Happiness is: my 1st song of the morning retreat

Deep within the woods in Vanderbilt lies a retreat center known as Song of the Morning. I first heard of it from Paula, one of my coworkers, & have longed to visit it for several years. This past weekend they hosted a retreat called “Happiness Is” which seemed like a good fit – & it exceeded my hopes & expectations.

I was originally going to attend the retreat with Kari, a friend that I met at Anchorage Retreat Center last year & Serentopia sister. Unfortunately, her grandma passed away last Wednesday so she was unable to attend. Therefore, instead of sharing a room with her in the lodge, I booked a pod in the domes. The domes, in & of themselves, had me feeling like I was in some type of extraterrestrial space. They were the hub of activity during the retreat; the center dome was where all of the activities took place & the other 2 were sleeping pods & a table with chairs conversation area. Most of the dozen or so attendees came alone, & I met 2 people my age whom I particularly connected with.

Hours upon hours of discussions, 5 yoga sessions, 2 Shamanic drumming journeys, an introduction to the Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) which I gather is a blend of eastern/western religion namely Hinduism & Christianity, all vegan/vegetarian meals outdoors by the main building/bridge – the whole weekend was filled with intrigue & stretched me outside of my comfort zone. It was a fantastic experience, a venue I’d recommend visiting, & the type of experience that I hope to repeat in the future.

I eased my way back into reality with a fun Sunday afternoon in Gaylord: shopping for some summer outfits for Trinley at Kohl’s, watching “Cruella,” at the cinema, a white mocha from Starbucks, & birthday cake remix ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery (all businesses that we don’t have in Alpena). 💖

My spiral staircase

“We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is a spiral; we have already climbed many steps.”

Hermann Hesse

In some important ways, my life has unexpectedly taken a path that leaves me with a sensation that I’ve traveled full circle. I don’t view this as inherently negative or positive, & I hope that my life will continue to unfold in new ways & directions for many more years.

In July 2011, at age 28, I returned to my hometown (after living in 5 other cities, 1 other state) to begin dating my husband Bobby who also happens to have been my first kiss at age 14.

Similarly, I feel my lifelong passion for interior organizing & design reignited within me over these past few years. I’ve often gravitated toward this field in my hobbies, studies, & professionally. For example, in 9th grade & beyond I selected French as my foreign language elective because I told my high school guidance counselor that I wanted to study architecture in France. The first teaching position I took was 9th-12th grade Interior Design back in 2005 while a senior at CMU.

I decided that the timing is off (because we hope to have a second child soon), but I was this.close to attending the Academy of Art this spring semester to pursue a Master of Arts in Interior Architecture & Design. I was accepted, & it’s something I might begin in the next couple years. While I was compiling my entrance/creative portfolio I came upon these hand lettering assignments from an interior design class that I took at Scottsdale Community College back in the spring of 2011. Is it just me or is her observation that my lettering improved “a lot” amusing?! Keep in mind that Week 1 is only lighter because it was supposed to be done in pencil whereas the later weeks were with Pigma Micron pens.

From my perspective, it just goes to show that the perception of progress is somewhat subjective. There are aspects of our gifts/skillset that are within us all along just waiting to be nurtured & given our attention. 💖


Hi, I’m Jessa, certified organizer, interior designer, & the founder of Serentopia!

Deep inhale…& deep exhale. Attempting to create & maintain your ideal home environment can sometimes feel lonely & stressful. With the demands of modern day life, it’s highly unlikely that you have hour upon free hour to devote to the cause – even though deep down you know it’s important to you. Despite great effort, you may find yourself in a loop of household tasks & projects that feels somewhat endless. However, you’ve just discovered a gamechanger, an entire business & online Facebook community devoted to helping YOU create your ideal home environment!

I’ve completed extensive training in the fields of Neuroscience, Family Studies, Interior Design, Professional Organizing, & Productivity Consulting, & these fields have been lifelong passions of mine. Whether you find yourself coping with situational or chronic disorganization, craving a subtle or bold room/home makeover, I would love to help you ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS related to organization & design!