Archive | June, 2009

Getting My Self-Care On at The Crossings

30 Jun

infinitypool_banner

Note to self: Even the most beautiful, fluid, tranquil place in Texas can not protect you from the harsh rays of the sun if you forget to put on sunscreen.

A couple of weekends ago my friend and I decided to take a self-care day at The Crossings here in Austin, TX. For years I had been meaning to go there to take a class, relax, rejuvenate, meditate and sleep. Ironically I, well, never had the time. Even after my friends Renee and Carrie insisted it would do a world of good for me, I still couldn’t get it together. After a week of sleepless nights due in equal parts to a restless toddler and my own inability to unwind from the constant inner chatter, I couldn’t take it anymore. My life had become a whirlwind of reading, writing, cleaning, working, Mommying, wifing, organizing, planning and doing. Mostly it’s all just a blur of constant doing. I’m done.

I’ve been lucky to have always been surrounded by women who are all a bunch of smartypants overachiever types. And I’ve seen this group transform over the years from obsessively working to making time for the art of self-care. Yes, it’s an art because real self care (not just facials and truffles) is a series of choices planted in moments of clarity and true purpose. For me, maybe parenting finally pushed me to it, but mostly I think it’s a choice– an awakening that happens when fatigue, doubt and “being stuck” just won’t do anymore.

So I was grateful when I got the chance to take a day to get my relaxation on.  First, we meanderedspa_hallway200x200 along a trail dotted with beautiful small gardens bursting with native plants, seasonal herbs and wacky sculptures both whimsical and beautiful. We made our way to the pool area where a marvelous infinity pool would be our BFT (best friend today). Before we jumped in, we had an intense few minutes in the spa steamroom which made jumping into our BFT all the more satisfying. The spa building was a glistening mixture of eco-friendly materials, original artwork and maze-like hallways that added to the private and mysterious feel of the space. We were secluded.

I took a water aerobics class (well, it was a brave effort to get my circulation going) while my friend looked absolutely blissed out reading Vanity Fair and lounging by the pool. I quit the class (I liked it, but I wasn’t in the mood) and we sat in the hot tub talked about life, creativity (a little business) and relationships. It was nice to unwind at a pool without the threat of a two-year old hurling himself into the deep end screaming “Crash!!”

the_patio

In our spa robes and wet hair we went to the dining hall for an organic buffet and had an amazing, healthy lunch on the outside patio shaded by majestic oak trees and overlooking a stunning view of the Texas hill country. The veggie quesadillas, curried squash bisque, spinach salad, roasted potatoes, and other delights left both of us feeling very nourished and extremely happy.

sanctuary2After lunch we took a golf cart tour of the facilities. Honestly, it was way too hot to really enjoy being outside unless you were two feet from the pool or a cool shower. So the golf cart would have to do. Our guide Buddy was very friendly and knowledgable and he took us straight to the labyrinth and non-denominational chapel/meditation hall called Solidago Sanctuary. Though only a few years old, it was built with an eye toward the ancient, and it felt that way. I particularly loved the open garden embraced by stone high walls creating a spacious, yet cocoon-like outdoor retreat.

We then had a chance to peek at a room– unfortunately we couldn’t stay the night, but if you happen to attend a wellness retreat, a conference, a wedding or just want to get away, you’ll have simple and elegant accommodations most likely with that pristine, treetop view of the beautuful surrounding hills. The room we visited felt like a quiet treehouse escape. I happen to love that none of the rooms have televisions. “That’s part of the experience here,” Buddy confirmed. Nice.

He took us back to the pool and we spent a little more time there… probably a bit too much because we were both burnt red like free range lobsters saved by PETA. But before we left we checked out the charming spa store and book store filled with unique goodies including jewelry, audio books and every lotion and potion you’d ever need.

It was a good day, at first brought on by a need to aggressively relax but evolving into an active and pleasing foray for all of one’s neglected senses. The mind got a rest, and the senses went to town.

So, yes, I recommend The Crossings as your personal escape… just wait until the triple digits subside and you can enjoy the full range of outdoor offerings.

For this perfect mini-vacation:

Day passes for just $35 a day Monday through Thursday, $55 a day Friday through Sunday.

Your Crossings experience includes:

  • Access to the resort facilities including the infinity edge pool, steam room
  • Two miles of hiking trails
  • Daily activity classes
  • A healthy lunch
  • Breath taking patio views

Reservations required. For more details call 877.944.3003

Soul Lab Radio: Scott Blum, Daily OM founder and author of “Waiting for Autumn”

25 Jun

ScottBlumSometimes when I do a radio interview, thirty minutes seems like just the right amount of time to get to the bottom of something. Today was not one of those days. I wish my interview with Scott Blum about his new novel Waiting for Autumn could have gone on for another hour. But alas, even in thirty minutes, I managed to learn a thing or two. Specifically, we got to the heart of why intuition should be relied upon for life’s big decisions, instead of intellect. We also dicussed the dynamics of shamanic soul retrieval and what inspired him to write this novel in the first place.

Scott is the co-founder of DailyOM– one of the premiere on-line destinations for non-denominational inspirational content, products and courses from some of today’s best-selling authors and luminaries. But before that, Scott was a pioneer in the interactive Internet entertainment industry where he was one of the first American Nintendo programmers and eventually entered the music business producing Peter Gabriel’s critically acclaimed “Eve” CD-ROM. He then founded and was president of iMusic in 1995 and has worked with bands including Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Smashing Pumpkins, No Doubt, and Ben Harper.

In 2004 Scott and his wife Madisyn Taylor founded DailyOM (www.dailyom.com) after wanting to merge their personal interests in spirituality with their professional lives.

In “Waiting for Autumn” we follow the inquisitive main character, Scott, as he finds himself in a parking lot in Ashland, OR where he meets a cardboard sign-toting homeless man named Robert— who would soon become Scott’s spiritual navigator and guide. In the tradition of novels like The Alchemist and The Celestine Prophecy, “Waiting for Autumn” is about a man embarking on a spiritual awakening and attempting to heal his past by confronting the spirit of his dead fiancée, learning the power of nature, exploring the spirit plane, and discovering the power of universal laws.

Download the first three chapters for free…

Mom Told Not to Breastfeed in Public at McKenna Children’s Museum, TX

25 Jun
breastfeeding
UPDATE: Please see the end of this post to read a statement from the museum. I think they responded to this situation quickly and very well. Good for them.
My friend Amy Nylund was breastfeeding her baby at the McKenna Children’s Museum in New Braunfels, TX yesterday. She was told to remove herself and go to a private nursing room instead because someone felt “uncomfortable.” According to the laws of Texas (and the laws of human dignity and respect), mothers can breastfeed babies whenever and wherever the Mother is legally allowed to be. Here’s what she did:
A letter to the director of the McKenna Children’s Museum in New Braunfels.
Anyone who feels inclined to write one of your own (please do!!), the email address is info@mckenna.org. Please make your subject line BREASTFEEDING RIGHTS AT THE MUSEUM. Their phone number is 830-606-9525.

June 24, 2009

To Whom it Concerns:

Earlier today at the McKenna Children’s Museum, I was with my two children, two of my friends, and their four children. As the older children played, we sat with the younger kids near the toddler area. I was nursing my daughter, and my friend Jodi was nursing her son. We were approached by a representative of the museum (I’m not certain if she was a staff member or a volunteer). She asked that we move to the nursing room, because someone had complained and felt “uncomfortable.” We expressed to her that we felt it was within our rights to feed our children wherever we were. She asked again that we move to the private room, and then she left. A few minutes later we were approached by another member of the staff (I regret that I neglected to get her name). She reiterated the sentiment that nursing should only take place in the private room. She said she had to take the other person’s complaint into account, and that since there were three of us mothers, we could take turns watching one another’s children if one of us needed to go nurse.

I am so sad and upset about the way this was handled today. I would encourage you, as an organization, to read the State of Texas policy on breastfeeding, which states:

Tex. Health & Safety Code § 165.001 et seq.
1995 Tex. ALS 600; 1995 Tex. Gen. Laws 600; 1995 Tex. Ch 600; 1995 Tex. HB 359

Chapter 165. Breast-Feeding
Subchapter A. Breast-Feeding Rights and Policies
Sec. 165.001. Legislative Finding

The legislature finds that breast-feeding a baby is an important and basic act of nurture that must be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health and family values. In compliance with the breast-feeding promotion program established under the Federal Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. section 1771 et seq.), the Legislature recognizes breast-feeding as the best method of infant nutrition.
Sec. 165.002. Right to Breast-Feed
A mother is entitled to breast-feed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be.
I am saddened that in a lovely space like your museum, you would discourage and shame a woman who seeks to feed her baby naturally. On your organization’s main web site (www.mckenna.org), it states on the home page “Imagine living in a community where improving people’s well-being is a common goal…Where parents have the resources to nurture and raise children who are strong in both mind and body.” For an organization that seeks to improve the health and well-being of your community, I find it shocking that you would discourage a mother from easily giving her baby the absolute healthiest food: breastmilk.

To ask a woman to go to a private room just doesn’t make sense, especially in a setting where most mothers are watching their older children as well. The fact that I was there with friends has no bearing on what your policy SHOULD be: to allow a woman to feed her child wherever she deems fit.

It is disappointing that you see breastfeeding as offensive. The health benefits of breastfeeding, for both mothers and babies, has been so well established that the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that all babies be breastfed for at least one year. The World Health Organization recommends doing so for at least two years. In the United States, our national average length of time for a baby to be breastfed is six weeks.

The fact that we deprive American babies of the best possible nutritional and immunological support can be attributed directly to the attitudes of people like your two staff members today, who attempt to make women feel that breastfeeding is something to hide.

I was too upset today to ask for my money back on my way out. I paid for three admissions. I will not return to your museum until you develop a written policy supporting the rights of breastfeeding mothers, and until you educate your staff and volunteers. I will tell every mother I know about this incident. Word is already spreading. What happened today gives off the strong impression that your museum is NOT a family-friendly destination. I hope that this isn’t true. I look forward to hearing from you about this incident.

Sincerely,

Amy Nylund
UPDATE!
Amy just got this letter on July 1… yeah!
Good morning Amy,

Thank you for your email and for speaking with me regarding breastfeeding at the McKenna Children’s Museum. I wanted to let you know that the Museum’s breastfeeding policy is now in writing and states that under Texas law, a mother is entitled to breastfeed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be. McKenna Children’s Museum welcomes mothers who want to breastfeed in the Museum. McKenna Children’s Museum has a privacy area available or mothers may breastfeed in any public location of the Museum. If a patron complains about a mother who is breastfeeding, Museum staff will kindly explain that breastfeeding is permitted in the Museum pursuant to Texas law and suggest to that customer that he or she relocate to another section of the Museum. All staff have been informed and educated about this policy.

We hope you will visit us soon.

 

Sincerely,
Alice Jewell, Director
McKenna Children’s Museum

Soul Lab Radio: Shelley Seale, author of “The Weight of Silence: Invisible Children of India”

24 Jun

Weight of SilenceI had an eye-opening conversation today on Soul Lab Radio with writer Shelley Shelley SealeSeale who just released her first book, The Weight of Silence: Invisible Children of India. In it, she chronicles her experiences visiting and getting to know a handful of the 25 million homeless children who live in slums, orphanages and on the streets. Many of the stories mirror those of the characters featured in the Academy Award-winning film Slumdog Millionaire.

Shelley is a freelance writer based out of Austin, Texas, but she has traveled around the world capturing stories of real people. Shelley has written for the Seattle Times, Washington Magazine, the Austin Business Journal, Intrepid Travel and Andrew Harper Traveler Magazine among others, and is the Sustainable Travel Columnist at The Examiner.

Two Experiences, One Body

20 Jun

Next weekend I am presenting with my dear friend and colleague, Nettie Hartsock, at the annual Writers’ League of Texas Agents Conference. We’ll be talking about all things Web 2.0 as it relates to writers, and I am so pleased to have the opportunity to talk to colleagues and, of course, to attend the conference and expand my knowledge of the publishing industry. I went to this event last year and was so impressed not only by the quality, number and accessibility of the agents, but also at the incredible diversity and passion of the hundreds of writers in attendance. It was fuel for my creative spirit, and an enormous inspiration to my writing practice.

226amma03_FamilyHugBut truth be told, I was also looking forward to seeing Amma in Dallas next weekend. Each summer she tours the U.S. giving Darshan and hugging every last one of us dirty, anxious, helpless souls. It would have been glorious, but to be among writers and connecting with people in my community is my urgent call this year. I will see her next year, or perhaps make the sort of leaps and bounds in my life that will take me and my family to India to see her. Who knows? Go see Amma this summer… and give her big hugs from me. In the meantime, here’s a little pick-me-up with this idea of two experiences, one body! Have a great Saturday!

Supercool Blogs That You Should Read

19 Jun

People have been asking me lately which blogs I really love to read. I know I need to mention these guys more, but here you have it. Here is a list of blogs and other stuff I dig– similar content to Soul Lab, but also very unique indeed.

Idol Chatter on Beliefnet.com combines the latest pop culture news with sort of a spiritual spin on TJI_REV-RUNthings. Yes, it totally makes sense. Recent posts have talked about stupid antics that Christians on reality shows have been caught doing (yeah, we’re talking about you Speidi); The Jon & Kate Plus 8 dilemma asking readers to share heartfelt advice– remember this is Beliefnet, not E! News; and an enlightening post on the 10 most inspiring celebrities using Twitter in positive ways… from Rev Run to Paulo Coehlo.

On YogaJournal.com, there are a couple of areas to check out. First, let me just say that I absolutely do not do Yoga (I’ve tried– Lord I’ve tried), but I probably will some day again and I really like the idea of it. So, what the hell, I get into Yoga Journal when I can. Check out the Yoga Buzz blog and you’ll find posts about Janice Dickinson trying to find natural laxatives in the jungle on an episode of “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!” Then there’s the hysterical web series, “Ogden: The Inappropriate Yoga Guy.” Check it out:

rainn-wilson-the-rocker1Spearheaded by Rainn Wilson, Soul Pancake is an uniquely cool site where life’s big questions are just put right out there for spiritually-minded hipsters (or seeksters as I prefer calling them) to dicsuss. There is a great emphasis on the relationship between spirituality and creativity which I appreciate. A recent post asks the question, “Is fear learned or inherent?” accompanied by a video of Spike Jonze trying to freak out his son by wearing a prop head from his latest movie, Where the Wild Things Are (coming out in October). I have to say that the quality of the comments in response to some of these questions is refreshingly thoughtful on the most part. In another post, the question is posed, “Are you a social chameleon” trying to understand the concept of putting on various personas to meet the expectations of variety of audiences in one’s life (I talk about this in another earlier post). They showed this cool video with that question:

Soul Lab Radio: Interview with “The God Theory” author Bernard Haisch, PhD

18 Jun

bernardhaischI spoke with Bernard Haisch, Ph.D. this morning on Soul Lab Radio regarding his latest book, The God Theory. Haisch is an astrophysicist, author of over 130 scientific publications, and was a scientific editor of the Astrophysical Journal for ten years. His professional positions include staff scientist at the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory, deputy director of the Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Astrophysics at the University of California, Berkeley, and visitingGod Theory scientist at the Max-Planck-Institute for Extraterrestial Physics in Garching, Germany. He was also editor-in-chief of the Journal of Scientific Exploration. Prior to his career in astrophysics, Haisch attended the Latin School of Indianapolis and the St. Meinrad Seminary as a student for the Catholic priesthood.

He writes: “I offer a genuine insight into how you can, and should, be a rational, science-believing human being and at the same time know that you are also an immortal spiritual being, a spark of God. I propose a worldview that offers a way out of the hate and fear-driven violence engulfing the planet.”

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