Becomming Unplugged - A Personalized Retreat

Do you remember the olden days, before there were even answering machines? If you weren't home to answer the phone, people just waited and tried again. Did you ever consciously and willingly choose to be constantly available to everyone whenever they deemed necessary? Did you ever agree to the nonstop onslaught of emails, cell phones, commercials, television, newspapers, and radios? When did you decide that immediate access to an unending flow of information was to your best advantage?

Think of all that we have sacrificed by our dependence on these modern technologies? We have lost the ability to hear ourselves think. We have forgotten the beauty of silence pierced only by the sounds of nature. And we have become human doers rather than human beings.

One way to help remedy this situation is to take a personal retreat. Set aside an entire day and become completely unplugged from your cell phone, blackberry, iPod, computer, television, and radio. It is amazing to discover that even when you're completely out of touch, somehow the world keeps turning without you and your friends, coworkers, and loved ones do survive without your help. Even more stunning, you begin to hear yourself think. You begin to reconnect with your heart's longings, and you begin to remember who you are and why you are here.

Of course, it is always wonderful to retreat to a beautiful location, but when that is not possible you can experience a personalized retreat right in you own home and local surroundings. Here are six guidelines for designing your own retreat:

First: Take out your calendar and block off a day. Keep that day free from any and all obligations. Let your friends, coworkers, and loved ones know that you will be unavailable for the entire day. Make alternative arrangements for any childcare, meals, or work issues that are necessary.

Second: Gather your supplies. On the day of your retreat, you don't want to waste any time on unnecessary errands. So make sure there is gas in your car and food for the day. You may also want to have a journal at hand and any art supplies that you enjoy. Gather all you retreat material into a carrying bag so you can move from place to place without disruption.

Third: To plan or not to plan, that is the question. Depending on your nature and your needs, you may want to have a general outline for the day or you may want to enjoy a completely unscheduled, unscripted adventure. For example, you may want to schedule a massage, or you may just want to continually ask yourself throughout the day, "What do I feel like doing at this very moment?" Whatever plans you do make be willing to drop them to follow any spur of the moment incites.

Fourth: Fill your day with mindfulness. Invite all your senses to savor each moment. Warm your self with your favorite activities be it reading, journaling, going for a walk, painting, sitting by the fire, etc. Most important, be quiet and listen! Listen to your heart, your intuition, your inner knowing, and let their messages guide you through the day.

Fifth: When you feel complete or your allotted time has ended, give thanks for all you have experienced. Fully acknowledge the gifts of the day perhaps by journaling or by creating a closing ritual. Then, slowly, gently re-enter your daily life. Have a quiet evening and wake up the next morning refreshed and renewed.

Sixth: Get out you calendar and make a date with your self for another retreat.

Unconditional Acceptance of Life

In her book "Kitchen Table Wisdom," Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. talks about “the power of taking an unconditional approach to life … a willingness to show up for whatever life may offer and meet with it, rather than wishing to edit and change the inevitable.”

An unconditional acceptance of life: What a powerful concept! We all have a deep-felt need for
unconditional love, but it is an ideal rarely fulfilled, perhaps because we’ve missed a vital pre-requisite—the unconditional acceptance of life. This concept embraces the belief that everything happens for a reason or, more accurately, there is something to be learned from every situation. Its realization silences all the self-doubts and self-criticisms, senseless blaming, and the endless lamenting of “Why me?” It opens the door to self-love, a threshold that is necessary to cross before one can unconditionally love another."

The above is an excerpt from my book "Birding Through Cancer: A Seasons of Change Journey."  I was thrilled to receive and endorsement from Dr Remen:

Among the many books I have read about the Cancer experience, “Birding Through Cancer” is completely unique. Karin Marcus walks a path through the challenges of life threatening illness with the sensitive eye of an expert bird watcher and the wise perspective of a seasoned Life Coach. She has filled her book with wonderful quotes and exquisite pictures of the creatures of the sky. The outcome is a one of a kind book which is a passionate celebration of the love of life that is the foundation of all healing. It will inspire you.
— RACHEL NAOMI REMEN MD Author, Kitchen Table Wisdom




Healing Landscapes


Throughout my life going for solitary walks on the beach or through the woods has been the best therapy for whatever ailed me. Walking helps me process my emotions and clear my thoughts. Whether there is a challenging problem I need to think through, or a knee jerk reaction that I need to walk off, or deeper emotional issue I need to resolve, walking prevents my thoughts and feelings from becoming stuck. It allows their energies to flow throughout my body, maintaining a connection between my mind and heart.

More than just the walking, where I walk is also very powerful. I have come to realize that the landscapes of my youth have become imbedded in my psychic memory. They too are apart of my physical and emotional history. I have learned that walking in environments, similar to those that gave me joy in my childhood, helps restore my overall feeling of well being. I call these places my healing landscapes.

As a young child I remember running to the woods when I was upset. I would scramble onto a rock in the middle of the river behind our house, or sometimes I would climb up into a tree and perch myself in the arms of its comfortable branches. I would sit for hours, just watching and listening, only to return home when I felt all better. To this day I am still moved and comforted by trees and streams.

Both my parents are buried in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where our family had spent most of our summer vacations and where they eventually retired. Surrounding each of their funerals, I spent many hours walking the familiar beaches, allowing the wind and the waves to swallow my grief. At one point I shared with a friend how walking those beaches felt like home, almost like returning to the womb. Months later after clearing out my parent’s house and sorting through all their photographs, I found a picture of my mother sitting on that very beach, pregnant with me. The woods may be my healing landscape for day to day worries, but for the bigger issues in life, the beach is where I need to be.

Where are your healing landscapes?  Think back to your childhood home, your summer vacations, or the most contented moments of your life. Was there a tree in your front yard, or a summer cabin on a lake, a mountain you climbed with a friend, or do you prefer a city landscape, with tall buildings and people going every which way.

Ask yourself, if you could be anywhere, where would you like to be? If nothing comes to mind, take a piece of paper and some crayons and draw a picture of a beautiful landscape. Let your drawing be childlike in its simplicity.  Don’t plan or design it just let your drawing unfold. Does your drawing remind you of somewhere? What element of the drawing ifs the focal point?

Take some time to identify your healing landscape. Perhaps spend time this summer trying out a few, by spending time alone in their surroundings. Once you have found the geographical elements that match your spirit, seek out similar locations near to where you live. Make it a habit to go walking there whenever you need to work through something. Know that these places are dear friends you can visit time and time again. Remember to turn to your healing landscapes for comfort.

Wisdom of the Seasons



Stand still.

Be Winter;
like the solitary snow flake
bedazzled by your authenticity.

Be Spring;
Your body tender and moist
before the fertile Earth’s offering.

Be Summer;
Burning fierce with Winter’s dream
holding visions of ripened wheat fields
that will feed the many.

Be Autumn;
Letting go of all you are not
as you bare your most authentic self
for all to see.

Stand still
at each season’s gateway of initiation
as you reclaim
your natural self
in all her radiance and glory.

The reflection you see
is Earth asking to be invited
into the center of your fire
where it can lead you
by the hand
into the light of what is yet to come
if only you have the wisdom
to wait a bit longer
than you think you should;

For every season comes and goes
leaving clues that will lead you
back to yourself;
If you can but follow Nature’s lead.

~ Edveeje Fairchild

The Lesson of the Fox

Lately I’ve been going lots of long walks, savoring the sun shining on the glorious fall trees. It comforts me to be embraced by nature in the beauty of the present moment.

One day as I was walking the periphery of a field, there was a fox hunting for rodents in the tall grasses.  We both froze, when we spotted each other at the same moment. The fox stealthy crouched down and disappeared. I could not see him but I knew he was cautiously watching me.

This was the third fox I had seen at different locations this week which is unusual. So I looked up the fox totem on my phone.  This is the message that spoke to me with this particular encounter:

“The Fox's ability to meld into one's surroundings and be unnoticed is a powerful gift when one is observing the activities of others.

If Fox has chosen to share its medicine with you, it is a sign that you are to become like the wind, which is unseen yet is able to weave into and through any location or situation. You would be wise to observe the acts of others rather than their words at this time. Use your cunning nature in a positive way; keep silent about who and what and why you are observing.”

Once again nature has shared her wisdom and shown me the path to walk.