If you’ve even considered joining us for our couples retreat in the Rocky Mountains – even considered it for a moment – even if you’ve decided not to attend, I hope you’ll read this. I’ve got some explaining to do, and I hope you’ll hear me out.
My good friend and addiction nutrition expert, Kelly Miller, and I hatched this idea as an intensive, impactful and enjoyable way to share our message of recovery from addiction, and recovery from the relationship wreckage created along the way. We wanted a cozy setting away from the bustle of the city. We envisioned comfortable yet rustic, with scenery to help us breathe – really take time to breathe – and take a break from our reality while we start to form new habits, connections and intentions to deliver us from the pit of despair in which alcohol has imprisoned us.
What we are putting together is both unique and really special. I’m not saying that as a selling point. I never want to come across as slimy or salesy. But I’m almost as proud of what this retreat will be as I’m excited to be there and feel the experience myself. I’m explaining this from a position of raw authenticity. If you read it as a sales pitch, I’m sorry we can’t get on the same page.
We have received overwhelming interest in the retreat. Seriously. At one point, I thought we might have to do back to back to back weekends to accommodate the interest. But despite the many people who have expressed interest, we have very few confirmed bookings. I have some ideas as to the reasons, but I’d love to hear your take, too.
I’m going to share my message about the retreat in three parts. First, I’ll give details about the timing, logistics and the property. Second, I’ll give more details about the programing. And third, I’ll share the barriers I believe are holding people back from booking. Even if there is no possible way to join us, I hope you’ll read this message to get an idea of the way we do things, and help you better assess opportunities like this in the future.
The House on a Mountain Lake
The couples retreat will begin at dinner time on Friday, February 21st. My wife, Sheri, and I will arrive at the cabin in Grand Lake (about 5 minutes from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park) that morning, and be ready to receive our guests as soon as their flights and travel plans allow. The drive from Denver International Airport is a little under three hours, and most of it is through the breathtaking Rocky Mountains. There is a little time on I-70, but mostly it is scenic mountain highway.
This beautiful cabin has majestic lake views from the four-season porch and down on the boat dock. The living room is cozy and rustic in log cabin feel, but the house has full heat, electric and wifi, so there will be no roughing it. We will spend many of the sessions sitting by the wood-burning stove in the living room. We were looking for an intimate setting to enhance our listening, learning, sharing and experiencing the messages of recovery. We found it.
The house has five private bedrooms. If you join us, you’ll have either a queen or king size bed in a room decorated beautifully in authentic log furniture. There are two-and-a-half bathrooms. We will do everything possible to ensure your privacy and comfort as we schedule bathroom time and work together.
We chose this house because it has the potential to be transformational in a way no hotel with a sterile meeting room ever could. That’s not who we are, and that kind of retreat would not interest us to host any more than it would interest us to attend. This cabin is special. We want the experience to be special, too.
Time Spent Together
Both Sheri, and Kelly’s husband, Josiah, are trained and accomplished culinary professionals, and our meals will be healing, practical, exemplary and delicious. We will share dinner on Friday evening; breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday; and breakfast on Sunday, February 23rd, before we conclude the retreat and depart the cabin. In addition to the meals, we will have plenty of nutritious snacks available – foods that generate neurotransmitters and improve our abilities to recover.
On Saturday evening, we will all cook together. Josiah and Sheri will lead us in preparing a meal, while Kelly explains why the ingredients enhance our brains’ own abilities to heal. We will cover everything from shopping for the freshest and most nutrient dense ingredients, to preparation techniques, ideal kitchen equipment and timing. It will be as informational as it will be fun and delicious.
I will be your mixologist while we prepare and eat dinner together. We’ll enjoy some delicious craft mocktails that will convince us we are not missing out when we leave the liquor out.
Is your mouth watering? While I’m on the topic of food, I’ll tell you about the rest of the nutrition programming. Kelly will lead us in two different sessions about how our brains work, and how the foods we eat can speed our recovery from addiction. She’ll cover brain chemistry and neurotransmitters, amino acids and co-factors, blood sugar regulation and many more topics that affect how we heal from cravings for alcohol. I’ve seen Kelly present this information a number of times, and it is fascinating and interactive. The information she has shared with me has changed the way I will eat forever, and has improved my mood in ways I didn’t realize were possible. There are no exotic ingredients, no restrictive eliminations and no difficult cooking techniques. When she finishes explaining the “whys” and “hows” of addiction nutrition, you will be excited to incorporate this delicious simplicity into your routine.
Relationships in Recovery
I thought sobriety would be the greatest challenge of my life. Little did I understand at the time, sobriety fixes nothing and just exposes the carnage long caused and hidden by my abusive drinking. Sobriety didn’t make my marriage better. In fact, sobriety nearly tore my wife and me apart. Sheri and I have learned a lot. Now that we are making it, and our marriage is back on solid ground, we want to share our experience and all that we’ve learned.
We’ll talk about the resentment, sorrow, forgiveness, trust and love cycle that can only come in long-term sobriety. We’ll discuss the impact we’ve had on our kids, and our opportunity to be the generation to break a family legacy of drinking. We’ll talk about timing, patience, the differing recovery schedules of the drinker and the spouse, intimacy and addiction transference. By the end of the weekend, it is our goal that a lot of very complex issues are more manageable and understandable. We won’t solve all of your problems at this retreat, but we hope to arm you with the empathy and compassion to bring the love back.
You won’t be sitting on a folding chair at a rectangular table taking notes from a slideshow presentation projected on a screen with a bowl of stale candies and a metal pitcher of water dripping condensation everywhere. If that’s what you’re looking for, I’m sure some sleezoid with letters after his name will take $5k from you for a weekend spent in a hotel conference room by the airport and lots of theoretical, impractical ideas. At least you’ll be really familiar with a hotel when it’s time to get divorced.
Our talks will take place in the cozy living room by the fire, or on the four season porch overlooking the lake and mountains. I can’t make any promises about the future of your recovery or your relationship. But I can promise the setting and honesty will give you the best possible chance to succeed that I can imagine. As someone who has been there and is doing it, I want to create an environment for us all to grow.
Reasons We have Two Spots Available (I Think)
Picture perfect setting and topics, no? If alcohol has damaged your relationship, and you want to make it work again, this is a great opportunity for you. For this first time around holding this couples retreat, we are only charging $800 total per couple for the whole thing. You couldn’t get two nights accommodations and five chef-prepared meals for that even without the sessions. The next time around, once we’ve worked out the kinks, we will charge upwards of $2,000 for the same retreat. So why do we have so much interest, and yet we still have room for two more couples to join us?
Many of the interested couples have school-aged kids just like we do. Finding childcare for several days is difficult, and that’s been a major setback. We get it.
Also, we have had people balk at the sharing of bathroom time. We get that, too. We were unable to find a house with the log-cabin-in-the-woods feel and an equal number of bedrooms and bathrooms. This house is meant for friends or family where bathroom sharing is expected. I can simply say that I know pretty well everyone who will be attending so far, and we are all respectful, courteous and polite. I get this holdup, but can the good parts of this property maybe outweigh the bad?
It is also a long way to go for a weekend retreat. We get that, too, but that’s kind of the point. Is your relationship important enough that it’s worth the journey? You can extend your trip by spending some time in the Rocky Mountain National Park, skiing, exploring mountain towns or checking out Denver.
There. I did it. That’s the best job I can do of sharing my heartfelt excitement for our couples retreat. I’m not trying to convince anyone. I don’t want to be that guy. If it’s not a good fit for you, we understand. But if you were on the fence, or decided to decline before I shared these details, we hope the honest picture I presented increases your enthusiasm and comfort level. This will be different. Isn’t doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the different results the insanity that got us in this jam?
If you have any questions, want to share feedback or would like to reserve one of the two remaining spots for our couples retreat, please reach me at matt@SoberAndUnashamed.com. Thanks for reading!