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What do you think of when you read those three words? For me, Appalachian represents my roots, where I come from, and my home. Spiritual describes my soul, my inner being, and my beliefs. Retreat though kind of threw me off. To retreat is to withdraw or to give up and I wasn't sure how I felt about that really. What should one expect from a retreat? If you don't know prior to going, you will definitely know once you've been. I have always been an open-minded, loving, and independent woman. When presented with challenges, I have always overcome them on my own. While the road was often long and hard, I made it happen. Life had gotten so tough and I felt like I was failing myself and my children in nearly every aspect. I felt lost. I felt confused. Seasonal depression had set in and all I wanted was to feel the earth beneath my feet, the sun on my face, and find someone that would listen to my craziness with judgment! I wanted to connect with people outside of my home, outside of my family, and outside of my circle. People who are like me. People who are real and who keep it real. Where does one find those people? I found those folks all under one roof this past weekend. I bit the bullet and stopped ignoring all the signs that were pointing me in the direction of an Appalachian Spiritual Retreat. Other than a change of clothes and some Mountain Dew, I took nothing but an open mind and an open heart to this retreat. An older style brick home, nestled in the mountains of Dickenson County, Virginia, with wood paneled walls and bamboo ceiling tiles was my home for three days. Holly, Dallas, Michelle, and Madelyn were my family for those three days. We spent the first evening getting to know one another and tuning in to those leading the retreat. There was an infinite amount of love and comfort flowing through the house and between the people. The environment was nothing but pleasant, from the country feel of the hand stitched pillows to the intricate bird painting on the wall. It was welcoming. It was therapeutic. And it was exactly what I needed to give my mind and my heart some rest. The beating drums, meditation, reiki work, gratitude circles, chakra clearings and conversation equaled peace of mind and peace in my soul. Every person, no matter the gender or age, had something to contribute, something everyone could appreciate, and something that was easily understood. Love. My first retreat, and definitely not my last, was a heartfelt and soul soothing experience. It brought someone back into my life from decades ago and three new people that I feel like I have known for forever. It brought me my soul family. It taught me to trust my intuition, live in my truth, and love myself far more than any person would ever be capable of doing. I am beyond grateful for this experience and the folks I shared it with! Thank you Holly and Dallas for providing me with everything I never knew I needed!  Hannah Boggs

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