One Hour Can Change Your Life

Relax and focus - in one hour - at or near your home. Use your One Hour Retreat to get back on track - in your business, in your relationships, or in just being YOU!


How NOT to Retreat

True confessions....  I - me - the one whose mantra is"if you are overwhelmed, off-kilter, confused, or just want to get more focused and in flow, take a short retreat" - I actually had myself convinced that launching a new venture constituted a "retreat." 

I had some basis for this.  After all, rational-lies do tend to have a kernel of logic.  I do occasionally do things on my retreats that to the outside world would appear to be "work."  For instance, a few years back, my husband and daughter were traveling on the day after Christmas.  I decided to give myself the gift of that day to try to get my life in order (this was before I had articulated the At Home Retreat concept).  I looked forward to having that day all to myself during the entire month of December. 

On my appointed retreat day, I spent several hours collecting my stacks of unsorted important and unimportant papers, unread magazines, outstanding to-dos, undone errands, wish lists,  assorted household clutter and other "open items" and sorting through them using David Allen's "Getting Things Done" system.  I can't say it was the most fun I've ever had, but it did have a Zen-like quality to it.  David's system forces you to single task and deal with one item at a time (without losing track of other priorities).  I was taking control of my life again - and that was liberating.  And while it was "work," it was also a form of self-care, a giving of attention to things that needed attention, a collecting of "to-do's" that allowed me to see the true priorities and what needed to be dropped or delegated.  I had a LOT of stuff, and, as satisfying as the work was, it took a fair amount of energy, so I didn't finish it that day.  But I did "do, drop or delegate" a lot of items, and got much needed clarity, at a global as well as a detail level, about what was left to be done.  I felt much more in control of my busy life when I was done.  And that sense of calm and control lasted for months afterward. Vestiges of it are still with me today, in the systems I have in place and the knowledge that I can regain control on those occassions when life happens and things have slipped a bit.

I have also been known to use a One Hour Retreat to get clarity about a business issue or to brainstorm strategies.  And if my intention for the time was to take a step back in order to obtain clarity and focus, that time did in fact constitute a "retreat."

So, with that history, I looked forward to using this year's post-holiday retreat (yesterday) to finalize the launch of my new "30 Days to Done: Get Your Writing Done" online series.  (If you happen to be interested in that, you can get the details here:

But now I have to admit (gulp!) that that was not a retreat.  That was work.  Not "special" work, like the Getting It Done exercise I went through a few years ago, or "clarity and focus" work -  just everyday tasks that needed to get done and had gotten delayed due to the holidays.  And while I am really excited about completing the launch of the program, and looking forward to being able to share in my clients' success as they do in fact get their writing done, that doesn't make doing that work into a retreat.

And so now I'm planning a real retreat, starting as soon as I publish this post.  I know I "should" be publicizing the writing program, and I "should" be planning for the New Year (and I have been doing some thinking about that).  But right now, what I need is to relax and just be....

Retreats are great for planning, re-grouping, re-prioritizing, doing something creative, or jump-starting a spiritual practice.  But we don't always need to DO something on our retreats.  Sometimes, we can just be.  Just relax, have a cup of hot chocolate or hot coffee or hot toddy, sit by the fireplace or under a cozy blanket, and just nap, read, or listen to a favorite bit of music.

We don't always have to journal, pray, or do yoga.  We don't always have to plan or prioritize or observe. Sometimes we can - sometimes we need to - just be.

I invite you to take a "just being" retreat this week.  Take an hour (or more!) and let yourself truly unwind, let go, and be at peace.

Happy be-ing!

P.S. If you are in the mood for a New Year's oriented retreat, here is one to try:
This is from Linda Dessau, one of my favorite writing gurus.  I just discovered this site today, and found out that Linda is also a creativity coach.  I love her New Year's exercise, especially the emphasis on looking at how you've changed and grown, not just on what you've accomplished.  And the exercise from The Art of Possibility (the Zanders call it "Give Yourself An A") is one of my favorites.  Reminds me that it's time for me to revisit that book!

If you're beating yourself up over too much December indulgence of one type or another, check out last year's One Hour Retreat suggestion here:

Happy retreating!


A Gratitude Retreat?? Get Real!

Thanksgiving is upon us - and offers a perfect time to take a gratitude retreat.

I know, I know - it sounds pretty hokey.  But stay with me, just for a minute.

Turns out that counting your blessings is actually good for you (and yes, I do know that the family you may be spending Thanksgiving with may or may not be among your blessings...)  Researchers have found that practicing gratitude will likely improve not only your mood, but also your resistance to illness, the quality of your sleep and your progress toward your goals!

Spiritual traditions have touted the practice of gratitude for millenia.  And now studies by Robert Emmons, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis, and others have provided scientific evidence to back up the anecdotal evidence.  Even business schools (Graziadio School of Business and Management) and WebMD tout the benefits of an attitude of gratitude. 

A simple way to practice gratitude is to take just 3-5 minutes on two or three evenings in the next week to write down what you are grateful for.  List as many things as you can think of in the time you have allotted, or write in more depth about three things and why you are grateful for them.

If you find this practice helpful, continue it indefinitely, or whenever things don’t seem to be going your way.

For more on this subject, check out THANKS! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier (New York: Mariner Books, 2008) by Robert Emmons, PhD.

I am grateful that you are taking time to retreat!  I am convinced that if we each took a One Hour Retreat once a week and 3-5 minute mini-retreats once or twice a week, the world would be a better place.

Happy Thanks-Giving!


Take a Dose of Nature and Call Me in the Morning

I have always found nature and the outdoors to be restorative, and now doctors are actually prescribing it!

In the October/November 2010 issue of National Wildlife magazine, Dr. Daphne Miller, a family physician and associate clinical professor  at UC-San Francisco, describes physicians' use of "park prescriptions."  These "park prescriptions" are basically recommendations to spend time in greenspace doing some form of light movement.  Dr. Miller reports that "doctors around the country are medicating their patients with nature in order to prevent (or treat) health problems ranging from heart disease to attention deficit disorder." 

As the days get shorter and colder, it can be tempting to snuggle up indoors with a cup of hot chocolate.  And that could be fine retreat.  But getting out and getting some fresh air, even for just 5 or 10 minutes, can be incredibly energizing.   An infusion of sunshine and oxygen can do wonders for your mind, body and spirit - even on a cold day. 

A study by researchers in Japan found that the Japanese practice of "forest bathing" (basically, spending time in a forest) found that "forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments." 

Another study, by Andrea Faber Taylor and Frances E. Kuo of the University of Illinois, found that a 20 minute walk in a park improved concentration in children with ADHD more than a comparable 20 minute walk downtown or in a well-kept neighborhood.  And, even those of us who do not suffer from ADHD have felt the effects of attention deficit - think of those times when you have been multi-tasking for hours and suddenly cannot seem to focus on anything.

For those of you who remain skeptical of the effects of nature on health and well-being, I've included a few links to the research below - a Google search will turn up many more. 

For those of you who already know the benefits of nature, stop reading and get thee outside!

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”  -John Muir


A (Would-Be) Writer's Retreat

If you've ever dreamed of being a writer - whether of fiction or
non-fiction, a short story or a book, a poem or an instructional manual - you are probably aware of the existence of  "writer's retreats."  But, intriguing as they may sound, since you're not really a writer, you would never dream of actually attending one.  All those other writers - those accomplished writers, those writers who have gotten going, those writers who actually write - would be too intimidating.

Lest you are wondering, I say all that with tongue firmly in cheek.  But having coached many would-be writers, I also know that there is a lot of truth there. Every writer thinks his or her Writer's Block is unique, insurmountable, and possibly neurotic.

I invite you to experiment with using a series of One Hour Retreats to get yourself writing!

The beauty of the One Hour Retreat is that you can fit it in whenever you have time.  And whether you schedule it in advance, or just look for opportunities to sneak it in, your subconcious will start writing before you even take pen, pencil or keyboard in hand!

Tips for a Successful Would-Be Writer's Retreat

1) Set your intention to use your retreat time to write.  No excuses, no phone calls, no texting, no e-mail. Set an intention to use the time to write.  Even if what comes out is crap.  Even if can't think of anything original to say.  Even if you have "writer's block." 

2) Carry a notebook or sheet of paper with you at all times, to record random ideas that may suddenly pop up once you've set your intention.

3) When retreat time comes, write!  That may seem obvious, but if the dreaded Writer's Block tries to join your retreat, write anyway.  Write about your day, describe the space you are in, critique what you watched on television last night or write about a current joy or concern.  Just write!  You will likely find that if you just ignore Writer's Block and continue on, W.B. will get bored and decide to leave the party.

4) When your retreat time ends, acknowledge yourself for getting something on paper, whether it is golden prose or scattered fragments of ideas.  It is progress - acknowledge that  progress and invite more to come your way.

5) Start planning for your next One Hour Writer's Retreat.  And keep that notebook handy!

If Writer's Block just won't stop harassing you, then I invite you to schedule a Guided One Hour Retreat, using the link in the right sidebar.  I have a knack for helping people get clear about what it is they are trying to express and then get writing.  And I love watching "would-be writers" turn into writers.


Take A Vacation Without Leaving Home

A Limited Time Gift for You - A Full Length Audio Meditation

Can't get away for a vacation?

Use the attached audio visualization to take a vacation in your mind. Take advantage of the fact that your mind does not easily distinguish between the imagined and the real to "trick" yourself  into relaxing - body, mind and spirit.

This visualization takes place at the beach, and provides a simple technique to help you bring the energy of a beach holiday back into your every-day.

Link to the audio:    [This offer has expired - but the series is still available at]

Many of my clients find that relaxation exercises, visualizations, prayer and other types of meditation provide instant stress relief and help them reconnect with their best selves. Try it today - you have nothing to lose!

This link will be active until August 15th - feel free to listen as often as you'd like. And feel free to share it with others who might enjoy it!


The meditation linked above is #4 in the Simple Little Practices Meditation Series. Save $5.00 if you subscribe to the entire series before August 15th!

To subscribe to the series, go to

Get downloads of this audio and five more --two full hours of meditations -- for only $24.99.

Lighten up your life, and bring some holiday into your everyday -schedule a retreat today!


At Your Wit's End? RETREAT!

Did you ever have one of those days when you just want to get away from it all? Just walk away for a few hours, or a few days? To escape from the nonstop “incoming” and yell: RETREAT!

Of course you have - we all have.

Here’s the good news: You can. You CAN find time and space to take a retreat. If you can’t manage a full day away right now, take a retreat in segments. For example, use your lunch hour every Tuesday for two months. Or take an hour every day for a week during the kids’ naptime or TV time, or take two hours every Saturday for a month while Dad, a friend or a sitter take the kids to the park. Or use your lunch hour every Tuesday for two months.

The key to making this work is to actually use the time for retreat – no laundry or dishes allowed. Not even “I’ll just start this load and then I’ll start my retreat.” Not even “I’ll just respond to this one e-mail/call/text, and then I'll start my retreat.” You know how one task often leads to another. This is YOUR time. Use it to recharge yourself.

Does that sound selfish? Look at it this way: if you don’t do what you need to do to care for yourself, you’re less equipped to take care of anyone else. You know how short-tempered you get when you’re feeling trapped by your responsibilities (even though you wouldn’t trade them for the world)? You know how you start to feel like you can't even hear yourself think?  How much more patient, creative, and yes, productive could you be if you could just have a few minutes to yourself once in a while??

You know the truth of this – now ACT on it.

Schedule at least one-half hour (preferably an hour) on at least two days in the coming week. Use that time to do something that nurtures or energizes you.

Here are some ideas to get you going:

• Do something physical – be it yoga or kickboxing or Zumba - as long as it is something that energizes you, and not just a task to tick off your to-do list.

• Do something spiritual – read something inspirational, meditate, pray or journal.

• Do something creative – and work on it for an hour without interruption (bliss!).

• Do some high quality “thinking” about an issue that has been weighing you down – whether it is your preschooler’s eating habits, your relationship with your spouse , or prioritizing and planning your work projects for the next three months. (Yes, Virginia, you can use a retreat for work-related things, as long as that is truly what would nurture you most right now.) A half-hour of quality thinking, reflection and brainstorming is worth more than weeks of fretting and stewing.

• Do nothing. Take a nap, or take a long bath or shower. Let the water cleanse your body, wash away negativity, and hydrate you, body, mind and spirit.

What to watch out for: getting distracted by mindless “relaxing” activities, like paging idly through a magazine. Use your precious retreat time to do something that will make a real difference in your life, right now.

Go ahead. Do it. Make time for a retreat. And start reaping the rewards, today!

For more tips for a successful One Hour Retreat, get my free guide - just enter your e-mail address in the box in the sidebar. 


Take Time to Saunter

Saunter:  "to walk in a casual manner; stroll."  Synonyms include amble, ramble, stroll, wander, mosey (one of my favorites), and meander. (1) 

When is the last time you felt free to saunter?  To proceed at your own pace, to stop and observe, to step into a place of spiritual connection?  Most of us spend most of our time adhering to schedules, running late, trying to keep up.  What if you could take an hour, a half-hour, or even 15 minutes, and just saunter?

Having just returned from a trip to California which included both Muir Woods and Yosemite National Park, I've been reading up on John Muir, who had a hand in preserving both places.  Here is what Muir had to say about sauntering:

"Hiking - I don't like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains - not hike! Do you know the origin of that word 'saunter?' It's a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, "A la sainte terre,' 'To the Holy Land.' And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not 'hike' through them." (2)
There is some disagreement about whether Muir's etymology of the word is correct, although it does appear in references dating back to at least 1691.  The more accepted theory is that the word derives from the Middle English santren, meaning to muse, meditate, or be in reverie.  

Either way, the word connotes a slowing down, a mindful attention to one's surroundings.  A retreat from the hurry and drama of daily life.  An appreciation of the vastness of the Universe and the long line of time.

I invite you to take some time this week to saunter.  Whether you saunter through the woods, or through an art museum, or through the streets of a bustling city, pay attention.  Saunter reverently. Allow yourself to meander.  Be in reverie. 

(2) quoted by Albert Palmer in A Parable of Sauntering:

An interesting but irrelevant fact (unless you are from Northern Ireland, in which case it may be highly relevant):  according to, the word "saunter" is sometimes used as an expletive in Northern Ireland, with the meaning of "get lost" or "take a hike."  It's fascinating how words can take on such different meanings...  But if someone yelling at you to "saunter" - i.e., get lost - is what it takes to get you to take some time in solitude, consider it done.  Saunter!


Guided One-Hour Virtual Retreats

This post now has its own page:

Try a "Wonder"-ful One Hour Retreat

Here is an idea especially suited to a spring retreat.

My favorite way to "do" this retreat is outdoors - in a park, in the woods, or in a local neighborhood. But you can also take this retreat in a coffee shop, in an airport, or while waiting for your kid to finish soccer practice. If you have an hour, or even a half hour, grab it and take this no-equipment-needed retreat.

Start your retreat by setting an intention to focus on really observing your setting -- whether your setting is the airport concourse or a beautifully landscaped garden. Spend several minutes in one location, observing the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and tactile sensations of that location, as well as the overall composition and effect. Alternatively, spend five minutes strolling around focusing on taking in everything you can observe with your eyes - color, texture, size, shape, orientation, composition, etc., and then spend the next five minutes focusing on what you can hear, and so forth through the senses.

Not many people can spend an entire hour in observant wonder. The mind is easily distracted by judgment, thoughts of the past or future, and to-do lists. Consider using part of your time to journal or sketch your observations. Writing or drawing will not only help you observe more closely and keep your attention on your subject, it will also help you capture and process any emotions that arise.

By slowing down and really observing your surroundings, without judgment, you will likely experience one or more of the following benefits:

*A release of tension from your body
*A clearer, more focused mind
*A feeling of connection to the universe
*A renewed sense of lightness of being
*A burst of wonder and joy

We are all born intensely observant, curious and attentive to detail. Each new experience has a wonder-ful quality. But as we "grow up," we often lose that sense of wonder as we hurry through the tasks of life.

Just one moment of wonder-ment can add color to your days, and help you stay in the moment, truly aware of living your life. Try it and observe the results!


First Monday Virtual Retreats Start April 5th (Free)

UPDATE: These retreats have been discontinued. For more details on current retreats, see the sidebar.

Break free and "spring" forward with a virtual retreat!

I am hosting a FREE virtual retreat next Monday, April 5th, at 8:00 p.m. EDT. The meditative portion of the call will be recorded, so sign up even if you can't make this time slot. This is the first in a series of First Monday Virtual Retreats, which will be offered on (surprise!) the first Monday of each month. The theme of this month's retreat is "Break Free - Spring Forward."

A time of retreat - even a brief time - can both relax and energize you. It can give you a time to hear yourself think, to focus on what really matters, and inspire you to get moving in a new direction. It can give you time to hear the voice of your soul and tap into your strengths.

Harness the energy of spring to propel yourself forward. If you've been feeling a bit "slow" or "stuck" in some area of your life, now is the time to come out of your winter dormancy.

The retreat will start with a 15-20 minute guided meditation (a combination of relaxation and visualization). The meditation will be followed by an exercise to help you capture your insights and make an action plan for moving forward. The remainder of the hour is yours to use as you wish. You may leave the call and continue the retreat on your own, or you may join in group discussion/group coaching with others on the call. I invite you to use the entire hour for retreat. Give yourself that gift, if at all possible.

While the meditative portion of the call will be recorded,
I encourage you to join live if you can. I will be giving away a Guided One Hour Retreat ($60 value) to one lucky person on the call.


Try it for a month or two, and discover the benefits of a one hour retreat!


Earth Hour: March 27, 2010, 8:30PM Your Local Time

Earth Hour would be a PERFECT time for a one-hour retreat. Spend the time alone or gather with friends. Disrupt your life (in a good way) by turning out the lights and focusing on what's really important.

It's easy to participate - just turn out unnecessary lights in your household from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. local time on March 27, 2010. Or take radical action - turn off all unnecessary power-consuming objects for that hour, including your computer, TV, and radio. If you want to know more, or if you'd like to register your participation, you can get details here:

Not everyone agrees that global warming is a problem, and not everyone agrees with WWF's agenda. But I think we can all agree that saving energy (and money) is a good thing, and finding ways to take care of ourselves and the planet we live on is a great thing.

Make a date with yourself - put this on your calendar now!


GUIDED One Hour Virtual Retreat Now Available - FREE During Coach Week

Have you taken a One Hour Retreat, and wished you had a retreat leader to help you get and stay focused, help you gain clarity or brainstorm solutions with?

Or do you love the idea of a One Hour Retreat, but never seem to get around to scheduling it?

To celebrate International Coaching Week, I am offering **free** individualized virtual retreats to the first five people who schedule them at ...

Note:  this event has ended, but Guided One Hour Virtual Retreats are still available.  For more information, see:


Managers: Add a Week to Your Year (Without Skipping Vacation)

Yes, you can add an entire workweek - 50 hours - to your year, without skipping your well-deserved vacation! Check out my guest post at KeyPoint Coaching's blog to find out how:


Holiday Hangover? Don't Make it Worse with Ridiculous Resolutions

At this time of year, many of us suffer from a sort of "holiday hangover." The last few weeks have been filled with too much eating, too much drinking, too much shopping, too many things to do, too many late nights, too many social events with people we don't necessarily care for, and in general, just too much "stuff."

Wonderful as the holidays can be, we often finish them feeling depleted -- "hung over" either literally or metaphorically. There is no need to beat yourself up with a crash diet, a strict exercise regime, or an austerity budget. Be gentle with yourself - treat yourself as you would a beloved pet. Give yourself some good food (without over-feeding), move your body regularly in ways that you enjoy, and give yourself lots of love and attention. Find the play in the every-day.

Take a one-hour retreat to brainstorm strategies that will help you keep your focus on your well-being and happiness rather than on your cravings or aversions. Get focused on what you need to do to really nurture your body, mind and spirit this month and this year.

To your health, wealth and happiness in the coming year!