When I stopped judging myself magic began to happen.

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I was at the YMCA working out the other morning on one of the machines.  It had been a few years since I had been and it was really nice catching up with old friends from before.  This morning in particular I was next to a young woman who I knew from before and she was lamenting about how she was really angry with herself for all the years she had been fat.  She had lost a huge amount a few years back and felt that she needed a reminder and was going to put up a picture of herself when she was fat as a deterrent to overeating.

This conversation struck me as sad for I could hear in her voice so much regret and anger for the woman she was.  In reality that anger and regret spills into the woman she is.

Although I am still overweight , I too have been able to keep 70lbs off that I had lost several years ago.  When I look at the pictures of me at my heaviest I am filled with love and gratitude for her.  I neither feel sorry for her nor have any anger for her now.  I too remember being filled with disappointed and anger with myself and yet I have come to love the part of me that felt she needed protection from the world.  There were many reasons for my being overweight; most now have healed.  It is so easy to judge people who are overweight.  Some of us gained it as a way of protecting ourselves from painful stories; we simply carry the scars where people can see; others hide them behind anger, blame and frustration that gets projected at the world.  My weight prevented me from the later.  It was and is a beautiful gift.  My weight is my teacher and I learn from each and every pound that I let go of, one at a time.  Yes let go of, not lose.  I know that being overweight is not healthy but in the end I also believe that self-hatred is much more destructive.

Ultimately until we find self-love and forgiveness we are never really lovingly present in our bodies or to others weither we are overweight or not.

Here is a picture at my heaviest and I am hugging a dear friend;  I look at me here and I know that for many reasons I was perfect the way I was.

Find a way to see yourself through eyes that are accepting and loving.  When we do, we get to see others through the same loving and accepting filter.   Remember the old saying “What you resist persists”.   When I stopped judging myself magic began to happen.  What is one way you could find more magic this week for yourself?

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Passion for life is a choice

As the winter months finally wind down and the sun is staying longer in the sky, we are having the last few cold weeks as we move into March.  I am excited once again and feel rejuvenated by the longer days.  I am starting to think about planting my tomatoes plants and dreaming about summer days collecting wild herbs, jumping into the wonderful waters of the Atlantic Ocean and working in my hothouse with the unmistakable sweet aroma of mother earth.  Spring always creates a stir in me.  Not only do I want to plant seeds but to cultivate new things in my life!

One of the things I love to do is walk and I have been pretty regular this winter (in my sneakers no less, very unusual to have hardly any snow here!!)  I do a lot of thinking along my path and I have come to realize how little time lately I have allowed for inner reflection and journaling.  Inner reflection always gives way to inspiration for me.  I have decided to take extra time in the mornings to be still, to write down my thoughts in a journal and let my thoughts wander freely.  I have also incorporated back into my daily practice qigong and yoga.  Both of these practices are waking me up from a winter sludge I felt I was in.

I get caught up in the stress of life sometimes and forget to dream.  Since restarting I am excited again.  This is a wonderful reminder of the commitment I made to myself on my last birthday to not forget the passion I have for life!  Now is a perfect time to renew and reboot my juices and get fully back into this adventure.

What daily practice can you introduce today to reboot your passion for life? It really is a choice that we get to make every day, in every moment.  We can choose to be awake and present to each moment.   How can you cultivate yourself for new inner growth this spring? In this moment what will you choose?

Want inspiration? Simply look at how children live life and get a perfect reflection living and loving each moment.

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“Whole food”; A sweeter and juicer life!

I am often perplexed by the term “whole food”.  We hear it a lot now in dieting ads, it certainly is advocated in many medical conditions and overall we understand this to be a much healthier choice.

Yet I wonder what my grandmother would say about this word.  Food has always been quote “whole” until the industrial revolution brought a new way to preserve food with the use of artificial chemicals and plastic packaging.  Our generation has learned how to genetically modify food; we have learned how to enhance the look of food by adding colors and artificial flavoring to the point of it being unrecognizable to my grandmother’s generation.   We even find it totally unacceptable to buy a blemished fruit or vegetable.  This last point is where I find it most disturbing, for as a gardener myself I realize that the only way to produce perfect looking produce is through the use of harsh chemicals.  Thus this is why I have been an organic gardener for over 25 years.  I have an elderly neighbor once say that “if the bugs won’t eat it why the hell should we!”

Over 25 years ago both of our sons were extremely sick most of the time; they suffered horribly with childhood asthma and were constantly sick with ear infections, colds and even pneumonia a few times a year.  We were in and out of the hospital often and they were on a steady dose of antibiotic every other month.  I got frustrated and did a lot of research and discovered with everything I was reading that what I was feeding them was a huge part of the problem.  Although I was feeding them what at the time was a standard healthy diet, the food choices were often packaged, filled with dyes and fillers and other such substances.  The food was overly processed and that was what our boys were reacting to.  I decided to take them off of all artificial foods and coloring, anything that was white including, white flour, and white sugar.  I started growing my own vegetables and switched them to goat’s milk and even had my own chickens for a while.  I found a Naturopathic Doctor and switched our family to mostly herbal medicine. We started purchasing organic beef and chickens from local farmers and “voila” in 6 months they were healthy and remained so. Back then it was not such a popular thing to do as it is today.  I was seen as the weird “hippy”mom who does not let her kids eat anything.  What most people did not know is our son’s did not miss anything, I learned to make many things that they loved including really good pizza with yes “tofu” meat that even their friends loved  as long as they did not know what they were eating! LOL!   Homemade ice-cream was our favorite!! Although I must admit our son’s said my healthy cookies needed work.  Today thought I have the best chocolate chip recipe ever!

Today many years later I still eat mostly foods that are organic and whole.   I use mostly herbal medicine and to me this is simplicity and what I am passionate about.  I make most meals from scratch, homemade soups are my favorite.  Now not as much as I used to, even my own breads; I still drink goats milk and make my own yogurt from it.   Today I do not have a huge garden any more but I eat lots of fruits and veggies mostly from local farmers and organic when possible.   Yes of course I still eat junk food but here I am picky too.  I usually eat (not always) organic chips, corn chips and indulge in a good organic chocolate bar with my favorite herb tea!  And yes I still obviously eat too much but I love myself, blemishes and all!

I think this example of the way we see food also parallel’s the way we are with ourselves.  Too many of us are living an artificial life; we have become obsessed with preserving our youth and projecting a false persona.  We need to be seen as completely unblemished physically and emotionally cramming away any sense of vulnerability or”weakness” needing to be seen as perfect.  I would like to think the same way I believe “whole” foods are better for us the same is true about letting our “whole” self  be seen and shine.  Blemishes and all!!

I know from experience that when I see produce with a blemish that it is much more likely to be organic, which means better for me and much sweeter and juicier!  The same way when we accept all of who we are, we far more happy which means to me a much juicier life !!  When we simply become curious instead of controlling we are far more accepting of ourselves and others !! 🙂

I believe all things in life are meant to be simple and we all are blemished, when we no longer need to hide them we are free to be organic and genuinely real with ourselves and others!    The more simple I make my life, the more I accept all of my many blemishes,  the more energy and vibrancy I have for everything I do and the more acceptance I have of others! .  In other words life is much more juicy and sweet! 🙂

How can you make your life simpler, sweeter and juicier this week?

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Following Our Dreams, One Step at a Time.

Often we are stuck in our lives because we are afraid to take action towards a dream.   There is a wonderful quote by Confucius (551-479 BCE),

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.”

It seems as long as recorded history we, as a race of human beings, have often been stuck, unable to move into action for fear of not being successful.    Yet the evidence of so many success stories share one thing in common.  They were willing to fail over and over.   It is actually only when we see “failure” as an opportunity instead; we finally give ourselves permission to move forward.

Recently I have embarked on a writing adventure that has been one of the hardest things I have done in a long time.   Along the way I have been learning many things.  I have made many mistakes, and yet it has been one of the most fulfilling and creative things I have done since giving birth to my sons.

I find over and over when I am willing to take action despite the fear there is a flow that begins to happen.  It is almost as if God is waiting for us to make the first move and then wow; divine magic happens!  Our world seems to open up and then we are guided along the way, one step at a time.   When we are willing to make each step count, and continue to move no matter what the obstacles or challenges, we succeed.

Follow your dreams!  Take one step today!   Remember it does not matter how big or small the step is, so long as you are willing to take it!

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My extra weight has been a great teacher.

Being overweight my whole adult life has taught me allot about self-acceptance.

My weight has been teaching me so much about life and self-love and I have no doubt what so ever when the lessons I need are finished I will release the extra weight.  A long time ago I stopped trying to lose weight for every time I lose anything I always end up finding it again! 🙂

My journey has been about living more fully in my body, learning to listen, movement and be present to the food I eat.  Years ago I learned for me it is not about weighing, measuring, counting calories, or jumping on the scale everyday.   The weight I have managed to keep off has come only through being more present to my body and life as a whole.

I still have dark holes I fall into at times where I fall into old patterns of unconscious eating but here too I have learned these are only more lessons to learn.  When I finally release my extra weight I will be no longer be in the “learning” but in the “knowing”.  I feel graduation is near!  🙂  Then I will be in a place where I can focus on learning other lessons that I need to integrate.  Life is a school.  Sometimes I have had to re-earn my degrees but eventually I manage to graduate and then go onto the next course.

My message is the same, big or small; we all have shadows that we need to love and integrate and in that eventually creates self-acceptance for all of us.  I know this to be true for me, the more I love and accept myself the more I have been able to love and accept others.  Beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder.  Let us all behold a more loving society that no longer uses words to break each other’s spirits.

The next time you have a negative thought creep in about your body or someone else’s…in that moment take a breath and remember these thoughts are only what our collective society has cultivated and they are only just that, thoughts.   Maybe you can be courageous enough to do your part by loving all of who you are, the light and the dark and then together we will reflect and kinder gentler world where we are all healthier, body, mind and spirit!

Pay extra attention today about what your thoughts are about yourself and others.  If negative things pop in, simply observe them, then take a deep breath and let it go.  Let go and let God.  Surrender is the wind  beneath our wings

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“This is mine” or “I belong to this”

Two distinct ways of seeing our world.  I read an amazing book each day called “The Book of Awakening” by Mark Nepo.  He spoke of this duality this week.  I thought of so many ways in which we get caught up in thinking “this is mine”; for many it is validating our lives through how many possessions we have.  Mostly I ponder the delusion of possessing this beautiful blue planet that so many of us in the Western world have, as if we really could.

Although we claim to be so advanced in this part of the world,  I cannot help but marvel at indigenous people who live in less “civilized” parts of our world that have a greater understanding of belonging. They understand we are all connected and interdependent on each other and our environment.  

The first statement “this is mine” feels contracting to me, and the second “I belong to this” feels expansive.  Whenever I get caught up in my own delusions of possessions I  remind myself how in truth we own nothing, we are only stewards to everything. 

When I walk on the land where I live, I often speak to the trees and wildlife.  No I do not hear anything in return but I am comforted somehow by the thought that I am a part of this beauty around me.  Whenever life gets frustrating I sometimes simply go to the beach and walk until I feel relieved of my burdens.  This morning was one of those days where the ocean welcomed me as I walked along the shore letting the waves wash away my tension. This always helps me gain a much-needed different perspective.  Yes I belong to this! We all belong. 

When we feel like we belong we understand instinctively that we need to take care of nature and each other.   On the other hand if we are living the illusion that it belongs to us than we no longer have to take responsibility for the future of our planet or for each other.   Then we become an “I” society and what we need more of is a “we” community.  In my training we were given two simple words to look at.  I found these words to be profound.  They give us a clue that can be a wakeup call to all of us.

“I”llness  or “we”llness. 

It is not the act of acquiring that is wrong but the delusion that we need these things to belong.

What can you do this week to connect with nature, to get grounded in the healing energy of belonging?

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Relationships can be the greatest mirrors for seeing ourselves.

We often find ways to blame others for our unhappiness in life for it can be and often will be difficult at times.  The most obvious place is to blame those who are the closest to us that have hurt us along the way.  Some of us blame our parents for our unhappiness today or maybe an ex that hurt us along life’s path.  Only when we are willing to step back and see all of our relationships as wonderful teachers that give us opportunities to grow we can then find peace, contentment and love in our lives today. 

In my marriage of 32 years it took me many years to unfold and uncover all the layers of anger and pain from my childhood.  My dear husband and I married when we were mere children.  I was 18 and he was 21. We both were escaping from childhood pain and in our naive youthful ways we thought that we could find refuge in each other.  It took many years of inner work, exploring and letting go of many projections from our childhoods that somehow in the end we have remained together and still very much in love today! 

We both had and still have the courage to look inside and be painfully honest with each other during difficult times in our marriage.  It just happens that my partner was and is as willing as I to grow and therefore we grew together into a very spiritual loving relationship today.  Not perfect by any means but real, honest and deeply respectful of each other.  I still chuckle as my husband shared the other day how he loves who I am today and what we have with each other because when he first met me I was so jaded!  So true, I was so busy blaming the world I did not even see what was right in front of me.  When I showed up to myself my husband showed up in ways I did not know existed for me

For us this was our journey for others it may mean letting go of relationships that are toxic and loving themselves first before they move on to a new love.  Whatever path we have, each time we look into another’s eyes’ we see a reflection of what we feel  about ourselves inside.   If we choose as adults to allow others to reflect anything but respect and love to us then somewhere inside we believe on some level it to be true.

We attract to us what we feel inside about ourselves.  This is true if we are in a long or short-term relationship or still looking for love.  This is true even with friendships.  We choose those around us by the same gauge we hold about ourselves. 

I believe that we can look at each relationship either long-term or temporarily as great teachers of opportunities to grow.  As we learn along the way what it is we don’t want and then cultivate in ourselves the courage to heal and let go of blaming others; we then can blossom first with ourselves and then with another. When we love who we are first and treat our own lives with respect we then can be open for the same coming from someone else. 

Find ways to be kinder to yourself, heal inward and the outward world will be much kinder.  There is no secret to a loving relationship for it always begins with the relationship we have with ourselves. All other relationships will build from there.

Who do you see in the mirror? How can you be kinder to yourself today?

He has been my greatest teacher!
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