Celebrating the Women of Eden: Part II

The women who form part of our incredible team at Eden Health Retreat are an integral part of the Eden experience and play a huge role in what makes it unique and special. Recently, their kind, caring and nurturing nature has been more prominent than ever.

The recent weather and floods in Queensland and Northern New South Wales have caused devastating destruction to so many and our thoughts are with everyone who has been impacted. 

Our retreat grounds were also affected, with the premises flooding and roads sustaining major damage, blocking the route to and from Eden. This caused us to postpone the stays for those arriving and also meant that we had 24 guests who were unable to depart.

In this time of uncertainty, four members of our team – Shona, Bri, Kate and Michaela – displayed strength and compassion as they did an incredible job of caring for everyone, ensuring they were safe and well, cooking amazing food, and making sure people could contact their concerned loved ones.

Each woman embodied the very essence of our CARE philosophy, and we wanted to shine a light on the bravery and commitment that they displayed. To celebrate International Women’s Day, we reached out to each woman to share what this day means to them, what they learnt from this experience, and how they enforce self-care and wellness in their daily lives.

Shona Philps

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself!

A: My name is Shona Philps and I am fortunate to be the Retreat Manager at Eden. I have 15 years of management experience in luxury boutique hotels all over Australia, including Saffire Freycinet, Marramarra Lodge and Paperbark Camp.

Q: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

A: I have been blessed to be surrounded by strong women all my life, whose influence pushes me to be a little better every day. I believe International Women’s Day reminds us to celebrate the women we love, those we admire and those we aspire to be more aligned with.

The recent flooding at Eden saw Michaela, Bri, Kate and I lean in and celebrate what we each do best. 

  • Bri with her passion for people. 
  • Michaela with her service to our guests through both her cooking and her yoga skills. 
  • Kate, whose greatest strength is her communication. 

And my own strengths of pragmatism and resilience. 

After we walked the guests out through landslides and receding floodwaters, we took a moment together to really celebrate the qualities we’d each brought to a challenging situation. This celebration and empowerment of women embodies the spirit of International Women’s Day.

Q: Do you have a self-care routine? Do you believe this is important for women?

A: Running is my self-care. I run every second day – rain, hail or shine (on the treadmill if it’s raining!). The clarity that comes with a long solitary run helps me align to my purpose and strengthens my focus as well as my body.

Here at Eden, we rest on Bundjalung country. It’s the land of traditional owners, the Yugambeh people, who believe that the Currumbin Valley has a feminine energy. The valley with its lush green hills and fertile soil brings healing to our guests and so we share many healing self-care rituals with them. Respecting these rituals remind us to fill our own cup, so we can continue to fill the cup of others.

Brianna Croke

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself!

A: My name is Brianna and I am one of the guest coordinators here, otherwise known as the ‘joy’ role.

I feel truly blessed to be in a role where every day I have an opportunity to bring a dose of warmth, sunshine and connection to someone’s day. To share a conversation, to listen, to support, to guide, to nourish and, equally, to learn.

My background of education, wellness and recreation in many outdoor environments across the world has offered me such a bank of tools and experiences to integrate into this amazing role here. I love that my work is not a job, rather something I do that allows me to connect, care and share daily.

Q: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

A: Like any day, it’s an opportunity to truly appreciate and celebrate the many incredible women in my world. I have some remarkable role models that continue to inspire and nourish me and highlight to me that everyone in some way offers a gift to others. This supports me to feel so much more appreciation for women, especially within my daily wellness and role here at Eden, where I’m meeting so many guests from all walks of life, ages, experiences and backgrounds. These guests are my human book pages, formed from conversations and warm connections that stay with me. And provide me with wisdom to connect, whenever needed.

Q: Since last year’s journal for International Women’s Day, has your self-care routine changed or grown at all or have you learned anything that has impacted your rituals?

A: Since last year’s article, my self-care remains the same, in the foundation of nourishment through daily nature medicine and warmth of connection. It has definitely evolved and grown based on the ever-changing circumstances of daily life.

One of the biggest things I have come to add to my rituals is expression – learning the power of vulnerability and that it’s not a weakness to receive care and lean into others.

During our recent flooding here at Eden, we had only four of us on the retreat grounds. This quickly showed us that in order to get through this, leaning into each other was our greatest strength.

I came to learn and deeply appreciate these four women in a way I will forever cherish. Together we strengthen each other. Alone, we couldn’t have done it – our self-care would have been compromised.

However, even in the event of an emergency, it is paramount to be able to have your own oxygen, fuel and energy to respond to what is needed. This is where wellness for me is a daily practice. It can’t just be something for the weekend, on holiday, or when our body is screaming. It’s a daily ritual and our greatest investment.

Kate Minto

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself!

A: Guest services manager – Joy role.

I’m Kate, a kiwi at heart. Born and raised on the east coast of Aotearoa. I have had a diverse range of positions throughout my life, from hospitality management to business owner, disability support, performing arts, breathwork and sound facilitation therapy. I have overcome many adversaries from a young age, which I now believe can make us stronger, more compassionate and resilient – that’s if we are willing to look at these parts of ourselves we haven’t invited or learnt to let in. This, I believe, has brought me here today.

Q: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

A: In an ideal world, I would love this day to be every day. However, when women come together and remove their own masks (insecurities) with safe people, they become powerful and fiercely healing in our communities.

I was fortunate to be raised by my incredibly resilient mother and by two powerful grandmothers. Two brothers and a father who didn’t believe in the patriarchal world, who could see its imbalances and encouraged my strength as anything I choose to be and taught me that it was me that had to believe.

The last two days through this flooding has taught me to lean into fear, have trust and the importance of support and community.

I would do this all again with Shona, Bri and Michaela by my side. Each of us empowered each other to keep going and to move forward with our own abilities and strengths.

Personally, what I will take away for my own self-growth is that I can be firm and soft at the same time.

Q: Being a part of the Eden experience, do you instil any of the wellness rituals or learnings at the retreat in your personal self-care routine?

A: When I started at Eden, I truly believed Eden found me in many ways.

It felt quite magical when this path approached me because I have worked so hard in the last five years with my own healing and mental health path to find a direction of change from a life that was no longer serving or working for me. To embody ritual, routine and connection, not just to self but to others and the land we stand on.

I feel very grateful I have found a place of work where Eden’s CARE philosophy mirrors my own.

Michaela Maag

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself!

A: Hi, my name is Michaela Maag. I am a chef at Eden Health Retreat, a yoga and Pilates instructor and I offer a personal program to help people boost their energy through plant-based living, movement and self-love for success in all areas of life.

Q: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

A: Honestly, for me, it doesn’t matter which day it is. I celebrate other women and myself each and every day! When I see a beautiful woman on the street (which we all are), I often stop and give her a compliment or a big smile. Besides cooking for the guests at Eden, I give all the love women deserve daily through my yoga classes. My passion is to serve everyone in the best way and allow words, movement and touch to let them feel it. Empowering women and uncovering their magic – that’s what each day of the year means to me.

Q: What advice would you give women reading this to help them enrich their sense of wellbeing or overcome periods of feeling uninspired or unmotivated?

A: When your body and mind are calm, you can hear the needs of yourself. That can happen through practising yoga, meditation or any mindfulness regularly. Put it in your calendar under ‘Me-Time’ and prioritise it as highly as all your other appointments and obligations!

When I am unmotivated, I try to clear my head, have some fun, and come back to myself without forcing anything. My motivation comes back naturally.

We want to say a huge thank you to these four women for their incredible dedication to caring for our guests during the flooding that impacted our retreat, and each and every day before and after that. 

We also want to make a special note for the women reading this: you are appreciated, loved and celebrated. Happy International Women’s Day!

We’re excited to announce that we have regained access to Eden Health Retreat and are once again operating as normal. If you would like to book a restorative escape to Eden and put your wellness in the very capable and loving hands of these four women and the rest of our wonderful team, click here to submit a booking enquiry and we will be in touch to discuss how we can create a unique and personalised wellness experience for you.