Retreating is not necessarily “retreating”

I am honored to be invited to teach a hand piecing/quilting/spiritual art class at the Women’s Relaxation Reiki Retreat in Finland, August 19-22, 2016 and I am working on developing Northern Lights (aka the aurora borealis) themed project options for the class since the Northern Lights will be in view during the retreat.

This will be a working retreat for me where I get to attend some classes and teach a couple of classes. I started thinking about the whole idea of going on a retreat/retreating and Quilting Retreats I have attended in the past (and those planned with my quilting friends in the near future) and this post shares my thoughts.

If you look up the word retreat in a dictionary you made find definitions like these below:

  • movement by soldiers away from an enemy because the enemy is winning or has won a battle
  • movement away from a place or situation especially because it is dangerous, unpleasant, etc.
  • the act of changing your opinion or position on something because it is unpopular

(Source – http://www.merriam-webster.com)

None of these definitions have anything to do with the type of retreats I enjoy! To retreat is commonly thought of as backing away and/or pulling into yourself. There are retreats such as spiritual based and meditation retreats where the purpose is to back away from your daily life and worries and to pull into yourself to gain perspective or spiritual enlightenment.  I admire people who attend these type of purely inward focused retreats. However the type of retreats enjoy involve connecting with people.

I am so fortunate to have a wonderful group of quilting friends from various parts of the country. I met these women through quilting retreats and because we deeply connected, we continue to retreat together year after year. We even plan our own special group retreat where only our private group attends. Yes, I will admit it – sometimes I bring a couple projects to these retreats and do not get much quilt piecing done. However what are you going to most remember about a quilt retreat: 1) that you completed 5 projects; or 2) that you hung out with some amazing women and had many laughs?

It is magical to connect with a stranger at a retreat on other common ground beyond being a quilter. I am originally from New York and I have bonded with another quilter because she is also “a Yankee”.

If you are a quilter/crafter, I bet you could not imagine attending a quilting/crafting retreat in which you just “back away/pull into yourself”. I have met a couple people at quilting retreats who just wanted to focus on their projects and were not very social – however I am not sure they had as great a time as those that did not get as much done but had a blast connecting with other retreat attendees.

Besides connecting with fun people, the other wonderful parts of quilt retreating are a scenic peaceful location (I do love a retreat where you can go for a solitary walk in a pastoral location and take break from the group setting), impromptu outings to local quilt shops (with old or new quilt friends), and yummy food to enjoy (that I did not have to cook!)

“Happiness [is] only real when shared” – Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

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