20 Jun

Sun and Moon

As I focus my professional work more fully on life transitions, I find myself being more intentional about the natural and regularly occurring transitions in our world. There is a rhythm to our days, weeks, months, and seasons, and I find that if I take just a little time to acknowledge these changes, I feel more settled – more “in the flow”, if you will.

Sun & Moon Suncatcher by CreativeSpiritGlass

Sun & Moon Suncatcher by CreativeSpiritGlass

Today we have a double hitter of transitions – for the first time since 1948, the summer solstice and full moon fall on the same day. While both of these events have a quality of bright light and illumination, their energies are somewhat opposing. The full moon is typically associated with release. For many women, the menstrual cycle is tied to this moon phase – a literal experience of letting go. This is a time of honoring what has come before, and leaving behind what no longer serves us. Some words associated with release that might resonate for you at this time are liberation, relinquish, surrender, forgiveness, freedom. As you examine your life in this moment, today, is there something you can consciously loosen your grip on? Something that you need to set free or leave behind?

The summer solstice, like the sun itself, is all about expansion and extroversion – shining bright. This solstice ushers in the summer season, the time when everything is growing and flowering. Summer is also associated with the inner child – playful, spontaneous, and full of wonder. How can you engage with this energy? Is there a creative project you’ve been working on that’s ready to be launched into the world? What is coming into fruition for you? Can you bring a sense of play or beginner’s mind to your experience this season?

Whether or not you buy into the woo-woo of sun and moon energy, these events present us with quarterly and monthly opportunities to reexamine the way we are engaging with the world. Is there any *magic* to the first-of-the-month checks of the smoke alarms or changing of the furnace filters? No. But that regular date is a helpful reminder to check in on things that need doing. I find that, especially in a geographical location where changes between seasons are subtle, actively engaging with the sun and moon phases reminds me that I am part of the natural world, and gives me a chance to reset for the coming weeks or months.

Celebration of these shifts can be big or small – don’t let perfection of form keep you from the importance of function! Five minutes of meditation can go a long way, if that’s all you have. If there’s more time, this can also be a great opportunity for a community gathering. Yoga studios, meditation centers, and breathwork circles often have special events for the solstice – one more way for us to come together. Search your local scene for these communal celebrations.

Interested in learning more? Here are some of the resources I turn to for inspiration around these natural transitions:

 

 

 

18 Feb

Khalsa Way in LA

Last month, I spent a week in LA studying prenatal yoga with Gurmukh. In recent years, I’ve made a practice of signing up for more intense yoga experiences in January, to re-ground myself in something that I know is vital to my own holistic health – the combination of full-time work and school, along with living in a place where Kundalini yoga isn’t as plentiful and convenient as in other cities I’ve called home, means its easier for me to “forget” to fill my own well. Like many of you, I see the new year as a good time to rebalance.

Golden Bridge Santa Monica

I’ve been wanting to write about my time there, but something has been holding me back. The nine days I spent in Los Angeles were truly transformative, and it was an incredible vacation for me – and my efforts to capture it perfectly on the page have kept me from writing anything at all.

I suppose one of the things I fear in writing about this publicly is that I think my idea of a good vacation is different from a lot of other people’s expectations. When I return from a trip, I tend to tell my friends and family all about it – fun, beautiful, challenging, strange, sad, annoying, exciting, hilarious… it’s all there. And it tends to catch me off guard when, later, these same friends and family will talk to me about that same trip, under the impression that I had a terrible time. That’s not generally the case. In fact, it’s the “bad” experiences that make travel worthwhile for me, probably as much as the “good” ones. For me, good travel involves seeing new parts of the world, and meeting challenges in a way that helps me see new parts of myself.

Spending the week in a sunny, spiritually alive, traffic-filled, sometimes-superficial city; staying with family who I love; building community with 30 female strangers (a third of whom were pregnant); being pushed to think critically about my own views on pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, circumcision, vaccination, and what constitutes a healthy diet; rising at 5AM, wearing comfy clothes, and doing yoga every day – for me, these were all elements of a great vacation.

Santa Monica Pier 2

 

There were days when I felt angry and frustrated – both by the traffic, and by the content of our lectures. There were times when I felt inspired and truly loved. I made true, deep, fast friendships (and let’s be honest: there were people I didn’t like). I fell for the city of LA, and I can’t wait to get back. And I’m so grateful for the (too-little!) time I was able to spend with my family. Embracing that whole package is part of the experience. In fact, it is the experience.

This year, I chose this training because I felt a need to hold and nurture my feminine self. I knew that would be hard – healing and growth often are. And in the end, it was so worth it (healing and growth often are). Of course, I don’t know what the future holds, but I have a strong sense that my work as a therapist will focus on women and women’s issues, and spending this time in LA felt like a very important step toward that work. I came home refreshed and revitalized, and excited to share these teachings with women in all stages of life. I’m looking forward to what’s next on that path…

Khalsa Way 2014

10 Oct

Picker Uppers

A little over a week ago, something bad happened. And you know, I don’t really want to get into the details of it over here, but still, I felt like saying something.  Just to get it out, I guess.  It feels like kind of a big deal.  Not a someone’s-dying-of-cancer big deal or anything, it’s nothing like that.  It’s just… well, it was just something shitty.

So.  I did some things that I thought would make me feel better.  Like reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants in one sitting.

Bossypants, by Tina Fey

And curling up to watch The Five-Year Engagement.

The Five-Year Engagement

 And taking a trip to Italy with some really awesome friends.

 

 

 

 

Man, did that movie  ever cheer me up!

;)

In all seriousness, if you’re feeling a bit down in the dumps, I can highly recommend all of the above for turning things around.  Painting in that countryside did sort of take it up another notch, though, if I’m being honest.  More to come…

 

04 Jul

Freedom

I’ve been meaning to do a little self-evaluation here halfway through the year, and since my word for the year is freedom – and you know, July 4th, that whole Independence Day thing… – today seemed like a good deadline to put on the calendar.  (Who wants to read about freedom on July 7th?  Right?)

Freedom is Riding a Bicycle

Photo Credit: etsy.com, 3279Press

As a refresher, here’s part of what I wanted when I set my intention for the new year:

Freedom to be whatever my soul desires.  Freedom to find new love and new friendships.  Freedom to travel.  Freedom from self-judgment and criticism.  Freedom from material trappings.  Freedom from “what will people think?”.

So let’s not get carried away with the 4th of July stuff – we’re not exactly talking about freedom from foreign rule or taxation without representation.  Although, I suppose you could say we are talking about the freedom to pursue happiness.

'Merica

Photo Credit: etsy.com, theIrisandtheBee

Here’s the thing about the New Year’s ritual, and the intention within it.  See, I’d been putting off doing this reflection because I’ve been feeling a bit like a failure lately.  Not Failure with a capital F, but, well… I’m stalled in my Retreat business, I fear that I’m wasting a lot of the free time I’ve created for myself, I’m in a bit of a rut with my personal relationships, and my house looks like I moved in over the weekend (for reference, I’ve lived in this house for almost two years now – boxes in the living room are not acceptable).  And see?  That last sentence there – I was supposed to be free of those kinds of judgments!

So I’ve been kind of grouchy lately.  I wasn’t looking forward to putting all of that out there on the screen.

But then I look at that list and think about what my year has looked like so far.  My 25 hours a week of finance work have gotten so comfortable that sometimes I forget I had to create that.  I struggle with it, more than I should of course – I worry about what people think, especially when I describe my work to new acquaintances (I still haven’t figured out how to explain it concisely) or when I’m looking at the LinkedIn profiles of my peers.  But then I remember: I work 25 hours a week.  I’m doing what my soul desires.

Travel?  I spent 3 weeks in Spain this spring.  A year ago, planning a trip like that was unfathomable.  I was surprised by a lot on that trip – it wasn’t all food and art and culture and vacation – but in a way, it was the freedom to do it at all that mattered.

My house is a wreck, sure, but that’s because I’ve spent the past few weeks clearing out too much stuff (material trappings) and figuring out how to make what’s left into an open, organized space that welcomes relaxation and community.  It’s a work in progress, and I’m learning to be patient with myself along the way (letting go of self-judgment and criticism, hm?).  There’s the dog hair, too – but you know, that’s probably a better example than any of my letting go of the rules I’ve set for myself (and so worth it!).

That’s intention for you – and also the value of taking time to take stock.  Things are not as bad as they seem; progress has been made.

But there’s so much more that I want to do with this word of the year!  Is it greedy to want more freedom than I already have?  I want freedom from the fear that’s holding me back in my business.  Freedom from bad habits whose upsides are rapidly diminishing.  Freedom to communicate and connect the old-fashioned way.  Freedom to try (more) new things.  And all of the freedoms I was dreaming of at the start of the year, too.

So there’s my intention for the next 6 months.

I hope this wasn’t too heavy for a day that’s meant for hamburgers and fireworks.  I’m done for now.  I’ve gotta get going.  Angie and I are about to exercise our freedom to watch a movie about male strippers.  (Yay, America!)

Magic Mike

Photo Credit: mtv.com

21 Feb

Bagel the Beagle

Buckley got a new brother this weekend.  A friend of mine is making a move that doesn’t accommodate pets, so Bagel the Beagle came to live with us on Sunday.  Here’s a rare (semi-) still of the two pups:

Bagel and Buckley, Dog Friends Forever

 

And here’s a much more representative view of the ruckus this weekend:

Bagel and Buckley Playing

 

As you can see, they’re getting along just fine.  Yay, Bagel!

17 Jan

The trouble with blog writing

I decided to take a break from the 40-day challenge this weekend.  I could have knocked out a post on Saturday night (and Sunday, too), but… why?

Well, because I set a goal, for one thing.  Because I made a commitment.  And I am nothing if not accountable, especially to my own high standards.  But Rachel’s words were still echoing for me – what she’d said about the things we do only because we think we should, and later, her question to me about writing every day (simply, “why?”).  I’d answered her with what I know to be true – a blog needs content, and I want to write content that resonates with people who share my values, people with whom I hope to do business someday.  (Geez, I hope that doesn’t sound too commercial.  The thing is, I find great value in writing for my own reflection and self-examination, but with little exception, I wouldn’t feel the need to post my writings online without a broader purpose.  Let’s be honest: the blog is ultimately here to support my work.)

And that is exactly where I’m feeling the most stuck with my business right now.  I want to connect with people – that’s what Retreat Austin is all about.  I believe that real, personal communication is essential to making those connections.  And for me, social networking – Twitter, Facebook, blogging, etc. – seems more like a threat to building real connections than a tool that fosters them.

You can see my dilemma, right?  Here I am, trying to build a business that brings people together, to be present with each other face to face – and the best way to inform people that this awesome business exists is by way of a website.  Grr.

So what did I do in the face of this struggle?  I decided to face it head-on.  Stop avoiding the enemy.  In fact, spend some quality time with it.  Write to it every day.  Talk to it.

Only, I don’t really have that much to say on an every-single-day basis.  My interaction with this blog seems more like the small talk I make with the barista every morning than the kind of substantive conversation I have with a friend over dinner.  That’s my relationship with the blog (and by extension, you) right now – first date, when I’m shooting for old pal.

I suppose I hope that keeping it up like this – at least for a while – will make things more comfortable.  That the relationship will become more familiar over time.  But then, I’m trying to trust my gut, too, and recognize that every single day is probably not necessary.  It’s okay to take a break.  Sometimes that’s how you know you’re getting closer, right?  When the silence is comfortable.

How do you use social networking to build relationships?  Is the internet bringing you closer together, or does it have you feeling a bit disconnected?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

14 Jan

Tomorrow’s Retreatshop with Rachel W. Cole

Tomorrow, I’m heading to Rachel Cole’s first Well-Fed Woman Retreatshop, right here in Austin, and I just can’t wait.  Rachel coached me through my biggest changes this year: leaving an unfulfilling job, taking time to rest and listen, developing my vision for Retreat Austin and my financial consulting work.  She held my hand, cheered me on, asked the tough questions, pushed me to consider options I hadn’t allowed myself to see.  Working with a life coach was an experiment for me – I hadn’t worked in that space before, and I didn’t know what I would be getting with Rachel.  I am so thankful for what I found.

I expect that tomorrow will be quite different from our coaching sessions, and I’m still contemplating my own intentions for the Retreatshop.  As part of the registration, Rachel asked, “What are you truly hungry for?”  My answer was “connection”, and that is true.  I wasn’t certain at first that the Retreatshop would be the right fit for me, given that Rachel and I had already spent so much time together, and in the end, it was the promise of communion with other like-minded women that convinced me to go ahead and sign up already.  Now, I can’t imagine not having this on my calendar tomorrow.  After all, how could I have considered skipping out on a retreat?

Still, I am wondering what the afternoon will bring.  Will there be connection?  Creativity?  Growth?  I’m trusting Rachel (and my gut) on this one.  I can’t wait to find out.

10 Jan

You just never know when someone’s going to want to see your website

I had an awesome chance meeting with another creative business owner this afternoon, something that made me realize it’s time to stop procrastinating on a handful of items relating to my own business.  Some of that is related to this website, so I’ve updated the Retreat Austin page, and I’m working on (re-)creating that dreaded About page.  I would love to hear your feedback on the site.  Seriously: what’s working and what’s… just not?  Let me know in the comments or drop me a line.

Thanks for your patience.  Back to our regularly scheduled 40-day programming tomorrow.

09 Jan

Yoga Party

I just got home from the best birthday party I’ve been to in a very long time.  Maybe “party” is the wrong word…?  Donation yoga at Eastside Yoga, pizza from East Side Pies, homemade (gluten-free) lemon cake (no link for that one – you’ll have to find your own foodie friend if you want to recreate this one for yourself).  It’s a Sunday, so it’s not like anyone was looking for a big, crazy throw-down – just good people, good food, and good vibes, which is exactly what we got.