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Get Away to Get in Touch


This past weekend I did something I’ve been dreaming about for years.  I went to a lake cottage with five other women for the entire weekend- Friday to Sunday.  I didn’t plan it.  At a moms’ night out a month or so ago one of the moms commented about one of the women’s retreats she had been on.  I’d heard of people doing this but she’d been on more than one?!  It seemed so lavish and, indeed, gluttonous.  And yet it felt entirely necessary.  Before the resistance of my responsibilities and the unlikely possibility of my getting time away could creep in, I asked for more.  “How do you do that?” I asked so simply.  “I plan them,” she said.  “And I go on them.”  Like every other thing in my life, it could be that simple.  Dream it.  Plan it.  Do it.  There was a collective excitement and before I knew it, a family friend of hers had graciously lent us their guest cottage for the price of the (very minimal) cleaning fee.  We were on.

I almost couldn’t give it too much thought leading up.  What is it about indulging ourselves and feeding our needs that feels like we’re taking away from our loved ones?  I approached my husband in a whole new way.  I needed this and that’s what I told him.  He was super supportive and we worked on the logistics of the weekend so that he could do the things he needed with kiddos in tow or cared for.  I’m the cook so that was the main concern.  We worked out meal logistics easily.  Even the kids took it in stride.  Was it that I wasn’t asking?  I felt deserving and therefore I was.  Just like the planning, the carrying out could be easy for everyone.

Six women who knew each other in varying ways, at various depths, or not at all.  We all unschool our children who range in age from 11 months (he came, too!) to 21 and we all love to ask the big questions and dig deep(er).  Going into this, I thought Friday night to Sunday sounded like a lifetime.  What would we do with all that time?  We played Apples to Apples (which was a great ice breaker), took turns cooking absolutely delicious and decadent healthful meals, walked, appreciated art, listened to music, and sipped alcohol, coffee, and teas.  But mostly we talked.  And talked.  We challenged ourselves and each other but it didn’t feel overly uncomfortable or like work.  We were asking the questions and relating our tales and supporting each other’s experience in a way that encouraged thought and expansion. 

And I came away with a new beloved tool – art journaling.  The hours slipped away on Saturday afternoon and into the evening as we meditated, laughed, and worked intensely on our first art journaling piece coached along by our women’s retreat goddess and planner.  I peeled down through my art fear – layering color, texture, text, paint, pencil, and emotion.  This was not about creating a piece to display but rather about the process itself.  And yet, it is the first piece I have felt comfortable sharing.  It is a piece of me and every time I look at it, the same wave of meditation and focus as I experienced during its creation washes over me.

The centered feeling of intention, peace, and love has stayed with me and I intend to feed and nurture it. 
art journaling- focus


Yay!  This is such a valuable experience.  Some of my fondest memories over the years revolve around my intimate communion with like minded mothering friends.  I used to organize such weekends myself and can totally relate to the rejuvenating effects of shared meals, group projects,  laughter, tears and conversation… lots of it.  The rejuvenation is so necessary!  I remember feeling newly alive in my marriage as a result and super ready for a whole new round of kid activities, full of vim and vigor.  CONNECTION.  We want it!  Plan it, do it, revel in it, benefit from it.  Your whole family will too.

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13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Melissa #

    I enjoy your blog. Thanks so much for sharing yourselves.

    December 16, 2011
    • Thank you so much for your comment, Melissa! Glad when others choose to participate in the process – whether actively or internally.

      December 17, 2011
  2. nadja #

    There have been many studies done on oxytocin and have shown the increased levels when women connect, even over the phone…

    I think about the times in my life when I have been “depressed” and have noticed that that is when I have chosen to cut myself off from friends and the world for whatever reason.

    This love hormone boost is what I thrive on in my friendships & support network… when I start to feel down, stressed or stuck, too much time has lapsed since really connecting ❤

    Spending time with other mamas who thrive on joy is like riding a natural high ❤ feeling the love!

    December 16, 2011
    • Thank you for the link, Nadja! Really interesting research that I had not heard about. I love that there is more recognition of the differences in how men and women respond to things. So do men not experience the same physiologic health benefits as women with regard to close friendships? Or is it just not noted as hormonally stress reducing as in women?

      So true:

      December 17, 2011
  3. How wonderful, Sarah! I expect one of those is in my future, too!

    December 17, 2011
    • Dream it. Plan it. Do it, Carrie! xoxoxo

      December 17, 2011
    • Me too, I want one too 🙂
      A whole slew of unschooling moms together, art journaling. Sounds fabulous! Thanks for sharing your experience and your journal entry!–Osie

      December 17, 2011
  4. Amy #

    ❤ ❤ ❤ LOVE ❤ ❤ ❤

    December 17, 2011
  5. mbh #

    I find the gathering of like-minded women downright magical. It doesn’t matter if the retreat is formal, planned, ceremonial, and expensive… or just a quick gathering of friends, it nurtures our souls.

    I love to get to know other women and learn how they think and live and believe. Who are they and what can I learn from their experience and belief systems? I have never left a retreat being untouched in some positive way.

    I’m not sure what exactly makes a gathering of women so powerful, but my experience tells me that it is.

    On the surface, I have to honor the fact that many women fill so many roles (mom, wife, employee, employer, etc.) and that we very rarely seem to have an extended period of time without someone inserting themselves and their needs into our lives. (This is not to say that we don’t love our people; we do.) To have a weekend away without the responsibilities of our daily lives, sort of reawakens us. And to share that awakening with others who are experiencing their own at the same time is… well, magical.

    On a deeper level, I think that women are magical, period. When we gather together with a shared intention, we manifest and support positive change in ourselves, our families, our community and even our world.

    To create a women’s retreat is easy and I encourage anyone who wants one to just create one. I promise, “If you build it, they will come.” It is my experience that women are craving this type of experience.

    I think of creating a retreat like being an architect. Your job is to simply create the space (location, money, meal planning, etc.) Once all of that is in place, the women who attend will bring the magic to fill the space and make it transformative. Depending on the needs and desires of the group, you can make it formal with planned activities, you can have no plan at all, or you can strike a pose somewhere in between.

    December 18, 2011
    • mbh #

      Oh, and just to be clear, most certainly this applies to men as well. Everytime my man has gone off on retreat, he
      has come back equally renewed.

      December 18, 2011
      • Who plans those?! LOL.

        December 19, 2011
      • mbh #

        Sarah, That does seem to be the biggest issue with men’s retreats….

        December 19, 2011
    • I am inspired to create these for myself as well as for others. Oxytocin is addictive… And joyful connection with ourselves and others is contagious!

      December 19, 2011

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