‘Tis the Season to Retreat

You know how kids love Christmas because it make them feel warm and fuzzy and they get loads of presents? That’s how I feel about the Exponent Retreat. I’ve been known on dark February days, filled with long division homework and mountains of snow and laundry to be dealt with, to close my eyes and imagine I am in a magic circle of friends and strangers, wondering what treasures will be shared.

Last weekend was my “Christmas.” Here are some of the gifts I received at this year’s retreat:

Watching a certain sassy redhead wrap her “Heavenly Body” in a pink feather boa;

Realizing Jezebel got a raw deal simply because she wasn’t on “Team Yaweh;”

Having kind kitchen staff make all my meals (the beef and barley soup rocked);

Coming away from a homemaking workshop and NOT feeling guilty (Presenters Who Know are good at this);

Realizing I am the heroine of my own story, every single day and have Mentors to guide me;

A lecture on leadership that actually helped me let go of a grudge;

But as my wise roommate shared, there are times to vote people off the island;

Bottomless bowls of fun size candy bars;

Spontaneous conversations with wicked smart and funny women;

A quilt that made me weep from joy (still tearing up);

And Jana Freakin’ Riess.  Our keynote speaker was wonderful. Her workshop on tweeting the Bible was a riot. Here’s a sample of her Twible verses:1 Isa 15: “G prophesies vs Philistines. They’ll be ruined by famine, war, & a complete failure to value opera or use the correct fork.” Or Ex 20: “G’s Top 10. No gods, idols, blasphemy. Keep Sabbath holy & love Mom. Don’t kill, cheat, steal, lie, or look @ Xmas catalogs.”

I can honestly say I came home with everything I need to get me through another year. At least until February.

If you attend women’s retreats, what gifts are most valuable to you?

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14 Responses

  1. marrta says:

    that was so much fun!! one of my favorite things about retreat is being in your (somewhat distant) orbit and basking in your glow. that there are other suns there in whose glow to bask is bonus.

  2. marta says:

    on the down side, how tired do you have to be to mis-spell your own name and not notice it? it was so worth the tired.

  3. Barbara says:

    Sorry I missed this historic event. My love to everyone who organized and attended – in body or spirit. Loves. Barbara

    • Heather says:

      There was a Barbara shaped hole there for sure. And I love how many people it took to do your job…still scratching my head at how you’ve done it for so long.

  4. Kirsten says:

    I am so grateful to those wonderful women who did the mountain of planning and work it takes to make this heavenly retreat possible!! Thank you from the center of my soul…
    I feel the same about all of the gifts you listed, Heather. I think for me the best thing about the retreat is that I feel listened to in a way I just don’t get anywhere else. There is also the tremendous opportunity to listen to and express compassion for others and the journeys they are on.

    I sure hope this is what heaven is like. (Retreats all the time at my mansion, y’all!!)

  5. spunky says:

    I’ve never been to a retreat, I guess I feel like I am so unusual and different to everyone that in my mind, it would just be uncomfortable and long, like Relief Society meetings. I am never quite comfortable in the company of women unless I am with women who also don’t have children. I am always curious though as to what others like about them, and if there could be a real place for me at one, enough that I would feel comfortable, which is a hard concept for me. I am looking forward to others commenting about what they enjoy about it.

    • DefyGravity says:

      I really wanted to go, but couldn’t swing it this year. Spunky, we can both go next year as the people without kids set. 🙂

    • Kirsten says:

      Spunky, from everything I’ve read in your posts, you would feel right at home at the Exponent retreat. I think I’d call it more of an “anti-RS” meeting of sorts. At the retreat, everyone can feel free to express themselves, blemishes and all, without fear of judgment or reprisal. I know that sounds impossible, but for some wonderful reason, it happens. I have heard every story, from those who have left the Church behind, to those navigating choppy waters with their faith, to those who feel comfortable in the Gospel.
      It is a retreat about women’s stories—all of them. There is no prerequisite to share. We have women with children and without. Those married, widowed, divorced and still single. I think you would be warmly embraced and I hope you’ll consider coming next fall.

    • fMhlisa says:

      I admit that I’m an extrovert so I thrive on this sort of thing, but I do know several introverts who go to these things occasionally, and while they aren’t always the most comfortable thing, they do tend to have a healing effect for women who feel like then never quite fit in (with other women or at church or whatever). It might not be your thing, but it might surprise you . . .

  6. EmilyCC says:

    Amen and amen, Sister Heather!

    I’m always amazed at how much I love the women at the EXII retreat–old friends or new, I find those relationships there unlike anywhere else.

  7. Ziff says:

    Sounds like a great experience, Heather. I have to admit I’m more than a bit jealous! 🙂

  8. Caroline says:

    Totally jealous! It sounds absolutely wonderful. Thank you for these highlights, Heather. I know exactly what you are talking about in terms of feeling sustained by these gatherings. I’m so spiritually and emotionally filled from retreat weekends that I always leave feeling like I now have the strength to go on for another year.

  9. fMhlisa says:

    I had a wonderful time getting to know my ExII sisters better. I felt like the luckiest women in the world to be there, and i’m still riding that emotional high.

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