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Photo diary: Retreat Yourself Ontario 2020

YACC’s program director, Karine Chalifour, posts daily recaps on Facebook during Retreat Yourself and Survivor Conference. Here is a compilation of what she saw and felt during Retreat Yourself ON based in Paris, ON from March 12-16, 2020.

Day 1

I know I’m probably going to sound like I’m repeating myself, but fuck it! What an amazing first day we just had! There is something magical and really beautiful when people get together with the intention to connect, heal, grow, release, gain, share, and listen. Strangers this morning, but friends sharing rooms, conversations, laughter, and stories tonight.

Our group is kind, soft, and patient. We have people living with, through, and beyond cancer and all are ready and willing to support each other. Our peer supporters and facilitators are once again shining stars and the venue, beautiful. In the midst of some craziness out in the world, we will wash our hands, not touch our faces, and connect deeply. Giddy up!

Day 2

Would you believe me if I told you today was fucking amazing?! Well, it was! I’m writing this message with about 12 retreaters still chatting in the living room, laughing, connecting.

Today was healing for all of us. We talked about how to regulate our emotions, our mental health, and also our relationships. People went for walks, did some chair yoga with Angela (thank you so much for volunteering your time and wonderful skills with us) and bonded. Tonight we had the privilege of hearing Gabrielle and Laura’s stories — man alive — vulnerability is a beautiful thing.

Our check-out was filled with gratitude and honesty and I’m going to bed so content. I am ready for tomorrow and looking forward to another day with this amazing group! Thank you!

Day 3

Guess what? Today was another incredible day. Incredible because people dug deep, faced really difficult and scary emotions, and came out on the other side more beautiful then ever.

We spoke of fear of cancer recurrence, death and dying, denial, self care, and self love. Our wonderful Scott presented on the power of exercise and Gabrielle led us into an art session where everyone could dream and envision more of what they want in their lives and who they are and want to be.

The icing on the cake was getting to hang out around a bonfire and enjoy some s’mores! Shannon led a a manifesting ritual (thank you!) and we burned some balls of shit!

That is what I call a perfect day!

My heart is filled with gratitude and awe for this group. You rock my world!

Day 4

We did it! We actually managed to top the previous day and make today extra special! First, the sun and the blue sky joined us. Then, we had the chance to hear Stephanie and Kayla’s stories. I got to talk about YACC, and the afternoon allowed for some yoga, meditation, and free time.

Our closing circle was as gentle and beautiful as our group. Love was not only in the air, but everywhere! After wicked falafel for supper, the talent show made us laugh until we cried, and we cried a little as well.

I am just now getting in bed hearing still more then a dozen retreaters laughing and connecting. This is what it’s all about, and my heart is full and grateful! The peace and calm this group brought has given all of us what we need to go back to the “outside” world.

Thank you to my amazing team of peers and facilitators. Laura, Stephanie, Kayla, and Gabrielle, you are angels! Norma, Pam, Christine, and Scott, the joy I had working with all of you is the best gift ever. Sherry, it was amazing to share this with you, and to my work wife, Lesley — I fucking love you!

Off to bed content and happy.

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