I’m often asked, “What kind of women come on your retreat?”
Often, the woman asking is a little nervous, as if she desperately wants to hear herself described but is afraid that somehow her story and her reasons are not the “right” ones. That maybe she’s not included on the guest list.
And my heart goes out to her, because I remember that feeling so very well. I remember feeling a deep need to have just a bit of time and space to simply be, and to reconnect to some sense of my own inner self. And having no idea what to do about it.
I don’t remember is what gave me the idea to take a retreat back then, but I do remember I was seriously mentally and emotionally desperate by the time I finally allowed myself to imagine that it might be OK for me to go away, alone, for a few days.
Funny how we can limit ourselves without even knowing it, and how hard we sometimes have to be pushed by life in order to act in our own behalf.
It’s not only about desperation
When I first started holding my fall retreat, I thought that it was this kind of desperate need to work through their crap that would bring women in, and sometimes it’s been just that. Every year there have been women who are working through some major life transition – the death of a parent or partner, personal illness, job change, an “empty nest” or some other kind of role change. Women who need a supportive container of genuine understanding for all that is in their heart.
But those aren’t the only ones who have shown up.
There are seekers, both young and not-so-young, who are searching for their calling in life and want to connect more deeply to their center in order to discover what step they might take next.
There are busy women who crave time to stop and “refill the well”, so they can return and fulfill their many obligations as their best selves.
There are those whose souls thrive best with regular connection to nature, or to a creative experience.
There are those for whom it has become part of their annual ritual of mindful reconnecting to what’s important to them, assessing the past year and envisioning the next one.
And there are those who really aren’t sure why there are there; they simply know that something inside them told them that they had to come.
There is no classic demographic answer to the question “Who comes to your retreat?” It’s not about age or social status or religion or any kind of box you can check on a survey. Women come from all walks of life, all ages and stages.
And what we discover every year as we sit around the fire in the opening circle is that whether they are there due to external drivers like loss and life transition, or more internal motivations, what all the women share in common is a sense of constriction—and perhaps fragmentation. And they share a desire to release the inner tension.
They long to simply exhale.
If you build it, they will come
Just the other night I was out with a dear friend I hadn’t seen much over the past few years. She was the first person outside of my family that I told about my vision of a fall SoulCollage retreat for women that had taken root while I’d been at my Facilitator training, back in 2009. We were laughing as I recalled the look on her face: her eyes got as big as saucers and she literally took several steps back from me. I had hoped it was something we might undertake together, but she was quick to point out that we knew nothing about such things, and it was a pretty risky venture.
I knew she was right. But I also knew with a certainty that I had to do it. This retreat – now called Autumn’s Pause -had chosen to gestate in me, and I had to birth it. Over the last 6 years it has grown and evolved itself into this long weekend of deep soul-tending where women can reflect, recenter, and renew themselves – all I’ve had to do is listen and adapt accordingly. It has called each woman who has attended, and they have collectively left the imprint of their souls in the circle that is re-created each fall.
So that’s my answer: The women who come are the ones to whom it calls; The ones who resonate with it’s inherently optimistic orientation towards life: That in slowing down and taking the time to reflect on your life – and if needed, looking deeply at the places where it’s rubbing you wrong or in processing what you’ve been holding inside – you will in fact come out on the other side with greater understanding and more wholeness.
There are no exclusions as to who is invited, allowed or “entitled”, save for those within your own mind. And when the time is right, you’ll know it.
So if you sense the this is your year to claim your seat around the fire, then by all means heed the call. You can learn more about the weekend here. While you’re there, you can listen to the original song Long Exhale, written by singer-songwriter Beki Test at the first retreat. You’ll find it about halfway down the page in her testimonial.
Registration is open until October 15th.
If you have any questions, special needs, or concerns, please, please do not hesitate to reach out. I am happy to work with you to make things doable.
Join us in the circle. Your place is waiting.