The She Hit Refresh 2019 Morocco Retreat Recap
The recap you’ve been waiting for: in April, we took 10 incredible women to Morocco for the first-ever She Hit Refresh retreat! It was a magical week of new friendships, happy tears, aha moments, and unforgettable memories.
What is She Hit Refresh?
She Hit Refresh is an online community for women age 30 and up who want to break free from routine and start a life of travel. Our group is a safe space of like-minded women, where you can find resources on how to hit refresh as well as connect with others who understand your hopes, fears, and doubts. We created the Facebook group in November 2017, and it grew bigger and faster than I ever imagined. In less than a year and a half, we have grown to more than 4,400 women worldwide!
As our community grew, so did the need for resources beyond the Facebook group. We have expanded our reach with a blog, a podcast, in-person meetups in Spain and the U.S., and now a retreat!
Why a retreat?
A retreat has long been on our growing wishlist. Both friends and group members, who began noticing the rapid growth of She Hit Refresh suggested that we host a retreat. However, it was so early on that it wasn’t a priority. I didn’t have the time or space to figure out how to put on a stellar retreat in another country.
As luck would have it, our friends at Rogue Expeditions, a “runcation” company, reached out to us about the idea of a retreat for our community. I realized that with their help we could make it happen in 2019. With just eight months under our belt, I asked the group if they’d be interested in a retreat in Morocco, and the overwhelming, positive response helped put the plan into action.
As a member of She Hit Refresh, you know we are a supportive, empowering, and inspiring community that exists to help women achieve their dreams. Our retreat is an extension of the energy in our Facebook group, and an opportunity for us to harness the power of our online community in-person, inspiring women to hit refresh. And of course, it includes our love of travel!
How is the She Hit Refresh retreat unique?
My three pillars for our inaugural retreat were exploration, introspection, and inspiration. Most retreats rent a property and stay in one location for its entirety. However, we wanted to take our refreshers on a journey through magical Morocco so they could experience the country’s diversity: cities, mountains, and coast. In addition to travel, we also wanted to spend the week working through participants’ doubts and fears, to help them find solutions to support their dreams, and to create an environment where they felt understood and empowered.
We understand that many women in our community feel isolated in their desire to hit refresh. Whether it’s society, friends and family, or even the stories you’ve been told, it’s easy to feel like your dreams are unrealistic, that you’re too old, or that a life of travel isn’t financially viable. The power of having others validate your dreams and seeing women living the life you want is all you need to start believing in yourself; this is what we wanted to emphasize through a series of four workshops throughout the weeklong retreat!
She Hit Refresh really is a self-selecting group of supportive and courageous women, so we knew that it would be life-changing to spend a week together.
Wow! The group of women that gathered for our inaugural retreat were more incredible than we could have ever imagined! Most of our attendees came from the U.S., but we were thrilled to be joined by one Brit. It was humbling to know that these women flew from all over the world to be with us. Their ages spanned from early 30s to early 60s, with a mix of life experience under their belts: married, divorced, single, “it’s complicated,” mothers, childfree. Women who want to hit refresh, others who have already done so, and some who are ready to hit refresh again. There was a perfect blend of women who wanted to break free from office life and those who had found a way as remote workers or freelancers.
Morocco holds a special place in the history of She Hit Refresh. Annette and I went on a running trip to Morocco with Rogue Expeditions in 2014. Complete strangers, we both signed up as single travelers for the trip and were assigned as roommates. Needless to say we hit it off. That trip was a profound experience; it allowed us to step out of our day-to-day lives and see things from another perspective, which ended up encouraging our own refreshes shortly after!
I soon came to the realization that I needed to move back to Madrid. At 34, I wasn’t sure how to do it, and I felt a little past my prime to just start over. But within a year I had quit my job, sold my car, rented out my condo, and packed up my life for a new adventure in Spain.
Annette realized that she needed to quit her job. She’s a planner, so it took her a few years to execute her idea, but she did it! She quit her job of nine years, downsized her home, and spent a year traveling and spending time with family.
Given the significance that Morocco holds for us, it only made sense to bring this group of women—looking for a seismic life change through travel—to this magical destination. Additionally, Morocco is one of the most beautiful and welcoming countries in Northern Africa. It boasts a rich and colorful culture and a range of breathtaking scenery that provided a foundation for our unforgettable experience. We also loved that it’s safe, affordable, and unique, a destination that is comfortable to explore and easy to feel inspired by.
Where did we go?
We spent the week in Marrakech, Imlil, and Essaouira. No trip to Morocco is complete without a stop in Marrakech. We spent two nights there and stayed in the medina, or the old city: a densely packed, fortified area of winding paths, sprawling markets, fresh juice, snake charmers, palaces, calls to prayer, and frenetic energy! We were spoiled with our luxury riad, a traditional Moroccan house, that was a luscious oasis in the city.
Our next stop was Imlil, a quaint village high in the Atlas Mountains. While Marrakech is a bustling city, Imlil is the complete opposite: a slow and still environment that got us in touch with nature. Our accommodation was a dream: a luxury eco-lodge with panoramic views of the Atlas Mountains.
Last, we headed for the coast. Essaouira, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a beautiful, breezy port city that feels more like a beachside town. The whitewashed walls and blue shutters of the medina almost make you feel as if you’re in Greece. It’s a charming, laid-back place where we spent our time eating, shopping, and strolling through the maze-like streets.
What were the workshops about?
Coach and facilitator Katie Chalcraft led our first workshop on gaining clarity and discovering our passions. In this half-day workshop, Katie took the group through The Passion Test, a process that helps people become clearer on the five things that matter most to them in order of priority. You can imagine how powerful this was; there were aha moments, breakthroughs, and tears—and this was just the first full day of the retreat!
I led our second workshop on how to break free and start working remotely. Finding remote work is one of the most popular topics in our community. While not all of the refreshers on the retreat were interested in remote work, it was an eye-opening workshop to understand the many paths to untethering your life and what you need to do to get there.
Allison Macsas, co-founder of Rogue Expeditions, led a workshop called Going It Alone: Entrepreneurship. Allison has owned and operated a tour business for more than five years and has lived much of that time on the road. This was an opportunity for us to understand the pros and cons of solo-prenuring, learn which qualities are important to have, and be able to help each other with some business ideas.
Our fourth workshop was about goal-setting. I’ve led this workshop at several of our She Hit Refresh meetups; it focuses not only on selecting goals, but also on coming up with a roadmap of how to get from point A to point B.
While we originally only offered four workshops with our retreat, there was so much information I wanted to cover that I ended up adding two more mini-workshops. One was a discussion on fear and how to break free from a limiting mindset. During the other, we went through my list of 11 things to consider when moving abroad. It was a very insightful session on visas, health insurance, what to do with your mail and local cell phone numbers, banking, and much more!
What were your favorite bits?
The whole week exceeded our expectations! The women were fabulous, and we just loved meeting refreshers in real life; we definitely made new lifelong friends. Creating a supportive space where women felt comfortable enough to let their guards down and share on a personal level was one of our favorite parts! When you spend time with women who get you, magic happens! Not only does it make you feel good about yourself, but it’s also a confidence-booster, a reminder that you are enough.
Throughout the week we could see deep connections being made and the impact of those connections. By being open, we learned so much about each other and about ourselves. We walked away buzzing with ideas and excited by a fresh perspective on how we want to move through the year.
If we had to pinpoint our absolute favorite moments:
- Barbara facing her fear of heights in Imlil. In Imlil we went on a hike in the mountains and Barbara chose to go on the hike despite having a very severe fear of heights. It’s incredible to watch someone intentionally lean into their fear, be paralyzed by it, but still continue to push through. We are so incredibly proud of you, B!
- Carol’s letter of gratitude to the group at dinner on our last night was a moment I’ll never forget. Carol took the time to write a letter that highlighted a special trait or moment about each person on the trip, letting us all know the impact we made on her and how life-changing the trip was for her. Thank you, Carol! We are so happy you made that last-minute decision to join us in Morocco; this trip would not have been the same without you!
- Honoring Jodi Cullen. Jodi was one of the first members of She Hit Refresh. She was our most active member, keeping us up-to-date on her refresh plans as she prepared for a two-year journey around the world. Upon announcing our retreat, she told me to count her in! However, right before she began her travels, she was diagnosed with brain cancer. Just a few months later, we received the heartbreaking news that she had passed. She was only 40 years old.
While most of our community had never met Jodi in person, we were all deeply affected and devastated by her untimely passing. I wanted to honor Jodi while we were in Morocco and requested some of her ashes to take with us. We had a beautiful moment in Essaouira honoring Jodi and spreading her ashes along the beach.
Will there be more?
We hope so! If the demand is there, we’ll definitely have more retreats. Let us know in the comments below if you’re interested in joining us on our next trip! Click here to stay in the loop on our upcoming retreats!
Check out the She Hit Refresh podcast as we recap the retreat and share the 7 Things We Learned from Spending a Week with 12 Incredible Women.