I am the oldest of four children and grew up in a home with loving parents who did their best to raise respectful and well-behaved children. As a young girl, I had a big heart and was highly emotional and sensitive to the feelings and emotions to others. I was drawn into a desire to help others and knew God had placed a calling on my life. It was an intrinsic feeling. I was meant to be a part of something bigger than myself – almost as if God had chosen me to do something very special – a desired goal to transform lives – not for ego, but for healing and rebirth. I was in tune with God’s whispers.
In 2013, Oprah posted an inspirational video on YouTube and said, “The only time I’ve ever made mistakes is when I didn’t listen. So, what I know is, God is love and God is life, and your life is always speaking to you. First in whispers.... It’s subtle, those whispers. And if you don’t pay attention to the whispers, it gets louder and louder. It’s like getting thumped upside the head, like my grandmother used to do.... You don’t pay attention to that, it’s like getting a brick upside your head. You don’t pay attention to that; the whole brick wall falls down. That’s the pattern I’ve seen in my life, and it’s played out over and over again.”
These whispers followed me into adulthood. Although these whispers were frequent and caused momentary joy, the natural state of being young and naïve opened up thoughts of negative emotions where I had low self-worth. Through my late twenties and early thirties, I began to work through these non-productive emotions. I had carried enough guilt and shame that I began to see myself through the eyes of God. I started believing in myself more. I saw that I was full of love and needed others to experience the effect of these whispers at full strength to achieve my soul’s destiny – GIVE, GIVE, and lead those out of darkness and into light.
Through my journey of spiritual immaturity, self-reflection, and a deep yearning to follow a connection with God’s whispers, I entrenched myself in the idea of bringing love and light to others as an example of living an authentic life - one that emulates vulnerability and breakthrough. As I took this path of faith, the universe began speaking to me more in depth. Inspiring artists of spiritual success started to enter my life in ways that spoke to my heart. They had confirmed the path I was leading was rare and painful but designed with the highest reward once I reached the other side. I would be ascending a hill that would organically lead to conquering the fear of negativity, lack of connection, and give me a higher purpose to love. One of these spiritual leaders in particular was a critically acclaimed researcher of shame - Brenè Brown. She recently wrote, “We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection. Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.” From life altering passages like this of Brenè Brown, I saw confirmation and permission to commence my journey of living to my greatest potential, loving myself, and becoming God’s vessel in doing his work.
In 2017, I met another one of God’s gifts that was designed to enter my life on this path of redemption. In direct correlation to my Thailand trip, I had started my Thai Massage craft as a means to heal stress and rejuvenate the soul. Kay was one of my first clients who embraced the art of physical and spiritual therapy. Our divine friendship was instantaneous, and I knew she was part of a bigger purpose to do God’s work in healing and transforming lives together. Effortlessly, we birthed a retreat business named ‘Copaiba Wellness Co.’ – designed from the root of medicinal healing, and the intention of providing opportunities of breakthrough for people to connect with their higher-self and their search for enlightenment. We centered our devotion around mentorship to heal wounded elements of the human spirit, breathe life into all with empathy and support, and co-create art and beauty that organically led to resets of the soul and lifelong friendships.
Throughout the passions of fulfilling the immediate purpose to answer this calling to work with Kay, I soon had a dream of building a retreat property along California’s central coast. It was virtually untouched, magical, and deep in the mountains which were overgrown in towering trees, luscious green moss and had epic views of God’s creation of ocean, animals, and sky. The dream was very detailed in nature – one you don’t forget when you wake up. It came as a stronger whisper, and access to search for this sacred land. When I awoke, I contacted Kay in excitement. I remember my words distinctly - ‘I don’t know how, but we will find this place.’ The words spoken were so simple – as if it was a part of a bigger design that would in time come to fruition.
In late 2018, I made a decision to part ways with my marriage to a man who saw life eternally different. As many know, marriage is a selfless act to co-create and build. And to be clear, we tried to reach alignment through 4 years of counseling. Yet, the connection to co-create had missed its opportunity. He is a good man, and I still care about him as a person. I don’t hold any grudges. I just could no longer live a life that was in contrast to fulfilling my purpose. Heartbroken, scared, but encouraged, I left trusting that God was guiding me in the direction. I was 37 years old with very little money. In devotion to his work, I had already left my business of 18 years to move to Paso Robles where my husband could persevere in a new career. I was absent of clientele, and a means to provide a roof over my head. In preparation to reset and heal, I traveled back to Thailand. I had no home. I didn’t want to bother anyone with my separation, and I certainly embraced the idea of warm sunny days and beautiful beaches. As it was meant to be, I realized who led with love and who didn’t during my time of despair. The friends and family that were truly there in support of my purpose encouraged me to chase my dreams, and I’m truly grateful for their unconditional love and guidance.
Inbound from Thailand and a long flight in coach, I set sail for California. Out of an invitation of support and acceptance, my loving parents offered me a place to stay in my childhood home in Bakersfield. Although short lived, I traveled to Idaho to stay with my sister and her husband. I was offered a unique business opportunity to advance my Thai Massage Therapy craft; however, my heart was still leading me back to California – back to that dream I had. Like many others looking for a place to call home in California, I ventured through the internet in the youth of 2019. I must have emailed around ten renters on craigslist. Out of the ten, there was only one that spoke to me. It was a strong kinetic force that pulled me into his ad. His name was Chad and of the same age as I. He had two dogs, a big heart for giving and connecting, and was blessed with owning a 200-acre property in the coastal mountains of San Luis Obispo County with a room for rent. Something about his words in the craigslist ad pulled me in – another whisper as Oprah would say. An ironic and inspirational message in which she called this city, “The happiest place on earth.”
The property was in an area of the Central Coast of California I had no idea existed. Chad was prompt in contacting me, loved my work in Thai Massage Therapy, and was drawn to my calling to heal. Through initial phone conversations, he mentioned he bought the property from a family that owned the mountain region for over 100 years, and his was the last parcel sold in 2015. He told me out of means of stewarding capability and connection, the family turned down cash offers for over a year listed because they wanted the property to go the right person - one who would care for the land and maintain its beauty as they did. I remember the drive in like it was yesterday. As soon as I hit the dirt road into his property, I started crying. I had never seen anything so beautiful in my life. God’s energy was abundant and ever flowing as I knew this is where he was calling me to be to do his work. The drive encapsulated towering tree canopies, beautiful red manzanita trees, gurgling streams, and vibrant green moss growing vertically up giant boulders topped with century old forest growth.
As I pulled in front of the cabin, Chad came out and greeted me. The feeling of meeting him felt like destiny in the works. This was the property I dreamed of just a short time ago, and Chad’s soul was full of love and life. We drove all around the property and ended our tour at the top of the mountain. I’ve never seen such breathtaking views in my life. It captured 300-degree views of the entire Central Coast of California. It was peaceful. No sounds of traffic or city life. It was an exact image of what you would experience if you went to heaven. Birds flying through the mountains across over 15,000 acres of untouched God’s Country, the ocean settling on the shores, and my soul screaming for the ability to fly.
A week later after Chad finished scrutinizing applicants, he called me. As with any applicant, I was nervous and feared rejection. I was one of two choices, and he chose me. I remember screaming in excitement. If I could do a back flip, I would’ve jumped. I cried. I felt God’s love pouring over me in insurmountable amounts. The whispers, pain, vulnerability and course correction for following my soul’s purpose was apparently clear. I couldn’t wait to move in. When I arrived, the cabin was to myself. Chad made a point to gift me a gift of entry. He placed his favorite book, “Callings – Finding and Following an Authentic Life” by Gregg Levoy on my dresser, a stack of stones resembling balance, and keys to the property. I was home. Only God could have orchestrated this mapping.
Since February of 2019, I have been living on the property. Since the onset of my arrival, Chad and I have been focusing on building up Stone Mountain Retreat. It was our common dream that united our friendship and made us realize God had brought us together for a very big reason - one much grander than we knew. We told ourselves the retreat property would open its doors to all channels of retreating. We were against the idea of restricting it to being just one thing because we wanted all walks of life to experience the energy we feel when we walk the property.
In March of 2019, we set an intention and prayed very specifically on what we needed to be successful. Chad had already left a very lucrative nuclear management career a year prior because he felt a strong pull to share this land with others in an effort to facilitate connection. Building this retreat property was our life’s calling, and having a strategic mindset was of the utmost importance. With his savings running low and mine depleted, we started to vacation rent the cabin and sleep on the back property. We started with a bell tent that he had folded up in the basement. It was our home away from home. Utilities were absent, and we did our best to manage our modified living conditions as we waited for our guests to check out. It was tough, but we did it because we knew we were on the path to a greater calling where discomfort was acceptable.
Within a few months of sleeping in a tent and staying with friends, Chad and I worked tirelessly to clean up the property and prepare it for corporate and public retreats. We commenced our plan of attack. We built a business plan and scheduled our priorities. Everything about this process has transformed our lives, and many others who have put their blood, sweat and tears into building our retreat property to serve others. I truly feel in my heart of hearts that this property was God’s gift, and I'm beyond excited to do his work here on this blessed and sacred land.
In closing, I want to leave you with a quote that popped into my inbox a cold winter morning in January 2019 before I moved to the property. It was the first day I returned back to the United States from a month of soul searching in Thailand and Bali. “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; That is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” - Henry David Thoreau
Jessi Co-Creator of Stone Mountain Retreat