Saturday, January 23, 2016

Devo Retreat: January 23, 2015

In light of the Devo Retreat for 2016 earlier this week, I remembered I hadn't share notes and pictures from a year ago - my first all-day working off-site retreat with my department since rejoining Caramoor. I had been invited to the 2014 session, but as I was in the last weeks of my Big J tenure and that department's first week of a new leader, I didn't think it was prudent to take off to go to Caramoor.


noun: retreat; plural noun: retreats
a quiet or secluded place in which one can rest and relax;
a period of seclusion for the purposes of prayer and meditation.

This was the second year in a row that Caramoor had rented a Pond House at Bailey Farm in Ossining for the day. Apparently it is used for groups like ours quite often.
 One side of this old farm house is a bit more modern, with conference capabilities, room for yoga, etc.
It overlooks the woods, a deserted greenhouse, and other scenic vistas.
But we liked the cozier, older side of the house, with vintage touches, such as:
We always pack in a variety of brain-stimulating snacks, as we worked through the day.
Of course no department gathering would be complete without food. One of our brain-break activities was decorating birthday cupcakes for Daria whose birthday was the day of the retreat. She took lots of notes so she really deserved her cupcakes.
Each of us had leadership roles throughout the day, leading discussion groups, brainstorming, identifying department goals, values, discussing possible professional and future fun activities, etc. It was intense. (These are our "thinker" poses.)
Being the introvert that I am, I strategically intended my sessions to be more introspective. Since we had been talking all day, I led writing exercises; 1) a drawing of a colleague's name for "notes of affirmation" to be distributed throughout the upcoming months, and 2) a quiet 15-20 minute of writing time for "letters to our future selves." These latter letters were saved and then distributed the week in June that we opened the Gala.
It was fun to see the flurry of affirmation notes that initially went out in the wake of the retreat. Some people maintained the practice for a month or so, while others maintained it throughout the year. The "future selves" letters also seemed to have struck a chord. A few people chose to share their letters with the department when they then opened them in June.

(I may share mine in a latter post.)

Every retreat is different. Every different location has an ambiance which affects the output. Every session leader brings something new to the mix. Every time we have one of these, there is a different dynamic, intent, and intended outcome. It's good to have them, to learn, and grow. I just wish we able to implement all our good ideas.

If there are a few things we can share, without giving away all our company secrets:
  • Write anonymous letters of affirmations to your colleagues;
  • Always have chips/snacks;
  • Have a goals partner and check in;
  • Identify non-work "do a fun thing" activities as Festival survival incentives;
  • Make professional personal goals (one of mine was to write more - with mixed results);
  • and ...
  • Laughing/Laughter Yoga - is RIDICULOUS and you should try it.
Hohooohoooooo HAHAHAAAAA

None of us won the PowerBall to wave our magic wands to solve the biggest issues of all, so we may need to retreat and regroup and reassess, some more and more and more.

~photos by iTouch

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