'Duende' is a Spanish word for which there's no direct English translation. Sometimes described as passion, inspiration, charm or magnetism, it is also the idea of being inspired by or even embodied by the muse. Often, it's associated with flamenco dancing or the emotion that is evoked when witnessing genius in action.
Regina Tingle, MFA
Founder of Duende Retreats
As an expat, I've learned the hard way the grass isn't always greener. We can't escape our problems or ourselves. Sure we can run away, get a divorce, change country, language and nationality but I promise you this (because I've done all the above, some of it more than once): life happens no matter where you are. There's not much we can do about it.
But what we can do and what we should do is take time off.
Time away from our jobs, our routines, our spouses and children is sometimes all it takes to reset. Personally, I've found that time in the company of kindred spirits, somewhere soul-soothingly beautiful can be remarkably effective in gaining new perspectives. It all helps in renewing our sense of purpose and self.
Like everyone else, I came to appreciate time off and away, gathering with others and creating connections even moreso when it was all taken away with Covid.
I became a mother in June 2020 in the midst of the pandemic. The isolation, the forced distancing and the lack of interaction were all exponentially more difficult with a newborn baby. No one to celebrate with, no loving laps or arms to pass my bundle over to while I rested, I did everything in solitude. Ben only had two weeks paternity leave and after I'd spent four days in the hospital, the remaining six days flew by impossibly quick and just like that I was left alone with a little one. Loneliness and grief were heavily present where joy and togetherness should have been.
Needless to say, like other women who play the role of caretaker among their many other roles, burnout is all too familiar. My husband, an orthopaedic surgeon for the British Army also happens to be passionate about burnout and its causes. Addressing the causes of burnout within the healthcare system requires a culture change. This is true for the larger picture of burnout, too. Culture needs to change. Women are far more susceptible to burnout and no wonder. Care-taking can be all consuming.
Unless we take care of ourselves first.
My newborn isn't a newborn anymore but as an 'army wife' (excuse the label -- I loathe it -- no one calls my husband a writer's husband), duty calls and I often find myself bearing the load alone. We don't live on a base so I don't have the support network of fellow service families and without family closeby, I have learned (again the hard way) to rely on friends and neighbors.
It's been an awakening to understand that my needs don't get pushed aside just because I'm on my own with my child -- that's the nature of need; it's not optional. So I find I have to work harder to get those needs met. During the pandemic, with childcare and energy scarce, I relied on simple things: practicing presence and mindfulness and lots of walks. Phone calls with loved ones and using nap times for self-care and writing.
Covid reminded us all of the importance of togetherness, that nothing replaces the magic that happens when we are in good company, sharing life's many experiences.
MY RETREATS HAVE BEEN FEATURED IN...
I created Duende Retreats in 2018 to comprise all the things I have found to be healing: travel, nature, movement, good food, creativity and camaraderie.
Now, in 2021, creating fun, safe experiences where people can gather and experience something meaningful feels all the more urgent. We are still processing (and perhaps underestimating) how last few years have affected us. A retreat offers those precious, intangible commodities we so desperately need to move past and heal from our losses and challenges: space and time.
The invitation, the mission and intention behind Duende Retreats: to curate life-changing experiences for people. While place is important, people are even more important. With Duende it's less about where you go but how you feel when you return home.
For fifteen years I worked in the field of international higher education where I witnessed thousands of students experience new ways of living and being during their time abroad. I was fortunate enough to have had a front row seat observing what ignites and inspires people while in foreign countries and I did my best to take note. In 2014 I co-founded Wide Open Writing, leading writers to the inspiring landscapes of Italy, Mexico, the American West and North Africa. In 2018 I created Duende Retreats and here we are in 2021, at the outset of a new dawn in a post-pandemic world. The prospect and possibilities of travel and gathering and retreating have never seemed more exciting. Travel and connecting with myself and others has been key to finding my way into a more authentic, fulfilling life. It's how I discovered my own personal duende. It’s now my great pleasure, honor and mission to help you discover yours.
Regina holds an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College and lives with her husband, Ben Caesar and their son, Luke in Brighton, England.
FACILITATORS & COLLABORATORS
Julie Robinson is, above all, a lover of literature. As the founder of and creative force behind Literary Affairs, Julie’s passion has influenced thousands of readers across Los Angeles. Through her company’s work facilitating over 50 monthly book clubs all over the city, and via an ongoing series of high caliber cultural and educational experiences, author events and interviews, Julie’s specialty has been taking her clients “beyond the book.” Now, two decades into this dream career, Julie has also taken Literary Affairs to a new level. Her humble, one-woman operation is now a successful, women-run and operated business with a social justice bent. Her team of highly qualified women brings book clubs into even more homes, and she produces “Beyond the Book,” a monthly podcast of in-depth interviews with acclaimed and best-selling authors. To inspire a new generation of readers and writers, Julie created a nonprofit, the Literary Affairs Medici Foundation. The organization partners with The National Book Foundation to offer BookUp, an after-school reading program for middle school kids in South Central LA. It also presents an annual $5000 Medici Book Club Prize for the Best Book Club Book of the year, recognizing the role literature plays in creating empathy. The award is part of her prestigious yearly writers festival, The Beverly Hills Literary Escape. Julie serves on the advisory board of The Council of the Library Foundation. Her most recent passion has been to use her platform to raise awareness for another cause that’s incredibly close to her: mental health awareness. She amplifies the voices of authors writing on the subject, and hosts events that allow both authors and community members to discuss the stigma of mental health issues.
Claire Yearwood Munn, PhD
Claire is passionate about travel, art history, wellness, and community and loves combining them as often as possible. Originally from New Orleans, Claire left the coastal South in her teens for boarding school in England and has been traveling extensively throughout Europe ever since. In addition to nine years in the UK, she has also lived in Italy, Switzerland, and New Zealand (where she met her future husband, thereby ensuring she returns often). Claire has a background in the luxury travel industry as well as a Master’s degree in Fine and Decorative Arts from Christie’s (London) and a PhD in Art History from the University of York. She has given art history talks and academic lectures in various places including The National Gallery, London and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. She lives in New York with her Kiwi husband and son. As a mother, she strongly believes in women carving restorative time out for themselves away from parental responsibilities to recharge and reconnect with who they are.
Dr. Yvonne Stedham, PhD
Life is the “full catastrophe” (Jon Kabat-Zinn), full of joys and sorrows. Living every moment of this ‘full catastrophe,’ experiencing and being with all that life presents us with is the essence of what it means to be human. Mindfulness has supported me through my own deeply tragic and difficult life experiences and continues to give me the strength to embrace and love life as it is. After experiencing the peace and equanimity that mindfulness can bring, I decided to become a mindfulness instructor in order to help others. In 2017, I completed my training through the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts and have been teaching mindfulness to many diverse groups and in many different formats ever since. For about three decades, I have been a professor in the College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno. My research and teaching focus on international management and business. I grew up in Germany and received my graduate degrees, MBA and Ph.D., in the U.S. from the University of Kansas. I have travelled extensively and have taught and conducted research in many countries. For the past six years, I have also taught a mindful leadership course for MBA students and modified versions of this course to professionals in businesses and other organizations across the U.S. In particular, I have worked extensively with the U.S. judiciary, teaching leadership and mindfulness to judges across the U.S. My passion in life is exploring and learning about people, places, others and myself. Any opportunity to share my knowledge and love for what mindfulness can offer us in our journey through life, I welcome with open arms. Mindfulness allows us to live life with “courageous presence” and “stand firm in that which we are.” (Rumi)
Poet, Author, Facilitator
What I love to do? Write. Talk about writing. Dive into writing with others. I’m geeky that way. Through facilitating writing groups and teaching for 30 years, I’ve witnessed writing transform people, open them like time-lapse photographs of blossoms. A few years ago I left full-time teaching in a community college to write full-time and to lead one-to-one and group writing collaborations. It’s been perfect. It’s exactly where my passion has led me.
Tentatively titled, Any More, Black Shoe, I’m writing through Sylvia Plath in a novel-in-progress, narrating what led to The Bell Jar and her suicide attempt in 1953. My debut novel, Carry the Sky (Forest Avenue, 2014) takes an unblinking look at bullying. My first full-length book of poems, Another Sunset We Survive (2007) was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award and followed chapbooks, Bone-Knowing (2006), winner of the Gertrude Press Poetry Prize and Where She Goes (2000), winner of the Blue Light Chapbook Prize. Most recently, Widow & Orphan House released For Every Girl: New & Selected Poems in 2019. Over the years I’ve been so lucky to be awarded residencies at Hedgebrook, Norcroft, and Soapstone, and a fellowship from the Oregon Literary Arts. My poetry and essays have been nominated for Pushcart prizes. What lights me up, besides writing, is teaching, coaching writing, and volunteering with women inmates and women Veterans. My partner and I live in a purple house in Portland, Oregon with one impetuous dog.