Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Oh Holy Night

It's the day before Christmas Eve and most likely my last post until I return from my first European vacation - visiting Ashley who is studying abroad.  My older daughter, Lindsay, will come with me for us to enjoy a "girls vacation".

In many ways this marks a first and a last for us.  Having been a single mom while the girls were growing up, vacations were scarce and it was the kindness of my Mom and Dad, that we were able to have some fabulous times away - Disney cruises, the Bahamas.  This is the first time that the three of us will traverse London and Amsterdam under the direction of Ashley, who has now been there for four months.

It marks a last in some ways, as Lindsay will be getting married and although we may continue to have some "girls time away", a new and exciting chapter in her life will begin!  I am so blessed to enjoy the company of my girls - truly remarkable young women and really fun to be with.

It has been a whirlwind of busyness with business - no pun intended.  I am blessed in the knowing that I would re-build and am doing so quite nicely.  Of course, this week, people are frantically wanting advice for the next few weeks, and I generally set no high expectations with regard to behavior change, but support the process and listen to the emotional roller coaster that often accompanies the holidays.

In the back of my mind, I am often humming and thinking about the very title song, "O Holy Night", as this song has rich meaning in my family's life.  From the time I was little, I remember listening to Gregorian Chants, both popular and choral Christmas music and as I grew, I led sing-alongs, cantored for the Christmas masses and sang this favorite hymm to my aunt and uncle as they were dying - what an honor to provide solace along with song.  These were my Mom's brother and sister, and my Mom would always request for me to sing this song each Christmas.

I feel deeply that this indeed will be a holy night, as this year concludes and the hope for a new beginning peaks through.  I have had the discussion often times this week with my clients, how this is the time for reflection and contemplation with a vision for the new year.  I also continue to support focusing on the positive aspects of life, while acknowledging the challenges.  The yin-yang symbol so nicely demonstrates that danger can be seen as opportunity.

My wish for all is for a Holy Night that becomes the dawn of a New Day/New Year.

With peace and love,

Saturday, December 19, 2015

With Gratitude and Song

Since I have moved from my home of over 20 years in Wellesley, MA, I have periodically been back to sing and play guitar with my folk group at St John's - a parish community that has been a backbone for me and my girls as we traversed many challenges in life.  It was not the religion per se, but the open love, caring and compassion that this faith community has offered me and so many others.

In fact, during the sexual abuse scandal, our pastor allowed the meetings to begin the process of revealing the wrong doings, knowing that significant transformation must occur in order for justice to ensue.  Another appeal in our community was the inclusion of all faiths - not segregating, but encompassing all as spiritual beings.

Earlier this week, I was contacted by one of my fellow musicians to join the choir for a funeral mass for my past music director's grandmother.  Not only was I honored, but I felt enthusiasm to give back with song, being with people I have known for years, but some whom I have not sen since I was ill.

Ironically, I was going to meet my Dad at the St John's parking lot in order to have the annual meeting with our financial person.  My Dad does amazingly well getting around, but has been getting lost more often, thus we have very distinct places to meet, and over the years both he and my mom attended many, many masses and school occasions there.

When I arrived, I was flooded with hugs and well-wishes and I once again, felt at home.  I have often referred to St John's as my second home.  It was a place of refuge,a place where I was able to share my musical talents, a place where I led groups-both young and old - to prepare sandwiches for the poor, to deliver christmas plants to the shut-ins and to bring communion to those unable to receive.  It was also a place for my healing.

As I've grown in my spirituality, I have felt less catholic  and more spiritual, while appreciating many aspects of my upbringing.  I've never felt shunned or left out in my community. There has always been a scholarly person to discuss my personal challenges and conflicts with.

As the funeral began, we sang songs that hold a dear place in my heart - memories from my own childhood through more recent times of consoling an aunt while she was dying and singing at my own Mom's funeral with my group.  Our music director, also the grandson, led us in song, stating how this was to be a celebration of his grandmother's life.  How true!

When we think of the range of human emotions, from joy to sadness, they really run the spectrum and music with meaningful lyrics, offer a way to express these emotions while connecting with others.  This brings me to thinking of chanting and how tones affect the chakras, or energy centers of the body.  There is science imbued into the beauty and art of sound.

My day was full.  Following the funeral, I accompanied my Dad to his appointment and we journeyed on to our annual holiday visit with a long-time dear friend, keeping the tradition ongoing that is so important for us.  Love filled the day - with gratitude and song.

May you be filled with joy as we approach this magical week,

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Peace in the Pain or Healing the Hormones

Well, since I could not decide between the two and actually see an association between them, I decided to elongate the title!

As Monday approached, I had "the migraine", a pretty chronic issue since my late teens.  I've tried the conventional approaches, as well as many alternative ones, and at least now  I am able to go without medications, yet still have these long duration headaches that can last from 3 to 5 days.

I've been asked to track my menstrual cycles for years to see if there is a correlation and while there has been, often there are migraines in the middle as well or that seem to have no rhyme or reason - at least on the "earthly plane".

As I approached this migraine, I was able to step aside and recognize that this is not me, that this discomfort will, indeed pass and that it is not necessarily something I did wrong.  While uncomfortable, I did get through my week, knowing that my intention is no longer to just get through, but to thrive and feel fully alive.

Accompanying this week was also the dreaded progesterone week!  I speak openly about my experiences because this truly is about sharing for the healing of myself and others.  I've had hormonal issues since the age of nine.  I have followed in my mother's and maternal side of the family's footsteps with dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, infertility, endometriosis, pituitary insufficiency and late miscarriage.  As I look at my history, I likely had PCOS as well, but it wasn't even talked about in my day.  As an early teen, I was poked, probed, put on strong hormones that really messed with my weight, mood and cognition.  I was hospitalized at age fifteen for a D&C - being unable to recall how I felt, but remembering that my Dad would not talk to me for weeks.

Sexuality was not discussed in my home - not even the word pregnant was allowed.  Sex was considered "dirty", "bad" - and there was a lot of confusion for me having female issues and not understanding what was wrong with me.

As I've said so many times before in my blogs, this is not about name and blame, but really digging deep into my conscious, sub-conscious and overarching meanings for me/others.

This week was different.  I recognized how much influence the hormonal regimen has on how I feel physically and emotionally.  My endocrinologist has been brilliant in assisting me with a regimen that allows me to function, yet there is a missing piece.  I contacted one of my treatment team who specializes in essential oils because between her and my acupuncturist, I have been feeling better with the addition of oils.  As she reviewed my history again, going back in time, she suggested progesterone resistance and bingo, it all fell into place.  My years of symptoms fit this description exactly.  The cell receptors need cleansing, a "tuning up", in order for the medical support to do its work.

What is even more important, is that while feeling the emotional roller coaster of PMS (the moodiness, fatigue, bloating etc), combined with a migraine, I was able to not be in it, but rather observe it.  I am not the angry person, the paranoid person - these are aspects that I can feel when the hormones are not balanced.

I talk about this very challenge with countless patients and have been on the cutting edge of diagnosing PCOS for others long before it was "in vogue".  I am able to see personal challenge as gift for others and that does not mean in any way that I do not want continued healing in my life.  I truly do and have come a long way in this process.

This month, as I work on tuning up cell receptors, I feel excited to put more of the pieces of the puzzle together - healing the physical, understanding and healing the emotional binds that have been in my family for a long time, and evolving in my spiritual understanding for me and all who come in contact with me.

My fertility on all levels be in your life,

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Deliberate Break

It is two weeks since my last post and this is the longest I've gone since beginning the journey with you in my blogging.

This break was deliberate - I tuned into my intuition about needing to go inside and honor my need for receptivity rather than doing.  Being able to give myself permission to take time tends to be a blindspot and a very, very hard one to transform.  The time is now here.

After consulting with various healers over these past few years, the messages have been similar - you need time and rest for the remainder of the healing process.  And while this should be easy, years of conditioning, family and societal messages and my make-up from birth, have made this somewhat of a mountain.  A mountain that can be moved!

During a time when many are ramping up for the holiday season, I chose to take some quiet time.  Ashley is abroad and Lindsay celebrated Thanksgiving with her fiance's family out of state.  I had a lovely day with my Dad, then came home to rest.  On Friday, I pulled out the Christmas boxes  - something my girls and I have done since they were little.  I decorated while listening to Christmas tunes, then took Tammie to our local garden shop to find a tiny - and I mean tiny, tree.  Since Lindsay and I leave to visit Ashley in Amsterdam Christmas night, I bought table topper, however real, as it has always been our tradition.

I practiced playing guitar and piano, and finished the manuscript for my cookbook. I went to a kirtan - an evening of chanting and music. I walked a lot by the ocean.  I listened to my heart and not my head.  It felt freeing to be spontaneous and not programmed as I so easily fall into.

What I've also noticed is how taking time, has opened up more healing for my digestion and headaches.  I continue to do many practices and have added in essential oils for sleep and detoxification, but it is the sum of all of these practices that is bringing about continued healing.

This is nothing new in my cognitive understanding, but I am moving into practice and knowing, without the judgment.  When the ego pops in, I am observing and letting it go.

My wish for you, my faithful audience, is to take a break during this season, pace yourself and know that you are loved for just being you!

Advent Peace,

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Looking Through A Different Set of Colored Glasses

I’ve been meaning to write this blog for a week now, but have been delayed – busy work week and the recurring migraine headache that blunts my focus and energy.

It seems as though the theme was “looking through a different set of colored glasses”, a phrase that I often use with my clients.  As I shared this wisdom with those who had similar themes with different circumstances, I was also listening to my book of the month learning, The Body Keeps Score, a wonderful work by psychiatrist, Bessel Van der Kolk, regarding trauma and its imprint on the body.

In fact, I have been using this framework with clients for years, but as I listened intently, it brought up not only my own past circumstances, but I thought about my parents, again opening my eyes to awareness, compassion and a different point of view.

As I’ve listened to my Dad’s stories about the army, witnessing his buddy’s suicide, hearing about another friend shot and killed overseas, and others of my grandfather chasing my Dad while on a drunken rage, I’ve learned to see some of my own Dad’s behavior as his self-protective armor, not allowing anyone inside to witness the sad and fearful young boy and man that he was.

And with my Mom, I recall her telling me about her childhood – witnessing her own mother in and out of hospitals, moaning in pain with doctors coming and going.  When she was just 9, she was sent to stay with an aunt on the cape for an entire summer, not knowing the reason, but sensing something wrong.  It was during that summer that she developed asthma and upon coming home, learned that her mother had little time left to live.  Mom often told me that as a little girl, she would sit and rock back and forth to soothe her own  panic.

Both Mom and Dad had their own traumatic experiences and it shaped who they became as adults and for years, I carried my own set of beliefs about them – angry, defensive, anxious, depressed, controling – along with many wonderful attributes that I have talked about in other blogs.

I find myself often assisting my clients to see the broader view, and while not diminishing their pain and reality, also slowly opening them up to view these experiences with compassion for themselves and those who may have inflicted pain.  The forgiveness piece is pivotal for any healing to occur and this forgiveness is of self and others.

I am especially thinking more about this in light of the recent bloodshed in France.  While terrifying to hear about this, also knowing that Ashley is in Europe for the year completing her study abroad, she and I had a long discussion about the situation just yesterday and found ourselves not looking at us vs them, but more from a humanity viewpoint.  As humans, we all need food, clothing, shelter and these political/religious wars do no really take this into account, but instead, dangle the carrot for groups to gain more control.  I also thought about an exercise that I did while in a transformative weekend program called The Landmark Forum.  All 200 of us needed to face one person at a time, looking into the eyes of the other for 60 seconds.  We needed to face each person in the room in this way.  The amazing revelation was that form dissolved – we were one with each other.  This exercise has been one of the most profound experiences that I have had with another.

How do we reconcile trauma and devastation?  The first place to begin is to recognize that our truth is merely our perception and that is where opportunity begins.  Slow down, breathe deeply, go inside and remember that we are all one – change those glasses – instead of the dark defensive pair, choose the rose colored ones instead!

With love,


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Cards and Meaning In Our Lives

Over the past few years as I have adopted rituals into my spiritual life, I find these to bring such focus and an uncanny association with issues that I may be wrestling with.

While in Germany doing alternative care, I was told by the shaman that color would be a good area for me to explore and upon arriving home, I began to look more closely at color healing, chakras and stones/crystals.  This became a fun past-time as well as another avenue to explore not only for myself, but for my clients.

I tend to do things for a while and then become side-tracked like anyone and today, I felt an urge to pull out my Color Cards and Healing with Angel Cards.  No coincidence in what I pulled!  Blue was the color which is aligned with activating one's healing power and to calm the nervous system.  It is also my birthstone and a color that I am drawn to.  When pulling the Angel cards, I decided to choose 3 - one for past, one for present and one for future.  My past was Dreams - looking into the meaning of one's dreams. On occasion, I will awaken and journal about what I am dreaming about, but have not done so lately.  My present is Nature - a very powerful healing presence in my life, something I crave and am able to enjoy on a daily basis here by the water.  On the weekends, I try to get out even more - walking and cycling and sitting by the harbor.  My future is about Balance - this is key and something that my girls remind me in many of our conversations.

Balance also came up during an astrological therapy session - being busy, achieving, learning - all things that are important to me, are also where I get caught in my blind spot.  For me, it is all too easy to feel that I am not enough, do not know enough, will never catch up.  While intellectually I know this is not true, the ego and emotions easily take over, revving up my nervous system, thus creating imbalance.

I work daily on these themes and am in the process, so to speak, just as the many wonderful people I come in contact with as well.  My friend, Jamie wrote this song, "We're All In This Together", and this is so true.

Next time you are fretting the past or worrying about the future, stop, have a ritual that is meaningful to you and really focus on the wonder and beauty in your life.


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Open and Trust

Back to back days of yoga presented with these two powerful themes - being open and learning to trust.  This was an important part of the sequence of coming out of that dark place - one that was necessary for the next lesson - and being able to enter a new phase, albeit unknown.

A few of my blog followers reached out with compassion and love and I very much thank you for that - especially because I did not sense fear in your words, but a true loving way of reaching out with compassion.  This response continues to fuel my passion for being authentic in my reflections and sharing, so that we all may be blessed and grow from both the dark and the light.

Immediately what comes to mind from my own spiritual upbringing is Jesus being laid in the tomb for three days before rising into the light.  As I've grown in my own philosophical understanding, I take the meanings of the stories passed down for centuries in a less literal way.  Neville Goddard, a writer on mysticism, christianity and God, used references from the bible to explain complex concepts in a simpler way - a way for the new age of spirituality to make sense as we evolve.

When I shared birthing my heart, I was beginning to understand on a very mind-body-spirit level how these aspects of oneself tell a unique story of our purpose and journey and these hints provide opportunities to create something very different for ourselves.

For me it became more clear that this period of physical and emotional challenge provided me with opportunities to set limits - to state "enough is enough" - and to proclaim that "I do want to be taken care of and that my heart yearns for this, yet is afraid".

It is easy to stay stuck in old ways of being, creating chronic cycles of physical and emotional pain, without even knowing that this is the pattern.  It is much more difficult to look out at a clean slate and ask, "now what"?

As I entered this phase of being open, I began to feel alive and my digestion has been positively affected as well.  While I know that my physical path continues to have challenges that will take time to heal, I KNOW that all is well, even on the dark days.

Trust was the next powerful message that came to me the following day.  This refers to trust in myself, as well as others.  Old programming, societal messages, fear-filled families of origin, often keep us in a place where learning to develop and listen to our own inner knowing is not supported.  And I grew up in this place, as well as so many of the wonderful lives that I touch on a daily basis.  It became clear to me that the gifts I give to others are often clear messages of what I need to do for me.

I can talk about my past weight and compulsive eating or my intimate relationships as examples of where I did not listen to quiet inner voice, but it is time now to thank those lessons and move into a place and time when I truly honor my inner knowing and the power that I possess as a person, clinician, family member and friend.

As I came to a close for the week, I met with a psychologist who is also trained in astrology, and we talked about these themes.  It is so much more clear for me why and when I face these challenges, but what was more helpful was how to circumvent them from fully manifesting.  When I speak with my eating disordered clients, I use the phrase," when ED is knocking on the door, stop and ask yourself, this is interesting, what is really going on and what is out of balance?"  Become the outside "observer" for yourself, not getting caught up in the judgement, and truly listen to your inner voice - that tiny, but powerful voice.

With Love and Compassion,

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Giving Birth To My Heart

I had begun a blog on Sweets N' Treats and my fun gathering with friends, but have deferred to a much more pertinent topic and need to share such a revelation.  The past two weeks have been challenging beginning with the physical realm of chronic conditions - the significant IBS that affects energy, feeling sick, headaches, and limits my world to just attending to the daily necessities; the migraines that while debilitating, I push through the days and sleepless nights.  This is not to bring out the violin - NO - this is to illuminate how compassionate I feel for the many clients who enter my life on a daily and weekly basis with chronic conditions.

We talk about how for them, it never feels like life will get better.  Somehow, I tapped into that scary abyss myself and while it truly sucked, I had an ability to feel my physical and emotional pain and finally have some major acknowledgements.

It is so easy to blame parents and circumstances for why we are the way we are, but, as I was speaking with a therapist colleague the other day, she mentioned, the past is just to establish a base, context and understanding, but never to dwell there.  So true.  My folks so desperately did not want their only child to be hurt, spoiled - all good intentions - but the world was a scary, dark, dangerous place from my lens, and with the unrest at home, it, too, was an unsafe place to be emotionally.

From my experience, I learned to be independent, to be stoic, to create a pollyanna-like world, one in which my optimism would supersede any negativity or harm.  While talking  and blubbering with Lindsay, my oldest, last evening, I had this epiphany and it continued into yoga today.

I finally admitted that I do, indeed want to be taken care of, that I no longer want to do this on my own and have been working on establishing a medical team to do just that.  My past few years in particular, have been a great example of the failing healthcare system in our country.  I have had to pull together my team, TRY to get them to collaborate and communicate, which often did and does not happen.  I am stepping into a place of now expressing my dissatisfaction, asking for more help and feeling deserving of this care.

I am so aware how this impacts who I am as a healthcare professional.  I do care, I do create collaborative teams, I do work at creating a better healthcare system for all.  And, I will not stop!

Back to today.  At yoga, we worked hard and a lot on exposing the hear.  My immediate visual was giving birth to my heart - kinda graphic, but beautiful, both visually and metaphorically.  I have been told by countless alternative providers - massage therapists, therapists, energy workers, channelers - that my heart was broken and I learned to wall it off.  It shows up in my posture - the hunched shoulders that were to hide my fatness as a child, the mid-back tightness that has been impossible to manipulate even by some of the strongest chiropractors.

What I realized today, was that this dark period was needed to bring forth (birth) my heart, opening me up to really living, really being able to not only ask, but to receive.

I wish you all an open heart, trusting that you are whole, healed and loved.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Be Not Afraid

As I awoke this morning, I was all too aware that this is the second anniversary of my Mom's passing.  I did the usual morning routine, put the coffee on, got Tammie out to do her business and just looked at the beauty of the sky, quieting my mind for a moment to listen intently to the sounds around - the whisper of the air, the birds singing their morning songs and I thought, hmm, I want to quiet that mind enough to hear the waves gently lapping upon the shore - a good goal.

Once I came in, I thought of Mom and was easily transported back to Oct 13, 2013 - I was brought back to preparing to make the trip out to Hubbardston once again to assist my Dad with all the arrangements, feeling quite on alert and not as tired as one would think with about 3 hours of sleep.  My next focus was a song, a very favorite one, Be Not Afraid - and I began to hum it for a few moments.

All of a sudden, this past week of highs and lows came into focus.  There are no coincidences and music continues to be so powerful for me - not only as expression, but as purpose and meaning.  The words in a song, often bring to light my emotions and my thoughts put into words and melody.

As I've mentioned in previous blogs, anniversaries have a lot of meaning for me.  I am aware of these important dates up to a week before and usually awaken with reminiscences of the person, our relationship, the intent and purpose of our being together in this life.  Yup, I am a deep thinker.

My Mom was a supportive cheerleader regarding my pursuits - she brought me to my music lessons as a child, she joined my various nutrition groups and became one of the gang, so to speak.  I often gently listen to her support now, even though she is not here in the physical sense and this past week is no coincidence.

I have been working on a life-long dream since college days and came to a pivotal time when I am to really proclaim what I am "up to".  I have dreamed of having a bed and breakfast in Marblehead since I was at Framingham State University in the Nutrition and Home Economics Department back in the 70's.  I planned to cook my healthy meals and teach and support others in their process along the path to wellness.  As I've explored this opportunity  over this past year, it has grown into a retreat center and most recently, given the property that I envision as "thee place", I have learned that it must also be a non-profit.  Thus began the exploration of just what a non-profit is and does, as well as how it operates.

Of course, this is entirely new territory for me and while there is a steep learning curve, I feel guided into continuing along a path that appears, at least on the outside, either crazy or impossible.  By the end of last week, I had reached a point of sending out my letters of intent to all of the Marblehead Neck residents - easily over 500 letters copied, stamped and by Friday, I had the ego looming in the back of my head telling me that I am not prepared, have no business pursuing such big idea and the overarching theme that I continue to wrestle with - do I deserve this!

I decided to go to the post office anyway and mailed out my numerous letters.  I felt a sense of accomplishment as well as astonishment - I am proclaiming my desire to bring health, healing and support to not only a beautiful oceanside community, but to those desiring a destination retreat where their path is held sacred.

Mom, thank you for your support, not only while on earth, but in the very air surrounding me - we are all spiritual beings experiencing a mortal world.


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Offline But not Off Course

So we had this wild weather a week and a half ago and my printer was affected in the weirdest way.  First the scanner went off, then the print-computer connection, then finally, even the USB would not function.  Messages showed the wireless was working, yet the printer could not be seen.

This even stumped by PhD IT guy for over a week.  Now that I am online, able to print, send, scan, I am back in action and it took til later last evening to finish all the backlog.  What was more profound was to observe my reaction or shall we say, lack of reaction.  I was able to take things in stride, seeing this as an inconvenience, but not a disaster.  I was also very aware of how dependent we are as a society on computers and living in an instant world.  When things fall apart in the daily functioning, it is important to be creative.  I made a list of all the doctor notes that needed to be printed and mailed, I emailed the goals and treatment plans to patients and kept things moving along.  I even had to let go of a few things, such as my blogging and writing for the newspaper, but guess what, all is well!

This mentality has been spreading into other areas of my life as well.  There's the retreat project - a lifelong dream of creating a center where people can come to rest, learn, eat healthfully and immerse themselves into a world of total health-  mind, body, spirit.  This project has morphed into a very large undertaking and I was aware of the little voice in my head saying "Can you really do this", "Do you have the energy, knowledge to pursue this", "How are you going to finance this thing".  All reasonable fears and doubts, but as I continue to move forward, I talk with people who know more about specific areas and I take on what I can without allowing the mind to race too far ahead.

This all takes practice because my norm is to become filled with self-doubt, racing thoughts and an inability to move forward in areas that I have not mastered.  I find yoga and being outdoors to offer me balance.  These have really become my leverage, even on days when I don't want to do it.  I will stop and look at the end goal and readjust myself to "just do it", because it works.

Moral of the story is that there is nothing that cannot be overcome.  And often times, the strategies right in front of us are the most powerful.

Just Breathe!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Shaking and Laughter - Try It You May Become Hooked

I've enjoyed teaching and presenting for years and in the 80's, I had a fabulous opportunity to run the Health Promotion Department at my local hospital.  Since health promotion in the workplace was quite popular, I created and ran sessions on fitness, nutrition, smoking cessation and stress management at corporations as part of my overall "gig".

Fast-forward to this year and the opportunity presented itself once again and I decided to jump back into the arena.  What is interesting is that the demand has been great for stress management, depression prevention and this past week, laughter therapy.

The presentation was to include some of the science and physiological changes that occur with laughter and there was to be a practical part - doing activities that would stimulate laughter.  Immediately, I was drawn to the "shaking song" that I learned during my yoga training  a year and a half ago.

I contacted my instructor to review some of the basics and it's quite simple - an increase in oxygen to the body and brain, movement of the diaphragm which massages the internal organs, thus increasing metabolism and an increase in the "happy" neurotransmitters.  Great - this 3 1/2 minute exercise was perfect for this group of 25 young folks, stressed to the max while studying for multiple exams to achieve the license they desired.

As I prepared my presentation, I thought back about a funny story involving a holiday dinner at my home during this yoga training.  Our body-workers, now close friends, came for dinner and the owner was studying to become yoga certified as well.  Steve has multiple certifications - acupuncture, massage, other bodywork modalities, and now, he was completing his training to open a studio.

Following dinner, I invited them into the living room for some "fun".  Having everyone remove their shoes, I put on the Shaking Song and told them to follow me.  Linds, Ash and Scott were here as well and mind you, Steve and Scott are well over 6 feet tall.  We started shaking, laughing incessantly and then I ran upstairs to grab multiple scarfs and kerchiefs to create a yoga-dance effect.  We were swirling and twirling around, having so much fun!

To this very day, I smile and recall with fond memories, not only a wonderful friendship, but the fun that we all shared on that evening.

Next time, you are down in the dumps, google the Shaking Song - Marutiraya Balabhima.  You won't be down there for long!

With love and giggles,

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Birthday Reflections, Bunions, Balance and Beyond

So last week's blog was about the birthday celebration and reflection over the year as well as the upcoming exciting visualizations.  This week has been a more focused reflection of the week leading up to my birthday and what I want and need in my life and what must go!

Most of us have heard and can relate to "old habits die hard", and I am no different.  In fact, I was humbled and reminded by a dear client as we skyped last week that I looked tired.  While I preach balance, last week was anything BUT!  By the time we had skyped on Thursday, I had already had a marathon week - exciting, interesting and exhausting.  I had not planned it that way, but due to the holiday, a meeting got moved to a different evening and a Chamber meeting was planned on an evening that is rather unusual, plus there was more - you get the picture.

By Friday night around 9pm, I felt physically pretty lousy - a little headachey, definitely bloated and uncomfortable stomach-wise (my usual and most challenging symptom) and my left bunion was kicking up and became infected once again.  Hmm - what does this mean?

For any of you who read about my bunion investigation, I looked at the physical, emotional and spiritual connections in order to give me more clues about myself and my personal healing path.  How interesting that the bunion came back as a glaring reminder to stop and allow.  The left side of the body is the feminine side and is all about allowing rather than doing.  For years, I have had challenges in this arena - I am a doer and tend to forge ahead without listening to my inner voice.

By the time Saturday rolled around, my birthday, I made the deliberate choice to slow down, enjoy activities that bring me joy (the cycling, the yoga, looking out over the beautiful harbor), but what I also realized, is that I did not like the physical manifestations that went along with a week filled with activity and doing.  I may love all of those activities, but my body and my spirit are giving me very clear and deliberate messages.

It is time to not only step into, but to maintain the possibility of "physician heal thyself".  Not only do I have the tools, but I have these not so subtle reminders that another path may be more enjoyable.

Stand in your own glory,

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today I am 58 - where did the years come and go!  I am comfortably sitting with Tammie, thinking about how I want to celebrate my day and I'm finding a combo of fun (bicycling of course, hopes for a kayak ride if the clouds burn off and a yoga workshop), organizing and relaxing all coming into my vision.  Hmm, how do I fit that all in - well, that remains one of those huge mountains to overturn! Oh, and of course, I am trying experiment #2 on the almond cheese cheesecake recipe.  The first tasted good, but the texture was not creamy enough.

Attending a marketing event last night, I met many wonderful people who had or are planning to purchase my first cookbook and we were talking about "Sweets and Treats", my upcoming version.  I had the opportunity to talk about how my tastes have changed over the years, from addictive craving and consuming sugar, to now preferring more bitter/sour or just a hint of natural sweetness.  It feels so good to have more of that balance in my palate.

I've also been so very conscious of how quickly life has bounced back over this year.  Just last September, I had chemo, a massive reaction to the chemo and an additional few months of "hibernation", or at least it felt that way, due to immunosupression. Wow!  And tomorrow, I attend an open house for a gorgeous property where I am planning a retreat center for people to come and learn about clean living, while restoring their lives - mind, body, spirit - back to a place of balance.

As I visualize this sacred space, I am so excited to continue along this path and while much of the "how-to's" are completely foreign to me, I am meeting such gracious, supportive and knowledgeable people who are helping to "show me the way".  When fear, doubt and the thoughts of "Am I crazy" pop into my head, I recognize them as ego and quickly let them go.

While I do not know the outcome - what it will look like, how it will manifest into this reality - what I do know is that I am on a path with momentum - and it is this positive, forward moving energy that is created by my own life force.  Some call it Qi or Chi or Prana or Spirit.  Whatever it is, it feels right, it feels good and that is all that matters.

As you each approach your birthday, take time to reflect on your past, seeing how it has assisted your present and how it will continue to move you along your path.  It is like a whisper, so be attentive to the small signs (little miracles) that are gently moving you ahead.

With peace, joy and love,

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Like A Kid In A Candy Store

As I explored intently at the Seven Stars metaphysical book and stone store with my dear friend, I wanted to buy more books and more stones, but kept myself at bay.  I was here to assist her in her first purchase of stones and an accompanying book to learn of their origins and spiritual properties.  And, more importantly, I have way too many interests that soon become "jobs" as my girls have observed over the years,

I've often wondered about my personality and hobbies - do I ADD or do I just take every interest and claim responsibility for needing to become an expert?  Hmm, an interesting dilemma.  As I soar into regaining core energy, I do want to be more involved and have the energy to actually be involved and not just wish or want to.  This feels liberating and at the same time, there is a lesson - a very important lesson to be learned, and it is called PACE!

Part of burnout can be expressed in so many ways and have I have found that as I take on more work and more fun - actually both are the same for me because my work is fun, my battery drains.  I've decided to look more realistically at the day and give myself permission to alter my schedule as I need.  I use this process with my clients all the time and now it is time to look within, realistically assessing my capacity, not the capacity that I think that I "should have".

What a difficult and yet, not so difficult, exercise to try.   One must look at what is basically needed for survival - how much money is needed to pay bills.  What will that take in work time? Am I loving what I do and if not, are there other jobs that may bring more satisfaction into my life, further supplying the "battery" with energy?

While looking at the work part of life, it is also important to think about sleep patterns and hobbies.  Are you getting adequate sleep - the framework for fitting in all the rest.  What hobbies bring you joy?  Are you feeling that you must become an expert or can you just enjoy tinkering?  Hmm, this really brought up a blindspot for me.

I reflected and learned a lot from this question.  Play, as a child,  was not allowed until all the chores were done, and hobbies needed to be "perfected", so to speak.  I remember loving music, dressing up and putting on shows with my best friend for neighbors, family, anyone who would listen!  We charged $.02 for adults and $.01 to come to our shows.  Boy has inflation taken off!

I've wrestled to this day with the whole music piece - the other "candy" in my store of delights.  Instead of just singing or playing the guitar for pleasure, there has always been a purpose and I am revisiting this very dilemma once again.  I've been considering lessons for over a year now - to become more proficient in both guitar and piano - and am now choosing to give it a try.  Why?  Yes, I do have an amazing goal, BUT, more importantly, I want to be at a level of proficiency where I can play along with my buddies or to just pick up the guitar or play the piano for myself or at the holidays.  I recall loving that as an adolescent, which indicates that I do have the capacity to re-learn this once again.

Just a window into the amazing goal - Lindsay and Scott are getting married in a year and they have asked if I will sing and play at the wedding and reception.  What an honor and as we played tunes for over an hour last night, I became so fired up, joy-filled and excited, that I awoke this morning knowing that the lessons do not need to be a report card, but a doorway into enjoying a passion that has been with me since childhood.

Lessons from the Candy Store:
List all the hobbies and work activities that you love
Look at your capacity - sleep requirements, necessary tasks
Play around with fitting in activities that you enjoy
Monitor your "battery" - do you feel energized or drained
Go for it without judgement
Re-evaluate your "battery"

With Light and Love,

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Love: Pink and Its Meaning in Our Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Lives

As I went to my usual 5:30 yoga class last evening, the focus was on the heart chakra and relaxing the neck and upper back in order to facilitate this opening.  This remains an area of challenge for me as I spent my formative years, hiding myself, hunched over.  Oh, how I wish to have those straight shoulders with erect posture.  Good news is that with yoga and pilates, it is much better and I do look less akin to the Hunchback of Notre Dame or the turtle with an emphasized hard-shell back that over-protects the heart.

I kept this theme ongoing and chose pink stones to focus on in meditation before bed.  These stones represent love of self and others.  There is always room for redirecting the focus to love and yet, there are many challenges placed in our way to choose either the path to love or path to fear.

This morning I awoke to a spiritual saying that I have delivered automatically from TUT, Thoughts Become Things, Mike Dooley.  It’s light and deep at the same time and in an uncanny way (or not so!), is usually right on with regard to themes that I am dealing with or my clients.  It seems that there is often a “theme of the week” and this week has thus far proven so as well.  Many of my clients have elevated cholesterol – some appear to be easy fixes from a diet perspective, while others, not so easy.  Why?  They already have a clean and green diet, are exercising, seem to be doing all the right things.  So what is missing?

I’ve noticed a thread of anxiety, fear, past trauma or “heart-break” and as I was listening to Marianne Williamson’s “A Course In Miracles” workshop, she talked about needing to purify on all levels – body detoxification, mind clearing and establishing new ways of thinking, and connecting to the divine in whatever way that feels appropriate for each person.

Over and over again, these ideas and themes resonate for me and I share this from my perspective with my clients and anyone who asks.  What is most important in sharing is to be able to own one’s perspective without feeling a need to change another.  The process of sharing offers an opportunity for connection and facilitating enlightenment, but does not control the situation.
This has been a lesson for me over the years.  As I recall graduating from nutrition school, I had big ideas to heal the world and have everyone eating healthy. WELL, I have learned and softened over the years.  This is not about change, but more about being with another, hearing their story, assisting with guidance, education and support in their process toward well-being.

As I consider the take-aways from this reflection, I am drawn to a few highlights:
Bring pink into your life more – it is a fun, light color that facilitates joy and joy warms the heart

When you begin to do your “stinkin thinkin”, stop and give yourself time to re-phrase your words – choose words that are self-loving and loving towards others

Continue on your path to clean eating – mostly organic fruits, veggies, meats, fish and poultry.  Only choose organic dairy and keep it limited or use a substitute – dairy is hard to digest and there are many other wonderful sources of calcium (contact me for more information).  Use organic seeds and nuts and a little of that 85% or darker dark chocolate (great for the heart-has antioxidants).

Until next time, I send you love!  Julie

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

All In This Together – A Song – A Meaning – A Way of Life

 This was a special weekend – one that I shared with my Dad and together, we made a visit to a lifelong friend whom I’ve referenced in past blogs, Fr Steve.  Fr Steve is a priest from Graymoor, NY, the order of the Friars of the Atonement.

The founder of the order, Fr Paul, was a protestant who converted to Catholicism, but what his lifework embodied was to create an environment where “all may be one”.  I’ve been drawn to this philosophy for much of my life, have created and directed musical performances to express this message and this weekend was one that brought both apprehension and excitement, for we were visiting him in a new environment – a retirement home.

In preparation for the 12 hour round trip day that we had ahead of us, I made sure to have my tunes ready for Dad – his favorite being the music from the Swinging Steaks.  I will come back to the Steaks and the song a little later.  I also purchased a book on Audible, asking my Dad if wanted a history book or one on spirituality (my addiction!).  He said that the Course in Miracles sounded interesting, so there it was, ready for the trip.

Packed up and ready to go, accompanied by Tammie (my shih-poo) and Cookie (my Dad’s tiny little bundle of energy), we set off at 7am.  The ride along the shore of Lynn and Swampscott was beautiful – this is where my folks grew up – and we reminisced about the “good ole days”. 
About an hour or so in, I asked Dad if he wanted to listen to music or the book – he chose music – and was he surprised to hear it coming from my iphone!  My Dad was amazing with technology back in the day, but fast forward into present, and it just doesn’t click.  I think I inherited those brain cells because I constantly defer to Lindsay and Ashley for my tech questions!

The playlist that I created had many of Jamie Walker’s songs on it.  Jamie is a long-time friend, fellow musician and is lead of the Swinging Steaks band.  Over these past few years, Jamie has been exploring sound healing and some newer albums have lyrics that truly call us to go deeper, look within, finding our purpose in this mortal life.

As “We’re All In This Together” began to play, of course I started to sing along, but what was truly music to my ears was hearing my Dad sing along.  Not only did it feel so connecting to sing together, but my Dad who fostered my learning to play guitar and has always attended my performances and church services over the years, would never sing himself.  Mom did that.  This was new and it felt great!

I tend to look for these moments of connection because for me, they strengthen the common bond, reminding us that we truly are “All In This Together”. 

Next time you are googling, check out -  a truly gifted musical group and spirit-filled people as well!



Thursday, August 27, 2015

Happy Anniversary, Sad Anniversary, Remembering with Detachment

Hmm - how does one sum up years of memories - the highs, the lows and all that lies in between?  Today was my wedding anniversary with my first husband and my first real love in my life.  Sure, I had crushes before, but I fell hard for him.

In fact as today was approaching, I was thinking of and humming the song that I had the guys in the band sing for our ceremony - Just You and I, Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle.  In fact as I am writing this, I'm listening to the youtube version, smiling.

Then came a rush of sadness - how did it go down, why did it go down? I've learned so much about myself, our relationship and have grown over the years, still hoping to someday have a reconciliation that does not brush the inequities of both sides under the rug, but that starts fresh with a knowledge that the two people who entered and ended the marriage have transformed, have renewed lives and are stronger individuals as a result of that past.

Enter part two.  I had fertility issues and finally got pregnant almost three years after we married, only to have a miscarriage at 6 1/2 months with twins on yes, my anniversary.  It was a devastating situation and one that I have often wondered about the significance of.  I can say with certainty that my two wonderful daughters represent the two girls who never had the chance to come alive in this lifetime.  Their souls, at least for me, became manifest in Lindsay and Ashley, and the bond that we share as mother-daughter and they as sister-sister is so strong and loving.

As the day unfolded, I initially experienced the roller coaster of emotions, but the overarching theme was one of calm, comfort, gratefulness for being alive and well.  I felt a calm detachment - not angry.  I guess that part of the lesson is to find that place of detachment.  God knows how anger and emotion can cut like a knife.

I wish you all peace,

Friday, August 14, 2015

Lessons from a Kayak

I was determined to get that kayak out of the boat room and into the water before the season ended and today was the day!

Last year at this time, I was recovering from surgery and most Sundays, my Dad came to have lunch and we visited the various parks around town that had magnificent views of the harbor.  During one of our visits, I mentioned how someday, I hoped to have a kayak to paddle around in the water.

I love active sports and have often enjoyed kayaking with Ashley, an event that we did each Fall as the leaves were changing colors.  About a week after our visit, my Dad called and asked if I recalled the conversation about the kayak and I said yes.  Excitedly he told me that I was the proud owner of a kayak.  Wow - was I excited AND I needed to be patient, waiting until this summer to enjoy it.

First came the storage issue and my good friend Jamie, kindly offered to store it for the winter.  Then came waiting for room to become available in our boat room here at the condo.  Once that happened, I was ready to go, except one thing - the boat room door, carved out of ledge, was only 28.5 inches wide and my kayak was much wider.

Not only was the kayak wide but it was heavy.  I could not tip it up and pull it at the same time.  Searching from hardware stores to boat stores to outdoor stores, I came up with nothing.  Determined to make this work, I began my creative thought process.  Heck, I've been using hammers and nails for years and in fact, I reminisced about making a bunk bed with an underneath study desk for Ashley and with Ashley.  We had just moved into our new condo when she was in elementary school and we decided to create a funky room - painting with texture and color and making this top bunk and study below.  She had the most interesting room - one that her friends loved to visit.

I came up with an idea and went to Home Depot to talk with the guys there to gather my materials.  I came home with a dolly that was narrow enough and 4 heavy angled strappings with screws to bolt them in.

As I approached the boat room today, I was excited to launch the kayak and did just that!  It was a magnificent day with bright sun and a gentle breeze.  I felt accomplished, relaxed and energized.  I felt grateful for having learned some creative ideas from my Dad and for his gracious gift of the kayak.  I also honored my Mom'd birthday today - anniversaries are important to me - and my Mom loved the ocean, always wanting to come back to her roots here on the northshore.  Today, I felt her loving presence.  Thank you Mom and Dad!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Let Not Chronic Illness Define You

As I left my visit with one of my most esteemed docs, the words "chronic illness and disease" reverberated in my ears - not with fear, but a slight obstinance, then a knowing and release.  I did not want to hear those words and yet it has truth from a medical perspective, but oh, not so from an emotional/spiritual one.

Over the many years that I have worked in healthcare, I've been drawn to supporting people with chronic conditions ranging from diabetes to arthritis.  But to hear the words illness and disease felt a little confining and defining - only for a few moments thank God!

I came to the realization that I was fighting this possibility of having a chronic illness, expecting the magic wand to cast the completely cured spell over me.  Was I delusional or stubborn or just being self-protective?  Knowing myself, the stubborn and self-protected modes sound about right.  I have always been the strong one to get through most anything and then, sometime much later, I realize what happened.

Over the years, the stubbornness has also been referred to as stoicism and that is not all bad, and the self-protection has allowed me to remain quite functional during periods of extreme chaos.

Back to the terms and meanings.  While it may feel very limiting to be labeled with a chronic disease, it need not define one's life and capabilities.  As I look back at how resilient my body has been, I began life as an obese, sugar addicted child with multiple allergies, strep throats, skin conditions and oh yes, the stomach stuff!  Over the years I cleaned up my act , introducing cleaner food, cleaner household agents and cleaner skincare into my life and all those whose lives I touched.

The catch is that I felt a bit betrayed - how did this happen to the "healthnut"?  Well, it can happen to anyone and what is more important is how one responds to the call - victim or survivor.  Now that I can see this more clearly, I am more self-accepting of the fact that some areas of my health may never completely normalize and my new norm may not look like the old one. In fact, my older daughter, a wise woman, often reminds me of this and that it is OK, if not good, that I must learn a slower pace, one that is more balanced.

While I will continue to remain vigilant to my health, I will not be defined - no, in fact, I will not only survive, but will thrive in this new definition!


Thursday, August 6, 2015

On Forgiveness and Beyond

As I began my day, getting back into some rituals that I established about a year ago, I pulled one of the Healing with Angels cards and the title was on Forgiveness.  How appropo - I had just revisited self-forgiveness a few days before, with a cleansing sob along my bike ride and had just returned from an amazing family weekend, seeing folks that I had not seen either since my second wedding or the memorial for my second husband's passing.

My circle feels more complete as I shed the anger, disappointment, and sadness for what was not - and my orientation has always been to learn from, to understand and see the purpose of all the "shit" that happens in life.

Let's begin with a trip down memory lane on self-forgiveness.  I had just received partial info that my labs were still not great - the ups and downs of the "report card" as I have so frequently called it over these years.  Over this past month, I had also met with an astrological psychologist to look deeper into the places where I remain stuck - some over-arching themes that have been just so hard to transform - and learned so much more about my make-up and purpose in this life and what lessons I came to learn.  What has been a common theme coming from all of my alternative and intuitive treaters is that I need rest, quiet time, and time to retreat into a more contemplative mode.  The other very striking theme (all were quite profound however!) was that I see the good in people, their potential, and thus often choose relationships based on seeing this and when my partner is either unable or unwilling to live up to his/her responsibility, I become drained, over-worked and unable to sustain my center.  This is not a blame on the other, but an observation of knowing what relationships will be sustaining for both vs draining for both.

It all started to make sense now.  I began to sob on my bike ride, seeing myself as the little child trying to make up for dissension in my family, over-working in order to achieve (and that was a very strong ethic from my Dad - Good Better Best, May We Never Rest, Until the Good is Better and the Better is Best!), and choosing partners who were brilliant, talented, fun, charismatic, while having such unresolved issues that the relationships became unsustainable.

For years I had blamed myself for it all, and while cognitively I "got it", I remained stuck in repeating patterns that were self-destructive.  Once I finished sobbing, I found myself at Chandler Hovey Park - the lighthouse park overlooking the harbor - and I was calm, comfortable and felt a loving acceptance for that inner child who had been wounded for so many years.

This feeling of forgiveness lasted through the weekend when I was seeing family from my second husband who passed away 15 years ago, not knowing what people knew, thought or felt about me.  While I had resolved much of my challenging past with my husband, I did not know how others were feeling.  And what is most important is that I did not care.  Instead, I was excited to see people, to hear about their lives and to share in the happy occasion of my cousin's engagement.  It was a wonderful time on so many levels - a happy occasion of the engagement and more importantly, the feeling of love, resolve and forgiveness for self and others.

Over the years, I have looked at challenges in relationships as opportunities for growth, to understand the larger meaning of the supposed "failure" and where I remained stuck, was while feeling some anger outwardly - the normal human evolution or recovery from hurt - it was the anger pointed inside that was most lethal.  It festered, grew and for me, morphed into physical illness.

Physical illness is comprised of the emotional and spiritual self as well as the physical body.  As you face challenges that appear stubborn, dig deeper for the place where self-forgiveness is needed.


Friday, July 31, 2015

The Reminder: Do Not Be Afraid

The Universe via Unsubscribe

3:46 AM (3 hours ago)
to me

Don't be afraid. You needn't slay the beast or scale the entire mountain. That's not how it's done. You only need to move through today, Julie.

Think of the distance you've already covered. Focus on your strengths. Let each new step remind you of your freedom. Let your every breath remind you of your power. Seek out friends and guides; they're anxious to help.

You're not alone. You're understood. This road has been walked before. Dance life's dance, just a few steps at a time, and in the wink of an eye you will wonder to yourself, "What beast, what mountain? Was I having a dream?"

Love you,
    The Universe

As I drove back from UMass yesterday after spending a wonderful overnight with Ashley before she leaves for Amsterdam for a year's study abroad, I had so many different thoughts.  I am excited for her new opportunities, will miss the bonding that we've had over the summer, and began to review the week's highlights as well.  I not only have my fingers in lots of pots, so to speak, but I have these occasional moments of wondering "how", "can I", "what's the next step".  What is most interesting is that I have been led this week and let me explain a little more on this.

I have started to take steps toward my overarching vision, mission, dream, goal - you get the idea.  And during this past few weeks, I signed on with a skincare company whose mission is akin to my mine - clean products, education about chemical toxicity and illness - and I had my first focus group to discuss opening a center here in Marblehead - one that will offer relaxation, clean food and skincare, education and support, along with the rich activities that this town has to offer.

During our dinner meeting - of course I made dinner! - we tossed around clinic, spa and came upon retreat, as how I will define this entity.  I felt the acceptance and excitement of the folks who came, as well as those who could not attend but want to be part of this development.  At the same time, I am aware that before I can even propose the idea to the town or financiers, I need numbers - how much it will cost to do this.  Of course, I feel stopped and intimidated by this task.  There was some tossing and turning with vivid thinking ongoing during my less than refreshing sleep.

On my way back from the bank the next day, I drove by the travel agency and felt drawn to stop in.  I left my card for the owner and wouldn't you know, he emailed me with interest in meeting!  A little ways down the road, I decided to stop into the cafe where I had some great conversations a few months ago with the manager, but the timing was not right for her.  She was happy to see me and suggested I go upstairs to see the owner. Now for months, I could not get in touch with any of the "powers that be" in this complex, but it jut so happened that the owner is in town from Florida.  We talked on the phone later that day and will meet next week.

What is most interesting about all of this is that while fear will still come and go, I am able to listen to the quiet messages that are either deep inside or right in front of me.  Hallelujah!

While on the crest of these exciting moments, I received part of my "report card" - remember that part of life that had dominated much of last year - labs and more labs.

Well, for now, since I have been stable, my labs are spread out to about every 3 months and given my combination of results last quarter, I began an intensive supplement regimen and also met with an intuitive.  What I heard from the intuitive is that I still need rest and more self-compassion - giving to myself without guilt.  Well, this pill is probably the hardest one to swallow!

I have been more tired lately, experiencing more migraines and yet, I also am so grateful to look back at last year and see how much I have improved!  I was awaiting the results with hopeful optimism and yet, was let down partially.  The cancer markers (only partial results) look good, but my white counts are back down.  White blood cells are all about immunity, muscle, strength.

As I reflect on my white cells, I realize that indeed, I continue to require more rest and I must increase my protein even more - into a therapeutic level that even I resist!  The message that came loud and clear to me was "physician heal thyself" - and while I had a blip of feeling sad, fearful and angry - I had already ordered the protein formula, somehow knowing that this was next.

While the numbers confirmed things, my intuitive self was already directing the show.  The moral of this story is to take time for yourself - to reflect, to listen and to heal.  You can heal your body - it's all a process!

With love,

Friday, July 24, 2015

Buffered But Not Beat

How often do you make a call on the phone only to receive a recorded message, a voicemail or no option to find and talk to a live person!

Well, as I reminisced about "the old days" - wow, now I really am dating myself - the landline, attached to the wall, was the only way to make a phone call.  And if it was difficult to reach someone, the operator was always there to be of assistance.  I began to think of my Dad and how challenged he is with modern technology and also began to think about how many hours I have spent on the phone over these many months regarding health insurance issues for my daughter and myself.

Life has become so "advanced" or shall we say, removed, that talking to a human being is now foreign.  I felt a pang of sadness, not only for me, but for humanity - how we've become buffered from one another, enslaved to systems that often are broken, such as the healthcare system in our country.

While I could talk about many facets of the system, I will focus on the element of follow through and taking personal responsibility within one's domain.  It is just a year ago this month when I was in the hospital and preparing for surgery on July 25 and our health insurance had been eroneously cancelled when Lindsay turned 26.  I had been with my insurance for many years and know both sides of the insurance - as patient and provider.  I had thoughtfully chosen my insurance based on our unique needs as a family, and as my being sole provider and self-employed.

What a fiasco!  I was navigating insurance while in a hospital bed and when I came home to convalesce, I spent hours on the phone, often in tears because no-one could/would help me!  I finally contacted my state representative, who in turn, starting the ball rolling.  It did take an additional 7 months to fix the situation and as a result, I chose to use the Health Connector this year.

While I have had caring and kind customer service representatives, our insurance once again, was cancelled, I was double-billed and have spent hours on the phone only to drain my battery from being on hold for so long!  One day while Ashley was home helping me to do the Spring cleaning - another task that really dates me! - I was on the phone between departments for five hours.  I was in tears, unable to stay connected to my meditation mentor's advice that this is not reality, because it sure felt real!

What I have learned in this process and hear in other situations across the board is that one computer system does not talk to another.  Also one department or entity does not have the authority to talk to another.  In the end, we are powerless on both sides - the consumer side and the service side.

It seems to me that this buffering has created disempowerment - a lack of being able to "own" our work, to be invested in our work and to feel that we indeed, make a difference.  Technology is amazing and provides tools for enhancing the world we live in, but what is just as important is the importance of the human connection.  A computer cannot listen to one's story, cannot feel empathy, cannot completely solve the troubles of our society.  Let's take a step back and integrate the best of both worlds!

In balance,

Sunday, July 19, 2015

What A Difference A Year Makes!

Continuing along with the Oh Heavenly Day vein, I have been swept away with such wonderful life gifts this week.

Last blog focused on the upcoming surprise for my daughter, Ashley, and that went off beautifully, filled with loving family and friends.  The next morning while preparing for the day, Lindsay called and Ashley called me to the phone.  Of course, a mother's intuition immediately set in.  Yes, it was true - she and Scott got engaged!  He planned such a romantic and thoughtful way to request her hand in marriage - the Public Garden in Boston, on the bridge, with a young person playing the violin and another video taping the event.  Well, I've played this video over and over again, grinning from ear to ear.

As the week ensued, I visited beautiful properties to consider building my "dream wellness clinic" here in Marblehead, forgetting the "how to's", "can I's" and all that "stuff" that gets in the way of manifestation.  I'm on fire right now, especially since I am regaining my health on multiple levels - physically the cancer is gone while the immune system continues to reboot and rebuild; spiritually I am connected to God/Source/Energy, continuing to think of Jesus as my role model, while appreciating the other great role models as well; emotionally, I am so much less fearful about life and the path of the unknown.  How much more can one want for?

On Friday, family and friends gathered to go and hear a favorite band led by one of my best friends - Jamie Walker and The Swinging Steaks.  I met Jamie about 20 years ago in the church school where some of us gathered to begin playing in our parish folk group.  Immediately, we felt a kindred spirit and have sung and played together over the years - a true "high" for me!  Well, I have not been out to rock it for at least a few years - nightlife went away with illness.

I was back in my element - dancing all night, sweating from the movement and the laughter.  I was ecstatic - another reminder of being well, having fun and bringing dear family and friends together.  I've learned some very interesting aspects of my personality - a recent astrological/psychological reading done revealed  that part of my "life purpose" is to support and bridge people, bringing them together to feel good.  This so resonates with my core mission in life - and while I had a few major detours in life - health crisis, financial crisis, emotional/spiritual crisis - my soul has been unwavering.

Moral of the story is to take the time to reflect, listening to the quiet messages of the spirit - your spirit!

With love and gratitude,

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Oh Heavenly Day

As I walked this morning with Tammie, listening to my tunes, I heard Oh Heavenly Day by Patti Griffin.  I heard this while at a weekend retreat with my older daughter, Lindsay - one of our many "enlightenment" meetings, this time at Kripalu Yoga Center.  I immediately was drawn to spiritual meaning of the song, much like Over The Rainbow.

I thought back of a few years ago when I hosted a concert to raise money for our mental health services in Wellesley.  We experienced a rash of suicides over a 5 year period and I felt compelled to assist our community in ways that bring talent together to sing - music has a way of uplifting the soul!  I learned this song and broke out of my usual "church singer" role, enjoying being a "hipster"!

I felt chills all over - the day is just beautiful, sunny and I am living where I have always wanted to be - overlooking the ocean, with historic quaint homes, all with a story of community and courage - Marblehead has the oldest and original Navy, defending our families.

Today is a day filled with much excitement and gratitude.  First, I am pulling off a surprise party for Ashley who will study abroad for a year in Europe to learn how they ban GMO's and harmful chemicals in foods and other daily use products.  She has always somehow found out about her surprises but this is coming along without a hitch!

It is also one year ago when I was admitted to Newton Wellesley and I could not help but review this entire year, filled with such amazing gratitude for how much I've learned, how much resilience my body has and how much my spirit has stretched even to limits that I did not know even existed.  And the learning and wonder continue day by day.

It's time to chop the veggies for the festivities - please enjoy this "heavenly day" and check out Patti's youtube version.

Musically yours,

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Reaction, Experience and Perception - Or Is It The Other Way Around?

For me, it is both, depending on which end we are experiencing.  This came alive for me along the morning bike ride this week - something that I was able to do given weather and desire to be outside for my exercise.

When I used to visit Marblehead years ago to bike ride around the town, it was fairly easy to navigate the streets, but today, with increased traffic congestion and much bigger cars and vans, being in the street is not so safe, hence part of the ride on the sidewalks.

I am a careful rider, never having been a dare-devil - and this works well with sharing the sidewalk with pedestrians.  Or so I thought!  As I pulled out onto Atlantic Ave, a couple was walking along.  I slowed down, pulled over far to the right and as I approached them, the gentleman glared at me and said multiple times over, "ride on the street, ride on the street."

I just kept riding, said nothing and was on my way.  A little later on, while on Ocean Ave, I was on the street and a speed walker was approaching.  I made eye contact and this person just did not move to the sidewalk.  The traffic here can be challenging and pulling out further into the road just does not make much sense here.  We passed one another rather closely, but I felt that territorial bristle as I rode by.

I was off and running with my analysis, also being vigilent of not jumping to judgement or condemnation of the other.  I was aware of my body's response, however - increased heart rate, churning stomach, a little feeling of territoriality myself, from a self-safety place.

I did not judge this, but chose to observe and then began on my quest to understand what I experienced - glares, angry comments, no recognition of sharing space.  What does this mean?  As a unique individual, we all have collective experiences that make up part of our personality.  I am careful not to say "who we are", because this is where we can get into trouble.

We are all part of the same energy and existence - we share this common thread called life with all other beings, but what is different for us is that as humans we also interpret, perceive and act based on these perceptions.  How I see life is unique and not how anyone else does.  And how someone responds or reacts is part of the collective experiences and perceptions from that person.

Ahha - how knows what this many has experienced before when faced with a cyclist.  He may have been hit and is not just claiming the space of the sidewalk.  It may not be rudeness, but fear.  I will never know and for me, I chose to let the judgement go.  I will remain safe on my travels and will choose to breathe through these events rather than allow the stress response to take over.

Message for the day - just breathe!

Part Three of Humor in the Humanness: Brain Fog

This week has been filled with interesting client desires to not be taking any synthetic meds - a strong and demanding desire that I, too, have had for so many years, while also relying on as I call it and now embrace it, "the best of both worlds."

I now intuitive thoughts that arise as questions or thinking of someone and needing to reach out - we all have this gift, but as I take more time in this place of contemplation, it is showing up more often and with nice gifts!

I've mentioned before how there often seems to be a "theme of the week", and this was true to form. Clients were asking how they might not be on meds or how to cut down on meds and I had a few thoughts of needing to check my 3 month renewal of long-term estrogen, as this is something I must put into the calendar months ahead to stay on course.  I have such faith in my endocrinologist who, has stayed on top of my whole health - something not easily found in this day of specialized medicine.

Since I have a condition known as pituitary insufficiency, my precursors for hormones do not work ideally, thus I have needed support for my thyroid, for pregnancy and for the last number of years, for hormone replacement - something I was dead set against years ago.

Having been poked, prodded, surgically looked at as a 15 year old and many times after that, I had a "hate affair" with hormone replacement of any type.  I lost weight, gained weight, turned mad in a matter of minutes and just felt like I did not belong to my body or my brain!

I now have come full circle to embrace that modern medicine along with ancient wisdom and medicine, offers me an opportunity to live as balanced as I am able, and for that I am thankful!

As I approached this week, wondering about this medicine, I was also feeling forgetful, having more brain fog and increased heart palpitations.  Voila, the time was right - my body knew what I needed - and for me, embracing the "best of both worlds", allows me to live my life more fully.

Listen to your inner wisdom.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ponderances Along the Bike Ride

It has been a remarkable few days with bits and pieces of ah-ha moments along the way.  The highlight was "choosing" to ride my bike early this morning, before a full day of clients.  The sun was shining and I just really knew that being out in nature was where I wanted to be.

To step back a bit, as I have been approaching July, my awareness has been drawn to coming up on a year anniversary of my hospitalization, surgery and chemo.  It all started on July 5 with a migraine, July 6 with a pain in my left hamstring and July 12 with the admission to the "Newton Wellesley Hotel", as I renamed the hospital!

Wow - what a year it has been and I am so aware of my healing journey, how far I have come and how much more there is.  Truly, this is a work in progress on so many levels.  Just last week I was at a 3 day conference about being a leader and a change agent in the world - a lofty, but tangible goal.  What I also realized is that while I have been traveling more these past few months, I also require recuperation time.  I became very aware of that last night when I needed to give into a nap and to go to bed early.  I began to think of the past and how I could just "blow through" anything like a whirling dervish, but quickly realized that I am creating the "new norm" for myself as well as for my clients.

I gave in, nourished myself with needed rest and again nourished myself with a bike ride before work today, giving thanks for living in such a beautiful town.  I used to come here on days off to enjoy this town as recreation or vacation and now, I can "recreate" anytime I want.  The lesson here is to do just that, starting with today's experience.

Along the way, I thought of a few phrases and songs that my Dad used to mention - "One Day At A Time" and " Don't Worry Be Happy".  My Dad has always used humor to get through life and I now see how it has helped to keep him active and involved.

This day and this moment is all we really do have, and so cherish it and live it as you wish!

With gratitude,

Friday, June 19, 2015

"You Got Mail" - So Connected Yet So Out Of Touch

I often find myself grumbling over the lack of courtesy, recalling the days when Dear Abby and Ask Beth were read weekly to ensure that manners mattered!

Well, I have this conversation with my family - the different age groups pondering what is right and wrong with the current state of affairs and then had "an awakening" earlier this week.  It's not about right and wrong, but about how much input the human brain can handle at any one time.

While having my hair trimmed for the biweekly television taping, I asked my hairdresser if he had received my email/flyer invitation to an event that I was running and he laughed saying, "wait a minute and let me show you my phone."  He went on to say that he was new to the iphone, but that he does not use email because it is overwhelming.  As he pulled up his emails, there were 27,000 unread messages!  Yes, you got it - 27,000.

All of a sudden, the right/wrong, good/bad was swept away.  I realized that while technology is an amazing asset, it can be overwhelming and different modes are more comfortable for different people.  Just as I have gotten comfortable with email and some texting, I am now told that I need to be doing twitter and instagram - OMG, I can hardly keep up.

In my own life, the area that brings me much distress is keeping up with incoming data as well.  Do I read all the medical literature, do I answer everyone who reaches out, how do I prioritize this never-ending sea of mail?

While I do not have all the answers, I can offer this - set aside time to manage your emails, letting people know if you even do respond; get off lists that you do not want to be on and most importantly, set a time limit to be seated at the computer.  We are meant to be out in nature to balance this over-stimulation with the calm that only nature can bring.

Heading out on that bike for a little balance myself!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Pondering Sweets and Treats and Taste Buds!

Since I published Feel Great Look Great - Balanced Eating for a Balanced Life, I have been asked when my dessert book would be ready.

I have been adjusting recipes for years now, latest changes being in the gluten-free and paleo departments.  Of course, I use my family as guinea pigs - a job they do not mind at all!  What's great about having them as taste-testers is that each one has differing preferences when it comes to desserts and snacks.

My older daughter, Lindsay, inherited my love for sugar and fat together - the peanut butter and chocolate type person - while Ashley has always been a more savory, salty person, preferring chips and even bacon as a snack!  Scott, Lindsay's boyfriend, does not prefer intense sweet except on occasion and his birthday request for this year is in fact, baklava - surely no low sugar dessert!  He also tends to have oral allergy symptoms, so I must think about cooking fruits, avoiding certain nuts etc.

Last evening, I finally sat down to compile my initial list of recipes that I have either already perfected or ones that I want to adjust in order to fit into my acceptable range for sugar, fiber and calories.  Of course, all ingredients are now organic and nonGMO, even down to the sugar that is used.

I also realize how much my own taste buds have changed over the years - going from a sugar-addicted junkie to someone who does not prefer sweet, but a bit more sour and bitter.  In fact, I have only met one other individual who loves 100% dark chocolate over sweetened varieties!  I have my square every day and the polyphenols and antioxidants are great for heart and brain health.

In fact, dark chocolate is a good source of fiber, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, potassium, selenium and more.  These benefits are in about 100 grams dark chocolate, not more!

I'm looking forward to this next creative venture and will keep you posted for Sweets n' Treats that not only satisfy the palate, but also provide nutrition for the body and soul!


Friday, June 5, 2015

Creativity in the Kitchen: A Spiritual Moment

As I gathered my ingredients for my concoction this morning, I felt such gratitude and excitement for what I was going to not only taste, but also for the nourishment that my body was about to receive.

The colors and textures are beautiful - orange, fuscia, green, varying shades of warm browns and rustic red - colors that also have significance with regard to the chakras and energy frequency, that helps one to attune the body for receiving and giving.

While this sounds a little like something from a sci-fi movie, it is the world that I have embraced even more deeply over this past year - connecting what we can see, touch and explain with the divine and unexplainable.

Back to reality.  I now shift to the humorous statement that my best friend has said jokingly over the years - "You have no taste buds!"  While my taste buds have gone from being addicted to the overly processed junk foods of America to the pure, untouched taste of real food, I also know that in this process, my taste buds now seek all flavors - sweet, salty, bitter and pungent.  I try to satisfy these in my meals and concoctions, as I call them!

One example of faking the body's energy conservation mechanism, or shall we just call it weight gain, is the use of artificial sweeteners.  Humans love sweet and part of this is about survival.  "Mother's milk" is sweet and all animals are drawn to feeding in order to survive.  When one imbibes sugar or a non-caloric sweetener, the pancreas prepares to secrete insulin - even without the calorie intake - because sweet tells the brain that carbohydrate is coming.  The net effect of insulin production is calorie conservation or weight gain, especially in the stomach region!

So what does this have to do with my breakfast?  The balance of tastes - sweet, salty, bitter and pungent - helps the body to self-regulate.  This self-regulation, in turn, allows one to be balanced, aligned, connected on all levels - physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Enjoying a feast with all of our senses is the most powerful way to remain centered and balanced.

Consider trying my delicious combo and adjust components based on where your taste buds may be.  I grew up sugar addicted and only in the past 10 years, no longer desire sugar, so I prefer bitter and pungent, BUT, if you are starting where I was, be gentle or you may not stick with it.  As I told one of my new clients yesterday, it may taste like corrugated cardboard, but you'll learn to love it!


In a bowl:
1 Tbl good quality organic protein powder
1/4-1 tsp Maca
1/2-1 tsp cocoa powder
cinnamon - I like a lot!
stevia if just starting out
stir together and mix in 1-3 tbl coconut milk or I now make coconut milk kefir
chopped carrot and/or apple
chopped avocado
1 tbl of your favorite nut or seed butter
1 tbl nuts
sprinkle of goji berries
more cinnamon!