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

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

Light My Fire

Once again I’m reminded of the importance of self care. I’ve been feeling off all week since I ingested some lemon essential oil. I know that this is a great detoxifier and added a couple drops to my water because I felt like I needed a good detox. The next day I woke up with an upset stomach which didn’t really go away all week. I didn’t have any other symptoms, flu or otherwise so I did feel like I was just removing a lot of toxins from my liver but they weren’t actually leaving my body no matter how much lemon water or green smoothies I drank.

All week I’d been aware that I was avoiding meditating and journaling and doing any of the other things that helps bring my mind, body and soul into balance. I was feeling lethargic and starting to notice a little bit of depression creeping in. This morning I woke up, still not feeling 100% though I finally felt ready to write in my journal, meditate and face whatever this was. 10 pages later, my stomach is no longer bugging me. What my body was trying to release was not just physical toxins, but past traumas and anger. After journaling I cleared away all that I was holding onto with a smudging ceremony and was inspired to draw a flame with my oil pastels. I felt it was important to create a visual image I could use to remind me that I am powerful.

ImageAs I was drawing and colouring, I realized the flame is such an important representation of my power. My flame is always burning, but sometimes I choose to let other people dampen it. I will now choose to remember that I control how bright my flame burns because when I give my power away, I become lethargic and unmotivated.

As I coloured, I allowed my inner flame to grow inside of me and to burn brightly. The more I did this, the more motivated I became to spend the day creating. I spent some time hooping and working on the Yin Yang Hoop Dance workshop I’ll be offering at Spin Milk 4. I spent some time rearranging “my room” as I like to call it. It’s a spare room that I have set up for meditation, journaling, yoga, hooping and whatever tickles my fancy. It’s my self care oasis. I reorganized my bulletin board so I could hang my flame on it and see it on a regular basis. I was inspired and motivated to blog about my experience and after this I’m still feeling inspired to go to the grocery store and pick up some ingredients to create tasty dehydrated snacks!

I know how important self care is yet sometimes choose not to make it a priority. Today is just another reminder that taking care of myself is a practice and I’m not perfect at it, but when I choose to take care of myself first instead of distracting myself with mindless activities or doing responsibility type stuff, I’m much better off for it. Self care makes me come alive and invites me to step into my power as a creator. The flame reminds me to keep stoking my inner fire so I can shine my light out to the world.