Heart 2 Heart nature retreat brings moms and daughters together
A daylong nature retreat Sunday in Eagle designed to enrich and strengthen mother-daughter relationships
The relationship between a mother and daughter is one of the most important connections in a woman’s life, but it can also be one of the most difficult, particularly with teenagers. That is why Susie Kincade, a nature-based life coach and co-founder of the Women’s Empowerment Movement in Vail, created the Heart 2 Heart retreat.
The daylong outdoor retreat is designed to help mothers and daughters connect and communicate in a calming, natural environment. The workshop is being presented by Women’s Empowerment Workshop and The Hope Center of Eagle Valley, and runs from 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m Sunday at a private sanctuary in Eagle. It is geared towards those participants 12 and older who identify as female and their mother or a surrogate. While attending as a pair is optimal, individual participants are also invited to join and gain new skills.
While mother-daughter pairs of all ages are invited to participate in the retreat, Kincade puts a special focus on relationships with teenage daughters.
“That’s often when the tearing in the relationship will happen,” Kincade said. “Some of those tears are hard to heal, so we do preemptive work, so that they don’t have to harm their relationship permanently.”
This work includes trust and bonding exercises, as well as communication tools that allow mothers and daughters to effectively share their needs and perspectives.
“They just need a language and tools — and if they both have the same language and same dedication, then it becomes a team,” Kincade said. “Girls just want to be seen by their moms as growing up, and it’s amazing how quickly through a one-day retreat the moms who are interested in keeping that connection with their child get the fact that their daughter is a growing woman, and they just need to let her out a bit so that they can stay deeply connected.”
Kincade has been leading the Heart 2 Heart retreat for seven years. She is a mother of four daughters and was inspired to create this program after struggling to bridge one of her own mother-daughter relationships.
“I had a pretty transformative experience with one of my daughters, who quite frankly, was on a track where she wasn’t going to make it out of high school alive,” Kincade said. “I had to learn to parent her in a different way than I had my other daughters, because clearly it wasn’t working. I realized that the only thing I could change was me, and that flipped the entire relationship. When I was willing to do my personal work, then she had space to become herself.”
This year, Kincade for the first time will be leading the retreat in partnership with Lisa Hassin, a Licensed Professional Counselor and school-based clinician with the Hope Center in Eagle County. Hassin is also a family, child and behavior therapist who specializes in early childhood development, and during her 30-year career working on mental health in schools, she has seen first-hand what can happen when the central relationships in our lives break down.
“I see the bigger picture of what can happen if we lose touch with each other,” Hassin said. “I have a perspective on where this can take us down the line in terms of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, dropping out — all these things that can happen, that I’ve seen working in the schools and working in private practice for as long as I have,” she said. “We’re helping parents maintain that connection in a developmentally appropriate way by providing communication skills and by eliminating social media for a day.”
Hassin and Kincade are both proponents of using nature in their respective practices, and the location of the Heart 2 Heart retreat is intended to help facilitate introspection, calm and connectivity while gaining distance from the constant noise and disruption of technology.
“Outside, you’re really encouraged to listen to yourself first before you listen to each other,” Hassin said. “Nature is such an incredible mirror of, ‘How do I feel right now?,’ and then we can teach people how to best express that to those they love the most.”
Kincade said that along with her and Hassin, nature acts as the third facilitator at the retreat.
“Nature is calming on our nervous system when we go into it as a human being instead of a human doing,” Kincade said. “When we’re in nature and just sitting in the perfect world of connectedness that we are a part of, it helps us release really positive hormones that make doing a workshop like this far more effective, more fun and more beautiful.”
Hassin is fluent in Spanish, and for the first time, the Heart 2 Heart retreat is available as a bilingual program for both English and Spanish-speaking participants. The retreat will also take on the relational and mental health challenges that have increased as a result of the pandemic.
“The pandemic has made us even more isolated from the world and each other,” Hassin said. “We have turned to media and technology overall as a self-soother, but unfortunately it isn’t a very good one. Healthy, supportive connections are a critical part of our mental health. In this workshop, we will provide the tools to teach communication skills through fun activities that will immediately open doors that have perhaps felt shut and remind us of the power and importance of our mother-daughter connection. It will renew hope.”
Registration for the Heart 2 Heart retreat is available at WomenEmpower.us. The registration cost is $175 per person. COVID-19 vaccinations or proof of a negative test within 24 hours is required for all participants.
What: Heart 2 Heart Mother-Daughter Retreat
When: 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Sunday, September 26
Cost: $175 per person