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. "

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! 

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!:

"Let Your Heart Speak to Other's Hearts" | THF Women's Health Retreat

Thank You to All Involved in The Healing Farm's Women's Health Retreat!

"Let your heart speak to other's hearts." Found on a yogi tea bag, yes. But it's one I saved for a couple of years and had posted on my magnet board in my office. After the women's health retreat I truly found out what that meant to me in my quest to find myself and my new career journey. Obviously it spoke to me in my time of great change and I felt moved to to keep it. As I watched several women working diligently on their "manifestation" boards at the retreat and then thrilled at the results, I realized I wanted to do one too. I didn't get a chance to complete it (I barely started going through magazines when I had to run off to set something up for the next scheduled activity - or three!) so when I took my "staycation" the week after the retreat ended, I had a chance to work on this worthwhile exercise. The yogi tea bag quote finally found its place. So did the fortune cookie fortune that's been taped to my refrigerator door for a couple of years ("Your talents will be recognized and suitably rewarded.").

What the incredible group of women at the retreat showed me is that I truly do want "my heart to speak to other's hearts". On day one of the retreat when I was introducing myself and the team, I mentioned that I am not a specialist. I'm a generalist. That some of the women at the retreat would surely know more than me about health and nutrition, but what's becoming increasingly clear is that I like bringing people together. I want to bring educators and practitioners together in a beautiful setting to teach natural health solutions participants can build into their everyday lives. I want to share the joy and healing journey in my heart with anyone who will join me and I realized that I could actually do that in this new career journey. I learned as much from the women at this retreat as they learned from the talented educators and practitioners I brought together in the beautiful place that is Mayacamas Ranch. So at long last, I want to share my absolute gratitude to the participants, the team and Mayacamas Ranch!

The Participants

Thirty beautiful women and five team members. I was blown away by the enthusiasm, sharing, encouragement, breakthroughs and loveliness of the group of women who came together for this retreat. We welcomed women of all ages even though the retreat was focussing on menopause and indeed we had a wide range of ages. My guess? Maybe from early 30s to early 70s. What a wealth of knowledge coming from these wise and wonderful women. Old friendships were deepened, new friendships were forged. We ate, we hiked, we laughed and we cried. We had mothers of young children who weren't even close to menopause but who wanted to sincerely learn how they could best prepare their bodies for big changes (or who just needed to rest with clean food, exercise, fresh air and a digital detox). We had mothers of young children who were getting close to menopause, we had women who had never had children, we had grandmothers. We had cross-generational inspiration, we learned together and we had fun! We were all already talking about the next retreat so I need to get one on the calendar!

If you want to read a participant's take on the retreat, I was overwhelmed with gratitude and emotion when I read Sarah Kay Hoffman's blog post. She wrote it the day after the retreat (even with THREE kids to tend to at home!). You can read it here:

Dr. Amy Nett, M.D., Functional Medicine Practitioner and One of the Smartest People I've Ever Met

Dr. Amy Nett Clinician with Chris Kresser

Geez this woman knows her stuff. Of course I shouldn't have been surprised that one of Chris Kresser's staff clinicians at The California Center for Functional Medicine would be so knowledgeable. At last year's retreat we had the brilliant and passionate Chris Kresser himself as our keynote speaker and were all blown away by how knowledgeable his staff nutritionist Kelsey Kinney of "Healthy Gut, Healthy Life" was. How fortunate were we this time around to listen to two well-planned and informative lectures by Dr. Nett about what you can do to best prepare your body for menopause through nutrition and also about hormone balance. I wasn't surprised that Dr. Nett added several new patients to her calendar during and after the retreat! THANK YOU Dr. Nett!

Emily Boorstein: Life Coach and Creator of the "Inner Fitness" Program

 Life Coach Emily Boorstein of the Inner Fitness Program

Life Coach Emily Boorstein of the Inner Fitness Program

This was Emily's second time speaking at a THF retreat and there's a good reason for it. I recognized through my own journey through midlife that it wasn't just my body going through major changes. I felt like in addition to Dr. Nett's contributions about the physical aspect, we needed to also cover the emotional experience of midlife. Emily graciously covered life-lessons learned through motherhood for all the mothers in the audience, but all of those lessons learned early on through her own personal growth translated well into how to gracefully and solidly tackle the emotional roller coaster that is midlife and menopause. Every time I hear Coach Emily speak, I pick up little nuggets of information that later on end up applying to (pick one or all): a wake up in the middle of the night panic attack (something I never experienced before menopause), a stewing in the shower about something my husband said that made me mad, a sitting in traffic and wanting to flip someone off or even an emotional transition to a new president. My favorite tip from Emily that I use all the time in my life is how to not panic. If I feel some kind of emotional turmoil coming on and want to react, I can now reach into my "Coach Emily toolbox", step back and consider whether this is something that is going to end the world or if it's something I can truly tackle without false emotion. I will forever be grateful to Coach Emily for her support, enthusiasm and contributions. She helped me through my true midlife crisis when I realized I was never going to be a mother and she will always be in my heart for opening hers.

Amanda Crutcher: Yoga Instructor/Yoga Therapy/Meditator Extraordinaire

Amanda Crutcher knows anatomy and ohhhh how to work with those yoga therapy balls! She cares so deeply about her participant's safety and bodies. Probably because of her Iyengar yoga background, Amanda really focusses on the physical aspect of yoga making sure her participants understand the postures and the anatomy behind them. It's really good training - especially for beginners and to prevent injury. She also brought out yoga therapy balls at her last class. From a practicality standpoint, using the balls at home (safely) is great. It's like being able to give yourself a massage and is great for deeply loosening those knots. I learned this technique at Rancho La Puerta with tennis balls, but the various sized yoga therapy balls were even better. Amanda also graciously opened up her one hour twice daily meditation practice to all the attendees. This is where her deep spirituality came out. Her calm presence and grace surely comes from her deep meditation practice. Something I hope to explore with her in the future.

Diane Gibbs: Massage Therapy and Feldenkrais

This was Diane's second THF retreat as well. Her talented hands were in great demand. Who wouldn't want a glorious massage by well-trained hands while on a retreat? Diane ended up completely booking up, so I was thrilled to bring on my dear friend (and someone who has done massage on me countless times) Angela Bausch. Thanks so much to Angela for bringing her experienced hands to our retreat!

Diane also brought her love for and practice of Feldenkrais to this retreat. As at the last retreat, a lot of the participants had never heard of Feldenkrais, but most experienced beneficial effects through this gentle movement practice. 

Mayacamas Ranch!

Once again I can't thank the staff at Mayacamas Ranch enough. Miguel once again knocked the paleo ball out of the park with his cooking, the rest of the staff was warm and welcoming and the property - even in the wintertime - was as peaceful and beautiful as ever. Seeing the milky way in the clear winter night sky, the fog in the valley on our early morning hike, the steam coming off of the pond, hearing those funny frogs loud and clear every night when going to bed - and that cozy bed! You can't go wrong with Mayacamas Ranch as your home base for a retreat!

And Then There was Karma.....

 Karma Moffit and his Tibetan Bowls

Karma Moffit and his Tibetan Bowls

How do you top off what you know may be an enlightening weekend for your participants? I always say I don't want The Healing Farm to be too hippie dippy or new age and then I bring in a man named Karma. But, I've been going deeper into my own meditation practice as I move through this midlife of mine and all its changes and have been inspired by the crystal bowls meditations I've experienced at Rancho La Puerta. Since I was introducing various forms of meditation into this women's retreat I thought it might be nice to top off the last night with a crystal bowls meditation. My intention was to have Danielle Hall of Sound Embrace perform, but she ended up being unavailable. Through other contacts I found this man named "Karma" who plays tibetan bowls. He performs all over the world and had even performed at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco for a labyrinth meditation a few nights before the retreat. Now this is a man who has lived life and he didn't hesitate to tell us all about it. I love great characters who embrace life and whatever comes their way and although I might have been able to do without the high pitched conch shell blowing, it was great to be in a room surrounded by women I brought together, surrounded by deep vibrating sounds delivered by someone who has so obviously embraced life fully and taken the less-traveled path. Karma's heart truly speaks to other's hearts. I was so grateful he joined us to top off the retreat.

So what did I get out of The Healing Farm's Women's retreat? Hope and especially ENCOURAGEMENT for the future of The Healing Farm AND This Manifestation Board Illustrating my Hope for My Future and the Future of The Healing Farm.

 I think it's no coincidence that this board came out of me on inauguration day, 2017. My hope is for a bright, inclusive and healthy future for all.

I think it's no coincidence that this board came out of me on inauguration day, 2017. My hope is for a bright, inclusive and healthy future for all.

As many times as I've muttered "Namaste" at the end of a yoga class, I've never known what it meant and never bothered to take the time to look it up. Coach Emily taught us that one of the translations is "The light in me sees the light in you."  I feel like we all experienced this at the women's retreat. I certainly experienced sharing my heart and felt like my guests shared theirs with me. I think I'm ready now to take the next steps with The Healing Farm. It's still scary and I still have doubts but when a dear friend sends you a link to Sia's "The Greatest" when you express fear of the next step you listen to her heart speak to your heart and so it goes and so it goes. Let your own midlife be a midlife renaissance no matter how scary it might be. Moving beyond your fears and your comfort zone will help you breakthrough to be your "greatest". 

See you all at the next retreat! 

All of my love and heart - Julie

The Healing Farm - Cultivating Practical Wellness!

 

 

Retreat Client Testimonial!

I feel so fortunate that I had such a lovely group at my first multi-day retreat last April at Mayacamas Ranch and ended up loving everyone so! Suzanne has now been to TWO of my retreats including the Paleo reset last April and is now set to join me again at the Women's Health Detox and Hormone Balance Retreat which is set for MLK weekend - the 13th through the 16th of January. There are still about eight spots left to fill, so please join us. I would love to see you "on the list"! Says Suzanne of the last retreat and in joining this one:

"How much I wish I'd had a retreat like your last one when I was starting peri menopause. All the valuable information and collection of superb folks you bring together! The speakers and classes - all professional and exceptional as well as the beautiful, rustic, chic setting of Mayacamas Ranch made it just perfecto-o! Loved everything about your retreat(s) including your generosity and beautiful attention to detail, but especially the people you bring together. Simply perfect!"

I'm so looking forward to seeing Suzanne at the upcoming retreat and hope to meet you there as well!

Amanda Crutcher Joins the Women's Health Retreat Team as our Yoga Instructor!

I'm so excited to announce that Amanda Crutcher will be joining our January Women's Retreat team as our daily yoga instructor! 

Amanda contacted me a few weeks ago because she was passionate about my vision for The Healing Farm and recognized in my mission that I was truly filling a void in the retreat industry: A yoga retreat with meat? A paleo themed retreat that didn't feature killer exercise programs but focused more on an elimination diet to teach folks who are struggling with chronic health issues ideas about functional medicine and natural healing? I hear this from a lot of people and am trying to fill that niche! 

We met soon after our initial contact at my 50th birthday party. I asked if she would jump in to teach a short yoga class at Slide Ranch to kick off my birthday festivities. Driving all the way from Sebastopol to Slide Ranch to teach in the chill of the coastal fog, I instantly loved her passion and her warmth and sincerity. We met for lunch a couple of weeks later and again felt a great connection and I invited her to join the women's retreat team.

Amanda has a diverse background in the healing arts and as a dedicated twice daily meditator will open up her meditation time to allow our retreat participants to join her. If you saw my previous blog post about meditation you know that I only meditate ten minutes a day so when Amanda told me she meditates twice a day for an hour each "sit" I couldn't believe her dedication!  We will provide a spot for her twice daily meditations and she will discuss "dropping" in during her restorative yoga session on the first day of the retreat. Don't be intimidated! She stresses that you can pop in any time within the hour and meditate for as long as you like. Plus if you're new to mediation, Dr. Nett and I will will be offering a couple of short guided meditation sessions too!

Amanda says about joining the team:

"I am very excited to be joining the staff of The Healing Farm for the January 2017 Women’s Health Detox and Hormone Balance Retreat, where I will be teaching the daily Yoga classes, and offering private Yoga sessions. There are few places that I would rather be than on a retreat immersed in healing practices, people and foods!

The Healing Farm’s mission to merge agriculture, evolutionary health, and mindful wellness practices resonated with me like a load clear deep Burmese gong! My life’s journey is about vibrant health. As a child I was blessed to be mentored in nature connection while living in the west village of NYC. From age 6 to 9 my schooling focused on studying the local ecosystem in western NJ, raising ducks from eggs, tapping maple trees, dying wool with plant dyes to weave, digging clay to make pots, while learning to read, write, and look at the world mathematically. This gift of loving the outdoors inspired me to ski, cycle, rock climb, backpack, sail, play and swim.

My other childhood love was the circus, my British Mom gave me the book, “Mr. Galiano’s Circus” and my world was changed. I juggled, tumbled, rode a unicycle, jumped and flipped endlessly on the trampoline, and even attended circus school on the Bowrey in NYC. My determination to build the strength to take it to another level wasn’t there, and instead my embodied way of being got channeled into college level competitive Ultimate Disc, dance and mid-distance running.

My work in college focused on studying biology; my thesis was on inflammation and nutrition. I continued my studies at the New England School of Acupuncture, where I became a licensed acupuncturist in Massachusetts. Currently I am pursuing a masters degree in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine, continuing the exploration of inflammation, natural cures and traditional healing ways.

Finding Yoga in college was coming home to a place I had missed. I love the challenges Yoga offers, such as, balancing in handstands, or simply breathing and being present; deepening my abilities to be aware, balance, feel, and strengthen. Now the magic of Yoga is most powerful in calming my nervous system in the throws of our modern wired life. In this pursuit I have also devoted myself to the practice of Vipassana meditation as taught by Sayagi U Ba Khin and SN Goenka. I am grateful for the valuable guidance I have been given. My Yoga asana practice has been inspired by the teachings of BKS Iyengar and his many students, as well as Patabhi Jois. Currently my Yoga teacher is Jill Miller, the founder of Yoga Tune Up.

Jill has synthesized the teachings of the masters, within the context of modern humans. Integrating ancient wisdom with innovative props, Yoga therapy balls, and addressing current global human movement issues.

My teaching is inspired by practice, both on my cushion, on my Yoga mat and in life. I am delighted to bring this training to the January retreat, to share tools to gain a calm, balanced, strong, flexible and healthy body. It starts with nourishment from the earth; It is then our loving attention that transforms that food prana into connection with our hearts, each other, and back to the earth. May we each find that gracefully! May we help make peace prevail inside and everywhere."

Welcome Amanda!!!

 

 

 

Washington Post Features Rancho La Puerta in the Sunday Travel Section - Two of my Photos Used!

 A Thrill that two of my photos were used to illustrate a travel story in the Washington Post about Rancho La Puerta - a little bummed to not get a photo credit, but hey, visits to RLP are enough!!!

A Thrill that two of my photos were used to illustrate a travel story in the Washington Post about Rancho La Puerta - a little bummed to not get a photo credit, but hey, visits to RLP are enough!!!

I always call it my "favorite place in the world" and I think Dina Mishev writing for the Washington Post hits the nail right on the head when she describes what's so special about Rancho La Puerta. It's precisely ALL of what she writes about that has inspired me to want to found The Healing Farm: Rancho La Puetra-esque with more of an affordable cost structure, a focus on functional healing.... and meat!

Funny. The first time I went to Rancho La Puerta was probably almost the same week and year as Dina! I was lucky enough to be called on to help them re-build their photo library for their marketing materials. I'm now proud to say many of my photos have become some of the iconic shots in the RLP marketing materials including a lovely photo of my friend Patti enjoying the view under Alex's oak, my friend Lyn on the cover of the spa brochure, a photo of a visiting yoga instructor doing dancer's pose and of course that outdoor shot at the lounge building with the wisteria which has ben one of the post cards you receive in your room every time you visit. See my photography site for more samples of my photos from RLP.

Whether I build The Healing Farm or not, RLP will always be one of my favorite places to go in the world and I'll always be honored to tell the newbies on the bus that this is my _________ time (currently eight) that I've been to "The Ranch" and that I have the honor of getting to know the guests so well having fun with them while photographing. They all are more than happy to sign model releases because everyone is on board with promoting our "favorite place in the world"!

 The second of my photos used to illustrate the Washington Post's article on Rancho La Puerta.

The second of my photos used to illustrate the Washington Post's article on Rancho La Puerta.

 

 

Women's Health Retreat Highlights!

Wow! What a day we had for the Women's Health Retreat this past Saturday! Held at Headlands Center for the Arts in the Marin Headlands, we had gorgeous weather, terrific speakers, great exercise and a terrific group of women. Despite being the facilitator and running around a good portion of the day making sure everything was running smoothly, even I walked away from the day feeling inspired and relaxed!

I first want to thank our lovely participants for taking the time out of their busy lives to gather and to talk about a not-so-easy transition in life. You were all inspiring in your own ways, so open to discuss and so full of good spirit. Truly appreciated! 

Secondly, thank you to our speaker Marnie Reasor, CCH of Resplendent Healing! Coming all the way from Tennessee, we were all fortunate to listen to two informative lectures giving us her gathered knowledge from over fifteen years experience working on natural healing of female-specific health issues. You can see a partial list of the tips she distributed at the end of this post. She covered a lot more, so I would highly recommend contacting her for a consult!

We ALL raved about the food! Katie Powers, exclusive caterer for Headlands Center for the Arts is a passionate advocate of sourcing local and organic foods for most of her cooking. She went to her local farmer's market the day before our event to shop for the incredibly fresh ingredients she used for our two meals. I heard more than one person say they felt like they were eating freshly picked lettuce right out of the garden. She also took great care in presenting everything so beautifully for us AND took the time to talk to us about what we were eating and where it came from. Truly another highlight of the day!

Jessica Prentice of Three Stone Hearth was another highlight and dang does this woman know her stuff about whole foods and ancestral cooking! She talked to us about the nutritional benefits of bone broth (I make my own, but seriously - consider ordering some from TSH - theirs is incredibly gelatinous (read: NUTRIENT FULL) and eating whole foods all-the-while showing us how to make a chock-full of nutritional goodness spring nettle soup. I'm now kicking myself for not have the energy to go to the Farmer's Market the next morning to get nettles from Happy Boy Farms. I have lots of leftover containers of Three Stone Hearth bone broth in my fridge and would have loved making the soup this week! Asking a group of women to quietly sip our soup sample in silence so we could appreciate the flavor was not easy to do, but I think most of us were stunned into silence at the incredible flavor and obvious nutrient-dense soup. Then we instantly started talking again because we couldn't help raving about the soup! 

Topped off by a bit of light exercise, between the hike and Dr. Alicia Thomsen's restorative yoga session, I think I can speak for us all saying we walked away from the day feeling stretched, relaxed, informed and having truly enjoyed the peace and gorgeousness of Headlands Center for the Arts and the Marin Headlands. We all probably would have loved to spend a little more time on Rodeo Beach, but there was some more learning to do!


Here are some tips from Marnie and the nettle soup recipe to leave you with. What a great day!

For hot flashes

Know your triggers like:

  • Spicy foods
  • Hot drinks
  • Alcohol and caffeine
  • Heavy Exercise, saunas and hot tubs
  • Toxins in food and personal care products 
  • Minimize wheat, sugar and dairy
  • Large meals

What you can do:

  • Exercise moderately 
  • Stay hydrated!
  • Dress in layers
  • Keep a fan in the bedroom

Sounder sleep tips

  • Blackout curtains, earplugs, eye shades
  • Sleep between 10:00PM and 5:00AM
  • Natural Calm powder
  • Remove any blue light from bedroom (computer, phone, no wifi router)
  • Epsom salts bath or foot bath before bed
  • Alternate nostril breathing

Resources

  • Marnie's consult!
  • The Wisdom of Menopause: Creating Physical and Emotional Health During the Change by Christine Northrup, M.D.
  • The Natural Center for Homeopathy: Homeopathy Center.org
  • Environmental Working Group Guides

NETTLE SOUP RECIPE by Jessica Prentice as published in her book Full Moon Feast

SPRING TONIC NETTLE SOUP - Copied from Edible East Bay's Online Published Version February 16, 2015 in Soup

This recipe is adapted from Jessica Prentice’s Full Moon Feast (March 2006) and is printed with permission from Chelsea Green Publishing.

Some important notes about nettles: If you’re picking wild nettles for eating, don’t touch them with your bare hands, and harvest only the top 4 inches of the plant. In the kitchen use tongs or a large fork to pick them up. You may want to remove the thick stems from the nettle tops before cooking.

Serves 3–4

2 leeks, cut into rounds
3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
¼ pound stinging nettle tops
1 bouquet garni
1 quart chicken broth, filtered water, or other light chicken stock made without vegetables or herbs
(A strong stock will overwhelm the flavor of the nettles: The broth from Three Stone Hearth would be perfect for this recipe.)
2 egg yolks
½ cup crème fraîche
Salt and pepper to taste
Nutmeg to taste

Sauté the leeks in the butter or olive oil. Add the stock or water and bring to a boil. Add the nettles (being careful not to touch them with your bare hands!), bouquet garni, and stock or water. Cover, bring to a boil, and simmer until the nettles are very soft.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and crème fraîche.

Remove the bouquet garni from the soup, turn the heat to low, and purée using an immersion blender, adding a generous pinch of salt and a grind of pepper.

Take a ladleful of soup and stir it into the egg mixture. Return the egg-nettle mixture to the soup and stir gently over very low heat (do not let it boil again).

Grate some fresh nutmeg into the soup, taste, and add more salt as necessary to make it savory and delicious

Variation: Add a handful of sorrel leaves to the soup for a lemony flavor. ✦

 

 

 

Mayacamas Ranch Paleo Reset and Yoga Retreat - Schedule Announced!

I've been working for a few months trying to figure out what I would consider a perfect blend of relaxation, exercise and education for the Mayacamas Ranch Paleo Reset Reset Retreat coming up April 17th and think I'm getting pretty close so decided I would post the tentative schedule on the site.

Two comments I received in the evaluation forms from The Stemple Creek - Wellness and Yoga on the Ranch Retreat were:

"There was plenty of space and time to enjoy the place" 

and "Relaxed pace!"

These were two comments that really struck me because part of what I'm trying to achieve with these retreats - and eventually at The Healing Farm property is not only a sense that you are getting practical wellness solutions through educational talks and exercise programs, but that it's all at a nice pace and not too overwhelming. With our jam-packed lives and schedules and vacations that are too stuffed with activity because we only get one or two a year, I think a well-paced retreat with plenty of down-time should be appreciated and enjoyed. Seriously. If I can and if it's warm enough the week of the retreat, I want to tie two inner tubes to a tree in the pond for people just to float and look at the sky. Doesn't that sound heavenly? It's something Brennan and I try to do once a year and it's incredibly relaxing.

So, not only do I think the Mayacamas Ranch speaker and practitioner line-up is getting to be pretty stellar with the following all participating:

  • Keynote: Chris Kresser
  • Two nutritional lectures by Chris' nutritionist Kelsey Marksteiner (plus private consultations available)
  • Cooking Demo and Lecture by Diane Sanfilippo of Balanced Bites/Practical Paleo
  • Free healthy back workshop by Faye Alexandrakis of The Gokhale Method
  • Beginner progressive yoga class every day with Patti Cocciolo of the Goodness blog 
  • Intermediate and advanced yoga class every day with Erin Cookston - instructor at Yogaworks
  • Private Yoga sessions also available by appointment

But also, there's plenty of relaxation time built-in too. So, grab a book (or four), a sunhat, your walking shoes and your bathing suit and get ready for a well-paced and relaxing retreat experience!  

Women's Health Retreat - A Natural Approach to Menopause: PRICE REDUCED!

I loved this article written by Sharon Mesmer and published in the opinion section of this week's Sunday New York Times and it inspired me to reduce the price for the Women's Health retreat I'm hosting at Headlands Center for the Arts on February 27th.

Perhaps people are waiting to see what other plans come up for the weekend of the 27th, but since I have space for almost forty women, I would like to encourage more women to sign up for this very worthwhile retreat and therefore am reducing the price of the retreat to $125.00! 

I (like Sharon) am not one of the lucky ones. I do (like Sharon) have a friend who told me last year that one month she simply didn't get her period and poof it was just gone forever. No hot flashes. No emotional roller coaster. No panic attacks. Who boy, do I wish I were her. But I'm not and from what I've heard from many of my friends, neither are they! 

This is why I was so inspired to put together this retreat. To listen to a speaker who has specialized in the natural treatment of menopause symptoms, participate in a Q&A, eat healthy locally sourced meals, attend a cooking demo AND end the day with a relaxing yoga class aimed at women our age, I think this will be such a valuable learning experience and encourage more women to sign up!

Join us at the unique and gorgeous, Headlands Center for the Arts on February 27th at 8:45AM and participate in the following:

  • Hear two talks by Marnie Reasor or Resplendent Healing as she discusses tried and true natural approaches to menopause. With her 15 years of specialization, she will surely have a lot to tell us and will be more than happy to answer our questions along the way!
  • Cooking Demo by Jessica Prentice of Three Stone Hearth and Author of "Full Moon Feast"
  • Light breakfast and full lunch by Katie Powers - Marin resident and exclusive Caterer for Headlands Center for the Arts
  • All-Level 1 1/2 hour yoga session with Dr. Alicia Thomsen, liscenced chiropractor and yoga instructor at Yogaworks