Shine your light at the Radiant Soul Women’s Retreat

I have encountered many woman lately that seem to be in desperate need of self care. They are over worked and are stressed out. They have so much on their plates and have no time for themselves. I know exactly what they feel like.

Sometime in early March I looked at my calendar, in hopes I could find a full seven days where I had no plans because I felt like I just needed a break. The last time I had free time like this was in December and I had been busy ever since. I wanted to pause all the responsibilities I had, and just carve out some time for myself to do as I please. I was a little disheartened to see that that wouldn’t be a possibility until sometime in June. So pretty much, I had a solid six months full of plans and commitments. Eek!

I went on with life and realized that last week, that my free week had finally arrived! A full seven days with no prior commitments, outside of work of course. It felt like being on vacation! It was so lovely to not have to worry about a schedule. I was able to enjoy the simple pleasures in life and it felt amazing.

With no plans, I literally took time to smell (and photograph) the roses.

With no plans, I literally took time to smell (and photograph) the roses.

As last week led up to summer solistice, it was also wonderul to reflect on the first half of the year, to celebrate where I am and to connect into my vision for the remainder of the year.

Over the past couple of years, as I strive to find balance and flow, I have learned to set boundaries and try to choose how my time is spent wisely. I try to keep at least one night free each week and make sure I have adequate time on the weekends for self care, whatever that may look like. I’ve been able to maintain that fairly well, but where I have struggled in the past is booking up nearly every weekend in summer by May and not having anytime left for spontaneous fun. Any Canadian will tell you that summers are in short supply and we want to make the most of them. That means going to festivals, camping, visiting family and friends. It can often means not getting to enjoy downtime at home. It’s so great to be able to do all the things, but for myself personally, at some point it becomes too much. This summer I’m doing my best to keep my weekends free so I can live in the moment.

The realization of how busy summer can be is what inspired me to create the Radiant Soul Women’s Retreat. I woke up one morning with the idea that I needed to hold a women’s retreat to create space and time for self care since so many of us don’t take the time for themselves until we’re forced to, because we’re sick or burned out. The weekend-long retreat is going to be amazing! We’ll dance, play, practice various meditation methods and honour ourselves with ceremony. Each activity during the weekend offers a chance for self exploration and soul nourishment. We’ll also nourish our bellies with delicous food prepared with love by our retreat chef.

If those stressed out and burned out women I described sound like you, give yourself a gift and consider joining us on the weekend of September 11  – 13, because you need something like this in your life! I want to support you to reconnect with your natural, radiant state by giving you a chance to take a time out and to reset.

If you’re not sure if a retreat like this is for you, let me assure you it is! Everyone deserves to take time for themselves. Whether you are 18 or 81, this retreat is for you. This retreat is for you if you have never been to anything like this before, or if you have been to 100 other retreats. We will be creating an opening and welcoming space for you to connect with other women, so if you want to come but don’t have a friend to come with, don’t worry,  you’ll have friends by Sunday. If you’re physically active or not, this retreat is for you. Workshops will be designed for any-body and every-body. This retreat is for every woman, because every woman deserves a little self love in their lives!

❤ Nicole

2015: From Balance to Flow

While I had many goals and aspirations for 2014, my main focus was trying to find balance in my life. To achieve that balance, I ended up creating a lot of healthy habits and letting go of old beliefs and patterns. I learned so much about things I never thought had anything to do with balance. I guess that is why I didn’t feel like my life was in balance in the first place.

For the past few years at various times I’ve had experiences of burnout from trying to work a full time job, grow a business, enjoy a happy life with meaningful relationships and take care of my physical, emotional and spiritual needs as best I could. This year was no different and I had a very difficult time in the winter as my workload felt like it was at an all time high. I developed adrenal fatigue syndrome and effectively hit rock bottom. I knew this wasn’t balance. When it felt like all the pieces were crumbling, I completely surrendered and let go of any attachment to an outcome. After letting go, everything started to fall back into place. It was one final lesson (I hope) in realizing that I can’t continue that same pattern over and over again. I can celebrate this now, because I feel like it’s a lesson I finally nailed!

I’ve learned and integrated so much this year, it’s hard to narrow it down to the most meaningful, but these are the top habits I created to bring balance into my life.

Core Desired Feelings

One major shift that took place this year was discovering my core desired feelings – the ways I want to feel every day to experience a full and satisfying life. They are joyfully radiant, connection, flow, abundance and supported in case you were wondering. I became focused on how I could feel those feelings every single day and became way less focused on arbitrary goals I had previously set for myself because I hoped that they would make me feel something that I thought I might want. I became more aware of how I wanted to be instead of focused on the things I wanted to do. This was HUGE for me. Plus, through this I also learned to let go of the belief that I’m only lovable or worthy if I do this thing or that thing. I know that my worth is inherent on a conscious level, but in 2014 I actually started to to believe it at a soul level. I would highly recommend checking out The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte if you’re interested in discovering your core desired feelings.

Boundaries

In 2014, I learned that I really didn’t have any boundaries and that was causing me to give more than I wanted to and take on more than I could reasonably do. My expectations of myself were too high. I learned how to set boundaries and took back some of the power in my life I had given away.

I now use my core desired feelings as a guide. I check in with them whenever I have to make a decision and I’m not sure which way I should go. I set boundaries around how I would spend my time and used my desired feelings as a guide to ensure I was staying in alignment with it all. If an opportunity doesn’t satisfy at least one of my core desired feelings, I won’t do it. With that being said, I know there are some things that I have to do that I don’t particularly enjoy, like cleaning the house. I have learned to shift my perspective about it though from something I hate doing, to something that can help me feel a desired feeling, so a clean house can help me feel flow because I’ve cleared out stagnant.

Support

Another huge shift was learning to recognize when I needed support and how to ask for what I needed. I’m discovering that this is a hard thing for many people, because often we don’t know what we need and we certainly don’t know how to ask for it. Because I understood my core desired feelings and delved a little into non-violent communication and discovering my needs, I was able to recognize much easier when a need wasn’t being met. When you have that clarity, it’s so much easier to ask for what you need. To explore more about how to identify needs, check out my musings on the subject in this post.

Over the past year and a bit, I’ve been part of a Creation Circle. A small group of us meet monthly to learn content that can be integrated into our lives to help us create the amazing life we want and deserve. This group has been so instrumental in helping me feel supported, which is clearly important to me as it’s one of my core desired feelings. I’ve got so much other support too, from my naturopath, acupuncurist, massage therapist, chiropractor, kundalini dance facilitator, yoga teacher, meditation guides, from my husband, family and friends.

Support showed up in a big way in my work life this year in the form of a committee for the NAIT United Way campaign that I Chair. I truly appreciate the support I was given to run the campaign. For the last 6 years I had only a little support, but this year I had a committee of six other people helping me out. That support helped me to stay in alignment with my boundaries around the amount of time I feel comfortable putting into work.

This year, I celebrate all of the support I have called into my life and the ease and joy it has created.

Celebrate

Celebration is another thing we worked on integrating into our everyday lives in the Creation Circle. Practicing celebration helps me to feel and recognize all the ways abundance shows up in my life, it helps me to feel present and satisfied with what I’ve achieved and it helps me to feel joyfully radiant! I’ve made gratitude a daily practice in my life and I’ve posted what I’m grateful for on Facebook for 113 days so far. I can’t begin to express how much this has changed my life. It has helped open my heart more than I ever could have guessed. This isn’t to say that I’m happy all the time, but I now choose to see the gift in each challenging situation that shows up, whatever that may be.

This practice has allowed me to expand my context for recognizing how my core desired feelings show up in my life. When I first started out, I had very specific and limited ideas of what each feeling looked like, for example joyfully radiant meant teaching hoop classes but now I can experience that feeling from just about any activity. Practicing gratitude has taught me, it’s not what I’m doing that helps me to feel the ways I want to feel, rather, what I’m searching for is a state of being. Practicing gratitude gives me an opportunity to be the way I want to feel.

I celebrate and am grateful for all the gifts practicing gratitude has given me.

2015: Feeling Flow

As I move forward to 2015, I want to continue Flowembodying all of my core desired feelings with a focus on flow as my theme for the year. I think balance is really just about finding the flow space in life anyways. Some times are busier than others, so balance is more about going with the flow and accepting life as it comes, accepting the good and the bad. Flow is also about trusting my intuition and inner guidance. If I’m in the flow, I can let go of attachment to a specific outcome and remain open to the endless possibility that awaits. Flow is also about letting go of timelines. Goals with timelines are important, but I’m also no longer going to beat myself up if I don’t achieve everything in the initial time frame I had set out for myself. I’ve noticed this year that many things I had on my 2014 vision board will actually happen in 2015, and I’m completely OK with that.

If I embody flow, I’m sure my other desired feelings will naturally follow. I can see the flow in abundance and support showing up as giving and receiving, watching the flow of money come and go, the flow of the seasons and the food that is provided. I can see the flow in connection literally as the energy flowing in my body or as the flow in conversation with a friend. If I go with the flow I believe that I will experience all of the above and then I will certainly feel joyfully radiant.

While I don’t have a big list of to do’s in 2015, I do have a small list of big things to focus on. I want to continue supporting the local hoop dance community with Pop Up Prop Jams, I want to create an awesome reunion with my sister for our family in August, I want to support and inspire other women to with the Radiant Soul Women’s Retreat I’m hosting in September with the support of a few lovely and amazing women like Kacie Beluse Knight from Dancing into Being, Anastasia Kutt from Luminous Tranquility and Nina Infinity from Infinity Hoopdance.  I’ve got a lot to look forward to!

I am setting the intention that I will experience 2015 with ease and flow, that I will feel supported and connection and that I will feel joyfully radiant all year long.

I hope your 2015 brings you all you desire!

Aho

The Hoop’s Got What You Need: 7 Ways Hooping Meets Needs You Didn’t Know You Had

"Maslow's hierarchy of needs" by J. Finkelstein - I created this work using Inkscape.. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs.svg#mediaviewer/File:Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs.svg

“Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” by J. Finkelstein

I remember first learning about the difference between needs and wants in elementary school. We learned that we need things like food, air, shelter, water and love to survive and we learned that wants are things like toys, brand name clothing, fancy cars etc.  I later learned about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which expanded my context further but I still didn’t put a lot of thought into the specific needs that filled up each category. I just tried to figure out where I was on the chart and knew I wasn’t at the self-actualization stage yet but I was above the physiological section.

Then, just a few weeks ago, I was given a needs inventory  handout from the Center for Nonviolent Communication in a Creator’s Code Creation Circle meeting. We were learning how we could meet our needs in clean and clear ways which first meant we had to understand our needs. The list of needs blew me away! I found it very comprehensive and in many cases I hadn’t previously considered the things listed as needs at all. In my mind they were wants. They are nice to have if I have extra time to focus on them, but not necessary for my overall well being. As I read through the list, I was delighted to see that much of the self care I do is actually helping to meet various needs and this list is just further proof that I NEED to practice self care regularly to operate at my peak performance! My husband calls this high maintenance, and maybe it can be seen as that, but all I know is I’m much happier when my needs are met.

As I scanned the list, it struck me quite quickly that hooping meets so many needs, particularly needs that I didn’t recognize as needs in the first place. Yipee! Now I have at least seven more reasons to keep hooping! Here they are:

1. Community – Hooping has connected me to a local and international group of beautiful souls. Any city I visit, I try to hit up a hoop jam so I can make new friends. It’s amazing being able to connect with a group of strangers wherever you go, where you feel like you belong almost immediately. I didn’t feel this sense of community on a large scale growing up as I wasn’t part of religious organizations and wasn’t involved in many extra curricular activities. As a hooper, I definitely feel the love and connection that comes from being part of an amazing community.

2. Authenticity – The hoop invites me to be my authentic self. To move my body in such a way that expresses exactly how I’m feeling in that moment. It can be challenging to be authentic in a world that encourages you to conform, but the hoop continues to teach me how to be myself. I knew it was important to practice being me, but I didn’t realize that I NEED to be me!

3. Play – When I saw this one on the list, my first thought was, well play is good for people who aren’t that busy, but most people aren’t going to make time for it, so it can’t be that important. Good thing I’m not what I think most people are like! Hooping is all about play and I make it a priority all the time. Play brings fun and laughter and silliniess. I guess we need all that too. Who knew that playing with a plastic circle was so important? When we play, we’re actually meeting a need!

4. Inspiration – It can be easy to get caught up in the day to day actvities of life, but what is the point of living if you’re not inspired? Watching other hoopers bust out is always inspiring and gives me motivation to grow and expand. I can now see this is a need because when I feel I’m in a rut, I head over to YouTube and watch videos of my favourite hoopers to kick my creativity into high gear. I need that to keep going some days.

5. Creativity – And speaking of creativity, that need made the list too. I often think of people as either creative or analytical. Before recognizing creativity as a need, I thought about it as a treat if I completed all the things on my to-do list first. Now that I know creativity is a need, I will give myself even more time to play and explore in my hoop. I love taking time to ask what if, like the time I asked what if I try to combine sustained spinning with breaks & reversals? The results were great and I even based a workshop on it! I would have never discovered that combination had I not taken time to nurture my creativity.

6. Learning – I appreciate being able to learn but didn’t think this was something I needed. The hoop teaches me so much. I’m not just learning tricks and developing my flow, I’m also learning about life. Some of my favourite hoop life lessons are captured here. And what’s more, when I teach, I learn. Both kids and adults teach me so much as I teach them. The learning never stops, I knew this but again, never thought I needed to learn to be satisfied in life.

7. Movement – This one might be more obvious but I just wanted to add that I’ve recently gained some weight as the result of meeting a need to experience joy this summer. I ate and drank everything I wanted! I would like to feel healthier now and have been playing with what I call Hoop Aerobics. Doing lunges, squats, toe lifts etc while hooping. It’s the only way I can really enjoy myself while “exercising” and exercise has to be fun for me or I won’t do it. It’s been great so far and I’m excited to keep going with it. One rule I’ve given myself that will be sure to get me fit in no time is that everytime I drop my hoop, I have to do a burpee! Or perhaps, I’ll just develop more core control with the hoop to avoid doing burpees, we’ll see.

NoMo hooping

A shot of a group I was teaching at a small music festival a few weeks back. I see a lot of needs being met – play, learning, exercise, connection and more!

In addition to learning about the types of needs we have, I also learned that we can always tell when our needs aren’t being met because we are unhappy in some way. I think back to before I started hooping over six years ago and can honestly say I’m a much happier person now. I consider hooping to be one of my essential self care practices and understand why it fills me up, it’s because it meets so many of my needs. Hooping truly  fulfills me! It allows me to feel my core desired feelings (abundance, support, connection, flow and joyful radiance) each and every day. I even spotted some of my core desired feelings on the needs list, proving to me that daily connection and joy are even more important than I previously thought. What a beautiful gift I’ve received from this little plastic circle.

❤ Nicole