Eco Chic Retreat

Eco Chic Retreat:

Coming Home to a

Sustainable Self

By Nikki Lyn Pugh, MFA

Making ends meet, working two jobs, raising kids, the never-ending list of “to-do’s” … Sound familiar? With all that we have to do these days, who can really afford the time and resources for deep reflection and self-care?

The Real Question

The real question, however, is: “Who can afford not to?” According to an American Psychology Association poll conducted at the beginning of the economic downturn, “87% of women reported dramatic increases in stress … in relationship to the declining economy.” And right now, says the National Institutes of Mental Health, nearly twice as many American women than men are affected by depression.

Today more than ever, the personal is political. Neuroscientists have long known about the connection between high amounts of stress and poor decision-making ability. As well-known Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hahn says: “When you have peace within, real peace with others is possible.”

Not a Mission Impossible

But when money and time are tight, even the best intentions to go on that mountain retreat or that seaside meditation program can seem like “Mission Impossible.” Challenging times require unique responses to the desire to live a balanced life. Enter Eco Chic Retreat (ECR). According to the program’s creators, this DVD-based program contains everything a busy woman needs for “Do-It-Yourself Mind/Body/Spirit Renewal.” Indeed, the program is chock-full of enough instruction and scheduling for three full days of intention setting, yoga, guided and active meditation, qigong, painting, cooking, and reflective journaling.

“[ECR co-creator] Karen Vardenega and I have been meeting for over a decade in an informal way in order to help each other slow down and focus on self-care,” says filmmaker and ECR co-creator Jody McNicholas. “After each of our long weekends together, we found that we had more patience, more sustained kindness towards ourselves and others, more internal peace, more flexibility in our mind and body, and a deeper connection to source.”

An Idea Who’s Time Had Come

One day, Karen suggested that the two collaborate on an instructional video to help other women have the same experience. Jody loved the idea and the two wasted no time in setting the project in motion. The intention of Eco Chic Retreat is not only to nurture mind, body, and spirit but also to create a do-it-anywhere retreat that is fun and affordable.

eco chic retreat

“It all starts with bringing out our own unique gifts and sharing them with the world. We wanted to be part of the solution,” Jody says. To create the DVD set, Jody and Karen enlisted the assistance of artists and healing practitioners from all over the country, including Mt. Shasta–based healing practitioner Karen Sheeks and Lotus Guide’s own Dhara Lemos.

“This entire project has been about collaborating ideas and creating a weekend experience that will invigorate and replenish. At $49.99 for the set (or under $17 a day), Eco Chic Retreat is an eco-friendly, low impact, and affordable way to destress, reflect, and experience more grounding in one’s life.” To order Eco Chic Retreat, visit Karen and Jody’s website at

Published author and teacher Nikki Lyn Pugh, MFA, is the owner of Soulscribe, a consulting firm. She offers writing, creativity, and mindfulness workshops as well as creativity consulting services to individuals and groups worldwide. More information on her and her services can be found at