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The Value of Retreat

"In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion."
                                   ~Albert Camus

When I turned 50, I treated myself to a women’s retreat in the mountains of Vermont. I didn't know anyone else who was going and I had never, ever done anything like this. I had been a wife and mom for so many years and was primarily focused on the needs of my family so the idea of taking time for myself in this way had never really occurred to me. But as I reached this milestone birthday, I started wondering where my life was going now that my parenting skills were no longer needed in the same way. I started searching for something that would shake me up a bit and maybe be just a little scary - you know, scary enough to give me a little kick in the pants. A women’s retreat seemed to be just the ticket. It was, I believed, just what I needed to celebrate my entrance into the second half (hopefully) of my life and give me some inspiration to create new and exciting things for myself. 

The experience proved to be this and so much more. Overcoming the mild anxiety I felt about traveling alone, meeting all new people and trying something new (in this case mountain biking) gave me a new feeling of confidence and independence. The new friends I made taught me so much as each woman on that retreat had a story, reminding me to have compassion and love for myself and others. The challenging (really, really challenging) mountain biking reminded me that I was capable of so much more than I was giving myself credit for and I was inspired to add some new things to my daily routine once home. 

That retreat opened the door to many more adventures, solo and with friends, and I wished I hadn’t waited so long to take the first one. Since then I have done yoga retreats, spa retreats, silent meditation retreats, running retreats and the list goes on… I may be a little obsessed. In all seriousness though I am convinced of the value of taking time to do this for reminding me about my vision for my life and helping  reshape myself into the woman I want to be. Each time I have come back home with new information about myself, spiritual insight, greater confidence and healing benefits as well. 

Retreat. The word itself connotes turning away from that which is assaulting or threatening. To retreat is to step away from the fray, the chaos, the battle, and return to a sense of safety and peace. To “treat” ourselves with renewal, reconnection and relaxation.

We all need retreat from the world from time to time. A good, well-planned retreat can give us that peace, that sense of restoration that gets us back to our center and reminds us of our purpose here on the planet. A good retreat takes us back to our true selves. It’s healthy for body, mind and spirit. Especially spirit. Retreat is essential for us if we are dedicated to living our spiritual truth. But we must first find our own personal best way to achieve the desired results.

Retreats can take so many forms. A day retreat at home can be restorative as can a week-long getaway. Whatever the format and location, the important thing is to unplug from the day to day routine and find time to relax, reboot and reconnect with yourself. There are so many opportunities and ways to do this. Simply taking a day to stay home, unplugging from all technology, taking time for contemplation, meditation and self-care is one way to do it. It’s affordable and can be great for getting back to our center. With a little planning, the day can be filled with healthy food, rest and activities that help bring us back to ourselves. A suggested schedule might go something like this: wake-up, stretch and/or yoga, healthy breakfast, meditation and/or prayer, journaling, walk in nature, vision boarding, light lunch, self-massage, bath with aroma therapy, nap, yoga, breath-work, meditation, light supper, deep listening to sacred music and reflection, snack of herbal tea and fruit and nuts, guided meditation, sleep. This is just a suggestion. There are so many ways to customize your personal time away.

Doesn’t that sound delicious? Now, planning your personal retreat will be up to you. You will need to have healthy meals and snacks  at the ready as well as any journaling and vision boarding  materials, bath salts or oils you might like, etc. It’s a good idea to have everything planned ahead of time so there is little for the mind to think about. All of the details are taken care of so that you are best able to relax, let go and be open to receive any inspiration that wants to come in. The conscious mind can take a rest and the unconscious which really runs the show most of the time gets a chance to speak up. We become aware of the repetitive thoughts that consume our mind and keep us from achieving our goals and truly being happy.

If at all possible, do take a retreat where everything is planned for you and you have little to do but show up. It’s really a nice thing to do for yourself and I highly recommend it. The advantage of attending a retreat where the schedule is set, the food is prepared and you can relax and let go is that you are free to just focus on yourself. What a concept huh? In my experience, this kind of retreat is the best way to really release the pressure that can build up from everyday life. Sometimes all it takes is getting to a new location, seeing new things and letting go of daily routines to bring us back home to ourselves.

There are so many great retreat ideas out there. Just do a little research and find the one that works best for you, your schedule and your needs. Perhaps a visit to a spiritual center or monastery is in order to get you reconnected to the God of your understanding. These types of retreats can be designed for your personal journey or can be a group experience and can be quite affordable. There is also the added advantage of spiritual direction at many of these retreats that is attractive to some. If you want to do yoga, there are lots of great retreat options out there for you. If you’re a foodie, take a cooking retreat and learn a few new tricks in the kitchen. Nowadays, the opportunities are literally endless. Just do your homework.

Of course, I am quite partial to a retreat I have planned in June with my good friend Julie Reisler, the awesome coach and empowerment specialist. Julie has been featured on many of the Happy Healthy You! podcasts and is such a fun and inspiring human being. We decided earlier this year that we wanted to bring together a group of women and provide the opportunity for them to not only relax and have fun, but also to reconnect with joy in their lives. And, as Julie says in this week’s podcast, take it back home and “spread it around like peanut butter!” 

I love that!  As women, we are the “spreaders of joy” for those we love.  But we can’t spread anything unless our own tanks are full first. We do so much for others, we must take care to first nurture ourselves or we risk burning out and even worse, negatively impacting our health. We know you want to be the best you that you can be. For Julie and me, that means staying joyful and happy and healthy. We want to be the best versions of ourselves so we can serve others and also be an inspiration for others to be their best selves. A rising tide lifts all boats after all.

So, please come with us in June and we will help you reconnect with that best version of yourself with some well-planned, joyful activities. You won’t have to lift a finger, just get yourself there and we will take over from that point. Here are the important details. For more information, please contact Julie or me. We’d love to talk to you about Joy Camp 2016!

Join us for 
JOY CAMP 2016! 
June 5 - 8 
Scottsdale, AZ 
Picture this: You. At an extraordinary women’s retreat. At the luxurious iconic boutique Hotel Valley Ho. This June. All designed to have you transformed (with way more joy going on) from the inside out. 
Here’s what we promise:
* loads of joy
* sunrise + nightcap yoga
* make your own mala beads * meditation 
* hikes on some of the most gorgeous trails * delicious food
* relaxing spa treatments
* personalized barefoot fitness training 
* workshops on purpose, passion + presence
* group + private sessions with a renowned medium * 1:1 private coaching
* time to chill your buns + relax 
Your hosts, Julie Reisler + Connie Bowman, are ALL about finding more joy and helping you do that in the most delightful way. Relax, reboot and reconnect with your beautiful joyful self. 

Contact: or to hold your space. Space is limited. 
$1450 single room || $1250 double room
Wanna extend your relaxation retreat? Come three days early and stay late for just $136/night (typically $300+/night; exclusive of taxes and room charges). 
Pricing includes: three nights at the Valley Ho iconic hotel, most meals and healthy snacks (one dinner on your own), yoga and meditation, group workouts, mala bead making, hiking, wellness workshops and a gift swag bag. Price goes up on March 1, 2016. 
Reserve your spot NOW with a $100 deposit. For additional special JOY CAMP rate and spa reservations, reserve soon! Full amount due May 1st, 2016. 
With boundless joy, 
Julie + Connie 


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