Low on time and want info on our upcoming Nurture: A Retreat, in-a-nutshell style? Check out this post.

Dear Nurturers,

Like Nurture, this post is for savouring both at your leisure and for your leisure. We still have some spots left at our spring retreat (SIGN UP HERE) if what you read here makes you go: YES. I NEED THIS.


You wake up from one of THOSE sleeps. The delicious kind where your body rests fully and your dreams are sweet. Maybe it's the quiet (aside from a lake loon or two). Maybe it's knowing you have the full three days to unwind. Maybe it's the local wine, the hearty dinner, or the heartier laughs from the night before.

Your feet swing over the side of the bed onto the handmade rug below. Your roommate is still snoring slightly, and you giggle a little as you slip past her, across the old hardwood floor to the bathroom to draw yourself a bath in the clawfoot tub.

Sprinkling in some of the herbal-infused bath salts from Sunfire Herbals that were in the 'Self Care Starter Kit' you got when you arrived, you sink into the warm water and breathe in the lavender, your hands absentmindedly swirling the flower petals as they float past. You linger. You breathe deep. The lavender mixes with a slight hint of freshly roasted coffee wafting up from the kitchen below, where a murmur of lighthearted voices indicates that breakfast preparations are underway…

“A unique weekend at the most perfect location. An inspiring mix of top-notch activities and thought-provoking conversation. Incredible meals and comfortable accommodation. I would recommend this retreat to anyone looking to recharge their creative spirit. – Samantha, Graphic Designer”


You follow the smell of freshly-brewed coffee to the kitchen, which is the heart of the house, and are greeted by some cheery and some still-sleep-lulled 'good mornings!' from the women gathered there. You can't believe that just last night you didn't know them but after spending the evening creating, sharing, learning and going deep, you realize you're now exchanging good mornings with new friends that feel like old friends.

The breakfast table is laden with delectable goods, all handmade from scratch with local, seasonal, organic ingredients. You help yourself to a plateful, grateful that there are gluten and dairy-free options for you that look just as indulgent as their milky/floury counterparts if that's what you need. Everyone around the table chats amiably and lingers over the breakfast table.

You check in with yourself. You still have some time before the first workshop starts. You consider your options: some of the women are making their way down to the lake to take in its morning calm. There's the woodland path to the labyrinth that you still want to check out. Instead, you make your way to the library, fingers skimming the books, resting finally on a book of poems by Mary Oliver.

You take Mary, a blanket, and what's left of your coffee over to the lounge swing in the sunroom and nestle in to read:

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and crotchety–

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

– Mary Oliver


It's 11 minutes into the first workshop of the day and already you feel your creative self is stirring. You look at the table in front of you, decked out with materials, compellingly arranged, just waiting for you to choose them, work with them, play with them, learn from them.

As your eyes lovingly peruse all of your options, you listen to your facilitator tell her story – how working with these materials is what brings her joy, how creating in this way brought her through a period of difficulty, or makes her feel alive. As she guides you how to work with the materials, you begin to get a sense for yourself, experientially, what she means.

You lose track of time. Heart whirring, thoughts calm as space seems to open out in front of you – space to look at things that need light brought to them. Space to transform those emotions through the task at hand. Space to connect deeply with what colours/textures/words resonate with YOU. You give yourself permission to be drawn to what you're drawn to, even if you don't fully know why. It's a mystery, but it's one you can explore through this art-making. There are moments of silence, punctuated by pockets of laughter or a shared insight or two. The other women are next to you, gathered around, and you can feel the group's energy holding this creative space. But what you really feel is the deep, pleasant sense of your own company. It feels good to follow your intuition in this playful way, surrounded by others doing the same.

“After attending 2016 spring’s Nurture retreat I can heartfeltly say that signing up for Nurture is not only worth it but necessary. As an entrepreneur I know how easy it is to put yourself last and push every other thing on your to do list first. I’ll be the first one to admit it. But self care is one of those things that must be prioritized for one’s sanity, happiness and peace of mind. Enter: Nurture Retreats and the brainchild behind it, Sonja. The whole weekend was an absolute delight in every way. I observed the chitter chatter in my head simmering down as the days progressed and what replaced it was pure contentment and the gift of being present in each moment (for once). I wasn’t thinking about my long list of things to do, future goals, work. I spent the weekend just being – and how rare is that these days?! – Liat, Photographer”


You've spent the quiet hours between workshops exploring the grounds – the lake was calm when you went to sit at the dock with your journal and some tea.

Out it all poured – gratitude, pain, insights gained from what was only one day, but felt like more in that time here at Loretto Maryholme expands in a delicious way. You've been reintroduced to yourself and are enjoying having this time to connect further with what has been arising from the workshops and time spent in beauty and deep fellowship with the other women attending.

The second workshop of the day is about to begin – as you make your way back up to the main house, you notice your new friends emerging from the labyrinth path looking renewed and others bending down in the kitchen gardens to snip some fresh herbs for tonight's dinner.

You're excited, because you've been smelling delicious things coming from the kitchen all day and connecting with what's real and true has a way of building an appetite. Luckily, the facilitators are aware of this and have made an afternoon snack of fresh cookies, sandwiched with ice cream for those who wish to indulge. All those little details have been thought of, so you feel held and fed on every level.

“Sonja is a visionary. A nurturer. A beautiful, bountiful, blissful soul. I met her online {as we do these days} and followed her {soul’s} path on IG. I was pulled. Drawn to her. Instantly. Her words. Her purpose. I knew I had to attend the Nurture: A Retreat this past May. The weekend was MAGNIFICENT. Really, that word does not do it justice. The experience was unsayable. From the nourishing food Sonja lovingly prepared by hand. To the artistry and creative expression {and expansion} explored through the hand lettering and floral crown workshops {foraging our own flowers!}. The group of women – connected. Deeply. And in a matter of 48-hours became life-long friends. There is power in what Sonja is doing. There is power in bringing together sisters. There is power in creating a safe space for women to unfold, to undo, to let go. You find a new part of your soul on these retreats. So grateful to know Sonja and have had this experience. Forever engraved on my heart. – Mary Lynn, Holistic Nutritionist”


You're in the dining room checking out the table set resplendently with flowers and vintage china from the Loretto Maryholme pantry. Someone yells up from the lake saying: forget dinner. Get your butts down here! The sky is magnificent!

You and the others still up at the house gather with those down at the dock below and you gasp when you see the sky. You dip your toes into the lake where the water is still warm from that afternoon's sun and watch the golden/purple/pink light cast its glow on everyone around you. You watch the best show on earth: the sunset over Lake Simcoe.

You comment on how each moment brings a different shade of beauty to the sky. Everyone lingers on the dock to watch the colours change. Whereas there were peals of laughter echoing over the water moments before, now everyone is silent. This beauty needs no words, and it holds deep meaning to all who are gathered. Gratitude brews, deep in your soul. A communal gurgle signals dinner is waiting, but it was SO worth the wait!


Cozy now, you gather with the other women around the dinner table to feast. The meal and the environment play to all of your senses. Candles glow, delicious scents waft up from the platters placed abundantly on the harvest table, wine glasses clink in recognition, warm womanly chatter permeates the air, and your heart is full.

The camaraderie of dinner follows the trail down to the lakeside fire pit, where a bonfire crackles and s'mores provisions are set up. You gather once again, snuggled in blankets to talk and give voice to what you've encountered on this weekend with yourself. There is laughter, maybe someone laughs until they cry, or vice versa. You help the circle of women hold one another up, seeing yourself in everyone's story. This. This is what you have needed for quite some time. You thank yourself for the gift of your time spent here. You smile as you walk back up to the main house towards your bed. You open the door, but not before you take in the sky and you see the stars like you used to when you went camping as a kid and you know in your heart that everything is exactly as it should be.


This, dear friends, is Nurture.

If you have made it this far to the end of the post, I am guessing that a part of you needs this kind of connection; this kind of immersion into your own creativity; this kind of restorative time off.

If you think it's time you listened to that part of your soul, and took the leap to give yourself the gift of time spent on YOU, you are in the right place.

If you want to make an investment that pays dividends, personally AND professionally, you are in the right place. Note – you can even write it off as professional development on your business taxes!

I seriously can't wait to gather with you. Spaces are limited. Grab your seat around our harvest table now before they're gobbled up!


With love,


p.s. These gorgeous photos were taken at our Fall 2015 retreat by the incredible Alyssa Wodabek. Check her out – she is amazing.

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