From the Sounds of Silence to Perpetual Motion

Just a few snaps since the beginning of the year...

And it’s time to write. And write. And write. This is a long one for a lot has happened in the last five months...

I’m sitting at a writer’s retreat house in the Eastern Sierras right now and finally putting “pen to paper” after a few long and transformative months. A couple months back, I was invited to stay here to photograph for the retreat’s marketing materials. Even after making a huge life decision to move out of the Bay Area and with the move scheduled for a couple of weeks from now, I decided it was important for Brennan and I to go on this little trip. Given our ten year wedding anniversary is June 3rd and we'll be unpacking and living in a trailer for our anniversary, we also decided to celebrate our ten years together here in this spectacular place. I also went forward with a previously planned trip to Mercey Hot Springs with friends (and a couple of blissful days alone with Brennan). What I’ve discovered in the last few months has been life-changing and I want it to be a part of what’s taught at The Healing Farm and The Healing Farm | Retreats in addition to the nutrition and exercise components.

Something I’ve learned through meditation (and lots of self-exploration) is to not let my emotions and ego rule my life and decision-making and to also go a little more with the flow rather than letting situations, planning and fear rule my life and schedule; something my new “boss” echoed when I was racing around trying to make a big decision and freaking out a bit a few weeks ago. Made me feel like where I was headed was in the right direction (thanks, Steven).

My “boss” you ask? For someone who’s been self-employed and has started two businesses, this is pretty freaky to say! So let me explain what has happened since my last heart-wrenching blog entry!

THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE

My 50th year ended with some major challenges (see my previous blog post for more details). I was writing a business plan for The Healing Farm and had planned for a big women’s retreat to keep the business moving in a direction which would give me more experience and more visibility for The Healing Farm | Retreats. I was keeping my head above water until Mayacamas Ranch (the retreat property at which I was to hold my last retreat) burned down. It was three weeks before my 51st birthday, the end of the wedding photography season and I was in the intense Renaissance business plan writing program twice a week. Try finishing a business plan while trying to resuscitate the women’s retreat and also go away for the holidays. Not an easy end to the year.

2018 rolled in with the month of January:

  • Making the decision not to move forward with rescheduling the retreat since I couldn’t find a location that I truly felt could accommodate my specifications and having to let my retreat team and guests know of this decision
  • Starting to try to work out the financial losses with Mayacamas Ranch (huge!)
  • Finishing the business plan + graduation

Thankfully I had all of my photo projects behind me, I split the “best business plan” award at graduation and presumably had a “plan” for moving forward with The Healing Farm business - after all that’s what a business plan is for! I should have been rearing to go to start working toward making 2018 the year I took a leap of faith forward with The Healing Farm business! But one gorgeous Saturday, I went to a shoreline cleanup event with the Trident Project which is a non-profit a business friend started to build awareness about pollution in our oceans.

Something happened that morning as I realized the enormity of the planet’s peril. I spent an hour working on about a six square foot patch on the East Bay shoreline. Picking up tiny pieces of plastic, styrofoam, hypodermic needles, plastic straws, plastic portable flossing devices (I’m all for flossing, but let’s get rid of those things. They are EVERYWHERE), plastic caps, etc. This didn’t even include all the micro-fibers which is what my friend who is in the sailing clothing business wants to build awareness about. I had about a ¼ mile, maybe ½ mile walk to get back to my car and I couldn’t move beyond a snail’s pace. I got home and slept for two hours and when I woke up I just couldn’t get my energy back. And the next day was the same. And the next day was the same. I entered into what I might now call a depression and deep exhaustion. I was:

  • Exhausted from running one business while starting another
  • Exhausted emotionally from the devastating wildfires which even affected my business in a big way and so many others who lost lives and homes.
  • Exhausted financially
  • Exhausted worrying about the future of this planet
  • Exhausted by our political climate and situation
  • Exhausted from writing a 45 page business plan complete with two years of financials (something is is not in my natural tool house)
  • Exhausted trying to change my life
  • Exhausted from perimenopause
  • Exhausted from my mid-life crisis which is in about year 7 (yes, really!)
  • Exhausted worrying about family illness

I just couldn’t get motivated. So I didn’t. I decided to let myself rest as long as I needed. I guess you could say I took a sabbatical. I’m sure to most people this sounds like a luxury and I admit I’m lucky to be self-employed. It was a huge financial risk and setback, but I strongly believe this kind of time of reflection should be available to all of us. It’s a crime that our workforce encourages long hours and constant work and it’s a disservice to all Americans that the majority are underpaid and overworked with only 1-3 weeks of vacation for the typical person. I’ve thought about a lot of big issues during this time of reflection and sabbatical and feel strongly that it shouldn’t be a luxury for just a few.

So this is what I did:

  • I slept as long as I liked
  • I took the time to pray on my knees
  • I took the time for longer meditations
  • I took the time to not only read Jett Psaris’ book “Hidden Blessings” (about midlife crisis), but also to do every exercise in the book and wrote them down in a journal
  • I took the time to hike
  • I only answered essential emails to keep my businesses running on pilot light
  • But mostly, I just took time to be with myself, in my house and let my mind run free

And here's what happened from my time of silence:

INTO (almost) PERPETUAL MOTION

I found the time to help care for a dying friend and her children - something that has had a profound effect on my life. I had the honor of taking her to Ocean Beach for what turned out to be her last time.

I was re-contacted by a friend who in the spring of 2017 asked if I would be interested in helping to develop a 50 acre organic farm in the Sierra Foothills.

Just as I was finishing the “Hidden Blessings” book, I was contacted by a woman who was interested in talking about partnering on a retreat property in Idaho. It wasn’t the right fit/place or timing, but she sent me a message the week I finished Jett’s book. Knowing I was wrestling with some big decisions and emotions, there was a new moon that coming Friday and with a new moon (she told me) it’s a good time to contemplate big decisions so she suggested I take some time that Friday to reflect on a big decision. Sounded a little woo woo to me and then I read one of the last exercises in Jett’s book which suggested a “meditation” in nature. More of a walking meditation. A time to go out into nature and connect in a profound way to the universe and myself. More woo woo, but I thought the coincidence was just too big. Friday came and I announced to Brennan that I was going to pack a small daypack and go to our local regional park and spend the day. I planned on hiking a three mile loop and brought food, a little pot vape pipe (yes, it’s legal now in CA!) a blanket and a backpacking chair and I had the most blissful day of reflection I’ve ever had. It took me seven hours to do that loop. I stopped and communed with nature. I felt the sun on my face. I laughed and I cried. I slept and I hiked. I had a vision of wanting more security in my life and that I wanted to be cared for and then I realized I’m cared for in an incredibly deep emotional way by my husband which matters the most (to me). I realized that although I knew we needed to move out of the Bay Area I wasn’t interested in moving outside of my beloved West Coast (unless it’s back to the Midwest with my family) and I realized I still wanted to pursue The Healing Farm, but that maybe I needed to take a different path to get there. That few hours of bliss lifted me out of that depression and malaise just enough that I could see the point of light and plan the next tiny steps to get fully beyond that dark place. The pot helped too.

And then more and more profound things started to happen.

I opened my mind up to exploring the offer in the Sierra Foothills further and took baby steps to take a realistic look at what it would be like to move and the opportunity the experience offered to help develop a small retreat property on an organic farm. Wasn’t that what I wanted The Healing Farm to be on a larger scale anyway? Brennan and I went for a night. Then we went for a whole week, then I typed up a proposal and went back a couple more times on my own and slowly it started to occur to me that it was the absolute right next step to take. I could spearhead a retreat property development at very low risk to myself and at the same time take a baby step out of the Bay Area which allows me to finish out my 2018 wedding photography season and still see my friends and family in the Bay Area which made the idea of a move not so heart-wrenching. And so it happened and we started making plans for a move at the end of May. I started working part-time for the farm a few weeks ago and love every minute of it. Every time I go to the farm for a night, I don’t want to leave. The air is clear. I can collect fresh eggs from the henhouse. I can eat all the organic produce I can get my hands on. I can envision a retreat property and hosting my own healing retreats once it’s finished (or rustic retreats while it’s in development). I can live with a little community of people who care about the land and what we eat and how to live their lives mindfully. If I hadn’t given myself that time to relax and reflect, I’m not sure I would have been ready to take such a big leap and despite the fact that we’re going to move into a 26’ trailer and will have to walk outside to get to a shower and a toilet, I’m learning to embrace living so minimally for a little while. We’ll have nature and an organic farm, two mountain rivers and three warm and sunny seasons to live outdoors. It’s going to be a challenge. For sure. BUT I’ve built up my energy reserves in the last few months and am truly ready to jump in and give this next step my all. Check out Stone’s Throw Farm CA. This will be my new home.

Embracing what came my way without fear and without judgement on myself for making what seemed to be extravagant decisions given my work and financial situation was also part of this time of reflection. After I had my “visionquest” day as I’m now calling it, situations that just seemed right started to come my way and I started embracing what felt right despite that I was feeling a little fearful:

I serendipitously realized that Jett Psaris, the author of that profound book on midlife crisis that I can’t shut up about was doing a workshop at Esalen Institute. I’d been wanting to go to Esalen for many years since it’s been an inspiration for The Healing Farm and I’ve never been! I tried to get a “sleeping bag” space, but they were sold out, so I booked a shared room and contacted a friend and Healing Farm client who I know also got a lot out of the “Hidden Blessings” book. She had recently moved to the East Coast, but she happened to be coming to the Bay Area for some meetings and we roomed together. It was a great experience. I fell in love with Esalen and really loved the workshop and listening to others who were also trying to change their lives in their midlife transition, plus I got to bond with this very special woman who was my roommate and who made some of her own big decisions that weekend. A new deep friendship (thanks, Rae!)!

I had also been wanting to experience 1440 Mutiversity - the new retreat center development in the Santa Cruz mountains. My fave publication “Conscious Company” was holding a “World Changing Women’s Summit” there and damnit! I really want to be a World Changing Woman. I couldn’t really afford it, so I reached out to see if there was a volunteer opportunity or a scholarship (something I never would have thought to do in the past since I would have thought I wasn’t worthy). We worked it out and I was so on fire and inspired by the women at this conference that it also turned out to be somewhat of a life-changing experience. I stayed at the last minute on property in one of the “bunk bed” rooms. Although 1440 is NOTHING like I envision for The Healing Farm property, it was good to get a feel for a large and new property, their programs, their food AND their accommodations.

Brennan and I have been rocking our house as we get closer to moving. We’ve loved living in our little neighborhood and house in Oakland and although I’m sad to leave, I realized I’m ready for this big shift. We’ve made the time to enjoy our last couple of months and I’ve become inspired by a whole new side of myself and my relationship which I’ve been hinting at for several months. Sex is a big part of my life and relationship and I’ve realized how important release is and I have ideas percolating for sharing this side of myself and my relationship as a future part of the retreat business so stay tuned!

I’ve made time to book some weddings, shoot and deliver some gorgeous photos to happy clients, write a mini-business plan (and had fun doing it) for Stone’s Throw Farm’s event arm of the business. I’ve held the hand of someone within the last week of her life, who was younger than me and had so much more of her life to live and have been further inspired to build The Healing Farm to try to prevent so many deaths of those far too young. I happened to be driving up to Mt. Shasta to photograph a small retreat property  (Hestia Magic  - my photos not up yet!) on the day of my friend’s death and I felt like I was channelling her spirit as I sang and cried and then I realized she had just climbed Mt. Shasta two years ago for breast cancer awareness. More seemingly perfect timing. Brennan and I made time for that little trip to Mercey Hot Springs and this current trip to the Eastern Sierras.

I feel like my wings are opening up and I’m finally embracing who I am at my core. I don’t know where this current road will take me, but am pretty sure it’s a leap of faith on the right path for who I am. Taking the time to let myself feel exhausted and depressed ultimately has helped me work to the next level of my journey and I’m slowly getting my energy back and more and more excited about the work ahead.

I visited a friend from my very first business class yesterday. In the second class of the program, she and I met a few times to be part of each other’s business start-up support system. She was tired of the rat race of the Bay Area and wanted to get out of the construction business which is something she’d always done just because it was just what she ended up doing, but she wanted something more. She wanted to follow a dream of opening up a coffee shop. Fast forward three years and I drank the most lovely cup of coffee you’ll get on this side of the Sierras at her Pupfish Cafe coffee shop in Bishop, CA. She took a huge leap of faith and left the Bay Area and a relationship to follow her dream in a place where she never imagined she would live. She looked happy and relaxed. She’s running her small coffee shop, laughed at the fact that she’s living in a trailer community with mostly retired people (we compared notes about our trailers), hikes and has developed friendships out here. I asked her how much she works and she said 50 hours a week (not bad for owning and running a business). I asked her if she likes it and she said it’s the best thing she’s ever done. She was proud of her offerings and her employees and for now is content with where she’s at.

Janette and Pupfish Cafe, Steven and Bryanna and the folks at Stone’s Throw Farm, Jett Psaris and the awesome women at the Conscious Company Women’s Summit, Sydney of Ocean’s SF, Belinda and Hestia Magic, all of my friends and family who have been supportive of my crazy dream, the brave souls who wrote business plans last fall taking two classes per week while working full time, brave Jill who fought so hard to fight her cancer but said she was “ready to leave her body” a few days before she died, the woman in Idaho who is trying to follow her dream, and the people who continue to reach out to me to ask when I’m going to host my next retreat or “where is The Healing Farm property”, I say this: Thank you. Continue to follow your dreams. Find out who you really are. Let go of fear and influence and just be. Maybe, just maybe you’ll find your way, get your energy back and have a more hopeful outlook for your life and your very short time on this beautiful planet. My biggest hope is that everything that I do in the next few years will lead to The Healing Farm property where I can share my dreams and life with you.

Reach for the stars because we are (as Carl Sagan says) all made of star stuff.

On month five and two weeks out from a major move and feeling incredibly creative and beautiful. I should listen to myself more often.....

Wild Willy's Hot Springs in the Eastern Sierra - taken the week I wrote this post and yes, I'm naked and covered in mud. LIVE A LITTLE!

Paving Your OWN Way to Optimal Health - Is Functional Medicine the Future of Healthcare?

Left photo is now - gearing up for my 51st birthday, middle photo was from two years ago and the photo on the right is a photo my dear friend Laura Turbow took of me around my 50th birthday last year. I was around 20 pounds heavier in those previous photos although I have to say, I was hiding it well!

I haven't worn the pants in the newest photo above since my husband and I got married almost ten years ago. Funny thing is this blog post isn't about weight loss. Weight loss is just a happy bi-product of my ever-evolving and continuing journey to optimal health. I'm not only happy with the way I'm looking, but I'm feeling pretty great too and as I quickly approach my 51st birthday and listen to my husband's exclamations of how sexy I am. well - that's just the best!

My Health Journey with Chris Kresser and Functional Medicine

If you've been to any of The Healing Farm retreats or have read any of my early blog posts, you know that I worked with Functional Medicine practitioner Chris Kresser on the first leg of my healing journey. I agree with Chris that functional medicine could be (and should be) the future of healthcare (he has a new book coming out called "Unconventional Medicine"). This is why I'm hosting retreats based on the premise of healing from the inside out - finding what's at the core of your chronic health issues and addressing those problems in a quest for long-term healing and preventative care. It's also why I want to build the Healing Farm property. Except for some of the big stuff, like necessary surgeries (I had a ruptured appendix many years ago and would have died without surgery), cancer treatments, trauma and a whole host of other medical issues Western medicine can address, much of what Western medicine seems to do for chronic conditions and auto-immune disease is about putting a bandaid on the problem and not getting to the core issue.

If it weren't for the initial work I did with Chris, I would not be where I am today physically and emotionally or able to build The Healing Farm business as I'm currently doing. It's not that I went into his office with major issues, but it was a collection of long-term issues that seemed to be adding up and getting worse:

Add the words chronic to any of the conditions below and that's what I experienced:

  • Sinus headaches so severe they bordered on migraines
  • Massive indigestion that would sometimes keep my up all night wondering if I was having a heart attack
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Increased mood swings - especially during PMS
  • Low libido
  • Constipation
  • weight problems
  • When I added chronic back pain to the list and opted out of surgery for that, I went to see Chris

When I worked with Chris, we found a parasite and some definciencies and indicators of inflammation. He put me on some herbal remedies and vitamins and an elimination diet and within six weeks most of my symptoms were alleviated. I was so inspired by natural healing and functional medicine that it set me on my current journey today. I had the energy and brain power to start taking business classes and started coming up with the concept of The Healing Farm. I would NEVER be where I am today if it weren't for the work I did with Chris Kresser. I would have continued to go around thinking it was just my darned bad luck that my body was so finicky.

Life-long Health Changes Can Take a Long Time and There May Be Setbacks

Fast forward a few years and my weight was creeping up again, restless legs were coming back, I was popping stomach pills and sinus pills again and wondering what the heck I was doing wrong. I thought I was eating a low sugar, low carb diet and I was almost 100% dairy and gluten free. I thought maybe it was just my aging body, but as I passed 50, I realized something was wrong again. I was listening to Magdalena Wszekaki's Cooking for Balance program since I was doing a retreat on menopause and women's health and started suspecting I may have a candida overgrowth or SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth). At this point in my business start-up I'm short on funds for just about everything so couldn't go to see Chris, but started doing some of the protocols in Magdalena's program including going on a vitamin and herb regimen recommended by her functional health practitioner and started taking Mega Spore probiotic. I've lost almost 20 pounds (I lost ten pounds on Keto) and am feeling great again. Now, I have to admit, I've been on a NO CARB, NO SUGAR, NO ALCOHOL plan for over eight weeks and had done the keto-type regimen right before I started the program and was now comfortable with eating fats and definitely not craving sugar or alcohol. This made it easier.

What I needed to think about though was the fact that I had almost lost all the work I had done with Chris and I needed to really think about the reasons. When I really thought about it, I realized I was drinking a lot of white wine and completely ignoring the fact that white wine is hight in sugar. I was sneaking in sugary snacks and gluten here and there and had found my new favorite go to chips (all natural beet chips in coconut oil) were really high in carbs (which converts to sugar in your body and if I do have a candida overgrowth - candida feeds on sugar). I also had to look at the amount of snacking and portions I was eating. I'm an emotional eater. It's a vicious cycle when you're down because you're not feeling good and it makes you feel better to eat (or drink wine). Basically, I was fooling myself thinking I was doing such a great job and was really producing more an more inflammation in my body. I got myself back into that unhealthy state. The no carb, high(er) fat plan has been working for me. Once I hit my goals and feel like I'm at optimal health, I'm not planning on going without my dark chocolate or an occasional beet chip, gluten free pizza, of glass of (red) wine in the future, but once I reach my goal, I know now what my limits are and I'm pretty darned happy with a few tablespoons of coconut yogurt (no sugar added!) for a sweet snack after dinner and some yummy ginger tea in the afternoon in the meantime. 

Your Personal Paleo Code, or Whole 30 Code, or Ancestral Code, or Veggie Code, or Mediterranean Code...Find Out What Eating Plan is Best for YOU and YOUR Body.

"Your Personal Paleo Code" was the title of Chris Kresser's first book before it was changed to: "The Paleo Cure". What I liked about Chris' philosophy is that he stresses that's it's most important to find what works for you and YOUR body. Although he's more of an ancestral/paleo guy, he's not completely opposed to carbs and grains. He's all about finding what works best for your body through the elimination diet and getting to the bottom of other lurking issues through blood and stool testing and then finding the right path to true healing. My husband can eat just about anything and never gain weight. He feels great all the time and is rarely sick. His way of eating is more like a snake's. He can go for hours without thinking about eating and then eat a ton and feel fine. A dear friend feels best when she eats more of a mediterranean diet, another friend recently discovered she really likes fasting for 24 hours between meals and loves the way she feels, another friend is vegetarian but has celiac so balances her diet accordingly. She's incredibly healthy and active despite what some of us would see as deficient in some essential nutrients by not eating meat. The point is, it's all about you and your body and what makes you feel best.

But Functional Medicine is Expensive....

I was recently telling someone about The Healing Farm concept and she instantly said she's not a fan of functional medicine. I asked her why and she said it's because it's cost prohibitive to a lot of people. This is where perception needs to change both in our own minds and in our healthcare system. If I added up all of the costs of the MRI and cortizone shots for my back, the upper GI and Endoscopy for my GI issues, years of blood tests and all the medication I've taken since I was in my mid twenties, it would be WAY more than the treatment cost of working with Chris Kresser. What we pay in insurance and what some of us get in health benefits from work hides most of what Western medicine costs. If we were paying all those bills (which increasingly we ARE), it would shock us. I paid about $1,000.00 five years ago for my work with Chris and the benefits have been life-changing. If we can change our healthcare system to accept Functional medicine into the fold (I was recently told by a THF client that Sutter Health now has a functional medicine practitioner), then maybe we can TRULY change the way we heal ourselves and prevent chronic conditions. This is why the work Chris Kresser, other functional medicine practitioners, nutritionists and hopefully The Healing Farm does is so important. We need to change the future of healthcare so let's start now!

Western Medicine Does Not Recognize Candida Overgrowth....

 Well. Yuck. Why am I posting this word? Read on!

Well. Yuck. Why am I posting this word? Read on!

Western medicine doesn’t recognize candida overgrowth”. This is what I was told when I went to a Western medicine doctor recently when wanting a prescription for what I think is an overgrowth of yeast in my body. I don’t have typical symptoms (no UTI or yeast infection), but was alerted to the possibility when I was going through Magdelena Wszelaki’s “Cooking for Balance” hormone balance workshop online (highly recommended if you are struggling with hormone or gut issues).

Magdalena was mentioning “candida overgrowth” throughout the program because she struggled with it for years. I was ignoring what she was saying throughout the program because the two of the main symptoms of candida overgrowth I was not experiencing: vaginal yeast infections and UTIs. In fact I haven’t experienced either of those things in years and both only once and some of the other symptoms she mentioned seemed also to be related to other possible issues (like SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth):

  • Stomach bloating - especially after eating

  • Belching right after eating

  • Itchy ears

  • Fatigue

  • Brain fog and memory issues

  • White coating on tongue

  • Athlete’s foot

After working in the past with functional medicine practitioner, Chris Kresser, I had healed a slew of chronic conditions:

  • Fatigue

  • Weight gain

  • Back pain

  • Restless legs

  • Indigestion

  • Sinus headaches so severe they bordered on migraines

I felt great for several years and was inspired (and had the energy) to start The Healing Farm retreat business. Things were going pretty well until I think I probably overtaxed my adrenal glands with stress. Plus I was going into peri menopause and my out-of-whack hormones were causing sleep disruption and on top of it, I was creeping back into some old habits. I kept SAYING I was almost 100% sugar, gluten and dairy free, but somehow I wasn’t counting the glass or two of white wine (sugar!) I was having 3-4 nights a week or the week-long vacations on which I would “slip-up” and eat burgers WITH buns or the cheese I was putting on the enchiladas I made with leftover chicken. I think all of this added up and my symptoms all started creeping back. The worst one was gaining weight again and I didn’t like the fact that I was once again buying sinus medication and stomach pills, but what I noticed most which I had never experienced before was stomach bloating and belching after meals.

When the elimination diet I went on after listening to Magdalena’s program wasn’t yielding results, I started fearing SIBO. Since SIBO is hard to get rid of and sometimes requires antibiotics, I decided to go back in to Magdalena’s program and listen a little more to the stuff she was saying about candida. That, plus research online and simple and FREE test, confirmed (for me) what I was now suspecting. That I had this “candida overgrowth”. I’ve done some extreme cleansing and started a minor herbal regimen and the bloating and belching seems to be getting better plus I’ve lost weight. I have been carb, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and dairy free for six weeks, but my test was still showing yeast so I got a little frustrated and read a little more about candida online which is when I realized I could go on an anti-fungal.

In any case, I went to Kaiser since that’s where I have insurance and am trying to save money right now so didn’t choose to go to a functional medicine practitioner (which is not covered). This is when I heard the line “Western medicine doesn’t recognize candida overgrowth”. Plus he said since I didn’t have UTIs, athlete’s foot or a vaginal yeast infection, that he doesn’t think I should be worried anyway. He said my tongue probably just has a white coating on it all the time and the bloating and belching must be caused by something in my diet (try low FODMAP! - which I have).

I went on Magdalena’s Facebook Group for Cooking for Balance and asked around there. Seems somehow I missed an extra part of the protocol which calls for a very specific and involved herbal regimen, PLUS prescription anti-fungal! Ugh! Since I can’t afford to get a prescription from a functional medicine practitioner, I’ve bitten the bullet and ordered all the herbs. I started this treatment a few days ago so we’ll see if it works. If not, I’ll continue this extreme diet and call for an appointment with a functional medicine practitioner who can subscribe medication.

The big lessons learned in this experiment:

  • If you can afford to go to a functional medicine practitioner to begin with, go! One of the reasons I want to start The Healing Farm property and have been holding retreats is because I want to make functional medicine more understood and try to make general information made available in a more affordable way.

  • If your Western medicine doctor basically tells you it’s all in your head, keep digging. If you’re gaining weight and have unexplained chronic conditions, something is wrong and you CAN get to the bottom of it. It takes a lot of work, but it’s worth it in the end (let me tell you, I’m loving being 20 pounds lighter and am still not having dreams about buffets of food! (see my previous blog post about not being afraid of fat).

  • Do this simple spit test to see if you have candida overgrowth (if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above):

Spit test: When you wake up in the morning, before you even have a sip of water, put water in a clear glass. Gather spit in your mouth and spit on top of the water. Your spit will float and eventually sink. IF your spit grows “tentacles” before it sinks (and looks kind of like a jellyfish), that’s yeast growing and you may have an overgrowth of candida in your system.

Again, if you can afford it, go to a functional medicine practitioner and ask them to order a stool test.

What to do if you suspect candida overgrowth? Do a search online for candida overgrowth. Basically, you need to starve it of all sugar and since carbs convert to sugar, that means pretty much no carbs either and no processed foods or sauces/dressings. Magdalena has a comprehensive candida protocol letting you know which foods to avoid if you go through her program.

I’m feeling better and better and haven’t had a stomach or sinus pill in weeks, but there’s still some belching and bloating and I still have jellyfish spit tests. Hope to update soon with some clear spit! ;-)

Healthy Aging - Take a Cue From the Greeks!

The Greek Lifestyle/eating which I would like to emulate for my own healthy aging:

  1. Lots of fruits and veggies (preferably fresh from the farmer's market or garden)
  2. Yogurt
  3. Lots of fish and nuts
  4. Olives and olive oil
  5. Healthy grains
  6. Goat's milk products
  7. Wine! (in moderation - I'll try to stick to red since white is higher in sugar)
  8. Sleeping until I wake up naturally (I already do this!)
  9. Social eating (I need to do more of this!)
  10. Great sleep and rest during the day
  11. Lots of natural exercise like walking (I need to build more errand running on my bike!)

My dear gorgeous, healthy and always fabulous-looking Greek-heritage friend, Kirsten and I had a lovely time the other day having lunch at the cafe at our favorite grocery store (Berkeley Bowl!) and then had fun running into each other while shopping. It was a day off for me and we had been trying to get together for a while so we decided to tie it in with my grocery shopping trip. We love to talk about food and even took a cooking class together while we were at Rancho La Puerta last Spring.

While we had our leisurely social lunch (so Greek!) we were talking about the Mediterranean way of eating and how she's starting to move back to it. We were talking about how we obsess about food these days and she's been realizing she's just happy and healthy eating the diet of her ancestors. Although I'm not Greek (I'm Polish and German), I was thinking a lot about the Mediterranean way of eating and while I shopped and decided to buy some clams to cook that night. Right now I'm on an anti-candida protocol which is pretty strict, but other than being sensitive to gluten and dairy and trying to keep my sugar intake low, if I ever get rid of this candida, I'm looking forward to eating a more diverse diet.

The day after we met, Kirsten shared with me an article she remembered reading long ago about the Greek diet and I was inspired.  The article starts by talking about a man who moved back to a tiny island in Greece (from the states) to live out his lung cancer diagnosis. Getting back to the fresh air, socializing with friends, sleeping late, napping, working in the garden and the Mediterranean diet is the reason (he thinks) he was still alive many years after his diagnosis. He never had any cancer treatments and although I would not necessarily recommend that, somehow it worked for him and it says a lot about the Greek lifestyle. I've been eating a lot of saturated fats recently and although I've been feeling pretty good and am losing weight without even trying, I think I'm going to start shifting back to more healthy fats like olive oil rather than so much coconut oil and having avocados with my eggs rather than bacon or sausage (that's the German in me) - and lots more fatty fish (will I EVER like sardines?). My hubby isn't too social, but I love long leisurely meals with friends, so need to start scheduling more of that too. 

As I prepare for the upcoming 3rd Act retreat (I hope to see you there!) and as I hear more and more friends starting to talk about retirement plans, I'm thinking a lot more about healthy aging and this article couldn't have come at a better time. So there you go, thanks to a healthy social lunch with a friend, I'm inspired and BTW - I had the Ahi salad with seaweed for lunch that day. No wine since I've cut down on the sugar for my candida protocol, but once I'm rid of the candida, I'll be going back to drinking red wine a few times a week!

Here is the article:

 

 

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. "

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!

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!