May is our month to celebrate you and to celebrate women everywhere. To celebrate our strengths and our vulnerabilities, our struggles and our achievements, our hopes and our dreams.
Join our community of amazing women who will understand, encourage and inspire you at a retreat. You may just meet your new best friend.
As Diondra said in February, “We come together as women who have nothing in common, but really, we have everything in common.”
Here are some of the amazing women who have journeyed to Retreat in the Pines over the past 12 years. Mothers, daughters, sisters, friends – old and new.
Mothers and Daughters
To think that each of us experience a shift of energy within our bodies, minds and souls, a belief that we are connected to the seasons, is something that resonates with me. Call me a tree hugging flower child, but I know you’ve felt it too. Winter is heavy and dark, a time when we withdraw and go inward, while spring is fresh and light, a time for renewal and rebirth.
Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, teaches us how to live in harmony with nature through a practice of balance. It is a Sanskrit word that translates as “the wisdom of life” or “the knowledge of longevity.” If you’re interested in learning more, we’d love to have you join us for one of our Detox & Yoga Retreats.
In withdrawing and going inward this past winter I discovered a great deal of fear, confusion, discontentment and restlessness. Unwilling to face the truth of the matter, I distracted myself by planning what was to be the greatest adventure of my life: farming. It’s not nearly as glamorous as my hopes of backpacking through Europe, or as noble as my intention of going on the World Race, but I was convinced that it would change my life.
I said yes to the first host who responded to my inquiry, choosing an animal farm in Virginia. The lack of options for farming in the winter, combined with finding an open-minded farm to take my (then) girlfriend and I, left us with limited choices. A month or so out from my departure – now solo – a dear friend told me I wouldn’t find what I was looking for in Virginia;
“I’m not saying it’s the wrong decision — I don’t know that. I just know that what you’re looking for is already within you.”
It was the very opposite of what I wanted to hear, but it was exactly what I needed. Of course I was searching for something, I just hadn’t realized it until that moment.
I wanted meaning, direction, purpose, and passion… but, more than anything, I wanted to escape the growing void within me.
I’d fractured my ankle. I was losing my job. I was miserable in my relationship. I was lost, and I was afraid. Of course Virginia was my escape. I could place my future identity in an adventure that seemed so much better than the dark hole I was sinking into. There was no realistic thinking or planning around the idea – I didn’t even know how I was going to pack my belongings – I was simply running away to a fantasy as quickly as I knew how.
One week from leaving, 10 days after my last day at work, I called the trip off. I was forcing it, but it would take me a week to figure that out. The reality was, I was terrified and I knew something wasn’t right. Having told everyone about my adventure (grocery clerks and car mechanics included), I was embarrassed.
Luckily, I didn’t have to drive across the country to spend my days waking up before dawn, feeding pigs in the freezing cold and watching them go off to their death. Instead, I experienced something that felt much more difficult: a dying of self. I was forcing so many things that I thought I wanted into my life, and when they didn’t fit, I only pushed harder.
As the trees weathered the winter, so did I. Holding on became so difficult that the only choice I had was to let go. With my friend’s advice playing on repeat in my head, I made a decision to face and embrace what was actually making me afraid, what I was running from. I ceased trying to understand why so many lovely things in my life had withered and died. I stopped forcing and fighting. I stopped asking for things to just go my way. It was painful in so many ways. I cried. I screamed. I threw fits. I didn’t see the point or understand why everything had to be so difficult all at once. But looking back I am able to see the leaves that had once kept my branches feeling safe, protected, and beautiful had served their purpose. That standing alone, I was strong and safe; I had roots.
As the trees begin to grow new leaves, I am excited to be experiencing the rebirth and renewal that has come with spring. I’ve started journaling again. I’ve started a meditation practice of walking. I’ve thrown myself the harder into into helping alcoholic women around me. I’ve found that once I stopped forcing my own self-will, yes I feel discomfort, but it has been followed by a much greater sense of trust, clarity, relief and purpose.
Spring: The Season of Renewal
As we enter a new season, it’s important to take time and space to pause, reflect and reassess. What hardship have you experienced, recently or in the past? Are you still holding onto pieces of it? Maybe you haven’t experienced any hardships lately, but you’re caught up in the busyness of life.
Pause: Take some space to breathe. Go for a long walk around your neighborhood or a local park, find a quiet place to do a sitting meditation, enjoy a cup of coffee in your own backyard, go for a bike ride. Get out in nature.
Reflect: Take time to think through some thoughts, or maybe even journal. Where does your time go? Do you enjoy what you’re doing? Are you taking time to relax and enjoy life? Is there something in your life that doesn’t feel quite right – are you forcing it?
Reassess: Make a decision to make some changes. What’s important to you? Are you making time for that? What isn’t serving you? How can you let go of it?
Then consider this:
“Very often a change of self is needed more than a change of scene.”
-Arthur Christopher Benson
Remember the journey of letting go and growing is a constant one. Let go of the urge to have everything just right, or even right now. Step into spring, with your face lifted to the sun, your eyes taking in the beauty and your heart open to renewal. And again, if interested in continuing your own journey to renewal, we’d love to have you join us for any one of our upcoming Yoga Retreats.
Do you ever find yourself wondering “how did I end up here?” You look back at the zigs and zags of your life and wonder should I have stepped left when I stepped right? Should I have skipped a few steps (partners, jobs, ideas) entirely?
Out of necessity we may find ourselves doing things we didn’t plan. Or even losing sight of our hopes and dreams. It’s called reality. If you need a break from reality, join us for a retreat. It will change your perspective and maybe even your life.
Perhaps you’ve spent the last 5, 10 or 20 years raising your children. Or working in a career that didn’t suit you. Or in a relationship (with a friend, partner or even co-worker) that was sucking the life out of you. If I’ve learned anything in my life, “It’s never too late… to turn back, start over, press the reset button.”
And never say never.
I never thought I’d stay home with my children – I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity and I loved it. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, yet the most rewarding.
I never thought I’d be single at 47. I still struggle with being single while everyone else I know seems to be happily (mostly) coupled up. But I am enjoying the peace and independence of my singlehood. And the perks that come with it.
My ex told me I’d never make a Yoga DVD. He also told me it was impossible to succeed in business doing something I was passionate about. Huh. I did and I am.
After being in too many relationships with men who demeaned me, while promising to love and care for me, I had dreamed for years of empowering women and now through Retreat in the Pines, I’m living my dream. And I’ve found empowering women empowers me.
I’ve spent my life changing directions. And while at times it has been challenging, it has gotten me to where I am now and for that I am grateful.
Spring is the Time of Renewal
Maybe this year renewal for you is starting over. Taking your dream and making it a reality. Whether it’s a new career direction, going back or starting school, starting a hobby or activity you’ve always wanted to experience or surrounding yourself with people who lift you up, instead of tearing you down.
Think of it as a spring cleaning for your life. Here’s how:
Take stock of where you are in life. Finances, time commitments, your true friends who support you no matter what, your career and where it’s taking you. Take a good look at all of it, and release what is holding you back from achieving your dreams.
Let go of negative self-talk and any other behaviors that keep you stuck. Schedule an appointment with a professional counselor. If that’s not feasible, choose a good friend who can give you perspective on your current state of thinking.
Make a one year, five year and ten year plan. Where do you see yourself? Make one reality based plan and one “if I had all of the time and money in the world this is what I’d do” plan. Take action steps to get moving on one or both of your plans. Be willing to edit or modify your plans and dreams, but unwilling to give up.
Take baby steps. Don’t plan a total life revamp for the next month. As with New Year’s resolutions, biting off too much at once is a recipe for failure. Most failures are opportunities for learning, so if you end up there, let it be your stepping stone to something else.
Get out of your comfort zone. As many of my guests know, I vow to live out of my comfort zone – Every Single Day. It gets uncomfortable! I’ve discovered I am now able to embrace discomfort, mostly. Getting out of your comfort zone can be as easy as taking a different way to work or as challenging as going somewhere by yourself…movie, dinner, across the country…without your posse.
Meditate on the changes you want to make and the things you want to release. Meditation is proven to be renewing to the body and mind. You can rewire your brain. I recommend these meditation apps to go further in your meditation practice: Bhuddify, Omvana and Headspace. Once you make a commitment to a meditation practice, you’ll see change. Meditation can be five minutes a day, your yoga practice or a meditative walk. It will change your perspective.
Begin today. What do you have to lose?
All else aside, if you’re not loving yourself, you’ve got work to do. Only by taking care of yourself, are you able to do all those things you want and need to do. Somehow, somewhere, we’ve overcomplicated our lives with busyness, thinking this somehow makes us a better person. We trick ourselves into believing if we eliminate “me” time we will have more time for other things. That’s simply untrue. Running ourselves ragged leaves us exhausted, with neither the time nor energy to take care of anybody or anything. Plus, you may start to feel resentful.
Through self-care – physical, mental and emotional – your immune system and energy levels stay strong. YOU deserve the gift of self-love and self-acceptance! Begin your journey of self care in a group of supportive and encouraging women at a retreat. Book here.
Self-Love Starts with Self-Care
Self-love begins with self-care. It’s learning to say no to many things, so you can say yes to you.
I’ve started the following habits over the last few years and I’m healthy and full of energy. I have three grown children (if you have young children – you are blissfully unaware of the stress of grown children), a growing business and I’m enduring (don’t know if I can say enjoying) the horrors of online dating. I’ve found when I commit to myself through these habits, I change my life, my attitude and how I feel. All for the better.
Most of these habits are simple and cost nothing! A little bit of practice will make them part of your life. I invite you to take the first step towards self-love, by incorporating the following simple self-care tips into your life.
Plenty of sleep – I make sure I get a good night’s sleep no matter what else is going on in my life. Sleep trumps all else: yoga, meditation, time at the gym, etc. Good sleep is crucial to good mental, emotional and physical health. This is the time when your body repairs itself and your brain stores memories. If you have trouble sleeping, turn off electronics several hours before bed. Try breathing, meditation or a warm bath before bed. Your body and mind need the chance to wind down. If you have trouble falling asleep or you wake up periodically during the night, your body and mind have gotten into the habit, which like any habit, you can change. Sometimes our bodies wake up in the middle of the night because we are hungry, if you’re like me and don’t eat a lot in the evening, this is especially true. Try a couple of spoonfuls of peanut or almond butter before bed.
Drink Water– Specifically water that is room temperature, or even warm. Ice water slows down your digestive system. Ice water in the winter makes you cold. I used to love ice, now I never miss it. When your digestive system is sluggish, you feel sluggish and lack energy.
Eating for the Seasons – Our bodies naturally crave the foods of the season. Hearty stews and soups and root vegetables in the winter to warm us from the inside out. Salads, fruit, lighter meals in the summer to keep us cooler.
Journaling – Writing down your thoughts is a great a tool to process emotions. I usually journal several times a week, sometimes not as often when things are going smoothly. I have journaled frequently since my divorce 6 years ago. I believe this, as well as the help of the right therapist, allowed me to process my divorce and get back to living.
Indulge – A little dark chocolate, a little red wine, a long soak in a bubble bath and a Netflix binge. There’s no harm in a few guilty pleasures. Researchers have found dark chocolate and red wine are actually good for your heart. I love to combine the first three with a novel I’m reading and press pause on my life for an hour.
Yoga and Meditation – Yoga and meditation isn’t complicated or time consuming. Yoga can be simply breathing and moving mindfully for ten minutes. Meditation is any mindfulness practice and can be as simple as sitting in stillness or taking a walk. Several times per week is ideal, but do what works best for your schedule.
Ginger Tea – Every morning I warm up a mug of homemade ginger tea, add a little local honey and fresh lemon and enjoy a soothing cup of goodness that is healthy for the digestive system, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and detoxifying for the kidneys.
Oil Pulling – I practice this every evening while watching Netflix. Take a spoonful of oil (I prefer coconut oil) and swish for 20 minutes. I floss first, oil pull, then rinse with water and brush my teeth. I love this because it detoxifies my mouth, keeps my gums healthy and my teeth white. You can also add a little bit of essential oil if you’d like. Plus, once I oil pull, I’m done eating for the night. Preventing the late night munchies!
Time in Nature – Studies have shown that nature is healing. The colors, the smells, the sounds. Emerge yourself in a bath of nature by walking through the park or simply spending time in your backyard. And let the healing begin.
Physical Activity – Yoga, walking, bicycling – any activity that gets the blood flowing and increases your heart rate is ideal. It doesn’t have to be an hour long Zumba or spin class. Strength training is especially important for women to keep our muscles and bones strong. You can use light hand weights or do Pilates or yoga. Know that as women, we won’t bulk up, but will instead have nicely toned (and strong!) muscles. And it feels good.
Acupuncture – I get an acupuncture treatment at least once a month. My acupuncturist works with me on all aspects of my life, asking me questions about my stress levels, my eating and sleeping, my allergies and any other physical ailments. I walk out of there feeling mentally, physically and emotionally balanced. It is an amazing feeling. Acupuncture can help you with everything from depression to joint pain and so much more. Some insurance plans cover Acupuncture and you can also itemize from your taxes as a medical expense. While some people are skeptical, more and more research has shown that acupuncture is effective, especially as a way of reducing inflammation in the body.
I can’t remember the last time I was sick. And some weeks are better than others for fitting it all in. If I fall off the wagon and don’t do everything on my list every week, I forgive myself and move on.
Life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, I have my moments. But I have lots of energy, I’m loving life and I’m so happy to share these tips with you.
I’m wishing you a Lifetime of Self-Love. We all deserve the gift of love, kindness, respect and compassion. And it starts with ourselves.
- Get Organized
- Lose Weight
- Stop a Bad Habit
- Start a Good Habit
- Save Money
- Get a Better Job
- Find Love
Not only are these all really overwhelming…some are just simply unattainable. Plus, New Year’s Resolutions are known to fail. Don’t set yourself up to fail. A perfect way to change your perspective is at a retreat, we have so many options to choose from, see them all here.
If you are unhealthy I encourage you to get healthier, taking baby steps.
Whatever you do, don’t try this at home: eat only vegetables, stop drinking and run 5 miles a day. I guarantee you will probably eat a lot of junk, drink MORE and you won’t want to walk anywhere, let alone run. Baby steps would be add more veggies to your diet, drink only on certain occasions and walk out the front door and keep going. And if you relapse by staying in bed all day and eating potato chips (close to a vegetable!) and drinking wine (staying in bed can qualify as an occasion, right?), don’t be too hard on yourself.
Start again the next day. Don’t give up on yourself after getting off course one time.
This year, live life. Joyfully. Passionately. Confidently. Just as you are. Because you are wonderful and lovely and perfectly imperfect.
Happy New Year. May this be the year of YOU!
Winter is officially here, but if you’re in Texas you wouldn’t know it. I promise I’m not complaining. The 70 degree days don’t really fit with the holiday festivities, but with February right around the corner I know I won’t be the only Texan missing these blue sky, balmy days of early winter.
According to Ayurvedic principles, Winter is the season that our digestive fire is the strongest. To maintain balance in our bodies during the winter months, Ayurvedic principles encourage eating foods that are warm, cooked, slightly oily, and well spiced. With our bodies being naturally inclined towards heavier foods during this season, oatmeal makes the perfect meal to begin those cold, winter mornings.
If you’re interested in learning more about Ayurvedic principles, read this: Winter Guide. We also share Ayurvedic Cooking & Eating Tips at our Detox Retreats.
Crockpot Steel Cut Oatmeal
1 cup steel cut oats
1 can (14.5 oz) full fat coconut milk*
2 1/4 cups water
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp clove
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
handful of dried fruit
handful of pecans or walnuts
Stir together all ingredients in a medium to large crockpot. Cover, set to “warm,” and cook for 8 hours. If cooking longer than 8 hours, stir at least once during cooking. Serve warm with fresh blueberries, sliced bananas, and/or shredded coconut if desired. Enjoy!
*I recommend using canned coconut milk because it is much creamier (and pure) than what you will find in the carton. This will make for a creamier end result.
Uplifting Holiday Essential Oil Blend
14 drops grapefruit essential oil
6 drops peppermint essential oil
4 drops sage essential oil
Use as a blend for any of these fun and easy DIY gift recipes! (You can also find other blends here.)
Soothing Bath Salts
1 cup coarse sea salt
½ cup epsom salts
3 tbsp baking soda
10-15 drops essential oil blend of your choice
In a large bowl, mix together salts and baking soda. Add in essential oil and combine. Store in a tightly sealed container to keep out moisture.
Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub
½ cup coconut oil, melted but not hot
1 ½ cups sugar
10-20 drops of essential oil blend of your choice
Mix coconut oil and sugar until desired consistency, and stir in essential oils of your choice.
10 oz mist sprayer bottle
25 drops of your favorite essential oil or blend
Add essential oil to bottle and fill with water. Shake to blend. Use on yoga mats, sheets, bath towels, cloth sofas, and more!
Some of our retreats offer DIY Aromatherapy Workshops. Find out more here.
With gratefulness in our hearts, our thoughts turn to hope…hope for the future, for the world, for each one of you – that you may find exactly what you need today and every day.
May your life be filled with love, light and hope. Retreat with us to find hope and so much more.
It never ceases to thrill me the amazing and wonderful women who visit Retreat in the Pines. Our Three Night Gratitude Retreat was no exception. The group bonded immediately, and we were sharing laughter and tears right away. To experience this magic for yourself, join us at an upcoming retreat.
No two retreats are the same, but there is often a shared feeling or theme that connects everyone who is present for the retreat. In this particular group, our common theme seemed to be transition. Women moving on from ending long term relationships. Women beginning new career directions. Women becoming strong and confident.
One guest, whose wonderful open heart shows up in her smile, inspired us with her recent decision to pursue her dream business (visit her jewelry website). Another guest, who has been struggling with working too much and not taking enough time for herself, shared her contagious laugh all weekend. Another shared her vulnerability and opened up to us about challenges she is facing with her family. And Heather, who recently moved back from Oregon, is transitioning from a career in the insurance industry to cooking meals for our guests. Read her bio here.
This weekend these women found “the magic” (as many of our guests have called it): a special combination of peace, healing and the courage to go on knowing they are not alone in their struggle. After sharing four days together in an intimate and safe space it seemed impossible to venture back to reality without the support of each other, we hugged each other and made plans to gather for lunch.
The defining moment of our weekend was when one guest inadvertently pulled off the gravel road and her truck sank in the mud. She was ready to get home quickly to see her sick dog. We had to work together to come up with a solution; doing what we knew to do, we placed wood under the tires, and watched the tires spin as she sank deeper. Then, someone suggested we push the truck backwards. I have to admit, I was skeptical. But we did it! The energy in that moment was incredible. We gathered together, we used our strength in numbers, and we pushed her out of the mud, cheering in victory.
And that seems to me like a metaphor for women and life. One of us gets stuck, spinning our wheels trying to get out, but instead, digging deeper into a hole. When we come together to aid women (friends, family, acquaintances, women in different countries and situations), we find strength in our numbers and WE support women everywhere when we help one.
Whatever challenge you’re facing in your life, a retreat will change your perspective. Learn more about our upcoming yoga and wellness retreats and sign up for a retreat that fits your schedule and budget.
It’s fall and that means it’s sweet potato season! Sweet potatoes are hands down one of my favorite veggies. Did you know that sweet potatoes are superfoods packed full of health benefits? Make these muffins for your friends and family over the holidays, or make them on a Sunday evening to enjoy for breakfast all week! If you have leftover mashed sweet potatoes, you can do what I did which is replace the sweet potatoes and milk with leftover mashed sweet potatoes.
For the muffins:
2 large sweet potatoes (about 14oz), cut in half (skins on)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar (optional)
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup milk
zest of a small orange
3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
For the topping:
2 tbs. sugar
1 tbs. cinnamon
Makes 12 muffins.
- In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
- Bring a saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain well, and set aside to cool. Once the potatoes are cool enough for handling, squeeze the potatoes out of their skin and into a food processor (or blender) and pulse until slightly fluffy. Scrape the sweet potatoes into a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
- Preheat an oven to 400°F. Grease 12 standard muffin cups with cooking oil.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt.
- In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, oil, milk and orange zest. Whisk vigorously for 1 minute. Add the mashed sweet potatoes and beat until completely blended. Add the flour mixture and stir until just evenly moistened. (It’s okay if the batter is slightly lumpy, you don’t want to overmix). Using a large rubber spatula, fold in the pecans until just evenly distributed, no more than a few strokes.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them three-fourths full.
- Sprinkle with the topping, dividing evenly.
- Bake until the muffins are golden, dry and springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Serve them warm, with coconut oil or butter.