Guest Post: Rekindling Lost Ambition at the Unlost Retreat

Have you ever wanted to book onto a retreat but talked yourself out of it? Me too!

Did you think, ‘Oh, I’m too old. Everyone else will be fitter and younger than me. I’ll be the odd one out.” Me too!

Did your self doubt almost stop you booking but somehow you found the courage to book on anyway? Congratulations! You did the right thing. If my experience on the Unlost Retreat is anything to go by, you will not regret it – I promise.

My First Unlost Retreat

The joining instructions for the Unlost Retreat included a link to a private Facebook group, set up for the retreat. We were encouraged to introduce ourselves there and discuss travel plans/ lift sharing etc. I was very excited but nervous, as I’d never done anything like this before.

I can remember saying that I had decided to book the retreat after a tough few years, to do something just for me, to spark my adventurous spirit and consider what might be possible. I said those words but honestly didn’t know what would happen.

This was the first time in a very long while that I had gone on an adventure on my own.

Why I signed up for the Unlost Retreat

So let me introduce myself. Hello, I’m Marie.

I’m 61, and I travelled down to Falmouth, Cornwall for Gail Muller’s Unlost Retreat in September 2022. I am a keen road cyclist and love swimming in my spare time. I also help my daughter and her hubby with childcare during the week a couple of days after school and during the school holidays when needed.

Marie and her husband at a wedding.
Hubby & I at a wedding this year.

My last active trip was June 2019 (prior to major lung surgery) when I cycled the Hebridean Way in the Outer Hebrides Scotland with my hubby. The 185 mile cycle over 6 days prepared me for what my body was going to face on my return. Major surgery on my lungs.

Recovering from lung surgery was hard. I was feeling like I was just getting life back on track and then we went straight into a pandemic. I felt very vulnerable, with a different newly diagnosed lung condition. My family was so scared that I would catch Covid 19 that I think I pushed my feelings away during this time. I put on a brave face for everyone, and buried my own trauma somewhere deep.

Then, earlier this year, I suddenly found myself reliving how ill I had been. I revisited endlessly all the twists and turns of what had happened, the hospital admissions and endless tests and procedures. The surgery. Of course the ruminating didn’t change the outcome. I was completely lost and felt so low. I sought out some talking therapy which helped me realise that what had happened was not my fault, but it was still a journey back to finding myself.

Eventually I decided I just wanted to start having new adventures again. I had seen the Unlost Retreat through following Gail Muller on Instagram, and I knew that that it would help me reconnect to myself with like-minded people. Being back out in nature would be so beneficial to my healing.

A Retreat to Remember!

I arrived in Falmouth by train in the pouring rain and was so glad my pre-arranged lift from the station worked out. I’d be travelling with a new friend for this last part of the journey, who had arranged in the Facebook group to come and pick me up on her way through. I was a very wet passenger, and we had very little phone signal to help navigate to the Retreat, tucked away behind Maenporth Beach! We found our way though.

There was an action packed few days planned. As everyone arrived at the gorgeous venue, the excitement and trepidation about what we were doing there was palpable.

Marie and Cath on the beach at Grebe on the Unlost Retreat.
With Cath Pendleton. Ice Mile Swimmer. Inspirational for sure.

On the Unlost Retreat agenda was yoga, coastal walks, sea swims, specialist fitness advice and a range of classes. There were adventure kit talks so we could ask questions to prepare for our own adventures, and then what were truly inspirational presentations from Gail and our guest speaker, Cath Pendleton.

The days were well organised and balanced, and the timetable was such that down-time was built in for us before and after our home-cooked meals. These were a welcome chance to get to know everyone even better, and were cosy times full of chatter, laughter, hugs and tears.

We were surrounded by an amazing team of friendly supportive experts, who made sure that the classes and activities ran smoothly and safely. We were well fed by the amazing chefs who ensured that we had the most delicious and varied menu every day.

A few of the Unlost Retreat attendees after swimming in the sea at Maenporth.
Let’s swim!

All the activities were really great fun. I was so looking forward to the coastal walk even though I knew it would be difficult for me. The views were stunning and I loved not knowing what was going to be around the next corner. Another view, a hill, a gate, steps to climb a picturesque downhill, a glimpse of the sea. I knew that I would be a little slower than some but I was very well supported and encouraged especially when I had a teary moment. I was doubting my ability and becoming overwhelmed by my limitations. Those that noticed walked beside me and soon had me smiling again. We were given opportunities to shortcut if needed, but I resisted as I wanted to experience as much as I could. I felt very proud at the end to have managed such a beautiful walk. I was glad to get back to a refreshing shower and some relaxing yoga before a nourishing evening meal.

My favourite activity though was the sea swimming. I love the water and we had a lot of fun experiencing swimming in such beautiful locations. The cold water on my skin made me feel so alive and happy. I felt a deep connection to everyone in the group who was there experiencing the cold water and it was the most beautiful location to swim. It was magical.

Beautiful Memories & Lifelong Friends

The Unlost Retreat has given me beautiful memories to cherish, I have lots of new friends and it has made me realise that adventure is out there waiting for me. I learnt so many things during the retreat, too many to mention. Lots of practical things and many emotional things. The first very emotional connection back to myself was during the first yoga nidra. Thanking myself for all that my body had done, that had a profound effect on me. I could feel the tears welling up and a real sense of understanding myself. Learning to love the person I am now is a huge step.

Rekindling Lost Ambition after the Unlost Retreat

My dream since I was a teenager has been to swim the English Channel. In recent years, pre-lung surgery and pandemic I was a keen long distance outdoor swimmer in my spare time. I gradually increased my distance from 1 mile events, 2 mile events and then a 6 miler the Dart 10k

When I said I wanted to consider what might be possible in my Facebook introduction I had no idea that post-retreat I’d be announcing my bucket list dream and suggesting an Unlost English Channel relay swim!! I was thrilled with the response & couldn’t wish for a more fabulous group of women to get excited about this with.

I believe that everyone has got something on their list that they’ve kept there, looked at and maybe wanted to try for ages. For me being surrounded by the positive energy from everyone on the retreat has rekindled this lost ambition. Am I going to be able to make that big splash, I don’t know… but right now it does feel possible.

“In order to succeed we must believe we can.”

Nikos Kazantzakis

Some of the group are starting out by signing up for an organised lake swim next year. It’s booked and in the diary. I couldn’t be happier.

The things that make you happy, do them, plan them and enjoy. I intend to from now on.

For anyone interested I have shared my story about what happened to my lungs on the website

Just scroll down in patient stories for Marie’s story.


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