I want you to imagine yourself arriving in the beautiful Central West NSW town of Canowindra.
Before you head into the township, you can feel yourself breathing more deeply as you look over the wide, open paddocks. You are off the clock for the first time in a while. You don't have to think about what you are going to prepare for dinner tonight. You don't have to listen for your children calling your name. You are already beginning to switch off. You can see the Weddin mountains in the distance against the beautiful, clear blue sky.
The wide streets of Canowindra welcome you. You'll come and take a wander through the town later but for now, you pull up and have arrived at your destination: Eddy's of Canowindra. You take in the two-storey heritage style building, built in 1910.
As you walk up the path, you can smell the lavender in the bushes that sit beside the step to the wrap around veranda. You decide to walk around the wooden veranda which takes you to the back of the old house. There's a lovely open deck and the afternoon shade of the Eucalyptus trees cast shadows over the tables and chairs set out here. You make a mental note to come and sit once you've found your room.
You notice the lovely white stairs that might take you up to the top floor later to your room. You are greeted and welcomed by Lusi and immediately feel at ease. It has been a while since you've done something like this: gone out on a limb to meet new people but there is a burgeoning within you too. You feel this might be the start of something exciting.
A time for you.
A time for rest.
A time for connecting with like-minded people and you are feeling a sense of peace.
When you enter the main part of the house, you are immediately taken back in time: the wooden bannisters, the vintage armchairs and the pressed metal ceilings all give a sense of simple times gone by. You look at the artworks hanging on the walls as you are walked down to your lovely room.
As you walk in, you notice the intersection of simplicity, space and cleanliness. You admire the crisp, white linen folded neatly on the end of your bed (and you utter a little thank you heavenwards that you didn't have to pack this, fold this or re-wash this). The little nightlight attached to your bedhead will come in handy, you tell yourself, so you can lie in bed later and read yourself to sleep.
As you walk through the house, you stick your head into the other rooms and notice they are each painted in deep heritage colours. You love the natural light pouring in to each space but you are also grateful to see thick curtains in case you need to have a sleep later in the day time....just because you can!
How long it has been since you've been able to stay in a lovely place like this! You love the armchairs you see dotted around the rooms and halls and take a moment of pause to sit in one.
One of the things that you have already noticed is how blissfully quiet it is! You can hear a few people talking but other than that, there's no whining, no complaining or anyone asking anything of you. There is afternoon tea on offer but instead, you decide to take a wander down to the main street of Canowindra to make the most of the afternoon. You love the feeling of freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want it! First you have a cuppa, then you walk around a few of the boutique stores admiring the different textures and colours of the wares. You pick up a souvenir for yourself to remind you of this little time away. Lastly, you wander into the second hand book store. It is lined with shelves of books and you feel like you could get happily lost in here for hours.
A minute or two's walk and you are already back at the venue. You notice a few other people have arrived now. Friendly faces introduce themselves to you as you sit together around the table. A delectable charcuterie board has been prepared and everyone relaxes into each other's company as you chat about where you have come from and tell each other a little about your family's.
You decide it's time to climb the stairs and change into some pjs. Why not? You want to feel relaxed and you are amongst friends. Thankfully there are no formal dress-code dinners or anything fancy like that.
Once into your pjs, you decide to lie down on your bed....and just like that you are out! A quick power nap and you are awakened by the smell of a delicious home cooked meal coming from the dining room! You make your way down there and enjoy a scrumptious meal - made even MORE enjoyable by the fact that you didn't have to plan this, cook this or clean up after this! You can't remember the last time you've invested in yourself like this but you are so glad you did!
You turn in early and call it a night. You love that there is no pressure to stay up and chat (although you know if you wanted to, there'd be room for that and feel grateful for the freedom here to make these kinds of choices).
After an AMAZING sleep, you awake feeling very refreshed! You help yourself to the self-serve breakfast cart and enjoy some slow cooker oats and fresh berries topped with maple syrup. What a lovely treat!
While others are sleeping still, you decide to take a walk down to the Swinging Bridge which you've heard about. It's not a long walk at all and is easy to find. Listening to the rushing water always gives you a calming feeling so you go for a little explore.
You are so glad for this opportunity for some stillness. Some clarity.
The river reminds you somehow of the Secret Garden or some other lovely place you read about as a child.
Before heading back to the venue, you decide to have your morning cuppa at Perennial Cafe, Nursery and Emporium. You might have to detour via The Melissa Barber Galleries café tomorrow - you remind yourself to see if there's any fresh baklava.
Everyone is up and moving about so after a shower, you meet up in the cosy lounge room for the first of the speaking sessions. You are so glad you don't have to attend these but it's always lovely to hear from other homeschoolers who have been on the journey for a while. A few people share things on their heart that they have been struggling with. There are a few tears shed. You are led through a series of prompts to get you thinking specifically about your vision, your home, your children, your challenges and your hopes.
You are relieved that the sessions aren't overly intense or long and that there is time for thinking and some journaling accounted for. It's also helpful to hear from other homeschoolers who chime in with their experiences. You have lots of food for thought. You go between sitting in your room to journal, to walking around the property with your thoughts, to sitting out on the lovely open balcony overlooking the church next door. You can feel your heart is opening wide to the realisation that you really do need to put regular nurturing moments into your life: little acts that will help you truly carve out the kind of life you are wanting to live as a woman.
After a lovely lunch and a sit outside, you decide to skip the afternoon sessions and instead focus on some art journaling you've been wanting to do. You're glad you packed some supplies. You put your headphones on with your favourite playlist going and you do a little creative work on your journal. You see another retreat attendee has the same kind of idea and is crocheting up a storm in the hallway. Gosh it feels so wonderful to have the space to be creative in an uninterrupted way.
By dinner time, your heart is feeling so full! There's an outdoor dinner set up on the back deck. There are candles and everyone is so relaxed, chatting and laughing away. The night is young and soon there'll be the trivia night and some music playing. You aren't sure if you'll take part in that but it does sound like fun (again something you could do with a little more every now and then in your life). You play along and you DO have fun - you surprise yourself to hear your own laughter mingling with others' too. This feeling of joy is palpable and you are grateful to sense it. Some of this weekend has felt like an unexpected blessing. You didn't realise just HOW MUCH you needed this time until you were here. You can't believe this is the last day! The morning's breakfast was lovely and now it is time to opt into one of the activities: you've decided on taking the painting class. Since you haven't really spent a lot of extra money while you've been away, you figure the $50 opt in will be worth a little colourful fun.
And how right you were! You remember how meditative painting is and how you actually really love this. You vow to do a weekly painting time with the kids when you get back home. You think all of you could benefit from it.
There's a lovely kind of atmosphere around the table at lunch time. Everyone poses for a group photo before someone has to leave earlier than others. There is an opportunity to swap email addresses so you can stay connected with these lovely women you've just shared your heart and time with for the weekend. This time has been so affirming and you feel fresh and ready to go back into your family home and homeschooling life now.
You can't wait to do this again though and as soon as you are home, you connect with the other women you've just met through the complimentary membership Lusi has given you to the Australian Homeschool Hub. This will be helpful (and is a place to chat about homeschooling that isn't on Facebook - yay!)
You are so grateful you took the time to invest in yourself. You feel like this isn't just about helping you become a better homeschooler: this is about you being the person you were fully designed to be. A person of joy, purpose and passion. Just imagine!
Of course this is just an example of what might happen...I just wanted to paint a vivid picture of what this could potentially look like for you (and me!) It has been a dream of mine for a while now to facilitate a homeschooling women's retreat. There is so much joy, encouragement and collective wisdom shared when women come together in person. It can be such a connecting experience. I really do hope you can join me and the other women on our Inaugural Australian Homeschooling Women's Retreat 2023. I would love you to come if you can.
Use the code RETREATYAY to get your $150 discount.
I can't wait to meet you! Lusi x