By: Bret Gornik

Strangers --> Acquaintances --> Friends --> Family. 

What started out as a retreat with 11 strangers from across the country, turned into lifelong friendships.  Each person brought something unique to the table, teaching all of us new lessons.  We all individually grew, and more importantly, created an everlasting bond.

Live Better hosted its first ever Influencer Retreat at Las Flores in El Salvador.   This is not a "retreat." It's advancing on living the life you want to live. It's not an escape from "everyday" life. This is your life.

Our team brought together the top content creators, photographers, and videographers to join our movement.  This experience was about understanding how health is the sustainable fuel to crush life, how cultivating community helps us to advance, and how to experience everything with a higher sense of gratitude.

We hit all of the senses.

Sight

We experienced sight by creating views.  The rolling waves from afar set the mood for the week. As I looked out from my room, I saw waves, mountains, the sun, flowers, and energy. The world is full of views, it's how you view them that sets them all apart.

Jason's best wave ever was a sight only he witnessed and a feeling he'll remember forever.  The rest of us saw his ear-to-ear grin leaving the water, and we knew he experienced something awesome.

A photo says 1,000 words and this case maybe 1,000,000.  This experience was captured from different perspectives.  Quinn's fire shot brings night to life (shout out to the team for holding still for a full 30 seconds!) the community that was formed as we created and captured life.  Taking a photo through a viewpoint that induces feeling is magical.

Seeing is believing.  Believe me, we saw everything through a new lens.

Smell

Flowers mixed with ocean generate an aroma you wish you could bottle up.  Waking up and falling asleep to this fragrance sparks emotion. You feel different. You are different.

This is nothing quite like the smell of burning wood.  Fire is life. It creates heat. Our bonfire created family.  Our clothes soaked up this burnt scent.  

Craig pulled all of this together by truly capturing the entire evening while speeding up time to show hours in minutes. As he helped curate the actual fire, we truly captured an evening we will all remember. This time-lapse shows progression, building, and inducing the mind to want to create.

Touch

Wood, plants, water, grass, and sand. Texture, life, flow, growth, and support.

Sand on the feet is like no other feeling. Supporting you, your body, and your mind. The connection to the earth invigorates and heals you.  

As Jess walked along the beach, surfboard overhead, she left behind impressions not just within the sand but also within each one of us. She burst into the ocean to challenge herself with a new skill, the surf. Being able to feel the sand's support on the way to the waves grounds you.

A video can make you dream. To capture emotions and scenery by using time and space is next level.  Sam Graves went full send and droned the most beautiful shots off our time together. The views just make you want to reach out and grab the trees, feel the waves, and sink into the sand. These short films create perspective.  #betterthanyoudreamedit

Sound

Waves crash, family laughs, music vibes, stories are told, passions are shared. Sound evokes emotion and pulls at the heartstrings.

Around the fire, hyper focus on our surroundings and the nature sounds of crackle and pop, Noel blessed us with extra vibes.  Turning on Everybody's Free To Wear Sunscreen, my eyes began to water as I gained perspective. Not only did the lyrics hit me, but I was filled with a new feeling. A feeling that transcends happiness. Maybe bliss. As I looked around, I felt like I could hear everyone thinking about how this experience was real. We created something special.

My favorite sound is laughter. Nothing makes me happier.  When I am the one to instigate laughter, my smile is the most genuine.  As I mellow out and begin to dream in the most comfortable chair with the sound of crashing waves putting me into a true state of serenity, the FAM decided to have fun.  1, 2, 3. AHHHHHHHHHH.  I burst awake in fear.  The screams jolt me from deep sleep into straight up terror. You hear Chelsea's laugh the loudest as she is overwhelmed with joy at my reaction. I am surrounded by the crew and they are all LIT. I begin to burst out laughing. We watch the video, over and over, and over and over, and over and our joint laughter is a sound I will never forget. Thanks, team.

Taste

Authentic cuisine. Papusas, soups, juices, and guacamole - all fresh and made with passion. We bonded over food and drink.  Stories were told and time was spent together over these meals.  Cell phones were put away for the most part, and we talked. Conversation flourished into bonds. The food tasted special because it was more than just ingredients put together. The juices were beyond fresh and created with perfectly ripe/authentic fruits. 

Ryland created pace. Some may say he's a slow eater, but he helped us enjoy the moment by utilizing conversation over our meals to help us all appreciate each other's company. Not only did he cultivate a sense of gratitude, but through his workshop he made us taste what success mean to us. He asked hard questions: Where will you be in your life on the last day of 2017? How will you feel? What will you drink? Where will you be?  Who are you with? What are you doing? With one hour to nonstop write, I went from smiles to tears to smiles. I felt it all. I was brought to life. I could taste my success.

Emotion

This crew was too much for five sense that I needed to add emotion.  We were all filled with it.  As we trekked around rocks, jumped into pools, climbed on moving buses, and overlooked volcanoes, there is no other word to describe the feeling than raw emotion. 

As Sam Kolder pieces together his viewpoint into a story, he brings us back to this feeling.  Capturing views, feeling, resonance, flavor, and fragrance into a unique portal of the growth of relationships.  I see the epic views, but I feel the building of everlasting bonds.  This ability to evoke emotion through art is something a select few can do well.  Being able to look back at this gives me the opportunity to never lose that feeling.

Andy's gratitude, attention to detail, and positive personality brought this to the next level. Early morning workouts, curiosity, and late nights brought us together. He had all the one liners that we will recite for years.  His genuine appreciation for everything set the tone for everyone. It takes a unique person to make everyone around you better.

Through this experience, eleven different people were brought together. We saw. We touched. We smelled. We tasted. We heard. We felt.

Thanks to everyone that joined the Live Better Family. Thank you Jason and Ryland for putting in the work. Thank your Nike for gear to crush beach workouts. Thank you Hyper Ice for more mobile travel. Thank you Axel and Ash so we can document our travels. Thank you Four Sigmatic for the brainpower. Thank you Santiago and PHG for the push to create this entire thing. Thank you Avianca for flying us to beautiful El Salvador. Thank you Las Flores for making us feel at home. Thank you El Salvador for your culture, positive people, beautiful landscapes, and excellent cuisine.

Join us on the movement - livebetterco.org/retreats  

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