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!