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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

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Books, Tea, Flowers + Belle

I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life.—Sylvia Plath

After three meetups  with friends on Alberta Street in Portland, I hopped in a Lyft en route to Powell’s City of Books on Monday night. The city was dark and covered in a cold rain from the day’s constant downpour. I watched the buildings and lights blur by as I fidgeted with anticipation in the back seat.

Filled with over two million books, multiple levels, and a cafe, this bookstore is like no other. I wandered through the stacks navigating different colored rooms in search of nothing in particular, yet feeling ravenous.

Being among so many ideas and creative sparks ignites a typically inaccessible part of me and serves as a full-fledged dopamine hit.

My go-tos are writing, psychology, memoir, blank journals, stationery, and creativity. The psychology section had moved to a different-colored room and the search for it led me past an animal rights section. Three shelves dedicated to animal rights books!

I used to spend hours in the business section and loved that they even had a women’s business shelf. The specificity and volume of options is comforting. It’s like the bookstore gets me (and everyone else) and has shelves designated to our unique interests. Yep, even a shelf for art therapy.

Striking at the Roots and Memoirs of the Soul made their way into my life and I’m honored to give them a happy home.

Apparently the Japanese have a word for my buying-more-books-than-can-read issue: Tsundoku. Any other sufferers out there? The affliction (and delight) is real. Doesn’t it feel good to be understood? Bisous. x


Last weekend we flew to the Northwest for Tim’s cousin’s beautiful wedding at Lairmont Manor. There was a night in Seattle, followed by two in Bellingham, and then two in Portland. Here are some highlights:

  • browsing bookstores
  • discovering peony tulips
  • sipping many cups of tea
  • connecting with longtime friends (one was a yoga student in my living room circa 1999)
  • loving the bride’s gorgeous wedding dress (very boho)
  • spending time with Tim’s family
  • toasting the bride and groom
  • bringing Belle to the wedding
  • seeing Belle acclimate so smoothly to travel
  • eating vegan cupcakes topped with gold glitter and dried rose petals (Back to Eden)
  • sitting outside in the rain waiting for our train
  • renting the coolest car (Jeep Renegade). I’m not a car person, but I kinda have a crush.
  • picking up two ballet-inspired skirts
  • finding a dog-friendly bookstore, Village Books
  • dancing with Tim at the wedding
  • experiencing warm sunshine and cold rain
  • eating my first crumpet