Guest Blog Post by The 3rd Act Retreat’s Yoga Instructor - Rachel Heron

Even yoga teachers and doula’s make big changes midlife. Read on to hear from Rachel Heron (our 3rd Act Retreat Yoga Instructor) about how yoga transformed her life and why yoga can help you in your life at the retreat!

From Rachel:

"One rainy afternoon in NYC, in late October of 1992, my life changed.  I walked into the Jivamukti Yoga Center on 2nd Avenue, full of doubt, heartache and discontent.  Various things were not going the way I planned or wanted, and I found myself feeling jaded, cynical and stuck in a rut.  A friend had recommended yoga to me months before and I finally decided to check it out for myself, not un-reluctantly, somewhat ready to be disappointed...again.

On that day I discovered a seed of grace, faith, and beauty that has remained ever-present for me in some form.  I found a way of communicating with myself that simultaneously touched a deep place of longing and also felt like a homecoming.  I found practice.

As a trained professional dancer, I understood the value of disciplined practice.  What felt so different to me about Yoga and meditation was the absence of a goal, culmination, or public presentation.  This created a significant shift in my perception, which at first was not altogether exciting.  It was hard to orient toward my inner witness, to practice without striving or reaching for something different or better or definitive.  It took a long time for me to realize, in an embodied way, that Hatha yoga (the physical practice) was a gateway toward meditation--the practice of sitting/witnessing/holding spacious awareness.

After 25 years, what I know about practice is this--it's about showing up as you are--joyful, expansive, faithful, inspired, clear, distracted, heartbroken, angry, confused, resigned, or apathetic.  It doesn't really matter because the practice is here as a way to engage with ALL OF IT.  We don't have to be better or more in shape or happier or even in the mood.  We DO have to show up to get the benefit.  We have to be somewhat willing to look a little deeper, to feel a little more, to be with our distraction and discomfort.  

I'm not saying this is easy.  It often isn't.  But it's what we've got.  We've got this body, this mind, this tender heart, and the capacity to take some action in relation to our suffering.  Cultivating a practice allows us to discover an abiding and steadfast ‘center’.  When we anchor into our practices we can notice the winds of change are always blowing--and in this recognition we may find some more space and ease and perspective amidst the ever-changing conditions.

When we anchor into our practices we can notice the winds of change are always blowing—and in this recognition we may find some more space and ease and perspective amidst the ever-changing conditions.
— Rachel Heron

Since that pivotal moment in 1992, I have followed a few different life paths, each one strong in its own right, each one essential for clarifying the next phase.  I have learned that life is deeply mysterious, non-linear, uncontrollable, and unpredictable.  I know what it feels like to make choices from fear and anxiety, and I also know what it feels like to make choices from a place of inner wisdom and guidance.  While we don't know what lies ahead, we can take responsibility for our actions and do our best to make holistic choices that support our deepest well-being.

As I was turning 40, I started getting hints that my next round of work in the world would be connecting with women at potent times of their lives.  This lead to a rich and rewarding bunch of years as a birth doula--truly a time of concentrated vitality and major life transition!  And in the midst of that work, I was continually asked by yoga students and bodywork/doula clients for something else as well--they were seeking guidance around how to be in their lives more fully, presently, healthfully--they were looking for ways to alleviate suffering.  It became clear to me that my next move was to formalize a counseling practice that could address these inquiries.  And it was just at the time when my doula energy started to wane (at age 45, staying up all night with a mama in labor is not ideal!) that the form of the counseling practice really started to blossom.

These last many years I have been refining a modality I call "Intuitive Somatic Counseling". I catalyze real, lasting change for women in transition who want to create the next phase of their life with more clarity, satisfaction, and nourishment.  The basis of this work combines compassionate listening, gentle bodywork, and strategic coaching in order to help you access your inner guidance.  In affirming your own intuitive wisdom, we co-create potent daily routines and rituals that will inspire and sustain the changes you want to make.

And this brings me back to practice... We learn to show up, to engage, and to be with what is.  We can make small incremental shifts and over time we notice something new arises.  There is sacredness in the mundane, as we bring presence and mindfulness to the myriad details of life.  In this modern age of abundant technology, stimulation, and options, it is my great pleasure to connect with women on a healing and awakening path: co-creating, exploring, and living in our vitality and radiance. "

How Midlife Changes Affect Your Financial Planning for the Future? 3rd Act Retreat Speaker Catie Fitzgerald’s “Visiting” Blog Post: Focus on Personal Finance in Retirement

Catie Fitzgerald is a three-time Healing Farm retreat participant. I first met her smiling face at the Paleo Reset retreat with Chris Kresser. It wasn’t the first time I spoke with her though; she made a point of calling me right before she booked her spot at that retreat to let me know how inspired she was by what I was trying to do with The Healing Farm and The Healing Farm | Retreats. You could say she was one of my first cheerleaders and supporters. Catie has fascinated me ever since with her intelligence, grace, zeal for life and zeal for learning and health. She has recently completed her training to be a nutritionist in a midlife career shift from twenty years in financial planning. I am constantly impressed with her quest for knowledge and her brave midlife career shift and feel she is the perfect fit for speaking at our upcoming retreat.

It was at a small group discussion I put together at our Women’s retreat this past January that another retreat participant suggested I not only put on a retreat for those going through a shift from midlife to retirement years, but also that Catie be a speaker. As I started putting together The 3rd Act Retreat with our main workshop speakers, Patricia Cavanaugh and Ellie Klevins of The 3rd Act, I realized I still wanted a nutrition component since I strongly feel that getting a solid base to your health in your mid-years can help propel you to have the energy and focus to strive for a more meaningful and true “you” for your later years. Getting down to the bottom of chronic conditions (pain/illness and discomfort) is a key part in having the energy and capacity to free your mind to move forward. Personal finance is also key to releasing yourself from the unwanted weight of financial stress.

Catie’s expertise in both areas, as well and her own decision to make big changes in her midlife to prepare for her 3rd act should be an inspiration to us all and I can’t wait to hear what she has to say about nutrition and finance at the fall retreat. Finance in particular since I feel like I’ve already figured out the nutrition part (now it’s just a matter of sticking to it!), but the finance part is still pretty shaky for me. Especially while in the process of letting go of the “old” business and starting the new as I prepare for my own 3rd Act. Let’s hear a little from Catie!

Personal Finance in Retirement: Guest Blog Post by Catie Fitzgerald

In preparation for conducting the personal finance session at the upcoming retreat hosted by The Healing Farm (The 3rd Act: Renewing Your Purpose and Passion Midlife, I was astounded to discover that the topics I deemed important to teach in 2006 at the tender age of 41 lacked the substance required by the 52-year- old I am today.  My life has changed so much, and I’ve grown in many ways including in emotional intelligence, comfort in my own skin, and maturity (not sure what that means but I’ll leave it for now).  

My personal finance program for retirees consisted of the following learning modules:

  • Creating your retirement paycheck
  • Investing during retirement
  • Long retirement fitness (what does that mean?)
  • Reverse mortgages

The content, although accurate, is dry and lacks the visioning that I insisted all my clients go through via several activities as I helped them plan for retirement.  Why was the 41-year- old version of me able to help my clients dream of retirement but when it came to helping them live it, I fell short (if I use the courses I created for retirees as a yardstick)?

The 52-year- old version of me knows what happened.  That 41-year old really didn’t relate to the mid-life retiree. She was still building her professional life, building several businesses on the side (multiple streams of income, baby!) and had recently purchased her first house. Retirement seemed so far away from her “now” and so foreign to her modus operandi of work hard, save, and invest. She understood the mechanics of actually retiring, and she was good at teaching others how to do it, but she lacked the connection to the person who would someday in the near future live it.

Her favorite question was, “What does retirement look like to you?  What will you do with your time? Who will you interact with on a regular basis?”  She liked to share her vision of retirement as a situation in which she no longer worked for a paycheck to cover her bills and expenses and instead would spend her time in pursuit of other activities simply because they filled her soul. She declared she would continue to work in a profession of her choosing regardless of the financial return.  These “labors of love” plus her investment portfolio, savings account, and whatever minuscule social security benefits she received would provide for her financial well-being.

The mechanics covered in my courses for retirees (see above bullet points) have value in helping people enjoy a financially fulfilling retirement.  Understanding these “do’s and don’ts” will contribute to a retiree's successful navigation of the fine balance of spending and investing to prevent outliving one’s financial resources.  However, these suggested moves and strategies do nothing to invigorate, ignite, and inspire retirees to make their 3rd act something truly rewarding for themselves or the people they interact with on a daily basis.

The well-intentioned, idealistic 41-year- old I was in 2006 had some good ideas and insights. She just lacked the perspective that comes when you cross over the “mid-life divide.”  I now have the perspective of one who has crossed the “divide, ” and I look forward to sharing new and innovative ideas for making retirement and your third act an adventure worth your energy, time, and commitment.  Will you join me at the retreat in October?

 

   

Straddling Careers Mid-life

I got home last night exhausted, but exhilarated. I sat down on the couch and hubby put on some Billy Holiday and asked me if I would like for him to rub my feet and hands and I thought about what a crazy but rewarding couple of days I had just had - topped off by such a loving and caring husband. 

In my own mid-life transition, like many people, I'm straddling careers. I can't quite let go of my photography career for financial reasons (my husband is going through his own mid-life shift and is currently writing a screenplay so not a lot of money coming in right now), but I also have this dream of The Healing Farm which I can't let go of either even though I constantly have doubts about my abilities and the reality of my dream. It's a constant struggle. One that's truly both exhausting and exhilarating. 

Yesterday I photographed a wedding at one of my favorite wedding venues. It was one of those days when I questioned why I was giving up a career that I know and most of the time love. The vendor team was a dream. The couple was easy and sweet. The guest list was only immediate family (so small!). The light was astounding and as I went through the photos last night (part of my wind-down routine), I was thinking I hit a home run for the couple. But the temperature while I was shooting was 98 degrees and it was unusually muggy in wine country. The property (Beaulieu Garden which is the private family estate of the B.V. wine label family) is gorgeous, but it's huge, so by the end of the day I was a sweaty, exhausted mess. I carry a ridiculous amount of equipment with me because I love shooting quickly and using multiple lenses and I didn't have an assistant or second photographer because it was a small wedding. My body was killing me when I got home so to have a husband who understood that I needed a foot rub was beyond a dream come true.

Wedding photography has become a tough business. There's a huge amount of competition and my 50 year old body just about can't handle the physical and emotional stress that goes with photographing a wedding so after a day like yesterday as I  was ooohing and ahing over the photos, I had to remind myself there are a LOT of reasons I'm switching careers. It's also a reminder as my back pain comes creeping back every time I shoot that I want to be able to make sure the work I've done healing my body from years of stress and chronic conditions doesn't go out the window.

Added to the successes of the last couple of days were the following:

  • A few new business inquiries and meetings for the photography business
  • A fun vendor walk-though of a museum at which I'll shoot a wedding at the end of the month
  • Bookings for the 3rd Act Healing Farm retreat set for the end of October
  • I also had a fun chat with a woman whose husband told her about the fall Healing Farm retreat. She called me to say that she had actually considered switching around travel plans to Argentina because she wants to go to the fall retreat so badly. We talked about the lack of small healing-focussed retreats that don't center only around yoga or meditation, but focus more on nutrition, healing and overall well-being and practical applications for making big lifestyle changes. 
  • Another phone call I had while in San Francisco pinning up promo cards for the 3rd Act retreat was with Claire of whom I wrote a couple of weeks ago. Claire is inspired by what I'm doing and wanted to hear how I went about making such a big shift in my life and wanted to chat about how she could make changes in her own life. I love when people reach out and am so happy to think that others are inspired by the changes I'm making in my own life.

This all reminded me of a quote I posted about a few weeks back which read:

"If you believe, stick with it. Too many people give up right before the tide changes." - Jessica Norwood, Founder of “The Runway Project”

The fall retreat is all about making big changes to prepare for your "3rd Act". I'm making these hard changes in my life right now so that I can access my true potential and calling in life. I will probably write over and over about how hard it is because it is hard to make big changes. What I have consistently found however, is that difficult times and big changes also promote great personal growth and in the end it's the hardest challenges of my life that have produced the greatest results and "highs". We can choose the path that feels easier and more comfortable, but if we do, are we reaching our true potential? In the end, after all my explorations, I may end up choosing the "easy" path, but even when I fantasize about winning the lottery, I instantly build The Healing Farm in my mind with my winnings. I would say that's a good indicator that I may be on the right path and I should push myself forward and be confident that the two rewarding days I just had will become more and more frequent. That there WILL be a time when I look back to this time and laugh with Brennan about how hard it was but realize it was all worth it in the end.

Patricia and Ellie of The 3rd Act will be leading us through a practical application workshop at the fall retreat about working toward reaching your full potential to make the most out of mid and post-midlife. I'm so looking forward to being with a group of women who are inspired to make big changes in their lives to reach their true potential. Being surrounded by others who are ready to put in the work sounds like the perfect thing for me right now too. I already can't wait to meet new friends and hope you'll join me!

Don't forget to take advantage of the EARLYBIRD special of a 15% discount off your retreat cost (excluding treatments and private consults). Don't forget to enter the coupon code "EARLYBIRD" when booking your deposit for the discount to be applied. Offer expires August 15th so book soon! 

Hope to see you there!

The Healing Farm - Cultivating Practical Wellness.

Announcing Yoga and Bodywork Practitioners for the Fall 3rd Act Retreat!

Excited to announce our 3rd Act retreat practitioner line-up!

Strength Training

Our nutritionist/finance lecturer and three-time Healing Farm retreat participant, Catie Fitzgerald will be offering a special 30-minute light strength building class. Women in mid-life have some very specific needs, especially in regard to building/maintaining healthy bones, regulating hormones (i.e., thyroid, adrenal, etc.), preserving flexibility and balance, and preventing heart disease so we've included this 30-minute functional strength training class lead by Catie.

Yoga and Guided Meditation

I believe yoga (practiced safely and at your level) to be one of the best well-rounded physical activities for any body, but especially for the aging body. I don't do it on a regular basis, but sometimes practice at home on my own or using videos. Every time I get back into it, I appreciate the way it opens up and stretches my body, but also how it makes me focus. It's meditative in it's own right when you truly focus on your poses and your breathing. I'm excited to announce our yoga practitioner for the 3rd Act retreat!

I've known Rachel Heron for several years now and have traded massage for photographing her headshots and yoga poses a couple of times. She's a woman of many talents and has a truly caring practice on many levels now incorporating her more than 20 years experience as a yoga instructor and bodywork practitioner into her life-coaching practice. Although we will not be utilizing Rachel's coaching practice at this retreat, we will experience her deeply caring yoga practice daily and her talented hands as an overflow massage therapist (after Angela's schedule fills up!). Rachel will also lead us in one of our guided meditation sessions.  "Rachel's yoga classes are vigorous, deep, and anchored in therapeutic alignment principles. Her aim is to help students experience a profound inner stillness. We do this by bringing mindful awareness to our physical bodies, engaging our fullest breathing capacity, clarifying the energy body, and investigating the space between our thoughts. Students will leave class feeling alive and refreshed on all levels." You can schedule a private yoga session with Rachel by clicking here.

Bodywork

I've know Angela Bausch for many years and have gotten countless massages from her! I included in the gallery above one of the maternity photos I took of her many years ago. I think it demonstrates her joy and embrace of nature and life. It's who she is at so many levels. Angela has recently moved her practice from Berkeley to Sebastapol, but still comes to Berkeley once a week and shares office space with Chris Kresser. This is how I originally learned of Chris Kresser's work - which of course is what has set me on my current path of healing and career/life change. I feel like it all stemmed from Angela so she holds a particularly special place in my heart. Plus she has very talented and caring hands and will lead you to a blissful state during your massage sessions! You can click here to schedule a massage at the retreat. You can schedule a massage in advance of the retreat!

Guided Meditation - take two!

The entire team agrees that meditation - even a few minutes a day (I do about ten minutes a day a few times a week) is incredibly important in midlife. Meditation calms the mind. It helps you connect to who you are at a deeper level and helps to re-direct your obsessive and stressful thoughts (I think most of us have those) to a place of calm deep within. It truly is life-changing (it even reduces inflammation!) and so we're incorporating guided meditation sessions in the schedule led by different members of the team so you can get well-rounded advice on how to start (or deepen) your practice. There will also be an art meditation session led by me!

QiGong 

QiGong and Tai Chi are also great meditative practices that incorporate safe, light movement and light strength conditioning. We will be including an intro to ChiGong at this retreat and will announce the practitioner soon!

Looking forward to joining you on the mat, seeing you in guided meditation and seeing your blissful faces after your bodywork. Most of all, I hope to see you and hang out with you at the retreat!

 

A Couple of Tips for Big Change: Physical and Great Life Changes

I’ve communicated a lot on this blog and in my newsletters about my own midlife crisis, why I have been inspired to facilitate two menopause retreats, and why I was inspired to put together the upcoming fall retreat focused on “The 3rd Act” with Patricia Cavanaugh and Ellie Klevins. I started my own midlife crisis in my mid-forties, when I was not only coming to the realization that having a child was never going to happen for me, but also years of chronic health conditions were adding up and really bringing me down. I was also discovering that I wasn’t really enjoying what I was doing for my career anymore. Everything seemed to be coming at me at once and adding the heartbreak of aging parents just about put me over the top. Needless to say, the second half of my forties was challenging and I realized I was in a “midlife crisis”.

I’ve done a lot since that discovery. I’ve healed most of my chronic conditions through change of diet and exercise and because of that work was inspired to start The Healing Farm | Retreat business. Since my own healing journey started, I dreamt of an affordable wellness retreat property where I could pass along practical life-changes to prevent and/or alleviate chronic illness and conditions. The Healing Farm concept was born and the “midlife crisis” started turning into my midlife “renaissance” as I started calling it. I know I’m still in midlife crisis because this personal transformation has been anything but easy, but I’ve taught myself enough tools at this point to navigate without freaking out too much.

 When a dear friend told me about the book “Hidden Blessings” by Jett Psaris, PhD I went online almost immediately to buy it. I have to say that I’ve never been into “self help” books - until I went into midlife crisis. The book “Fail Fast, Fail Often” by John D. Krumboltz and Ryan Babineaux was the first book I read that truly inspired me to not be afraid of change. I’m a creature of habit and needed to be inspired by people who were telling me that change and failing is not the end of the world. In fact, it can be the catalyst for a truer and more meaningful existence. This simple midwestern girl was suddenly inspired to challenge herself, find greater meaning, and create a legacy. If my legacy wasn’t going to be a child, then damnit, I was inspired to try to create a legacy of helping others to heal.

That’s what “Hidden Blessings” is about. Moving through midlife crisis to find the hidden gem within. It definitely doesn’t sugar-coat the midlife process, in fact when I read that most midlife crises last 10-12 years my stomach did a little lurch. That means I may not even be halfway through mine. That’s pretty depressing. But the book gives tools to guide you through and Ms. Psaris talks about midlife crisis being more of a metamorphosis rather than a crisis. This I can relate to. She quotes George Elliot:

 “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”

Ms Psaris says: “....[the guidance given] comes from my own midlife experience and that of others, draws on many traditions and schools of thought to help us respond fully to the transformative invitation of midlife. That invitation is to step away from taking life literally - and perhaps, superficially - to discover a deep and profound underlying existence. Midlife invites us to surrender the narrowly defined view of ourselves and others that prevails during the first half of life, so that we can become more complex and multi-dimensional beings capable of living the largest lives possible moving forward."

Truth be told, I haven’t yet read the entire book, but I’m very much looking forward to what the author suggests and also what the ladies of The 3rd Act will teach us about transitioning in midlife during The Healing Farm’s fall retreat at Mayacamas Ranch. I’ve been so inspired by this book that I’ve already recommended it to friends realizing that more and more as I open up about my own midlife crisis, my friends are wanting to share their challenges too. It really does help to know that you are NOT the only one.

Another thing I’ve been sharing a lot recently with friends is Magdalena Wszelaki’s  “Cooking for Balance” online workshop. As I hear more and more people talking about stress, fatigue, stomach issues, among a multitude of other things, I’m more and more inspired not only to get The Healing Farm wellness retreat property off the ground, but I’m also inspired to continue to share tips about how we can heal a lot of our chronic issues ourselves just through changing our diet. Sure, it wasn’t JUST diet that helped me to work through my long-term chronic conditions (read here about how I worked through mine), but I’ve learned it’s a really important start and Magdalena’s workshop is informative and practical, plus the workshop video/format makes it easy to follow. I watched the free intro video last fall and bought the program right away - it’s four parts with a primer and very important to watch EVERYTHING. I even watched the free intro video a second time to refresh my memory before I started the program.

Needing to understand what various foods and allergies do to our bodies from a nutritional and scientific perspective is important and Magdalena makes it easy to follow. The cooking part of it is also helpful with charts of do’s and dont’s for various conditions, recipes, food guides and how-to videos. It’s a little overwhelming at first, but if you are tired of being sick and tired, it is so worth it. Having all this information in one easy to follow format is great. It’s like one-stop-shopping for affordable and practical long-term healing (like The Healing Farm concept!). Way easier than researching it all on your own online AND cheaper (and quicker) than going through traditional western medicine and medications to manage your health issues.

One of the reasons I didn’t start the workshop for months is because I’m running two businesses. One of the important things I’ve learned in this midlife journey is re-organizing my time and priorities which is how I found the time to take the workshop. I was finding that I was obsessing over the news and reading it with my coffee every morning. It was getting overwhelming and depressing so I decided that I would allow myself to read the news one weekday morning and continue to dive in deep with my Sunday New York Times. The rest of the mornings I would dedicate to doing something inspiring and worthwhile with my morning coffee. So every morning, I set my timer for half and hour, climb back in bed with my bulletproof coffee (you’ll see why I drink coffee with fat after you take the workshop) and I listen to a small part of the workshop.

My favorite tips so far:

  • Testing for an appropriate amount of stomach acid using a simple baking soda solution (I’ve had trouble with indigestion since my twenties so this is important to me).
  • Re-building stomach acid when it’s too low by drinking warm water with lime, lemon or apple cider vinegar while your stomach is empty.
  • The importance of seed rotation and ridding your life of toxins for balance of hormones.
  • What truly are some worthwhile nutrient-dense foods (like seaweed) and sardines.
  • Adding sprouts to my salads (did you know a large handful of broccoli sprouts is the nutritional equivalent of a whole head of broccoli?).
  • An in-depth study of why my diet needs to be so low in sugar (bad gut bacteria feeds on sugar for one thing!).
  • Why fats are so important for brain health and satiation after meals and why NOT to be afraid of fats - contrary to what I’ve believed all my life.
  • A simple meditative breathing technique that I now incorporate into my almost daily meditation practice - something I’ve easily fit into my day by doing while I’m brewing coffee.

All of the information I’ve been getting through this program I’ve also learned from other sources like through my work with Chris Kresser, the retreats I’ve put on and the Keto Clarity book, but I feel like Magdalena’s program is so concise and realistic I highly recommend checking it out.

Another good place to learn about some of this is the fall 3rd Act Healing Farm retreat! Join us for a look into midlife and nutritional tips for this transition as well!

The Healing Farm - Cultivating Practical Wellness!

Three Stone Hearth Retreat: Fermenting Fun!

I’ve been taking the online course by Magdalena Wszelaki called “Cooking for Balance”. It’s a pretty intensive course about balancing your hormones through diet. She covers general nutrition, gut health, sugar detox, adrenal fatigue and much more... I’m loving it! The reason I bring this up is because she stresses ALL THE TIME the importance of daily bone broth and ferments for gut healing and health (which of course I’ve heard many times before in my healing process). I’ve been working on my own bone broths for some time and have had some success in producing a healthful gelatinous broth, but have been a little timid about trying to ferment. All I imagine is a lot of work and jars full of mold. Magdalena has a sauerkraut-making video that’s incorporated into the program, but there’s nothing like a hands-on experience to ease intimidation. That’s why I was so thrilled that Three Stone Hearth incorporated a fermenting and pickling lesson into last Saturday’s Healing Farm retreat.

The first time I went to Three Stone Hearth for a tour, I was blown away not just by their incredibly nutrient-dense whole pre-made foods, but also by their business model and passion about their vision and mission. They are trying out a new slogan, “Social Change in a Mason Jar”, and I think that sums up who they are well. They are just as passionate about the sustainable way their food is packaged as they are about customer service, local, nutrient-dense whole foods PLUS having a business model that is not only good for the business, but also good for the local community, the environment, their suppliers and their co-op team members. They are also just as passionate about food and nutrition education as they are about all of the previous mentioned too. They have so many educational programs available: kitchen tours, fermenting lessons, and detailed lectures about the Westin-Price philosophy of eating and the Three Stone Hearth business model. They are serving their community well and are a business-model inspiration for me as I grow The Healing Farm concept.

I was thrilled to offer this intimate day through The Healing Farm | Retreats and was so happy to have Healing Farm fans around me as Jessica Prentice (one of the co-founders of Three Stone Hearth and author of “Full Moon Feast”) described the genesis of Three Stone Hearth and their business structure in the “holacracy” style. Three Stone Hearth even offers new and aspiring business owners a week-long workshop on holacracy! Jessica took us on a tour of the commercial kitchens and the public areas of the business, introducing us to staff along the way and showing us the incredible process they have set up over the years for food pickup and in-house jar return and recycling programs. During the tour we had our first introduction to Andy, their in-house fermenting scientist extraordinaire, who would be our fermenting lead after our tour. He is so incredibly passionate about what he does and I knew we were in for a fermenting treat!

Our hands-on lesson (that's me in the faux-leopard print, Marge Simpson looking bandana!) included pickling Meyer lemons and making sauerkraut. It was such fun chatting, listening, cutting lemons, learning about how much salt to put in and why, learning about burping jars, and being able to ask questions along the way. As a gift to the participants, we even included their small jars of the Meyer lemon preserves to take home.  Andy made it fun, informative, AND easy. I feel like I could now go out and get some jars and begin - if only I had the room in my house!!!! BUT cheaper to make my own sauerkraut's than buy them, right? I need to make room!

We had an incredible lunch with the staff after our lesson. They were testing out a new recipe (which we got to try) and then Andy discovered that the Meyer lemon preserves were a perfect compliment to the ground beef dish we were testing out, so right then and there they decided to add it to the finished recipe. TSH in action. Jessica ended our day with a two hour lecture on the Westin Price philosophy behind ancestral nutritional health, which was fascinating. She’s so passionate and her lecture was convincing and informative.

Overall, this program by Three Stone Hearth was an A+ experience and I would highly recommend signing up for one of their workshops/classes directly. I will probably offer another Healing Farm day at Three Stone Hearth in the fall or next winter just in case you need a little reminder to check it out. Getting to order their pre-made food and take it home at the end is also an added bonus. I’ve been eating the most nutrient-dense, filling, and satisfying food, since I've been home. I even picked up some liver pate (delicious) since because Magdalena is also trying to get us, that are in the program, to eat more liver. I can definitely eat spoonfuls of pate from Three Stone Hearth. No problem there!

 

3rd Act Guest Blog Post: Find Out More of What We'll Cover in the 3rd Act Retreat This Fall!

I’ve been a professional photographer for 25+ years and photographing weddings for 15 – it’s a demanding job! Everyone assumes it’s all joy, gorgeous venues, flowers, and food. And it is most of the time, but photographing a wedding is not only stressful emotionally (I can’t miss a beat or a moment!), but it’s also incredibly physically demanding. Standing and running around with pounds of equipment strapped to my body for an average of eight hours on top of the mental stress has taken its toll. Plus, hours in front of a computer in a dark room has never been very joyful for someone who loves light, air, and the outdoors.

I’ve been working on transitioning into a new career for the past 4-5 years and it’s been a challenge like no other in my life. Adding mid-life crisis, peri-menopause, aging parents, and the financial burden of my husband and I both exploring new careers at the same time? Well, that’s a whole different level of challenge!

I knew I had to be ready both mentally and physically for this transition into a new life and career and that’s how the seeds of The Healing Farm idea popped into my head. For 4-5 years, I’ve been working on healing my body from the inside out, plus building The Healing Farm | Retreat business into a new career to pursue work I am passionate about for the next 20 or so years of my work life. It’s also my retirement plan (I want to live on The Healing Farm property eventually!). The seeds I started planting a few years ago are finally starting to take root and now, I want to help others prepare for the longer lives we are now living – and look forward to healthy and happy lives.

A friend of mine introduced me to Patricia Cavanaugh, founder of “The 3rd Act” and after a two-time THF retreat participant suggested I create a retreat specifically for women who are experiencing this mid-life and pre/post retirement transition, I figured these two things dovetailed beautifully into a new retreat idea. Serendipity!

I am thrilled to welcome the Third Act to our retreat at Mayacamas Ranch, scheduled for October 29th through November 2nd (my 51st birthday!). Click here for more details about the retreat, but I had a chance to interview Patricia her colleague, Ellie Klevins – who will lead the workshop and here’s what they had to say about their workshop for our retreat:

So, what is the 3rd Act?

Our work guides people (typically age 50+) to develop intentional plans for creating happy and fulfilling lives – and take full advantage of our years ahead. Living longer than previous generations, is both a challenge and an opportunity.  We need to shed old paradigms of aging, find inspiring role models, and learn new skills so we can “begin again.” Our clients are people who are approaching typical retirement age – and know they don’t want a typical retirement!

What are the outcomes participants can expect?
Realizing you are not alone in facing down the aging process. We share many of the same fears and we avoid thinking about what’s uncomfortable for us. Together we uncover those fears and identify ways to take control now.  Denying and pushing away fear takes so much energy – we free up that energy and focus it on what you can do NOW to take control.  Like healthy eating! Exercise!  And having and inspiring plan for the rest of your life!
The principles of Positive Psychology are the foundation for 3rd Act life planning.

We ask and help you answer these fundamental questions:

  • What are your skills and strengths –– and how could you  use these strengths in creating your 3rd Act?

  • What do you want to leave behind – and what do you want to bring forward as you transition?

  • How can you find fulfillment in life’s everyday pleasures?

  • Where will you find new meaning and purpose ?

  • What choices do you have now that were not available to you before?

  • How can you build community, make new friends, deepen your relationships?

And to borrow a line from Mary Oliver, explore your answers to this question: “What do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

I hope you can join us this fall for this comprehensive retreat. I know I have a lot to learn and am particularly looking forward to the finance portion given by our other speaker, Catie Fitzgerald (look for an upcoming guest post from Catie!). The work I’ve done in the past 4-5 years has begun to change my life in profound ways and my hope is that this retreat can help you to change the course of the rest of your life too. It’s a journey that’s challenging, but challenging like a good workout that you weren’t looking forward to. Once you get going, you get into the groove and feel so good and empowered when you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel!

The Healing Farm - Cultivating Practical Wellness! 

Why I’m So Inspired and Happy to Announce The Healing Farm’s Next Immersion Retreat - The 3rd Act: Renewing Your Purpose and Passion Mid-Life

A couple of close friends, when viewing my “manifestation board” (detail above, plus read about this project here), asked why there was an illustration representing a girl in a bathing suit and cap coming out of a pool. It’s true, I am not a swimmer. I’m not a swimmer, but as I’ve gotten older, floating and spending time in, and under, water has become one of my favorite things to do on vacation. I just LOVE being in water. Especially warm water! In my 50th year, I want to learn how to swim. How to REALLY swim.

I was inspired last year by a two-time Healing Farm retreat participant who was embracing her 50th year by doing something either that she never tried before, or just something she loved, each month of her 50th year. She called the year her “jubilee adventures” and I was honored that two of her months during her jubilee adventures included THF retreats! You can read about her experience at the very challenging solo Joshua Tree retreat on my blog. Given my 50th year was fast approaching I was completely inspired by Stephanie to do my own sort of jubilee adventure year.

I turned 50 last November 2nd. Given how challenging the final half of my 40th decade was, I was fearful of 50 and not feeling so celebratory. Despite that, I threw myself a big open house 50th birthday party in a lovely location on the coast of California. I served healthy food, kicked it off with a little yoga session, encouraged my guests to wander and hike the property, and then danced until we had to leave. It wasn’t entirely perfect or what I had envisioned, but learning to let go of expectations has been part of the process I’ve been working through in the past 4-5 years; as I’ve explored how to transition out of my old career and into the new one, as well as how to heal my body and mind from the inside out. I was determined to learn to let go of expectations. It’s a challenge the German in me has faced all of my life. I’m a planner and I like efficiency, but to a fault. Through meditation (just ten minutes a few days per week), I’ve learned to not be so hard on myself and others when things don’t go quite as my idealistic vision has planned. It’s a good thing I figured that out because one of things I’ve read over and over about entrepreneurs is that you need to learn to accept unexpected change, learn how to adapt quickly, and to roll with the punches (not stress about the inevitable ups-and-downs of big change).

I was proud of myself for embracing my birthday party as it unfolded and realized the imperfection of it was the perfect kick-off to my 50th year. I started to open my mind to thinking about how I wanted to continue to embrace it. I’m going through huge changes physically (I’m now one month away from FINALLY being in full menopause) and I’m on the cusp of either making a go of The Healing Farm business that I’ve been working so hard to start for the past two years or letting it go if it proves too much stress for this time in my life. I’m also understanding and feeling I’m on the final leg of my physical healing journey too. All this makes it fitting that in my 50th year jubilee, I didn’t want to plan for what I wanted to accomplish. I thought I would just wait to see what popped up and inspired me.

Not long after my birthday, I walked in the door to my house and found my husband practicing his drumming rudiments. I’m always impressed that he can sit for an hour and practice the same beats over and over again. He’s been doing this for years and it has contributed to his discipline about a lot of things. Even though I recognize that he and I are very different (I’ll never be a perfectionist and I kind of despise “practicing” anything), I wanted to pick something in my 50th year to practice and really learn. I thought briefly of surfing because I know it’s physically GREAT for the body and it’s also meditative but decided it wasn’t realistic. Paying for lessons (not cheap) and driving to the ocean a few times a week was not practical - and I’m all about practical. Then I thought about swimming. It’s a bit more practical, I love the water, it’s good exercise, AND it’s meditative. Voila! I had found my 50th year goal and have been taking private and group swim lessons on and off since January. It’s really hard, but I’m proud of myself for sticking with it and love looking at my manifestation board and seeing that darling woman getting out of the pool in her yellow bathing suit and cap (yellow is definitely the color of my energy AND has always been my favorite color).

I’ve done several other things so far in my 50th year to challenge myself (solo travel and camping, plus writing more!) and to continue to embrace the change I want to make in my life so that I feel like I can leave a legacy behind. I want to feel like I’ve done something to contribute to helping this world, the people in it and our planet in any small way that I can. I want to continue to explore this fascinating path of “finding myself” so I can reach for a higher purpose in my life, become a practical wellness practitioner in my own general way and inspire others on their paths to practical wellness too.

It’s fitting then that the next multi-day retreat for The Healing Farm will be with Patricia Cavanaugh and Ellie Klevins of The 3rd Act. They will lead a workshop taking participants through much of what I’ve explored on my own for the last 4-5 years to get to the place of profound growth I’m in now. You can read more about the retreat on The Healing Farm’s site and I’ll also be posting a short Q&A with Ellie and Patricia on the blog so you can get a better idea of the work we’ll be doing at the retreat. I’ll also be welcoming three-time THF retreat participant, Catie Fitzgerald. With her brand-new MS in nutrition and her 20+ years of financial consulting, Catie will be covering how to transition your body and finances (I’ll be paying especially close attention to the finance portion of this retreat!) into mid and later life.

The final day of the retreat just happened to land on my 51st birthday (the retreat dates were the only dates still available this year at Mayacamas Ranch). At first I was a little bummed to “work” on my birthday; but then I let go of all of my past birthday expectations and embraced the fact that wrapping up this retreat with a group of women with whom I’ve just shared a potentially profound experience couldn’t be a more fitting end to my 50th year jubilee of unplanned exploration and learning! It actually couldn’t be more perfect and if for some reason it isn’t, I’m ok with that too!

I hope to see you in the fall and PS - that picture of me (going gray!) was taken not long after my 50th by my friend Laura Turbow who does lovely boudoir photo sessions of all women, but especially women in their "3rd act"!

 The Healing Farm - Cultivating Practical Wellness!

June 3rd! Upcoming Intimate Three Stone Hearth Retreat: The Importance of an Ancestral Diet, Regular Bone Broth and Fermented Foods!

I'm getting more and more excited for The Healing Farm's one-day retreat at Three Stone Hearth in Berkeley! There's only room for ten and we have a few spots left, so please sign up sooner than later.

I've FINALLY been listening to an incredible hormone balance workshop called "Cooking for Balance" with Magdalena Wszelaki, the nutritionist behind the site Hormones & Balance. I just love how informative Magdalena is about the importance of gut health, liver detox, inflammation reduction, etc. in helping restore hormone balance in the body. Although the upcoming Three Stone Hearth retreat is NOT female only (we can ALL benefit in huge ways by eating a whole foods, ancestral diet), fermented foods and bone broth go a long way in helping women restore balance in the body and I would highly recommend taking one of Magdalena's workshops.

I was just listening this morning to one of the sections of the "Cooking with Balance" workshop and Magdalena brought up - yet again - how daily doses of fermented foods and bone broth (collagen) are so instrumental in keeping the gut healthy and the body balanced naturally. I've been trying to add fermented foods into my diet and through trial and error have realized that for my body, I can tolerate sauerkraut well. For a while I was adding Kambucha into my smoothies but have realized that I get bloating from kambucha so now try to limit my intake. Sauerkraut on the other hand is yummy and I can put it easily on a cooked brat (no bun!) which fits in well with the high fat eating plan I'm currently trying out (for my brain health and weight loss). Jury is still out for the Ketogenic Diet and my body (I'm only two weeks in) and I'll update as I move further along.

What I do believe in wholeheartedly and have embraced almost 100% is an ancestral diet and what better place to go to learn the basics than to Three Stone Hearth in Berkeley  - a business that has been at the forefront of ancestral eating and the importance of bone broth. Starting the week before out retreat, participants can go to Three Stone Hearth's site and pre-order whole pre-made foods, house made kambucha and of course the most collagen-filled bone broth I have ever seen! Participants can place orders starting Thursday, May 25th through Wednesday, May 31st for pickup on retreat day!

Although I try to make my own bone broth (both beef and chicken), I've only ONCE reached the level of collagen that Three Stone Hearth has perfected. It's also hard to get the organic grass-finished and pastured raised bones and chicken feet necessary to get that amount of collagen so ordering pre-made bone from from a reliable source can be key. It's not cheap, that's for sure, but if you're kicking off an elimination diet, trying to reduce systemic inflammation to reduce chronic pain and illness or want to strengthen your immune system or balance your hormones and don't have time to start learning to make a collagen-rich bone broth on your own, this would be a good place to start.

Same goes for fermented foods. Magdalena does a few video lessons in making fermented foods in her "Cooking for Balance" workshop, but we will have a firsthand demo at the retreat and will even have a little bit to take home with us! If you want more than our little bit we've made ourselves, you can pre-order your TSH fermented foods and drinks to take home with you too. 

If you forget to pre-order, rest-assured they have a tiny storefront in which you can pick up foods on-site. It's just a more limited selection.

Since I've started my ancestral heath journey, I've always shied away from doing such "hippie dippy" things as making bone broth and fermenting foods, but as I go deeper and realize how much better my body feels, I've realized that it's fun and CHEAPER to make my own. I've only gone as far as making the bone broth at home and am excited to learn fermenting and pickling on-site on June 3rd with the experts where I can ask questions and see firsthand (I'm a visual learner!) how it's done so I'm more comfortable exploring a little more at home.

I've been using Dr. Axe's bone broth recipe for my own beef broth and  Chris Kresser's for chicken. I find that I get the best results for the chicken broth by using chicken feet (I've found them at the Berkeley Bowl). I roast the chicken first via Chris Kresser's recipe and then crack and use the bones, veggies and add the chicken feet and cook for 48 hours in my Instant Pot.  For the Dr. Axe recipe I buy knuckle and beef marrow bones from Prather Ranch at the Temescal Farmer's Market.

Happy cooking and healing everyone and I hope to see you at The Three Stone Hearth Retreat! Sign up here!:

How Can You Break the Glass Ceiling if You Don't Reach for the Stars?: Creating a "Manifestation" Board

 Julie's Manifestation Board for Life and The Healing Farm

Julie's Manifestation Board for Life and The Healing Farm

I was hiking recently when the title of this blog post came to me. I'm sure it's been said a hundred times (or maybe a thousand) by others way before I came up with it, but it struck me as profound. Especially for the midlife process I'm currently experiencing. 

As I was hiking I was thinking about the audacity of parts of my manifestation board. Here I was awed by nature on my hike and thinking of great things other's have done with their careers and lives in the past and I suddenly felt a wave of guilt and a sense of "who do I think I am?" go over me. I thought of some of the things I had put on my board including:

  • "Gamechangers 500"
  • "Corner Office" by Adam Bryant
  • "Conscious Company"
  • "Guru"

I mean, really. Who do I think I am? Sometimes I fantasize about being interviewed for the regular "Corner Office" interview in the Sunday New York Times. As the founder and CEO of The Healing Farm I would talk about inspiring others with average means and education to aspire to become extraordinary human beings and to reach for bigger dreams than you can imagine. When I read "Conscious Company" magazine, I can't help but think that if I realize my true dream of The Healing Farm, THF will most certainly be featured as a prime example of the "conscious company" of the future. A "For Benefit" company that invests back into itself, its team and its community championing fair business practices and acting as a model for the future of affordable and practical wellness around the country. An example of healthcare of the future! And of course, as The Healing Farm expands and THF outposts pop up throughout the country in places like appalachia, the deep south and middle America where we're not just preaching natural preventative wellness to the choir, but we're also providing employment opportunities to those communities most hurt by lost manufacturing jobs and the crippling effects of addiction (big breath and run-on sentence), how could it not make the "Gamechangers 500" list? Gamechangers 500 by the way is like a new kind of Fortune 500 list for companies that are NOT profit-driven. Companies that top this year's list: 

I really want The Healing Farm to make this list as a leader in the future of sustainable, affordable and practical healthcare. 

WOW. As I said, pretty audacious. Especially for a midwestern girl of average (to below average) means with an education in fine art and a very average record of self employment!

But also on that manifestation board, I have included words like:

  • Inspire
  • For People and Planet
  • Gratitude
  • Confidence
  • Together
  • Thin

I feel like these words represent who I am already and who I strive to be on a more practical and short-term level. A little more modesty represented here.

The manifestation board came out of a group activity at the last Healing Farm retreat. I wanted to have an art meditation session on the retreat agenda because I was inspired by a guest at my last multi-day retreat who wanted to share her art meditation practice with others. I was inspired after the last retreat to create some art in nature so I wanted to share the practice with the guests at this new retreat. It was a few weeks before the retreat that someone mentioned doing a "manifestation board" and that within a year, two of the most important things on her board were coming to be (a husband and a child). It's now over two years since she completed her board and she said she has never been happier.

This inspired me to suggest that guests bring magazines to contribute during the art meditation just in case someone wanted to do one of these boards. I could not believe the excitement and turnout over this project. It was so inspiring to see my guests quietly going about searching for words and pictures that might represent what they envision for their lives in the future. What a perfect project at a women's health retreat that focussed on midlife transitions. I didn't have time to do a board of my own at the retreat since I was facilitating, but took a much needed week off at home after the retreat and on inauguration day 2017 after a long walk in my neighborhood I got out my materials and began. What I created was so personal and inspiring to me it was overwhelming. What a hopeful thing to do on a day I felt was a little scary for the future.

What is represented on the board is my hope for myself, my marriage and my husband but overwhelmingly my hopes for The Healing Farm. It's representative of something that I can't let go. No matter how scared I am. No matter my lack of confidence. My perceived lack of education and smarts. My lack of experience and financing. It's something that's burning inside of me. It's the passion, the healing, the realization and the "best self" that I've been working on bringing out and discovering for the past five years. It's the emerging butterfly represented. It's the eagle that is the future me. It's my hopes for my future, the future of wellness and the future of the world. It represents peace, growth, joy, connecting to better self, for people and planet, quality time and gratitude. It is my future.

It's audacious, but as I realized on my solo hike the other day: If I don't reach for the stars, how can I ever break that glass ceiling for myself and others? The day after I made my board I decided at the last minute to participate in the women's march in Oakland. I happened to have materials left over from the manifestation board project but had no idea what I wanted my first "activist" sign to read. I remembered that one phrase I had included on my board the day before was: "Women Can Transform the World". I changed it to "Women Will Transform the World". Added some peace signs, a heart, a smiley face and the colors of the chakras (something else I'm learning about recently) and off I went to march for women, for equality, for hope in the future and for peace.

I'm reaching for the stars in my midlife renaissance and I want to inspire others to do the same. I want to discover my true potential. I know it's there somewhere underneath all that fear and lack of confidence. It's slowly emerging. The butterfly is emerging and the eagle waits in the wings.

Photos are from: Demonstration day, hike that inspired the glass ceiling quote, manifestation board making at The Healing Farm retreat and some pics from the urban Oakland hike I did on inauguration day 2017 which was also the day I made my "manifestation board". I can't recommend this project enough.

You can also read about a THF retreat client's experience making her board at the retreat: 

The Healing Farm. Cultivating Practical Wellness.