Gift yourself a retreat!
Let's be honest going on a retreat is a privilege. Getting the chance to take a much needed break from your children, partner, chores, work and life is something of a distant fantasy. Except what if it could be a reality? What if going on a retreat was a soul nourishing necessity that helps you find yourself again? What if taking time away for yourself helped you to be a more joyful, calm and present mom and partner? Would it be worth the time and money? Would you go?
I host various retreats for women and soon to host my first retreat for dads. For me it was an easy decision to do this. I intimately know the needs of women and moms. I know the amount of work and mental load women, especially mothers carry. I know how the burden of fear hangs on a mom's consciousness. I know the rage women are grappling with, but trying to suppress. Let's be honest, we have too much on our plate. There is never enough time to do what we need to do let alone what we want to do. On top of that it's easy to put everyone else, especially our kids and partner first. This neglect of self is dangerous. It can lead to depression, anger, resentment, bitterness, a loss of passion, a loss of creativity, and a loss of joy. The more you ignore your need for space, to take a break or do something that's nourishing, the more you lose touch with that tender part of your self that brings you home to who you are. This is the place where joy, passion and creativity resides. It's a place we need to be connected to in order to thrive.
I'll be honest you can come home to yourself in many ways. It doesn't have to be through a retreat. You can start by doing more physical activities you enjoy like walking, yoga, dancing, bike riding, running, etc.. You can start by etching out some time each day where you don't have to think at all, I call it a mental nap. This is very important. With the amount of mental load we carry, we need moments in our day where we can be silent. This can happen in many ways like taking time to veg out, napping, meditating, reading, etc. You can also start by doing something that brings you joy. This can be anything; being with a friend, painting, creating, cooking, etc.. Whatever it is that feels good is what you need to follow, but make sure it's for YOU. Giving yourself a break in any way that works is most important. This is not a luxury. THIS IS A NECESSITY! Trust me, having some space gives you a chance to connect back to yourself. This connection has many gifts that you won't find outside of yourself. Most importantly it'll fill you up. The more full your cup is, the more you have to give and the more centered you will be.
The reason why retreats are so powerful is you get a physical, mental, and emotional break all at once. All that you are responsible for is put on a shelf for a short amount of time. It's a space where you can connect with who you are and what brings you joy. There are no to do lists, cleaning, cooking, driving around, or picking up the emotional pieces of your children and partner. It's a space for you to connect with other women who understand your journey. You can stay up as late as you want and wake up as late as you want. You don't have to worry about being woken up in the middle of the night and you get a bed all to yourself. Sounds amazing right!?!
What I notice at my retreats is, women leave changed. A shift happens that's hard to put a finger on, but it's physically felt and noticeable. The opportunity to just be yourself in nature, around other women is so unique. I watch how women start the weekend a bit tense and on edge. The anxiety of leaving the family and being around strangers can bring up a lot. As the weekend progresses I watch bodies soften and become lighter. The lodge goes from quiet and contemplative to alive and energetic. By the evening of the first night laughter starts erupting through the lodge. Each day the groups hanging out together gets larger and the volume of noise increases with conversation and constant laughing. Faces shift from anxious and tense to delight and joy.
For some women this transformation happens quickly, for others it takes a day. No matter how long it takes everyone goes home renewed, relaxed and joyful. Almost every woman leaves truly transformed. I've been told this transformation lasts months and longer. I get to hear from these same women much later down the road about how the retreat changed them. They could see how the change that happened within their self had a direct positive impact on their family. It sounds a little grandiose saying this, but it's true. I am not quite sure what it is that changes them. However, I do know that being in nature is in itself very healing. I know that having space from the constant demands of raising a family is relieving to the nervous system. I know that when people who are in the same stage of life get together there is this really cool vulnerability and connection that happens. People see their fears, frustrations, anger, longings, joy and dreams in someone whom they would never guess shared so many similarities. Seeing your truth in another allows you to accept yourself in a new way. Knowing that you aren't the only one relieves guilt and shame. It creates an energy of it's ok, I am ok and I can accept who I am and where I am at. All of this adds up to women finding a lost piece of their self. It's a beautiful gift that is hard to put into words, but it's felt by all who show up.
As a family unit we are in a very interesting time in history. We are constantly bombarded with articles in how to parent and all the ways we are potentially screwing our kids up for life. More is damnded of us than ever before. Women more than ever before are working out of the home. Whether a woman is working or not majority of them women are demanding the men in their life to show up and share equal responsibility in the home and with the family. On top of that women are demanding more emotional connection from the men in their life. The pressure is high and men are feeling it.
I am not a man, I am a woman. I am a mother and counselor. who works with women. I have a lot of share about my own experience of co parenting in this day and age. I also get to hear the stories of all the women I work with. I hear each woman talk about how exhausted they are. How they simply have too much on their plate. Most women are scared they are messing up and are struggling. These women feel rage she feels about it. I get to hear the stories of how these women are fed up, but don't know how to change. I am also a woman who is married to a man.