It’s still dark as I dig out my silver french press from the back of the cupboard. I had forgotten about it, being hidden from view. But a glimpse yesterday had me bringing it forth, with some delicious memories. I heated water, thinking of those early mornings at Breitenbush Hot Springs, in Oregon, where I taught every year for 24 years, leading women’s retreats full of dance, laughter, tears, journaling, yoga, sweat, soaking in glorious hot tubs under the stars, delicious veggie meals cooked lovingly for us 3 times a day, and more dance! Co-created originally with mythical goddess Patrice (RIP), I carried on this tradition, desiring to bring women a respite from daily life, a place to relax, adventure, classes to guide them into moving their bodies with sensuous and strong bellydance, to join in a magical circle of other women, yearning for change of something, allowing themselves time to dig in, question, expand, and refresh! 

This coffee pot came with me every year, as coffee was the one thing they did not serve! I wanted my early morning fix, but it became a sweet ritual with one of my co-teachers, Lynea Gillen, a healer, yogini, and African dancer. I had several co-teachers over the years, sharing this weekend with them for the good of the women, always exploring something new, different, or even familiar. Elena Lipson, Carol Vance, Cammi Vance, Shay Moore, Jennifer Strait, and others over the years, but Lynea was with me for at least 15 of them.

And that coffee pot started our day together. The two of us would get up extra early, before anyone else, and go to soak in the meadow pool, a glorious outdoor soaking area, with deer strolling by and a view of the surrounding mountains. Then we would walk quietly into our large lodge room, where we held all of our classes, to sit  on the floor, and sip our coffee, talking, writing, listening to some beautiful morning music, and planning our day for our students. It was special times for us, together, as we co-created and shared stories, loving teaching together and planning what specialties to share with the women, per our theme for that year.

This chrome plated coffee pot has traveled with me. I got it years ago when I was teaching in Scotland, but this yearly retreat was always something incredibly special. 

I have taught around the world and love leading retreats, offering women a sense of coming home to themselves, with special retreat time, but with movement and magic intertwined. I had a beautiful retreat to Costa Rica planned for this past July, but Covid canceled that one out. The year before I took several women to an art-filled town in Mexico for a long colorful weekend retreat and we danced and wrote and made art, ate and walked and slept! I miss teaching  groups in person and look forward to the time when I can plan another adventurous retreat for you. In the interim, I am planning more online events, masterminds and masterclasses to come, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, take a moment to reflect on some memories that changed you, or rituals and traditions that you look forward to ( holiday season is upon us!). And take some time out for yourself to retreat. I hope we can do this together soon!

As one woman wrote about our retreat: Everything fit together and flowed, and together we all created joyful noise which seemed to broadcast in ever-widening circles. I can still feel the vibrations of that moment out-of-time, like a chorus of birds singing blessings into the air! CV

This morning I lift my coffee cup to you, Lynea, and those fond memories, so grateful to have had that time with you, and toasting to all of you, friends, for being on this ongoing journey with me,

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