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July in Review

When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been. But she had wings.—Dean Jackson

July in Review

Last month was filled with travel, family, and friends. From savoring four tea dates, to spending a weekend with a girlfriend of 30 years, to seeing Garth for the 13th time—July offered an abundance of experiences.

Monday night I penned this muse for the Tranquil Space newsletter using the above Dean Jackson quote. The notion of spreading our wings has motivated me since my early 20s. In the muse I tried to convey the discomfort in change (former caterpillars may not approve) and importance of finding your own way. Taking flight connotes freedom.

July delights: wandering through the Cloisters and Hillwood gardens, riding two carousels, picking lavender, attending a DC Council meeting to support an animal welfare bill (it passed unanimously and has one more round to go), biking around the city, celebrating Mookie and Belle’s gotchaversary with my parents and their former foster parents, hiking the hills in Oklahoma, seeing Cabaret at the Kennedy Center, spending an afternoon decluttering, going through a minor surgery and receiving good results, releasing the Pigs & Pugs tee, and holding the fall TranquiliT shoot.

Keats wrote, “I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days—three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.” A gorgeous reminder to infuse our days with experiences and simple pleasures, to treasure the moments in between as if they were our last.

Now, let’s spread our wings and fly. Bisous. x

July Blog/Podcast Wrap Up

Turn Toward the Light
Summer Reading List
Podcast #401: Finding Your Inner Artist
400th Follow Up + Giveaway
Podcast #400: Celebrating 400 Episodes

August Wish List

Learn lots at this weekend’s Animal Rights Conference
Smooth travels to and from Farm Sanctuary Hoe Down in New York
Host inspiring Writing Lab
Complete 5,000 words of memoir
Date night to see The King and I
Release two podcasts
Announce plans regarding Daybook 6.0
Collaborate with clients
Read three books from Summer Reading List
Spend full day in declutter mode

Savvy Sources

The feminist consultants for “A Dolls House, Part 2”
A neuroscientist reveals the most important choice you can make
The importance of being unproductive
Yes, you can buy happiness if you spend money to save time
An essay primer: 6 essay types you should know
Can animals suffer from PTSD?
How to eat vegan for a week for under $50
I quit sugar for a week and here’s what happened
Do you often wake up between 3 and 5 am? A higher power is trying to tell you something . . .
4 ways to make space in your brain to create
Tons of people ditching meat after watching Okja
Becoming Jane: How Austen transformed into a chick-lit icon
How to live a life of reading with no regrets
How pursuing a quest can bring purpose to your life
5 tips we can learn from the French way of grocery shopping
Thoreau on defining your own success

A Peek into WV Retreat

If you don’t love the sea, the sun, all the simple pleasures, what sort of life are you going to have?—Marty Rubin

Last weekend nine beautiful souls descended on Tim’s cabin. As you can see, Belle was enthralled.

I had succulents and goody bags waiting by their beds and decorated the cabins with twinkle lights and bunting. Tim made vegan and veg cuisine topped with ample kale chips, green juice breaks, and dessert. We practiced yoga on the porch, set intentions, watched Funny Face while creating in art journals, roasted vegan s’mores by a campfire, and created action plans.

After spending a few days immersed in nature, yoga, art, and kind spirits, it can be jarring to think of returning to the real world. To help with the transition, I came up with five post-retreat tranquility tips.

1. Slow. Let your return be gradual. Create space for yourself to ease back into routine. Keep the slower pace of the retreat with you. Remember to breathe and observe what is happening within you.

2. Nook. Create a space to hold memories of what fed you on this retreat—a photo, quote, page from your art journal, yoga pose. Have your art supplies and yoga mat in this nook so that you can create and practice during those sweet moments in between.

3. Hold. Keep the retreat experience close to your heart. Honor how you showed up. Remember the smell, taste, sound, touch, and views of where you were.

4. Space. Carve out a sense of spaciousness in your schedule. Avoid overbooking and work with your energy flow. Midday naps or walks around a city block can have a profound effect on the mind, body, and spirit.

5. Explore. Consider how you are different from your time away. What do you understand better about yourself? What were your takeaways and how will it expand at home?

Since you, too, may be headed off on an adventure this weekend, I thought these may be helpful for  a smooth return. Safe travels this weekend. May it be restorative and intentional with hints of decadence. Bisous.

Scenes from Taos

I think the deeper you go into questions, the deeper or more interesting the questions get. And I think that’s the job of art.—Andre Dubus III

The Mabel Dodge Luhan House is abuzz with fellow retreaters packing up before our final morning workshop. In a few hours we’ll go our separate ways, tote our writing dreams back home, and I’ll be back in my own bed late tonight.

I’ve been in Taos for the past few days with a group of women writers working on various projects. It’s my second time to this retreat with Jennifer Louden. My first was a decade ago when I taught the yoga portion and was working on the book proposal for Tranquilista. When I saw this retreat pop up late last year, I felt called to carve out this time for my writing.

Although I’ll be processing the experience and takeaways for the next few days, I wanted to share a few highlights:

  • a morning walk to see the black cross Georgia O’Keeffe painted
  • having tea with a woman I met during my last retreat here
  • soaking in a clawfoot tub surrounded by windows painted by D.H. Lawrence
  • walking the labyrinth
  • discovering a cute tea house: teaography {watch for a forthcoming giveaway}
  • walking in to Taos Plaza three times
  • spending time with paint, collage, and words through art journaling
  • sitting with my {sometimes elusive} muse
  • spending time with interesting women writers
  • sitting by a fire in my neighbor’s room chatting about our memoir projects

Mid-week I began to experience something that hasn’t happened since grade school summer camp—I was homesick. I missed my pups and Tim. He’d send photos of Belle with her tongue out {her lack of teeth causes it to slip out sometimes} and Mookie with his usual FOMO {fear of missing out} look and I’d want to fly home. Those little beings mean so much to me and I can’t wait to snuggle with them in 13 hours {but who’s counting?!}.

During open writing time I was often torn between handling TranquiliT orders and Tranquil Space needs, so I wasn’t always able to  fully drop in. I blame wifi and my inability to resist its lure. Yet when I did, the writing would flow and so would the many questions.

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.—Rilke

What would it look like to create space and spend time with your muse? What is the longing deep within? What wants attention?

Ah, the questions. Wishing you a beautiful weekend filled with questions, creative sparks, and occasional answers. Bisous. x