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News from the Retreat

Watermelon Mojitos

Watermelon MojitosOh the excitement when I first posted this photo a few weeks ago on my personal Facebook page. First of all, any photo with Zoe in it, always gets extra attention. If you’ve attended a retreat, you may already know Zoe. And to know Zoe is to love Zoe. If you haven’t met her yet, it’s not too late. Book here.

But then there’s the Watermelon Mojitos! Until this summer, I had never enjoyed the refreshing pleasure of a Mojito, watermelon or otherwise. At first taste I was sold. It was like a taste of  tropical paradise…with a kick.

 

My Not So Secret Recipe. Enjoy.

In Your Favorite Tall Glass:

Muddle Fresh Mint & Several Chunks of Fresh Watermelon (seedless)

Add the Juice of  1/2 of a Lime

Mix in 1 Package or 1/4 tsp of Stevia

Add Two Shots of Your Favorite Rum (it’s a tall glass!)

Add Ice

Fill to Top with Lime La Croix Sparkling Water

Take your first sip and close your eyes…you can almost feel the tropical breeze, can’t you?

 

 

Savor Deliciousness & Avoid Food Waste: Freezing Tips for Fruits & Veggies

Now’s the perfect time to savor the flavors of summer before it’s too late. The end of summer is always bittersweet for me – the promise of cooler weather, yet the end of the season for my favorite fruits and veggies.  There’s nothing better than a juicy peach from Ham Orchards or a handful of plump East Texas Blueberries to make my heart sing.

Farm to Table Yoga RetreatIf you have yet to savor our freshly prepared, Farm to Table dishes, you’re in for a treat. Our guests rave about our healthy and delicious meals, prepared with lots of love – from locally sourced produce and meat to homemade rosemary and garlic breads. Best of all, you don’t have to lift a finger. No chopping, no cooking, no cleaning up – just relaxing, chatting and enjoying the flavors. Hungry for homemade meals alongside yoga, laughter and wine? Book here.

Not only do we source ingredients locally, we are striving for ZERO food waste.

According to Feeding America, a non-profit organization dedicated to diverting food waste from the landfill to feed hungry families, our country’s food waste and hunger looks like this:

  • 25 to 40% of food goes into our landfills.
  • Rotting food contributes to methane (far worse than carbon dioxide in affecting global warming) in our atmosphere.
  • Food accounts for more waste in our landfills than any other waste product.
  • 1 in 7 Americans do not have enough to eat on a daily basis.
  • It’s 1 in 5 for children.
  • Children struggle with learning without enough food for energy.
  • Children who do not eat enough in the first three years, suffer delay of physical and mental development.

What can you do?

You can join me in supporting Feeding America, by making a donation (they are rated highly by Charity Navigator – 98% of the money that is donated goes to the cause of reducing hunger and food waste) or closer to home, donating to the North Texas Food Bank (94%).

You can also begin to reduce food waste at home using the following tips. By freezing, you have the opportunity to enjoy juicy goodness of summer fruits and veggie all year round.

Helpful Freezing Tips:

  • If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, it’s important to squeeze out all of the air before sealing the freezer bag.
  • Once frozen, you want to keep the bags in a place where ity won’t thaw out until you are ready to use.
  • I like to freeze things individually so I can quickly thaw out what I need. For most of these you can simply rinse, cut, and spread out on a cookie sheet to freeze individually. Once frozen, store in a freezer bag.
  • If you plan on using large quantities for sauces, stews, smoothies, etc., skip the instructions for freezing individually and simply toss in a freezer bag for quick freezing.

Summer Fruit Yoga RetreatBerries – Individually frozen berries will hold their shape better and make it easy to grab a couple for smoothies or yogurt. I like to defrost for 30 seconds and enjoy with Greek Yogurt, granola, and cinnamon as my go-to when I need something quick and healthy.

Peaches/Nectarines/Plums – Enjoy frozen in a peach-fizz or white wine sangria, or heat them up and serve them with greek yogurt and cinnamon for a healthy dessert.

Watermelon – Instead of chopping, scoop out with an ice cream scoop. Enjoy in smoothies or, my favorite, Watermelon Mojitos.

Peppers and Onions –Perfect for those weeknight dinners when you just don’t have time to chop everything.

Potatoes – For fully cooked potatoes, simply chop and freeze them and add to another dish upon thawing –  a frittata, stew or soup. To freeze raw potatoes you must first blanch them.

Tomatoes – Freezing tomatoes can take a little work, but when you reach into your freezer for a bag of fresh tomatoes for spaghetti sauce or chili, you’ll still be able to taste the tomato flavor –  in my opinion, most store bought tomatoes never taste that good. First place the tomatoes in a large pot of boiling water for one minute, then put into ice water for the skins come off. Then cut the tomatoes in half and shake out the seeds. You can also drain the water from the tomatoes for a more intense tomato flavor.

Avocados – Wash and slice the avocado in two and remove seed. Peel and remove skin. You can tightly wrap each half in cling wrap and then place in a freezer bag or you can mash with a bit of lemon or lime juice and put in freezer bag. Most important is to make sure there are no pockets of air touching the avocado.

Fresh Veggies for FrittataMy favorite breakfast is our Everything but the Kitchen Sink Frittata. We use leftover vegetables (everything from bell peppers to tomatoes to asparagus – whatever we have on hand), add eggs, freshly ground chicken sausage and cream cheese and top it with the rest of the Tomato Feta Dip from Saturday snack. Not only is it fun to combine all of the different ingredients we have on hand (I’ve even added quinoa or black beans), it’s easy to make (you can even prepare it the night before and just pop it in the oven). As many as our guests will tell you, it’s one of their favorites too.

At Retreat in the Pines we are committed to reducing food waste however we can. This is what happens over a typical weekend retreat:

  • Leftovers from retreat – Kaycee & I take home any leftovers for our families (a great perk!).
  • Cooked food from the retreat (such as quinoa, chicken, beans, veggies) – we freeze to use in future soups, curry, etc.
  • Fresh vegetables – Kaycee cuts up and freezes in freezer bags for future use in meals.
  • Table scraps – goes into compost pile (Kaycee’s chickens get first pick).
  • Everything else, such as fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, tea bags, paper napkins – all go into compost pile.

Won’t you join me in making a difference in what goes into our landfills? The effort is minimal, yet the rewards will impact our future generations.

Go Solo: Open Your Eyes and Your Heart

It’s an Adventure! When I traveled with my kids when they were younger, my common phrase when things didn’t go as planned (which is quite frequently when you’re traveling with children) was “It’s an Adventure!” Of course they grumbled and made fun of me (and still do!), but now I know when things don’t go the way I plan, it is indeed an adventure. Whether in travel or in life.

Yoga Retreat

Solo Adventures at Retreat in the Pines

My favorite adventure is solo travel. The absolute best place to travel to by yourself is Retreat in the Pines. Find your tribe at a retreat. View our upcoming retreats here.

My divorce was messy, I was stressed, I needed to do something for myself. As I pondered my future, I knew I needed to do something to challenge my comfort zone and give me fresh perspective.  I decided to take a trip by myself.

I started to plan. I was thrilled when I bought the plane ticket, excited as I booked a room with Airbnb (Airbnb is my first choice when I travel) and feeling proud of myself as I figured out the details of a trip to San Francisco for the Yoga Journal Conference with a few nights in Napa.

The days dizzily flew by with drama from the soon to be ex. Before I knew it, I was sitting on an airplane bound for San Francisco. As I relaxed back in my seat getting ready to enjoy some quiet time (the seat next to me blissfully empty – no children arguing or ex wiggling around making strange noises), I had a thought, “Holy S***! What was I thinking?!” By that time, luckily, it was too late to turn back.

Aside from a few mishaps, where I repeated to myself “It’s an Adventure!” through gritted teeth, everything went remarkably well.  And it was an adventure of the best kind, one where I found a new perspective, re-discovered myself and realized, I CAN do anything.

Maybe you’re not ready to fly across the country for a solo adventure. Try one of these adventures close to home:

  • Go to an art or science museum. Wander through the museum at your own pace, choose to read the descriptions. Or not. Then enjoy a coffee or tea in the museum café. I’ve seen some of my favorite exhibits this way.
  • Enjoy a movie, play or concert by yourself. Blessed silence! No one to distract you by talking during the good parts.
  • Have lunch or dinner by yourself at one of your favorite restaurants. I’ve found sitting at the bar is ideal for this. You’ll be able to talk to the bartender or other diners. I’ve had great conversations and meals like this in cities all over the country.

Tips to  get the most out of your solo adventure:

Choose a Big City – Some places – the beach, Disney, wine country  where  you’ll find mostly couples or families – may not be the best place for solo travel. I felt a little lost when I visited the beach and wine country by myself. In a city, you fit right in, there are lots of people on their own and they’re all doing their own thing.

Be Open – Normally when the guy in the seat next to me begins to chat me up, I give him the cold shoulder. I’m not interested in the mile high club, buddy. On the way to San Francisco, I talked back and heard some amazing things about the city we both loved.

Walk Everywhere You Possibly Can – You can see so much of a city when you walk. Or take public transportation. People watch. Get off your phone and look out the window. Enjoy the beauty, notice the underbelly, and take it all in. Savor the experience. It’s almost impossible now to get lost, so take a chance.

Explore the City like a Local  – The true heart of a city resides within its residents. Slow down, smile, ask questions, talk to the locals, most of them are happy to help with directions or tips. I had a guy come up to me in NYC when I was looking warily at the subway entrance and tell me “Everybody takes the subway, it’s safe, you’ll be fine.”  Find the local park, pizza place, dive bar and check it out. When I do that, I feel like I’m home in a city that I love.

Enjoy Downtime – As many things as you want to see and do, know that you’re not going to be able to get it all in. Enjoy time in a coffee shop or wine bar, maybe reading a book or newspaper watching the crowds go by.

Remember a key to being adventurous is putting down your phone. I know it’s a security blanket, but you’ll miss out on so much if you’re focused on your phone. Put it in your purse or pocket, I promise what you see will be so much more interesting than anything on your phone.

You can choose your adventures or you can let your adventures choose you. What will you choose?

Self-Care after 40: All Natural Wellness Tips to Boost Energy and Feel Better

Theresa Polley Retreat in the Pines

Theresa – April 2016

The struggle is real. To maintain your energy and weight and stay well after 40, that is. Maybe that seems a bit dramatic… I’m 53 and when I take care of myself I still  feel like I’m 35. When I don’t take care or take time for me…watch out.

Maybe you struggle with trouble sleeping, hot flashes, weight gain, lack of energy or dry skin and hair; know you’re not alone! I’ve gathered easy,  all natural and budget friendly tips to include in your daily life for immediate results.  I’ve taken the guess work out of living well. All of these habits have helped me with the struggle of feeling good after 40.

First, take time for you. Find new perspective and your tribe at one of our yoga retreats. Find your retreat here.  Take care of you first, and everything else falls into place. I promise.

Plenty of sleep–  Sleep trumps all else: yoga, meditation, time at the gym, time out with friends or Netflix binging. A good night’s sleep is crucial to maintaining mental, physical and emotional health. If you are trying to lose or maintain your weight you must get sleep. Same with managing hot flashes. When you give your body the rest it needs, your body repairs itself and your brain files away memories. Change your habits and your sleep schedule and you’ll change your life.

  • Turn off any electronics several hours before bed. If that’s not an option, choose the blue screen on your device. Turn OFF or silence your devices when you turn off the lights.
  • Try breathing, meditation or Yoga Nidra before bed. There’s an app for that! Your body and mind need the chance to wind down. Check Google Play or ITunes for what’s available.
  • Avoid caffeine after noon. You may believe caffeine doesn’t affect you, but once you eliminate it the ability to fall and stay asleep improves.
  • Sometimes our bodies wake us up in the middle of the night because we’re hungry, if you’re like me and don’t eat a lot in the evening, this is especially true. Try a bit of peanut or almond butter before bed.
  • Avoid over eating and alcoholic beverages. It’s almost impossible to sleep if I eat too much. My stomach feels uncomfortable and there’s all those crazy digestive noises! A couple of glasses of wine may help you unwind, but too much alcohol leads to restless sleep. Too much wine or alcohol will also lead to weight gain.
  • If you wake up in the middle of the night – DON’T get up and start doing something. You will signal to your body that this is the new routine. Stay in bed! Meditate, listen to soothing music or even pretend to sleep.

Keep Your Digestive System Healthy – A healthy digestive system is the basis for a strong immune system and lots of energy. Digestive issues usually mean you may not be eating the right foods for you. You can try an elimination diet to determine what food is causing you digestive distress. All of the following will help with hot flashes as well. Avoid or limit hot liquids, as those can trigger hot flashes.

  • Room Temperature Water – Ice water slows down your digestive system by constricting the blood flow to your digestive tract. I used to love ice, now I never miss it. When your digestive system is sluggish, you feel sluggish and lack energy. If you’re experiencing hot flashes, maybe ice water feels like what you need, if so go for it.
  • Whole Foods – Our bodies don’t run well on processed food. If you’re feeling lethargic, what you’re putting in your body for fuel isn’t working. Try to eat fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains and healthy fats.
    Ginger Tea Yoga Retreat

    Ginger Tea

  • Probiotics – If you’re not eating naturally fermented foods (such as Miso, Tempeh, Yogurt, Kombucha), you may consider introducing a Probiotic Supplement. Probiotics are the healthy bacteria found in your digestive system. These bacteria keep everything balanced and working correctly. Lack of good bacteria means an abundance of harmful bacteria.
  • Fish Oil Supplements – The Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil improve your digestive system and therefore your immune system by reducing inflammation and boosting the activity of white blood cells. In addition, the fatty acids are beneficial to heart health. I recommend the Standard Process brand – no fishy after taste!
  • Ginger Tea – I make my own and save it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. In the winter I have it warm, in the summer I drink it cold (with a little bit of club soda for a ginger ale type drink).

Coconut Oil – Organic coconut oil is readily available and can do so much for the issues we struggle with after 40. Refined takes out the coconut taste, while unrefined has coconut flavor.

  • Weight Loss Aid – A spoonful in your coffee instead of the high fat creamer is nice. Consuming coconut oil has been shown to boost energy and it’s an appetite suppressant. Replace the higher fat oils you are using for cooking with coconut oil.
  • Oil Pulling – I practice this every night while watching Netflix. Take a spoonful of oil and swish for 20 minutes. 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. Make sure to spit it out in the trash and not the sink. Also a good way to prevent late night munchies!
  • Hair Conditioner – If your hair is extremely dry and you’re tired of over paying at the beauty counter, try coconut oil. Massage it in the ends of your hair and twist up into a bun and let sit for an hour, maybe overnight. Don’t massage into your scalp unless you want to have the greasy hair look for a few days.
  • Exfoliator – Combine a 1/3 cup of coconut oil with 1 cup of sugar and 10 to 20 drops of an essential oil. I like lavender and peppermint – it will leave you calm and focused. You can experiment with different combinations, but skin test a bit of the essential oil first.
  • Moisturizer and Body Lotion – Use it on your face and body, morning and night, with a few drops of lavender oil.
  • As a Lubricant – Enough said.
  • Travel- I always bring a jar of coconut oil when I travel. Then if you forget something, you have everything you need in one container: conditioner, tooth paste, moisturizer, shave cream, sunburn relief and more.

Emotional Health – Let’s face it, life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, we all experience dark days. If you’re having more dark days than light days, know help is available. Mental and emotional health after 40 can be a rollercoaster. You may be dealing with teen/young adult issues, empty nest sadness, pre-menopause or post-menopause hormonal chaos, challenges of living in a youth oriented culture, and so much more. You will survive this and you will come out into a future that is bright and full of possibility. Stuffing anxiety or depression down isn’t wise. It will come back. With a vengeance.

  • Find a Professional – For the truly bleak times in your life, consult a professional therapist. I’ve used a professional over the years and she has helped me gain a new perspective. As women, we tend to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders, we have to learn to let that go.
  • Journaling – I firmly believe in writing down your thoughts as a tool to process emotions. I usually journal several times a week. I love looking back at my journals to see how far I’ve come. Gratitude journaling is powerful as it allows you to focus on the good, which in itself is healing.
    Yoga Retreat Grace

    Take Care of Your Emotional Health

  • Meditation –  Meditation is any mindfulness practice and as simple as sitting in stillness or taking a walk. Several times per week is ideal, but do what works best for your schedule. Don’t let yourself get hung up on having your mind be perfectly clear during meditation. Letting the random thoughts go is part of the process. Here’s a guided meditation and tips for starting your own meditation practice.
  • 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, take the stairs at work or park in the furthest parking place and walk. It all adds up to a healthier you. Science shows exercise increases the “feel good” brain chemicals and helps manage symptoms of depression and anxiety. Start with what you can do and build up from there. Studies have shown that being sedentary can increase hot flashes. Get moving!
  • Time in Nature – Nature is healing, the colors, the smells, the sounds. Immerse yourself in a bath of nature by walking through the park or simply spending time in your back yard.
  • Indulge – Dark chocolate, a glass of wine, a Netflix binge a good book. Whatever you enjoy. Indulge when you need it. Indulging allows us to press the reset button. Know that time on social media is not indulging. It’s a distraction, from responsibilities, fears, living.
  • Acupuncture – Acupuncture opens up the energy channels in your body and reduces inflammation to keep your immune system strong. You can use it to manage chronic pain, allergies, mental health and so much more.

And of course, use sunscreen, be good to your knees and kind to others and yourself!

The struggle is real as you navigate life past 40. By tweaking your routine, you can meet the challenge head on.  Incorporate one new habit at a time and see how it goes. Then watch the magic happen. You’ll feel good and find life past 40 is great. Your perspective starts to change after 40 and things you used to worry about begin to fade into the background. Then you can start living for you. And THAT feels amazing!

Follow Your Intuition to Your Bliss

Marianne Williamson Powerful QuoteYou know the voice in your head saying…I got this…This is my dream…I deserve better than this. Great news, your voice is right. You’re right. When you hear it, stop what you’re doing and listen. Learning to listen to your intuition, is the first step on your journey to bliss.

If you’re like me and have struggled with listening to your intuition, join us for a retreat. Being away from your daily routine will clear away the clutter. Your voice will come in loud and clear.

I could tell you about the times in my life (disasters – truly) where I had an intuitive feeling about something and I RATIONALIZED it away. Big mistake, every time. Then I can tell you about the times I LISTENED to my gut…and things went amazingly right.

Recently, due to outside sources, I doubted what my intuition was telling me. It involved a yoga pose. An arm balance, yes challenging! After practicing this pose for a year, I finally got it just right. And it felt good. Until my yoga instructor told me I was doing it wrong. What?! It feels right, it feels good to my body. Well your leg needs to lift higher. So I told myself, I can do it, I can lift my leg higher. I began to try it the “right” way. Then I fell. And though it was a short distance down, the injury was serious enough that my yoga practice is compromised. And I hate that! So imagine my surprise, when I see a photo of Jason Crandell, doing the pose EXACTLY like I do it. And calling it the right way. Here’s the sequence if you want to try it.

12 years ago I listened to my intuition and the universe opened up and everything fell into place. OK, not quite that easy. My idea for an inclusive yoga retreat (women of all ages, sizes and abilities) became Yoga in the Pines, then Retreat in the Pines. In spite of my ex-husband’s criticism and friends (!) telling me it wouldn’t work the way I envisioned, my dream became a reality. Me, in my infinite hard headedness, pushed forward and did it my way. This year we will host over 500 guests. Our first year we had twenty five, our first retreat – two! Read more of my story here.

Turn Your Intuition into a Powerful Tool

Be still and Listen – It’s hard to think about anything, if your life is constant motion and your brain is on fast forward. Your intuition will not send you a message on social media. You must PAUSE and listen. Take time in meditation, journaling or silence. Take a break from social media. Find yourself in nature and tune into your source. We are nature, so when we immerse ourselves in nature, we are able to find our natural state and our intuition.

Theresa Polley Yoga Retreats

Open Your Heart to Your Intuition

Get present in Your Body – One of the most powerful things I’ve learned in yoga is our body is always in the present moment. While our brain might be looking to the past or thinking about our future, our body is always in the here and now. Every moment of every day. When you notice things about your body – muscle tenderness, hunger, thirst, fatigue – you connect with the present moment and to your body. Many of us DON’T listen to our bodies because we are too busy. We don’t eat when we are hungry or sleep when we are tired. How messed up is that? Once you begin the process of listening to physical sensations, you’ll notice your intuition.

Meditation – Meditation is a powerful tool. It can help you control your thoughts, clear the clutter and find clarity. Get started with easy step by step instructions or listen to a guided meditation.

Stop Thinking and Start Feeling – We have up to 50,000 thoughts per day. No wonder it’s so hard to control our thoughts (and yes you can – your mind is like your body – you CAN control it). Author Martha Beck suggests most of us don’t know the difference between thoughts and feelings. If I asked you what you’re feeling right now would you know? A sensation is a feeling, something  you feel in your body, not hear in your head. Read more here.

Listen to Your Gut – It’s that feeling you get…it might say “This feels right” or “This feels wrong.” It usually comes up when faced with a decision, maybe something as minor as which way to go to work or as major as a life change. Your intuition is a valuable tool in relationships, careers, opportunities and so much more. Your intuition may tell you something completely opposite of what you’re “supposed” to do or what you want to hear. And that’s where the challenge begins.

Don’t Rationalize What Your Intuition is Telling You (About Anything) – There are seemingly millions of reasons why you should or shouldn’t do something.  Don’t let your “rational” mind or your “well-meaning” friends tell you something is a bad idea. How does it feel to you? Does it feel a little scary? Does if involve getting out of your comfort zone? Those are not reasons to skip out on something. That’s your mind saying “Holy Shit – this seems too hard.” I’ve had those moments. Put your head down and keep moving forward. Getting out of your comfort zone is where the good stuff happens.

Consider the Source – Is someone telling you what you want to do or not do is a bad idea? Before you listen, consider the person. Who they are to you. Do they have your back? Could they be jealous or insecure? Do they lift you up? Or drag you down?

Let Go of Fear – Life is about stepping into your fear, when what we really want to do is run the other direction. Fear is good, it can motivate you, but if you let it, fear can cripple you. Make a list – on your phone, in your journal, in your head – of what could happen if you jump right into the thing that intuitively feels right. Figure out what’s the worst that can happen. Then find a way to live with that, come up with Plan B or decide to take baby steps.

The science behind intuition is fascinating.

Learning to listen to your intuition is a skill we all have, but I believe we have been taught to disregard our own intuition and listen to “experts” or others in our lives. I encourage you to practice listening to your intuition on the small things. Then when it comes to something big in your life, you’ll have the skills.

Let your intuition guide you. And then watch things fall into place.

Celebrating our Community of Amazing Women

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

Mothers & Daughters at the Retreat

Carol and Erica

Christina and Baylee

Christina and Baylee

Mothers & Daughters at the Retreat

Claudia and Lauren

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sisters

Sisters at the Retreat

Kim and Anna

Sisters at the Retreat

Randy and Chris

Sisters at the Retreat

Jen and Katie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Friends

Best Friends at the Retreat

Wendy and Jamie

Best Friends at the Retreat

Sima, Olga, Julie and Oksana

Best Friends at the Retreat

Krista and Malak

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Friends

New Friends at the Retreat

Alisa, Allison, April, Michelle and Lori

New Friends at the Retreat

Michelle and Jonna

New Friends at the Retreat

Theresa and Janis

Finding Strength Through Struggle

renewalTo 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.

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How to Change Directions

How to Change DirectionsDo 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.Change Your Life

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.

Here’s more information on how to change your career and an article on how to live your dreams.

Begin today. What do you have to lose?

Love Yourself First

Love Yourself First at a Yoga Retreat

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.  aromatherapy at yoga retreat

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 SeasonsOur 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.

JournalingWriting 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 & Meditation at Yoga Retreat

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!

Trees at the Yoga Retreat

Time in NatureStudies 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.

The Power of Not Making Resolutions

Be Yourself Quote by Oscar WildeIt’s tempting to jump into self improvement at this time of year.

  • 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!

 

 

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