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​Spiritual Friday: Women’s Retreat

Last month, we held our annual Women's Retreat for our patients and alumni. The women were asked to reach out to their sober supports and sponsors for transportation to the retreat, which created a beautiful atmosphere of love, encouragement, togetherness, safety, and peace.

The retreat was held at Unity Church, and our theme was "The Spirituality of Self Care: Body, Mind, Spirit." I was joined by the amazing artist Elise Crohn, and together we created a day where the women could experience many ways to feed their spirit, care for themselves, and share those intimate and holy experiences with other sober women.

We began our day with the song "I Choose You” by Sarah Bareilles. I encouraged the women to listen and sing this song to G-d or to their beautiful selves.

From writing love letters to themselves, to creative art expression; from meditation, prayer, and yoga to afternoon tea, the women felt and shared the joy in learning it's possible to love, accept, honor, and care for themselves.

You are beautiful the moment you decide you are beautiful. Many decided they were beautiful that day. For Elise and me as facilitators, it was a treasured spiritual experience we will never forget.

"There are days I drop words of comfort like falling leaves and remember that it is enough to be taken care of by my self." - Brian Andreas

"If you don't see your worth, you'll always choose people who don't see it either. When self-esteem rises, your life follows." - Mandy Hale

The women were given a list of 60 ways to care themselves. Here are a few:

For the Body

  • Be still - sit somewhere green and just be quiet for a few minutes
  • Wear something comfy and cozy
  • Self soothe, stroke your own arms, and embrace yourself
  • Get 15 minutes of sun
  • Make careful food choices
  • Laugh a lot

For the Mind

  • "Unplug" for an hour each day
  • Share your feelings with a compassionate listener
  • Refrain from negative thinking and speech
  • Read a novel/watch a movie
  • Surround yourself with people who appreciate life and you

For the Spirit

  • Create an altar at home
  • Selflessly serve others
  • Quiet time alone with G-d
  • Connect with animals
  • Write a daily gratitude list

Throughout the day, we read beautiful, sacred poetry:

Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give back your heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

- Derek Walcott

The beginning of self-care, of loving and caring for yourself, is the awareness and acceptance within you that you are worthy, that your life has value, and that caring for that life is your responsibility – it is your gift to yourself and the Universe.

The women shared thoughts on what they learned that day:

• "I learned that I really need to love myself and acknowledge positive things about myself."
• "I learned so much, mostly that taking care of myself must always be a priority."
• "I learned how much I forget to think about myself."
• "Self-care isn't a foreboding task – it's finding things you love and treating yourself to those things."

“If you knew yourself for even one moment,
if you could just glimpse your most beautiful face,
maybe you wouldn't slumber so deeply in that house of clay.
Why not move into your house of joy and shine into every crevice!
For you are the secret Treasure-bearer,
and always have been. Didn't you know?”

- Rumi

Life is beautiful. You are beautiful. Take care of yourself. Treasure your recovery. Feel blessed.

With love,
Reverend Laurie Durgan