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For the first time in a long time, I felt at home in my body yesterday – one sign is that my shoulders were relaxed (they tend to hover just below my ears). I feel like my feet have been stuck in mud since last March, when my friend was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and, coincidentally, when I stopped doing yoga everyday(ish), which I had been doing since January.

I went to a local (Loudoun County, VA) women’s retreat call Reconnect and Restore this weekend with the intention of taking some time to figure out what’s next for me and came away with more tools in my mental health toolbox. Here’s the retreat description:

“We host 2 retreats a year! We long for women to not just survive in life, but rather thrive. We believe we’re stronger together. Collaboration over competition. We all have gifts to share with the world. Our retreats help you to remember who you are. To prioritize your self care. To do the work of healing yourself. This will heal our county, our state, our country, & our world.”

A friend of mine went to two of the previous retreats and reassured me that it was worth my time and not hokey or overly woo-woo. The last retreat-type thing for self-improvement I went to was Lifespring in the early 90s, where I maxed out my credit card paying for “training” the summer after my freshman year in college.

Reconnect and Restore was nothing like that at all.

There was a speaker, 2 workshops, and time for group and solitary reflection on each day. I could list out the speakers and workshops I took, but that still wouldn’t give you a good idea of what happened this weekend. The retreat organizers, Tori and Vanessa, create a truly safe space (that I was able to enjoy most after a breathwork & meditation workshop Saturday afternoon) for women to make connections with each other. Yes there were tears and tissues, but there was also laughter and tears (the kind that happen when you can’t stop laughing).

With 44 attendees (attendance is capped at 50) and me and social anxiety, I didn’t interact with everyone but I really connected with more than a handful of women with similar experiences and issues. I even discovered I share a psychiatrist with one woman! I also met a knitter & crocheter and we’re making plans.

My biggest takeaway is more than reassurance that I’m not alone, but somehow knowing it in my bones again.

I’m really grateful for this opportunity and to have met so many incredible women: I’m so glad I took a chance!

P.S. The image in this post is the view of the Potomac River and Maryland from the back yard of the venue, which was super beautiful!


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