Celebrate Your Growth in 2021
Let’s face it, busy women need to take a break sometimes…and we all seem to be busy these days!
Wholistic Women Retreats + Academy has just the right opportunity for you to slow down and savor your accomplishments of this year at our Annual Gratitude Circle and Brunch.
We believe that gratitude is a key ingredient for wholistic well-being. When we focus on what’s going well, we shift our energy to a higher, more positive level. Gratitude is a choice; one that we make collectively in our community.
Now, more than ever, we need to appreciate the Good.
A wholistic approach to gratitude:
- opens your heart
- relaxes your body
- eases your mind from worry
- lifts your spirit
It brings positivity and love to the forefront of your awareness.
We want to practice gratitude with you!
Each November we gather to express our appreciation for our individual growth as women, and as a community.
The past 2 years have been unlike any other in history, causing incredible stress, fatigue, and loss for many.
In these challenging times we want to support one another and learn what we can, so we ask you to reflect on questions such as these:
- How have you grown?
- Who has walked this year’s journey with you?
- What do you want to remember and continue to practice in the year ahead?
Wholistic Women Retreats + Academy wants to celebrate the good with you.
Please join us in acknowledging the blessings in our lives.
We will gather virtually via Zoom on Nov 17 from 6-7:30 pm to celebrate, bless, and release what is, as we open ourselves to receive what lies ahead.
We invite you to join us for this special time of connection, appreciation, and a celebration of Wholistic Growth.
Let the positive energy that gratitude provides bless and support you.
This event is open to all. Attend solo or invite a friend!
The pursuit of happiness has long been the goal of humankind. But, what is happiness? For us, it could be a feeling of calm and security. For others, it may be a feeling of success on a professional and/or personal front. Happiness is truly subjective! One of the keys to unlocking the path to being happy is to practice mindful happiness.
Mindfulness is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as, “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” So how does mindfulness increase our feelings of happiness?
By utilizing the power of awareness of the present moment, we allow ourselves the opportunity to connect with our heart, mind, body, and spirit with crystal clear transparency. When we allow our thoughts to be focused on the “now,” we invite our clarity to serve as a compass, guiding us toward the happiness that may have eluded us in the past.
When practicing mindfulness, we pay close attention to the signals that our bodies are sending us, those pangs of guilt, shame, regret, and learning to bless and release them through allowing those signals to remind us that we are a work in progress. Through the mindfulness practice of breathwork, we empower our bodies to cleanse some of the adverse biological reactions that our bodies and minds have created in reaction to our perception of the lack of happiness.
Mindfulness is a skill that takes practice! Our bodies and minds have a natural tendency to fight stillness. If you have tried meditation and find your mind racing with that list of “to-dos” or constant distraction, it’s not your fault! Our brains are designed to be the operating system that we rely on both consciously and subconsciously. Taking some small steps in quieting your mind will lead to training your brain to power down temporarily. Here are some steps to try when working on quieting the mind:
- Find a space that will allow you solitude and quiet
- Start with an intention of a short time period, perhaps 5 minutes. You can always increase this as you increase your skill level!
- Pay attention to your breath. Using this awareness as a focus increases the release of stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, and increases the “feel good” chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine: both of which are “happiness hormones.”
- Notice your body: find a seated position that is comfortable to you and that will allow you to relax.
- Allow your mind to wander. Remember, when your mind is sending you messages, it’s doing its job! Work on recognizing the thought without judgment.
Mindful happiness occurs when we align our mind, body, and spirit with our unique strengths. Happiness is not a destination, but a journey of the authenticity of our truth, a lifelong practice of pursuing a wholeness that is genuine and unique to each of us. Each moment in our life gives us the opportunity to be keenly aware of the path to follow, even if it’s one that you need to create. By following your individual journey through mindfulness, you will own the key to creating a life of fulfillment, which in my view is “happiness.”
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to move into a new home and take nothing, or at least very little, with you? I have and that’s prompted by my desire to live clutter free. The less clutter I have, the less stressed I feel. It’s just that simple for me. A clutter free space truly makes me happy.
If you came to my house, you’d see several books about decluttering, organizing, and keeping only those things that spark joy. I love to clear things out and organize spaces because the payoff for me is truly a sense of peacefulness and clarity. You might think that I have a home that is completely clear of clutter since this is a topic that is near and dear to my heart, and yet that isn’t true. Some rooms stay clutter free much of the time, and others manage to get out of control occasionally. Why is that? Probably because the spaces that get out of control are less visible like spare bedrooms, closets, the basement or the infrequently used dining room table.
Clutter is most likely to build up when life gets busier than normal and I don’t make the time for a regular practice. Before I know it, I have an overwhelming decluttering job to tackle. Clearing the clutter works best when I make it a part of my routine around the house, like getting the dirty dishes into the dish washer, vacuuming or doing laundry. Clutter can make me feel distracted, overwhelmed, and raises my stress level, even if it’s in very subtle ways. I know that when I declutter, even in the smallest ways, I have quite the opposite reaction. I feel happy, honestly almost giddy at times when the things piling up on the kitchen table, or thrown haphazardly in a closet are straightened up. Years ago, I worked for a large financial institution and a few close colleagues would joke with me that they knew when I was working on a project that was very challenging when they saw me standing in front of my desk with a very focused look, throwing papers away, and clearing off my desk with a passion. I seemed to do that when I really needed to focus intently on a difficult task. Taking a few minutes to clear my desk off completely, and get rid of things that weren’t needed allowed me to clear my mind and concentrate on the one priority I had without being weighed down by the distractions sitting on my desk.
I’m sure many of you are familiar with Marie Kondo and her books on tidying up. Kondo states that to successfully declutter, we should ask if each item in our home “sparks joy”, and if it does not truly spark joy, to thank it for being in our life and let it go. I have found that the “spark joy” test to be very profound. You may think that there are lots of things that you need in your home that do not spark joy, but you still need them. At first, I thought that too, and then realized that even small things like my favorite knives in the kitchen, my amazing vacuum, or fluffy towels in the bathroom can spark joy. If you’d like to check out Marie Kondo in action with some of her clients, you may enjoy her Netflix series called Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Her practice promotes taking everything out of closets, drawers, etc. all at one time and item by item deciding whether they are worthy of keeping. If you can manage that, you’ll soon be on your way to being 100% clutter free. However, I use a combination of ideas that work for me, some pieces of her practice as well as tips and tricks from other sources that work well.
Getting started can be the toughest part of decluttering. It helps to have a clear vision of your clutter free space. What’s that look like and how will that make you feel? Once you have some clarity around your motivation for decluttering, here are a few ideas to help you get started.
First, get a bag for trash and a box for donations. Set a timer on your phone for 20 minutes. Go room to room finding things that can either be thrown away or donated and fill that bag and box. You may be amazed at the progress you’ll have in just 20 minutes. And, there is nothing magical about the timeframe – do it for 10 minutes or 45 minutes, whatever works for you. Just keep it simple and manageable. Then, celebrate that success by throwing out the trash and putting the donation box in your car to deliver to your local charity. This small step will start some momentum for you, and you’ll feel good about doing a bit more.
Start small – perhaps you clean out the spice cabinet, throwing out the expired items and organizing the remaining bottles, all in one place. And, think about the decluttering based on categories, for example, books, gift wrap/bags and cards, files, cleaning supplies, seasonal decorations. These things may be scattered in several rooms and when you gather them all into one space, it’s easier to create a good space for them and find them easily when you need them. Having one place to look for each type of item can reduce stress, and eliminate the need to purchase things that you already have somewhere! Once you have tackled a few smaller tasks, you’ll most likely have the energy and enthusiasm to declutter larger areas for longer periods of time.
Imagine clearing out clutter to bring more joy and peace into your life. Visualizing that may make the work of clearing your clutter feel more purposeful and impactful. On Wednesday, July 29th Wholistic Woman Retreats will be hosting a virtual event called Clear the Clutter. As one of the partner coaches at WWR, I’ll be facilitiating the event and talking about clearing out what I call life clutter. We’ll talk about more than the clutter in our physical spaces. We’ll also consider the emotional, mental and spiritual life clutter that could be holding us back or making us feel stuck. You’ll create a customized plan for yourself that will help you to design a life that is peaceful and full of joy. I hope you will join us on July 29!
It’s was my turn to write a blog. The pressure was on, but the words just wouldn’t come. Then a thousand words came but just didn’t fit together. Then it occurred to me to use the universal language we all understand, Music to help you better understand Radical Love. Here goes!
Waymaker, Miracle worker, Promise Keeper, light in the darkness, my God, that is who you are!
For me, it starts and stops with Faith, something greater than myself. A place always welcomed, loved, seen as a miracle, wanted, appreciated, guided, and challenged. A place I can go to all the time or anytime I run out of my own strength. Here, I have someone to turn to. A power source I can plug into, pray to, believe in and feel energized from. It is the faith of my heart. A Miracle morning quiet time is my path to peace, focus, and power. A little tapping too, but that’s in another blog. What higher power is LOVE to you?
Learning to Love Yourself Is the Greatest Love of All. Houston teaches us about self-love and the epic journey to self-realization. Whitney said, ” I feel that the road to self-love is a deep, intricate and challenging journey, but one that will teach us about the meaning of a true, genuine, happy, and honest existence”.
Whitney struggled to embrace these words… However, she left us a powerful message of Love. “We must all learn how to love ourselves. It’s the only way we can save the world. We must equip our youth with the tools to create a better future for themselves and the next generation. We must teach our youth, and ourselves, the true meaning of self-love, The Greatest Love of All”.
Casey Musgraves’s song Rainbow is a message she wrote to herself and anyone else who is feeling any weight on their shoulders. She sings to us that there has always been a rainbow hanging over your head. Casey Musgrave tells us we are all exceptional indeed!
The Love of Others
Once we value ourselves, we can then value others, too. Life, History, and COVID-19 has shown us how important this is. The Times They Are A-Changing said, Bob Dylan.
I couldn’t come up with just one song, so here is a medley of songs. We genuinely do all need one another. We are truly interconnected.
Bruno Mars says You Can Count on Me
He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother
With a Little Help from My Friends
You’ve Got A Friend In Me from Toy Story
We Are family
People Who Need People
In closing, Love, Self-Love and Loving others all combine together and form Radical Love!
The final two songs today hopefully sum it up well.
What the World Needs Now Is Love Sweet Love!
Michael Jackson, and a variety of very talented artist sing We Are The WORLD!
This is the Year of the Woman when we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. At the risk of dating myself I have the Helen Reddy song, ‘I am Woman’ going through my head…
I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
’cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again
Oh yes I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman…
You can probably tell that these lyrics are referring to more than just physical strength. In addition to sheer stamina, what other attributes contribute to a woman’s overall, wholistic strength? What makes her resilient and capable of bouncing back from adversity? The answers will vary for each of us, but let’s look for commonalities.
What makes women strong and are we truly invincible?
To begin with…let’s think about the word strong and understand what we mean by wholistic strength. These are the qualities that make you the unique woman you are. They show up in the way you think and feel as well as in your physical and spiritual activities.
I wonder if you’re similar to me and can more readily identify the strengths of your friends and colleagues than you can for yourself. It’s easier for me to state what I treasure and appreciate about others, but much harder to ascertain that about myself.
Yet like our unique thumbprints, I believe that we each have our own individual ‘soul-prints’ that comprises our strengths, weaknesses, core values, and beliefs. God gave us each an individual design which we continue to develop through our life experiences, whether consciously or unconsciously.
Over the years, a certain degree of humility has kept me quiet about my natural talents. I’ve learned, though, that I need to identify these strengths and talents in order to gain confidence and to be aware of my blind spots, i.e. the areas that I don’t understand well about myself. If I’m unclear about my talents, how can I effectively manage them? It’s necessary to know what my God-given talents are in order to optimally use them for good. I will never be perfect, but being dedicated to lifelong learning helps me to continually evolve into a better version of myself.
I have been on a journey of greater self-awareness about my strengths for the past 7 years. Each day holds new opportunities for me to learn more about myself and how I manage my talents. I fine-tune how I use my gifts based on feedback that I receive.
Did you ever play the Hot and Cold game as a child? It’s almost like a verbal Hide and Seek. One person is the Seeker and leaves the room while the group quietly identifies an object to be found. When the Seeker returns to the room, she searches for the object based on guidance from the group. The group members, however, may only say ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ when directing the seeker. As the seeker moves farther away from the object the group says “cold, colder, cold”. As she moves closer to the chosen object the group encourages her with “warm, warmer, warm” and shouts “hot” when she touches it. There is delight on both sides when the Seeker finds what she is looking for. This simple childhood game is a great example of the need to give and receive feedback. We can be lost and off-course without it and waste unnecessary time going in the wrong direction. With a little help from our friends, we can more easily find our way.
We each have a role in guiding one another towards success. How? By giving positive feedback to reinforce behaviors that are working well. You do that when you let others know what you appreciate about them. It’s also crucial to let them know when their actions aren’t working well. Without feedback, we don’t know what to change. Effective delivery of feedback is a key leadership competency. You practice it every day whether you’re aware of it or not.
I enjoy teaching that our strengths have a light and a dark side. The light side is when they are working well and getting the results that we want. The dark side is when they are not working well. They are overwhelming others, or us, with too much of a good thing. I like to think of each of my top strengths as having a dial where I can turn them up or down to calibrate the desired impact that I want in different situations. With conscious observation, I can then notice when I need to use more or less of my strengths.
For example, my top strength according to Gallup’s Strength Finder assessment is empathy. That means I tend to lead with my heart, follow my intuition, and sense other’s emotions with ease. Simply put, I care a lot. It serves me well when I am connecting with others. I’ve been told that I’m a good listener and people can sense that I genuinely care. It can overwhelm me, though, when I am bombarded by negativity on the news or when I feel powerless to help improve a hurting person or situation. My empathy can also overwhelm others when I’m being too sensitive and trying to connect on a level that they may not be ready or willing to do so.
Empathy is only one of my strengths and I could tell you much more that I’ve learned about dialing it up and down. That’s another article! I have nine more strengths in my top ten and each one provides a wealth of information for me as a leader, a family member, and a friend. The truth is I will always be learning more about my strengths because each day provides new opportunities and configurations of people, situations, and experiences for learning. Knowing and owning my strengths gives me a powerful tool to better understand and use my unique thumbprint and God-given design for good.
Resilient women know how to use their strengths effectively and apply them wholistically throughout all areas of their life.
Are we invincible? What about weakness?
Unlike the superwoman in the song ‘I am Woman,’ this woman is not invincible.
It’s important to not only understand what makes us strong but also to examine areas of weakness. What do you do when you’re in the dark side of your strengths? One option is to turn it down and turn up a different strength. When my empathy is on overload, I know I need to re-calibrate by dialing up my strategic thinking strengths. My head balances my heart when it’s on overload. What else can we do?
Personally, when I get to the end of my own abilities (which is every day) I lean into my faith. I believe in a God and higher power who is supremely capable. In fact, I believe it is part of the divine design for us to hit our limits so that we will reach out for help. We aren’t meant to be all-powerful and all capable. We are meant to be in relationship with others – to need them – and to be needed. That’s the human balance.
In my book, Lost and Found: Discovering Strength in Love and Faith, I share my perspective that relationships are a beautiful kaleidoscope made up of many triangles. I picture each of my relationships as a triangle with God at the top and myself and the other person making up the other two points. As we each grow our relationship with God, the bond between the two of us grows stronger.
I also believe the Good Book which frequently says, “when you are weak, I am strong.” It reminds me of God’s promise to be present and provide His strength when I reach the end of my limits. It encourages me and reminds me that I am never alone. I don’t have to be strong and have it altogether all the time. I am designed to be imperfect and in need of help, both divine and human.
I can be a strong woman…and a weak woman at the same time. I can be good at some things and not good at other things. I can embrace my talents and relax in knowing that I am a work in progress, always learning more about how to effectively use those talents.
With that knowledge, I can sing “I am woman, hear me roar! I am woman watch me soar” into the realm of God’s love and guidance.
Resilient women know their limits and lean on their support team when needed. They are connected and know how to give and receive help.
What is your unique Strengths story?
We each have a story to tell about our individual qualities and how we use them. How have they contributed to your own resilience? What have you learned over the years about the light and dark sides of your strengths? When do your talents work best? When do they overwhelm you? What strategies do you have to address areas of weakness? What do you do when you reach your limit?
I invite you to discuss these questions and explore your strengths and resilience story with me at Discover & Own Your Strengths Evening Retreat on March 25th from 5:30-7:30 pm. I hope to see you there!
What if you woke up with the snap of my fingers and believed, truly believed, without question, YOU were Worthy of Love?
Pause for a moment and imagine that.
In Karen Casey’s book Worthy of Love, she writes, “There is probably no expression in my life more difficult to feel, develop, offer, accept or maintain, than Love. And I have so desperately wanted to revel in it, certain that if only I “knew” Love, I’d forever be happy, content and serene every moment, never tragedy’s victim.
Karen also says, “Of course, the irony is the harder we look for Love, the more blurred our vision. Only when we become quiet and trust that Love is our birthright do we discover its friendship has enfolded us”.
Karen Casey’s book, Worthy of Love, Meditations on Loving Ourselves and Others was a gift to me I will always treasure. I offer this blog as a gift to you, on Love, and in Love.
What would it feel like to Love yourself unconditionally and be comfortable in your skin with no need to do any number of the things we can come up with to NOT feel our feelings?
- Check our email
- Grab a snack
- Find a project
- Phone a friend
One thing that can be an obstacle to self-love and very self-damaging is Self-Criticism. The inner critic is often experienced as negative thoughts about our behaviors or ourselves. We think being extra hard on ourselves will somehow motivate us to change.
- Don’t ask for any help
- Struggle with body image
- Play the blame game
- Don’t forgive, keep punishing
- Get down on yourself
- Difficult decision making
- Comparing ourselves to others
- Thinking I’m Never enough
We work so hard to be more, better, fixed, but perhaps that is the problem, and the simple solution is accepting we don’t need to be fixed.
It is only when we accept ourselves for who and what we are, and no longer require the acceptance and approval of others, we start to achieve our inner sense of peace and security.
Self-Compassion and kindness offer us encouragement, support, and the Love we long for. It aligns us with what we truly want and desire.
- No judging, blaming or criticizing
- Peace of I’m enough
- Faith Hope and Love
Both self-criticism and self-compassion are ways we protect ourselves. They can be healthy ways to achieve personal growth; however, self-criticism can also be a barrier to our peace of mind.
Here are 3 Powerful Ways to Promote Self-Love and Awareness
- MINDFULNESS-maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts turn inward into what we are sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.
- JOURNALING-a way to explore our emotions, channel our feelings, and explore outcomes. Writing is a vehicle that allows us to slow down and pay attention to everything that is going on in our lives. One beneficial exercise is journaling your self-critical thought paired with a self-compassionate response. Give it a try.
- HAVING A MANTRA/S-a mantra is a sacred utterance, a word, sound, or phrase repeated to aid in your concentration. It is believed to have spiritual and psychological power. It is said to be a tool of thought, a way to focus the mind. Just for fun, why not try Mirror Mantra’s with Crayola ® washable makers.
SELF-Acceptance ask much of us, but I promise the journey and reward are worth it
SELF-Compassion and kindness are powerful skills we can lean into more deeply each and every day to support ourselves.
SELF-Love is a process, a practice for all our lives. The goal is to grow in it.
No matter where you are on the journey, the most important thing we can do is to be ourselves, love ourselves, and celebrate our unique and miraculous authenticity. Then, we can contribute to the ripple effect of LOVE throughout this world.
Remember Always, or remind yourself with a quick snap of the fingers,
YOU ARE WORTHY!
YOU ARE A MIRACLE!
YOU ARE AMAZING!
Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others,
Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others approval
Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts her.
About today’s author: Kat Middleton is an Empowerment Coach who is passionate about her work and advocates for authentic wholehearted living both personally and professionally. She is a Certified Professional Coach and Occupational Therapy Practitioner who loves working with people holistically; helping others to help themselves see things through new filters. Kat joined the Wholistic Woman community in September of 2017. She is very excited to learn, grow, and have much fun with this AMAZING group of women. Kat is available for private one-on-one coaching as well as group workshops, seminars, and speaking events.