Get Unstuck - Take a Retreat


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Nothing can change your perspective, recharge your batteries, and jump start your creative problem solving like a retreat!

Do you fit one or more of these categories?

1. Business is slow. You need to find more markets, more prospects, and more money coming in …fast!

2. You are caring for elderly parents, managing their bills, doctor's appointments, and pharmaceutical needs.

3. Your kids need more energy than you have to offer…fast food is a regular occurrence and you often grocery shop or do laundry at midnight.

Take a retreat!

Whether life is a grind with your career going no-where or you run at a fast, results-oriented pace, a retreat offers an opportunity to rejuvenate your energy and key into your wisdom.

Why not? Lack of time or money presents a strong reason to do it. The benefits of a retreat are multiple.

You can:

gain a new perspective on your life

solve problems on a subconscious level

birth new ideas, dreams, and strategies

feel deeply fed on a physically emotionally and spiritually return energized, motivated, relaxed and inspired

Many creative people take retreats on a regular basis. A nationally known speaker actually books a cruise for the purpose of writing a book! In The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, author Sue Monk Kidd describes her own retreats as a way of taking a spiritual journey…of finding herself and exploring her beliefs. My friend, author Ann Tyndall, used to hole up in a mountain cabin to write her book when the research was finished. I know a group of women friends who get away every year to laugh together and review life's challenges.

Overcome your obstacles:

Checking into an expensive spa may be a retreat for some, but in my experience, some of the best retreats were on a shoestring. " Ask your senior services agency for suggestions as to places that offer short respit stay for elderly parents; we used a wonderful place when my dad was ill; later as he digressed, he stayed at Hospice House for a weekend. " Schedule your retreat for when the kids are at camp " Set up a swap with another family…you keep their kids for a few days, they'll keep yours. Or settle your kids into more than one home. They will survive.

Determine your objectives:

Obviously, if you are writing, you need a lot of alone time. If you want nurturing and refueling, you might choose a companion, such as a woman friend you enjoy or haven't seen in a while.

Make sure you have an opportunity to exercise in a way that suits you.

Make a list of areas you need clarity on, or situations you want to resolve

Choose your location. I've had marvelous retreats in a variety of places:

A tent in the mountains
A friend's mountain cabin
A seaside motel
My mother's house
A Montana lodge
A forest clearing (for a one day retreat)
A music festival in a park


Take a good novel for reading, and 2 or 3 books for browsing or inspiring your creativity. (I'll recommend some at the end of this article. )

Pack a journal and your favorite pen

Splurge on a set of colored pencils, water colors, or markers, white paper, a camera and film

Make sure you have good walking shoes and clothes for exercise

When you are there, explore! One of the important activities recommended by Julie Cameron in The Artists Way is exploring.

Exploring encourages the practice of looking at life differently: discovering new thinking patterns, inspecting details, experiencing awe and delight. What a great way to jumpstart one's problem solving function.

Exploring can take many forms:

Nature: cave exploring, hiking, walking on the beach, snorkling

Arts of a region (including music, architecture, theater)

History (Cemeteries, museums)

Cook for each other

Even though I get sick and tired of cooking for my picky family, I love to cook for woman friend when I am relaxed. Cook as a creative expression.

Try something new:

A retreat with my 12 year old son included playing games. Since our camping trip had been discouraged by a weeklong rain, we took our retreat at Grandma's house where he taught me to play hearts on the computer. It was fun sitting with my son who acted as my strategy consultant. I gained a new appreciation for how he thinks, his offbeat sense of humor, and his sweet, affectionate way of making me feel special.

Exercise a lot

Make time to ponder questions

Whether you are asking yourself questions in a journal or sharing with a friend, enjoy this opportunity to explore your values and insights. Some good questions might include:

What has been the most fulfilling aspect of my career?

What has been a peak experience in my life?

How can I help others facing challenges like I have had?

What do I want to change about my current situation?

A few of my recommended resources for a retreat:

The Artist's Way Julia Cameron
Any book by SARK
The Woman's Retreat Book by Jennifer Louden
The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Ander and Benjamin Zander
Living Color by Natalie Goldberg
The Womanly Art of Alligator Wrestling by Ana Tampanna

There you have it…now pick up your calendar, identify two possible retreat times, and start making it happen. You have everything to gain and very little to lose. In addition to gaining insights, new perspectives, and energy, the most important motivation for taking a retreat is that you will gain is a deeper relationship with someone special: yourself!

© Ana Tampanna

Ana Tampanna, “The Alligator Queen, " is author or the “The Womanly Art of Alligator Wrestling. " To learn more about her books in addition to her speaking and coaching services, visit her site at


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