Personal Writing

(re)Discover a candle to start an inferno

Two years ago today, I was in the early days of my two-week writing retreat (If you’re curious to learn more about it, you can read the posts here). I didn’t know it yet, but the next day, I was going to have a transformational moment in my life.

I was going to be transformed.

I was transformed.

And I have never been the same.

I was having this solitary retreat experience, my rhythm and routine disrupted in the best possible sense. I could literally feel my mind, body and spirit unraveling, releasing old beliefs, constraints and stress. I was acutely aware of the privilege of getting to take two weeks away from every aspect of my life—my job, my marriage, my parents and child, my pup, nearly all my responsibilities. I felt freer than I had ever felt in the entirety of my life. And all I could think was that I wanted to somehow provide this experience to others who weren’t in a position to do what I was doing.

In the afternoon of September 5, I was walking the four-square mile dirt roads around the farmstead where I was staying. There was a beautiful soybean field on my left and an empty field filled with pools of water on my right. The sun was shining, and it was a perfect afternoon for a walk.

The exact spot where the Universe spoke to me.

I was about 3/4 of a mile from my farmstead, and I was talking to the Universe. I kept saying, “I want to take this experience out of just my own body and mind, and I want to share it with the whole world.” I repeatedly threw my arms wide, in case the Universe didn’t understand what I meant by the phrase “whole world.” I was working up quite a monologue about how valuable this time was for me, how blessed I felt, how I wanted to share the blessing with others. I was on a total roll when the Universe opened up and said in a gentle and clear voice, “Dayna, you’re a Personal Systems Disrupter. You’re going to do this work with others.”

My arms stopped flailing, my legs stopped moving. I got quiet and cocked my head to the side in case there was more. I looked up after a pause and said, “I am?”


I looked around to take in the moment, to gather my wits about me and to recognize the enormity of what had just happened. I looked ahead to the grove of trees that enclosed the beautiful French-style farmhouse where I was living, and I started moving toward it again.

By the time I arrived at the back door a few minutes later, I had a general plan in place for how I would develop a weekend retreat to start bringing this gift to others.

And in two years, the only substantial change to the core of the program is the name. In January of 2022, I renamed it (re)Discover Your Spark to better represent what happens to people when they do this work with me. It turns out that not everyone resonates with the word disrupt—it’s too aggressive and has the potential to wreak too much havoc.

To (re)Discover is to remember something from long ago. It might look different from how you recall it, but it’s always been there. I couldn’t have anticipated that my life-long dream to be a movie star would evolve into this, but in reflecting on it, this work utilizes all of my assets as an actor, a creative, a writer, a collaborator and more. To (re)Discover might also mean that you’ve never noticed the spark that begins to light the corners of your mind and spirit, but by giving it space and time, it flickers into life in ways you never would have noticed.

I’ve worked with dozens of people from across the country, virtually and in person. I’ve watched transformations as significant as mine happen to people in two-day weekend retreats and during six-week courses.

For some, the changes have been small but meaningful: writing more descriptive travel journals or finding time to invest in simple self care by saying no to things that no longer serve them. Other have been highly disruptive: quitting jobs to move across the country or, in one case, the globe; starting a publishing imprint.

I’ve worked with women, men and gender nonbinary people, ages 23-70+. We’ve had people from the Midwest, both coasts and urban and rural areas come together, virtually and in person. I’ve watched meaningful relationships form between people who’ve never met outside of zoom.

And now I want this for you, too.

That’s why I’m offering the virtual, FREE, 5-Day (re)Discover Your Spark retreat September 19-23 at 11am CST. For one hour* each day (plus nightly homework), you’ll dig into some of the work we do together during a weekend retreat or a six-week course.

There’s no question I was gifted a transformational, disruptive, discovery moment on that walk two years ago. I’m grateful for the gift, but I’m proudest of saying yes and doing the work to bring it to life. In that moment, I was shown my spark, reminded that it had been burning inside me all along. And in these two years, I have worked to not only keep it lit but to grow it from a little birthday candle to a roaring inferno. And I’m only getting started.

Join us for the virtual, FREE 5-Day (re)Discover Your Spark retreat and (re)ignite your inner candle, too. I can’t wait to see you and meet your spark!

*Don’t worry if you can’t be there in person for one or any of the days. Once you sign up, you’ll receive the recording of the session as well as the downloadable document each day.

Dayna Del Val is on a mission to help others (re)discover the spark they were born with through her blog and newsletter, her professional talks and the (re)Discover Your Spark retreats she leads. Dayna works with people to help them not just identify and articulate their dreams but to develop a framework to get going on the pursuit of those dreams—today, in the next few months and for the years ahead. She's at the intersection of remarkable and so, so ordinary, but she knows that pretty much everyone else is, too. She's excited to be sharing this extraordinary journey with you.

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