Saturday, August 30, 2008

First Annual Girls Retreat

Last weekend I went on a girls weekend or what I now think of as our first annual retreat! The original reason for going was our dear friend Ann's 50th birthday. But I think in the future it's just going to be "just because". We are already planning to go back to the same place, although in the fall instead of August.

I typed notes up on my PDA at night, so I'm going to use them to create my post and add comments and pics along the way. I had a smudge on my lens and didn't realize it, so some of the pictures look a little weird.

Friday, August 22, 2008

It's 1:00 am and I'm sitting in a king sized four poster canopy bed that is one of the most beautiful beds I have ever seen!

My bedroom is huge. There are carved side tables, the one by my bed has faces carved in the legs I just noticed - I'll have to photograph those tomorrow. There is a huge dresser, two other occasional tables and a round glass dinette table with a carved bottom and two chairs. Huge room. The bathroom is almost as big! The tub is large and deep and I was very disappointed to find the stopper doesn't actually work and the water wouldn't stay in it for a bath. So I had a shower instead. [Interestingly, though the house is gorgeous there are little things like missing vents, unpainted doors, missing trim, that are a little haphazard.]

As large as this house is, the walls are somewhat thin, as I can hear people below and beside me talking.

It is our girls weekend! Lynn found this amazing house for rent. It's a 4 bedroom 5 bathroom 2 story house with a full basement/rec room. Oh and it has a great deck with wicker patio furniture and a dinette set looking out into the woods out back.

The inside of the house:

Outside around the house (first two photos are views from front porch and back deck)

The flowers planted along the front walk draw tons of birds, butterflies and bees - I'm planting zinnias like this next year!

It is out in the country and took us longer than we thought to get out here. Only maybe 15 miles from the interstate to the turn onto the 250 acre property, but then it was several more miles to the house. There are a bed & breakfast and two other large houses out here. Amazingly, we have cell phone service. We passed fields filled with cows and deer. We saw so many fawns! There is a good crop of food this summer, so I think the deer had lots of babies this year. We saw one doe with three fawns all of which still had their spots.

We came in two carloads. I rode with Ann and Lynn. We stopped in Beckley for dinner at Pizza Hut. I'm not sure what time we actually got to the house - between 8:30 and 9:00 I think because it was getting dark. We unloaded everything then hung out on the back porch until the others arrived.

After the second carload got here and we got them unloaded and showed them around, we sat out on the back deck for a bit then came in and had a snack.

While some people ate, I went back to a bedroom with Lynn and she showed me gifts she had picked up for us at Sally's [Mountain Mama's]. She got us each a card, a medicine bag and a little buddha! She is so sweet. She and I and Shay sat on her bed for awhile talking about them and about spirituality for a little while, while Lynn put everything together. Then we joined the others and Lynn gave us the beautiful medicine bags and we all wore them the rest of the evening (I think I wore mine the rest of the weekend).

We went out front to get a better view of the stars. AMAZING. We're in the mountains so we have a great view. Ann, Shay and I laid out in the front yard on the grass for a long time just gazing up at the stars. I have not done that since I was a child. I always say I'm going to and never do. It was just the best. The sky is amazing out here where there are no lights from any city to be seen. And it was clear and perfect for star gazing. I saw two shooting stars!!

After awhile we came back in and sat in the living room and talked. Then some of us split off to our bedrooms. I am tired but don't want to sleep. I can still hear others talking, not sure where they all are. I thought everyone had gone to their bedrooms but I think several are gathered in one now. LOL. None of us want to sleep! I wanted to have this quiet time for myself. I had a nice shower and I'm going to turn this off and lay down and enjoy a good night's sleep, before waking up to spend the day with my girlies!

I am so blessed to have such friends. Truly blessed.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I woke up at 6:30 but was so sleepy that although I saw Shay was out on the back deck I went back to sleep for an hour. A few others were starting to move around so I got up and got dressed and went downstairs. We spent time on the back deck.

Then I decided to walk around a little by myself. There were lots of crows being loud nearby, and a cow too - all day this cow complained! I walked around and took pictures, collected feathers, and meditated on a rock in the sun.  I took a deer path over to the woods and back. Then walked around the back before going inside.

Lynn had brought french toast casserole for breakfast. She made it in advance and we just heated it up. We ate it outside and it was sooooo good!!! Here's the recipe: Lynn's Night Before French Toast Casserole.

This little bird would chase butterflies and/or bees into the air and eat them! It's either a phoebe or a peewee. I think we decided peewee.

The goldfinches loved the flowers too

We decided to spend all day at the house instead of going out for dinner as we had originally planned. We talked, read and some watched tv. We had sandwiches for lunch at the big dining room table and lots of snacks, fruits and desserts. Ann brought the most marvelous muffins, from a Hungry Girl recipe (which may actually be a Weight Watcher's recipe?). They are healthy and really delicious. Here's the recipe: Yum Yum Brownie Muffins. Lee brought her famous homemade chocolate chip cookies. I don't know if she likes to share her recipe - they are very special cookies. They are the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had. Shay brought an olive dip with Kashi crackers. Well there was plenty more food, everyone brought stuff.

Later, four of us went for a walk down the road and by the other rental houses and the bed and breakfast. It was a little hot in the sun and we got a little sweaty. But it was nice to see everything in the daylight.

This is the Mulberry House, which was next door to ours. It has 8 bedrooms.

This is the Foxwood Bed & Breakfast

We hung out, talked, read, watched tv, snacked. Some people napped. Eventually we ate some more, out on the back deck. We also spent time writing down things we wanted to release for our releasing ceremony.

After we ate, Ann opened bday gifts out on the deck.

Then we went outside for our release ceremony.

We started talking about doing something like this ceremony last year. Our original intent was to release things we held against ourselves, to forgive ourselves and let them go. Lee actually has participated in something like this before, at a Methodist church retreat. I have heard it called "burning bowl" and sometimes it's done on New Year's Eve. I did mine in 3 parts. First, things I wanted to forgive myself for. Then things I wanted to release (like impatience, anger, excess weight, etc.). I can't remember the third part. But then I also wrote on a separate paper (that I didn't burn) affirmations, like "I am patient", "I am healthy", etc.

After preparing, we went downstairs and out back. It was already dark. We dragged the charcoal grill out from under the deck and to a spot where we could see the stars. Some of us took our shoes off. We each held a candle. I led the ceremony. I lit my candle and then lit Jean's, and she passed the flame on until it went around the circle. We had a prayer. I took my paper and said I had things to release. I thanked them for their lessons but released them and said I was free of them now. Once it had burned completely, I turned to Jean and led her through it then continued around the circle. After we'd all burned our paper, we passed out rose quartz stones as "talismans" to remind us of our ceremony (which we put in our medicine bags). Then we had a closing prayer.

We went back in the house for sangria slushes, courtesy of Jean, and foot massages courtesy of Shay ("footcials", she called them). By the time that was over I was exhausted and sleepy.

I've showered and now it's a little after midnight and I have to go to sleep!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I awoke to find a button buck eating flowers beneath my second floor bathroom window. I tried to get a picture of him through the window but was getting too much of a glare. So I decided to open it. I opened it just a little then stopped as he looked around. When he resumed eating I raised it a little more then stopped. Finally all the way up, and he ran off, into the yard. I got a picture but you can't really see his baby horns.

We had more french toast casserole for breakfast and sat outside talking. Mostly we just hung out, then started getting ready and packing up. We took some group photos before we left.

We left the house and went to Beckley, where we had dinner at Pasquale's.

Waiting for our table - look how coordinated Lynn was with the colors!

It was soooooo good!!! Some of the best Italian food I have ever had. Everyone said their particular dish was the best they'd had.

My chicken fettucine alfredo was superb.

I only had one bite of Shay's cake but it really was heavenly, just as the waitress promised.

Shay had sauteed calamari - you could see the little tentacles!!

Eventually we made our way home. It was a wonderful weekend and I feel very blessed to have the friends that I do. I think we all benefited from this time together and definitely look forward to next year.

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  1. Hi!!

    I read the first day's report and look forward to reading more.

    I think it sounds so incredibly wonderful. I love how you saw all the deer.

    The house looks beautiful.

    Sorry about the tub.

    I'm eager to continue reading and hear about your adventures with your friends.

    I would love to spend a weekend like that--with people who are loving and spiritual.

  2. Hi!

    Okay, I read the second bit. Sorry for reading in segments...things are a bit hectic.

    I think you are your friends are beautiful and awesome. I love the ceremony and how you kept the rose quartz things as a memory....or what's the word you used?

    I've never heard of a releasing ceremony, but it sounds very meaningful.

    I also like how you spend time together, but also have time alone.

    You are blessed to have found such good friends. I think friendship is probably the greatest gift there is.