All posts by sigal

Gratitude to Remedy Entitled Attitude

It turns out, giving thanks and giving in general is good for you. It is good for your overall well-being—mentally, emotionally, and physically.

In Jewish tradition, the first thought we are guided to have upon waking is Modeh/dah Ani, which means I am grateful. It makes sense! The morning, before other thoughts and activities take over, is a powerful time to pause and thank. When we have regular time to say thank you and put our focus on what we appreciate, the many precious gifts of life, our thoughts are conditioned for more joy and fulfillment throughout the day.

In a society where personal entitlement is the norm, giving thanks is a necessary remedy.

Privilege and feeling entitled have a shadow side. They often cause personal suffering and interfere in relationships. It’s easy to find things to complain about. And, as we complain, we grow our sense of entitlement and, with it, disappointment grows within us, and causes unnecessary suffering. What I mean is that when we are disappointed, when we wish things were different for us, it is because we are sometime expecting something and feel deserving of that thing. (I am talking about the arrogant attitude of have the “right” to things that are not real necessities.) Our society has conditioned us to be entitled consumers: The customer is always right, while humility, patience, and considering others’ needs is not emphasized as much.

Giving time to thank, practicing gratitude, and developing a desire to benefit others can remedy our own suffering. Sharing from our abundance, giving, and cherishing are deep practices that lead to happiness and contentment. The opposite of the attitude of gratitude is entitled attitude. The entitled attitude is feeling the world owes you something, that you deserve to have all your expectations and desired fulfilled, or else you are miserable and disappointed. We give thanks to help ourselves and others with these entitled feelings, and gain perspective by focusing on what we have and less on what we don’t have.

A simple practice: Give yourself a moment now to name a few things you are thankful for. Include giving thanks in your daily routine. It’s best if it’s done at the same time daily. Notice how you feel when you remember the things that you are grateful for and the people that you appreciate.

Give yourself & others “me” time and “us” time to mend.
Mendful time is what many of us need most, especially in this hectic holidays season.

Give Gift Certificate for Personal Mendful Mentoring with Rabbi Sigal (contact us)

December 26-30, 2022 Mendful Living from Your Souat Kripalu

HAPPY THANKING and HAPPY GIVING!

Polyvagal Theory: A Mendful Pointer to Wellbeing

Polyvagal theory and other neuroscience teach about important systems that regulate our responses. These new areas of study are important for us to understand because they point us to wellbeing. The theories explain patterns in our body-mind which heavily influence our lives; physiologically, psychologically, relationally and cognitively. 

I have seen the positive effect of sharing this information with my students. A beautiful shift can happen when we learn how the body responds to fear and stress. It helps because it can stop us from taking things personally or believing we are broken beyond repair. It  points us onto a kinder mendful path toward our hope and strength. This knowledge along with guided MENDtations and self inquiry exercises can help when we are dealing with negative arousal responses. Many of my student learn to relax more, rebuild resiliency and access more joy in a relatively short time.

What I teach in my retreats and personalized mentoring sessions  is now supported by the growing body of research and knowledge from neuroscience. We combine guided practices  and conversations to help create the conditions for the desired shifts back to health, contentment and ease. Centuries before seeds of neuroscience theories were even thought of, spiritual and religious practices such as meditation, chanting, visualization, prayer, tribal and physical rituals and cognitive methods, were used to calm, destress and point us in the direction of joy and contentment.  It is powerfully transformative when we delve into ancient practices and teachings now with the added knowledge of the new findings.

We discover how that they go together well because they address the same human needs; the freedom and easing of fear, stress, anxiety, discontent, agitation and unhappiness. I feel awe when I see these connections because they reflect to me humanity’s desire and ability to engage in a continues and expansive exploratory creative unfolding toward betterment of our conditions.

The retreats I teach are immersive and supportive experiences where we relax and let our full selves be. We learn how the conditioned unnecessary reactivity in the body-mind act as door ways to healing and positive change. It’s amazing what can be done in three days! Participants are able to delve deep into their inner spaces and experience beautiful connection to soul. It’s profound and moving to witness. 

Participants report that the group experience and the exercises are soul nourishing, insightful and mendful on many levels.

Hollie wrote: “Following Rabbi Sigal’s Mendful program at Kripalu I have experienced a shift, a softening, a turn towards wonder. So much of this heart opening was a result of ‘marinating’ in the loving community Sigal held for us.”

I love guiding and supporting people in retreats and with personalized Mendful Life Mentoring. You don’t have to do it alone. I am here to help. Together we journey the mendful path.

Retreats at Kripalu 

4 Weeks to Rosh Hashanah

How I love the beautiful nights at the end of Summer. The sliver of the moon above is beckoning us to gather a few more sun rays and a couple more days at the beach, to store within for the approaching cold of winter.On August 27, the new moon of the month of Elul will hang in the night’s sky.  It will be the last new moon before Rosh Hashana.

All these signs in nature are  telling us: we are 4 weeks away from Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

The invitation of the Jewish New Year is to truly have a fresh start; to review, organize and prioritize our lives and how we spend our time. To make amends, forgive, release, mend and at the end of this have a plan of intentions and goals to return to the home of our soul. A return to our true kind and loving nature. This yearly internal reflection is necessary and important to help clear a new path of hope to an inspired and meaningful life in the future. To truly clear a new path we must pass through the gates of  forgiveness; forgiving the hope for a better past, and to sincerely forgive ourselves and others. It’s time to release and move on.

Elul the month preceding the New Year, invites us to spent time at the wellspring of our hearts remembering what we love, what is important to us and what brings us alive. Even when it’s hard to manage through the work of forgiveness, the sweet memory and feeling of being whole with ourselves and in the world, encourages us to do the work. When we remember our authentic soul and long to return, we feel the strong pull of our desire to live authentically.  We trust in our stamina and commitment to do the work of forgiveness and we persist in it. We hold before us the hope  to live our highest aspirations and honor the desires of our hearts more fully each day.

Here are some questions and inspirations to Contemplate during Elul:

How can you help yourself decide what to let go of and what to keep?

Identify: What are the obstacles to living the life you want? What is standing between you and living authentically? How can you stop doing unhelpful habits? How can you help yourself to let them go? What do you need to do to release them?

Madison Taylor writes: “One of the hardest things in life is feeling stuck in a situation that we don’t like and want to change. We may have exhausted ourselves trying to figure out how to make change, and we may even have given up. If we tend to regard ourselves as having failed, this will block our ability to allow ourselves to succeed. We have the power to change the story we tell ourselves by acknowledging that in the past, we did our best, and we exhibited many positive qualities, and had many fine moments on our path to the present moment.”

Identify: What are the things you need and want to keep? How can you better nurture them to make them grow in your life?

Each year we are given the opportunity to review our lives and renew our resolve to change. The New Year is a call to open to the possibilities. It is here to help us open to the hope that we can make the changes we need to make. When we honestly and kindly review the past year, it is possible to open to new ways, new healthier habits and routines. Welcoming an inner shift to allow us to get out of the cycle we’ve been in that has kept us stuck.

After the reviewing it’s time to open the heart with forgiveness. To loosen the knots of shame, blame, regret, self-hatred, not good enough and other sticky patterns of thinking and feeling. All those feelings and thoughts about ourselves and others keep us separated from each other and the home of our soul; our joy, ease and contentment.

We release the past and open to new possibilities in the New Year.

Shannah Tova

SAVE the DATES:   Retreats at Kripalu Center

December 26-30  2022 

Mendful Living from Your Soul: Finding Ease and Contentment

May 19-21   2023

Kabbalah Meditation

Celebrate the Holidays in a Welcoming Community 

Reserve your seats for the High Holy Days Here

Mendful and Authentic in 2022

Will 2022 be the year you act more authentically on your values?

2021, a year unlike any other, is behind us. Although we still have to remain masked and careful with in-person interactions until we are all immunized, the hopeful end to the pandemic that changed our lives is on the horizon. Still, there are months of uncertainty and hardship ahead of us.

You, like many of us, have most likely experienced significant changes and disruptions to your life in the past year; work, relationships, home, family, travel, and routines. While some changes are stressful and disorienting, other may be welcomed and comforting. We all , with more or lesser success, have tried to navigate with grace and balance. 

In the many interactions I had during the past year I learned two things were important. Staying connected with others and staying connected to our inner selves. To many fo us daily body-mind practices were more important than ever. It continued strengthening our resolve, sense of hope, well- being, and resilience. In the virtual Mendful mentoring sessions and gatherings it was apparent how connecting with one another helped bring out our authentic selves and smiles more fully. The engaging conversations encouraged us to be more daring and open to try new things while in lockdown.  

I learned from Professor Wendy Wood that people are reluctant to make new decisions at disrupted times like these. People think that making new decisions when there is a disruption to life, like this pandemic, is not a good idea. But, in fact, she says, that disruptions to life are opportunities to act more authentically on our values. People try new things when life is disrupted because the old ways are no longer possible. They experiment with ideas that may have been dormant for a while, and the disruption is an opportunity to act on them.

How can you act more authentically on your values in 2022?

I invite you to make time to reflect back on the year 2021. What were some of your most memorable experiences and insights? What do you wish you acted on to bring you closer to a fuller expression of you? Now, what do you want to cultivate and grow in the year 2022? How will you use the time left in lockdown this winter, whether home alone or with family, to bring out more of you? Perhaps to do something new, or something you always wanted to learn or attend to but never did.

Set your heartfelt intentions and follow them with meaningful action. Invite others into the conversation, discuss and share your intentions with family and friends to support each other and share in your success, as you engage in your chosen activities to live out your intentions.

It’s hard to make changes at any time. It requires courage, resolve and commitment to act. When we attend and nurture our body and minds with mendful conversations and spiritual practices, we grow our capacity and encourage or hearts to live our values more fully, and we act more authentically. The practices give us strength and focus to creatively find paths to overcome challenges. We experience more contentment, peace and joy when we act authentically.I hope this year we feel resolved and better equipped to handle the ups and down of life. May we support each other and have the courage to really live our authentic values more fully.

Heartfelt Prayers

I’m writing this at the end of an eventful week. 

At the end of any week we need a Sabbath; to stop, rest, reflect, renew, and find peace (shalom) but we especially need it this week. 

Death and sickness from Covid-19 are at a record high.

History was made in Georgia with the election of an African American candidate and a Jewish candidate to the Senate for the first time in the South. 

The revered sanctuary of American Democracy, the Capitol, was violently attacked.

The attack shuddered more than windows and furniture. It shuddered our peace and trust. It had shaken to the core the delicate stability of a political Democratic discourse. Maintaining Democracy is hard. Living together in a diverse society is challenging, but we must learn to do it better. In wars, there are always casualties and there is always destruction. In civil wars we kill our neighbors and destroy our neighborhoods. I hope we stop and consider the high cost of choosing to live in confrontation and with hatred, before they become violent words and actions. 

In the spirit of Shabbat, which provides for us time and space to make and remember peace, I offer these heartfelt prayers for all of us to regain our peace. 

I pray we call on ourselves and each other to find peace and mercy. 

I pray we begin to imagine how to pave the way to cooperation and healing. 

I pray we learn from the mistakes of the past and better cherish and protect our Democracy. 

I pray and challenge us to become activists of peace and not of war. 

In time, I pray, that we may find mendful paths of teshuvah; turning and returning to peace and cooperation. 

I pray we embrace non-violence, own responsibility, make reparation, seek justice and act kindly. 

I pray we find a way to Tikkun Olam; to talk and listen, to reconcile and mend the torn fabric of our country.

I pray for the healing of all who are sick. May those who mourn be consoled in a loving community and their loved ones Rest In Peace. 

I pray for the strength and wisdom of the medical professionals and all those who aid in supporting others and the medical systems. 

May God bless and protect us all. Rabbi Sigal

I hope to see you at the Winter Mendful Gathering Series starting Sunday, January 17th at 4pm.

Justice, justice you shall pursue

Tzedek, tzedek tirdof. (Deuteronomy 16:20)

My heart aches more each day as the heat of hatred and racism is rising, and dry tinder of broken promises is accumulating on our streets. It’s hard to witness the injustice, cruelty, violence, disregard for human life and property, hatred and anger. People are hurting, scared, hopeless and angry. Private and public spaces and properties are devastated. The voices of the oppressed and their supporters are rising and they need to be heard. America is mourning the promise of justice and liberty as we mourn the dead.

History is repeating itself in familiar ways before our eyes, and this time it is on steroids. It’s almost hard to believe we are in the middle of three simultaneous disasters, but it cannot be denied. We have a pandemic comparable to the 1918 influenza epidemic, an economic situation reminiscent of the Great Depression and racial anger and violence similar to that of the sixties. 

How we navigate through all this as individuals and as a society will determine the future. 

What can we do?

Although the heat on the streets is this week’s focus, and it seems like the coronavirus disappeared, it did not. Please stay safe and follow physical distancing guidelines. I’m asking us to continue to remain strong and hopeful despite the heartbreak and despair and the long road to mending ahead of us on all three fronts: the epidemic, the economy and racism. We are agitated and upset about all of them and the call of the moment is to find a way to stay safe and calm as we find useful ways to respond. 

Pray and find solace as much as you can. Do connect with your breath to help calm down several time a day. Support one another with acts of caring and encouragement. Think of what right action you can take and what is wise and useful to do to advance our society in the right direction. One small step at a time, one relationship at a time. Be kind to everyone. We are all trying to figure out our way through this in the best way we know how. Be open to finding new paths to remain optimistic and creative. Necessity is the mother of invention. These are times which necessitate care, kindness, change and reinvention.

Racism has been with us for too long. We are strengthening our commitment to working for justice so it is not here for much longer. 

Let’s keep our hope for humanity alive and find the good on the path to justice, health and well-being.

At times like these when it’s hard to find the words, I find more solace and meaning in prayer, meditation, nature and connecting to others. I pray for peace, justice, repair and reconciliation. 

Please stay well and reach out to me for support when you need it.

Find Your Sanctuary of Calm

Let’s talk about LOVE

More than ever before we talk about love in different ways. It seems there is more appreciation to different kinds of love and friendships, which exceed romantic love. More than ever before we are not partnered for life, we are disappointed in relationships, we divorce, we start over again and again; romantic love is not as sustained and fulfilling as we hoped it would be. It’s not as promising as the romantic fairytales we were told. Not being married, or in a committed partnership, is a growing global trend, whether by choice or by circumstances, more people don’t marry and new ways of being in loving relationships are explored. It turns out, there are many ways to be in loving relationships.

Love is a large topic. It’s hard to put our arms around topic of love, but we try; measuring love and defining it. For some love is a feeling, a felt sense beyond words, to others it is a commitment, a covenant. To some it is security, to others a joy of vulnerability. To some a fulfilled desire, while for others an fulfilled longing. 

Whatever the conditioning of our culture is, I sense that underneath it all what we want is to be in authentic relationships. We want to be ourselves and relate to others who are authentically themselves. When we are in loving relationships we want to be seen, heard, feel connected and belong. In authentic loving relationships, these four qualities are important underpinnings, usually garbed with elaborate unconscious and conscious desires and needs. 

Alain de Botton who wrote Essays in Love defines love as charitable interpretation of others’ behavior. To love is to be willing to interpret someone’s not so appealing behavior with a more benevolence reason. Loving is accepting faults; being patient and charitable in our interpretation of unappealing behaviors. 

We are bound to disappoint and be disappointed, especially with people we love and whom love us. Love is not admiration alone, although we want it to be because it would be sooooo muuuuch easier. But real life love must include compromise and tolerance of unpleasant feelings and behaviors. It calls us to be mature in loving and living with the recognition we need to tolerate ambivalence. The disparity between what we like and the things we really don’t like. We tend to spend a lot of time and energy rejecting and resisting the things we don’t want to include in the mix of love and relationships, but reality is what it is and we need to accept it. 

Staying in relationships requires skills. Love is not just a matter of feelings. It hurts when we are disappointed, but with mendful skills and sensibilities we can navigate it better. We must stay in the conversation with others and with the different triggers within us, and not run away from them and avoid them. Resisting and avoiding actually make the things we try to avoid more resistant and painful.

In Mendful Path Living we cultivate a remembering we carry in our heart, namely, the intention to mend. The mendful mindset and the intention to mend are tucked in our heart and in our consciousness to help bring us back to love and mending.  How?

I have a regular daily practice of meditation and prayer to orient me ever so strongly to mending. More and more I see how it helps usher me back from the edge of discomfort and discontent to balance and calm. It’s especially helps me respond with more understanding and care in challenging moments. Remembering all humans experience disappointments, hurts, and challenges, we prepare and support ourselves to respond more calmly and productively in stressful situations. The question is not whether we will be challenged, because we surely will, but instead we prepare and plan how we will respond mendfully. How in the moment we don’t allow our habitual reactivity to get the best of us and create more suffering and harm. And, when things get away from us sometime we mend from there. We ask for forgiveness, forgive others and make amends. 

Mendful love is how we live. One conversation, one encounter, one small mend at a time. May your love flourish in many colors and textures within you and in all your relationships, whether you are partnered or not.

 Mendful Living from Your Heart – It’s all about love!
Even disappointments, loss and heartbreaks are about love.

Retreats at Kripalu Center  in May, July, December  

MAY 15-17 MENDFUL RETREAT
Resilience After Disappointment, Loss, and Heartbreak

JULY 15-17 RELEASE, MEND, AND THRIVE FROM THE INSIDE OUT

Information about Mentoring – See Special Offer


Seeding a Soul Inspired Life

The time has come to seed the garden of your life with new soul inspired seeds.

Tu Bishvat (15th day in the month of Shevat) is almost here.  Under a full moon next Sunday we will celebrate Tu Bishvat – we celebrate trees and nature.  Go outside and gaze at the full moon, looking pregnant with new possibilities,  and contemplate seeding soul inspired seeds in your life. What hopes and dreams are hidden in your soul this winter? What do you sense and imagine could bloom in your life when Spring arrives? What cultivation, decisions and work do you need to do now to see  it come to fruition?

Tu Bishvat is a celebration of trees and nature. The trees are very internal this time of year. Perhaps they are too are dreaming and growing with strength. Readying themselves to burst with beauty in Spring.

Why do we take time to do inner work? Why should we sit quietly and meditate and simply make time to be? Because like trees even before the thawing and the blooming, we become alive from the inside out. Now is the time for deep inner growing; dreaming and imagining.

THE PRACTICE:

We begin by imagining the fruits we want to bring to fruition. What will you grow? Sit and become quiet to reflect on what you love; discern the desires of your heart. What is your heart’s desire?

Make time to reflect, journal, speak, draw and be still for a few minutes a day.

When you have a sense of what are your soul inspired seeds, your heart seeds, write them down. You may discover seeds you didn’t know were hidden within. You may want to make a list of them and read it over to see which are the ones with more pull. Keep the list and choose to reflect more on 2-3 of them. Attend to them. Nourish and water these seeds. Try to make time for dreaming and listening carefully to each.

Identify the necessary conditions to help your heart seeds grow and come to life. What are the approach you need to apply? What are the attitudes and actions you will take, or avoid, to support the growth?

Don’t rush. It is still winter. on Tu Bishvat the trees only begin to wake up and the sap begins to flow. Be patient and generous like a tall and strong tree. You have plenty of time to seed and germinate until Spring (Passover.) Don’t rush. Take all the time you need, but remain focused.

May your heart seeds germinate, take root and grow well. May they grow into a beautiful Spring garden and reward you with the delicious fruits and fill your life with beauty and peace. Enjoy!

I hope to see you soon at a  Retreat at Kripalu in May, July and December.

Many blessings, Rabbi Sigal

This New Year Resolve to Mend

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We are the clay, and life, the potter’s hands.

Life changes and shapes us into what we are throughout our lifetime. Do you remember the times you softly surrendered into the hands of change like soft clay, and allowed life to transform you? And, do you also remember how at other times your vessel cracked or broke?

Broken and mended is beautiful. Leonard Cohen, his memory a blessing, sang: “There is a crack in everything that’s how the light gets in.” The Japanese design concept called Kintsugi, repairing broken pottery with liquid metal, makes them more beautiful by highlighting the cracks and the place of mending. Rabbinic lore from 2000 years ago teaches that the broken Tablets; Moses broke when he saw the people built a golden calf and worshiped it, when he came down from Mount Sinai the first time, are kept in the Ark of the Covenant along with the second Tablets engraved with the 10 commandments.

These examples of brokenness and mending  are beautiful inspirations to encourage us to embrace our brokenness, to stop hiding our humanity, mend when we can, love our scars and stop avoiding life. All brokenness, imperfections and pain are parts of our lives. Instead of spending another year afraid of making mistakes or hiding behind your scars, be daring. Find ways to embrace, accept things and mend more this year.  Although we have been broken and know the pain, and are surely to break and hurt again, we cannot  stop opening to the gift of this life. Yes, it’s hard. But, can we resolve to love ourselves and others, with our brokenness, scars and all and mend where we can?

As we are preparing to enter a new year. I want to remind us to not begin a new year with a list of all the ways we are not good enough, broken, wrong and disappointing. You know what I’m talking about, the practice of making New Year resolutions, in a harsh manner, aiming to fix all that is wrong and unacceptable in us.

Time to change the game. Change the approach. We make a resolutions list and soon forget our commitment to change. We feel disappointed. Adding shame and blame on top of the pile of what we already think is wrong with us, it’s not helpful. It turns out that instead of growing in self love and being helpful, the resolutions only help grow self hatred and disappointment in each passing year. Can we resolve to not use self deprecating and hating statements in an attempt to improve? How about resolving to include only resolutions that resonate as expression of the following: I love you and I care for you. We can try to apply changes, but also remember to not try so hard, guarding against causing more breaking instead of cultivating mending.

Please proceed with caution and be gently to avoid causing more harm within you and around you, even if it means not improving and stepping slowly into making big changes. Unless we all take the mendful path, choosing at each step to mend, no real healing and change will be possible.

Consider your motivations and set the right conditions to succeed. Use affirmations to bring you back to love and care and follow your intention with healthy actions to mend body, heart, mind and spirit.

I wish us all a mendful year!

I am here to help you individually and in groups, virtually, online and in person.

I look forward to connecting with you in the new year.

Love and blessings, Rabbi Sigal

Mendful living is here for you. Please join us to mend our world and ourselves.    RETREATS 

Instead of setting goals, set optimal conditions

I loooooove retreats!

I’m honored to be entrusted with the opportunity to create optimal conditions that allow for learning and transformation at retreats or many years. I pray and hope “ah ha” moments and seeds of insights are planted during the retreat and are taken home bloom. The conditions you set at home along with the heartfelt intention to thrive will change your life.

The biggest benefit of a concentrated experience, like a retreat, aside from having fun, is having the time and guidance to learn with experiential methods. We have the time to mend and open to our authentic nature and our heart’s desire, try new things and listen intently. We return home with our commitment to pursue our desires, we better discern because we learn in the retreat how to best set the optimal conditions to succeed.

I’m reminded of the positive effect of being on a retreat when I read students’ reflections. They consistently express renewed hope in themselves and in life, and connected to expanded awareness and growing commitment to self love and care they are sure to succeed. I feel grateful to be able to contribute in this way to my students’ lives, and I’m inspired by my students’ courage to open their hearts to themselves, each other, and the experience. It’s especially moving to hear about the positive and sustainable changes in their lives after the retreat.

Where to begin? Knowing our heart’s desire is  a good beginning. It points the way to loving self-care, giving proper attention, and cultivating nourishing behaviors and practices for the seeds to grow. Unless we learn to listen to the call of the heart and commit to taking the steps and actions to fulfill it, it will be hard to affect change.   

Take small steps to self love and care on the mendful path

Remember why you are doing what you are doing! You love yourself and your life and what to feel more joy, contentment and peace.

Schedule regular time for practices that support listening and living from your heart. Resolve to keep your commitment to your practice especially when resistance, negative thoughts, discomfort and forgetting arises. Be patient. It will take time to adjust and cultivate new habits. Plan for small, measurable and reachable expectations. Endure, adjust and stay focused until they become habits.

Use tools of remembering through  out the day. Write a meaningful word and display where you can see it, write it in your daily calendar, read a daily affirmation you like for 10 days and then choose another. Set a reminder alarm on your phone every hour to breathe a relaxing breath, repeat your word or affirmation and settle into a moment of stillness. Pray.

Develop new supportive habits. Daily “refilling activities” are centering and helpful. I like to take walks in nature, ride a bike, sit in a sauna or a hot tub, listen and read inspiring thoughts, write a gratitude list, and meditate in stillness for 10 minutes or more throughout the day. Also, resolving to participate in group activities, like yoga classes, and inviting others to walk or meditate with you is important and nurturing.

May you remember your heart’s desire each day and create the right conditions for the seeds of your intention to grow and guide your life. May the time and effort you invest blossom into what you desire to have and experience in your life. May ease and contentment find you.

Mentoring individual and small groups 

RETREATS