A Simple Way to Find Peace

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Yoga Retreat Peace Tattoo


I’ve had one of those years… a year of transition and change, which I know is for the best, but the process can be painful and challenging and decidedly lacking in peace. People that were close to me acted in ways that were unexpected and hurtful. I have struggled with heartbreak and personal challenges. But once I allowed myself to get over the hurt , I began to let go, move on, and find PEACE.

When we hold on to hurt – going over and over the circumstances in our heads, maybe even feeling responsible – our lives are anything but peaceful. If we allow that churning in our head and hurting in our heart to continue, it often turns into resentment that we can’t (or won’t) stop thinking about… it’s exhausting. Ultimately we choose to forfeit peace – or embrace it.

Peace begins with forgiveness. By embracing compassion we are able to find harmony. We can let go of what was said and done, move on, and remind ourselves that the things happening “to us” aren’t even about us at all – rather, the unkind actions or damaging words from another are likely from an internal conflict that they are experiencing (this is the principle of psychological projection). It’s not you! What a relief!

As I reflect on the upcoming International Peace Day (September 21), I realized that to find peace in our world we must first seek it within ourselves. Seemingly simple and obvious, but it must be a conscious decision.

Here are some tips that have allowed me to resolve resentment and find forgiveness.

Build Awareness – Think about those things that buzz around in the back of your head. Those thoughts, worries, distractions that you can’t seem to get away from.

Self-Reflect – Reflect on what you’ve brought into awareness and vocalize how those things make you FEEL through journaling, or perhaps talking to a counselor or someone you trust. Your yoga mat is an ideal place to reflect on your life.

Embrace – Allow yourself to fully experience the feelings, resisting the urge to shove them down or distract yourself with food, drink, TV, busyness, etc.

Let Go – Once you’ve gained an awareness of, reflected on, and embraced what is going on within you, you’re presented with an opportunity to let go. And similar to yoga, letting go is a practice. Visualization and meditation are powerful.

Move On – When you release something that you’ve been holding on to, you’re free to move on. Cultivate the new found peace within yourself, and use this space to open yourself up to new possibilities and opportunities.

Yoga Retreat

Find Peace at Retreat in the Pines

If you can find peace within yourself you will likely find peace in other areas of your life. Yoga and meditation allow you to self reflect and process your feelings and a Yoga Retreat is an amazing way to begin the healing and renewal process that will allow you to let go, move on and embrace inner peace on a daily basis.

The Finding Gratitude Retreat and the Strength and Healing Retreat are specifically designed with just that in mind. Our guests immediately notice the peaceful energy of our property. We invite you to experience it for yourself.

>> Click here to learn more about our upcoming retreats.

Today, take your first step towards cultivating a life of peace.

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Grilled Peaches with Blueberries and Balsamic

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Grilled Peach with Blueberry Balsamic CompoteWe’re sad that Ham Orchards is officially closed for the season, but - like all things in life - peach season comes to an end. With a few peaches left on grocery store shelves, we wanted to share one last recipe for enjoying the juicy, golden gems that we never seem to get enough of. This recipe is enough for 2-4 people. As always, feel free to play with it, spice it up, and make it your own. And be sure to tell us about it in the comments!  

Grilled Peaches with Balsamic Blueberry Compote

2 ripe peaches – washed, halved, and pitted
3 T coconut oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
blueberries – washed

for serving
+ greek yogurt
+ honey
+ toasted pecans

  1. Whisk together a few tablespoons of coconut oil and a tablespoon or two of balsamic vinegar in an 8×8 glass baking dish until combined; add a few (or several) shakes of ground cinnamon (or freshly grated cinnamon sticks if you’re feelin’ fancy) and whisk.

  2. Place peaches in the coconut oil mixture, cut side down, and set aside; let marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. In a square sheet of foil, create a grill packet for the blueberries; drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, and close.

  4. When peaches are ready, preheat grill to medium-high heat.

  5. Place peaches (cut side down) and blueberry packet on the preheated grill.

  6. Close cover and cook until fruit has grill marks, about 3 to 4 minutes, and blueberries are bubbling.

  7. Remove from heat and serve immediately, drizzling the blueberry compote over the peach and adding a dollop of greek yogurt, drizzle of honey, and a few toasted pecans – if you’re heart desires.

Enjoy! Grilled Peaches

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I gave up sodas a few years ago, and have never really been a big iced tea person, so normally I drink coffee and water. As much as I love the two, it gets boring.Ginger Peach Fizz |

A couple weeks ago I was getting my daily dose of MindBodyGreen in, and this DIY: All Natural Ginger Ale recipe caught my eye. I had a bulb of ginger that was slowly dying in the fridge – I’d purchased it to continue my Ginger-Green-Juice (I’ll blog about that soon) habit, but I was in one of those weeks where I just didn’t feel like drinking it. (Is anyone else like that?)

Wanting to take advantage of peach season, I decided to combine it with a lovely Peach Simple Syrup I’d stumbled across one day while searching Pinterest.

It’s quite experimental, but I really enjoyed how it came out! You may prefer more sweetener, but I really like chocolate (especially the coconut oil chocolate I love to make) so I try to save my sugar for the really good stuff.

It’s a healthy alternative to ginger ale, and something different than ginger peach tea. Plus, ginger is great for your digestive system. Win win! (Side note, I’m not a big ice person, so I serve mine with frozen berries and peaches to help keep it chilled.)


Ginger Peach Fizz

1 small bulb ginger, sliced (not necessary to peel)
4 fresh peaches – pitted, peeled, and diced
4 cups water
2 tbsp. honey (or agave)

+ sparkling water
+ frozen berries, fresh peach slices, and/or fresh mint to garnish
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine ginger, peaches, and water over medium-high heat.
  2. Once boiling, lower heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for one hour.
  3. Remove lid and continue to simmer for 30 more minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, strain mixture to remove ginger and peach pulp, and stir in honey.
  5. Let syrup cool completely and store in refrigerator.
  6. Add ¼ cup syrup (give or take) to a glass. Top with sparkling water, stir gently, add ice, and garnish.


by Nina Herndon | Leave a comment

Engage Your 5 Senses and Find Adventure Close to Home

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“One way to get the most out of life is to look at it as an adventure.” William Feather

Discover the adventures that are right before you…an adventure can be as simple as your mindset and as close as your backyard. The more time you spend yearning for that “perfect adventure” that takes you away from your life as you know it, the more opportunities you miss to experience what’s right in front of you. Invite yourself to experience adventure – a new place, a new activity, a new thought – just by changing your perspective.

The dog days of summer are here and even if you do have the money and time for a tropical getaway, why not take the opportunity to enjoy every day adventures? It’s easy to have fun and keep more of your paycheck in your pocket with a few tips to change your perspective and help you have an adventure close to home.

Get creative, open yourself up to new possibilities, engage your five senses, and ask yourself, “What will I discover today?”


Close to Home – Take a road trip; visit a local art gallery; or visit a science, history or art museum.

At Home – Wake up early and watch the sunrise from your porch or a local coffee shop. Stay up late and stargaze. Look at photos of beautiful places in the world. Take a new route to a routine place.


Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream - Deliciousness

Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream – Deliciousness

Close to Home – Try a new restaurant, something fancy or a simple hole in the wall. Be open to new flavors and try a dish you wouldn’t normally order. Meet a friend for a meal and suggest ordering a few dishes to share. Enjoy your meal mindfully, noticing the different textures and letting every bite fill your mouth with flavor. Tune out the distractions so you can really savor what you are eating. Or take a cooking class and relish the deliciousness of what you’ve prepared. Letting your attention be captured by the moment by moment act of preparing the meal, as well as eating it.

At Home – Get creative in your own kitchen, experimenting with a dish you’ve never made before or use a new technique. Maybe share cooking duties with a friend or partner. Here’s one of my favorite recipes, so easy, delicious and healthy, plus perfect for a hot summer day. Enjoy every delicious bite.


Close to Home – Get a massage, a pedicure, or a manicure. Instead of thinking one hundred random thoughts, tune into the sensation of touch and how your body feels.

At Home – Exchange massages or foot rubs with a friend or your partner. Notice the sensation of touching and being touched. Try a self-massage with foam rollers or a tennis ball. Bring awareness to how good it feels to completely relax, then let yourself relax for longer, enjoying every moment, without thinking about your to do list.


Close to Home – Enjoy an outdoor concert. There are usually several free or low cost offerings in the summer. Bring your own picnic and blanket and sit back and enjoy the music. Maybe you know how to play an instrument, you can host a small concert of your own with friends in a local park or even your backyard.

At Home – Spend some time in your backyard or a local park tuning into and enjoying the sounds of nature. Start with the obvious sounds – the birds, the wind in the trees – and as you continue to listen notice a deeper level of awareness for all the sounds around you.


Summer Wildflowers

Summer Wildflowers

Close to Home – Take a walk through a nature preserve, local park, botanical garden, maybe even a zoo. Notice the colors and sounds, while tuning into the smells…good smells, unpleasant smells.

At Home – Take a bath or shower using lavender or peppermint essential oils, a couple of drops in the tub, and notice how the smells affect your mood. As you prepare your breakfast, notice the aroma of the coffee brewing and the smell of the eggs, bacon and toast cooking. Take your breakfast outside and take a moment to let all of the smells permeate your senses.

Make Every Moment of Your Day an Adventure

Step away from your phone, TV, laptop and enjoy the world around you. As you begin to tune out the things that distract you on an everyday basis you’ll notice the richness of everything that surrounds you. When you try something new or experience routine or inconveniences with a sense of being open to anything, you’ll be amazed as your life becomes a series of adventures.

A Yoga Retreat at Retreat in the Pines is a wonderful and amazing adventure where you’ll discover your true self, while enjoying yoga, wine and laughter. Book your next retreat here.

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3 Areas to Find Freedom

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As I celebrated Independence Day this weekend, I was reminded that in recent years women in the United States have come so far, yet unfortunately in many areas of the world, women are still struggling.

Realizing how I take what I have for granted, I made an intention to be more

Women at a Yoga Retreat

Women at a Yoga Retreat

mindful of the simple freedoms I experience every day.

I am so grateful that I’ve found the freedom to be me, because it allows me to be myself unapologetically, speak my mind (even when others may not agree), and choose the activities and relationships that keep me moving forward.

Are you free to enjoy the life that you deserve? Take a moment to reflect on a few questions that may help you find the freedom you are seeking.

Freedom from expectations

  • Do you find yourself not expressing your opinions out of fear that someone else might not agree?
  • Do you participate in an activity when you’d rather not…because it’s easier than suggesting something else?
  • Are you in a job or relationship that doesn’t nurture your soul because you’re afraid to get out of your comfort zone or let someone down?
  • Do you think you should look or behave a certain way?

We often want to “keep the peace,” but this may hamper us from being our truest self. What if you took a baby step today that allowed you the freedom to be truly and authentically you, letting go of expectations and judgments?

Freedom from things

  • Do you feel that buying the cute purse, latest gadget, or adorable kitty knickknack will somehow make your life better? (Do you notice that you already own several purses and kitty knickknacks that are alarmingly the same?!)
  • Do you think you need the latest technology, when your current device is fine?
  • Do you find yourself buying things on credit, only to notice that the thrill of the purchase turns into buyer’s remorse?
  • Do you ever feel like all the things you own start to stress you out – feeling like you don’t have enough time to keep up with or use them?

Maybe your life is entirely simplified, everything streamlined and clutter free. Or maybe you’re more like me, sometimes lost in a sea of “things” looking for the relief that less brings. What if you took some time this week to go through and reflect on some of the things you’ve collected over the years? Then make a conscious effort to donate, throw away or keep, reminding yourself that it’s just stuff.

Freedom from over scheduling

  • Do you have enough time to nurture the relationships with your loved ones?
  • Do you make time to relax and enjoy your garden, hobby, pet, or what brings you joy?
  • Do you get your work projects done in a timely manner?
  • Are you able to get to the gym or yoga studio or go for a run or bike ride?
    • Always Be You

      Always Be You

      Maybe your life is perfect in that you have just enough time to give to all priorities in your life. Or maybe you are so thinly stretched for time, some days you feel you might just…snap. Allow yourself to remove one “obligation” that doesn’t serve you this week.

      Search for and Find More Personal Freedom

      Sometimes personal freedom is simply learning to say “No” to the things that keep you from moving forward. “No I don’t need this purchase,” ‘No thank you,” or “I’m sorry, but no I can’t help this time.” Try saying no to a work or volunteer project that you can’t fully give your attention to, no to a night out of dancing and drinking when staying in would nurture your soul, no to the friend that vents for an hour on the phone before you can even say word one.

      Today, give yourself permission to be truly and unapologetically you.

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chocolate-banana “ice cream”

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retreat in the pines featured favorite recipe-chocolate-peanut-butter-banana ice cream

chocolate-banana ice cream topped with warm peanut butter and cinnamon, served with iced coffee.

I LOVE ice cream so much so that i can’t buy it for myself unless i have someone to share it with. I love ice cream. then, i discovered this amazing banana “ice cream” and it’s the perfect sweet treat, with no added sugar. love it! you’ll need:
  • 6-7 overripe bananas, sliced and frozen
  • 1/2 cup milk*
  • 4+ tablespoons cocoa
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • cinnamon
  • for topping: almond/peanut butter, toasted pecans, fresh sliced bananas
  1. blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until whipped to a creamy consistency, about 2 minutes.
  2. top with toppings and enjoy!
*i recommend using real milk over almond/coconut/etc. because if there’s any leftover (which there very well may not be) the creaminess of the milk makes it a bit easier to dip into and serve without waiting for it to thaw (coconut cream might be something to experiment with but i haven’t tried it) try experimenting with other flavors and tell us what you come up with! happy ice creaming (: love. nina
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Cool Basil Avocado Feta Dip

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This delicious dip is the perfect appetizer on a hot summer day. I love it as a late afternoon pick me up with gluten free crackers. Or enjoy it as a nice addition to a light dinner of healthy salads or a side dish with something from the grill.


Delicious & Cool Basil Avocado Feta Dip

Delicious & Cool Basil Avocado Feta Dip

  • 1 lb tomatoes chopped
  • 3 medium avocados cubed
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 8 oz. package of crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Toss together first four ingredients. Combine olive oil and vinegar and pour over ingredients. Gently stir. Serve immediately with sweet potato chips, tortilla chips or crackers.

    Avocados are delicious and so good for you! Here are some of the healthy benefits you’ll enjoy when you enjoy an avocado.


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5 Easy Ways to Be Mindful this Summer

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Hammock in Spring

Spend a Lazy Day in the Hammock

The lazy days of summer are the perfect time to practice mindfulness. There’s no school projects to stress over, the hustle and bustle of the holidays is still in the distant future, and the days are longer…everything about summer seems to encourage mindfulness.

This is the time to enjoy the warmer temperatures and spend time in nature. The long days allow for more time to enjoy morning walks, evening bike rides, afternoons swimming at the pool, and sunsets on the patio. With an abundance of fresh fruits and veggies from the Farmer’s Market (our local favorite is the Coppell Farmers Market) – which really do taste so much better than the produce from the grocery store – summer is the perfect time to mindfully tune into all the sensations that surround you. Summer vacation plans allow you to really slow down and spend time with the people you love, enjoying the activities that you enjoy.

Mindfulness is as simple as breathing. But we tend to get caught up in the past or the future – usually without noticing – and the present disappears before we even realize it. Are you are despairing over your own (or someone else’s) words or actions? Are you spending your time fretting the “what ifs”, or losing yourself in the busyness of planning this day or that event? In doing that, the past or future is consuming your thoughts while the present passes you by, unnoticed.

How to Stop Being Mindless and Be Present

1. Follow your breath

We often take our breath for granted, not really noticing the incredible life giving force that it is. Take a moment right now to simply notice your inhale and exhale. Notice the movements that your body makes as you breathe. Notice the sensation of the air in your nostrils, your throat, and your belly. Practice exhaling all the air in your lungs and taking fuller, deeper breaths in. If you get distracted, simply bring your awareness back to your breath. Be patient with yourself and know that, like yoga, this is a practice. See how long you can go for – starting out with one minute, five, and working your way up to ten or more. If you’re interested in beginning a meditation practice, following your breath is a great place to start.

2. Start small

Your drive to work or the grocery store is a great place to start practicing mindfulness. Instead of letting the countless thoughts take over, take a moment to notice the sensations you’re experiencing around you. Look at the people (often entertaining) and scenery, tune into the sounds and noises, tap into the sensations your body is experiencing. What do you notice? Was someone smiling at you? Did you hear a noise that was previously unnoticed? Did you feel sensations that surprise you? Every time you notice yourself distracted and running through the list of “I have to…”, ”I can’t forget…” , “I better…” simply stop and refocus. Practice taking this into other areas of your day – drinking your morning coffee, sharing a conversation with someone, talking a walk on your lunch break.

3. Pay attention to loved ones

It’s too easy to be distracted by weekend plans, what you need to pick up for dinner tonight, and the countless other distractions experienced in the presence of loved ones. We get wrapped up in the day-to-day distractions, taking precious moments for granted. Try to intentionally tune into the time that you are sharing with another person as you enjoy a meal in each other’s company or drive somewhere together. Notice their facial expressions and gestures, listen to the story that they’re sharing with you, and look for the little things that you love about them. Get out of your head and into the space with your loved one. We all know that our time with each other is limited – be intentional to cherish their company, their thoughts and insights, their laughter.

4. Take it outdoors

As you enjoy the warmer weather and activities, look for opportunities to be present in the nature that surrounds you. Take note of the colors, the textures, and the life around you. Follow your breath and notice the scents of freshly cut grass and blooming flowers. Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, noticing how your perspiration cools your body in the breeze.

Fresh Fruits & Veggies at a Local Farmer's Market

Fresh Fruits & Veggies at a Local Farmer’s Market

5. Savor your food

Another life-giving force that is all too easily taken for granted, eating is often done mindlessly with many of us combining it with working, watching TV, or driving – thinking that eating alone in silence is a bad thing. Take the time to really enjoy your meals, not eating while reading the newspaper, watching TV or driving. And especially don’t stand up to eat at the kitchen counter. Slow down to eat. Smell the aroma of your coffee before you drink it, notice the colors and textures of the fresh fruits and veggies, and savor every bite. (Some great summer recipes to try are the Strawberry Superfood Crisp and Quinoa Salad)

Photo: Allen Scheffield

Practicing Mindfulness at Retreat in the Pines

Pine Trees & Hardwoods

Driveway to Retreat Center

One of my favorite parts of a retreat is our Saturday morning mindfulness walk. Going out, we talk and enjoy one another’s company. On the walk back, though, we are intentional to be silent and practice being fully present with each step – observing the sounds, smells, and sights around us. One of the most amazing things the guests discover is that the walk back feels longer. The act of paying attention to our surroundings and noticing how our body physically feels in space seems to draw out time – something worth noting.

There is growing evidence that spending time in nature in a mindful manner has many health benefits, both physical and mental. Researchers have proven that the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, the practice of mindfully spending time in nature (specifically among trees), can actually help reduce stress hormones and decrease blood pressure.

As we get busier and busier and time seems to go faster and faster, don’t you wish your life would slow down just a little? It can, with the simple act of practicing mindfulness. Try it today. Make this moment count, then the next and the next.

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” – Anne Frank

Check out our upcoming retreat schedule at

See you in the pines!

Posted in Retreat at Home Tip | 1 Comment

Mothers’ Love: “Why My Mom Deserves a Retreat” Giveaway

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Sue and Daughters Melissa and Pat at a Recent Retreat.

Sue and Daughters Melissa and Pat at a Recent Retreat.

Mothers are truly incredible women. There are no words that can adequately describe the role that they play in our lives. Some of us have the gift of friendship with our mother (something that I am personally incredibly grateful for and blessed by), others have lost their mothers, and some have never met their mothers. We all have a different story to tell about our own, but the role played by a mother is an invaluable thing – whether it’s a birth mother or a grandmother or someone else that might have stepped in when we needed mothering, we each experience a very bond with our mother. A relationship that deserves to be celebrated more than once a year. Here are quotes celebrating 100 years of honoring mothers on Mother’s Day.

In some of our recent newsletters, we asked readers to share with us why their mother deserved a getaway at Retreat in the Pines. And while I didn’t submit my story, it wouldn’t have been picked anyways – I’m guessing that it probably wouldn’t be very relaxing if my mom won a retreat and had to host it at the same time. Katie, however, submitted her entry for the “Why My Mom Deserves a Retreat” giveaway and the story she shared with us about her mother was one that we couldn’t pass up.

Keep reading for Katie’s story, and then my own.

Katie’s Mom

“My mom has had the mixed blessing of raising an additional generation as a working mom. My younger sister lost parental rights to her children, and it was my mother who adopted them all (officially in 2012). My oldest nephew had lived with my mom since he was an infant, over 10 years now. My younger nephew and niece have both lived with her since they left the hospital immediately after their births in 2010 and 2009, respectively. My mother housed, fed, and cared for all three children without hesitation… and without any financial help from my sister, the birthmother.

Katie's Mom Theresa

Katie’s Mom Theresa

Cashing in her 401k with penalties was just one of the many sacrifices my mother made in order to support these children. She has had to deal with everything from irregular court appearances, to CPS case workers, to the Office of the Attorney General, and all sorts of bureaucracy in between, just to keep the children safe. She’s had to take untold amounts of unpaid days off from work, put an unknown number of miles on her car, and spent an unholy amount of time in administrative offices to protect the interests of these children.

My mother has never taken a vacation by herself. She has never gotten a manicure, or a pedicure, or a facial, or gone to happy hour with her friends. She doesn’t drink, or smoke, or even go out to dinner without the children. She doesn’t date – she hasn’t dated anyone since she and my father split over twenty years ago. She’s never had a spa day, or a massage, or gone to a yoga or meditation class, but she is very spiritual and would love it. Of this, I am certain.

My mom stays home with her grandchildren every night, watching movies, going to the neighborhood park, and even taking them out for frozen yogurt on occasion. Everything she does is centered on those children, and they are so lucky to have her – I can testify to this. I truly believe that they would have an even better experience living with a [grand]mom who was better rested, less stressed, and even more peaceful, but of course mom doesn’t make the sacrifice for herself – it isn’t her nature. Not only do I think the Retreat in the Pines experience would be good for her, but I also think it would be good for them – to see that taking time away for self-care is crucial for grownups. I know that they would be able to tell the difference after, and I imagine that my mom would as well.

Katie & Theresa at Katie's Graduation

Katie & Theresa at Katie’s Graduation

My mom deserves to be “forced” to experience restorative time without toddlers for the first time in years. My mom deserves some healing time with peace and her thoughts. She deserves some gentle introspection and opportunity for self-renewal.

I know that my mom will most likely have to work well past the age of retirement. We want her to be mentally, spiritually, and physically fortified for years to come. Being hypertensive – and on medication for it – my mom deserves the calming properties of yoga. This retreat would be an amazing experience for my mom, and I hope it would also mark the beginning of her yogic path.

I love my mom, and I want her to be happy. She deserves to know what happy is outside of the context of my niece and nephews. She will be your best student.

Namaste, Katie”

My Mom

My Mom and I Enjoying Time Together Away from Work

My Mom and I Enjoying Time Together Away from Work

My mother is an amazing woman – I think she deserves way more than I could ever give her. There is no one word that could describe her, and to this day I still tell her that she’s the best mom in the whole world.

I’ve watched my mom endure a lot. I’d like to think that I’ve helped my mom endure a lot. No one has an easy life, but there’s something about being a kid and the way moms do their thing that somehow make everything look easy. So much so that all kids seem to want to do is grow up! But looking back now, I am able to see just how strong my mom actually was… and is. 

Growing up, I formed a special relationship with my mom; there were times when it was just the two of us. I always like to think of us as being the team that stuck together through all the years; to this very day we continue to work together. When my mom got laid off from her job she was a single mother raising three kids. It had only been a couple of years since the divorce, and being an adult now I can’t even imagine what that would feel like. 

But nothing stopped my mom. To this day she often tells me, “Nina, everything will be okay” and I imagine that this – or some other similar mantra – was what kept her going in those seasons of uncertainty. The layoff was a blessing in disguise – she found her niche and began teaching more and more fitness classes, eventually leading her to the path of becoming a yoga teacher and finding her life’s calling. Though it was hard for all of us at times, everything that has happened – both good and bad – has led us to where we are now.

I’ll say it again, my mom is an amazing woman. She works hard. She loves deeply. She gives selflessly. She’s been through more than I can describe, but she still smiles and laughs more than almost anyone I know. Witnessing her start a business, run it, and pursue her passion is a gift that I treasure. I am so grateful to call her my mother, and I am so blessed by the opportunity to work with her in this adventure called Retreat in the Pines.

Susan and Her Daughter Melissa Enjoying a Yoga Class at a Recent Retreat

Susan and Her Daughter Melissa Enjoying a Yoga Class at a Recent Retreat

Your Mom Deserves a Retreat

I don’t think we give enough credits to our moms. Especially those of us who don’t have our own children, and can’t fully appreciate the lengths that our mothers have gone to in an effort to raise us. So, treat your mom to a retreat. She probably deserves it. And even if you think she doesn’t, maybe she needs it. 

Check out our upcoming retreat schedule at

See you in the pines!


P.S. Have you seen my most recent recipe blog? It’s a Spring Strawberry Superfood Crisp that you don’t want to miss! Check it out!

Posted in Inspiring Women | Leave a comment

Quinoa Salad with Apricots and Spinach

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With warmer weather coming, main dish salad meals are my favorite. This recipe is so easy, plus it’s delicious and oh so healthy. I love this salad because its so versatile. You can make it as your main dish, wrap it in a tortilla for a sandwich on the go or have it as a side dish with something off of the grill.


Vegan Quinoa Salad Recipe

Healthy, Delicious and Easy to Make Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad with Apricots and Spinach

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 tsp EVOO
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 dried apricots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I prefer a sweeter wine)
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 6 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds toasted on stove top in a pan, stirring frequently
  • Dressing

  • 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt, plain non or low fat
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp each of cumin, cinnamon and ginger
  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  • Toast quinoa in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until it becomes aromatic and begins to crackle, about 5 minutes. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute. Add apricots and the quinoa; continue cooking, stirring often, until the quinoa has dried out and turned light golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Add water, wine and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the quinoa is tender and the liquid is absorbed, 15 to 18 minutes.

    Make Dressing. Transfer the quinoa to a medium bowl and toss with the dressing. Let cool for at least 10 minutes. Add almonds. Just before serving, add tomatoes, onions and spinach toss to coat.

    For variety you can add blue cheese or feta or even shredded chicken. I love it sprinkled with a bit of blue cheese.

    Here are the benefits of using quinoa.


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