Power Up Your Life

Retreat in Guatemala

Power Up Your Life

Retreat in Guatemala

If you’re ready to have more internal wealth – joy, sense of community, purpose, meaning, a feeling of ‘aliveness’, and being able to make your mark in transforming our world – then join Merna Schmidt for an experiential, cultural, and transformational adventure April 27 – May 8, 2016!

You are walking on cobblestone streets, on a lakeside boardwalk, amongst coffee bean plants, seeing programs up close that are pulling people out of poverty, sharing meals with locals, taking time for you, and more…

Relaxing on a lakeside terrace, the sun is softly setting on the water as the shadows are gently falling on the breathtakingly beautiful mountains in front of you.

Lying back on a deliciously comfortable hammock amid lush gardens, you’re drinking hand brewed strawberry ginger kambucha as the soft evening breeze caresses your skin while surrounded by a dozen of the most caring and amazing people you can imagine….        

Where are you – you ask?

Why you’re in Guatemala, at the Power Up Your Life Retreat, relaxing at the eco-chic Villa Sumaya waiting for your dinner to begin – a mouthwatering blend of fresh and healthy local and international homemade food exquisitely laid out buffet-style!

Intrigued?  Let me tell you more….

Villa Sumaya
Mother Terea

On our journey we’re going to tackle what Mother Teresa referred to as a “spiritual poverty”, “leprosy of the West”, or a “poverty of the heart”.  This is the disconnection from each other, lack of community and love for each other, and an emptiness and loneliness that Mother Teresa found when visiting the United States.

In fact she said felt more sorry for people in the West than she did the people of Calcutta because this inner poverty is a more difficult need to fill than the physical needs of those in India, such as food or a bed.

Be part of this journey to Guatemala and you will learn how to fill up on the inside. In addition to the life-changing workshop sessions, you will be involved with authentic, experiential travel where you will get to interact with locals in a meaningful way.  You will visit their homes, eat with them, learn from them, and visit projects that are helping them to have a better life.

Not only will your life be enhanced by these personal experiences, but you will also be helping Guatemalans earn a living. This will be a custom-crafted, life-changing experience!

Lake Atitlan

Over 11 delightful nights and 12 days we’ll be experiencing Guatemalan life with the locals while making a difference as we go.  You’ll be taking transformational actions to create inner wealth and brainstorming and planning to make your own mark in this world.

Baffled over how to fill your life with more joy, purpose and meaning?

No worries, we’ll hash it out!

Can’t seem to figure out how to create a sense of community and have authentic connections with others?

Happy to help – let’s do it together!

Having troubles figuring out how you can have a feeling of being alive and present?

No worries – we’ll clear that up!

Making a difference in the world that is significant got you frustrated and flustered?

Get help laying out a plan step by step that you’re excited about.

Not sure how to overcome fears about really making your mark?

Let us deal with that once and for all.

So why should YOU join us?

                               Simple, this is the PERFECT environment to get clear on how to acquire inner wealth, start actions that fill you up, and get your difference making strategy nailed down.

There’s no need to do this alone, worried about whether you’re doing things the right way or not – or whether you’re going to be able to really know the secrets to filling up on the inside!  The Power Up Your Life Retreat Guatemala is JUST what you’ve been looking for to get the help you need to make it happen!

Plus we’ll be exploring the fabulous city of Antigua, learning from communities around picturesque Lake Atitlán, eating incredibly delicious food, and availing ourselves of some of the most body-melting spa services!

The Venue…

Guatemala – located directly to the south of Mexico and west of Belize – evokes images of a diverse and exotic country with breath-taking volcanoes and picturesque lakes touched by the timeless Maya.  Guatemala is a haven of natural beauty and vibrant cultural appeal that is filled with friendly, welcoming locals.

We’ll be spending four fabulous nights in the ancient and enchanting city of Antigua! Explore the cobblestone streets and quaint colonial architecture in this charming UNESCO world heritage site. Situated between mountains, Antigua’s surroundings are scenic and the city is the embodiment of the word “charming.”

We will be taken on a 2.5 – 3 hour drive through the breathtaking countryside to reach Panajachel, on the edge of Lake Atitlán, and in the heart of the Mayan Highlands. This lake, with its serene ambience, was described by writer Aldous Huxley as “one of the most beautiful places on the earth”. It is surrounded by three majestic volcanoes as well as emerald green hills, cornfields, and traditional Mayan towns.

Lake Atitlán, where the elements of the earth are powerful and abundant, is held sacred by the people of Guatemala and symbolically it is honored as the source place of all creation – the perfect place to create your more fulfilling life!

Villa Sumaya room
Antigua, Guatemala

We’ll spend seven magical nights at Villa Sumaya, a gorgeous eco-oriented, full service retreat center with uninterrupted panoramic views of the lake, located close to the village of Santa cruz la Laguna.  It is an oasis that was awarded a Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor and the Outstanding Retreat 2015 Award by Retreat Guru.  After a short boat ride, when you step onto the dock, you’ll be arriving on sacred land that has been consciously cultivated for many years. From the beautiful decor in the rooms to the stone steps and fantastic hot tub, every inch of the property has been created with earthly elegance that will be inviting you into a world of serene pleasure that lends itself to introspection and relaxation.

With an uninterrupted vista punctuated only by the skyline of three perfect volcanoes, Villa Sumaya is the utmost for those in search of rest, reflection and ageless natural beauty.  There will be ample time to soak in the solar-heated hot tubs, have a massage or energy work, relax in a hammock or lounger in the tropical gardens, read a book, write in your journal, shop in their fair-trade store filled with local handmade items, hike in the adjacent hills, swim in the lake, go kayaking, explore one of more of the Mayan villages around the lake or simply relax in the beauty and quiet of this exquisite setting.  At night you will sleep soundly in a comfortable orthopedic bed in your gorgeous room with Mayan traditional fabrics and colors incorporated.

What others have said about Villa Sumaya:

“Experiencing the ancient healing power of the Land of Guatemala and Lake Atitlan, within the loving container of Villa Sumaya was transformative.”

“The food is fabulous and healthy. The lodging is unique, earthy, and beautifully embellished.”

“The internal growth that will take place by you staying a while in Villa Sumaya is worth the journey there. You will not regret it.”

The retreat center applies permaculture, bioenergetics, and ancient Mayan agricultural techniques in order to achieve their goals of building a more ecologically sustainable nature sanctuary.  They also have a solar assisted hot-water for your rooms, organic composting and a recycling program.

Watch the video on the right to get a feel of what Villa Sumaya is all about!

Leave with your body and soul enriched.

The Delights…

You will experience one-of-a-kind, authentic true Guatemalan experiences all while supporting local communities, interacting with local Guatemalans and getting off the beaten path.

Imagine taking a short hike up Volcán Agua to see the coffee fields with a small-holder coffee farmer, then going to the farmer’s house where you will discover and utilize the machinery used to process coffee. You will learn about the coffee process from seed to cup!  But the best part comes at the end:  you will roast coffee in the traditional way over a fire and taste the some of the world’s finest coffee, followed by a yummy traditional Guatemalan lunch at the farmer’s house.

Experience Guatemala in a way very few do with an eye-opening experience as we pull the curtain back to see just what life is like for many of these resilient people.  We’ll go to Guatemala City and get a view of the dump, where many live and eke out an existence rummaging for goods.  We’ll get a first-hand look at programs helping to pull people out of poverty that will touch your heart.  To top it off, we’ll have lunch with the children in these programs!  Be inspired by what can be created by one woman with a dream and has been continued with love and support from many people.  It truly tests the excuse “I am only one person…. what can I do!”

We will also be supporting another program, called Amigos de Santa Cruz, close to Villa Sumaya.  They work with the people from one of the poorest townships in all of Guatemala, with illiteracy and malnutrition among the highest in the country.  Their mission is to help improve the lives of the indigenous people through support for education, better health, a cleaner environment and sustainable economic development.

Antigua, Guatemala

The Cuisine…

Let’s get this straight right from the start – Villa Sumaya crafts only delicious homemade food using as many organic products as possible.  They include the freshest ingredients, many of which come from what they grow on-site – culinary herb gardens, a citrus and food forest as well as mixed salad greens and fresh wheat grass production.  They even have chickens which produce an abundance of organic eggs (as well as contributing to the compost mix).  They also create their own line of raw-living snacks and feature a live juice bar! The breads are baked fresh daily and all their meals are nutritious and vegetarian (although fish and chicken are available for an additional charge).

Dinners are slow, multi-course relaxing affairs followed by an organic artisan coffee from a local co-operative, or choose from their selection of over 30 alluring teas.  If you don’t eat this or that – no worries – they are happy to accommodate any of your food preferences.

We’ll also have some delectable meals with locals, as well you’ll have a chance to choose your favorite restaurants in Antigua as we go out on the town.  You’ll also have a chance to explore the food scene in lake side Panajachel.

Amigos works with community leaders to identify needs and to find solutions to problems.  We will get to see how communities develop, and what we can learn from them. We’ll also be supporting their programs by enjoying a delicious and flavourful lunch in their café run by the culinary arts students, which consistently gets rave reviews.

Another day you’ll love meeting Anita, a local Guatemalan who lives in another village along the lake called San Pedro.  She will start by taking the group to a busy and colourful market to buy the food.  You will then go to Anita’s house where you will have lots of hands-on fun learning how to cook up three authentic Guatemalan dishes in her open-air kitchen that overlooks the lake.  Perhaps the best part may be the discussions with Anita, who will share the Mayan culture and what life is like in Guatemala.  She is an incredibly inspirational woman who not only started cooking classes, but she has also started a cooperative to help the women of San Pedro.

We can’t be in Guatemala and not experience a moving cacao or fire protection Mayan ceremony, depending on which leader is available.  A cacao ceremony is a journey home to your heart with Xicoy – the Cacao Spirit, one of the most powerful Spiritual guides in ancient Mayan cosmology.  The Mayans have used Cacao in ceremony for thousands of years to connect with their true being.  For the fire ceremony, a traditional Mayan Shaman will lead a ceremony offering a blessing for protection during your travels.  You will be encouraged to participate in the ceremony which will include the building of a fire in the age old Mayan tradition using herbs, chocolate, colored candles, cinnamon, myrrh, and copal (tree resin).

The Bennies…

So what can YOU expect if you spend 11 nights and 12 days masterminding, learning, making a difference, and enjoying yourself on an exquisitely transformative adventure to Guatemala?

Well, what if you got insanely inspired to take actions that will fill you up on the inside that is life-changing, and you come away with a plan to create community and to be an outrageous difference maker?

And what would it mean to you if you picked up a few gems about simple ways to have a positive impact on the places you travel and the people you meet making you part of the solution, not part of the problem?

Would THAT be worth coming to Guatemala for?

I sure think so!  PLUS you’ll get to pick my brains for 12 days – I’ll be with you the entire journey!
What’s Included:
Single, Double & Triple Accommodations available ~ Space is limited to a small, intimate retreat of 10 – 12 people so sign up now to get one of those spots!

  • Accommodation for eleven nights (four nights in Antigua and seven nights on Lake Atitlan)
  • Eleven delicious breakfasts
  • Eight healthy nourishing lunches
  • Seven beautiful dinners
  • Guatemalan coffee, tea and purified water provided daily
  • Five morning and two evening deep-dive mastermind sessions + lots of juicy retreat conversations all week!
  • Private transportation from Antigua to Panajachel and return; with a stop at a macadamia nut organic farm on the outgoing trip
  • Private boat from Panajachel to Santa Cruz on Lake Atitlan and return
  • Tour of a coffee plantation and lunch with a Guatemalan coffee farmer
  • Tour of Safe Passages in Guatemala City, which includes view of the dump and visits to their educational programs. Lunch with the children. All tour profits will go to their projects.
  • Cooking class with a local Guatemalan cook in her home in the village of San Pedro
  • Tour of the village of Santa Cruz with Amigos de Santa Cruz to learn about their work supporting education, health, and development projects. An amazing lunch will be prepared by the culinary students. All tour proceeds benefit their projects.
  • Mayan ceremony – either a cacao ceremony that Mayans have used for thousands of years to connect with their true being, or a fire protection ceremony (which ceremony depends on availability of leader).
  • English-speaking guides on the tours and excursions listed above
  • Swimming in lake or relaxing in the hot tub at Villa Sumaya
  • Plenty of time for relaxation, and exploration of the rich and ancient Mayan culture
  • All hotel taxes

I’ll be sharing psychological findings along with lessons I’ve learned about internal wealth from the amazing people I’ve connected with in developing countries and in conflict zones.  You’ll be involved in both experiential travel and activities to make your learning come to life and be transformative and lasting. We’ll be focusing on:

  • Living fully and completely in the moment, feeling alive and totally experiencing the moments
  • Having a sense of gratitude and enjoying what you have and alleviating the feeling of always wanting more
  • Developing deeper connections with people and a sense of community – crafting your “tribe”
  • Discovering your uniqueness and making your mark of positive change in the world
  • Traveling in ways that are of incredible benefit to both you and the communities you visit

Villa Sumaya
What’s Not Included:
  • Your roundtrip airfare from home, airport taxes and airport transfers (although a shuttle to our Antigua hotel can be arranged in Guatemala for you)
  • Meals not mentioned in itinerary and specialty/alcoholic drinks
  • Spa services and additional excursions
  • Other non-included items would include souvenir shopping, personal phone calls, internet, laundry, incidental tips and gratuities (for the week at Villa Sumaya $35-50 USD is suggested and it will be split amongst all staff)
  • Personal, medical or trip cancellation insurance

You will be arriving at La Aurora Airport (GUA) located just outside of Guatemala City, and about an hour’s drive from Antigua.  Let us know if you would like help finding the best flights.  Transportation is easily found from the airport to Antigua but if you would like, a shuttle can be pre-arranged for you.

Feel free to come early or stay later to enjoy more of amazing Guatemala!  Just be sure to be in Antigua by April 27th to have a good sleep at our hotel to start our activities the next morning.

“Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over my body.” – Roger J. Corless

About Merna…

Born and raised in Western Canada, Merna did what most people did:  pursued higher education and then found a related job.  As the years went by, she started feeling like she was in a “velvet rut” – a rut but one so comfy and cozy it made it difficult to get out.  Then she asked herself a scary question:  What would she regret that she hadn’t done yet if she was to die right now?   She immediately knew the answer and within months was on the plane for the start of numerous overseas experiences.

Merna has lived, worked, and volunteered in South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Palestine, Jordan, Albania, and Kosovo.  While overseas she worked at a human rights organization, in a summer day camp, in an orphanage, in refugee camps, and in schools.  She also worked as a post-war mental health worker, set up a solidarity children’s program, taught training seminars to teachers and parents, and served as a peace activist.

Merna also established a volunteer abroad program in South Africa, and then set up a non-profit organization in Canada that partnered with an amazing South African group working in a very impoverished rural area.  At a Canadian university Merna set up a Global Education Fund that has supported 80 educational projects in 35 countries so far.  Her other efforts at home have also focused on community building. Because of her international efforts Merna was chosen as a ‘Global Hero’ by Verge Magazine, and nominated for the Lewis Perinbaum Award in International Development.

Merna holds a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology and has taught, advised, and counseled adults for years. She has been a sought after speaker at various organizations, universities and at public events.

Mostly Merna’s a down-to-earth activist, encourager, and change maker, who loves to connect with and inspire others who want to live their lives to the fullest and make their own unique impacts in the world.  She is especially passionate about making a difference, traveling, and psychology so can’t wait to combine all three in Guatemala with you!

“Fill your life with experiences, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.” – Unknown

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