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My Journal

November 3, 2015

On The Waters Edge at Kripalu

IMG_3943Below the Berkshire mountains, and the sound of geese, I’m dipping my toes in the waters edge, thinking about swimming out to the red buoy; about half a football field.

There’s no lifeguard on the stand. It’s less than 70-something, and I rub my goosebumps. But it’s the last swim of the summer and my bones are screaming, Do it!

Two women under the golden trees, chat and take photos.

One calls out, “Do it! Go for it! Go!”

“Yikes. It’s cold,” I say.

“Nonsense!” says the other.

“You’re right,” I say and tip-toe to the lifeguard stand, leaving my stretch pants, sweater, towel and sunglasses.

“C-ooo-old,” I whine.

“Who cares. We got your back,” says the one taking pictures.

“Okay, here goes.”

I wade into the gravelly sand.

“Yikes. Cold. Go!” I say, lifting my shoulders and sucking in my stomach. One more deep breath and I lounge forward and begin to paddle, head up and dry. I’m kicking and breathing and stroking.

“Whoo-hoo!” I call out.

“Whoo-hoo!” they echo.

Six years ago I swam out and around the same buoy while attending a writing workshop at Kripalu. Now I was co-leading a retreat called Being Fully Alive with Cara Bradley at Kripalu and leading a meditation and writing workshop.

Earlier that day, while checking-in at the front desk, I noticed my name tag said: Faculty.

I kick, breathe and sink my head under the water and say Heaven. It sounds like: Haa-bin.

Rounding the buoy, I backstroke. A fireworks of autumn trees frames the lake. I’m in no rush for shore.

Magnificent, I say to the sky.

My eyes, face and lips descend into the water and towards the fire of leaves again and again as I crawl towards shore.

I wait until the last possible moment to touch bottom, icky, gooey.

The taller of the two women, take my picture before I grab my towel and says, “Amazing and worth every minute, right?”


Before the gold flame dims, we take each others pictures and turn to walk up the hill.

Five days later I find and read this poem by David Whyte.

The Journey

Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again

painting their
black silhouettes
on an open sky.

Sometimes everything
has to be
enscribed across
the heavens

so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.

Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that

first, bright
and indescribable
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.

Sometimes with
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out

someone has written
something new
in the ashes
of your life.

You are not leaving.
Even as the light
fades quickly now,
you are arriving.

October 7, 2015

First Night of Contours of A Rich Life – Mika Brzezinski and Emile Brzezinski – Mother and Daughter

FullSizeRenderLast night I spoke for the first time at Bryn Mawr College for Main Line School Night. I was honored to kick off the workshop called “Contours of A Rich Life” about the skill and dedication to loving our life, creativity, inspiration, and self-care.

How do we honor who we truly are? How do we get out of a rut?
How do we let our well-being and positivity lead the way?

The speakers, Mika Brzezinski, the host of Morning Joe and best selling author, and Emilie Brzezinski, artist, talked about their mother-daughter relationship and Emilie’s art career.

Mika admitted it wasn’t easy to  grow up with an artist; a mother who was in love with her art, her chainsaw and ax, who loved carving trees.


What I learned from watching Mika honor and launch her mother’s book “The Lure of The Forest”:

When we honor the best of our mother,
we honor the best in our self.

My good friend Cheryl Rice recently said is best: “Mothering yourself is a profound act of self-care.”
In the workshop we discussed that most women think of “mothering” (who have children or not) as care giving others.

And ultimately, mothering it’s what we can do for ourselves.

For whether we are:
a biological mother,
never had a mother,
are a mother by adoption,
are a mother to cats or dogs,
are a single woman,
are childless,
are with child,
are working,
are caring for elderly,
are grieving for the loss of a mother,
are looking for how to mother our transitions and inspiration,
We all crave the energy of being safe and uplifted.

Q: What is mothering?
A: The relationship between the joy you find and accepting the joy others find.

What are you mothering in yourself?

Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.



PS. I need to give a big thank you and bouquets of flowers to Noelle Ricca Peter (thank you for being the one who first suggested I develop this course!) Cara Ferrara Bradley (for all the support from Verge Yoga and these photos) and fellow travelers on the path of inspiration – Jen Torpie, Elizabeth Farquharson Norris, Lisa Bardarson, Main Line School Night, Claudia McBride, and many others who influenced the shine of the evening and workshop.
PSS. A big thank you to Heather Sellers, who’s brilliant teaching style and writing shines the light of care and exemplifies beauty.

September 11, 2015

Being Fully Alive

kripalu-e1407949597832This Fall I’m living a dream, and I invite you to join the adventure to Kripalu.

I’m offering and co-leading “Being Fully Alive” retreat at the famous Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, October 12-16.

I’m collaborating with a wise teacher/author, Cara Bradley, Founder, Verge Yoga Center, Wayne, Pa. and her soon to be published book On The Verge. We are thrilled to be offering this retreat together.

I invite all friends students and lovers of health, self-discovery and inspiration to share the adventure and join us October 12-16, for this precious retreat to explore:

– stability and strength in all-levels yoga
– mindfulness meditation
– how movement and breath can harmonize the nervous system
– nature to inspire tranquility and vitality
– writing combined with meditation and yoga for self-reflection and joy.

What brings you fully alive? What are your next steps?

In the rolling hills and autumn leaves of Stockbridge, Massachusettes, Kripalu is one of the most special places I’ve found to rejuvenate and gain perspective. Plus, the food is marvelous.

The retreat is open to all ages and stages of yoga experience.

Read more about For Being Fully Alive: The Joy of Clarity, Strength, and Freedom, October 12-16, 2015, Kripalu, Center for Yoga & Health. Register on-line or click here for more information.

I can’t wait to share this celebration of inspiration and purpose with you!

May 19, 2015

Five Ways Getting Outdoors is Good For You

(This is me leading yoga outdoors at Yoga On The Steps for Living Beyond Breast Cancer, May 2015. A spectacular day!)

I remember as a kid, getting out of a hot car, walking away from a parking lot and busy street into the Morris Arboretum; a gentler, softer world that smelled of honeysuckle, boxwoods, roses, and jasmine. The air was cooler and my feet wanted to run down the sweeping lawns. I studied the shadows under willows, the grace of geese and swans, and turtles across a pond.

Nature was my sanctuary: a retreat to explore shadows, roll down hills, and imagine I was a princess, a lion, or a swan whisperer.

As an adult, a retreat into nature taps the same child-like sanctuary of wonder and well-being.

As adults we stand in the parking lot of the office or the grocery store and ask:

How many hours do I sit at a desk or inside?
When will I have time to exercise?
Where can I go to enjoy myself and rejuvenate?

Here are five ways retreating to nature for one-hour a week can enhance your well-being:

1. Induce a soothing, meditative mindset. In a Yoga practice, this is called Pratyahara. We withdraw from our busy habitual behaviors and mainstream outer listening and attention to inner listening and attention. We restore our respect for our needs. Accompanied by a tall tree, a gentle breeze or bird song, we return home to our skin, the present moment, and the restorative beauty of silence.

2. Slow down, relax, restore and rejuvenate the body. The constant flux and changes of nature give us a wise backdrop and context to enjoy the body. The body seeks harmony, fluidity, flexibility, and balance just like nature. Gentle, mindful yoga, reintroduces us to the flux, flow and wisdom of our well-being. How is your body changing? How is your life changing? What does your body most need? A therapeutic and prevention-oriented approach to movement and yoga enhances well-being.

3. Disconnect from the addiction of stress, technology, and busyness. We let go the addictive reliance on email, cell phones, and technology, in exchange for a pure sky, a sunset, and a canopy of elms. A hawk flies overhead, a bunny darts behind the holly branches and the light sparkles over our face. We unplug, run down a hill and return to our senses.

4. Enjoy the flow of nature. Emerson wrote, “A nobler want of man is served by nature, namely, the love of Beauty.”  Our eyes adjust to the subtle color, line, shadow, and textures. The wind in willows and our slow, steady breath. Even with the daily pressures of life, we can make time to enjoy our bodies, our minds and the glow of the sunset with others.

5. The fun of self-reflection and self-awareness. Natural meditative environments draw our minds and hearts towards an acceptance of what is. Whether by meditation, meeting new people, conversation with others, journaling or walking, nature can be an immense catalyst for personal happiness, creativity, wholeness, and embracing change.

At the core of our mental, physical and emotional wellness Mother Nature’s meditative beauty restores our sanity and preserves our sense of wonder and ease.

Will you slow down to enjoy your health?

Will you take preventative care of your body and mind?

The answer needs to be: Yes.

We are creating a mindful culture that supports true well-being. We can support one another in a deliberate practice of reconnecting to our senses under the pure blue sky.

Let’s get outside and enjoy ourselves.

Join me this summer at the Willows, Morris Arboretum and Kripalu this Fall.

Very Best,

Jennifer Schelter

May 14, 2015

A Beauty Calls

Beauty Makes Me Do Things

Beauty Calls  – Radiant Retreat 2015 – Photo: Julie Johnson

A beauty calls to us; a wholeness we know provides a haven and home in our skin.

The Buddhist call this beauty “our true nature.”

The Sufis call this beauty “the voice of the beloved.”

I call this beauty “You now. You on an average day. You in your bathrobe or new hot suit.”

You now. You making peace with the demons, the sadness, the loss, the terror, the joy, the happiness, the love, the kids, the back pain, the gray roots, the car troubles, the anxiety that you might not be enough, the “To Do” list, and pending stuff ahead.

We are born into this world with the dance in our step and the song in our ear and heart, yet we may first come to know it by its disappearance or absence.

We can feel a deep longing, like a lost child, and know that something essential is missing.

We can take walks at night and look up at the stars and ask, “What the heck is going on? When will I get this right? When will I be at peace with myself? When will I know myself?”

We can walk on and persist in knowing the practice and process of our true nature, asks questions, is curious, courageous and bold.

Our true nature is a process, not a cooked up PR response, not a boiled lobster red hot in the pot.

Our true nature is stone soup. It’s a work of art. It’s part leftovers, part new.

It’s doing so right now. It’s happening right now.

No matter what.

Ease up.


Give yourself a hug.

Take a breather.

One moment to say: Today is a work of art.

No matter if it looks like a Jackson Pollack or Monet.

It’s your own. It’s your process.

Albert Camus wrote, “A man’s life is nothing but an extended trek through the detours of art to recapture those one or two moments when his heart first opened.”

I’m of the opinion that a woman’s life is an extended sway of managing her brilliant mind, hips, hormones and body through the detours of creating a love story with her life.

She must insist on knowing all parts of herself, and enjoy herself on her terms.

She must celebrate the moments when life broke her heart and say,
Yes, my heart broke, and it’s now open.

It may hurt like hell, but it’s open. She must tell the truth to her doctor, therapist, friend, lover, journal, a tree, cat, dog or bird.

She must insist on her beauty and walk on.

My high school motto: Behold I Set Before Thee An Open Door.

Walk on.

The door is open.


Jennifer Schelter​

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