It isn't unusual for me to struggle when attempting to accurately describe the experience of a retreat. It is like trying to tell you how warm the water is when you aren't with me to feel it yourself. Plus everyone experiences variations depending on when and where you enter the pool, your personal preferences, and how long you've been swimming. This year's Holiday Retreat was no different and we layered on the variations this time as well!
I want to at least try and paint a picture for you because it really is something magical, so here's my best shot . . .
You've been anticipating this event since you registered nearly five months ago. Excitement is building as you receive your confirmation and learn about your hosts and fellow guests by email and social media. While you aren't sure exactly what to expect, everyone is already so friendly and welcoming that it helps settle your nerves as the date approaches. Finally - the day arrives and you either load up your car with friends or take a quiet and peaceful drive to the venue. It's also very likely that there could be some shopping and/or junking involved.
Next, you pull up to a beautiful house that you can't wait to see the inside of. It's decorated for the holidays and a warm glow emenates from the windows. You gather up your bags (and maybe a little extra courage) and make your way inside.
Welcome to retreat! Yummy smells float through the kitchen. Laughter erupts from the living room. You are greeted with big smiles and warm hugs from the ladies you met at last year's event. It's time to find your room and get a lay of the land in this new, lovely location. You find your nametag, select your bed in a cozy corner of your room and open the little present perched atop your pillow.
After check-in, the schedule and specifics might vary a bit from retreat to retreat. It's where the magic really happens though. Your host gives the group a warm welcome and imparts all of the important house rules, schedule changes, etc. Everyone digs into the delicious dinner and gathers around the tables to share the first meal.
This is where friendships begin. An intimidation-free intro session opens the door to common interests and coincidences. Mutual passions and mutual friends are discovered over savory bites and sweet treats. We usually find an extra-easy craft component to begin with on that first night - just to get warmed up and start the creative juices flowing. It gives us a chance to feel out everyone's comfort level with our projects and know who might welcome a little extra guidance through the weekend.
On Day 2, we pay attention to our natural rhythms and rise with the dawn or stay snuggled under the blankets. Steaming cups of coffee and delicious breakfast awaits to greet you when you're ready. Slippers, PJ's, and comfy clothes are recommended attire as we jump into project lessons mid-morning and laugh and craft our way through to lunch.
At this year's Holiday Retreat, we learned how to transfer precious photo memories onto wooden ornaments; create winter wonderland scenes inside a glass cloche; and how to make icing behave the way we want it to for sugar cookie success. Each retreat brings new things to learn and new ways to have fun!
The second day of retreat is also when we like to include a little something special. It might be a shopping excursion to hunt for antiques; a mid-day yoga session or massage; an ornament or gift exchange; a birthday celebration; game night; or maybe all of the above! In the midst of all that fun, we still find time for napping/reading/porch sitting, etc. for the intoverts too - you make the rules.
The last day of retreat brings another sleepy morning, but today everyone changes out of their pajamas because we have to go back to the real world. We spend the morning adding the final touches to our projects and carefully packing them for transport. We linger one more time over coffee and breakfast and lament that it's already over. (How does the time fly by SO quickly???) Lots of hugs and contact details are shared as we attempt to plan the next time we'll get to see each other. It's a bittersweet day as we leave with fun memories and new friends.
Until next time lovelies! I'll see you in the Spring!