Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Your Wise Self

Last Friday I led a one-day self-renewal retreat at The Crossings Spa & Resort for a wonderful group of women from around the US (and one from Shanghai!).

At the front of the space where we gathered—a beautiful room with walls of windows, nestled in the woods—there were two comfy armchairs with a small side table where a mug of tea and a vase of flowers sat.

I began the morning by inviting the women to visualize themselves sitting comfortably in one of the chairs and across from them in the opposite armchair sat the most important person they would ever meet: their wise self.

I was meeting with a new entrepreneur client recently who was referred to me by a very well-connected businesswoman in our community. This client joked with me before we began, saying “Mary warned me that you were wild about retreats and you’d probably recommend I take one!” This made me smile, but it’s true. (Read more on The Power of Retreating.)

I see a retreat --whether it’s for a day, a weekend or a week-- as an opportunity to pause, hit the re-set button and have a date with your wise self. To tap into that part of you which holds the highest and best for you, that already has all the answers.

The guided retreats I’ve taken over the years have been highly instrumental in my decision to write a book, open a business, take my relationship with my partner to a new place, launch into a new career direction, take a sabbatical from work and often the experience just created the opportunity for me to receive just whatever it was I most needed at the time: validation, support, empowerment, inspiration, camaraderie or a shift in perspective.

For me there is always a strange delight in landing in a new, beautiful natural setting with a group of people I’ve never met, where no one knows me, there are no expectations and my only job is to be “wide open” and see what wisdom surfaces for me.

Retreats are a lot of work to facilitate. It terms of “energy expenditure” it would be far easier for me to fly somewhere and deliver a 2 hour life balance workshop, pick up my check and come home.

But the deeply moving feedback we get from retreat participants has convinced me that we all need regular opportunities for “dates with ourselves.” Because, often times, these experiences are the only ones that truly allow us to get quiet enough to hear what our wise selves have been whispering in our ears for months …or sometimes, for years.

JOIN US FOR A RETREAT: Take a mini-career retreat on Saturday, April 10th to learn how to integrate who you are with what you do. And, we have a few spots left for our April 23-25 Refresh, Reclaim, Re-Balance: Women's Self-Renewal Retreat at The Crossings Spa & Resort in Austin, TX, but sign up today to ensure your spot. Or, escape to the cool mountains in August and join us at the beautiful Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in the MA Berkshires Aug. 13-15. One of my favorite spots on the planet!

Also, visit Live Inside Out to register for our April 15 FREE teleclass from 7:30-8:30 p.m. CST on Unleashing Your Creativity. And sign up to receive weekly tips on how to live more intentionally through our Live Inside Out Facebook Community.

The Journey, a blog about coach/author/entrepreneur Renee Trudeau’s personal journey to life balance and living life from the inside out, comes out weekly.

Photo: A past retreat participant immersed in a morning creativity exercise.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Begin Anew

Yesterday (March 20th), marked the March equinox—a time when the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night are nearly equal in all parts of the world.

It’s a time when light and dark come into balance. And while the dance of equilibrium and disequilibrium happens constantly in our lives and all around us, there is something special, almost mysterious about the equinox and its significance.

In Texas right now, we’re witnessing incredible growth in the natural world.

And as we watch all of this external expansion--small buds straining to come to full bloom and trees stretching and shooting bright green leaves--it makes me think about how many of us in this very moment are striving for internal balance and spiritual growth.(Read some of the recent comments on our Live Inside Out FB Community from amazing women who shared their stories last week around why they need a retreat.)

For many cultures, the March equinox represents an opportunity for re-birth. For me, it’s a reminder that every day is a new opportunity to start over.

To let the argument, sharp words, miscommunication, rushed encounter, lost moment or bad mood simply go. Poof!!

And to realize what a gift it is to be able to choose to begin each day with a fresh, more compassionate, kinder and loving approach to our relationships with ourselves, with our partner or kids, work, marriage, business partnerships, clients, etc.

I just got back from being out for a week on an amazing trip to Philadelphia with my 8-year old son. We visited my youngest brother who is in graduate school there.

When I've been gone for a while and work and family/home obligations have stacked up and are awaiting my attention, it’s so easy to see all the things that need to be done, have not been done or were done differently than I would have liked.

And so, today, I begin anew. With gratitude for the ability to choose how I see my world, how I respond to my environment and how much or little love I choose to give and receive in my life. Thank God for the gift of being able--at any time-- to start over. Halleluiah!

My father, a compassionate physician who cared deeply about those less fortunate, died suddenly in 1996 from a heart attack at age 55. He loved The Prayer of St. Francis (he used to sing it so loud in church, my siblings and I would crawl under the pews in utter embarrassment).

I heard a beautiful version of this sung today. Regardless of your spiritual path, I believe it's a powerful reminder for all of us to pause and ask, “How can I bring more compassion, more love and more understanding to the people I encounter in my every day life?" Especially timely right now.

The Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred let me sow love,
Where there is injury let me sow pardon,
Where there is doubt let me sow faith,
Where there is despair let me give hope,
Where there is darkness let me give light,
Where there is sadness let me give joy.

Allow me to console, rather than to be consoled,
To understand, rather than to be understood,
To love, rather than be loved,
Because, it is in giving that we receive,
Because, it is in forgiving, that we are forgiven,
It is in dying, that we are born to eternal life.

JOIN US FOR A RETREAT: Interested in gaining clarity and focus on what's next for you? We have a few spots left for our 3/26 Refresh & Renew Mini Self-Care Retreat and our April 23-25 Refresh, Reclaim, Re-Balance: Women's Self-Renewal Retreat at The Crossings Spa & Resort in Austin, TX, but sign up today.

Also, visit Live Inside Out to register for our March 23rd FREE teleclass from 7:30-8:30 p.m. CST on Owning Your Personal Power. And sign up to receive weekly tips on how to live more intentionally through our Live Inside Out Facebook Community.

The Journey, a blog about coach/author/entrepreneur Renee Trudeau’s personal journey to life balance and living life from the inside out, comes out weekly.

Photo: Lotus flower--a symbol of light, life and re-birth.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Being Seen

My sweet son just turned eight.

His class has a beautiful ritual of honoring each child on their birthday with a song circle and accolades. My husband and I attended Jonah’s birthday circle last Friday and the experience really moved me.

To see how present these kids were with each other, how much they loved this heartfelt sharing, how deeply they felt about my son, how intuitive and thoughtful their accolades were and how sincere and authentic Jonah was as he received and thanked each child--was deeply inspiring.

How often do any of us get the opportunity to hear from our closest friends and family what they love about us? What they honor within us? That they actually see us, *really* see us?

Every year I write a birthday letter to my son about his current stage—what he loves, what he’s like, what’s on his radar.

This year in my letter to Jonah, I listed the top eight qualities I honor in him. I want him to know that who he is will always be much more important to me than what he does.

1. Jonah is fun. Really fun. Wherever he goes, there is a party. He loves to be silly and his playful nature is contagious.
2. He is open-minded: he is always wiling to try new things, places, foods and experiences. He loves to travel AND he loves to eat.
3. He is very creative—I love the way he sees the world, puts things together that you normally would never pair and his artistic eye is inspiring.
4. He is an idea man: his problem solving abilities probably trump mine (and mine are darn good)—in a pickle? Put Jonah to the test and he’ll come up with a solution.
5. He has a huge heart and cares deeply about his friends, family and the world. He is very compassionate and empathetic.
6. He perseveres. When he’s interested and invested in something, he hangs in there until he figures it out or gets it done. He amazes me with his focus.
7. He has a wonderful sense of humor: he knows how to bring levity to situations.
8. He’s an awesome leader. He is not afraid to jump in and help guide a situation or group when needed. He loves to take initiative and help others.

"Jonah, Jonah you shine like a star. I love you Jonah, just as you are."

JOIN US FOR A RETREAT: Interested in gaining clarity and focus on what's next for you? We have a few spots left for our 3/26 Refresh & Renew Mini Self-Care Retreat and our April 23-25 Refresh, Reclaim, Re-Balance: Women's Self-Renewal Retreat at The Crossings Spa & Resort in Austin, TX, but sign up today.

Also, visit Live Inside Out to register for our March 23rd FREE teleclass from 7:30-8:30 p.m. CST on Owning Your Personal Power. And sign up to receive weekly tips on how to live more intentionally through our Live Inside Out Facebook Community. Through this Friday the 19th, you can also sign up to win a free retreat when you share "why you need a retreat" on the Live Inside Out FB Community.

The Journey, a blog about coach/author/entrepreneur Renee Trudeau’s personal journey to life balance and living life from the inside out, comes out weekly.

Photo: Renee Peterson Trudeau, Jonah on the ferry.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Interconnected

I went to hear a friend sing the other night. A talented, soulful singer songwriter, it was Tricia Mitchell’s re-entry into the spotlight after taking a break to be with her young kids.

As I watched her onstage at a local club in Austin telling stories, singing, playing her guitar and still somehow staying connected to her small three and six year old kiddos who were running around in front of the stage, I was deeply moved. (Listen to some of her music here; I love Bobby Jo Plays the Violin.)

It takes a lot of courage to write music and lyrics and have the willingness to get up “bare naked” and perform in front of friends and strangers.

We inspire each other. When one of us makes the choice to get up off the couch and (fill in the blank: look for a new job, start a business, write a book, take up painting, perform original music in front of an audience), we all do.

We’re far more connected than we know. And in our small and large acts of courage, we empower each other—often unknowingly—to fulfill our dreams. And to keep putting one foot in front of the next.

Thanks Tricia, for reminding all of us that what awaits us when we get up off the couch—is worth pursuing. And, for helping us remember that when we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others the permission to do the same.

AN INVITATION: Interested in exploring and tapping into the power of self-care? Learn how you can join or become trained to lead a self-renewal circle for women.
And, view all upcoming events--including our amazing March 26th and April 23-25 Self Renewal Women's Retreats at The Crossings Spa & Resort--here.

Also, visit Live Inside Out to register for our March 23rd FREE teleclass from 7:30-8:30 p.m. CST on Owning Your Personal Power. And sign up to receive weekly tips on how to live more intentionally through our Live Inside Out Facebook Community.

The Journey, a blog about coach/author/entrepreneur Renee Trudeau’s personal journey to life balance and living life from the inside out, comes out weekly.

Photo: Tricia Mitchell.

Monday, March 1, 2010

What I Love

I attended a powerful movement/writing workshop this past weekend with Lori Saltzman with The Moving Center School in California. Her work is based on the well known 5 Rhythms developed by Gabrielle Roth.

I’m preparing to get back to work this summer on my forthcoming project on everyday spirituality and wanted the opportunity to do some creative writing around this theme.

As the weekend wound down, Lori guided us through an impromptu writing exercise at the end entitled “What I love ….”

She began by asking us to reflect on where our thoughts/attention go most of the time—or as she put it, “We all worship at an altar ….what altar are you worshipping at? The altar of self-criticism, judgment, over-work, perfectionism ... or are you worshipping—or celebrating--what matters most to you?”

We sat and wrote for 20 minutes straight and made a colorful list of what we love, what matters most to us in life. She challenged us to be as specific about the daily details of our lives as possible. Then from this long list, we had to choose seven things and share them with the group.

These were the first seven things that popped off the page from my very long list of What I Love:

When I can drop an argument like a hot potato.
Snuggling Jonah’s long, gangly seven year old body in the morning under our big, warm, fluffy comforter.
Feeling God rush through my limbs when I dance.
The big bright full moon streaming down on my face at night.
The silent connection the three of us share after our first bite of really, really good homemade soup.
The delicious stillness and calm that fills me after my morning mediation.
Riding bikes with Jonah in the morning under the pink, quiet, yawning sky.


It may sound trite, but I need these jolts, these reminders of what really matters –I think we all do. It’s too easy to move into going, doing, thinking, tasking mode and forget how tender and fleeting these moments together truly are.

I came home last night and read the original long list to my husband and son—it was fun to watch them beam as most of the list was connected to them.

I think I'll be moving a little slower, a little more intentionally into my month after this weekend.

What altar do you worship at? Make a list, inspire yourself.

AN INVITATION: Interested in exploring and tapping into the power of self-care? Learn how you can join or become trained to lead a self-renewal circle for women.
And, view all upcoming events--including our amazing March 26th and April 23-25 Self Renewal Women's Retreats at The Crossings Spa & Resort--here.

Also, visit Live Inside Out to register for our March 23rd FREE teleclass from 7:30-8:30 p.m. CST on Owning Your Personal Power. And sign up to receive weekly tips on how to live more intentionally through our Live Inside Out Facebook Community.

The Journey, a blog about coach/author/entrepreneur Renee Trudeau’s personal journey to life balance and living life from the inside out, comes out weekly.

Photo: My son walking with one of his best friends in Fort Davis. He loves his young male friends with such ferocity, he calls them his "bwuddahs."