Open Space: A weird and irresistible way to lead a retreat, and why you should come!

Open Space:  A weird and irresistible way to lead a retreat, and why you should come!

So this retreat thing.  I’ve been struggling for 2 weeks trying to explain to everyone what the Fall 2015 Embrace The Wobble Yoga retreat is about.  Then in a conversation on Facebook a thought occurred to me:  just explain it!  Tell your story about it!

And now, my Open Space story.

When I was 22, my mom invited me to go to a conference.  She had been to the one the year before and had a good time.  Basically, I was thinking all these freeze-dried hippies got together at a nice resort on Lake Superior and sat around in a circle and sang Kum Ba Yah all weekend long, with incense and tie dye.  Since my mom was paying the conference fee, lodging, and meals, I figured, “What the hell?……It’ll be nice by the lake at any rate.”

So, on the first day, we all (around 60 of us) get in this big circle, and the King Hippie (A very cool man named Harrison Owen–wearing a hat but no tie dye) begins to explain the weekend, and how beauty and order come from chaos, and how a little of that is a very healthy thing in our lives, and when we are willing to put our issues and challenges out there for others to see and collaborate on, we get a whack load of shit done in a very short amount of time  (my words, not his, and PS, there were some very high-powered people in the room, I learned later, and they were more deep thinkers, business moguls, and wonderful artists–with a touch of hippie in there too).

So then, we were all invited to put down topics of interest, concern, passion, or struggle on a sheet of paper and tape it to this big blank wall called the “Marketplace.”   A bunch of papers went up.  Then, we were all invited to take a look at the papers—the topics—and put our names down on the papers of interest to us.  There was a unifying theme to this whole bizarre thing, but for the life of me I cannot remember what it was.  I just put my name down on some of the topics that looked fun to talk about.

What happened next was this:  I remember not a thing, really, about what was discussed.  It was 18 years ago, after all.  What I remember is the way I felt.  Every group I joined welcomed me fully and cared about what I thought.  Some of the talks ended up being about my stuff and the group focused on helping me work through thoughts, ideas, solutions, etc. to whatever we were puzzling through.  In other groups I mainly listened and helped others where I thought I could.

Not once did anyone pat me on the head for being one of the youngest people there.  Not once was I asked to leave a group or given the once-over, or non-verbally told I wasn’t welcome at the cool kids’ table.  Never was it implied that my thoughts and views weren’t relevant or important.

After a life of being on the fringes, struggling to find my place, and feeling awkward in groups, I found acceptance and welcome.  I felt powerful and expansive and humbled and grateful all at the same time.  I felt extreme joy and the freedom to PLAY with these other weirdos.  Maybe sort of like ComicCon, only existential and sans storm trooper costumes?  I don’t know. I DO know during the celebration party and dance, I found myself playing DJ and getting the whole room to get up and move.  People were asking geeky ME to show them how to dance like I did.  Holy shit.  How is that even possible?

Needless to say, this was a life-changing experience to say the least.

I went to another such conference a couple summers later, and the theme was different.  This time, as a fledgling manager in my job, I came away with all sorts of tools for people skills, leadership, training and facilitation—-everything that has been a springboard for where I am now.

And the same feeling of personal power, importance, acceptance, love, and value permeated the whole weekend.

Fast forward to now.  I want to host a retreat because people need escapes that do not require airplanes and four thousand dollars.  I want to throw a little yoga in there (duh), but really, I want to create the space for the same feelings described above to occur for a group of 50 of my newest friends.  I want to create the opportunity for expanded community and turbo-charged problem solving.  I want to create a memorable experience in the beauty of nature with folks who want to go deep and laugh long.

So, if this all sounds good to you, I hope you will come play with me in September.  I don’t know exactly what will happen, but I know it will be good.  And if there is one thing we all need more of, it’s goodness.

See you in a few months at Dancing Yarrow, Wobblers.  And, here’s some early-bird incentive.  Register in the next two weeks and save fifty bucks.  I REALLY want you to party with me.

To sign up visit our site here: Embrace the Wobble Retreat

Take care and have a great week!

When Yoga Doesn’t Work…

When Yoga Doesn’t Work…

This week has been a little tough.  There are many deadlines to meet for an upcoming yoga conference, the studio and classes and clients to serve, and a first-in-our-history retreat to finish planning and begin promoting.  Also, it’s been a week of injury for me as well, which leaves me feeling tired, in pain, frustrated, and sad that my regular activities are on hold till I heal.  (I’m kind of used to this by now, it’s chronic arthritis that flares up from time to time, especially seasonally.)

My go-to way of coping with weeks like this is to deny, deny, deny that anything is hard.  I’m trying to “use” my yoga tools—-detachment, gratitude, smile, breathe, stretching gently, etc.  None of them are really working at all to make me feel any better.

So, I’m here to say that yoga does not always work to fix life or to transcend challenges or rise above circumstance.  Sometimes it really does do all those things.  Just not all at once and not this week.

I’m sitting here right now writing and struggling (again) to admit that I cannot do everything and sometimes I need help.  I hate that I’m beginning to come around to the thought that maybe I need these weeks to remind me of those facts.

I’ve been reading a lot of articles on Facebook today about people who have problems that are way worse than mine—-even a very good one about Keanu Reeves and all the heaps and tons of loss he has suffered in his 50 years.  More than anyone deserves to experience, for sure.  Even THAT does not make me feel any better about my current place.

I think, then, the only thing to do is allow and admit that I struggle too—that I am struggling now, right this minute, and yet I am okay.  I will struggle for as long as I do and then life will move through a new rhythm and it will be my turn to not struggle for awhile.

I don’t write this article to garner sympathy or have a pity party– rather to serve as an example that it is okay to be in the group of “other people who have problems”  once in a while and sit there for as long as you need to.

It’s nice sometimes, just to let others into your struggle.  I can’t think of anything specifically that I need (other than for my back to stop hurting—but I have a great chiropractor) right now…maybe just company.  So, Wobblers, keep me company while I sit here in the soup.  What is going on with all of you this week?  What is your high?  What is your low?  What are you doing this weekend?

Be well and tell those who keep you company through the struggles AND the triumphs how much you appreciate them.

Oh, and here is a link to a lion and a tiger keeping each other company.  This video actually DOES make me feel a bit better.


A completely shameless plug!

A completely shameless plug!

Hi, Wobblers.  I’m terribly excited about this Saturday, so I’m going to talk about it in my blog—because it’s mine and I can.

This Saturday, we are going to hang out in the studio for a couple of hours and talk about bodies.  Their shape, their size, their abilities, or lack thereof.  Our feelings—good and bad—about them.

We are going to talk about “perfection” and what that word means to us and how we frame our bodies around that word.

We are going to get educated on exactly what it takes to maintain certain ranges of body fat, and how much work it takes to feel and appear fit.

We are going to be making some personal decisions—-about what healthy looks and feels like–for each of us.  About what kind of nutrition makes us feel nourished, supported, entertained, and satisfied.  About how, when, and where we move our bodies—what our limits are and how to expand them—both in our minds and limbs.  AND WE ARE GOING TO BE COMPLETELY OKAY WITH OUR CHOICES.

Okay, and because it’s a yoga studio, we are also going to do some yoga.  (Of course!)  Finally, we are going to sample some snacks too, so you get to be a voice in deciding the products our studio may offer to it’s students and members in the coming months.  We exist because of you, so why wouldn’t we want to know what you think about our decisions?

So, if you want to join our body party, we still have a few slots left.   Register here on this link:

This could be the first step to your BEST self.  Or maybe it’s your 99th step.  Either way, we want you on the mat.  Plus, several very cool people have already signed up, and you don’t want to waste a chance to be one of the cool kids, do ya?  I didn’t think so.

Take care, Wobblers.  Say nice things to yourself, and we’ll see you Saturday.


Why You Should Get The Hell Out of Dodge

Why You Should Get The Hell Out of Dodge

I’d really love to book a flight every quarter to Bali, or Tahiti, or even Florida for a week or two of blissful sunshine, luxury accommodations, and gourmet whole food prepared by the best chefs in the industry.  I’ve been to the beach before (when it was within driving distance to my house) and I fully believe that breaks like the one described above are absolutely essential to our health and well-being.

Trips like the one I described help us to de-stress, renew, fill our “cups”, and heal all of our cumulative little hurts—-the physical, spiritual, and emotional pains we endure on a daily basis.

Though someday I fully believe I will have the financial means to travel the world with my family and vacation for weeks or months on end, today I live in the real world.

Thankfully, in this real world, a retreat space exists to provide all of the benefits I just talked about, and it’s RIGHT HERE just outside of Minneapolis.  Can you believe that?!

Ladies and gentleman, I give you……….Dancing Yarrow Farm, and Dennis and Melanie, the Experts-in-Everything owners.

These people are amazing.  And their land is amazing.  And you really should just drop everything and go there.  With or without your kids—either scenario works great.

Melanie and Dennis have created a full-service, farm-to-table retreat experience complete with a running river, sauna, hiking, and Frisbee golf for those who prefer a mainstream family getaway.  For those open to a little deeper dive down the rabbit hole, Dennis provides herbalist healing, dietary consulting, and will readily share his wealth of knowledge on energized mineralization of his soil and the evolution of his journey to complete sustainable living.  It’s fascinating.   Plus, they live in this really cool dome house that is a study in energy efficiency and creative space design.

Our meals (dinner and breakfast) were a rainbow of seasonal color and flavor, despite it being not-quite-spring.  We enjoyed a local chicken, roasted to perfection by Melanie’s capable hands, fresh beets, green beans,  and potatoes.   Dessert was a German-inspired raspberry crumbly cake, finished with a coffee-esque drink called Dandy-blend, made from dandelions and other cool stuff.  I won’t even mention the TWO kinds of pancakes and egg-quinoa-vegetable casserole deliciousness we enjoyed for breakfast the following morning.

Wobblers, THIS is a retreat for real people.  You can chill out or fill your plate with activity.  You can totally unplug.  You can work (they love help on the farm, and reward you with food for different levels of work commitment during the growing season) or play, learn, sweat and swim, or even kayak on the Buffalo river.

Stay tuned, Wobble Tribe, because plans are in the works for a Wobble Yoga retreat at Dancing Yarrow in the Fall.  Meanwhile, take yourself, your spouse, and/or your kids out there for some summer camping to get a taste.  You won’t want to leave.  Find them at  Tell them Embrace The Wobble Yoga wishes we were there!

Even though the pics below were taken on a cold, wet, March day, there is still so much beauty and we left feeling warm, full, and renewed!  Melanie and Dennis are featured in the second pic.


dennis and melanie

dancing yarrow farm

Resolution Refresh!

Resolution Refresh!

‘Afternoon, Tribe.   I’ve been hearing lately from many people they are in a slump.  This is pretty common up here in the land of the Vitamin D deficiency.  March is tough month.  It’s spring one minute, and winter the next.  Seems like people are getting one last cold virus just because they can.  We can’t plant anything or break out the barbeque just yet, but also cannot skate, ski, or snowboard.  Best of all, shoveling is still required some days!

Oi.  Slumpity-slump-slump.

So, my best advice is pretty short and simple—kick yourself in the butt to do one healthy thing each day.

  1. Move your body (meet us on the mat—-it is an instant mood-lifter, promise!)
  2. Take a nap.
  3. Eat a salad with lots of greens (they are just coming into season now……)
  4. Talk to a friend—spend 10 minutes bitching about how crappy it is right now, and then encourage each other and say happy things for the next 20 minutes.
  5. Look at your body—-find a piece of you that you love—your legs?  Your shoulder?  Your cute little ears? And let that love radiate through your entire self….
  6. Have a glass of water or a cup of herbal tea.
  7. Go shopping for a pair of shorts.
  8. Get a pedicure to prepare for sandals.
  9. Remember that our current “tweener” season will not last forever, and our toes will be in the lake before too long.

So, that’s it!  Wobble on, Tribe……Spring’s almost here!

Changing The World One Wobble At A Time

Changing The World One Wobble At A Time

Did you know that we all change the world?  Since we are all unique, the world would not be the same without each of us standing around at our respective bus stops.   The chance smile, a bit of eye contact, the loose change you give to the dude with the sign on the freeway exit, it all makes a difference.

I started to get a little discouraged about my difference-making ability the other day when I heard about this pizza place in Philadelphia—maybe you saw the video making the rounds?  Basically, the owner sells pizza slices for $1.00 a piece—pretty ho-hum run-of-the-mill business plan and I’m sure he pays his bills okay if he’s in a good location.  At that price, the pizza really doesn’t even have to taste great, although I’m sure he cares about the yumminess of the product.

The cool thing about this place is that he offers his customers the chance to pay it forward by paying more for a slice (customer’s choice) and then whatever amount over the initial dollar gets written up on a Post-It(™) and stuck to the windows and walls of the joint as a coupon.  Anyone can use a coupon if they need it.

So, here’s this guy, with his little pizza shop, making a huge difference to a lot of people in a way they can immediately feel—as in, they don’t feel hungry any more when they use a coupon for a slice.

After reading this amazing story, I was lamenting that my little studio should be doing more, being more, helping more people, and trying to be everything to everyone.  (My ultimate goal is to save the world with yoga—-as any good yoga teacher would wish.)

I often wonder how to bring yoga to more people in my very diverse community, and I know that money is one barrier to coming to class.  Transportation might be another. And, even though our community is diverse, our yoga classes are not—-we are mostly white, mostly women.  I’m not sure how to broaden our base and reach out to more people from different walks of life.  So, I’m sitting there stewing in the juice of all this stuff, and then…..

The very next day in my inbox was a message from one of my students.  She was saying that she feels more confident in her skin and able to proudly wear clothes that show her shape a little more, even if she feels her shape is not “perfect.”  She says she can do more with her body because of our classes.  She says she is in for the long haul, and the vibe she enjoys with us is one of acceptance, humor, and encouragement–All the things I set out to make true about the business and the service we provide.

Maybe it’s not so much about the difference we make in the lives of the masses.  Maybe it’s about making a difference one person at a time.  

So that doesn’t mean I’m resting on my laurels over here and patting myself on the back and calling it a day.  (Okay, maybe I gave myself a tiny back-pat……but still……)  I’m still committed to diversifying our student base and breaking down that barriers that might keep someone from experiencing the trans-formative power of yoga.  My method can be one of attraction above promotion, and it’s okay if the process moves slowly.

Thanks to all of you who are making a difference in MY life by reading this blog and coming to class and having fun and making friends in our community and all the rest.   My hope is that you take whatever good vibes you get from Wobbling and make a Wobbly difference in the life of just ONE other person.  If we all did that with intention, imagine the mountains we could move!

Take care, Tribe.  Love to all!

Are We Worth It? The Money Wobble Continued….

Are We Worth It? The Money Wobble Continued….

Right now I’m hearing Pink Floyd in my head. “Money, it’s a gas….grab that cash with both hands and make a stash…” These last couple of weeks, I’ve found myself finally getting past some very old energy around money. Maybe some of you can relate to some of my stuff. Definitely weigh in in the comments with your own Money Wobble!

My whole life, I’ve been on the edge of the money spotlight. Many members of my extended family are what I would consider to be wealthy—large homes, new cars, vacations, sports, dinners out, designer clothing, climbing up the hierarchy of their offices, or creating their own wealth through entrepreneurship. They appear (at least on Facebook) happy, well-adjusted, active, fun-loving, accomplished, and good-looking. They look like they have it all figured out.  This is what I think about people with money. I have also over the years told myself that people with money are also selfish, snobby, entitled, rude, insufferable, and mean. To say the least, my relationship with money has, until very recently, been a jumbled, convoluted mess. I want money and all the fun it brings, as well as the chance to do good with it, but I push it away with my negative thinking about “People Who Have Money”.

Before I get excommunicated from my clan, let me be clear that I definitely love my family and friends, and they’ve all worked really hard for what they have. They’ve also been very generous with their resources, providing a place for me to crash when I visit (in one case with an infant with an ear infection who kept everyone awake all week. I spilled antibiotics on their carpet to boot), or even a place to live for several weeks in their spa-like Minnesota home while we waited for the closing date on our own home to come around. Plus, we got some amazing giveaways from those same relatives when they completed their own move! The people I surround myself with are kind, generous souls regardless of the financial wealth they possess. I’m proud that I have such an amazing circle.

Somehow, my immediate family missed the wealthy gene. Money was a bit of a mystery to me growing up…..we lived in a large house that used to be my grandparents’ home… parents worked hard to have us live there, but still came up short a lot. So, sometimes, we appeared to have money but really there were times when I know my parents wondered where the grocery money was going to come from that week. The car was old, and the next one was a hand-me-down from grandparents. My dad drove a beater truck that required a screw driver wedged into the 3-on-the-tree shifter in order to work. Good times.

My friends all judged me based on our home, so I appeared “rich”, even though there was a ton of financial stress. My parents worked hard, but never seemed to get ahead. Mom and Dad worked in “regular” jobs for a number of years, and then they both created their own businesses. Some years were better than others, but for a number of reasons, neither of them ever hit explosive business growth while I was growing up.

Ironically, because of some of our hardships, I got a lot of good money skills from both parents, but also inherited a lot of conflicting messages. One of my skills is taking risks and doing what I feel called to do instead of just putting in hours at a “job”.  By their example, my parents showed me that it IS possible to do what you love and still eat–maybe not lobster and caviar–but one can certainly live and have great contentment on tater tot casserole.

Another great skill I have, thanks to my parents, is being able to do a lot with a little. This has helped me budget effectively in the workplace and at home. I can also throw myself at financial adversity with all I have and manage to come out on my feet.  However, for all the strength I have to overcome a challenge—-to survive financially, I feel so much less comfortable with thriving—with huge success. Like perhaps it will change me and I will become what I fear: selfish, entitled, mean, or rude.

I recently found out that my negative preconceptions about wealthy people are not even MINE. I have another set of grandparents (on my Mom’s side) who played this tape over and over—-they were also entrepreneurs, but were careful not to provide too much of a luxury product because they wanted “regular” people to always be able to come to their rustic fishing resort. If a well-off family DID stay as guests, my grandparents were known to make comments like “Wow! Those folks are so nice you’d never guess how much money they have!”

That message permeated my mother’s upbringing, and coupled with the wealth on my father’s side, it’s little wonder I ended up with such a mixed financial coin purse.

What is amazing to me is how hard it is to overcome your financial legacy. I mean, it goes both ways. The wealthy tend to stay that way for the most part. The struggling tend to hold onto the struggle. I know the latter has been me for a long while now.

Today, I am finally ready to change that. I know that the negative message about wealth has never been mine, so it’s time I let it go. I’m learning how to ask to be paid what I am worth (because we offer a FANTASTIC product that our students love), to pay my staff as much as I possibly can, and to create earning power for others as I explore what that means to me. I am also learning to be discerning in who I choose to work with, and to support other local business owners on a similar path whenever possible.

See, I don’t want to gain wealth all by myself. I need teachers along the way and lots of company, but I truly believe in the Law of Attraction, and I’m willing to do the inner work of creating space for wealth. I also believe there is enough for everyone. Even in the face of a widening financial “gap”, I choose not to take part in the gap. I feel a shift beginning to happen.  And the Universe does too.  The same day I had the revelation that my money messages have never really been mine,  two unexpected and lucrative clients popped up and purchased training packages!

So I think there is hope.  After all, it’s so much more fun to write your own story. And isn’t that story so much better when the main character gets to drive a great (environmentally responsible) car and go to Disney once in a while?

Take care Wobblers,

Leah :)