Sunsets & Self Reflection | A Dillon Beach Retreat


What an incredibly nourishing way to start the year. Our Lean In Circle meets once a month to discuss our personal and professional goals, learning together and supporting each other. But when someone suggested that we should expand our meeting into a weekend retreat, I think we all jumped on the idea. We picked MLK weekend, rented a beautiful oceanside house, and we packed our schedule with the most salubrious mix of self care, personal development, and goal setting for the year ahead. See just a glimpse of our weekend below.

The view from our house.

Beautiful Deanna, barefoot in January, enjoying our balcony.


I love hammocks and hammock chairs and couldn’t imagine a more peaceful setting for reading. And this is one of the bedrooms in the house.

Brianne catches up on a tiny bit of work, which I suppose can be forgiven.

I did a quick little watercolor sketch as the sun started going down.

A spectacular sunset on our first night.


Meanwhile, Kelly and I hand-rolled pasta for our dinner.

A little hot tub time.

Self-directed spa time, complete with terrifying face masks.

On day two, we awoke and reminded ourselves of our surreal setting. I am endlessly grateful to live in such a beautiful place. And this is only 90 minutes north of San Francsico.


Kristin led us in a yoga class to start off the morning.

And afterwards, we all had some sustained silent reading time while Kait and Brianne prepared lunch for us.

Our reflections on 2017 and goal-setting activities for the year ahead.

And then it was time for a walk down to the beach.

We found someone who let us borrow his dogs for a while. They play fetch for the entire day, tirelessly running into the ocean and bringing back the ball. This was basically the epitome of self-care time for Grace.

And then, back at the house for spectacular sunset #2.

Kait taught us all a bit about watercolors.

And Kristin and Saira made us a wonderful risotto for dinner.

Meanwhile, Kait and Brianne put together this map of how we all came to know each other. Such a small world with so many connections! They also surprised me with a key lime pie for my birthday (thank you!) And we played games and watched Moana before heading to bed.

Day three, my actual birthday, I awoke again to our beautiful surroundings.

We had to pack up and check out in the morning, but I wanted to squeeze in some portraits for these incredible women. Here’s Saira:

My portrait, taken by Saira:








and Grace:

I’m so thankful to have gotten to know these ladies in the last few months. They are each so strong, thoughtful, and inspiring.

We made a pit stop for lunch at the Marshall Store before heading back to San Francisco.


I think we were all a little sad to leave this weekend behind.

But the self-care and the community of support continues!

Our Lean-In Circle was inspired by Sheryl Sandberg’s initiative, which you can learn about here. But we’ve taken the idea and run with it in our own way. Many thanks to Saira and Kait who started this for our group. I am so thankful to be a part of it!

Anna Wu is a wedding and portrait photographer based in San Francisco. She compulsively documents and blogs all of her daily adventures. Follow her on instagram and view more of her professional work at