Unplugging and retreating

Unplugging and retreating at Charis Camp - fall photography and an experience via http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

This past weekend, I had an opportunity for unplugging and retreating with about 25 wonderful gals from my church.

I really didn’t know what to expect. This was pretty much out of my element and comfort zone. But I quickly found out the 24 others felt pretty much the same way, which made for a wonderful ice breaker. It was time to just chill and take it all in.

Unplugging and retreating at Charis Camp - fall photography and an experience via http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

This lovely location is at Charis Camp, located in Chilliwack, BC, Canada. And boy, did we get treated right. The meals were fabulous and the accommodations brand new and top notch. Our main living room even had a fireplace, so we were not without.

Henna artwork / Unplugging and retreating at Charis Camp - fall photography and an experience via http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

Watercolour art / Unplugging and retreating at Charis Camp - fall photography and an experience via http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

The weekend hosted a movie night (so fun!), amazing seminars as well as a chance to express yourself creatively in many different ways. Henna tattoos, decorating stepping stones, a mini spa, art… lots of new experiences to try.

I tried a little of nearly everything, but I’ll be honest… I was shutting down. I really desired to take it all in via photography and just sit, chat and learn from others. I just wanted to hug a hot coffee, rest,  and hear stories. And maybe even offer encouragement if I could.

Unplugging and retreating at Charis Camp - fall photography and an experience via http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

On Saturday, there was a wide open opportunity to take in the surrounding outdoors. Taking nature photography is one of my passions, and I had hoped to go for a walk with a few others with cameras in tow, but wouldn’t you know it… it was pouring rain the entire weekend! 

I found it interesting that the rain kept us all indoors. I somehow don’t think that was a fluke. It made us connect under one roof rather than scatter too far away. Always for a reason.

Luckily it quit raining right before I left, so I was able to capture the beauty of the area.

Unplugging and retreating at Charis Camp - fall photography and an experience via http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

One of the most valuable things I learned in a seminar was how to journal. A wonderful gal in the group taught us the ABC’s of how to do it with an issue you may be having along with scripture. I can’t wait to share more on that… as soon as I get my new journal. We questioned Heidi where she got her gorgeous journal she was using and found out she made them! More on this soon.

Unplugging and retreating at Charis Camp - fall photography and an experience via http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

Unplugging and retreating at Charis Camp - fall photography and an experience via http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

During the entire stay, I didn’t resort to the net at all. My laptop was left completely unplugged and I only checked my phone once for 5 minutes. Other than that, the desire to go online wasn’t there. This was a true unplug.

Unplugging and retreating at Charis Camp - fall photography and an experience via http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

Unplugging and retreating at Charis Camp - fall photography and an experience via http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

Fall leaves on steps / Unplugging and retreating at Charis Camp - fall photography and an experience via http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

I wasn’t sure what I’d get out of it for myself. When you don’t know others all that well, you aren’t quite as likely to open up. But on the last day, that all changed.

Fall leaves on steps / Unplugging and retreating at Charis Camp - fall photography and an experience via http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

Someone else shared something pretty deep, and I could feel my own tough shell cracking. You know what that means, right? Complete vulnerability. The hardest thing to do. Ever. To trust after your own trust has been damaged. But there’s no other way to overcome this other than to go for it.

Who knew that being in the company of other caring women that get it was totally IN my element. What a surprise.

Fall leaves on wooden bench / Unplugging and retreating at Charis Camp - fall photography and an experience via http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

When we first arrived at the retreat, one question we were asked was what we hoped to gain from our experience. My answer was easy and immediate. It was to discover new friendships offline.

Everyone knows you start a garden with a seedling. Friendship is kinda like that too. You have to make the effort to plant for a start.

Changing your ways from being an introvert to someone opening their heart to others is huge. 

Unplugging and retreating at Charis Camp - fall photography and an experience via http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

Trees with Moss / Unplugging and retreating at Charis Camp - fall photography and an experience via http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

Snow on Chilliwack Mountains / Unplugging and retreating at Charis Camp - fall photography and an experience via http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

And then it was all over. As I drove out of the camp, I was surprised to see fresh snow covered the surrounding mountains! Pulling over to snap a few more photos was a must.

Fall and winter in one picture / Unplugging and retreating at Charis Camp - fall photography and an experience via http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

Snow capped mountains and fall colours / Unplugging and retreating at Charis Camp - fall photography and an experience via http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

Fall and winter / Unplugging and retreating at Charis Camp - fall photography and an experience via http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

Fall and winter all in one. Isn’t this spectacular?

I nearly didn’t go to this retreat. It was easier to stay home and make excuses as to why it wasn’t a good fit. I’m so glad I gave this a chance. A quick wave at church while you’re walking out the doors isn’t the same as spending some quality time with others with no one in a rush.

We live in such a big world. And to stay parked in your chair in front of a glowing monitor for all your friendship needs is not the same as embracing those near you. Chances are, they need your friendship as much as you need theirs.

Why not give people a chance? Chances are, one is waiting just for you!

Do you have more online friends than offline yourself?

Other 2013 travels I’ve taken are HERE.

p.s. I have a new ad network in effect… if something is slightly off, please email me with particulars as we work out the potential kinks. Thank-you! [email protected]

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Categories: Camping, Fall, Off Topic, Photo Shoots, Photography, Rambling, Seasonal, Travel
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  1. I find it so interesting in life we would most likely help a stranger right on the spot, but when asked can’t fit in a schedule to help a loved one or a friend. Your comments today make me reflect on this because real relationships are so important. I hope you feel you met your goal. I for one am proud of you for unplugging!

  2. Donna, your photos are simply gorgeous! What an amazing location. BC looks a bit like Colorado at this time of year. The fall trees with the snow in the background…stunning.
    Glad to hear you had a good weekend making some “real-life” connections!

  3. wow! your photography is so professional-looking. i think you are a pro! the greens are so vibrant, and the fallen leaves are full of color! i am so glad you could find a group of women that you could share time with. unplugged, eh? i’m not sure i could do it. i am very much of an introvert and, according to some, unsocial. i guess i am quite self-contained, yet i am looking for a therapist with whom i can open up to and try to put words to what i feel at times. so far, no luck. (i have my girlfriend, but it’s different…) take care.

  4. I remember being really nervous the first time I went on retreat. After I decided to relax and go with the flow I discovered it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Women seem to have an ability to share and nurture and support whenever we are gathered together. The commonality of a shared faith gives everyone a shared starting point. I made friendships on that first retreat that help sustain me 23 years later. I am very happy for you that you had such a great experience.

    Your photos are beautiful. Having lived in the Pacific Northwest for several years, I love seeing trees dripping with moss. Every forest area seems to look like a fairyland! And the pics of the mountains with the bright golden aspens is fabulous!

  5. Those were some beautiful photos of the camp you visited. I would love to have an open experience like that with other women. Sometimes I could use a break like that. Just glad to hear that you were able to relieve yourself of some stress and share it with some new friends. It is very important to be able to connect with others. My middle daughter and I get together for a day away from men and kids from time to time. We need that bonding and she needs a stress breaker. Just glad I’m here for her. I really do enjoy your posts.

  6. Good message, and striking photos! I love outdoor photos, especially after a rain – the moss & vines on the trees, water & wet leaves are fantastic. This time of year offers such moody background! Thanks for sharing.

  7. I have never taken the plunge and went on a retreat. Maybe the next time I may have to go! Glad it was such a positive experience for you. The photos are so relaxing, they convey what you must of been feeling……

  8. There is nothing like joining hands with soul sisters, especially when the relationships are young and fresh with promise. Enjoying God’s wonderment in nature and in heart.

  9. Love the pics! The lush moss and leaves, the evergreens, the steps and benches. But WOW! The pics of the trees in full fall bloom with the mountain in the background are stunning!!! Would love to travel to Canada. Texas is so warm we don’t get much of the fall bloom. It usually just goes from warm to cold and the leaves just drop without having the beautiful colors. Oh and women’s retreats are the most fun and life changing events ever at our church!!!

  10. You are an inspiring person. Not only do I greatly enjoy your creativity, but your joy in Christianity shines through your posts. I wish that we lived near enough to make visiting possible; I feel toward you as I might toward a young sister. Your photographs are visual essays. Keep up the good work!

  11. I think this retreat was a wonderful step for you, and a difficult one, but it is one step closer to healing, and learning to trust again. Spending time with a good group of woman can be so much fun and a real learning experience. Your pictures are absolutely beautiful, you truly live in a beautiful area. You must feel truly blessed every time you step outside and see all that beauty.

  12. You live in paradise! God’s creation is so amazing,, and your photos are so beautiful. I have never participated in my church’s women’s retreat, but I’m thinking about it for next year. (They just had it 2 weeks ago.) I have a good network of friends in our homeschool group, but I’m finding I need some close connections that are for *me*, not my identity as a homeschool mom. I’m trying to be more available for that.

  13. photos are gorgeous!! the retreat sounds like just what you needed! i have a few close women friends but they live far away i miss them. can’t wait to see what has inspired you.

  14. Donna, I know this post was mainly about your retreat and finding a real connection with real people. But,…Good Heavens…the photography is just outstanding!! Have you ever given thought to selling some of your photos? I know from your past posts that $$ is sometimes tight at your house, (and mine), but I think you could be making some cash from your talent with your camera. Have you ever tried? Let me guess,…to scary to think someone else would pay money for something you find so easy and natural. As a way to begin, wouldn’t the other women who shared your weekend enjoy having a wonderful photo memory of their experience? Think about it. You are very talented and have an “eye” for all kinds of beauty!

    • Linda, you sure know how to make a junker feel good! 🙂 Yes, I have an idea on how to offer the photos for sale. I’ll look more seriously into that this week. I promise! 🙂 Thank-you!

  15. What a beautiful weekend, and I love that it rained and everyone was inside with each other the entire time. Good question about friendships. I have been thinking about that myself. I definitely have more real time friends, my church is very close knit and we have a women’s hour every Sunday where it gives us an amazing opportunity to share and connect. However, I don’t make enough effort to socialize with friends. I tend to shy away when there are big get togethers involving a lot of women. I don’t know why, but I know it probably isn’t in my best interest. I used to be the most social gal I knew, then I found my passion of restoring stuff, blogging, and the wonderful world of all things online creative. I could turn into a hermit in my garage if it weren’t for my family needing me. I know there are many more who need me and I need them. Perfect reminder to me to make this effort and make time each month just for friends. Gorgeous pictures too. Oh how I wish I saw things like that when I walked out my front door!

  16. Completely agree so much time is spent in front of a screen, I often find it sad that folks are so plugged in. I’ve been unplugging from the internet world for the past 4 months and it’s been amazing. I’m a different person because of it. Thanks for sharing your experience and your pictures are fantastic. Taking time to be real is always best..

  17. Loved your pics, especially the quiet brooks. Would love to know more about your retreat/journaling. I’m working on getting our church ladies to connect more and could possibly use some of your ideas for our next retreat. Praying you’ll all grow even closer!

  18. Thank you for sharing this. As a divorced woman who no longer attends church, it is refreshing to hear that woman still gather together for soul sustenance at retreats like you’ve described. It is what I once did and now only reminisce about. Reading of your experience and seeing your gorgeous pictures warmed my chilly heart today. Thank you for this. I feel like I’ve been given a random act of kindness. Much appreciated.