retreat, a new way to vacation

I remember going on retreats in middle and high school with my church youth group. This was a devoted time where we left our daily lives to recharge and spend time with God. I loved these times. Believer, religious, or not, I think we can all benefit from retreating. Whether it’s to seek clarity in the direction of your life or to find rest, we all need times in our lives where we need to LET GO and RECONNECT. I’m here to share with you how we retreated from our daily life to reset.

When we were planning our vacation to Northern Michigan, we knew we were looking for something that will have us truly get away. Both of us have been worn down from our jobs and we just needed to refresh and reset. We are pretty adventurous when we do travel and like to pack our schedules to make the most it. This time though, we wanted to plan intentionally for a retreat vacation. This is fortunately easy to achieve in Northern Michigan.

img_8261img_8274How we planned our retreat:

  1. Purpose– The purpose of a retreat vacation is to find balance, clarity, refreshment, and/or rest. This changes everything when thinking how our days will look and how I wanted to feel at the end of each day on our vacation.
  2. Where/When – Once we knew the purpose of the trip, we could start thinking about where. We knew it was Northern Michigan. The vibe there is so chill and you can’t beat the scenery. We have never been to Northern Michigan in the autumn and have always wanted to go back during a different season. We were also limited to time (days off from work) and finances.
  3. Activities– We made sure of two things when it came to how we wanted to spend our time. First, less booking/reservations – in short, less schedule. Second, we carefully choose activities that we find relaxing.

For our retreat vacation, we stayed at a lovely farmhouse through airbnb. It was in Cedar, which is in between Suttons Bay and Traverse City. We knew we wanted somewhere remote, quiet, and in nature.



On our 3 nights/ 4 days in the Traverse City area, we did the following:

Old Mission Peninsula: Mission Point Lighthouse and searching for Petoskey stones.

There is something about searching for hidden treasures in the water that is meditative. The colors of the water, ripples, sound of the waves, feel of the gritty sand… it was so refreshing to explore the waters this time of the year. And when it’s only 50 degrees, there aren’t many people in the water, which makes it all that much more of a calming experience. Leo found not one, but two petoskey stones!






Wine and Cider. Our favorites are Tandeum Ciders and Big Little Wines 




Of course food was involved.

Inspirational meal at Trattoria Stella (only reservation we made). Amazing, farm to table, seasonal foods. Food always awakens our souls. img_2169

img_2171Farmer’s Market on a rainy morning.

Farmer’s Markets are a place of inspiration and joy for us- especially Leo. He would walk around to all the vendors, see the amazing produce that’s in season and think about the dishes he would create. There was a slow pace to the Traverse City Farmer’s Market compared to the Ann Arbor one, which was to be expected and refreshing to experience.


Bon Fires/Smores/Sunsets… more reasons we loved our airbnb.



To end our retreat vacation, we finished our “40 before 40” list that we (individually) started months (I mean months) ago, but never finished writing. This was inspired by our friend, Grace, who made a “30 before 30” list. It was a list of things she dedicated herself to do/make/accomplish before she turned 30. This made us think about how intentional this was and we wanted to do the same! We are 4 years away from 40 so we decided to make a list of 40 things we individually wanted to do before we turn 40 years old. It was so meditative to journal and reflect over a fire, sunset, and some hot tea.


Sunrise on our last morning that I almost missed! 

I was my usual self –  packing to go home, making sure we had gathered everything. As Leo was loading up the car, it’s so like him to wander off. 🙂 He took notice of the sunrise and literally called me out. I’m so thankful for this partner of mine who pushes me to slow down and BE PRESENT. This was the first vacation we took where we came back truly refreshed, rested, and energized. Most of the times I am seeking a vacation FROM my vacation. We plan to make it a tradition of ours to take a retreat at least once a year.


The busier life gets, the more I need to take a moment. This is one of the biggest lessons in my life right now.

It’s in these moments I have to slow down , instead of working faster and harder. I am so not good at this, but I want to make more of an intention to practice it. Whether it is a retreat with my husband, a solitude time with God, or a quiet walk alone, I am convinced more than ever before the value of TIME AWAY (even if it’s in my own home!) IN THE MOST BUSY TIMES. It refuels my spirit.

How do you refresh or reset?

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