It can be hard to find the time to rest and recharge, and prioritizing self-care can feel impossible at times. But on March 8th-10th, a retreat called Leading from the Heart is coming to Hinchinbrooke for women who work in the helping profession (social workers, nurses, therapists, etc). This retreat is the first of its kind in the area, and is being organized by Natalie Villeneuve, Taylor McNulty, and David Prescot: three social workers with a passion and understanding for holistic wellness. “The retreat that we are running is an attempt for people in the helping professions to build community. We’re holding different workshops to facilitate self-care practices,” McNulty explains. They say they hope to create a space that will help people find balance between their personal and professional lives. The retreat will include activities like meditation, yoga, lots of time in nature, and communal cooking (Villeneuve’s specialty). Villeneuve and McNulty met when they were pursuing their master’s degrees in social work. Villeneuve explains that they bonded because they both “understood the importance of community, and when we think of wellness, we think of what the different facets are to living a good life.” Prescot was a mentor to Villeneuve. The three of them plan to create a space where members of the same field can uplift one another, and to help people explore their own creativity and focus on how to nourish their bodies so they can keep up with their lives. McNulty shares that though the three of them are passionate about their work, they are aware of the gaps in the system they work in. And they know that other members suffer from the same thing. “We can be so focused on our clients we forget about ourselves. So, we’re really trying to be intentional about gathering helping professionals to work through some of the gaps in the system too.” Getting to hear different experiences and perspectives can be useful for personal growth. “There are so many people who bring different things to this field…We have something brilliant to offer and so do you, so how can we all share in this together?” Villeneuve says. There are a few reasons why they chose to make their inaugural event for women specifically. First of all, the first day of the event takes place on International Women’s Day. Villeneuve adds that on top of this, “In general, women tend to be nurturers and givers. Sometimes in doing that we forget to take care of ourselves and tend to our needs.” Though it’s great to take care of others, it’s important to remember that we can’t pour from an empty cup. “We want to take that space to recognize the ways we need to refuel in order to give our best selves to people,” she adds. In the future, they do plan to open retreats up to other genders, and they “recognize there are lots of other genders that also play a role in caregiving.” McNulty and Villeneuve think that a reset like this can surprise people with its results. “Sometimes we don’t realize how much we actually need to take time to recharge until we’ve actually done it,” Villeneuve shares. McNulty adds that sometimes there is power in doing activities that seem mundane at first, like yoga or sharing circles. “When this is something that’s done in community and with intention, it can be surprising how restorative and empowering that can feel,” she says. Any woman who works in the helping profession is eligible to participate. Registration is now open and has been extended until February 25. Interested participants can learn more and register at inspiring-change.ca.