Chrysalis Retreats Newsletter April 2023
Updated: May 3
Hello from Caroline and Rachel at Chrysalis Retreats!
We hope you have had a lovely break over the Easter weekend. Whether you feasted on chocolate eggs, or spent time with family and friends, or just took some rest, you will have noticed that spring is well and truly here, with daffodils in bloom and lots of spring blossom on the trees. It is a season for hope and anticipation as new life emerges in nature.
It is only six weeks until our day retreat on 21st May! Our theme is balance - It's all about taking time out to reflect on what this means to us, how much energy and time we spend on the things that are important to us and what we can change to achieve better balance in our lives - usually more rest apart from anything else! Its gentle and restorative with a mindful walk in the country surroundings.
For those already joining us we are looking forward to meeting you and having a great day together. We still have a few places left, so if others of you are thinking of joining us, and would like to have a chat about the retreat, please get in touch through the website and we will be happy to set something up. If you are one of our lovely supporters who cannot join us on retreat, please continue to share with your friends and follow us on social media.
In this newsletter, we talk about our own experience of balance - it’s an ongoing journey for us too. Taking stock of our feeling of balance can really help us realise how we can make the changes we need to live the life we want, and honour what is important to us in the best way we can. We also reflect on some recent reading on the theme of women’s experiences, very fitting as last month we had International Womens’ Day and World Book Day. And of course we want to recognise the arrival of spring!
Our experience of balance.
We want to share a bit about how we experience balance, and when we feel out of balance. It happens to us all and we have to find our way of noticing our state of balance, and what helps us rebalance when we need it.
After 10 months on maternity leave I returned to work at the end of February. I’m fortunate to love what I do and was excited to return and inject some adult activity back into my life. In truth I wasn’t just excited, I knew that I wasn’t feeling balanced and this was beginning to have an impact on my energy levels. The time I’d had off with my son was beautiful and extraordinary so I made the decision to return to work on a part time basis so that I could continue to enjoy my time with him but also access and utilise the parts of me that come to life through work. I am fortunate that this works for me and our family but as with any significant change there are many considerations and compromises to be made.
Since returning to work I have been busy working on some exciting coaching engagements and the shift from five days per week to two takes some getting used to and I definitely haven’t mastered it just yet. My current ‘balance challenge’ as I am calling it is finding the sweet spot of working ‘on the business’ and ‘in the business’, the time creating and thinking vs the time doing. Carving out the time for planning and creating is helping me to consider balance not only in the here and now but also to think about future risks and opportunities. Regularly asking myself - How does how I spend my time and energy align with the future I am building?
I have felt a little under the weather over the last couple of weeks and put it down to nursery bugs and general fatigue whilst adjusting to juggling work and life again. I was aware that I wasnl;t eating as well as I normally do as my nutrition had slipped well down my list of priorities but it was only when I was lovingly making my son's nutritionally balanced meals that the penny dropped - my body was out of balance. Yikes, the body keeps the score and my score was low! As a vegetarian my protein, iron and B12 intake are essential and I hadn;t been paying attention. Within a few days of taking more care with my food and hydration I felt incredible! Feeling balanced for me often means noticing what feels ‘off’ with my energy levels, relationships, health, and happiness and taking some time out to investigate the cause and potential remedy.
For me, balance is about finding that sweet spot where the amount of time and energy I spend is enabling me to honour what is important to me in my life.
We don’t always need to be aware of our balance. It’s a bit like breathing, we find balance automatically.
However, a bit like the way we might take a deep breath to ground ourselves and find calm, it is definitely worth pausing to reflect on our state of balance on a regular basis. Otherwise life has a habit of asking too much of our time and/or energy sometimes and this can nudge us off balance without us noticing until we are about to fall. Ways I find useful to get in touch with my sense of balance and, if necessary, find the inspiration for rebalancing, include, going for a walk, practising some yoga, spending time in the garden, doing some journaling, talking to a friend. All of these activities clear my mind, and I can get a fresh perspective that just doesn't come with pushing myself harder, or for longer.
Over the last six months I have been aiming to have a calmer life, with a smaller coaching practice, time for family and exploring new interests. What I thought would be a smooth transition has actually felt quite unsettling. Although I gave up some of my commitments, I didn’t feel that vast expanse of space I was expecting. It felt messy and fuzzy, and I like clarity and focus. Gradually I am beginning to feel more calm. I am learning to be more patient, and recognise that change takes time, it is not like flicking a switch from one way of being to another. What helps me most is remembering to do all of those things above, which is enabling me to take a more spacious mindset, allowing myself time to create a different way of living, enjoying the journey, and being hopeful of achieving new balance.
Spring is here!
Rachel's room with a view..
Spring is here - hurrah! Spring is my favourite month and this year I get to experience it with my son for the first time which makes it extra special. Each year the tree outside our house fills the window of what was my office and is now his bedroom. Every morning his favourite thing to do is to stand up against the window and stare at the tree and any birds that may be perched or flying by. We have been staring at it since it was just brown branches and now it has some beautiful white blossoms and green buds. Soon the tree will be full of blossom and then gorgeous green leaves and we won't be able to see anything else out of the window. Just how I like it - it’s like living in a jungle 🙂
After a winter of baby groups and wintery walks Im looking forward to some time exploring outside in the park and walks that include baby ducks and geese.
The hope and potential of spring is infectious - anything is possible!
As the longer days return and we have more light (and hopefully sunshine), it’s the perfect time to pause, refocus and get re-energised. Here are a couple of questions to reflect on to help capture some positive energy. So grab a cuppa (and pen and paper if you like journaling) and make some space for yourself to have time to think.
What do you need to LET GO of so that you can spring forward?
Where does life feel heavy? What would lighten your load mentally? What would offer relief, if you were to stop carrying it around with you?
Examples could be an activity, a habit, a recurring thought or limiting belief, a no longer relevant goal, a relationship or something smaller. Only you know…
Where are you saying should to yourself?
It’s easy to think what you ‘should’ be doing, and giving ourselves a hard time for not living our lives perfectly. The truth is that when we say we ‘should’ do things, or we ‘should’ be a certain way, it only makes us feel worse. Try and accept what you have achieved, and trust that this is enough. Replace ‘should’ with ‘could’ and know that you have choices. Think about:
Where are you using “I should” as a way to prioritise or make yourself get things done?
Consider: “What’s best for me here?” and “How could I do this differently?”
A month of Reading
Caroline’s books for International Womens' Day
My Book Group met on International Womens’ Day. As it happens, we are all women, and the book we read had the very appropriate title of Excellent Women, by Barbara Pym. A happy coincidence, that led us to discussion not only of the book but the role of women and how that has changed over the years in many respects - from women at work, to women as carers and mothers. We are from different generations, with different experiences and had a very rich and interesting discussion.
The book is set in the 1950s, in post war London, and is certainly a novel of its time. It is a story on a small scale, the tone is dry, and gently humorous about the morals of the time. Barbara Pym has been compared to Jane Austen, with her focus on social manners, and making the ordinary into the extraordinary. This novel describes the small concerns that make our everyday lives.Her heroine does not lead an exciting life and does not make big gestures. There is no traditional ‘happy ending’; life goes on.
I read another book in March where women are the main characters– The Little Coffee Shop in Kabul, by Deborah Rodriguez. It has been a really fascinating and easy read. Set in Afghanistan at a time of turbulence and danger, as the influence and power of the Taliban is growing, this is a story of five strong and interesting women, American, English and Afghani. There is a great plot to the novel, and I loved the vivid descriptions of the streets of Kabul. It is quite a light touch, and although there are some tragedies, there are more feelgood events. With the benefit of hindsight, knowing what we know about how women are treated in Afghanistan today, it is perhaps an over-optimistic story. It makes me shudder to think about how much worse it is for girls and women there now.
I’m currently reading The Motherhood Penalty, Joeli Brearly
Joeli Brearly, founder of Pregnant Then Screwed, is doing some incredible work to address the challenges and inequality that women face in our society. This book is full of statistics and information that is shocking not only because of the impact on women and their careers but more so that the system is so established that it's just the norm. “When the system in which we live and work isn’t fully utilising the skills and competen
cies of women, then the system is broken” -Joeli Brearly
We hope you have enjoyed this latest newsletter from Chrysalis Retreats. Feel free to share with others.
We look forward to seeing participants at our Day Retreat in May - it’s not long now!
Caroline and Rachel x
Retreat details are here
Here at Chrysalis Retreats our vision is to support women to take a pause and reflect at key moments in our lives and clarify what’s important as we move forward. We recognize that women face specific challenges in life and in work that show up in times of transition or uncertainty, and we are here to guide and support women on their personal journey. Our retreats are designed to allow spacious time for reflection, to learn from each other and experience the joy of being in nature.
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