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There is something so restorative about God’s gorgeous coast, digging your toes into the sand, and looking out at the ocean. That was the backdrop for Truly Healing and rightfully so!
After the first Truly Retreat, our eyes were so opened to the fact that so many women—all women if truth be told—walk through life with past hurts in their hearts and so many of them are unresolved. Those hurts cause us to stumble, feeling an overwhelming sense of doubt and fear in life, relationships, in our work, right down to the root of who we are.
“Healing” was the word that kept running through our minds as we started planning our second Truly Retreat just one month after the first in March of 2019. And since we wanted to provide a space for deep, restorative fellowship and soul-searching, we knew that the beach would be the perfect place for our next gathering.
(Special thanks to all the incredible vendors who made this retreat SUCH a success: Design: Ava Loren Design // Rentals: Mad Hatter Vintage // Coordination & Planning: Hearts Content Events // Counseling: Dr. Hannah Jones // Florals: Aleen Floral Design // Catering: Bayou Boogie // Sign: Ceindy Doodles // Photography: Yours Truly Portraiture // Host: The Truly Retreat )
I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. – Jeremiah 33:6
We rented a beach home in Corolla, North Carolina, a beautiful area on the north end of the Outer Banks, a bit removed from the hustle and bustle of this popular tourist area. Our gorgeous 8 bedroom house, sweetly named ‘A Promise Kept’ provided everything we needed for our one-of-a-kind experience. Each of the women had their own room, allowing us all rest, and amenities that provided so much rejuvenation, a private pool, hot tub, and home movie theatre are just scratching the surface of all that the house offered.
The first day of our retreat always begins with a little free time to settle in followed by our Welcome Dinner. Florals and greenery with delicate linens and candlelight brought a sense of femininity and peace to the atmosphere of our house.
We believe that our welcome dinner and that sweet time of fellowship is the first step in building the sisterhood that will serve us throughout the duration of the retreat. Though all from different backgrounds, histories, and cultures, it’s incredible to see the vulnerability that starts even that first night and the bonds that begin to form. My favorite part is just seeing how trusting everyone is from the onset and how it seems like after those initial intros we fall into step with each other so easily – it’s such a Jesus thing!
After a hearty meal of tacos and mocktails – everyone went to bed early to get some rest and prepare for our first full day of the retreat and the heart work to come.
We woke up bright and early to the smell of breakfast prepared by our on-site chef, Tasha, owner of Bayou Boogie. And let me just pause to say that her meals – every single one was incredible and crafted with love, so much so that it seemed like after each one we had to roll ourselves away from the table – ha! One of our staples of the retreat is breaking bread together. We believe that barriers are broken down when being able to connect over food and fellowship and it was incredible to see the conversations continued during our meals together.
After breakfast, we headed outside to one of the lush wrap-around porches of the house and settled in for our first group discussion ‘Recognition’ led by Adrienne of Hearts Content Events. In Recognition, we recognized that we have heartache, hurts, and that have afflicted us and this was a safe space to acknowledge the struggles that consume our thoughts and that we needed to stop running from or avoiding.
To say that this was an emotional time would be an understatement. There were no shortages of tears. Like seriously EVERYONE was crying. But it was so good. So cathartic, so needed and everyone said they felt seen. We poured out our hearts and laid out our pain. Despite how difficult the discussions were, acknowledging our pain opened all of us up so that we could begin to reclaim the power those hurts had been stealing from us.
Before breaking for lunch, Adrienne led us down to the beach, a 5-minute walk from our house, for a time of release and reflection, which was so needed after all the heavy unloading. The salty air, cool breeze, and sound of the crashing waves were healing in themselves.
After lunch & a bit of downtime, we headed back to the porch for “Release” where I (Tianna) led everyone in an exercise to acknowledge the things that were holding us back by writing them on a paper lantern. We wrote and read our deepest worries, fears, and some of the lies we believe.
With the promise the a chance to symbolically release all of those negativities holding us back, we broke for dinner in town and our attendees went into town for a mini shopping trip as the leaders prepared a special surprise.
Later that night, we asked everyone to reconvene in the movie theater in their pajamas. We had popcorn, an ice cream sundae bar, wine, sparkling cider, gel nail kits, face masks and even massagers for a full girl’s night of pampering after such a hard day. We put on a comedy special from Amazon Prime and so enjoyed fun fellowship and lots of laughs!
One of the things we love about our retreats is that we can be flexible in our schedule to accommodate the needs of our attendees and the flow of God’s leading. After such a long day before we all agreed that it would be best to sleep in and give our bodies and minds some extra rest.
We started the day by gathering for breakfast, and then Hannah led the group in a mindfulness exercise to start to process everything we had discussed the previous day.
After a bit of reflection time, we went into our “Restoration” session.
Honestly, this was probably my favorite session because it was SO uplifting. All the work we do is important but being able to start that climb up is always so encouraging. We began by having each lady acknowledge the lies they tell themselves each day. Some of the lies called out are things that so women struggle with: feeling like you’re not good enough; the fear that you don’t measure up; feeling like you need to be perfect to make people love you…
Once the lies were called forth, our group dedicated the rest of the session to proclaiming the truth: I AM enough; I’m right where I need to be at this time in my life; I AM loved just as I am.
IT WAS SO POWERFUL! We not only proclaimed these things over ourselves but we went around the circle multiple times and proclaimed truths over one another.
In the afternoon, Adrienne led the group in an activity designed to get our creative juices flowing by teaching our gals how to make flower crowns. It was so nice to be able to step back from all the heart work and get both our brains and hands moving in a different way. I especially loved that our gals were able to use these custom and unique creations in their boudoir sessions!
Time and again I’m reminded of the importance of the component in Boudoir. Hvaing this physical reminder of all the healing we’ve been doing is SO essential y’all!
While typically for boudoir my ladies tend to lean more toward sensual and romantic images – after the incredible healing we had been experiencing these beauties were ALL SMILES AND CONFIDENCE! The sessions were held on the beach and each lady was able to soak up some sun, splash in the waves, and feel beautiful and empowered.
Later that night, we gathered for some late-night reflection and discussion. We talked through some lingering questions and concerns and started to think about what it would look like to return home ‘healed’.
On our final day, the attendees started their mornings with one-on-one sessions with Dr. Hannah Jones, our licensed counselor who is on-site with us during the entirety of the retreat lending us her expertise, support, and guidance. These final 1:1 sessions are so vital for our gals as during this time they create an action plan for post-retreat and how to move through all they unearthed and take that healing and support home with them.
Our final meal prepared by chef Tasha was a delicious brunch with all kinds of Southern comfort food like chicken and waffles and shrimp and grits. Can I just say she makes the BEST iced tea I’ve ever had – and I’m not a tea person at all – daily we drained that pitcher of tea!
Finally, we headed down to the beach for releasing our paper lanterns of hurt, our final time of prayer and reflection and soaking up the last bit of this perfect ocean view standing in the sun, the sand under our feet, together.
Praying over each attendee, we asked God to provide each woman who was part of the retreat with a sense of peace and purpose moving forward. I am so thankful to God for the beautiful souls and asked that He would continue to release us from those strongholds that keep us from living an abundant and joyful life.
Though the retreat had come to an end, the work was just beginning. Community is such an important part of healing and growth, and we are so thankful for the time we get to spend together and SO excited to announce our next retreat:
As women, we often place others’ needs above our own, but self-care is so important so we can be sure that in all that giving we actually HAVE something in order to give. To learn more or register today, visit the registration page. We hope to see you February 22nd-23rd at my studio in Chesapeake VA to encourage and uplift you as we focus on self-care!
Interested in attending one of our Truly Retreat experiences? Click here for the latest info and registration!
At Yours Truly Portraiture we empower women to gain confidence in who they are, loving themselves in true unashamed beauty through the artistry of photography. This goes beyond your session as we support you in this journey of confidence & worth by dropping in weekly with a little vulnerability, encouragement, behind scenes from our studio, and more. Subscribe to our newsletter & as a thank you, I’ll send you a link to download my guide ‘Lingerie for Your Body Type’ to dress to best flatter your body! Join us!