The Importance of an Intentional Pause

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One of the most delightful new experiences introduced at the last Uninhibited Retreat held in March was "Chalk it Out." Armed with many different colors in our hands and plenty of thoughts in our heads, we filled the driveway in front of my house with our not-so-nice notes and sweet scribbles about ourselves. It was illuminating to see not only my inner voices scrawled across the pavement, but others' as well. There were words that resonated with my own and there were some sentiments I'd never say to myself.  And that was a large part of the point of this activity - To look at what we say to ourselves and then to consider why it is that we talk such smack about our bodies, our feelings and our lives when we'd never say these same things to our mothers, our sisters or our girlfriends.  

It was an exercise designed to reveal both our insecurities and our confidences. It was a time to witness, to be vulnerable and honest, to be kind and forgiving. We even had a playlist of music to move to as we chalked our way from the voices of mean-spirited nonsense to full-on light and goodness. This back-and-forth dance happens throughout the retreat. Our feelings and emotions are taken on a beautiful and sometimes not-so-beautiful ride as we see and acknowledge those places in our lives where we're fully being ourselves and where we're not.

The Uninhibited Retreat illuminates our light and our shadow so we can see more clearly who we are and who we are not.      

Here are a few more pics of our light illuminated in photos by Richard Marks. 

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One of the words I chalked was 'pause'. Even though it's been five months since I wrote it down on my driveway, I still feel its impact. I'm happy to say that its meaning has shifted from what felt like a fierce demand back then to a more kind reminder now.    

Going on a retreat is an intentional pause. We take time out of our "regular lives" to slow down, get out of our normal routine and try on something different.  Every few months, I look forward to planning this retreat and participating in it.  

Earlier this summer, just before registration for the October retreat was scheduled to open up, I thought about pausing and the reasons for it. Clarity led to prioritizing. And in some kind of odd way I haven't quite sussed out, prioritizing is leading to me to simplicity.

So while I pause, prioritize and prepare for a big adventure I'm about to undertake, Uninhibited will pause for a few months and be back in March of next year. 

May you take intentional pauses in your life from time to time and may it be time well spent. 

 

The Courage to Fall Apart...Together.

"It takes courage to stand up and be who you really are.

It also takes courage to fall apart

when you can no longer stand." 

The last Uninhibited Retreat was a time filled with some of the most beautiful experiences of my life. It was a sweet homecoming to be in the company of familiar companions who had been a part of the very first Uninhibited that took place in February 2014. The dive we took together was deeper than the previous one and because we already knew each other, the level of comfort and intimacy with one another and within the group was immediately palpable and carried us to new places of being and knowing.

I could tell you about how we danced. I could tell you about the delicious meals we ate. I could tell you about how we laughed and cried. I could try and describe what this retreat is really all about in the hopes that you'll want to attend the next one coming up in March, but instead, I'm going to tell you the story that has broken my heart wide open a thousand times since October 21.

It was the morning of the second day of our retreat. It was early. No one else in the house was awake except me and Buddy. Neither of us had slept much the previous night. Feeling both exhilarated and exhausted by the first day's dances and activities, I had gone to bed knowing something was off. Something I'd seen earlier that evening on the beach had given me a glimpse of what was coming. I just didn't know it was coming later that night and the following day.

That something on the beach had been a black lab. With the sun beginning to set and the last song of our dance playing in my ears, I sat down and watched this beautiful creature playing in the waves.  In my opinion, he was happy. He was full of life. He made me think of what my Buddy used to be like. And then suddenly I felt something move through me that I can only describe as "knowing the what without knowing the when." I knew Buddy's life would soon be coming to an end.

He hadn't been eating or drinking much for a couple of days. He didn't appear to be in pain, but he also didn't appear to be happy. He didn't seem himself. For over two years, my beloved cat had courageously endured thrice weekly visits to the vet to treat kidney disease. His weight would fluctuate from time to time, but during the last week, it had ventured into scary territory. At various times throughout his illness, I had asked him to "give me a sign or two" when he was ready. Throughout that first night of the retreat, he gave me several.

Looking back almost four months ago, I can now see clearly how he somehow chose when it was not only the best time for him to go, but it was the best time for me to let him go. Sometimes I think Buddy knew me better than I knew myself. 

 

And so when I got up that morning, I fell apart and continued to fall throughout the day. After making an early morning visit to the vet and hearing the doctor speak from a medical perspective and from his heart, I made the choice to lay him to rest. The vet couldn't do the procedure until later that afternoon so Buddy and I returned home to spend our last few hours together. It was the longest and shortest six hours I'd spent since my uncle had died nineteen years earlier.

During this in-between time, it seemed like Buddy didn't really want to be around me. He would venture back to his food and water dishes and just stare. He would curl up underneath the furniture. While he would let me pet him, it felt like he was tolerating my touch rather than enjoying it. He wasn't purring and he didn't meow at all during those six hours. Despite him probably feeling horrid because he hadn't eaten in awhile, I'd have to say he appeared pretty content to just rest. Looking back again, his lack of usual affection somehow helped me to carry through with the decision.                   

So while Buddy rested, the retreat was put on pause.  And I...I mean we, all five of us who were in this retreat together, paused.  To let go of what the day's plans were was hard. To prepare for what was coming later in the afternoon was harder. It's hard now to write the words to describe what happened during those few hours at home, the last drive to the vet, the few precious minutes of holding Buddy as he "fell asleep."   

In the company of my friends, Rose, Amy, Joe and Jenni, I completely fell apart without knowing how I might be "put together" again. Through the tender care and trust of these four people, I was able to grieve the impending death of my sweet boy and receive what I needed so I could be strong and present for Buddy when the time came to let him go.

It takes courage to fall apart. It is also brave (and very uninhibited) to allow others to help you find the courage to stand again when you feel you cannot. 

Rose & Joe atop Mt. Haleakala

Rose & Joe atop Mt. Haleakala

Laughter shared between Jenni & Amy

Laughter shared between Jenni & Amy

Rose & Lila - To see and be seen by another.

Rose & Lila - To see and be seen by another.

Falling and Standing Up Together

Falling and Standing Up Together

All of Us

All of Us

 

And so this is what the five of us did for each other over and over again throughout the retreat. This is one of the reasons why I created Uninhibited. This is what I believe is a large part of what we're all here to do in this short span of time we call our lives. 

I am still grieving the loss of Buddy. I am still and always will be grateful to my friends who went through this particular experience with me and who were in this very special Uninhibited Reunion Retreat. 

Me and Mr. Buddy - Our last photo together.

Me and Mr. Buddy - Our last photo together.

There are two more weeks left to decide if you'd like to join us for the next retreat happening March 16-20.

I'd love for you to come to Maui and be courageous with a small group of women who will dance and dine, laugh and cry, and no doubt, fall apart and stand again many times together and for each other.

 

To be deeply seen, heard and felt

Tomorrow the sixth Uninhibited Retreat begins. It is a gathering unlike I've had before. It is a reunion of sorts. Five people have returned from the first retreat held two and half years ago to dance again and spend four days being and becoming more of who we really are, together.

Back then, there were twelve of us; six women and six men. Back then, I didn't know I would create an experience for us to gather again. A lot has changed since February 2014. The retreat is different. Our lives are different. The world is different. And yet...there's something that's remained the same and that is...

We all still hunger to be deeply seen, heard and felt.  

And that is most likely the main reason I created this retreat experience. We all share these basic needs of being human and wanting to belong. We crave connection and community, but sometimes don't know how to ask for it. We want others to know who we really are, but sometimes we hold back expressing how we really feel because we're afraid. We need each other in order to learn, grow and live our lives in ways we never would if we were alone. Despite being surrounded by others, so many of us feel alone - unseen, unheard, not felt.  And that is just NOT acceptable for me. 

So as I have become more committed in the last 32 months to being fiercely passionate and vocal about embodying the qualities in ourselves that we most wish to see in the world, the retreat has changed to reflect that. Through our dance and our conversations, we explore what being embodied really means to us. To embody love we must be love. To embody freedom we must be free. To embody presence we must be an expression of it.

We are love.

We are free.

We are presence.

These truths are often and easily forgotten when we get caught up in the pace of our ever-changing lives. During Uninhibited, we slow that pace down. Together, we take time out to remember, recognize, reclaim and rejoice in who we really are. When we do that for ourselves and for each other, freedom becomes our regular way of being rather than it being something we're trying to achieve. 

I invite you to join me March 16-20, 2017 on Maui for the next Uninhibited Retreat - an embodied experience of creative expression, freedom and presence. To dance and play. To see and be seen. To speak and be heard. To listen to our own needs and have them met. To feel our own temporary and yet eternal existence and each other's as we experience five extraordinary days together on a beautiful island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Registration opens up November 1. Space is available for up to eight women depending on selection of single or shared accommodations.  Perhaps you'll be one of them?  Be in touch if you have questions or if you want to be a part of the March retreat. 

For me, these next four days of re-retreating with some of the amazing people who were at the first Uninhibited and who helped to create and make this retreat what it has now become, will be an important and beautiful reminder of how much I need them.    

A Deep Listening

It's been two months since the last Uninhibited Retreat. It was a beautiful, small gathering and once again, it opened my heart and renewed my spirit in ways that intimate and illuminating shared experiences often can do.  I am honored to have spent several days dancing with and diving into the depths of ourselves with these courageous and delightful women.

There's a certain magic, a palpable yet hard-to-explain feeling that's unique to every retreat I've facilitated and/or attended. A temporary community comes together, extending unearned trust in an experience and in each other and that, in and of itself, is where the magic lies. Retreats offer a safe space and place to give of ourselves to something we might not normally have in our day to day lives.  I know from having been a steady retreat participant and facilitator over the last twenty years, we need to be with each other in creative and curious, open and tender truth-telling ways. We human beings are hungry for experiences that help us remember what's really important in our lives and remind us of our own humanity.

We are a fragile species on the edge of tearing one another and this world apart.

And so what is one to do when filled with longing to be more compassionate and considerate, more calm and centered, more loving and forgiving?  How do we best take care of ourselves so that our lives feel both meaningful and full of possibility?  

We deeply listen.  

Sometimes solitude is best to delve into one's own mind and body and all that it contains; thoughts, beliefs, memories, emotions, feelings.  Sometimes it's better to explore all those things in the company of others. For me, I've found a sweet in-between spot where solo contemplation and group exploration nurture each other. 

In support of that above named sweet spot, I am about to embark on a retreat adventure overseas that I'm really excited about.  I also recently made a decision I felt was important to honor my own process and personal desires which was to invite familiar friends to join me in Maui in October. What this means is...

The next Uninhibited Retreat will be in March 2017. 

The deep listening that's taking place within me needs this time to reflect and remember what makes me feel most free. Upon my return, I trust those longings of mine will have been well-attended to and the Uninhibited Retreat will have evolved into the kind of embodied experience that holds strong appeal for women who not only love to dance, but who want to be deeply seen, heard and felt through their creative expression and presence. I'll be ready November 1 to welcome in those who might consider joining me.  

A Time to Unpack Your Heart

 

Meet me where the sunlight ends
Meet me where the truth never bends
Bring all that you're scared to defend

And lay it down when you walk through my door
Throw all of it out on the floor
Your sorrow, your beauty, your war
I want it all, I want it all

Bring your secrets, bring your scars
Bring your glory, all you are
Bring your daylight, bring your dark
Share your silence
And unpack your heart

Show me something the rest never seen
Give me all that you hope to receive
Your deepest regret dies with me

The days when you stumble and fall
The days when you grind to a crawl
The treasure that hides behind your walls
I want it all, yeah I want it all

Bring your secrets, bring your scars
Bring your glory, all you are
Bring your daylight, bring your dark
Share your silence
And unpack your heart
Then unpack your heart

Oh, I'm on your side
So shed your shadow
And watch it rise

Oh, I'm on your side
So shed your shadow
And watch it rise
Into your darkness
I'll shine a light

Bring your secrets, bring your scars
Bring your glory, all you are
Bring your daylight, bring your dark
Share your silence

Bring your honor, bring your shame
All your madness, I will tame
Won't you lay down, down your guard
Share your silence
And unpack your heart

I love this song. I love the tune, but I especially love the lyrics. They're an invitation to being vulnerable and real. To opening your heart in a deep and beautiful way to another. To becoming free of all the things you might fear.  This is my invitation to you. An opening for you to walk through. A time for you and me to become more free together. 

There is still time and still room for you to be a part of the next Uninhibited Retreat happening March 24-28th.  Registration will close ten days from now on March 1.

Come unpack your heart with me on Maui and... 

Show me something the rest never seen. 

 

The Truth Is...We're Going to Fall In Love

It's almost Valentine's Day - a national holiday dedicated to celebrating love. 

For me, every day is a holiday in which to celebrate love.

Love of self. Love of others. Love of nature. Love of dance. Love of creative expression. Love of life. There is so much to love and yet sometimes in the swirl of day-to-day living and the multitude of tasks begging for my attention, I lose sight of what's most important and forget to indulge in love-making and love-taking. For me, feeling free involves being able to both give love and receive it. If I stop the flow either way in any area of my life, that's when I get stuck.  And I hate feeling stuck.  I imagine you might feel this way sometimes, too.

Getting unstuck together is just one of the things we do during Uninhibited.

How do we best do that?  By falling in love with each other and by falling more in love with ourselves.  And how do we do that?  By being vulnerable and real. By showing up fully.  No holding back. No hiding out. By being willing to dive into the depths of ALL of who we are even when it scares the beejezus out of us. When we're given opportunities to express who we really are without fear of judgment or having to worry that someone is "out to fix us" if we share our struggles, this revealing of our stories, our truths, our humanity begins to un-stick us.  

Sometimes the fall is immediate. Sometimes it takes a day or two. But by the time the retreat is complete, we all will have fallen. We are gloriously, ridiculously giddy with the amount of love we are feeling.  I'll admit it - One of the reasons I have both facilitated and attended retreats for the past 15 years is because I'm addicted to that falling-in-love feeling. I'm a freedom-loving experience junkie. And the last bit of truth-telling for today - Once I fall in love with you, that love sticks around . That's the kind of stuck-ness I don't mind at all.

Come fall with me.   

The next Uninhibited is six weeks away and registration for the March retreat closes in just 20 days. So if you're thinking about joining us, don't delay. I hope you make every day a love-filled Valentine's Day.

 

We Need Safe Spaces for our Shadows to Shine

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I've named them Shadow Spheres; those darker sides of ourselves we don't want others to see.The ones I've penned in the above picture are just a few of mine. I don't usually go around announcing or exhibiting these qualities with pride. Oh no, most of the time, I do my best to hide these not-so-sweet feelings like I do my cellulite-ridden thighs in long shorts.

Here's the thing about those darker sides of ourselves and less-than-smooth legs, no matter what we might do to cover them up, they still exist.  No matter how much I want to deny the fact that I am as much dark as I am light and that my body is aging, the truth is I always feel better when these feelings are allowed to shine and my thighs are exposed to sunshine. 

Plenty of people have no reservations when it comes to expressing their Shadow Spheres. Consider American politics right now. Spewing hate and sarcasm left and right (political pun intended) there appears to be nothing a candidate won't say to garnish a few more votes by getting the electorate all stirred-up. We don't need to be more stirred up into a frenetic and fearful place where we're pitted against one another.  We need to sit the hell down, look each other square in the eye and be willing to listen as we share what's really beneath all the hate, the disgust and the mistrust with each other.

Obviously, this is not something I'm suggesting for political reasons only.

This kind of communication-  the kind where you actually see the other person and engage in revealing and respectful conversations- the kind where both shadow and light can coincide together - the kind where you're given an opportunity to experience how and why another person feels the way they do - is so desperately needed now in this world.

Why? 

I think many of us are scared shit-less to express ALL of who we are because we've either never had a safe enough space or place to do so or we've done so in the past only to be silenced because of the judgment of others.  I think people often hide behind their online persona when in reality they're silently suffering from their own shadow because it has no safe outlet offline.  I think we need more safe spaces for our shadows to shine so we can learn to accept  the fact that those darker sides of ourselves are as much a part of who we are as the lighter ones. There is tremendous freedom in accepting this fact. 

The Uninhibited Retreat is one of the those safe spaces.

There's still enough time and enough room for you to join us for the next event March 24-28. Registration remains open until March 1.   

 

It's almost that time again...

In a little more than two months from now, the fifth Uninhibited Retreat will begin.  I'm just as excited about this upcoming adventure as I was about the last one and the one before that and the one before that and...you understand. You understand, right?

You understand the feelings of anticipation and wonder, joy and delight, enthusiasm and desire. I know you do because I know life gives all of us plenty of opportunities to experience these feelings. I also know life is quite unpredictable and at times we are completely thrown off the 'feel good' train and onto a different mode of transportation or way of being.

I got thrown off that train in such a sudden and shocking way three weeks ago that I'm just now finding my way back to the familiar way I usually travel which is open and lighthearted, kind and compassionate, happy and free.  It's taken some time, a lot of dancing, many tears shed and several supportive conversations to help me get back on track so-to-speak. Even though I'm feeling better today, I know that grief is the kind of train that makes multiple stops and never arrives at a final destination although acceptance is eventually the ideal station to retire that train.  

What do 'feel good' (or any other type of) trains have to do with the next Uninhibited Retreat? To keep the train analogy going a little longer...

Uninhibited is an "All Aboard" kind of experience. 

I ask participants to bring all of who they are into this retreat. All of their trains. All of their feelings. All of their ways of being. Why?  So we can ride the trains we love the most. So we can feel the ways we want to feel. So we can be who we really are.  

Shared vulnerability in small numbers (of people) creates a sweet intimacy between all of us and helps to insure a safe space for everyone. 

So whether you're like me and you've recently been tossed off your regular 'feel good' train and want back on or you're wondering what riding a 'feel good' train would be like or you're happy and content with the train you're riding however you're curious to know more about how you can have the best travel experience, this retreat may be something you'll want to be a part of.   

Registration is open for the next retreat until March 1. If you decide to join us, I promise this will be a beautiful train ride you'll always remember.    

No Men. No More.

Uninhibited is now a women only event. 

What I'm about to share does not diminish in any way the experience of the first Uninhibited Retreat, which had an equal amount of men and women. I LOVED that retreat for everything it was: a wonderful facilitating collaboration with a dear friend, a movement-based event that became so much more than dance, a roller coaster ride of emotions, a heart journey of hard and beautiful lessons, a plethora of awe-inspiring, vulnerable experiences, the beginning of something I wanted to offer for a long time. 

Two years ago when I brought Uninhibited into being, I fiercely wanted it to have both men and women in it.

Quite often in life, what you ask for, you get.

And so it was that the first time I offered this retreat in February 2014, there were six men and six women.  I felt excited and confident in facilitating a mixed gender group and this dozen in particular because I knew many of them personally prior to the retreat.  I'd attended many dance events where the dynamic energy that was created was due in part to there being both females and males.

Activities and meals were planned. Music and goody bags were created. I had some expectations on how the retreat might go and all of them were pretty much obliterated. There are things I can't share due to confidentiality and out of respect for others' choices. The sharing I'm doing here is from my perspective and my experience of the retreat and leads to the reason why I've decided to make all future Uninhibited retreats women only events. 

For several days, my home became their home. My heart and eyes opened up in ways that hadn't in years.  My birth name changed to the name I'm now called. It was a big deal. It was a game-changer. It transformed me. The retreat's tagline of "An experience where anything can happen and everything is possible" turned out to be my own ass-kicking, my own wake-up call. 

The last three retreats have been attended by women only.  The last three retreats have had 5-6 participants. The last three retreats have had most of the women staying at my house, not at other accommodations. What I fiercely wanted and received two years ago served me in many ways, my ego included.  

Since then, a Fierce Softening has been occurring. Perhaps you've heard me use this expression before. Perhaps it sounds familiar because it's the name I used for a ceremony I held in March 2014 where many of my friends gathered to celebrate my name change. Perhaps it sounds familiar because you're one of the people I've told that it's the name of my forthcoming book. Perhaps it will sound familiar when I say more about what a Fierce Softening is. 

Less ego involved. More soul invested.   

What I want now for Uninhibited, for my work in the world and for my life has changed.

I am NOT interested or involved in the next level, scaling up, maximizing profits, growing my list, increasing my success rate, or achieving "massively great outcomes" as Tony Robbin's current Facebook ad screams. Oh…I used to want these things. I chased after them for years. Bought the hype. Bought the online programs. Bought the bullshit. No more. Never again. Not me. 

I AM interested and invested in what's present, diving deep, minimizing excuses, strengthening my relationships, evolving my being and having meaningful experiences with others that make me and them come alive. Oh…and these things aren't about things. They're about feelings and people and presence.

The last three retreats with women only have shown me where I want to invest my soul. They've shown me a depth of heart and spirit and extreme vulnerability that's so fucking real and raw, it requires, it demands an audience that is so safe, so sacred that if getting naked is what one needs to do, there is no hesitation and nothing to stop one from doing so.  I know there are plenty of co-ed retreats and retreat spaces where nudity is a given and no one thinks twice about it.  I'm comfortable being naked in those settings, but Uninhibited is not one of those retreats. And no matter what someone says about "nudity not being an issue," mixed gender groups are distracting even without a single penis or vagina ever being seen. It's not our genitals that do the distracting. Trust me. I know this from a very tender place.  

This was a lot longer than I thought it would be. It was important to get it all out. It was important to say what's true for me and what's now true about the Uninhibited Retreats.

  • It is a women only event.
  • The retreat is limited to 8 participants. 
  • It is an all-inclusive experience. All participants retreat, eat and stay at my house.

Registration for the March 2016 retreat

opens December 1.     

 

An Uninhibited Question & Answer

What can your friends count on you for? 

I just returned from a sweet weekend of dance, delicious meals, dramatic weather and deep connection with some of my favorite people on the planet.  I would do pretty much anything for any one of these six friends of mine in the photo above.  

I would dance in the pouring down rain with them. 

I would buy them a meal, a bottle of wine, a plane ticket  and especially something special that they would want, but might not buy for themselves.

I would hold their gaze and not look away when they needed someone to see them. 

I would hold their hands in mine, hug them  hard and not let go until they do. 

I would tell them the truth even if it's hard to hear. 

I would be there for them when they asked, when they least expected it and when they needed someone or something, but didn't know who or how to ask.   

My friends can count on me to be fiercely loyal, relentlessly upbeat, ridiculously silly and real.

What is it that you give to your friends without a second thought?  What are the qualities of being others can rely on you for?  And if you had you  as a friend, could you count on you? 

You can count on being asked questions during this retreat that  will make your mind think, your heart feel and your spirit relax. When you take time out to delve into how you live your life and what's most important, thinking, feeling, relaxing  (and dancing!) is bound to happen.

Seven more weeks until the next retreat begins. Four more weeks to decide if you'll be a part of it. Registration closes October 1.