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We Are So Much More! By Laurel Crossley

I was chatting with a young client of mine at the end of her school year who had dealt with friend “issues” – bullying, unfriending, talking behind each other’s backs, etc. Finally, a wise teacher of theirs took the posse aside and suggested to them that they were all such powerful young women with the ability to make great changes but that they CHOSE to focus their energies on petty things. In that moment, my 13 year old client had a truly profound moment that will stay with her forever – she was told she was powerful just as she was!

Imagine being told at a young age that you held the power to make great changes on this earth! Imagine being told that you had beautiful, game-changing energy.!

  • How many times we are told we aren’t good enough, we need to improve, or work harder?
  • How often are we given the opportunity to actually explore what we contribute to this earth?
  • How often do we get caught up in the negative thoughts or thinking that happen on social media or in the news?

We are SO much more than our careers, our roles, our volunteerism. As a Blossom, you exude an energy that very few possess or talk about openly! The Blossom community truly knows how powerful each of you are and how much you contribute as your own, beautiful energy. Time for you to get out there and share your beautiful light with the world, Blossoms!!!

In love and light,

Laurel

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17 minutes a day? I can do that!

PA240209.JPGWhen I attended the 2016 Simply Blossoming retreat I went to an amazing workshop by Melissa Siepmann. She was talking about taking time for ourselves in a meaningful way. When she broke it down, it was literally 17 minutes a day to commit to 2 hours of self-care per week. Seriously! Just 17 minutes. I felt overwhelmed thinking about taking 2 hours to myself each week, but I felt a lot better when it was broken down into a manageable chunk of time each day. I could have a bath, meditate, write a note to a friend, paint my nails – you can actually do a lot in 17 min! Since the time of the workshop, my pattern has faded about the actual timing (17 min), and every day I crave that “me” time. I make a point of breaking away from work, and nourishing myself – whatever that means that day.

After my own experience, I wanted to know more about the benefits of self-care for every woman (because I’m a research nerd!). After much reading I realized that it’s so important to take the time in order to show yourself that you love and care for your own well-being.

Adrienne Pringle, who is doing a workshop at the 2018 retreat, sent me a wonderful article about self-care for the caregiver. In this article, Saakvitne and Pearlman (1996) offered a great model of self-care called A: B: C (pretty straightforward!). Think about these three areas in your life

A = Awareness of our needs and the limits of our physical and emotional resources

B= Balance between our activities, work, play and rest

C= Connection to self, others and something larger

Cool right? Simple yet a wonderful way to really evaluate what’s going on with ourselves.

What I love about this that it includes CONNECTION. The essence of Simply Blossoming is all about connecting likeminded women in the interest of self-care and personal development.

Consider attending the 2018 Simply Blossoming retreat the weekend of October 19th to 21st – it’s an awesome way to re-connect with yourself too.

With gratitude,

Cathy

Cathy Thompson

Link to article:

https://anzccart.org.nz/app/uploads/2017/06/Huggard.pdf

Sometimes you need to Re-Treat! By Laurel Crossley

 

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This “spring” has been crazy – snow, ice, freezing temperatures and only a couple of glimpses of warmer weather! And to make matters worse, I was hit by that horrible flu bug and hit hard! I was in bed for a week and sick for an entire month adding to the frustrations of a long, cold winter season!

I lived on a diet of soda crackers and popsicles, had to cancel classes, postpone meetings, miss a mom/daughter trip and Easter celebrations due to an entire month of illness. I was feverish and cried a LOT! I was frustrated, angry and miserable and until I had a conversation with one of our Blossoms yesterday, I hadn’t realized WHY I needed this illness! What, what???

December was a super stressful month for me on a personal level and I’d had my busiest year to date! My body literally decided for me that I needed a re-treat from life – get off the front lines of life and rest!

Our physical selves have a brilliant way of reminding us we ALL need down time, rest and relaxation. When I was off, I realized (and was reminded) of a few things!

  • Cancelling is okay – people understand and want you to be healthy!
  • Self care has GOT TO BE my number one priority and that means MORE down time and vacation time! While I was sick, I booked my summer vacation!
  • In order to grow my business, I need to make myself dispensable! I need to hire more people and replace myself so that I CAN take more me time!

I challenge you … to consider what kind of re-treat YOU need – a new self-care routine, a vacation, a trip of a life time? The possibilities are endless and we’d LOVE to hear what you’ve planned for your re-treat … and of course, the Simply Blossoming Retreat is a perfect opportunity to make a commitment to your self-care!

Love Laurel

How your past is holding you prisoner…and what to do about it

Breezing through Facebook on Easter Monday and I came upon a video from Super Soul where Oprah talks about forgiveness.

Freedom and ForgivenessSeeing this helped me to pause and reflect. I reflected upon the issues in my life that I hold onto, which cause me pain and anger. I know that I should forgive, but for some reason I can’t seem to (or really want to) let go.

Oprah says “forgiveness means giving up the hope that the past could be any different”.  Interesting. It’s not solving the issue, not wishing that it didn’t happen – it’s letting go and moving on. There is no hope in changing the situation – it happened and that’s that. I believe, through personal experience, the “letting go” part is the toughest because it keeps creeping back in to my thoughts.

The only way I know how to truly let go of things (nod to the various Simply Blossoming workshop providers) is to meditate. When I do a purposeful meditation, I can consciously and unconsciously focus on something simultaneously. I hold the thought in my mind, and through deep, regular breaths, I’m able to focus on letting the energy go. I often will imagine the image of what I want to let go of in my mind’s eye, then let it float up to the Universe (or set it on fire – depending on the issue).

One thing Oprah does not mention is being conscious about offering GRATITUDE for the circumstance prior to letting go and forgiving. I have found that offering gratitude not for the experience, BUT for the life lessons the circumstance has brought me, is a more complete way of letting issues go on the path to forgiveness.

Is there something you need to let go? Someone you need to forgive? Not for them – but for you? Take the time today to remove the shackles of this low energy for brighter days ahead.

Cathy xo

Here is the link to the short video of Oprah talking about forgiveness:

https://www.facebook.com/SuperSoulSunday/videos/1578859192161595/UzpfSTU1NDc4MDY2MjoxMDE1NjU2ODkxMjg4NTY2Mw/

 

Being grateful will change your life

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I am grateful. Each day I wake up and thank the Universe for the life I have and the opportunities that come to me. I feel it in my bones, I breathe it and I live it. I certainly have my bad days, but I consciously try to change my thoughts (not always an easy task). Being a part of the Simply Blossoming community has allowed me to learn and grow from the women who I have come to know and respect. We share tips and tricks for having a happy life and gratitude is front and centre.

Not only does focusing on being thankful make you feel good, it actually attracts amazing things into your life! We all know the law of attraction where “like attracts like” – so when you focus on the things you LOVE about your life, the universe will give you MORE. When you focus on worry, you will receive more issues to worry about. There is amazing research underway by Dr. Robert Emmons at the University of California where they are studying the power and potential of gratitude. Have a look at their findings – is there a way you can incorporate a daily practice of gratitude?

A summary of their findings so far:

  • In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).
  • A related benefit was observed in the realm of personal goal attainment: Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions.
  • A daily gratitude intervention (self-guided exercises) with young adults resulted in higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy compared to a focus on hassles or a downward social comparison (ways in which participants thought they were better off than others). There was no difference in levels of unpleasant emotions reported in the three groups.
  • Children who practice grateful thinking have more positive attitudes toward school and their families (Froh, Sefick, & Emmons, 2008).

Today I want you to write down 10 things you are grateful for – little and BIG! Give that list a big kiss and send the positive vibration out to the universe! Then trust.

With Gratitude,

Cathy Thompson

 

Reference: http://emmons.faculty.ucdavis.edu/gratitude-and-well-being/

 

What’s Love Got To Do With It? By Laurel Crossley

Ahh Tina Turner .. the words to this anthem often stick in my head as the perfect ear worm – but seriously, what does love have to do with it? The search for love, real love, true love, a soul mate, our twin flame often proves to be an elusive beast.

Marketers slam us with messages that tell us to buy, buy, buy as a way to demonstrate  our love for that special someone – chocolates, flowers, diamonds, gifts, cards, etc. etc. I have been questioning the idea of love, self-love and the love for others and how it forms within us.

As many of you know, we announced that our theme for Simply Blossoming is Love and as the keynote speaker on this subject, I have been on a journey to discover what the science behind love is.

I began by teaching children in different classrooms around the globe to send messages of kindness and love to one plant and ignore the other. The plants were identical in size, shape and type and placed side by side in a sunny place and watered. The results were significant – one month later, the plant that was sent loving and kind thoughts grew taller, had healthier foliage and had more leaves! The results were the same despite the plant type, or age of the learners participating in the experiment. Our loving energies and words and thoughts affect the growth of plants (and presumably those around us).

I was recommended a book a few months ago entitled Love Sense by Dr. Sue Johnson which tackles the science behind romantic relationships. In her book she talks about the attachment to our mothers being the first “true love” experience of our lives which teaches us how to find those loving connections to others and only then (once we’ve experienced this type of love) can we truly love ourselves. This completely contradicted what I had believed for years – that self-love comes first and only then can you find true love.

I am SO excited to be bringing what I continue to learn to this keynote talk at Simply Blossoming. Cathy and I know that this retreat is only as successful as the love from our Blossom Sisters which of course, comes from our profound Sister Love for one another. When we are surrounded by a positive, loving Sisterhood, anything is possible!!

Love,

Laurel

You are Part of an Incredible Community

group photo 1.jpgIn 2010 I met one of the most interesting, fun and intelligent women – Laurel Crossley. The moment we had coffee together, we hit it off and had an immediate connection. As time passed, we came together to co-create Simply Blossoming and hosted the first retreat on October 21, 2011. In 2018 it will mark the 8th anniversary of this fun, invigorating and amazing annual fall retreat.

After the first retreat we knew we had created something magical with the women who attended. Something that was indescribable. We heard a story of two women who attended the retreat and ran into each other in the community and one said to the other, “are you a blossom?” and the answer was “yes”.  The ladies themselves coined this term – not Laurel and I and it is still used 8 years later.

For years we have tried to summarize what Simply Blossoming really is. How could 1 weekend make such an enormous impact on the lives of the guests? What was the secret? Each retreat, it was the same – the ladies had a hard time articulating why they loved the weekend so much and knew it was pivotal in their personal growth.

The secret is that it’s a community. It’s a group of like-minded women who come together to share, laugh, cry, have fun and be present with themselves. There are no excuses. There is no judgement, only support. This is a strong community of blossoms who will do everything in their power to help you achieve your dreams once you make them known.

Year after year we see the connections, we see the community and we see the amazing potential of each woman. We did some research into this and found many articles on how connectedness and community have a powerful effect on our lives.

According to Ottmann, Dickson and Wright (2006) in their research paper, Social Connectedness and Health: A Literature Review:

It has been suggested that social networks have a psychosocial as well as a psychological effect on mental health outcomes. In particular, social networks are said to generate psychological effects when they provide social support, social influence, opportunity for social engagement and meaningful roles, resources and material goods, and intimate contact [89]. The psychosocial impact of social networks is claimed to transform behaviours.”

We invite you to join us on our journey this year. We’ll be posting monthly blogs, publishing regular newsletters, having ticket giveaways and sales to continuing to build this incredible community of women. Join our mailing list herehttp://eepurl.com/UxjND 

I feel incredibly grateful to each of you.

Cheers to an amazing 2018!

-Cathy Thompson

What Do I Do Now?!?!? Post-Retreat Success! by Laurel Crossley

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Post-retreat fall out … it happens with any life-changing, person-altering experiences we are exposed to. It may feel like sadness, a dense fog, a vacillation between euphoria and hysteria; quite simply a myriad of complex emotional experiences. As an event organizer and professional speaker, I am not exempt or immune to these emotions either. In fact, how my “audiences” respond alters my life even more dramatically as I must purposefully align my communication with each audience I experience and I experience all those emotions along with each audience member.

Its no surprise, then, I had to/have to do some serious work AFTER each of these experiences including Simply Blossoming and I was actually guided to write this post for the Blossom community to share what I do to support my self.

I meditate on what areas of self need to be addressed. Sometimes it’s my physical body, some time it’s my super emotional brain that needs TLC and sometimes my spiritual self goes wandering off into the woods to frolic in the ferns … just got a hilarious visual there … ha ha ha!!

I take action and find people that can help to get me back on track. If I don’t know anyone specifically, I reach out to any member of the Blossom community which amazingly has a HUGE pool of resource people that can help out. The Blossoms are “magic”!

I pay attention to any residual responses my physical, emotional or spiritual form may be “hollering” at me as I move throughout the day. It’s amazing what our “selves” tell us each and every day to remind us to take great care of our self.

So, what did I do post SB 2015 Retreat??

I went for a facial – to release the tension in my facial muscles and planned a night away with my husband to one of my FAVE sacred places to go – The Oban Inn on Niagara-on-the-Lake. The energy there has supported me since childhood and it’s my go to place for relaxation.

I booked a channeled reiki session with Deb Harding ( our SB Meditation guru) and she did a HUGE karma release and energy rebalancing. You may contact Deb at sacredvibrations@gmail.com

In past years I have booked a massage session with Ani (this year’s meal time challenge Lovey) and a chakra rebalancing session with Laura Reid (our Yoga instructor) as I am very connected to her indigenous work. Laura may be contacted at riantecreative@gmail.com

The bottom line is, when you process as much as we do at Simply Blossoming, it is VERY important to be patient and allow the energies and content to flow naturally. I’ll keep you posted on what I will be guided to do next and in the meantime, if you’d like to book a private, one-to-one session with “Ole Auntie Laurel” to assist you with your processing, please reach out! laurel@opti-mom.ca

If you want to hang out MORE with the Blossoms, consider purchasing a membership with your retreat gift certificate – yahoo!!

xoxo

Laurel

I Hope This Feeling Lasts Forever by Tania Gasparotto

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When I was a little girl I loved spending time, making memories, with my best friends. I remember swinging on swings from tree branches in our backyards, side by side, looking up at the almost clear blue sky, trying to touch the vacant strands of clouds with our toes, whispering secrets to each other as the wind blew through our hair and the sun kissed our cheeks. I remember feeling this incredible sense of calm and as I came back down on my descend, I remember thinking to myself…I hope this feeling lasts forever.
As the years passed, I quickly came to understand that while nothing lasts forever, I’m thankful to say, my friendships with those close childhood friends still exist, and that these friends are still very much a solid part of my life today. What truly amazes me is that we’ve all gone through so much – we’ve moved away, we’ve come back. Some of us have married, some of us have had children, some of us have separated. Some of us have had, still have, giant successful careers. We’ve all loved and we’ve all lost loved ones. And yet through all of these changes our consistency and commitment to one another has not faltered nor has it wavered.  As I stood watching Isobel interact with her friends, I reflected on my friendships and the adventures we’ve taken together over the years and I thought to myself…how did these friendships last this long?  It hasn’t been perfect, nothing ever is, but no matter what has happened over the years, at the end of the day, we know we have each other.
As I pondered the big questions that constantly float around in my head like, how is this possible and what was it that kept us together, I looked on at my daughter as she walked side by side with her close friends and I thought…will this generation of girls be so lucky? With all of the daunting, impending changes in technology, the incredible pressures of completing a solid education, setting yourself so far apart from everyone else with the hopes that you get noticed even if only for five minutes of fame, how could these young girls possibly know the kind of friendships that we knew growing up – when life was about walking home for lunch without parental supervision, floating aimlessly in a tube down the credit river, riding our bikes until the sun went down. The media floods our lives with horrible stories every day and we are constantly bombarded with a reality that we did not have to face growing up and I think…how are these girls ever going to survive this?
As Izzie and her friends walked out of this magical garden, I stood there and watched as a wave of love enveloped them. It was as if they had emerged from another place in time. And as they stepped back into reality I could feel that they were carrying with them, a little more self-confidence, a pinch more of self-respect, a dash more of compassion and empathy towards each other and others, and that they had shifted a tiny step forward into learning more about who they are in this place and time, and who they want to be. And as I stood there amidst the giggles and the smiles, arms shoulder to shoulder, I felt this unbelievable sense of connectedness and in that moment all of the worry I had for her, knowing how scary the world can be and the unknown element of what the future holds, stopped existing and I saw the innocence and purity of friendship and youth as it should be, as I knew it to be, and in one breath the clouds of uncertainty and emotional chaos parted and a calm settled within my heart as I watched my daughter and her close friends come skipping towards me after having had a wonderful day at the Simply Sprouting retreat and I said to myself…that’s how…that’s how these girls will survive this…
Thoughts From Izzie:
“The Friendships I’ve Made, the Friends I Have…Friendship means so many different  things. For me, it means having someone who is loyal and kind. Someone who always has your back. Someone you can talk to when you’re sad. Someone you can share great news with. Friendship means having someone who won’t let you down, not on purpose anyway. Someone you can have fun with and be yourself around. One of the best parts about Simply Sprouting is that I’ve met so many new friends. Everyone here is different and unique. We bond together and spend time on our own. We spend the day creating memories with our new friends and we also spend the day discovering our inner ME. Being a part of Simply Sprouting has helped me to believe in myself more. It has helped me to see that if I put my mind to something and believe in it – if I feel it in my heart – I can do anything. It has also helped me to see that I’m surrounded by other girls who feel the same way as I do…we just want to believe in ourselves and each other, and we want to be accepted for who we are. I hope that one day I can look back and say that my friends and I grew together from Simply Sprouting to Simply Blossoming – just like my mum! And don’t forget the most important part of all. Having a friend means being a friend.”

Full Circle by Tania Gasparotto

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When we find ourselves about to embark on a new adventure, we often stop to consider a few things: the impact this journey will have on our lives, on the lives of those around us, and perhaps more importantly, what the end result will look like. For most of us, our life’s journey is quite clear…we strive to forge a better version of ourselves. In these journey’s we come full circle with our decisions and the choices we’ve made with the hopes that we grow to our fullest potential. It’s easy to see things as we think they are, but have you ever wondered how other people see you? I’ve often wondered how the people around me, see me. How my friends see me, my family, but more importantly, how my children see me, and in trying to wrap my head around this I realized that through the eyes of my daughter, I am gifted with a new way of looking at the world around me. I am met with, albeit a smaller version of my own reflection, it is all the same, a version of my better self.  We’ve come full circle, her and I…from Simply Blossoming to Simply Sprouting…and while our stories mean very different things for both of us, they both start with a mirrored beginning…a big comfy bed and…a Pretty Little Cookie…

Sitting on my bed with her, a familiarity fills the room. As she looks at my bags, laughs at the books scattered across my bedroom floor, her eyes meet mine and as if on cue, we both say…What are you thinking? “You go first,” she says with a smile cuddling up beside me, “I want to hear all about it!” The it she is referring to is my recent retreat with Simply Blossoming. As I look into her enchanting eyes, a deeper sense of connectedness envelopes me, and suddenly it all becomes clear…we’ve come full circle. Looking at her I realize just how deeply she inspires me to be a better person. To love with a wide open heart, to listen with open ears. She reminds me to be mindful and accept without judgement, to trust without fear. She is a constant in my life, always encouraging me to look beyond the obvious, beyond what’s right in front of me, to see all sides. I didn’t realise it until now, but every lesson I teach her, she in turn, without knowing it, teaches me something. She helps me remember what genuine laughter sounds like, what the world looks like through the eyes of a child…honest and pure, fun and exciting. Through her sounds I remember memories I have consciously or subconsciously locked away…her giggles are a string of fabulous melodies that shimmer throughout my soul, resonating there, they keep me moving in a forward direction even when life screams, STOP! She reminds me that with every problem I face there is a solution, possibly two, three, or more. She helps me see the good in others. And because she sees the good in me, she helps me see the good in myself. In encouraging her to try new things, I too end up trying new things. And so we sat, talking and laughing…together. I was able to share with her the connections that I had made with new friends on the retreat and how I solidified the bonds I had already formed in the previous years. I explained that even though I have a pretty solid sense of who I am as an individual, that my time away allows me to redirect my energy inwardly, and I relish in the opportunity to share openly and understand more deeply. Over these passed three years I have realized the importance of these connections, and that my experiences are not limited to one-off encounters but that they are forever changing and growing…and it was in that moment that I realized just how much this little soul sitting in front of me would garner if she too could begin to experience a journey like this one…

Sitting on her bed with her, a sense of newness fills the room. As she begins to unpack her bag, she pulls out a brand new journal and gently runs her fingers over each bead, each jewel. She takes out her new pencil case and smiles. I chuckle and as if on cue we say…What are you thinking? “You go first,” I say. As she opens her new fancy journal to a random page in the middle, she begins to read me what she wrote down on our drive home that day…

“Dreams Really Do Come True…It’s always good to believe in something because dreams do come true. Here’s how my dream came true…Two years ago I remember sitting on my mum’s bed watching her unpack from her weekend at Simply Blossoming. I remember all of the journals she had out on her bed. As she was unpacking her clothes I saw the best thing ever…a pretty little cookie. This cookie got us talking about what Simply Blossoming was and what she did while she was away. I remember my mum telling me about all of the friends she made and all of the fun things she did with her new friends. This got me thinking….and then I told her I can’t wait until it’s my turn to go and that maybe she could ask Laurel and Cathy if they could do one for girls because it sounded like so much fun! Two years later, on January 17th 2015 my dream came true…I was driving in the car with one of my best friends, on our way to our very first Simply Sprouting one day retreat. I remember feeling excited and so happy. When we got there it was like we were in a little cozy cabin in the woods far away from home. It was so pretty. My day was so exciting, I made lots of new friends. The women there were so nice and they had the best smiles. One of the things I really liked is that we spent the day doing so many different things. We went for walks in the woods, we learned about all of the things that make us sparkle, we sat together in a circle and learned how to use our voices and how to breathe properly, we learned all of the different ways to relax when we are feeling stressed, and we all got these very special sparkly journals to write our thoughts and feelings in – I’m going to keep my journal beside my bed because it’s so special to me. When my mum picked us up I was a little sad that we had to go. When I told her that I was sad she just smiled and said, “there will be another retreat in the spring.” I felt so happy. I learned so many things at the I Can Sparkle Too retreat. This retreat, along with some of the other workshops I have been doing, have really helped me. I can’t really explain it but, I just feel more confident and I feel really good about myself and I just LOVE meeting new friends and learning new things. If I had to tell you one thing I loved the most about this retreat it would be this…I love that when I was there I could just be myself, I mean really be ME…I can’t wait for My Magnificent, Magical ME!”