Monday, January 15, 2018

In Honor Of MLK: A Visionary and Presence Still Needed In Our Lives

As I listened to the reflection during service yesterday at Unity, my new-found spiritual center (in addition to yoga!), Rev. Larry provided a synopsis of discussions with Martin Luther King when faced with adversity - and we know that he faced many challenges with courage and love.

When asked why he did not focus on his traumas and struggles, he stated that he did not wish to be seen as a victim or to be pitied.  In fact, he believed that these trials in life strengthened his creative force.  It was like another resounding bell in my head, reminding me that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and in this very time!

Over this past month, I've received countless calls, texts and emails from concerned family, friends and colleagues, asking if I am safe from harm.  It has been a whirlwind with two evacuations, then the floods and mudslides, yet, I have been safe from harms' way.  Inconvenienced - yes.  Strengthened - yes.  In what ways?

Moving has become a natural state for me and during each move, I've let go of more "stuff".  My living quarters now are approaching the tiny house model that I am looking forward to achieving.  With letting go, there is the physical removal, getting stuff to places of service to others or finding the right recycling place.  Emotionally, moving means being able to adapt to new surroundings - people, places and getting the new routines down.  I'm quite comfortable with this process and have found it exciting rather than too overwhelming. OK, there are times of exhaustion!

I "know" that I am here in this place and at this time to serve others, yet do not know exactly what that will look like.  I've reached out to the city governmental agencies to help in any way that I can; I've contacted my local food bank and have typed letters to my neighbors about picking fruit from our trees and getting it out there to those in need and I've tapped into my new group at Unity, to be a support with music and spiritual offerings.  How that will manifest is in God's hands - and that is deep within my being while connected to the universe at large.

Receptivity has been wonderful.  I am in a community where care and concern are paramount and while only a mile away, houses, people and possessions have been wiped away, there is also an overarching sense of this cycle of life - joy and pain, trauma and resilience - that connects us all.

May you be blessed with facing adversity with grace as Dr King did,

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Over the Rainbow and After the Storm

It was the day following the massive downpour in Santa Barbara that resulted in severe devastation to pockets of areas.  The blue sky and a spectacular rainbow shone for miles, but my camera only caught a birds' eye view.

How does one reconcile tragedy and beauty at the same time.  All around me is the buzz of people knowing someone displaced or another feeling the gratitude of having a home to go to.  I'll be here in my new home just three weeks tomorrow and during this time, I've witnessed the fires that seemed to go on forever and now, this week, a terrible storm that has wiped away homes, businesses and the lives of some people and their pets.

It was an eerie feeling listening to helicopters all evening and having the buzzing alert messages once again, telling people to evacuate areas close by.  I stayed in for much of the day until the sun shone and I walked Tammie along Shoreline Drive, taking this amazing photo.  Not once did I feel afraid even though this is new territory for me.  I stopped to take it all in - the dark and the light of the experience.  And I feel grateful for being alive, for being in this place and for the opportunity to connect with others offering support in what ever way I can.

The power of the rainbow reminds us that there is life after the storm.

With gratitude,

Monday, January 1, 2018

Redefining Wealth!

Happy New Year and welcome to a new beginning for us all.  2017 surely had many challenging times, we have survived and hopefully, have gleaned the gifts in the various meanings of life.

Today, as I look out my window which displays majestic mountains, palm trees and sunshine, I feel quite rich!  There has been a disconnect for me since childhood about deserving material things in life (old ingrained stuff!), yet as I continue to navigate life, I feel quite rich in experience, my new living situation (closer to the tiny, sustainable home that I am working towards) and my friendships - both old and new.

I awoke to messages from family and clients whom I have worked with - or shall we say partnered with - for over thirty years.  What a gift to have these long-standing relationships that are more than just a "client".  I know these people and they know me - a transparency that bonds humanity together!

My goals for this year are many, but one that holds a priority is living with less stuff and in less space.  And I have been consistently unloading "stuff" - the physical things we cling to, as well as the emotional road-blocks that impede seeing life as truly being wealthy!  My space is now 525 square feet and to define the tiny home concept, I have about 25 more to shave off.

Watch out for 2019 - I plan to have this concept really take off for many - leveling the playing field of wealth and spreading it among those who need and deserve more.  We all deserve, but we must see and believe that it is here for the asking and taking.

In wealth,

PS - take a peek at  Jamie, a dear friend has written music about life, stuff and what really matters!  Check out We're All In This Together from Shiner and the album, Steele Blue Moon.  Lots to chew on!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Reflections Are Like Diamonds In The Rough

As I reflect on 2017, there are many words to describe the feelings that I have - aware, grateful, transitional, connection, compassionate, joy-filled, content.  The list could go on, but I will take each descriptor and outline the months beginning with January of 2017.

In January of 2017, I was acutely aware of needing to make important decisions for my family's health and well-being, and that meant seriously looking into selling my home once again.  I was also very aware of the deep friendship and support from my dear friend Jamie, who started a Go Fund Me to assist with our family hardship.

February, March and April brought forth such gratitude to family, friends, colleagues and others committed to the process of having excellent health-care available that supported growth rather than being stifled by only a conventional process.

May and June were definitely transitional months.  I moved Ashley to Boulder and continued onto CA with Tammie.  It's interesting how this all came about at once.  I had been contemplating a move to support my own health, as well as to be in an environment that was more supportive of integrative medicine.  My dear colleague and mentor, Heather, assisted me with my astrological chart to hone in on areas that may support my healing and growth.  This all came at the same time - sale of my home, moving Ashley and myself.  While a busy time, it was the most cost-effective manner to accomplish this all.

July and August were about exploration and connection.  I have made wonderful friends, explored dance, met amazing artists and have truly felt a sense of peace living in beautiful Ojai.  This place is known for its healing energy and upon visiting Meditation Mount, I immediately felt the connection to Graymoor - a mountain in the Peekskills of NY and place that we frequented as a family.  These holy mounts erected Peace Poles in the same year - clear across the country.

In September and October, I chose to begin the process of digging deep into self-compassion - an area of my overall well-being that I had neglected over the years.  My focus had been on surviving, achieving and caring for my wonderful girls, but there was a nagging inside that informed me that in order to truly heal, I needed to begin this process.

In November, I met with a shaman/medicine woman - a wise woman who immediately connected me to my core - joy, pain and all!  Interestingly, my Mom had always been very proud of our Indian heritage and here I was, investigating this spiritual realm.

December came and I realized that my professional gifts were bringing me to Santa Barbara quite often, another beautiful, mid-coast city with similarities to Ojai, but with an expanded view of integrative medicine.  I thought that I would wait until May when my lease was up, but I was getting clear messages that I should look sooner. 

Not only did an ideal apartment show up, but professional interests have been percolating.  As has been my experience in the past, the landing was pretty rough.  There were massive wildfires in both cities, resulting in two evacuations.  This is where the diamonds are now seen - in the rough!  Not only have I witnessed care and concern, but I feel very content with how this year has come to a close.

I have washed off all the ashes, have placed most of my items away and am planning a holiday party tomorrow - gathering friends from my new home, 5000 miles away from home!

It is about being grateful and content with what we have and feeling the connectedness to all of humanity.

I wish you a very happy, healthy and peace-filled New Year!

Monday, December 25, 2017

"His Clothes Were All Tarnished With Ashes and Soot"

A long-standing tradition in our family has been to read Twas the Night Before Christmas and given that our family spreads from sea to sea this year, Ashley suggested we skype and face time to read the book. 

Traditions are a way to solidify bonds and to create a sense of belonging and familiarity.  This year was especially important for our family, as we have faced so many changes - all growth filled, yet not all were easy, nor the fruits to be seen in the moment.  We are all well and moving closer to where we want to be in life and what will bring about the greatest expression for our unique gifts  in this world.

For me, the past two weeks have been anything but peaceful, yet I felt an inner knowing that all was going to be okay.  Being new to CA, I experienced my first wild fires, two evacuations and a move that aligns with my personal mission and vision in life.  Santa Barbara has the largest per capita non-profit organizations and has ongoing research and movements about environmental concerns - sustainability, energy use, honoring the use of our land.

Holiday plans were changed for us all, yet we are so connected.  In fact, Lindsay and Scott move on January 1 to San Diego - now a 6 hour drive instead of a 6 hour flight!  And Ashley is comfortably settled in Boulder, just graduated and now working full-time at Pearle Vision.

Tammie has been a real trooper through fires, moves, motels and long car rides and she continues to remind me about the "bright side" of life.  Her unending devotion, love and puppy-like mannerisms can really bring me back to earth when I begin "spinning out" with the next steps.  I am reminded that we only have what is right in front of us - a beautiful life with opportunities to share love with others.

Let me close with the end of the story - "But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight - Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!"

Whether you celebrate Christmas or another tradition, I send you love and blessings on this day and always.

(Remember just a week ago, the skies were colored with orange smoke, but the resilience of nature brings us back to balance - time to do our part as well!)

Monday, December 18, 2017

Just What God Ordered

It's now two days after leaving the fires in Santa Barbara.  Tammie and I have been in clean air, blue skies and I say to myself, "What more could I want?"  I keep thinking of how fresh air feels like a birth-right and how in other areas of the world, it does not exist. 

Going down the rabbit-hole of thought, I begin to realize how we have opportunities right in front of our eyes, stating the obvious.  It is time to take care of the environment and while there are hundreds of thousands of acres lost to fire, this new ash will become a new beginning "IF" we choose to see it that way once the dust settles - no pun intended.

Out of my usual character, I decided to do a vacation-like activity yesterday and visited the Hearst Castle.  What a beautiful area, site and national park.  I was proud of myself for taking time to indulge in this activity - something that becomes difficult for me to keep in balance of my total health.

We all share in the commonality of having "blind spots" and one of mine happens to be not giving to me.  Sounds simple, but the legacy of self-sacrifice is so entrenched that while I've heard the words and have "gotten it" cognitively, but somehow, there has been a loss in the translation to feeling it and being worthy.

A little over a month ago, I restarted my shamanic journey and the main gift that has transpired is self-compassion.  Much like my folks and their respective families, stoicism has been a saving grace and while I agree, this attitude and behavior has surely done me well, I also now see and feel how it has also eroded at my total health.

A small move to go to a museum - things I enjoyed in the past when I had more time and money - but I was grinning ear to ear, both inside and out, as I pulled away from the castle.  This entry is two-pronged today:

Let us begin to band together as a human race, treating the earth and people with love, respect and care for the long-term AND treat yourself with love, respect and care.  It's all a balancing act!

With Love

Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Breath of Fresh Air

As I've navigated two evacuations in the past two weeks, I continue to feel blessed, calm and keep tapping into what is truly important in life!  It's been me and Tammie (aka TT - my Dad named her Tammie Terror many years ago as a frisky pup) with a few belongings, jugs of water and a tank of gas.

As I drove away today, there were a few college students along the road handing out free water bottles.  At the grocery, assistants were smiling and asking if we needed help, and while waiting turns at four-way intersections, everyone took their turn graciously!  No honking of horns, no angry drivers, just folks gettin outta town like me!

What I've witnessed in this devastation is a bonding of humanity and kindness that truly warms the heart.  Being new to CA, I've downloaded the apps for alerts and have called the 211 update line and people on the other end have been so kind to assist me with further information since I do not know the districts and counties.

Today, I chose to leave before the increased mandatory evacuations because I started to have labored breathing.  Not a whimp, but being careful given my ongoing immune challenges.

Yesterday was my official move to Santa Barbara from Ojai and after three trips back and forth, I unloaded what I could by about 9pm.  During the days prior, I left boxes and furniture in the driveway.  Since my belongings are covered in ash, I've left them on the porch to clean each item before bringing it inside.

My new landlord was "angel number one"!  He allowed me to stay in the unfinished apartment while evacuated from Ojai, then he moved up my date for moving so that I could free up my apartment for another who lost their home.

"Angel number two" - the fellow who assisted my landlord with painting and prepping the unit, came today to help me haul up a few pieces of furniture to my porch.

And there are others in the mix as well.  My cousins up north who had Tammie and I stay last week; my friend who helped me pack and calls
daily to see how we are doing.

It's when stripped of all the veneer that one can truly see the gifts in life and to be happy in the moment!

Could not be stated better!

The path to enlightenment is not a path at all, Julie, it's actually a metaphor for the time it takes for you to allow yourself to be happy with who you already are, where you already are, and what you already have... no matter what.
Just do it, 
  The Universe
The first photo is as I am leaving home - awoke to seeing live fires on the mountains in the distance
 The second photo is a little north on route 101 heading north