Monthly Archives: February 2012

Well-Fed Woman Retreatshop Review

Disclaimer: I am utterly smitten with Rachel Cole. She is inspiring and supportive, fierce and compassionate. She glows with energy and love. Having finally met her in person only confirmed my early opinion of her: she is magic. If you get the chance to work with her, through a Retreatshop or consulting or coaching or even just reading her blog, you will be encouraged and enriched.

Also, my experience of the Retreatshop itself is not typical. As a host, during the event I was finding it hard to focus because I was trying to make sure everyone else was comfortable, having a good time, and getting what they needed–be it a tissue or directions to the bathroom or a comfortable chair or time to ask questions or a drink of water. What more than made up for that is I was able to spend one-on-one time with Rachel before and after. But, it did make my experience a bit different than someone who simply attends the Retreatshop.

Well-Fed Woman Retreatshop Review

Rachel has those who register respond to a set of questions ahead of time. They served to focus us all on the central intention for our time together.

What are you most hoping to take away from the mini-retreatshop?
What are you truly hungry for?
What gets in the way of you feeding your truest hungers?

As women arrived at the Retreatshop, Rachel introduced herself to every one. It was interesting for me, who knew all of the women in attendance, to watch each of them relax and smile when Rachel approached. She put them at ease, giving them a gentle invitation to join her in that space and moment.

We started the workshop identifying hungers, writing them down on post-it notes and sticking them to the walls. Even though I had recently read Rachel’s post on “Primary Hungers,” about how we often confuse them with secondary ones, I still struggled in those beginning moments to see the difference. Luckily for me, Rachel is a “hunger whisperer.”

I wrote down a whole row of hungers related to time: time to rest, time to work, time to play, time to think, time to create, time. Rachel challenged that hunger for time, saying it actually was a secondary hunger. With her help, I was able to identify that I am truly hungry to trust my ability to care for myself, to be able to identify what I need and then provide it. I’m hungry for self-care. Once I identified my primary hunger, Rachel gave me suggestions for how I might begin to work with it.

What you have to understand is that throughout the three hours, she did this for every woman there. Some have since told me this was the most powerful element of the whole experience for them. Rachel listens and with a few questions, suddenly everything is clear, a new way revealed.

“It doesn’t matter how long we may have been stuck in a sense of our limitations. If we go into a darkened room and turn on the light, it doesn’t matter if the room has been dark for a day, a week, or ten thousand years — we turn on the light and it is illuminated. Once we control our capacity for love and happiness, the light has been turned on.” ~Sharon Salzberg

Rachel shares her own story, her own journey, during the Retreatshop, giving those in attendance a specific example that illustrates this important process–identifying what you are truly hungry for and learning how to feed it. Rachel has a map that shows the way, one that she wrote herself as she traveled through this same territory, and she is a kind and gentle guide. The Retreatshop was a mix of full group conversation and questions, smaller groups, visualizations, and journaling, with Rachel wholeheartedly present throughout.

What you will find if you attend a Retreatshop is that three hours isn’t enough time. You feel as if you’ve just gotten started, but the good news is: you have started! And, Rachel is available for further coaching and consulting, her good work will continue, and she’s created a Facebook group where those of us who have attended can continue our conversation about these issues, offer support and share ideas. She also emailed my group with suggestions for following up, continuing the work we’d started. The Retreatshop is just a taste of what’s possible, an appetizer, but if you go, you will be on your way to being a well-fed woman.

If you have questions about the Retreatshop, I’d be happy to answer them, as would Rachel. If you have been to a Retreatshop, please add a comment about your experience.

Wishcasting Wednesday

Where do you wish to be fierce?

I had to look this word up before making my wish, to be sure I understood it. It can mean terrible things–violence, aggression, brutality, severity, and savagery. But there is another energy in it’s meaning: showing a heartfelt and powerful intensity; eager, relentless, ardent, bold, passionate, strong. This is power.

Mindfulness and awareness can be heartfelt and intense. Curiosity can be eager. Joy can be relentless. Wisdom can be ardent. Compassion can be bold. An open and tender heart can be passionate and strong.

Love can be fierce. Gentleness can be fierce. Stillness and quiet can be fierce. The truth can be fierce.

So where do I wish to be fierce?

I wish to be fierce in love, as it is the heart of everything else. I said as much in another Wishcasting Wednesday post, where I shared that, “I keep coming back to love being the answer to every question, the fix for every problem” and I wrote a list of what more love would do for the world.

I wish to be fierce with my voice, my commitment to the truth. I want to be a champion for myself and for those who haven’t yet discovered their voice. I want the clarity and strength of sharing my truth to remind people who they are, that they are basically good, compassionate and wise, and that they are necessary–we think we are rocks, but we are gold. I want to be an oracle of the wildness and preciousness of this world, this life. “Life is weird. Hard. Also beautiful.” I want to remind people, wake them up with the fierce nature of the truth.

I wish to be fierce in self-care. I want to be so ardent, so compelling and relentless that I can’t help but trust myself, to give in. I want to be met with such ardent self-love that I drop any doubt and all resistance to it.

I wish to be fierce in my practice, which is the training ground for love. Practice that expands my capacity for love, connects me to truth, that center where my innate wisdom and compassion wait, so that everything else I do comes from there, from that.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Being content is what will make us successful.

In this video, psychologist and teacher Shawn Achor argues that happiness inspires productivity. He says we are confused when it comes to success and happiness, because we think the formula is “if I work harder, I’ll be more successful, and when I’m more successful, I’ll be happy” and that’s not it at all. “90% of your long-term happiness is predicted not by your external world [your measurable success], but by the way your brain processes the world.” Being negative, neutral, or stressed does not bring happiness, (and thus, not as much success either). Happiness, as your perspective, is the center that generates everything else. In order to cultivate and strengthen this center, he suggests (and has found to be true through research) keeping a gratitude list, journaling about one positive experience a day, exercising, meditating, and practicing random acts of kindness–mindfulness, compassion, gratitude, connection to your body, and embodiment of the present moment.

Not only do we discover happiness resting in the present moment with this attitude, but we are more creative and productive. Shawn Achor suggests, at the end of this talk, that discovering contentment for ourselves, understanding that success is not what makes us happy, we can send out ripples of positivity and create a true revolution.

P.S. I think I may have made this video sound a bit stuffy and dry, but his delivery is really fun, so you should watch.


2. Truth: There is a you-shaped hole.

You are necessary, and only you can be you. I am on the Trust Tending with Kristin Noelle mailing list (Trust Note), and a few days ago, she sent one with the subject line “Trust Note: You-Shaped Hole.” Her message is so important, I’ve been passing it along every chance I get. She said:

Yes. You matter.

As humans move toward greater wholeness, your piece of that whole can’t be filled by anyone but you. Your perspective, your experiences, your voice: they bring balance to the rest of ours. They’re a mirror for some of us, showing us things about ourselves we need to see. And they’re windows for just as many more – glimpses past the boxes and walls we inevitably and inadvertently construct around our sense of what’s real and true and worth seeing.

There’s a you-shaped hole in our collective experience and I hope with all my heart you’re stepping into it with all the trust you’ve got.

3. Truth: “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are,” (Chinese Proverb).

In my yoga class on Sunday, my teacher said “when we engage, we tend to tense up, and we need to learn to practice soft, gentle engagement.” This is so true. When we push, when we are aggressive, this is not right action. We must connect with gentleness, move with ease, relax into this very moment, just as we are and just as it is.

P.S. I just saw today that Susan Piver has an article on the Huffington Post, “Meditation, Relaxation and the Self-Help Demon” where she talks about meditation as a tool for relaxing into reality. It’s a really great read.

One wish:

Trust yourself. Be yourself. Be happy and relax, and in so doing, allow success and contentment, whatever that ends up being or looking like, no matter how quickly or slowly it happens, to organically arise.

image by Kristin Noelle

Two related posts so worth the read:

  • Stop Searching and Start Being” by Daniel Collinsworth on Metta Drum, in which he says “You are not incomplete, and there is nothing you must search for. You only have the work of nurturing and developing those aspects of You that you feel driven to bring forth. They are already present within you.” He uses the cultivation of a tree from a seed as a really powerful metaphor for how we sometimes forget what it takes to grow, to remind us that “what we are searching for already exists as a seed within us.”
  • Why I haven’t wanted to write about eating” by Anna Guest-Jelley on Curvy Yoga, in which she talks about learning to trust herself. She shares that before she learned “I was still very much overriding my intuition at every turn, thinking it was clearly too stupid to guide me, considering how I looked and felt” but that now “I think intuitive eating means showing up for our unique and individual work of doing whatever it is we need to do to get back in touch with our feelings and body. We can share tips and support each other, but the exact roadmap will be different for each of us.”

So again, kind and gentle reader, trust yourself, be yourself. And remember that there is a you-shaped hole, a missing piece of a much larger puzzle, necessary to the wholeness of all the rest of it, the rest of us.

Something Good


I first heard of Hammock on Susannah Conway’s “Something for the Weekend” list. She posts every Friday, and quite often, a few things from her list end up on my Monday’s Something Good post. I have been listening to them all morning, and their music is so beautiful, it breaks my heart. On Rhapsody, they are classified as “Shoegazer,” which is one of my favorite genres of music.

Slow Living

I’ve been obsessed with the Voluntary Simplicity Movement since I first discovered it in graduate school. It named and defined a longing I felt deep in my belly, the way I wanted my life to look, to be. This weekend, I read a description of Slow Living and felt the same recognition, a longing named.

Slow Living is the choice to live consciously with the goal of enhancing personal, community and environmental well being. Slow Living recognizes the role that time plays in shaping the quality of our lives. By slowing down we make time to savor our experiences and to connect more fully with others. The process of slowing down involves simplifying our lives and minimizing distractions so that we have more time and more energy to focus on what is meaningful and fulfilling. By consciously choosing to do less, we contribute to reducing some of the negative social and environmental impacts of our actions.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche Quote

“The point of meditation is to feel alive.” Oh yeah. I want to go to there.

Blog post by Justine Musk

Things Smart Women Know.”

A Human Thing

I’m sad, because yesterday we finished our 41 6-Word Days on A Human Thing, but happy because Judy Clement Wall, author of the site, has only just begun. She also writes the blog Zebra Sounds, another good thing.

Great posts on Scoutie Girl

Taming the Giant Incongruence” and “Gestures, Ripples, and Wealth: What Does it All Mean?

Post from Sandi Amorim of Deva Coaching

Are You Ready to Listen?” describes a really powerful, yet simple practice.

Promise #90 from Twisted Pinky

You are Perfect,” which says ‎”If you think you need to change, then change, but know this: you won’t become more perfect or most perfect or perfecter or perfectest.”

New post on Truth Tending with Kristin Noelle

I am wishing you a wonderful Monday, dear reader. May you have your own long list of good things.

Day of Rest

Just got back from a walk/jog with Eric and the boys, and in about 20 minutes I’ll go to my yoga class, so I have just enough time to share these two small stones.

Small Stone: Morning Pages
Eric is gone, hiking with the dogs, so I have the house all to myself. It’s still dark outside, and I sit at my writing desk, in front of my HappyLight, writing my morning pages. The house is so quiet, that the only sounds I hear are the scratching of my pen against the page, the tick of the clock, and my breath.

Small Stone: Dog
Sitting on the couch with the dogs, Sam is sitting up tall, looking down at me. I put my hand on his head and he pushes into it, his forehead pressing into my palm, his eyes closed. He sighs. These few seconds are the why of living with, of loving dogs. All the hard work, the care, the time, the challenges and struggles, are rendered powerless in these small moments.

On this day of rest, I wish you similar such moments of quiet, stillness, focus, connection, and love.

Joy Jam

What were the 3-5 things that gave you joy this week?

1. Well-Fed Woman Retreatshop afterglow: I’ve been basking in this all week. Remembering and daydreaming about it, running into and hanging out with women who were there, hearing their good feedback and receiving their generous appreciation, seeing the glow in them, and thinking about how loved and lucky I am. Hopefully this weekend I’ll finally find time to tell you more about last weekend, because I have so much I want to share.

2. Sitting in the backyard in the sun with the dogs: Yes, it’s muddy back there today because all the snow melted, and Sam and Dexter were putting their dirty, slimy toys on me (neither one really wanted me to actively play or even touch them or the toy, just wanted to be partly in my lap while they played), begging for attention, and not letting me write or relax much, and it was only 45 degrees, but it felt good and made me long for the seasons when we can sit out there for hours at a time. In the same way I choose to go barefoot whenever I can, I’d prefer to be outside.

This is how Sam feels about having to come back inside so I could write this post:

You've got to be kidding me, Mom.

3. Cleaning my house: Okay, I know that probably sounds strange, maybe even a little crazy to some of you, but it happens so rarely anymore that it was a joyful thing. The only year since Eric and I’ve been married when I didn’t work and/or wasn’t in school, the first year we were back in Colorado (he got the job here after I’d already been accepted into two graduate programs in Oregon, and it was too late to apply at CSU, so I took a year off), I would clean the bathroom, dust, and water the plants once a week, every week. I cooked and worked out every day. My house was clean, and I was well rested and fit. Sometimes, I really miss that.

4. Preparing a WILD writing session: My writing group is coming over today. I’m hosting, which means opening my home, providing food and drink, and planning the writing we’ll do for the three hours we spend together. I’ve had bad experiences with writing groups in the past (too much building up and tearing down of egos), but I love, love, love this group of women.

5. My home: As I cleaned it this morning, I was reminded how much I love this place. It’s small and needs lots of work still, but that only makes me love it even more.

We think we are rocks, but we are gold.

image by Richard Reoch, click on the image to see a beautiful little video of the making of the dragon

I mentioned in a post yesterday that it was Tibetan New Year, Year of the Water Dragon. At the Fort Collins Shambhala Meditation Center, this is celebrated as “Shambhala Day.” Last night, a large group met at the Center, and while we couldn’t do the full, traditional Lhasang (smoke) ceremony because of high winds, and there were some technical difficulties with parts of the Sakyong’s video address, dinner from Mount Everest Cafe was its usual delicious and the company was good.

A few things from the Sakyong’s talk really stood out to me, are still resonating. First, as he was on retreat last year, he talked about how for him it was a year of knowing basic goodness, studying it and reaching a fundamental understanding. He feels this year, for all of us, will be a year of being basic goodness. For me, this reinforces my own path of retreat this year, underscores the importance of really knowing something before you can manifest it, embody it.

Dalai Lama and Sakyong Mipham at Shambhala Mountain Center

The other thing the Sakyong said is “we think we are rocks, but we are gold.” This phrase has been on repeat in my head, in my heart since I first heard it. I am utterly in love with it.

He didn’t mean that we should feel like we are special, or that we should use this information to build up our ego into thinking we are better or more important than anyone else. He meant that we all, every being, are precious, have basic goodness, and that our true nature is compassionate and wise.

We think we are rocks, but we are gold.

We could also say that we think we are rocks, but we are diamonds. Or that we think we are dirt or even shit, but we all are a seed, flower or vegetable or tree, we all have the possibility, the instinct and desire to grow, to manifest our basic goodness. We must know it, and then we must be it.

We think we are rocks, but we are gold.

Pema Chödrön and Sakyong Mipham

Then I read the latest post on Painted Path (seriously, are you reading this? Julia’s writing, poetry, audio posts, art, and beautiful self are not to be missed), in which Julia invited her readers to answer this question “What in your heart do you know you are meant to do?” and “Leave six words that give a glimpse.” Her own answer was “I am meant to shine light.” Mine was:

I am meant to open hearts.
Soul surgery, to help and heal.
Kindness and gentleness are my superpowers.
Wake up, brave and tender hearts!
We’re warriors of wisdom and love.
Our basic goodness is our birthright.
I am here to remind you.

Once I started, I couldn’t stop (see, even that’s six words!).

painting by Julia

We think we are rocks, but we are gold.

Be you.