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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!”

The Measurement of Time by Tania Gasparotto

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The Measurement of Time…we mark it on our calendars in the form of deadlines, appointments, meetings, events, special occasions. It’s measured in the memories we make, the pictures we take, the stories we tell. Over this past year I’ve also come to realize that time can also be measured in two very fundamentally different ways: it can be measured in tears and it can be measured in laughter. I’ve also come to realize the extent to which they both equally matter…they both make the memories worth remembering, the pictures worth taking, and the stories worth telling.

Three hundred and sixty five days had passed when I found myself in that spot again…that exact spot where the familiar met the unfamiliar. It was that kind of spot where the setting was the same but the circumstances had changed, the people had changed (I had changed anyway), where experiences had happened (some good, some unfortunate). As I stood there in the quiet of that magical spot, I found myself thinking…I wonder what it will be like this year…

 This year was my third year attending the Simply Blossoming retreat and while each year the intention has been to focus on thyself… each year has been proven to be a very different experience for me. On the first trip I found myself swimming in the newness of a situation that was somewhat unfamiliar to me. It was a situation in which I found myself taking a step back, clearing my mind of all things unrelated to being there in that moment. It was a trip that forced me to look inwardly…to look at myself and where I felt I fit in in the grand scheme of this story we call life. That year I found myself outside of the titles I had been branded by those significant people in my life. I learned that there was indeed an extension to ME that existed beyond everyone else in my life and that it was okay to think of myself, to put myself first and to meet my own needs. That was the year I found my footing.

The second year I attended the retreat I found myself in a very different place then where I was the previous year.  Instead of trying to discover my sense of self, I looked outwardly to see if I could figure out how I wanted to fit into the world around me. By that time I was already comfortable in my own skin, now it was time to discover how thick my skin really was.  It was time to figure out what I wanted to do outside of my daily type casted roles.  Trying to step outwardly was very challenging for me mostly because I became so comfortable with what I was doing and had already accepted the preconceived notion that it didn’t matter what I did or how hard I tired I would never achieve what I had always dreamed of achieving. It was easier to sit and wait for things to happen instead of making them happen myself. It was that trip that allowed me to face my fears, to understand them and deal with them and more importantly, to get over them. And I did.

This third year has proven to be an even greater personal experience for me. In that same spot I realized what I was in desperate need of,  and what was my life in this moment lacking – Connections.  The workshops were, as they have been every year, wonderful and I was able to extract from them the valuable information I knew I would benefit from on a personal level. But this year for me offered up something a bit different. This year was about reconnecting with the women I had grown so close to in the previous years. It was also about making new connections, with different women while in turn fostering the friendships I had already established. That was the piece of my life that I had felt was in desperate need of resuscitation.

I can’t say that my life in any way lacks wonderful female friendships, but there’s something to be said about the whispers and laughter you hear hustling through the branches of tall trees, the stories shared in closed quarters or under the stars on a cold dark night, the sound of voices coming together in unison over the setting of a table or eating a meal together. There was no judgment. There was no criticism. There was no animosity, no envy, no jealousy. Instead, there was listening…pure, open, unadulterated listening. There was sharing…the kind of sharing that expects nothing in return. There was understanding, compassion and trust. But the best part of all…there were a lot of tears and a lot of laughter…the kind that make the memories worth remembering, the pictures worth taking and the stories worth telling…

Mirror, Mirror by Tania Gasparotto

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Mirror…Mirror…You’ve Got 30 Seconds … It’s something we do every day. We catch glimpses of them when we ride the escalator or walk by a store window. We catch glances in our rear view mirrors. We can even see them on our computer screens…our reflections. Our reflections stare back at us throughout the day reminding us that we’re here. For as many times as we glance or peek at ourselves, I find myself asking,  how often do we take the time to really look at the person staring back at us? How often do we find ourselves stopping to reflect, not dissect, on our physical uniqueness? And even deeper, how often do we stop to look into our own eyes, into the windows of our soul? Not nearly enough. I’ve often wondered “is this how people see me? Is this what people see? Who people see?” And while I ponder the what’s and how’s I stop and realise those questions I just asked, are directed towards someone else’s opinion of me, but what about ME? What about what I think of ME?

A few months ago I was invited to participate in a wonderful, 6-week program entitled “My Magnificent Self” offered through Simply Blossoming. The program consisted of six topics focusing on the Self, over the course of six weeks, and took us through a journey of self discovery, self-actualization and self awareness. For me, the workshops forced me to stop. They forced me to look at myself, I mean really look at ME. The way I smile. The way my eyebrows turn up when I’m cranky or disappointed, and while taking the time out to really notice the unique qualities that help construct my physical being, more importantly, they forced me to look deeper, to go beneath the surface and acknowledge myself in a way I’ve never really done before.

I remember getting home after the first workshop. I was sitting on my bed in my room when my son came in because he had heard me and wanted to say goodnight. As he leaned in to hug me, he stopped and pulled himself back and asked, “Are you okay?” Surprised by the randomness of his question, I replied, “ya, why?” “You’re face looks different?” he said. “What do you mean my face looks different?” I answered.  “Your face…it looks relaxed, calm.” “Oh,” I said, “cool” and off to bed he went. My face looks calm?  I played that innocent comment over and over again in my head.  I went to the bathroom and stood in front of the mirror and just looked at myself.  He’s right, I thought, my face does look calm.  That night I crawled into bed and to wrote my first journal entry for this workshop.

Finding your Bliss to truly Blossom

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At first glance, Blissdom for us Blossoms was going to be “another conference” where we would chat up the Simply Blossoming annual women’s retreat to new people.

Jennifer Powell @HartGalla and I go back a few years and has participated in our #vinonvisions events. Cathy and I were THRILLED to learn that Jennifer and Shannon Mischuk @shasherslife had partnered on their Blissdom Adventure as Cathy and I wre embarking on our “coming out” event for Simply Blossoming!

In every corridor and around every corner were squeals of recognition, giant squishy hugs and 2 – 5 minute delicious micro conversations. Conversations around the first love of our sons and grandsons including acts of chivalry – thank you Sara and Evelyn for that. The delectable excitement and chatter about new ideas percolating after attending recent workshops. Giggles and fond memories of dating my first boyfriend (now husband) and driving in his new Camaro with the amazing ladies from GM of whom 1 recognized me from another event (they snuck us in so we could test drive the Camaro – UNSUPERVISED!!)

Cathy and I were rather astounded due to the sheer numbers of ladies how deeply the connections and our connection were felt! As we reflected upon the journey from attending Blissdom to orchestrating Simply Blossoming a few weeks later, we felt the same, deeply rooted connections.

It doesn’t matter where you come from, who you are or your belief system. The simple fact is, when you build a community that focuses on supporting the entire self, mind, body and spirit, that thread of continuity and deep connection will naturally and beautifully evolve into bonds of friendship that last a lifetime.

What’s Simply Blossoming “REALLY” Like?

As the founders of Simply Blossoming, Cathy and I are often asked this question and because it’s so near and dear to our hearts we think our opinions are just a wee bit biased, right Cathy? 😉 Over the next couple of weeks we will be posting videos and anecdotes from people that have attended as brand new Blossoms, repeat Blossoms and Simply Blossoming Sponsors. Please meet Sara one of our first-time Blossoms as she shares what it was like for her. Enjoy!! p.s. Sara we are digging that Celebrity look xoxo