Having just returned from leading an intimate retreat for five women this weekend, the subject of “what brings happiness” is fresh on my mind. I had instituted two important rules over the weekend to help these women halt their normal routines so they could take in the beauty of the wooded area and the two beautiful lakes that surrounded the property where we were meeting in southern Wisconsin: no technology other than smart phones (service was spotty at best!) and no TV.
There was a hint of a chill in the air, and some of the fall colors were already making themselves known on the landscape as we sat in a circle, and the opening bell rang in the start of the weekend.
We began with a full hour of silence, where the women sat in solitude to greet the day. I honestly didn’t know if this was going to work with five women in one house, but it did; even when we were together in the same room, the silence was observed. For many of the women, this was a new sensation. They were able to reflect on their own thoughts: some read affirmations to encourage themselves, others used biblical versus that nourished their souls, and others just looked out the big picture window and took in the glistening lake before them. It was indeed a beautiful start to each day.
We also honored our bodies with spectacular healthy meals cooked by the most joyful chef one will ever meet. I had the women select a plastic animal to use when introducing themselves, and the chef picked a buffalo, because she said her husband described her as strong and a woman everyone always knew was in the room. Indeed, by the end of the weekend, we all agreed that the buffalo was the right choice.
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Our chef had purchased all organic meats and vegetables. The counters were covered with fresh fruits and nuts, and she introduced us to carbonated water with a hint of lime (that I am now addicted to!). We all sat down together to eat, we shared our thoughts as we laughed, and like busy beavers, we cleaned up the kitchen together in minutes.
Next, we found joy in doing light Pilates after pushing away the sofa and tables and laying our yoga mats wherever we could. There was a natural flow, no hustle and bustle; we simply used what we had before us. The entire weekend was on the property—no restaurants, no gyms, and no outside entertainment.
The property was surrounded by a circular path around Legend Lake, where I placed inspirational quotes so that the women could stop and ponder the words as we walked each day.
You have to leave the city of your comfort zone and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.
Chairs were placed by the lake where the women could sit and journal while taking in the magnificent view. No special clothes were needed for this, other than layers to withstand the fall climate.
When it was finally time to go our separate ways, I asked whether they felt refreshed, and the responses ranged from “Yes, at all levels—mind, body and spirit,” to “I feel regenerated and hopeful.”
All of the women drove back to their homes with Intentional Living vision boards they created while we were together. Moreover, each one went home with simple ways to invite more happiness into her life, even if it meant doing the things she did at the retreat back at her house.
Silent moments. Healthy meals eaten together. Exercise right at home. Walks around the neighborhood. These are all simple ways to bring more happiness and joy into your everyday life.
Go do it!