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

She’s Got the Power

Last week, I had the opportunity to teach a beautiful group of 32 12 – 15 year old girls at NAIT’s G-Force Summer Camp. The camp focuses on personal empowerment and I love the opportunity to not only teach hoop dance, but to use the hoop as a metaphor for teaching important life lessons.

This is my third year back at the camp and I’m always astounded at the girls’ wisdom. I started the workshop by asking each girl to share her name and one characteristic of a strong woman. Their answers were amazing and they even addressed some of my ideas of a what a strong woman is. To them strong women are empathetic, intelligent, they follow She's got the powertheir dreams, they know what they want, they are stubborn! (I think she meant someone who sets her boundaries and doesn’t give into peer pressure), they don’t care what anyone else thinks about them, they have high self esteem, they are loving, they are compassionate, they are beautiful on the inside,  they are brave and they ask for help when they need it. They listed more characteristincs, but these are the only ones I can recall. It truly fills my heart with joy to see that there are so many aware and awake young woman growing up in the world today. I’d like to think that I would have given an answer like theirs when I younger, but I truly don’t know how I would have answered. Today though, I do have some solid thoughts about what a strong woman is. Below are the characteristics of strong women we touched on in the workshop.

A strong woman only focuses on the three things she can control in her life – her thoughts, her feelings and her actions. A strong woman does not spend time worrying about what other people think about her or about what other people are doing. She chooses to create her reality, she explores her feelings, she chooses to be aware of her thoughts and will consciously choose to change them if there is any judgement of self or others. I asked the girls to pay attention to their thoughts during the workshop. To notice if any self judgement creeped in if there was a trick they weren’t picking up as quickly as some of the other girls. I invited them to shift their thoughts from self judgement to self love, instead of saying something like “I’m stupid and I can’t do this”, I invited them to shift to “I can do this and I just haven’t figured it out yet”. Our thoughts are so powerful and we need to choose them wisely. It is only when we are aware of the thoughts in the first place that we can choose to change them. When we accept where we are, we can redirect that misused energy to become more productive. We’ll likely figure out a trick faster when we’re not judging ourselves for not getting it right away.

Pony

Here’s me, expressing myself at a recent music festival and being brave enough to share it with the real world.

A strong woman is brave. She goes after what she wants, even if takes a lot of time or if she has to stand up against what others want her to do or be.  She walks her path and allows herself to be seen, even if it feels uncomfortable, she is committed to living her truth. She follows her heart. I shared with the girls that when you see a woman like this, you will likely be attracted to her because she is confident. As a teen, I wanted to conform but also wanted so badly to express myself at the same time. I encouraged the girls to be brave in the workshop and use the hoop as a tool to express themselves and the emotions they’re feeling. I encouraged them to find a healthy way to express their emotions in their regular life, because emotions are completely normal and they just want to be acknowledged and felt, not to be pushed away or ignored. I encouraged them to find something that makes them as happy as hooping makes me and use that as a tool for self expression.

A strong woman asks for support. She recognizes when she is struggling and asks for help. In my experience, this is a tough one for so many people, something I’m only starting to really explore myself. I think we often feel like unless we know exactly what we need,  we can’t ask for help. The truth is if we knew what we needed, we’d probably try to help ourselves. If we just allowed ourselves to be vulnerable and access the vast support networks we likely have, we’d be doing ourselves such a service. I think there can be a stigma around asking for help and I believe that needs to change. I asked the girls to not be shy to ask for help in this workshop if they needed it. I hope that this gave them the opportunity to practice asking for help in a small way so they could feel more comfortable asking for help when they needed it in bigger ways, like when they were feeling depressed, isolated or heartbroken sometime in the future. Many of the girls did ask and I can only hope this reinforces that it is not a weakness to seek support.

There are so many characteristics of strong women that I could write and teach about it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few. I love being able to start the dialogue about this topic so the girls can begin to explore and appreciate all the ways to be a strong woman. I think they are already well on their way.

❤ Nicole