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Retreat 101

by Kate Franco on September 9, 2013 · 7 comments

Last year, I took an amazing trip to Miraval. I was already in the process of doing some major soul searching and life rearranging, and my experience there really solidified my path. This year, My cousin and I decided to DIY it. It was not the same as going on a luxury yoga and wellness retreat, but it was just as re-affirming and in some ways better.

Since I’ve been back, lots of people have told me that there’s no way they could do this: either the thought of real wilderness kind of freaks them out, or the thought of 4 days of solitude does. But ANYONE can do this, I promise.

What is a retreat? Retreat 101: The story of our first DIY retreatSo what is a retreat, exactly?

Read the story of our 4-day journey to find out. Click through for the full post!

What is a retreat? Retreat 101: The story of our first DIY retreatWhat is a retreat? Retreat 101: The story of our first DIY retreatWhat is a retreat? Retreat 101: The story of our first DIY retreatWhat is a retreat? Retreat 101: The story of our first DIY retreatWe stayed up in Comptche, CA on my uncle’s land the last weekend of the summer season. The weather was hot during the day and cool at night. Animals loved us. During our stay we saw horses, cows, jack rabbits, frogs, fish, dragonflies, and ducks came to play on the pond. I even tried to appreciate bees. The little ones, mostly.

We had: access to a barn with a functioning kitchen, a place to sleep {that cute little airstream trailer}, plenty of food, games and books for entertainment.

We did not have: air conditioning, cell service, or a traditional bathroom situation.

What is a retreat? Retreat 101: The story of our first DIY retreatWe spent our days on the dock and in the water, with the barn as refuge when the sun was scorching. It was so quiet and so still that you could hear EVERYTHING. The heightened sense of awareness when you cut out every distraction of every day life is pretty awesome. You feel sharp, and present, and clear. Alive, really.

I was twitchy for the first few hours, even checking my phone though I knew nothing was going to come through. I was pretty impressed with how quickly I mellowed out and by the fourth day, a cell phone seemed like a novel idea. I’m not gonna lie though — the 500 notifications I had on my phone when I got back were a little overwhelming.

What is a retreat? Retreat 101: The story of our first DIY retreatThere’s great hiking on the property, but my cousin is crazy pregnant, so we opted for shorter walks through an old orchard instead. We talked without making sense, let ideas roam free, picked wild blackberries and snapped countless pictures, trying to soak up the experience.

This shot in particular is one of my faves. An old tree had burned down, and another tree had grown up through it and on top of it. The foliage surrounding the charred tree was vibrant and the contrast was completely breathtaking. You know, a visual metaphor for rebirth or new beginnings. ‘Cause I’m into that.

Yoga tree poseThere’s a studio space in the barn flooded with natural light that is PERFECT for yoga. I just thought it would be funny to strike a tree pose amongst some trees.

Gabrielle Bernstein's May Cause Miracles and fresh pressed juice make perfect retreat gear.A retreat for me is not a retreat without my girl Gabrielle Bernstein. The nice thing about guided meditation and writing prompts is that since you’re covering the same material as the person you are with, if your mind is open and you let go of a little thing called fear, you can have fantastic deep and meaningful conversations. It’s a great way to get honest with yourself. I’ve always found that saying something out loud all of a sudden makes it more true.

Also: a retreat for me is not a retreat without a TON of juice. Considering myself an expert of sorts, I took the lead on this while Lila did a lot of our meals. We had sweet beet juice, traditional green, and what I like to call the green zinger — a make-your-mouth-pucker kind of good. You can catch the full recipes over on Lingering Daydreams or check out some of my past juicing posts for inspiration! I’ve been incorporating a lot more cucumber and celery into my drinks as they seem to be the common thread amongst juices for glowing skin.

Retreat 101 Gallon Challenge: drink a gallon of water day!We were mean, lean hydrating machines! Okay, that was lame. But we did commit to drinking a gallon of water a day to help flush and cleanse our systems. No easy feat — especially when you have to walk a ways to get to the bathroom. I’ve been sticking to this since we’ve been back and it’s been awesome! I don’t feel like snacking as much and I have more energy. Highly recommend.

What is a retreat? Retreat 101: The story of our first DIY retreatIf someone asked me, “What is a retreat?” I guess for me, I’d say it’s about mindfulness {being in the present} and personal betterment: mentally, spiritually, physically. The coolest thing about our DIY retreat is that we can take it with us wherever we go. And by that I mean: a lot of these things can be incorporated into everyday life. For our retreat tutorials and DIYs, check out Lila’s blog!

For the not-so DIY inclined, one of our ideas was to open this kind of retreat up to other people, and we’ll do the heavy lifting. What do you think? Would you ever try something like this?

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda Weiss September 9, 2013 at 7:11 am

What an amazing trip, Kate. Definitely seems like you were able to zen out!

<3 Amanda


Logan September 9, 2013 at 9:25 am

Loved reading about it!


Kate Franco September 12, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Thanks lo! xox.


Lila September 10, 2013 at 8:21 am

You really captured the vibe. I love this post and our retreat!


Adiel September 11, 2013 at 9:40 pm

Not sure how I missed this early, but I loved this recap. Reading about your trip was so fun and I love the photos!


Kate Franco September 12, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Aw thanks! We had a lot of fun.


Laura November 6, 2013 at 9:49 am

Hi Kate! I keep coming back to this post of yours – very inspiring! Loved the recap and photos.


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