Be Awesome In Your Body Story: Marisa Merliss

Marisa in Bali during her retreat for Revive Restorative Retreats

Marisa in Bali during her retreat for Revive Restorative Retreats

This girl here sure embodies Be Awesome in Your Body.

Aside from the fact that she is quite beautiful...

... and insanely fit...

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... things haven't always been a piece of cake.

Even the most beautiful and strong (and super loving, kind and nice) can suffer setbacks. For Marisa, it was injury to her body that put the brakes on her career... that of a dancer and performer.

Early in her dance career, she suffered a traumatic injury that resulted in multiple surgeries and horrible pain. Besides the physical aspect of injury and pain, it can be devastating and depressing to have your body not cooperate the way it did once before... something we expect as we get to be 60-something, but not one to even imagine at 20-something.

Eventually, as fate would have it, Marisa met Sue Hitzmann, MELT Method creator, and the door to just the POSSIBILITY of healing opened. Through learning MELT and the hands on therapy she received from Sue, Marisa began to move into a world of 'pain free' that she hadn't experienced for quite some time. She even started performing again... plus could be photographed doing cool moves like this that would put someone like me in the hospital...

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(By the way, this fitness pro/dancer/performer/fitness model is also a Registered Nurse... Amazing!)

Marisa's story - her choice to Be Awesome in HER Body - has inspired and given hope to many people suffering in pain.

What I have given you above is just a small sampling of the many years of pain and debilitation she suffered, yet her determination to get well and Be Awesome moved her forward.

Now, Marisa helps others to also Be Awesome in their Bodies through group classes and private instruction in her home of New York City.

To further her mission even further, she and her friend Becca Pace created REVIVE Restorative Retreats and just had their first amazingly successful retreat in Bali! They taught MELT and bodyART classes each day. The retreat was 7 days and 6 nights just outside of Ubud, Bali at a retreat resort called Naya Ubud. They also took excursions to a water temple, White Sands beach and went white water rafting and all stood under a waterfall together... I think if you had told Marisa 5 years ago that she would be active, pain-free and teaching a retreat in Bali, she would have called you nuts.

And yet.... I think the following photos and Instagram joy that says it all.

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To learn more about Marisa, check out her site at http://www.marisamerliss.com.

Want to retreat with REVIVE? You can find out how here: http://www.reviverestorativeretreats.com

Many thank to Marisa, Becca and REVIVE for being the first to truly kick off this campaign of AWESOME!!

Be Awesome in Your Body!

Be Awesome in Your Body Story: Amanda Cizek

I was a tiny little kid. As a matter of fact, I entered this world via emergency c-section on Thanksgiving Day 1970, weighing in just under 4lbs. Although labeled a preemie, I was fully formed and needed no incubating. My dad's nickname for me was 'Mouse', though from the photos I have seen, 'Little Rat' may have been more accurate.

Growing up, I was mercilessly teased for my size even up through High School. Many people say being the fat kid on the playground is the worst, but being the scrawny emotional one was no walk in the park, either. I learned to hate my body at a very young age.

When I was around 16, I asked my dad if I could get a membership at a gym so I could have a strong body like Cher (remember that?). He was impressed that I wanted to get strong, so he arranged for my membership at a club full of Nautilus equipment and soon I was hooked!

Much to my frustration, I did not develop strong arms like Cher, but I felt strong and was fascinated by the fitness industry. In college, I even had a few people ask me for advice on what exercises to do or machines to use.

Eventually, in my 30's living in New York City, I went to 'school' for personal training (more like a 3 day class) and eventually passed my exam to become an official ACE Certified Personal Trainer. Seeing as I had a full time job, I only trained a few clients in their homes, in central park or in my own apartment. I LOVED learning and trying the newest in fitness trends, but most of all I loved HELPING people feel better.

I was working out hard myself and along with swimming and running, I began looking pretty strong with 'sexy' definition in my arms. Despite all of this, I still had people say insensitive things such as: "Oh, you look too skinny", "Hey Amanda, eat a sandwich, will ya?", "Are you ill?", and "What, do you work out like 10 times a day??"

In truth, I knew that what was being said AT me was not true, yet I found that I would then refer to my own body as a "scrawny", which really is not an endearing description of oneself. I've gone so far as to frown at myself in the mirror thinking "ewww...I am so gross... I need to lift more."

Cut to my life now... I am 45, still lean and far from perfect. I don't workout like I used to partly because I get distracted doing other things (like writing) and also because it doesn't hold that much value for me anymore.

As I shifted my focus from being a 'fitness professional' to being a manual therapist and somatic educator, I have learned that movement is what matters, not necessarily exercise. 'No Pain, No Gain' is actually unwise and dangerous. Caring about cellulite and abdominal flab is a societal misnomer. The pressure that has been put on people, women especially, to look a certain way has gotten terribly out of hand.

One of my favorite body nerds, Brooke Thomas, spoke about it perfectly in her new podcast, "Bliss and Grit", drawing a metaphor to our body & exercise being one of a toxic relationship.. that if it were a romantic partnership, we would be telling our partner that what they had to say didn't matter and that if they were hurt, too bad, we were going to do what we wanted and who cares that you are crying out for help.

Why do we do that to ourselves? Our poor precious bodies that are her to support us??

I have totally been guilty of that many times over, for sure and I am not here to judge exercise or anyone who lives for it. I have just learned that for me, if I don't spin or run or CrossFit or yoga or whatever, that I am not doing harm to myself... actually I am probably doing myself a favor.

What I have found in my personal journey in my body is that self-care and self-love is my most important foundation, which is what "Be Awesome in Your Body" is all about.

Every day I choose to nourish my body, mind and spirit in the ways that bring me joy: I have a morning quiet time with my coffee and journal, I walk while listening to podcasts, I enjoy meals out, a Corona on a hot summer day and a couple of glasses of Pinot Noir during a gig wit my band, Fake ID.

I MELT my body to keep it less stiff and achy. I use essential oils to assist with my health and mood. My diet is far from perfect, but on the whole, I do my best to eat well. Occasionally, I will take a class at Orange Theory Fitness or JoyRide, the whole time sweating, over working my adrenals, wondering to myself why I am doing a thing to my body that kinda goes against my current beliefs of what whole body wellness truly is (well, honestly, I think it's fun, but so are tequila shots).

I am still lean, but I no longer have wash board abs. Instead, I have a little 'middle aged wine belly' and I am ok with that because I am not in my 20's or 30's anymore. As a former marathon runner, I don't run at all anymore because I don't like it and I choose not to feel bad about that.

I no longer say I am 'scrawny', I say I am 'little'.

The "I should be doing X's" in my life are now replaced with "what can I do today that will bring joy to me and those around me?"

Today, I choose to love, choose to risk and take chances, choose to inspire, choose to live joyfully and live my very best life now because one day I will be dead.

I honor and respect this body of mine, this vessel that my soul lives in. Yeah, sometimes it's a mess, but I am pretty consistent at tidying it up, because in truth, I love it and I am grateful.

This is why I choose to Be Awesome in MY Body!


Do you want to be part of the Be Awesome in Your Body movement? I would LOVE to have you join!

Email me HERE to get more information on how you can share your story and inspire the world!

Lavender Essential Oil: Soothe The Savage Beast

 

Recently I posted a photo of my sisters puppy, passed out on the kitchen floor after I had applied some certified pure therapeutic grade oil on his ears:

Lavender Dog

Lavender Dog

I received many likes and funny comments from this photo but also inquiries if it would help calm adults, children and help with sleep, so I thought it good to share some information on the benefits of using lavender essential oil.

Lavender essential oil has many uses that make it so well-loved in the world of aromatherapy. It is a wonderful natural remedy for a wide variety of both emotional health and physical health problems.  A useful oil for anything from skin irritations to even vertigo, lavender essential oil is helpful in relieving stress and insomnia. Just simply smelling the oil right out of the bottle can help calm the nerves.

For Stress Relief

The power of lavender essential oil in providing stress relief can also be attributed to its linalool and linalyl acetate content. These naturally occurring phytochemicals give lavender essential oil the ability to be readily integrated into our body’s processes to start acting quickly.

Along with inhaling the oil out of the bottle, you can also end a stress-filled day by taking a nice warm bath and add a few drops of lavender essential oil to your tub (well, maybe in the Fall, when it is no longer 90+ degrees and humid). If you are not one for baths or don't have a tub, you can always put some drops in a humidifier or use an essential oil diffuser... the latter of which I recommend very highly!

Another way of using this oil for stress relief is to get a massage and have your therapist use the oil through part or all of the session. As a massage therapist, this is my most used oil in session. For any client who comes to me saying they are super tense, stressed and want to relax, I open the massage by putting drops of the oil all along their spine. It is amazing to see how quickly one relaxes just from that one simple thing.

I do want to take a moment to highlight the benefits of using an essential oil diffuser in your home. Truly, you can use a diffuser through out the day with other oils, however, diffusing lavender essential oil certainly does a calming effect... for you, your loved ones and, yes, your dog.

You don't need to hire a massage therapist to apply the oil topically. Other considerations for topical application include applying it directly (neat) on pulse points and back of the neck or diluting in a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil, which is important if one has sensitive skin or is applying the oil on a baby/small child. Also, applying the oil on the bottoms of the feet is super safe and effective, as the pores on the bottom of the feet are big and absorb oils quickly!

For Insomnia

A very common symptom of stress-related issues is insomnia. These are so intertwined that it can often be hard to determine if the stress causes the insomnia or if the insomnia is the cause of the stress. Therefore why not tackle both problems with the one oil?

The aroma of lavender essential oil can help regulate your blood pressure and heart rate. This will then lead you to a more relaxed state where sleep and stress relief will come easier for you.

Remember the highlight on using a diffuser in your home? Be sure to have one in the bedroom just for bedtime! Diffusing lavender at bedtime is magic and truly helps promote a restful nights sleep. In the dry winter months, it also adds moisture to the air for easier breathing... another vital component to a restful nights sleep!

Now keep in mind that lavender oil is not a cure or a religion. It won’t necessarliy stop the dog barking or make your boss a kinder person, but it will assist in quieting your mind for sleeping. Most problems are less daunting after a reasonable night’s sleep.

Added bonus? There's no lavender hangover.

Where Do I Get This Awesome Essential Oil?

The best way to get the most pure of lavender essential oils and at wholesale is through a company that provides both! The company I have found to be the most reputable is doTERRA. I personally use the oil in my private massage therapy sessions, incorporate them in my MELT classes and, of course, use them on myself!

You can contact me via email at amanda@consistentfitness.com for more information on oils and diffusers or simply go to the information page on my website to for more information, links to order and instructions.

Get your lavender essential oil! Your medicinal cupboard and nightstand should never be without it.

Plan it to win it!

I am typically not a big product person, but when I do find something I love, I tend to be a loyal customer.

One such item is the Dailygreatness Planner... Specifically the Business Planner.

I started this planner in February of this year because, well, I am a trend rebel and didn't want to be that New Year resolution maker until I was certain of the resolution. Plus, the date pages are unmarked, so I could start whenever I wanted!

What I love about this planner is that it is a colorful happy place to go to really plan not just your day, week, month, quarter and year, but also to plan your dreams. It is a wonderful journal of manifestation!

I have a routine every morning to go into my planner to plan for the day and every Sunday to plan for the week. Each week end offers pages to reflect on the previous week: what went right, what went wrong, inspirations and decisions. It even has a giant blank page to just dream. I love that!

Personally, I am one that needs to plan. Along with this, I have my iCal on my phone and desktop. Especially as an entrepreneur, planning ahead and even the far future is essential for success!

I have been snarky in the past about goal setting and planning, but no more... I am proof that putting pen to paper has tremendous power!

The Dailygreatness company has other journals beside the Business Planner!

You can plan for you, your yoga practice, your fitness motivation... anything really.

The Dailygreatness Business Planner is one of the many ways that I choose to Be Awesome in MY Body and it truly is part of a Consistent Wellness life.

Although the colors and copy may seem more female focused, I say who cares... dudes should have one, too.

Again, these journals are undated and there is no time like the present, so if you are in need/desire a planner right now, just click HERE or on any of the above images.

Lastly, if you are a shop owner or see an opportunity where buying the journals in bulk are beneficial to growing your business, there are options for that listed on the Dailygreatness website.

Happy planning and manifest away!

A Campaign of AWESOME

 

I was recently frustrated with the inability to properly communicate the importance of self-care.  Clearly, the term "self-care" is a rather large umbrella with many ideas underneath its canopy. 

As a MELT Master Trainer, I am an educator in a specific modality of self-care, yet it is not the only type of self-care that I teach and practice.

What I have found in the area where I live, is that most of the active residents have what I see as a self-abusive form of self-care, meaning that the "No Pain, No Gain" paradigm is still alive and well.

In my various efforts to get the CrossFit, Zumba, Spinning, Triathlete, Marathoner, Hot Yoga, Tony Horton-Insanity-Beach Body addicts into my MELT classes, the response from many is "Amanda is a great teacher, but it wasn't enough of a workout for me."

Good thing, seeing as MELT is NOT a workout at all, but rather a complimentary self-treatment technique.  What many don't see is that this add-on modality will help them perform better in whatever activity they do.

Unfortunately, what ends up happening is that I get many private massage clients coming to me with an injury and when I ask what they think caused it, say 'well, I was doing _______ workout and...' fill in the blanks with lumbar, cervical, hamstring, shoulder, foot, whatever injury.  When I suggest that we get on the roller first, I usually get a refusal because that person really just wants to lie on my table and have me do the work for them.

Fair enough. I am a manual therapist, after all. 

Yet, if only I could convince this enthusiastic population of on-the-go 30-50 somethings who are seeking optimal health that just TEN MINUTES a day of proactively treating their connective tissue can keep pain and injury at bay...I would have a booming business and Fairfield County would be in better shape.

I take responsibility for not communicating the importance of self-care.  Somehow my messaging of MELTing every day, sleeping in a dark room, drinking water consistently throughout the day, using essential oils, among other advice, has not truly been heard.  Perhaps if I used other words?

If you take the time to find a synonym for 'self-care', you will find none.  You could spend over two hours like I did playing mix-and-match with those two words and be no closer to communicating it any better.

It was at this realization that I chose to seek answers by asking the question "When you hear the term 'self-care', what is the first thing you think of?" to anyone who would care to share. 

The results were amusing and interesting, ranging from "It sounds like something I just don't want to do" to "It reminds me of a nursing home." Oddly, no one said 'kale' or 'sleep' or 'movement'.  Nothing positive.  Just unpleasant.

One of my clients shared his observation that self-care "is just so hard to do."

Really??

I beg to differ.  It is no harder than treating yourself like crap.

Self-care isn't hard. It's a decision.

"I don't get it," I said to my boyfriend. "I just want to help people feel better and teach them to be awesome in their bodies."

"That's it!," he said, pointing at me.

"What is??"

"Be awesome in your body.  That's your message of self-care."

It was a few weeks after that light bulb moment that an even greater, more important light bulb went off.

Not only is "Be Awesome in Your Body" my personal communication tool and tag line for my wellness business, it is also a campaign.

A campaign that is about to launch.

Soon, I will be sharing amazing Awesome stories of Awesome people who choose daily to Be Awesome in their Bodies. 

It is about self-care, self-love, self-acceptance. 

It's about the choices we make on a daily basis to live our best, healthiest and most joyous life.

It doesn't matter who you are, what you do, what you were born with, the family raised in, your illness, physical or mental disabilities, your sex or sexual preference.

Our right as living, breathing beings is to be happy in this one vessel we were given at birth.

Our soul is eternal, but the vessel temporary, and it is our duty to be kind to this temporary soul home.

Each day is a decision to do just that.

Be Awesome in Your Body.

 

Orange is the New Workout

I quit going to the gym two years ago.  

Traditional gyms, like Fitness Edge did not do it for me.  For starters, as a fitness professional for the last 10 years who is a stickler for form and stability, I can say with authority that the trainers employed there are lazy and unskilled.  Sorry if that offends anyone, but I only speak the truth of what I witness.  Seeing this incompetence around me every time I worked out made me angry, which is not the emotion I was going for when I entered the gym.

Also, DESPITE being a fitness professional, I found a way to wimp out on my workouts.  Not terribly promising for progress.

I needed a good push from a force outside myself.  

Enter my two favorites dressed in orange!

Orangetheory Fitness in Fairfield, CT and JoyRide Cycling Studio in Westport, CT both kick my hiney out of it's lazy comfort zone to such a point that at times I feel beyond the point no return (please see previous post "Not Dead Yet" to see what I am talking about).  

Both offer a great product for a premium price, which I find is worth every penny as it is giving me the results I desire while keeping me motivated for my own personal workouts in between class days.
 
The two are very different in method and philosophy while equal in encouraging members to believe in themselves and go higher, which for me makes it a winning combo.

At Orangetheory, heart rate monitors are at the center of this high energy circuit training workout that includes a treadmill, water rower and a weight room with free weights and TRX straps.  There is a big screen monitor in the stuido that shows a box for each participant with their heart rate, percentage of that rate, and calories burned.  The color of your square determines where you are in your exertion:  Blue iswarm up/ recovery/ not doing much, Green is a base pace, Orange is your best fat burning zone (now you see where the name of the company comes from) and Red is your all out max/potential-cardiac-arrest-if-here-too-long zone.  

No two workouts are ever the same, which is great and never makes it boring.  The instructor splits the sold out class into two groups between the treadmills and the rowing machine or weightroom, depending on the workout of the day and verbally dictates the class to both groups.  It is based on time blocks, so the instructor has many things to monitor, including the stop watch.  Although the instructor is great at encouraging participants to push a little more and get in the orange, what is fun is keeping an eye on your stats and challenging yourself.  At the end, there is a cool down stretch and the final results for everyone is displayed... a humbling moment at times and exciting when improvement is shown in the numbers.  Later, you get an email with those stats so you can personally keep track of your progress.

JoyRide is the opposite of all of that... In the center of this incredibly hard, intense, aerobic/anaerobic workout is a spiritual, yoga-like philosophy.  Cell phones and any electronic distractions are probhibited. The lights get turned down to near black and the rider is encouraged to get out of their head and into their body, leaving whatever baggage at the door for just one hour.

The instructor not only guides the class, encourges and pushes the riders, but DOES THE WHOLE RIDE WITH THEM.  While talking.  That part still blows me away.  

There is nothing to monitor except your breath, your water intake and your attitude.  If you are normally not one to perspire, you will find that you definitely need one towel if not two as you drench though the hour.

I personally want to cry or quit several times through the ride, but the energy of the instructor, the music and my fellow riders gets me back out of the saddle.  To date I cannot fully keep up, but each week I get a little stonger.  Despite my internal despair, it really is a JOY to do the class and live to ride another day!

Both workouts, in combination with my daily MELT discipline have been transforming my body, mind and focus.  One thing I have noticed that significantly has improved is my singing.  Along with having more energy through a gig, I find there is more power and range within me than I ever had. That was an unexpected and cool bonus!

Obviously these workouts are not for everyone.  My boyfriend is a great example.  I had given him an Orangetheroy membership for his birthday, thinking it would be a fun couples activity and a way for him to get in shape for upcoming soccer season. Unfortunately, he hates it. Every week he lives in a state of dread a half hour before the class all the way through to the end.  He can't stand being on a treadmill and rowing machine, and lifting weights is not interesting to him.  Give him a trail in the woods run or a soccer ball to chase and he will workout all day.  I think we will set him free come end of the month...

I will most likely pause my membership at Orangetheory and ease off JoyRide as we enter the warm spring and summer months, as I love to be outdoors.

This year though, instead of slow walks through Black Rock or drinking Coronas on the beach, I will committ to running through Black Rock and the trails of Lake Mohegan , kayaking Long Island Sound and cross training with my TRX straps tied around a tree branch.  

Thanks to the push from Orangetheory and JoyRide, I am excited and inspired to do just that.

Be sure to check out the various Orangtheory Fitness and JoyRide Cycling Studios near you and GET INSPIRED to GET MOVING out of your comfort zone!

 

Not Dead Yet!

 

I was pretty sure I was either going to pass out, vomit or die last Saturday in Rhodie Lorenz’s morning spin class at JoyRide.

My name is Amanda and I am a Fitness Professional.

A very out of shape Fitness Professional.

Recently I re-energized my commitment to a healthier lifestyle. Next Monday I am starting Marie Forleo’s B-School and I need/want to be alert and strong as I go through the rigorous program. I am also 45 and have a middle-age wine belt around my waist that I would like to take off… which also means reducing my wine intake.

In the past I was a marathon runner, swimmer, personal trainer, rower and all around fitness lover. The thought of re-energizing this commitment, which had collected dust on the shelf of resistance for over two years, seemed a challenge, but one that I was confident I could conquer with grace and ease. After all, I MELT regularly and recently started once a week workout classes at Orangetheory Fitness. I was doing pretty well with those, I thought. How bad could a spin class be?

Here’s the truth: Regular lack of consistent exercise, where you elevate your heart rate, step way outside your comfort zone, challenge your endurance and strengthen your body acts a lot like compound interest, and according to Einstein, "Compound Interest is the most powerful force in the Universe."

A great concept when applied in a positive manner with money or just good habits. Not so much for a 40 – something who delighted in the pleasures of wine with lunch over a run in the park because she could.

No, left to time, the lack of regular exercise, in whatever form, will result in nothing short of decline and deterioration. The interest on the interest in my case was sizeable.

As I mentioned, I almost died on Saturday.

Ok, maybe that is a dramatic statement, but I will say that is how I felt and feelings are never wrong.

Not for a minute could I keep up with the class. I was embarrassed and felt that I had no business being in that class. During the warm up my heart rate spiked to vfib levels. Defeated within the first 5 minutes, I sat back in the saddle and loosened the resistance.

Thoughts of self-deprecation rolled through my head:

‘Surely the bikes to the left, right and back of me are mocking me'

‘Oh, please don’t see me being so LAME, Rhodie!’

‘I suck at spinning! I suck at bikes in general!’

'Slow twitch muscle fibers… that is all I am made up of.’

‘HOW IS EVERYONE BUT ME DOING THIS??’

‘Shit… I think I may pass out…’

‘WHY did I have two margaritas and a glass of wine last night??’

Then I actually LISTENED to Rhodie.. all along she was talking (and riding… WTH??), encouraging her room of riders to great heights. Every word was full of belief, love and pride for her morning flock. One thing she said would get me through the remaining torturous half-hour of class: “Your attitude is everything. Whether out there or in here, what you think is what matters. You got this”.

Well, I didn’t really have it, but I did decide on the spot to change my attitude and my internal dialogue:

'My legs are still moving!'

'I’m not dead yet!' (and yes, said exactly like Monty Python)

'I am so grateful to be here!'

'Rhodie is AMAZING! Her energy is INFECTIOUS!'

'If everyone in here can do it, I know one day I can too!'

'No where to go but up, because any lower is death!'

Ok, the last one is not really so positive, but you get the gist.

What I love about JoyRide is their philosophy of no judgments… just empty your mind, get lost in your body and be full of JOY! The only judgment was the judgment I put on myself to feel bad for being so weak.

I made it out alive, thank goodness, and made a decision that I would be back. It may not get easier, but I will get stronger, and that is really the goal.

Since Saturday, I have MELTed… a LOT… and kicked my own ass at Orangetheory yesterday morning.

Later today I will MELT even more because tomorrow morning I am signed up for another JoyRide class.

Pray for me.

 

Unconditional Love of the Self




Venturing into the Pisces Full Moon and the season called Fall brings about the theme of change and healing.

I recently read on Mystic Mamma a thoughtful post on this theme of change for the month of September and how change is a choice, even when it appears that it is not.  Change is inevitable, after all, whether we like it or not, so why not make change OUR choice, right?

Choosing to heal - from childhood traumas, broken relationships, unrequited love - requires change…. CHOOSING to change.

In the last few months, I have been through quite a bit of change, which would appear to have not been my choice, yet I am aware that the desires of my heart and the intentions I had sent out to the Universe created a vibration of inevitable change.  Through this change, I have had to choose to forgive and release in order to heal.  What remains is the abundant need for unconditional love… first for myself, then for others.

What also brought this to the forethought for me was a conversation I had with a dear friend the other day.  He is going through a profound time of self-discovery mixed with a significant dose of confusion.  As I listened to him share recent discoveries, frustrations and passions, it became abundantly apparent that he also suffered from a 'Jesus Complex'.  I recognize this one all too well, as a recovering Jesus Complexer.

With the Jesus Complex, we desperately want to love and help and heal people we care about.  This seems a wonderful thing, but really, it's just co-dependency.

Falling in love with broken souls, sacrificing our own health to care for the health of others, witnessing a mate through regurgitated trauma, living in toxic environments and relationships, etc…

I have done it all.

I didn't love myself.

People who love themselves gently and ferociously without judgement are able to love others with beautiful, unconditional acceptance without losing themselves.  Mostly, because they have learned to release that which no longer serves them and acquire healthy boundary lines.

I choose to be that person.

As I listened to my friend, I found the old familiar pull of co-dependence, wanting to give him all I had to help him find his way.  Quickly, I breathed love energy into myself and then was able to see clearly… I am no good to him if I am not first good to myself.  I drew my boundary line, silently offered my prayers of love & support and moved forward.

This morning I meditated as I have faithfully done daily the last 23 days.  Today's guided meditation had the mantra "I choose love".  As I repeated this mantra through my breath, I started to really see what it was that I needed to do in order to truly love myself unconditionally.  It made me instantly feel calm, warm and even emotional.

We all have different histories, stories and needs, so what I need to do love myself is different from what anyone else needs to do.  I am certain there are some sages out there who would argue that 'doing' anything is unnecessary.

I hadn't been to the gym in weeks, choosing to walk outside instead.  My strong arms and legs became softer than I prefer, and I would frown as I looked at myself in the mirror.  Then I would stop and in my mind I would shrug my shoulders and say 'that's ok… this is where you are right now'.

During this change in season and moon phase, use the energy to purge, cleanse, release and heal… and then choose to refill your soul with pure, unconditional love for yourself.  Only then will you be ready to love others in a life changing way.







The White Room


This is where I dwell at present.

A white room.  No direction, no instruction.

I have no office to report to.  No schedule.  No rules.  Almost no money.

Yet, I am not afraid.  There is an inexplicable trust and faith that all is unfolding the way it is meat to.

Although I dreams and desires, I have no clue where I am going.  Perhaps that is part of the fun.  It is definitely the journey.

This instinctual vibe is solidified for me by Tosha Silver, author of the profoundly simplistically deep spiritual book, Outrageous Openess.

Buy this book.

Learn to surrender.  To love.  To forgive.  To trust.  To accept. To know that people, places, relationships, friendships, jobs, bosses, loves and love affairs are all here for a reason, a lesson or a karmic debt / reward.

This life is a gift and meant to be lived through the heart, not the head.

See it, dream it, journal it, pray for it, be present, take action.

Did I mention love, accept and forgive?




Finding Your Voice




I blame my cousin Ann Starr for this.

Biting my tongue while I enabled, obeyed an instruction that I didn't feel comfortable executing, not asking questions, not communicating in a relationship… lying… to myself and others… this was the familiar way I lived most of my life.

When Ann and I reconnected and grew close, I felt very safe sharing my life and feelings with her.  Through the years of sharing my shit, she would advise in phrases beginning with "Oh honey, you need to tell him/her…."; "Don't be afraid to say…."; "I think you should just tell the truth that…"; "That may be what you are telling yourself, but…" and lastly "Speak your truth, mama!"

Yes, I blame my cousin.  I blame her for encouraging me in a discipline that is honorable, Biblical and my mantra.

It is getting easier to catch myself slipping from truth. For instance, when in a voice lesson, I will self-deprecate myself with a "ugh… that sucked" and my coach Mike would reply, "That's not true.  It didn't suck at all.  We need to work on the mechanics of some phrasing, but actually it sounded pretty good."

He is an incredible coach because he saw my truth before I did.  He saw my capability and the walls I had built that disallowed connection to my voice.  Through his truth, encouragement, tough love and patience, I can vocally do things now that I never thought were possible.

Back in the land of untruth, playing politics is a skill I grew quite proficient with when working in theatre and television, but it is exhausting and one of the many reasons I left the industry.  Yet, I knew how to play the game and thus carried that skill into Corporate America and eventually small business.  Then I really grew tired of it.  I will say speaking my truth is one of the reasons why I lost my job.  I will also say NOT speaking it is why I was there or so long.

As a bodyworker and movement therapist, I have no trouble speaking the truth in my observations, assessments and in answering questions of clients.  This work is also a way for me to teach truth to these clients, as many of them are caught lying to me or themselves regarding what is going on in their body.  We can call it denial, but isn't denial just phase of untruth?

What I have learned:  The truth comes from your heart.  Open your heart, let it rule and you will find your voice.

At the tender age of 43, I feel that I can say with confidence that I have finally found my voice.

My voice now speaks clearly in response when I am asked, "What will you do with your life now?"

My voice loves to sing more than ever because my heart is no longer held with untruth.

My voice isn't afraid to say, "I love you."

My voice will never tell you what you want to hear, but will tell the truth in love (and at times extreme bluntness).

My voice will say, "I am sorry… please forgive me."

My voice declares:  "I am a practitioner of the Healing and Performing Arts."

My voice desires to educate, empower, encourage, love and inspire.

This is my life now… my vocation… my reason for being created…my way to honor God.

Open your heart.  Find your voice.  Speak your truth.

It's the only way to live.




When the Universe Answers



A year ago, I made a decision to begin setting intentions and tossing things out to the Universe.

It began after a trip to the Red Mountain Resort last July where I was assisting a MELT Strength training.  I almost backed out of the trip because things were shaky at work.  My boss was being a bully (again) and making me only as good as my last mistake.  I had a new assistant who, despite being a great study, was still wet behind the ears, and I was about to leave her to run things for the next 10 days.  My stomach was in a constant state of constriction and I really debated bowing out, but friends encouraged me to go… get away from the toxic environment.

Wiser advice could not have been given.  The trip was a path changer.  Along with a great training that I was able to contribute to, I really had a chance to take a serious look at the way I was living my life.

I had my first ever life path reading with a Shaman.  It was mystical and magical… I cried through the whole hour.  My Tarot cards were fascinating.  I think of them now and see that they really were a symbol of things to come.

My dear friend & colleague Nancy, who I also roomed with, said she kept coming in contact with messages meant for me:  an email about taking a risk with change; almost stepping on a dragon fly, the symbol of new beginnings…  She decided that this meant she was to be the messenger of God and the Universe, to tell me what I needed to hear.

I will never forget that night she spoke to me… about facing my fears, taking risks, doing what I was put on this earth to do.  My day job was safe.  It was a paycheck, but it was rotting my soul.  I needed to release this fear that was a wall to my true calling.  Once I did… Oh how I will FLY!

When I arrived home, I felt like a new woman.  Although still scared and unsure, I knew that God did have my best interests at heart and I needed to be present, listen and trust… Be proactive and step outside of my comfort zone.

So I was and I did.

As the year continued, I became more diligent in setting my intentions.  I joined a monthly New Moon Shakti Circle lead by my friend Nora who was most definitely put in my life to aid me in my metamorphasis (come to think about it, I met Nora right after I returned from Red Mountain….whoa).

My friend Allyson contacted me about her online 90-Day life and career coaching because I had popped in her head and she felt strongly that it was something for me.  I signed up and did all of the tasks, including a dream board (I used to snort at such a thing).

I journaled almost daily, writing down my dreams which consistently encompassed the theme that I wanted to be paid for being me:  A woman passionate and skilled in the Healing Arts and Performing Arts.

Advice from others was always welcome.  I said 'what the heck' and went to a highly recommended intuit… It was like three year of therapy in a single hour.

Nora did a Rekhi healing session on me, spending much time on my heart chakra.  After she told me that the hurt I was harboring was gone… she witnessed the miracle of it leaving me.  "Now you will only have opportunities come to you.  Say yes".

Which I have…

I was asked about a month ago to join a cover band as a vocalist.  I said yes and was handed a list of about thirty songs to learn in a week (uhhh….).

My former massage therapy school classmate and friend referred me to a man who was opening a home for young men continuing recovery after a 28 day program.  Today I had my first client.

A naturopathic doctor asked me to be on his team of practitioners.

I said yes to it all, believing that soon I would make enough money doing these things that I love so that I could then give my notice and go do my thing.

Cut to this past Tuesday…

I left the parking lot of my day-job office for the last time.

The week before, my boss decided he didn't want me there anymore.  It was like he told me he wanted a divorce.  I agreed to give it to him.

It was a shock for maybe a minute.  But then it made perfect sense.

The Universe answered!  Granted it was with a pink slip, but still… THIS IS WHAT I WANTED!

I allowed myself one day of mourning… I sat on my porch Thursday night, drank a bottle of wine, cried and read emails and texts full of encouraging and loving words of support from friends and family.

One week after being delivered the news and two days into my new life, I know for certain this is God's work… the power of the Universe… the help from my angels.

This began a year ago at Red Mountain the morning I emotionally took all of the things I didn't want in my life anymore, walked the labyrinth, left them in the center and walked out only with thoughts of what I wanted my life to be.

Since last week, there has not been a moment where I felt uncertain, frightened or doubtful.  I feel guided and protected by my angels and trusting of the door that has been open for me.

How even more perfect is timing:  I fly out to Red Mountain next Wednesday to assist the MELT Strength training once again.  I have my Life Path reading scheduled the day I arrive and plan to walk the labyrinth as the sun sets.

The moral of this story is clear:

When the Universe answers, say yes.


HAVE A PLAN!




In past blog posts, I have mentioned that I named my business "Consistent Fitness" as a means to keep myself in check.  In spite of that, consistency is still a tough one for me.  I can talk myself out of going to the gym any day of the week and hit the pub with friends instead.

On Tuesday I turn 43 and will be flying to Florida to vacation with my mother for a week.  Seeing I was going to be another year closer to 50 and I would be putting my middle aged hiney in a bikini, I should get myself in some sort of bikini worthy shape.

Typically, I go the gym without a plan.  The one thing I do for sure is MELT.  I bring my own roller, mat and resistant band so that I can take myself through a nice long MELT Strength and Length Map to prepare my body for cardio and weight training.

Once I'm done MELTing, I put my things in a locker and hit the floor.... now what?  I jump around from cables to free weights to the treadmill.  It's disjointed and boring.  I figured that with ten years of a fitness professional background that I could just wing it, but the reality is that without a plan, my workouts were not what they could have been.

In the last few weeks, I have taken the time to think through and draft a workout that I now faithfullyt take with me to the gym.  I have strayed a bit from it, adding alittle bit here, changing another thing there, but the framework remains the same and the workouts are great.  I shared a couple of these workouts with friends of mine and they love them (including one's friends 53 year old mother).  

That being said, I have decided to post my workouts here on this blog so that those of you who need a little motivation and a plan can now have one.  The next post will have the workout I did a few weeks ago... it's a lovely circuit training killer.  Well, maybe not a killer, but it will get your heart pumping.  

Be sure to edit the workout based on your fitness level and / or equipment available.  If you are unsure what something is, just give it a Google search, or comment on the post.

Feed back is not just welcome, it is essential for my consistency!

The Art of Consistency?





I have just begun my third year of the annual cleanse.  It is a different one yet no less difficult.

I do these cleanses because I tend to abuse my body with the simple pleasures of life like salty snacks, alcohol, caffeine and a lazy day on the couch.  It is no so much a consistent abuse through the year but rather a collection of binging spurts that merge into a cesspool of toxic build up.  Once again I find myself bloated, lethargic and full of self-hatred.

Yet, I am a 'fitness professional' and folks look to me for fitness and nutritional advice.  Perhaps they look at my slender frame and assume me to be the picture of health.  Little do they know how unhealthy I may be at that particular moment.

This cleanse time around, I have come to a profound realization about myself.  What I noticed about my pattern is not so much that I am lazy and fall into the sin of such earthly desires as Smartfood and a good bottle of Pinot Noir.  Instead it is that I pound out of the gate, full of vigor and enthusiasm, only to run out of gas within a short period of time.  My enthusiasm wanes and before I know it, I talk myself out of whatever commitment to myself I made.  The vision is great, just the application is flawed.  Perhaps I am too enthusiastic at first?  Sort of like your eyes being bigger than your stomach?

This slow leak of excitement for my own good is not just in reference to eating right, working out regularly or not diving into a bottle of wine and four episodes of some great show on my Roku like Bridgette Jones... This pattern encompasses all of my life passions.

Take for instance this past fall when I went into New York for a four day intensive of CranioSacral II.  It was an incredible long weekend of learning, complete with intra oral and specific intuitive work.  Have I put my hands in a single persons mouth since that class?  Nope.  Not once.  And I have NO IDEA WHY.

Another fine example is my love of The MELT Method.  Assisting and working with MELT creator Sue Hitzmann has been inspiring and invigorating.  Teaching others how to self-treat their chronic pain and seeing not just their bodies, but their faces look different after a class is exhilarating.  When I MELT, I feel like a million bucks!  Do I MELT every day?  No.  Sometimes I will go (gulp) weeks without MELTing.

I also want to mention that Sue recently published the MELT Method book, went on the Dr. Oz show and now her book is on the Amazon Best Sellers list for the second day in a row... Clearly, Sue Hitzmann doesn't have a consistency problem!

Honestly, I am perplexed at my behavior.  I feel SO GOOD when I eat well, work out regularly and MELT every day.  I like what I see in the mirror when I am in my best shape.  I look strong & sexy and I feel amazing.  So why on earth wouldn't I want to continue in this pattern of greatness?  Can I blame it on my day job, please?

I named my (side) business "Consistent Fitness" years ago because I knew consistency was one of my biggest hurdles.  In bold thought, I figured if I registered a DBA to the town to my cause, I would follow suit.  Alas, my commitment to consistency is still an indelible struggle.

There must be some trick... some art to this idea of consistency, yes?  I am an artistic person!  I can relate to that!

For now, I will (promise) to stay the course with my two week cleanse from Dr. Frank Lipman.  So far it is not so bad... lots of shakes and two big healthy meals a day, plus supplements.  Not to mention Gwyneth Paltrow recommends it, so it must be perfect (insert sarcastic snort).  The hardest part with the Isagenix cleanse for me were the weekly 'cleanse' days, where I drank a nasty liquid four times a day and could only snack.  The whole cleanse was also 30 days long... I cheated every time.

Here's to a whole new me... A consistent, cheat-free me.





  

Intuition Confusion





"Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life." ~ Steve Jobs


Amen, Steve!  After all, that's how I have lived my life.  Followed the feeling in my belly.  Listening to this somatic response to the cosmic energy that was to be my destiny, my adventures of life after college took me to California, Hawaii, New Zealand, Utah and New York City... all in the name of Hollywood and Broadway.  

When that was more for my belly to bear, I got a day job.  When I became mildly bored in my day job, I got certified as a personal trainer,  working with handful of clients after work and on weekends.  
I followed my instinct to start swimming & running again, turning myself in to a little athlete.  

When I could no longer stand the sounds and crowds of New York City, my belly burned to move... and so I did.  Once in Connecticut, my motivated spirit joined a rowing club, did a play, became a MELT Instructor, and went to massage therapy school. 

I dove head first into dating and love... believing in my man and trusting that my feelings were founded by the direct sound council of my inner being.

My belly pointed the way and I followed with all the enthusiasm I could... and I felt great about it.

Needless to say, I am a big believer in following ones instinct... honing in on intuition and letting it be your guide, for it truly won't let you down.

So, what I want to know is.....

Who took my intuition and may I have it back please?  

My belly... it hasn't spoken to me in months and the last time it did, I could have SWORN it told me to take Door #2, not Door #1.

It is odd to me.  This is a new and uncomfortable moment of time in my spirit.  For the first time since I can remember being aware of somatic intuition, I feel... nothing.  

You know that feeling when you are really hungry, but have no idea what you want to eat because nothing at all is appealing?

That's how I feel about everything all the time lately.  

It is unsettling, confusing and most times, depressing.

This is beyond my comprehension.  Being an open hearted optimist is my food, my fuel... how have I ended up in such dire starvation?

About a year ago, I read a book on manifesting your visions for your future.  I thought this was such a wonderful concept... to sit in silence in the morning, day dream and write down those days dreams.  Just being in present thought with those visions would allow them to come true!  The great power of the Law of Attraction!  WOW!

So I DID!  I day dreamed (which is hardly a stretch for me).  I wrote down my visions.  I believed in them and had faith that they would become manifest in my life and I would live happily ever after.  My body responded with delight and excitement.  This must be the way to go!!!

In spite of this seemingly profound work, within about six months I seemed to manifest the opposite of what I had envisioned.

What did I do wrong?  Was it not my intuition I was helping out in my visions and writings?  Surely it will be so...  

Slowly, as life plodded along without my desired expectations, I began to shut down... no longer did I sit with my morning journal and envision my future perfect life.  Soon, there were no more visions.  No one and nothing turned me on.  

If I feel nothing inside, how can I learn?  Is this emptiness, this intuitive confusion my classroom?

How can I avoid going against my better judgement when there is nothing to trust, no better judgement to even consider avoiding?  

In hindsight, I am pretty sure what I once thought was my better judgement talking was actually just a bad emotional decision.

What is WRONG with me?  I feel like I have a nasty virus that has filled me with sadness, anger and lack of desire.  

I ponder this nasty virus of mine constantly, wondering how I got it and how I may eradicate it from my soma. There are definitive moments over the last year where certain relationships within all aspects of my life were less than ideal.  Little things and not-so-little things, bit-by-bit, chipped away at my optimistic and gleefully intuitive nature.  In consistent, small doses I have been stolen from, lied to, deceived, blown off, let down, mislead and bullied.

  
So what?  This is life, right?  Be a duck and let it roll off my back...

I really wish I could cry it out for a good two days or so.  Just like sweating out a virus.  

Instead, I am just angry.  All the time.  I feel bad for people who piss me off.  

My life is actually really great and I am so grateful for all I have (job, home, food, clothing, health, family, friends).  What the heck is my problem?

I am confident that the tide will turn soon and all will be well....... (those are words I have just now made myself write, like a stupid positive affirmation.  It is hardly a message from within).

In an effort to move the tide along and cease this pitiful purgatory, I am forcing myself to do the very things I don't feel like doing, even though most of them are things I love...  

I have made an appointment to practice my CranialSacral work on a friend next week...

I looked into the adult program of The School of Rock because I have always wanted to sing in a rock band... 

With enormous effort, laden with bitter annoyance, I reactivated my Match.com account.

My new apartment will get some new paint colors next week.  I will get a little area rug for the living room.  I will find someone reliable to help install some needed shelving.

I will start going back to church regularly... next week.  

The mornings will begin with MELT and prayer and the gym.  My body will get stronger.  My faith will grow again.  My anger will be replaced with my joy. 

Confusion shall dissipate and clarity within my intuition shall resume.

My belly and I will be back in business again...

Pray for me. 


Moving Pains




I just moved recently to a new neighborhood.  I am very happy about this move and my new town is just wonderful and much more my style than the neighborhood I was in for the last six years.  It is much more social, right near the water and there is the best breakfast spot just a block away.  Even my commute to work is shorter!

For a moment, though, I want to set aside the full-of-happy-change-newness of it all because really, this move beat the crap out of me.  

Moving is cited as one of the most stressful things in life, just under losing a loved one, divorce or illness.  I know nothing of being married and thankfully I am healthy, so I am not one to verify such a study.  My body, however, has conducted its own study through this move and has its own story to tell.

finding the new... hardwood floors!
The decision to leave my past residence was very sudden with the selling of the apartment building to a new owner, who increased my rent considerably just two weeks before my lease was due to expire.  I immediately began looking at apartments in a more affordable neighborhood and was very blessed to find a great spot in just a few days. 

packing the old
Despite this good fortune, I had only two weeks to pack up six years of my life and schlep it to a third floor walk up in a town nearly 20 minutes north.  Knowing the lay of the new space, it was abundantly clear that the majority of my furniture would not work as it is essentially the attic of an old house with low-sloping ceilings.   The bookshelves, bureaus and bed frame would have to go.

On the one hand, this was ok with me… this was a total life change and with it came new furniture for the bedroom and dining/living area (New = IKEA = cheap and heavier than the truck it would arrive in).  On the other hand, this also meant magically getting rid of everything I could NOT bring.
old bed frame is someone else's now

Fortunately, my mom has a big basement.  The few pieces that were from her originally were stored there and I was able to give away the bookshelves, my giant TV and armoire and sell a few other things, including the bed frame.

platform beds are not so fun to make
As anyone who has moved knows, there are at least a dozen moving parts and only the very organized can keep them moving smoothly. 

Seeing as I had like a minute to move my life while still going to my job every day plus the massage gig in the evening, I made a list… a very comprehensive list that included all the services that needed to be cancelled, changed and ordered, the mailing address that had to be changed with the Post Office and every vendor I pay bills to, plus what was NOT coming with me, the measurements of the new space and that of what I was bringing with me… AND the new furniture I had to buy… the mover I had to schedule, the Craig’s List crap I had to photograph, measure and post with a description…

Oh, and I had to magically come up with three grand to pay for first last and security plus buy new furniture. 

I won’t go into the awful battle I had with the new property manager of my old place that elevated my blood pressure to unhealthy levels, but let’s just say it involved him trying to steal from my security deposit and me reporting him to the State (the check has yet to arrive and I sure hope I don’t have to go to battle again).

If this experience is just a level down on the stress-o-meter from the end of a marriage, then divorce is a level of Hell I never want to reach.  I can’t even imagine the death of a spouse... my own mother had to endure that PLUS moving from her beloved home shortly after my father's death just thirteen years ago.  No wonder she has struggled with illness and chronic pain since that time.


...one day
...and a few later
Thankfully, I was not completely alone in this journey.  Although I am a bit independent and really didn't want to bother anyone with something as monotonous as helping me move,  there was nothing more encouraging than  the support I received from a few friends on the official day of the move: 

One unpacked my kitchen and broke down the boxes, made my bed after the IKEA dudes put the frame together and then took me to dinner as my fridge had no food....  Another helped unpack my car that was full of extraneous items from my old place and carry them up three flights of stairs...  I had another friend secure my air conditioner into the living room window on the 95-degree day that all of this was happening… Most importantly was my friend Kelly who, along with helping measure all of the walls and windows and meet me at IKEA to pick out the right furniture the week before, brought over a case of Corona as a house warming gift.

In the end, it took two full long weekends, a moving company and a dozen car-loads of crap to get everything out of my former residence and into the new.

new kitchen soon to be full of boxes
that will be lovingly unpacked for me...

Just writing this is exhausting me and making me want to cry again.  Not because it is sad or scary or terrible.  Only for the simple reason that it threw my nervous system hideously out of whack, making me a high-strung emotional wreck.

My body was in terrible pain.  I was overwhelmed and spent.  There was no room on the floor to lay down my roller to MELT and really, even that sounded like way too much work. 

from one home to another

I finally scheduled a massage at Massage Envy.  It was ok and addressed some of my tension, but that particular therapist didn’t meet all my needs.  The next week I received another one from a very unique therapist named Sabita, who combined deep tissue with lengthening, CranioSacral and Reiki to move the suppressed energy through and out my body.  Tears streamed down my face as she worked and the sense of sorrow became ever present. 

This is where good body work separates itself from a plain old routine massage.  Our tissue has memory and many truths to tell.  This move was the impetus for months worth of bodily truth to come to the surface.  My new home was much more than the physical act of picking up and relocating.  It was letting go of emotional history that occurred at a former zip code.  

former kitchen.. I was kissed here
I don’t miss the old place at all.  It was an ugly building that was not to code by about 30 years.  In spite of that, it still represented various events in my life.  I had three different relationships during that six-year period that I lived there.  Various house guests came to dine or spend the night.  I lived there during my MELT training, massage therapy schooling and the beginning of my CranioSacral study. 

With in those walls I cooked wonderful meals, watched great movies, massaged, MELTed, folded laundry, planned, packed & unpacked trips, wrapped gifts, got drunk, fell in love, made love, suffered heartbreak, dreamt, slept, wept and laughed.

You see, it’s not about the actual walls that makes the home, rather it’s the energy with in them. 

Only two weeks into this dwelling and the energy incubates.  Already stored in my mind are fresh memories of the unpacking of the kitchen, making of the bed, the Corona, the measuring, planning and buying, the endless climbing & descent only to climb again, new meeting of (kinda crazy) neighbors, the IKEA construction, my first shower, first load of laundry and first sleep…  Even now it is held deep in my somatic memory bank. 

For now, I will nest.  Eventually, when I move again, there will be another stressful, emotional reality to face and a body to nurture as it moves on from the energy with in the walls in which it once dwelled.

Somatic Reality of Love






"Love is a bodied truth, a somatic reality" 
- Stanley Keleman

There is much to be said and argued on the subject of love.  Zillions of books, songs and movies provide endless interpretations, many we can all relate to.  For this alone, it can be plainly seen how love is a truth that lives in us all.  Something we were created to embody as it is an essential part of our creation.

As a person who loves to love, I embrace this part of my creation and tend to show no hesitation in sharing my heart with anyone.  Only problem is that not everyone is necessarily wanting to receive what I freely give.  Where it would feel better to be able to just accept such refusal and carry on,  I retreat... rejected, hurt and terribly confused.  Who doesn't want love?  It is not like I offered a plate of worms or a dead rabbit.  I offered my loving, nonjudgmental, undemanding, fun-loving and accepting heart.

When I chat up this subject with friends, inevitably they all say that some people are scared of love.  Scared?? What the heck is so scary about love?  Jumping out of an airplane is scary.  Losing your child at an airport I am certain is terrifying.  Not knowing if a family member is going to live or die, that is truly frightening.  But love...  Love is what protects one during these times of fear.  Or at least it should, in my opinion.  I know that when I am scared, I am sure glad to be surrounded by people I love and who I know love me.

I am not judging, for I do realize that some peoples first experiences with love can hardly be seen as love.  Love is action that becomes personified.  The experiences of the past get projected onto future relationships, for that is what is known.  In truth, we begin to learn about love from the moment we are born.  Our Fourth Chakra, which is the Heart Chakra, develops between the ages of 4 and 7.  If we are victims of child abuse, physical or emotional, this lesson of 'love' becomes our truth.  As Anodea Judith explains so well in her book Eastern Body Western Mind, it is not that the travesties of love are from a complete absence of love, but rather an absence of healthy love.

I must admit, I feel justified at times in blaming my parents loveless marriage for my current single status, more specifically in how my how my mother chose to continue live in it.  As my mother, she was my example to follow and what I saw was a woman who rarely smiled, was not terribly affectionate and seemed to resent raising children.  Sub-conciously I think I made a note-to-self : "I don't want her life... ever".  And alas, here I am at age 41, single and child free.

There has been much work done on my part to not 'be my mother'.  I feel confident about myself and my choices, perhaps regretting a few, but forgiving myself all the same and moving forward.  Joy is a state of being that I delight to dwell and when I slip from joy, I do whatever I can to recapture it.  I want a life of love and fulfillment because I love how it makes me feel, not because it is a goal to attain.  Although I may be a bit of a failure in my mothers eyes because I am not married with children (the irony of that which is rich), I know myself to be a success because I choose to not settle for anything less than what is right for me.

I have opened my mind and my heart to God and the universe to accept whatever is meant to be, which can be difficult in the on-line dating world.  Not too long ago, I encountered what I thought might be the universe responding, only to be shut down a few months later.  Sadly, what I perceived as a willing recipient of my loving, nonjudgmental, undemanding, fun-loving and accepting heart, was not willing to receive at all.  Part of me understands that it has nothing to do with me and that we all have our stuff to deal with in our own way.  Who wants to date a head case anyway, right?  Still, I couldn't help but feel angry, lied to and confused.  After a time, it turned to just profoundly sad and still baffled as to why this wonderful gift of love wasn't just received with gratitude.

We all handle rejection and loss of love differently, yet I think it is safe to say we all reflect a similar pattern of feelings and response to those feelings.  Somatically speaking, unrequited love can infest our bodies with all sorts of toxic emotions.

Think of your most recent heartbreak, when a significant other broke up with you or shut you out, or when you ended a relationship (romantic or otherwise) that you desperately wanted to work but it was beyond repair.  How did you feel?  Probably empty, yet at the same time so heavy, as if you needed a crane to get you out of bed.  It may have been difficult to breathe, smile, eat... all you want to do is escape and numb out this dark cloud of sadness.  Maybe you disappear off the radar for a while, dive into books or TV shows, eat crap and drink too much.  You stop working out, don't care what you look like and certainly don't care what other people think.  When others try to extend love to you to encourage you and lift you up, you reject it... because giving and receiving love is what got you in this mess in the first place.  Perhaps you are not so obvious on the outside, but the inside tells a different story.

So, to prove to yourself that you are not weak, emotional loser who can't handle a love set back, you put on a strong emotional armor and continue on with life.  A smart and strategic move is to fill your calendar with very important appointments that are immovable and therefore disallow any silly extracurricular activities like a social life and dating.  Life is very structured now:  Get up, quickly shower and dress, go to work for ten hours at least, attend very important post work meetings/gym/lecture/dinner, get home at 10:00p, watch a DVR'd episode of your favorite escapist show while drinking half a bottle of wine, go to bed close to midnight, get up next morning, take Advil and repeat.

Now the weekend comes and the house is a mess, laundry needs to be done and you are running around doing all of the very important personal errands that you couldn't complete during your very busy week.  By Saturday night you are exhausted and the thought of sitting at home with a bottle of wine and a movie seems much more appealing than going to a cocktail party where people will be asking how your love life is going.

Your friends may scoff and tell you that you need to get out more, but hey!  You are a machine!  You are in control!  You don't mind being home alone on a Saturday night!  Who needs people when you have your very own trusty self, a bottle of booze and the cast of "Rescue Me" to show you just how screwed up life could REALLY be??  No one can hurt you now because you have a very strong armor that will not let anyone in ever!  So THERE...HA!!

Yet, in the moments of quiet, when you least expect it, the somatic reality speaks... our bodies ache with loneliness.  There is a visceral sense of yearning that has no specific direction.  Our minds cannot talk our bodies out of this feeling.  A one night stand or a 'friend with benefits' cannot cure this skin hunger, for the somatic reality of love is much deeper than the surface of the skin and far more profound for the mind to understand.

As a side note, the above scenario does not describe my current state and I am not at home drinking my self into oblivion over the loss of a relationship I had hoped to explore.  Although I find that loss to be a shame and really too bad, it hardly got deep enough to cripple me.  Besides, who knows... perhaps one day my flirty soul will bleed that stone.

I want to return to the quote at the beginning by Stanley Keleman: "Love is a bodied truth, a somatic reality".  The term "somatic" comes from the Greek meaning 'of the body'.  By medical definition, a somatic illness is one of the body, not of the mind.  I will say that a loss of love is indeed a somatic illness, but I will also say that it need not be a life long chronic one.  It is an acute virus that needs to run its course.  Once the virus of lost love is gone, we feel so much better and can receive again.

There are those who do not want to get well, however, and choose to let a virus turn into a chronic illness.  They have determined that love is dangerous or believe that they are not worthy of receiving it.  This chronic illness... this somatic illness... is a REAL chronic illness.  Our cells respond to vibrations of thought and feeling.  If you think I am full of crap, all one has to do is look at the work of Dr. Masaru Emoto to see that I speak the truth.  We are fluid, water filled beings and the water crystals within us respond to our mindset and emotional response.  The image at the beginning of this post is a water crystal responding to "Love and Gratitude" and it is a most beautiful image.  This is indeed where the somatic reality speaks.

Take a look around you.  Look at the people and view them with compassion.  Note how they hold themselves... what does their body position tell you?  Are they depressed and defeated?  Upright and protecting?  Light on their feet, free and accepting?  What do they say about themselves and others?  Is it constructive and encouraging or is it critical, self abusive and destructive?  Now take a look at your self and ask the same questions.

This is not to be written off as poor posture or bad manners. This is powerful, deep stuff...

I will continue to explore somatic reality more from a manual therapy view point in future writings.  For now, I want to end with this idea:

Breathe... allow yourself to be vulnerable...open your heart and be willing to grow and learn and accept love.  It is a choice.

Love to love.  






Thoughts on Grounding





One of the most important lessons taught in the first month of massage therapy school is the concept of grounding... Don't put your hands on the body on your table until you have FIRST grounded to protect yourself, lest you ingest any juju, bad or otherwise, from that body.

This is not just New Age bullshit, it's for real.  We are energy.  If one does not manage their energy properly, it can make them sick, fly them into a rage, run them down, wind them up and then pass it on.  That being said, if one who is poor at managing their energy does not also engage their force field from other peoples energy, well then, they are really screwed.

Grounding is not just for the treatment room.  It is for life.

I know this because I have lost my grounding as of late.  I have become lazy, I suppose.  Going to bed late and waking up late has pushed out my morning quiet time... A time I normally would spend with my coffee, something spiritual to read and some time in meditation and prayer.  Honestly... I cannot remember the last time I have done this and, as such, have lost my grounding.

Yesterday I became completely infected by the negative energies surrounding me.  My mood soured, my outlook on life was met with a snarl.  I was a complaining, ungrateful gossip.  My grounding was no where to be found and the portals to my soul were left wide open for bad juju to enter.

I went to bed in a snit after dumping my lame complaints on the phone to a friend.  I must have infected him, too, because I haven't heard from him since.  Shame on me.

I awoke today with the decision that I was not going to have another crap day.  As I went about my morning, I wondered how I was going to possibly protect myself from the numerous toxic energies that swirl around when it hit me...... Dumb dumb!  Go back to MT1!  Ground yourself!  Protect what you got and don't let in what can't be useful.

Such a simple, yet essential concept... Time to re-engage my force field and pass along only the good.


Oh my bloated belly…


This is what I get for falling hard off the health wagon nearly a year ago.

This time last year, I challenged myself with a 30-Day Isagenix Cleanse. I was very focused on the cleanse, determined to rid my toxic body of all the booze, sugar, fat and gluten I had consumed for months. My bedtime was no later than 10pm and I religiously clocked in 8 hours of sleep. Exercise was regular, MELT was a morning routine and three liters of water a must.

On the plus side, I got in great shape and my body felt amazing. My mental clarity was like nothing I had ever experienced in adult life. On the negative side, by day 20 I was day dreaming of steaks and red wine, pizza and beer, Guinness stew, margaritas, CHEESE….

As soon as my penance was over, I went right back to all the things I veered away from for 30 long days (actually, I think I threw in the towel at day 27).

Now granted, I was still in massage therapy school at the time plus working a full time job and also getting more involved with MELT. Surely indulging my palate and senses was not all together horrible… right?

Cut to today. This morning I took a photo of my bloated belly.

It may not look like much to you, but if you saw it in real life, you would make a pained face and say something like “ooooooh”.

I made the decision months ago that following the Super Bowl, I would once again give the 30-Day Isagenix Cleanse another go. This time, however, I am more determined than ever to stick with it and even keep on with the healthy eating habits following. Why? Because I am a bloated gassy stink bomb mess.

It is apparent that my body is not happy with me right now. Being chronically distended in the gut is NOT normal and neither is chronic gas. This may seem to be a TMI thing for me to put out, but I share with honesty my experience in order to educate myself and others, while also healing what is in disrepair.

Tonight, I will cheer on the Giants and eat Super Bowl food and drink beer and like it. Tomorrow morning I will have bodily regret and forgive myself by beginning the toxic purge. My kidneys and liver will finally rest, my gut will cease it’s current temper tantrum and the cells within my fascial web will rejuvinate … there will be joy and celebration with in this body which has been entrusted to me by my maker.

Along with this resolution, I also resolve to write about my journey and track my progress, so that I may be held accountable by anyone who chooses to waste a few minutes reading this pitiful testimonial. I will hopefully be able to post a photo of my deflated belly within a week or two. Until then… GO GIANTS!

Outside of the Classroom for Night

Last Friday's Clinic was a new adventure for our little class... Chair Massage! We had the pleasure of going to Stamford Hospital and giving free 10 minute chair massage to any doctor, nurse or staff who wanted it. There wasn't a huge crowd, which was a little disappointing and surprising. I mean, who doesn't want ten minutes of getting your aches and pains soothed for free?

For those of you at Stamford Hospital
who did come down to the cafeteria for a rub, thank you. The Section J students at The Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy are grateful, for you ontributed to our educational experience.




The Light at the End of the Tunnel


I know that it is wise to enjoy the journey and not just look to the destination, but since the destination is only two weeks away, I must say I am over the journey.

Two more weeks of classes and I am officially done with massage therapy school.

This is not to say I haven't enjoyed it. The learning has been amazing, the experience a once in a lifetime opportunity. Yet, it has sucked the life out of me and fried my brain to a crispy nothing.

If I didn't have that darn thing called a Full Time Job, I am sure my house would be clean, my laundry washed, folded and put away, and my calendar open to that other darn thing called a Social Life.

I had big plans at the start of school to blog about the experience once a week. I have been in school since January 2010. You can see how well I progressed. What are there, 6 entries?

So, before me lies my acupressure final (pray for me on this one... Chinese Medicine is not my strength), a project for Business Fundamentals as well as a take home and open book exam, a few more Clinic Sessions (my favorite, yet brutal on a Friday night after a full week of work), and lastly... the National Exam.

My plan is to sit for the big National Exam the Saturday following my acupressure final... if I remember to schedule it tomorrow. My memory for basic things like scheduling my own life, writing rent checks and sending birthday cards in a timely manner has gone in hiding (my poor niece... daily I forget to send her card and check for her long past January Sweet 16 birthday).

Assuming all goes according to plan, I will pass all tests and remember to buy a new dress for my graduation on July 29th.

After that... I haven't a clue.

I'll just follow the light and see where it takes me.