The Story we tell as women in transition…

by | Eco Travel, Print Articles, Winter 2024

“The most powerful times in our lives can be the time in between times, or life’s transitions that give us the opportunity to choose”- Bill Crawford

Remember a time, then or now, when you’ve been between careers, jobs, life stages or relationships? Traditionally, the narrative around our ‘in between’ times has centred around lack, confusion and disappointment: An unwelcome waiting room en route to happiness or the place we really want to be, suggesting that anything prior to ‘happily ever after’ on the final page of our story is unfulfilling, unproductive and not enough. 

And while a forward-thinking strategy and vision are crucial to our progress, what if we choose a new story around life’s transitional times, get comfortable with change and see the ‘in between’ as an opportunity to rest and ask what’s next, what’s possible…

If change is said to be the only constant, why do we still find it so challenging to detach from what we know, love and old ways of being which no longer match who and where we are? Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the fact that often we don’t get to control how and when transition happens. Life happens, along with accidents, addiction, adultery, divorce, retrenchment and life stage shifts into motherhood, empty nests and retirement, leaving us bewildered as to how we navigate the next part of our journey.

Solo women gathering beyond our daily routines to explore and retreat in a new environment can be powerful for a few reasons…

Go wild 

As naturist and author John Muir said: “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.” Research has for years validated the profound healing effects that fresh air, sunlight and natural spaces have on the human body, mind and overall wellbeing, from immunity building, to stress relief, lowering blood pressure to mood boosting. The environment where you choose to (and are able to) heal and relax is important; so retreats offering forest bathing, ocean immersions, mindful outdoor excursions can offer an extended time to spend in natural blue and green spaces and accelerate this reset.

The stories we tell

If we believe that thoughts become things, as NY Times bestselling author, Mike Dooley suggests, then we should begin to ‘choose the good ones’. So what are the stories you’re telling? About yourself, to yourself, to others? While our culture, communities and upbringing play a fundamental role in solidifying much of what is familiar to us, this does not mean that our ‘familiar’ is still beneficial to us or that we have to choose to tell the same story. 

So much of our subconscious programming determines the way we think, behave and ultimately move forward in our lives. Tools such as deep creative visualisation, meditation, breathwork, hypnotherapy, scripting and subliminals can guide us into slowing our brainwaves down to a relaxed state, quiet the conscious ‘monkey’ mind and/or give the subconscious the space to bring childhood memories, core moments and helpful information, allowing us to transform and reprogram a new normal or story we would like to tell ourselves. 

Move your body

We move to feel good, to feel alive, to improve our health, vitality and to prolong our lives. According to WHO: “Physical activity has significant health benefits for hearts, bodies and minds, contributes to preventing and managing noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes, reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety, enhances thinking, learning and judgment skills and improves overall wellbeing.” Retreats invite us to move our bodies solo or together and perhaps even explore new ways of movement which feel good to you – hiking, mountain biking, canoeing, stand up paddleboarding, dancing or Yoga.

Connect to others

As we recover, learn healthier ways of being and even learn how to shift from fight and flight mode, connecting to others can be key in healing. “Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives,” by Bessel van der Kolk in his book The Body keeps Score. He goes to say: “Trauma survivors often lose attunement with those around them when they collapse or shut down for survival; they can benefit greatly from activities that put them back in sync with others in a visceral way, such as kickboxing, dancing, choral singing and the martial arts practice of aikido. Even forms of play can give people a sense of connection and physical attunement with each other.” 

Whether you need to give yourself permission to be still, move or support to explore a new place or mindset, solo female journeys and retreats can offer the perfect space to do so with other like-minded women. And, ultimately, this time of transition can be the start of the new narrative you choose to tell. 

Lauren Manuel is a Certified Life and NLP coach, storytelling specialist and founder of the Wild and Grounded Group. She coaches individuals and groups; curates solo female travel and facilitates team breakaways centred around mindset, resilience, self-empowerment, storytelling for transformation, leadership, vision and wellbeing in Europe, Kenya and South Africa. @wildandgrounded_

Retreating Places and Spaces


Women’s Wisdom and Wellness Retreat, Stonehaven Eco Cabins and Farm 8-11 August 2024

On this spiritual and medical wellness retreat, be guided on a journey to experience true balance in every sense. Move out of a state of fight and flight and into rest and recover, using the highly effective principles of integrative healing. Here on a small Hemel en Aarde valley farm is a restful, healing space intended to re-energise and spur creativity.

For retreat enquiries or eco cabin bookings- @stonehaven.ecocabins


Gonana Guesthouse, Paternoster

Set on an idyllic West Coast beach, just two hours from Cape Town you’ll find Paternoster’s first sustainable guesthouse, an Afro-Scandi space where we can reconnect to ourselves, to each other, and to the planet. @gonanaguesthouse


Evergreen Manor and Spa is situated in the historic core of Stellenbosch, the second oldest town in South Africa. Explore and savour the sights and tastes in the restaurants, art galleries, museums and historical buildings. @EvergreenManorandSpa

Val Du Charron; Wine and Leisure Estate

Slow down in front of the fire accompanied by award-winning wine and vineyard and mountain views. Val Du Charron Wine and Leisure Estate is situated in the picturesque Bovlei, 10 minutes from the town of Wellington and under an hour’s drive from Cape Town. @valdu.charron 

For enquiries and bookings at Evergreen, Gonana or Val Du Charron, visit @capecountryroutes

Lauren Manuel is a globally published storyteller, communications specialist and single mom of two magnificent young boys. Her podcast @wildandgrounded_ (found on Spotify and Itunes) shares accessible tools, habits and practices to help women and moms thrive through life, trauma and transition. 

Lauren has hosted Women’s Circles (creative, movement, nature and storytelling) in Ireland, Spain and South Africa and loves holding the space for women to connect, gather and share their truth and stories. She is a dancer, movement experience facilitator and co-hosts retreats and solo female journeys globally with various practitioners. She is a level 1 certified Secret Sunrise facilitator as well as a certified joy facilitator with The UPliftment Programme – A Southern African NGO – using the arts to uplift emotional wellness. She is passionate about advocating for the way we, as society, can better support and uplift the emotional wellbeing of mothers and caregivers. 

Connect with Lauren on her website: and on instagram @wildandgrounded_ and @thetravelmanuel and find out more about our upcoming Slow Escapes for Women in Kenya later in 2023.