The Casket. Oct 26 by Debbie Johnson
CL: Kathi Ryan sitting close to a brook near the Loonsong Cottage Retreat on her Country Harbour property. She has spent the last two weekends clearing a walking trail.
Loonsong Cottage Retreat has been a vision for a while for Kathi Ryan. The ex-pat American, who has come to the Antigonish area via Pictou County has worked in the holistic healthcare and healing sector for 30 years.
Loonsong offers programs, workshops and retreats with the focus on reclaiming the self which include programs like splint-style basket making being held in November as well as programs focusing on holistic, spiritual and physical growth and change. The retreat is also able to customize a program to suit the needs of groups who might want to spend a weekend in a relaxed and pristine setting.
From a personal journey Ryan saw the idea of having a place for healing and growth as part of it. The retreat, located in Country Harbour Guysborough County is this place. Though new to the area it offers a variety of programs and retreats for women.
With a background in massage therapy and a strong advocate of self-care Ryan’s assets reflect what she calls “her ability to nurture and take care of people,” having Loon song brings all of this together for her personally.
“I think of it as my sacred livelihood, Ryan said.
She has taken the time to get her information in the public eye with posters and an online presence with a new website.
“I am still on a huge learning curve with that and hope to do more writing and offering more programs.”
Wanting to work with other women in the area like Nancy MacFarlane with Spice of Life Natural Products and Kathy Roy, another holistic practitioner, Ryan is focused on women helping women supporting their own small businesses.
“I always saw myself as the person who supplied the space and the logistical resources for this kind of thing to happen,” she said.
The retreat is in place to allow other liked minded therapists and practitioners to share their skills and knowledge with participants in various programs offered through out the year. Though able to offer massage therapy and facilitating her own workshops she sees the retreat as something involving others who shared her vision.
Ultimately her hopes are to establish a co-operative business where women would be working together. Having worked in similar groups with local Pictou County artists and with institutes in the U.S. she has had positive experiences working with like minded women.
The whole idea of a place where women can be with their other female friends and do something a little different means Ryan will be able to offer something similar to a “spa menu” and is also hoping to come up with a studio space for participants.
Offering Nia or yoga retreats is another facet to this retreat she hopes to build towards. Nia is a body, mind and spirit fusion style fitness that has been around for about 30 years. It blends nine movements from the healing, martial and dance arts.
Ryan said the exercise is a healing form of movement that women get a lot out of it.
“It’s where I source my joy from,” she said, adding that she has close to 20 members who come to her weekly classes at St. Andrew’s Junior School.
She says that the Antigonish area has what is called “modalities in the line of energetic and spiritual healing.”
“Some things happening here I can’t find in California, there is something magic about this place for sure,” she noted.
When she first bought the property in Country Harbour she said she fell “in love with a spot” and didn’t have the retreat in mind initially but quickly realized that was what she had been looking for to create the retreat.
Her desire to help out others is the motivation behind Loon Song. She integrates basket making as part of her retreat because she says that using one’s hands is a “primal thing” driven by a desire to make something or being creative. As an artist she sees the creative value of being able to make something by hand.
Sian Turner, who has worked with Ryan on delivering the workshops has been making them for 30 years and has offered workshops for the last five. Having hosted a group of four friends who, for the last 20 years, get together for a weekend Ryan noted that their feedback on the basket making weekend was very positive.
Ryan and her retreat partners have conducted a number of programs over the last year and hope to grow and expand on them through positive collaboration with other small business owners who share her vision and passion for helping people grow, heal and fulfill their potential.