If you'd told me a year ago I was going to spend two nights away from my family, stay on old farmland, and get a massage from a nun, I would have been pretty confused.
But that's exactly what happened. 😜
Some of you read about my first-ever personal retreat, taken at my aunt and uncle's house in June. (Read about it here if not.)
I was maxed out on family-togetherness and desperate to be alone.
To walk my talk, coach with integrity, and care for myself I knew I had to do something.
Even on that first day at my aunt and uncle's, I could tell it was something I wanted to do again and make a regular part of life.
Against the odds, I'd become a 'personal retreat person'.
Click for an Instagram video I made of my cute room
The planner I've used and loved for years (affiliate link) looks at life in quarters - three months at a time.
I thought - why not try to have a personal retreat quarterly, if at all possible?
When Greg and I decided to spend a month of summer with his folks in Iowa, I saw my next chance to plan a retreat.
With grandparent help and plenty of time, it seemed like a good opportunity.
After Googling hotels and AirBnBs, I landed on a retreat center about 40 mins outside Iowa City where my in-laws live.
Here are some photos, if you'd like to see.
Built on old farmland being restored to prairie, Prairiewoods is an interfaith center founded by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (don't you love that name?).
It has a focus on environmental justice and connecting visitors to the story of the universe and their place in it.
My meals were lovingly made by a chef. All stick-to-your-ribs, tasty fare that I could heat up when I was ready to eat.
I met with a spiritual director and walked the grounds a lot.
I went to a friendly yoga class with three students - me, the instructor's daughter, and a retiree. (Thanks, Heather, for the great class!)
I had no car and no Korean fried chicken to hunt down this time.
I noticed how much I was still glued to my phone - both to connect with friends and family and also to zone out and waste time.
I guess the saying, "Wherever you go, there you are" is true. Even being in a blissed-out place couldn't keep me from my own compulsions to stay busy and distracted.
When I registered, the welcome letter mentioned, "We offer services to enhance your stay: spiritual direction, massage, healing touch or reflexology".
I wrote back, "Does anyone give a good deep tissue massage?"
The registrar wrote back, "Yes, Sister Nancy Hoffmann is EXCELLENT! You will LOVE her!"
Was I getting a massage from a nun?!
Yes. Yes, I was.
Click to see what it was like! (Spoiler alert: delightful.)
Then, before I knew it, my family had arrived to pick me up.
One of the lovely things about sharing this adventure has been hearing from you all.
"This has me totally inspired to plan a trip alone. It’s been…omg so long. Like I think 2 1/2 years? I’m actually thinking about just a trip to a local air bnb…"
"Ah, I need a retreat!"
"I took a week off work and wound up doing mom stuff, turbo speed. My hope is to get a vacation for myself soon."
"I did it!! I’m heading out this afternoon for a few days of just me time!! Thanks for the push!!"
I'm excited to support more of you in creating space for yourself - whether that's on a retreat or figuring out self care that works in your Goldfish-crumbs-on-the-couch life.
P.S. Are you a working mom or stay at home parent inspired to take a solo trip of your own? See my 4 tips for taking a personal retreat right here.
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