I love a good retreat. No, I mean I REALLY LOVE retreats.
As a teenager, I was introduced to the concept of retreats when I participated in a leadership program. And these were intense retreats led by corporate alumni like lawyers and business leaders whose mission it was to foster leadership in urban teens. Retreat topics included male/female relationships, self-awareness, etc. They were brutal and beautiful at the same time, and I’m so grateful for those experiences now. These retreats were transformative experiences and helped shape my character.
And I’ve gone on other retreats since then. Retreats are a way for me to do important self work and allow me the luxury of focusing on my own self-development without distractions.
I’ve always wanted to lead personal development retreats. And two years ago, I facilitated my very first one. I rented a private villa on an all inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic and took 3 of my clients down with me for a week to heal, share, rest, relax and have some fun.
There were many memorable moments. But I want to share one moment with you that I think was especially powerful and reminds me of the power of retreat.
On the day before everyone arrived, I did my best to prepare everything. I spoke with the resort staff the previous day and that morning to make sure the check in process was to go as smoothly as possible. On the day everyone was supposed to come, I reiterated my requests and was assured that everything would be fine.
The next day, my first two ladies checked in with no problems.
However, my third lady experienced a very difficult check in process in which everything that could go wrong did.
There was a language barrier with the staff of the resort. We were waiting outside the reception building, sure that we would see her as soon as the bus arrived. I wanted our faces to be the first she saw.
But somehow we missed her and she was waiting for us inside the office. Meanwhile, management was calling our villa in front of her to tell us of her arrival. And we of course, were not there to receive the calls. By the time we met up, she was quite upset and understandably so. She had just gotten off a long international flight in a country she had never been to, and had experienced nothing but frustration.
While we apologized profusely for the confusion around her arrival, she was inconsolable and I felt horrible and looked for ways to try to make it up to her.
By the time we got back to the villa, she was still upset and not quite in the mood to chat or meet with the other ladies. Again, totally understandable.
We all kind of settled into our own rooms and prepared for the welcome dinner in a few hours.
How Retreat Transform Us
After the welcome dinner, we all returned to the villa. I had wanted everyone to have plenty of time to settle in and informally get to know each other, so I did not have any formal activities scheduled until early the next morning.
I changed into my bathing suit, took my Ipad and speakers out to the pool in the back yard and blasted some soul music.
One by one, the ladies came out to join me in the pool. And it was so much fun. We laughed and got to know each other all night. There were discussions about music, food, love, adventure. We shared our hopes with each other and named our fears. It was really magical.
The overall retreat was a success. I saw each woman bloom in her own way and it was honestly an honor to watch. Each woman had a breakthrough in her own right and left feeling better and more focused than she had when she arrived.
And it all started in that pool.
It was in the pool where we all let the stress of the day leave us and opened ourselves up to the promise of connection and self-growth. This event set the tone of the retreat.
This is the power of retreat. Allowing ourselves to withdraw from the day to day and tap into what’s important. Retreats allow us to slow down and be mindful of our thoughts and take control of our experiences.
I hope to see you at my next retreat.
In the meantime, be sure to check out available individual programs.