Wednesday, December 24, 2014

From Advent to New Beginnings

Today while at yoga, there was a sense of peace and calm, reflecting on this season that I love - Advent. While born catholic and involved in many capacities over the years in my church community, I have always been more open-minded and not bound by doctrine. And yet, many of the traditions have great meaning for me. Advent, a season of waiting, going deep within to reflect on who we are and our purpose in this life, offers even more meaning this year. Most every evening, I sit by the Christmas tree, admiring the beauty of our decorations adorned on this symbolic tree of life! I recall a few years back when I offered a program at our church call Advent Peace and this was an opportunity to bring buddhist philosophy into the 4 significant weeks of Advent. We sang beautiful hymms, chanted and listened to the sounds of crystal healing bowls. What a pot pourri of holy and spiritual significance. This Christmas is a new beginning for our family and I am excited to start anew with fond memories of past traditions that so richly embellish the fabric of our family. My Mom is at peace, my Dad is with us and my girls and Scott are here to celebrate in our new home. Tammie will be in her reindeer costume, reminding us of how animals touch our lives with joy, laughter and fun. As you close this season and bring in new opportunities, take a moment to reflect on God's many gifts to you and us all! With love, Julie

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Address Book

As I've written my holiday cards this year, I realize that my address book is really out of date - in fact, it is so old, erased and pages torn, that it brought me back in time to years past. My Mom always updated the book for me - something that I did not appreciate as much until this year. To set the stage, I like to take time, sitting by the lit Christmas tree with my tea, writing out my cards, usually with a very brief, but thought-filled message to the person or family. It's more about my memories and gratitude for their being in my life than the update. I've tried a variety of versions - the typed annual letter, the signature only and this year, being in a moment of love and gratitude! I notice as I continue my journey of healing cancer and lyme, that I am drawn inwards so much more - taking time to reflect on my present state of being, feeling so grateful to be alive - to take my ocean walks, to see the holiday lights adorned on many homes and shops, to bake my annual treats to give to those near and dear to me. This year in particular, I've not gotten into the frenzied mode of the never-ending checklist. Instead, I go to yoga more often and have added a meditation class to the mix. While meditation has been on my radar for years, I did not have the desire or discipline to do it - after all, quieting myself would have been an impossibility - or so I thought! It is a discipline and the rewards are great. In only a few weeks, I do notice the calming aspects, the ability to come away seeing life in a more balanced perspective. If I can offer some pearls of wisdom today, they include: Set the stage for being in an environment that fills you with peace and gratitude - sitting by a fire or candle, having your fragrant cup of tea, breathing in peace and love for self and others Add in a ritual of self-reflection or meditation to bring more balance, calm and peace into your life - it will spread to others Reach out to others at this time of year - a holiday card, a phone call, a visit And keep your address book current! In Gratitude, Julie

Saturday, December 13, 2014

From Fruitcakes to Pumpkin Bread

As I wrapped up the pumpkin chocolate chip breads and flourless almond, peanut and peanut chocolate chips cookies to distribute to my colleagues and friends as holiday gifts, I was drawn back to my days as a child and adolescent of baking mini pastries and eventually three dozen fruitcakes. The fruitcake became my signature item, beginning on Thanksgiving weekend preparing and baking them and then brushing them with the finest cognac weekly for four weeks before sending them around the country to my relatives and delivering near and far. I maintained this tradition for years and my older daughter, Lindsay, would help me in the kitchen. One year, I recall having a bad snow storm and needing to get to the post office. I loaded up Lindsay's carriage, which was now used for our dog, Krissy, with all the fruitcake boxes to send and we walked to the post office. Of course, the carriage lost a wheel on the trip, but we made it! Since that time, I have found as hobby as well as part of my mission of healthy eating for all, to take wonderful recipes and to create healthier versions of them, and now with gluten free flours since so many are affected by this very hard to digest and modified protein in wheat. My versions for quickbreads - banana-walnut, punmpkin-chocolate chip and apple-cheese, are wonderful - the taste, texture, crumb - you name it, they pass the "tri-test"! Roll back yet again to college days. We were expected to experiment with ingredients and then use the food lab for testing and this tri-test remains quite vivid in my memory. Height would be measured, the size of the holes in the texture, how it would crumble and then of course, blind-folded taste! I use these general principles without the equipment, to this very day! This year, I have really enjoyed getting back into a few of these traditions that have been disrupted for the past few years - there is something grounding and so positive about holding onto those traditions and memories that fuel our happiness and gratitude and for me, feeding people, sharing love with food, has been a theme throughout my life. Try "breaking bread" with this delicious, yet nutritious Gluten-Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread - I am perfecting the Paleo version as we speak! With love, Julie PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP BREAD 1 1/4 CUPS GF FLOUR MIX 2 TBL OIL 1/2 CUP BENEFIBER 3 TBL UNSWEETENED APPLESAUCE 2 TSP BAKING POWDER 2 TBL SUGAR 1 TSP XANTHAN GUM 2 EGGS 1/2 TSP SALT 1 TSP VANILLA 1/4 TSP BAKING SODA 1 CUP CANNED OR STRAINED MASHED PUMPKIN 1 TSP CINNAMON ¼ CUP CHOCOLATE CHIPS 1) OVEN 350 2) STIR DRY INGREDIENTS TOGETHER 3) BEAT OIL, APPLESAUCE AND SUGAR. ADD EGGS AND VANILLA. BEAT WELL 4) ADD FLOUR MIX ALTERNATELY WITH PUMPKIN, BEGINNING AND ENDING WITH FLOUR 5) MIX UNTIL COMBINED. ADD CHOCOLATE CHIPS. DO NOT OVERBEAT 6) POUR INTO GREASED 9X5X2 LOAF PAN AND BAKE 60-70 OR UNTIL TESTER COMES OUT CLEAN YIELD – 12 SLICES EACH SLICE: 125 KCAL; 30 GM CARB; 4 GM FIBER; 5 GM SUGAR

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Gray Days and Sunday

Here I am, sitting and contemplating what to write about. There's just so much! My recent passion and initiative to grow the organic/non-GMO market here in Boston, or the inspirational documentaries that I have viewed these past few days. Let me first set the stage - most of the holiday decorations are up - just waiting to trim the tree with Ashley after her finals next week. I love the enchanted feeling and view of years of memories, starting with putting out some of my most cherished ornaments with Mom when I was little. Each ornament that we have symbolizes a time, an era, something to feel grateful for. As I write this reflection, I feel a sense of peace, and an inward and outward smile. I find that I am drawn to documentaries more than regular television, except for my "guilty pleasure", or not so guilty, of watching The Voice! I decided to watch Origins the other evening and this was so beautifully done, both in photography and story-line. The message was loud and clear about being in a time where we have so much available to us and yet we are at a crossroads of using this technology for personal, short-term and monetary gain OR are we looking at revering the earth and its gifts, listening to nature and using intention for preserving "all that is"? The film took us to Africa and showed a group of individuals learning to co-habit amongst wild animals, the brush, food and shelter of the earth. The key was man's learning to create and use fire - the first technology. Speed ahead to today and we have smoke, fire, pollution - all of which is leading us toward self-destruction and that of the planet. That fire is even shown within the microcosm of the human body - a mini reflection of the world outside! We are on fire and the diseases of our generation are all about inflammation. How can we change our trajectory? While easy and not so easy, it takes being conscious - slowing down to go deep within and ask oneself what they need and truly desire. Once in this relaxed yet conscicous state, we are open to learning, understanding and being able to take the initial steps towards health and wholeness for ourselves and the world at large. For those of you who read my blog about "I Don't Care", this is truly revolutionary for me because while I have been committed to healing people through nutritional, emotional and spiritual therapies for years, a large part of me lived in fear of the "big, bad world" - a concept handed down from my folks and likely generations before that. I now see the world as abundance, gifts to be discovered, used with reverence and to be protected for lifetimes to come. Take some time to watch this amazing show - link attached - and if you need popcorn to entice you and your family, be sure it is organic and non-GMO! Peace, Julie http://origins.well.org/movie/

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Giving Thanks and Thanksgiving

For many of us, this holiday represents many memories of all that we are thankful for in our lives - a time to truly reflect upon our blessings. Interestingly, my younger daughter, Ashley, has always made sure that Thanksgiving maintained its character of being an important holiday needing its place BEFORE beginning the Christmas commercialism. She even tweeted and snap-chatted about how disgusting it was to have stores opening at 6pm on Thanksgiving! Go Ash! For our family, this was a time to create new traditions, keeping the importance of fond memories in tact with some replication. In fact, my older daughter, Lindsay, chose to be with our family instead of her boyfriend's once again, given the sensitivity of losing her Gram last year, my move from our home of over 22 years, and the Summer/Fall challenges with my health. For me, I want my girls to choose what they want and need for themselves because this was not how I grew up. While I so appreciate many of the ways that my parents raised me, as for all of us, there are blessings and curses! Being able to choose was not an option, thus I never truly learned what I want, need, nor what really makes me tick - not until very recently. This holiday was beautiful in so many ways. I prepared the traditional meal, as you will see in Lindsay's plate - organic chicken (but, we'll pretend that it is turkey!), bread stuffing (Mom's recipe with a few edits!), oven roasted butternut squash and turnip (a little different from the mashed, but delicious!), green beans almondine, homemade cranberry sauce (sweetened with stevia instead of sugar)and real gravy from the pan-drippings. We enjoyed our meal, talked, reminisced and chose to go the new Hunger Games movie since Dad was sleeping over and he loves movies. I walked with Tammie for some fresh air and to feel the calm energy of the ocean - one of my daily grounding rituals. The interesting thing is that so many opt out of the exercise piece on this day, and yet, the physical activity offers a re-set, a grounding and an opportunity to digest - in more ways than one. We digest our food physically and we digest our emotions with our breath and being in touch with nature. It was so very special to share this time with my Dad and my girls and I remain thankful for the love that we share. I also thank my Mom, who is smiling down on us all as she shares her spirit with us. Thank you Mom! With love and gratitude, Julie

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Traditional Bread Stuffing and Fond Memories

Over the past few weeks, as I am preparing the traditional Thanksgiving meal for my family, I have been reminiscing about my Mom's "best in the world" bread stuffing! I also thought about how my best friend, Jeanne (we even talked about it today!), would come over on Thanksgiving evening in order to have some of Mom's stuffing and apple pie. I can even remember the pan she cooked it in. Of course, I've been tinkering in my head how to reproduce this gem with many fewer carbs and calories, while still keeping the flavor and texture. Not always an easy task, but one of my fun, creative activities! While Mom would saute the onion and celery in a whole stick of butter until translucent, I have chosen to cut some of the fat with chicken broth - one of my best kept secrets! My girls and my Dad will be here for the day and overnight, so that we can keep some of the tradition in tact, given that so much has changed over this year. First of all, Mom passed away last Fall, I moved mid-winter and landed in the hospital for a good part of the summer. You know what, we have so much to be grateful for and I, for one, am very excited to bring the old and the new together. Please enjoy the Bread Stuffing recipes and if you prefer, good old, regular (GMO fortified!) bread, enjoy - it is only one day of the year. With Blessings and Gratitude, Julie Gluten-Free Bread Stuffing 1 loaf gf bread, cubed and dried or lightly toasted 300 for 5-7 minutes ¼ cup butter melted ½ cup chicken broth ½ cup each: chopped onion and celery 1 Tbl Bell’s Poultry Seasoning ½ tsp salt, pepper to taste Paleo Bread Stuffing 1 loaf paleo bread, cubed and dried or lightly toasted 300 for 5-7 minutes ¼ cup butter, melted 1/3-1/2 cup chicken broth ½ cup each: chopped onion and celery 1 Tbl Bell’s Poultry Seasoning ½ tsp xanthan gum ½ tsp salt, pepper to taste Directions: Saute onion and celery in butter. Add chicken broth Mix bread cubes with dry ingredients Knead all ingredients lightly to as not to pack down too tightly Bake 375 to warm and crisp approximately 20-30 minutes

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I Don’t Care: A Protective Force

For years I recall saying that very phrase, “I don’t care”. I used it about politics, about organic foods back in the 80’s, about finance and investing. It all felt too daunting and overwhelming, and so I kept my world simple and only learned about those things that I could master. Making mistakes was not allowed! When I look back, there were good reasons for my limited thinking. Politics involved fighting, war, understanding the chain of command. Organic foods were for the “yuppies” or young, rich folk (now I am really dating myself!) and finance/investing was about intricate mathematical formulas that I did not understand, as well as being for the rich and certainly not me! I really get it now and the fact is, I really do care! My folks portrayed the world as an unsafe place, thus watching news or learning about political viewpoints and disagreement really made me feel unsettled. While there was an organic movement in the 70’s and 80’s, my upbringing and traditional dietetics education did not support this style of eating, seemingly only for the well to do and hippie groups. And finally, the world of money was a volatile subject in my home. As an only child, my folks did anything to make sure that I was not spoiled and they fought about money quite a bit. I was taught to be frugal, not self-indulgent and was also not allowed to have a bank account until I left home as a young adult. This is not about blame – my folks wanted to protect me from the world as they saw it. I truly get it, and yet, I have had many opportunities especially in my own adult life, to transform my belief system. I am now quite passionate about the political stance on healthcare, about big industry and how it often suppresses the individual folks working to make the world a better place. I truly believe in organic and non-GMO food availability and education for the public to make informed choices for themselves and their families. And I am in a place where I truly desire financial abundance in order to spread my message of “whole health and healing” to a larger audience. Ironically, as I write this blog, I am sitting in a hotel room with my former boss, attending the Rule Number One seminar from Phil Town, a revolutionary investor and pioneer in this education. It was not quite 6 weeks ago when she asked me to attend on a scholarship and I had no clue what this would be about other than to learn some basic aspects of investing in companies aligns with ones’ values. My best examples would be Whole Foods – a company committed to healthy food, employee and customer satisfaction and a CEO who is passionate about health and “his people”; and Chipotle – a restaurant dedicated to local and organic food, again educating the public and employees about sustainable farming and living practices. While the “math piece” will take a while to learn and understand, the concept of helping to create a world that aligns with my core values based on my investments, really excites me! This paradigm shift in money is so similar to the paradigm shift that I am passionate about in healthcare. The bottom line is that it is important to have full disclosure and education in order to make decisions for oneself that align with one’s values. Take your past, learn from it, choose to live an empowered life and care! With passion, Julie

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Another Fall Crock Pot Invention: Pork Balsamic

The crisp Fall air brings about interest in warm foods. Last weekend, my older daughter, who is into the "organic lifestyle" with me, came for dinner and a girls' overnight. I decided upon a theme using the delicious grass-fed pork from the Farmer's Market and wanted to invent my own crock pot brine. For slow cooking, broth, an acid and usually some spices and/or herbs are used for flavor. The acid, a vinegar, lemon juice, wine or tomato base, is used to tenderize tough meat fibers, leaving a succulent meat that is easy to chew. I wanted to have as accompaniments, roasted butternut squash with toasted pecans, laced with sage and thyme, and a salad with goat cheese and a balsamic dressing that I create using dijon mustard, oil, balasamic and a little water. Pork: Trim the meat of fat, cut into large chunks and place in crock pot Mix together - 1/2 cup chicken broth, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbl maple syrup, dash or red pepper flakes, dash of garlic powder Pour over meat and cook on high, 2 1/2-3 hours Butternut Squash: Cube squash and toss with 2 tsp sesame oil (can use grapeseed, but I am on a sesame kick these days) Place in roasting pan and sprinkle with dried sage and thyme (or use fresh if you have it) and some coarse salt (salt helps the crisping/browning reaction) Roast 25-30 minutes turning to brown Salad Dressing: 3 Tbl balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbl sesame oil, 1 Tbl water, 1 Tbl dijon mustard - whisk together Toast pecans at 350 for about 5 minutes and crumble over squash and salad Enjoy this delicious hearty and healthy dish, loaded with protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Pork, in particular, is an excellent source of B12 and iron. Hearty, healthy Fall, Julie

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Shades Of Brown

As I did my daily walk with Tammie (my little shih-poo), I noticed the beautiful shades of brown, yes brown, of the leaves on the trees and those which had fallen. I was immediately drawn to my shamanic meeting a few years ago, as well as my recent interest in using colors for meditation and focus. Brown bear was introduced to me about 2 1/2 years ago, after making my alternative cancer therapy trip to Germany. The wise counselor, Hannelore, suggested that I connect with a shaman upon my return. I had been interested in the idea since we have a fair amount of american indian in our blood, some of uncles looking close to right off the reservation! I had a 3 1/2 hour session with a delightful shaman who re-introduced me to the power of rocks, feathers, sticks and power animals or animals that come into our lives to represent areas that we may need some assistance from. She quickly identified "brown bear" for me and as I review the qualities of bear in general, it makes so much sense for me (and for you) to ponder this wonderful creature's habits and adaptive survival techniques. An overarching theme of bear is to go deep within oneself to find/identify the resources that are necessary for survival and then to bring them forth or awaken once revealed. This cycle is akin to the winter hibernation and spring awakening that bears go through. Bear is also protective, is swift and adept with running/climbing - resourceful. Bears' kidneys shut down in the winter for reserving function and the kidneys are a sign of discernment and discrimination. Ah - the lightbulb goes off! I grew up not learning to trust my instincts or inner wisdom; to fear the world and environment; basically to shun any intuition that was endogenous to me. This is not to name and blame, but to realize that much of what we come to believe as truth, is really the experience of another imbued upon ourselves. During this journey of health recovery, I have learned to listen to and to take the solitary time to balance the internal with the external - and I shall never go back! From a color perspective, brown is about establishing healthy boundaries. It is an earthy color which acts as a conduit between the earth and the heavens and helps one to create balance. It assists inestablishing trust in universal wisdom - seeing and using the earth connections for our good and the good of others. This was a huge theme in my work with both Hannelore and Susan, the shaman. They talked about the wonderful capacity that I held to support and inspire others, but the down side was that I gave completely of myself without maintaining a healthy boundary. Another friend/colleague at a completely separate time, channeled this very same concern for me and we worked on some visualizations to help me give to others while not completely self-sacrificing. What an amazing journey. I truly love my time in nature, being able to make connections that not only work for me, but can be used for the higher good of all! Check out Ted Andrews "Animal Speak" and Inna Segal "The Secret Language of Color". If nothing else, it is fun! Namaste, Julie

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lessons From A Bike Ride

One of my favorite all-time activities is bike riding and I tune my old red mongoose every year. While not pretty, new or shiny, it still works! On these beautiful Fall days, I have taken my bike for the ride around Marblehead Neck and I stop at Lighthouse Park which overlooks the harbor. There I watch the water and immediately feel a sense of calm come over me. It has been a mixed week physically and emotionally. The good news is that I am five days out from 24/7 itching - what a relief to have that mostly gone and to get a more restful sleep at night. I had just about exhausted my deep breathing and visualization techniques, readying for the cuckoo factory! I have felt grateful for this move towards my healthy self. On the other hand, I have been very tired and one of my cancer predictors came back improved, but not yet normal. The other test was missing from the lab, thus needs repeating. What I began to feel was "will this ever change", "will I need to do chemo again", "will I ever be cured"? As I focused on these questions, I became trapped, somewhat anxious - not good feelings. As I peddled along the road, I peered out over the water and looked at the beautiful estates, trees and rocks, and came back to a place of comfort. All of a sudden, I made the connection between riding my bike and my questions. When one rides a bike, it is important to stay focused and to look ahead, but not too far ahead - ah, the key! I was able to recognize my old behaviors of taking my past experience, making it my present and predicting my future as well. I am well, I am still in the process of healing and I do not need to hold onto fear which will only magnify the liklihood of creating my future with my past! I spend a good part of my day when not working with clients, using the quantum physics medicine theory of visualizing my health and my life as I want it, seeing it as already accomplished. The technique has brought me this far in my healing journey and will continue to do so. An interesting aside to all of this is the "theme" of the week. I often find that my clients come in with different stories, but similar themes or paths to wellness that must be transformed and they are usually themes that I, too, am wrestling with. I am often giving advice and at the same time, taking notice to do the same. How interesting and no coincidence, indeed! The take-home message here is to really pay attention to the activities you engage in and see the common threads to your thoughts and emotions. It is all tied together. Now take a bike ride before the snows come! Julie

Saturday, October 25, 2014

State Of The Union: Medical Care in MA

What a wild ride I've been on with navigating the healthcare world during these past two years and even more so, since May of this year. On May 23, my older daughter turned 26, which meant that she could no longer be on my insurance policy. Now the fun - or shall we say, not so fun began! I have had the same insurance for a number of years because the coverage was good, alternative services such as food sensitivity and some alternative GI tests were also covered. The price was reasonable for someone self-employed with a family. Then as 2014 started, these tests were no longer covered, compounded medications and supplements were also taken off the list. The starting of the demise of inclusive services. When May 23 arrived, my daughter had already done her homework about choosing a plan, being sure the company paperwork was submitted and on that day our entire family policy was cancelled. I knew first because when I went to renew prescriptions, I was told I had no insurance. The process began. I could not be found in the database by name, date of birth or social security, and yet, I had been with this company for years. My daughter's policy was now my old number and she had wrong data attached to her brand new policy. I started with customer service, but after one month of no return calls, I asked to speak with a supervisor. We made a little headway, then he was gone for extended holiday and no-one took over my case. Start all over again! The next person promised to keep me updated weekly on progress, but that never happened. I was informed that we may have problems for the entire year. During this time, I overpaid bills to doctors, pharmacies etc. I had requested my monthly statements since I was not receiving them. I worked on this while in my "hotel room", as I called it at the Newton Wellesley Hospital, dealing with my own poor health. Once home, I called to request updates on issues that never were solved, thus decided to write the president and CEO. He never returned a call or letter, thus I sent the same letter a second time, certified, return receipt requested. He received it alright, but never responded. I had stated in my letter that I hoped to work out these issues without having to contact the insurance commissioner's office and my state rep and thus decided to follow up with a call. I was transferred to the ombudsman's office and we talked. I requested what seemed reasonable to have 3 months waived from premiums given the money, time and stress that was spent on this fiasco for myself and my daughter. Again, I received no follow up from the ombudsman, until finally an email stating that the issues would be resolved in 3-4 weeks and that the company would not honor my request regarding some restitution. It is now mid-October, almost the end of the year! The very next day, I received a demand letter to pay over $6000 in premiums or my policy would be cancelled in 15 days. While in shock, I chose to contact the insurance commissioner's office, to contact my state rep and he has been very cooperative with me to assist me during this time. While all of this has been going on, I had labs done at the Brigham 2 weeks prior to my doctor visit and when we met, he had not received them, nor could they be found on the site. I called, only to be connected to answering machines, then disconnected. After attempting this for a number of times, I called the operator expressing that I needed to speak with a person in the lab, not an extension, because my labs were lost! Upon speaking with the lab person, she realized that the labs were faxed to a phone and not a fax. She told me that it would be done right away. A day goes by and no labs at my doc's office. I start the process yet again and when I explain that the lab had mistakenly faxed to the phone and that I needed these reports, she told me "when I have time". With my jaw at my feet, I told her that this was unacceptable, that it was now three weeks with lost labs and I that I am dealing with cancer, she still stated "when I have time, by the end of the day." She was not compassionate, sounded irritated and did not apologize for any mistake on their end. I asked to speak with a supervisor and she stated to be the supervisor! Wow - well this is a long and detailed blog, BUT, the upshot is that the state of healthcare here in MA is not so pretty. I feel lucky enough to know how to address some issues being a provider myself and feel very concerned for people who just don't know how to deal with the system - a system that is very broken at the moment. While I still do not know the outcome of the Harvard Pilgrim fiasco and have dealt with less than compassionate lab folks at the Brigham, I do know that there are ways to not be in a place of victim-hood: Gather your data Be assertive and persistent Look outside the box for assistance - governing agencies, state representatives If we all begin to assert our displeasure, we may begin to make some momentum in creating a healthcare system that does work for the people. Rah-rah! Julie

Monday, October 20, 2014

Music, Me and A Content Grateful Heart

About two weeks ago, I posted "Untouchable and Fake" and this blog was about my connection and confusion about music in my life. It was a painful process, but such a cleansing one at the same time. Last evening, I was invited to sing with my old group at St. John's, my former parish. I was so excited to be singing with my friends, to see my pastor and pastoral associate, both of whom have been tremendous and non-judgmental support to me and my girls for many years. Just a week ago, my former music director asked if I would lead the practice, as he was directing a musical in another town and would be running late. I laughed and said "sure", but you know it's been almost two years and my guitar "chops" are rusty, not to say my singing voice! We laughed and I made the commitment. As I thought about it, I felt like this would be fun and I have my professional musician buddy, one of my best friends, who would carry the guitar parts while hiding my less than professional sound, set up the sound system etc. No sweat! A few days later, we learned that he had a gig scheduled unexpectedly and would not be there. Wow - was this "opportunity/challenge" placed in my lap at the right time. Do I revert to perfectionistic tendencies, getting anxious about how it would work out OR would I take this as time to have fun, time to play and pray? I chose the latter and pulled out my music, guitar and started to play and sing. Surprisingly, it didn't sound bad at all. In fact, I was impressed that I picked up where I left off pretty well and was enjoying my practice time each day. To back up a bit, a few weeks back, I decided to join the Festival Chorus here in Marblehead - a group that performs during the holiday season. No try-outs, just come as you are. I thought the chorus would be easy, but the director had us singing in Latin, French and German, at tempo, on the first night! So while not easy, I am having a blast trying to learn these "wicked fast" scales! On Saturday, after finishing with clients for the day, I had a guitar in one hand and Bach in the other! Sunday arrived and I met my friends at church. We practiced, worked out a few kinks and got ready for mass. I was not anxious, I was not judging how this was going to be and I was having a blast. One of the songs that I requested to sing was Grateful and this song has such special meaning to me because I am grateful for the many blessings in my life - one of which is music! Just for today, play your favorite tune on the radio, I-Tunes, your I-Pod - just do it and see how you feel! Julie

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pizza With A Twist

Who doesn't like pizza! I decided to try the cauliflower crust version tonight and it was a fun experiment. The next time, I will add some ground flax or chia seeds to the mix - or even a little of both - to create a more stable crust. The flavor was quite nice and while the cauliflower did hold together with the egg and cheese as binders, it did lack a bit of the crispiness that a flour crust offers. I also find for myself, that bulk is needed to create the feeling of fullness for me, thus a salad and extra oven roasted peppers, round out the meal. To make the crust, the cauliflower needs to be processed into a rice-like consistency. It is then mixed with an egg, 2-3 ounces of grated or shredded monterey jack cheese - I use pasture-fed dairy products - healthier and more digestible. Mix in a pinch of basil, parsley and oregano and form into a ball. As I mentioned, I will add 2-3 Tbl ground flax and/or chia next time and let it set for a few minutes to create the gel-like consistency. Flatten the crust on a pizza pan and bake 450 for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, scramble ground buffalo or grass-fed 90% lean ground beef and add crushed tomatoes and more basil, oregano, parsley and garlic. Too the crust and sprinkle with parmesan or shredded mozzarella. Return to the oven to melt the cheese, remove and let it stand for 5 minutes before serving. What a fun meal and of course, this pie can be creatively changed with different meats, veggies, spices and cheeses. For example, I sometimes saute chicken strips with frozen, thawed and drained spinach. I then add some organic ricotta and parmesan, garlic, mixing all together and top the crust accordingly. Put on your creative cap and have fun! Julie

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Facebook, Face Value and Reflections

It's been about a week since a photo taken of myself and my daughter had many likes, comments - all positive stuff. It was two weeks out of the hospital and I was on a short, but sweet outing - Fashion Week opening in Boston. Oh how I used to love the fashion scene, still do, but have not been to a fashion show in years. What's been interesting is that since I've left the hospital, I've had mixed results in my progress. Thankfully, my blood values are improving - a sign that the chemo and support has worked. Halleluia! On the other hand, my quality of life and side effects from the reaction to the chemo have lingered, really disrupting how I feel on a day to day basis. The swelling is gone, my blood pressure is now more normal than in years, but this itch and dry, rashy skin is 24/7! It is so uncomfortable that I lay awake at night, scratching. Now, of course, the "old me" tapes come barraging my brain - be thankful, don't complain, just grin and bear it - you know, the old stoic me comes rushing in to take over. But no, in this very moment, I am tired, worn down, feel pretty "shitty" - and it is OK. Even my daughter tells me, "Mom, you are still in recovery and have a whole year yet to go." I guess that part of me that wants it done and over with takes over at times. What I felt about the Facebook messages was part of the reason that I've never signed up before. It tells only the good. It is an imbalanced perspective of the reality of one's life and it magnifies the discrepancy of how one might be feeling, potentially increasing the negative feelings even more! My girls and I have have talked often about social media and the potential damaging effects on one's emotional health. Since I work in the area of mental health often - eating disorders, bipolar, depression and anxiety - I am very sensitive to understanding these underpinnings. And here I am, experiencing a bit of that chasm in reality myself! On the other hand, I had a conversation with two other friends - one from high school and the other, a new friend from late Spring. Both of these folks had struggled with deep depression and it was through Facebook that friends and family reached out to provide support and connection. It gave me another perspective to think about. What I've pondered since that time is that social media is only one facet of reality and it is important to always be conscious of that. "Image" is not who we are, yet it contributes to how we are seen. It also does help connectivity on one level and this is part of our culture - like it or not. It does play a positive role, as is seen in my dialogue with others. The take-aways for me and for you are to look inside first, do that check-in by closing your eyes, breathing in deeply, feeling connected and grounded to the earth and feel your aliveness, feel your feelings without judgement and then you will be able to graciously accept the feedback of others in your life. In peace and gratitude, Julie

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Untouchable and Fake

As I listened to my Spirit and Song songs, a contemporary spiritual collection, I began to sob while listening to "Bread For The World", written by Bernadette Farrell. It brought back so many memories of being part of the choir, contemporary music groups and finally the leader of the Contemporary Music Ensemble at our church. This community was a safe haven, a fun place, an area where I could teach, give, lead and be a member for the many years where outside, life was insecure, frightening at times, always with a twist of challenge. My tears grew to the point where I felt like I might pass out, but knew that I would not. It was cleansing, albeit painful. I wanted to say "I'm sorry" for using this venue to be good, look good, hold a place in heaven, BUT, my throat chakra let me know that I did not need to say sorry, but to stay connected to the pain of transformation, to also be so grateful for being willing to look at and increase awareness about my actions in the world. Rapidly, information came into my mind - The Velveteen Rabbit (which I've talked about in former blogs), perfectionism as protection, my upbringing. As I sort it out, I am even more aware how my upbringing led to perfectionism and that this separated me from others - always practicing to be better, but not really engaged with others because they may find out the truth - I'm really not perfect! The Velveteen Rabbit - a great read even for adults! - the skinhorse being stripped of his outer beauty, was really beautiful on the inside and had meaning just for being! While I've touched on these themes over and over in my life, I felt it on a visceral level yesterday, integrating the body-mind-spirit aspects even more. So what does music have to do with all of this! I've been singing since grade school, have excelled with having a pretty voice and as I grew, I developed a real affinity for spiritual music of all types - classical, contemporary, christian, jewish, buddhist. If it has meaning and an interesting sound, I'm sold! But why have I not been singing much this past year and half? I could say illness and that is certainly one reason - I've not had energy, time, and at times, even the lung capacity to sing without becoming dizzy. But there was more and I think I've found part of this reason. I felt fake - as if my singing was a way to make others think of me as perfect, good, worthy. After all, a church singer has to be good! I feel that I peeled that layer yesterday as painful as it felt. I do love spiritual music, I do have a good voice and I have been/am a conduit bringing the message of God and inspiration to others. My mission may have started with self-protection even without knowing it, and my mission continues as part of who I really am. How that will play out, I'm still not sure, but just for today, I feel content with accepting those parts of myself that I may not like or have liked yet have learned to love. My wish for you is to allow the rise and fall of the wave of feelings, as intense as they may seem at times. You will not crumble, you will not die, you will be more real, just like the skinhorse! Peace, Julie

Thursday, October 2, 2014

More Kitchen Creativity - Oh La La

Last weekend, I attended a lovely jazz garden party and brought a fabulous spinach-artichoke dish made with all organic ingredients - need I clarify this! Of course, there were artichokes left over and thus, I've been brainstorming what to do with them. Decided to make a chicken dish with a lemon-garlic sauce. Check this out! Saute chicken tenders until browned. Add halved artichokes. Make a lemon sauce with 2 Tbl organic lemon juice, 1/4-1/3 cup water, 1/8 tsp garlic powder and heaping tsp cornstarch. Mix well and pour over the cooked chicken/artichoke mixture. Remove from heat and coat well. Dice a few sundried tomatoes and top with a few pepita seeds. Shred sweet potato and bake on oil-coated sheet at 425 to cook. Serve with any leftover veggie - I had some oven-roasted yellow peppers. Mange!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Out Of The Woods AND Beware!

It's been just about two weeks home from the hospital and the only residual complaint is a constant itch that reminds me of my last dog, Krissy, known as the "itchy dog". Krissy was the love of our family's life and while she lived to the ripe old age of 18, she had skin allergies that made her scratch incessantly. I've come a long way - can now see clients in person - wow, not just over skype! And yesterday, I got my doctor's blessing that I can actually shake hands, hug and kiss people once again. Watch out - I've been sorely deprived! Why? My blood counts are finally moving in the right direction on their own - no pills, potions or shots. I was ecstatic at the news and could not wait to call my family and share this with them. Many sighs of relief and giggles of joy! As I drove from the hospital in rush hour traffic, I realized how tired I still can be and it brought to mind the title of this blog. Yes, I feel that I am out of the woods, but as my doc told me, this will be a full year of being immunosuppressed. While the old me would dismiss such a warning, the new me is taking things in much more of a balanced stride. I have learned over these past few months that my energetic desire and capacity to do had also led to my illness because I did not listen to the subtleties of my body and brain becoming burned out, overtaxed, inflamed. I just kept going for years, never giving in. I am so aware that my new ways of being are still that - NEW - and that means that I must continue to practice balance, putting rest, play and joy-filled activities into my every day. While these next few months will be the "beware" season, I do believe that I have learned this lesson in life and remain so grateful to be here to practice. My wish for you all is to take each day as a gift and plant your personal garden with peace, fun and joy!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Feelin Creative In The Kitchen: A Little Thai/Asian Fusion

Feeling creative in the kitchen and craving a thai/asian flavor without the carbs, so check out my Paleo Chicken Wrap with Orange Sauce. It's been a while since the creative juices have been flowing, although I always love my food - colorful, healthy, texture-filled and satisfying. Saute diced chicken, minced ginger, the white parts of the bok choy, diced carrots in grapeseed oil. Wrap in a coconut wrap from Julian Bakery. Bake 400 for about 5 minutes to brown. Oven roast chopped red peppers with salt in a little grapeseed oil, turning to brown a bit. Dice the green tops of bok choy for salad greens. Sauce: blend 1/4 orange (peel and all), dash red pepper flakes, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 clove garlic or 1/8 tsp powder, 1/4" piece ginger, 2 Tbl gf soy sauce Garnish the wrap, greens and peppers with the sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Delic! Enjoy, Julie

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Bike Ride: Like No Other

Today I awoke with more energy and a desire to really take that bike ride that I have yearned for since my staph infection and subsequent hospitalizations in early July. Over this past few days, I have been wanting to take the bike out - after all, I have no contraptions left - the wound vac, the chemo pack, the larger bandage on the leg. While being free of these, my energy just did not support the desire and so I listened - a relatively new behavior for me. As I rode along at a moderate pace, I was keenly aware of colors, sounds, the gentle breeze on my face and while I always appreciate these things in nature, there was something more acute about today's experience. I was allowing these natural elements to really penetrate me. My pace was deliberate - not off to prove that I was back in tip top shape - but to be at a pace where my body blended with nature. This is the essence of achieving a spiritual connection with all that is! I have been voraciously listening to philosophy and re-aquainting myself with all the mystical greats - Jesus, Buddha, Ghandi, Mother Theresa - reaffirming that I am on my path and that this road less traveled has been for good reason. Backing up a bit, ever since the leg surgery in July, my surgeon encouraged me to walk, walk, walk, despite pain and discomfort. And I did! I love to walk and I am not one to sit back on my laurels. Each day, I was able to go farther, until Tammie and I reached one of my favorite parks - Fort Sewall. My other favorite park is Chandler Hovey or better known as the lighthouse park. I would eye Chandler Hovey, yearning to ride my bike there which had become a ritual since Spring. Today was that day! How exhilarating to cycle to the other side of the harbor, to sit and look over and see where I've been and where I am at this very moment! I so appreciate my body for having the innate ability to heal despite curve balls. I feel grateful, blissful, energized and capable. Just for you - take these words, close your eyes, roll your shoulders back and down and breathe deeply for a few moments. When settled, repeat these very words for about 5-6 times slowly. Open your eyes slowly and bring them with you - Just for Today! With gratitude, Julie

Monday, September 22, 2014

Yoga: Back On The Mat

It was a rough few days - still losing water and up about every 1/2 hour at night to visit the bathroom and constant itching from the residual rash. Poor me!!! Despite life, I was able to maintain a sense of gratitude along with some feelings of being "beaten up". I was still able to walk with Tammie by the ocean, I was able to see the beauty in nature AND I have learned to use nature as a grounding opportunity for myself. Being recently certified in yoga, I receive updates on classes that are upcoming and restorative yoga was being offered this past weekend. I was excited to do this form of yoga because it is gentle, mild stretching, lots of breathing and just an opportunity to feel nurtured. Since the class offered was in Boston, I decided to google closer to home. Voila, there was a class available and I decided to go - fatigue, itch and all! When I arrived and prepped for class, I noticed that we were doing vinyasa - oops - what did I get myself into? I decided to go with the flow - how appropriate for a yoga class. I observed my thoughts and part of me felt nervous about being able to do any postures - after all, I've not done yoga in 2 1/2 months, have been cut up, laid up, puffed up! I also noticed that I felt a bit angry because I hurt. As the class went on, I was able to do so much more than I expected and the breath-work felt so good and energizing. I was able to adjust for poses that I cannot do as yet and I did not judge myself for not being where I was - ready to start teaching a mere 2 months ago. About 45 minutes later, we moved into the restorative part of the class and it felt amazing. I finished class, felt energized, clear and calm - those feelings that I crave from yoga. What I also learned from this experience is that while I had attended the yoga training to teach, I feel very comfortable not being in the driver seat, not being the leader or teacher, but am very content in this moment to be the spectator/participant. I am allowing things to come to me more and more, and am refusing the need to always be the leader. What a shift in consciousness. This past week, there have been many situations where I would normally get into networking gear, but am choosing to be the spectator and to just enjoy the experience. There is a physical shift when I am aware as well. Instead of being "on edge", sitting up with tension, I am sinking into the seat with comfort, feeling relaxed and connected to the earth. Yoga has been one of many venues to allow me to shift and I am so grateful for the tools at my disposal. Try a class, learn to use breath as a way to be in the moment in a relaxed state and don't judge yourself. With prana, Julie

Friday, September 19, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me!

Well, I am not usually one to think about my birthday, but this year feels different. I've been home from the hospital not quite two days and have spent much of the time in the car back for check-ins at the hospital. Slowly, I am coming back from this. While the rash has died down, the swelling is a slower process, but I am making good progress! I awoke in the middle of the night anticipating the birth time of 5:07, when my Mom delivered now 57 years ago! I was feeling excited and so grateful. One might wonder why the excitement and gratitude, but for me, being alive, able to do my daily walks along the beach with Tammie, are so enriching. It was a brisk, but beautiful day today. I find these days that I am so drawn to really seeing the beauty in nature. There is a tree across the way, but in perfect view from my window and the shape is beautiful, the leaves so green, soon to wither and prepare for next year. The harbor offers glistening sunrays on the water like jewels. Every day, I repeat how much I love being in this "playground". Of course, next year, I plan to actually play in the playground - kayaking, swimming, learning how to paddle board. But for now, my mind's eye takes in this breathtaking sight and I sigh another thanks for having this day! Be grateful, see the beauty that life offers us all, Julie

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Day After Down

It's not even 24 hours since my last blog entry, but I feel an impetus to share as I listen, process, feel. While yesterday did not feel good, there was much for me to listen to: wishing for things to be different, feeling out of control of my body's reactions, wanting to maintain some control and "knowing or expertise", recognizing that "relying" too much on anything, even that which is good for us is not balance and indicates that further listening and allowing to happen is needed. Wow! Can I be thankful for the "down days". Yes, indeed, for without them, we have nothing to compare, no color to life. This morning's awakening was better, as I did get a few hours of real sleep. It is truly amazing what sleep does for us and although on the intellectual level, I can recite the hormones and neurotransmitters that are impacted by both good and poor sleep, none of that matters when it comes to feeling - a place that I am residing in more often these days. As soon as the mind starts to take off with its thoughts, processes, plans, I am now more often than not, commanding myself to STOP, BREATHE, ASK HOW I FEEL. It is a compelling, yet so simple technique to quiet the mind. In addition, ADD A VISUALIZATION OF SOMETHING PLEASANT. I recently researched photos of Natural Killer cells because these are very lower in my blood due to illness. I found a beautiful colored photo that was taken by electron microscopy and the colors were the densities of those aspects of the cell - a real cell! I made a copy of this, have it by my bed at home and am now using it as part of my visualization, imagining these cells coming down through the top of my head, multiplying and permeating my body. All the while, breathing deeply and smiling with happiness and gratitude. Works for me! How can we tolerate the "down days"? Know that there are better days to come! Smiling, Julie

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sobering Experience: No Direction

Day five in the hospital and I am actually glad to be staying today. I am very tired and my body is swelling by the minute or so it feels! It was another night of low blood pressures, extra IV's of fluids and nurse/doctor visits. Upon seeing my primary team doctor this morning, the good news remains that I've had no fevers or signs of infection and my rash, although no better, has not extended. What has extended or shall we say distended, is the abdominal and thigh fluid retention. It is so uncomfortable and when the oncologist arrived, he asked for daily weights and tracking my urinary output. He explained that the allergic process allowed my capillaries (little blood vessels in the body that act as accessories to arteries and veins) to become leaky and fluids are accumulating in spaces where they do not belong. He is not alarmed by this and neither am I. He also stated that the chemo drug along with my illness causes certain proteins in the blood to be less available to control the fluid shifts. While there is no imminent danger to my situation, it does require close watch and each day I understand why I need to be here which is fine. I accept this and realize that any well-made plans at this time are not worth holding myself accountable for. A very new and recent lesson learned - planning and organization are great, but being flexible is imperative! There are two areas where I found myself full of emotion, thus needing time to just process and grieve. My best friend from the second grade's daughter is getting married this Sat as I have mentioned before, and I so wanted to be there. I have already told her that I will hopefully make the church, but am unlikely to "dance the night away" with my old friends and her family, who I've known for so many years. As we talked today, she told me that she would be unable to look at me while she walked down the aisle because she would cry - we sobbed together on the phone. It took me a while to accept that while I so wanted to enjoy this time together, it was not likely to be as I wanted. It is sad. I am sad. While the doctor was explaining the aspects of the effects of chemo making me even more immuno-compromised, he also asked that I stop taking all of my supplements. He explained that probiotics can have a negative impact in my situation, although they are fine when I am not in this state and am focusing on gut health. I could accept this, but he showed disinterest and a general lack of knowledge about the other support that I rely on. Rely on, rely on . . . I felt a flush of anger, distrust of wanting to accept his credability and then I remembered that part of my struggle was about hanging onto those areas that I could control, where I was the expert. I felt no direction and for a moment, quite vulnerable. Even my body was doing its thing - leaking and blowing up! Soon I began to think of my reaction and realized that it is only a few days-weeks before I am out the woods, so to speak, with regard to being suppressed in my immunity. It is time to surrender to being taken care of, letting go of control and just letting life be as it is. While tired and not my usual "positive polly", I feel human, humble, safe and grateful to be here. The take-away today is to always observe, listen and pay attention to our reactions - they mirror so much about our internal thoughts and beliefs. With humility, Julie

Sunday, September 14, 2014

" Day Of Beauty" and A Dose Of Reality

Today is my third day back in the hospital, riding the bumps along with way, again with no "conclusive reason" why I have had such a violent allergic reaction with a rash and hives. My body's MO seems to maintain an indirect path to answers, meaning no obvious conclusion at the outstart. In the physical realm, we tend to look for cause and effect, but there are many dimensions to "us humans", thus digging for the deeper meanings in the emotional and spiritual realms, often provide more clues for self-healing. A dear psychologist friend of mine, who is also well-read in astrology, uses The Secret Language of Birthdays book (www.thesecretlanguage.com/check/birthdate/) to give him additional perspective on the clients he sees. Whenever I look at the Virgo tendencies, I am always blown away by how accurate they pertain to me - both the good and not so good! Upon reviewing this tool in detail, I was struck with how my birthday, Sept 19, is known as The Day Of Fine Appearance (Those born on September 19 are very much concerned with the appearance of things. Not only their own physical appearance is important to them, but also that of their home, surroundings and family...) . While I did not love to swallow the pill of being attracted to the outer being, the superficial aspects of oneself and others, I had to admit that yes, I am drawn to beauty, to cleanliness, to order - and have tried to keep it under lids for years due to my own inner conflict over the vulnerability of being shallow. Over the past week or so, I have been thinking a lot about this. Of course my birthday is in 5 days and while I appreciate the beauty in my life, a lot has been less than beautiful to the eye recently - water damage to my home, my leg and now my rash. I am venturing out to share this morning's selfie - my first selfie and first "unsightly photo of me!", which shows my being able to be vulnerable to not being so beautiful on the outside. If you are reading this blog, you know what the real me already looks like - and I have grown to like and accept what I look like on the outside. Reason being, I have learned to like the inside of me. In fact, last night, while feeling itchy all over, being unable to sleep with medical interruptions for blood pressures, blood work, medication infusions, I gave myself a self-massage and it felt soooo good! I felt cared for, loved and touched, not only in a physical way, but in an emotional way as well. I have not had much touch contact over the past 6 weeks due to being so vulnerable to re-infection and this reminds me of how important loving contact is critical to us all. In our society, we are taught not to touch ourselves, that it is a bad thing to do and I venture to say that if we would be more in touch with our own bodies, that so many illnesses of the mind-body-spirit would lessen or disappear. We separate the head from the body and most often live in our heads and not in our bodies. Take aways for today: Embrace and enjoy beauty in all forms - the physical, emotional and spiritual Remember that we are souls just residing in a body - we are not our bodies Hug yourself every day and think of loving ways to enjoy touch - massage, cuddle with your loved one or a pet, partner yoga With love, Julie

Friday, September 12, 2014

Par for The Course vs Part of The Process

When my Mom was ill for the past few years, passing away just about one year ago, she always exhibited such courage and strength in her fight to be well. She wanted to attend the activities for her grandchildren and managed to do this during their last year of high school and college. Mom was on oxygen, in a wheelchair by this time and remained in Rehab due to not being well enough to go home. Mom had many health challenges during her life, but she always minimized her symptoms and was the "good patient", was well-loved by her health care professionals. Since I was a child, I would hear her use the phrase "par for the course" and as time went on, I realized that it was her way of resigning herself to the conditions with which she lived in many areas. While there was an admirable side, I also felt frustration at her not learning to use her voice. Fast forward. It is now three days since my release from wound vacs, chemo packs, pic lines and I am back here as an inpatient at Newton Wellesley Hospital. I sailed through chemo without a hitch, felt quite good in the process and when it ended, began to feel poorly again. Symptoms worsened over the next few days and I knew that I would need to be in touch if my fever went over 100.4. It only went to 100.2, but on Thursday when giving myself my daily neupogen shot, I noticed a rash on my trunk. I've had rashes many times in my life, thus it did not alarm me but I called as I was told to do. The nurse asked me to come in today just to be evaluated and I felt thankful that I did not have to pack up last night. I went on to have a very miserable night - sweats beyond belief, headache, chills etc and when I awoke, the rash had not only traveled but it was bright red and hot. Went to CVS for Benedryl as I had a lump in my throat as well and did not want to anaphylax on my joyous 1-1 1/2 drive! I partly planned for the just in case, gathering Tammie's needs and leaving them for the Pet Hotel if we needed it. I pulled my necessary supplements and stopped anything unnecessary as who knows what I am reacting to. Of course, I came with my computer to do some fun and work-related activities as I want, giving myself permission that if I do not want to be working on things, that is is OK - a new behavior style for me and not quite comfortable but better! My nurse practitioner took one look at my rash and said, "I believe that you will be admitted, but let me check". I actually feel better being here, with caring and smart folks working on my mysteries as they seem to present. As I reflect on my health history, much of it has been convoluted, not direct and I shared how I develop rashes over a few days and not instantly as my body's MO. I will visualize cutting the ties to historical influences being part of my present and in fact, was reading about that this morning in my Spiritual Practices Of The Ninja. The exercise today was about cutting energetic ties to past people, ways of being etc, that no longer serve our purpose. No coincidence here! I've been poked, probed, re-started on antibiotics and will be watched to see if this rash and fever resolves. While I never had hot flashes, I feel very sympathetic to those who have - I have two large loads of laundry ahead of me when I get home. I am not ruffled or afraid. I do want very much to be well and to participate in life again. My best friend from the second grade daughter's wedding is next Saturday and I did shed a few tears with her on the phone about how I want to be there. There are so many people from her family that I grew up with and love. I will visualize this as well. I've continued to look at these challenges over the past few months as a process with curiosity and not resignation. I do thank my Mom for being a role model for strength in the face of despair and thus and not comparing this as a right or wrong way of viewing life. My Mom gave me tools that she did not have and I have had the curiosity to not want to repeat that part that draws energy and sucks life out of people's desires. If there is a lesson in this all, look at your process. Is it really YOUR process or a belief system that was handed down to you. Be open, be curious and be fearless! Onward, Julie

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Chemo: Last Day and I am Free!

I awoke this morning tired as I have been with some stomach stuff - the usual. I had breakfast, checked emails and gathered my files for a longish day of appointments. My chemo stopped by 9am as it was supposed to and I would see the doctor later to have the bag removed. By 10am, Tammie and I were on our walk to Fort Sewall. The sun and cool breeze felt good. We passed through Crocker Park to overlook the harbor and boats - beautiful site as always. I was beginning to feel better and focused on deep breathing. We sat on a nice bench at Sewall and I watched the other dog walkers pass by - everyone is so friendly in this back town and when there is a dog, there is definite conversation. As I sat, I began to feel poorly - like I hit the wall. Vision got fuzzy, heat palpitations began and I had that "buzzy" sick feeling as I describe it. I got up to get back home and upon arriving, took off my shoes and laid down. I felt pretty miserable and there was only an hour before departure. I listened to my daily audio training for the Detox Summit and that took my mind off me for a bit. I finished packing and left for acupuncture - a sure treat, but also an hour drive! Acupuncture did help me to feel better and my treater agreed that my pulse was pretty weak today. I now know that this obscure "sick feeling" has been my low white counts and that the chemo must be doing its job. I met with my doctor an hour or so later and he confirmed that I now officially had my lowest counts and it is time to rebuild the system. I asked about the important things in life - being around people, getting back to work, going to my best friend's daughter's wedding. He told me that since I have responded so well to the neupogen shots, that he would buffer me, thus assisting in this vulnerable next few weeks! I was thrilled. He also told me that I could have the pic line taken out today as well. This was going to stay in for another 2-3 weeks, but I was ecstatic to say the least! What a pleasant surprise on both ends - shots to feel better and get on with life and no more pic line. Of course, I immediately thought of being able to take my bike out for a ride, getting back to yoga and pilates. I will pace myself - newer terminology for me, but I am proud to say that I am reformed! One of the oncologists who worked with me as an inpatient told me that I was the happiest cancer patient she has seen - and I felt it. I feel free, I feel ever so grateful and this past 7 1/2 weeks of being hooked up in some way, has just come to a close. Love your body as it truly is a miracle. Julie

Chemo: Day Seven of Reflections

It was a another night of insomnia - something that I've been dealing with for quite a while now and when I awoke for the day, I felt poorly - a little sick to my stomach, a little headachey - but nothing new, so not chemo-related. I also needed to be out early for work to be done for the water damage - last day before the clean-up! I prepared for the day - to be out of the house until mid-afternoon - and it was going to be fun and enriching, being with a close friend for a walk and picnic at the beautiful lake. She passed the "healthy test", as this is the period when I cannot be around anyone who has a cold or any illness. I'm still doing my "air hugs", washing with anti-microbial soaps - such a different process for this type of cancer and treatment. Solid tumors are treated differently than blood/bone cancers and even more so, following a staph infection. While I am not alarmed at what I need to do and have been a "good patient", I am still in awe that my numbers on paper (the labs) do not match up with how I feel and get around in the world. I "look good" - this used to be a real sore spot for me - while I wrote about this in the past, I'll highlight it once again. In my many years working as a nutritional therapist in eating disorders and disordered eating, I've recognized how clients will talk about their increasing depression, compulsion and anxiety, when they are told that they "look good". The reasoning for this is that inside they may feel really unhappy, very much misunderstood and unable to express their feelings. If they "look good" on the outside, this further enhances the disconnect. While I did not suffer any longer with the body image aspects of "looking good", I sure felt that my failing health was not being taken seriously because I was still highly functioning. I finally was able to step out of my own perception and realized that people do not often know how to face illness and that being positive with someone helps to not only alleviate their own feelings of discomfort and reminder of mortality, but they truly hope to make the patient feel better. I do feel really blessed that I do maintain positivity and stamina 90% + of the time and have looked at the pros and cons of this personality type, recognizing that I occasionally need to "allow myself" time to grieve, time to be angry, time to feel really tired and unable to achieve. With regard to my day, I felt better while walking, talking and eating my yummy meal, but when I arrived home, I recognized how tired I was and listened to my body. I ate dinner earlier, listened to the two webinars that I had signed up for - one for the Detox Summit class and the other on EFT Tapping Technique. At this crossroads following the webinars, I had many items on my list of To Do's, but chose, instead to go to sleep. I was very aware of my setting new ways of being - listening to MY needs, pacing myself, following through with a guilt-free attitude! Try it, practice it and you, also will be on the path to true healing. In health, Julie

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Chemo: Day Six of Reflections

I awoke to a sunny and much cooler day today. Sundays are the day to do the bills and billing for my business. I was prepared to do this before we would take our walk. With files and piles still around, I had a moment of the "old me" having angst about getting it all done, being able to check off the list in my head. Quickly, I observed, breathed and let it go, knowing that it will happen as it is supposed to. Something that I've observed about my long-term behavior pattern is that I feel a need to finish tasks before allowing myself a break - this was a childhood pattern and I have found that it often takes the enjoyment out of the process. I would also judge myself if I wanted to stop a task and go onto something else for a while. Judge, judge and more judging - that was my past - and will not be my future! Of course, I do a lot of self-talking, hoping that no-one is watching! I would also check the clock frequently, always feeling that tasks should take me less time than they would. Today, I finished the billing, walked with Tammie, took our rest and did not even check the clock. As I continued with filing, webinars and organizing, I did not watch the time or judge how I completed my tasks. It felt enjoyable to go with the flow. This evening, I thought about wanting to wash my hair, but realized that I really cannot accomplish that task on my own. I'm a pro with the hose down, but I will need to be a week without a hair wash. I've already decided how to fix my hair for the next two days - my new Marblehead baseball cap tomorrow and on Tuesday, the fidora that Mom and Dad bought me in the islands a few years ago. I will be stylish, even in the face of flat hair! Getting ready to read and hit the sack, as I must be out early for the final touches of the water damage repairs in the morning. By Wednesday, I will detached from my chemo pack and will have my home back in order. I feel satisfied and grateful! Lesson for all: stop the little voice in your head that brings you down, that creates anxiety, that judges you and tells you that you are not good enough. It is so not true! In positivity, Julie

Chemo: Day Five of Reflections

Felt good to sleep in a bit before my morning conference call. It was the only agenda item that I scheduled as I felt a real need to stay put and to allow the day to unfold as it was intended. The day was to be a steamy one with a likely T-storm later on, so I decided to walk to Fort Sewall in the morning with Tammie. We took the shadier route as I am not supposed to be in direct sun for too long while doing chemo. We arrived at this beautiful place and I sat with Tammie, breathing in not only the fresh air, but all that surrounds - the blue water, the myriad of sailboats, kayaks and motor boats. Many people walked by, commenting about how cute Tammie is - this is a daily happening - she is quite cute if I say so myself! We came back and I prepared my delicious lunch - colors of the rainbow included. I chose to work on purgeing files, organizing them, listening to the Detox webinar series that I signed up for. Later on, feeling tired, I decided to lay down for a bit, using my stones to create a body layout, while meditating. I've learned about body layouts during my healing process and find it to be fun, comforting, and it helps me to focus on the energetic and spiritual qualities that these stones possess. I place the stones on chakra points along the center of my body and begin breathing deeply. Within a few minutes, I am very relaxed and ready for some zzz's! I continued with my purgeing and filing while the storm blew in and wow, it was quite a storm. Tammie needed her Composure Chew in order to calm down. I learned about these natural supplements for dogs that contain l-theanine, a green tea extract that promotes relaxation and it does help. I am amazed that I no longer need to hide from T-storms, as I used to absolutely freak out. The time that really piques my memory was coming home with Ashley from pre-school. Mom was with Lindsay and when I arrived, I flew in the door from the rain and storm and Mom asked, "Where's Ashley?" I said, "She's coming", leaving her to come in on her own. I was so anxious that I could not even wait for her! Mom emphatically told me that I needed to get help for this. Agreed! Well, over the past two years, I've lost most fears - T-storms, being a passenger in a car, being asked to sing without practice, fear of not having enough money to survive. I consider it one of the gifts that cancer has brought into my life. I feel prepared to live life to the fullest - to take the ups and downs with grace. I am also surprised that the side effects have been quite minimal - fatigue and mild headaches - otherwise, I am grateful and excited to begin Chapter Two. Amen!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Chemo: Day Four of Reflection

I awoke early in anticipation of a full day ahead. Before my daughter left for a weekend away, she needed to clean and dress my wound. This is a breakthrough for her, as she was always very fearful of cuts, blood, needles etc, but over the past few years, she has become a champ! I had my breakfast, finished the reflection for the previous day and prepared for my hospital check-in with labs and a nurse visit. Labs were as anticipated - fairly low white cells, but also consistent. This is good news, as it means that the chemo is doing its job - killing off my cells for now. I can also feel the fatigue and mild headachiness that can be a side effect of treatment. On to acupuncture - ah, the stabilization of my body's response, supporting the process of attack while keeping the "chi" flowing as it should. Felt great - vision clearer, energy better. Ready to get groceries and go home for the weekend before the finalization of work to be done for the water damage repairs. All in all, it was a long day - out by 9am, home by 5:30pm. I arrived to the air conditioner not working, but the maintenance fellow came immediately to get things working, at least for now. I ask myself, "what else is supposed to go on here?" Not ruffled (a newer response for me), I decided to take my wonderful walk to Fort Sewall along the water. Tammie sure appreciated getting out and we sat for a bit, just mesmerized by the waves and the serene feeling that the ocean provides. I often refer to this area as my "playground" - a place that is always there for me to enjoy! The next venture was to figure out how to shower without getting my apparatus wet, as I could not be disconnected. I figured it out and it sure felt amazing to let go of the "diaper wipe" baths that I've had for the past few days! Tomorrow night, I will attempt the hair wash and am already planning logistics. Cleaned up, prepping tea and my amazing snack of nuts, berries, 100% dark chocolate and coconut, I spoke with my younger daughter who is now at UMass. She has had a great week and I vicariously am able to be with her by her great descriptions of happenings. I'm now ready to continue to listen to Mind Over Medicine, mentally staying in the place of true healing, knowing that this process is bringing me closer every day. It was a good day!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Chemo: Day Three of Reflections

I had a really good sleep - 9 hours, which is what seems to be best for me these days and yet with my medical schedule, it often does not occur. This luxury felt great! I had a somewhat busy day ahead, but continued to set a pace that seemed achievable. Last week, as I prepared to take my daughter to UMass for her 2nd year of college, my battery died the day before, but at least I had finished my medical appointments for the day and thankfully, it was the day before and not the day of our 3 hour roadtrip! While life gets complicated and full, I notice that it all does seem to work out anyway. I've also noticed that I become much less "ruffled" than in the past because in the grande scheme of life, hassles are normal and expected and as one of my wise healers has told me, "Julie, you need to learn to live in the messy." I think of this phrase often, especially when I plan how "I'd" like to see things happen. Really need to take that "I" out of there and am getting better at it! Car shop to fix minor issues caused by replacing the battery - check Long ride during afternoon rush hour back to home to meet with my nurse for pic line dressing change - check Print and fax work-related stuff that is time-sensitive - check Prep and have dinner - check Wait to get Tammie from my dogsitter - check Pack up to return to my daughter's for last overnight, as she has changed two of my wound dressings and has one more to do - check Drive back - check Relax with my daughter and her boyfriend, watching a movie - favorite past-time for us all - check Tired but thankful that I am still so capable and while diminished energy from what I was used to, I'm pretty impressed with being able to carry on life. This mindset is new for me. I have been the "energizer bunny" for years, accomplishing things beyond what many people do, and yet, I felt never good enough, never accomplished enough, always judging and evaluating what I did and did not do. While I've "worked on it, the ego digs its claws very deeply into these thoughts and feelings of oneself. Slowly, life is evolving as it must - balance in the messy will bring me through. I challenge you today to balance while being in the messy! Julie

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Chemo: Day Two of Reflections

I awoke tired and groggy, but soon thereafter, felt good. The day was a beauty - less heat and mugginess than the day before and I knew that I would want to take a walk - a typical way for me to engage in my day after checking emails and tending to business! As I walked, I really took in the colors of green trees and plants - I find this to be very soothing - as well as the blue of the sky and gentle breeze that accompanied the sunshine. Somehow, these feelings were amplified. On the one hand, I am walking around with my fanny-pack of drugs(!), and on the other, I am deeply breathing in fresh air and am walking with vigor. I felt happy and grateful. I focused on allowing my muscles to sink into the earth while I walked, enhancing the connectedness to Mother Earth and overall sense of safety. I came back with good energy and decided to do a few errands before coming back for my continuing education webinar at noon. I love learning - it excites me - and I am really beginning to put the picture of my life together - the creation of my life as I want it with the pace and elements included. I felt a need to rest and did my visualization and regrouped for another little outing with my daughter when she arrived home. I walked after dinner, finalizing my day of good energy - groundedness, pace, awareness of my needs - and true gratitude for feeling well in this unknown territory. May you be in your moment, Julie

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Chemo: Day One of Seven Reflections

I approached the hospital with confidence, had my blood drawn and met with one of my doctors. She explained in detail what I had fretted about last week and it all came together. Being the scientist, as well as the one who pursues spiritual meanings, I had my mini-meltdown last week when I was left a message to stop taking the Neupogen shots for the week before initiating chemo. First of all, it was my first official week back seeing clients in person - got the OK from my surgeon and was so excited to be back in action and not just on the skype screen! Neupogen is a medication to improve the white blood cells that fight infection and without it, I have had my worst numbers yet since the staph infection. After unsuccessfully attempting to reach the nurse - dropped cell calls, malfunctioning Iphone on my end - I faxed a note and waited to hear that I could "pad the process" by keeping the shots to every other day. Nope! And there was just a voicemail with no explanation. Back to quarantine status - getting really used to no handshakes, hugs or kisses! When I met with my doc yesterday, she explained that chemo will wipe out the cancer and the other good cells - knew that already - but she went on to say that it is a time to give the bone marrow a rest and to allow the chemo to do its demolition. I will be immune suppressed for a few more weeks before the stimulation begins. I had also met with my naturopath, for whom I immediately had an affinity. We speak the same language - natural processes, assisting the body to do its work, acknowledging the innate intelligence of our cells. He had done some tests and we were to review results. Well, the results showed that indeed, I need the sledge hammer, as he described it. But he also described the timing of the upcoming events and suggested some herbal support measures (with clinical studies to back them up) to support my white blood cells. He described the following: chemo=sledge hammer, to kill the cancer cells; then start immune building factors a week later, again test to see progress and what else may be called for. In addition, some supplements will address the resistant cancer cells that linger and may re-initiate the cancer process in the upcoming years. As I sat in the chair at the clinic, I felt good about the upcoming week, although I had no idea how I would feel. I felt ready to go into the unknown territory and truly embrace it. Later in the day, I was tired and began to listen to more of the audio-book, Mind Over Medicine. Dr Rankin talked in great detail about the relaxation response and how to achieve it. I decided to create my own guided imagery - something I am quite familiar with and use frequently. I visualized the chemotherapy cleaning out my body, as ocean waves taking out the damaged cancer cells and washing them away. I also visualized happy, bright white-golden cells infiltrating my body as the waves came back to shore. I felt my body sink into the couch and truly let go, being immersed in relaxation. It felt good - I feel good. May you be blessed with understanding your process and rise and fall with the crest of the wave - powerful and yet so gentle. With love, Julie

Monday, September 1, 2014

Surrender and Stubborness

It is now hours before beginning a week of chemo - a completely unknown territory for me. I have not felt anxious about the chemo, but have had moments of anxiety around how my labs have responded over the past few weeks. While I have continued to feel better these past few weeks, my labs do not reflect the same and it is mind-boggling to say the least. I ask why is it that I follow directions, live a healthy life, eat clean food, exercise, do yoga - you name it, I practice what I preach - and yet, this disease is entrenched! As I was reflecting on this, I had calls from two very close friends and the lightbulb went off. In fact, I awoke from my sleep last evening to write a few notes for this blog. One friend mentioned how hard it is to just surrender and I had an immediate reaction to this statement. I realized that I can no longer control this - I have tried the above, I have not trusted conventional medicine, I have been my own leader - now, I am being asked to let go and let God. For me, this is allowing divine intelligence to direct the course of my healing path and to trust that all is and will be well. When I think of control, I realize that the stubborn part me that wants to "do it my way" is now getting in the way! How ironic - after all, it is the interplay of being persistent while also allowing, that truly can promote healing and success. My other friend sent me an amazing audio book, Mind Over Medicine and she recapped a few areas such as enjoying the juicy, sensual aspects of life - the gifts that this life has to offer. While I have been better at this, I know that guilt jumps in immediately when it comes to experiencing pleasure. After all, there is so much to do, to accomplish and while I truly love what I do, it becomes that double-edged sword. It felt so good to make these connections, to feel empowered and to make sense of something that affects so many people - cancer does not discriminate - and there is no blame or finger to point. The path to healing is all about love - of self and others. Cheers, Julie

Monday, August 25, 2014

Putting My "Left" Foot Down

How often have you heard the phrase, "put your foot down", as a way to control situations that seem out of control. Well a colleague of mine who does channeling, had this come to mind when she heard of the abscess in the left hamstring. For those of you following my blogs, I talked about the emotional-spiritual meaning of the hamstring before - tight hamstrings can often mean that a deeper level of surrender is needed. "The thighs and hamstrings also hold on to past conflicts, such as traumatic childhood memories, anger, or resentment. This area is also closely associated with sexuality and intimacy." http://www.care2.com/greenliving/the-emotions-behind-specific-body-aches.html#ixzz3BSRupn1V The left side of the body relates to the feminine side - nurturance, creativity, compassion. As I thought about the relationship between the hamstring and side of the body, it all made sense. I have continued to struggle with past conflicts while not employing an adequate amount of self-compassion. Although I was "getting better at it", the seeds of concern would seep in, creating fear and self-doubt, which in turn, would start me down the path of feeling compelled to "do more". This was and is in direct contradiction to the path that I am "trying" to follow. Trying means not doing. I use this phrase frequently with my clients - you are either doing or not doing - and try means not doing! This can also be described as being or not being. In our day to day busyness, it is easy to get swept up into doing and not being. Checking off the list of to-do's may provide temporary self-esteem, but what is more important is to consider who we are being in each moment. Am I the example of love, peace, contentment and compassion for myself and others, and do my actions reflect this? This entire journey which began six weeks ago for me, has been one of deep self-reflection, of really being stopped and while I did not volunteer to put my foot down, God's grace did it for me and for that I am thankful. It is by making these connections that true healing can occur. Onto the next chapter! Julie

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Color Game

How often have you given thought to the power of color, the language of color, the spirit of color? For me, I've always appreciated it, but did not give it much additional credit until my alternative cancer therapy trip to Germany, about one and a half years ago. While there, the older wise woman who assisted with energy-talk therapy, spoke to me of having a gift for healing others with color. She told me that I would need to find out what that was and how it would manifest. Over these past two months, while needing to rest more, sit more, be with myself more, I've taken the time to dream about what I want to play with and bring forth in my practice as an integrative nutritionist. Immediately I recalled having fun with the Color Me Beautiful concept that was around in the 80's. This addressed how wearing certain colors would either accentuate our beauty or detract, causing a washed out, rather sickly look. I loved this, brought it into the work that I was doing with women and decided to add it to my toolbox for helping women feel great and look great from the inside out - my tag line to this day! I had completed the modeling and finishing school teacher training, loving every minute of how colors and wardrobing could assist with increasing self-confidence merely by wearing clothes and colors that boosted the inner radiance! I created a class called Total Body Care, and I took it on the road to middle and high schoolers, as well as to my weight management class. What fun we had. Instead of seeing teenagers with "racoon eyes" all decorated with heavy black eye liner, there were budding young women who were attractive but not trashy. Years later, I have dusted off the concept, plan to resurrect it using skin care products that are cancer-chemical free - a total combination of my learning in Germany and here in the US. In addition, I had begun to think about the chakras,the energy of colors in various foods and found a fun ritual of using The Secret Language of Color cards by Inna Segal. While there are many ways to play the cards, I fan them out and choose one for the day. What is interesting in the concept of using color is that it is one more way to focus energy and intention on an inspiring and healing message. I am thoroughly enjoying this ritual along with using sage for cleansing and crystals and stones for meditation. All in all, these natural substances provide a way to calm the nervous system, allowing one's innate intelligence to balance the body, mind and spirit. Choose to be colorful, Julie

Saturday, August 16, 2014

East Meets West

This was a full week of doctor visits, nurse maintenance for my pic line and wound dressing, and I was so very aware and thankful for having the best of both worlds at my disposal! As I've mentioned in prior blogs, I have most always been the bridge or conduit between the traditional and non-traditional health-care professionals and have loved the opportunity over the years to decrease skepticism while enrolling my amazing colleagues into a new (but very ancient!) way of thinking. I have seen this role in my life since childhood and maybe it even predates my existence - family patterns, roles that we take on etc. I have personally delved into traditional therapy, energy work,mind-body training and spiritual pursuits in order to understand my own path as well as to assist others along the way. Most days, I feel blessed to see my challenges in a curious manner, although there are the ones where fear, doubt and just plain old crying, come knocking at my door. I, as well as all of us, must remember that this is truly living - to feel exhilarated in one moment, followed by a crash into despair at some time - as long as we come back to our reality with a sense of balance. I often describe this process to my clients as riding the crest of the wave! While visiting my oncologist, I gave him a packet of materials about how to blend natural medicine with chemotherapy. He was gracious and told me that he is happy to support this process as long as it does not impede what the chemo will do. We discussed how Boston has some of the best medical centers and yet, how narrow-minded the health-care professionals are. He agreed and acknowledged that we need more integration here. Wow - this felt thrilling to me! A few days later, I met my new naturopath and immediately felt as if I had landed in the right place. Luckily, he is one hour away and not three! His specialty is cancer and right away, we spoke the same language about tests, immune system support, the role of nutrition in supporting cancer cell death along with immune system building. He even drew pictures much like I do for patients, showing the process visually. Another Wow - I feel ready for this process! The last piece was seeing my nurse who has been with me three days per week since I came home from the hospital. She has been so supportive, caring and knowledgeable about the technology piece - wound pumps, pic line dressings, flushing out lines, cleaning out my still so deep but healing wound. We have this amazing technology to support the healing process - machines, special dressings and ointments - you name it! As I come full circle in my learning curve, I recognize and honor ancient, natural traditions along with the beauty of scientific advances that will bring newer meaning to blending the "best of both worlds". Now, I am off to the Farmer's Market for some organic food! With love and blessings, Julie

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Dusting Off The Yoga Mat

It is now two weeks from having hamstring surgery to remove an abscess and I am moving along quite nicely - not at my "old pace", but taking life and strength in stride! I was finally able to take my full walk without being exhausted or in discomfort from my healing leg and that feels so good! As I viewed the bay with sailboats, I felt such peace and gratitude for the beauty that exists in my life. I decided that today would be the day to clean off my new yoga mat and do some poses - with creativity! Not only do I still have a deep open wound on the left leg, but I have a pic line (a catheter that is inserted into my arm and drops into my vein near the heart) for self-administering medications. I was told not to stretch above my head, not to lift heavy objects, basically, not to move too much with my right arm. Hey, at least I'm balanced - right arm/left leg! As I thought about my yoga, I was excited to think about how to handle rehabilitation for myself. I've had years of training - a personal trainer in the 80's, an aerobics and conditioning trainer, a hatha trained yoga teacher again back in the 80's and now my recent certification with Yoga Of Energy Flow - a remarkable program that not only introduced many styles of yoga postures, but also discussed spirituality, philosophy and the "unseen" energy flow. Since my hospitalization, I have used my breathing and spiritual aspects, but today felt like the right time to begin some postures. While my body is still so very tight, I am able to do some postures with intention, yet not perfection. What a life lesson. I have always been able to count on my physical stamina, being very good at exercises - often pumping more weight than the guys! Today, I am starting from a place of truly listening to my body, my pain being the gauge of how much I can push. Another message worth listening to and I am really listening! I welcome you to do the same - listen to your body - it reveals so much truth! In balance, Julie

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Chronic Conditions: Not So Bad!

Over these past few months, the little voice in the back of my head has been whispering a dilemma for me. Of course, I chose to push it away until now that it has been placed right in front of me to process and share with those of you who also manage chronic conditions. My dietetics training prepared me well for assisting clients with chronic conditions - diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis etc. My graduate training also honed my tools with regard to the mental health piece - how to maintain positivity with what could be considered "the daily grind"! Much of the work that I do professionally and even with my family/friend relationships, relates to assisting others to focus on the things to be grateful for, while acknowledging that there are times when anger, despair and outright negativity abound. I have become the master at glass 1/2 full and not empty, and while that remains important, there was a part of me resisting that I, too, may have chronic conditions that may not miraculously be healed. I've read voraciously over these past two years about NDE (near death experiences) and the miracles that ensued, and yet, my path has been different. While accepting my journey and learning from it, there remained a part of me waiting/hoping and expecting that I, too, would share this immediate miracle and walk into the lab with my "report card" (see earlier blog) being straight A's. I could not accept that given all my hard work and effort, that I may not come out of this in perfect health. But, then again, who really has perfect health! The ah-ha has finally come. I realize that the strength that I give to others is something that I need to listen to for me. I am alive, healthy in so many ways, love what I do and am so eager to continue to spread the good news of the best of both worlds - the true gifts that ancient wisdom and modern medicine provide to us. I have always been in positions professionally to be a conduit or bridge between the traditional and more holistic approaches and have had a nice niche for years. I am taking my own medicine, so to speak, and am smiling as I put together my team of experts - my integrative PCP, my traditional but brilliant oncologist, my newly found naturopath and my acupuncturist! I believe that I will be spearheading this approach in Boston once I am completely back in action! With vim and vigor, Julie

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Day Five Home: A Day Alone But Not Lonely

I've now had 2 wound dressing changes at home, have begun to pick up speed on the walks and had my first decent sleep last night! How resilient we are as humans! As a family, we had many discussions this week about this weekend because of my potentially being on my own, so to speak. My younger daughter, now 19, who has had to clean bathrooms due to a pipe leak while I was in the hospital, take me to the ER an hour away in the middle of the night and take care of Tammie, our shih-poo, had an opportunity to go with friends for the weekend. We talked about it and I need and want her to be 19, not 65! My older daughter lives an hour plus away, works long hours and is feeling the pull of being the oldest needing to take care of things. Again, we are so lucky to have an open dialogue and landed upon the importance of the fact that I will let her know what/when I need her and she will visit when she can. In fact, today, she and her boyfriend are taking my Dad out for the day, so in many ways, this is taking care of a huge need for me! Interesting dynamics here. I grew up an only child with obligations and no real ability to state if I wanted to visit the elders on the weekends or not. It was expected, it was a weekly ritual and I learned to be a loyal care-taker no matter what! While there was safety psychologically for years that offered me protection - "I am good", "I take care of my family", "I am respectful" - it did not employ what is most important - choosing from the heart! As I continue to journey on the path of heart-centeredness, being in my integrity and truly "choosing", I am slowly shaking off these old parts of myself, dusting off to a cleaner, more authentic self on the inside. Not always easy because as much as our family and friends want us to be well on all levels, the change in behavior is not always desired. Back to today - I am not lonely - no, in fact, I have so many things that I want to do - work on revising my website, buying some starfish to create a wall-hanging for my bedroom, buying a baseball cap for those days when I can't wash my hair yet! The list goes on and what is so nice is that none of this is obligation - it is me choosing what I want in this moment! May your day be refreshing, Julie