Posted May 13, 2013
This past February I introduced the online course: Ease Hunting: Six Weeks of Discovering Every Exhale.
This powerful journey included lessons, live calls, an ease scavenger hunt, expert interviews, and two guided audio meditations all aimed at supporting the huntresses in discovering an easeful way of being, no matter what life was throwing their way. It was truly beautiful. One participants described it as “A yoga class for your mind.”
Spring is here and while the flowers may be blooming and the warmer weather lifting our spirits, I know that life is still challenging for many of us.
I woke up today wanting to support you in finding ease in your life right now. The Ease Hunting course won’t run again until later this year, but today I’m giving away the two Ease Hunting meditations.
These recordings, one for morning and one for evening, are simple 10 minute opportunities to recenter and rest. They were among the Ease Hunters favorite parts of their experience. Here are a few of their words:
“I’ve been using the PM mediation every day, and I’m going to keep using it. I loved that I could download the meditations onto my phone. That made it easy to listen to them on the go and also as I was falling asleep. Doing 15 minutes every day has definitely impacted my ease levels.”
“I liked having the meditations as a go-to if I needed them…when I did need them, they were both helpful and I’m grateful to have them as a tool in my toolbox. There was one morning in particular where I was fretting, and I said “ah, we have a tool for this: AM meditation.” I did it, and the fretting subsided and made way for some ease.”
If you’re needing a little more ease in your life or a supportive, simple way to start and end your day, here is my gift to you. To listen online, simply click the links. To download, hold down the option key and then click the links.
If you want to find out exactly when the next Ease Hunting course will commence, make sure you’re signed up on the list!
Posted May 9, 2013
I was feeling really low this week and wanting to share a little behind the scenes development here and what it might mean for you.
Ticket sales for The Well-Fed Woman Retreatshop tour have been, to put it bluntly, dismal.
I wallowed for a good while. Telling myself I failed at marketing. Telling myself I wasn’t offering anything people wanted to buy. Telling myself to cancel the tour, put on my pajamas and call it a day…or year.
I sat perplexed. Last year had gone so well. I don’t understand.
Rachel created a bridge for me from a nebulous, semi-conscious hunger that I have to a visceral knowing of it. She gave me wonderful tools for honoring and feeding it, but more importantly, a framework for identifying and honoring my hungers in an ongoing way. Parts of me that have felt ignored or just plan unseen are feeling loved and hopeful and meaningfully connected to me because of Rachel’s work, and for that I’m deeply grateful.
I was awakened by my experience at the Retreatshop. Rachel helped me discover hungers I didn’t know I had and that really was an eye opening experience. She has an amazing way of taking what you thought was your hunger and really boiling it down. With her calm demeanor and truly caring soul, the few hours that I spent at the Retreatshop will be something I’ll never forget. I am excited to take what I learned and feed all of my hungers.
Last year most of the cities were sold out or near capacity. The feedback from participants was great and the one thing they asked I changed was the length. They wanted more. So I made this year’s events full day instead of three over-packed hours.
You might wonder why do I do this? Why do I choose to spend hours traveling the country to teach at these intimate gatherings? Here’s why:
Because I’ve yet to meet more than a handful of women who aren’t, in someway, alienated from their hungers.
Because getting a day away from the hubbub of life is awesome.
Because getting to spend day receiving, instead of taking care of others is medicine we need.
Because living life guided from within brings out peace, clarity, forward motion, confidence, and grounding.
Because when a woman is in deep communion with her hungers she can then be fully available to life and begin to truly feast.
This isn’t just about food. I know the metaphor-rich language I use might suggest this, but the truth is that this is about the hunger, or rather starvation, for touch, for rest, for play, for connection, for being seen, and more.
These are the reasons I know the Retreatshop experience is so vital.
And It’s true that I’ve heard across the board from many in my field that sales have been everything from flat to much slower this year.
But it doesn’t feel helpful to say “It’s the economy.” I don’t believe the price is too high for what I know this experience offers.
Last year, for the three hour experience, tickets cost a simple $100.
This year I’m more seasoned, the teachings have been refined, and attendees get over six hours of very intimate and personal time.
All this said, sales, are perhaps suggesting that the financial threshold is too high for many.
After much reflection, here’s what I’ve decided to do and what feels right in my heart and for my business:
Of course, each pair can split the single-ticket price up however they want.
If you’ve been on the fence and feeling like the ticket price is out of reach, I hope the invitation to find a friend and split it helps.
If you’re already registered, just send me an email with with full name and email address of the friend you’ll be bringing.
The remaining tour cities and dates are:
San Francisco – May 18th
Chicago – June 1st
Toronto – June 8th
Los Angeles – June 22nd
Vancouver – July 14th
Seattle – July 20th
Arlington – October 12th
Alameda – November 2nd
As always, I’d love to meet you there.
Rachel holds the space beautifully for her participants. She brought her wisdom and intuition, and years of actual experience, so we knew we were in safe hands. There’s so much kindness and grace to how she teaches. I feel calmer just being in her presence. She has a real gift.
I left the retreatshop in awe. What an experience to be in a relationship with my hungers. I’ll say it again: my hungers. It feels powerful to say that phrase because I had a chance to really connect with a group of amazing, brave, real women led by the graceful hunger-whisperer Rachel W. Cole herself. Rachel creates an experience that is pure magic and I am still quaking from the after effects.
*If the Retreatshop includes a paid lunch, guests of paid-attendees must pay for the lunch as well.
Posted May 8, 2013
These days pinterest abounds with images of softly lit, sunrise horizons with “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” emblazoned across a mountainside. Or perhaps it’s a glistening ocean behind text that says “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
I believe life begins INSIDE of our comfort zones and only when we feel safe enough to stretch out does life (and our comfort zone) expand.
I am simply a huge fan of everyone feeling safe and I think safety has become linked up with weakness.
However, I have seen how safety allows us to blossom.
I believe that feeling safe is a prerequisite for connection, learning, relationship, growth, and for feeding our hungers.
The only time I have ever been able to heal or grow is when I first felt safe.
The only times I’ve been able to hear my own hungers calling for me is when I created a safe space for them.
The only times when I’ve been able to ask another to feed me is when I feel safe with them.
It’s true that we often want or need to do things that aren’t safe or don’t feel safe.
Taking the stage. Quitting the job. Asking someone out on a date. Trying something new and unknown.
It’s my experience though, that we have to feel a level of safety first.
It’s also my experience that women tolerate lives, situations, and relationships in which they are not safe to be who they are, want what they want, and say what they think and feel. This needs to change.
Needing safety does not a weak woman make.
It’s okay to value safety. In fact, it’s imperative.
It’s okay to ask someone to create a safer space for you. It’s okay to remove yourself when you don’t feel safe.
When we feel safe enough, we can sail away from the harbor.
I’ll leave you with a few questions for us to ponder:
Where in my life don’t I feel safe?
What factors create a sense of safety for me?
What would change if I felt a greater level of safety to be who I am, want what I want, and say what I think and feel?
Who don’t I feel safe around?
Who could I offer more safety to?
How could I offer myself more safety from which I could try new things?
Where am I pushing myself too far outside of my safety zone?
May we all be safe so we can soar.
Posted May 4, 2013
I took April off of work.
I went to meet my nephew in Germany and on April 17th, 36 hours after my pain landed back on U.S. soil, I had my tonsils removed. No surprise, it’s been painful to talk.
During the recovery I learned to communicate with made up hand signs, scribbles on paper, and flash cards I’d prepared that said things like “Pain!” and “Thank you!”
Now May has rolled around, the pain has faded and speaking has becoming more effortless.
Eating with abandon has come back too. Hallelujah!
But my life isn’t just about speaking to my loved ones or being able to talk to the check out clerk at the grocery store.
I teach. I write. I communicate as part of my sacred vocation.
Being away last month and getting out of practice ‘speaking’ to you has left me feeling rusty. I could hear that all too common voice that says “What do you have to say that’s original? Look, there are all these other people saying the same thing as you. What makes you think anyone wants to hear your version? No one even noticed you were gone.”
In my experience, most of us know what this is like, even if we don’t have a blog and or teach in a classroom.
It’s simply not always easy to feel into the importance or worthiness of our voice.
Here is the perspective I use respond to these questioning voices:
I’ve read just about every book there is on the topic of eating disorders and making peace with our body and food. Seriously. I have.
Many of them say the same things and yet, for no logical or specific reason, only a few have really spoken to me. It’s not that they were better written, it’s simply that I needed to hear the information from one author and could not from another.
Have you had this experience? Two books that say the same thing and only one speaks to you?
Or a friend raves about a book that changed her life but it falls flat for you.
Perhaps there is a blogger out there that ‘everyone’ raves about but who’s voice does not connect with you.
Maybe you’ve had a group of people in your life each give you the same advice, but it was one single person who was able to get through to you.
It’s not logical and I don’t need to understand why this is the way things are.
I simply know that each voice matters and that my voice is the voice that will connect with someone out there when others do not.
This is true for your voice too. Whether it’s a book you want to write, a speech you want to give, or a truth you want to share with your best friend – it matters that YOU share it.
Your voice is like your thumbprint. It has a uniqueness that no one can match and it has the power to carry healing, change, and beauty into a world that needs these them.
Our voice won’t be heard by all. It won’t even be received positively all the time. It will rarely, if ever, be perfect.
I simply ask myself, what if Geneen Roth had never written Women, Food, & God because she thought that most of the content had already been written about by others? What if Brene Brown didn’t give her initial TedX talk because she thought to herself “Would anyone care if I didn’t show up?”
This perspective is what allows me to, often without finesse, begin to speak, teach, and write again. This is what allows me to hush those fearful voices. I have a deep faith that some people need to hear the wisdom I share from my voice in order for it to have an impact.
I have faith the same is true for you.
Posted May 3, 2013
Our hungers are an eternal spring of wisdom and answers.
I wish I’d known this when I was younger, it would have saved me so much strife and anguish.
If I had known, I wouldn’t have have pursued answers, fruitlessly I might add, in so many places outside of myself.
If I had known that the well of wisdom was ceaseless and within myself I would not have sought to silence it.
It, this eternal spring, asked for simple things from me. It asked for human embrace. It asked for carbs – bread, pasta, and the like. It asked for permission to simply be. to be heard. to be listened to.
My spring of hungers asked for rest. and play. My spring of hungers said “Let our body be! Let it be soft. Let our body be whatever it wants to be.”
My spring of hunger said “Let others love us” and “Let’s love us.”
And it was the courageous act of yielding, of listening, of honoring that I allowed me to live my way into a very well-fed woman.
The path has not been linear. Going from relating to my hungers as enemies to being in deep communion with them has been a practice. It has, at times, been moment to moment and day by day. But over time it has become second nature.
This Way of The Well-Fed Woman, as I call it, has liberated me and over the past several years I’ve been lucky enough to witness it do the same for so many others.
I want this for every hungry woman out there. I want so much to live in a world where women trust their hungers, no matter how big they are or and live lives created from this guidance within.
In the spring 2004 I attended a large women’s reproductive rights march in Washington, DC. As we gathered, plackets in hand, Hillary Clinton on the microphone, I overheard a conversation between a few women who were standing next to me.
One woman said “What do you want to do for lunch?” The other replied “Oh, I’m skipping lunch this week. I’ve been so bad and need to slim down.” To which her replied with a chipper “Oh, okay!”
The only part of this story that has to do with food is that our relationship with food mirrors our relationship with all of our hungers.
Instead of her hunger for lunch, this woman could have just as easily been ignoring her hunger for creativity, or touch, or adventure. This is what so many of us do and I’m not here to claim that feeding ourselves is easy. Well, it’s not easy at first.
Aftercall, how do hear what we’re hungry for?
How do know if what we’re hearing is our “true” hunger?
And once we hear it, what we do? How do we actually take a hunger, especially the big ones, and feed it?
I teach the answers to these questions. I equip hungry women with the tools, frameworks, practices, and love that it takes to live the Way of The Well-Fed Woman.
Someone asked me recently, “What does ‘being well-fed’ mean?” Kind of like when you say a word ten times fast it starts to sound funny. I say “well-fed” a whole lot and I totally get if it starts to sound like mumbo jumbo.
If this metaphor has felt elusive for you, perhaps my words here today have shed some clarity.
Being well-fed means believing 1) that your hungers are wise and serve as a compass pointing to what is needed now for you to be most fulfilled, 2) you are worthy of having your hungers fed, 3)that when you are well-fed you can be engaged in and most of service to the world, and 4) that a world full of well-fed people, especially women, would be a radically better place than the one we live in today.
If you believe these tenets, then your eternal spring is ready and waiting to guide you. You are ready to feast. If you believe these tenets and are hungry for support and guidance, I’m here.
Happy (eternal) springtime to all.
Posted March 28, 2013
Posted March 12, 2013
This September I’m co-leading the Wise Body, Wise Hungers: Yoga & Coming Home to Your Desires retreat with the truly awesome Anna Guest-Jelley. The retreat sold out in three and half days last week! Anna and I take this as a very good sign and plan to find a way to offer the retreat again sometime in the future.
Between the two of us, we have an abundance of transformative teachings to share and have both dedicated our lives to bringing women back to the wisdom within.
You might think as the co-leader of a yoga retreat that I’m a pro-yogi. Not so.
In fact, my relationship with yoga might be a lot like yours.
I dabbled in it in high school. My mom and I would go to a Hatha Yoga class at a local gym once a week. The teacher was a thick-accented, hyper-flexible seventy year old Indian man. It was a great mom-daughter activity, but it didn’t spark my soul.
My college experience included anorexia and compulsive running. No yoga.
I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2005. It’s pretty much “Yogaville” here.
There are several yoga studios within walking distance of where I live (or anywhere I might live). Every type of yoga is available. There are teachers of every stripe. I even own more than one yoga mat and my share of props.
For several years I went regularly to an Iyenger yoga class. My teacher was a petite elderly Japanese woman and my fellow students all had gray hair. I loved that class. Then the building got torn down, the class relocated, and I moved further away.
Years later I dabbled in Anusara, even signing up for a year-long pass to a studio which I promptly never used. It wasn’t super convenient to where I lived and I didn’t like the style nearly as much as Iyengar. I dropped in on a few Vinyasa and other flow classes, not for me. I’ve made it to a handful of restorative yoga classes, but I can’t say I go regularly.
Then a friend invited me to her Iyengar class, which we went to together for quite a while. A year or two I believe. But I felt out of fondness for the teacher.
I’ve tried online classes and Marianne’s amazing virtual teachings (Her 30 days of Yoga starts next week!). I’ve been to my share of day-long workshops, such as “New Year’s Day Yoga Retreat” and “Create Your Own Home Practice.” My bookshelf has an entire section of yoga books that I’ve read and certainly appreciate. Many of my friends are wonderful yoga teachers or students. I speak the language. I know asana practice, the physically active arm of yoga, can be profoundly transformational.
In a good week, I find my way to my mat at home and my body tells me what what it needs. It’s almost always gentle and restorative. It rarely lasts more than 20 minutes.
Would I like to go to a good class more frequently? Certainly.
Would I like to have more of the post-yoga class joy in my body? Yes.
Does this make me a yoga failure? No.
I’ve learned that that right now I don’t need to be a hot-yoga, hand-standing master in order to feel how I want to feel in my life and to live in alignment with myself and others.
What I am is a curious woman who’s dedicated her life to the slow and tender process of returning home (as often as possible) to her body and to a life based in self-trust.
What I am is just like you. Perfectly imperfect. Doing my best. Ebbing and flowing. Sometimes in the flow. Sometimes a bit off course.
What I am is over-the-moon to teach with and learn from Anna. She’s just my yoga type. She calls me back to the practice in a whole new way. She’s funny, bright, patient, and kind.
Anna makes everyone – one and all – feel welcome as a yogi. Whether you’ve practiced a lot or never. Whether you are curvy or straighty. Be you young or old. Be you spotted or striped. Anna has put out the yoga welcome mat.
To learn more about the different styles of yoga I mentioned here, check out Yoga Journal’s guide to Yoga Styles.
Posted February 26, 2013
All month long Tamarisk Saunders-Davies and Mara Glatzel have been inspiring online writers to tackle the subject of real-life self-care. Mind you, this isn’t the self-care you see in self-help magazines. This isn’t what people with a billion dollars and no job do. This is how real people care for themselves in a world that expects green smoothies every morning, yoga sweats every week, and absolutely no junk food. You can read up on all the other entries HERE. Below is my contribution to this important conversation.
On the live-call with my ease hunters this past weekend I shared with them that I’ll be having my tonsils out in April. One of the women chimed in with “Well, at least you’ll have a good excuse to eat all the ice cream you want.”
I smiled. “I don’t need an excuse to eat all the ice cream I want.”
It’s true. My self-care is all about freeing myself from any suggestion that I can’t have what I hunger for.
It turns out I don’t hunger for ice cream all that much.
Caring for myself is not something I approach with great routine. That could change in the future if I start to hunger for more structure, but right now I enjoy feeling free and allowing pleasure and self-kindness to be my guides.
In my life, this ends up looking like:
:: Working out of bed, in my pajamas most days.
:: Prioritizing relationships and time with people. I get depressed when I’m alone too much.
:: Eating whatever I want, whenever I want, in whatever quantity I want.
:: Allowing my body to be beautiful and human as it is and as it changes.
:: Having compassion for myself when I miss the mark by eating until I’m uncomfortable or getting lost in a self-critical story.
:: Downton Abbey and American Idol.
:: Investing in high-quality, transformative therapy and/or coaching.
:: Not coaching more than four women each day.
:: Three, delicious meals every single day. Not always homemade, but often homemade.
:: Expensive haircuts less frequently instead of cheap haircuts more often.
:: Asking for the kind of touch, listening, communication, and companionship I need at a given moment.
:: Telling the truth as often as possible.
:: Skyping with my family (and our Welsh Terrier, Wiley).
:: Generally tuning into what’s working and what’s not working. (Note to self: more sunshine)
:: Trying to take care of me first, so I can take care of others better.
:: Naps. Lots and lots of long naps.
:: Throwing out the rules that say you have to work 40 or more hours a week.
:: Not pursuing relationships with people whom I feel less than great around.
I do not do any of this perfectly. Well, I probably watch American Idol perfectly, but otherwise, I simply do my imperfect best.
There are days I don’t exercise. Plenty of them.
There are days I don’t eat a single green vegetable.
There are days I watch more than my share of television.
Self-care isn’t perfect, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important.
My self-care is about shifting away from ‘shoulds’ and towards ‘wants’, ‘hungers’, and ‘desires’.
Anything done with harshness, judgement, cruelty, rigidity, or as a means to feel enough is the antithesis to self-care.
When I move or rest my body it’s because I want to.
When I spend time with others or alone it’s because I have choice in how I tend to myself.
When I eat ice cream or kale it’s because self-care doesn’t have to look a certain way and rarely does.
Does this sound like you?
Posted February 22, 2013
Here are just some of the factors related to weight fluctuations:
Side effects from medication
Socio-economic class shifts
Restricted & binge eating
Grief & trauma
Returning to or away from intuitive eating
Injury that limits mobility
Changes in activity
Of these, only pregnancy can be seen with our eyes.
I have a client who, over the past few years, has gained weight. I can tell you that at least five of the above factors are present in her life. Which ones? I’m not telling.
She came to our session stressed about running into an ex-boyfriend and wondering how she’d explain her weight gain to him.
She doesn’t have to. She doesn’t have to justify the change in weight at all.
And while people will assume to know why someone weighs what they weigh, you know what they say about that.
Next week I’ll be updating my website with all new photos of me. It’s been several years since the old ones were taken and it was time for a refresh.
I’ve lost some weight in that time. Why?
Well, with a history of an eating disorder, some might assume I’d relapsed. Not so.
But the real reason is my own collection of the above factors.
What really matters, for my client, for me, and for you is this: happiness.
What matters is having a meaningful life. I have that. Increasingly, so does she.
Weight changes. It changes daily, weekly, annually, and througout our entire life.
It’s normal. It’s human.
Our society shames bodies for sure, but we shame bodies who change weight even more. Unless of course we idolize and worship the change (almost always a weight loss).
I want to make crystal clear:
You don’t have to explain it.
You don’t have to justify your weight or anything else about your body.
Let your body finds it’s way.
Oh, and try not to assume why someone else’s weight has changed. You really never know.
Posted February 18, 2013
That’s it really. It’s that simple.
It’s about the relationship we have with our hungers.
This is my work. This is my offer to you: deep communion with that which you naturally and deeply hunger for.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve mistrusted your hungers your entire life. I can help you befriend them today.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve made 99% of your hungers your BFF. I can help you to bring harmony to that remaining 1%.
I illuminate the relationship we have with our hungers so we can shift it to one that is even deeper and more connected.
From here, magic happens. Seriously. Life can taste so sweet.
I teach that how we relate to our hungers is the foundation from which a well-fed life is (or isn’t) built.
Do you wholeheartedly trust your desires? Do you fully embrace food? rest? touch? adventure? delight?
Are your career hungers and relationships hungers honored in your life?
Are you as well-fed a woman as you would like to be?
This is my life’s work. Let’s feast.