It only took me a month, but here's a little sneak peak at one of the most memorable and rejuvenating weeks of my wellness career.
Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch Wellness Retreat 2017
(say that 10 times fast...I dare you).
I'm mostly going to let the pics speak for themselves. I like to answer when asked about this experience and place, "You know that serene, perfect image you have in your head when you think of a horse ranch in Montana, owned by amazing, down-to-earth people, food that fills and comforts you, all with the air of 'family' to it? Well, this place is exactly that place."
The theme of this year's retreat was HOME. I'm currently and have been pretty obsessed with the idea of home - how do we feel it? How is it created? What makes a place feel like 'home?' Etc.
I think Hawley worked so perfectly for this feeling, because there is a certain healing and safety you feel when you step onto the ranch, are around the cowboys, the cooks, the horses, the mountains and streams... you feel like you're home.
This is the almighty goddess of all culinary heaven, Nancy. She made the most AMAZING meals every.single.freaking.day. We couldn't get over how beautiful and thoughtful each meal was.
Meet Cowboy Ron. He and his phenomenal wife Phyllis own and run Hawley. Ron is, again, exactly what you would hope he would be - hardworking, old school, chivalrous, tough as nails cowboy. He makes you feel like you are one of the family instantly. I seriously hope to be as badass as Ron is when I'm even 40 years-old. He helps you remember something true, raw, and freeing about life in the mountains. It's not easy, but it seems so right when you're with him.
Cowboy coffee after each meal, as demonstrated by Ranch manager Eric.
I was THIS happy to have Amanda (Valenti Acupuncture) join me for this retreat. She is such a gift to me and my top choice for partner in wellness crime (oxy moron?). She took pictures and kept me sane while working like a mad woman and constantly making plans to quit my life and move to the ranch permanently.
Cowgirls just getting sh*t done. Always.
Retreat ladies getting introduced to their horses for the week. To say that they were a fun-filled handful would be a dramatic understatement.
Gorgeous rides everyday, twice a day if you should so choose.
Steve, our accidental retreat wellness warrior. He ended up being one of the biggest advocates for wellness during the week. I love getting people involved that are initially hesitant to try wellness activities. He kept us laughing and the horses pissed off ;).
Nightly campfire cookouts
The full day ride up the mountain in this ol beast was SUCH a hilariously fun adventure. We laughed the whole time.
We ended up at the top of a gorgeous mountain. Ruca, the team mascot was in her element.
Oh, and so was Ron, a kid at heart. Any excuse to bust out the chainsaw. And he had about 40 massive excuses.
Webster's definition of "Cowboy" = Ron
A full day's ride lead us up to the most serene places I've seen in all of my life. We ate, rested our riding legs and had a beautiful yoga session
Having this adorable woman join me on my wellness retreat adventures has been the biggest gift to me. She not only helps me a ridiculous amount, she's just so much darn fun. She ends up being everyone's favorite guest. I don't even mind that she attacks me ;)
Fly-tying and fly fishing lessons.
Celebrating their 10-year work anniversary together. Not a shabby way to celebrate, if I do say so myself.
Boloties made by my amazingly talented friend Aja Martin - https://sagehenjewelry.com
One of the many activities retreat guests participated in - Smudge Stick creation from Utah and Montana plants
One of the favorite among guests was mala making. They learned not only to make their own mala, but how to use it for meditation and intention setting. Many guests have really taken this to heart and have made malas on their own since.
Walking meditation instruction
Every morning started with meditation, mindful movement, and intention setting. I can't adequately express how it feels to wake up every morning, as the sun comes up over the mountains and the horses are herded back into their grazing field, full of inner stillness and physical ease as Nancy makes another amazing meal and we all create mindful, loving intentions together. It's just doesn't make sense that every day isn't this way, right?
One of the guest cabins.
One of the one-on-one locations. Views for self-care did not suck, not even once.
Moral of the story, I'm in love with Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch and I'm stupidly obsessed with what I do. I believe SO much in seeing health as a whole-person perspective. Being in the mountains, away from our regular distractions is not always bliss. Retreat guests all worked through some difficult things internally and physically. We were held in this discomfort in one of the most beautiful places surrounded by grounding, loving people. I believe that HOME is a perfect combination of growth and discomfort mixed with the right amount of foundation and support.
H - Haven - we need to have a safe haven to feel at home in. I hope to have created not only a haven of the ranch, but of our bodies, our minds, and our experience.
O - Own it. We have to own our present experience. We can't get where we're going unless we are where we're at. Retreat guests were inspiring in their ability to own all of their experience.
M - Mindfulness - the malas, smudge sticks, meditations, movement, intention setting, all of this was practice in creating a mindfulness tool-kit to help better sit and create a 'home' within self.
E - Expansiveness - We have to be brave enough to expand beyond our comfort zones and experience the bigger experience all around us. I'm so proud of all my guests that took this leap, came to a new place and felt the healing, euphoric growth that comes with that courage.
To all that came on this adventure, wow. I didn't know what I was hoping this retreat would be, but it surpassed all expectation.
To those of you who see this and can tell it is meant for you, somewhere in your bones you hear Montana calling like I always have, I hope to see you next year :).