Treat Yourself to a Retreat

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Remember my Top 100 List (of ways to pamper myself)? I just added going on a retreat to that list.

I recently returned from a women’s retreat in Minnesota where twelve women came together from across the U.S. and Canada to delve more deeply into self compassion, our strengths and our purpose. For four days we challenged ourselves to look at how we showed up in this world while experiencing giving back, supporting one another, and giving ourselves this time to retreat. It was four precious days for all of us to put aside our very full lives and do something just for us; a time to relax, reflect and feel rejuvenated.

We also celebrated each other for all sorts of accomplishments: one of us turned fifty over the weekend, a few women declared they would start looking for new jobs, one woman was singing in an off-Broadway musical the following week. We rejoiced in who we are, not who we think others want us to be. I was lifted up by these amazingly courageous women. I was reminded that I am enough despite the gremlins in my head who tell me otherwise. I was also reminded of the healing power that comes with gathering with like-minded women.

This Sunday, my friend Harumi and I will conduct our next Fuzzy Red Socks Workshop and I am so looking forward to making the space for women to gather for four hours of sacred quietude with yoga, meditation and SoulCollage. It’s only four hours, not four days, but even in that short amount of time, the soul can be quieted and the spirit can be lifted. In fact, I have been known to feel refreshed and full of new energy with just four minutes of meditation.

I invite you to find some time today to treat yourself to a retreat – no need to fly across the country, just have coffee with a friend, share a spa day with your sister, or sit quietly in meditation for a few minutes. Let the warmth of friendship, the pampering, the dedicated time for SELF wash over you so you can relax, reflect, and feel rejuvenated.

Top 100 List http://fuzzyredsocks.com/2014/06/05/top-100-list/
SoulCollage http://www.soulcollage.com/
Harumi Yoga+ http://harumihealinghouse.com/

Crones versus Monsters

230x183xcrones-monsters-230x183.jpg.pagespeed.ic.a2rDRED3lcI have been given permission by Ann Winfred to share her latest post. I refer to these monsters as gremlins – the little voices in my head who remind me of all the mistakes I’ve made. What ever you call them, Ann has some great ideas for quieting them, a must for those of us on the self care journey.

Remember when we were young and monsters hid under our bed, made ugly noises and frightened us from our sleep? And do you remember when we screamed some adult always rushed into our room, scooped us into their lap, and shooed away the bad monster? Hugging our little stuffed bunny, we snuggled deeper into the warm lap and drifted back into our dreams.

Well, guess what, Ladies? There are no *adults* left to hold and rock us, but inside each of us huddles a little girl frightened by monsters. We must be the grown-up for that girl and save her. The only difference now is the things that go bump in the night live in our heads, not under our beds.

Buddhists call our adult-sized monster Monkey Mind, a room full of drunken monkeys that ring the fear alarm and incessantly jabber about the negative pages in our lives. The more we try to ignore them, the faster they fly around in our heads clamoring for attention.

Can we tame those drunken monkeys? I’ll tell you what works for me – sometimes. First, you must prepare yourself for battle. The adversaries are jealous, seasoned and entrenched and won’t give up without a fight.

Ready? You just fought three rounds with a bad dream and lost. The elated monsters go straight to work with their barbs of negative predictions and memories. You wake drenched in sweat, heart pounding, gasping for air.

Step One: Take several deep, calming breaths then crawl out of bed. Be careful, you may be wobbly. Straighten the snarled sheets then go to the kitchen, holding on to the hall wall if needed. Grab a piece of fruit or a slice of leftover pizza or a large spoonful of Rocky Road ice cream from the refrigerator. Eat slowly, savoring each bite. Feeling calmer? Good. Return to the bedroom.

Step Two: Climb back into bed, wrap your body in the sheet and curl into a fetal position, arms wrapped around your shoulders. Squeeze yourself like you were your beloved stuffed bunny and rock gently, focusing on your breath. Breathe IN, breathe OUT, breathe IN, breathe OUT. Think joyful thoughts between breaths – monsters hate joyful thoughts. If the fear bubbles up, rock some more and go back to your breath.

You may feel strange and awkward at first. After all, you’re a tough ole broad who’s been kicking ass and taking care of business for decades now being asked to cower and act like a ninny. But remember, it’s your frightened little girl who needs the comforting.

If you sense a lull in the monster’s attack, let your mind stray away from your breath for a few seconds and do a systems check. Shoulders tight? Relax them. Teeth clenched? Loosen your jaw. Face scowling? Paint on a smile. But stay alert. The monster knows when you wander and ramps up the barrage of arrows. The minute you feel the first sting, quick, go back to watching your breath going in and out, in and out. Slowly your body relaxes, your mind stills, your breath steadies, and you slip into a peaceful no-monkey sleep.

I have been duking it out with these drunken monkey devils for several decades now, and I promise you it gets easier with each round. They still jerk me awake but they no longer fool me. I know they’re not real monsters, they’re just thoughts — untested, unproven thoughts and often not even my own thoughts but ones leaked in or planted by others. They are the thoughts of drunken monkeys and drunken monkeys cannot know the future or the truth. So stand strong. With the monkeys tamed and the dialog in our minds re-written, we will have a friendly space to spend long happy hours playing in our thoughts and memories.

Are you wondering what has become of our frightened little girl? She sleeps peacefully most nights now and spends her days outside in the sunshine, building sandcastles at the beach or flying high in a swing or wrestling with a puppy in the tall grass. Listen. Can you hear her laughing?

Read more from Ann at http://comingofagecroneicles.com/author/ann/

You Are A Child of the Universe

My twenty-year-old daughter just left for the airport to return to school in Portland, Oregon. We shared the most magical Thanksgiving weekend. In a short seventy-two hours we crammed in lots of FUN including Black Friday shopping, Christmas tree decorating, hiking, swimming, the annual Christmas family photo shoot in the desert, baking cookies, and watching movies. We even roasted marshmallows and made s’mores – all while spending quality time catching up on our very full lives.

“But wait, I’m not ready for you to leave,” I whispered to myself as she and my husband pulled out of the driveway towards the Phoenix airport. “There was so much more I had to say.”

There’s so much more to tell our kids, right?  All the advice and the suggestions and the ideas we parents believe is so incredibly important to impart on our children. We know so much more then they do, right? Then I was reminded of this poem I memorized when I was her age so many years ago. At the time I thought it explained my entire life. It empowered me to pursue my dreams and take responsibility for my life. Isn’t that really all we want for our kids? It was written in 1926 by an Illinois lawyer and recorded by Les Crane. Right now, when I can think of a million things I would like to say, pearls of wisdom I believe she needs to hear, I read this poem and think, “This said it all to me back in the 70’s, maybe, just maybe this is all she needs to hear now in 2014.”

Desiderata – by Max Ehrman

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

To hear the original version go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNq_DTmVCWs