About

Esprit Meraki Retreats

How does Esprit Meraki Retreats differ from other retreats?

In short, “meraki,” μεράκι, is a Greek word that means “made with love.” It is about putting the essence of who you are, joyfully, into your work – a true and pure labour of love. I am, in essence, a medical doctor with decades of experience in treating people with stress-related diseases. In addition, because of stress-related disease, I have lost one eye and a large part of my sight in the remaining eye. This is what makes my retreats different from all other retreats.

I put the essence of who I am, and everything I have experienced that makes me who I am, with great enthusiasm, into my retreats.

Dr Margaretha de Klerk (MBChB, MRCGP, NLP master pract cert, Transformational Life Coach dip, Counselling cert, Med Hyp Dip and EAGALA cert)

Qualifications, Interests and Experience

I may have a fair number of letters after my name, but that is not what qualifies me to lead retreats or write books. It is the strategies that I had to develop to cope with what happened to me during the last ten years that make me good at what I do.

The Past

More than ten years ago, my life changed completely. I got divorced, I gave up my job as a medical doctor, I sold my house, I moved to another country, I remarried, I retrained in an entirely new discipline, and I started my own business.

In the last decade, the debilitating eye disease that threatens my sight got dramatically worse. Several unsuccessful operations have left me completely blind in one eye and with less than 40% sight left in the other eye.

Somewhere along the line, during the last ten years, I started writing.

Writing was my salvation. I started small, by keeping a journal. I wrote all the pain, doubt, fear and suffering out of my system and onto the pages of my journal. Eventually, I distilled the content of my journals into books: five books so far, all equine-inspired, life-enriching and subtly French-flavoured.

I wrote these books because I felt an urgent urge to share with as many people as possible how I managed to survive this insufferable decade, in case what I have learned can help others cope with equally difficult circumstances.

En plus, there is a certain satisfaction to be had from putting nearly thirty years of knowledge, training and experience down on paper.

During the last ten years, I have learned how to cope with the stress generated by insecurity. Working as a medical doctor already gave me a fair amount of insight, but it was the fear of going blind that was my most merciless instructor. Stress can do severe damage to our mental and physical health. I was no exception. Despite my eye problems, I want to live a long, happy and fulfilling life, full of purpose and meaning. To do so, I realised that I was going to have to find an effective way of coping with stress.

By trial and error, I did.

The Present

I have finally made the dream come true that inspired me to make all those changes ten years ago. I developed a whole arsenal full of tried-and-tested strategies to cope with the challenges that came my way, challenges I often have to face with a severely limited number of resources.

In my books, and during my retreats, my horses and I share these strategies with you. I always wanted to own a horse or two, so when I could no longer work as a doctor, I bought Belle de la Babinière, a stunningly handsome Friesian mare. As a companion for Belle, I bought Beau de la Babinière, a drop-dead-gorgeous Lusitano stallion. I retrained in equine-assisted personal development. I started out hosting equine-guided retreats, today I host a variety of retreats on- and offline.

Blog and Books

As I mentioned, I discovered that I liked writing, so I started a blog called Savoir Vivre Vignettes. I intended the blog to be a shop window showcasing our region, my horses and my retreats. It quickly became much more. Browsing my blog is indeed a bit like visiting me virtually, but it is also a library filled with articles about confidence building, problem-solving, strengthening relationships, conflict resolution and much more.

My first book is called Self-Confidence Made Simple: 16 Frenchwomen share their Self-esteem Secrets. I wrote a second book called You ARE Good Enough! and Mindfulness and Meditation Options soon followed. I also wrote a book for horse riders who have lost their horse riding confidence: Horse Riding Confidence Secrets. My latest book is called Make the Most of Your Next Retreat.

I am forever writing more books. I notify subscribers of my mailing when I publish another one. Before I publish a book, I send an advanced reader’s copy to each of the members of my VIP Beta Readers Group to find out what they think of it. I can never have too many beta readers, so if you would like to join this group, please send me an e-mail to margarethamontagu@gmail.com with “VIP Readers” as the subject.

Online Presence

Living here in deepest rural France is bliss, but one has to be careful not to become too isolated. Social media is my connection to the world beyond all these glorious sunflower fields, vineyards and woods. I love Pinterest. I lose many hours of my life there. When I researched this book, I collected a considerable number of quotes, articles and blog posts. I share them on Pinterest (Margaretha’sMuse) and on Twitter too (@EquineGuidedMD). I am on LinkedIn (MargarethaMontagu), on Instagram (EspritMerakiRetreats). I have an author page on Amazon and at Goodreads, and I am always in need of more followers at both these places. If you haven’t come across Goodreads, have a look. I love reading even more than writing, and at Goodreads, I found my reading-tribe. I also have a Facebook page that I use as an aide-memoire. It is called (guess what?) Margaretha Montagu’s Vision.

If you decide to come to one of our personal empowerment retreats, don’t forget your fur coat, your highest heels and your tiara! If it sounds as if I have lost the plot, click here.

There is one more thing I want you to know.

Despite all my experience, knowledge and qualifications, I am no different from you. I am far from perfect. I do not always practise what I preach. I do not have the answers to all my questions, and I do not have the solutions to all my problems. Like you, I sometimes feel confused and overwhelmed. I am, however, convinced that mindfulness, gratitude and generosity can make a massive difference in your life.

One of my favourite Quotes

“No matter how many scars we carry from what we have gone through and suffered in the past, our intrinsic wholeness is still here: what else contains the scars? None of us has to be a helpless victim of what was done to us or what was not done for us in the past, nor do we have to be helpless in the face of what we may be suffering now. We are also what was present before the scarring—our original wholeness, what was born whole. And we can reconnect with that intrinsic wholeness at any time because its very nature is that it is always present. It is who we truly are.” Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living