Retreat Retrospective

Being an introvert, making the decision to attend a women’s retreat can be daunting. Spending 3 or 4 days with women I have never met might be enough to convince me to give the whole idea a hard pass. I may never understand fully what called me to attend the Seasons of Surrender retreat, but I am glad I listened.

This gathering of 7 women from throughout the U.S. was amazing. I witnessed sturdy walls of self-protection crumble around me. I was allowing myself to be seen which normally exhausts me and leaves me feeling empty. So what was different this time? I think others in attendance had similar experiences which somehow filled the void with compassion, empathy and a growing trust in these women.

The retreat was hosted and led by Kim Halsey. It is difficult to find the words to describe Kim so that you can understand the magic she is able to create around healing ourselves. She created a place of trust and safety and held space for each of us to come into our own for which I will be forever grateful. I can never thank her enough.

As many of my readers know, part of my desire to go back to New England was to reclaim that part of the country and release the trauma I experienced there. Arriving in Boston I felt the glorious chill of fall. A severe storm was threatening 75 mph winds and rains capable of flooding. Everyone was anxious to get out of the city before the weather shifted. I boarded the Dartmouth Coach which transported me in style to New London, NH where I was picked up and transported to the AirBnB which would be our home for the duration of the retreat.

I arrived at dusk but the gold and red hues from the trees were still evident. We had storms that night but never lost sleep or power — unlike many in Boston. The house was warm and welcoming. We were surrounded by fall color and a view of Lake Sunapee which was most relaxing! We even had an evening around the fire pit where we released the drama of our lives.

Throughout the retreat there was abundant laughter peppered with tears of acknowledgement as our eyes were opened inward. It was remarkable. I learned so much about myself and about the other women who are traversing the same landscape of being a woman in present day America.

We participated in a very powerful exercise about our place in our family and how those family interactions have followed us throughout our lives. It was more revealing than I could have imagined.

There were pockets of free time and I took advantage of a few walks to take in the fall color. It was glorious. I discovered a new love for New England.

We each had a choice of a free float in a sensory deprivation tank or a Reiki session with Sarah. I chose Reiki. Sarah has a gentle and welcoming aura around her. It was a beautiful and relaxing session in which I saw intense colors moving and surrendering to the higher power (my interpretation). I was filled with gratitude and appreciate this gift of herself that Sarah gave each of us.

Throughout the retreat we shared our experiences of being a woman in this world — both the opportunities and the limitations — and how we are capable of shifting our paths through our own awareness.

We concluded the retreat by revealing our dreams and allowing each other to be our dream team in helping us find our way through the obstacles that have held us back. It was the perfect way to end our time together — in support of our individual dreams.

Throughout the weekend we were treated to an overabundance of home cooked food — everything from chili to stuffed pumpkins to soup to s’mores. No one went hungry.

I had a chance to meet my long-time online friend, Lauren (who also practices a daily gratitude blog) and it was so wonderful to meet her face-to-face and strengthen our friendship. She is a wonderfully sweet and kind soul and meeting her was something I had really looked forward to. We will be friends for life.

I hope that more women have such opportunities. This is Kim’s passion. She is authentic and skilled and allows herself to be vulnerable alongside us as we all grow together. I am sending positive energy into the universe as she does this work with other women.

To the women who shared this experience with me, I thank you. I hold nothing but love for you and wish you success on your upcoming journeys.


When Women Gather

The Bond Between Sisters

Day 259

We are in our third day of heavy rain which will stretch into tomorrow. Today I will make the 2-hour drive to my son’s house to help my daughter-in-law and care for my grandchildren while my son is out of town.

So far this year we have had over 39 inches of rain — 1.44 inches today alone. (According to the U.S. climate website, our average annual rainfall is just over 61 inches a year. Last year we had almost 90 inches of rainfall due to some hurricane-related weather.) It’s no wonder my mind is floating…

In the midst of this rain-soaked weekend, my mind is drifting to a wonderful opportunity that has presented itself. I have been invited to a women’s meditative retreat in October in the midst of fall color in New England. My body relaxes just thinking about it.

My sisters and I were able to retreat to Blue Ridge, GA for 3 years before each of them passed. We rented a cabin tucked away in the mountains and spent a week together. We packed our bags, left our families and troubles at home and trekked to spend a week together as sisters. It was the most fun, restorative and healing time. We rarely had cell service, so we had plenty of time to work through old disagreements and just be.

We bonded and shared things that had never seen the light of day. We decided this: What happens in the mountains, stays in the mountains. I wrote a little about this in an old blog post — Relationships, Sisters, and the Value of Macaroni Salad.

The fall retreat in New England will bring together a small group of like-minded women to gather, share and heal together. We all have a common thread, but our backgrounds and experiences are rather diverse. The thought of this trip has already become a place of respite for me.

Yesterday, my daughter and her wife called to see if I would be willing to consider going to a cabin early next year — a mother/daughter trip. Two moms, two daughters and our shared granddaughter for a week in the mountains. It was a hell yes for me. I know the strength of women coming together.

So while right now, it may be raining hard here, I have many beautiful days to look forward to. Times of healing and communion. Times of shared experiences and new relationships. It is harder and harder to find these quiet and reflective times in our busy world. I have learned if they do not exist, we have the power to make them happen.

My husband has always been and will always be supportive of all my dreams and does not feel threatened by any of it. He knows I always return a better version of myself.

“We’re connected, as women. It’s like a spiderweb. If one part of that web vibrates,
if there’s trouble, we all know it,
but most of the time we’re just too scared,
or selfish, or insecure to help. But if we don’t help each other, who will?”
Sarah Addison Allen,
The Peach Keeper