Tuesday, May 8, 2018

One Year Later

It's been a few weeks since my last entry.  I was away at an amazing conference at Esalen, a retreat center on the edge of Big Sur overlooking the ocean.  What a breath-taking sight, as well as the immersion with 140 other people who are passionate about Mind Body Medicine!  Following the week-long conference, I met with my Shaman, a wise woman who has been instrumental in my continued healing process.

As I look back on this year since my move from Boston, it has been a journey that I could not have anticipated, yet all along I had a KNOWING that I am on my path.  I feel settled here despite some of the environmental disasters a few months back and in fact, being here during the crisis and chaos deepened my sense of purpose, again KNOWING that I am here for a reason - or two - my healing and to offer healing to others.

On May 5, 2017, Tammie and I arrived in Ojai later in the evening, only to find no heat or electricity.  I chuckled as I recalled that I paid careful attention to getting Ashley settled in Boulder - apartment, utilities, food, furnishings AND I forgot to have my utilities turned on.  Oh well! Tammie laid in my suitcase, all cuddled up in my clothes and I wrapped up in my coat.  I used a flashlight to do a sponge bath to clean up and waited for Monday to come for lights and heat.

I easily settled into town, making friends, going to new yoga spots, dancing for the first time with a group  - shaking my booty which I could never imagine back home.  There was a freedom, something I knew that I needed to embrace.  And while I have so much gratitude for the lessons learned back east - discipline, good study habits and work ethic - I also knew that it was time to loosen up, to truly find a balance in life.

On July 4th, I danced in my first parade ever and it was so fun!  And as the year continued, I found myself in Santa Barbara doing corporate seminars for a few companies.  It was then that I realized that SB fit my personality, work opportunities and overall style a bit more and thus I began the search late in November only to find an apartment that suited me perfectly almost immediately.

I had not planned on moving until my year was up in Ojai, but decided to make the move.  Fires started Dec 4 and we left Ojai for respite here in what was going to be my apartment.  Tammie and I spent 4 days with a mattress only, listening for alerts on the phone.  The air became really smokey as the fires persisted and we headed about 5 hours north to my cousins for a few extra days.  Finally we were able to head back.  I spent the week packing to prepare for our official move on Dec 15 and after 3 trips back and forth on that day, we settled in a bit after 9pm, tired and ready for a good sleep.

Upon awakening the next morning and looking out the window, there was a blazing fire in the mountains not far away.  Then the alerts began on the phone again - evacuate!  I decided to go to church first and stopped into Unity.  Services had been cancelled, but the pastor, wife and few people were there so we prayed and sang a few songs.  Immediately, I had the chills that I get when I am being given a message - it is my intuitive sense that tells me to pay attention.  I found my spiritual home!  After church, we left for San Luis Obispo, a city I had visited the prior year.   I asked the motel owner if Tammie could stay with me under the circumstances since he remembered me from the prior year.

During our short stay, I enjoyed my first tourist attraction - the Hearst Castle.  What a fun excursion and amazing story about how water was brought up the mountain and how the castle was built.  Upon returning, ash covered most of my belongings.  There had been no time to unpack before leaving town, thus the week was spent unpacking, washing everything that I owned. I remember hitting the wall - finally!

I felt like never before - blank, aimless, not knowing my purpose.  It was a most uncomfortable feeling and yet, I still had the KNOWING that this was part of the journey, the process of transformation or what I often told my clients - living life in the messy!

After a few weeks of this seemingly endless feeling, things began to come together.  I was part of the choir at Unity, I was making lovely friends and acquaintances and I found my new yoga home, barre studio, coffee places and favorite place to walk Tammie along Shoreline Drive.  I've recently found a loving relationship like none in my past and while pangs of old stuff can bubble up clouding my vision with fear, in my heart, I know that this chapter of life is also ready to unfold.

Not a day goes by when I don't feel blessed and grateful.  It is now dusk with sounds of the evening birds and a low sun getting ready to set.  I am at peace - a place that did not exist just a year ago.

Trust and KNOW that all is well!

With love,

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Out of Town and Kinda Off the Grid

In an hour, I embark for a week-long conference about the Mind Body Medicine movement.   I am so excited to be with my colleague and mentor, Kathie Swift - a nutritionist who has truly made an impact in the integrative medicine arena. She will be accompanied by Dr. James Gordon, Harvard trained psychiatrist who embraces spirituality in mental health and Dr. Mark Hyman, world-reknowned physician and leader in functional medicine.

As I have been preparing for this time away, I felt a bit nervous about lack of internet connection.  I, like many, are so conditioned to be "plugged in", and yet, for true personal freedom, we need time away from the daily routines, the usual stimulation that narrows one's focus and to be away from the sensationalized news reports that generally focus on what's going wrong rather than right!

During my morning reflection, I read a passage that nicely written passage from Mastin Kipp:
"I believe everyone has a God-size hole inside of them that we try to fill with shopping or with a relationship or with food or sex or drugs.  But, it's not out there.  It's in here.  It's an internal connection.  And that's what a spiritual practice, listening to your intuition,having a creative expression, being of service is all about. . . ."

I will be focused on being immersed in this amazing experience while being attentive to the quieting of the daily mind, being receptive to what I am to take in for personal growth and for the community that I serve.

Forever grateful,

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Paradise Is A Perspective

As I am writing this blog, I am sitting on my porch overlooking the mountains, trees and listening to the lively chatter of the birds.  I feel so very blessed to be living in my unassuming, but functional and cute home.  Tammie is settled, loving to lay on the porch in the sun and having her walks along Shoreline Dr., a 5 minute car ride over the mountain and to the sea.

The simplicity of life feels wonderful, despite also getting my work or shall we say, "life-work" established here in Santa Barbara.  I am grateful to maintain a strong presence in Boston by using telehealth that is acceptable in healthcare, as I meet new people here.  As I attend functions and network, I sense that I am in a hub of progressive thinkers, movers and shakers, who want to care for humanity and the environment.  This broad perspective aligns with who I am and what I am about.

I visited an intentional community this past week and saw homes made of cob, utilities that were off the grid, using solar power.  The technology, while ancient in many ways, showed a wisdom that when combined with current knowledge, can transform the way we live now and in our future.   There was a reverence for the land, a desire to eat clean and nutrient-dense food and to be at peace and harmony with nature and each other.

Two days later, I was invited to the CEC meeting - Community Environmental Council.  This organization includes reducing carbon emissions, feeding the poor, sustainable living etc.  The lecture was on transportation and our future.  Mind-blowing, informative and so timely!

How does this all relate to what I do?  I am in the business of empowering people, to support them in challenge and to support their process of evolving "wholeness".   One cannot separate the body (taking care of the container that holds our light) from the mind and spirit.  As we advance in science, technology and "energy" (that which cannot be seen but is felt), I see my role as a bridge and conduit.  This has been a lifelong function in my life - brought about from old childhood wounds - and I am grateful to hold polar opposites, assisting them to see the other's perspective.  This is where paradise can unfold!

With love and support,

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Transformed by Loss: An Easter Message

As I approached this morning with anticipation - my first Easter service at Unity with my new choral group - I was eager to hear the message from our pastor, Rev. Larry.  His rich sermons bring together new age philosophy with old world wisdom and readings from various spiritual leaders.  Today the focus was on the resurrection of Jesus and how we might think of it not only in literal terms, but in a transcendent way.

Life is full of adversity, of challenge, of suffering and one may ask, if God exists, why this or why me?  Jesus' example of staying aligned with his truth - being in a place of love and peace within - allowed him to carry on with the horrendous circumstances that led to his death.  On Good Friday, I felt my usual sadness as I remembered his crucifixion, but I was also struck with asking Him if he was afraid.  I also recalled the Garden of Gethsemane when he wept.  I felt bodily sensations of his fear and pain more so than usual.  And on Saturday, I continued to feel sadness, but also anticipated the joy of upcoming Easter.

These feelings brought me back through my own history of challenge, loss and pain, but this time, I also had a deep knowing that I am on my path, for it is how one responds to adversity without being internally shaken that matters most.  The "I" is not the body, but is the soul - the unwavering essence.

In science, we state that energy can neither be created or destroyed and in spiritual terms, this means the soul.  Our bodies will change, age and eventually die, but "WE" never die.  In fact, I believe that my wholeness has not been diminished by life circumstances, but instead has been strengthened.  I am living in peace like never before.  I am finally getting it after all these years of lessons.

Just as the stone was rolled away from the tomb of Jesus, so can each of us rise from the death of each challenge as we see from the heart and not the eyes.

May you find peace and joy during this season of rebirth,

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Holy Week, Passover, Spring and Our Path

As we enter Spring and the holy traditions that surround us - I am most familiar with Lent, Easter and Passover - let us orient ourselves to this wonderful season of rebirth.

While at yoga last Saturday, our instructor, the owner of YogaSoup - my new yoga home - discussed the various traditions and addressed how yoga is about death and rebirth.  In fact, we have that opportunity each and every day.  He talked about the teachings of the Buddha and Jesus, not in religious terms, but more about their archetype and how we connect to this universal energy of love.

The next day was Palm Sunday, a favorite of mine.  I have led music groups over the years during this passionate service and personally reflect upon the upcoming week of Jesus' life - how he was to make this journey into an area of the world where his concepts were not universally accepted and where he threatened the domineering leadership of the time.  His journey was not for himself but for the world at that time.

The story of the Passion is a beautiful depiction of how to connect with our higher selves - that self that is not caught up in competition and dominance, but more in cooperation, compassion and respect for all of humanity.

In Indian and indigenous culture, that message is extended to our earth - the plants, trees, animals - and the magic that they bring into our lives.  I have more to learn about this culture and am proud to say that I have American Indian on both sides of my family.  My Mom was so proud of our heritage and I recall as a child visiting with my relatives.  I remember Uncle Art and Uncle Walter - beautiful sea blue eyes, copper-toned skin and high cheek bones.  We enjoyed these festive family gatherings.

As we enter these next few days, my wish for all is to take a few moments of reflection - to be grateful for these ancient traditions rich in story that support our own transformation; to be in awe of the budding plants and flowers that will "feed" our bodies over these months and will be a feast for our eyes with beautiful color; and to develop love and compassion for ourselves and those we see and do not see.

With love,  Julie

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Remodeling: What Does That Mean To You

While at barre class on Friday -  a challenging strength and conditioning workout -  I began to think about the word "remodel" and what it meant for me - way back when and now. Remodeling can also be about a body, bones, a home.

Remodeling for me is less about body image in the sense of how I look in the world, but more about how capable and strong I  feel within.  Important distinction for someone who grew up very heavy as a kid and who dieted a lot in the younger days!

I also thought of bones and how they are constantly remodeling - the process of being torn down during exercise in order to rebuild.  How amazing our bodies are, taking in fresh nutrients through this process in order to be a framework for our muscles and organs.

Lastly, I thought about homes.  For me in recent times, I have been lightening my load - what are the  essentials  that I need and what can I let go of?  And how does this process impact the environment with the materials that I choose to have in my home?

My new and evolved definition of remodeling is less about outer appearances and more about the depth  of the process within and extended into my environment.

How are you remodeling your life?  Be creative, bold and colorful!

In strength,

Sunday, March 11, 2018

We Are Here To Serve

As I pondered the theme from this week, I was struck by the similarities in "jargon", so to speak.  Yesterday, I attended a meeting to become a member of the Unity Spiritual  Living community and in this morning's reading from Awakened Leadership by Alan Shelton, executive coach, mentor and writer, he also spoke of service being the highest priority.

It is easy to go down the rabbit hole of uncertainty, self-doubt, not having or being enough - especially in light of current challenges across the board - in politics, healthcare, the environment.  What's the message here?

What does it mean to serve in today's world?  My definition has been evolving over these years because it meant something very different for most of my life.  Serving meant giving of yourself until you are sucked dry.  It correlated with a lack of self-worth and self-esteem and believe me, it is one of the hardest "programs of the mind" to break.  One of my longest and dearest friends often states, "You give of your surplus, not of your core!"

What I am seeing now is a paradigm shift in "awakening and awakened" leaders and new thought philosophers along with the ancients - Jesus and Buddha.  It is in giving that we receive, even multi-fold!  And it is not in a selfish manner - "I'll do for you if you do for me", but rather, what gifts do I have to share with others that they in turn need.

We are all born with talents, strengths, individual capacities and by nurturing these unique qualities, not only does the individual thrive, but the universe as a whole.

As I reflect upon my own journey, an ever-evolving process, I have served food to others for years - gathering people together socially, bringing the youth together to feed the poor, teaching others how to prepare healthier alternatives for their families and in recent years,  I have opened myself up in a broader sense through my own health crises and those of my family, feeding others spirit, strength and inspiration.

I recall during my years as a cantor in my church that I loved singing, So You Must Do, a beautiful Holy Thursday song about Jesus washing the feet of his friends.  It is less about the religious context and more about the common theme that can provide us with the nuggets of learning to live and love in this life.

I'm in a new environment all the way across the country still listening to the needs of others and am fine-tuning how I will serve now and in the future.

How will you serve?