I have to be honest, I haven’t felt the need to attend an all-women’s retreat as an adult. I attended a couple in college through my faith-based sorority, but since graduating and entering true adulthood, I have been to ZERO. Several weeks ago, a good friend of mine mentioned a church near her house that was hosting women on a weekend-long, sleepaway retreat, and the host was one of my favorite podcasters, Jamie Ivey. Before I had a chance to say “no,” I said “yes!”
I was only slightly nervous leading up to the weekend, but mostly I was looking forward to some time away from home to be filled spiritually. I have an outgoing personality, which helped since I only knew one other person attending. (Luckily my friend knew many more people, so she helped introduce me to lots of new faces!) I went into the weekend resolved to do things that would prevent me from slinking into my own personal bubble. For example, I was determined to have conversations with people I didn’t know, thus not relying on my friend to babysit me all weekend. I also knew that I would have the chance to be lazy and catch up on sleep, but I didn’t want to spend all of my downtime in my bunk. To avoid this, I decided to say “yes” when asked to join up on random activities. And finally, I wanted to be receptive to learn something new, connect to women in all seasons of life (not just my own), and be open to share parts of my life with others.
I stuck to my intentions, and it made my weekend more enjoyable than I could have imagined. These are the things I loved the most:
The speaker. I mentioned that the speaker was one of my main reasons for saying yes to this retreat in the first place, but I need to just say it again. Jamie Ivey hosts a weekly podcast that she describes loosely as “a faith-based show without being churchy”. She has a different female guest each week and they talk about things two girlfriends would talk about at a happy hour. At the retreat, Jamie spoke about how each of our stories matter, but our struggles and past do not define us. Many tears were shed and a lot of truth was spoken. My heart was filled beyond measure!
Eating meals I didn’t plan, cook, or clean up. Surely you are at the end of your rope with the responsibility of feeding your family. (You, dear reader, wouldn’t leave me out here on this island of mealtime stress alone!) The retreat was at a camp that fed us great meals, served them to us with smiles on their faces, and cleaned up after us when we were done. I am sure you can sense the euphoria we all felt about this perk. It was appreciated each time we sat down to eat, and it was missed immediately upon arrival back home.
Connecting with women. This is a part of my life that I wish was easier and more frequent, but it just isn’t. It can be hard sometimes to be around large groups of women without playing the comparison game or having feelings of inadequacy. I experienced none of this with the women I met. It was easy to talk to new people and feel a genuine connection to those around me. Our theme for the weekend really made it impossible to spend time worrying about comparing yourself to others. I connected to all types of women that I wouldn’t have otherwise met. One day I sat down next to a woman who just so happened to be an adoptive mom, both through international adoption and through domestic foster care. This is a ministry that I am currently involved with through our church, so it was an amazing connection we made just because I sat down with someone I hadn’t met and was open to genuine conversation.
Working out on my own time. I have been on a (slow) fitness journey since the beginning of the summer. I workout 5 days a week, including Saturdays. The campground at which we stayed had a full fitness center! It was a great gym with lots of amenities that opened EARLY! I usually have to wait until 8am on Saturdays to workout at my neighborhood gym which is problematic for my family who are all waking up at that moment and just need Mommy! During the retreat, I got to take my time working out without worrying about things blowing up at home without me. I got some alone time, kept my workout routine in tact, and was done by 7:30am! It was glorious.
Being fed (spiritually). I needed this. I just needed to be away to connect to my faith, and to spend some time reading and remembering the truths that I believe. I needed to be able to connect with myself and remember how much I mean to those around me, especially my family. I needed to be around other people who were genuine and who could hold my hand while laughing and crying at the same time. Most of all, I needed to be reminded that I really enjoy being around women who are trying to do better, be better, and love better. That part was most refreshing and empowering.
**Thank you to Chase Oaks Church in Plano for hosting such an amazing retreat! I enjoyed each person that I met, and I cannot wait to do it again in two years.**