On my flight out to Salt Lake City a couple weeks ago, the kind lady sitting next to me asked if I was traveling to Utah for business or leisure, and I hesitated and then smiled, responding “Both!”
And it was totally both. A couple weeks ago I spent three days at the Enlighten Retreat in Heber City, and the entire experience offered leisure and fun while also providing priceless education in this wild world of having a blog.
What a truly enlightening few days it was! I’m so excited to share a handful of happy pictures and stories, if you’re interested. 🙂
Last December (I believe it was in between Christmas and New Years), Jamie and I were up early together watching the news before the girls woke up, and I was browsing some of my favorite blogs for fun. I stumbled across a post from Abby who talked about how she’d be speaking at a super small retreat for women bloggers and business owners in the fall. I read that everyone would be staying together in a beautiful cabin, and the whole thing sounded like a total dream.
Even though Jamie had only been home from Kuwait for six months, we already knew that he’d be leaving again in September, and that by October I would be more than ready for some time away. I also knew that I was way overdue for some blogging education and networking. The price tag was steep, but with Jamie’s full support I paid 50% down within 10 minutes of reading Abby’s post. I just knew that this retreat was beyond up my alley.
And it was!
Roughly 47 people, including attendees, speakers, and event coordinators, stayed together in the country’s largest log cabin, the Timber Moose Lodge. Talk about gorgeous! I mentioned in this post that I rode to the retreat with two new friends I’d met and stayed with the night before, and you should have heard the three of us as we were driving up the mountain and pulling into the cabin’s parking area. Major squealing going on!
This was our view for 48 hours. That mountain landscape was just to die for.
Some of you know that I’m a total sucker for a pretty sunset, and I was just in awe each night watching the sun go down behind those mountains. Ah.
The weather was quintessential fall – high 30s or 40s in the morning and 50s or 60s in the afternoon. Perfect for enjoying delicious afternoon treats on the porch. (Again – that view!)
We spent the bulk of our time on the 3rd floor in this room listening to speakers and learning, learning, and learning some more. So many deep laughs shared and a load of tears spilled as well!
There are two things that set this retreat apart from any other retreat or conference:
- It’s tiny. TINY. I knew (almost!) every single woman’s name in 48 hours.
- The speakers didn’t just get on stage and formally share for an hour. We did life with the speakers for 48 hours straight. We ate breakfast together, got ready for the day together, lounged on the couch together, and stayed up way too late sharing deep, heartfelt stories together.
BONUS: We NEVER WORE SHOES! Since we stayed at the cabin the whole time, the organizers requested we wear slippers or socks the entire time. SOLD! So comfy. 🙂 Never had to think about what shoes to pack with my outfits. 🙂
As far as speakers go, I’d followed several of these women before the retreat, and they seemed like celebrities to me. Ha! They’re mega successful, mega popular, and there’s just no way they’d be interested in getting to know little ‘ol Army wife me from Kansas.
But they CARED SO MUCH, because they’re just people after all. 🙂 They’re women who work their tails off for their families and who deal with a ton of frustrating junk (think horrific internet trolls x 10) while also being so successful and happy with the work that they do. Getting to know them was honestly such a gift.
I started to write paragraphs about each of the speakers I have pictures with below, but I typed and erased a dozen times because I couldn’t find a stopping place with any of them. The founders of Enlighten Retreat struck gold with securing these ladies to come to the retreat because learning from them and getting to know them as friends was priceless. I honestly miss each of them so very much.
Each of these women below made me feel better about who I am and encouraged me in ways that I struggle to explain in words. They cared to learn about my family, my background, my blog, and more. I’m linking to each of their sites and Instagram accounts and encourage you to give them a follow! I guarantee they are the real deal.
Back to a little bit of what we did besides listen to speakers, because we did so much more than that. 🙂
Both mornings we work up early and did yoga/meditation with Sadie. It was beautiful watching the sun come up around us. Look at the view (!) after our first morning session was over.
On Thursday night we had a movie and popcorn night (complete with new minky blankets from Minky Couture), and on Saturday we had a pool party, which turned into a bunch of us climbing into the hot tub instead and chatting for way too long about who knows what. So fun!
The founders of the retreat secured the most amazing sponsors, so not only were our meals and snacks outrageous, but I brought home two entirely overstuffed suitcases full of over $600 in gifts. Talk about spoiled! Hadley couldn’t wait to rip open my suitcases and see what Mommy brought home. 🙂
We even spent part of one afternoon hearing from Toni Roberts about a million different ways to make Christmas less stressful and more fun for our families. We made homemade bath bombs and sugar scrubs, all the while tying everything we learned and did back into our own personal lives and businesses.
I was randomly assigned to room with three other women, who also took a leap of faith and traveled by themselves to this retreat, and getting to know them was a blessing. Talk about fast friends! So kind, encouraging, and open. I definitely could have used another day or two with these women!
Remember how I mentioned sharing a hotel room with two strangers the night before as well as a minivan to travel form Salt Lake to Heber City? That could not have worked out ANY BETTER.
Amy from Johnston Styles kept me in stitches for three days straight. I so miss you, Amy!
And here is my incredible new friend, Amanda. Nothing was ever uncomfortable with either of these women. I so hope our paths cross again because we just clicked.
Though the retreat kept us busy busy busy each day, I was able to slip in a little bit of time to call home to talk to my girls (whom I seriously missed so badly for some reason!) as well as my handsome Jamie. He was so interested in everything we were doing even though he is so swamped with everything he has going on in Poland right now. Love him so much.
Getting home was kind of a disaster. Because of a few roadblocks with flight availability, I had to take three flights to get home as fast as I could. I flew from Salt Lake west to Los Angeles, spent 5.5 hours there before boarding a short flight east to Dallas. I didn’t get any sleep on the red-eye thanks to a disgruntled flight attendant, but I found a cot in Dallas in an empty gate (and almost cried of happiness!) and tried to get any sleep I could get before my 9 a.m. flight to Manhattan. My parents left to drive 800 miles home to Alabama almost as soon as I got back, so getting back in the swing of things was a little rough last week. Let’s just say that a 3 year old and 1 year old don’t really give an ounce of care that mommy slept very little while she was away. 🙂
I’m hesitant to say with 100% certainty that I’ll be attending Enlighten again next year simply because my brain can’t think much past transitioning out of the Army and figuring out what our next chapter looks like, but as soon as things become a bit more clear, you can bet I’ll be making plans to head back out west. Enlighten Retreat, I’m 95% sure you’ll be seeing this girl in September. 🙂
Have you ever been to a blogging conference or retreat? Which one(s) do you have your eye on attending? Does Enlighten sound like something up your alley, or do you prefer conferences that are a little (or a lot) bigger?