Sunday, April 15, 2018

Out of Town and Kinda Off the Grid

In an hour, I embark for a week-long conference about the Mind Body Medicine movement.   I am so excited to be with my colleague and mentor, Kathie Swift - a nutritionist who has truly made an impact in the integrative medicine arena. She will be accompanied by Dr. James Gordon, Harvard trained psychiatrist who embraces spirituality in mental health and Dr. Mark Hyman, world-reknowned physician and leader in functional medicine.

As I have been preparing for this time away, I felt a bit nervous about lack of internet connection.  I, like many, are so conditioned to be "plugged in", and yet, for true personal freedom, we need time away from the daily routines, the usual stimulation that narrows one's focus and to be away from the sensationalized news reports that generally focus on what's going wrong rather than right!

During my morning reflection, I read a passage that nicely written passage from Mastin Kipp:
"I believe everyone has a God-size hole inside of them that we try to fill with shopping or with a relationship or with food or sex or drugs.  But, it's not out there.  It's in here.  It's an internal connection.  And that's what a spiritual practice, listening to your intuition,having a creative expression, being of service is all about. . . ."

I will be focused on being immersed in this amazing experience while being attentive to the quieting of the daily mind, being receptive to what I am to take in for personal growth and for the community that I serve.

Forever grateful,
Julie

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Paradise Is A Perspective

As I am writing this blog, I am sitting on my porch overlooking the mountains, trees and listening to the lively chatter of the birds.  I feel so very blessed to be living in my unassuming, but functional and cute home.  Tammie is settled, loving to lay on the porch in the sun and having her walks along Shoreline Dr., a 5 minute car ride over the mountain and to the sea.

The simplicity of life feels wonderful, despite also getting my work or shall we say, "life-work" established here in Santa Barbara.  I am grateful to maintain a strong presence in Boston by using telehealth that is acceptable in healthcare, as I meet new people here.  As I attend functions and network, I sense that I am in a hub of progressive thinkers, movers and shakers, who want to care for humanity and the environment.  This broad perspective aligns with who I am and what I am about.

I visited an intentional community this past week and saw homes made of cob, utilities that were off the grid, using solar power.  The technology, while ancient in many ways, showed a wisdom that when combined with current knowledge, can transform the way we live now and in our future.   There was a reverence for the land, a desire to eat clean and nutrient-dense food and to be at peace and harmony with nature and each other.

Two days later, I was invited to the CEC meeting - Community Environmental Council.  This organization includes reducing carbon emissions, feeding the poor, sustainable living etc.  The lecture was on transportation and our future.  Mind-blowing, informative and so timely!

How does this all relate to what I do?  I am in the business of empowering people, to support them in challenge and to support their process of evolving "wholeness".   One cannot separate the body (taking care of the container that holds our light) from the mind and spirit.  As we advance in science, technology and "energy" (that which cannot be seen but is felt), I see my role as a bridge and conduit.  This has been a lifelong function in my life - brought about from old childhood wounds - and I am grateful to hold polar opposites, assisting them to see the other's perspective.  This is where paradise can unfold!

With love and support,
Julie

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Transformed by Loss: An Easter Message

As I approached this morning with anticipation - my first Easter service at Unity with my new choral group - I was eager to hear the message from our pastor, Rev. Larry.  His rich sermons bring together new age philosophy with old world wisdom and readings from various spiritual leaders.  Today the focus was on the resurrection of Jesus and how we might think of it not only in literal terms, but in a transcendent way.

Life is full of adversity, of challenge, of suffering and one may ask, if God exists, why this or why me?  Jesus' example of staying aligned with his truth - being in a place of love and peace within - allowed him to carry on with the horrendous circumstances that led to his death.  On Good Friday, I felt my usual sadness as I remembered his crucifixion, but I was also struck with asking Him if he was afraid.  I also recalled the Garden of Gethsemane when he wept.  I felt bodily sensations of his fear and pain more so than usual.  And on Saturday, I continued to feel sadness, but also anticipated the joy of upcoming Easter.

These feelings brought me back through my own history of challenge, loss and pain, but this time, I also had a deep knowing that I am on my path, for it is how one responds to adversity without being internally shaken that matters most.  The "I" is not the body, but is the soul - the unwavering essence.

In science, we state that energy can neither be created or destroyed and in spiritual terms, this means the soul.  Our bodies will change, age and eventually die, but "WE" never die.  In fact, I believe that my wholeness has not been diminished by life circumstances, but instead has been strengthened.  I am living in peace like never before.  I am finally getting it after all these years of lessons.

Just as the stone was rolled away from the tomb of Jesus, so can each of us rise from the death of each challenge as we see from the heart and not the eyes.

May you find peace and joy during this season of rebirth,
Julie

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Holy Week, Passover, Spring and Our Path

As we enter Spring and the holy traditions that surround us - I am most familiar with Lent, Easter and Passover - let us orient ourselves to this wonderful season of rebirth.

While at yoga last Saturday, our instructor, the owner of YogaSoup - my new yoga home - discussed the various traditions and addressed how yoga is about death and rebirth.  In fact, we have that opportunity each and every day.  He talked about the teachings of the Buddha and Jesus, not in religious terms, but more about their archetype and how we connect to this universal energy of love.

The next day was Palm Sunday, a favorite of mine.  I have led music groups over the years during this passionate service and personally reflect upon the upcoming week of Jesus' life - how he was to make this journey into an area of the world where his concepts were not universally accepted and where he threatened the domineering leadership of the time.  His journey was not for himself but for the world at that time.

The story of the Passion is a beautiful depiction of how to connect with our higher selves - that self that is not caught up in competition and dominance, but more in cooperation, compassion and respect for all of humanity.

In Indian and indigenous culture, that message is extended to our earth - the plants, trees, animals - and the magic that they bring into our lives.  I have more to learn about this culture and am proud to say that I have American Indian on both sides of my family.  My Mom was so proud of our heritage and I recall as a child visiting with my relatives.  I remember Uncle Art and Uncle Walter - beautiful sea blue eyes, copper-toned skin and high cheek bones.  We enjoyed these festive family gatherings.

As we enter these next few days, my wish for all is to take a few moments of reflection - to be grateful for these ancient traditions rich in story that support our own transformation; to be in awe of the budding plants and flowers that will "feed" our bodies over these months and will be a feast for our eyes with beautiful color; and to develop love and compassion for ourselves and those we see and do not see.

With love,  Julie

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Remodeling: What Does That Mean To You

While at barre class on Friday -  a challenging strength and conditioning workout -  I began to think about the word "remodel" and what it meant for me - way back when and now. Remodeling can also be about a body, bones, a home.

Remodeling for me is less about body image in the sense of how I look in the world, but more about how capable and strong I  feel within.  Important distinction for someone who grew up very heavy as a kid and who dieted a lot in the younger days!

I also thought of bones and how they are constantly remodeling - the process of being torn down during exercise in order to rebuild.  How amazing our bodies are, taking in fresh nutrients through this process in order to be a framework for our muscles and organs.

Lastly, I thought about homes.  For me in recent times, I have been lightening my load - what are the  essentials  that I need and what can I let go of?  And how does this process impact the environment with the materials that I choose to have in my home?

My new and evolved definition of remodeling is less about outer appearances and more about the depth  of the process within and extended into my environment.

How are you remodeling your life?  Be creative, bold and colorful!

In strength,
Julie

Sunday, March 11, 2018

We Are Here To Serve

As I pondered the theme from this week, I was struck by the similarities in "jargon", so to speak.  Yesterday, I attended a meeting to become a member of the Unity Spiritual  Living community and in this morning's reading from Awakened Leadership by Alan Shelton, executive coach, mentor and writer, he also spoke of service being the highest priority.

It is easy to go down the rabbit hole of uncertainty, self-doubt, not having or being enough - especially in light of current challenges across the board - in politics, healthcare, the environment.  What's the message here?

What does it mean to serve in today's world?  My definition has been evolving over these years because it meant something very different for most of my life.  Serving meant giving of yourself until you are sucked dry.  It correlated with a lack of self-worth and self-esteem and believe me, it is one of the hardest "programs of the mind" to break.  One of my longest and dearest friends often states, "You give of your surplus, not of your core!"

What I am seeing now is a paradigm shift in "awakening and awakened" leaders and new thought philosophers along with the ancients - Jesus and Buddha.  It is in giving that we receive, even multi-fold!  And it is not in a selfish manner - "I'll do for you if you do for me", but rather, what gifts do I have to share with others that they in turn need.

We are all born with talents, strengths, individual capacities and by nurturing these unique qualities, not only does the individual thrive, but the universe as a whole.

As I reflect upon my own journey, an ever-evolving process, I have served food to others for years - gathering people together socially, bringing the youth together to feed the poor, teaching others how to prepare healthier alternatives for their families and in recent years,  I have opened myself up in a broader sense through my own health crises and those of my family, feeding others spirit, strength and inspiration.

I recall during my years as a cantor in my church that I loved singing, So You Must Do, a beautiful Holy Thursday song about Jesus washing the feet of his friends.  It is less about the religious context and more about the common theme that can provide us with the nuggets of learning to live and love in this life.

I'm in a new environment all the way across the country still listening to the needs of others and am fine-tuning how I will serve now and in the future.

How will you serve?
Love
Julie


Sunday, March 4, 2018

Coming Out of The Dark Night of My Soul: Cleansed, Refreshed and Redefining



I’ve been on a hiatus for a little over a month now from all social media communication.  I finally hit a necessary rock bottom, as one might say, or my version of it!

Those of you who have followed my blog since its creation at the Newton Wellesley Hospital in 2014, know that the journey for these past few years and actually for a lifetime (upcoming in my book, the personal story), has been anything but easy.  And you also know, that I view these challenges as opportunities and gifts to share with others – family, friends, clients and colleagues.
It is not that my life has been any worse or better than another – it is about finding the meaning in a situation and how one responds.  I learned at a very early age that in order to navigate my family life and life in general, I needed to take care of others, no matter what; I needed to solve problems using my intellect; I needed to avoid feelings AND I needed to KNOW what to do and how to respond in crisis.

It became me – my persona. Or is that me?  Hmm.
This Dark Night for me was about not knowing, especially what I want and deserve.  Those have been suppressed as they have for many of my generation.  How dare I want, deserve, need!!!  During this time, I often walked (thank God the weather following the fires and flood has been beautiful) or sat with Tammie in my beautiful little studio, crying, feeling aimless, not producing (as I would define it).

And then this morning, I awoke to the question, how does one define success?  In our culture, we often look at credentials earned, money made and savings in the bank or the fancy car, house or two, kids who graduated from a prestigious college.  Well, I can attest to the first, but the others have been out of my reach.  Why?

It is an interesting combination of answers that I am looking at.  When I look at cultural ideals, I can feel uncomfortable and squirm a bit, but as I fledge my wings, beginning to really tap into who I am, I know that the discomfort comes from my innate sense of being undeserving, topped with societal measures.

As I begin to know me, I want the quieting of my mind that allows peace to flow in, to embrace the unknown with comfort and ease and to truly know that All Is Well!

Peace be with you today and always,
Julie


Sunday, January 21, 2018

In The Middle Of The Night - Not The Song!

It's been a week of emotional tumult.  There has been continued disruption of the normal routines for many due to the floods and mudslides and I was wanting to assist in some capacity.  Upon attending a meeting with a few hundred attendees to listen to the state and governmental agency updates, it was clear that this disaster was the worst in 200 years in this area.  Representatives from FEMA, Red Cross, fire, police, mental health, county officials, transportation, all provided updates on what they had done and were planning to do.  I left feeling a sense of community, but also very heavy-hearted for what some were enduring.

This feeling did not leave me all evening and I began to feel an odd sense of having been spared throughout the fires and this last disaster.  I was incovenienced, yet unharmed and I felt a little weird about it all.  Then at 12:35 am, I bolted out of my bed, saying to myself, I get it now - and I began to sob deeply.

I realized at that very moment that I had survivor guilt and had been unable to pinpoint that one until that very moment.  I recalled sitting in my bosses office years back after my cancer diagnosis telling him that I had a mild cancer.  His response was, "Julie, cancer is serious!"  A year later, sitting with my Mom a few weeks before her passing, she asked me how I was doing and I responded that I was doing all I could to get healthy.  She said to me, "Julie, cancer is serious!"  Of course, I did go on to become quite ill and ironically, it was the reaction to chemo that really did a number on me.

What was most striking to me upon awakening was my Dad's survivor guilt.  He refused any veterans support because he was not shot, killed or maimed while serving duty.  He has made it difficult for us to help him as family, often resulting in our frustration and feelings of helplessness.

The light has been shone on this aspect of family lineage and it is time, to reclaim my self-worth and deserving.  Oh, the power in self-discovery.  What I now realize even more than ever is that for me to truly be of service in this world, I must be taken care - and that is an inside job!

Blessings,
Julie

Monday, January 15, 2018

In Honor Of MLK: A Visionary and Presence Still Needed In Our Lives

As I listened to the reflection during service yesterday at Unity, my new-found spiritual center (in addition to yoga!), Rev. Larry provided a synopsis of discussions with Martin Luther King when faced with adversity - and we know that he faced many challenges with courage and love.

When asked why he did not focus on his traumas and struggles, he stated that he did not wish to be seen as a victim or to be pitied.  In fact, he believed that these trials in life strengthened his creative force.  It was like another resounding bell in my head, reminding me that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and in this very time!

Over this past month, I've received countless calls, texts and emails from concerned family, friends and colleagues, asking if I am safe from harm.  It has been a whirlwind with two evacuations, then the floods and mudslides, yet, I have been safe from harms' way.  Inconvenienced - yes.  Strengthened - yes.  In what ways?

Moving has become a natural state for me and during each move, I've let go of more "stuff".  My living quarters now are approaching the tiny house model that I am looking forward to achieving.  With letting go, there is the physical removal, getting stuff to places of service to others or finding the right recycling place.  Emotionally, moving means being able to adapt to new surroundings - people, places and getting the new routines down.  I'm quite comfortable with this process and have found it exciting rather than too overwhelming. OK, there are times of exhaustion!

I "know" that I am here in this place and at this time to serve others, yet do not know exactly what that will look like.  I've reached out to the city governmental agencies to help in any way that I can; I've contacted my local food bank and have typed letters to my neighbors about picking fruit from our trees and getting it out there to those in need and I've tapped into my new group at Unity, to be a support with music and spiritual offerings.  How that will manifest is in God's hands - and that is deep within my being while connected to the universe at large.

Receptivity has been wonderful.  I am in a community where care and concern are paramount and while only a mile away, houses, people and possessions have been wiped away, there is also an overarching sense of this cycle of life - joy and pain, trauma and resilience - that connects us all.

May you be blessed with facing adversity with grace as Dr King did,
Julie

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Over the Rainbow and After the Storm

It was the day following the massive downpour in Santa Barbara that resulted in severe devastation to pockets of areas.  The blue sky and a spectacular rainbow shone for miles, but my camera only caught a birds' eye view.

How does one reconcile tragedy and beauty at the same time.  All around me is the buzz of people knowing someone displaced or another feeling the gratitude of having a home to go to.  I'll be here in my new home just three weeks tomorrow and during this time, I've witnessed the fires that seemed to go on forever and now, this week, a terrible storm that has wiped away homes, businesses and the lives of some people and their pets.

It was an eerie feeling listening to helicopters all evening and having the buzzing alert messages once again, telling people to evacuate areas close by.  I stayed in for much of the day until the sun shone and I walked Tammie along Shoreline Drive, taking this amazing photo.  Not once did I feel afraid even though this is new territory for me.  I stopped to take it all in - the dark and the light of the experience.  And I feel grateful for being alive, for being in this place and for the opportunity to connect with others offering support in what ever way I can.

The power of the rainbow reminds us that there is life after the storm.

With gratitude,
Julie


Monday, January 1, 2018

Redefining Wealth!

Happy New Year and welcome to a new beginning for us all.  2017 surely had many challenging times, we have survived and hopefully, have gleaned the gifts in the various meanings of life.

Today, as I look out my window which displays majestic mountains, palm trees and sunshine, I feel quite rich!  There has been a disconnect for me since childhood about deserving material things in life (old ingrained stuff!), yet as I continue to navigate life, I feel quite rich in experience, my new living situation (closer to the tiny, sustainable home that I am working towards) and my friendships - both old and new.

I awoke to messages from family and clients whom I have worked with - or shall we say partnered with - for over thirty years.  What a gift to have these long-standing relationships that are more than just a "client".  I know these people and they know me - a transparency that bonds humanity together!

My goals for this year are many, but one that holds a priority is living with less stuff and in less space.  And I have been consistently unloading "stuff" - the physical things we cling to, as well as the emotional road-blocks that impede seeing life as truly being wealthy!  My space is now 525 square feet and to define the tiny home concept, I have about 25 more to shave off.

Watch out for 2019 - I plan to have this concept really take off for many - leveling the playing field of wealth and spreading it among those who need and deserve more.  We all deserve, but we must see and believe that it is here for the asking and taking.

In wealth,
Julie

PS - take a peek at http://www.swingingsteaks.com/.  Jamie, a dear friend has written music about life, stuff and what really matters!  Check out We're All In This Together from Shiner and the album, Steele Blue Moon.  Lots to chew on!