Category Archives: stress reduction

7 Keys to Creating the Perfect Retreat

“It is the stillness that will save and transform the world.”~~  Eckhart Tolle

  No cell service, gourmet meals, sunny days, cool nights and a cabin to myself—just a few of the ingredients that created a perfect retreat.    I spent a week in Boyd Mills, Pennsylvania at a writers’ retreat sponsored by the Highlights Foundation.  Terminally sleep deprived, I caught up on sleep.  Sleep is good…but the real gift for me was the time to just be.  The first two days I wrote furiously, after that I wrote, napped, walked in the woods, waded in the creek, and edited my writing.

If you don’t have the luxury to escape from the demands of everyday life for a week, try creating a personal retreat for a day or even just an afternoon. You don’t need to include all of the suggestions below.  Just pick one and try to incorporate it into a personal stay at home mini retreat.

Here are some of the elements that I think create a successful retreat.

RREST AND RECHARGE YOUR BATTERIES.  I can’t remember when someone in my house didn’t wake me up at night.  My eldest son is 23 years old, and I am sure that I have not slept through even one night in the last 23 years until this retreat.  If it’s not my kids or husband roaming around the house waking me up, it’s our dog.

EEAT WELL. If you want to jump-start your life, besides  rest you need nutritious satisfying food.  The meals provided by master chef Marcia Dunsmore nourished my body and spirit.

TTAKE TIME to do something you love or just do nothing at all.  Set your intention for the retreat and then give yourself the time to do it.  I had a two-fold intention—to work on two of my manuscripts and to re-energize my spirit.

R Reflect.  Spend some time reflecting on your life.  What brings you joy?  What are you struggling with?  What doesn’t support you?  These questions are easiest to answer away from ones everyday routine.

EENGAGE YOUR SENSES. Find a peaceful setting that engages your senses.  I spent the week nestled in the forested hills of Pennsylvania along a rolling creek.  If you are planning to try a stay at home retreat, de-clutter and clean the space and surround yourself with things you love.  Use flowers, a scented candle, dark chocolate or whatever else evokes tranquility and arouses your senses.

A ALLOW TIME FOR PLAY.  My retreat was a writer’s retreat, but I knew it was important to allow time for play.  Laughter and play fuels my creativity. I couldn’t resist rolling down the hill or swinging in the tree swing.

T TRY SOMETHING NEW.  I don’t write in rhyme, but I tried it on the retreat.  Although I wasn’t thrilled with the results, it triggered some new ideas. Step out of your comfort zone and magic can happen.

Do you have an idea for a mini-retreat?  What was especially nurturing about a retreat you attended?  What creative ways can you carve time into a busy life for a mini retreat?  Leave a comment for a chance to win Cheryl Richardson’s book The Art of Extreme Self Care.  One winner will be chosen from comments left here or at

This week:  Make a plan to have a mini-retreat this fall.


Intensive Care for a Nuturer’s Soul

“Intensive Self-Care is not being selfish, and it’s not a luxury, but rather an essential practice for your survival and overall well-being”  ~ Hueina Su

Are you over-worked, overwhelmed, running on empty, with little time for yourselves?  I found a great book that will help anyone living in a state of stress.   It’s called “Intensive Care for the Nurturer’s Soul: 7 Keys to Nurture Yourself While Caring for Others” and it’s written by Hueina Su who is an internationally recognized speaker and expert in helping people find the missing peace & balance in their stressful lives.

Our world is fast-paced and loaded with a tremendous volume of competing priorities and responsibilities. The need to center ourselves, catch our breath and release the stress is probably more crucial than ever. How are we to accomplish this when we are faced with the overwhelming need to make a difference in others? Hueina’s book comes at the perfect timing.  Intensive Care for the Nurturer’s Soul is a definitely gentle loving breeze with a clear and strong message effortlessly delivered.

This is a must read for anyone who is taking care of others and needs some tender loving care for themselves. Get this amazing book for yourself and anyone you care TODAY. It’s terrific, timely and pertinent to most of our lives — preventing and eliminating stress & burnout!  This book makes a perfect Mother’s Day gift, and when you buy it by April 22, you will receive dozens of bonus gifts from many leading experts.

Reduce Stress…Count your blessings.

Happiness depends upon ourselves…Aristotle

It’s been a hectic fall in my house, as it has been in the homes of many of my friends.  My son who is a junior in college has returned home to do an internship-bringing along all the off-kilter routines of a 21 year old.  My other son is anxiously trying to complete the college application process and is struggling because our internet is down and won’t be repaired for another three days.  My husband is traveling for work and I have my hand in so many creative projects that I sometimes feel like a circus clown spinning pots on a stick.

With the backdrop of the financial crisis in the world, it would be easy to get caught up in this stressful energy, but I know allowing worry to whisper in my ear is unproductive.  Instead I count my blessings.  I’ve kept a gratitude journal by my beside for years.  It’s still the original journal because I don’t really write in it that often.   It’s there when I need to remind myself how blessed I am.  I have everything that matters in life–a home filled with love, family and friends.  It’s not to say that everything is rosy, it doesn’t need to be. It’s about recognizing what’s important in life.

When the world appears to spin out of control it’s time to choose where you put your emotional and mental energy.   What’s consuming your thoughts these days?  What do you do when stress starts knocking at your door?  When stress begins to creep into my life, I counteract it by feeding my spirit.   I take time in the morning to savor my cup of coffee. I put flowers around my house. I serve even the simplest meal of rice and beans on a candle lit table with my fine china.  I thank the universe for my blessings, and when things are really hard, I look for the gift in things that don’t feel like blessings.  These small things help keep me calm and peaceful.

–Mary Jo

This week: Do something each day that feeds your spirit–embrace the blessings in your life.