Sunday, September 4, 2016

To Retreat or Not Retreat...

Happy Saturday! I'm sitting in the airport with about a 7 hour wait when I realized I haven't blogged in some time. We were in Aruba last week on vacation and I had a chance to catch up on some blog reading and Facebook group conversations while sitting by the pool.

One conversation in a private FB group regarding plans for a Quilting Retreat came up which would get people from across the states together to meet and chat in person.

I didn't answer the thread at first, because I wasn't sure if I could attend another retreat this year due to timing and, well let's be honest - money!

As I was reading the comments, I realized I wasn't the only one with questions, contemplation, or even stress when it comes to retreats.

Now don't get me wrong, quilt retreats are probably some of the most fun and QUILTY friend bonding times there are; and as a bonus there's usually a lot of UFOs completed.

It was refreshing to see that I wasn't the only one with certain concerns. For instance, if you're going to commit some amount of money and time away from family and everyday life knowing you have to gather your sewing room belongings carefully so you don't forget anything needed for your project, there are also other things to consider that can be sometimes more stressful than just staying home.

For those that don't know, when thinking about a quilt retreat, here are just a few things to consider and that go through my head:

*LOCATION - where is it? Can you drive? how long is the drive? What are gas costs at the time? Are you expected to carpool or can you drive yourself?  Is it a cruise? Do you have to make air reservations?

*COST - how much is it? Does the cost include just the retreat space? What added costs are there? Is it in my budget?

*LODGING - where are you sleeping?  Hotel? Retreat center? Someone's basement? Can you stay in a room alone? Do you have to share a room with people you don't know? Can you pick your roommates? What reviews, if any, are there on the accommodations?

*FOOD - who provides the meals? Are meals included? If not, are there local eateries or a grocery store near by? Are you expected to not only pack all your sewing gear, but also plan a Martha Stewart meal with all the ingredients and pray everyone likes it? What if you just don't focus that much on food when you're away, is there pressure to partake with everyone else? What if you're on a special diet?

*SEWING SPACE - is there enough room to sew? Is it elbow to elbow or room to spread your wings? Do you have to bring your own tables? Irons? Cutting mats, etc? Are you sharing a 4/6 ft table with someone else? Do you have your own space anywhere to layout a block or your quilt top for placement ideas? Will you have to keep all your sewing supplies in your lap or directly underneath you? Is there a design wall that can be shared?

*CLOTHING - What do you wear? Is this a pajama approved weekend or do you have to pack dress clothes too?  And then the shoes...depending on the type of retreat, you need multiple shoes. my favorite retreats are barefoot or sock friendly!!

Now some of you are probably thinking, this girl must really hate retreats!  But listen - I love them!!  I enjoy getting away and spending time with other quilters, I especially enjoy learning from others. Each retreat experience I've had so far have all been very different.  I've been on quilt cruises, weekend retreats, local retreats, retreats in other states, informative only (not much sewing) retreats, retreats where I didn't know anyone but wanted to attend a specific training class, and day retreats.  I'm sure there were a few other types of sewing get aways but these are the main ones. I just need to understand the specific situation I'm about to commit to, that's all.

Now, my personality is a bit complex, just ask my husband!  Hahaha!!

* I enjoy getting away, but I also am eager to get back home
* what other events might be happening during the retreat time?
* I don't enjoy packing up my sewing room and machine, because it takes about 2 months to unpack and get everything back in order once I return; and quite frankly I always forget something or some part of my project.
* I love love love all my sewing friends, however if I'm going to get away, I actually prefer a bit of personal quiet time; usually by paying a little extra to have my own space, even if I end up only spending a few hours of sleep time and showering.  It helps recharge my batteries, I am able to reflect and think and appreciate things in my life more when I have a bit of personal space time.  It's no reflection on anyone, just my "caveman" desire to tuck away and recharge.
*Food!  Of course I enjoy food, however the older I get, I really don't enjoy spending every waking hour thinking about food. Social events are often focused solely around food, this is something I simply just don't enjoy. I prefer events where food is provided or restaurants are an option.  Having to lug food, condiments, serving utensils, cooking items, etc on top of all the sewing supplies needed just makes the trip not much fun to me. I'm not a fan of cooking, wasting food, or trying to figure out what everyone else, who I don't know, will eat.  As long as there's coffee and/or wine and chips/salsa and a protein bar - I'm good.
* Travel - how you get to a retreat can almost be as stressful as all the stuff you have lug there. Space - cars only have so much space - if 4 people, with 4 machines, and 4 beddings, and clothes and supplies and food all have to fit in one car, well my's gonna be tight.  Also, I like to stop along the way if the mood strikes me or if nature calls. But most important, I'm a bit claustrophobic; if you aren't familiar with this issue you'll shrug it off as made up; but it's real, it's scary and can ruin an entire trip. Feeling trapped in a crowded car can trigger this for me and it creates a panic I can't explain.
*Cost - the cost of a trip is a big factor because I'm on a budget. I enjoy stretching it a bit for QUILTY fun but have to be careful that I understand just what additional costs are involved. Because you know if there's a quilt shop we'll have to stop and shop!! But again, I'm on a budget.

Things I love about retreats:
*Spending time with friends
*meeting new friends
*learning new things
*sharing finished projects
*seeing new places
*recharging my "batteries"

So there you have it; my thoughts when a new retreat opportunity comes up and all the things that run through my head before I make a decision. 

Did I decide to attend the upcoming retreat mentioned above?  Well, this time I declined.  It's in another state and my budget and schedule just couldn't make it work. But I will enjoy seeing all the pictures come across the web when it's over.

I did get to recharge this past week and here's a picture of some natural beauty that should never be taken for granted.  

What other thoughts about Quilt retreats come to your mind?

Until next time; have a wonderful weekend.