Staff Retreat for Small Steps Counseling Center

It was an incredible day!

At  9am a parade of people arrived at my house (retreat center) carrying trays of veggies, fruits, cookies, cupcakes and a big pot of strong coffee! One smiling face after another with “Good mornings” and “I love this place!” After a little wandering around the outdoor space and a little coffee consumption we began the retreat.

I had been asked by Courtney Lewis, the Founder and Director of Small Steps to lead the annual staff retreat for 20 plus counselors and administrators. The retreat was a mixture of mindfulness and meditation practices, boundary work, exploring personal strengths and challenges and how they bridge together, as well as rejuvenation and celebration.

This group of people was an absolute delight to work with. There is a cohesiveness and respect within the group that is rare and quite beautiful. Everyone participated fully and there was no shortage of tears and laughter.

Thank you to all who attended this retreat. I feel honored to have had the experience!

“The space you provide, the home you invite us into, and the warmth of your guidance really allowed for our group to find mindfulness, rejuvenation and joy with one another.” Leandra Lomosad, LMHC

“When I showed up to Devon’s workshop, my energy was low. I felt zapped.After the day, I’m leaving with joy, lighthearted renewed focus on being present. Much Gratitude”, Cathann Dragone, MA, LPCC 

“Both Grounding and Inspiring….Truly allowed me to recognize my own contributions and my colleagues contributions.”, Meg

“Inspirational, fun, heartfelt, time for reflection and showing appreciation. Thank you”, Katie Riley, Admin.

“This workshop exceeded my expectations. Insight mixed with gentle validation. Love delight in the moment” Cheryl Monks, MA, LPCC, RPT

“Devon has created a lovely and intimate space to reflect and learn. Thank you Devon!”, Julie Pierce, Admin.

“The retreat was more than expected…wonderful experience to help ground myself, be mindful of the present moment , allowing me to have insight.” Cheryl Benedetto

“Devon provided an amazing healing and nurturing space. Her heart was so open to our group and we felt so cared for.” Courtney Lewis, Small Steps Clinical Director

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5th Graders at Alvarado Elementary Ponder Mindfulness

The counselor’s classroom at Alvarado Elementary was packed! 50 ten and eleven year old students gathered on the floor in a semi-circle, six people deep. I was invited to speak with these 5th graders about mindfulness.This was a very engaged group, with no shortage of curiosity and questions.

We discussed the power of our minds and how what we think directly affects the way we feel. We practiced mindfulness exercises, including slowing down the process of eating a single grape and all of the sensory discoveries made in that small amount of time. The classroom went from high energy, to calm, to a felt sense of discovery.

Toward the end of the class, nature gifted us with a swift, strong rainstorm. We were able to slow down, feel the cool wind pouring through the open door, smell the strong scent of rain and be silent all together as a group, so we could hear the rain on the roof. It was nature’s gift to us. We were able to apply everything we had just discussed, in order to have a full and rich experience of life itself.

“Your talk today was very interesting and inspiring.The mindfulness exercises we did were very fun, and we learned helpful techniques to be mindful and aware in the world.You make me want to work with the same kinds of people as you do.”  -Student at Alvarado-

” On Monday April 20th, Ms. Devon Finnegan, parent to a 5th grader at our school kept fifty 5th graders mesmerized by sharing with them her own story leading to her present career as a Mindfulness Teacher/Counselor. Devon very skillfully walked the students through activities that familiarized the students with a Mindful state of mind and being, teaching them a few skills that will help them stay in “the here and now” and mindful of the present. These included mindful breathing, imagery and exercise in tasting a grape mindfuly as way to get the most out of the experience of chewing on a grape. Devon was able to keep the students engaged and attentive. I am confident they all walked away with looking at chewing a grape in a whole new way…..”

“Thanks Devon for your time and sharing your story and wisdom.”

 Behjat Shirazi MA, LPCC

Professional School Counselor

Alvarado Elementary School

What An Honor….

As I walked into the Hospitality Room at The Flying Star where I was to teach, I was met with a room full of open, friendly faces. I had been invited to teach mindfulness and meditation to people who who are living with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy or Corticobasal Degeneration and their caretakers and loved ones. PSP and CBD are neurodegenerative brain diseases causing a myriad of physical challenges for those who have the disease and emotional challenges for all involved.

It was an honor to work with this group. The room was full of love, wakefulness and wisdom. People spoke openly of their pains, struggles and fears while they held firmly to the supportive energy that this support group has created for them. I was struck by the level of authenticity, courage and humor. The teaching, discussion and connection were a delight. A big thank you to all who were present and to the founder of the group, Roxi Padrid. When we come together, we find breath.

“Devon Finnegan is an inspirational person and teacher.  I am a support group facilitator in the Albuquerque area for patients and loved ones living with neurodegenerative diseases. We were lucky enough to have Devon present to our group and guide us through some mindfulness exercises. Her soothing and serene manner created a safe environment in which we could express our fears and discuss our struggles. We are traveling a difficult road and Devon helped us focus on our awareness and what we have today, rather than dwell on what may happen in the future.  She is truly a gifted teacher and we were all very grateful for the time we spent with her.”   -Roxi Padrid-