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…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…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.
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.
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
The Perfect Gift
Crazy busy lives often means that we are unaware of the sweet, beautiful moments that surround us every day. The smile from a stranger when your eyes meet, holding the door open for someone whose arms are full, little secrets shared by the wee one’s in our life. These moments are fleeting and if one isn’t paying attention, these moments are lost. A few months back, it was holiday time and I was desperately searching for “the perfect gift” for my Simply Blossoming business partner.
As many of you are aware, we share a significant, special bond – that of Sisters. Although we are not related by blood, we know we have a past life together that pretty much emulates our life together today. In our past life I was the older (and bossier) Sister, convincing her to tag along on epic journeys (as epic as they could be in the 1800’s) as the tomboy that was constantly looking for adventure. We went to places, did things and visited people that we were forbidden to go, do and see.
In this life I am forever searching for adventure, coming up with massive ideas and my patient Sister is forever reeling me back in. I have learned SO much from her but what she has taught me the most is to truly value and honour who I am and how precious the bond of Sisterhood is.
It was in this headspace/mindset I set off on the journey to find the “perfect gift”. I went online and looked up Sister-stuff, reviewed thousands of cards, I visited stores searching high and low. Nothing and I mean NOTHING accurately described the sentiment or celebrated our Sister relationship. Of course I didn’t share any of this with my Sister until a few days ago ….. When I told dear, sweet Sister Cathy that I had such a difficult time finding her the perfect gift (we were on the phone discussing some business), there was a brief pause and then she said, “don’t you know, you ARE my perfect gift.” And THAT was her perfect gift to me.
A few weeks ago the kids and I were sitting in my room strategically trying to organize all of the clothes they wanted to take with them on their trip to England with their dad. There was a bit of apprehension in the air, a pinch of excitement, a sprinkle of reservation and a dash of destinational curiosity. The trip was stirring up a mixed bag of emotions for all of us. As I watched them move clothes from the “For Sure” pile to the “Maybe” pile and then back again, I started to feel a bit sad inside. I could see it on their faces, the uncertainty and anxiety. And I’m pretty sure they could see it on my face too so we took a break.
We made some popcorn and sat down on my bed and closed the door. I know it may sound silly but we have this ritual where when we are sitting down on my bed in a circle it becomes our Circle of Trust (yes, from the movie). Together we talked about what our biggest fears were regarding this up-coming trip. Izzie`s were that she would miss me so much that she would want to come home, that something would happen to me while she was away, that she would get lost and that the plane would crash. T`s were that he would miss me and get lost. Mine were (as any parent`s would be) a) one of them would get lost in the big city of London, England and then what would they do and b) who would they call as I wouldn`t be there to look for them. We talked about why we felt this way and in one breath we all said because we love each other so much.
I didn`t want the kids to leave feeling this way. I wanted them to be excited and grateful that they were taking this once in a life time trip. I wanted them to spend this quality one-on-one time with their dad and I wanted them to find the courage to face their fears and take this giant leap. We sat there together for over an hour brainstorming different ways we could each face our fears. We each came up with one or two “tips for facing our fears” and we did! While it was hard to say goodbye at the airport, the trip was a huge success and when the kids returned they had a fabulous time walking me through pictures, talking me through their adventures and letting me know that they did everything we talked about doing when they felt they needed help facing their fears.
As a means of conquering our fears the kids and I have decided that in April we are going to pick one thing we`ve been putting off because of our fears and make the jump…we’ve also promised each other that no matter how amazing our successes are or how far we may fall, we would still be there to help each other celebrate or pick up the pieces and move forward…with a big comfy bed…a circle of trust…three fluffy pillows…and a big bowl of popcorn…
Cathy and Laurel have some really BIG news to share which is why we have chosen an image of Binu dancing!! They are moving and shaking and shifting things up for the Blossoms!! I guess they are Blossoms-a-go-go!! SO much to share, SO much more coming!!! And they couldn’t be MORE excited!! So here goes …
- Laurel and Cathy will no longer be hosting monthly workshops BECAUSE ….. they have brought on board 2 brand spanking new Blossombassadors (Simply Blossoming Ambassadors) who will be running workshops in the Oakville and Richmond Hill areas starting in April!
- Cathy and Laurel are actively seeking Blossombassadors to spread the Simply Blossoming word, nationally and internationally so if you know of someone that would be PERFECT let them know and of course, if this sounds like YOU, let them know too!
- Laurel and Cathy are currently offering My Magnificent Self as a pilot project so that they can use it as a foundation for research on how to best support Women, mind, body and spirit
- Cathy and Laurel are actively seeking speaking opportunities to organizations and community groups that would be interested in hearing their story of how Simply Blossoming came to be
- We are ACTIVELY taking registration for our 2014 Retreat so please feel free to register now
Well this is all the news for now from Simply Blossoming! We’d love to hear from you if you have more ideas and thoughts about this expansion!!
Cathy, Laurel and The Simply Blossoming Team
Since she was old enough to ask the questions, Iz has always been fascinated with the different stories of my life, but the one story that has captured her attention the most is the story of my “Sister”- my Best Friend. It is a friendship I have carried in my heart for 35 years and know it will carry me to the end of my life. The other day Iz and I were sitting on a comfy couch waiting for her brother to finish his guitar lesson.
As we sat there she asked me to tell her my forever friend story. After telling her my story, AGAIN, I decided to ask her a few questions on what sisterhood meant to her. “Well,” she said, taking in a deep breath (she was getting serious), “I think it means having someone in your life that you can have fun with. They don’t have to be in your family to be your sister, it means being a good friend, being grateful and respectful, it means talking to them when you are happy and when you are sad. It means finding someone you can be cool with, together.”
We sat there a little longer and her list kept growing and growing. I was certain she had hit the nail on the head. She went on to tell me that with some friends “you just know in here (pointing to her heart) that they are going to be your forever friend, that’s why its important to keep your eyes open all the time”. I sat there engulfed in her dialogue.
Our conversation made me realize one very important part of friendship that I had somehow overlooked. Maybe not all friends are meant to last forever. I mean realistically how can they? Maybe we try too hard to keep all of our friends even though some friends just change or stop bringing out the best in us. We grow apart without being able to find our way back. Maybe we need these transient friendships that don’t last to help us sift through the messiness of life in order to get to the heart of what really matters? To help us recognize the friendships that do mean the most to us, the one’s worth holding on to forever. Thanks Iz for teaching me something new.