Why Women Need Retreats

Wild Calla Lily

I was talking with some friends this morning. They have both given themselves the luxury of experiencing one of my retreats. And they are very clear that a retreat and a vacation are not synonymous, even though many women think they are. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a big believer in taking vacations as often as possible. I also believe that one 3-week vacation a year does much more for our sanity than 3 one-week vacations possibly can. So what’s the big deal about a retreat then?

Basically it all comes down to the power of intention. Vacations, by definition, are periods of rest, relaxation,  and travel. They are opportunities to step outside our normal day-to-day activities, especially work and to rediscover how to relax, to play, to see new places and people. We return to our normal life refreshed, invigorated, ready again for the challenges of our life.

Retreats, on the other hand, are get-aways with an entirely different purpose or intention. They are opportunities to step outside our normal existence, to reflect upon who we are, to explore life’s challenges, to discover new things about ourselves and our relationship to our existing life, to consider changes we want to implement and then to move back into our life with a new perspective. Sure, a new perspective might happen by taking a vacation. But when we choose to invest ourselves in a retreat, we are committing ourselves to a process designed to up the ante on the likelihood that we will return changed.

Women, in particular, seem to be drawn to retreats that are designed to nurture and support them through periods of questioning their lives and purpose. Some women like retreats with a strong physical component: hiking, yoga, wilderness adventures designed to challenge our physical limitations. Others are drawn to religious retreats where the nature of God and their relationship with a creator is explored and deepened. Still others seek explorations of secular spirituality, of the meaning & purpose of their lives, of exploring and discovering their innate creativity and of letting go of lifelong habits that no longer serve them or bring the outcomes they desire. In my experience, women over the age of 40 are especially attracted to retreat experiences because they are examining their lives and wondering what they want from life after children, after work or after a significant relationship ends. Many have tried taking extensive vacations to exotic destinations, only to discover that while they had a good time and returned relaxed, the essence of their life hadn’t changed.

Our modern world is especially challenging for women. Not only are we expected to ‘be it all’, but we demand it of ourselves. Professionally successful, wise, sexy, always available to our friends, families and life partners. Oh yes, and young looking to boot! But for many of us, there comes a time when we begin to question our lives. We wonder

. . .what if

. . .what else

. . .what’s possible

. . .who might I become if

.  .  .

There's glory at the heart of everyone

These are not only the only reasons why women need retreats, but I find that when these thoughts start to surface is the sign that we need to step off the exotic vacation treadmill and give ourselves the gift of a couple of weeks to ourselves, for ourselves, guided by someone experienced in creating a framework that breaks through our existing worldview and invites us to consider possibilities and potential we’ve never contemplated before. In short, we need to start to invest in ourselves and our future.

So when you notice yourself wondering . . .what else? . . .what if? find a retreat for yourself. Take the plunge. I’d certainly welcome you to any of my offerings in lovely Algarve, Portugal (shameless plug: A Taste of Life, Oct 9-24 and Feeding the Muse Oct 23-Nov 9, 2011). And you may need something different than I offer. So I encourage you to resist the urge to book yourself on yet another cruise or all-inclusive beach vacation believing that will make the difference you seek. Go online instead and discover one of the many wonderful self reflection and self discovery retreats that are available. Begin to invest in yourself, begin to prepare yourself to step into a future that you create and that you deserve!

Spring is a Time for Renewal

Not only does Nature renew, refresh and enliven herself each Spring, but it is a great opportunity for women who want more out of life to do the same.  Join me for two great renewal opportunities this Spring. These women’s retreats are not to be missed.

Choose from A Taste of Life – March 29 – April 13th or Awakening Spirit – April 12 – 27th if you seek renewal, adventure, freedom and luxury.  Don’t miss out on these great opportunities to create the best life possible for yourself.

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What Women Want

Almond Blossoms

A woman’s needs and wants varies throughout her life.  Nowhere is this more evident and important as in her travel preferences.  What women want out of travel often changes dramatically as her life changes.

Many of us start out life either being interested in backpacking around the world, staying in hostels, finding inexpensive, culturally rich places to visit and eat.  Or perhaps we begin our travel lives with a preference for top-drawer, 5-star, luxe vacation oases, replete with massages, mojitos and perhaps even hot and cold running beach boys!  And some even choose to forego exotic travel, preferring instead to head to the cottage or campsite with kids and family.

But over time our lives change and our travel interests change as well.  As we move into our 40’s, 50’s and 60’s many of us find that whatever our travel history has been, we are craving different things.  For a surprising number of us, we begin to prefer to travel alone or in small groups.  For others, either through bereavement or divorce, solo travel is foisted on us.

It is not unusual for ‘women of a certain age’ to begin to seek out travel experiences that offer a combination of experiential learning along with opportunities to meet new friends and discover new cultures.  Our bodies may be telling us that while we still feel vital and interested in adventure, we are no longer drawn to sleeping rough or sharing with relative strangers.  Standard tours and cruises often don’t meet our needs:  too many people, too little time to really explore a place, too few opportunities to create our own discoveries.  Take my client Ida.  Recently widowed, she’d always traveled with her husband, taking cruises around the world and spending happy summers at the cottage.  As part of her re-discovery process she took an adventure trip to Turkey and reports a new sense of self worth.  Then there’s Vicki, a single woman who had become tired of vacationing with her girlfriends.  She came along to one of my retreats because she felt it was time for a process of reclaiming herself and discovering what she wanted for the future.  Her two weeks of reflection, exploration and introspection are still with her two years later.  Katy just wanted a couple of weeks away that had more focus than a beach vacation has but was free from the daily moving on that her typical tours entailed.  She selected a creativity retreat with me and discovered a renewed interest in painting, but also realized just how big an issue safety is in her life.  She realized that she’s missed out on a lot because she chose cruises, tours and all-inclusive packages in her earlier years.

I get numerous calls from women who are retiring or who are thinking about what kind of life they want for themselves now that their kids have left home.  What seems to be a common theme amongst them all is that they are seeking something new and fresh in their travel lives.

It never fails to amaze me how my personal experience parallels that of other women.  And what I discovered from the many women who’ve participated in my retreats and culinary experiences further supports this.  But what about you?

What are you craving in a travel experience these days?  What would the perfect get away look like for you?  I’d love to compile a list of what women want out of travel these days.  Please be certain to leave a comment and I’ll happily post a summary in a few weeks time.