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Retreat from the World

by Janet Bruins, VPG Contributor

A Writer + mom in Reston, VA


The group of us stood next to the picture frame windows, looking at the distant snowy hill.

“I can’t believe they’re still skiing,” said Mary.

The sunny cloudless weather from the past few days indicated that the snow on the slopes was packed down. The little black dots weaving down the hill were most likely skidding on ice rather than skiing.


Janet Bruins and friend

I found myself wishing that one of them would fall and tumble down the hill. Not injuring themselves, of course, but maybe losing a ski or two. Although we set the rule at this retreat that all thoughts and feelings were welcome, I decided to keep that one to myself.


We were at a weekend retreat—the one I’ve been organizing for almost a year.

On days when I’m overwhelmed, overworked, and knew there were still hours to go before I would drag my overtired body to bed, I dreamed about a retreat. I couldn’t be the only one feeling this drained. In fact, I suspected this was how most caregivers and breadwinners often feel.

I put together a weekend away that would recharge me. A beautiful house, embedded in nature. I wanted yoga, I wanted meditation, and I wanted a kind and gentle person to unburden my worries. At the end of day, I wanted home cooked meals shared with sophisticated new friends then turned in for a long and undisturbed sleep.


retreat living room

Our retreat was intimate, with four participants including myself and Jenny McGlothern, our retreat facilitator. We explored ways we can physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually refuel. We composed mantras to remind us of the values that are important to us. We painted watercolors as we conversed, then gathered in the dining room for fresh salad, hot soup, and toasted bread.

On the last morning, Jenny instructed each of us to find a spot to lie down and close our eyes. She guided us through a meditation, then Jenny placed a soft blanket over each of us as we drifted into peaceful silence. A perfect end to the retreat.


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