How to Plan a Simple Retreat

Last Thursday, my best friend Melina and I went to Fort Worth for an overnight retreat. We had tons of things planned for the 24 hours that we were going to be gone (The Stockyards, Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Sundance Square, and a long walk by the river), but our plans changed because IT WAS RAINING THE ENTIRE TIME! 😭 At first, we were a bit disappointed, but we quickly accepted it and decided to make the best of it… and we both realized that God was giving us exactly what we needed: A retreat to decompress, relax, and spend some quality time with God. It was such a simple trip, but it was a wonderful experience, so I wanted to share it with you.

Here are the steps to planning a simple retreat:

1. Invite at least one friend to join you.

Doing solo trips are okay, but when you plan a trip with others, it helps you to make this an actual event and not just “a thing you did” at one point in your life. I generally like to keep the number of people in even numbers so that no one feels like the third wheel. You can hand-pick the friends you would like to invite, and you can keep the invitation as casual as sending them a text message or if you have an artistic flair, you can create an invitation to give them. A great pandemic-friendly way to send out the invitation is through evite.
Melina and I made plans while we were having lunch, so the invitation was kept very casual for us.

2. Everyone should book their own rooms in the same hotel.

The simplest way to handle lodging for everyone is to have them book their own rooms. Most hotels offer group room block at a discounted rate, and this would be one of the very few coordinating tasks you would have to complete. Having everyone booking their own rooms also keeps it easier for everyone to practice social distance.
Initially, Melina and I were going to stay in the same room, but we decided that in order to stick to the point of our retreat, it would be best for us to stay in separate rooms (more on this in #3 below).

3. Everyone should decide what they’re going to do during their alone time.

This is so important. Let me say that again. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. Because you and your friends may have different goals for this retreat, it is important to plan what you will do during this time. You can plan to read that book you’ve been trying to finish (which was my case), schedule a massage (most hotels will have recommendations if they don’t have an on-site spa service), sleep, exercise, go for a walk outside… the possibilities are endless!
For me, my plan was to unplug from social media, finish reading a book, exercise, and watch a short movie. If Melina and I shared a room, we would not have gotten anything done other than chatting the entire time. (which we both knew since that’s why we couldn’t study together in college!)

4. Eat all your meals together.

Since most people generally eat three meals a day, this will give you and your friends time to socialize for at least 3 hours each day. I recommend you block out 1-2 hours for each meal so that you can enjoy the times of bonding over delicious foods without feeling rushed. You can set an alarm on your phone or watch to go off 10-15 minutes before the planned time is over so that everyone could wrap up and get back to their personal retreats.
Melina and I had dinner at HG Sply Co. in Fort Worth (check out their menu here), breakfast at the hotel (take advantage of hotels with complimentary breakfast; since I have food restrictions, I brought my own dairy-free yogurt and almond milk to make sure I would have something to eat something for breakfast.), lunch at Jason’s Deli (I had the salad bar as usual), and we stopped to get some boba as dessert after lunch.

5. Plan one group event in the beginning or the end of the trip.

Doing a short group event before or after will allow the flow listed above in steps 1-4 above to not be disrupted. Additionally, if any of your friends can’t arrive on time or have to leave early, they will be able to still enjoy their alone time and the meal times with the rest of the group. To keep it pandemic-friendly, you can always plan an outdoor outing such as an arboretum, a farmer’s market, or even an outdoor yoga or workout session at a park. Since we couldn’t enjoy any of the outdoor activities, we stopped at a bookstore on our way back home. I know that doesn’t sound too exciting, but I can spend a whole day at a bookstore and be happy! 🤓

Lastly, be flexible! If things don’t go as planned (in our case, scattered thunderstorms), don’t stress over the changes and just go with the flow, reminding yourself that it’s going to be an opportunity to make great memories with your friends! 💖

With Gratitude,
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Becoming You

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve pondered over philosophical questions such as, “What is the meaning of life,” “What is my purpose,” “Who am I,” or “Am I the sum of my experiences?” Okay, so I didn’t ponder that last question until I was going through my initial 200-hour yoga teacher training program… but I have always thought about deeper matters of life (which kind of made me look weird in the eyes of my fellow classmates in preschool). I’ve been on a spiritual journey of Svadhyahya (Sanskrit for “self-study”) on a deeper level ever since I became a Christian in 1994, and I’ve come to realize that the more I learn, the more I realize that I don’t know anything to its deepest level. One of the ways I progress in my journey is through Bible sermons.

Yesterday at church, we had the privilege of hearing a sermon from a guest speaker, Daren Overstreet, who is the Lead Evangelist of Seattle Church or Christ in Washington State. The title of his message was, “Eight Words for 2021” and the eight words were, “For we live by faith, not by sight.” (II Corinthians 5:7). One of the points he made from his sermon — that grabbed my attention — was that, “what you fix your eyes on becomes you.”

My iPhone gives me a report of my phone usage, and yesterday, the breakdown was as follows:

  • Health & Fitness: 3h 9m
  • Social: 1h 28m
  • Productivity & Finance: 54m
  • Information & Reading: 38m
  • Travel: 26m
  • Utilities: 24m
  • Creativity: 15m
  • Shopping & Food: 1m
  • Entertainment: 2s

According to my report, the apps that I spent the most time using was Health & Fitness, and Information & Reading was only 38m; and just 20 minutes of that was reading my Bible. Not that spending time in Health & Fitness apps is wrong, but I really had to ask myself what my eyes are fixed on. What is becoming me?

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders…”
Hebrews 12:1a

What is hindering you from becoming the Authentic You?

Several years back, my husband and I went to a festival in Grapevine, TX. I wanted to dress up a bit that day, so I decided to wear a pair of heels with my outfit. Everything was going well until we arrived at the event and realized that the nearby parking lots were full. I wasn’t too worried, since I was used to wearing heels for an extended period of time. But what I didn’t count on was the uphill walking we had to do after we parked the car. By the time we were done at the festival, we started heading back to the car… going downhill, with my heels on! I’m not sure if you’ve seen anyone walk downhill with heels on, but it’s not a pretty sight. Halfway into our walk back, I decided to take my shoes off and walk barefoot. So that day, the hinderance to walking comfortably was my choice in footwear. The smarter thing would have been to wear different shoes, but I did the next smart thing and eventually took my shoes off.

So often, we continue to hold onto things that hinder us from being the best version of ourselves even though throwing those hinderances off would lighten our burdens — all because we don’t want to put in the effort to let them go. It could be our attitudes about politics/current events, obsession to be right on social media, critical attitudes toward others… the list goes on and on.

At the end of the day, we all want to love and be loved. We all want to feel connected. We all want to live a life of freedom from addictions, bitterness, arrogance, and tension. So what will you do in order to become the most authentic YOU that you can be?

With Gratitude,
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Behind Procrastination

I can’t believe it. The first quarter of 2021 is already behind us. As I begin the second quarter of this year, I feel tempted to just coast through it because frankly, I’m tired. I feel like I was on hyper-fast mode from January to March, mainly because of a homeschool co-op that my daughter and I were a part of. When the co-op ended two weeks ago, I felt like running through an aisle dancing and singing! It’s been nice to actually get decent amount of sleep and not grade papers, edit articles (I was teaching a Journalism class to middle school and high school students), and drive almost 2 hours roundtrip weekly. I gave myself a week to relax and recover, but I found myself filling up my schedule, which made the goal of getting replenished a bit challenging. I think deep down inside, I knew all along that the reason why I was staying busy is because I didn’t want to get back to preparing for my podcast launch on May 4th. To put it bluntly, I was procrastinating.

“One of these days, is none of these days.”
H.G. Bohn

There are so many reasons behind why people procrastinate, such as fear of failure, fear of success, misplaced priorities, or just plain apathy. For me, it’s definitely fear of failure in regards to my podcasting. All the steps necessary to make a good podcast feels overwhelming. It’s not just about recording a segment or interviewing someone. It’s the fact that you’re committing to doing this on a regular basis. It’s also the fact that I have to put in the time to create good content that generates interest. As overwhelming as it is, I’m willing to commit and put in the work because this is all for God. Podcasting — just like writing and publishing a book — is not something that I desire to do for my own glory. I’m perfectly fine just teaching fitness, yoga and meditation classes, but God continues to put big dreams on my heart that I can’t shake off of my soul.

He has a way of giving us dreams that burn in our hearts until we accomplish them for His glory.

So now, I must continue to pray. I must continue to listen to His voice through His Word (The Bible), and messages (from nature, people, anything and everything). Lastly, I must put one foot in front of the other and do the next right thing… all for God’s glory!

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17

I pray that your week is productive and pleasing to God!

With Gratitude,
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