Wrapped in Love

This has been such a joyful and restorative day. Every action I have taken has had one purpose…to practice deep self care. I have, quite literally, wrapped myself in love.

Here are pictorial highlights of my day.

I brought in all my own food. Everything is organic, healthy, and easily prepared. Being able to cook for myself is at the core of my self care, and the reason I wanted a full kitchen on site for this personal retreat. Breakfast was simple…sliced bananas and cara cara oranges, and a cup of hot Scottish breakfast tea with a splash of unsweetened almond coconut milk.

The gorgeous kitchen I have been preparing meals in today.

And below, the equally gorgeous view out the dining room windows and sliding door.

I spent the morning reading, writing and thinking, sitting wherever I felt drawn to sit. This oversized chair made a comfy writing spot.

Lunch was a light and refreshing orange, green olive and avocado salad, a recipe I picked up from Anthony William. It was so delicious! The flavors complemented each other marvelously.

I kept being pulled to the windows, overlooking the lake. I stepped outside a couple of times, but with a high in the 20s today, it seemed too cold to linger. Nevertheless, on one of my wanderings outside, I brushed ice out of a rocker. Perhaps tomorrow, I thought.

As I was reading this afternoon, the clouds cleared away and the sun shone brightly. It didn’t raise the temps, but I could no longer resist. I pulled on my warm boots and grabbed my soft, wooly blanket and headed out onto the deck. The rocking chair was ice free and sitting full in the sun.

The sunlight danced on the water and filtered through the tree branches to bathe my face. I closed my eyes and sun gazed, and colors then danced on my eyelids.

This is me. Unplugged. No make up. Wrapped in love. The air was so cold that it made my nose tingle to inhale. However, the fresh frostiness was invigorating. And the blanket kept me warm.

After a time of meditating and writing in front of a crackling fire, which felt especially good after sitting outside, I prepared another recipe of Anthony’s for dinner. Aloo Matar, an Indian dish, is such a fragrant and comforting meal. It contains homey potatoes, onions and peas in a mild tomato based curry.

I have been excited all day about preparing this recipe for the first time. I was not disappointed. It was excellent! I am even more excited that I have enough left over for tomorrow night’s dinner.

Day two of my weekend getaway is winding down. I’ll sip on a cup of hot turmeric milk soon, while I relax in the soaking tub. And then perhaps I will color for a while. However I choose to end the day, it will be absolutely perfect.

Cindy Unplugged

This afternoon marked the beginning of my long weekend getaway. I have been full of anticipation for this mini retreat, and now it is here. I am going to unplug during these four days, from my phone, from other people, from television and business and everything, really, except listening to my body, conversing with the Divine, and allowing my imagination and daydreaming the freedom to expand.

I packed a minimal amount of clothing, intending to wear comfy lounging clothes primarily. However, I brought along a variety of journals and notebooks, a Love Your Life Workbook, colored pencils and coloring books, a sketchbook and a couple of books to read, if the desire to do so arises. Because I will be cooking nutritious meals while I am here, I filled three large shopping bags with food. Overall, I packed less when I traveled to Europe for 12 days!

I will be posting in my blog daily, because this is a commitment I have made with myself. However, they will be brief, and photo heavy.

The house I am staying in is beautiful and perfect for my needs. I can see the lake from the large windows in the dining area and kitchen.

I am grateful for the windows, because although there are two large decks overlooking the lake, the cold temperatures will keep me inside. I hope to walk down to the lake at least once while I am here.

I created a wish list for the location of my weekend away. I wanted a view of water, a deck, a full kitchen, and privacy. This house has it all, and I am extremely grateful.

It also has something that I did not know I wanted…a wood burning fireplace.

Greg, who dropped me off this afternoon, and lugged in all of my bags, graciously took the time to start a fire for me. He also provided pine logs that are easy to ignite and will burn for hours. I pulled two chairs together to form a great lounging area. Piled with pillows, and a soft fluffy blanket to curl up under, this has been the space where I kicked off my weekend. I had tea and gluten, dairy and sugar free scones here. I wrote in my workbook. I meditated. I stared into the fire and felt every muscle in my body relax as I was serenaded by the soothing sound of a crackling fire.

What incredible bliss. And what a beautiful gift is this weekend, this time and this gorgeous space. I am grateful for it all, including the thing I didn’t know I would enjoy so much. I am smiling about the unexpected gift of the fireplace. I am unplugged, and undone.

Travel Scavenger Hunt

I’m not quite sure what I had in mind when I wrote out this Inspiration Starter back in July…Go on a travel scavenger hunt. However, when I drew this slip of paper from the jar today, an idea immediately came to mind. A scavenger hunt, by definition, is a game in which the participant seeks to gather all of the specific items on a list.

I had a list in mind, and it was connected to travel.

The first Inspiration Starter I randomly drew on December 1 had to do with going on a Getaway Weekend. I was puzzled at first about why I drew that slip on a day when a weekend away wasn’t possible. However the day was full of surprises, and by the end of the afternoon I had been gifted with a generous check, for the very specific and stated purpose of having a solo weekend out of town.

I am full of anticipation for a few days of personal retreat time in January. I used today’s inspiration as a nudge to seek out the perfect place to get away to.

Here was my scavenger list for that special weekend:

• Location within 100 miles of Joplin, with particular interest in NW Arkansas or SW Missouri.

• Water view

• Kitchenette so I can do my own meal prep

• Private deck

• Cute place

• Seclusion

• Right price

I would know I had found the perfect place for my retreat if I could check all of the items off of my list.

After a bit of searching on my laptop, I “happened” to stumble across something new to me…Vacation Rentals By Owner, or VRBO. These homes, cottages, condos, apartments and cabins are managed by their owners, much like Airbnb, and the prices are incredibly good.

I sorted through possibilities, checking them against my scavenger list. Some had a couple of my “must haves”. Quite a few had six out of seven. I knew those were not the places for me. I found three that had all seven items. It then became a matter of which location appealed to me the most.

The little condo I have selected, located in NW Arkansas, not only had all seven of the items on my list, its decor drew me. There is a Namaste pillow on the bed, a framed art piece with the word HOPE on it, a glass door that opens onto a private deck. It is cozy, intimate and perfect for my purposes.

I love how the Divine has brought this whole idea of a getaway weekend together, encouraging me to go, giving me a playful nudge to find the right place, and providing the funds as a beautiful gift to me.

That last part carried significance today, as I played my scavenger hunt game. Because, the object of the adventure is to find the items on the list, without purchasing them. I laughed when I realized how wonderfully connected it all is.

It is going to be an amazing weekend away, I can already tell.

Starting Inspirational Fires

This is the blog post that almost wasn’t. And it is one of those twisty, turny journeys that needs a bit of backstory to make sense. Bear with me.

In July of this year, I felt drawn to create what I dubbed Inspiration Starters. Read about those HERE. I wrote creative ideas, with the intention of challenging myself, on 32 slips of paper and dropped them into a container. I randomly selected one of those Inspiration Starters a few days later. And then, totally forgot about them, as in, they passed from time and memory. Until this past week. Decorating for Christmas I opened the ceramic jar and thought, oh yeah!

I had 31 slips of paper left. December, with its 31 days, was about to begin. I decided what a great way to finish this Year of Inspiration, this time of living with a focus on creativity and treating others with kindness. I could draw a slip of paper each day, beginning December 1.

I was excited to draw the first folded slip today. When I played a similar game last year I was amazed by the synchronicities, the Divine guidance, the remarkable alignment of perfect conditions that appeared around each of those slips of paper. Drawing them randomly takes me out of the equation and opens my heart, spirit and creativity to a power greater than me.

What would I select? Honestly, I had created the Inspiration Starters five months ago. I had forgotten all that I came up with, which was good. I could be surprised.

I drew:

My first thought was, Well…even though this is Friday, and this Inspiration appears perfect, it won’t work this weekend. I have an out of town family birthday party tomorrow and an open house Sunday. There would be no get away this weekend.

My second thought was, This one is a miss. The timing was off. And, there was more to it than that.

I have been thinking much about a weekend get away lately, just me and a journal and a pen. As this year winds down, I feel drawn to go off by myself and think and dream and plan, a releasing of 2017 and an anticipation of 2018. I want time to commune with the Divine and meditate and go within. With that desire in mind, I asked the Divine to arrange the get away weekend, guiding me to the right place, at the right time, by way of signs, symbols and synchronicities.

To make it an even more fun and challenging quest, I asked EL-LE (my personal name for God, pronounced like the letter L), for a very specific sign. I would know it was all EL-LE’s doing in two ways: The weekend away, alone, would cost me nothing, or very little, allowing me to be open to all kinds of opportunities beyond simply staying in a hotel somewhere. And, I would know which place was the right one because it would have a particular symbol attached to it, that is significant to me.

Drawing that slip of paper today threw me. Nothing appeared to be in place for the weekend get away. It did indeed seem to be a miss, timing wise. I decided to keep a weekend away in mind during this month, and just see what unfolded. I left the slip of paper on my writing table in my studio.

I’ve had other things going on today. I’ve been busy and didn’t dwell on that Inspiration Starter. I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about this evening but I trusted the right thing would come along at the right time.

It did. And it connected back to the weekend get away paper that I drew.

As I was finishing my last task for the day, I was offered an amazing, and surprising, gift. This person, who wishes to remain unnamed, did not know that I have been asking EL-LE for a weekend away, or that I had drawn that slip of paper earlier in the day. I was gifted with a check, for a generous amount, and instructed to get away for a weekend, to have some time alone. I was told that the thought suddenly came to my gracious benefactor late today, seemingly out of the blue, accompanied by the urge to give me this gift.

I am undone. I am so grateful. A miss? No. The slip of paper I drew earlier was a wink from the Divine, a hint that it is almost time for that weekend get away I have been longing for. And as I hoped, as I trusted, all is being arranged.

I am looking at the end of the month for my special weekend. Or perhaps the first week in January. I have no doubts that I will know which weekend is perfect, and where to stay. I am being guided. I am involved in an ongoing conversation, an intimate dance, with the Divine.

The December creative game is underway. This must be why I completed my Christmas decorating early this season. I needed to be free. Something bigger is unfolding. I am going to finish out this incredible year by starting 31 fires that will ignite my passion, creativity and imagination. I am setting my heart aflame.