The mustang adventure that I had the privilege of experiencing (For Part One of This Article Please Click Here) was also one highly treasured by leadership executives. “Another adventure in awe we offer is “Wild Horses & Holy Cows” in Southern Utah with a non-profit horse sanctuary called Windhorse Relations, founded by Mary Lee Brighton and Marcia Thayne. Through direct hands-on experiences with the Windhorse herd of wild mustangs, we learn how to create a “willing relationship” with the wild horse. We learn how to be fully present, practice unconditional love, surrender, play and eventually lead a horse with subtle body movement, focus and intention. The experience with these magnificent beings is powerful and yet indescribable. A publishing executive who came to one of our early adventures at Windhorse, remarked that she learned more about leadership and presence from the herd of wild mustangs than she ever did from business school or other leadership trainings. This is the kind of leadership training that breaks your heart open to what it means to be fully human, alive and authentic in your actions.”
Kirk Souder, Co-founder & impact coach at enso, who has attended several retreats said “What Mary Lee, Marcia, and Everest, their lead mare, at Windhorse demonstrated right in front of us, together, was that birthing a new organizational and relationship paradigm where equality replaces hierarchy, vulnerability and cooperation replaces coercion, mutual understanding and agreement replaces force, love and listening replaces pain and punishment, and the heart replaces the ego as inner leader, can generate much more prolific co-creation between beings and in organizations.”
“Spending a weekend in deep connection with nature, horses and conscious souls fueled the beginning of my Summer. The lessons I garnered by the extraordinary Wild Mustangs and the matriarchs who care for them have stayed with me. The greatest lesson being to stay wild and never let life or circumstances tame your fire, ” said Gina Rudan, Cultural Alchemist at Google’s X, who was another guest at the retreat.
Ivy Ross, VP of Hardware Design for Google and one of their other clients agreed. “The Nomadic School of Wonder created a day-long adventure for my creative team. We entered a magical forest and were surprised with moments of wonder and awe at every turn. We laughed, played, danced, foraged, made things with our hands, connected to ancient redwood trees, mother earth and each other.”
Groth and her team embraced the disruption caused by COVID to find new ways to connect with their audience. “Last year, we launched “wonder adventure kits” — a wood box that arrives to your home filled with handmade sensory offerings crafted by our artist wondermakers. Each wonder kit includes a month-long adventure with our wondermakers. Now, people can join us in a lunar new year ceremony or a wondermaker playshop from most anywhere in the world.”
I asked her what her plans are for the future. “In celebration of our sixth anniversary this fall, we’ll explore “Grief & Belonging” in Santa Fe, New Mexico October 29-31 with our artist wondermakers Judy Tuwaletstiwa, Sky Avakian, Hagop Belian and others to be announced. In 2022, we look forward to returning to Fogo Island, a remote island off an island in the North Atlantic, to co-create an art and community rooted experience with our friends at the Fogo Island Inn and an adventure in awe to Hydra, Greece with artist and writer Alexis Averbuck.”
Finally, when asked why she thought the Nomadic School of Wonder was seeing such unprecedented success, she was reflective. “On the deepest level, I believe humans long to belong — to be seen, heard, acknowledged and felt. Work is no exception. Our artist “wondermakers” intentionally craft experiences of wonder to give people a felt sense of belonging to themselves, each other and to the natural world. Research shows that the direct experience of wonder creates more connection between people, deepens their empathy, expands their minds, and enhances their creativity. We believe once people experience wonder and awe, they can never go back to old ways of seeing and doing. Wonder is a rabbit hole to expanded consciousness and possibility.”