Wildling Retreat: My Oxygen Mask

 

I have some news! Wildling news to be precise. I feel very honoured to be one of Wildling Magazine’s bloggers attending a special retreat at Voewood Hall this autumn; a weekend away, a chance to slow down, regroup, connect and create amongst like-minded women. I’m a wild mixture of excited, curious and supremely anxious about the retreat. My daughter will be fourteen months old and it will be the first time I leave her for more than a few hours but here’s why I think it’s important:

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The wisest piece of advice I’ve received as a new Mum is to make sure you attach your oxygen mask before you help anyone else with theirs. This advice is of course much easier to follow before you become a parent and although it took me 30 years to actually find my oxygen mask, let alone learn how to attach it, luckily I mastered this important lesson a couple of years before the arrival of our Evelyn Pema.

It’s important to proactively look after your mind, your emotions – and your soul (if you’re that way inclined). I think it should be a bigger priority than exercising and eating healthily. I’ve learnt that if you don’t actively care for your mind and heart, then soon enough your body will tell you about it, no matter how well you eat or how much you look after your physical self.

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Above: During a guided meditation once, the instructor talked of the busy mind as a cloud-filled sky, the idea was to focus on the blue, to allow the thoughts or clouds to drift away, leaving you with a beautifully still blue sky. I love this framed photograph of a busy Norfolk sky taken a while ago – it reminds me of the cloudy thoughts and bird-like voices that distract us from just being.

Three years ago I made a bold move. I left my career in London, walked away from the promise of a board directorship and decided to find a more mindful way to live. I had a lot of time to reflect during my travels across South East Asia and India: lots of healing yoga, meditation, lucid dreaming practise and a 10 day silent retreat in a Buddhist community in the foothills of the Himalayas, allowed me to regroup and work out what it was that was missing.

With all of this time for reflection and clean living, I adopted a much healthier and straightforward way to live. I didn’t feel like drinking anymore, previously it had been very easy to celebrate or commiserate with a glass or two of wine, a way to switch off but the clarity and happiness I felt from this shift in habit couldn’t be ignored. Most importantly, I realised that a demanding career and a wage packet wasn’t the answer to happiness. In fact, it posed more obstacles.

What I did next was life changing. I can hand on heart say that my time spent during my solo adventure of self discovery in Asia was the happiest time of my life. On my return, I did things my way. Knowing how peaceful and content I felt living simply, without pressures and focusing on the important stuff. I needed something more, not quantifiable but an inner richness, something that would have longevity. My choices changed drastically and as a consequence so did my quality of life, I brought this simple way of living into my day to day life.

Still to this day, the lessons I learnt about self-care, removing unnecessary materialistic goals and having the luxury to reflect on how I really felt about things and processing these feelings in a congruent and true way, helped me through pregnancy and being a new Mum too.

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After my travels I relocated back to my roots in Norfolk. I took a cut in lifestyle, went freelance, working half of the week and used the rest of my time to focus on my writing, yoga, reiki and dream practise and began retraining as a writing therapist. I’ve never been happier. And I don’t miss any of the material or social frills I used to indulge in from a full-time job.

But having a baby has meant that life has changed considerably and from what I can see, balance won’t quite be restored just yet. Becoming a parent does change you; your instinct is to care for your child first, it’s not a case of choice, it’s inbuilt. After a few months of limited sleep, it becomes clear that it’s time to recharge, your oxygen mask slips, can you continue to keep giving? But you somehow do. What’s fundamental to your ability to regroup is the support you have from loved ones.

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I’ve been very lucky to have both (very keen) grandparents nearby and a hands-on partner whom have enabled me to have rest, go to a yoga class, take time out to see friends, have a read over coffee and cake, indulge in a massage or some reiki and in recent weeks, shelter in a coffee shop for half a day at the weekend to pour my subconscious on the page with my poetry pursuits. Everyone has a different kind of oxygen they need to feel alive. These small things have saved me.

Sometimes you need more than a few hours here and there, which is what brings me onto this rather fine antidote to the notoriously difficult task of finding “me time” as a new Mum – the Wildling Retreat at Voewood House this autumn hosted by Wildling Magazine.

 

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Wildling Magazine is one of the few parenting magazines that I’ve connected with on an emotional level and been inspired by in a creative non-Mum capacity too. I feel very lucky to be one of Wildling Magazine’s bloggers reporting on the retreat this autumn, my chance to attach my oxygen mask for more than a few breaths – hang on, forget the mask, let’s tear it off and take a lung-full of wild summery air, for a FULL WEEKEND.

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Wildling Retreat is simply that; a languid retreat from the fast-pace of life and a chance to slow down, regroup, connect and create amongst like-minded women. Alongside other mothers but welcoming of all women, it’s being held at one of my favourite properties in the region, Voewood House, which I first visited over four years ago when the property was host to a Literary and Music Festival held over one hazy summer weekend.

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It’s a stunning setting to escape to. At the Wildling retreat there is promise of incredible food, inspiring women and an environment to relax and reconnect with your inner voice. Daily yoga and meditation will be complimented by two creative workshops, a beach picnic, time for reflection and long, un-rushed dinners where experiences will be shared and friendships will be forged. You are free to take part in as little or as much as you like. 

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If you’re interested in joining the weekend there are still some places left, below you’ll find the itinerary:

The Itinerary:

Dates:                         September 23rd-25th 2016

Location:                   Voewood House, Norfolk

For Who:                   Mothers of all kinds who are looking to relax and develop their creative vision amongst a group of like-minded women

Cost:                           From £350 – prices vary on room choice

Arrive on Friday afternoon, settle in and then join a sumptuous welcome dinner and drinks as you get to know each other. On Saturday start the day with yoga and meditation before joining photographer and Wildling editor Rebecca Lindon and Julia Smith of Humphrey and Grace for a 3-hour styling and photography workshop. Learn how to develop your creative vision, use light effectively, pose models and create and photograph still-life compositions.

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Lunch will be followed by a second workshop with Liha Beauty where we’ll learn how to create botanical beauty creations from kitchen ingredients, raw shea and essential oils.

In the evening we’ll come together again to dine, drink and tell stories before filtering off to enjoy the various sitting rooms around the house.

On Sunday we’ll begin again with yoga and meditation before communing at the nearby beach for a picnic brunch, followed by a long walk under the warm September sun (bring your cameras to photograph those epic Norfolk skies).

After heading back to Voewood, your time is your own to rest and reflect before we depart at 4pm.

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What’s included:

– Drinks and snacks on arrival

– Wildling goodie bag

– 2 dinners

– 1 breakfast / 1 brunch (beach picnic)

– 1 lunch

– Two nights stay at Voewood

– Daily yoga and mediation sessions

– Optional styling and photography workshop

– Optional Kitchen Beauty workshop

What’s not included:

– Travel to and from the venue

– Travel to the beach

– Alcoholic beverages other than wine with dinner

 

I’ll be posting my review on the Wildling Retreat after the summer. I’m looking forward to recharging and exploring – you can read more about my experience in the autumn. Till then. Toodles xx

 

 

 

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