If you’ve always considered life as a journey, here’s news: It’s more of a patchwork quilt.

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“Most of us are taught to image our life as a journey, a linear movement from one moment to the next,” says Linda McDermott. “The implication is that we know where we’re going and move purposely toward a destination or goal. Many women, however,  experience their journeys as interrupted, distracted, even derailed by competing needs of others, including children, significant other, aging parents, unexpected career changes, etc.”

Often, Linda tells us, a more helpful image for women is a patchwork quilt.

“Some of the prettiest quilts are those with seemingly random “patches” all connected by a few common colors and threads,” Linda says. “This retreat is your opportunity to step  back, pull out some of your favorite colors, textures and threads, and see what else you might like to add as the next few “patches” of your life.”

I don’t know about you, but this whole concept makes me feel a whole lot better about my own checkered past — and I can’t wait to see what Linda’s journaling and guided meditation exercises will bring to my eager awareness about “the thing of beauty” my “big picture” is becoming with each patchy experience.  When take a moment to step back and think of your life without judgment — as just patches of time and experiences that are all just part of a unique work of art, it becomes much easier to imagine what other “patches” you might like to add.

Linda will be one of the key presenters at the upcoming Dust off Your Dreams Women’s Retreat at the Wildcatter Ranch Resort and Spa in Graham Texas April 13-15. If you haven’t signed up already, there’s still time — click here to claim one of only 10 spots left for the weekend that will change the way you look at your life, your dreams and your part in filling in those remaining “squares” with ideas, experiences and accomplishments that are now just dreams still tucked away on your “someday” shelf.

Click here to order the book that started it all! (Free book included with retreat registration)

Want to know more about The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses? Click here to view book trailer!

 

So what is a “perfect storm” retreat? Aren’t those terms contradictory?

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I realize that calling the creation of the Dust Off Your Dreams Retreat concept a “perfect storm” may sound like a huge contradiction in terms, but in reality, that’s exactly what it was. A congruent, if unsuspecting, collection of  sincere people, perfect elements, and collective intent, all falling into place at exactly the same time to create something so fresh, new, and potentially transformative for midlife women . . . well, what would you call it?

Curious? Here’s what’s in store for 20 lucky participants in the specially priced Dust Off Your Dreams Women’s Retreat pilot April 13-15 at the Wildcatter Ranch Resort and Spa. Register by March 15 to reserve your spot and you’ll always be welcome back at the pilot price as a special thank you for your participation and feedback.

First, calling upon The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses as text, we’ll sprinkle a variety of focused journaling exercises in and around the retreat sessions and activities to help you pinpoint the specifics of your dream and develop awareness of the path that will take you in that direction.

Anne Street Skipper, owner and general manager of The Wildcatter Ranch Resort and Spa provides not only a spectacular venue for this event, but a living, breathing role model for “finding that girl I used to be and bringing her back to life” (more about Anne’s story in a coming post!);

Kathy Taylor, CEO of HerdWise will show us how horse play can reveal key aspects of our interactions with other people — and any obstacles that may be holding us back (Tips from Kathy and her horses, Roxy and Flo, about the effective use of pressure in business and personal confrontations coming soon — watch this space!)

Denise Barrows, CEO of Practical Equine Solutions will show retreat participants through a series of exercises what things like setting boundaries, cultivating calm courage and overcoming fear one small step at a time looks like in dealing with horses — and how we can translate these concepts to our human interactions; (look for some of Denise’s special insights gained from working with women and their Midlife Horses in coming posts)

Cassandra Thompson, CEO of ABSolute Pilates, a former dancer and New York City Stott certified Pilates Instructor will provide us with tools for increasing our body awareness along with simple core strengthening exercises to help us overcome (or manage) physical limitations and correct any imbalances we may have developed somewhere along the way.  (You’ve already met Cassandra in this blog — just wait until you hear what she’s been up to lately!)

Then, through a series of guided meditations and journaling led by my good friend (and my horse’s new love interest — we’ll circle back to this later, too), The Rev. Linda McDermott, Senior Associate Minister of First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth, Texas will, help us find the inner stillness that leads to clarity and context for those dreams we’d still like to pursue.

Finally, we’ll translate all these insights into real tools and strategies you can use to set realistic goals, remove (or work around) any obstacles in your way, and take your first concrete steps toward living your dreams to the highest extent possible in Part Two of your life.

And wait, as they say in the infomercials, there’s more!

To amp up the fun, lightness and soaring of spirits for this pivotal weekend, singer/songwriter Elizabeth Wills and all million angels will be on hand to sing us through it all with the goosebump inducing melodies and thought-provoking lyrical reflections known to follow her her wherever she goes. (If you haven’t seen my book trailer videos — or even if you have—check them out again. That’s Elizabeth singing “It’s a Beautiful Life” in the Background. Learn more about Elizabeth and her inspiring music in coming posts. My guess is there will be more new music from Elizabeth that comes from this weekend. I’ll keep you posted on that, too!

Get all the details and sign up at www.dustoffyourdreamsretreats.com. The registration deadline is coming fast and space is limited, so grab a friend (it’s an even better rate if you bring a friend) and sign up today. For more information or to sign up by phone with your credit card (we use PayPal on the site, but you do not need a PayPal account to use this secure payment service; just click on the credit card icons and follow the prompts), please feel free to give us a call at 1-888-773-8187.

 

Click on the order button to buy this book now! (Free book included with retreat registration)

Want to know more about The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses? Click here to view book trailer!

 

 

Hooked on Reality TV? Midlife Horses are the ultimate “reality channel.”

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Hooked on Reality TV? Midlife Horses are the ultimate “reality channel.”

Looking for motivation? Check. Sense of accomplishment? Check. Fitness? Check. Need to clear your mind and learn to “stay in the moment.” Yep, because if you don’t, you’re gonna be eating dirt. Horses don’t suffer cell phones. (Ask me how I know this.)

Got fear? They’ll find it. Got sadness?  They’ll soothe it. Doubts, anxieties, insecurities? One by one they’ll shine the light of awareness on them and stand with you as these and other personal midlife bugaboos dissipate  like smoke from a worn-out campfire. Need a good laugh? Oh, yeah. A good cry? Plenty of that, too.

These are just a few among the many programs you’ll discover when you tune in to the reality of midlife horses. In my soon-to-be released book, The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses: Finding Meaning, Magic and Mastery in the Second Half of Life (Trafalgar Square Books, 2011),  we explore the cultural phenomenon of the nearly seven million American women now turning to horses to soothe and rejuvenate their midlife souls as they chart a new course into a future of their own choosing.

As the book, which its publisher classifies as a “tongue-in-cheek account that is a little bit memoir, a little more self-help, a whole lot practical guidebook, and all heart,” The Smart Women’s Guide to Midlife Horses examines: the whole midlife cornucopia of self-examination, why spending time with horses is especially helpful to women at this time, decision making when it comes to making this life altering journey, the challenge of finding time for a horse, getting fit for horsemanship, options for equine companionship beyond buying and boarding, things to do, places to go, how to find the help you need, how to find the resources you need to learn what you need to know, and much much more.

And beyond just a book (and its soon forthcoming e-book version), I’ve also created an online hub of information and sharing that includes this blog, a dedicated Facebook community, a YouTube channel to play host to our moments of  triumph, flashes of insight, and maybe a little bit of just plain silliness, and even a spot on Flickr to go an view our favorite photos (you send ’em in and I’ll post ’em!) along with a caption that tells your midlife horse story. So here it is. Your official invitation to come be part of the Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses community, with all the discussions, debates, friendship, laughter, and camaraderie  midlife horses can inspire.

We’re all in this together — and while this is a journey of each individual soul, it provides sustenance and encouragement to know there’s good company on this trail — and for what it’s worth, I’m here to help you connect with each other!

by Melinda Folse (formerly Melinda Folse Kaitcer)

Pre-order your copy today of The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses: Finding Meaning, Magic and Mastery in the Second Half of Life (Trafalgar Square Books, 2011) at www.horseandriderbooks.com (Click on the link, http://bit.ly/jqrt4s to download a sample chapter!)