“Bloom where you are planted”

I wanted to write this today because I think we all need to hear it sometimes. Its ok to take time. Good things can take time.

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I was recently contacted by my friend who is struggling to decide where she wants to base herself and she made me remember how hard it was to establish a life in France. I don’t know if people knew that – i was probably too proud to show it – but the beginning wasn’t easy. While it was wonderful being with Gab and learning the language and eating the cheese, the fundamentals were missing. The fundamentals like real friends that truly get you, a fulfilling job that gave true financial independence and motivation as well as a cultural understanding that made sense to me and that I could relate to.

Every day was really tricky. I even found it scary to go to the shops. What if someone asked me a question, or as is common in France, complained to me/about me?! What would i do?

On and off, I have been in France for 4 years. I only just now really feel like I have found my true place. I have work and friends that I adore. My days are full and interesting. I understand (for the most part) whats happening, culturally and linguistically. But it did not happen over night.

I don’t even think the foreign country part is the main issue here. I think it just takes time to set up a life that reflects how you want to live and who you are. And while you are setting it up, shit happens. There will be friction or conflict. There always will be – but as your perception shifts and your awareness changes, you become more able to deal with it. The world doesn’t change, but you do.

My friend mentioned to me that she feels a little bored, a little lost. And my advice was this – apply yourself 100% and act like THIS IS IT! When you throw yourself into something with the goal of sticking with it no matter what, things start to happen. Life starts giving you opportunities (which maybe where there before but you just start to notice now). Everything gets a lot more fun.

I was initially so reluctant to throw myself into French life. It took me a while too. I was flitting back and forth between London and Paris, not ready yet to accept that France should be my home. When I finally had a good hard look at myself, I decided I would commit 100% to France for one year. I didn’t need that long. The moment i decided that I WOULD love this place, i did. Opportunities started appearing. True friends started appearing. I could see my world with new, sparkling eyes.

So, if you feel stuck in a rut – no matter where you are – commit to loving it, to being the most enthusiastic person about it, for even just 3 months. Pretend like you are a tourist passing through (arent we all?) and learn and see everything you can. You might just find that the place changes and so do you.

Mini Yoga Retreats in St Germain en Laye

I wanted to tell you about my weekend because it was just so nice.

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I, along with my friend and fellow wellness colleague, cook book author and health coach Annamaria Formentini, held a mini retreat at Life Space.

We called our retreat: Nourish and Flourish to represent a Sunday afternoon of Yoga and healthy eating with snacks from Annamarias newly published book.

Our lovely 10 participants made their way to St Germain en Laye and were introduced to Life Space. We had a great mix of nationalities, ages, genders and backgrounds. A really sweet group. We started with some herbal tea and a little introduction before grabbing our mats and heading for the park.

The weather was utterly lovely. On days where the sun shines, the park becomes a hive of activity – dog walkers, sunbathers, frizbee players and the like. We picked a sweet spot with a great view of Paris to set up our mats. The breeze was just enough to keep us feeling fresh and the sun was shining on our faces – a sensation we have all really been missing here in Paris!

The class was a sweet mix of long holds and gentle flows. It was a Sunday after all. The theme of the class was just to feel really, really good. We had a range of levels and backgrounds in the class, so options were given and everyone really seemed to enjoy themselves. It looked like the passersby were jealous all of the high vibes 😉

After the class, we strolled back to Life Space for “gouter” – afternoon tea. Annamaria had prepared a few surprises for us! We had banana and tahini muffins, a savoury carrot bread and the most surprisingly delicious beetroot chocolate squares. Annamaria answered our food related questions, like how we can happily cut down on sugar and what alternatives to add to our food to make it better for us. I think we all left with some really great tips to try. For me, I’m swapping out my white sugar for coconut sugar (who knew?!) and adding beets to anything chocolate related!

The afternoon flew by – We all left feeling lighter, taller, happier and with a little sun kissed glow on our faces.

I’m already excited for the next one 🙂

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A little tale about bread

On Friday mornings I teach Yoga. Its my favourite start to the day. After class (in pursuit of balance after all) I like to trot over to one of the many Boulangerie’s in town for a cheeky croissant or pain au chocolate. The perks of life in France.

This particular Friday, I popped across to the navy blue shop front, on the street opposite. I eyed off the pain au chocolate – i had made my choice. “Je prends un pain au chocolate SVP”.

The Boulanger, a tough looking Breton, apron wrapped around his waist, confronted me with a “MADAME! Ce n’est pas un pain au chocolat, c’est beaucoup mieux! C’est une chocolatine!” He went on to rant about all the high quality ingredients in this innocent little pastry, about the process to make it, about how it needs to be given the correct name as it is not just a simple chocolate croissant but so much more.

I was shocked! A little insulted, I took my pastry back to the Yoga studio and I had a little whinge to the girls. What was that guys problem?!

Ok, admittedly the chocolatine was really good. Excellent, actually. Damn, how was I going to be proud and not return? My ego was hurt and i wanted to show him!

Worse than this, I complained to a couple more people about my experience, friends and neighbours. Hilariously, each person I picked to complain to, they too were huge fans of this Boulanger’s bread. So much so, that they practically gave me the same spiel! They told me “but, Rebecca, don’t you know that only the best restaurants in St Germain use Cedrics bread?!” and “He goes to the flour mill to choose his own flour and grinds it himself!”, “He is a purist”, “there is no better”… etc etc.

My ego and pride was quickly deflating.

And then, I got it. Cedric the Boulanger, he doesn’t care if I don’t love him, but he does care that I respect his job and that I respect his product. This man is the definition of passionate. He wasn’t there to make friends. He was there to make truly great bread.

And now, ego aside, I respect Cedric completely. What was me vowing to never return, has become respect for the man that cares THAT much about his bread.

To live with such conviction, to let the results speak for themselves and to give your absolute all, regardless of what people think – thats courage. I admire that, and will take the lesson to be a little more like my favourite baker.

(and, Tomorrow is Friday 🙂 Chocolatine day – YES!! )

Since when did Retreats get cool?

I went to an all girls Catholic school in Sydney. We had uniforms, nuns and daily special intentions after our prayers. We had special masses and flower crowns. There were singing and dancing competitions, sports and theatre, careers events, and debating. Every opportunity to grow and shine. I loved school.

One of the rights of passage when we were around 16 years old was ‘Retreat’.

With all the great activities that our school provided, Retreat seemed kind of daggy. A little uncool. Even the name didn’t inspire us. In earlier years we had camps with ropes courses and canoeing. But this, this was more religious, more passive. We knew we were going to have to do bonding games, write prayers and talk about morals.

Like most things in life where you have limited expectations, it turned out to be wonderful.

Time out to think. Time out to connect. Time out to grow.

 

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Life moves so fast now (or maybe it always did). We don’t even properly look people in the eyes. Crying is looked down on. We don’t express our emotions unless we are safe behind the wheel of our cars and then it can be a little extreme. What I like about a Retreat is that it calls stop on all this.

Retreat encourages you to regard the present. To take stock and reenergize for whats to come next. To have real, in depth conversations about about what truly matter to you.

Have you been to a retreat? What did you think?

Unfortunately week long breaks in a beautiful natural location is not always achievable. So instead, here are a few tips to bring that retreat feeling into your everyday life:

  1. Start Journalling – Writing down your thoughts and feelings, drawing little pictures or scribbling yourself notes can give you the space and time needed to reflect. A moment to check in with your feelings can help you to know when to stop, when to rest, when to speak up and when to let your hair down.
  2. Turn out the lights and light a candle as you get ready for bed – A small ritual like dimming the lights and reflecting on a flame can help you to unwind and relax, making deep sleep come easier.
  3. Bicarb soda bath – Move over Epsom salts! Bicarb soda in the bath will help your muscles to relax and your body to heal. It feels amazing.
  4. Write a prayer – It doesn’t have to be religious or meant for anyone but yourself. Instead it will act as an intention. Describe what you are grateful for and then ask for what you want. Write it down and keep it in a safe place. Bonus points for doing this on or around the new moon.
  5. Connect with like minded people – Maybe you want to join a soul circle or create one yourselves. A soul circle is a simple meeting of people, seated in a circle, maybe lighting a candle or creating a little alter, and then having a chat together. You can chose a topic you wish to discuss, give your own tales of times you have overcome difficulty, discuss goals and wishes for the future, or simply hold space for each other and meditate collectively. Try to really see each other by maintaining eye contact. Be vulnerable and let people really see you – warts and all.

 

Have you got your own ways of being a retreat like feeling into your everyday? I would love to hear all about it!

R x

 

 

 

 

Being courageous is hard for a people pleaser like me

I have admitted it before and I’ll admit it again. I love pleasing people. I’m a total people pleaser. I want everyone to feel good, all of the time. I don’t want to rock the boat. My mum taught me that…But its a habit that I’m really trying to grow out of.

I guess I like being a People Pleaser because it makes me feel warm and fuzzy. But as time passes and I mature a little more into who I truly am, I realise that being a people pleaser is not only a little lame, but, at times, dishonest.

Let me explain my current predicament.

For the past few months I have offered my Yoga class at a very low price. Like half of the going rate. It suited me to not ask for the full amount – I wanted students to come. I wanted to make people feel comfortable. I was afraid that if I asked for more, they would say no. They would challenge me. Well, I have reached a point now where students are coming and the class is growing. Which is great!

But I have to tell you, arriving at this point always terrified me…. because if people start coming and my room becomes full, then I will have to put my price up.

Welcome to my current predicament – undoubtedly a great problem to have. The Studio has expanded and we are now offering an incredible unlimited class pass to yoga, meditation and wellness workshops – its an amazing deal. Students want this. The market is there. But, of course, it is not free. Investment in wellness is an investment in living your best life. Money creates the bond – the deal with yourself that THIS is truly important. So, a price had to be set.

And now with said increased set price, I have to actually start telling people about it. Argh!  Do you know how long it took me to be able to get the courage up to say I can no longer offer cheapy cheap classes? One month. One whole month! Gab would pep talk me before walking out the door every week. And I’d come back in and say “I couldn’t dooooo it”. He was a little mad with me. I was even a little mad with me. Why is this so hard?

And then finally I got it out. I was nervous. Can you guess what the response was? Did people throw their yoga mats at me in disgrace? Did they tutt and make faces?  Was I berated for the terrible news? Nope. And actually the opposite happened – everybody saw the value in the new program and found the price completely reasonable.

What in the world was I so afraid of?!

I am realizing now that people are happy to pay for what they deem valuable. Health and wellness, is so valuable. And when people find a teacher they appreciate, they will make their best efforts to continue to come along.

I am realizing now that I am not selling dodgy cars or faulty products. I am offering my students something I believe whole heartedly in. I believe in the power of yoga. I believe it can change your life. I know meditation makes people happier. Manifesting what you want works. Im not selling anything. It sells itself. To those that want it.

So guys, I vow to be more courageous. To share what I have to share. To shine my light. Without fear of the backlash. I need to learn to have more faith in people. To speak my truth, even if my voice shakes.

Can you relate? Got any advice for me?

 

Love, R x

http://life-space.fr/infinity-club/

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Its time.

I’m talking to you. Yes, you. That idea you’ve been dreaming about? Might feel like just a little idea right now, but these things can grow.

Its probably about time you let it.

There’s this quote. Its from a baseball movie, but whatever, I like it anyway. Its says “If you build it, they will come” and I am learning that this is true.

Friends, family, loved ones – they might tell you that it’s possible. That you’d be great. None of that matters unless you start trusting yourself. But don’t worry, its the hardest part. Once you realize it, and start, things start happening too. The snowball picks up snow.

Why am I telling you this? Because, because, I have spent too much time doubting and fussing and getting all perfectionist about everything. (#progressnotperfection – try to remember that).

Anyway, this week, I finally realized that after almost two years (and several life events) I finally have a Yoga class that is full and its time to expand. To offer more. To create more and let people come. To promote it. To actually say to people “hey, come to my class!”

You have no idea how hard that was for me. It might be hard for you to?

Don’t let it be hard. Create it and they will come. They have to know about it first, but once they do, they will come.

I tell you what, I have taught my fair share of one or two person classes in these last 2 years. Waiting for other students to arrive, that don’t, so you teach with all the gusto you have but really feel a little sad that nobody wanted to come. And then, one day, they do. They come, enjoy and next time maybe even bring a friend.

Its ok to start at the bottom. In the fine words of Drake “Started from the bottom, now you’re here”. Everybody starts somewhere.

I could give you a list of motivational quotes like “doubt kills more dreams than failure ever does” etc.. But thats not going to do a damn thing, unless you start to realize that your light is worth sharing.

Please, share it.

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Set intentions

My favourite moment of class is the Sankalpa, the intention setting. A moment in time where your awareness drills down on a quality you want more of. A quality like more presence, more patience, more confidence, more love.

A Sankalpa is a wish, but then so much more than that. Its a prayer with grounding, with an earth energy and with steps forward.  Its really a seed, that will grow tall and strong – should you nurture it enough.

The time to set the Sankalpa – well, you know that moment where the mind has been silenced, and the breath becomes king. When your posture is confident and your body is calm – that there – yeah, thats the time.

And it can be as simple as this:

“I choose to stay present”

“I have crazy self love”

“I am courageous”

Then, throughout the class, with prompting or not, you remind yourself. And you cultivate this wish, this prayer, and it begins to come more naturally. It begins to feel so real. The brain/body doesn’t know the difference between something you have created and something that is external, should your internal dialogue be so positive and motivating. Your talk will become your walk.

Anyone attempting crow pose that says to themselves “I am courageous” will hold it. High and strong.

At the end of class, I offer my students the option of taking their intention out into the world with them. Yoga on the mat is a practice for life. Being present outside of the class, for example, leads to a more mindful life. Mindful = happiness. Of that I am sure.

So set intentions. Repeat them. Love them. Believe them. They become your reality.

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