We need to let go, to leave all of our responsibilities behind. Once a year I retreat with a small group of women to my own favorite get-away –the five small seaside towns of the Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera. Like shedding a thick skin, I let it all go—cell phone, board meetings, problem solving, family challenges. Now it’s time for me. A retreat can bring us any kind of nurturing, pampering or adventure we need to return renewed. “Your mind slips sideways in Italy,” is a great line from Enchanted April, the movie where four British women escape a cold and dreary England to the sunny shores of the Italian Riviera for a month.
We need to spend time doing what we love. A retreat is an opportunity for women to go for what they want – some want to push the envelope, some want to lay back and do nothing. Italy brings something fresh out of me. I’m surrounded with so much loveliness and history that it seeps into my soul. I revel in the outdoors, flex my heart and my legs to just walk and walk like I’ve never walked before, because what I lay my eyes on takes my breath away. Surrounded by so much outer beauty I love creating more inner beauty, getting the soul tuned up and taking care of myself .
We need to see and learn new things. Retreats are an opportunity to open our hearts and minds to new possibilities – any dream we can imagine. On my Italy retreat we learn what it takes to enjoy our lives, to live la dolce vita – the sweet life. In a retreat that includes workshop we’re learning to break free from old mindsets, unravel tight places, and create a life we love, while all around us the air smells like lemons and basil and the turquoise sea sparkles.
We need to spend time with like-minded people. I especially enjoy the women-only space of a retreat. There’s a sweetness in spending time with a group of like-minded women – shopping for the small blue plates with painted lemons, then eating and sharing a glass of local wine. The pistachio gelato, focaccia bread and pesto pasta draw us into the cafes. The trails connecting the five villages wind us like ribbons up the sides of the mountains laughing and talking as we go. It’s been said that when women connect with each other, they create more serotonin—a neurotransmitter that give us a feeling of well-being.
We need to enjoy our lives. After a soul-satisfying adventure, I return from Italy soaked with love. In Italy my breath slows down, my body relaxes, my heart expands. I remember who I am.
I return recharged, the stresses of the year washed away. The daily chores, standing at my kitchen sink or writing at my desk, are not so mundane now. A satisfying personal retreat leaves me appreciating my life here and now. I’m seeing through fresh eyes and smelling through a fresh nose, just like the women in Enchanted April who noticed, “We could smell the acacia flowers long after we arrived back in London.”
Lenora Spatafore Boyle: Life Coach, Speaker, Option Method Teacher, Leader of Transformational Retreats for women in Italy. Next Italy Retreat for women in the Italian Riviera is September 10-18, 2011.