This article is written in partnership with Kendell Explores: where Nature, Yoga, and Empowerment Meet. Driven by the magik of nature and curious exploration, retreats are far more than an ordinary vacation—and we are honored to work with Kendell. ~ ed.
“Absolutely phenomenal & life changing, never did I think when signing up for this trip I would take away everything that I did. It will forever be a moment captured in time and in my heart for the rest of my life. My first experience as a solo traveler and everything went as planned and exceeded my expectations. ” ~ Lynnette, May 5, 2023
Sometimes, transformation seeps in slowly.
At other times, it comes barreling through, taking everything you thought you knew away in its path.
My moment came many years ago as I peered out the window of an airplane while soaring over the snow-capped peak of Mt Kilimanjaro. I was spellbound by its beauty, but more than that, felt called by its greatness. Something stirred within me. I knew with absolute certainty.
I wanted to climb that mountain.
Looking back, I marvel at the audacity of my decision—to climb the highest mountain in Africa, face its challenges, and push beyond my perceived limits with no previous experience. I was not what one would consider outdoorsy. The only trails I had experience on were jogging the Midwest forest preserve paths, but I trusted my heart, and I listened.
The trek was arduous.
I remember one moment in particular as I struggled with the thin air and the steep incline. My breath came in gasps and my legs felt like lead, but when I looked up and saw the rim of Kilimanjaro before me, something shifted. I dug deep, summoning the strength that lay within me and pushed forward to Gillman’s Peak. The moment I decided to go beyond what I perceived were my limits and proceed to reach the top of the crater rim, changed me.
When we listen to the call of our hearts, incredible things can happen.
It was a journey of a lifetime, one that taught me more about myself than I ever thought possible. I came off of that mountain exhausted, swollen, sunburned, and ready to do it all again. And again, and again. I wanted to facilitate this same feeling of accomplishment and self-discovery with others—especially women.
My name is Kendell and I’ll be your guide for this round of self-discovery—
Here, I’ll host you through a quiz to uncover your soul’s leading landscape. But in my everyday life, I’ll actually take you there on journeys of adventure, introducing and energetically connecting you to the sacred nature within and around you. On retreat, we answer the call of authenticity, nurture wholeness, and weave fabrics of connection.
There is something profoundly divine when women choose to connect.
We can (almost) all relate to once being an insecure young woman plagued by doubts and uncertainties. Maybe, that’s how you’re feeling now. Perhaps, you’re feeling the orchestra of obligations as an entrepreneur, an employee, a mother, a daughter, a friend, a partner, a caregiver—and your self wanders, lost, longing for an echo of recognition. There’s a dissonance, a disconnection from the vibrant soul that once relished life, that is now dimmed by the relentless march of the everyday.
In these moments, women stand on the threshold of introspection seeking solace, seeking respite, and more importantly, seeking themselves—a retreat beckons, a call to return, to be.
Time spent in nature and in spaces or cultures that are unfamiliar to us begins to awaken our own innate power. The journey of retreat offers the gift of a sacred practice intertwining body, mind, spirit, and nature to guide us toward a deeper understanding of self. Through the unfurling recognition, we witness transformation nothing short of miraculous.
I witness the healing power that unfolds when women of all ages come together in the sacred space of retreat, shedding their masks and opening their hearts. We move our bodies in yoga, meditation, and creative arts. This allows us to softly embrace our shadows, weaving them into the tapestry of our stories, recognizing that in our darkness lay the seeds of our greatest growth. It is in the tears shed around the hearth of the campfire, stories woven over meals, and in the deep belly laughter on the hiking trails that we find solace, validation, and inspiration to rise above the challenges we face.
During our days on retreat, we return to silence.
Setting aside the noise, we explore the music of silence, engaging in a wordless dialogue with the world around us. As we breathe in the wisdom of the winds and bathe in the silence of the sun’s rays, we are reminded that we are not merely inhabitants of nature, but a fundamental fragment of its existence. When we arrive at historic locations or stunning natural vistas, I set the timer and we shift into the powerful pause of receiving.
Just as important as silence—is play.
As adults, the mechanized rhythm of daily life leaves little room for spontaneity. On retreat, we become explorers and creators, traversing the landscapes of joy, curiosity, and wonder. The acts of spontaneous swims in mountain lakes, eating handmade ice cream from a charming small town, and feet dirty from a day on the trail, unearth aspects of ourselves buried beneath the sands of social expectations. Each act of play connects us back to our elemental roots and home to our true nature.
And the as yet unspoken, yet perhaps most transformative aspect of retreats are the challenges. Every adventure on a retreat, be it an intense hike, a yoga session, or a deep group discussion, contributes to resilience. These challenges stretch us out of our comfort zones. They provoke us to rise to the occasion, to navigate hurdles, overcome setbacks, and negotiate discomfort. During a hike, we might face steep slopes, harsh climatic conditions, or even physical exhaustion. Yet, with each step, we’re not only ascending geographically but also metaphorically. With every challenge, our grit is strengthened, each successful climb affirming our ability to triumph over adversity.
As we become more attuned to our emotional responses, we learn to recognize adversity as something transformable. It’s no longer a force that holds us back, but rather a springboard that propels us forward. We learn to distinguish between what’s within our control and what’s not, enriching our capacity to bounce back.
This is the essence of empowerment.
Empowerment is not an external force. It’s an intrinsic power residing within each and every one of us. It is a spark that can be kindled with love, compassion, and support—all things we tend to find when on retreat exposing us to the unfamiliar, in a group of similar and distinct individuals who serve to both highlight or deemphasize the characteristics within ourselves. We tend to either identify with or turn away from them. When we travel this way, with moksha—the yogic term for liberation—as the goal, the concept that we are isolated beings begins to melt away, allowing us to see we are interwoven threads of a tapestry connected by the collective strength and wisdom we each carry.
In every adventure, I am reminded that the transformative power lies not just in the personal journey but in the sincerity of human connections made along the way. Women’s adventures are not a means of escapism or pleasure-seeking; they are a sacred path to self-realization and empowerment. We offer each other the gift of discovering the magic waiting to be unleashed within us all. Each retreat hosted has become a sacred metamorphosis, a cocoon of love and growth.
When a woman embraces her power, she becomes a force to be reckoned with.
She shines her light unapologetically, illuminating the world with her unique gifts and talents. In her confidence, she inspires others to rise and claim their own power, creating a ripple effect of empowerment and transformation.
May you always find the courage within to offer yourself the gift of a transformative journey that will forever change how you see yourself and how you see the world.
And, may you let the magic and the growth of each adventure stay with you as you move forward on new and uncharted realms of the heart, allowing the experience to remind you of how fully capable and worthy you are.