is the main takeaway I got from Andrea before she decided to relocate back to South America.
We have been missing Andrea ever since her departure and dreaming of ways to bring her back... but that's a story for the future.
Back to winter 2019-20, without Andrea to help, I was doing the full time office work required to set the wheels in motion for the upcoming season and drowning in a string of tasks that just felt impossible to manage on my own.
I kept lamenting to my husband, Stipe, "I need an assistant, I really need an assistant. I need Andrea back!" But how to hire Andrea, or anyone else for that matter, with the pandemic preventing our only income source from flowing?
Evening Marie - Master Dream Manifester
You know, there is this old saying that when a wish is really authentic, when it comes from the heart, has a potentially positive-outcome for all, and you can visualize it coming to life, the Universe co-conspires to manifest this vision it into reality.
And that's when the Universe sent Kristina Pejovski our way. Hallelujah!
Kristina was based in Zagreb at the time, so in addition to dealing with the harsh lockdowns facing most of us in Europe, she also had to endure the mass destruction and emotional devastation caused by the March 22nd earthquake.
I was hesitant even to enter into a discussion with Kristina about volunteering, as I was very much aware that having an additional mouth to feed and body to house during a time when our very own survival was at stake was a risky move.
But I figured there was no harm in having a discussion with her before saying yes or no...
My first chat with Kristina lasted about 2 hours! Yes, 2 hours!
That's because we hit it off instantly and on several fronts, laughing our way through the absurdity of the times, sharing whole-heartedly our personal, professional, and pandemic-related challenges and more.
Speaking with Kristina was like talking to an old, dear friend, and the idea of having her around even in the midst of the total chaos of the times seemed more comforting than demanding.
So after agreeing upon a few mutually-agreeable co-working and co-living conditions, Kristina packed her bags and set sail for Hvar, and we spent 3 wonderful months together supporting one another's movement in the direction of our individual dreams and goals.
In addition to being a wonderful person to be around, Kristina helped me launch a regular 3-month social media campaign (something I really dislike doing on my own), she assisted me in launching a free meditation series via Facebook live, she helped me record a background video series related to various event programs we host as well as the many holistic services we offer at the retreat.
Kristina was also instrumental in helping me coordinate online team meetings and online events. She also helped create and develop new program content I was interested in adding to new affiliate websites that would help Suncokret reposition and expand into new markets. Her writing skills are exemplary and her keen mind, extensive knowledge in all things holistic, and enthusiasm to explore new avenues and bounce ideas around with was most helpful and inspirational, indeed!
I treated Kristina to Bioenergy therapy (which she needed for several minor but nagging well being issues) in exchange for being the model in a demonstration video I wanted to create for our website (which I have yet to publish, but promise to do so soon) that shows what a typical Bioenergy therapy session looks like.
And, in exchange for undergoing the Life Path Awakening workshop (which I wanted to gift Kristina as the most valuable tool I could offer any person who is in the midst of a major life transformation process), Kristina agreed to help me migrate it from it's boring Microsoft word document format into a much more stylized e-book version (soon to be launched as part of an e-course that will be made available through my website this coming autumn).
All this, within a 3-month timespan, while simultaneously helping out with the day-to-day operational aspects of running the retreat. Now, that was a fruitful collaboration, to say the least!
Kristina (bottom right) striking a pose with a group of lovely retreat participants from Summer 2020
Alas, toward the end of the summer, we were expecting a full house of guests from Germany and, because of limited space at the retreat, on top of the growing concern regarding the epidemiological situation in Europe and freedom of movement between borders as a result and how that would affect Kristina's nomadic lifestyle, we had established that Kristina would depart by the end of August in order to make space for the coming group and to ensure that her freedom of movement would not be restricted as she continued to roam the world in search of her next nest in which to dream and grow.
Sadly, the "full house of guests" manifested as less than a handful due to the worsening Covid-situation in Croatia at that time, which really was a bummer as we had already said bon voyage to our wonderful volunteer to make space for the group, and now I was back to managing office work on my own - ugh! - and missing Kristina, whose energy and contributions I had grown accustomed to having around, both on a professional as well as personal level.
Since her departure, Kristina and I have been keeping in touch regularly. As with most of my bioenergy recipients and “Life-Pathers,” I have been keeping tabs on her progress in terms of her wellbeing status and especially her ability to manifest her dream life, the vision she came up with as a result of Life Path Awakening.
All the while, I was simultaneously thinking of ways to have Kristina come back, not just as a “volunteer assistant,” but, more importantly, as the highly-skilled contributor she has proven herself to be who should be recognized and rewarded for the unique gifts she brings to the world, and who should have the right platform to offer them in. After all, this is what we have been doing with our hand-picked team for years!
In fact, most of our co-hosting teachers first visited Suncokret as event participants, many of whom underwent a profound transformational experience as a direct or indirect result of their visit, only to return to the retreat, in a full-circle sort of way, as both a program leader and as a living example of how a retreat at Suncokret can impact one's personal growth and ability to re-envision and manifest positive life outcomes related to their Sat Dharma.
And so, after spending several months this winter working solo to refresh the look and feel of the Suncokret website, repositioning ourselves on the market as a “holistic lifestyle experience” and not just a "body and soul retreat," fine-tuning our mission message, and expanding our core services to include online as well as local initiatives (which I actually launched this past November), I finally got around to refreshing and repackaging our events into 3 major event categories: 1.) Signature Programs 2.) Featured Events with Guest Teachers and 3.) Lifestyle Empowerment Programs, all of which you can check out here.
In accordance with the times, I also felt a strong urge to share my own unique holistic lifestyle makeover story as a means to inspire others' personal growth experience, and it occurred to me that it was high time to develop my staple, two-week Lifestyle Empowerment Programs, the "Heal Your Life" and "Find Your Purpose" events, into an expanded experience that would not only help people do the above, but move two steps further, specifically:
1. define, on a professional level, what they would really like to do and achieve through a meaningful life project (and figure out which skills they need or already possess in order to accomplish this)
2. offer a realistic, step-by-step business-branding & strategy process in order to launch that project into the world, in real time, before they leave the retreat.
In the Covid-age, when so many of us are facing the effects of change that have been quite suddenly and with no end in sight thrust upon us, I can think of no better time to use this moment as an opportunity to give birth to something that is deeper alignment with who we have become and the legacy we want to leave behind for the next generations to come.
And that is what this expanded, 4-week, Life Empowerment Training, "From a Mess to Your Best in 28 Days” event is about.
Isn’t it amazing how one thing leads to another?!
As a person who build a company out of what felt like thin air (including having a shoe-string budget of only 3000 euros to start, no technology to help me - I didn't even own a personal computer or smartphone at the time! - a skeleton of a house, not yet a home and certainly not a dedicated retreat space to conduct my small business from) - all I really had was a personal healing journey under my belt and a vision to share that self-empowering, life-enhancing experience with others, and a "vision" that was actually more of a feeling than an actual plan of action about what I wanted to create and how to get it done.
All these years, I have continued to “feel my way through” this labyrinth of a journey called life and allow instinct and passion to lead me as guides, and, as a result of not having certain business know-how prior to starting my own business, I have fumbled along the way and perhaps not gotten as far as I could have, had I been equipped with more of those nifty self-starter tools from the get go.
I’m not complaining, as it seems I really benefit from going through personal growth experiences, one step at a time, and gaining firsthand knowledge from them the hard way.
Of course, I really do wonder sometimes how much easier and strait-forward it would have been to be successful as an entrepreneur had I had a mentor or guide or partner familiar with the business of setting up and building and running a business!
Alas, I was a pioneer, setting out to do something no one had ever done before in Croatia or along the entire Adriatic coast....
I was a foreign woman, opening up a holistic healing retreat center in a very Catholic place whose main populous considered yoga to be an anti-catholic activity at best and Reiki to be outright witchcraft! No wonder I have kept a low-profile locally all this time, though, of course, times and attitudes have come a long way since 2004.
Ironically, back then, I didn't even have the vocabulary to describe what I was doing. The words "holistic" and "retreat" were not yet part of my day-to-day vocabulary, and certainly not part of the local lingo... well, they still aren't, for the most part. But I was just following my gut, heart, and 3rd eye and letting them lead the way to the unfolding of my purpose and dreams.
Fast-forward to the now, I have been in deep in contemplation for a year about how Suncokret can best serve others in this especially challenging, transformative time we are living through, and it dawned on me that two of my team members would be ideal partners in helping me to mentor others in the expanded version of the Heal Your Life and Find Your Purpose programs, which are the best possible tools I can offer anyone going through major life transformations, as mentioned earlier.
And those two women are: Davorka Tolic, an expert in TRE (a unique stress-release method) and Essential Oils, as well as a highly experienced Business Coach and Soft Skills expert and Kristina Pejovski, a highly experienced Content Strategist, Social Media Maven, and Published Advertising Copywriter, as well as unexpected Digital Nomad.
In combination with what I have to offer as a living example of what it means to literally go from a mess to your best (check out the tell-all vlog below for the juicy details), these two holistic lifestyle mentors add extra value to the learning experience on offer by leveraging their backgrounds and experience in business, marketing and brand-building to help empower others to learn the tricks of the trade in order to bring a personal project to life, clearly, effectively and in a holistically-minded way.
Together as a team, we raise the Lifestyle-Empowerment Programs at Suncokret to whole new level, and I'm very thrilled by this!
I would like to end this whimsical story about how one thing leads to another by mentioning one unique aspect of the 4-week training program on offer, and that is that it is structured in a way that participants can sign up for whichever part of the four-week process they are most in need of.
In other words, if you have already cleared up the ghosts from your emotional closet and are on the path to self-healing, or if you already have a concrete idea of who you are at your highest potential in all aspects of your life and don't need guidance on that, and if all you really need is some soft-skills and business coaching, or perhaps just brand-building skills and an actual launch, then you can just take the last week or two of the program.
Alternatively, if you are just getting started on the pathway to self healing and self understanding and personal fulfilment, then you might just take the first two weeks as a good start and let yourself digest all the learning you experienced during those two weeks for a while before moving toward the refining of that vision and launching of your inner Vision.
On the other hand, if you are ready to ride, full speed ahead, the pathway to understanding yourself and taking your life by the reins in order to redirect it, from the depth of your heart and soul, in the direction of your dreams, and actually start walking that pathway with a no-turning-back approach, forging a better place in the world for yourself (and, most likely, as a result, for those around you) then you will want to take all four weeks together as one amazing, life-changing, totally self-empowering, Life- Empowerment Master Mentorship.
No matter whether you come for one, two, three or all four weeks, we are so looking forward to the awesome outcomes we will manifest together by going into this deep-dive, dream-life-manifestation process.
It truly is amazing how one thing leads to another! This, my friends, is the art of following the signs while keeping the flame in your heart alive by believing in yourself and others and the amazing things you can do together to make this world a better place.
Thanks for reading and hope to see you soon!