Inspired by my trail running adventure around Mont Blanc during the summer of 2022, I started brainstorming how to share my love for Chamonix and these mountains with others.
I quickly learned no one was interested in running the trails, so I modified my plan to make it
a hiking trip bookended with daily yoga! I hired certified, European mountain guides to create an itinerary fit for the AVERAGE hiker (not too difficult, not too long, but also nothing to scoff at because we are in the Alps afterall). The two things I was missing from my 2022 experience were a good night’s sleep and vegan/gluten-free food - my meals were hit/miss, but I also didn’t mind because I had plenty of carbs to fuel me. For our Adventure Wellness Retreat, I wanted to bring our recipes to create unique plant-based/gluten-free meals as an extra level of service.
Chamonix is the second retreat I’ve hosted, and I was anticipating this retreat to be emotionally exhausting and causing me to need my own vacation after the retreat. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Our group of 15 participants were a true pleasure to host. Not a single day felt like work. I was enjoying every moment: from early morning yoga to making sandwiches at night for the next day’s hike. No request was too much. I just loved that our guests felt comfortable enough with me to ask questions, ask for modifications on the hikes and simply share what I could do to make sure they were happy and enjoying themselves. If our guests were happy, I was happy.
I feel very grateful and lucky that we had such a wonderful group of retreat participants and support team. They were all open to new friendships and full of adventure to experience what was in store. My goal was to push guests out of their comfort zones, to give them the opportunity to learn how to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. I feel that is when one sees the most self-growth.
Very quickly, I learned that just because I love to push myself to see what is possible, not everyone does. I’m very interested in studying how some individuals are able to perceive stress/discomfort in a positive manner so they can learn and gain new skills, while others interpret stress as a sign to withdraw and protect themselves from the unknown. I’m biased in believing the former leads to a happier existence since life is full of unexpected surprises. How can I help those in the latter group learn the mindset to thrive in the unknown and embrace stress as an opportunity to become more resilient and ultimately happier?
For some of our retreat participants I was able to encourage them to push through doubts, others I could not because they were not ready or interested. Deep down, I felt, what a missed opportunity for those who didn’t take full advantage, but I also questioned myself what can I learn to do better to motivate those that weren’t ready?
My design of our Adventure Wellness Retreats is my personal quest to help others push through mental and physical barriers in a safe and supported environment. When I see anxiety, depression and stress in others, I observe commonalities among those who are suffering. They allow fear and self-doubt to drive their decisions. They worry about the unknown. They are stuck in a vicious cycle, unable to break free. And, they spend little time outdoors or in nature. I truly believe nature can heal so much more than big pharma. Pills often only mask the symptom, but not address the root cause. My mission for our Adventure Wellness Retreats is to help others adopt behavioral changes to rewire one’s mindset to embrace stress and challenges in a positive light, so they can tackle life’s personal and professional curveballs with the best tools to lead a happy and healthy existence.