Aurora, New York

Day after day of stress leads to overwhelm, which ultimately can lead to burnout. Burnout is a real thing, and can cause many issues- physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. A few months back, I had reached the burnout zone. I started doing my own research on the topic, listening to podcasts and reading books on how to reduce daily stressors and quite frankly – find help for myself. I have a good outlook on life, and am able to compartmentalize and prioritize, so feeling out of sorts for me was concerning. I approached Evan and told him I needed some time to be alone and get myself back in sync. I felt unbalanced, that was the best way I could describe it. I needed some Eat, Pray, Love in my life to shift things back and recover my equilibrium. It was a terrible feeling that I knew I could not shake without doing some real work. Evan, being the great supportive husband he is, said let’s do it, but he is coming with me. He made a great observation by saying my life was not going to simply change with one weekend away – it was not going to fix whatever was in me that was unbalanced. And while he was correct, I knew it would give me the time and space I needed to get back up on my feet and determine how to best move forward. I posted Instagram pictures that made it seem like a nice little getaway, which it was, but I was secretly referring to it as my burnout retreat.

Evan and I are good vacationers – we like to have fun, mix sightseeing with cocktails and activities and be surrounded by people. However, I made it clear that this “vacation” was going to be different. I did not want the focus to be on cocktails and fun (in fact, I considered having a dry weekend altogether, but then came to my senses..). I wanted this weekend to focus on nature, mindfulness and peace. We looked at quite a few resorts and finally landed on the Inns of Aurora in Aurora, New York. Aurora is part of the Finger Lakes, located on Cayuga Lake in Upstate NY.

The whole town of Aurora was recently part of a village-wide restoration project led by Pleasant Rowland, who attended nearby Wells College and created the American Girl Dolls, dumping an incredible fortune into this charming village, and creating the most gorgeous, charming cottages, shops, and restaurants overlooking the lake. Each house features private porches and fireplaces, where they offer coffee, tea, and homemade granola bars in the morning, wine and cheese at cocktail hour, and s’mores makings at night, as well as an innkeeper at the house 24/7 to help with any needs. The accommodations and service far exceeded expectation – and were so comforting.

The night we arrived after a long six hour drive, we joined locals down at the lakeside patio for live music and brews before heading to dinner across at street at a casual restaurant, Fargo.

We woke the next morning ready to decompress and start our healing journey. We started our morning with a cup of coffee in the living room of our Zabriskie House, with one of their homemade granola bars (so incredible!). We then grabbed yoga mats and headed to the most intense yoga session I have ever attended! Wearing a mask made it even more challenging, but it was a great way to start the day.

Next, we headed to the spa for the day. We arrived two hours before our couples massage was scheduled for so we could enjoy the hydrotherapy pools, steam and sauna, and meditation rooms.

Hydrotherapy is a thermal cycle of moving between hot water, cold water and rest. Water can be profoundly healing on an emotional level; for many people, water treatments are deeply soothing in a way that transcends their physical benefits, though it does have many physical benefits, too. Water therapy is almost unparalleled as a means of bringing the body back into equilibrium, just what I needed. We used all of these wellness treatments and felt rejuvenated even before getting our duet massage. We followed our spa treatment with tea and a healthy, complimentary lunch from the Spa’s café.

The spa at the Inns of Aurora was simply incredible, and by far the nicest spa I have been to. I would highly recommend that if you ever visit the Inns of Aurora, do not skip out on the spa. It is expensive but worth it, and you can spend the entire day there if you’d like.

Following the spa experience, Evan and I both got our tarot cards read. This was the first time for both of us, and I learned that it is really more so about how you interpret the cards and what they mean for you, rather than just the luck of the draw. I did feel connected to the cards I was drawn, and it made me consider a different perspective.

We then had a glass of wine and cheese by the firepit before heading to dinner at 1833 Kitchen and Bar, then closing the night with some s’mores back by the fire pit.

The next morning, I woke up and grabbed my coffee and granola bar to enjoy on the porch overlooking the lake and spent some time being present, and reflecting.

We then headed to Cayuga Lake and took out paddleboards, which turned out to be a comical mistake. It was a very choppy day on the lake, and took a lot of strength to navigate the paddleboard where we wanted them to go. We spent about 15 minutes out there, and I decided I am truly an ocean girl and navigated back to shore. We then headed back to 1833 Kitchen and Bar for a delicious brunch, followed by a hike and birdwatching, with a pit stop for an archery session. Evan and I both did better than I thought we would at archery, I was impressed with us!

Finally, we got back in the car for the first time since arriving as everything in the village is in walking distance – yoga, the restaurants, village market, the lake – everything!

We jumped in the car to drive an hour south to Ithaca to hike Taughannock Falls, which was incredible! The hike was easy, and really more of a path, but the waterfall was just stunning.

On the way back, we happened to drive by Cornell University, so we drove through to check it out – what a beautiful (yet hilly) campus! On our way back to Aurora, we stopped by Treleaven Vineyard for live music, local wine from the Finger Lakes, and some food.

The next morning, after coffee and meditation, we checked out and headed home to reunite with the Bunga. We still had a full weekend ahead of us to enjoy with him.

Our “vacation” was not the type of week away we typically aim for, but it was everything I needed. Spending so much time in nature, and with the help of mindfulness, relaxation and Hydrotherapy, it was the restorative break I truly needed. While Evan is correct that one weekend away won’t save your soul, it did allow me the space I needed to restore my energy and spirit, and that has helped pick me back up and enable me to fill my cup back up in a meaningful, lasting way.

A few things I committed to after my burnout retreat:

  • Meditation before bed
  • Gratitude in the morning – I do some breathe work now and say three things I am grateful for in that moment, before getting out of bed
  • Adding mindfulness throughout the day when stress creeps in (often)
  • Getting some outdoor time as often as I can throughout the week, even if that just means taking a meeting during a walk outside
  • I bought the coffee mugs that the Inns of Aurora used, I just loved them (lol) and also took home their granola bar recipe and have made it once so far, but it will definitely become a staple in our home (SO good – I will share the recipe here soon).

Stress will come, and stress will go, but I am truly grateful. It didn’t take one weekend for me to realize how fortunate we are (I’ve known that all along), but it did take a weekend to allow me to step back, take a nice big breath of fresh air, and appreciate it.

Cheers xo

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