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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Words really do have meaning; choose them wisely

This has been a reoccurring theme for me lately. I have long believed that words mean things and what we say; we put out there for the Universe to deliver to our doorstep. After attending a seminar on chronic pain and having a conversation with a friend; I knew I was being urged to write about it.

I believe strongly in manifestation, so I am careful with my words. My car will get me safely to all my destinations and I will arrive perfectly on time. My day will be blessed and full of reasons to smile. My thoughts will be positive, creative and productive. When setting intentions we always want to choose words that are positive because the Universe ignores the words “not” or “don’t”.

This was further reinforced for me when I attended a holistic nurses and integrative medicine meeting, this weekend, that featured several speakers on chronic pain. One, a hypnotherapist speaker named Roberta Fernandez, spoke about how important it is to ‘not’ tell people what they are going to feel. That it is up to them to have their own experiences. Why suggest to them they will feel pain when they, in fact, may not feel pain. She instead says to use language that suggests they may or may not feel something. Our minds are powerful and if someone suggest pain, we may indeed feel it just because it has been suggested. Interesting to think of all the things we tell ourselves and others. Just imagine what would be possible if all these messages were positive.

Another conversation, about the importance of choosing the right words, occurred at our kitchen table. My dear friend Libby, who is a gifted acupuncturist, was sharing an idea she called ‘word buckets’. She explained that, for various concepts, there is a bucket of words that we can use to describe a feeling or an action. Each word has its own vibration. It is up to us to choose the word that has a vibration that matches us or, more importantly, matches the vibration we want to achieve. For example, a woman who is comfortable in her own skin and speaks her mind, maybe called: assertive, confident, powerful, or self assured. If you identify, in this way, you could use any of these words to describe yourself. Which of these words fit the energetic vibration you are attempting to achieve? Another example of words, that may be in the same bucket, is: mother, nurturer, caregiver, healer, and comforter. Which word goes energetically with what you are wanting to bring to the relationship? I really love this concept of choosing words by their vibrational energy. I am grateful that Libby shared this wisdom with me and now you.

Keep in mind that we are energy. Everything is. The things we think and say impact us, our lives, and the world around us. Choose your words to be the ones with energy and the vibration you want to surround yourself with.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May you easily choose the right vibrations for the life of your dreams, as if by magic!

*Photo was taken at the Chequamegon Waters Flowage in Wisconsin.

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Eugene’s Story

This is the story of our attempt to save a life. My husband brought home 2 little Christmas tree plants that were destine for the garbage. One is nice and healthy and his name is Emmet. img_2741The other looks just like Emmet but his needles were all dry and crunchy. He apparently suffered some neglect over the Christmas holidays. We named him Eugene.

I could feel that there was still life deep inside of Eugene. Just hoping to unfold again in all his glory. The holidays had been rough on him. They left him feeling drained and a lot like giving up. From afar, he looked like he was doing fine, but anyone who got close to him could see he was just not himself.

Eugene was embarrassed to admit he was not doing well, so instead put on a good face. Wanting everyone to see him as a happy and festive plant they thought he should be. On some level, however, he just was waiting for it to be over. When Eugene and I were getting to know each other, I asked him if he wanted to live? He said that he did. So, we had some work to do. The first thing Eugene needed to do was to release what no longer served him. We set to work trimming away the branches of the past. They make him look good from afar but were not helping him move forward into his new life. He had to let go of them and release. It took some time to do this. We trimmed a little here and cut a little more there, until just his inner most self remained. Eugene felt naked and exposed but he also felt authentic.

Next we needed to give him some nourishment of healthy food and an Epson Salt bath. Self care is very important when doing healing work and energy healing was also a part of the care plan. While Eugene sat in the window soaking up the rays of the sun, loving energy was sent to him by Reiki to facilitate his healing process.

Next Eugene needed space. He was transplanted into a bigger pot to allow for growth. During the transplanting process I noticed that his roots are very healthy and that he is well grounded. An Amethyst crystal was given to him, which he graciously accepted. Amethyst is a powerful healing stone and it additionally calms and soothes a worried soul. Eugene needed this after the intensity of the holidays. The multiple interactions with people, who were distracted by all that was going on in their own lives, had left him feeling alone and stressed.

Support was the next step on his healing plan.  A peaceful elemental came to sit under his trunk. This meditative little elf taught Eugene how to go within and find his own truth. Eugene began learning to accept himself, as is, and to forgive himself for those things he thought he had done “wrong” in the past. A wise friend, who is willing to hold space and remind us of our truth, can be such a valuable companion when we are on a journey to repair ourselves and grow.

The final steps on this trip to a healthier, stronger, wiser Eugene; is love and time. Eugenes name and heart were added on the outside of the pot; to help Eugene know that others love him. But deeper and more important than that, Eugene must learn to love himself. Eugene must be willing to look at himself in the mirror with his short and bare branches and love himself unconditionally. Eugene must allow himself the time to grow. It will not happen overnight. He must continue to rest in the sunlight and drink in the healthy water and nutrients.

Like Eugene, we must be patient with ourselves. It won’t be all better overnight for us either.  Little by little new buds will form that will turn into new branches. Little by little Eugene will be healthy again. And so will you.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you learn to give yourself what you need, as if by magic.

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What Is It you Most Want?

As Emy and I prepare to begin our retreat, I find myself wondering what it is I most want. What is it that I am hoping to gain from this experience? How will I grow as a result of going so deeply internal? What guidance will I receive? What will Spirit have to share with me? What should my intentions be?

I know I want to be more fully me. I want to step more completely into being the person I was born to be.  When we live our lives most authentically, then the magic happens. When you live authentically you will feel happier and things fall into place more naturally.

Often people attempt to live their lives backwards:
they try to have more things, or more money,
in order to do more of what they want so they will be happier.
The way it actually works is the reverse.
You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do,
in order to have what you want.

~ Margaret Young ~

The trick is to find the authenticity. We spend so much of our life being told who to be and how to act, that we get lost. As we move into and out of relationships (work, friendships, and romantic) we show different faces of ourselves. We mold ourselves (at least to some degree) to connect with these people. Think about the people who are close to you. Do any of them really know you or do they all know a different aspect of you? How well do you really know yourself? Getting to know ourselves, on a deeper level, is a great gift we can give ourselves.

No matter how you go internal and give yourself the space to learn your true nature, it can be a wonderful process. You never know what might come up. It maybe even be painful at times. Sometimes very painful past emotions will pop up and need to be felt and processed. Allow them to come; don’t push them down. Feel them! Then bless them and release them and know that your are safe in this process.

Authenticity will set you free! This will lead you into living the life of your dreams. Perhaps your dreams are not even what you think they are and will evolve as you get to know yourself better. Blessings to you on this journey!

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you have an enjoyable journey finding your authentic self, as if by magic.

*photo was taken of Reflection Lake in Washington State.

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Stepping into the Keto Diet

My husband decided to join one of those weight loss contests that pop up at work after the New Year. They had set a pretty aggressive amount of weight to lose by 28 days. I had heard people were having great success on the Keto Diet and thought that this, along with the fasting we were already doing, might work best for him. So I suggested he give it try. Then I set off to learn as much about it as I could so I could help him. I was amazed by what I learned.

To start, I began looking for recipes. Keto friendly things I could make and have in the freezer, so he would have yummy, healthy food to eat while I am on the road. There are a tremendous amount of recipes available out there. The premise behind keto is high fat, moderate protein and very low carbs. It forces your body into a ketogenic state or ketosis, which causes it to use fat for energy rather than carbohydrates. According to Wikipedia; this diet was first developed in the 20s for treatment of childhood seizures.

This way of eating is in sharp contrast to the “Stop the Insanity” low fat diets from the 90s.

There is a documentary (which is available to watch on Netflix) called ‘The Magic Pill.’ Watching this documentary inspired me to also try the ketogenic diet as well. Sure I would love the weight loss but the health benefits demonstrated in the movie were my real motivation. This show follows several people for a few weeks as they switch to this way of eating. The results they had were miraculous. Cancer, Autism, Diabetes, and Asthma were all demonstrated life changing improvements because of it; not to mention weight management. One of the ‘ah ha’ moments for me was right at the start of the documentary. When they said; “Every animal controls its weight naturally, other than humans and animals fed by humans”. My goodness! I never stopped to think that there are no obese deer or even pump lazy sloths.

As a pescatarian (vegetarian who eats fish) the idea of going on a diet, without the American staple of carbs, seemed like a difficult choice. It takes away so many of the things I am able to eat on the road. I also have difficulty with my blood sugar, that can dip to low and cause me to not feel well, if I do not eat the right thing or go to long without eating. This has made me believe I need a high protein diet. I was about to learn that was not true! As I stepped off into the world of ketogenic eating, my first challenge came when I went to a German restaurant with friends. Their vegetarian dish was pasta and the fish/seafood dishes were with pasta or breaded. Hmmm… what to have? I elected for the green beans with almonds and a cucumber salad. I also ate a few pieces of cheese off a friend’s appetizer plate. I was full. Challenge accepted and completed. Next morning, eggs and veggies are a very normal breakfast for me, so that did not even require a change. Lunch was riced cauliflower made into fried rice with eggs and plenty of olive oil. Yummy!

Do you know what I discovered? My blood sugar has remained stable. I have not had the shaky or woozy feeling that I often get when I don’t eat enough protein. Here, all this time, my need for high protein was a result of a diet high in carbs. I am on my third day of this new way of eating and I feel great. I am also doing this in conjunction with the intermittent fasting I have been doing since June. The two seem to work well together.

With the combination of intermittent fasting and Keto Diet, my husband has lost 11 pounds in 6 days. Isn’t that amazing? One of his favorite treats on the Keto Diet is the Fat Bombs. They are a nice little treat but also help to keep the consumption of fat, good and high, as required for ketosis. There are lots of fat bomb recipes but the ones he likes are made with natural unsweetened peanut butter, cream cheese, a tiny bit of stevia, and rolled in semisweet or dark chocolate. They are rolled in balls about a quarter’s diameter and are delicious. You only need to eat one to feel like you had a treat and quite satisfied. After all, that is what eating fat does. It helps us feel satiated.

Whether you are curious about the ketogenic diet or planning to try it yourself, there seems to be potential benefit for amazing results. If you enjoy documentaries, I recommend you check out ‘The Magic Pill.’ It is very interesting.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you find healthy eating that works for you, as if by magic.

*Photo was taken in Palermo, Sicily

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Perseverance and Resilience

This morning, my husband Marty, was reading an article about millionaires and how they got to be financially abundant. Perseverance and resilience were the two things the author found they all had in common. Marty says his CEO likes to refer to this as “Grit.” This got me thinking. What does perseverance and resilience look like in our lives? How can these things help us get to the next level and transform ourselves?

As we were having the discussion about when it is time to transform ourselves; I felt pretty solid that we are in the process of doing that in our household. We are making healthier choices in many regards with healthier food, more activity, healthier thoughts (maintaining positive thinking), financial health (with our focus on budgeting and paying off debt), and finding spiritual events to attend that make us feel good and feel like a good fit for us. We are transforming ourselves. Then Marty brought up work. When it comes to our careers, are we making ourselves over or are we just doing what we have always done? This gave me pause. Am I continuing to transform myself when it comes to my career? How am I moving my work to the next level? When I focus specifically on my writing and speaking career, I know I am doing what I have always done. I have stretched a little and tried some new things, but in many ways, I am stagnant. As the year is drawing to a close, I need to ask myself how I can step it up. What changes can I make to help me move to that next level?

I think it is good for us to examine different parts of our lives from time to time. Look at those parts of your life where things have not changed for a while. Do you desire a change in this area or are you happy with the status quo? If you are happy and feel it needs no improvement, then no problem. But if you desire more; what will you do to move the ball forward, raise the bar, and push yourself into a new way of being? How will you step into the new year pushing yourself to be the best you? I am not talking New Year’s Resolutions. When have those ever worked for you? I am talking about becoming newly engaged in a certain part of your life. Newly committed to push past where you have been into being who you can be.

As we come into the next year, next month, next week, or next day, look at how you can embrace some perseverance and resilience to actively transform some part of your life that has been stagnant. Some part of your life that the status quo is no longer acceptable to you and will benefit from a fresh look or some new ideas. Go ahead, I dare you! You may be amazed what positive changes lay ahead for you.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you attain great things, as if by magic!

*Photo was taken at Pula, Croatia

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Letting Go of Darkness

The full moon is in a transformative time that comes every 28 days. It is all about letting go of the old, while the new moon is about manifesting or bringing in the new. These energies of the moon start about 4 days prior to the actual event and last for about four days after, according the Susan Miller: Astrologer. This transformative time gives us wonderful opportunities to think about what no longer serves us and what we would like to see come into our lives.

Last night was the full moon. My husband and I attended a Kirtan. These are becoming the favorite feel good events of ours to go to. This full moon Kirtan was a beautiful event and attended by many sweet souls. This, once again, made our souls sing along with our voices; as the call and response of the mantras progressed throughout the night.

When attending an event like this or starting a meditation, going to a yoga class or retreat; it is always a great idea to set the intention for what you hope to achieve or experience. I learned this many years ago from a wise teacher and have found it to powerfully enhance my experiences as well as help me along my path of healing and health. Knowing that there was a full moon shining overhead, I set an intention to let go of any darkness in my heart. To let any anger, fear, jealousy, hate, distrust, sadness, or need to complain flow gently out of my heart and into the earth. There it could become fertilizer to grow something beautiful. I intended for all darkness to leave my heart so only love would reside there. My great grandmother said, “Those who sing, pray twice”. Singing or chanting is a beautiful form of prayer.

As Chi Johnson lead us skillfully through the various chants. We came to the one that was so very perfect for a full moon Kirtan: “Nataraj, Nataraja, Jai Shiva Shankara Nataraja”. (One part of this powerful mantra) Shiva is the Hindu god of destruction and transformation. He is also called Lord of the Dance. This is basically asking Shiva to dance through our lives and destroy what no longer serves us, so that we can transform into who we truly are. As we sang this chant I asked Shiva to remove any darkness from my heart. No, not just remove, but destroy anything other than the love that was residing there. “Music in the soul can be heard by the Universe”, Lao Tzu.

When we are hurt, darkness can take hold in our heart center and it can come out in a variety of ways. It has a purpose though; it is trying to protect us. There is purpose is all things, even when we cannot see it or know what it is. The complication is, that sometimes we hold onto these things much longer than we need too. My heart’s fear of being hurt, served me well, as I was healing from the acute pain of a broken relationship. It no longer serves me though. I have held onto it much longer than I needed too. Now is the time to release any darkness in my heart to make room for unending love. Love for all people and things. Love and respect so that I can more fully live in the flow of life. By doing this I can open up to appreciation and gratitude for all the beauty around me.

I am grateful for the Full Moon Kirtan. I am grateful for Shiva dancing through my heart, so that I can release that which no longer serves it. I appreciate all of you who walk your journeys along side mine. When you are ready, know that you are safe to release those things that once protected you.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you easily let go of the darkness that has taken up residence in your heart, as if by magic.

* Photo was taken on the banks of the Ganges River in Rishikesh, India.

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