"I have been given many tools that I look forward to implementing in my marriage once I return home. Jenna and Barb are LOVE. They are true gifts to us stepmoms. I'm looking forward to updating them on what's going on in my life and continuing the bond I have with the other sister stepmoms I've met. All of these women are considered family... my family. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."
"When I signed up for the retreat I didn't know if I'd still be married by the time it occurred. When I got here, it was instant friendship. The other stepmoms were so nice and while all of our stories and stepfamilies are different, there are many similarities. Being able to to talk to them, Barb and Jenna was incredibly helpful. Having a different perspective put on the issues and challenges I am facing by others who have already conquered them was very eye opening. I would highly recommend coming to the retreat for any woman who is married/engaged/cohabitating with a man with kids. It was well worth the trip!"
"Being here was so grounding for me. It helped me see that my North Star is still in me, my "old self" has not left and she is ready to come home. Meeting the beautiful souls of other stepmoms and bonding with them was icing on the cake. We found our tribe and know that we will always support each other in this journey. 4 days gave me lifelong friendships."
"In today's social and digital world we assess quality and benefit based on a reviews and a five-star ranking system. I took a leap of faith to attend the first Stepmom Sanctuary Retreat in N.Y. completely uncertain of what to expect or what I would experience. The retreat exceeded all of my hopes and five starts simply aren't enough - I give it a 10 and unequivocally without hesitation recommend both the retreat and individual coaching with Barb and Jenna. There is hope. There are tools. You aren't crazy and you can be happy."
"One of my basic human needs was fulfilled during this retreat. The ability to connect with women experiencing the same challenges as me. I cried on the last night knowing I would be leaving this tribe of women - we had shared so much pain, joy and growth. Barb and Jenna have been there and guided us through tears, laughter and self-awareness. I will be back for the reunion of new friends, allies and supporters."
"This experience has been truly life changing. The Stepmom Sanctuary Retreat at the Light on the Hill Retreat Center in Van Etten, NY allowed me a chance to escape from reality, find peace for 4 days, and connect with women from all over the world. I highly recommend it to any stepmom.
The "stepmom" label can be taboo, but here I could feel safe as my true self, while being surrounded with beautiful scenery. In between group sessions I could go take a walk on the trails, walk the labyrinth, find peace in the sanctuary, connect with other women, or sit out on the deck, soak in some sun, and admire the view.
Jenna and Barb are natural born leaders. They both have unique strengths which allow them to teach to all personalities and a variety of situations. I am grateful to them for allowing us this opportunity.
What have I learned here on my journey?
1. Self-care is vital
3. Healthy forms of communication
4. A toolkit of strategies and techniques
5. Scientific explanations to connect to real life scenarios
6. Connection with a community of women
7. How to be the best me
Taking time to focus on yourself and to learn are vital in the step-mom role. Jenna and Barb gave us that chance. I look forward to going home, having a calm spirit, and applying my new tools. Thank you ladies!"
"I learned a ton! I rested. I made new friends. 3 items stick out:
1. I gained insight about the painful thoughts of a divorced father.
2. I learned about the loyalty conflicts my stepchildren wade through when they come to our home.
3. I learned self preservation; how to set boundaries in order to keep myself healthy and happy so my husband and I can be happy and work together as a team."
"After considering attending the retreat for weeks, I found myself at my wits end the night before the retreat was scheduled - and I went for it. Best decision I have made as a stepmom.
The first phase of healing I experienced was simply finding a tribe of fellow stepmoms to not only listen to my struggle, but also understand every layer of emotion that accompanies that struggle.
However, the second phase of healing was much more valuable - understanding what I could do to help, and rather than allowing the people around me to control the trajectory of my life, the tools l learned have enabled me to understand the lack of power, helplessness, invisibility, and utter exhaustion I was experiencing, and empowered me to regain agency in the direction of my life and my well-being."
"The most important thing for me was knowing that being in this position, with all the negative feelings, thoughts and doubts, that I was not alone and it was all normal. At times I felt guilty for having certain thoughts and in the process of this course I understood the reasoning behind it, and learned how to deal with it. It is great to be surrounded by strong quality women who chose the same life you did for many important reasons. Especially when you share the same values, you appreciate yourself for you who are, for decisions and choices you make. It was also impressive to learn about the science behind the things that seem to be out of our control. It was great to share how you feel and what you go through with people who not only are not judgmental but also support you and understand you.
Thanks to Barb and Jenna, for this was an amazing opportunity for stepmoms to step back and look at their lives from out of the circle because I think no matter who you are and what you do, you always need a third person's opinion who you respect and value."
"Coming into this weekend, I didn't quite know what to expect. And I was more than a little nervous that it would be an extended gripe session of stepmom horror stories. As a new "stepmom" (still hate that word but haven't come up with anything better), I came to the retreat seeking a tribe - a community of women who are on this journey, who could understand the things I struggle with - but often can't put into words. The Stepmom Sanctuary Retreat was exactly what I needed. I needed the time away to focus on me and who I am and who I want to be. I needed the reminder that I am enough - that I am doing the best that I can and that that is enough. I needed to find connection with this community. It was a gift to be able to meet these amazing women. To share in their struggles. And to celebrate their joys and successes. I needed to be reminded that my partner has struggles in this too - and that as I support him, he is better equipped to support me. I'm coming away from this weekend feeling refreshed and ready to go back to real life, with a renewed energy and enhanced tool kit."