Got a splinter in your contentment?

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One of the projects now on the boards (and as yet to be officially named, but springboarding from the Dust Off Your Dreams Women’s Retreat we had last spring at the Wildcatter Ranch Resort and Spa), is programming (some combination of live events and online/downloadable coursework) geared toward using horses and a series of reflective exercises (including some of those introduced in The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses) to help people in transition to build self-awareness, identify obstacles and solutions, and create a plan for moving forward with authenticity to find the fulfillment they’re looking for.

People ask me all the time exactly how it is that horses, of all things, can help people in this way. For people who haven’t spent much time around horses, it may seem ludicrous that a big “dumb” animal can open such doors to insight in the types of unmounted exercises known as “equine assisted learning (EAL).”

For those who may have heard of equine therapies, including therapeutic riding and equine assisted therapy, their understanding limits this idea to addressing serious physical, mental and emotional challenges. Far different, but in a few ways similar to equine assisted therapy, equine assisted learning is a wonderfully effective tool for developing the self awareness that can help us address any sort of dissatisfaction in our lives — and to help us identify and acquire the tools we need to move forward on whatever brings us joy and contentment — at any age or stage.  “It’s kind of like when you have a splinter, ‘” one friend summarized recently as the distinction became clear to her. “You wouldn’t go to a surgeon to get it removed. You’d go find a mom with a pair of tweezers.”

We’ve decided we want to be that mom with the tweezers.

Pooling the combined wisdom and resources of key members of the Dust Off Your Dreams Retreats team, we want to share what we’re learning to help others get “unstuck” when life shifts happen. And, the more we learn about this process and the results it can yield to shore us up and move us forward through the more ordinary kinds of ennui that besets all of us from time to time —  especially in the face of transition — we’re more convinced than ever of the good horses can do if we’ll just open ourselves to the process.

“True equine therapy occurs when people learn to extend the fundamental principles of horsemanship to the rest of their life,” says Deborah McCormick, PhD, co-author of Horse Sense and the Human Heart and Horses and the Mystical Path. “Horses show us with their behavior how we need to fine-tune in ourselves in order to achieve that balance and internal harmony we’re all looking for.” Deborah, along with her mother, Adele von Rust McCormick, PhD and her late father, Tom McCormick, MD, are the founders of Hacienda Tres Aguilas — The Equine Experience™ and the Institute for Conscious Awareness (ICA), a non-profit organization devoted to human development, advancement and leadership in which they pioneered the use of horses in psychiatric treatment and psychodynamic therapies.

By becoming aware of the basics of herd behavior, and then observing how horses interact with us in a series of non-riding exercises, we see in very concrete terms how we may be getting in our own way without even realizing it. When there’s inconsistency between what we want and how we behave, a horse will make this obvious in very concrete terms. For example, a horse may invade the personal space of someone who struggles with setting and enforcing boundaries; he’ll likely take a much wider circle around someone who is more skilled at holding the line. (When you watch a 1000-pound animal act out what’s going on inside of you, you can’t help but get the point!)  As we learn how to observe and learn from this revealing dynamic, we begin to ask ourselves the important questions:

Why is the horse doing that?

What is my first impulse in response?

How does this interaction (or lack of) mirror other relationships/situations in my life?

From there, we begin to build your toolbox. How you use your tools and what you build from this experience is limited only by the edges of your imagination and your willingness to “go deep” in order to achieve the life satisfaction that may have given you the slip.  If you’d like to know more about this program as it evolves, or if you would like to apply to participate in one of our test groups, please email me at mkfolse@gmail.com.

Things that make you say, WOW.

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I’m not normally a person who attends plays I’ve never heard of, featuring actors I don’t know. But when a text from my friend, Linda, said, “Do you want to go see “God of Carnage” at the Dallas Theatre Center  Friday night? I watched myself reply, “YES!”

Seriously?!?!? Without even asking what that could possibly be about? (I usually try to avoid any sort of carnage as entertainment, but I was just recently on a bus for a week with lots of teenagers, so a quiet theatre and adult company sounded pretty good.)  And even now that I’ve seen this oddly enlightening play by Yasmina Reza, I really couldn’t begin to describe it — except to say it struck some very familiar chords. And, strangely enough, it relates quite directly (as I’m finding that most things do), to the revelations we gain through our interactions with midlife horses.

Like horses, this play puts people in an environment chock full of assumptions, and then peels back each of those assumptions to reveal the fragility of human nature. Working with horses sometimes confronts us with circumstances that challenge what we think we know to reveal the unvarnished truth.

As “God of Carnage” demonstrated (and any horse worth his salt will teach you), when our ego-created “bubble of reality” collapses,  everything comes down to basic needs, desires and protective instincts. That’s when you drill right to the heart of who you are and what you need, courtesy of your half-ton teacher (who may or may not be horse-laughing at your arrogance as he invites you to check your ego at the barn door.)

“If you don’t reconcile with these things every once in a while, you’re bound to get a very nasty smack in the face,” says “God of Carnage” director Joel Ferrell in his Playbill interview (Joel most likely doesn’t know he could be a horse trainer and clinician if this Director thing doesn’t suit him).  Ferrell says he wanted people to leave this play with the understanding of how close to that edge we all live, all the time.  “At any moment — after a meeting with your boss, a near accident, or the subway gets stuck— anyone can be reduced to his or her five-year-old self.” (I immediately thought of trying to get Rio to lope in the round pen without dropping his shoulder. Except that usually, five-year-olds don’t yet know how to string that many four-letter words together.)

Ferrell suggests that real redemption and real knowledge can only come if you are willing to look at everything stripped down, without pretense. “I think what is hardest about finding a sense of peace or connecting with a higher power in the modern world,” he says, “is the ‘bubble world’ we have fabricated that appears to serve all our needs.”

In “God of Carnage,” Ferrell says that playwright Yasmina Reza speaks to change and redemption and the real human condition in its most vulnerable of places. “ I don’t know of anything as accessible that also feels as smart and dangerous as her work,” he says. Clearly Joel has not spent much time with horses.

Which bring me (at last) to my point.

The lessons brought to us by our midlife horses are universal.  We get this vital information from our horses because our love and interest in horses makes us receptive to this mode of delivery. We can, however, come by this information in other ways; we just have to find something that speaks as directly to our heart.  And often, as I just experienced, once a horse opens a particular door for you, we as midlife searchers find echoes of these lessons in other venues (in this case the Dallas Theatre Center) that adds texture, depth and context.

So here’s the question. What lessons from your midlife horse have you discovered in other formats and venues so far removed, yet so parallel, you just have to say, “WOW.”

 

Get back in the saddle on your own terms. But do you even know what they are?

Midlife News The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses Women and Horses

Whew! After a whirlwind spring of Dust Off Your Dreams retreat planning and launch, the joining forces of key retreat facilitators to develop a series of related programs of varied lengths, venues, and formats (details coming soon!), lots of book-related promotion activity, and serving as a presenter (with a great panel including Linda McDermott, Jennifer Fulton, and Cassandra Thompson) at the first annual AmerEquine Festival of the Horse, and talking to so many different women about their horses, I’m now back in my office with plenty of new things to ponder with you regarding the Midlife Horses experience — and the lessons it has to offer us as we navigate Life, Part Two.

One of my favorite stories to come out of AmerEquine audiences was a woman 72 years old (I assured her that Midlife was more a state-of-mind than any particular number) who had recently bought a new horse. At first I didn’t find this revelation all that unusual. Until, of course, she told us the rest of the story. She rode a lot when she was young and, like so many of us, took a break during the ensuing decades of raising a family. She bought her first Midlife horse in her mid 60s. And, like so many of us, she was a little apprehensive about getting back in the saddle so late in life. So, following the conventional advice we all tend to get, she bought a lazy older gelding instead of that young, shiny, sassy, forward-moving horse she preferred in her youth.

Well, in this case (proving that every rule has an exception and the bottom line is listening to your own inner wisdom when choosing a horse — or anything else, for that matter) this didn’t work out so well.

“I came off that horse six times in six months,” she said. “Luckily I wasn’t hurt, but I finally realized that that fat, lazy older horse didn’t want to move, and my expectations were making him more explosive than a horse that liked to move. So I sold him and got a bigger mover — a seven-year-old mare — and I have been happy — and much safer — in the saddle ever since!”

So what does that tell us about self-limiting beliefs? About finding our own answers? About the importance of self-awareness — and making choices aligned with who you are and what you need? Now, of course, this could have gone the other way. She could have bought the sassy mare first and found out she didn’t still have the chutzpah — or desire — to ride like that any more.

But I submit that taking a step back and spending some time on the above questions will take you on a shorter path to the choices that will fulfill you in the second half of life, whether you’re choosing a horse, a hobby, an old dream to dust off, or a reinvented career.

What counterintuitive epiphanies have you run across in your own midlife explorations? How has knowing yourself better guided you to make different choices than those dictated by conventional wisdom or the well meaning advice of others? What have you learned about making choices on the midlife trail you’d like to share with others? Weigh in here, folks! This is stuff we’re all wondering about on some level — and your story may be just the spark someone else needs to dig a little deeper to excavate her own authentic wisdom. I look forward to hearing your story, either as a comment here, via email (mkfolse@gmail.com) or through Facebook, Twitter or a LinkedIn discussion.

 

 

 

Dream Dusting Preliminary Report

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I know  you’ve all been waiting on the edge of your seats to find out how last weekend’s first Dust Off Your Dreams Retreat went at the Wildcatter Ranch Resort and Spa.

Wellllllll . . . .

If it could have been any better, I couldn’t imagine it. A spectacular setting that turned out to be everything I hoped it would be and more. Leaders and participants whose interactions and explorations created just the right atmosphere of mutual support, spirit of adventure and quiet introspection that, by the final Sunday morning exercise, managed to coax even the most elusive dreams out of the shadows. (Sometimes, it turns out, the dream may be only to have a dream. Good enough!)

Even the questionable weather held off (except for providing us with an apropos dust-blowing-in-your-eyes corral metaphor that, while irritating at the time (literally!), just  bounced happily over to join the growing pile of life-changing metaphors gathering by the fire where we enjoyed our apres-dinner s’mores. (Bet you never thought you’d see “apres dinner” and “s’more” in the same sentence, now did you? Oddly, even this is a metaphor for the diversity of dreams in this group.)

Precious examines the thoughts of guest, DD Holmes, who describes the weekend as "inspiring, with new ideas and ways of successful thinking." "

Yes, this was a pilot group. Not horse people (or pilots, for that matter, although I do think we may have nudged a couple of latent horse dreamers back toward the saddle), and a good enough range of ages and interests to get a solid idea of how well our content and leadership team would gel. Even more important than that, we really got a good, up-close-and-in-person opportunity to see if this event will truly create insight pathways for women in transition to help them discover what’s next in their lives — and take decisive first action steps toward it.

I’ll be posting more (much more!) on the topics and insights dancing naked around the fire with us last wekend. (Oh, get your mind out of the gutter — the only things stripped away this weekend were the obstacles, excuses, fear, doubt, worry, anxiety, insecurities and judgment that keep us from getting more of what we really, really love back into our lives.)

Meanwhile, a question emerges. Do you know what your dream is? If I stopped you in the hallway (and you had only a few seconds to spare) could you state your dream in one quick sentence? Try it! And if you’re brave, send it to me here as a comment, via email to mkfolse@gmail.com , or post it on our Facebook page or Twitter.

One thing we learned for sure this weekend is that there is power in this midlife community that’s out there pulling for you. Gather it close and open your eyes to the marvelous resources all around you, just waiting to be invited to help Dust Off Your Dream!

Click on the order button to buy this book now!

Last call! Dust Off Your Dreams Women’s retreat registration closes at midnight tonight with only four spots left to fill!

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If you’ve been sitting on the fence, thinking the Dust Off Your dreams Retreat sounds really good, but for whatever reason you haven’t signed up yet, stop reading right now and click here to register before it’s too late — registration closes at midnight tonight! (But the retreat’s still a month away!)
After our onsite dry run last week on our slate of activities for the Dust Off Your Dreams Women’s Retreat April 13-15 at the Wildcatter Ranch Resort and Spa in Graham Texas, this dynamic team of presenters was simply giddy. We knew what we wanted this thing to be, and I think for the first time we all fully realized how well it has all come together — and what a fantastically cool thing we’re offering women at this pivotal time of life — and how much truly usable life-and-awareness changing insight people are  going to get out of it.
That is, of course, if they’ll just find some way to stop their busy-ness for just a few days, grab a friend and come! I know, this is easy to say  — and I’m the worst saw sharpener you’ll even meet (remember that old Steven Covey analogy about the guy too busy sawing with the dull saw to stop and sharpen it?)
And, believe me, I KNOW it can be difficult, especially when we’re busy attending to the day-to-day urgencies of our life, to make time for self-renewal. To really believe our dreams are worth this kind of investment. But they are. And so are you.
It’s hard to imagine the difference just a brief weekend focusing on what brings you joy and how to get more of it into your life can make. But trust us. This is a weekend that could make an incredible and joyful difference in how you approach the “patchwork squares” still waiting to be filled for Part Two of your life.
So this is it. Last call for the April 2012 Dust Off Your Dreams Women’s Retreat. We built it — y’all come!
And if you’re interested but for whatever good reason are not able to attend this one, I’d still love to hear from you. Maybe you’re not quite ready to drag those old dreams back into daylight. Maybe the issue is time, maybe it’s money, maybe it’s a schedule conflict — or maybe it’s that laundry basket of feral Dachsund puppoes in your utility room. Whatever the reason, if this retreat concept is something that interests you, please let us know.
We’ll be doing more Dust Off Your Dreams events of all shapes and sizes around these topics, and we’d love some input and feedback from like-minded women. If you’d like to be on our email list for future programs and events (and to receive our free e-book of inspirations!) click here to go to our home page (scroll over to the box just to the right of the video) and enter your email address!
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!

Would you like to dodge that naggy, saggy middle-aged body? Like everything else, the answer lies deep inside you. Literally. Come learn how to find it!

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I think we’ve all heard about core strength for quite some time now. And, if you’re like me, your brain just sort of glazes over when you hear any pair of words that gets thrown so much.

But it turns out the secret  to to solving most of our physical midlife woes (including that belly thing — where the heck did THAT come from?) lies in finding (not easy) and working correctly (deceptively easy at first) those tiny, deep muscles groups that can make all the difference in the world in how you stand, how you sit, how you move, and of course, how you ride.

As we delve into the mental, emotional and maybe even spiritual aspects of taking action on our midlife dreams at the Dust Off Your Dreams Women’s Retreat, we’ll also take a turn in the barrel with the physical, featuring some Pilates work that will turn this amazing light bulb on for you as it has for so many others.  Once you find these little powerhouse muscles, learn what they do and learn how to work them, you’ll be able to add just a few minutes here and a few minutes there (Just dedicate TV commercials for a week to the few simple Pilates exercises you’ll learn and you’ll be AMAZED at the results you you’ll see and feel!)

To lead us in this adventure, I’ve invited Cassandra Thompson of ABSolute Pilates to present a mini workshop in our Saturday line-up of activities. Cassandra is a former dancer and  a Stott Certified Pilates Instructor from New York City (I know. But she did buy a horse as soon as she got to Texas. Just recently, she got a pick-up truck. She’s coming around.)

Pulling together the threads of her life experiences: import/export business, entrepreneur, dancer, part-time Pilates instructor, and last but not least, a hip replacement, Cassandra is another woman beckoning to us from the other side of the decision to follow a midlife dream. After loading up her New York life and moving it all to Texas, she opened her own Pilates studio ( inspired by the experience in rehabbing that hip, she now devotes much of her business to helping others learn how to work through physical challenges). After buying her horse, Murphy, Cassandra began to put the pieces together of how the physical challenges of midlife horsemanship can be solved with Pilates.

“I find Pilates fascinating, and the more I teach, the more amazed I get,” Cassandra says. “It is not just a series of exercises — it is a philosophy, it is bio-dynamics, it is restructuring and correcting your body and the way in which you move.”

Click here to read my recent post about these muscles and what they do (and why we should care!)

“In Pilates, we learn how to change from moving from peripherals (arm and leg) to moving from our core. These exercises are very subtle AND very powerful in how they change our internal structure. Pilates corrects issues coming from past injuries and also works to prevent future ones. As the old saying goes, “the more you learn about Pilates, the harder it gets!”  Also Pilates is sneaky — the easier the exercise looks, probably the harder it is.

Are you ready to sneak up on your core issues? Join us for the Dust Off Your Dreams Retreat at the Wildcatter Ranch Resort And Spa in Graham, Texas April 13-15 for the weekend that could quite easily change the way you think (and act!) in Part Two of your life.

But HURRY! Registration ends at midnight tonight! (But the retreat’s still a month away) To register — or for more information about this retreat, its dedicated team of presenters, its spectacular venue, or the book that started it all, please call us at 1-888-773-8187, email me, or visit us online at www.dustoffyourdreamsretreats.com.

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!

 

Horses are all about pressure. Wait. So are people. Come learn the difference this understanding can make in both worlds.

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Are you getting the results you are looking for in dealing with people? Do you get frustrated — and more insistent (and sometimes even angry) when you meet with resistance? Do you tend to back off  (or lower your expectations) when people ignore or resist your requests or boundaries?

One of the lessons from horses that has impressed me most lately is the concept of pressure. With horses, of course, we’re talking about physical pressure — using body language to make something move that isn’t moving. (This reminds me of the old adage about duct tape and WD-40, but that’s another story for another time)

But with people, the pressure we’re talking about isn’t quite as obvious. We humans tend to deal in emotional pressure: the feelings that get exchanged in a confrontation, for example.  When we watch the dynamics of physical pressure demonstrated in the interactions of horses, and then relate it back to the emotional pressure at play in human interactions, it can be quite the lightbulb moment. At least it was for me.

Kathy Taylor, CEO of HerdWise, one of our Horseplay presenters at the upcoming Dust Off Your Dreams Women’s Retreat put the whole pressure thing into perspective for me with a little chart — a few simple rules that seem to apply across the board to horses and people alike. And, after playing with this idea in several personal and business scenarios over the past couple of weeks, I think I’m going to have it laminated and keep it in my sock. Seriously. It works.

“Horses are all about relationship,” Kathy explains. “Their pecking order in the herd depends on whether or not they can use their body language (or pressure) to move the feet of the other horses. It’s just as simple as that. Horses demonstrate this concept for us physically; and, because horses  mirror us,  once you are aware of this dynamic it’s easy to see that people relate to one another in exactly the same way. The difference is that instead of kicking and biting and laying back our ears, we humans use emotion to create the pressure that we hope will influence the behavior of another. (Well, most people anyway. Some also kick and bite. Trust me on this.)

So here’s the cheat sheet:

If you ask and someone complies, you stop asking (release the pressure)

If you ask and they ignore you, you ask a little louder or in a more direct way (increase the pressure)

If you ask and they resist, you keep the pressure the same.

This last one is much harder than it sounds.

“Sometimes the tough part is recognizing the difference between ignoring and resisting,” Kathy says. “And, while it’s human nature to want to  increase the pressure when someone resists, that only escalates the emotions at play between you toward anger and fear, which are both ultimately destructive to the relationship. If you can manage to step back from your own emotions when you meet with resistance and just keep the pressure (and the boundary) exactly the same, it will change the nature of your interaction.”

“Does it make people any more likely to do what you want them to?” I couldn’t help but ask.

This is where Kathy laughs at my desire for the golden lasso. I hate confrontation more than spiders.

“Sometimes yes, and sometimes no,” she says. “But it does keep the confrontation from escalating into conflict that does more harm than good to the relationship.”

Want to know more about what horses can teach us about improving relationships as we move more in the direction of our goals and dreams?  Want to hear Kathy’s story of how she combined what she loves with what she always wanted to do to create an award-winning business venture? 

Join us for the Dust Off Your Dreams Women’s Retreat at the Wildcatter Ranch Resort and Spa in Graham, Texas March 13-15. But hurry — registration ends March 15 (Yep, that’s this coming Thursday, but the retreat’s still more than a month away.) and there are 10 spots left. Call us at 1-888-773-8187, email mkfolse@gmail.com, or register online today to claim one of the remaining spots for the weekend that could change Part Two of your life!

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!

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!

 

“This I am today, that I shall be tomorrow.’ The wish, however, must be implemented by deeds.”

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This quote underscores what I believe to be the critical difference between Dust Off Your Dreams and other women’s retreats: the action plan we’ll help you develop from all this introspection and insight.

While there are a lot of retreats that call upon the wisdom of horses to reveal and explore the things that may be holding you back from your dreams, the Dust off Your Dreams Retreat then takes it all a crucial step further. By placing its focus on how to use and apply this information, this retreat will help you clarify your dream — and then take decisive action. (And, as they say, “Goals are nothing more than dreams with a plan and a timetable.”)

The “so what?” edge this retreat is designed to offer will equip its participants to leave the Dust Off Your Dreams Retreat with a plan and a mental toolbox stocked with specific strategies and action steps for moving forward on their freshly clarified dream.

Sometimes, it turns out, what blocks us most from our dreams is the fuzzy, more generalized picture we have of them. To shape our dreams to fit the realities of our lives takes courage, confidence and commitment (and often, the kind of gentle nudging we’ll be providing in our discussions, journaling and meditation exercises).  In fact, we’ve built our mission around Anne’s favorite quote:

“Up to a point a man’s life is shaped by environment, heredity and movement and changes in the world about him; then there comes a time when it lies within his grasp to shape the clay of his life into the sort of thing he wishes to be. Only the weak blame parents, their race, their times, lack of good fortune, or the quirks of fate. Everyone has it within his power to say, ‘this I am today, that I shall be tomorrow.’ The wish, however, must be implemented by deeds.” –Louis L’Amour

Now I’m sure Louis, being the cowboy sort, had no idea how well this wisdom would also apply to women — and the special opportunity midlife gives us to reinvent our lives to be “the sort of thing (we) wish it to be” for our own Second Act. Somewhere, I hope Louis is smiling at his unsung brilliance in the art of inspiring women. There’s something just right about this quote being at the center of what we’re doing in the heart of the Old West to help midlife women round up stray dreams and push them toward their own north star.

For more information or to sign up (only 10 spots left!) for the Dust off Your Dreams Retreat April 13-15 at the Wildcatter Ranch Resort and Spa in Graham, Texas (less than an hour’s drive west of DFW International Airport), go to www.dustoffyourdreamsretreats.com or call 1-888-773-8187.

Click here to order the book that started it all!

 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!