Finding Strength Through Struggle
Nina Herndon
September 25, 2020
February 7, 2023
Be Inspired

To think that each of us experience a shift of energy within our bodies, minds and souls, a belief that we are connected to the seasons, is something that resonates with me. Call me a tree hugging flower child. Fall is a time of shift and change. Winter is heavy and dark, a time when we withdraw and go inward. While spring is fresh and light, a time for renewal and rebirth.

Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, teaches us how to live in harmony with nature through a practice of balance. It is a Sanskrit word that translates to “the wisdom of life.” If you’re interested in learning more, we’d love to have you join us for one of our Detox & Yoga Retreats.

Several years ago, I experienced a withdrawing and going inward during the winter months. Similar to what some of us may have experienced this year. Or not - some of us instead distracting ourselves with social media, food or another distraction - not ready or willing to face what we'd discover. I have gone back and forth between the two. No judgement if you are stuck in one or the other!

Over my winter of reckoning I discovered a great deal of fear, confusion, discontentment and restlessness. Unwilling to face the truth, I distracted myself by planning what was to be the greatest adventure of my life: farming. It’s not nearly as glamorous as my hopes of backpacking through Europe, or as noble as my intention of going on the World Race, but I was convinced that it would change my life.

I said yes to the first host who responded to my inquiry, choosing an animal farm in Virginia. The lack of options for farming in the winter, combined with finding an open-minded farm to take my (then) girlfriend and I, left me with limited choices. A month or so out from my departure - now solo - a dear friend told me I wouldn’t find what I was looking for in Virginia.

I’m not saying it’s the wrong decision -- I don’t know that. I just know that what you’re looking for is already within you.

It was the very opposite of what I wanted to hear, but it was exactly what I needed. Of course I was searching for something, I just hadn’t realized it until that moment. I wanted meaning, direction, purpose, and passion... but, more than anything, I wanted to escape the growing void within me.

I’d fractured my ankle. I was losing my job. I was miserable in my relationship. I was lost, and I was afraid. Of course Virginia was my escape. I could place my future identity in an adventure that seemed so much better than the dark hole I was sinking into. There was no realistic thinking or planning around the idea - I didn’t even know how I was going to pack my belongings - I was simply running away to a fantasy as quickly as I knew how.

One week from leaving, I called the trip off. I was forcing the adventure, but it would take me another week to figure that out. The reality - I was terrified and I knew something wasn’t right. Having told everyone about my adventure (grocery clerks and car mechanics included), I was embarrassed.

Luckily, I didn’t have to drive across the country to spend my days waking up before dawn, feeding pigs in the freezing cold and watching them go off to their death. Instead, I experienced something that felt much more difficult: a dying of self. I was forcing so many things that I thought I wanted into my life, and when they didn’t fit, I only pushed harder.

As the trees weathered the winter, so did I. Holding on became so difficult that the only choice I had was to let go. With my friend’s advice playing on repeat in my head, I made a decision to face and embrace what was actually making me afraid, what I was running from. I ceased trying to understand why so many lovely things in my life had withered and died. I stopped forcing and fighting. I stopped asking for things to just go my way. It was painful in so many ways. I cried. I screamed. I threw fits. I didn’t see the point or understand why everything had to be so difficult all at once. But looking back I am able to see the leaves that had once kept my branches feeling safe, protected, and beautiful had served their purpose. That standing alone, I was strong and safe; I had roots.

When spring came, and the trees begin to grow new leaves, I felt excited to be experiencing the rebirth and renewal after my journey of going within. I started journaling again and a meditation practice of walking. I committed myself to helping alcoholic women around me. By letting go, I experienced discomfort, but it was followed by a much greater sense of trust, clarity, relief and purpose.

A Season of Renewal

A new season is the ideal time to pause, reflect and reassess.


  • After being forced to slow down, consider is the busyness of your life necessary or is it avoidance?
  • What would you take from your pre-pandemic life?
  • What would you leave behind?
  • What have you discovered about yourself?
  • What have you discovered about what's important in life?
  • Are you still holding onto a hardship or struggle?


  • Take  space to breathe, reflect and find clarity.
  • Take time for yourself - away from your distractions and commitments.
  • Go for a walk around your neighborhood or a local park, find a quiet place for a meditation, enjoy a cup of coffee in your own backyard, go for a bike ride.


  • Sit in self reflection or journal.
  • What do you commit your time and energy to?
  • Do you enjoy what you’re doing?
  • Are you taking time to relax and enjoy life?
  • Is there something in your life that doesn’t feel quite right - are you forcing it?


  • Make changes based on the following:
  • What’s important to you?
  • Are you making time for that?
  • What isn’t serving you?
  • How can you let go of it?

Then consider this:

Very often a change of self is needed more than a change of scene. ~ Arthur Christopher Benson

Remember the journey of letting go and growing is a constant one. Let go of the urge to have everything just right, or even right now. Step into the season of change without expectation and your heart open to possibility. If you need a weekend to get away to reflect ad find clarity, we’d love to have you at a Retreat.

This blog is intended to provide helpful suggestions for self care and overall well-being. I am not a mental health professional. If you’re struggling I encourage you to seek the help of a professional. Find a Mental Health Professional | National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Dial 988

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Nina Herndon

Nina believes that women have an incredible ability to help one another, and is driven to cultivate safe spaces for them to do so. Over the years she has helped her mom to grow Retreat in the Pines to reach as many women as possible and she currently serves as Managing Director.

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