Ritual Renewal – Restorative Weekend Retreat Diary
Bowen Island, British Columbia, Canada
Getting to Bowen Island from the US is not super easy. She makes you work a little for the reward.
It’s a tale of trains, planes and automobiles. And ferries. And dare I say, hitchhiking? For some of the more adventurous in our group, that was the case. But as with the best things in life, the work is usually worth it. This retreat was no exception to that rule.
On the Thursday evening before the retreat began, me and my husband Rick headed to LAX to meet up with our travel buddy and retreat guest, Joan – an L.A. girl, pattern maker for Revolve, all around earth angel and repeat retreat attendee. Hugs and excitement ensued as the call to board sounded and we settled into our seats for the 3 hour flight.
The sky put on a show for us as we made final descent into Vancouver at 9:40 pm. Vivid colors bounced off the horizon line and shone pink upon the still waters of the harbor below. This gorgeous display was set off to even greater effect by the undulating hills and twinkling city lights. Oh, Canada, we have arrived and are already smitten.
From the airport, we taxi’d to our Airbnb in Vancouver’s Surrey district where we met up with our dear friend and Chef extraordinaire, Misty, who had flown in the day prior to shop for fresh produce and begin prepping for a weekend of feasting. Sleepy from our travels, we retired to our rooms just around midnight to rest up for round two.
Early next morning, we hopped into a jeep Misty rented when she arrived. Filled with a huge quantity of fresh veggies and fruit stacked in the back and not an inch of space left to spare, we hit the road for the 45 minute ride through downtown Vancouver to the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal on the city’s west end. Misty drove, Rick sat shotgun and Joan and I squished together into two of the 3 spots in the back seat with the third spot occupied by luggage that was piled from seat to ceiling. Along the way, we caught glimpses of city, mountains and ocean before pulling onto the ferry to make our way across the Howe Sound to Bowen Island.
There’s something so cool about being able to drive onto and park a vehicle aboard a giant boat and sail with said vehicle across the water while strolling the deck and breathing in clean ocean air. It’s a great way to take in the pretty views too, which there is no shortage of in British Columbia. To say this place is scenic would be an understatement. Clearly, Canada is a country that holds great reverence for nature. It all feels so pristine and untouched still. And on the day of our crossing, we were graced with a clear blue cloudless sky, bright shining sun and a sapphire sea shimming as if a million little diamonds had been scattered across the surface. The breeze whispered of the magic to come.
“I wanted to thank you again for such a beautiful retreat! It was such an honor to share space. I always feel so much lighter and at peace when I return from one of your retreats…even in the days and weeks following. It’s a feeling that stays with me, and I know I can call on it anytime. This is truly a gift. One that I continue to practice everyday. As my Mom has already expressed, she absolutely loved the experience and meeting you. I have not seen her so calm and at peace in a long time.”
Approaching Bowen, one is struck by what appears to be an entire island covered from end to end, top to bottom with ancient pines, standing up straight and 100 feet tall upon mountains that jut out of the water in dramatic fashion, towering high, high into the sky. It’s easy to imagine that not much has changed with this landscape over the centuries. Signs of modernity are well concealed and nature speaks for herself.
As the ferry pulled into Snug Harbor, we were immediately charmed by the rustic clapboard cottages housing locally owned and operated boutiques, restaurants, bakeries and ice cream shops. This tiny island paradise has managed to stay free of any corporate business presence, which made it all the more refreshing to have arrived in a place rooted in pride, integrity and a strong sense of community.
Driving the picturesque road to our retreat house with the windows down, the scent of pine drifted in and lifted us up. Blackberry brambles dotted the roadside and hung heavy with dark, ripe berries. Arriving at Nectar B&B, our home away from home for the weekend, we were greeted by our lovely Proprietress, Andrea, who gifted Misty and I with gorgeous custom made copper necklaces and a handwritten note card welcoming us to her magical sanctuary. In an instant, I knew that expectations would be exceeded. We unpacked the Jeep and began preparations to receive our guests as Joan settled into her forest cottage for a nap.
This set the tone for what was to be an extraordinary weekend with an exceptional group of beautiful humans. I count my blessings. And so it begins.
Our time together commenced with a welcome reception, opening ceremony and restorative yoga class in the geodesic dome overlooking the forest. A super high vibe and beautifully presented dinner was followed by a group walk to the beach. Along the way, we picked blackberries, spotted deer and watched the sun set over the crystaline water on a seashore we had all to ourselves. Making our way back at twilight, we settled in for sleep under a sky full of stars, free of light pollution and accompanied by a soundtrack of crickets and night birds. A pretty good first day, I’d say.
We awoke next morning to a gentle rainfall that had us feeling nice and cozy. Perfect vibes for our yin yoga class that was followed by a delectable breakfast – Misty’s incredible banana chia seed pudding topped with chai cream, fresh berries, edible flower petals and her homemade raw granola. Say what??? So. Good. (recipe below).
After breakfast, Rick lead a dreamcatcher making workshop that got everybody’s creative juices flowing. Free time was spent exploring the forests, lakes and local chocolatier. Afternoon yoga was sweet and slow and dinner, epic. We closed the day with a soulful fire ceremony, letting all the dead weight fall away and in turn, creating space to manifest dreams into reality.
“Greetings Kim, just wanted to thank you again and again for the wonderful experience of your yoga retreat. People have noticed a glow in me since I’ve returned. I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to meet you and experience your wise, loving and nurturing soul. You have opened up a door to self discovery that I intend to keep open.”
On our last morning together, we gathered once again for yoga in the dome. Just as we began moving, two deer approached the windows. Curious, they stood and watched. Equally curious, we stopped our practice and met them at the windows for a little lovefest.
After a time, one of the deer (who we later learned was fondly named “Buck”) wandered off, while his companion sat down in the grass and watched over us for the rest of our class. Symbolically speaking, the medicine deer bestows is that of gentleness, kindness and unconditional love, which was the overarching theme of our retreat. All the little signs and synchronicities that show up to affirm what we already feel inside and know to be true, is truly a gift and blessing not lost on any of us.
We gathered for breakfast and shared some sweet time together before heading to our closing ceremony. Heartfelt sharing and expressions of profound gratitude for the experience filled all hearts to overflowing and brought tears of joy as our time together came to an end.
It’s difficult to express in words the level of bonding that happens at these retreats. Incredibly rare and special, it’s something that you never want to end. Something that you don’t want to let go of. But life awaits and the ultimate gift is that we walk away knowing ourselves, others and the world around us a little better. We take along tools of the spirit to assist us in meeting life’s challenges with grace, with strength, with integrity, and with the full force of heart leading the way. And so we go, knowing that as one chapter ends, another begins.
Xo ~Kim ♡
Misty’s Banana Chia Pudding With Chai Cream | VG + GF
A Message From Misty
Hi! I learned how to create this amazing chia seed pudding at Matthew Kenney’s Plant Lab – Raw Vegan Culinary School. Love to share!
Banana Chia Seed Pudding
Makes 1 Serving
3 T. Chia seeds
1 c. Almond milk
1⁄2 Ripe banana
1 T. Sweetener of choice (optional)
1⁄2 tsp. Vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
Blend together almond milk, bananas, sweetener, vanilla and salt. Place chia seeds in a mason jar and pour blended mixture over chia seeds. Stir or shake to prevent chia seeds from clumping and refrigerate overnight.
3⁄4 c. Soaked raw, unsalted shelled cashews (2-4 hours or overnight)
1⁄4 c. Agave
1⁄4 c. Water
1⁄4 tsp. Cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp. Ground cardamom
1⁄2″ Piece of fresh ginger (peeled)
4 Pink peppercorns
1⁄2 tsp. Vanilla extract
Blend all ingredients till smooth and creamy and refrigerate in a jar or squeeze bottle. Once firm, layer over chia pudding and top with your fruit of choice, nuts, and/or granola.