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!

Let the Inspiration In

The Let the Inspiration In Challenge

I’ve gotten so that I love skimming through blogs looking for beautiful photos, tempting recipes, interesting articles, and stopping to read the ones that I like . There are so many posts that I have made a mental note to go back to. Oh, but when? I have so much to do. Yet, I recognize that I will be missing something in what these talented people – whose works I like – are writing about unless I take the time to actually let it move me to do something; and I would like to make that effort even though I’ll never get to everything. Hence my challenge to Let the Inspiration In! (If someone else is already running such a challenge, I guess that we are just thinking alike.)

If you want to join me, the details of the challenge are as follows:

(1) Once a week for a month, try out something inspired by a post that you have “liked”.

(2) The category could be cooking, gardening, photography, art, fitness, wellness, travel, etc. … but nothing crazy or dangerous.

(3) Don’t necessarily attempt to duplicate what the blogger did. For example, you might make a recipe exactly as directed or you might substitute ingredients. A photograph of a bird might make you want to go out and do some wildlife photography … or even write a poem. An article about travel might inspire you to plan a vacation.

(4) When you try something out, in one of your posts acknowledge the people who inspired you and post a comment on their blog(s) to let them know. (If you don’t have a blog of your own, just post a comment.)

(5) If you find the challenge fun, do it for another month!

If you try it out, let me know. I’d love to hear from you!