May 2016 - Gratitude


"Mourning Dove, Kenyon Ranch", Susannah Castro

Being Grateful Has Changed My Life

I really believe that being grateful is the key to happiness and contentment. I try to make it a practice to get up every day and start saying "Thank You" to my Creator for all that I have and all that I am. As soon as my feet hit the floor I start thanking my Higher Power for another day, for my daughter and grandson, for my health, my home and anything for which I can be thankful.

This really helps me to start the day in a positive mood with a thankful outlook. Then, throughout the day, whenever I experience something positive,I say, "Thank You"! This makes me feel uplifted and content. It is a wonderful feeling.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, "in ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich." I am constantly amazed at how much I have to be grateful for: my life, who I am, my compassion and empathy, my brain and body, my abilities, and on and on. Also being born in this country and having opportunities and advantages that so many people in the world do not have. So much more; the list goes on and on.

So, some things you can do to feel more gratitude in your life and become more content and happy:

1. Keep a Gratitude Journal. Write down at least 5 things you are grateful for every day.

2. Breathe. Breathe in to a count of 4; hold it; and then release it. This helps you to be present and to be calm and centered.

3. Bring to mind someone you are grateful for in your life.

4. Reflect on something you have learned during the day.

5. Perform an act of kindness during the day.

6. Light a candle and sit quietly and allow the peace to enter your heart.

7. Make a decision to see challenges as opportunities during the day.

8. Notice your hands and think of all they do for you.

9. Reach out to someone you know is going through a difficult time.

There are many ways to feel gratitude. Take the time to feel them today. It will enrich your life and make life more meaningful and enjoyable.

Gratefully yours,

- Candace, STAR Foundation, Clinical Director

"View of Santa Rita Mountains with Elephant Head, Kenyon Ranch", Jed Appelrouth

Our Star 2016 retreats are filling up quickly! We have also added our 2017 retreats so you can plan ahead. You can find a calendar and other information, including how to register, on our website by clicking the links below.

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

Our recent STAR group was a powerful healing time. Candace Rosen and I co-led the group with a great experienced staff. I love working on a team. The combined richness of talents and wisdom expands the opportunity for inidvidualized attention. Scientists inform us that the brain is a special organ created to be in relationship with others, as in a family, or a tribe. After all, we are mammals and need nurturing protection and the loving, safe company of others. During STAR groups we become such a community. Just being in the environment heals many wounds. Working and laughing with a shared vision and purpose is very meaningful and it is also more fun! There are so many ways to be in a community. AA groups are available everywhere to share and feel a sense of belonging. If I were to list the mini-communities availble I would fill up all the space in our newsletter.

STAR is part of my "tribe". Everywhere I travel I experience community. You are all welcome!

My book "Womb Prints" is now available. It will be on Amazon soon. For the time being, you can buy it directly from me as the books are here at the Ranch. Just call 520.398.8202 if you would like to order a copy. Later this summer I will be speaking in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The dates are not yet set, but will be in the next newsletter, along with the location and other details.

May you and your "kid" or "kids" have some fun during the sunny summertime - may you play and laugh and experience the shared gratitude of community, large or small. If you don't have one, find one, or create one. Shared neighborhood gardens create communities... if we can do it here in the Sonoran Desert, you can do it too.

And please don't forget 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.


- Barbara Findeisen, Founder, Star Foundation

"Pomegranate Blossoms, Kenyon Ranch", Susannah Castro


Last Sunday we completed another powerful, transformational STAR retreat at Kenyon Ranch. For the first time in several years, I was able to serve as a facilitator to STAR participants, helping them through this process that changed my life 15 years ago.

Serving on the staff reminded me just how powerful the group therapeutic process can be. The STAR staff operates as a cohesive team, and over the course of the 10-day process, the STAR participants begin to function as a team, helping and supporting each other. Each individual commits to his or her individual work, while simultaneously participating in the process of the other members. Something I could only describe as radical empathy emerges, as we share deeply of ourselves, our fears, our wounds, our deepest desires. In the safety of this sacred space, our intentions aligned, magical moments and individual breakthroughs inevitably occur.

During this most recent retreat I was particularly moved by the courage of the STAR participants, their willingness to dive in and do the hard work to create meaningful change in their lives. Over the course of the retreat, I watched the participants’ faces change, become lighter, softer, more alive. Their bodies changed too as they shed some of the historic shame and anger they may have carried in their bodies for years.

I feel grateful that I’m able to be part of this work. I believe that the world is enhanced by the work we are doing out on that beautiful ranch in Tubac, Arizona. Individuals return home healthier, more connected to their hearts, bodies and spirits, able to engage their life’s challenges with more grace. The tools we teach at STAR can change one’s life and relationships, as they changed and continue to contribute to my own.

- Jed Appelrouth, Board of Directors, Star Foundation

"Kenyon Ranch Office", Jed Appelrouth


In the 1980s Alice Walker, the author of The Color Purple, wrote In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens. The theme explored the way women of color expressed their creativity when they were oppressed and denied many avenues of expression. Walker found that these women created magnificent quilts that looked like colorful gardens expressing appreciation for Nature and the beauty around them. She was grateful for her heritage, and anyone reading Walker’s poignant story would feel her gratitude.

So a question we could ask ourselves is: how are we expressing our gratitude? Or, are we? The world is overflowing with stuff! It is easy to be overwhelmed by it all. It is easy to take everything for granted, to get caught up in our busy-ness, and to forget to appreciate anything.

But the way to really be creative, to receive insights and inspiration, and feel in harmony with the Universe is to appreciate what we have already.

So I ask myself, do I remember to say thank you before I eat? Some people say “Grace” before a meal, but do any really think of all those involved in producing the food that they are eating?

Do they acknowledge the Earth that brought forth the fruit, the animal that gave its life, the farmers who raised the vegetables, the pickers and packers, the grocery store clerks, the advertisers who let them know what was on sale—there are endless people and things to be.

There is a growing awareness that there is a Circle of Life. What goes around comes around. It can be thought of as the the Law of Cause and Effect. It can be perceived of as karma, or sowing our seeds and reaping the fruits of our labors. When we sow seeds of gratitude, we send the Universe the message that we are ready to receive more in kind.

This is just a reminder to focus on gratitude—to be in harmony with natural cycles of sending out what we want to get back, and to reap a harvest that reflects the very best we want in our lives.

In fact, we can begin to say “thank you” before we receive what we’d like to have. Pretend that you already have what you desire, and say “thank you” as if it is yours. This is no longer a “Secret.” This is the way to create. Looking for a loving relationship, a new car, a satisfying career? Begin to see it in your life now and express your gratitude as if it is here

May your garden be beautiful, abundant, and full of grace!

- Susan Highsmith, Board of Directors, Star Foundation

"Clouds and Santa Rita Mountains with Labyrinth, Kenyon Ranch", Susannah Castro

STAR: Call for STAR fcilitators

After years of being one of the best-kept secrets in the therapeutic community, STAR is beginning to gain broader recognition and generate greater public interest. Since we moved our facilities back to the beautiful Kenyon Ranch, we have experienced a surge in the number of individuals interested in participating in the STAR program. We are delighted to run full STARs, and increase our impact.

In order to meet this increased demand, we need to expand our team of STAR facilitators. Our team is a dynamic group of committed, big-hearted individuals. Everyone on staff has attended a STAR retreat, and all have received training in the multimodal STAR method. Many facilitators have advanced therapeutic degrees in counseling, social work and psychology and some have their own private practices. Other STAR facilitators bring expertise from the realms of addiction and recovery, bodywork, education, coaching, communication, art therapy and more. All facilitators are committed to helping and making meaningful contributions to others.

If STAR made a difference in your life, and you would like to give back by becoming a facilitator, we’d like you to apply. If you know of an individual with healing gifts, deep empathy and communication skills who might make a great facilitator, we’d love for you to pass this on to them. You can apply to become a facilitator by emailing or by completing this form: Become A STAR Facilitator.

Thank you for your interest in supporting the healing work of STAR.

- Susan Highsmith, Board of Directors, Star Foundation

"Desert Marigolds and Adobe Wall, Kenyon Ranch", Kathy Reid

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:

  • You can pledge monthly support. Your gift helps us cover operational costs, workshop leader salaries and provides a stable financial base for our work.
  • You can make a one-time donation.
  • You can dedicate your donation to the general fund or one of two scholarship funds; General Scholarship or our new Diversity Scholarship to encourage participation from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds.

Your support will be greatly appreciated. You can make checks payable to STAR Foundation – our mailing address is below. You can also donate online at our website here STAR Foundation is tax-exempt under 501(c) (3) of the I.R.S. Code EIN 77-0009281.

Please mail donations to:
STAR Foundation, PO Box 1554, Tubac, AZ 85646

Visit 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.

"Prickly Pear Cactus Flower, Kenyon Ranch", Kathy Reid

Kenyon Ranch photos copyright and courtesy of Jed Appelrouth, Susannah Castro, and Kathy Reid, used by permission of the artists.