Disclaimer: I am utterly smitten with Rachel Cole. She is inspiring and supportive, fierce and compassionate. She glows with energy and love. Having finally met her in person only confirmed my early opinion of her: she is magic. If you get the chance to work with her, through a Retreatshop or consulting or coaching or even just reading her blog, you will be encouraged and enriched.
Also, my experience of the Retreatshop itself is not typical. As a host, during the event I was finding it hard to focus because I was trying to make sure everyone else was comfortable, having a good time, and getting what they needed–be it a tissue or directions to the bathroom or a comfortable chair or time to ask questions or a drink of water. What more than made up for that is I was able to spend one-on-one time with Rachel before and after. But, it did make my experience a bit different than someone who simply attends the Retreatshop.
Well-Fed Woman Retreatshop Review
Rachel has those who register respond to a set of questions ahead of time. They served to focus us all on the central intention for our time together.
What are you most hoping to take away from the mini-retreatshop?
What are you truly hungry for?
What gets in the way of you feeding your truest hungers?
As women arrived at the Retreatshop, Rachel introduced herself to every one. It was interesting for me, who knew all of the women in attendance, to watch each of them relax and smile when Rachel approached. She put them at ease, giving them a gentle invitation to join her in that space and moment.
We started the workshop identifying hungers, writing them down on post-it notes and sticking them to the walls. Even though I had recently read Rachel’s post on “Primary Hungers,” about how we often confuse them with secondary ones, I still struggled in those beginning moments to see the difference. Luckily for me, Rachel is a “hunger whisperer.”
I wrote down a whole row of hungers related to time: time to rest, time to work, time to play, time to think, time to create, time. Rachel challenged that hunger for time, saying it actually was a secondary hunger. With her help, I was able to identify that I am truly hungry to trust my ability to care for myself, to be able to identify what I need and then provide it. I’m hungry for self-care. Once I identified my primary hunger, Rachel gave me suggestions for how I might begin to work with it.
What you have to understand is that throughout the three hours, she did this for every woman there. Some have since told me this was the most powerful element of the whole experience for them. Rachel listens and with a few questions, suddenly everything is clear, a new way revealed.
“It doesn’t matter how long we may have been stuck in a sense of our limitations. If we go into a darkened room and turn on the light, it doesn’t matter if the room has been dark for a day, a week, or ten thousand years — we turn on the light and it is illuminated. Once we control our capacity for love and happiness, the light has been turned on.” ~Sharon Salzberg
Rachel shares her own story, her own journey, during the Retreatshop, giving those in attendance a specific example that illustrates this important process–identifying what you are truly hungry for and learning how to feed it. Rachel has a map that shows the way, one that she wrote herself as she traveled through this same territory, and she is a kind and gentle guide. The Retreatshop was a mix of full group conversation and questions, smaller groups, visualizations, and journaling, with Rachel wholeheartedly present throughout.
What you will find if you attend a Retreatshop is that three hours isn’t enough time. You feel as if you’ve just gotten started, but the good news is: you have started! And, Rachel is available for further coaching and consulting, her good work will continue, and she’s created a Facebook group where those of us who have attended can continue our conversation about these issues, offer support and share ideas. She also emailed my group with suggestions for following up, continuing the work we’d started. The Retreatshop is just a taste of what’s possible, an appetizer, but if you go, you will be on your way to being a well-fed woman.
If you have questions about the Retreatshop, I’d be happy to answer them, as would Rachel. If you have been to a Retreatshop, please add a comment about your experience.