Sophie says…. I love running the Italian Retreat. There’s something so magical about creating such a special, welcoming place where we can do the invaluable work that we and our participants do when we are there. We (Team BC that is) always get there a couple of days before the participants so that we can get everything ready. We prepare the bedrooms, the dining room and the workspace. We start baking and cooking and getting ourselves, and everything we need, perfectly ready.
It’s a pretty intensive 7 days. We rise early(ish)every morning for some Movement and Guru time and then we have sessions throughout the day and evening, punctuated by time to walk, reflect, talk, eat, rest and be…
There’s nothing to do with our relationship with food and our bodies that we don’t talk about or explore. Every year I am moved, inspired and heartened by the participants’ stories.
Audrey and Abbi work magic in the kitchen. Truly. I am astounded by the quality and abundance of the meals they provide, catering for everyone’s likes and dislikes, allergies, intolerances and preferences with grace and generosity. Every meal is freshly prepared, every day, with such care and passion. The dishes are creative, luscious and nourishing. We have puddings every night and Abbi’s afternoon tea creations are wonderful. And mealtimes are work time too – we’re eating and that’s what we are there to explore after all. So that’s what we do. The awareness we all come away with is mind blowing. Every time I run a retreat I learn so much about myself and about my own relationship with food, which, like every other part of my life, is constantly changing and evolving. When I run a retreat, I am on retreat, maybe that’s why I love them so much.
I find it incredible that I could sign up for a course on just about anything at a UK university. There are literally thousands of different options; linear algebra, textiles, gemmology, risk management, online journalism (to name but a very few of the ones I’d never heard of) but not one of the subjects I’ve seen on offer would teach me how to live my life in a more satisfying way. Sure, I can go and study psychology or psychotherapy – and mostly these are academic courses cantered on theory and practice with clients rather than the students working on themselves and their own issues and struggles. Not one of the courses I have seen (of any kind) teaches us how to live well and be well rounded human beings. Not one of the courses would give me the tools to have a healthy relationship with food (or a healthy relationship with my parents, my children, my partner or my boss – relationships, whether with people or inanimate objects, are the most challenging aspect of
anyone’s life and not one university course addresses them. Incredible). None of them would teach me how to deal with my anger or my fears. None of them would require me to write essays about how I, as a woman, am impacted by society’s focus on slenderness and youth. How it feels to be middle aged and sagging. None of them would offer me lectures on how to stop feeling ashamed about my bingeing or how to stop hating my body. The Beyond Chocolate Retreat on the other hand, is a crash course in all those things. And there is something so powerful and liberating and reassuring about being able to talk about them and explore them all with like minded women. To know you won’t be judged or criticised. I love every moment (did I say that already?). And with all that work, all that serious and life changing work, we manage to have moments where we laugh and laugh and laugh, literally til the tears are running down our cheeks and our sides feel like they are about to burst!
This year the retreat team will be made up of me, Audrey, Abbi, Gretel. We’d love you to join us for a truly magical week.