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Why a Five Day Evolve Retreat is right for you

Why a Five-Day Retreat? Five reasons why we at Evolve follow a five-day format for our retreats:

1. Habits dig deep and we want to ensure you have enough time to move from your path of least resistance (i.e. your old habits) into a new direction that serves you well (i.e. your new healthy habits). Rather than being inspired for a couple days and then go back home to status quo, we are more interested in life-long sustainable shifts that will change your perspective and motivate you to keep doing the work.

2. We have a lot to share and we believe in the integral importance of balance. We could bombard you over two or three days with more information than your brain can handle, instead, we choose to spread the inspiration over five days so that it is a comfortable progression that will leave you fueled, nourished, rested, rejuvenated and motivated to keep your progress going at home.

3. Happiness in life is not achieved simply with insight. You need time to practice, integrate and have conversations that will support your development. In The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt, he says,

“The level of happiness you actually experience [H] is determined by your biological set point [S] plus the conditions of your life [i.e., loving relationships, as well as having and pursuing the right goals, in order to create states of flow and engagement) [C], plus the voluntary activities [V] that you do.

H = S + C + V.”

We want to support you in all pieces of this happiness equation. We are complex beautiful beings and we must give ourselves the space and time needed to understand the layers that make us who we are.

4. We believe in experiential learning. Whether it is a hands-on cooking lesson or a nutritional tutorial before we sit down for a meal, a workshop about sleep, meditation, mindful eating, or goal setting, a group fitness class or a one on one session with one of our many experts on staff, we want to make sure you get access to everything we have to offer. A five-day immersion will ensure that you do not feel rushed to meet your needs and you do not miss out on any of the amazing benefits we offer.

5. We know from experience that momentum can feel nearly impossible to start, but once it is in motion, it is nearly impossible to stop. We have a five-day outline that will spark momentum into healthy and mindful living. We want to make sure that when you head home you feel motivated, clear and supported to continue the momentum you cultivated. The real work begins once you are back at home, and we are excited for you to put these tools to good use!

Tools to help train your brain

One of the things that has helped me learn and grow the most is the idea that everything is a relationship. We are relational beings. What makes our existence so complex is that nothing is fixed or complete when assumed to be objective. Whether it is an intimate relationship with another, a supportive and loving relationship with friends and family, an acquaintance or stranger, or the relationship you have to your own emotions, to concepts, ideas, or systems; the depth is found in the relationship.

I don't believe there is a universal meaning to life. I think we do ourselves a disservice when we see things as black and white. I think we hold ourselves back and show lack of trust in our own powerful minds if we think there is one right way to do something or allow our emotions to lead the way. I believe we are all capable of finding a collective community of love and support while honoring our own internal guidance and structure of purpose. The beauty of life is in the quality of our relationships.

The relationship I have been most fascinated with is the one I have with myself. Around 10 years ago, I found myself in a place of deep unhappiness and a sense of not having enough control in my own life. I felt lost, confused, beaten up, angry, yet hopeful that there was a way to create the life I desired.

As I approach my 31st birthday this month and have the big upcoming moment of publishing my first book, I feel called to slow down and take stock on what it has taken to retrain my brain to develop healthy habits, heal from trauma, and find balance in my mind, body, and soul. My advocacy for mental health awareness has been a huge motivation for my internal drive. The biggest thing that has allowed me to connect with the community, create experiences and continue my studying and exploration has been the realization that we are all deeply affected my mental health struggles - if not in your own mind then in someone close to you.

I have not been hesitant to share my story because I own it, I lived it, and I see it in so many others around me. I have learned so much from who and where I have been. I am now deeply connected to my higher purpose and am happy to stumble, fall, embarrass myself, or sabotage myself, because I have the discipline to not let that get in my way. I choose to see it all as learning and practice. 

I have realized that my greatest potential is birthed from self-love. When I have my mind, body and soul all aligned in one unifying direction - fueled by habits that I have chosen and not fallen into - I step into the version of myself I want to know more and more. 

In this state of power, choice and opportunity in absolutely everything, I am tuned into the universal vibration of expansion and contraction, which feels like I am being held by something far greater than just me as I grow and fall more in love with life each day. 

I have learned that when you love the process and engage in life with purpose and play, the journey becomes the jewel and the destination becomes less finite, as I feel whole and complete in each mindful breath.

My business - dope(a)me - and my role as spin motivator and yoga teacher, are all platforms for me to share my love for life and movement. My goal each day is to follow the paradigm I have created as my goal setter mindset, and to engage in conversations that will deepen our collective connection to our inner pilot light that celebrates others' successes while carving a path that has never been carved before. While some people might say they are special, and others may think no one is special, I choose to believe that we are all special and have the capacity to create a positive impact in the world.

The environment and conditions you are born into creates the initial foundation that is programmed into your mind and body. Your duty as your grow older is to un-become what has been fed into your system so that you can become the unique and powerful YOU that you have that privilege to be. 

We all get in our own way. Our mind can be tricky and our habits dig deep. What I have experienced for myself is the awakening that sets in when you learn to calm your mind. Your mind wanders and constantly makes up stories and entertains assumptions about your reality. Your ego is seductive. It is driven by a subconscious addiction to happy chemicals and an overcompensation from a feeling of low self-worth. Your ego is the result of your over-protective system that is seeking serotonin and dopamine - which increases your feelings of worth, pleasure, and importance; a biological insurance program to improve your chances of survival. It seeks instant-gratification and grows stronger when you are tired, stressed, overworked, or lack "real" confidence. Real confidence is not a display or need to remind people of your greatness. It is internally directed and validated in results and pure contentment. 

Acknowledge your ego for what it is. We all have one. It's your initial and impulsive reaction. When you develop a relationship with your ego, rather than being victim to its allure and possession, you begin to notice it and can choose to respond from your higher-purpose and directive. 

So, enough about me and my current understanding and practice in life. It's time for you to put pen to paper and play with ways of implementing new healthy habits into your life! When you know how your mind works and see more opportunity to question what you think rather than assume you have it right, it becomes a lot easier to formulate a plan, learn and collaborate with others, and be efficient in your development. 

Here are FIVE keys to get started in retraining your brain to become the person you desire to be!

1. What you resist, persist:

Rather than resisting your current habits, choose to focus on building new ones. You can't erase habits, but you can slowly stop feeding them energy until they grow over and lose grip on your subconscious. Use the power of a morning routine while you have fresh energy. Bring in new thoughts, ideas, goals, movement, mantras, etc. Eventually, conscious doing becomes subconscious being. Although it can feel awkward and backwards at first, your compulsions need love and compassion if they are ever going to be released.

Another way to bring in the fresh energy and healthy habits you desire is to spend time with someone who has the habit you want. We have mirror neurons in our brain that fire when we observe someone else. Our brain lights up in the same manner as the person doing the activity we are witnessing. Hire a coach, go to workshops, spend time in environments with healthy and inspiring people. Your brain will begin to build the pathway so you can mirror the behavior you want more of in your life. By the same token, you can begin to create new pathways through visualization. When you take the time to fully step into a feeling, a possibility, or a desired outcome, our brain prepares for that reality and it becomes more real in our mind's eye. Just be mindful to keep the distinction between a motivating imagined future-state and the expectation that reality will be just as you visualize it to be. Intimacy without attachment. We can drain our own energy when we fall in love with our expectation and find reality to be not as sweet.

2. Integration:

Get curious about the habits you already have and find ways to add in some new happy circuits onto the roots already in place. You will create new habits with ease when you find ways to tweak or add to the habits already in rotation. Bonus: Focus on what feels good and what is fun in this process and your habit will stick even quicker. 

3. Conserve and Create:

You need energy to create new habits. Take time to fuel yourself with self-care practices, meditation, nourishing food, rest, sweat, play, novelty, and gratitude. Nourishment is not strictly what you ingest. It is your spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental well-being. So often our compulsions are triggered when we feel lack, and we look to food - or other quick hits of pleasure - for comfort or discipline. Your health and wellness is holistic and involves many facets. Perhaps your sense of lack is a signal that your mind, body and soul are craving an experience or breakthrough. 

Be mindful of where you expend a lot of energy already and practice ways to calm your mind and conserve some of that precious fuel for when you really need it. Some things are simply not worth spending energy on. Discern when to be in inquiry, when to just tell yourself what you need to hear, and when to simply be and embrace the moment for what it is. 

4. Compound Effect:

When you have big goals and changes in mind, your subconscious can be spooked into feeling like this task is too big to take on, and self-sabotage or exhaustion will set in. Do yourself a favor and break down your big tasks or goals into small steps, and make sure to celebrate along the way. Your ego needs to be fed in healthy and conscious ways if you don't want it to take over. 

5. Practice: 

Learn to embrace the space between where you are now and where you desire to. This moment is your life. It is worth practicing being in love with each moment so that you don't build a habit of only being focused on more or the idea that happiness awaits at a future destination. Once you have a rhythm and structure of learning and growth in place, it becomes that much easier to fall in love with the process and practice your trust and improvisation. Every moment is practice for the next moment. 

 

I hope you find some inspiration and tangible tools to play with from this post. I would love to engage with you if you have any questions or are ready to take on your personal development with my guidance and support. 

I want to leave you with this message I came across last night on instagram. This is from the @wildwomansisterhoodofficial account. A beautiful image of an older woman with so much peace and love in her tanned and wrinkled face. Her words speak to my hope and my practice of being guided with purpose while completely grounded and in love with the moment as it is. I saw myself in her and was drawn in to her amazing energy. Enjoy ;)

"I am no longer waiting for a special occasion; I burn the best candles on ordinary days.

I am no longer waiting for the house to be clean; I fill it with people who understand that even dust is Sacred.  

I am no longer waiting for everyone to understand me; it's just not their task.

I am no longer waiting for the perfect children; my children have their own names that burn as brightly as any star.

I am no longer waiting for the other shoe to drop; it already did, and I survived.

I am no longer waiting for the time to be right; the time is always now.

I am no longer waiting for the mate who will complete me; I am grateful to be so warmly, tenderly held.

I am no longer waiting for a quiet moment; my heart can be stilled whenever it is called.

I am no longer waiting for the world to be at peace; I unclench my grasp and breathe peace in and out.

I am no longer waiting to do something great; being awake to carry my grain of sand is enough.

I am no longer waiting to be recognized; I know I dance in a holy circle.

I am no longer waiting for Forgiveness. I believe. I Believe." 

by Mary Anne Perrone

 

A Mental Model to Serve Your Monkey Mind

photo by Mark Derry 

photo by Mark Derry 

We are programmed to compare and take notice when we perceive someone as bigger, bolder, or more of what we strive to be. This deeply ingrained impulse is an overactive survival mechanism. At one point in time it was extremely beneficial to get a surge of neurochemicals warning us when someone else did something that furthered their importance above our own. This status dance would motivate individuals to make themselves indispensable in the tribe to improve the chances of safety and procreation.  

The problem is, we now live in a society where the lives and successes of others are displayed second by second at our fingertips. We see others paving their way through life and we see a lot more of what is good rather than the not-so-good that we all struggle with yet few of us are open and willing to share.

As I continue to make bold moves and brave leaps to grow my business and create a larger platform for my message of mental health vulnerability and best practices to find balance, I see and feel the effects of comparison every single day. Whether in my own self-talk or in the struggles of my clients, we all have a tendency to lose track of the big picture and get fixated on the small-minded comparison of ourselves to the other.

I am here to remind you that although you can’t control your instinctual animalistic reactions, you do have control and power in your response after the fact. Know your mind, understand where your effort is best invested, and carve a new path of least resistance in your brain that brings you to gratitude and motivation for action. How? Keep reading.

One of my favorite reminders lately comes from a book titled, The Honeymoon Effect by Bruce Lipton. He says “there are four brains in every relationship.” We have our best-self, which comes out in the beginning of a new relationship as we are excited and we don’t have assumptions or baggage already attached to what the other person says or does. Over time, we get comfortable and our triggered state begins to show itself. The impulsive reactions, the emotional assumptions, the unfair expectations, the cruel jabs at the other. Where did that person come from?

We are programmed to seek safety, to seek companionship and a tribe that feeds our soul, and to carve out a unique impact and purpose that will leave a legacy. Along with these beautiful human wants comes the tendency to compare, judge, and constantly strive for more. We find pleasure in progress, and we feel pain at any sign of rejection or not being seen by someone we want attention from. We need to feel safe, connected, and purposeful, and until we do, there is a constant flow of energy being invested in searching for ways to meet these needs. Imagine a faucet attached to the back of your body, and while these basic primal needs are unmet, it is as though your tap is turned on and flowing energy out of your system until there is nothing left, leaving you exhausted and wondering why. There’s not much we can do about this deeply rooted operating system, other than notice when it is there and respond with words and actions that ground, support, and release the old patterns.

We tend to avoid our feelings out of confusion and shame. We tend to judge ourselves and make ourselves feel wrong for having the feelings in the first place. Yet our good intentions can lead us astray, because what you resist, persists. You think you are being wise by brushing that problem under the rug, or avoiding the nagging feeling that something is wrong, or shaming yourself for not being able to “snap out of it.” Sorry to tell you my friends, you are sending more energy down that pathway that you are trying to avoid, strengthening it’s power and building a superhighway towards the very thing you are “ignoring.”

The only way through this internal struggle, is to get to know it, love it, embrace it, get curious about it, notice your reactions and try out new responses. Open yourself up to the beauty and connections that arise from being a vulnerable and proud imperfectly perfect human being.

This is not the type of work you can rush. This is the epitome of slowing down to speed up. We need to reset our foundation and build strong roots so that we can grow and handle the waves of life with grace and resilience.

A "mental model" is a great way to begin the process of excavating and cultivating. Mental models are our unique perceptions and understanding of life. They generally help us navigate uncertainty by projecting past learnings and experiences onto the situation at hand. They provide a proven pathway towards success or a learned pattern to avoid pain or failure. We can’t do the same thing over and over and expect to get new results. We are all growing and learning in phases, and we need to continue the principle of self-study to ensure we are updating our belief system and feeding our mind and body the nourishment it needs.

So I ask you, What seeds are you planting? Consider the mental model that your mind is a garden and your thoughts and actions culminate as the gardener. Before you create the garden of your dreams, you must dig deep and remove the weeds and roots that suck the nutrients out of the dirt or strangle the progress of new growth. While we plant new seeds, we develop a rhythm of care to ensure time and attention are spent to tend to the young and vulnerable plants. We need patience and mindfulness to allow the garden to manifest and to notice issues that could halt progress and take action to create a remedy. We need the resilience and trust in the process, so even if the garden is destroyed or is not in great shape, you know no failure is a final failure and every moment is practice for the next moment. It is important to find joy and develop a passion for the work so that it doesn’t become another mindless chore to check off your list. Surround yourself with other passionate gardeners and continue opening yourself up to new ideas and tips that could serve your journey.

 

Reflection Questions:

What change challenge are you facing in your life right now?

What is your mental model to approach this challenge with as much empowerment and trust in your ability as possible?

What are the key steps to take on this challenge?

What is your motivating reason WHY to take on this challenge?

What reminder do you need to repeat when the going gets tough?

A well timed and thought-provoking question can be the difference between standing proud in the face of your challenge rather than avoiding or hiding yourself from the possible pain of rejection. Know your mind. Know what you truly want. And set yourself up with the support, thoughts, mental models, and motivation you need to make the change. You are so much more capable than you realize. Tell yourself what you need to hear.

 

The WHY and HOW of Wellness

The Wellness Journey Heals Us All

I am so honored to be a part of the team at Evolve Retreat co. We are a group of passionate individuals who are striving to spread health and wellness through education, motivation, action, and support. Because of my fascination with words and the understanding that we often use words without knowing what they truly mean, I want to play with this word 'wellness.'

 

Wellness is a buzz word that has been growing in popularity. It is a reminder that as a society we are beginning to truly see the benefits in viewing our health and happiness as a by-product of many facets, and not a simple single ingredient as being more important than all the others. We are complex and unique beings, and we collectively share a desire for growth; it’s a biological imperative. We are all on a journey, and while we are all at different points and phases, when we come together to share in the experience and learn tools for motivation and resilience, we create an environment that heals us all.

To “heal” simply means to become “more whole.” This is a beautiful shift in our culture as more conversations are gearing towards healing rather than the fixed concept of “curing” which connotes a sense of something being wrong with you that needs to be fixed. To heal, you first need to tune in to the feeling of alignment based on your core values and goals. We need awareness of the energy and stories that have either been hidden or become attached to who you think you are. To heal, we need to let go of beliefs and patterns that no longer serve who you are or where you desire to be headed. It is a conscious and deliberate choice to shift your self-talk into a language of empowerment and elevation. We also need a sense and trust in balance, this looks like the occasional push outside your comfort zone followed by time to ground down and regain stability. From this new space, you then can expand and reach further. Imagine what is possible when you engage in that balance dance over the course of a year?? And finally, although you may want to rush and push your way through this, the best way to grow through the healing process is to embrace the journey with patience, love and compassion, as you realize that every animal (including our animalistic nature) responds best to being heard, loved, and respected.

Now, you may be sick of hearing that you need to be patient and take this journey with an open heart and a calm mind, but perhaps a deeper understanding of how and why will support you. 

HOW?

Seek more ways to bring high quality energy into your mind and body. Eat to nourish. Laugh to generate healing vibrations. Go on adventures and try new things. Engage in conversations about ideas, goals, successes, and struggles that create learnings. Put pen to paper and explore your thoughts and insights. Get the sleep you need to function and be just as passionate about your self care and "me-time" as you are about your action and effort. 

Too often we look at what is in the mirror to determine our self worth or health. But the inside is much more indicative of your picture of wellness. If you are on a strict diet but are miserable or have tension and anxiety built up around your diet or desired habit, you actually are doing more harm than good. Your mindset and mood need to be tended to just as much as the attention you put into your food choices and actions.

Rather than seeing nourishment as solely the foods you eat, follow the wise words of Marc David in his book “Nourishing Wisdom”:

“Biologically, nourishment is encoded in our genes as the body’s longing for perpetuation of itself through food and procreation. Psychologically, nourishment is encoded as our longing for perpetuation through creativity, relationships, community, work and the exchange of ideas. Spiritually, nourishment is encoded as our longing for self-realization. Whether it is a warm meal, a warm fire, a warm friend, or a warm feeling, the metaphoric mind interprets each as nourishment and will substitute food whenever other sources of nourishment run low.” 

What area of your life are you lacking nourishment? Don’t judge, shame, or regret your choices. Right now is all you’ve got and you need all that precious energy to be in action and to enjoy the ride.

WHY?

This one is up to you. We all have a deeper why behind our goals and change challenges. What is your bigger why? For example, to lose weight is a goal, but the deeper why is most likely driven by a desire to feel confident, energetic, and capable in as many situations as possible. Sure a diet will help, but when you are grounded in your deeper why you will see there are many ways to practice and bring this sense of wellness into your life. The goal is not the point - it is important and necessary to give yourself direction - but it is not the only point! Your reward is not waiting at the end of this journey, it is a practice and deliverance based on the daily work. Life is right now, in this moment, so the work is in tuning into the present and finding contentment and gratitude along the way. 

I leave you with this, what are you doing today to engage in the healing process? We all have old wounds that need mending. We all have parts of our past that are sitting in our psyche and body undigested or misunderstood. What are the first few steps to health and wellness in your life? Trust that when you are aligned in your core values, engaging in activities and with people you love and are inspired by, and are taking incremental steps towards your goals, you will tap into a reservoir of energy you didn’t realize was available.

 

*If you are searching for professional help, try starting here...

Everything is an offer

To live in the world of personal development means to be constantly face to face with your hypocrisy and your own areas of improvement. It's not easy. But, it also means a lot of excitement and pleasure as you see positive change in your life and feel the result of your hard work paying dividends. I have found that the concept of "intimacy without attachment" is a great reminder to find the balance point and contentment with the moment while in pursuit of betterment. It reminds me to be passionate and desire for more while embracing this moment as it is because I cannot control what the future holds. It also reminds me to conserve energy by expecting the unexpected and to behave in a way that allows others to also have freedom and space for growth. "Intimacy without attachment" is one of many concepts and mantras I use to create and conserve quality energy for my journey.  

I am mindful of the fact that my work, currently, is in playing with the balance between pragmatism and compassion. I have found that a way to conserve energy is to be picky with where I allow myself to be influenced by others, more specifically, who and where I invest my emotions. It's become a dance as I notice my energy getting pulled into someone else's struggle, I allow myself to feel it and send some love and empathy, but then I re-center myself with the reminder that it doesn't do us any good if I turn "your struggle" into "our struggle."

I have witnessed that I am much better at supporting a shift in perspective or leading by example when I allow myself to stay open and rise above the momentary struggle. While this is an efficient way to operate, the shadow side is that at times when emotional investment and a compassionate shoulder to cry on is needed, I will choose curiosity and protect my energy from being drained by other people's "problems." This is not good or bad, right or wrong, it is just something to notice and play with so that I can lay my head down each night and feel confident, proud and aligned in my decisions as I reflect on my day. I want to be felt as a compassionate, vulnerable, and supportive person. And I need to continually check in with myself to ensure that my intentions are showing up strong and true in my actions. 

 

What I find most interesting about this recent realization is that my response is to see it as an offer to open up a bit more and trust my own strength and capabilities. I rarely feel guilt or feel a loss of power when I see my intentions are not aligned with my actions, because I know that that takes time and energy. I see the error in my ways, I learn what I need to learn, I readjust my aim, and then I get back into the practice of living life.

I see these insights as an opportunity to practice being a better coach, a better friend, a better daughter and sister, and a better partner. Because I am far from perfect and I would love for my family and friends to see that I am trying hard to be the person they deserve to have in their life. 

Everything is an offer, if you let it be. Perspective can always be shifted to see what you may have missed or what you have not been habituated to see. It becomes an offer when you can choose to respond in ways that invite connection, acceptance and creativity. You spread this offer wide when you start your response to a situation with "YES, AND...." Perspective expands when you can see the potential all around you and open your mind to receive the feather into your calm soft palm rather than grasping and forcing. 

This blog post is inspired by this book. An amazing title and an even more amazing read. This book plays with the beautiful lessons we can take from the world of improvisation and how that can open your mind and life in ways you may not see as possible.

This blog post is inspired by this book. An amazing title and an even more amazing read. This book plays with the beautiful lessons we can take from the world of improvisation and how that can open your mind and life in ways you may not see as possible.

I would love to have an impact in this world that leads us towards mindful and balanced living. I would love to see everyone unplug more often and take their down-time seriously. I would love to see more people create some space in between their initial impulsive reaction and their thoughtful and grounded pragmatic response. I would love to see more people crack open and share what keeps them up at night and what fears creep into their minds during the day. I want to see more bold and brave creativity as people get out of their self-doubting heads and allow themselves to show up and make their passions known. I want to see people setting goals and achieving them, making bold requests and standing tall in their higher purpose, stretching the limits of what's possible and seeing beauty and life-affirming magic in stepping outside their comfort zone. 

That is why I lead by example and do my best to share what tools and conversations can support the process. I want you to create and conserve more quality energy so you can experience bliss, passion, excitement, pleasure and purpose in a balanced and sustainable way. 

So cheers to balance. Cheers to practice and play. And cheers to embracing our imperfections so that we can create space and conserve energy for the journey towards our best self. 

;)

photo by Mark Derry

photo by Mark Derry

Set & Flow

I am so excited to be creating an ongoing collaboration with my friend Jordan Smuszko at his space The Village (4039 Brentwood Road NW). Our goal is to host a simple event that is focused on mindful movement and building forward momentum as I guide you through a journal session at the end to reflect on the past month and create actions and good vibes for the month ahead. 

Every first Sunday of each month, we will meet from 7 to 815pm, and we ask that you arrive 15 minutes early to sign a waiver and have some time to chill on your mat before we begin. We also want to make this as accessible and sustainable as possible, so we are asking for only a $10 cash drop-in (or $12 on credit card). If there is a good turn out and there is a want for more of these classes, we will be happy to add more. So show up and be a part of this movement!

This is an amazing way to build in some accountability and spend your Sunday evening with power, intention, and some inspiring people. 

Here are the dates for the summer. No need to register before hand, just show up and be ready to flow. All levels welcome!

Sunday June 4, 7pm

Sunday July 2, 7pm

Sunday August 6, 7pm