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/

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.

Be Aware. Be Kind. Breathe Deep.

Fuzzy Red Socks
Be Aware. Be Kind. Breathe Deep.

I supplement my regular yoga practice with at least one hot yoga class a week, just to mess with my mind and to get out of my comfort zone. This morning’s class seemed exceptionally hot. I had taken a few weeks off because of vacation, so it was even harder to acclimate to the heat.

Our instructor took us through asanas I know very well from my almost ten years of practice, but in the suffocating humidity it felt like I had never done them before. Eagle Pose was suddenly that position yoga is often confused with – wrapping ourselves into a pretzel like a contortionist. Of course, everything seems harder in a 106-degree room, but my monkey-mind was racing and the critic in me was declaring war with my ego. I was humbled to my core.

I kept my goals simple: Be aware. Be kind to myself. Breathe deeply and often. And don’t leave the room.

I am taking an online course with Brene Brown, author, public speaker and TED Talk extraordinaire, who invites us to look at our imperfections – such as being humbled by our daily yoga practice. Brene is teaching us to learn to accept these imperfections so we can have more joy in our lives. In this process we are exploring shame, a cousin to humility, and the power it can have on us. Did I let shame get in the way of the learning this morning when I couldn’t do Eagle Pose? In Brene’s course I have had time to reflect on past shames in my life and, this time, I liked what I saw. Despite the shame I felt from them when they happened years ago, despite the deep scars I believed I had to bear forever, this time, I could see these experiences for what they were. They were a chance to practice the basics of what I believe in and stepping stones to get to where I am today. Like the heated room, shame can derail me – or it can empower me and remind me of what I know for sure:

“When the heat is too much, don’t be burned by shame. Just be aware. Be kind to yourself. Keep breathing deeply.”

Find out more about Brene Brown at http://brenebrown.com/

Root down, Rise Up, Stand Tall

TreeThe Making of A Poem, A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms by Mark Strand and Eavan Boland describes a sonnet as “a poem of fourteen lines, usually iambic.” This is my first attempt at a current day sonnet about my yoga practice for my NaPoWriMo 2013 Day 14 submission. I hope you enjoy it.

Root down, Rise Up, Stand Tall

Root down rise up and let the breath take flight
Breathe in breathe out and let it all begin
Go deep go far until my light shines bright
The mat is safe to free my soul within.

But can I find the strength to go so deep?
Will my mind allow my body to bend and bow?
Can I open my heart and face the fear I keep
So bottled up and stuffed behind my brow?

Root down rise up let my spirit guide me
Be brave stretch long send love let go stay clear.
Focus find love and then I will be free.
Wake up believe and then release the fear.

Yes now I know I’m strong I will not fall
I see the truth and now I can stand tall.

To find out more about NaPoWriMo 2013 go to www.napowrimo.net.

Advice From A Yogi

After my yoga class last night with one of my favorite teachers at The Yoga Company Michaela, I came up with my Day 2’s submission for NaPoWriMo 2013. I hope you enjoy it.

Advice From A Yogi

What comes up, let it out
The yogi softly shared;
What you don’t want leave behind
Can you? Would you dare?

When anger rises in your heart
Let go and watch it fade;
When fear appears and stops you cold
Face it down – don’t let it invade.

Asking questions gives us answers
Answers give us action;
That is where the growth begins
From there we get the traction.

To propel us toward a life of love
Of hope and honesty;
What comes up must come out
My yogi friend assured me.

What comes up must come out
What does it mean?
My body stretches, my mind opens
It’s then I start to lean.

Into the love, the open space
That place filled with light;
I’m letting out what came up
And now I end the fight.

To find out more about NAaPoWriMo 2013 go to http://www.napowrimo.net/

To find out more about The Yoga Company go to: www.theyogacompany.com

Om Cycle? What’s That?

omcycleI started a new exercise class at my favorite yoga studio. It’s a combination of spin cycling and yoga. How can that be, you ask?

So did I.

Om Cycle is an inspirational mind/body experience designed to unlock your highest potential. Our instructors are committed to direct the class in a motivating upbeat manner to encourage you to ride through your challenges. Class is taught in dark ambient lighting with high energy music from all genres. Cyclists from novice to experienced will enjoy this invigorating experience,” says The Yoga Company about this new class now being offered in its Castro Valley, California location.

I’ve been practicing at The Yoga Company for over five years and have come to trust the owners and admire their commitment to their customers and fellow yogis. Gloria Capron, co-owner with Audrey Allen, understands that women in their 50’s and over need a balance of yoga and aerobic exercise to maintain their health and stave off age-related issues such as osteoporosis and heart attacks. She and Audrey have introduced new classes such as Barre Fusion and Om Cycle just for that reason.

I didn’t know what to expect from my first Om Cycle class. How would I keep cycling for 40 minutes straight and then do another 30 minutes of yoga? I love yoga because it challenges both my body and mind with difficult asanas such as crow or reclining hero pose. But those poses are done on the mat, not on a bicycle. And my mat doesn’t move or demand me to keep pedaling. This would be a different type of challenge – one I wasn’t sure I was ready for.

“Yoga is much more than a physical exercise.  Yoga involves honing and evolving your physical, mental and emotional energies so that you can live a more balanced and peaceful life,” The Yoga Company says of its yoga classes.

“Cycling, on the other hand, is 40-50 minutes of pure cycling.” I thought to myself. How can I endure that when I don’t ride a bike that much? Yes, you could stop pedaling if you need to, but the the whole idea is the get your heart rate up, bring it down , and do that again and again. That’s the reason I wanted to do this class, right?

So I tried it.

My major accomplishment in the first class was not to leave the room. I stayed on the bike and kept my legs going round and round like the wheels on the bus, slowly, but I did it. The second class I did more than that. I started singing to the great music and even stood up while riding, at least once or twice. It was quite difficult and despite my belief that I was in good shape, I found muscles I had not known existed and felt them for quite some time the following day.

I’m ready for my next class.  My goal is to stay in the room. Stay on the bike. Sing to the music. And maybe even turn that little knob once or twice to increase resistance. Just like the mat, the cycle teaches me to challenge myself and go just a little farther that I thought I could.

What is OM Cycle? One more tool I can use to take care of this precious body I have been given. And who knows, I just may come to love it as much as I do yoga.

Find out more about Om Cycle and The Yoga Company at http://theyogacompany.com/.

Finding the Open Space

One day a week I try to do a cleanse to give my body a break from all the things I put it through each week. I use a program called Isagenix, there are many others on the market, which has products to purify your body of the toxins it collects from food, water, even the air we breathe. On these days, I find myself feeling more contemplative and more in tuned to myself, all while wanting to scream for a latte or something sweet or salty. I know it is good for my body because it is on these days, I have no indigestion, no bloating, and fewer aches and pains. Yet my mind rebels because I am not habitually using food or drink to procrastinate what needs to be done or to feel what needs to be felt.

It is on these cleanse days that I most need my yoga and meditation practice and all that I’ve learned from them. Be present. Be calm. Be in the here and now. Feel what comes up. Watch what presents itself and be aware of it’s value. No judging. Just let it in and let it go. Breathe in. Breathe out.

I think I want a cup of coffee. Then I realize that what I really want is to take up time to go to the coffee shop so I don’t have to sit at my desk and write. I feel like I want a sugary sweet, but what I really want is to not be thinking about the project that is due tomorrow or the argument I had with a friend.

I don’t get hungry on these days. I drink eight servings of a special mixture throughout the day that hydrates and nourishes my body. I eat a few chocolate wafers that curb my appetite and I can even have a few one-inch square dark chocolates infused with green tea, so my stomach never feels empty. What I feel is that place in between the escape that food can be for me and what I am truly feeling. What I feel on cleanse days is the wide open space I like to call my true and whole self.

Sometimes on these days, I don’t like what I feel. Other times I feel ecstatic. Sometimes I can tune into my creativity with a keener, sharper edge and other times I dwell on what’s not working and just feel depressed.  But as time goes on and I do this more often, I feel like I belong in this wide open space more than I do not.

I like my true and whole self and this open space is one way to find it.

Create Your Space

Fuzzy Red Socks

January 2, 2013

The December 2012 edition of Yoga Journal gave me the wonderful idea to create a “space for gratitude and inspiration with a beautiful home alter that celebrates the loves of your life and the qualities you want to embrace in yourself.

So that is exactly what I did. I created a space for reflection.

Making my new year’s resolutions and creating my theme for 2013 (12/31/12 post), I realized I needed a special place where I can center myself, be calm, feel safe – and get on my yoga mat every day.  My writer friends have special places where they write. I needed a special place to find the courage to do the writing, to feel the motivation to make the music, to hear myself sing loud and sing proud, “I Believe.” I needed a place to reflect.

One person in the article created her space on the floor of her bedroom, another guy used the inside of a fireplace. I chose the inside of my closet in my office where I can open and close the space as needed. It took a little consolidating and some pre-spring cleaning, but I managed to make a space I now call home to my mediation, source of creativity, heart center and reflection.

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With closet door closed, time for work.

 

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With closet door open and yoga mat and zafu in place.

Namaste

Fuzzy Red Socks

October 30, 2012

I wrote this after a week in Montana with Cowgirl turned Yoga Teacher Margaret Vap Burns, and after modifying it slightly, I thought it was a nice compliment to my retreat this past weekend. Enjoy.

Namaste

Strengthen your core,

Breathe in, breathe out;

All that you need is here.

Be open, let go

Focus, and flow;

It’s time to release the fear.

 

Candles, mats, and fuzzy red socks,

Let the process begin;

The sun is shining warm and bright

Find your teacher within.

 

Be kind, unwind

Time to shine your light;

Fold, bend, stand tall with peace;

Let your heart take flight.

 

Sun salutes, plank and plow

Bring your mind to the now.

Hands to your heart;

Connect, Cobra, Cat, and Cow.

 

Go deep, surrender,

Start your yoga quest;

Feel grounded, stay calm,

Be whole and all so blessed.

 

Strengthen your core

Breathe in, breathe out;

All that you need is here.

Be open, let go

Focus, and flow;

It’s time to release the fear.

To find out more about Margaret and her Cowgirl Yoga Retreats click here: http://www.bigskyyogaretreats.com/cowgirlyoga.html

Rest, Reflect, Rejuvenate

Fuzzy Red Socks

October 29, 2012

I believe birthdays should be one day of the year you get to do exactly what you want – so I made sure my 55th was just that. What brings me joy is women coming together to rest, reflect and rejuvenate and my birthday was filled with it.

This past weekend six women came to my home for a Fuzzy Red Socks Retreat. We laughed, we cried, and then we laughed some more while meditating, journaling, doing yoga, singing, creating, and even being pampered. When women gather to celebrate their lives, magical things happen. We let our hair down, we open up, and we allow ourselves to be more of who we really are. We share with each other our best light, our true selves. The magic comes from the willingness to be vulnerable, the acceptance of self, the trust to let go. I am so grateful to each of these extraordinary women who showed up in their most authentic selves.

It isn’t a complicated formula, these retreats. The time spent in retreat is loose and full of love. Creating a safe space to relax, rest and take some much needed “me” time is the most important aspect of the events. In just a few hours of focus on nothing but you, lots can come up. But within the sacred space of the feminine and surrounded by loving, generous women friends, it is amazing to watch what unfolds.

My heart is full of gratitude to those who were able to join us and to all those who were there in spirit. Yes, the best birthday is one you spend doing exactly what you love to do and my special day was just that – one filled with rest, reflection and rejuvenation.