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The Darling x UGG Retreat – This is UGG

We spent the better part of last week in Joshua Tree for a Darling retreat. In case you aren’t familiar, Darling is a magazine, media company, and social movement focused on female empowerment, which is why we love it. We want to support all the work Darling does, the community they’ve created, and the women they inspire every day, which is why we wanted to partner with them for this retreat (in addition to the dinner we worked on together last month). Read on for some of the highlights.

Our robes and slippers were waiting on everyone's beds.

After settling in at the Joshua Tree compound, everyone was met an UGG robe and pair of slippers in addition to the warm embrace and a delicious lunch prepared by Kara Elise, the host for the retreat and a very talented—and self-taught—cook. High standards were set as everyone savored the impeccably styled cheese board and a simple salad tossed in a spicy avocado vinaigrette, and Kara continued to outdo herself with every meal.

Kara Elise holds one of her delicious cheese boards.

Quinoa, hummus, and burrata prepared by Kara Elise

Dinner that night consisted of lightly roasted salmon, quinoa with burrata and sweet potatoes, and some of the best bread we have ever had in our lives, which may have had something to do with copious amount of salt and seasoning rubbed across the top.

Sarah Dubbeldam, Darling’s CEO and Editor in Chief, shared the story of realizing her dream, and you could sense the wave of appreciation crashing over everyone. We wouldn’t be together there if it weren’t for this one woman’s vision, determination, and sacrifice. Over dinner, Kara challenged us out of our comfort zones with one of the signature elements to all her dinners, a table question. How have you recently positively impacted another woman? One by one, we answered, and with every response, a stranger became a confidante and confidantes became friends.

Sarah speaks to everyone at dinner.

To top off the night, Kara served up a homemade berry cobbler, which we got to enjoy while listening to an acoustic set by musicians Lily and Madeleine. We’re still not sure which was creamier: the dessert or these sisters’ harmonies.

Lily and Madeleine play for a full house.

The next morning began with outdoor yoga and meditation, led by Alex Dawson, who introduced us to the harmonium. Breakfast consisted of eggs, bacon, chia seed pudding, fresh fruit, and gluten-free toast with almond butter. Because this is California, and that’s what we do.

After breakfast, we set off to explore Joshua Tree National Park, picking up plenty of wildflowers and photos. , Back at the compound, Annie and Jen, the women behind Tribe of Dreamers, taught us how to make jewelry, including anklets and clips we could use to doll up our feet and shoes, respectively.

Ruthie Lindsey picks flowers while wearing our Eyan II sneaker.

Lily and Madeleine both wear the Tye sneaker in Joshua Tree National Park.

After a light lunch of sale and seaweed salad and some R&R, Michelle from Paper Antler led a journaling workshop called Spill. She handed out a poem, and a strong pour of wine, that everyone used as a starting point. After an hour to ourselves, we all got to share what we had written, crowding the room with some pretty raw and visceral emotions, which were met with love and acceptance. Then, over a dinner of squash, turkey meatballs, and brie toast, Kara lightened the mood with a table question about our worst dates. Needless to say, many laughs were had.

Bentley lounges in the hammock during free time.

Our third and final day got off to a very early start with horseback riding in Palm Springs through Indian Canyons, which looked like the set of Westworld (with palm trees) or the painted backdrop for an equally high-budget film set. “Picturesque” doesn’t even do it justice.

Anne Sage nuzzles a horse.

The retreat concluded with two more workshops, one led by Alex Dawson aimed at setting and following up on goals and another focused on soul fatigue led by Sarah. Wise and caring as she is, Sarah recognizes that a Darling Retreat is not the real world (if only it were) and she wanted to provide us with tools we would need to counteract soul fatigue upon leaving the heavenly place in space and time she helped create. Before we left, we all sat down to some tacos and offered brief affirmations to every amazing woman there, thanking them for all they are—creative, strong, vulnerable, intelligent, encouraging, kind, attentive, funny, stylish—and all they shared. And that is Darling.

Sarah Dubbeldam wears distressed jeans and our Sammy sneaker in black.

Photos by Kate Rentz and Michelle of Paper Antler. Video by Kate Rentz and Loveless Films.