I have facilitated a number of retreats over the past two years. This was different.
This was not a work team looking to connect for a few hours around a specific issue. This was not a nonprofit board convening to talk about strategy or vision. This was eight women coming to an understated Airbnb in the beautiful Hudson Valley for a day and a half without really having a clear idea of what they had signed themselves up for, but trusting that it was going to be exactly what they needed.
Some of the women already knew each other, but no one knew all of the other participants. Some women had met through a running group. Some women were neighbors. Some women had connected through their kids’ school or were friends from college.
Everyone was looking for something: maybe it was support to feel less alone, perhaps it was acquiring some new tools to feel more empowered. Everyone was clear that they needed a break and that something in their life needed to change.
No one knew this was going to happen. Hell, I helped to design it, and I didn’t even know it was going to happen. I couldn’t have known and there was no way to plan for it because it just cannot be forced.
We all knew it right away. Something special was happening. The energy in the room was palpable.
We shared truths about our lives: that it was hard to make time for ourselves, that it felt impossible to accept our post-partum bodies as beautiful, that we were clueless about what to do next in our careers, that we didn’t know how to allow ourselves to be truly loved.
We shared stories of loss: of parents, of romantic relationships, of children, of ourselves.
We made horseshoes instead of circles so that each time a person walked through the door, whether they were delivering mouthwatering, fresh food or facilitating a yoga session, they became part of our sisterhood. They could tell something special was happening, too, and they each wanted to be part of it.
We shared hopes and fears, worries and aspirations, dreams and regrets.
We shared resources, contact information, encouragement, tissues, and hugs.
We shared cookies and quiche, wine and hummus, but not all at the same time.
Enjoying delicious and healthy catering by Kristie Cooks, homemade hummus and pita chips by AYA (Awaken Your Awareness), wine from Dylan's Wine Cellar, and cookies from Blondery - all amazing small businesses in Peekskill, NY!
We laughed. We laughed a lot.
We did yoga and meditation with amazing teachers who helped us go deep, literally and emotionally. I did the longest Shavasana I’ve ever experienced. I think it may have changed my life.
We talked about setting better boundaries, making clear requests, and practicing gratitude daily.
We put on music at the end of the long day and danced like no one was watching. Someone told me I dropped it like it was hot.
We didn’t check our phones or worry about what to make for dinner or think about the looming deadline coming up at work.
There was no drama, no competition, no gossip.
Everyone brought their full selves, even the pieces that maybe they didn't like so much or the parts that needed healing, and trusted that they would be received, celebrated, and embraced. They were right.
We let others take care of us instead of us doing all of the caretaking. It felt uncomfortable and amazing at the same time.
To close out our time together, we wrote down what we wanted to let go of and released it into a miniature bonfire that fit into the palm of my hand. I couldn't believe that something so small could absorb all of our big, heavy burdens and transform them into ashes so quickly.
It is impossible to know exactly what made this experience so special. Was it the location? The programming? The chemistry of the group? The yoga? The hummus?
Yes, to all of the above.
And, sometimes there are things in this world – like falling in love or the beauty of a sunset – that are impossible to analyze, assess, and quantify. We may not be able to understand exactly how it works, but if we can slow down, stay open, and be present, we can relish the moments that feel undeniably magical.
Capturing the magical moment with Karen Faulkner (center) from Inner Being: Yoga for the Soul
If you (or someone you know) could benefit from participating in a Women's Retreat focused on reconnecting with your purpose and reigniting your passion, please reach out to One Eleven Leadership or set up a complimentary consultation.