Clarity from Costa Rica & the Importance of "Unplugging"

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Last week I fulfilled a dream.  Kellie Codianna and I led a group of amazing women on an Eco-Yoga retreat to Costa Rica and it was so successful that we already have a date and theme set for next year's retreat.  The theme of our retreat was "Unplugging and Tuning In" and that's exactly what we did.  We unplugged from our digital lives, ate delicious food, listened to the sounds of nature and to each other, and tuned into ourselves, our minds, our bodies, and our souls through yoga, meditation, hiking, and journaling.  I went into the week knowing that I wanted to experience clarity about my business and personal goals.  I have been back for one week now and yes, I am seeing things very clearly now and it feels great!  Here are a few things I have realized.

You don't have to spend a week in Costa Rica to experience clarity. How ironic, right?

I learned from my week away that you don't need to go away in order to tune in.  Granted, getting away from your job, your family, your old familiar ways can be really, really, nice, however, you can experience moments, even minutes of clarity and calm in your regular old life throughout your day.  You just need to take the time out to do it.  Please get the image of you, in lotus, on a pillow, with your eyes closed in a monastery meditation for hours in silence out of your head.  You can actually "unplug" in a matter of minutes, pretty much anywhere!  Keep reading and ask yourself:

Can you begin your day with a moment of reflection before you get out of bed or before your cup of coffee?

Can you end your day with a moment of gratutude before you go to bed listing everything you are thankful for?

Can you take a moment in the car while you are waiting to pick up your kids to take some deep breaths and tune into how you feel physically, scanning for and releasing tension?


These simple tasks can help you focus your energy on areas of your life you would like to see grow and expand. 

Why waste your time with worry when you can focus your attention on gratitude, your loved ones, and your positive goals for the future?

Having a regular eating schedule can be life-changing. 

In Costa Rica we had a regular schedule (early breakfast at 6:30 am, regular breakfast at 8:30 am, lunch at 12:30 pm, and dinner at 5:30 pm).  My body loved it and my energy level was really steady.  Coming back home I realized that I tend to lead a crazy life!  I rarely eat breakfast at the same time and can go hours without realizing that I haven't even eaten lunch.  Of course, my energy level hadn’t been steady!  I am now making it a point to eat regular meals at around the same time each day.  I'll let you know how that goes!

By becoming quiet, my dreams were better able to come to the surface.

It was actually on the plane ride back to the States that one of my business goals/dreams came to the surface and the message was loud and clear.  I need to help parents and caregivers by launching my online course, "A Better Bedtime: A Hands-on Course for Parents and Caregivers."  

Ever since I started my Reflexology Training and worked on my own children, I have wanted to share these techniques with other parents and caregivers.  I filmed the course in August 2017 and then things got really busy.  Sadly, I put the course on the back burner.  Now that the retreat is over, I have time to launch this course and I am thrilled!  I know this course will help empower parents and caregivers and help them all live lives with less anxiety, less pain, and more presence and open-communication.  I am ready to step into the role of online teacher and support.  Bring it on.  BTW, if you are interested in learning more about the course, click here and get your first lesson free.  

So that's it. Make time to unplug and you will be rewarded with insight, clarity, and possibly even calm!  Good luck to you!

Much love, Julie

I am so thankful for Kellie Codianna from Divinely Rooted and my mentors Justin Michael Williams, Karen Mozes, and Connie Holen for helping my dreams come true. I am also thankful for all the beautiful and amazing women who trusted me with their lives and experienced Costa Rica with us. What a journey!   Let me know if you would like me to lead any retreats you have in mind for 2019.  I would love to do another.  I've actually been dreaming of rock climbing and a dude ranch in Wyoming lately. Contact me and let me know if you are interested! 

Why Everyone Should Have a Bucket List

"Bucket list? No thank you."  The idea of a bucket list has always felt a little morbid to me quite honestly. What do I want to do before I die? Really?  Well, if you reframe the idea of a bucket list into a "to do list" then things change for me.   A "to do list"? Now that is something I can get behind! I love writing "to do lists" and usually write my "to do lists" the night before and have even titled them "shit to do lists" (I don't mince words here).  Lists help me see where I'm going and step-by-step, help me get there. So, what's the difference between a "to do list" and a bucket list? To me, a bucket list is a bit grander and more long term than a "to do" list.  Like "go to Italy one day" versus "go to an Italian restaurant this week." 

So, where am I going with this? Being a yoga teacher I often hear people say things, "I know I should do yoga, but I don't have any time, “or "I've always wanted to do XYZ, but..."  What many people are really saying is that XYZ isn't a priority to them and that is just fine.  When you think about all of the time we spend on our phones all week, can we honestly say we don't have time for XYZ?  I'm just saying that we all have time for things, it's just that we have to decide how we choose to spend that time. I realized about a month ago that I needed to re-prioritize some things in my life. I was super busy with work and I had been spending way too much time indoors on my computer.  I decided that I wanted to get outside more and I made myself a promise that I would do that.  Now, being the extrovert and out-going business owner that I am I didn't just pack up my bag and my dogs and go.  No that is way too simple for me.   I decided to open this challenge/experience up to anyone who was interested: friends, colleagues, neighbors, clients, and yoga students and anyone they wanted to invite was welcome too. And so began our weekly meet up "Sleeping Giant Through the Seasons".  We are 5 weeks into this meet up thing and it has been great!  I'm always pleasantly surprised to see who will be there and how many dogs will be there, too.  We hope to have at least one hike where the dogs actually outnumber the people, but we will see. So, what started off as something on my bucket list "Hike Sleeping Giant at least once a week" has now been transformed onto the mundane weekly "to do" list and I am so thankful for that!

So, why should everyone have a bucket list? 

Life is short and having the "woulda, coulda, shoulda's" just stinks. Go out and write that bucket list and then get to writing that "to do list" so you can make that bucket list happen. Take yourself that much closer to changing your life for the better.  And hey, if you are in the area, feel free to join us on one of your Thursday hikes! Rain or shine! Now I need to invest in some boots, yak tracks, and maybe even snow shoes. .  My pink running sneakers aren't going to cut it for long. Bring it on New England!

And since I do love lists, here are my top 6 reasons of why I love to hike "Sleeping Giant Through the Seasons"

1.     I get outside and out of my own head.

2.     I get to talk to and meet awesome people.

3.     I see strangers becoming friends before my very eyes.

4.     I witness and am part of face-to-face interactions.

5.     I get to hang out with dogs.

6.     I witness the seasons up close and personal.

See you on the trail!

 

Why Costa Rica?

Hey all, many of you know that I am co-leading a retreat to Costa Rica this March. I am SO excited about this.  Although, you might be wondering, "Why Costa Rica?"  Well, I actually went on vacation to Costa Rica with my family last April and I fell in love with the country and the people. 

In this post, I want to share with you my top 5 reasons of why I chose Costa Rica. 

Reason #1  I LOVE NATURE! 

Reason #2  They have eco-tourism down! 

Reason #3   Easy travel from place to place.

When I first learned that we were going to have to take a shuttle from the airport to the hotel and that the shuttle was going to take 3 1/2 hours I pictured the worst.  When I mean "the worst", I pictured crazy driver driving like a bat out of hell, near misses, barely slowing down at intersections, and potholes, lots of potholes.  Have I mentioned that I served as a Peace Corp Volunteer in Kenya?  Maybe it was my time in rural Kenya that fed those images of transportation...  Anyway, the travel in Costa Rica was CHILL!  Our shuttle driver was calm and most of the drivers just took their time. There was very little speeding and whole lot of "pura vida's" exchanged between drivers.  

Reason #4  Delicious and Healthy Whole food

My son is a vegetarian and I was a wee bit nervous about getting some yummy and nutrutious food in him while we were there.  To my surprise the food kicked butt.  Rice, beans, fresh fruit, juices, you name it, they had it and man, was it delicious.  I am looking forward to those Costa Rican flavors once again!

Reason #5 Adventure for  all!

While my family was there we went zip-lining, hiking, rafting, nature hunting (at night, no less), and we even got to swim in what my daughter described as "Moana water". The March retreat will be a bit more relaxed because there will be no zip-lining or rafting involved, but that's totally ok by me.  I will be ready to practice yoga, try out Qi Gong, hike, eat delicious food, nap when I want to,  and chill by the beach though. Bring it on!

What am I most looking forward to? 

I am looking forward to some "me time".  I will have the opportunity to drop all of multiple identities as "mama", "wife", "kid uber", and just be me. I look forward to unplugging from the ever-invasive digital world and tune into my natural surroundings and my inner voice.

So, if you need a chance to unplug and recharge (yes, you can do both), join us in Costa Rica March 3- March 10.  Winter will still be full swing and you will most like be craving some sunshine, too!

Check out some pictures of Solfeggio the retreat sanctuary where we will be staying.  It's amazing!

 

 

photos from trip and solfeggio

Super Easy Yummy Summer Treat

Going to a pool party, but have no time and really don't feel like giving your kids any more sugar?   I've been there.  It stinks.  I thought this might be a great time to share with you one of my secret weapons...the melon baller.  Totally dorky, I know, but this weapon can save your butt some day!  For the past few summers, my daughter and I have been whipping up healthy, beautiful, and easy fruit bowls with our handy melon baller.  Here's how you can do the same.
1.  Buy 1/2 a watermelon.
2. Start carving out balls from the watermelon.  Put the balls in a separate bowl.
3. When you have carved out most of the melon, take a large spoon and scrap out the rest of the watermelon. Put that along with the watermelon juice in another bowl. 
4. Cut out a little triangle along the edge.  Use that to easily empty the watermelon juice into a cup or bowl to use for later.

 "The Magic Triangle" will make pouring much easier.

"The Magic Triangle" will make pouring much easier.


4. To make your watermelon bowl look fancy, take a very sharp knife and start cutting out little triangles along the edge (think of jack o'lantern teeth).
5. Place watermelon balls into your watermelon bowl, add any other fruits you would like (blueberries tend to look amazing.  I would skip the bananas because they get pretty soggy and brownish.  Go crazy.  
6.  What about that left over juice and not ball-shaped watermelon?  Put that in the blender with some ice and make yourself a delicious smoothie! YUM!

And there you have it.  Now go out there, buy that melon-baller, save time and make a healthy natural snack in a pretty and compostable container to boot!  Send pictures, too!

Not Enough Time in the Day? A To-Do List That Actually Works!

 Love this list. Short term and longer term goals.  The "What" and "How" behind getting stuff done. Thanks,  Connie!

Love this list. Short term and longer term goals.  The "What" and "How" behind getting stuff done. Thanks, Connie!

I LOVE making lists.  I make them on scraps of paper, backs of envelopes, hidden in journals, and have even been spotted reciting lists into my phone for my phone fairy to record and file.  Although, lately my lists have become, well, overwhelming and outright intimidating.  So intimidating that after writing the list, I feel kind of sick and think, "how am I going to complete any of this before I have to pick up the kids from school? "

After a bit of lifestyle revamping I am back to my efficient self and want to share a few tricks that have helped me get my sh-- done!

1.  Always start your list with the first task being, "Write list.". That way, you know you can accomplish at least one thing on your list that day.  Phew!  You could always make task #2, "Start crossing stuff off list."

2. Separate your list by destination (i.e. grocery story, library, school...). Under those locations, write down what you need to do along with more details.

3.  Download this list.  I stumbled upon this free download as I was researching things for my business and I have found it super helpful.  It is clear, simple, split into days and a full week's goals.  I like that it highlights the goals and exactly what needs to be done.  My friend Connie over at Yoga Journal designed it and is allowing people to download it for free. Thanks, Connie!

4. And finally, don't plan on getting it all done!  If you get 3 things done on that day, smile and move on.  Do what you can and keep going.  Tomorrow is another day with another list.  Maybe you could even include, "Get sleep or take nap" on your list, remembering the importance of taking care of ourselves.  Good luck and go out there and kick butt!

 

Kick-butt End-of-Year DIY Gifts for teachers

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Teachers are awesome.  I love what they do and I think it's important that we show them some love at the end of the school year.  I also love to make things; so it's natural that I often make my kids' teachers gifts at the end of the school year.  You also might know that I am pretty practical and that if I am going to give someone a gift, I hope it will do more than sit on a shelf and take up space.  No tchotchkes from me, no way! 

Last year I made the teachers bug-repellent candles for their back yards.  That was fun and easy to do.  All you need is

a mason jar
some beach rocks
a floating candle
the essential oil of your choice (I used lemongrass)

This year I am getting a little crazy.  I am making "Aromatherapy Playdough" for the teachers.  The recipe looks pretty easy and I wll be sure to post a picture of the final product soon.  This way the teacher can chill out by being creative AND through aromatherapy. Wish me luck and feel free to steal this idea!  Let me know how it goes and good luck!

 Update:  Made the play dough and they came out great!  Had fun with packaging and labeling, too. Fancy.

Update:  Made the play dough and they came out great!  Had fun with packaging and labeling, too. Fancy.

Hope this is a fun project and that it saves you some time searching!

The Lost Art of Asking Questions

A few months ago I added a little something special to my website.  I call it "Student Spotlight".  For full disclosure, I totally stole this idea from my CrossFit gym. They have a monthly "Spotlight Athlete" every month and I really liked the idea.  I enjoy getting to know more about fellow athletes and I thought, "Why not try it out with my own students?"  And so I did.  And the results were...amazing!

 

Essential Oils for Kids

I am currently in the process of finding a non-Multi-Level-Marketing Essential Oils business to work with and am glad to say that I have found one! In the process of my search,  I stumbled upon a line of essential oils that parents, in particular might find really useful.

The Whole 30, A Different Approach to Food

The Whole 30, A Different Approach to Food

 I've never been a "dieter".  I like food.  I eat it.  I eat pretty well.  Whole foods, veggies, fruits.   I also enjoy cooking.  So what's the problem?  Well, I began to notice that I was drinking daily.  I wasn't even enjoying it.  You see, I was drinking wine as I was cooking dinner.  It was pretty mindless, too.  Just drinking because it had become a habit.  One glass of wine while I was cooking.  Another with dinner.  I began to wonder, "What would my life look like without two glasses of wine a day?  What would my skin, hair and body look like"?  

What to do with Anger

I know way too many people who have destroyed friendships and even family bonds over posts on FaceBook.  Go ahead and take a look at one of the posts that just really pissed you off.  What was it that made you so angry? Chances are that if your take a closer look at what made you so angry you will discover that a core belief of yours was compromised.

Alleviating Low Back Pain

Too many dead lifts got you down?  Or is that your low back is tight and it seems that you can't get any relief?  Try this simple yoga pose call "Supported Bridge" and finally find some relief!  This is a great go-to pose for the end of a long day standing or sitting.  Your back will thank you!