Take your Relationship with Yourself to the Next Level

February…Oh, dear February…You are the most difficult month for me. I am a beach girl. I love sunshine, sand, warm ocean breezes, flip-flops and bathing suits. By the time you roll around, I am so tired of the cold. Although you are the shortest month of the year, you seem like an eternity to me. And while I appreciate the quiet,  nourishing, contemplative time you offer, I am ready for spring!!

 

The upside to February is that it is the month of L-O-V-E. Let me clarify. Every minute, of every day, of every month should be about love. I believe Valentine’s Day to be a Hallmark created holiday. I also feel that anything that gives you an excuse to express how you feel is a good thing. But what about those of us who don’t have that special someone to bring them flowers or candy? What’s a girl (or guy) to do?? 

 

I have a suggestion…take advantage of all the qualities that February offers combined with the theme of love and start creating a daily Self Care practice. 

 

Many of us spend significant portions of our lives caring for others, trying to please others and, in that process, we neglect ourselves. This can happen on an emotional, physical or spiritual level. Energetically, we are limited. It is similar to your bank account. You can only withdraw what you have deposited. The part of the analogy that doesn’t fit is that, unlike money,  the Universe offers us free refills of energy…available anywhere and at any time. We simply have to remember to refill. 

 

There is another scenario. The one where we wait for other people to make us happy or to take care of us. I am here to tell you, and read this TWICE  (three times if you think it doesn’t apply to you)   

 

WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR OWN HAPPINESS. 

 

When we rely on other people for our happiness, we give away our personal power. We forfeit our chance to create a life we love living. We also set ourselves up for disappointment. No one will know how to make you happy, if you aren’t capable of doing that yourself. 

 

I decided to move in the direction of right action. I started a challenge on our Instagram page. I want everyone to do one thing a day that makes their hearts smile. It can be anything - no rules, no judgment. Maybe a bath, a book, a beer…whatever makes you feel nurtured, loved, happy, empowered or any other feelings you are desiring in your life.  One thing a day!!!! You deserve AT LEAST THAT!!  This is how we expand into the best version of ourselves in baby steps. Strong and Soulful will be posting some motivational reminders every day to keep you on track. (Just in case you fall back into the habit of forgetting just how much you deserve your own love and attention.)

 

Post the pic, tag @strongandsoulfulnj, tell us what you did and how it made you feel. Easy Peasy….Best part….Wait for it!!! YOU CAN WIN A PRIZE!!!!! A Strong and Soulful T-shirt (they are pretty cool, if I do say so myself) along with a jar of organic, handmade bath salts created by Tohi Collection. (For every product they sell, one is sent to a child in need). The real prize will be how you feel at the end of the 28 days. It will be transformational, I promise. You will feel Strong and Soulful, not to mention deeply loved and valuable - to yourself, the only one that matters. Even if you don't want to take part on IG, please try to incorporate this into your own life. Be unreasonable with loving yourself...

 

I leave you with this. It is one of my favorite poems. I stumbled upon it in high school. That was a time when I thought my happiness depended on being validated by others. It spoke to me.  It empowered me. It reminded me that I am the only one, the ONLY one, who knows what really makes me happy deep in my soul, and that it is my responsibility to take the steps necessary to create a life that lights me up….it lifted my young, rebellious, strong-willed heart. I began planting my own garden and decorating my own soul.

 

 It came back into my life after my husband died. That was a time when the thought of being happy ever again eluded me. It again spoke to me. It empowered me. It reminded me that I am the ONLY one who had the ability to bring soul deep happiness back into my life. It soothed my broken, rebellious, strong-willed heart. 

Once again, I began planting my own garden and decorating my own soul. I invite you to do the same. Then share all the beauty you reap with everyone around you.

 February- I got you beat this year!!!

 

 

Comes The Dawn

 

After a while you learn the subtle difference

Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning 

And company doesn’t mean security,

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts

And presents aren’t promises,

And you begin to accept your defeats

With your head up and your eyes open

With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,

And you learn to build all your roads on today,

Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans,

And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn

That even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,

Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure...

That you really are strong,

And you really do have worth.

And you learn and learn...

With every goodbye you learn.

Author: Veronica Shoffstall

 

 

 

 

 

My Letter to my 2018 Self

To the 2018 me,

 

It’t that time again. As the final moments of 2017 drift off and become a memory, 2018 will burst forth in a cascade of confetti and kisses, filled with dreams, desires, resolutions and intentions. 

2017 was really one for the books. The Universe seemed intent on pushing you out of the nest whether you were ready to fly or not.  Sometimes the wind caught you and you glided effortlessly…other times you crashed and burned. Every single time, regardless of the outcome, you were given the grace to try again and go a little further. For all of this, especially your efforts, I say thank you, I am proud of you and don’t forget you will do better when you know better so, PLEASE, don’t ever stop evolving.   

 

This is your 50th year, and while many like to lament that they are old, I want you to wrap yourself in the comforting thought of how blessed you are to be here. Embrace the wisdom that your 50 trips around the sun have gifted you. Share it humbly with those who ask and be a living, breathing example of how beautiful and strong 50 actually is. Commit to doing one thing every month that is all about YOU! I don’t care what it is…just keeping saying YES. Don’t let a single thing slow you down. I think it is going to be a monumental year for you. Create that. 

 

 Look at your body and smile…stop judging. Every wrinkle, every scar, every gray hair is proof that you lived. Make your best effort to give it the nutrition it needs, the rest it is asking for, the exercise it craves. Whatever you do - DO NOT attach your health to numbers because you are so much more than your weight, your waistline, the number of carbs you ingest. Measure your body by your ability to breathe, to move, to create life, to nurture, to heal, to serve…Do whatever it takes to feel beautiful, but do it from the inside out. No one will remember what shoes you wore on New Years Eve, but they will remember your smile and your sincerity and the way you made them feel. This year, make a supreme effort to make everyone feel seen and important. Do this while maintaining the clear balance of who your inner circle is. Know who contributes to your growth and who depletes it. Honor this knowing and create a sacred circle of those who fill your soul. DO NOT COMPROMISE. This is your tribe. You are meant to do great things together. 

 

Never, ever forget that you were brought to this earth plane and given this body for a purpose. This purpose is much bigger than you. Continue finding time to listen to your soul. Don’t fall prey to that silly voice that always squirms its way into your brain to taunt you and tell you that you’re not good enough or that you can’t do something. No matter how difficult it is, ALWAYS stay in your integrity. Give more than you take. Your unwavering faith has always been your strength. I know you see the collective pain that has surrounded our world and you feel it deeply, but I also know you have this inferno of faith burning inside you that makes you capable of rising above this collective energy to be a beacon of light and hope. This is what you were brought here to do. Take action- don’t simply talk. Never underestimate the power of love. Never underestimate YOUR own power or the power held in a single moment.  It’s all about energy. Keep yours clean by practicing ritual. Meditate. Pray your ass off. Take  notice of all the tiny miracles happening every single day!! Write them down…speak them out loud…allow them to multiply and give you hope. Share that hope. In the dark moments, and their will be many, don’t shrink in fear. Hold that vision given to you ,so many years ago as a child, of yourself being held in the palm of a giant hand. It saved you then, it will save you always. You are safe. You are guided. You are loved. LET PEOPLE LOVE YOU!! You are so good at giving it out, but you’re not too good at receiving it. Practice this in 2018. No one does great things alone

 

Which brings me to your intuition. You have spent years studying it and learning its language. You know more than what is in front of you. Your third eye is wide open…let’s practice NEVER doubting that. Go with your gut. It has never steered you wrong. In fact, your hardest lessons came from ignoring it. This year, let’s live through our inner knowing rather than the brain. Feel, feel, feel instead of think, think, think…I know this is hard for you because your intellect sometimes gets in the way, but you can do this. Be brave when it comes to making decisions this way because often they go against what others believe is right. You can do hard things. Trust- in yourself and in your God. 

 

2017 was filled with so many triumphs. It was also filled with so many lessons. The last couple of months of the year rocked you. I mean down to your core-physically, emotionally and spiritually. But , hey girl, look at you making it through, even if it felt like you did it on your hands and knees. I know it sucked being stopped in your tracks like that and needing other people desperately.  I  believe it laid the groundwork for your next uplevel. It cleared out all the stuff you have been carrying that you didn’t really need anymore. It gave you new clarity. You have spent lots of years being hard on yourself and others. It’s ok to not be perfect. It’s ok to need help. It is ok to make mistakes and change your plan. It’s ok when other people aren’t perfect. They aren’t here to live up to your expectations. They are here to live out their own journey. They love in their own way. See this. Appreciate it. Love them back in your own way. My greatest intention for you for 2018 is fervent connection. I want you to work on every single relationship you hold dear. Do not be frightened. Have all the hard conversations - even if you get that freaking lump in your throat. Even if, God Forbid, you cry (sidenote: please cry more) When things are spectacular, soak it up like a sponge . Don’t waste time worrying that it won’t last. Nothing does. Enjoy it while you can. Remember, it is all about the moments. They are what make up your life. 

 

I have this feeling that 2017 was the wrapping up of many loose ends and that 2018 is a year where you will be seeing the results  of all you have been working on over the past 3-4 years. It is exciting. Make every single day a masterpiece that fills you up. Savor all the moments. Love Big. Keep an open heart. No shrinking out of fear, only expansion. Know your worth. Use your voice. Appreciate the efforts of others. Forgive Forgive Forgive. Support what you love. Leave what doesn’t encourage your own highest good. Feed your soul. Share your dreams. Hug a lot. Laugh till your belly aches. Work out till your muscles burn. Eat dessert.  Make nature your refuge . Now that you have been able to keep a few plants alive, try  a garden!! Read lots of books and write that book, goddammit. Finish your online class. Spend more time with the people you love-even when you think you don’t have the time -make the time. 365 days. 365 opportunities. Do Not Waste a Single One. 

 

I love you

My 2017 self

 

My Wish for You this Holiday Season

My Wish for you this Holiday Season

 

This time of year is like an emotional tug of war sometimes. The natural inclination is to hunker down, relax, eat comfort food, drink hot chocolate - you know the drill, and maybe have a few chestnuts roasting on your open fire. Of course, with all the holidays there may not feel as if there is much time for that. Instead, we are rushing from one place to another, feeling stressed and overindulgent . 

 

So this is my Wish for all of you this Holiday Season:

 

My wish is that you find the sweet spot where you are truly celebrating. 

I hope you create the space where your beliefs, traditions and relationships all come together in a way that brings you joy. 

I pray that peace can be found in, at least, a small part of each day to counteract the chaos. 

I wish for you to see the season through the eyes of a child with unwavering faith and zealous anticipation. 

I hope that the light of the most brilliant star outshines any darkness you may carry in your heart. 

I pray that you believe…

        in goodness

        in others

        in yourself

        in something bigger than yourself

I wish for you to escape the commercial mayhem and enjoy the presence of those you call “family”

I hope you know that your are loved…

I pray that you share that love. 

 

But mostly, I wish for all of your desires to become your brilliant reality and that they fulfill you in the way you dreamed they would. 

 

To all of you, from all of us, in the Strong and Soulful Tribe…..

Have a Wonderful, Safe Holiday Season!!!   You are our greatest gifts and we are excited to begin 2018 together.

October: Surviving the Storm

It seems as if Mother Nature has just had enough. Every time we turn around another natural disaster has struck- earthquakes, tsunamis, devastating hurricanes, landslides, fires (we cause those, but you get it). You name it and she has brought it! 

Thanks to modern technology, most of these weather conditions are predicted based on patterns. *See the signs* They are broadcast everywhere. Although we may know SOMETHING is coming, or there is a possibility of a devastating event- we are NEVER CERTAIN...because Mother Nature is a force beyond our control *omnipotent* 

What ensues? Fear, panic, chaotic energy. People running around buying food, gas, supplies ...*survival mode* Others are forced to relocate taking only the most valuable and necessary possessions. *You need much less than you think-minimalism*

And then it hits...and all anyone can do is allow it to run its course. If you have prepared maybe this will be easier...if you haven't, it will most certainly be harder and could even mean the difference between surviving and not. *Every choice has led you to this moment*

Orrrrr.....maybe those forecasters were wrong (wouldn't that be crazy??)! The storm is nothing you can't handle- you're safe and secure and life continues on...

 

Of course, I am not only talking about weather!! That would be silly- this is a wellness blog...

I am talking about the emotional storms that rock our worlds - health, relationships, grief, finances, moral injuries....all of it. 

Most times, we have signs or patterns that can predict these storms ...they certainly create a level of fear or uncertainty. Sometimes they seemingly appear out of nowhere ...

How do we get through ? 

We can brace ourselves and hope for the best...that works sometimes. Other times , it backfires - and the rigidity is the thing that causes us to be knocked down. Especially if we haven't prepared...

In the worst situations, occasionally, we need to leave...taking only what is valuable and important *our hearts*

Or we can let it flow...if we have seen the signs, if we have been caring for ourselves, if we have prepared properly, the healthier choice may be to let it happen, recognizing our lack of control but having deep trust and unwavering faith that we will not only survive-but thrive. This requires an enormous amount of courage. We are allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, open and soft in the most nurturing way. It also means we must rise up and lift each other  *no one gets through it alone*

I have braced many times...chosen to ignore signs...chosen to wear my armor...chosen to be hard and impenetrable. *I am strong* It worked until I didn't need that armor anymore ...then it was heavy and unyielding and kept me stuck in the danger zone *disconnected *. I got brave, just recently on this last 9/11 anniversary , and cast it aside. *With a little help from my friends and yoga*  As scary as it was...it was liberating and the last storm took on a new meaning. 

I felt it all...it shook me...but I knew I had prepared and my trust ran deep. *Honor Yourself*  I was both vulnerable and fearless - grounded in relentless faith. I made it through once again. This time another layer of shadow was removed from my soul. *Unlearning creates clarity *

The clean up after the storm always unearths something more beautiful...we rebuild bigger and better...we never come out of the storm the same *evolve and expand*

This is life happening ...this is learning to live with your soul on the outside.

 

September: Falling into Freedom

"I know this transformation is painful, but you're not falling apart; you're just falling into something different, with a new capacity to be beautiful."

September is the doorway to fall. Summer slowly slips away into longer, cooler nights. The scent of brightly colored flowers fades and is replaced with crimson and orange leaves that herald their own great, pending fall from grace. I often write about the "Letting Go". I find nature to be the most graceful example of how the time comes where we must release what does not serve us. Clinging keeps us stuck...But this year, I am reminded of something else. The Transformation...

Nature has a way of turning all the ugliest things into something beautiful...creepy, crawling caterpillars are transformed into beautiful butterflies; smelly cow poop is fertilizer that helps nurture our most beautiful plants; rotting leaves are mulched into nutrients that feed the majestic tree that stands in front of your house or lines your favorite hiking trails . It's this natural transformation that has hijacked my thoughts this year. 

Sixteen years ago, I was lost in my own devastation. The ugliest, most painful time of my life. While the world watched the Unites States being attacked, my world was falling apart. I am not going to get into my own 9/11 story because I have written and spoken of it so many times. I find people get so caught up in their emotions surrounding the collective tragedy and my loss that they lose sight of the rest of it. The 16...SIXTEEN!! years of living that have transpired...The Growth. The Transformation....

There are times in our lives that we fall down or are knocked down. Maybe we are at fault or maybe we are a victim of happenstance...doesn't matter. In fact, your story doesn't matter. Occasionally, we get trapped in our story.  It is all that defines us and we get stuck there. Stuck in that dark space holding onto the story and the pain that brought us to our knees as if it was our favorite woobie.  We resist the transformation...Sounds so crazy, right? Why would anyone put up a fight against the one thing that could make the devastation bearable, maybe in some cases, even worthwhile?? You know why?? ...it is quite simple...because the transformation, the growth freakin' hurts!!!! When someone suffers a significant burn, the dead skin must be removed by a process called debridement so that the new, healthy skin can grow FREELY, unfettered by the burnt tissue.  I will bet that any burn patient will tell you...it is excruciating. But they do it. Over and over again. Hoping to have the smallest scar possible-allowing the natural transformation of their dead skin into healthy, functioning skin. This is what we must do to ourselves to experience growth, transformation and true FREEDOM. We must peel away layer after suffocating layer to reach a healthy space. We must allow our pain to be mulched into power. It will be painful...it will also be worth it. Trust me on this one. 

The month of September reminds me of my own pain. My own transformation. My own growth. The scar remains. It has become a reminder of what is possible when I am willing to crawl into my own darkness, trusting that it will lead me to the light. It is a reminder of my own power-that I am a bad ass, warrior woman. It is a reminder that I have everything I need right inside of me. It is a reminder that on the other side of pain is this glorious freedom. You have faced a fear and moved past it. You have kicked some demons in the throat. You have shown up and you haven't given up.  The thing is ...You have to be brave enough to climb the mountain. You have to be willing to risk the fall.  I can honestly say that the woman I am today is a much wiser, braver, kinder and more compassionate woman than I was on 9/11. I am forged and battle-tested. I have grown. I have transformed (and I continue to on the daily). 

Of course, there are tools that may help to make your journey slightly easier. These are the offerings I have created to share at Strong and Soulful. Things like meditation, yoga, reiki, acupuncture, massage to name a few. I have used all of these to help myself, so I trust in their magic. The other lifesaver for me was my support network. People are not meant to go it alone. Even the strongest of us can not survive for long without some sort of support. Believe me...I was one of those people who never needed (read that as "wanted") help. After 9/11, not only did I need it....I like "couldn't peel an apple for my kid" needed it...big time...and would accept help from anyone - "Hey- you made me chicken cutlets on the counter where your 10 cats eat-perfect!! My kids won't starve..." that kind of anyone. It all saved me. It all made me grateful for the smallest gestures of kindness. It all, eventually, taught me where I could be better, where I could show up more, where I could offer what little I had to give. It all transformed me...

So, ironically, this September not only marks 16 years since 9/11 and the beginning of my own radical growth and transformation, it is also the three month mark for Strong and Soulful!!! Woot Woot!  I opened this business with the goal of helping people along during their own transformations, their own search for personal freedom- offering tools, insights and most importantly, support. We hug. We laugh. We cry. WE GROW...the business itself has grown beyond what I expected and it has been transforming into what the community needs. I am still in the nurturing phase and I am being gentle with it. Still trying to learn what works and what doesn't . (Holy shit- I really stink at marketing!!) The most amazing thing that I have noticed, and the part that makes Strong and Soulful the community it is...is that every single person that has walked through the door...and I sincerely mean EVERY SINGLE PERSON- has been connected to me or another staff member in a significant way. This golden thread of connection is my affirmation that we, at Strong and Soulful, are guided by something greater than us. We are truly meant to be serving. I am honored and grateful to be a part of so many lives as they evolve and transform. I am also deeply grateful that you have chosen to join us in our own growth....We will, together, have a positive impact on this ever changing world we live in and for that I am indebted....

Sept 11th and 1 World Trade Center have become as symbolic of Freedom as the American flag itself. Let us never waver as Americans, but more importantly, may we never waver as kind human beings- that unwavering commitment knows no boundaries of race or religion. True freedom comes from LIVING WITH YOUR SOUL ON THE OUTSIDE. Authenticity=Freedom. How free does your heart feel?  If you are shackled or simply looking to expand we are always here for you. I promise to catch you if you fall and I will always have your six.

Live with your Soul on the Outside

Crazy Love to all of you

Denise

 

 

 

Freedom

Freedom

 

Fourth of July weekend is here! I’m in the Northeast and this means warm weather, barbecues, friends, celebration and FIREWORKS!!  There is nothing more American than celebratimg our hard-earned national sovereignty with hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob and a cold beer.  Americans are defined by their freedom- freedom of speech, religion and freedom of the press are a few examples. Then there are the freedoms that we often take for granted - women able to show their hair or wear a bathing suit, sexual orientation, reproductive rights, etc…These are our birthrights. People in other countries do not share these liberties .

 

Interestingly enough, these are not the freedoms that make us happy. We have children that have every video game imaginable, who never go to bed hungry, who wear sneakers that cost more than an entire month’s salary in some countries.They also have eating disorders, ridiculously high suicide rates and addiction issues. We have adults that own spacious homes, making 7 figure salaries, driving flashy cars that are completely enslaved by their own minds. Depression, anxiety, attention deficit - we are plagued by it. Why? We have everything we could need and more. We have the opportunity to be and create anything we can dream of.

 

I am going to quote Jim Morrison…because -well, why not? 

            

    “The most important kind of freedom is to be 

      what your really are. You trade in your reality 

      for a role. You trade in your sense for an act.

      You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange

      put on a mask. There can’t be any large scale

      revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on

      an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.”

 

 We have spent many years conforming to who our parents, teachers and society, in general, say we should be. These expectations are often not attainable which leads many to feel frustrated, unworthy, not good enough- a failure. How can you be a failure at being yourself? Or maybe they are attainable, but they aren’t satisfying something inside of you. Your insides simply are not matching your outsides. Or, maybe, we believe that power and money- the American definition of success- will make us happy, only to reach our goal and find that we aren’t fulfilled in the way we thought we would be. 

 

True freedom is found in knowing who you are and what your innermost desires are and then following that inner wisdom without fear. It is the ability to be unapologetically yourself. Figuring out who that is may be the most difficult step. I like to say that we must unlearn most of what we have been taught. Disengage from all the labels and stories that were placed on us. Dive deep into self reflection and be brutally honest about what makes you feel alive. Be discerning, but not judgmental . What are you drawn to ? What are you passionate about? What are your gifts? Maybe you are naturally a teacher. It may not be your chosen profession, but you find that people tend to come to you for advice. You may be a healer. Maybe you love music. Who knows…Only you…

 

Start with baby steps. What is one thing you have been wanting to do for a long time and been putting off? Do that. What is your favorite past time or hobby? Spend more time doing these things . If you are in a space where you don’t even know what you enjoy - sit quietly for a few minutes everyday or spend time in nature. Listen. Feel. Experience. It will come to you - trust me. These are the parts of you that need to be honored and nurtured. Other people may not agree with you. You don’t need anyone’s permission or approval. All you need to do is discover what sets your heart on fire and this will lead you to discover what your unique gifts are. 

 

As with anything in life, the real happiness is in sharing. When we are able to share our gifts, talents and our true selves we are living in a state of reciprocity. People benefit from what you offer and you, in turn, benefit from their joy. You also create space for others to be themselves. You longer feel judgmental of what they are doing. You are able to be truly encouraging and supportive. 

 

This 4th of July, while you are celebrating the greatness of our nation, take a second to honor the greatness within yourself. You are a caused phenomenon, as one of my teachers liked to remind me. Use the privilege of living in a free nation to truly be yourself.

Happy 4th of July!!! I am so proud to be American. Also, don’t forget about our service members overseas ensuring that our freedoms remain intact. They always deserve a shout out. We know freedom-any kind- is never free. 

 

Be the light on Solstice

Today is the longest day of the year. It is known as summer solstice and is celebrated all over the world in a myriad of ways. The word solstice comes from the Latin ‘sol’ which means sun and sistere or stit- which translates to stopped or stationary. Literally meaning the sun is stopped in the sky at its northernmost point. It is a day to honor light. You know what I love most about solstices and the change of seasons? Hallmark hasn’t taken them over yet! Summer solstice, winter solstice, the first day of spring, fall becoming winter…they are all big days and worthy of celebration. They are symbolic in many cultures, yet there are no gifts required, only presence. 

 

This time of year the sun is shining, flowers are blooming, people are outside enjoying nature and each other. Everything is vibrant and full of energy. Life seems simpler- lighter food, less clothing, more playtime.For those of us who may suffer from seasonal affective disorder or just get sluggish in the winter, this is our happy place. The more sunshine, thebrighter the smile. There are many traditional rituals that celebrate this significant time of the year. There is fire jumping- symbolizing jumping from one time of the year to the next. There are sun-salutations- honoring the sun. There is the gathering at Stonehenge and many more that you can google. It is a celebration of the yin (feminine) energy that surrounds us. Winter solstice (which is being celebrated concurrently in the Southern Hemisphere) is a celebration of the yang (masculine) energy. In my opinion, the best way to honor summer solstice is by honoring the light in each other.

 

Namasté is a word that is commonly used in yoga circles now. It loosely translates to the the Divine light in me honors the Divine light in you. I am filled with divine goodness…you are filled with that same goodness. When we look at each other from this sacred, soulful place we see each other with clarity. We see beyond the exterior and the faults. We appreciate the strengths and the innate goodness that is commonly lost on humanity. We see beyond the story and witness the soul. 

 

Summer solstice, the honoring of the light, is a prompt. A prompt to return to simplicity. A reminder to enjoy the everyday gifts of sunrise, sunset, friends, family, laughter, gathering and being outdoors. So even if you don’t have any fancy rituals that you practice to celebrate this momentous time of year, you can practice seeing those around you from a different perspective-a kinder, gentler, more loving perspective. You can practice seeing yourself from this perspective also.  So get out there and enjoy this extra-long, sunshine filled day!! It is very appropriate that we, at Strong and Soulful, will be having our first ever yoga class today at 10am. Sun Salutations in the true sense of the word. This evening while the sun is setting, we will be meditating to the sound vibration of the Crystal Bowls.See our events calendars for details. Our community will be setting our intentions for the season and sharing our lifted energy. Please join us. 

 

“Live with your Soul on the Outside”. 

  

Father's Day

With Father’s Day fast approaching, I thought I would offer some thoughts. I sat down to write and realized that this is a topic that, like most everything in my life, is so multidimensional it could become a short novel. ( And by short, I mean like War and Peace short)The reason being, there is no simple way to describe a father. So where to begin…


The easiest part of being a father is the biological part. Anyone is capable of that. I hopped right past it and I began by researching what most people consider characteristics of fathers. The list turned out to be pretty generic- strength, discipline, support, provide, protect, teach.


Then I considered my own experiences as a daughter. My biological father was absent for the majority of my life. Absent in every way - emotionally, financially, physically. He chose to completely shun his responsibility as a father to his daughters. On the opposite side of the spectrum was my stepfather, who chose to willingly shoulder those responsibilities…he made sure we had food on the table, coached our basketball teams, did homework with us, walked us down the aisle and danced with us at our weddings. He is an amazing grandfather and the number one fan of his grandchildren. He loves us. ( An important side note: before he came into our lives, my mom embodied all the characteristics of a father. )


I moved on to my experiences as a wife and a mother. Being young and, from a therapist’s point of view, probably suffering from abandonment issues (aren’t we all?) I had a very short lived first marriage. It lasted a year. It was hell, but from it I was given the gift of a beautiful baby boy. His biological father was fighting his own demons and was absent for his life. When my son was a toddler, I met and married an amazing man. My son instantly became his best bud, his little man. He took him camping, fishing, hiking. He taught him how to be a man of integrity. We later had two more children together - a daughter and a son. Although a man’s man, he did my daughter’s nails and fingerprinted and made ponytails. He not only provided for his children- he loved them with his whole soul. When we lost him to a tragic death- that role became mine.


I would be amiss if I didn’t also consider the other men in all of our lives that have embodied these characteristics and had a hand in shaping our existence- uncles, friends, teachers, coaches, etc…


I eventually came to the conclusion that DNA does not determine fatherhood - love does. It is the most beautiful thought. It makes Father’s Day less of a Hallmark holiday (one that is often painful or uncomfortable for many) and more of a celebration of the men in your life that have chosen to provide for, support, teach, and protect you. Maybe you have been blessed with an amazing biological father, maybe not. I can bet there have been others that have played that role for you- whether it was a man or a woman, blood relative or friend. If not- you have learned to father yourself and that is also a powerful gift. I am thankful for it all.


Happy Father’s Day to all those who have embodied what a father means and offered themselves to others. You make the world a better place simply by guiding a child. Deep bow to each of you.

Grand Opening

Walt Disney once said “all our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” Buddha was quoted as saying, “What you think you become. What you feel you attract. What you imagine you create.” Albert Einstein believed that “Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics!” I can continue with a list of the world’s most ingenious minds and they will all tell you the same thing. DREAMS DO COME TRUE.

This past Saturday, I had the honor and privilege of opening the doors to my own dream come true- Strong and Soulful Holistic Health Community. This dream has been in the making for well over 10 years. Anyone who knows me will agree on this. So what the heck took me so long? I can give thousands of excuses. The bottom line was time, courage and commitment. If you glance back at the quotes above they are not simply stated as ‘dreams do come true’…that is because the reality of it is that there is a process. This process is different for all of us. I have learned so much about myself in this building of this community, that the process alone of creating it has been worth the effort. I have learned that I get bursts of courage. This has happened occasionally in the past and it is the exact feeling that allowed me to quit my job and apply to an accelerated nursing program, or register for a 60 mile ruck or to date the guy who had a ponytail and a baseball cap that worked in maintenance in my hospital. I have learned that I honor my commitments even when they frighten me. Often, the hardest part of honoring any commitment is showing up…I have learned that this feeling of being uncomfortable is simply growing pains. When all is said and done, and I have followed through on that little burst of courage, moved beyond the fear (and believe me the fear and my own demons like to rear their ugly faces), I come out on the other side expanded and better than before. BUT, by far the biggest and best lesson I have learned is that I do nothing alone. Nothing…I am blessed beyond words for the people who have become my tribe. Each of you has helped me through your words, your actions, your thoughtfulness. When I looked around at the 75+ people that attended the Grand Opening I couldn’t have been more humbled and thankful. The food , champagne, laughter- it was already becoming a community. Every single part of Strong and Soulful was created with great Love and intention. It is in this spirit that I want this Strong and Soulful community to grow. I want it to be a place of healthy living, healing, support and a place of unconditional acceptance. I want it to feel like home. And Freedom. And whatever else makes your heart smile.

I want to play a part in making your dreams come true.

If you missed our Grand Opening, check out the photos below. I still have some work to do and some kinks to iron out, but I will be posting some events for this month and I am open to any suggestions. Check back often and sign up for our email list so that you are the first to know about our events and happenings. Book a treatment directly through the website. I look forward to meeting all of you.

Special thanks to my niece Olivia Wilson of AO Visual Media for the logo, the website, t-shirts, hats, flowers and many, many smiles. Also, Uncle Gino’s for our delicious clean food, RCsolutions for creating the water bottles that were given away, my family and friends who helped me with all the last minute details…my children for your unending patience and support. Love to you all.

“Live with your soul on the outside”