Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Fabulous Fiji!

Makaira Resort, Taveuni, Fiji
http://www.fijibeachfrontatmakaira.com/

Fabulous Fiji!


I bought myself a ticket to paradise. It started last spring. I just couldn't face the idea of turning 60 alone. Widowed. Unemployed. Single. Despite my success as a public speaker, change leader and so so writer, I really don't like the focus of attention to be on moi. I hate it. So when my friend Edie called, as she sometimes does, asking if I could come with her to Fiji in February...I said "No" at first. How could an Unemployed Widow go on a trip of a lifetime to Fiji!?? I had two weeks to decide because airfare was "cheaper", and was actually reading The Year of Yes by Shonda Rimes at the time. She shares her inner struggle: 

"Whatever that spark is that makes each one of us alive and unique… mine has gone. Stolen like the paintings on the wall. The flickering flame response for lighting me up from the inside, making me glow, keeping me warm… my candle had been blown out. I was shut down. I was tired. I was afraid. Small. Quiet." 

So, I called Edie back and said "YES! Yes to Fiji for my 60th!!! Wooo Hoooo. Then, I called all my family and close friends, and asked them..."Instead of buying me any gifts -- a bday card, a stamp for my bday card, breakfast, lunch or dinner, a bottle of wine, a cup of coffee, a sparkler for my bday next January...please put whatever cash you would spend on my bday event in an envelope to help reimburse me for my expenses for my trip!" 




View from the plane to Taveuni, Fiji - LOVE!

Shonda shares "Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be.

Since I was paying for a high dollar ticket, I didn't want to just stay in Taveuni for a week, so I stayed at the Wyndham WorldMark timeshare in Nadi, which I bought with my Stewart stock when I lost my job. I wanted to see what travel alone would be like. I have been on many business trips alone and a few weekend getaways or retreats, but never several days alone on an island. It was exciting and terrifying. I felt I was taking my widow members with me. I would relax on the beach with them, I would share my meals with them, I would have a glass of wine on the terrace with them. It was wonderful, actually, and I did survive. I was brave and bold!  I went to classes, and hiked, and swam and read. There was a part of me that had imagined going out to dinner and being picked up by a romantic gentleman that took me dancing on the beach in the moonlight... I'll be honest; that never happened! I got up early and stayed outside until it was just too warm, then I came in and studied and napped, and went back out at dusk to watch the fire torches being lite and then cooked my healthy dinner. I have to say sometimes it was lonely too. I missed companionship and sometimes even got a bit bored. But overall, I had a blast! Me, myself and I - we got along just fine. I survived, enjoyed and learned to relax in the newness of the feeling. 

After a few days, I flew to Taveuni to meet my friend, Edie. Nadi is a big city, the capital, with AC and lots of tourist niceties. Taveuni is a smaller island with no electricity (we had power at our resort) one road, and people live in small huts or concrete homes with no furniture or running water...A very unique place filled with wonderful, faithful, happy people. If I had enough money, I would have everyone in the world go to Taveuni for a week. The world would be a better place. They have so much to share we could all learn from!


Yellow Fin Tuna Fishing with Captain John
(Also our Chef!) and Edie! Every been?!!
We went tuna fishing, we shopped (and bought) pearls - (ask to see my "golden" pearl!), we swam, we ate, we hiked. We read. I spent time each morning on the "visioning bed" at the Point where legend has it God passes over to grant your prayers. I made my petitions and prayers; for peace, for wellness, for courage, for help to move forward in my new voice without any doubt or fear. I asked for strength to tug and pull free from the self-imposed cocoon I have been enveloped in for too long so I can emerge to be the Butterfly I was born to be. 

Brene Brown shares in her book, The Gift of Imperfection, that: "Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow; a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each of them -- We can only Love others as much as we Love ourselves."

Beach of Worldmark Resort, Nadi, Fiji
I read Matthew Kelly's The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion & Purpose while I was in Fiji. It is the foundation of my new 2 H.O.P.E Again Retreat series. Matthew wrote this book when he was 24 years old, just out of college. This book changed my life at 60! He shares some amazing insights: "Following your star is about discovering who you are and what you are capable of. Following your star is about learning to be yourself. You must be prepared to dare to be different in a word where uniformity is safe and rewarded. Search yourself. Discover something deed with that is yours and no one else's. Uncover your uniqueness. Your chance at greatness in intrinsically linked to being yourself. Become a champion of selfhood and you will meet with unimaged success."


Spa Burro, Makaira Resort, Taviuni, Fiji

Carolyn Moor, our Founder of Modern Widows Club, once shared a photo of a stack of books she has enjoyed to heal herself. One of them was The Untethered Soul, by Michael A. Singer. He shares: “There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind - you are the one who hears it. Only you can take inner freedom away from yourself, or give it to yourself. Nobody else can.”

I think I went to Fiji to find myself. Being away from "home" and my daily routine and schedule, responsibilities and timelines, and deadlines helped me really detach, analyze, relax and begin again. I feel I am reborn - more focused on being the brand new me I have been wanting to become. She's been with me this whole entire time, waiting to emerge and grow and stretch to new heights. 

"Our Beach" just below Makari, with Captain John's boat 
No matter where your journey leads you, don't be afraid to go. Go and let go. It's time to evolve into all that you were meant to be. Don't be afraid. Let go of FEAR. Be who you are and all you were meant to be. If you don't, not only do you miss out on your best life ever, we miss out on the unique gifts you are to share with us. You were born for all of us. And if you don't share your unique gifts and talents, we miss out. We need you to be you in all your glory


Oceanside, Wyndham WorldMark Resort, Nadi, Fiji

Accept my challenge to steal away and do something YOU long for. Remember, I went to Fiji: I did it for me, but I want it for you. You define your own "Fiji" - You can do anything you put your mind to. My favorite Pablo Picasso quotes says, "All you can imagine is Real", and I believe! It is always about Commitment & Decision. That is what I have learned and that is what I teach. You must be willing to take a chance to make a choice to make a change. 


I leave you with one of my very favorite poems, given to me by my sister in law, Leslie. I found it while I was decluttering, but I am becoming "Her" for the first time now...

Finding Her Hear by Jayne Relaford Brown

I am becoming the woman I’ve wanted,

grey at the temples,

soft body, delighted,

cracked up by life

with a laugh that’s known bitter,

but, past it, got better,
knows she’s a survivor—
that whatever comes,
she can outlast it.
I am becoming a deep
         weathered basket.
I am becoming the woman I’ve longed for,
the motherly lover
with arms strong and tender,
the growing-up daughter
who blushes surprises.
I am becoming full moons
        and sunrises.
I find her becoming,
this woman I’ve wanted,
who knows she’ll encompass,
who knows she’s sufficient,
knows where she’s going
and travels with passion.
Who remembers she’s precious,
yet not at all scarce—
who knows she is plenty,
        plenty to share.

Monday, February 5, 2018

2 H.O.P.E Again Retreat - Registration

Morning View of Lake Travis,

2 H.O.P.E Again Retreat
March 2 - 4, 2018
Villa Jabez, Spicewood Texas




Come and join us for our 
2 H.O.P.E. Again Retreat
at Villa Jabez
Spicewood, Texas 
March 2 - 4, 2018

We will be learning about HOPE
Health & Healing (with Jenn Johnson)
Opportunity & Outreach
Purpose & Passion
Enrichment & Enjoyment
Begin living the life you dream of...

Cost covers
2 Nights, 3 Days, 5 Meals 
10 hours of  Learning & Activities
$350.00

Coaching@LancasterLeadership.net
to Register by February 15, 2018









We are ready to enjoy every 2nd with You!


Villa Jabez is our 5 Bedroom, 5 Bathroom Lakehouse in Spicewood, Tx.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Let your Light Shine: Creating the Calm in your Christmas Chaos




Let your Light Shine:

Creating the Calm in your Christmas Chaos


Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem
By Dr. Maya Angelou

Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.

Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.

We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?

Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.

We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Peace.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.

It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.

On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.

At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth's tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.

We, Angels and Mortal's, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.

Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.
Published 12/15/2005

It’s Christmas time. The most wonderful time of the year…And yet, for many of us, it can be a very crazy, busy, and sad and lonely time of the year. It’s not easy to stay still and focused, as we look hard for the little light inside us. Don’t spend your Christmas all tangled up in tinsel and tasks –take some time to find that inner calm at the heart of your Christmas chaos. We need to let our inner light glow and grow from a spark into our very own bright light.  
Because of Hurricane Harvey, other hurricanes, wildfires, terrible floods, snow storms and other natural and man-made disasters, so many of us are still virtually homeless. Tossing and turning in and out of homes and beds, looking for a place called “home” we ultimately realize that we carry “home” with us –always. Home truly lives in our hearts. 
“For God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, made his light shine on our hearts to give us the light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” - Corinthians 4:6
I helped my daughter Claire put up a tree in her empty home that’s not yet ready to live in. Her #homeforChristmas is not going to happen. Not for her, her husband or her new born babe – born the day after their home flooded. Nor will I be home for Christmas, as I gifted my home this young family my home. While we won’t be in our homes for Christmas, we will all be together. We will celebrate with family and friends and enjoy sharing special time together. This year we lost my father in law, my children’s grandfather, my mother in laws soul mate of 62 years – but sweet Charlotte was born. Life is bitter and sweet. We are grateful to be together and to sit in the glow of a candle with laughter and tears because it is all about love! Our lights will be shining so brightly!
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ― Martin Luther King Jr. 
We know life is short. We know it is fleeting, and yet we also know we have a responsibility to keep the peace, to grow the flame of light inside us, to hold hands, to share hugs, and to live. To live a life of light, to help others that surround us and to hold them up in our love, our light. To live a bright life full of light and wonder – a flame we need to learn to nurture from within. 
“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” --Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
This Christmas, I’m calling you to action. If you are lonely, or alone, or crazy busy with all the chaos, promise me you will stop, take a moment to step back, breath three deep breaths, focus and move forward. Get a hot chocolate, take a walk, read a poem, sing a carol out loud, help someone around you that could use a hand. Do something to stop the crazy madness inside you and lean into your light and your life. It will enrich you. It will move you. It’s ok to hurt, to cry, to feel, because it means we are still alive! We hurt because we loved. Make a choice to take a chance and make a change. Go ahead--Let your light SHINE:
Share: Spend some time in peaceful, calm centering prayer; listen to the still quiet voice inside you. Thank God for all you have and be glad for the joy feel from appreciation. Set the world on fire with your love light!
Help:  Do something for someone else. It helps you get out of your circumstances. Donate gifts of food, toys, or volunteer. Spending time with someone that would love to see you is the best gift of all. Be a blessing to someone else. 
Inspire: Encourage others around you! Be the light you hope to see in others. Act on your gratitude and share with others; a smile, a word of encouragement, a secret surprise for someone anonymously. Let your light shine through you. 
Nurture: Take some time for yourself; hot bath with candles, festive holiday music, read a special book that warms the heart, schedule some quiet time doing something you enjoy! There are so many ways to share your light but we must keep the flame bright inside us!
Enjoy: Drive around and look at the Christmas lights, listen to a holiday choir, attend a special service or event, schedule time to spend with family and friends; enjoy special holiday treats – When was the last time you had a hot chocolate? No matter where we are or what trail we are going through, we can always choose joy!
I know that little light in you is ready to shine, to grow bigger and stronger, and to light your path to your new life. I promise it is there, deep inside you, waiting for you to bellow it bigger and bigger and bigger until you can see it and you can share it. It will keep you warm. It will help others. It will lead you on your path. Just let it shine. Let your light shine!
“You are a light,” she replies gently. “And when you shine, you shine bright.” ― Marie Lu, The Midnight Star

Thursday, November 30, 2017



Begin again…
with a Grateful Heart

Joanne Fink

“I am grateful for what I am and have. 
My thanksgiving is perpetual.” 
Henry David Thoreau

As November comes to an end, and the Thanksgiving holidays fade into December, we need to take a moment to reflect on all we are grateful for. Many of us engage in the 30 days of gratitude on Facebook for November, but truly, Thanksgiving and being grateful should be a way of life…every day! On Giving Tuesday, I nervously shared on Modern Widows Club Facebook Live what it means to me to be a leader. I love serving YOU. That is why it is so important to me to serve as a MWC leader. Because I felt so called to be a leader for Modern Widows Club and was empowered by mentoring with the great minds and hearts of Carolyn Moor and Jodie Rodenbaugh and so many others, I have really raised my bar of perpetual gratitude for the awesome and amazing life I live now daily…It’s given me a great chance, a wonderful opportunity, to begin again and to create a new life, a life that I always had, but never knew was deep inside me. Meeting all the people, visiting wonderful places and working for MWC has given me great peace and a powerful new purpose I enjoy daily. I am grateful.

We are on a journey we never chose, a place we never wanted to go to, a club no one wants to join… except I love my new life. I do. I’ve met you and you warm my heart. You encourage me, you inspire me, and you empower me. I have seen the power of transformational change. In me…and in you. We are not the women we were the day we said: “I do”. We are not the women we were the day they said “He died.” and we have a brand-new life now that allows us to experience things we never knew…. Knowing you and watching you grow – to see your heart reach and your mind expand, has made my life all the richer. And I am grateful – grateful for YOU!

Our Houston Chapter Co-Leader, Dr. Flavia Horth, always tells us to wake up and put your smile on!   After Kevin died, I threw myself into studying what helps people move forward. I read Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, and so many others, to learn more about change. As a result of my personal study, I obtained the advanced certification in Prosci, the science of the people side of change and became a Change Leader for my company. One of the key ingredients of change is adopting an attitude of gratitude. Last month we talked about using gratitude journals and really taking a few minutes at the end of each day to focus on a few things you are grateful for. It helps you heal. Brene Brown, Jen Sincero and many many more encourage this activity. There is real value in being grateful. It helps us begin again… This chart by Amit Amin illustrates some of the benefits of Gratitude:

The Benefits of Gratitude by Amit Amin

To see how you rate, you may want to take his Quiz! http://happierhuman.com/how-grateful-are-you/.

A big part of Gratitude is being thankful for where you are and how you are right now!

“You are perfect. To think anything less is as pointless as a river thinking that it’s got too many curves or that it moves too slowly or that its rapids are too rapid. Says who? You’re on a journey with no defined beginning, middle or end. There are no wrong twists and turns. There is just being. And your job is to be as you as you can be. This is why you’re here. To shy away from who you truly are would leave the world you-less. You are the only you there is and ever will be. I repeat, you are the only you there is and ever will be. Do not deny the world its one and only chance to bask in your brilliance.”

Here in Houston so many of us are still living in survival mode post Harvey. In so many ways we are learning to begin again, as we do when we become widows. Beginning again is painful – there is both grief and growth, but in the end, we get to become all we were born to become. As November slips into December, take some time to hold on to your gratefulness and carry it with you wherever you go. Know that you are never alone on this journey. Together we thrive. Keep gratitude in your heart and life and let it help light your way…as you begin again.


Thursday, October 19, 2017





An Attitude of Gratitude

Connection with Self and Source,

with Relationships, Finding Wholeness & Grounding

Natalie I. Lancaster, Change Leader
(Written for Modern Widows Club Blog)


Brother David Steindl-Rast
I love being  able to share my life with so many lovely ladies that I would have never met except for loss. It is a strange feeling to realize we would not be who we are, and to some extent who we were born to be, if not for being widows together... It always makes me grateful that I get to be who I was born to be because I met YOU!
However, when I was asked to write the blog about Connection with Self and Source, w/ Relationships, Finding Wholeness and Grounding this week, I hesitated.  I have recently accepted a very exciting consulting job, and am literally driving around with my wardrobe and jewelry in the back a rental car (as a result of of some of our family impacts caused by Hurricane Harvey) ... so it's been a little crazy. A friend asked me how I was enjoying "living out of my car" and actually I can honestly say, I'm enjoying being a vagabond!


Change makes us grow when we have to live
outside our comfort zone and try new things.

It also keeps us grounded and grateful for all that we have.  I have found I can pray, walk, work, eat and sleep just about anywhere. Sharing dinner and pillows at different places has been very enriching. And I have also learned to appreciate all that I have in my own life, my family and friends, my home and this new, ever evolving single life.  

I am joyful.  I am blessed. I am grateful.

Having an Attitude of Gratitude has been my saving grace all my life. I do always try to see the silver lining in the clouds. I can see the hope that springs from chaos. I know the growth that comes in suffering. We have to pull and stretch, and reach up in order to grow. Gratitude keeps me focused, aligned and grounded.
I think one of the first things that "grounded" me after I lost Kevin was that life is fragile and should be lived out loud. I had always had a bit of this mindset, especially since I lost my boyfriend, Philip, at the tender age of 16, to suicide. He always encouraged me live a rich, full life. He truly taught me to live my life out loud and not to be afraid to try new things. I do challenge myself often. If I want to do something, but I’m a bit scared, I just make a deal with myself and push thru. At my first Texas Land Title Convention I made myself promise that I could not come back to my room until I had “met three new people and stayed at the reception for one hour.” I did it and I made it. This month, I am honored to be featured author as the “centerfold” article in the American Land Title Association's Magazine "Title News" on the Need for Change Management. I served as the chairman of the Education Committee for over 10 years. You really can make yourself do uncomfortable things and live through it. And it will be amazing!

After Kevin died, I became even more committed to living my life outloud!  I never ever wanted to have another ordinary day again. I want to live an extraordinary life and I struggle watching others do less...
"An attitude of gratitude means making it a habit
to express thankfulness and appreciation
in all parts of your life, on a regular basis,
for both the big and small things alike."

As a ballerina in my early years, I studied Martha Graham, an American modern dancer and choreographer, who danced for over seventy years changing forever ballet in America. She shared:

“There is vitality, a life force, energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.” Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham by Agnes De Mille.



Father Charles Shelton, Jesuit priest, psychologist, and the author of The Gratitude Factor, says that the choice to live gratefully can help to improve virtually every aspect of a person's life. "Gratitude gives depth to the experience of joy, and profound meaning to less desirable tasks -  by ‘re-framing’ both as important aspects of the life that one receives from God. Since it is oriented toward others, the experience of gratitude can especially deepen bonds with friends and family."

Andrew Merle from the Huffington Post shares:
Wake up every day and express to yourself what you are grateful for.  Here are a few ideas to get you started:
(My thoughts in parenthesis.)
Write down 3 things you are most grateful for daily.
(We have done this exercise for our Houston Chapters and I often share journals with our new members)
Start a gratitude journal - Express gratitude in this journal every night by noting the things that you are grateful for, proud of, and excited about.
(Next to my bed!)
Acknowledge yourself for what you have done and accomplished. Instead of comparing yourself to others, give yourself credit for the big and small things you have been doing!
(It's sooo important to have YOUR goals and visions ... you have to KNOW them to BEHOLD them!!)
Acknowledge other people and thank them for inspiring/helping/supporting you - oftentimes people wait their whole lives to be acknowledged
(I'm so delighted to have met all my lovely ladies!)
Every day won't be perfect,
but focusing on what we are grateful for
tends to wash away feelings of anger and negativity.



Connection with Self and Source, with Relationships, Finding Wholeness and Grounding is a part of developing your brand new life; a Grateful Life!

Andrew Merle from the Huffington Post recommends a daily ritual:
Wake up every day and express to yourself what you are grateful for.  
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
(My thoughts in parenthesis.)
Write down 3 things you are most grateful for daily.
(We have done this exercise for our Houston Chapters and I often share journals with our new members)
Start a gratitude journal - Express gratitude in this journal every night by noting the things that you are grateful for, proud of, and excited about.
(Next to my bed!)
Acknowledge yourself for what you have done and accomplished. Instead of comparing yourself to others, give yourself credit for the big and small things you have been doing!
(It's sooo important to have YOUR goals and visions ... you have to KNOW them to BEHOLD them!!)
Acknowledge other people and thank them for inspiring/helping/supporting you - oftentimes people wait their whole lives to be acknowledged
(I'm so delighted to have met all my lovely ladies!)

Every day won't be perfect,
but focusing on what we are grateful for
tends to wash away feelings of anger and negativity.

Like anything else, if you commit to it, it will lead you to living a fuller life and enjoying every second. To be able to develop mindfulness, purposefulness and to begin exploring all you were born to be, gratitude must be practiced. Even if you have a really bad, terrible, awful, no good sort of day, you can choose to find joy in a flower, a big, bright blue sky, a friend’s smile. It is there, all around us and we just need to stop, take a breath, look around and let it soak in.

We can lift ourselves, and others as well,
when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought
and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude.  


Thomas Monson

Always be grateful & enjoy every second!
Love always & Forever

Natalie



Natalie Lancaster
MWC Leader,  
Houston and NW Houston/Katy Chapters
Houston, TX
natalie@modernwidowsclub.com



Natalie I. Lancaster is the Region Leader of the Modern Widows Club Houston Chapters. She calls herself "the Texas Tornado" and plans to promote chapters across the southwestern region of the United States. Additionally, she is the Innovative Change Leader of Lancaster Leadership, Inc., offering professional change leadership focusing on communication, consulting & training as well as personal development and transformation. She shares her insights on life and love after loss on eNJoyEvery2nd!


Natalie I. Lancaster
Innovative Change Leader
Lancaster Leadership, Inc. 
Coaching@LancasterLeadership.net