“If you let go a little, you will have a little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely you will have complete peace." Ajahn Chah
When I heard this quote the very first time, it stopped me dead in my tracks.
I knew it was true.
But I didn’t have much experience with letting go.
I come from a family who loved to keep things. Everything, actually.
There wasn’t a whole lot that got thrown away. Letters, old bank statements and checks for years and years, clothes that no longer fit, even empty boxes...because, well, the idea was that we might need these things SOMEDAY.
And yes, my parents were of the Depression-era. I get it.
It was a time that affected that generation for their entire lives and my parents and grandparents were deeply impacted along with everyone else. They didn’t believe in getting rid of anything.
So I grew up with the mentality of keeping things, unaware...
I learned the secret to not quitting from a very wise Marine Corps officer several years ago when I worked on a US Marine Corps base in Okinawa, Japan.
I was working out with Marines as I did every day on the base and I was on the 4th round of doing pushups on 2 gymnastic rings in the middle of a very high-intensity fitness workout. (That’s hanging onto 2 rings that are suspended & you’re supposed to do pushups while you’re hoisting yourself on them & maintaining balance at the same time)…you know, crazy stuff like that.
It was hard, to put it mildly. I’d already been rowing, then before that pushups, then squats. I was exhausted.
My head said, "what are you doing out here? You’re too old to be working out this hard, just quit. You don’t have to do this. This is insane. We’re all crazy. Quit."
I looked to my left and decided to ask Mike who was working out next to me why he...
Today I had this imaginary conversation with a friend or (maybe it was myself.) It went like this:
Did you know that that blah mood you're in is normal?
And that you're not the only one?
Did you know that you've been feeling tired because your brain is tired?
Yes ma’am it is.
It's worn out from trying to cope with covid, with fires out of control, smoke, political upheaval, along with all the day-to-day stressors you have and it's been going on now for over a year.
You didn't notice anything at first because you were too busy adjusting, putting on your mask, avoiding crowds, staying inside.
You didn't realize that your brain was on overdrive trying to keep you and your family alive.
Yep. It was over a year without going anywhere except maybe to the grocery store. And you woke up most days thinking...it's another day of the same. The same. The boring old same freakin' thing.
You didn't know how long...
In 2014, my husband and I climbed Mt. Fuji, the highest volcano in Japan at 12,388 thousand feet. Little did I know that this experience would help me be able to deal with the current troubling times.
This was an epic trip for me. In the telling of this story about our adventure, it’s important to give you some background on what it’s like to climb Fuji-San (Mr. Fuji).
Mt Fuji is a dormant volcano that last erupted in 1708. It was a Buddhist monk in 700 A.D. who first climbed Mt. Fuji. A temple was built at the summit 400 years later. It became a pilgrimage site for Japanese.
In 1860, the first foreigner climbed Mt. Fuji. In 1868, Lady Parkes, an Englishwoman, defied a ban on women climbers and ascended the peak. The ban was lifted afterward. What a badass woman she was!
It was my husband’s idea. Thom had dreamed about this climb even before we moved to Okinawa in 2013. He’d always said, “I’m gonna climb Mt. Fuji."
"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."
Today is about not putting your life on hold and waiting to do the things you love.
If we don't live the life we want now or we're waiting to be happy, then we die full of regrets. I am a woman living in my 70s so I ask myself every day, what am I waiting for?
Is it when the bills are paid off, you have enough money, the kids leave home when you have more time?...you fill in the blanks.
We wait for the "right" time. For the best job, for the next raise, the perfect house, the best time to do what we want.
My 13-year-old grand-nephew was diagnosed 4 months ago with a brain tumor. It was malignant. The day before he was diagnosed he was a normal kid playing baseball.
One minute you could be sitting on your...
We're living in funky, unpredictable times.
It’s wearing down even the most grounded and balanced people.
But for some of us, we blame ourselves for things that happen. We may not even be aware that we’re in this self-destructive behavior.
In fact, it won’t help you in any way.
For sure, it’s easy to get stuck listening to the blaming and shaming voices inside of you that tell you that you did something wrong…spiraling you down into negativity, into funky land.
Those are the times when nothing seems right. You feel off but you don't even know what's wrong.
It might be that you woke up feeling happy and everything was going great and then, BAM.
Some small thing happens.
Your phone goes off in the middle of a yoga class, with a voice message from your friend saying your name, "hi, Jo," and the whole class hears the voice recording and glares at you.
(true story that just happened to...
“The greatest gift our parents ever gave us was each other”
It’s National Sister Day this week and if you have a sister or someone like a sister, it’s a great time to think about your relationship with her and what it means.
I can’t imagine going through life without my two amazing sisters.
But it wasn’t always that way.
I remember when my younger sister arrived on the scene.
I didn’t much like her at first. I was 2 ½ and immediately threatened by the fact that I wasn’t the little darling of the family anymore.
Maie, my sister, bit me once.
She was 2. There was a conflict over something like wanting the same toy and Maie used the only tactic she had…biting.
My mother told me to bite her back. (Parents had little training back then in how to parent…it was called I'm the boss and you do whatever I say).
I remember thinking, “but I don’t want to hurt her”...
My mother told me something a little startling when I asked for a pair of red panties.
I was 9 years old.
She said, “only bad women wear red panties.”
I was puzzled by what she meant by "bad women" but whatever it was I figured, I didn’t want to be a bad woman.
I remember my aunt told me that her parents said "no" when she wanted to be a nurse. They wouldn’t allow it and explained that “respectable” women weren't nurses.
I wondered about that, too.
Instead, my Aunt Billie stood, at the age of 16, right beside my grandfather who was a pharmacist at Hatcher's Drugstore in a tiny little town in South Georgia.
Aunt Billie worked alongside my grandfather, filling prescriptions as a compounding pharmacist. There were far less regulations then and so she was allowed to do this.
She had learned from her father how to fill prescriptions. So, even more, confusing...
Let’s get real. We all live in an over scheduled world with endless to do lists, and an overload of technology.
Our brains have had it with trying to deal with the pandemic and adapt over and over again.
If you find yourself like most people, you’re wired and tired. And you may even feel like what’s the point?
That’s when you know that it’s time to take a personal retreat.
What the heck is a personal retreat?
It’s the time you take to step away from your ordinary life and just be with yourself so that you can reset and come back refreshed and be a better version of yourself.
The outcomes of being on a solo getaway personal retreat are numerous.
Even though you think, I don’t have time to stop, this is the very moment to get away.
"The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it. " Sydney J. Harris
Learn more about the benefits of going on a personal retreat and my story of how I...
"When our souls are tired, we don't need sleep, we need to get away and just be.”
A retreat is a time when you step away from your daily life to reflect on where you are in your life at the moment. It's a time to rest, restore, reset and it's a time for deep listening.
When we're exhausted, our body is working hard to just keep up with the daily tasks. When our brains are tired, we can't put anything else in.
This is where I was. Totally blah. Tired and wired. Sick of everything. No pizazz. Dull.
I decided to save myself and take a week off. From everything.
I knew I needed to get away and let myself do nothing.
I chose a beautiful place...the California central coast.
The first morning when I woke up without an alarm, I felt strange.
I resisted my impulse to do the usual thing...get up, check the news, check my emails, my texts. Instead, I heard a little voice say, “wait… you don't have to...
Fall is a time for us to slow down, to ground ourselves and to nourish our bodies. This retreat is designed to help you stop and listen to what it is you need right now. It's a fun and restorative weekend with mindfulness exercises, morning yoga, an online cooking class with the fabulous Chef Bai, healthy recipes to try at home, meditations and group calls to connect you with other women.