Where do I begin? Last weekend I was lucky enough to join Rebecca, her beautiful team and the best group of women I may have ever had the chance to meet. Please take me seriously - I don’t say this often. As I’ve gotten older I’ve made more and more female friends, but generally speaking my crew is made up of men. I’m typically okay with this, but I left Foxfire Mountain House feeling more refreshed than I have in years after being surrounded by women for four days. I might have laughed in your face if you told me this would be the case a short year ago, but it’s the honest truth. This retreat was the first trip I’ve taken away from Owen since he was born, and while I’m sure a lot of you might like to hear that it was difficult - it really wasn’t. A year in and I felt like I needed and deserved a weekend to myself and for myself, and guess what - I missed him and I missed Zack, but no one burnt the apartment down, everyone lived and I truly believe I came home better because of it all.
I learned at our final dinner that I wasn’t alone in saying I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I booked my ticket for “An Intentional Autumn”. That isn’t to say that Rebecca didn’t do an excellent job at describing the weekend - I knew it would be beautiful, I knew there would be a focus on food, hospitality and styling, but outside of that it was fairly open ended which allowed for a mix of ladies with different backgrounds and interests to attend. It was exactly what I needed and from what I gathered through the weekend - it was exactly what everyone else needed too. In an industry where so much of my time is spent behind a computer screen it was the greatest and most necessary gift of all to sit down, eat a home cooked meal (while it was still warm), drink one too many glasses of wine most nights and connect with women that I immediately admired and was inspired by. It’s almost sad to say, but I didn’t realize how much I had missed this sort of connection until I was smack dab in the middle of it all.
Anna Watson Carl, the author of The Yellow Table, and her team prepared all of our meals (three meals a day to be exact - with dessert at each meal), she also lead workshops on hospitality, baking homemade granola and poached pear tarts. If I had to select one love language it’s most likely food, but as we sat in the living room and each shared what hospitality means to us I found myself with tears in my eyes. I realize it might sound cheesy, but the conversation fed my soul and tapped into why I started Household to begin with - the desire to cook and bake and share despite being in a new place and knowing under five people - I learned to connect online after a long line of avoiding the internet and claiming to be “bad at it”. Hospitality originally started for me at my mother’s table, the table that in her most recent move she had the legs removed so it would fit into her and my dad’s new loft in Downtown Phoenix. There are still marks in the table top from mine and my brother’s homework. I can still remember each Thanksgiving and Christmas and plenty of the other meals spent there with our family, friends and neighbors - it was a place to gather, eat, share and connect - no matter who you were you were always welcome. As an adult I found this sense of hospitality again in the restaurants I worked in, and in the past year and a half I have found it right here. So thank you for being here.
Our other workshops focused on weaving, setting the table, forging and floral arrangement, defining your brand, and food styling and photography, primarily lead by Rebecca - who I left feeling so unbelievably inspired by. The effort, time and thought that went into her retreat is difficult to put into words. From the selection of Foxfire Mountain House for the venue, to the food and gifts we received, to the morning yoga, to the carefully organized schedule and set of workshops she put together, to the group of women she attracted - it seems too simple to say that she really hit it out of the park, but she really did. Her focus through each and every activity was intentional living, which I admit I was nervous about before I arrived. My work is primarily done on a computer. I wondered, would this be considered intentional living? Since I’ve had Owen I’ve been pretty intentional with my time, but what would that mean by Rebecca’s standards or by the standards of all these new people I was meeting?
I think we all left on the same page. An intentional life is simple - it means that everything you do is done with intention (yes, even watching TV). It doesn’t mean that there are things you should or shouldn’t be doing, but that whatever it is you are doing should be with intention. I struggle with being checklist obsessed, but that’s not what it’s about. It’s not about how much you do, but how you do it. It’s about realizing what you need and making time for it. That’s at least what I left feeling. It doesn’t mean you have to take on more work, I actually left feeling like maybe I need to take on less, but focus more on the work that matters. And that ultimately I need to make more time for everything that matters - Zack, Owen, friends, family, me. It’s easy to bury yourself in work, but in ten, twenty, thirty years will it matter? Finding balance is key and making time, being intentional with your time is what it’s all about.
A huge thank you to Rebecca for teaching us, for welcoming us all and for putting together one of the best weekends I’ve experienced in some time. There’s no way anyone left “An Intentional Autumn” feeling less than they did walking in. Sign me up for your next retreat please. ;)
Photography by Amy Frances.