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/

Watching the Clock

Clock

I know something’s up when I check my watch in Yoga Class and say to myself, “When will it be OVER?” I know I’m sliding down a slippery slope when I am going over my to-do list while in downward dog. And then the next day I choose to skip yoga all together. This past week has been like this. I realized I was losing focus while meditating. So I just chose to not meditate at all – add to that eating poorly including too much sugar and skipping lunches. By the end of the week I spent an entire day feeling lethargic and wanted to do nothing but crawl back into bed. At 10 a.m. I wished it was bedtime so I could go to sleep and start over the next day.

These dark days sneak up on me usually because I have stopped doing the things I do for self care – the things I know allow me to rest, reflect and feel rejuvenated. That’s when depression hits and even the bright Arizona sun can’t help me get out of the funk.

I’m getting better at recognizing these days and have a plan for them. If I’m lucky and they happen on a weekend with no appointments or commitments, I put on my fuzzy red socks, make a cup of tea, and curl up with a good book on my comfy couch. I get out my Top 100 Things to Pamper Myself List and pick one or two. This week, once I realized what was going on, I chose to take a walk after dinner with my husband. I immediately felt better. Then I made a list for what I’d do the next day to make sure the darkness didn’t return. I went to the grocery store and bought salad makings for a healthy lunch, I made plans for the evening to do something fun, and I got back to my writing with this post. Eventually, I forgot what time it was and started to feel like myself again.

Today I feel the cloud cover is gone and I have my mojo back. Once again, taking care of myself got me back on track and made me feel whole. In fact, I think today I’m not even going to wear my watch.

Top 100 List (Part 2)

Thank you to all who commented on my last post with ways you pamper yourself which included (I’m adding these to the list started in my previous post):

9. Get a manicure
10. Go for a walk
11. Meditate
12. Go kayaking

I had the first three already on my list, but I can’t kayak close to my home here in the Arizona desert. I can, however, go swimming in my pool. I know swimming isn’t the easiest way to pamper yourself; it involves changing clothes, putting on sunscreen, enduring a few seconds of pain when you first jump in, and then of course, if you get your hair wet, you’ll have to wash it afterwards, right? I have yet to find a swim cap that really keeps the water out – what a hassle.

But there is something about that feeling of fully immersing myself in the water which is just so luscious. It all seems worth it as I dive under water and spread my arms and legs like a frog while the blazing sun warms the surface and invites me to come up for air. There is something about the feeling of fully immersing myself in the cool turquoise water where sound and sight are diluted and I feel totally separated from any worries, troubles, or fears.

Immerse yourself in the pleasures of being pampered

Immerse yourself in the pleasures of being pampered

My point is that if you fall short making your own Top 100 List of Ways To Pamper Yourself because, like me, you were having a tough time coming up with only ways that took 20 minutes or less, know that there are times when you deserve more than just twenty minutes. Take a whole hour, an afternoon, or even a whole day. Go get your hair wet and immerse yourself in the simple pleasures of pampering yourself. Keep adding to your list and don’t stop until you reach 100.
More from my list (what’s on yours?):

13. Go swimming and get your hair wet
14. Call a good friend and just chat
15. Make yourself a cup of coffee/tea/hot chocolate
16. Light a candle
17. Call a friend for a lunch date
18. Watch old Seinfeld re-runs that will make you LAUGH
19. Use your special china even though it isn’t a holiday
20. Listen to music
21. Write in your favorite journal
22. Watch an old movie
23. Take a nap
24. Get a facial or give yourself one
25. Write a poem

Top 100 List

On days when I feel blue, things can seem pretty dark even with the bright Arizona sun shining in my windows. Depression usually gives me no warning, but I am getting much better with how I deal with it. I call it my Top 100 List.

A dear friend and Life Coach Reggie Adams recommended this years ago, and I’ve been building on it ever since. It’s a list of things I can do to pamper myself. I think she meant for me to look at this list before depression hits, but it doesn’t always work that way. Here are some examples from my list:

  1. Buy Myself Flowers
  2. Do Yoga (even if you only have time for 10 minutes of sun salutations)
  3. Eat a Healthy Snack (make it pretty and sit down to enjoy it)
  4. Read a Book (curled up on the couch in your fuzzy red socks)
  5. Scrapbook (play with your photos)
  6. Write a Letter (maybe even to yourself)
  7. Sing Loud and Proud in the Shower or Car
  8. Take a Long Hot Bath

This week I found myself feeling blue, so I chose to add a new idea to my Top 100 List, a foot soak my friend Charlotte found on Pinterest. In a little more than 20 minutes I had slipped from feeling lethargic to feeling positively lovely again. Here’s the recipe for the foot soak:

Pamper Yourself Using Your Top 100 List

In a large basin mix: 1/2 cup Listerine, 1/2 cup vinegar and 1 cup of very warm water.

Soak your feet in the warm mixture for 15 minutes. Dry both feet completely and wrap one in a towel while you work on the other. Use a pumice stone, pedicure paddle or even just a dry towel to rub the entire foot, focusing especially on the dry calloused areas. Add lotion and enjoy soft, silky skin.

Stay tuned for more ideas to pamper yourself next week.

Quality Not Quantity

Bodega Bay, California

Sunset on Bodega Bay, California

Fuzzy Red Socks
Quality Not Quantity

I just returned from a week in California after moving to Arizona two months ago. It was a chance to reunite with old friends while retreating at the ocean in Bodega Bay, enjoying the fall colors of the wine country in Napa Valley, and getting together over coffee and lunch in my old neighborhood of the San Francisco East Bay.

I experienced a whirlwind of emotions while visiting with 19 wildly wonderful women during my 144-hour visit. I traveled over 350 miles, slept in 4 different homes, ate at 8 different restaurants, saw 6 horses galloping on the beach, received 2 massages, watched 3 movies, took 4 walks along the coast, relished the beauty of 3 gorgeous sunsets over the ocean, went hot-tubbing 1 time, had breakfast on the patio 1 time, rescued 1 stray dog, and completed 17 scrapbook pages in the family photo album – all while capturing many moments of joy in 33 pictures.

But it isn’t really about the quantity of the things I did. It’s about the quality. I didn’t just bounce from place to place and person to person. I spent precious time celebrating priceless friendships for which I am grateful. I shared stories, worries, and dreams with women who chose to carve out time for me in their extremely full schedules. I laughed, cried, and then laughed some more with those I feel blessed to have in my life. With these friends, I share a bond, a relationship that gives us permission to be ourselves, show up authentically, keep our hearts open, shine our lights brightly, and accept ourselves for who we are, not who others believe we should be.

I return to my new home in Arizona with a heavy heart wondering how I will keep these friendships alive. Then I look at the 33 photographs and I see the freckled faces, sensitive spirits, huge hearts, and silly smiles – and I am filled with gratitude for not the quantity of time shared but for the quality of memories made.

Just BE

August 1, 2012

Fuzzy Red Socks

I know it’s summer and my family is finally delighting in the season when I hear the knife sharpener screeching in the kitchen.

My husband has some extra time on his hands and is feeling stress-free, so he sharpens each of our knives carefully and with precision, a task that rarely gets done all at once. My daughter sprawls out on the hammock in the back yard reading – oh, wait, she’s really napping, the book hanging precariously close to the ground. I fill up two lumpy bags of items for Goodwill after preening my closets in both my bedroom and my office. The weight of the bags equal to the weight lifted from my shoulders for having completed this overdue task.

We all seem to have extra time on our hands and it feels good.

There is something light and breezy in the air of our home and it isn’t just the cool wind of this bright summer morning. It seems we have arrived at the tipping point, that time in the summer when for only a few days, we have done everything on our lists, our chores are up-to-date, and there are no have-to-do’s.

There is a calm that emanates from the walls of our home that gently covers us and gives us permission to just BE. Watch the Summer Olympics. Eat an organic peach. Chat on the sofa.  Make crepes from scratch. Make a cup of tea. Read a book. Take a nap. Just BE – and let it BE OK.

I am taking it all in. I am feeling the calm. I am honoring the quality time with the people I love – because I know in just a little more than a week, the storm will roll in, the first trip to college will commence, and we will all be in a whirlwind of doing.

But for now I will just BE.

Learn To Meditate

February 16, 2012

Fuzzy Red Socks – A Journey Towards Health

Learn To Meditate

I have been meaning to meditate now for months and just can’t seem to make it part of my daily routine. It seems so strange to have mediation on my to-do list, but I know that is what it takes for me to start anything new. I need to plan for it, work it into my schedule and then just do it.

So on Sundays, I go to a free meditation class at my yoga studio. There the instructor leads us into a 10-15 minute meditation, we discuss how that went and what came up for us, then we do one final meditation for another 15 minutes or so. For just this short time once a week I can “practice” meditating and realize the relaxing and restorative effects that come from meditation.

Similar to taking a short nap, when I meditate, I feel refreshed and invigorated afterwards. The instructor guides us with ways to empty our minds of our “to-do” lists and our worries and he reminds us to keep coming back to our breath. He suggests that when a thought comes up to label it “a thought” then return to our breath. The practice of this may seem simple, but it really can be difficult. The errands I need to run after the class or the argument I had with someone keep surfacing. But the practice of softly acknowledging those thoughts, labeling them, and saying good-bye to them, lulls me into a state of lightness, a feeling of peace, and a sense of wonder about what lies beneath the surface of my mind.

I always leave that class feeling like a new person and thinking that I will be sure to meditate every day. But then life shows up and gets in the way and I am once again looking at it on my “to do” list. So for now, I am at least meditating once a week.

If you would like an easy idea for meditating check out Kirsten Florian’s blog entry which includes a Yoga Mudra Mediation outlined for you from her recent trip to India at http://www.kerstinflorianusa.com/blog/

Then get it on your to-do list and learn to make your to-do list melt away even if it is only once a week..

Discover Yoga

February 15, 2012

Fuzzy Red Socks – A Journey Towards Health

Discover Yoga

The longer one engages a dynamic, active yoga practice, the more they begin to intuitively know that there is another, undiscovered aspect of yoga. This unexplored aspect of yoga is the deep, passive, supported relaxation and release of restorative practice. There is a quality of relaxation that is beyond the conscious control of the mind and that is beyond the capacity of the body to achieve through any active means.” – Greg Riley

I discovered yoga at least 7 years ago for the second time. The first time was in college 35 years ago. This time I stuck with it and have realized just how helpful it has been to both my physical and mental well being. This time I was able to reach beyond and realize what Greg refers to above as the undiscovered aspect of yoga. First it is challenging to the body trying to flex and bend and stretch and lengthen parts of your body you may never have even known existed. You take beginner classes just wanting to learn the names of the asanas or positions. Then you might try restorative yoga to enjoy the restful and less strenuous side of yoga. But as I progressed, I couldn’t get enough. I tried all types of classes: restorative, power yoga, flow, partner yoga, even the hot Bikram yoga.

A few years ago I took a three-month Advanced Course through The Yoga Company that was the beginning of the official Yoga Teacher Program. I couldn’t get enough. I wanted to understand why my practice was doing so much for me, I was stronger, more flexible, healthier, and when I missed yoga, my mood changed and my energy level dropped.

I began to realize the restorative aspect of yoga that Greg refers to and although I knew I was working my body hard, I also knew that the breathing I was doing to get me through my 75-minute workouts was a key to learning to go inside, relax where there was tension, and fall deeper into each pose.  I began to realize how yoga has taught me to resist less and soften more. I have learned through my yoga practice to ease into life even when the current feels it is going against me. My practice was not just a physically demanding workout that required me to position myself into pretzel-like shapes, but it had become a way to use my breath to go beyond what I thought I could do and relax into what my body was capable of.

Discover yoga for yourself and see how it might help you take care of you!