Monday, March 30, 2015

Music, Spirit, Community and The Passion

It is day after a long musical adventure with my dear friends and esteemed musicians.  It is also the beginning of Holy Week, a reflection of the last days of Jesus' last days on earth, a week that has held much meaning for me for many years.

While being raised traditionally catholic and ministering in the church as a cantor (yes, catholics use cantors as well as does jewish tradition to support sung prayer within the community gathering), I have been following a more eclectic route these past few years.  I do not denounce my religion, but am more drawn to the spiritual essence that each has to offer and I love spiritual music of all genres.

Yesterday was especially meaningful for a variety of reasons - I feel very connected to Jesus' purpose in his life on Palm Sunday, I love the music that we sing, my Dad and daughter Lindsay there to participate in Mass (my Mom and Dad would always come to hear us on Palm Sunday, supporting me and the girls as we participated in singing), I was at my former church which I often referred to as my second home AND the homily that Fr Hehir presented was so rich and thought-provoking as always.

St John's has been a very cutting edge parish for many years - always embracing all faith communities, supporting the process of exposing the priest scandal and not hiding behind power and authority - a theme as you know from many of my blogs that is near and dear to my heart!

As we sang, I felt that connection of being one with the universe - that feeling that Jesus talked about, as well as my meditation mentor - to not only visualize our human connection with others and all of earth's living organisms, but to feel it in the heart.  Music can do this for me and I have been told that I bring this to others.

I am finally able to accept this gift of voice - knowing that I have a voice that connects me to others - and I am able to shake off the critical voice in the back of my mind that tells me "You'll never be good enough".  Profound movement in self-acceptance.

When mass was over, we had dinner in the social hall - all organic, nurturing food, and then proceeded upstairs to record some songs that I hold close to my heart.  While not easy to choose just a few, it is a start and a dream that I have had for years.  My dear talented musician friends took time out of their busy schedules to make this happen and for that I am so grateful - same as the title of one of our songs - Grateful!

It was a long evening, but so fun and what made it so fun is that my close friends were with me doing what we love, the music had such meaning and purpose AND I was not judging if it would be perfect.  Technically, it will not be because we were in a church and not a studio, BUT, on that spiritual level, indeed perfect.

My hope for you all during this time of Spring and holy seasons within a few traditions, is that you begin to shake off the perfectionism, listen to some music that heals your soul and as you look into the eyes of another, know that we are all one.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Nutrition in the Firing Range: Time for Resolution or Revolution

The past two weeks have been quite eventful for the dietetics profession.  Our governing agency, The American Dietetic Association chose to support/endorse/align with Kraft's Healthy Kids initiative, thus supporting the use of Kraft cheese as a healthy food.

For many of us, this collaboration was not something that we would have agreed to, especially given that the cheese is highly processed, contains many chemicals and unhealthy fats.  In fact, the ADA rarely asks its members what they think and what companies align with the values of health.

As the emails poured out about leaving the association, I was struck with how entrenched people were on both sides and how angry and emotional responses were to the governing folks at ADA. My reaction following the shock of such an endorsement was to wait a few days for emotions to settle, to read how the ADA responded to dissatisfied members and to then formulate my letter.  I will include my letter in this blog because it supports who I am and how I operate.  This is not to say that I am right and others are wrong - there is no right or wrong - only an endpoint desire.  As a person, community, nation, world, do we want peace and collaboration or revolt that further divides?

I truly believe in clean, organic, nonGMO food and our country is certainly lagging in that area, but we need to find ways to repurpose some commodities.  Instead of processed cheese that can stay on the shelf for months, we can educate people about organic cheeses that must be consumed in a shorter time, and that these organic cheeses do not contain hormones that increase the risk for certain cancers.  Yes, it is time for all of us to take responsibility to get back to basics and while this may be less convenient in the short run, it will create a healthier environment for ourselves and our future generations.  

And as we approach "hot topics", consider taking time to listen to both sides, to not react, but rather thoughtfully consider the best interest of all involved.  A peaceful resolution will support a world that exists in harmony,

In peace,

March 23, 2015

To Whom It May Concern:

I have chosen to wait before sending my letter of concern about the recent Kraft issue because I wanted emotions to settle, to hear both sides and then to formulate my opinion.   I have read the article, the various discussions and comments about this situation and must say that I feel very strongly that establishing alliances in any way with companies that provide processed foods with multiple chemicals in them, is not an acceptable message to be sending to the general public.  There is mounting research and evidence to show that these highly processed foods are contributing to the nation’s obesity epidemic as well as other illnesses and health concerns.

A recent viewing of Fed Up, not only reinforced my practice style, but clearly showed how these food companies are really not looking into the best interest of the population, but are more interested in monetary gain and power.  This is just not right!

I also feel that words are “poised”, creating a semantic dilemma for many – especially the uneducated and confused public.  Words like alliance, endorsement, “seal of approval”, support etc.

I have always been proud to be a dietitian, continue to love what I do and want to be represented as a healthcare professional, not a quick fix option with multitudes of side effects – akin to the pharmaceutical industry.  “Cure for the short-run, but kill in the end.”

My desire is always collaboration and I sincerely hope that our organization can work towards listening to all, sharing opinions and making decisions in the best interest of humanity.

Thank you for taking the time to read our letters.

Julie Freeman

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Cinderella: Then and Now

Last Sunday was yet another snowy day here in Marblehead.  Since we've had over 4 feet in the past 6 weeks, what's another 3 inches!  Ashley was home on Spring break and we decided to go to our little hometown theater to see the new version of Cinderella.

The setting was beautiful as was the cinematography.  The characters also fit their respective roles so well.  In this movie, the family dynamics were displayed - a loving mother, father and daughter who truly enjoyed and respected one another.  The father traveled in his work and mother took ill when Ella was but a teen.  When she passed, Ella and her father became even closer, and yet his work took him far and abroad, at times for  many months.

Mother left the message with Ella to "have courage and be kind".  This, Ella never forgot and while she was sad, her spirit was not broken.  As time moved on, Father remarried and while he remained true to his character, his second wife was seeking money and security, wanting to remove all remembrances of the first family.  When Father passed, she became bitter and angry, projecting her anger at Ella, making her become servant and not kin.  Her nickname, Cinderella, came from becoming dirty from cleaning the fireplace ashes.

Upon meeting the prince, Cinderella remained a strong woman, knowing that all beings are meant to be treated with kindness, respect and love.  The prince felt this way as well, but was burdened by the lifestyle of being royal and needing to maintain an image.  (How interesting to see both sides more clearly - it is often easy to feel compassion for the poor, but what about those who must keep up an image and not be true to themselves!)

As the movie continued, messages of courage, fairness and being true to one's heart desires were exemplified.  I felt compelled to watch the original because it was not how I remembered it at all!  The ending was powerful as well - Cinderella suggested that we see the world not as it is, but rather as it could be - seeing the good in all.  She listened to the burden of her stepmother and forgave her.

As we left the movie theater, there was lively discussion about the psychology, the setting, the characters - not unlike any movie or documentary that we view in our family.  We enjoy looking for the layers of messages - the physical world, the emotional context and the spiritual meaning.  We both felt that it was important to watch the original Disney cartoon, and did so that evening.

What a difference between the original and new version.  I refer to this change as "concept evolution."  The original movie began with the evil stepmother imposing upon and imprisoning Cinderella.  Emphasis was on the outer trappings of life - money, status, beauty - with no introspection  of the characters.

How nice to see this "concept evolution" in the modernized version of the movie.  In fact, some of the popular movies of recent years, are revealing the "heart" of the person, showing integrity, compassion and purpose.

Can't wait for the next remake!
In fantasy,

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Effort and Ease

As I settled into yoga class yesterday morning, I was aware of not having had enough sleep, of having a long ride to pick up my daughter and of knowing that rush hour traffic was part of the deal.  And yet, there was an excitement to the day.

At 2am, I was awakened by the beep of one of my alarm detectors - the battery was dying.  Swiftly, I took out the step stool and began unscrewing the downstairs, then the upstairs smoke alarms, only to find that neither was the issue.  Soon, I honed in on the problem - it was the CO2 alarm.  Upon reading the directions, I pressed in on the button and the alarm starting ringing.  OMG, not wanting to wake the neighbors, I pressed in the button and thankfully it stopped.  About a minute later, the periodic beeping began again.

By this time, I was frustrated, fully awake and hunted down a 9V battery, thinking this would remedy the situation, but NO, the periodic beeping continued.  I tried another 9V to no avail.  It was now close to 3am and I needed to be up in a few short hours if I wanted to go to yoga before the long ride.  I decided to put the detector in a bag and out on the porch.

I could still hear the beeping as I focused on my breathing and went back to sleep, awakening  at 5:45.  Usually this interrupted sleep would do me in for the day, but I felt good.  I read my daily color card and it was white - a message of light and to "lighten up".  How appropriate - I chuckled as I thought about my choice for mood for this day.  I could choose to be grumbly or I could choose to feel good about treating my body well before a long ride, as well as to feel the excitement of seeing Ashley following her five weeks back at school.  I was very aware that I was indeed choosing!

As I embraced my mat, fully present, the message that the instructor talked about was the balance of effort and ease.  I felt it in my postures and felt it in my thoughts and emotions.  Something really clicked and I was grateful.

During the drive to UMass, I continued to ponder this concept and recognized how I have shifted.  My old self would "muscle through", be stoic and heroic - and while this behavior has some merit, it also can be very detrimental when overused.  Life, health and true wellness is really about balance or homeostasis in the scientific world.

We often hear these terms, understand them cognitively or on an intellectual level, but it is in embodying them and feeling them, that our body and soul can integrate them into our being.  Yoga and the breathing involved provides a platform for this transformation.

I offer to you to these key words - effort and ease - what do they mean to you?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Create, Send It Out, Lose Attachment

What an interesting few weeks it has been, although that seems to be how my life goes - never a dull moment!  For the past fifteen years since my husband passed away, I was advised to purchase my own disability policy since I was a single mom, a self-employed person and did not have support coming in to assist with raising my girls.

While I never suspected to become ill - after all, I had abundant energy, rarely got sick, did all the "right things", so to speak - the reality was that I was not invincible and I sure had a lot to learn about balance and self-love.  I did become ill and I did need to use partial disability for the past two years.

My policy ended on March 1, thus the buffer that has helped me to stay afloat is now gone.  Given that I was out of work for most of the summer and early Fall, I requested a short extension of about six months, only to find that it is not possible unless I am fully disabled.  Not only am I not fully disabled, but I remained very involved in my "lifework" as I call it - my call to service of my clients and continued learning about mind-body-spirit healing for self and others.

Thankfully, I am very immersed in the process of positive manifestation.  The seeds were planted when I went to Germany for alternative cancer treatment, were again brought up with my lyme treatment and once again with my spiritual coach of present.  He keeps me in my integrity by emphasizing, supporting and gently mandating that I MUST meditate morning, noon and night.

For me, quieting the mind has been oh so challenging.  Not only does my mind tend to have a constant chatter, but it can really rev up the anxiety level with the "shoulds", "hows", "whens" and any other word that brings one away from being present.

I have a daily list of powerful phrases to repeat over and over and I have been calm through this transition.  Every day I am visualizing my ideal life, seeing the components of what this looks like, and every day I am reaching out to network with like-minded folks about health, wellness, food, skincare.  I know that I am manifesting my dreams, but what I don't know is how they will show up and exactly when.

The catch here is interesting and funny - an ahha moment for me.  Being a Virgo, I am so much my sun sign and often laugh about how uncanny it is that I embody each of the qualities - the positive and the not so!  Virgos are analytical, driven, critical-especially of self, concrete and rigid.  There are wonderful qualities too, but for this writing, the descriptives aforementioned have more meaning.

What I've learned over this period of time is to visualize with all the details and then trust that it has been heard and will manifest.  In religion, the discussion is about trusting in God and in other spiritual traditions, it is about trusting spirit or the higher intelligence.  The idea is to lose fear, to not get caught up in the details, but to state one's desires and let it go.

While I have learned from many years of financial challenges is that I have always survived, have always been taken care of and I know how to be resourceful.  I am not afraid and after the first few days of knowing the reality of a buffer being gone, I have entertained many calls and emails from networking that was started before the holidays.  Many folks are quite interested in what I am doing and want to partner in some capacity.  Isn't it interesting how prayer is answered.  While still not quite there, the process is unfolding and life is still abundant and exciting.

My wish for you is to create - let your mind fantasize about your true desires - your purpose in this life to live, love, give back, and to then send it out into the world, knowing full well that your wishes are answered, not as you might expect, but as you need.