NEW RETREAT IN THE SUNSHINE COAST HINTERLAND AIMS TO HELP WOMEN REGATHER, RECENTRE AND CONNECT
Picture this: your partner’s away and you’re looking after four children – one of which is a newborn baby diagnosed with lung disease.
In his first two days of life, he’s already had two surgeries and now he’s about to be sedated for eight days.
You’ve got no family in your area and you feel heartbreakingly alone.
This was the end of 2018 for Layota Thomson.
The dedicated mother is courageous about her story, opening up about her deepest struggles, all for the empowerment of others.
While these times were certainly tough for Layota, she believes they were meant to be because they pushed her to breaking point and eventually resulted in rejuvenation.
“You don’t have time to do those things that make you who you are’” she said.
“So, I lost that and I didn’t know who I was. I went into survival mode because he was sick and I had three other kids.
“I didn’t go through what I went through for nothing, to just hide it.”
Previously Layota owned Deep Love Picnics and Deep Love Weddings but now her heart has led her on a new path – a path to connect women during their time of need.
“I hit a dark place’” she said. “I finally went ‘I can’t do this anymore. This is horrible. I want that village back where women used to raise children with the support of sisters and friends and aunties’.”
In January this year, Layota launched Changing Habits Farm: an all-female day retreat that aims to help women take time out and reconnect with themselves.
The all-inclusive retreat focuses on mental health and spiritual connection. Guests can participate in all kinds of rejuvenating activities such as yoga, meditation, craft, dried-flower workshops, photo shoots, goddess baths and more.
Layota said the retreat had been built around what she felt she was missing during her lowest point. She hopes to help women find a sacred space where they can learn to just be.
“We tend to find, in this fast-paced way of living, we often lose who we are – whether that be through our job, through a marriage, a relationship or children and we don’t work on that person we are inside,” Layota said.
“It’s about switching off, relaxing and moving away from that negative state of mind. I know mine used to be ‘you’re a mum: you don’t have time to do that’.”
At the retreat, women can get creative and immerse themselves in art therapy.
During these sessions, participants get to express themselves in any way they desire by using colours, patterns and techniques that speak to them.
“Some of the women last time were in fits of laughter because they started out finger painting like you do in kindy but eventually they created something that was so visually appealing,” Layota said.
“One by one they are taken away by the photographer and she’ll talk to them about the same sort of thing.
“What’s holding you back? Who are you? “What do you like to do?
“And then capture that in a really artistic way. After that, she goes home and edits them but blends their artwork with their photo to make an artistic piece. Then the girls get gifted that, too.
“I asked the photographer if we’d be able to do this healing through photography and we came up with this concept. By capturing their flaws in such an incredibly beautiful way, when they look at it, all they see is beauty.”
At the end of the night, guests enjoy a three-course dinner under the stars that is catered with table service and live music.
Each retreat will offer different meal themes and entertainment.
For the upcoming retreat in April, live Samba dancers will be performing.
The event is formed from a collective of Sunshine Coast businesses such as Blooming Lotus Yoga Studio, Magnolia Growth Flowers and White Square Art.
The full day, including all activities and catering, will cost each participant about $480.
However, the fee can be paid in instalments to help soften the blow.
“We give these women the tools and the contacts to reconnect,” Layota said.
“The reason I’m doing this is to re-create that village.
“So even if you don’t know me, send me a message if you need a chat or want to meet up for a coffee.
“That’s what this is all about – reaching out and not being afraid to do so.”
NEW PATH: Mother-of-four Latoya Thomson has started a one-day women's retreat in the hinterland.