Advance? Retreat?

caras-garden-kaleIf you’ve followed me for a while, you’ve probably come across my Kale + Kryptonite exercise, which is a tool I use with my clients to help them assess the nutritional status of their primary foods.

I’ve mentioned before that the question of their relationship with time often gives them pause—another one that brings them up short is creativity.

Maybe I should rephrase that: the idea that busy working wives and mothers in the sandwich generation have time for creativity usually makes them laugh out loud. Or start weeping with frustration.

Quite honestly, making time to be creative is usually last on our list of priorities: just getting everyone at home fed, watered, tucked in, woken up, and delivered where they need to be requires 26 hours.

Wait, what? There’s only 24 in a day?

What would it take to make space for creativity and deep nourishment?

The response is normally “a day away from everyone and everything”—in other words, a retreat.

retreat? no, thanks.

It was a well-known fact in my office job years that the words “staff retreat” would make me 1) squirm, 2) break out in hives, 3) groan out loud, 4) all of the above.

The notion that you can seclude (unwilling) staff members of an organization for a lengthy amount of time (no matter how lovely the setting) and accomplish much of anything important just seemed disingenuous.

staff retreatAnd for a “doer” like me, it was downright crazy-making: This-is-ridiculous-I-have-way-too-much-work-to-do-to-sit-here-and-play-games!

At one organization, we renamed the annual staff retreat a “staff advance” just so I would shut up, uncross my arms, and stop scowling.

It’s something to consider if you’re an employer or manager with recalcitrant employees (like me). In a workplace, the retreat (ack!) is a means to an end that is external to the activity itself—which feels highly inauthentic.

Over the past few years, my stance on retreats has softened somewhat—perhaps because as a health coach, the idea of retreating from the noisy world around us is about nourishing our bodies, minds, and spirits for their own sakes rather than increasing efficiency or growing a bottom line.

In a true retreat, the nourishment is the end and any positive outcomes (renewed energy, clarity of mind, improved ability to focus, etc.) are added benefits.

pattern interrupt

Spring has sprung in Michigan, and in some ways it feels more like the beginning of a new year than the somewhat arbitrary January 1.

If you’re feeling the urge to make some changes in your life, it could be time to find a way to interrupt your pattern of overscheduling, overwork, and overwhelm.

I firmly believe in bioindividuality—the idea that one person’s food is another one’s poison—and what nourishes you on the primary food level might be very different from what someone else finds satisfying, even necessary for survival.

This spring, I urge you to commit to one activity that nurtures you on a soul level: it might be a class at a local art center, it might be a yoga, meditation, and/or breath practice, it might be cooking from scratch more regularly (stop laughing!), it might be—dare I suggest it?—a retreat.

Creativity comes in many forms, and one might just be a creative use of your time.

make the connection

I’m excited to be partnering with Cara Cummings of Cara’s Garden and Carole Caplan of The Farm on Jennings to offer a daylong retreat we’re calling The Art of Food.

If you live in the Ann Arbor area (or you want to come in for the weekend and stay at one of the many AirBnBs available here?), join us for a relaxing day on the farm to nourish your health and creativity.

We will connect to our food on a deeper level by walking the farm, learning about how to nourish yourself in a way that works for you, and communicating about food through art.


  • Sunday, May 19, 2019
  • 9:30am—3:30pm
  • The Farm on Jennings, 6900 N. Joy Rd., Ann Arbor


  • 9:30     Arrive, tea and coffee available
  • 9:45     Gathering
  • 10:00   Get in touch with the nourishment that’s right for you, right now (Liza)
  • 11:30   Yoga (Carole)
  • 12:00   Lunch, farm tour
  • 1:00     Botanical art, presentation and creation (Cara)
  • 3:15     Closing

your investment

  • $250 includes all materials, art supplies, and refreshment (Bring a yoga mat if you have one!)
  • $200 early bird pricing until May 1! Use coupon code “sprout” at checkout.


post scriptum

Mother’s Day is coming up—maybe Mom would like the gift of a retreat rather than one more thing she has to dust?

Leave a comment and let me know what you are committing to doing as a retreat in your own life!


  1. Audrey Groeschel

    Oh that, ahem, retreat sounds fantastic! I wish I could go but we are going to be mid move. Love the idea though!

    On another note, I think retreat is not the best word at all. Retreat means you are running away, in military parlance. Of course, it does mean to regroup and come back stronger but I wonder. It makes me think of Monty Python and “RUN AWAY!” I am not sure what the best word or phrase may be, just throwing that out there.

    1. Elizabeth Baker

      Hahaaa—I’m thinking we need a “name that activity” contest…. It’s not a retreat it’s a…? I don’t think of it as a military word necessarily, I do want to reclaim it from the corporate world, though.

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