April 2016 - Love Heals

Love Heals

"Cardinal in the garden", Susannah Castro

Hi All my Beautiful Star Friends

It is Spring on the desert and the cacti are blooming and the weather is lovely. It puts me in the mood for love. And I don't necessarily mean romantic love. Although I'm not ruling that out. But I am feeling grateful for the love we all share at Star.

One of the biggest reasons I have continued to facilitate at Star for 17 years is the love that I give and receive. Star truly is a loving process. We work hard and long to give our participants everything they need while at Star. But the love that we get back is truly one of the greatest gifts we have in this life. I really believe that we are here on earth and in this life to learn lessons and to love and be loved.

That is why I love Star so much. It is a process like no other, in which we can come from the loving space in our hearts. We can serve as role models for the loving, healthy parents that most of our participants have never had. That unconditional love that we offer is the most important healing force that we can give.

Yes, of course we need skills and to learn the process, but coming from our loving hearts is the most important gift we can give at Star. I am a witness to all of your love pouring into our participants at each Star and it is such a blessing in my life. It always renews my hope and faith in humanity. I feel so grateful for all of you and I want you to know that I love all of you. So, I can't wait for our next Star workshop on May 6th through the 15th and to, once again, be with my loving tribe.

Blessings and love,

- Candace, STAR Foundation, Clinical Director

"Entry to Casitas, Kenyon Ranch", Susannah Castro

Our Star 2016 retreats are filling up quickly! You can find a calendar and other information, including how to register, on our website by clicking the links below.

2016 Spring STAR Retreat
May 6, 2016 - May 15, 2016

2016 Summer STAR Retreat
July 22, 2016 - July 31, 2016

2016 Fall STAR Retreat
September 1, 2016 - September 11, 2016

2017 Winter STAR Retreat
January 27, 2017 - February 5, 2017

2017 Spring STAR Retreat
April 21, 2017 - April 30, 2017

2017 Summer STAR Retreat
July 21, 2017 - July 30, 2017

2017 Fall STAR Retreat
October 13, 2017 - October 22, 2017

Dear Star Friends

Living in Arizona has had its challenges for me. I miss the ocean, the flowers, the shopping and movies and my family and California friends. On the other hand... the stars, the space, the light on the mountains, the absence of traffic, and making new friends are all pluses here on the high desert of Southern Arizona. Right now the roses are in full bloom and the mesquite trees are shimmering with feathery bright green leaves gently waving in the breeze. The valley wears a beautiful yellow-green lacy mantilla.

Kenyon Ranch is also blooming with guests and new ideas on marketing and expanding our outreach. We are exploring new opportunities to use the facilities. One of them is Airbnb. So if you would like to come and enjoy the peace and spirit of Kenyon Ranch you can rent a casita and renew your body, mind and spirit.

On April 13 I’m having a hip replacement at a Tucson Orthopedic hospital. Though I’m not looking forward to surgery, I am looking forward to walking without pain and a cane and maybe dancing again!

The Ranch community is so pleased to have our resident Rinpoche Jerry Gardner here with us. He will be returning to the Ranch again May 22nd – 25th. He will be travelling between Arizona and Utah over the next several months and it is always a joy to have him bless us when he is here.

Our next STAR Group is from May 6 – May 15. I always look forward to meeting participants and seeing familiar faces of the staff. When you read Annie’s “A Letter to myself” in this newsletter, pay attention to how you talk to yourself. Self compassion is not narcissism or putting frosting on buffalo chips. Transformation is not denial. I often encounter individuals who beat themselves up with punishing guilt, judgments, and put-downs. They would almost never do that to someone else. Talk to yourself gently with love and respect like you do to someone you love or a much loved pet. MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOURSELF. My book “Womb Prints” is finally being printed. After so many glitches – I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Enjoy springtime wherever you are,

- Barbara Findeisen, Founder, Star Foundation

"Rose Garden, Kenyon Ranch", Susannah Castro

A Letter To Myslef on Those Tough Days

“When I wrote ‘A Letter to Myself on Those Tough Days’, I cried the entire time I wrote it. They were tears of relief and comfort, and the realization that I was stronger than I thought. I finally realized that I had been looking outside of myself for all of the answers I was seeking, when really they were within me the whole time. It was such a powerful moment for me. and hope that it will continue to be seen by those who need it and help them.”

A Letter to Myself on Those Tough Days
I know that you are hurting, my love. And I am here to listen. Through those dark lonely pauses when you feel you are all alone, I will be here to fill the void. I will stoke the ashes of your light when you believe it’s gone out, and keep it burning through the night; because really it’s never actually disappeared, you just can’t see it right now. And that’s okay. I am here to remind you that it’s still there. I am here to catch your fall, and lift you up again.
Please don’t forget yourself. I know that you are hurting, my love. And I am here to listen.Soon enough tomorrow will bring a new day along with the promise of a new start. Hold on. Don’t give up. I know you want to -give up. I feel your sigh in my heart and hold your tears in my hands. I know your heartbreak. And please remember above all else, my darling, that I love you. You are a lotus meant to bloom through this mud, and I know the incredible beauty of your soul. It shines so bright it’s blinding.

Nurturing the Self

I love the theme of this newsletter, compassion for self. In thinking of this, I am reminded of all the times that I did not have compassion for myself. These were some of my darkest points of my life. I felt as if I were a burden to others and had difficulty reaching out for support. I would deny myself and others the gift of reciprocity. I would certainly have been present for someone else who was struggling or experiencing despair. Why would I not give this gift to myself? Did I not deserve the same as others?

I remember a day a few years ago when I was sharing an office with a co-worker. I was preparing a presentation and struggling with the technology. I started fussing at myself, telling myself that I was an idiot. My co-worker piped up and said, “Cheryl, please don’t talk to my friend that way”. It had an impact. I would never speak to any of my friends the way I was talking to myself. Learning to be gentle with myself was a new and novel concept, but it has made a huge difference in how I feel. All of us could use a little more self-compassion, self-love and self-nurturance.

What I know is that if I do not put my own oxygen mask on first I will not have much love or energy to provide support for others. A wonderful book, “Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself” along with Dr. Kristin Neff’s website has wonderful guided imageries and tips to self-care.

I have been nurturing myself here in the desert by practicing mindfulness as I spend time on my front porch with Watson and music, pruning the roses in the beautiful Kenyon Ranch rose garden and welcoming others to the Ranch for a variety of wonderful groups. I have been making new friends and connecting with some of my old ones here in Arizona.

We are so excited to be welcoming a full STAR group for our May retreat. It was at STAR that I first began to understand that I too, deserve love, kindness and that I did not have to look outside of myself all of the time to find these gifts. If you haven’t stopped to “remember to remember” in a while, please give yourself the gift of the present.

Peace and blessings to all,

- Cheryl Sharp, Executive Director, Star Foundation

"Labyrinth, Kenyon Ranch", Susannah Castro

On Being Seen & Heard

Reba Smith, M.S. CEO, WingSpan Consulting

I’ve had the opportunity to be seen and heard by many wise, kind people in my adult life. There are two pieces of advice that have stood the test of time when I’m faced with a task that has the potential to undermine my confidence. The first is, “Go with what you know.” The second is, “Remember: You love these people.” As I sit down to write for this newsletter, here is a taste of the maelstrom in which I have been operating for the past month: My impaired mother moving in with my son and I, travelling and presenting for work (imagine the most introverted person you know and place them in front of a lectern with a microphone), hosting my homeless ex-spouse while she grieves the loss of a beloved companion, navigating the sometimes lovely and sometimes ugly nuances of a new romantic relationship, and weathering the ups and down of personal and professional politics, injustices, and ignorance in my home town. I posted on Facebook the other day that life “ain’t for sissies”. And I meant it.

You might be asking yourself what all this has to do with STAR. It’s simple, really. Do you see up there in the first paragraph? I learned a lot of what I ‘know’ from the STAR process. I came to STAR at a time in my life in which I was nearly disintegrated. I didn’t know much. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I didn’t know what ‘ok’ looked like or felt like. I didn’t have the internal resources to take care of myself. On the surface, my professional life looked decent, but I had the sense that it was about to implode. The stress was too great, my resources were too few. I went to STAR to get my life together. It wasn’t magic. It was a lot of hard work. But I learned the key to ‘ok’. I remember sitting in the lodge in a circle with all these people I didn’t know and one of the facilitator said, “Our job is just to love you while you’re here. And we will do that well.” I got a healthy dose of love, and respect, and a container for all my disintegrated parts.

When I left STAR, I wanted to know more, so I took a deep dive into attachment theory, prenatal psychology, and interpersonal neurobiology*. And that’s where that second piece of advice falls into place. The key to being ‘ok’ is love; the unqualified acceptance of another’s personhood and the investment of attuning yourself with another person in a safe way. Now, as life dishes out these substantive challenges, I know I need to connect with someone. To fill myself up by filling another person up, the way I was filled. As my everyday work now allows me to help create this reality for people, agencies, and systems of care, I always remember that I got this from STAR and Kenyon Ranch. My life is better. I know what ‘Ok’ looks like now. And I am deeply grateful.

*Here are some links to great resources for these topics:
Dan Siegel, UCLA: "On Optimal Attachment"
Stephen Porges, UNC, Greensboro: "The Polyvagal Theory"

The STAR Foundation's mission is to provide nurturing intensives where adults experience empowerment and inspiration, and are given tools to transform their lives.

We also hope that you will continue your generous contributions to STAR Foundation in order to fulfill our mission, vision, and values.

There are several ways you can contribute:

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STAR Foundation, PO Box 1554, Tubac, AZ 85646

Visit www.starfound.org for more information, to register for a retreat, or to make a donation in support of our programs. The STAR© Retreat is a 501c3 non profit. The STAR© Retreat stands alone among personal growth workshops with its 1-to-2 staff to participant ratio. Its remarkably large, diverse, and knowledgable staff provide you, as a participant, a safe, unparalleled level of personalized attention creating an extremely individualized and tailored experience. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter by visiting the links below.

"Spring Storm Over the Santa Rita Mountains", susannah Castro

Kenyon Ranch photos courtesy Susannah Castro, used by permission of the artist.