Posts by Rita

Creating a Personal Writing Retreat

Posted by on Apr 18, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Creating a Personal Writing Retreat

 What: A personalized, no cost, at-home writing retreat for aspiring writers When: Four days leading up to the new moon: a creative, reflective time of the cycle. How: Choosing a writing project and creating an environment to accelerate it. Why: Because I desire to give myself every opportunity to successfully complete this project. Who: For me and my wild and windy brain.   A number of people have let me know they would like to do a personal writing retreat.  I’ve done exactly two now, so of course, I’m an expert and thought I’d share what I’ve learned.  Truthfully, writing this out is simply a way of capturing for myself what I’m learning since I don’t always know it as it’s happening (which is pretty much the reason I write anything). That, and convincing myself to share this seems to bully me into finishing the task.  Hopefully, in the end, everyone wins.   Here are some of my learnings from this personal writing retreat, in no particular order: 1.   Imagine the shock when I suddenly remember that I don’t have any reason not to do this. It was a total wide-eyed wake up call to realize that I have everything I need to create my own writing retreat – the space, the time, the commitment, the supportive tools, the freedom. The fact is, I have had all this for quite some time already but didn’t see it because I had become such a master at listing reasons why I couldn’t do things. This reminds me (swift kick to the butt type of reminder) how powerful those life-long patterns of thinking are and how important it is to keep checking them. I am re-committed to noticing how my excuses, like jangly keys to a baby, are a huge clue as to where to look for what I want. I wish I had allowed myself to create whatever shape and size of retreat would work for me much earlier so I could explore what squirts out when I give myself an intentional, uninterrupted space.  2.  One over-riding excuse has been that I don’t seem to write well in my home. There are always tasks and errands creating distraction, so I find retreating has transformed my home into a ‘hovel for my novel’. The part of me that longs to support the artist in me does all the pre-work – I imagine a beloved, amazing writer coming to stay at my home and I clean and prepare for her. I shift furniture creating new spaces to give her creative options. I turn off the ringers, the clangers, and beepers. I strategically place things to draw on, read from, paint on, and write on.  I set a timeframe for the retreat so the creative brain knows how to pace the race that’s set before it. And then I light a candle and invite her in. 3.   I require fuel for the journey.  Yes, good food and a variation of refreshments (clink). But also inspiration that aligns with what I’m working on. I’m always amazed at how I stumble upon exactly what I need. This time it was Mario Martinez’s work, The Mind Body Code.  I got a sniff of it through a post by the delicious author, Liz Gilbert. I followed Mario’s trail and came across Sounds True – a website that hosts oodles of amazing people. I downloaded (for free) and listened to a number of audio recordings with Martinez and also tripped across Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ latest, The Dangerous Old Woman, on the site. This super-charged fuel greatly injected my writing mind with new insight and dare I say, verve.  (Last retreat it was Goldberg’s book, Writing down the Bones alongside, Anne Lamott’s, Bird by Bird). There are timely guides to assist us along the way when we are searching for them. 4.  No two retreats are the same. First off, the weather was gorgeous this time, so I made sure to get out in the sun for walks on most days. And my project is at a different place this...

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The Master Cleanse, Menopause and Movements

Posted by on Feb 20, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

The Master Cleanse, Menopause and Movements

Q&A: Master Cleanse, Mighty Menopause and Majestic Movements (bowel, that is)  This post is written in gratitude for all the people who put their own experiences online while on the Master Cleanse.  It was comforting and instructive to be able to read personal accounts about all the unique aspects of this particular Cleanse.  Like many others, I am not a doctor or health care practitioner and simply make my experience available for those who are curious about whether this Cleanse is right for them.  Plus, I saw almost nothing written about doing the Cleanse during the menopausal years. Even if you’re not in that season or gender, I trust you’ll find some valuable ideas in this post.  I’ve written this in a Q&A format so you can easily skip to parts that interest you.  First, the good news! Q:  What are your most amazing outcomes from successfully completing a 10 day Master Cleanse? A:   I feel like my body is mine again. I lost 10 pounds of stomach bloat, so my clothes fit properly again my skin and hair are soft and less greasy my cravings for sugar have subsided inflammation in my right finger joint and the plantar fasciitis in my left foot have completely dissipated hot flashes are less intense and much less frequent.  I have the healthiest looking poop I’ve ever seen (get used to being a little obsessive about your poop if you plan on doing this Cleanse!) I’ve learned a lot about what role food plays in my life.  I spent the time I wasn’t preparing and eating food researching the latest on food and health.  As I was coming off the Cleanse, I gathered a host of new recipes to create a comprehensive nutrition plan so I could successfully sustain these outcomes.     Q:  What made you consider doing the Master Cleanse? A:  Like many, I had always dismissed the Master Cleanse as something for the uber-healthy crowd.  It sounded like the extreme sport of cleansing to me.  And then a year ago I started dating a guy who went on the Master Cleanse a month into our relationship.  I was able to watch his experience up close and personal.  I still didn’t think I would ever put my body and mind through it because, well, for a zillion reasons, not the least of which is the, you know, not eating anything for at least 10 days!  Then I turned fifty, with Christmas a few weeks later, and it felt like my body just couldn’t process the amount of ‘celebration’ it had endured.  By the end of January my body still seemed confused and imbalanced.  Peri-menopausal symtoms had been coming in waves over the past year already but now it seemed to really be kicking in: weight gain, more frequent hot flashes, excessive bloating and missed periods.  It felt like I was drowning under the strain.  Like when a boss drops a huge project onto your desk when you’re already struggling to just get the day-to-day tasks done, my body seemed overwhelmed and ill-prepared.  It appeared that desperate times required a new approach.  Q:  What was your process leading up to starting the Cleanse?  A:  I asked my guy to forward the complete document on the Master Cleanse, written by Stanley Burroughs in 1940, and I read the thing from start to finish.  I resonated with his premise that the body is a self-healing unit and given the right conditions (a break from the job of digestion for starters), it will adapt and heal many afflictions without the need for synthetic medication.  I also went online and began to research.  I read a myriad of articles, paying close attention to the stream of personalized comments below the links.  I read the nay-sayers’ arguments against and the glowing accounts in support of this regime.  I could feel myself internally preparing to start the Cleanse but there were a few things I needed to get more clear in my head first.  It sounded all good that countless people through the decades had successful experiences on...

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My Year of Jubilee – Uncertainty. Unexpectedness.

Posted by on Nov 12, 2013 in My Year of Jubilee | 0 comments

My Year of Jubilee – Uncertainty. Unexpectedness.

Uncertainty. Unexpectedness. These states tend to sound like the negative version of something more favorable. With that sinister “un” hanging out in front of them, they appear to make a TOP 10 UNWANTED LIST that includes words like unloved and unhappy.  Uncertainty. Unexpectedness. For most of my life, both of those words pointed to a lack of something. They would roll in like fog, striking fear instantly as it became difficult to see the path. I experienced a decidedly unsettled feeling about the inability to properly anticipate and regulate a situation. Uncertainty. Unexpectedness. I notice how both of these states get into my space and want to dance with me on this trip. I know them immediately. There’s a void in the information flow. I don’t know enough to make an image in my head that feels immediately comfortable.  But instead of coming to a scrambling stop or an anxious retaliation, I breathe. I anchor myself with everything I already know about my resilience. I tease myself that unexpectedness also means something infinitely more delicious than what I can imagine is possible. I invite myself to let the fog reveal its mystery in its time.  I have danced with huge globs of uncertainty in the unfolding of this trip and it hasn’t slowed me down one time. Uncertainty has given me the grand opportunity to access my bigger YES at every turn. But I’ve worked up to it. I recall very clearly lying in my bed one morning last spring when the plan for this trip was being conceived. The thought of getting an unexpected diagnosis of cancer before the trip – statistically an ongoing possibility – fluttered through my mind and landed like a cold thud. I remember how I felt instantly captive to the idea of a lifelong certainty of the ongoing uncertainty about when or what type of cancer I might get.  And then I made a decision that had been forming for a few years already. Like a phoenix out of the ashes of bondage, I decided I would live like I’ve already survived. I would make the kind of gutsy decisions that those who have survived the worst, suddenly find effortless. I would live while I’m alive (cue Bon Jovi). I would be grateful for every day and its unexpected gifts. I would choose to dance in the waters of uncertainty as they splash up fresh ways of being fully alive.  I began to see that the worst kind of diagnosis is living in fear of life’s uncertainties and allow those to write the prescription for my life.  Try this question on for size:  What if I just survived ___________ (the illness/pain that strikes the biggest fear in my heart), what am I now free to DO, SEE, and BE while I’m in human form?  Whatever those first images that form in your mind … how can you begin to make THAT beautiful, scary, unique, perfect thing a reality right now? Uncertainty. Unexpectedness. Bring it on. It’s what traveling abroad offers in spades. I smile when people say that I am on a trip of a lifetime because I’ve decided that THIS is now my life. Perhaps it won’t always look like a two-month European adventure but I will continue to live in the courage and freedom that life-beyond-fear offers so brilliantly and unexpectedly.    **Feeling a nudge to discover your YES in a year-long complimentary conversation? Apply at:...

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My Year of Jubilee – Celebrating us

Posted by on Nov 10, 2013 in My Year of Jubilee | 0 comments

My Year of Jubilee – Celebrating us

  He lifts the copper cup that holds their wine and says to the waiter across the restaurant, “It seems to have evaporated.”  I am dining two tables away and have never heard that particular request for a re-fill before and I laugh out loud.  And out of thin air, a beautiful new friendship is forged.   John is travelling through Greece with Clara.  They are both in their seventies, only a few years younger than my own parents.   They met in Spain last year while they were vacationing separately and quickly discover they are from the same area in Brisbane, Australia.  They both had rich, diverse lives before they met. One just had knee surgery, the other is waiting for a hip replacement.   And now they are in love.  Serious, crazy for you baby, love.  They’ve chosen to keep separate residences but spend a lot of time together, much of it seeing various parts of the world between stints of grandparenting and work gigs for John, who is an environmental geomorphologist.  I ask him to say that again slowly so I will remember, as by now I have pulled up a chair at their table, with wine glasses refilled twice.  I am being regaled by stories of how love is bigger than history (which is Peter’s hobby) and religion, and infinitely stronger than the rules of how mostly-retired people are supposed to behave.   I bump into John and Clara twice more after our lovely visit at the restaurant.   The last time I sidle up to them as they are walking home arm in arm, a combination of giddy love and supporting each other’s challenged ligaments.  I gain on them easily and ask them how their ‘hobble homewards’ is going.  Their laughter wakes the sleeping dogs across the street.  They insist on buying me a drink at Fagotto’s, a local afterhours music bar.  Hearing aids are adjusted as needed as we have a round of local wine and speak excitedly, like old friends who can’t believe their luck at meeting again.      I learn about something called a ‘babymoon’.  Apparently Clara’s youngest daughter isn’t too impressed that her mom isn’t home right now to look after the firstborn grandchild so she can take off for a vacation before the second child is born.  Taking a babymoon, they call it.  Clara just shrugs her shoulders with a tinkle in her eye and the knowledge that her involvement in her grandchildren’s lives will continue to be extensive, but with a new approach, where being a grandmother isn’t just about sitting at home waiting to be of service.  Clara is a woman who loves to contribute to her family with a wealth of ongoing personal adventures and a passion for life.    John tells me about some of his travels to Canada as part of his environmental work.  I listen animatedly to this well-educated grey-bearded Renaissance man, who shares his life’s work all over the world and intermittently gushes shamelessly about his beautiful luck at meeting the lovely Clara at this stage of his life.   I ask them a question that I’ve started asking locals and tourist alike.    What’s your favorite celebration?    Most people answer the question with a reference to a recognized holiday.  These two both blurt out, without taking a moment to consult each other, “US”!  We love celebrating us.  There is no waiting for a reason to celebrate.  We play by our own rules.   NOW is a good time to celebrate!   They make no apology for the choices they make in their lives.  They laugh a lot.  Their connection is palpable.  And I had the distinct and utter pleasure of being invited into that swirl of joy two nights in a row.      Celebration made a new kind of sense in their presence....

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My Year of Jubilee – Celebrating a name and a NO!

Posted by on Nov 9, 2013 in My Year of Jubilee | 0 comments

My Year of Jubilee – Celebrating a name and a NO!

I’ve been here on Crete for two weeks today – exactly half my stay.  And in that time I have participated in two celebrations that are near and dear to the Cretan heart. The first.  According to the Greek Orthodox tradition (and the taxi driver assured me 99% of the Cretans in Chania are), every day of the year is dedicated to a Christian saint or martyr. When someone is named after one of those saints (or a variation thereof), that day becomes their “Name Day” and is celebrated.  Yesterday was the ‘name day’ of the owner of the restaurant where I’ve enjoyed getting to know the staff.  I was invited to sit and then served a special drink to celebrate his day since they proclaimed that I am no longer a tourist.  I’m not a local either, obviously.  There isn’t a name for a long-time tourist who isn’t a local.  Perhaps there should be?  I propose: Tourcal? When people come to Crete to work they almost all take on a Greek name.  There is something about a name that anchors you into a culture.  I have met a plethora of non-Greek born men who have legally taken on the name “Nikos” which means ‘victorious people’. Ah the freedom in victory.  What’s in a name?  A proclamation.  I imagine in some ways choosing a Greek name when you’re an adult is a little like getting a tattoo.  You decide what you will be called because it means something to you.  Well that, and chicks seem to like the name and it’s easy for tourists to say.   The second.  The Ochi Day (pronounced O-hi) Parade remembering how in October, 1940, Italy, backed by Hitler, wanted to occupy Greece and General Metaxas responded with a simple but definitive “Ochi!”.  No! in Greek. It was a No! that some argue ended World War II much earlier.  One theory suggests that had Greece agreed to surrender without resistance, Hitler would have been able to invade Russia in spring, rather than making his disastrous attempt to take it in winter. Knowing your No! will change history.  Often more than just your own. No!-ing what you know needs to end opens doors to freedom. A definitive No! opens the space for a bigger brighter YES.            ...

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