An image of four women separated by black borders participating in the virtual summit.

An image of four women separated by black borders participating in the virtual summit.

The ongoing global pandemic may have prevented us from having an in-person retreat but, as resilient Girls With Guts, we found a solution. Amazing women from around the world came together for last weekend’s virtual summit. The event featured breakout rooms, yoga, movement exercises, guest speakers, a crafternoon session, and even a movie party! With such a wide range of activities, there was a little something to do and learn for everyone. For a recap, I decided to ask a few attendees about their favorite part of the retreat. Here is what they said…..

Kate reflected that her “favorite part of the retreat was the breakout rooms because they gave [her]  an opportunity to meet new people and hear their stories. There is a sort of immediate bond that pulls us together, even if we are seeing each other for the first time. It reminds me of meeting a relative or a cousin. The connection is just there. I guess that is why we call ourselves a sisterhood. She also found the guest speakers informative. One theme that seemed to dovetail all of the speaker sessions was the need for balance. Kate was particularly inspired by Mandy’s take on gentle motivation. Mandy warned us not to ridicule ourselves for not pushing through while simultaneously pushing ourselves to do what we can. Using the example of running, she explained that we should not beat ourselves up for not being able to get up and run five miles. Instead, we should say, “I am going to get up and try my best to go for a short walk.” Kate explained that she is often tempted to push and criticize herself. She hopes to follow Mandy’s advice the next time she feels discouraged.

Liza also found the breakout sessions helpful. This was her first Girls With Guts event! She writes that “everyone was welcoming and friendly in the group breakout rooms. All the topics were interesting.” Even though Liza has been active on the Facebook Forum, she learned more from this virtual event. She writes that “Crohn’s has been affecting me more than just being the cause of my colon perforating. There are so many other things in my life that I didn’t realize were being caused by Crohn’s but in hearing the stories of others, it was sort of an ‘aha moment.’ I feel sort of like I have found my tribe.”

An image of painted sunflowers being held up to the computer screen as summit participants work on their crafts in the image background.

An image of painted sunflowers being held up to the computer screen as summit participants work on their crafts in the image background.

Jessica enjoyed the yoga session. She explained that “I’ve done yoga many times before but to have it led by someone who understands nausea and chase and pains was just so much more of a fulfilling experience.”

Hollie agreed that the yoga and exercise sessions were fantastic! Her favorite part was the discussion about disability. She describes how “I have been going through the disability process for quite some time. COVID has thrown a wrench in this process so it’s going slow. I learned quite a bit in the group discussion that will help me through the process and what to expect after I’m approved.”

There was clearly a little something for everyone at this year’s retreat. Whether you were able to attend every event or just one, I hope that you took something away.

You can watch recording of the major presentations:

Also, keep your eyes open for the 2022 Retreat Announcements, and keep up with our social media page so that you know about any upcoming community connection or crafternoon events!


• About The Author
Kate Shannon holds an MA in American Studies and a BA in History and American Studies. She is currently working as a high school special education teaching assistant while taking classes towards an MS in Student Disability Services in Higher Education. When she is not working, Kate loves reading, visiting history museums, practicing the clarinet (a new hobby she picked up after her diagnosis), volunteering with children and animals, and doing yoga. Kate was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2018 and had her colon removed in 2019. She is a j-pouch patient who is extremely grateful for the new life her surgeries gave her.
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