Recent Retreat Experiences

I recently shared that Adventure Sisters, Emy and I, were going on a private retreat of our own making. I would like to share some of my experiences and insights from this with you. As it turned out, it was all about finding the Joy. That we not only hold in our heart, but are.

We had a schedule, we had a plan, we shopped for groceries, and prepared our space. We were excited to be together, to be in Florida and out of the snow and extreme cold. We even both expressed a bit of anxiety about the upcoming long period of silence.

As I have expressed in previous blogs; Emy and I have our sun signs across from each other in the zodiac. We often have very different perceptions about things, other times it is like we are of one mind, anticipating what the other is thinking before she even says it. The retreat was full of such dualities. What I needed, was not always what Emy needed and vise versa. When these things came up though, we navigated them with ease and love. We accepted the other for what she needed or her perspective. We allowed and loved our differences.

Silence was broken after only about 17.5 hours. We decided eating our breakfast in the morning sun would be lovely. A couple of our neighbors in the marina came over and chatted with us. We broke silence to avoid rudeness and heard some very interesting tales from neighbor retirees. Their experiences and perspectives gave us even more to reflect on and we decided that our continued silence was not really necessary.

We allowed the wind to blow us where it might. We floated without resistance on the marina waters. We took liberties with the schedule; doing the various activities as we felt called to. We had so many “ah ha” moments. Like pausing the video to discuss a concept that was lay out before us.

One of my favorite take homes, from the retreat, was the message to live in Joy! For this, Emy and I picked a symbol. Every time we see that symbol it is a reminder to be in the joy of the moment. We have been seeing it everywhere and sharing it with each other. I would encourage you to pick your own symbol to remind you to see the Joy in the present moment.

Being back in the everyday world now has been a call to be more mindful of Joy, regardless of what is happening around us. It was easy to remain joyful during the retreat. We were focused on self development and growth. We were mostly out of touch with the outside world and it’s issues. We were together. Enjoying sharing and experiencing all that was there for us, in the richness of the retreat.

The Nabhi Kriya yoga set we did, so moved us, that we have even decided to take on a 40 day practice of it. I had been feeling called to this prior to the retreat. In fact, the teachers manual, with the Kriya’s pages marked, is sitting on my bedside table at home. Patiently waiting for me to hear the call and take it on an adventure. Please feel free to join us. In the Kundalini Yoga tradition of: you miss a day you start over on day 1. Be committed to you! Remember to modify the exercises to keep yourself safe and visualize yourself doing the movements as instructed. Because the brain doesn’t know the difference between actual or powerful visualization.

Overall the retreat was lovely and joyous! It was just not what we originally expected or planned but so much more.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May you find life offering you experiences, which are so much more, as if by magic.

*Photo was taken in Cassadaga, FL

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What Does Winter Solstice Mean to Me?

Winter Solstice occurs on Dec 21st. This is the shortest day of the year. In Minnesota, where I live, the sun will rise just before 8am and set by 4:30pm that afternoon, leaving us just over 8 and a half hours of sunlight.  This may seem like a strange thing to celebrate, but our ancestors did celebrate it. Just as they celebrated the Summer Solstice in June. Let me share with you what this day means to me.

Winter Solstice is the celebration of the return of the Sun. After this date, the days (amount of sunlight) will begin to grow in length. This is why Christians decided to celebrate Jesus’s birthday at this time of the year, the return of the Son. Back in a time when there were no electric lights, it must have been a great thing to know that the amount of daylight would soon increase in length.

For me Solstice means:

  • Hope: I realize that we have turned the corner and are heading for more light and the return of warmer days. If the cycles of life provide for improved daylight ratios, as well improved temperatures, why would I not believe that anything and everything else can improve too. For me Winter Solstice is a celebration of Hope.
  • Duality: There is also Summer Solstice that is the longest day of the year. Duality exists in all aspects of our life. There are times to cry and times to celebrate. Dark times and light times. Time to play and time to work, as well as a time to be young and a time to be old.
  • Patience: The seeds are laying dormant under the earth. They are patiently waiting for spring when they can stretch and start to grow. Everything has a season and this is a season of waiting.
  • Reflection: This is the time of year to go within and learn more deeply who we are, What can we change about ourselves and what should we embrace.
  • Strength: A strong will is required to survive the winters of old. To me, Solstice is also a celebration of the ‘force of will’ to persevere through the cold and dark winter months, knowing that in time, the sun will return.
  • Rest: The fields lay dormant. The work is done until the snow melts and the seeds are ready to be tended. Of course this is no longer the reality for most of us. We work just as hard in the winter, but the quiet dark days encourage us to rest.
  • Purity: The white blanket that covers the earth in the part of the world where I live, makes me think of purity. The white snow glistens when the sun shines on it. We are all pure. We are all worthy of love. We are good. We are enough.
  • Family: Because of all of the gatherings of family and friends (that feel like family) at this time of year, I feel Solstice also symbolizes this love. That warm feeling you get in the heart when you think of those you are bonded too.

Whatever this time of year means to you, I wish you a very Happy Winter Solstice. Look forward to the Sun returning and the daylight hours stretching in length. Be still within yourself and allow this time of year to reveal its personal meaning to you. It is a magical time of year.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May the cycles of life give you comfort, as if by magic.

*Photo was taken in Brentwood, TN.

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Duality – now you see it now you don’t

Opposites attract we have heard. This is certainly true with the ends of a magnetic while those that are the same push apart. Have you ever spent much time thinking about duality?

Marty and I went dog sledding on Thursday and then flew to Florida for a long weekend. From 7 to 87. Talk about duality! One day I am sledding through the snow and the next walking on the beach. Both are nature, both have a form of water, but the similarities end there. The forest was full of trees the sun was out but the air remained cold. The beach did not have trees, although we walked past some palm trees to get there, sand instead of sun sparkles unfolded the sun.

Realities are all around us. They are in all aspects of life. Hungry – full, male – female, happy – sad, dark – light. Dualities are necessary for us to appreciate the opposite. Because we experience sorrow we can truest appreciate joy. If we always had joy in our life it would be like the air we breath, we would take it for granted.

Whatever we always have we take for granted and it’s specialness wears off. For example – when I went to India we wanted to see a yak – well it wasn’t long when we were seeing yaks on the street and we stopped pointing them out to each other. They were everywhere. Then we wanted to see a monkey. We traveled to an area where the monkeys where plentiful and we would see them in groups in the trees and on top of the buildings. Again, we got used to seeing them. Our brains have a wonderful adaptive nature. We grow accustomed to the world around us. If those things we really enjoy became a constant they would stop being special, like the yak and the monkeys. We need to occasionally have a lack of yaks and monkeys to fully see them through those childlike lenses of awe. This is the purpose of duality. This is the reason why sometimes we must suffer and go without, so that we have an appreciation of the wonders in our life.

What dualities have you noticed in your life? Love and hate? Have and have not? Fact and fiction? I recent competed in a “tall tails” contest in my Toastmasters club. Fabrication does not come natural to me but it was fun to take a hand at it and now I have that to contrast with the factual speeches I give. It was very free to tell a tall tail even though my inner self wanted to keep correcting the information.

Notice the dualities my friends. Wishing you a life of abundance and joy and just enough duality to appreciate it.