Many Thanks for A Great Retreat

We just finished the first Morning Star Wellness Retreat. Everyone had a great experience and the time flew by. I did my best to remember to take photos, but I had a tendency to get caught up in the activities and forget all about documenting them. The retreat consisted of three days of  healthful gourmet vegetarian food, exercise, enjoying nature, meditation and mindful activities (such as art journaling and wine tasting), and all around engaging our senses. (I will make a point of writing more about mindful activities in another post.) I owe an enormous thanks to the each and every one of the wonderful people who helped out with the retreat by sharing their knowledge, enthusiasm and experience! I am also grateful to the equally wonderful people who came to the retreat because they believed in what we were doing!

The event began on Friday with a welcoming wine reception. Oenophile and biologist Dr. David Rintoul led us through a tasting of three wines. Up for comparison were Lioco Chardonnay 2010 (an unoaked Chardonnay ), Rodney Strong Chardonnay 2010 (an oaked Chardonnay), and Vouvray Chateau de Montfort  2010 (a Chenin Blanc). All three were well liked. The Lioco was clean, crisp, and almost citrusy. The Rodney Strong had a bit deeper flavor and a slight oaky aftertaste. The Vouvray, though, which is almost effervescent and just sweet enough to be served as a dessert wine, was the group’s favorite.

Saturday morning we started out bright and early with tangy Blueberry Yogurt Smoothies, Banana Bran Muffins, and a meandering walk over to the downtown Farmers’ Market to enjoy the sights and to buy vegetables (tomatoes, tomatillos, Japanese eggplants, etc.) for the weekend .

We came back to the B&B, had a light breakfast (Homemade Muesli with Fruit or Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Peppers), were led through gentle yoga exercises by kinesiologist Sara Hillard, and then each person had a personal training session with kinesiologist Lauren Lundberg-Berryhill.

After lunch (Green Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette, zesty Fresh Carrot and Ginger Soup, Zucchini Bread, fruit), I taught tai chi at the Flint Hills Discovery Center.

Afterward we went to the Beach Museum where Senior Educator Kathrine Schlageck helped us to practice Visual Thinking and Art Journaling.  Katherine led us through the permanent gallery collection and taught us ways to think about art (e.g. Albert Bloch’s “Lighted Windows” and Carol Haerer’s “Lucine”) using a journal. She then led us to the Quiet Symmetry exhibit to contemplate ceramicist Yoshiro Ikeda’s works.

Monet’s Dream by Yoshiro Ikeda

When we came home, we made several different flavorful salsas with fresh ingredients from the Farmers’ Market.

On Sunday, we got up to see sunrise over the Konza Prairie where we were met by naturalist and writer, Dr. Elizabeth Dodd. It was glorious out there at that hour of the morning and Elizabeth generously shared her knowledge of grasses, wildflowers, wildlife and land formations. I took quite a few photos, more of which I will put in my next post.

After spending several hours on the Konza, we had a hearty breakfast (Buttermilk Pancakes, Fruit and Yogurt), then relaxation time and we finished the morning with our second Tai Chi class at the Discovery Center.

After  lunch,  (Green Salad with Pear and Honey Vinaigrette, Spaghetti with Tomato Crue – raw tomato sauce, fresh baked bread, fruit and cheeses) guests met again met with Lauren for personal training. Then, late afternoon, we enjoyed a class on meditation and mindfulness led by Dr. Matthew Cobb, Executive Director of the Meadowlark Foundation, who helped us appreciate the importance of mindfulness and taught us techniques for practicing it. The session very nicely tied together ideas that we had been working with all weekend. For while mindfulness can be practiced in formal meditation, it can also be incorporated into every part of every day if one pays attention to the here and now, to what is right in front of one , and listens to one’s body. This of course, is what we do when we focus on taste in a wine tasting, when we focus on breathing and movement in yoga and tai chi, when we focus on texture, color, and meaning in looking at art, when we focus on sights, sounds, and smells while walking through nature, and so forth. As Matthew put it, we participate more in life when we are mindful.

Monday was slower-paced. No pre-breakfast activities. We leisurely practiced tai chi then had an early lunch outside (Green Salad with Honey and Stone Ground Mustard Vinaigrette, Moroccan Chickpea Stew, Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins, Fresh Fruit). In the afternoon, each participant had a massage followed by relaxation time.

I am so pleased to have gotten to know, or gotten to know better, all of the people involved in the retreat. We said our goodbyes (i.e. goodbye-for-now’s), happy for our time together. Now I am excited to plan the next retreat!

Sometimes Mother Knows Best

I haven’t written in a bit because I took time off to go visit my mother. She lives on a beautiful lake in the Adirondack Mountains.

Growing up, I spent my summers in or on the water whenever the sun was out. It was a wonderful way to spend the days of my youth. However, when my mother would tell me to put on sunscreen, I would think “Why would I wear sunscreen when I want a tan?” and proceed to slather on my spf zero suntan oil. My grandmother would take more radical measures and try to cover me with newspapers when I was lying out on the dock – a habit that irked me as I wound up covered with newsprint. My mother will now confess, however, that when she was a girl, she didn’t heed her mother’s warnings to be careful of the sun either. In fact, at times she would grab a bottle of cooking oil from the kitchen, rub it on her skin and then head out to the beach. Kids did that in those days.

The reason for my visit back East this time around was to help my mother out. She has just endured her third surgery in four months for skin cancer on one of her hands. She has been very brave, but it has been a painful and frustrating time for her. She is healing well, thankfully! She now wears sunscreen spf 50 whenever she goes outside and I too have come to appreciate sun protection.  Sometimes we really should listen to our mothers.

My mother is a gardener. It runs in the family. While visiting Mom, I helped out in her garden – pruning trees, planting annuals, weeding, watering and so forth. Here are a few pictures of my lovely mother and her garden which is just starting to bloom for the season. She can’t wait to get back out and work in it. Soon, Mom : )