Journey into Weight Loss

As I’m preparing to start again the 30-day Whole30 food program (an elimination, anti-inflammation program), I’m thinking back to the first time I started it and why it was so easy. Because it is not feeling so easy now, I think while eating a donut and suffering the various physical reactions I have to dairy, wheat, and sugar: itchy eyes, congestion, cough, exhaustion. Why was it so easy in January, when it was dark and cold and depressing?

I have no easy answers, except to say that my journey is clearly not over. But I’ve come a a long way and I’ll hope that by sharing my journey, somebody else’s will be a little easier.

When I first started the Whole30 program at the beginning of this year, I told myself and everybody else that my primary motivation wasn’t weight loss. No, the real reason I embarked on a radical change to my diet was I was facing multiple nights a week of late night dance rehearsals. I was battling fatigue and joint pain. I knew I had to change something. I lied. To myself and everybody else. Yes, that was a really compelling, close #2 reason, but the truth was, I was ready to lose weight.

I am lying to myself and to you if I don’t admit that the desire to lose weight is constantly on my mind, as it has been since I was in my teens. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve lost weight and gained it back. The times I was so sure I had it all figured out. The year in nutrition school, becoming an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. When “life” happened in the form of one of my biggest and hardest lessons and I gained the weight back. For the last time. And started for real my journey of learning to love and accept myself the way I am, the journey I had to begin before any kind of diet would ever work for me long term.

I maintained my weight for a few years. This is important, because nobody was congratulating me for looking thinner (because I wasn’t), but I was doing the real healing work to bring me where I am now. I learned to happy with who I am and where I am right now. I learned to stop waiting until I was the perfect size to start living my life. I started dancing before I had the “body of a dancer.” I proceeded with following my dreams of changing my occupation and other experiences I desire in my life.

One of my big dreams for my life is to be free of dieting and the desire to lose weight taking way too much of my energy, way too much of my life.

So, when I started Whole30 in January, I was ready to make radical changes to lose weight and feel good, have more energy, get rid of joint pain. And the fact that those 30 days (turned into a few months) were so easy was a miracle. A pretty big fucking miracle.

A miracle is a shift in perception from fear to love. ~A Course in Miracles

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Marianne Williamson, “A Course in Weight Loss”

This journey has been a spiritual journey. I cannot explain away synchronicity and miracles without belief in a higher power and the connection of all beings. A higher power that is only love and desires what is best for us and will assist when we ask. One of the most empowering things I have read on weight loss is the introduction from Marianne Williamson’s book A Course in Weight Loss (based on her studies of A Course in Miracles). I’ve read the entire book more than once, but I keep coming back to the introduction. Some of the important messages (her ideas, my words):

  • If this was easy, you would have done it already. Let go of shame.
  • The extra weight is a symptom. Overeating is a symptom. Fear is the cause.
  • This is bigger than you. Give it up to a higher power and believe in miracles.

I have had doctors shame me for my weight and put me on a restrictive diet that left me hungry and depressed. I have worked with personal trainers who have put me on an 800 calorie diet (I kid you not, I stuck to it for 3 days). I have been on weight watchers and every other weight loss plan you can name. I have worked with loving coaches and naturopathic doctors who have helped me get in tune with the real needs of my own body, mind, and spirit. I have studied A Course in Miracles and I have read A Course in Weight Loss. And I have prayed, and surrendered, and prayed some more.

This is how it happened: I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw a health coach colleague was doing this Whole30 thing. I went to the website, researched it, checked in with my health coach, started it within a few days, stayed with it through the end of May, lost 30 pounds.

From January through May, it was easy. It was a miracle. I thought I’d write about this profound experience of my Whole30 journey, but it was just easy. I was busy. I found a way to eat healthy, the same thing every day, but I was too busy to care. I was focused on dancing, getting ready for the Salsa Team Performances in May. I hit my goal. Then traveled for a graduation celebration, celebrated my 50th birthday, and went on vacation: celebrations through June and July.

savingPNGThe real story is how I got to where I could succeed with Whole30 the first time and what happens next. I have different challenges now, new goals. I’ve changed. I’m showing up in whole new way but I’m hitting the same obstacles on a different level. Whole30 is going to be a different experience this time.

Praying for some miracles.

 

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Wake up, Wild Child

We all have a wildness in us, a beast wanting to break free. This is our true nature, our very core. This wildness does not care about fitting in or what the neighbors think. She doesn’t care about etiquette or rules. She doesn’t need to get along. She lives by the rules of her own heart: survival, compassion, love. She is a fierce protector, a sensual goddess, mother, lover, creator of life. Her moods sway with the tide. She is one with the earth and the sea, the sun and the moon, the stars in the sky.

StrengthOur inner wild woman believes in fairies and elves, unicorns and happy endings. She believes that love will always find a way. She is both psychic and scientist, adventurer and dreamer.

She is light and darkness, human and divine. She is everything we are and everything we can be.

How often do we keep her locked away? She is not to come out in public. She has been shushed and prettied up, seen and not heard. She has been taught to keep herself small, make room for others, don’t get too big for your britches. That’s not real, nobody cares, be a good girl, now.

She learned to be quiet, to make herself invisible. She conformed to expectations and put her wild self to sleep.

You can still see the wildness in her eyes that sparkle when she’s happy. When she dances in joy. When she is in love. When she feels safe, she’ll let her wildness play, she sparkles in the sunlight.

Wake up wild child! The world is calling you now. We need your wisdom, we need your sparkle.

We know you’re scared, you must trust us now. It is your time. You’ve been hushed and shushed and told you’re not enough, but it’s time you know the truth.

You are perfect in your wildness. You are enough, right now, exactly as you are. You have everything you need. It’s time to come out now, bring your light into the darkness. We need all of you.

And her heart filled with love as she shed all pretense. She brushed off expectation, washed off the dull exterior of what she thought was normal, and she sparkled. She raised her voice and sang to the world the truth that she knew. She let her light shine as big as it was, a beacon to those who had lost all hope. She embraced her darkness and let her moods shift with the moon and the tides. She is one with the wildness inside her, she lives by the rules of her own heart, she follows the light of her soul.

She is woman, brave and true. She is you.

Heartbreak and Duct Tape

I think most of us are walking around with hearts held together with duct tape. There is so much in life that can break our hearts, it’s a miracle we have any left at all. From global tragedy, what we hear on the news, to our personal heartaches, sometimes it seems the hits keep coming. Yet we keep going, we keep caring, we keep trusting, we fall in love again. It has to be duct tape.

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Radiant Rider-Waite Tarot

A few months ago, feeling blocked and looking for inspiration, I pulled a tarot card as I often do: 3 of Swords. Ugh. What was there to write about? It’s a picture of three swords piercing a heart in the rain. I was looking for something helpful, something hopeful. I put the card away.

It wasn’t until my own period of time where everything seemed to be going wrong that I found my answer, the good in the 3 of Swords.

Grace.

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.” ~Anne Lamott

It seems since I turned 49 my world started falling apart. This may be a bit over dramatic for what was actually happening, but this is how it felt. Changes were happening that I did not prefer, others’ decisions, not mine. I was being forced to let go of situations and people that had once made me happy. Situations I used to count on changed. It started to seem like I was the only one not moving on. Always, I’m journaling and working on my own shit. What is the message here? Where am I supposed to go next? These doors closed, now where are the open ones? I’m setting intentions to make changes and heal what needs to be healed. I’m determined to make my dreams come true, I’m seeing the half century mark come in closer and closer. My deepest, darkest shit comes up and smacks me at the worst possible moment. I withdraw. My beloved kitty, Arthur, is not himself and I find out he has a tumor, probably cancer. A few weeks later, he is gone. I feel like the universe keeps hitting me upside the head with a 2×4.

In our darkest hours is when we discover grace. And it is when I found my answer, I found grace in the 3 of Swords. The number 3. In numerology, 3 represents creation, growth, development, expansion, regeneration, fertilization. In several religions, three, trinity, triad, has important significance. (So what the fuck is it doing with a card that signals heartbreak, betrayal, disappointment? Hint: swords represent the mind, our thoughts and beliefs. It is our thoughts about a thing, not the thing itself, that cause us discomfort. Still, we’re human. It sucks.) I know where that grace came from. I pulled out another 3, the 3 of Cups: friendship, joy, merrymaking, happiness, good feelings.

My duct tape.

In our darkest hours, we discover grace. While I’ve taken responsibility for my own healing, most of the duct tape on my heart was not put there by me. Each piece of duct tape represents a phone call, an “I love you” text, a heart emoticon, a listening ear, a stranger’s kindness, those who cried with me, someone who made me laugh when I hadn’t smiled in two days, a dance, a hug… and more.

All the while I was feeling shitty, I was aware of these points of light in my life. You still have to feel the crap, if you don’t, it sticks around and bites you in the ass later. But when I had been through all the feels, I remembered. I focused on the love. I felt gratitude for all of it. All the feels, but these are the good ones. And the healing began.

“[grace] meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.” ~Anne Lamott

The experience of grief and all the crap we go through changes us. All the good that is going on at the same time changes us. The experience of the relationships in our lives; those who give when we have nothing to give back; those love us even when we shut down, shut out, and crawl into our hole; those who welcome us back when we’re ready to feel happy again – all of this heals us beyond the current pain. Grace does not leave us where it found us. It leaves us in a better place.

Where I sit right now, and maybe you’re in the same place, the outer circumstances of my life haven’t changed. But I’ve been left better than I was before. Stronger, more resilient, with more faith and an open heart, and my own roll of duct tape.

From Fear to Hope: Shift Your Focus

5ofPentacles

Left: Rider Waite Tarot Deck. Right: Tarot of the New Vision

The mother and her injured child wander in the snowstorm, scared and alone. They’ve lost everything and do not know where to turn for help. They are so lost in their misery, they do not see the welcoming lights of the church before them.

Inside, the wounded and homeless veteran has found shelter for the night. He has nothing but this temporary resting place, but it is enough for the moment. He is at peace and soothes a lost child.

Recently, I was sitting with my coach, frustrated with the progress, or seeming lack thereof, of reaching my goals. Seeing what I didn’t have, not how far I’ve already come. Hearing, again: it’s not time yet, the work you’re doing now is important, you’re almost there.

When I pulled a tarot card to offer to you, my community, some insight, inspiration, a message to help you keeping going, I pulled the card most associated with poverty, illness, and lack – 5 of Pentacles. I sat with pen in hand and had nothing to offer. I put it aside for the night, then looked again at the two versions of the card. One side, lack and fear. The other side, hope, shelter from the storm.

A shift of focus. From fear to hope. The homeless man, warm and dry, comforts a lost child. I look at how far I’ve already come and what I have to offer now, and continue on my path. I look at the card on the right and talk of hope instead of lack.

Whether you are struggling just to make ends meet, looking for your dream job, trying to meet Mr. or Mrs. Right, or working towards any goal, there is always an opportunity to shift your focus from “not there yet” to see the opportunity in front of you.

Law of attraction states that like attracts like, the energy you put out attracts the same to come to you. This is not to place blame for where you are – we all have our journeys and circumstances – but it is to give you the ability to direct where you are going. When you are focusing on where you are not and what you don’t have, more of the same seems to keep coming to you. But when you shift your focus, when you look up and see that there is always enough, you are always enough, miracles and magic aide your cause.

No matter where you are or what you want to bring into your life, I have found these three practices useful:

  1. Gratitude: No matter how bad things are, there is always something to be grateful. You can start with being alive. A regular gratitude practice, listing 5 or 10 things I’m grateful for in the morning or the evening or both, has proven effective at shifting life in a positive direction.
  2. Positive affirmation: This is a positive statement that you already have what you desire. For example, “I am able to pay my bills on time and have money left over,” “I am an award-winning author,” “I am so happy to be sitting by the water at a beautiful resort on a tropical island.” You might not believe it at first, but keep saying it anyway. You will eventually believe it is possible. Say it out loud and/or write it out 10 times. With emotion, positive emotion.
  3. Put it aside and get physical. Doing something physical – like taking a walk, dancing, doing yoga, whatever floats your boat – moves the energy and allows space for creative solutions. I often get my best ideas while I’m walking or when I come home from a dance class.

Wherever you are, you have the power to direct the path of your life. It’s as simple as a shift in focus.

 

 

I am available for private readings in person (lower Fairfield County, CT area) or via phone or Skype. For more information go to http://julieannsorenson.com/intuitivehealing or contact me to schedule an appointment at julie@julieannsorenson.com or text 203.209.1968

Surrender

Until your knees hit the floor you’re just playing at life, and on some level you’re scared because you know you’re just playing. The moment of surrender is not when life is over, it’s when it begins. ~Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

One warm, sunny weekend in early September, 2013, I found myself in my car, alone, headed for Asheville, North Carolina. I had a stack of CDs, my phone, a few changes of clothes, and a full tank of gas. I also had with me a full complement of amino acid and magnesium supplements that were going to replace the antidepressant and Xanax I’d been taking for the past five years. I left the prescriptions at home. At about hour six of the 14 hour drive, I started to cry. What the FUCK was I doing? I was driving 14 hours, alone, for a weekend, alone, in a place I knew little about that I had chosen randomly (or intuitively). And I would have another 14 hour drive back home. It was one of those really deep cries that turned into a prayer, simple and raw: I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing and I’m going to need your help.

Knees hit the floor.

I’d been through a lot the couple of years previous and was considering moving to another state, running away, really. I had been on an unfamiliar path. I had dreams for the future but had no idea how to get there. So I took off for a weekend with excitement which turned quickly into fear. Tears. Surrender. I ended up having a great weekend. Spending time with myself, getting to know myself. There would be, and will be, more tears, more surrender, and more joy as my path unfolds.

Surrender is one of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned on my path and something I’ve learned to do even when life isn’t so bad.

Surrender presupposes a belief in a higher power, who I’ll refer to as God. The creator, the divine energy that connects everyone and everything, with whom we are are all one. A higher power that can make things happen. An energy that is pure love.

Surrender is completely giving up control over the circumstances and trusting in a force more powerful that we are to make things happen, to fix the problem, to help us realize our dreams.

Surrender is complete faith that somehow, we don’t know how, but somehow things are going to work out for the better.

Surrender is the acknowledgement, without judgment, that this problem is bigger than we are, knowing that if we could fix it by ourselves we surely would have already, so please help me, God.

Surrender is not sitting on the couch doing nothing and waiting for life to happen, surrender is taking one step and trusting that we are going to be shown the next step. And the next.

This is more than prayer. If we’re honest with ourselves, we pray a lot more than we actually surrender. We go through the motions with good intention, but we like to control things most of the time and are not good at surrendering the details to someone else. It can take a real shit storm to get us actually down on our knees in surrender. Crying in the shower. Bawling in the parking lot of the rest area. Surrender isn’t poetic and it isn’t polite. The prayer of surrender usually goes something like: “I’ve really fucked this up, please help me.”

There’s real beauty in surrendering. Finding that peaceful place withing ourselves, finding our true strength. We connect with our higher selves, we find our connection with our Creator and with all of creation. This is Love.

What actually happens when we truly surrender is God really does take over. I’m talking magic, miracles, and synchronicity. You’re at peace. You don’t have to worry about this anymore, someone way smarter is taking over. Phew. You have a chance conversation with the neighbor you never talk to and the next thing you know, you’re in a job interview with his ex-wife’s brother’s best friend’s therapist’s daughter. You go to the mailbox and there’s a refund check you weren’t expecting. You win an all expense paid vacation. Really good ideas pop into your head. Somebody sees your artwork hanging on your mother’s wall and wants to buy it. A song inspires you to call somebody who leads you in a new direction. A conversation leads you to start your own business. You’re meeting the exact people you need to meet. You’re in the right place at the right time. Magic, miracles, and synchronicity.

This is not the first nor the last time you will surrender. You will go about your life and hit another rough patch and end up on your knees again. It’s called living. Eventually you’ll start to figure out that all the good stuff starts to happen when your knees hit the floor. You’re getting help and this is starting to feel good. Even fun.

When you’re living your life to the fullest, your knees need never leave the floor. You’re not only surrendering, you’re also in deep gratitude for the many blessings in your life.

You don’t have to wait for the shit to hit the fan to get down on your knees. You have dreams and desires, plans and goals. But when you don’t know how to get there, you let go of the dream. Or you get so attached to your plans of how you’re going to get there that you have no flexibility when life (or God) steps in and throws a wrench in the plans. We leave no room for magic. Sometimes God has a better plan, so when she throws a wrench in yours, it’s time to sit up and take notice. Or get down on your knees.

We limit ourselves when we attach rigidly to our plans. Sometimes you have to move forward without a plan. Stop, breathe, focus on your heart. What is your dream, your purpose, your passion? Feel it? Does it still feel good? Good. Now, how does this next step feel? If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it. Listen. Is a different idea trying to get your attention? Take a break, go for a walk, get away for the weekend. Does something light up for you? Trust it. Start moving, but be flexible. Allow changes to your plan. Make room for magic.

Many of us learn about surrendering in our every day lives after our knees hit the floor in some dramatic way. Perhaps that’s the purpose of that moment, to get our attention. Once you’re down there, stay on your knees. Surrender. Gratitude. How is life working for you now?

The Space in Between

“You’ve got to learn to leave the table when love’s no longer being served.” ~Nina Simone

One thing I love about the tarot: besides being an intuitive tool, a set of cards that can answer any question you can ask, each card in the tarot deck tells a story and offers universal wisdom. And each time you pick up the same card, you see different nuances to the story. So, with the 8 of Cups that I was drawn to today.

8ofcups

Left: Rider Waite Tort. Right: Tarot of the New Vision

The man is walking away, leaving everything behind. The moon up above has his eyes closed. Where he is going is uncertain, but it is important for him to leave. In the card on the right, you can see the sadness on the man’s face. He has crossed the river, there is no going back. What he is leaving behind was once joyful but is no longer.

There are times in our lives when it is necessary to leave a circumstance or person behind, to walk away without looking back. When there is no longer any joy or love in the situation. When what was once joyful and exciting has become painful and exhausting. When we feel the loss of leaving but we know there is no other choice.

What captured my attention in the picture this time is the space between two cups in the top row. The space between. In any journey there are times of walking away and times of walking toward and there is the space in between. That space in between can be the hardest space to be in and the most beautiful, if we allow it. There is grief, there is loneliness, uncertainty, fear.

But this space in between is opportunity, if we allow it. When we process the grief and go through the loneliness, we have the space to look into our soul, to get to know ourselves again. What was the gift in the situation? What did I learn? What do I really want?

The space in between is hope. This space is an empty canvas. What are you going to paint on the canvas? Let your imagination run wild.

A few years ago, I was unhappy with just about everything in my life. I had lost my passion for my health coaching business, I was unhappy in my job, some friends had gradually drifted away. I decided I was going to move, but when I started looking for jobs in other states, I got nowhere. I saw an intuitive coach for guidance and was told that I wasn’t going anywhere until I found happiness where I was. Not what I wanted to hear. But I sat with it. I looked around me for happiness. I put everything on hold and picked up one thread of something that I knew had given me happiness in the past: dance. I had stopped ballroom dancing and when I tried to pick it up again, I didn’t find a place that felt right to me. I came upon a Salsa and Latin studio when I was wandering around Meetup, a circuitous and synchronous path. It never showed up in my searches for ballroom dance. It took a little time, but I found there not only the joy of dancing, but the community that I had been missing.

I never moved, I didn’t change jobs. I’ve been inspired, learning and growing, making changes, loving my life. I’m still figuring a lot of stuff out. I’ve been in this space in between other times since, the dance and the community have been there for me. I’ll be in the space again and I’ll know what to do.

This space in between the leaving of one thing and the coming of the next, it is necessary. It is a constant in our journey. When you learn to be in it, it’s a beautiful space full of promise and opportunity. Allow it. Take it in. Paint the picture on the empty canvas of what you desire and let the synchronicity, the Universe, God do the rest.

 

 

Love Always Wins

This changes us: as a nation and individually. This changes us. It has to.

I woke up Wednesday morning to the news that we elected a new President. One who has expressed views and intentions that are racist, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, etc. With a rock in the pit of my stomach, I started journaling. The first thing I wrote: “I don’t know who or how to be in this moment.”

We interrupt this life to bring you an election

The answer came to me from a time over a week ago, advice from a friend: You be you.

This comes at a time when I’ve been facing my own darkness, working through my blocks, becoming a better version of myself, stepping into my life purpose (see my previous post “Mirror, Mirror“). I wasn’t feeling quite finished, I sure wasn’t ready for this. Ready or not, the time has come. This is what my guides are telling me: It’s time for you to step up, to step into your power. Ready or not. The time has come for you to step up, bigger and more than you were expecting.

This is a wake-up call for all of us.

Donald Trump did not originate, create, or cause racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, etc. He brought it into the light. In a really big way. He said what he said, he expressed his views, and he was elected president. Which to some people meant that what he said is okay. But it’s not. With his speech and intended actions, he brought this darkness into the light. This is hitting us like a huge fear bomb.

There is a lot wrong in our nation, a lot wrong in the world. There is a lot that needs to be changed. We know that. This election has been all about that, loudly and emotionally. A lot of us would probably prefer to take our change a little more gently, a little more gradually. I know I would. But that’s not how we’re getting it. A huge fear bomb just went off.

Fear is really what is at the bottom of all of this: the protests, the hate speech, hate crimes, the violence on all sides. The root of all of this is fear. We haven’t paid enough attention, so it’s been brought into the light somewhat explosively.

The darkness has been brought into the light to be healed.

The opposite of fear is love and love heals everything.

I’ve come to my own peace and understanding about where to go from here. I’m here to be a teacher, a voice, for love. I need to raise my vibration, to bring my own darkness into light to be healed, to get out of fear. I need to get into my love bubble and I’m inviting you to join me.

To be clear, the love bubble is NOT a cloud of denial. It is not a place of rainbows and unicorns where nothing bad ever happens. I’m not suggesting we sit around creating our vision boards and ignore what is going on in the world. In the love bubble, we are aware of what’s going on. We see the darkness. But we also know that the darkness has been brought into the light to be healed, and we can only heal from a place of love.

In real life, being in the love bubble means being aware of what’s going on and being ready to take whatever action is needed from a place of love instead of fear. It means holding a vision for the world that I want to live in and taking inspired action to make positive change. It means continuing my life, continuing to find joy, feel happiness, love and be loved. It means opening my heart more, being more loving. It means being the example and voice of love.

There has been a lot of sharing on social media about what we fear the next President can do. It’s scary. We need to move into the belief that we, the people, have the power to keep the worst from happening.

We do it in big and small ways. We stand with our loved ones, we stand up against bullies, we show our support. We become the change we wish to see. We are the example of love and compassion.

The time for blame is over. It doesn’t matter who you voted for if you are ready to stand together in love to heal the darkness.

This is our wake-up call. The time is now. It’s time to step into your power and life purpose. We do this together and we start now.

We, the people, transmute the darkness with our light. We, the people, drive out hate with our love.

onlylovecandothat