What does it mean to go on retreat?
The online dictionary Vocabulary.com says: ”The noun retreat means a place you can go to be alone, to get away from it all. A spot under a shady tree might be your favorite retreat from the sun, or your bedroom in the basement may serve as a retreat from your siblings. In the military sense, the noun retreat means the withdrawal of troops.”
I don’t know about you, but I remember when going grocery shopping by myself was a retreat! One year for mothers day, I asked for my husband to take the kids away for the day so I could have the day to myself to paint...the kitchen. On reflection, I can see that I exchanged time alone to think my thoughts for time alone to be productive. I dialed down my own needs for the sake of taking care of my family, and then, I got out of the habit of prioritizing myself.
When I got divorced, I had a nagging thought that was just below the surface most of the time - I just want to be the most important person. Single parenting is not for the faint of heart - so much energy outflow. I fantasized about being the most important person - my needs first. Not unlike Dorothy when Glinda the Good Witch told her she always had the ability to go home, I woke up one morning and realized - I’m the one who has to make me the most important person. I’ve heard echoes of that thought rattling around in my brain again recently. I’ve found in these COVID times, that I’ve sort of filled up my days with the aim of being productive - I put in a garden, I painted trim and doors, I refinished a desk. But only recently have I realized that I can set aside time for retreat. It may seem weird to put time on the calendar to go to the beach by myself, or to set aside time for reading, or writing. But nobody else is suggesting I do those things. It’s down to me.
You have to make a conscious choice to retreat, to withdraw to a quiet place.
When I was thinking about the word retreat I also thought of surrender, but now I take issue with that thought, because retreating is an act of will, it’s movement in a particular direction, and it's definitely not just succumbing to the prevailing forces. You have to make a conscious choice to retreat, to withdraw to a quiet place.
I see the evolution of retreat in women's lives like this:
When we are young and unencumbered, we go on girl friend vacations, we go out for drinks and it’s all about YOU. I have vague memories of going on vacations with girlfriends when I was in my twenties and early thirties. I have photographs to prove it!
Then we become encumbered - with important jobs, homes, and partners and pets and children - oh my! We go on family vacations, an oxymoron if ever there was one. We camp, we go visit family. And cook and clean and referee. I vividly remember a friend from my young mom days telling me about the time she locked herself in the bathroom away from her four kids, who were all pounding on the door while she whispered to herself “When is it gonna be about me?”
We’re here to remind you that having the bathroom all to yourself is not a retreat - and it never was! I am personally working hard to bring more retreat into my days and weeks, time that is once again, all about ME! And guess what? While I love this time, and feel rejuvenated afterward, somehow it’s still a challenge to do it. My nature and my family just want me to keep doing all the things. What works is making a commitment with a friend to do these things - read tarot or meditate. It’s all baby steps.
That’s why we feel it’s so important to offer the chance to women to go on retreat with us, because it’s HARD to bring this kind of time into your life. And it’s revolutionary important now because there’s so much to think about and who you are going to be in the matter. So, baby steps - three hours from the comfort of your own bathroom living room for the Virtual Retreat, or an easy 45 minute drive from Boston for our One Day Retreat and when you're finally ready, there’s our signature bliss-out extravaganza Three Day Retreat. Just think about it for a little while, then put it on your calendar. Nobody else is gonna do it for ya!