Finding My Gypsy Soul

expansionBlog 2014

Expansion Sculpture by Paige Bradley

Greetings Friends!
I hope this Year finds you health & happy! Whoa, is it already June!!! For me, the New Year brought big change, uncertainty, and fear. Along with these feelings came excitement, joy and a sense of adventure.
Throughout 2013, I spent this past year in a separation after a 20 year marriage. I moved out mid-January and never returned. January 2014 started with a trip for some legal advice and filing for divorce. There, I said it! I filed for divorce; and it was final two weeks ago.
Throughout my blog, I wrote about finding your courage and speaking your truth. This has basically been my journey for the last few years.
I want to openly write about this because over the last few weeks, I have been introduced to many individuals that find themselves in the exact same situation and I want you to know, you’re not alone. I believe that marriage is a beautiful thing when it is based on love, trust, respect, mutual admiration, a true connection and two souls that grow together in the same direction. I believe that marriage is one of the biggest decisions you make, based on so little information. People grow and change, not always in the same way. As you discover who you really are, or even rediscover who you were, sometimes that does not always match your current situation. All the things that I thought I wanted in my life were there, but was it what society made me think I wanted, or what I really wanted?
While it seemed like life was great from the outside, something was missing… and that something was me. I was a mother, a wife, a nurse, a sister, a friend. The real me is a free-spirited gypsy soul. My religion is love, but I can be a complete nut, out of the box, and dare I say it, a crazy bitch! I love my alone time and being independent. While I was in the midst of raising my beautiful children, there was no other place I wanted to be! They were my life! As the children got older and became more independent, I began to turn inward. I realized too, they would be starting their own paths and their own journeys.
Of course, everyone said I was depressed, I was going through a “mid-life crisis”, that I was out of my mind. At times, I began to think those thoughts as well. With time, counseling, meditation, solitude, and lots of yoga, I realized I was going through a spiritual awakening, coupled with the fact that relationships can run their course. While I was married to the most kind-hearted, loving and wonderful father to my children, my marriage had run its course.
We all stay in relationships for different reasons and those reasons are valid. But at some point in your life, it does have to be about you; not your children, not your religion, not your financial status, or what other people expect of you. When people grow in different directions and seek different paths, there are crossroads to face. We either follow status quo, or make a decision ~” it is time for a change.” I was criticized for walking away from a 20 year marriage. People will criticize what they don’t understand. People will criticize because it’s easier to analyze and gossip about someone else’s marriage than to take a good hard look at their own. I like the comments; Bring it! I was even accused of having an affair. That would have been exciting…
In the end, I still wanted my freedom and I had no idea what that was going to look like…. With this freedom comes fear, uncertainty, and of course, insecurities. After building a life with someone for many years, the unraveling of these 2 people creates exposed areas and wounds. These wounds are fresh, at first, but with time, will heal. I know I will heal. It is a process and I’m just starting this part of my journey.
I know I will be ok. I will be more than ok. Most of the time (95%), I feel good about my decision. Once in a while, I have those dark moments where I question myself. I question my ability to make it on my own and my long term happiness; always reminding myself that happiness is an inside job. There are moments when I say, “WTF did I just do?” I have realized that I have to surrender to these moments. It is what it is. When you have these moments, just be with your feelings…
We are all a little broken at some point in our lives. From this brokenness, comes rawness and vulnerability. This is where we heal and where we grow. Remember it’s ok to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable helps you shed that mask and brings the right people in your life to help you heal.
Really examine your feelings. Is your spirit hidden? Does your light shine? Are you living from your heart? When you begin to speak your truth and live from your heart, everything feels good, everything feels genuine, and life just flows. If this is what you desire….dare to make some changes in your life so that magic can happen. Magic happens when you are out of your comfort zone! It is scary, I won’t lie to you.
Once you make a decision for change, you’d be surprised at how the universe conspires to create what your spirit longs for……
Do not let society dictate what you are supposed to be doing in your life…
Do some soul searching, spend some time alone, and begin to find your inner bliss.
This sculpture by Paige Bradley is titled “Expansion”
“From the moment we are born, the world tends to have a container already built for us to fit inside: a social security number, a gender, a race, a profession or an I.Q. I ponder if we are more defined by the container we are in, rather than what is inside. Would we recognize ourselves if we could expand beyond our bodies? Would we still be able to exist if we were authentically ‘un-contained’? “ Paige Bradley
Ciao
Cathy

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Love….

Love PostI always ask people, “What is your definition of love?”  I would describe it as, “to feel deep affection, admiration, respect, and overwhelming desire and compassion toward another.”
The words “unconditional love” often are mentioned when speaking of the love between a parent and child.   It is very hard to practice this type of love but can come with ease when you least expect it.

What does love look like? The way a parent loves a child. This is a deep and strong feeling of love that’s hard to describe. Even lovers can practice this type of love when they don’t even know it,  letting that person do and behave however they wish.  You have a deep love for them knowing in your heart of hearts that this person’s behavior is not acceptable,  yet you still love them.  I would describe true love as “ loving another person without expectation, simply loving another human being.”

Love can occur between two complete strangers when brought together in unusual circumstances. As a hospice nurse, I have walked into people’s homes in complete crisis and brought comfort and reassurance just by my presence. I can honestly say I feel great love for these patients and their families when I am there. I am present and willing to accept the feelings that come at such an honored time. I truly feel love for these people and want more than anything to give them the compassion and understanding they so deeply need and desire at this time.   Sometimes there are no words to describe how you feel.
To practice loving people is easy. Love can be words, a gesture, a kind act or a smile. You may not realize it but a smile to a complete stranger can make their day. Why not try once a day to share your smile with someone? Feel a connection and be in that moment with that person?

As mentioned earlier, the love between a parent and child can be very strong, powerful, and beautiful. My dear friend, Eric, from my childhood, lost his father earlier this year. His father was a kind, loving and wonderful soul. Through his love for his children he bestowed on them the ability to love and accept others. When I saw this photo (above) I was overcome with happiness and joy! You can truly see the love and energy exchange between this father and son. I wanted to share this with you because I found it so moving.  Sometimes a picture is really worth a thousand words. Thanks for sharing Eric!
Loving with an open heart and being present with those you love will have a strong impact on your relationship with others. Being present with the people you meet along life’s path will bring a strong connection.

In late July, I was able to attend my 30th high school reunion in West Virginia.  I reconnected with old friends and made new ones! What a joy to be with my old school mates and rekindle memories that still make me laugh even 30 years later.
In an earlier blog post I mentioned living with the spirit of travel. I was able to practice this on my way home from my reunion. My friend, Eric, his partner Michael and I all rode to Charlotte, NC together. On the way, we stopped at a historic mansion in Southwestern Virginia.  This historic landmark is named “The Mansion at Fort Chiswell.”  You must visit this lovely place if you are ever passing through. (www.fortchiswellmansion.com)

We spent our whole afternoon touring the grounds, The Mansion, and enjoying the delicious foods prepared in the farm to table restaurant located within The Mansion.  Beyond yummy!! Plus we split 3 desserts! It was an afternoon I will always remember because I so present and so focused on everything going on around me the fresh air, the sunshine, the flowers, the breathtaking grounds and the people. The server ended up being one of my classmates from high school that I have not seen for 30 years. What a wonderful surprise! It was an afternoon filled with love, wonder, excitement and learning.  I cherished that visit and every minute of my ride home with Eric and Michael!

Ft-Chiswell-Group
Turning everyday into an adventure is easy to do when you appreciate EVERYTHING in your life  even the sun shining on your face! Really connecting with people around you by being present in each and every moment of your life will change the way you live. Every day will truly become an adventure if this is your demeanor. Your energy will be contagious and people will let you know. Be that person that can see the good and positive in every situation. Love always with all your heart. Truly living with an open heart, with no expectations, only brings joy and more love into your life!  If you live this way, I promise you, more love will come into your life from the most unexpected places and circumstances!

There are many types of love but, in the end, love is love.
Peace and joy to you always.

Namaste
Cathy

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Spirit of Travel

Parthenon

Meditating at the Parthenon in Greece

Greetings dear friends!

I must share with you my recent travels to the amazing country of Greece. I was so excited to go on my yoga adventure and immerse myself in another country, this trip far exceeded my expectations in so many ways.

Traveling takes you to lands you are not familiar, with customs, foods, and language that either excite or frighten you. I learned early in my youth that travel for me was a natural high. My longing for faraway lands is always fueled when I travel to any destination!

A quote from my travel buddy, “Observations of Greece: the weather is exquisite, the espresso is soo good, the desert is not sherbert but a 40 proof grape liqueur, the people are lovely & the men are gorgeous, body proximity is close, smoking is everywhere, the architecture is old and beautiful, the food is very flavorful and fresh, the sunsets magical, and I’m in heaven.” This was her observation and mine after only 1 day! So the rest of the 13 days was continued excitement, wonder, and love!

The yoga retreat on the Island of Crete was spiritual, special beyond words, and the friendships made will last a lifetime! My travels continued to the Island of Santorini, and a stop in Athens!

I realize and appreciate the gift that I was given, to take this opportunity to be alone and be with my thoughts in such a lovely setting. But, the alone time could have taken place on a hike by my condo, just a few miles away.

Solitude gives us time to be with ourselves. Learning to be comfortable alone affords us the opportunity to discover our very best friend… ourselves. You realize you are never really alone. In this space, I often find my self talk. Sometimes, it’s positive, sometimes it’s negative. Always practice compassion with yourself. I am continuously trying to listen to that little voice in my head or is it in my heart? I realize that my head holds my logic and life experiences. My heart holds my passions and desires. The trick is to have them in sync. This is so much easier said than done. But the heart speaks in such a soft, quite voice that it’s often hard to hear. But, it does talk and it can surface as a strong, undeniable feeling, a visceral reaction, a chill up your spine, or even goosebumps. But, you feel it, you often can’t explain it, but it’s there. Be open to your heart. This is our inner voice, our soul. Part of my trip was solo. So I had many opportunities to listen, reflect, and meditate. It is often in times spent alone, you find the clarity, peace, and joy you seek…..

When I travel, I also pay attention to my instinct. This is one of our super powers that we often ignore. But the more we tune in to this sense, the more it is refined. Traveling solo can help you practice using this sense. Yes, you can still buy the wrong bus ticket, even after pointing to your destination. But it’s your instinct that says, “Hey, check that ticket again, even though, you can’t read the language, you know something is a little off.” It’s your instinct that says, hmmmm, “I think it’s this street, not that one.” And yes, it can be wrong, but keep listening and the more you use it, the more it is right.

While I loved and so appreciated my alone time, the people I met along my travels are permanent treasures in my heart. When you travel to faraway lands or just down the street, you will meet many along your path. When your heart is open to people, experiences, and love…others feel it, and open themselves to you. When you look at the world with eyes and a heart wide open, an abundance of love and people meet you along the way. From beautiful shop owners in Chania to handsome new friends on the plane ride home! Everywhere I traveled, I connected to people and to their energy. It was truly magical. The people of Greece radiated with love and understanding. It was such an honor to be with them and share their culture.

Travel is truly a gift. An education. A chance to explore new lands and new people. A chance to expand your world view and realize the universe is small. We are all part of a greater family.  In the end, we are all just longing for the same…. connection and love. This is what binds us together. Underneath our outside appearances, beliefs, and cultures, we are one. We are not much different from one another, in fact, you will often see yourself in others. We are always in tune with one another in a web of energy that transcends continents.

The Magic of Greece

The magical memories of Greece

Be enchanted with everyone you meet along your journey! Value your time spent alone. Live with a heart wide open and begin to listen to your instincts…

I’d like to leave you with this quote from Mark Twain:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So… sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sail. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Learn to live with the Spirit of Travel everyday…..

Be well dear friends, love and light to you always….

Namaste

Cathy

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Vitamin D

Lady Sunflower

Vitamin D

Greetings Nutrition Friends and health nuts! I have some new and exciting news I want to share with you. I am participating in a Vitamin D study(D*Action Plan). The study is sponsored by Grassroots Health, which is an organization focused on education and creating more awareness about the importance of Vitamin D. The goal is to change public health practices around the world by conducting research to support the cause. The ultimate goal is to see what type of disease can be kept at bay by keeping Vitamin D levels optimal. I will be finding out my Vitamin D serum level and supplementing with Vitamin D and getting sunshine.

Why is Vitamin D so important?
Vitamin D acts more like a hormone. Did you know that Vitamin D is needed for every tissue of our bodies to work properly. Of the 30,000 genes in our bodies, Vitamin D is shown to influence 3,000 of them! A deficiency of Vitamin D is know to be associated with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, various autoimmune diseases like diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. Several cancers including: breast, colon, lung, lymphoma, pancreatic, and prostate can also be associated with a deficiency in Vitamin D. Optimal Vitamin D levels can cut cancer rates by as much as 60%(Mercola, 2008). That is a pretty strong statement, I know, but please read Dr. Mercola’s information of Vitamin D, Mercola.com. The evidence is mounting and the solution could be as simple as making sure you have have optimal Vitamin D levels. Disease prevention, in general, could be as simple as getting the adequate vitamins and minerals our bodies so desperately needs to function. Proper nutrition, stress management, exercise, sleep, and supplementing when necessary can give you the best chance of living a long, healthy, and productive life. True prevention is possible when you are informed. Using knowledge and information to make better choices about your health is much better than health insurance, I think. Please note that optimal levels of Vitamin D can also prevent colds and flu. It is rare for someone with optimal Vitamin D levels to come down with the flu. So you see, optimal Vitamin D levels can contribute greatly to your overall health.

While sunshine is the BEST way to obtain your Vitamin D: weather, job commitments, and life in general can get in the way of getting adequate sunshine to fulfill your Vitamin D requirements. The average exposure time is 15-20 minutes in July @ mid-day. Exposing at least 40% of your body is paramount, not just arms and face. Dark-skinned individuals exposure time may be twice as long. The brief exposure needed to produce adequate Vitamin D is not enough to to cause skin cancer (Mercola, 2008). You can apply sunscreen after 15-20 minutes of sun.

There are certain foods that contain Vitamin D, but Vitamin D from food sources are not usually adequate. The following foods can provide some Vitamin D: fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel; beef liver, cheese, egg yolk and fortified foods such as breakfast cereals- yuk!

What are optimal serum levels and how much Vitamin D should I take?
Optimal serum levels of Vitamin D should be between 40-70 ng/ml year round. It is believed that 80% of our population could have a Vitamin D deficiency. Make sure when you are supplementing that you are using Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is considered the “real Vitamin D” as it is the same substance produced by our bodies naturally by sun exposure. Studies show that Vitamin D3 is 87% more effective than D2 when treating Vitamin D deficiency. The average recommendation for Vitamin D supplementation averages between 6,000-8,000 IU per day in order to achieve levels of 50ng/ml, depending on biochemical individuality. Keeping track of your levels and your supplementation will be paramount in helping you maintain optimal levels. When testing your Vitamin D levels, Lab Corp supplies the correct test. You will want to ask for the 25(OH)D test also called the 25-hydroxyvitamin D, which shows a better overall D status. Checking your levels twice to four times a year is ideal.

There is a growing body of research that is showing the promise of Vitamin D and it’s role in optimal health. Do you want to participate? Navigate to Dr. Mercola’s website and find the Vitamin D study or go directly to grassrootshealth.net. This country is in need of a huge paradigm shift in health care. We must move from a disease management model to a true disease prevention model. Do your own research, the evidence is growing and it’s exciting. Optimizing your Vitamin D levels can contribute significantly to your overall health!

Play with me friends, let’s help contribute data, educate, and be part of something greater than ourselves. In the process, you will be adding to your own health and well-being. 

 

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Speaking our Truth

Walk Towards Your Fears

Today, I had an awesome “kick asana” class with Becca. It was challenging, tons of fun, and inspirational! We played for 2.5 hours! We discussed our vulnerabilities in class and how scary it is to tell the truth. Becca asked, “Why is it so hard to tell the truth?” We all sat there pondering that question and I know each of us reflected upon our own lives. Can you answer that question? We are raised in a society where we are taught to put others ahead of ourselves. While this is a noble and honorable quest, the ramifications of this way of living can eventually cause a life of self-denial. A life lived to please others can slowly extinguish your own light. Our ability to love ourselves is compromised. There are instances when we do need to put others needs above ourselves and this is a part of life. To constantly live from this space is a detriment to you and ultimately to all those in your life. Your life becomes someone elses and your truth is buried somewhere under their expectations and dreams.

When we have played and maintained a certain role for sometime, being true to yourself, following your heart, and speaking your truth is probably one of the most difficult tasks you face in life.

There is quote that goes, “when you follow your heart, you are loving yourself and will be able to love others more deeply.” I really believe this quote holds true. When you live from your heart, you are so open and full of love that every being you encounter will be showered with your joy and energy. People will notice that you are different. You will radiate an internal flame of love and compassion. Speaking your truth is liberating and brings you in touch with your authentic self.

I believe we all would like to live authentic lives. It is not easy, friends… to tell the truth, but try it. Most people in your life will appreciate your intention. Some will not. Speaking and hearing the truth can destroy your current reality. Face your fear and walk into it. People will admire you for your courage. More importantly, this authentic life you are embarking on will set you on a path of self-discovery.

Baron Baptiste, a yoga master and teacher, talks about the “flow of the universe.” The basic premise goes like this: When you open your heart to your truth and more importantly speak your truth, the universe recognizes this courage and energy. Opportunities and encounters will seem like coincidences. Synchronicity in your life is anything but chance. Begin your journey and you will know when it feels right.
Telling the truth is out of your comfort zone. But getting out of that comfort zone is paramount to growth and change. As my friend Annie always says, “Get out of your comfort zone! That is where the magic happens!” Do you believe in magic? Say Yes!

Follow your heart my dear friends ~ it will not steer you wrong. These may be challenging and scary times, but I know you are capable and I believe that you are ready…..

Have faith, trust yourself more, and know that you can live a joy-filled and an extraordinary life… it’s waiting for you!

Namaste!

Cathy

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2012 Truth and Honesty

follow heartAs the New Year approaches, I am looking back at this year and the profound changes that have occurred. Giving a voice to my heart was the most significant and life changing part for me. While this part of the journey was not easy, it was a necessary component of moving forward. Paolo Coelho said it best with this quote, “Telling the truth and making someone cry is better than telling a lie and making someone smile.” The truth will hurt people in your life, but when expressed with loving intent and honesty, some people will see the beauty of your authenticity and appreciate your courage. Some people will not… this is part of the growth process. Being honest may not get you a lot of friends, but it will get you the right ones. The kind of friends that will continue to support and encourage your unique path.
Speaking your truth will create a chain of events that will take on a life of its own. Once you tap into your soul, your intuition that is you, you will start to look at all areas of your life with a new vision.
There comes a time in everyone’s life when you are forced to take inventory. You have examined certain thoughts in your mind, but don’t want to deal with it, because the truth is something you don’t want to know. That’s ok… everyone has to come to that realization on their own time. Some people will never entertain or voice such thoughts, which are really their truth, because doing so would change everything about their reality. So….wherever you are, embrace that…..
However, if you dare to investigate and follow your heart, you will be surprised at the number of people who will seek you out and provide guidance and understanding. Maybe you already question some areas of your life (career or personal relationships), continue to explore. As your curiosity increases, you will start to visit these thoughts more and more. Your heart knows where to go. It’s ok…the more these thoughts come up, they become less of a mystery. As you follow the path of your heart, life seems to fall into place.
What is your truth? What do you value? After the first of the year, we will explore some questions to help you focus on what is really important to you. We all deserve to live happy and joy filled lives. I recently attended a vision workshop and was able to consider these questions myself.
Have a safe and Happy New Year! I wish you peace, joy, harmony, good health, and love! Namaste Cathy

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New Beginnings….

“New Beginnings are disguised as painful ending.”   – Lao Tzu

I saw a beautiful display of love and friendship among my co-workers yesterday. Our dear friend, I’ll call Sarah, has had a most difficult time with a recent break-up that has left her sad, feeling lonely, and negative. As a group, we reminded her of her beauty, both inside and out. We encouraged her to focus and reflect on imagining a more fulfilling and joyful life that awaits her! Sarah is truly a women of extraordinary light that will meet someone special one day ~ she just has to believe.

Life is not always easy. In fact, we have times of great sadness and great happiness. I have found that the best way to live life, is to live in the moment. I know that is easier said than done. Mainly because I have struggled with living in the moment, myself. But, the more I practice, the easier it gets! Seriously living one day a time, really one moment at a time, is the key to happiness. It is quite liberating to not concern yourself with your past. The past is over- done! What pain, hurt, and rejection you have experienced~ let it go….
Living in the moment means appreciating and loving your life NOW! Along the same lines, experiencing and accepting life as it comes, the flow of life….

A thought from yoga to leave you with:
Life is transient, there’s only so much we can plan for; but there is so much more happiness to be experienced when we learn to live with the flow… fearing less and letting go, flowing more and truly experiencing life as it happens~

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