At first glance, the “I Love Me” retreat in Maryland may have looked like we partied and ate the whole time, but that is not true. It is simply part of a therapeutic approach that founder and Licensed Master Social Worker, Karlyn LeBlanc and her team takes as opposed to more formal methods. She believes women need a venue to relax, eat, drink, and vent; a safe haven to escape the stress of everyday life.
The first day, participants took part in a spa day, receiving facials, manicures, and pedicures; one lucky guest, Irma Bickham even received a full MAC makeover and fashion consult. Later that evening we ate with the Maryland Dinner with Divas chapter at Mo’s Seafood, where the food was amazing. I had the best crab cakes ever, not to mention the cocktails, one called, “Obama” really tickled my fanny. Our vent session was enlightening and many shared the problem of not being able to say, no. Others talked about how they were the happiest they’d ever been in life. Interesting topics were discussed and resolutions provided, I was at awe.
At midnight the highlight of the trip took place as we cruised along the Baltimore Harbor for the Moonlight Midnight Unveiling cruise. Guests received black masks, leather Lust whips, and goodie bags sponsored by Clever Container, Mel’s Creative Designs & Accessories, and Lust, Inc. And guess what? Love Le Menu, packed the boat, and brought the party; prizes were given out every 10 minutes, champagne toasts, and delicious food. Did I mention I dropped all inhibitions? Many may not know this, but I love to dance, I can’t do it very well, but it’s one of my favorite activities. I didn’t care if people thought I was off beat, I was free being me.
The next morning during a session we openly discussed some things that took place the night before. LeBlancs utilizes a form of interactive therapy, a unique tactic that enables one to see the error in their ways without directly having to tell them. She takes you through the motion of experiencing true empathy, actually stepping in the other person’s shoe. Well, the majority of us broke down in tears. I realized no matter how strong the exterior is you never know what’s going on inside a person’s life. Women empowerment is big now, but it is still difficult to get a group of women together and not have feelings of jealousy, inferiority, or inadequacy. It’s even more difficult to get someone to open and own up to these feelings, and we managed to do that without any physical altercations. Bravo team Love Le Menu
Around 11am, we begin our tour of the beautiful downtown Annapolis, the capital of Maryland. We were placed with partners who we were instructed to get to know. My partner and I were also placed as the group leaders for the tour. We were chosen for these roles because we each had our own leadership issues. We visited the Banneker- Douglas Museum, the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial, Thurgood Marshall Memorial, and toured various local shops near the dock.
We couldn’t leave historical downtown Annapolis without trying the great eats. Our taste test began with crab chowder from Dock Street Bar & Grill, then we ate on the harbor at Mike’s Crab House where one of our local divas showed everyone how to properly eat crabs. Our table was filled with large, steamed blue crabs and Maryland’s traditional vinegar and Old Bay seasoning sides. And OMG, the soft shelled sauteed crabs were divine, not to mention, the fresh oysters, which many tried for the first time.
Don’t miss your chance to grow. Attend one of LeBlanc’s, retreats. Her belief that one must do what makes them happy in order to maintain mental wellness as opposed to following the norms of society, is growing to be rather popular. Lawrence Kohlberg’s moral development stages, weighed heavy on her belief system to be free. “Experience life to the fullest. Live with no regrets. Don’t worry what society says, because at any time, these laws and rules can change, so what makes it wrong or right? You always have to fight for your happiness,” LeBlanc says. She went on to say that often times when people try to strictly abide by society rules they lead a mundane life, filled with fake happiness, and when they finally break they began to practice destructive behaviors like harsh drug use, alcoholism, self-mutilation, and reckless sex. “When you can’t handle what’s going on in your life, another personality may take over; therefore do what feels good to you. Live a stress free life, without worry of judgement from others.” states LeBlanc.
Well, that wraps up my summary of the Love Le Menu “I love me” retreat in Maryland. I had a great time, discovered some things about myself; plus making the trip alone was a journey displaying growth for me. I also had a really cool roommate who I am happy to have met and look forward to seeing again as we travel and attend more functions.
If you are interested in the Jazz Lunch Cruise taking place in New Orleans May 30th, learn more here.