Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve - A Reflective Eve

I was invited to a service in my complex this evening - in fact the Ward Room is where Lindsay and Scott were married just four months ago.  I have not been there since that beautiful day in August, but the view of the harbor is still breath-taking and the memories, endearing.

The invitation intrigued me as the service was to be offered by a Sufi minister, representing the unity of various religious and spiritual traditions.  The concept of unification is so much a part of my life in many aspects - I strive to bring together various ways of thinking, being and living, with the intention of creating and spreading peace and harmony.

The service was lovely and I felt badly that I needed to leave before it ended because my next event is a satsang at a local yoga studio.  We will practice yoga by candlelight, chant and meditate as one.  I am so excited to share in this tradition as well because the postures, readings and reflections always touch a part of my life that either needs cleansing, uplifting or healing, AND, it offers me opportunity to share these teachings with my followers.

As I dawn my yoga pants, I feel blessed for the many gifts in my life and grateful for the grace to accept challenges with an open heart.

I wish you all a peace-filled New Year, one that offers bright new beginnings.

With love,
Julie

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Blessings

Christmas 2016 is a different, yet blessing filled season.  For many years, our family had a strong tradition - my girls and I sang the two Christmas Eve masses at our church, then we filled the car with presents, our dog and for some years, our hamster - singing carols all the way to Gram and Gramp's home in the woods.  When we arrived, they had chinese food ready for the hungry singers!  It became a staple to enjoy chinese food since it was the one cuisine that was open and often quite busy on Christmas Eve.

Over the past few years, things have changed - I was ill, then Mom, then Mom passed away, now Linds and Scott married and there has been illness in the family.  Yet with these life experiences, one thing has remained strong - love for one another and understanding the true meaning of Christmas.  As the Grinch so eloquently states, Christmas does come packaged up with boxes and bows, yet the heart and spirit are what the true meaning is all about.  (we watch the Grinch every season)

Since my Dad can no longer drive distances, we traveled out a week ago to bring his gifts and to surprise him with a sing-along at the retirement home that he will eventually move into.  It brought back memories to my Dad for when he played Santa and I would sing and play guitar with my best friend, Jeanne.  We have been doing this since middle school - boy am I getting old!

On Christmas Eve, Ashley and I sang with our choir in Marblehead - it felt so good to sing songs of joy, peace and love.  Fr Steele, our new pastor, talked about how Pope Francis celebrated his 80th birthday this week and he hosted breakfast and lunch for the poor and homeless in Rome.  His homily reflected upon how we can exemplify the meaning of the birth of Jesus by giving of ourselves.

As was already in our plan, Ashley and I went on Christmas morning to a local American Legion to help pack up meals for the poor.  While there, we met such a warm and loving group of people - young and old, all together to celebrate bringing joy to those less fortunate.  We left there feeling so good.  The day was bright, sunny and crisp.  I took her to Singing Beach, a magnificent golden nugget on the northshore.  There were many people there with their dogs frolicking along the sand.  We walked and talked and Ashley did some yoga poses on the rocks.  It was fun and refreshing.

When we arrived home, we made homemade chinese food.  We chopped, sliced, diced and whisked together amazing flavors and I was able to share my cooking skills with her - something that is so near and dear to my heart.  Feeding others with love is something I learned as a young child, standing on the chair when little, helping Mom in the kitchen.  I went on to continue with my interest in food, thanking my college education for the influence of home economics in the delivery of nutrition services.  Feeding the body is akin to feeding the soul.

Today is Monday and we have the opportunity to repeat celebration with Linds and Scott.  We will share another family traditional meal and share the love that we all have for one another.

While the Christmas season does not end until January 6, my season will continue throughout the year - feeding the bodies, minds and souls of those I encounter.

Wishing you all the blessings of the season,
Julie

Monday, December 12, 2016

Joy

The word keeps ringing in my ears and is all around in my listening, my singing, my sight.  As I lay on my yoga mat last week, feeling the pain of family distress, most of it out of my control, I heard the words "Joy" repeated as my yoga mentors read from various texts.

I then listened to the gospel and homily at church and was again reminded of how Jesus stated, "That my joy be with you and your joy be complete".  It felt so reassuring, so timely and while life has been challenging over these past few weeks, deep inside I have been able to trust, to remind myself to "Let Go and Let God."

It has not always been this way and I can fall into old patterns of wanting to fix things, to rescue others from their pain and yet, my mentors have provided me with tools that I have been practicing over and over again, now to test and take flight.

In fact, I used this analogy with my family member - think of a tiny, baby bird, ready to take its first flight.  There is fear, there is likely a few falls, but with practice, the bird does indeed take flight.

It is innate for all living beings to heal, to move towards wholeness, to be held by God, spirit or however we call this miraculous support.  For me, this brings Joy.

May you find, peace, joy and love as we enter the final days of a holy season or just the end of a year.

With love,
Julie

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Wishing All Well With No Attachment

How difficult that can be at times! I've been on a roll with the TUT reminders during these past few weeks.  I find it sometimes uncanny how the themes are just what I am needing to look at or possibly transform in my own life or it is a theme of the week with my clients.

" In all things, Julie, always and forever, simply wish the best for all involved, without stating what you think that is.
And then, whatever does happen, no matter what happens, know that it was.  All the best, The Universe"

We are coming upon a major holiday where gratitude for what we have and for those in our lives is to be celebrated.  Thanksgiving is the start of a month-long string of opportunities - spiritual holidays and the New Year.  Beyond that, we will have a new president with an unknown approach to leading our country.

It is part of the human condition to think and feel that one knows best, but do we really?  Knowing is an interesting word because it appears to be an absolute, yet it is important to recognize that in this vastness of knowing, there is the arena of what we don't know!  Wow - what a tongue twister.  My point here is that in life, circumstances occur that we may label as good or bad and yet, we do not know definitively if this is the case.

When I look over my life, the beautiful and the challenging experiences, I accept and embrace them all, seeing now how they played out beautifully for my own growth and development as a spiritual being.  I used to joke with my friends and family that if I had looked in my crystal ball back in my 20's, I'm not sure that I would have signed up!  Then, I state, I'd have it no other way.  It has been through joy and pain, that my heart has grown in compassion.

As we come upon the holiday season, I'll recite a phrase from "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" - "And his heart grew three sizes that day".
Amen

Friday, November 11, 2016

Are You An American? First, I Am Human

Another fabulous quote from TUT this morning and I needed to write my blog sooner than the weekend!

"These are the times, Julie - when hopes are dashed and chaos abounds - that golden opportunities, prized ideas, and new friends emerge into the view of all, but at first are seen only by the few who look. 

Let's go crazy, 
    The Universe"

I've never been a political person and in fact, recall, really disliking the class in High School, to the point where I remember my teacher and the exact room and seat that I sat in!  I found it hard to memorize and grasp the ideas, more favoring math, science and music.

My political information comes from WNPR when I am in the car and I do not watch television - too much chaos, trauma and generally focused on what's going wrong rather than the big picture of the many positive experiences in life.

Media can instill fear and fear creates an easy medium for those in charge to make decisions that are not necessarily spiritually focused.  I have had the honor of speaking at Babson College, a presitgious Boston area college and they have created programs emphasizing spirituality in business.

As part of my next chapter in my work, I look forward to aligning with executives in order to foster not only self-care on multiple levels, but also to influence how they bring this into business and industry.

I've also begun a year-long course in Astrology and as I coalesce concepts that I resonate with, this is indeed a time of chaos, basically an undoing or fall of what was and with this lies opportunity.  We DO have opportunities to recreate not only an America, but a world of peace and harmony.

This will require discipline to listen to our own inner needs, coming from a place of love and not fear, recognizing that there is enough material and energy for all and to use this time of uncertainty to reflect and not react.

Yes, I am an American, but I am first human and I hope to be one small voice and one small beacon of light to assist in a new emergence of humanity.

Sending peace and love to all,
Julie



Sunday, November 6, 2016

Understanding Our Young Adults With Compassion

As I awoke to this morning’s personalized saying from TUT (The Universe Talks), I was reminded of this theme that has been showing up in my office and life for the past month, since around the time that school started.  This is not an uncommon theme for me when living life and working with clients.

“You can rest assured, Julie, that those who have hurt you had absolutely no idea of what they were doing nor what might come from it.

It never occurred to them that you'd become even more magnificent. That they'd be invoking your sympathy, adding to your compassion, and increasing your "sparkles." And it will still be eons before they can grasp that you actually welcomed them into your life for some of these very reasons.

Cute.

Love you with all of my heart,
    The Universe”

I’ve been working in in the areas of nutrition, mental health and eating disorders for many years and keep abreast of the current literature on mind-body and early influences/social aspects for the clients that I work with.  I have long been either on staff at schools and colleges or have been a guest presenter.   I love working with young people because there is such opportunity to assist in allowing the development of positive markers – self-esteem, feelings of capability and the list goes on.

Interestingly (but not coincidentally), I have journeyed through these themes in my early childhood, often bullied and called “Fat Fern” (my last name was Fernekees).  I was then plagued with the ups and down with weight from hormonal disorders and medications that morphed into my own distortions about my body.  While I never had a frank eating disorder, my thought process was very much akin.

Anxiety, yes, from exposure to early childhood disruptions and a family history – likely a combination of  genes and modelling behavior.

In my adulthood, I chose to take these early traumas and to learn about them, assisting others in their own journey.  Not uncommon when one opens up to learning about, facing and transforming these issues, they show up with even bigger hurdles to face.  My beautiful girls experienced a lot of early trauma – many moves, one father with mental illness and another who died very early – and the stage was set for seeing the world as unsafe and unpredictable.

As we now know, these early experiences diminish the capacity for the brain to make adequate and balanced levels of NTs (neurotransmitters).  As we journeyed both traditional and non-traditional treatments, I often tested their neurotransmitters, supported their diet and exposed both of them to wonderful therapists.  Life went along nicely until college.

My older daughter faced six suicides before graduating HS and had another close friend shot and killed in a robbery just prior to going back for her junior year in college.  This totally changed her trajectory.  My younger daughter was witness to this and became involved in a state recognized peer mentorship group, Adolescent Wellness, a group that I became involved in on an advisory level.  My girls also faced multiple moves, our family dog, Krissy, who was deeply loved, having to move due to no pets allowed in an apartment and my second husband died, all within a 4 month period.  Talk about “Adjustment Disorder”!

All throughout this tumultuous time, I gathered information, supported my kids and found that my practice was full of these issues – different story, same emotional roller coaster.  And often, kids were insensitive. 

One major challenge is being a student away from home, often for the first time – new surroundings, unpredictable experiences, bonding/security issues – and possibly low self-esteem with early traumas.  When these conditions are together, the stage is set for misunderstanding on both sides.  This can be tricky because both sides need to feel heard and understood before the education, or I prefer “enrolling” begins.  This is not uncommon in the early months being away at college.
Most of the time, there are valid issues on both sides, but if one person has grown up sheltered with  basic needs met, there will be no context for understanding how the person challenged with anxiety may perceive danger and a lack of connection.

Before healing can begin, these elephants in the room need to be exposed.  Once this occurs, there is an opportunity for neutral discussion and working through the misperceptions.  I’ve navigated these conversations in my office, on the college campus and truly love the opportunity to bring people together in order to heal and move onto thriving.

There is a wonderful book series, “The Five Love Languages”, written by therapist, Gary Chapman, and I have used this in my practice now for a few years.

The motto of the story is that we all have the same basic needs - some get them met early on, while others may have delays.  Let us move forward to embrace and support one another on this planet.
With healing energy,

Julie

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

And The Prescription Is Play

As I left my meeting with one of my gurus on Friday, we hit upon a powerful aspect of my personality and what can become the tipping point into the abyss of negativity.  I have a voracious desire to learn, to integrate and to make this knowledge cohesive and available to others.  I use my personal journey through the hills and valleys in order to have a concrete understanding and reality-check before disseminating my “findings”.

In my journey, I learn, read, process, listen attentively and then hit a wall – a wall of complete mental and physical exhaustion, often find myself watching my mindless shows for about 40-60 minutes.  The catch is that there is tremendous guilt in “doing nothing”, in indulging in a purpose-less activity.  This nightmare is not only increasing my exhaustion, but the ghosts of self-doubt emerge and I’m off and running with the following:  “I’m not good enough”, “I’ll never know enough”, “How will you heal your patients”.  Ugh – not a pretty site.

Fortunately, these phases have become shorter, but as I continue to “peel the layers” of my own onion, I am aware of these few remaining hooks that have been with me forever.  I am also able to use my “outside observer”, the phrase that I use over and over again with my clients, in order to be less stuck in the feelings, aware that it is uncomfortable, but also knowing that this is not me, but my conditioning.

Oh that conditioning!  It comes not only from our parents, but from anyone and any circumstances that have been in our lives generally before the age of seven.  It has been often stated in the psychological literature that the Jesuits knew this hundreds of years ago and would state, “Give me a boy before the age of seven and I’ll give you a man.”  This model has been used throughout psychological studies to help us understand how much conditioning and early life experiences shape who we are today.

Enough of the philosophy and psychology, now more of the personal piece.  I’ve shared in past blogs about being the “only child” whose parents wanted to make sure that I was not the “spoiled only child”.  And indeed I was not.  I received remakes, hand-me-downs and Mom, an amazing seamstress, made some of my clothing out of curtains because her “allowance” was very meager.  While well-intentioned and coming from an intended place of love, looking at it with expanded vision, I see how fear was really the driver.  In fact, fear is often the driver in our lives.

Doing tasks and chores at an early age have certainly helped with challenging circumstances that I’ve experienced in my adulthood but what was missing was the vital role that play and imagination are equally important.  I’ve become an expert task-master, often seen as a high achiever and a dependable person, but at what expense?

The journey back to re-learn how to play is not an easy one, but it is well-worth the effort!  On Monday, I had a list of patient-related and business-related tasks to do, but I also had just come off from a long weekend of training in genetics, knowing that I would need time to decompress.  Oh, but the brain was telling me, no, there is no time for play, yet my heart was pounding even louder telling me that I must turn to love and not fear.  It is often stated in various scriptures of many spiritual texts, “live like a child of God”.

Combining my work on Friday with Kristina with my spiritual phrases, I took time with Tammie to play fetch at the park.  It had been such a long time since we played like this outdoors, that she forgot to bring it back to me in the beginning.  Soon, we were both frolicking and feeling playful.
My message to you all is to face those inner demons and lighten the load with balance and fun in your life!

Tiptoe Through The Tulips,

Julie

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Magic and Music

It began on Friday evening at my former church, St John's, which I often referred to as my second home.  I was delayed in traffic getting there but felt quite calm about it.  I knew that I was prepared and that all would be well. I had also used my Grounding Essential Oil which has Vetiver, a potent relaxing oil along with Lavender and other wonderful oils.

A little aside - this oil was supposed to arrive for Lindsay and Scott's wedding back in August but was on back order.  It was fine because I was so over the top with joy that nerves just didn't enter the equation.

We all arrived, set up stands and amps and prepared for this joyous occasion, my close friends' daughter's wedding.  Now this is one talented family and along with the church organist, the bride's brothers and cousin on guitars, played the processional accompanied by a violinist. And now the magic began.

While I've cantored in church for years, I love "out of the ordinary" ways to connect with others in a musical sense.  I was brought down memory lane, recalling how my best friend and I started the folk mass in our church back in 70's.  Our Monsignor was not a fan and thus we played in the basement of the church.  Within a few years, we were upstairs at a regular mass time and became popular wedding singers.

Moving forward to the 90's at St John's - it was here where I met this family and we instantly became long-term friends.  I was so honored to be asked to cantor the wedding and to help in the choice of music.  Words and melodies are one of my expressions of love and connection to God and others.

The mass was beautiful, the priest so full of passion and the couple, well, extraordinary!  Following mass was a beautiful reception.  I met nice people, chatted with friends and even met someone from "Medfa" (Medford) where I grew up.  Her folks new my best friends's parents.  It truly is a small world.  

Onto more music.  Not only did the Dad's band play but all the kids, including the bride, joined in with singing, guitar playing and original songs written.  People were joyous.  It was a festive event.

Now for the magic - my friends have been divorced for a few years and while divorce brings pain, it is also an opportunity for growth.  What I witnessed was magical.  This family came together as a family, sharing in the beauty of what was and what is today.

I have chosen to keep names anonymous but my message to all is to look beneath the surface and see the beauty and gift in each unfolding event.

With love and gratitude
Julie

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Honoring Those Before Us and Moving On

As I reflect upon these past few weeks, I am so drawn to my mother's pride in our American Indian heritage.  She even spent time with Ashley reviewing the family history, sharing photos and stories of our relatives since Ashley had interest in learning more.

I had many opportunities to meet my great uncles, Art and Walter, who looked just like many of the photos of our Indian ancestors - beautiful sky blue eyes with a bronze complexion - and oh, yes, those high cheekbones - a sign of beauty in our culture!

Mom was pretty cool about different ceremonies - yoga, drumming, certain forms of meditation - and as I've mentioned in blogs before, she was one of the group.  During these past few years, especially since my own concentrated health journey, I have been witnessing and experiencing these traditions more closely.  I attribute an expanding awareness to my mentors, Kristina and Heather and have so much gratitude for their wisdom and guidance.  I am certainly more "awake" with regard to the connections between what we see and what is not seen, gaining increasing trust in my intuition, which often guides me in sessions with my clients.

Given that Thursday was the anniversary of Mom's passing, Kristina had suggested a fire ceremony,  both honoring what was beautiful and letting go of habits and energies that have been passed down.  Right away, I started down the trail of "will I do it right", "what if it is not what it is supposed to be" - all that Virgo stuff that can sometimes get in my way!  At least now I am more aware of the pitfalls of my personality thanks to Heather, thus I have the opportunity to see it, name it, and use techniques to move on.

All day I was aware of the happenings of Oct 13, 2013, but I had passed through my grief during the days before.  I wrote out slips of paper with messages beginning with "Dear Mom", and continued to create each message about gratitude and letting go.  I used Holy Wood as my incense, blessing my area with this wonderful smell and then lit each piece of paper after reading the message aloud.

This ceremony felt so freeing and also so connecting to our lineage.  As I think about this personal example, expanding into our present times, I cannot help but think that taking time to stop, reflect, honor and let go, would be so very beneficial in our fast-paced daily lives.

May you take time to follow these principles.
With Love,
Julie

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Crest And Fall Of The Wave

It's been that roller coaster ride of emotions.  In all that there is, life continues with its highs and lows.

In conversations with clients and my daughter last week, the lesson seemed to be that in order to experience the joy and exhilaration, there is also the darkness.  Some of my clients who have been on anti-depressants mentioned the dislike for the numbing action because it just didn't seem/feel normal.  Yet, there is this fear and anticipation of entering the dark.  After all, society demonizes the dark, as if it will overtake one or label one as abnormal.

How far from the truth this is!  Yet, we are conditioned to believe that life should always be a bed of roses.

Today, I received a lovely email from a friend of my Mom and Dad, acknowledging how my Dad is talking about his getting close to the top of the list for senior housing.  He has resisted until just recently and she noted his waning appetite, his increasing frailty and how she could only imagine how hard this acceptance must be.

This comes on the eve before my Mom and Dad's anniversary and the day that my Mom went into a coma, dying only a little after midnight when the family all arrived.  I felt this pain deeply, yet allowed myself to feel it.  I know now that allowing the dark to enter, will bring light at the end.  And it has taken years for me to finally get here.  My MO was always to get through adversity, to make sure that everyone else was taken care of, and in the process, buried feelings so deep that it is now three years later and I am feeling the sadness even more of Mom not being here in human form.  I am also so very aware of my Dad's moving closer to these later days/years of his own life.

It is coupled with complexity, for my relationship with Dad has been respectful and dutiful, but that emotional connection has not been there.  I no longer blame either one of us, for the lessons will continue to come and as long as I hold love in my heart for me not being able to "fix it" and for Dad for showing his love as he knew how, things will be okay.

Taking time to explore those darker places of oneself, of life experiences, will provide an opportunity for greater love and respect for the cycle of life.

May you embrace all that life offers,
Julie

Monday, October 3, 2016

So Much To Say But Need To Streamline!

Just off a whirling dervish of emotions, wonderful emails about this month's newsletter and a real confirmation about why I am here and why I do what I do!

I am at a point in my life where I feel safe (well safer!) and comfortable (yup, more comfortable!) in expressing my thoughts and feelings.  The parenthesis just lets you know that this continues to be a process and will always be evolving.

I began a year long study of astrology with a dear colleague and mentor, who was traditionally trained as a PhD psychologist.  She shunned this "poofy science" years ago, but had a personal transformation and voila, the lightbulbs turned on.  I am amazed and in awe at just how precise and mathematical this whole study is, and find it a bit intimidating and overwhelming as well.  I decided last night that I will "have fun with it" - not my usual Virgo style, which is to perfect and scrutinize and memorize all that there is.

My mission in all of this is to bring the science that I know and continue to study - labs, genes, medical tests of all sorts - together with the spiritual science that is beginning to be rekindled in our society at present.  Bruce Lipton's recent book, Spontaneous Evolution, nicely documents the history and evolution of science and spirituality.

I want to bring this marriage of the two worlds into usable information for not only myself, but my family, friends and clients.  There is a time of readiness for us all and it has been viewing my challenges as gifts for transformation, that has allowed me to get to this point in my life with open eyes and awe.

May you be grateful for all that life has to offer,
Julie

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Going In

As I write this blog, I am sitting all zipped up at Chandler Hovey Park, better known as Lighthouse Park.  It is a beautiful place where I usually ride my bicycle to, but today, I am writing, sitting with Tammie and enjoying the sunny day and brisk breeze.  What an abrupt change from the 80+ degree mugginess a few days ago.

As the Fall approaches, I often think of years past when I would feel a sense of doom and gloom.  Back 30 years ago, SAD was not even thought about, never-mind  treated.  Over the past few years, however, I embrace this season more openly, enjoying the darker evenings when I can light my candle, relax (well sometimes I still work too late!) and take this time for reflection, going into the dark.

I think of some of the spiritual aspects of the changing seasons and I find it interesting as a culture, we often fear the dark, think of it as bad and yet, without the dark, there can be no light.  Looking to the wisdom of the earth, this is all too well a known fact.

Advent, which does not come until November-December, is another reminder of this time of going deep within, to reflect on the blessings we have and to prepare for the celebration of life.

It would not be complete without sharing what else I do in order to face the darkness.  Yes, energy is lower and mood can be less vibrant as well, thus I use a UV light each morning and increase fish oils and vitamin D.  I generally ask my patients to have a lab test done before increasing D too much.  An ideal level is 50-80.  Increasing omega threes can be done with eating fatty fish, walnuts and leafy greens that have been lightly cooked with some acid and oil such as lemon juice and olive oil.  My blog would not feel complete without these pearls of nutritional wisdom!

May you embrace this change of season with gratitude and an open heart.

With love

Julie

Sunday, September 4, 2016

"Oh What A Night" - Or Something Like That!

Here I am in San Luis Obispo, CA, waiting at Whole Foods until my flight leaves to return to San Francisco.

It has been quite a week - a truly amazing one at that.  Last Saturday, Lindsay and Scott were married in Marblehead, overlooking the ocean and we celebrated with family and a few close friends.  What an amazing event.  They are truly a couple who is not only in love, but are two people who shine as individuals as well.

On Monday morning, Ashley and I boarded for a 3-day grad school trip, to scope out colleges for holistic psychology.  The apples surely have not fallen far from this tree!  We spent a spectacular day in Boulder, CO, riding cycles from campus to campus and into town.  My kinda travel.  The air and surroundings were so crisp and clean.

The next day, we flew into San Francisco and visited another school - fabulous program, but in the center of the big city - neither of our favorite surroundings.  We drove to the highest point in San Fran for the overlook - what a view!

Third day was "Do You Know the Way to San Jose" - remember that song?  Visited our final school, then strolled into the shopping area abutting silicon valley.  Had a great lunch, viewed the area than headed back to San Fran for the "rice-a-roni" ride.  How thrilling!  We hung on the outside moving straight up and down the streets of San Fran.  What was more thrilling (or shall I say, fearful!) was the ride up and down the road in the car.  At one point, we could not even see over the top of the car.

Next morning, Ashley boarded for Boston and I, SLO.  I've been checking out like-minded communities with a relocation consideration and I must say, the environment is more open than in Boston.  I have met some wonderful people who truly subscribe to functional and integrative medicine and tomorrow, I see three more communities for comparison.  In the end, I will still be available for my clients, whether I am on the east coast or the west and in fact, have one client who recently moved from Boston to San Fran.  My other dear student is back in Japan.

Life is certainly interesting, full of opportunities for growth, self-introspection and appreciation for the many gifts.  My message to you is to embrace what life has to offer.

With love,
Julie

Monday, August 15, 2016

Birthday Reminiscents of Mom

As Sunday, August 14 approached, I was all too aware of feeling some longing and sadness that Mom is no longer here.  In some ways, it feels harder, not easier, but I also have "my process" to blame or better yet, to thank for feeling my feelings.

I've talked about my processing style in former blogs, but a quick review lets you into how I've learned to cope, which has also allowed me to sit, be and process with other wounded clients and friends when in my presence.

Many of us have experienced PTSD and I, for one, denied that term for years, not acknowledging the reality for myself.  From my diligent work with a therapist and a few amazing energy workers, I have finally been able to get past some of the blocks, knowing that my fears and reactions, and yes, disease, has been rooted in past events and exposures (some people and some environmental).  I used to muscle up both physical and mental energy, energy that I often no longer have, in order to get through difficulties, never feeling the effects.

I truly believe that this is why I was drawn into assisting the complicated cases - what is not seen and is buried beneath, often showing up as "just fine".  I learned at a young age to pull it together, to be fine, in order to protect my Mom.  She was an amazingly talented woman who made my clothes, my coats, and beautiful items for my girls.  She kept a neat and organized home and balanced the checkbook to the penny.  And this was long before computers and Quickbooks!  She brought be on the bus to chorus lessons and I accompanied her to the weekly banking, post office and other chores.

My Mom's Mom, Grammie Lillian, died when Mom was just 10.  Mom remembers most of life being in and out of hospitals and it was during the final illness that Mom was brought away for a summer to be with cousins on the cape.  When she came home, her Mom was close to death.  My mother developed serious asthma that year and I recall her telling me how she would be hung out over the railing on the porch to gasp for air.  Mom was gasping for life and her anxiety over the years took root in many ways.

As I sat at the cemetary yesterday, I was able to really feel my Mom's energy, knowing that she is in peace at this time and that truly felt like a gift.  I was also able to more easily separate out my experiences from hers, thanking her for the life she gave me and putting to rest her own suffering.

I gathered a few acorns, pine needles and a stick - items that I will use later this month as offerings in my shamanic session.  We have American Indian in our background and Mom was very proud of this fact.  I will think of her as I thank God for these simple gifts from nature.

Amen

Saturday, August 13, 2016

How Low Is Too low

Message of the week has been educating patients on the effects of having too low a cholesterol level and how to navigate traditional thinking – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – or shall we say, change it.
With the recent concerns over statin medications, it may be a good thing to begin lowering dosages of medications or considering trials without, of course with close monitoring based on individual circumstances.

In my practice, many clients come wanting to avoid or discontinue medications and I will never tell someone to stop taking something, but will address the pros and cons so that they are more informed about the choices they wish to discuss with their PCP or specialist.

For years now, total cholesterol levels above 200 have been called “high” and if the LDL, or “bad” cholesterol is also elevated above 130, medications are often being discussed.  More recently, there have been studies supporting that these somewhat higher levels may not be harmful and in fact, may be brain protective. 

The nerves in the brain require cholesterol and good quality saturated fats such as organic, grass-fed butter, coconut oil, virgin red palm oil and shea butter.  These waxy fats create the myelin sheath, likened to the rubber encasing wires for protection.

When total cholesterol levels start to dip less than 165-170, there is concern over having inadequate levels of these fats for the production of this important substance.

Bottom line is that it is always important to ask for copies of the lab work, not just the letter with check marks stating you are fine.  Knowing your numbers and learning to interpret them is key in personalizing your healthcare.  I am happy to help!

In sickness and in health,
Julie

Try this delicious  Crepe recipe from my cookbook, Sweets n’ Treats.  It uses coconut wraps, full fat coconut or greek yogurt and dark chocolate chip, all good sources of saturated fat.
Coconut Wrap Crepes
Berry:
1 paleo coconut wrap*
1/3 cup frozen mixed berries, thawed
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbl almond butter
2 tbl plain coconut yogurt or greek yogurt
1 tsp mini chocolate chips

                Mix berries and cornstarch, heating over medium stirring until thickened and translucent
                Remove from heat and lay on coconut wrap.  Roll and fold ends under
                Mix together almond butter with yogurt until creamy and smooth
                Top crepe with yogurt topping and sprinkle with chocolate chips

Cherry:

Same as above using frozen dark, pitted cherries

Apple:

Coconut wrap
½ apple, chopped, sprinkled with cinnamon and 1 tsp lemon juice, baked 20 minutes at 350
1 tbl sunbutter, almond butter or walnut butter
2 tbl plain coconut yogurt or greek yogurt
1 tsp crushed nuts dusted with cinnamon

                Follow instructions as above

*www.julianbakery.com – coconut wraps



Sunday, August 7, 2016

To Be An Inspiration and To Inspire

I often ponder words and meanings, especially when thinking of my intention for yoga class.  I chose inspiration and inspire for a few reasons.

I've been told throughout the years that I am an inspiration to others, and while I am honored to hear this, I also take this responsibility quite seriously.  I truly believe that one of God's gifts to me has been to be an inspiration to others, especially when things seem bleak.  I often envision a bright light in the center of my heart, connecting to others.  I like to use visualization to assist in this process.

As I began to think of the word inspire, the thought arising from the deep breathing required in yoga, I recognized on a different level, how this inspiration is for me and my continued healing on multiple levels.  Breath of life or Prana, is basic for all to live, grow and renew.

What is the lesson in all of this - in order to be an inspiration to others, the process begins within.  Start by loving yourself unconditionally, be the light to yourself in order to become a light to the world.

With love,
Julie

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Happy Birthday Dear Ashley

My youngest has now officially turned 21 – where did the time go!  It has been a birthday month for her, beginning with our trip to Kripalu to see Bruce Lipton.  This was life affirming for us both, as we travel this path of “off the beaten path” mind-body-spirit medicine together.  On her day, she met with a colleague of mine to have an astrological assessment done, another fascinating affirmation that there are no coincidences in life and that all in this universe is connected – the fun and not so fun, the easy and the not so easy!  For both of us, this provides a framework in which to understand ourselves in relation to the world.

Last evening, we had the annual family dinner prepared by Moi – I’m honored to have my girls and Scott, request a favorite meal and dessert on their special day.  Ashley requested crusted chicken, pesto, oven roast potato, tomato basil mozzarella and broccolini with garlic bread.  All gluten free and balanced in nutrients, of course!  It was a delightful dinner on the porch by candlelight and then she, Lindsay and Scott (Lindsay’s fiancĂ©) were off to a rooftop setting and a dance club.  From the few photos and snapchats that I saw, the evening was delightful, fun and safe at the same time.

I am so proud of my family and their responsible, yet fun nature when it comes to drinking.  I’ve given them opportunities over the years to enjoy alcohol and while I’ve heard of some of the common experimental times that they have had, both have weathered the peer pressure pretty well.  It is not easy to be “normal” yet “not normal” at the same time and I use these terms to elaborate some fine points about how we view the various “forbidden fruits” in this country. 

When I am talking with young adults in my office or with my girls (unfortunately Lindsay being older got the stricter version of me!), I emphasize safety first, then begin to explore what is the person looking for – acceptance, anxiety reduction, to truly enjoy the experience with self-respect.  These are the most important aspects to entertain within ourselves and with our children.

I truly look forward to many more adult years with my girls and continue to marvel at each stage of development.

May you be blessed,

Julie

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Happy Anniversary – An Interesting Perspective


Anniversary of what.  Of my descent into acute illness that brought me to Newton Wellesley Hospital, followed by surgery, chemotherapy and a whopping reaction to chemo.  That was two years ago.

I’ve always been sensitive to anniversaries of any kind – weddings, deaths, other happy or sad occasions, but this one marks a time of reflection of my emotional style, my way of coping with continued movement in a forward direction.

I’ve also recently learned more acutely that I intellectualize rather than feel.  Part of this I recognize being a Virgo!  The other part is how I lived in my family – one which looked ideal on the outside while there was a lot of chaos on the inside.  Being an only child, I leaned on my best friend and to this day, she brings me to my senses about what life was really like.  Intellectualizing and seeing both sides has certain benefits, but when it comes to processing, this style can inhibit moving through in order to come to a place of balance.

I am just feeling the reality of how crazy things were two years ago.  I not only needed to sell my home due to finances from being ill, but my Mom died, I moved to a place where I’ve always wanted to be, but needed to re-establish my practice.  Within three months, I was in the hospital, sick, out of work and now faced with figuring it out once again as a single parent.

My coping style was to re-vamp my website, to do yoga every day in the hospital, to begin my blog, to write for the newspaper, to learn how to use skype and forge ahead.  While this has been wonderful in so many ways, I did not allow myself time to feel sad, mad and afraid.  Nope, not my style!
What is interesting is that I am a solid support for my family, friends and clients, allowing them to feel held and heard in my presence.  I now realize that I also need this and sometimes do not allow it into my life for fear of being “weak”.  I had been feeling apprehensive about this two year anniversary, reliving the moments leading up to it, but today, I feel that I have broken the chains that bound me.  I am moving ahead in a more balanced fashion and it feels so good!

May you always learn about who you are with curiosity and self-love.

Julie

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Conscious Communities: From Our Body System To The World

Just back from a weekend seminar with Bruce Lipton, a traditionally trained biologist who “saw the light” and became as he calls it, a spiritual scientist.

I first heard of Bruce Lipton while doing alternative cancer treatment in Germany in 2012.  While quantum physics was not an entirely new concept for me – I had been intrigued with this back in the 70’s – I became deeply involved in learning more about the recent advances in this area of medicine, healing and spirituality.

I have so much to say on this topic and may take each section over the next few weeks, but I will start with the “body system” because it is what brought me so much more seriously into using these concepts with my own clients.

Our internal environment – digestion, metabolism, brain chemistry and more – all reflect what we eat, think and absorb from the external environment, coupled with our genetic make-up and expression of those genes.

When this environment is out of balance, we are prone to not feeling well and potentially disease, which can take a long time to manifest.  I quickly recall working at Joslin Diabetes Center in the 90’s and the debate at the time was about high blood pressure and predictability of diabetes.  On the one side, researchers were stating that these were uniquely different diseases, one being cardiovascular in nature, while the other, metabolic.  Other researchers were stating that these body systems were intimately connected and that the high blood pressure offered clues and some predictability.
For lack of a better word, who do you think was correct?  If you guessed that there is a relationship, you are indeed, correct.  High blood pressure is often a precursor to being diagnosed with Type Two diabetes about ten years later.

We are coming back to a time in medicine, science and religion, where the human organism and no less, the entire planet is known to be connected with that which is both seen and unseen.  I will not take this forum to discuss religion per se, but will use spirituality (the world of the unseen), as part of this process toward understanding connectedness and its importance for the vitality of the “organism” (human being or planet).

I continue on this path today, knowing in my heart that how I use my mind – staying present, re-programming the belief system that I learned as an infant and young child – is the key to creating balance, health and vitality for me.  While I have personally turned over many stones, there are those few core ones that often show up, not wanting to leave.  This is the conditioning that becomes part of the automatic response, a response that is not even recognized because it is the sub-conscious driver of thoughts and actions.

How do I use this in my work?  It depends on who I am working with.  There is a time of readiness for us all.  There are repeating patterns of suffering that can bring one to finally recognize that things are not working as we wish.  It is the surrender (dying) of the old, that can bring about the new.  For some, it may be leaving processed foods behind and choosing organic, non-GMO foods that truly nourish the body, while for others, it is becoming aware of the negative self-talk that sabotague’s ones’ efforts to not only change for self-love, but because this is truly what the person wants, not family, friends and co-workers.

Step one for me is to become present to each person who walks in my door.  Step two is to listen without filters, judgement or pre-decision about the outcome.  I truly believe that healing is possible for all.  It is a journey and I am honored to be a facilitator in the process.

Part two will discuss the initial place within to begin – the gut microbiome.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

“Gonna Build A Big Fat Beautiful Wall” then “Bomb The ___ Out Of ___”

I’m not a political person, but was brought almost to tears while listening to NPR the other day.  As I continue my own journey of physical, emotional and spiritual healing, I see so clearly that it is divisions, seeing one as separate, that brings about misunderstanding and ultimately war – whether within oneself, families or among nations.

This separateness has been created as a way to control, whether it be the self, other people, animals or the earth itself.  When will we listen?  Fear, corruption and increasing diminution of resources is heightening both war and increased awareness – both happening at the same time!

A few weeks ago, I listened to another interview on NPR with Padrig O’Malley, and Irishman who has devoted his life to speaking about a different way to peace, one that has been stated by other great men and women, but one that easily gets pushed under the rug when fear is heightened.  He spoke about all needing the same resources and that killing and using force is not the way to peace.  It reminds me of a wonderful book, Power Vs Force – a must read about raising one’s vibrational energy for total healing, as well as having an understanding of the hierarchy that exists among those at the top and the bottom.

I share these few snippets with you to stop, go inside and remember that we are all connected.  These connections have even been traced scientifically in the quantum physics realm.  Check out Greg Braden, Bruce Lipton, Deepak Chopra.  After doing the cognitive peace, settle into a meditation with healing music that aligns the chakras of energy centers and focus on connection and peace.  It can heal each person and the world.

In Peace,

Julie

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Humor In The Humanness Part “ “: I’ve Stopped Counting

Well the day has arrived for Ashley to return from her year abroad in Amsterdam and I am here at Logan, patiently waiting, catching up on the never-ending work (but I do love what I do-serving others!).

Interestingly, this day is also accompanied by a 24 hour urine test – one of the many tests that I repeat to see how my treatment plans are going and to adjust accordingly.  Fortunately and unfortunately, I continue to be one of those mystery patients who has puzzling issues, labs to show abnormalities, yet no easy course of identification.  I say both fortunate and unfortunate because I continue to live and manage well above and beyond expectation AND I can identify and feel such compassion for the countless clients who end up on my doorstep with similar challenges – different illnesses but also ones that do not fit neatly into our current medical paradigm.

Well the humor is captured by needing to carry my “jug” and the accompanying catch cup and glove in order to be sanitary in the process.  Given that I am also in one of my gut flares, I am chugging water to initiate “rotor rooter”, you know, moving that poison out of the body!
Well, the company provided two jugs for those who urinate a lot, but it is not even half-way through the day and I am into the second jug.  Oh my, what to do!  Additionally, I was unsure if I was going to need to go through the pat-down in order to meet Ash, but thankfully, there is a large meeting area outside of customs, so no frisking for today.  Phew!

Feelin good, excited and just needed to share the intricacies of modern healthcare.  It certainly requires a sense of humor in order to take care of oneself, otherwise, you’ll get sick from the angst and anger.

On the road to health and well-being,

Julie

Monday, May 23, 2016

Deprive, Survive . . . Thrive

I've used this term for many years, knowing that I truly wanted to make my way from Point A to Point B, but somehow kept getting lost in the midst of chaos, crisis and one emergency after another.  I've spent time in therapy, doing spiritual work, energy work - all moving me in the right direction, yet not quite making the mark yet.

During this past few weeks, chaos abounded on many levels - first the mechanical stuff broke down - computer, phone , car; then there was a pause button on the health report card - was Hairy Cell back or is it something else; for the first time the answer was no from the bank when I requested an increase in my equity line.  Then of course, there is watching over my Dad as best I can with support and compassion as he struggles with the inevitable aging process.  Wow - what a few weeks!

Well, all the mechanics are back in order, I do not have cancer, but do have some "other process" that has been known but unidentified for years, but hey, huge relief to not have the big C A back!  And, while the bank explained the "no", what they did say is that because I have had impeccable credit, I was able to get the loan last year and if my trend continues upward this year, I will be able to increase it next year.  I want to help my daughters achieve exciting things with assistance - a wedding later this summer and wheels for living off campus in the Fall.

Money has been a theme since childhood and it is a key metaphor for the many ways that I have lived in survival mode, yet wanting to thrive.  Most recently in my own discovery with an amazing spiritual counselor, we looked hard at the circumstances surrounding my birth and early years.  Much of my recollection has been blocked, knowing full well that this is a sign of deeper "stuff".  I'll only touch briefly on examples and plan to use more of this in a women's circle later this summer,

My Mom had an asthma attack during my childbirth process, left gasping for air and frightened.  My Dad had an episode of breaking furniture and losing it due to his own fear of change.  My early memories were of fighting, a lot about "money" and Mom, a beautiful seamstress, made many of my clothes, even out of old curtains!  She told me how the doctor put me on a strict schedule for bottle feeding and I had lots of "tummy issues" right from the start.

As life went along, I rarely asked for things that I wanted, as it did not feel right or OK to express a want, but desserts, food and going for ice cream after chores well done was what we did as a family.  There were money problems and my savings and bonds were cashed in for part of the rescue but the money never returned.  I recall needing to be in silence at the dinner table, in the car - no giggling or typical child-like behavior was considered acceptable.

I've tended to minimize the effects over the years, stating that I had food, clothing, shelter, but never sat in front of the mirror (part of the exercise I do now) to look into the eyes of my child self.  Wow, what an experience.  I am beginning to see so much that I had not been able to or was not ready for in the past.

It took these two weeks of combined "stuff" to really get me off my "____" in order to reach out and begin to demand of myself, standing in my worthiness, owning my value as a clinician and recognizing that I need to get paid for my services.

Before I was ill, I took the leap into private practice because it was part of my dream and I was becoming quite successful - balancing the responsibilities of being a business owner with single motherhood.  Life was going well!  Then sickness took hold.  As the income drained, I needed to sell my home, downsize, but I did move to where I've always wanted to be and continue to love it here!

As is in my nature, I started networking, building relationships, but there were roadblocks - the referral landscape had changed.  Doctors now had an allegiance to the hospital services, thus my pool was drying up.  A few months after the move, I became ill, hospitalized and mostly out of commission for months.  I had not really looked at my "numbers" until the bank told me about my ratio of income to debt.  OMG, what a reality check.

I have implemented strategies to "push me" where I have always resisted and I am holding myself accountable.  It feels strange, very uncomfortable, awkward, yet good, because I am really moving mountains.  I am stepping into my power and honoring who I am and what I have to offer.

My gift to you is my story - one of process, integration and continued perseverance.  Never give up on YOU - I won't!

With love,
Julie

Sunday, May 15, 2016

In His Eyes

This title has been with me all week, in fact for a few, but now, I am compelled to write about a topic that affects so many of us - aging, dementia, losing touch.  While exhausted from being up until 5am when my Dad finally arrived home safely, I continue to experience a myriad of feelings, mostly gratitude that he is okay.

My Dad was an amazing person with knowledge in many areas.  He could fix anything - electrical, mechanical and he was very creative with woodworking and remaking junk into something functional.  He was very intelligent about a wide variety of topics,but as the years have progressed, his world has become smaller and interests, limited.

After my Mom died, it became even more apparent that the dementia that he was diagnosed with many years ago, was taking hold more voraciously.  He has been getting lost more often, increasingly confused about dates and times, yet, there are also times of immense clarity.  In general, we hear the same stories over and over again and even his doc, a lovely and compassionate physician, has noted that he should begin curtailing some of his adventures in the car.

A few weeks ago, we were together for an overnight and as I looked into my Dad's eyes, there was a stark change - they seemed more blank, more empty - a feeling of losing who my Dad was came over me.  While it has not been easy to connect with Dad throughout much of my life, I do have fond memories and an appreciation for what he has been able to give me, also recognizing that he came from such dysfunction and instability in his own youth, knowing that he truly has done his best.

For me, I am usually able to put on my "clinician hat" and understand on a cognitive level, but when the child steps in, I feel sad, frustrated and somewhat helpless at how to help.  My Dad has always been independent - wonder where I get that from! - and there are the good/not so good aspects of being so damn independent.

It is very obvious that Dad needs some help at this stage and yet the walls are way to high to climb.  Last evening as we departed from a joyous family occasion, I took Dad to his car, directed him on the highway and went north as he went south.  When I checked in a few hours later to make sure he was home, he was lost.  Back and forth we went for hours,he not knowing where he was, until he recognized that he had traveled all the way to Rhode Island.  I called the state police at that time, then the cell lost service for a while.   All in all, he was on the road for 11 hours, arriving home at 5am.

Today, I am a bit numb - some laughing, some sadness, a lot of exhaustion - a lot of gratitude that he is safe.  Tomorrow is a new day and my hope for all who follow my blog is to stay in the moment, being thankful for the gift of each day, knowing that time will pass.   As you look into the eyes of another, feel love and compassion for that person and be sure to hold onto some for yourself - you'll need it for the ride of life.

With love,
Julie

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day: To All Women

Today is the day to honor our mothers and for me, I like to honor not only my Mom, but all women because nurturing comes in many capacities.

I began my day as usual, finishing the week's bills and billing for my business, while listening to my jazz station.  It was soon time to go to my exercise class.  I've recently decided to do more cross-training since my strength is slowly coming back (from the dead it feels like!).  I was brought back to reminiscing about the days when Mom and I would go to the House of Health in Lynnfield for our exercise, sauna and steam.  We would head out for a healthy dinner afterwards.  She always loved joining in on activities that I was involved in.  My mom had struggled with her weight for her entire life, but was eager to go to the exercise groups or be a part of weight management classes that I taught.  She became one of my "groupies".

A few hours later,it was time to get ready for the 5pm mass back at my old church, St John's.  Our "rock band", as Fr Tom used to call us (and he loved our group) was playing at this mass in preparation for Tuesday's Confirmation.  This, too, had become a tradition for many years.  I usually cantored the 5:00 mass on Mother's Day and we would go for dinner following mass.

As I dressed for mass, I put on a beautiful turquoise blue pin and earrings that Mom had picked out for me years ago.  She always gave me such fashionable jewelry and scarves and even today, I received compliments on my set.  She had an eye for fashion and as children, Lindsay and Ashley preferred Grammy to pick out clothing and accessories.

Mass was beautiful and the music so appropriate.  In fact, Mom's all-time favorite song was chosen for the Offertory, Here I Am Lord.  Instead of feeling sad and emotional, I beamed with happiness and felt her loving presence while we sang.   My Dad has continued to support us, loving to come to St John's when I sing there and it was comforting to have him there with Lindsay.  Ash texted me a bunch of flowers as she completes her last trip in Spain while studying abroad in Amsterdam.  Time is getting close for her arrival home - and we are so excited!

As I continued to think about Mother's Day, I remembered my wonderful mother-in-law, Mamon, as I called her.  She was a loving woman with so much wisdom and while she spoke Polish more fluently than English, we had a nice bond.

Throughout the day, I thought of my beautiful daughters, Lindsay and Ashley, and how they have grown into caring and loving adults, each embarking on exciting futures of their own.  I feel blessed and send love and thanks to the many women in my life who have provided support, caring and love to me and my family.

Lovingly,
Julie


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Oh What A Week: Lessons In One Day At A Time


It started with car maintenance – the usual upkeep and some areas needing to be fixed.  Brought work, kept busy for 4 hours, feeling confident that I’d be ready for a long round trip to NJ, NY and back home next week. 

Two days later, tire issue unresolved  and now my cell phone was not working properly.  Ugh, back to the dealership, only to find that they could not take care of the problem at that time – had to inconvenience clients, rearrange meetings etc

Oh, then the bank misappropriated charges and deposits into the wrong accounts, resulting in a negative balance.  Luckily, their customer service is helpful.  Now back to the car and the phone. I felt like a juggler – not an uncommon place for me to reside.

In the process of feeling overwhelmed by this added stress, I was also really paying attention to meditation every night, separating my thoughts and feelings from who I am and the real reality.  Not an easy feat, but I kept bringing myself back to the fact that I am OK, I am safe, and this will pass.
Next day, ready to head out to NJ with my Dad – this was to be his birthday surprise along with a business aspect for me.  We were going to visit Fr. Steve, a lifelong friend, mentor and someone who is quite frail and ill in the nursing home.  Oh, how I want to see him at least once more before he leaves the earthly plane.

I’ve talked about Fr. Steve and Graymoor in past blogs, but a brief review is in order.  Fr. Steve is a member of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, an order whose mission is “that all may be one”, bringing people of all faith communities together for the common good.  This mission aligns with my initiative to create the retreat center in Marblehead.  Part of my visit was to meet with the director in order to discuss potential collaboration.

Dad and I were on the road at 6:30 and stopped about 1 ½ hours out on Mass Pike.  When arriving back to the car, it was dead!  Calmly, I called AAA, got a jump, but was told that the car could die at any point along the trip.  Of course, the decision was to head back to the dealership for the 4th time in a week.  I called ahead to apprise them of the situation.  The service manager felt so badly and they completed this service, providing a new battery, as it may have had a short (somewhat of an unknown reason for the malfunction) and replaced my tire for free.

I continued to feel calm (hey, the meditations are working!), grateful to have some time with Dad and also to recognize that while this week was stressful for sure, we were safe and merely inconvenienced.  I took Dad to Legal’s for his favorite clam chowder and in usual demeanor, he joked with the waiter and manager.  She enjoyed his banter and gave him a large bowl to go for his birthday.

All is well in the world and what really brought it to a place of completion was my taking time to journal last night.  I wrote freely without censoring my writing and man, it was a few pages of complaints, feelings of stress and anxiety, but by the end, I felt free.  I knew earlier in the week that I needed this catharsis, but felt too busy to stop and pay attention.  Luckily, I caught myself and am back on track.

May you find peace in the chaos of life,

Julie

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Thought Is Just A Thought

As the week unveiled its meaning in my life, I once again saw the common threads in many clients and in the continual work that I do in my own developmental process.

Thoughts become things - a powerful saying from the daily sayings that are presented to me in my email, BUT, thoughts are not who we are.  They can shape the trajectory that life is taking and thus, they do maintain a level of power, but thoughts can be shaped if one removes him/herself from being "in it".

We often, when in a state of panic, will believe that the thought or circumstance is our reality, but in fact this is not the case.  At a core level, we are energy, pure love and while events can feel real, devastating or joyous, we can choose to feel calm, at peace and in joy.  This does take practice, is not always perfect.

What really got me thinking of this was my personal challenge of often waking in the middle of the night and especially in the morning with racing thoughts of everything I need to do, starting the day feeling overwhelmed before I've had my morning coffee!  After attending a wonderful conference on genetic testing last weekend, I have better understanding of my brain chemistry and how my neurotransmitters fire rapidly.  Great for the creative proccess and not so great for brain longevity - watch out Linds and Ash, you may have a frazzled mother's brain!

I also am very aware of the conditioning that has also led to this way of being and really do my diligence to use yoga, breath-work, getting out in nature, to help calm this situation.  I remain a work in progress, but have come such a long way.

This inspires me to share these pearls of wisdom with my clients.  So often, I have the privilege of assisting those who are desperate, have seen everyone without success, and now at my doorstep hoping that alternative approaches will make a difference.  I truly believe that motivation can be created with small steps taken in the direction of observing the negative thoughts and by replacing them with positive ones.

Consider trying this in your own life - get comfortable, whether seated or lying down, roll shoulders back and down and begin to breathe deeply, go inward and focus on the breath or visualize a positive image.  Breathe a few times and begin to just passively view and let the thoughts pass by as if watching on a TV screen.  Don't fight with the thoughts, merely let them pass by like flowing water.

In peace,
Julie

Friday, April 1, 2016

Food Fight!

As I reflect on opinions about the perfect or right  diet, often strongly held as fact or the only way, I am brought to recognizing that there is really no one true diet that works for all.  While we may all be human, genetic diversity as well as environmental influences, both helpful and harmful, affect how the body processes and utilizes food.

There are a few common aspects of nutrition, known to be facts that affect everyone adversely – refined carbohydrates in excess and trans fats.  Processing of any food will deteriorate the beneficial qualities of the food in its original nature.

Often when people learn that I am a nutritionist, there is an immediate assumption that I must be vegetarian.  In a laugh, I comment that I am not and that I enjoy my grass-fed red meat.  In fact, given my own personal medical journey with anemia, leukemia and lyme, my blood and bone marrow need good quality flesh protein.  In fact, during my years of experimentation with vegetarian diets, I loved the taste of the food, but my body did not feel well with it.  Later, as I learned to do food sensitivity testing, most of the legumes and soy foods were not my best friends.  Nor is fish!  One asks “What” – fish is the best food.  Not for me.  I am sensitive to many fish and in fact become doubled over with stomach pain and sweats with scallops.

On the other hand, I met with a client not long ago with a history of breast cancer, colon polyps, osteopenia and hyperparathyroidism.  Immediately I felt that a mostly vegetarian diet would benefit her various conditions.  I find it important to listen intently to the opinions that clients bring into the office, to evaluate the labs, to look at family history and of great excitement, is the advance in genetic testing.  I will be trained in greater detail in the upcoming weeks on this fascinating science of genomics. 

I truly believe that using information about our genes and how they express in illness will become the future of medicine.  No longer will “shot in the dark” medicines and treatments be how health is managed.  Targeted treatments utilizing special diets, supplements, stress management and other supportive modalities such as massage and acupuncture, will assist in modulating how genes are expressed – either being turned on or off.  What an exciting time in medicine.  Stay tuned for more!

In health,

Julie

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Passion, Palm Sunday, Spring Equinox and Easter/Resurrection

As the days of Holy week arrived, I began by revisiting my church and community for over 20 years, singing with my group for one of the most moving masses for me - Palm Sunday - which depicts the sequence of events leading up to Jesus' death.  It has always been a meaningful week for me, but as these past few years have unfolded, the meaning has grown in depth and breadth - encompassing less religiosity and more communal thinking about what this time of year symbolizes and what "christ energy" means for me.

It's almost like being in a sci-fi movie.  During the Palm Sunday mass, I am brought back to being with Jesus, feeling his emotional pain, feeling misunderstood, teased and bullied, chastised for speaking out about ways of being that did not make sense to those "in control".  We then move into other energies of the week - the vernal equinox and a full moon - powerful influences on emotions and behaviors.  Spring is a time of re-birth, coming into the light.  It is so interesting to look at other cultures and spiritual traditions and basically all are echoing the same thing - bringing light into the world.  I talk about the rising and falling of emotions with my clients during this week - some more challenged than others with this increasing energy of Spring.

In the christian tradition, Easter marks the time when the resurrection of Jesus occurred and we all have this opportunity to be re-born, to bring forth our fruits, to awaken from the dark of winter.  There is a shift that many of us experience, feeling a bit more aware of the increasing energy around us, yet maybe not quite there in our own energy.  For me, it takes a few weeks to adjust even to the one hour time change!  I also had a migraine for much of the week - not uncommon with these subtle shifts and the insomnia that accompanies the full moon.  I have become so aware of these energetic influences and how they impact my body, and I continue to search for ways to soften the bodily experience of these shifts.

I spent a wonderful day with my family, sharing in prayer, a wonderful meal and to start the day, Lindsay and I went to yoga - a weekly treat to listen to Jaishree and Kalanadi, as they sing for sivasana.  Jaishree so nicely acknowledged all the traditions that celebrate this time of year and the Easter tradition of resurrection.  It felt complete for me - unifying all.  After all, that is what life is about!

Happy Easter and Namaste,
Julie

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Spring Cleaning - Oh The Memories

As the Spring approaches, I begin to look at my schedule to block a few days for washing walls, cleaning curtains and oiling the furniture.  It's a real love-hate feeling - thinking of the hours spent - but oh, the outcome is so rewarding - a clean and orderly environment, my living space, a sacred space!

When I heard that Ashley would be coming home 1-2 weeks earlier, I decided to get right on this and to be prepared for this exciting time.  Somehow, the angst felt less this year.  I marked the days, went to the store to pick up the "Olde English" lemon oil, that Mom always used and just got on it.  Starting in Ashley's room, I cranked up Jason Mraz tunes - a musician that she turned me onto.  As I oiled her bookcase, I thought about Babasia, her grandmmother who was so special in our lives.  I then moved onto the little black rocking chair that my Grampy gave to me when I was little.  I used to sit on his lap and he called me "the winner".  I loved my Grampy - he was so kind and gentle.  The last piece of furniture was Mom's sewing machine that she gave to Ashley.  Mom was an amazing seamstress, making many of my clothes and coats, my wedding dress and the girls's christening gowns.  Ashley took up the hobby and often made her own first and last day of school dresses, with a more recent hobby of making rice filled turtles that are used a warm packs for sore muscles.  I left that room being brought back to happy memories and felt a strong connection with Mom.  After all, I assisted her with this task as a young girl and adolescent.

The day passed rather quickly and I enjoyed the process - not something I could have said as much in the past.  Later on as I talked with Lindsay on the phone, she remarked how she had already started her own Spring cleaning.  What a tradition, now passed onto my own girls.

Now is the time to enjoy the longer days, the waking energy and rebirth that Spring brings.
Plant your own seeds of tradition and of rebirth.

With renewed spirit,
Julie

Monday, March 14, 2016

Of Like Minds and Varied Gifts

What an array of talents sat with me on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, sharing in a like-minded concept with such delectable assortment of ideas and supportive advice.  We sat and had food from my Feel Great Look Great series - part of what will be served in this beautiful space.  For years, I have entertained the idea of providing retreat services where people can gather, stay, learn and be immersed into a world of total healing.  The thought began while I was still in undergraduate school studying nutrition and psychology, while also having to learn the A to Z's of food preparation, safety and ambiance.  I dreamed of being in Marblehead offering these services.

Now fast forward 35 plus years and here I sat with with friends and colleagues, both old and new, talking about how to manifest this dream into a reality.  It was an engaging and interesting conversation because what brought us together was the desire to offer healing, rest and beauty in this beautiful ocean town, yet each has expertise in different disciplines - finance, non-profit startup, mental health, marketing, coaching, music - all areas that need addressing in order to create a viable business.

As the ideas rolled, my brain swelled with not only information, but a twinge of "Oh my God" what, how, can I - and quickly one of my dear friends said, "We're gonna process this after the meeting".  I felt a sigh of relief and yet also acknowledged that my degree of what, how and can I, has dampened so much over these past few years because I "work on my stuff"  all the time.  Not only do I preach seeing oneself as healthy, healed, whole, doing what one loves and being where one wants to be, BUT, I remind myself of this daily and often multiple times daily when the old tapes of not being good enough, not knowing enough, not deserving to have, come into my conscious awareness.

These are such common themes and they erode the greatness that we all possess, keeping us humans powerless instead of powerful.  However, there was great power in my living room - a common focus, all contributing - and for this, I am grateful.

To be continued . . .

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Softening

What thoughts come to mind when you hear the word softening?  Weakness?  Giving in?   Or rather being open to?  Less rigid?

For me, this word kept coming into my conscious awareness while in yoga, while talking with my Dad, while listening to my clients.  In yoga class, I often start out very tight and in a good deal of bodily discomfort.  I usually try to arrive 10-15 minutes early in order to lay on the blocks in order to open the chest and diaphragm area.  This begins my practice in a receptive mode, allowing me to soften into the positions during my hour class.  I really focused on the word and allowed it to gently command and guide my body as it became less rigid.

The theme continued as I entertained a new way of looking at my Dad's living situation.  He is 1 1/2-2 hours away from me, remains very independent, but is having challenges with his memory.  I accompany him on his doctor visits and during this past visit, we also met with the bank, the pharmacy and went to the supermarket in order for me to show him some healthier versions of frozen dinners.  Dad has never been a cook and tends to be a meat and potatoes guy, along with his PB&J sandwiches.  Of course, there are plenty of cookies and candy - very much the nutritionist's nightmare!  At each spot along the way, people recognized him, talked and joked with him and told me how much they enjoy seeing my Dad.

I left this visit with a very different perspective than I have held for the past few years.  While he has been saying that he will get the house ready to go on the market and move closer to me, when confronted, he opts out.  What I realized in my day with him is that I cannot control my Dad's future, even if with good intent.  Of course, I am concerned about safety, medical and all that goes along with having an elderly parent, but I also want my Dad to be in surroundings that are familiar and comfortable for him.  This shift was a definite softening of my thought process and it has felt good all week.

In the third situation with regard to clients, I observed how much I am on top of everything, researching, seeking solutions, wanting to provide healing in cases that seem so challenging.  I can easily lose sight that I am the messenger, but am not in control of the outcome, and when this happens, I take far too much responsibility for others - a lifelong theme.  I kept coming back to this concept of softening and was able to shift to a place of allowing and sharing more.  This, too, felt good.

After all, isn't it about feeling good?  When we feel good, positive energy radiates into the world.  I leave you with this thought for the week - what word will keep you engaged in your journey?

With peace and softness,
Julie

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Jog

I spent a weekend chanting, learning more about Indian philosophy and how central music and chanting has been in raising one's awareness, as well as becoming focused on God or as some refer, the Divine.  I also did a track on Positive Psychology and was immersed into more yoga, exploring the deep crevices of tension and discomfort, having an attitude of inquiry that goes beyond the usual practice.

As I contemplated, I became even more aware of how flooding thoughts continually enter my mind, yet I was able to remain the outside observer and just notice.  This was particularly noticeable when "trying" to sing chants that I've never heard, language that I don't really speak except at a few kirtans and also thirsting to know what I am singing and its significance.

Well after some struggle and disenchantment, a lightbulb went off.  This is all conditioning.  Being a singer for much of my life, I reach for perfection - the notes, the lyrics, the embodiment of spiritual song - and while this is a gift that I offer to myself and others, there has always been that critical voice in the back of my head, the yapper, that would rob the spontaneity and joy from being one with song.

My girls had observed this in me long ago, often saying, "Mom, you take responsibility for everyone and everything and make even your hobbies a job".  Wow, how this came back in a flash and in that moment, I chose to let go and just sing, also taking in the drums and bells and the harmonium.  I sang loud while not having perfect notes or words, but it felt good. And, there was a room of likely 200 people, all connected in sung prayer.

Later during our session, there was Q&A and this topic came up for another catholic, who also wanted to know about interpretation.  The explanation was about repetition with intention, getting lost in both of these concepts, and how this can lead to meditation/focus.

While my journey is still in very beginning stages, the thirst for more continues.

This time was not only about music and yoga, but about re-setting old, entrained patterns, freeing myself of the dark shadows of disease.  I remain on the path to wellness, having sub-optimal labs and physical discomfort, YET, I am so healthy in so many ways.  I decided to begin a tradition that left when I became ill in 2012, being unable to get up and jog at 6am as I had for years.  Today, I jogged (not at 6am-think those days may be past!) for 11 minutes without stopping, feeling the 2 minute "Oh my God how will I finish" into "this is not so bad", and by the time I arrived back home, I felt so accomplished and well on my way.

The body is an amazing vehicle - use it with care!

Well-greased,
Julie

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sacred In Many Languages

As I listened to the homily at mass last evening, I was drawn to the focus on forgiveness - of self, of others and looking at ways to accomplish this sometimes seemingly hard task.  Softening of the heart, looking up to Jesus as a guide.  It was a nice reflection to ponder.

This morning, while at yoga - I often refer to my Sunday tradition as my spiritual time at "Saint Yoga Loft", as this has become yet another tradition to tap into the unseen world of God and spirit.  My mantra today was "ecstasy".  What struck me today was that the language that I grew up with - the catholic tradition - is so similar to what I listen to from my amazing instructors in yoga.

While different, it is all the same and I personally find peace and contentment when I am able to tie concepts together.  I am so drawn to philosophy and love bringing people from different perspectives together.  It feels like a calling for me - something that I am supposed to be doing in this life,along with my continued passion for other healing arts as well.

Later today, while driving to a workshop on shiatsu massage, I listened to my contemporary spiritual CDs.  I had been unable to do this for many months due to a broken CD player in my car, but it felt so good to belt out the music that I have cantored for years in church.  And as I sang the words, I also listened carefully and again, saw the connections between the sanskrit chant earlier in the day and the lovely melodies that I have sung over and over again.  I smiled and felt a warmth, an opening in not only my throat chakra, but in my heart as well.  The throat chakra is about finding and using one's voice and the heart, well, most of us know, is all about love and being open.

I truly felt the "ecstasy" from my mantra this morning.  I feel blessed knowing that many languages, just as many paths, all lead to one - the sacred.