Monday, January 11, 2010

Retreat and then Attack

On tomorrow's Conceive blog, I will talk a bit about the importance of taking time to think at the various crossroads in your fertility journey. What I didn't do in the blog was talk about the retreat itself.

Even though I consider myself progressive in nature, the fact that I get acupuncture probably moves me a step up the "granola" scale and going to a women's retreat was another big leap up the scale. That said, I approach these things with more of a rational mind--for good or bad.

The retreat was led by Carolyn Foster,who you can learn more about her and her various services on her website. I met Carolyn over 20 years ago when I took one of her creative writing classes at West Valley College. What made Carolyn's classes different was that she had you write to gain personal insight. Following her own career transition to a professional coach, I have used her on and off over the last seven years to navigate the complexities of career, marriage and self.

This weekend's retreat was called, "Making Friends with Time: Patience, Silence and Presence". When you weren't in a learning session, you spent your time not speaking with any body while in the retreat center. In fact, all of our meals were in silence, except for some music in the background. That was one of the hardest things for me to get used to. It simply goes against my grain to be quiet during a meal. That and the twin bed....though, my husband commented that was more room than when the dog is in our king bed. I couldn't argue with that.

We had a total of five learning sessions. They were structured like this: First, Carolyn would lecture for about 30 minutes on a topic. Then, she would give you a writing exercise for another 30 minutes. After the exercise, you would break out into small groups and share your writings/thoughts. Some sessions were more interesting than others--just depends on where your thoughts are. My favorite one was on time perspectives, which was based on Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd's work in The Time Paradox. In fact, I am saving an entire blog post to talk about what I learned in that exercise.

She brings a great portion of her library, so you can borrow books that you might never pick up. I read Money by Liz Perle, which talks about women's relationships with money--a very interesting read. Plus, the center also had an art room and hiking trails, so you could do as little or as much in your spare time that you wanted. In fact, Carolyn's policy about the retreat is that you don't have show up to anything if you don't want to. She just wants to provide the space and haven for women to have some restoration time.

Now, you could argue that you could have just as much renewal going to the spa for the day, but I can guarantee that will be short-lived. When we spend some time to open our minds and expand our thoughts, we change the way we live--even if it is in the most subtlest of ways.

I detailed out the retreat a bit because I asked a few girlfriends to go with me and I think everyone was pretty hesitant about it. The one friend who was brave enough to sign up, came down with pneumonia and had to cancel. I realize this isn't for everybody, but I do think that you might be surprised at how good it can be.


  1. "MANAGING...PROCRASTINATION" (Jan 30, Feb 6) Now there's a class hand-picked for me.
    :) Malinda

  2. And from my understanding there's a waitlist for it....all those procrastinators:>)

  3. I am sad to hear that such a simple thing as taking time for silence and self-reflection is so scary to so many people, but then again by most people's standards I crunch like broken glass. :-D I'm very, very glad that you had the courage and the belief in yourself enough to do it, and that you got the clarity and insight you hoped you would from taking that time. I know the contents themselves are not happy-making, but we can only work with what we have in front of us. I admire your courage, honesty, and willingness to go through this process semi-publicly more than I can tell you.


  4. Hey V,

    I'm from the 40s board - just wanted to wish you the best of luck in your journey.