Retreat: What’s in a Word?

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Last weekend, I spent a few days with about 175 stitchers near Hershey, Pennsylvania. They came from near and far, across the continent, and even across the ocean. Some came alone. Some came with a friend or two, or a cousin, mother, daughter, or sister. Some even brought their husband. Though the group was primarily women, there were a few men. So I’ll ask their forgiveness first as I write as if it was women only.

Why? Why did these women gather together? They came to stitch, chat, stitch, eat, stitch, sleep, and stitch. Which they could have done at home, right? Well, not exactly.

So, what exactly IS a retreat? Let’s look at the dictionary definitions:

n. a peaceful and private place you can go in order to rest

Hmmm … from the Facebook posts I read after the retreat, most folks (me included) needed to rest when we got home.

How about
n. the act of withdrawing, as into safety or privacy; retirement; seclusion

Privacy? Not so much. If you have ever shared a hotel room with three others, you know there’s not much your roommates don’t know about you when the weekend is over.

n. a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director

Getting closer. This particular weekend had some mini-classes in framing, finishing, and stitch techniques and lots of informal instruction going on among the participants. One of the attendees had come along for the ride, so to speak, and was not a stitcher. Well, that status lasted about as long as it took for others to learn of it. “A newbie!” was about all it took for her to be brought under the wing of an out-going, learner-friendly, experienced teacher.

How about this one?
n. an asylum, as for the insane

Are you laughing? And yet, consider this: how many times do we joke about our “addiction”?? How often do we say, “My family thinks I’m crazy”?? Here’s the nugget of truth in this definition … we come to a retreat to feel normal. To be among others who are as nuts about our passion as we are. Where crazy is the new normal.

Here’s my take-away: the vast majority of attendees came to get away from routine, to be in the company of women who enjoy stitching, to have some precious “me” time. Even in this enlightened age of ours, let’s face it. Women tend to others far more than they tend to themselves. And yet, the experts tell us that we need … let’s use a stronger word here … we require restorative activities so we will have the energy to fill all our roles day after day after day.

So, look for a gathering where you can feel safe, be at peace, know that others are as crazy as you are, have a break in your routine, learn a little or a lot, teach others, and most of all, do something for yourself.

But don’t expect to rest!

PS: There’s Facebook group called Stitchers’ Escapes where you can get the low-down on needlework retreats, classes, exhibits, camps, cruises, and more! I’ll see you there.

And while you’re browsing around Facebook, be sure to “like” Jean Farish Needleworks, too!

My Etsy widget has gone confluey on me and I don’t know how to fix it. So, if you want to see some of my designs, this is where you can shop!

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