Weekend Retreat

If I close my eyes I see the phosphorescent glow of fireflies gliding through pale blue New England nights. I see green mountains gently tumbling into fields of trees that give way to pastures of tall grass. I smell mint steeping in sun tea, and mixed berry crumbles pulled warm from hot ovens. I taste fresh produce – plums tart and deep purple to make me think of beets, fennel and dill mixing with buttermilk tang on fresh crisp greens.  I feel my deep breath centered in a still and happy place within me. All of this from one wonderful weekend on a Pilates retreat in the Catskills!

My friend and fantastic travel companion Gina invited me to join her for a weekend in Stone Ridge, NY. The promise was hikes, fresh air, Pilates classes, food made from local farms; I couldn’t say no. And how happy I am that I didn’t.

I have been home from Kenya and the bulk of the RAvolution for a year now; and what a tremulous year it has been. I found it so easy to set off on that journey and I have found it so hard to return from it. I found myself more changed than I ever expected and grasping at just what those changes mean for my life and me. I have found little to stimulate or excite me in the same way as before.  I found the easy joys that once existed elude me. I felt (and to a large part still feel) lost, unsure, and unsteady. I couldn’t tell if it was my new life or the way I was in it and I found it hard to imagine that there was the same kind of spark that once existed inside me.

That was how I said yes to this weekend, but it wasn’t how I returned from this weekend. It was simple and should not have felt as deep as it did. Only a few hours outside of the city in the Catskills I found the lightness inside me again for a weekend.

There were only 6 of us and I can say it feels like they are all new friends. We shared lovingly constructed meals – s’mores made with ginger cookies while fireflies zipped before us, popovers with honey chili butter and watermelon with vanilla salt and lemon for breakfast. We went on hikes up mountains and down to lakes, we stretched our bodies, and laid in hammocks with books splayed before us. We laughed; we talked about everything from pop culture news to deep philosophical ideas.

It was so humble; a beautiful welcoming home and refurbished barn that filled with warm people, and the stove and grill brimming with fine food was heightened. It became a few moments of seeing what I have been missing since returning from all of those far off places, happiness here in these new present moments of life.

It didn’t take long for me to find the peace I have struggled for, and to simply sit still with it, swing in gentle breezes with it, walk through nature with it. It was only a weekend but for a weekend I felt myself again, the self I like, the self I miss, and the self I could for a weekend see a way back to.


The retreat was the first Jessie Zalla put together this year, and she has two more this summer and a possible fall retreat. I can’t say enough about the experience, if you are lucky enough to take part I hope you will sip the fizzy grape aid slowly under the giant tree and remember that life for a moment can be perfect and unfettered.

My deepest thanks to all who were part of this fantastic weekend, especially Laura for her stunning food, Gina for introducing me to this group, and Jessie for putting together a retreat that was a delight like no other.

Wishing you all moments of simple but profound happiness to let you know they still exist.


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07 2012

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  1. Beth #

    Oh Ra is sounds so restorative dreamy and magical in every way. I want to sign up right away…I’m so glad you re-connected with yourself and had such a great time. Your photos almost smelled of mint. XO

  2. Mara #

    Ra, I am so happy to hear you were able to find that space you needed. I am hoping to gain some of that in Baja this week with my mom. Love and miss you so!

    • ra #

      I hope you have a wonderful time in Baja! Sounds delightful! XOXXO

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