A week ago, I ran my first plant-based cooking retreat at Woody Grove Retreat, Mapleton. What an absolute privilege it was. And I don’t say that lightly.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that I’d be leading a retreat of my own. Let’s be honest, I’ve been a ‘retreat junkie’ most of my life – attending all sorts of retreats around the world and growing and learning from each experience. This retreat felt so different – whilst I was organised and everything was carefully planned out, it was one of the rare moments in my life where I felt totally in flow, and not in control. I didn’t really know where each day would take us, and I was so comfortable with that. I was out of my head the entire weekend and in my heart. And there was a sense of ease and joy everywhere.

I headed home with a huge smile on my face. I took the next day to sit quietly reflecting on the weekend that was. Memories floated in and out, the many conversations replayed in my mind, and each time I reflected I felt immense gratitude. Grateful that I ‘got’ to spend a weekend connecting with women I’d never met. Grateful that 12 women, with no past history, came together with complete trust and connected and opened up. Grateful that I get to share my passion of plant-based food with like-minded people. Grateful for the laughter – boy did we laugh!

I wasn’t looking for the usual growth and learning from this retreat. My intention was to create an incredible weekend for my guests and give ALL of ME to them. To give back this time. But what I received and learned was bigger than I could have ever imaged. I learned that:

  • women are more incredible than I ever realised;
  • when you truly stare into the eyes of another human, you see yourself;
  • we are all equal;
  • we are all beautiful;
  • women are strong and can overcome absolutely anything;
  • differences are to be celebrated;
  • opening your heart is the gateway to deep connection;
  • joy is our birth right, not something we should strive for;
  • when women come together, we truly know how to have a good time.

And on that note, I end with quote that resonates so deeply with me. For we are not broken, we are just butterflies waiting to spread our wings.

“She is a beautiful piece of broken pottery, put back together with her own hands. And a critical world judges her cracks while missing the beauty of how she made herself whole again.”

Jm Storm