Fountain

More and more lately the Universe is presenting me with people who are screaming to me for lessons in self love.

Learning to love myself again has been my path for decades. I would argue that the 8 years of clinical depression in my 20s was my body demanding I come within and rediscover who I truly am. People describe depression as something you battle. I, too, have described it as such in the past. But I have come to realize, it wasn’t something I needed to battle. It was something from which I needed to learn.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
~ Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

My dear friend and mentor, Beth Prins Leas, recently posted the above quote to her Facebook page for the Total Life Care Center.

This quote really struck me to my core.

Not only from my own journey, but a few days later from bearing witness to my soul sister, Michelle’s journey. I have known Michelle’s story from almost the moment we met. Our souls connected instantaneously and she immediately went to her most vulnerable space and told me her story. Michelle’s story is hers to share, but it is truly a story of beauty arising from darkness. I took Lexi with me on Tuesday to hear Michelle (Auntie Em-as my girls call her) share her story and read aloud a poem she created. The beauty of these moments cannot be captured in pure words by me. But maybe you can witness some of it in this picture I took.

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Now knowing Michelle like I do, I know her journey has been like mine, learning to LOVE herself, again!

There are so many ways we can love and nurture ourselves. From the tiniest moments of self care of a deep breath, a nutritious bite of food, a sip of clean water to the larger actions of personal growth retreats, “ME-cations,” making a radical change in one’s life that is an act of choosing you.

Along my own journey, one of the most decisive steps of action I took was going to Costa Rica the first time on the “Embrace the Magic” retreat with my coach, Joanne. On this retreat I truly grew to fully love myself and trust myself all over again. I had so many powerful visions and experiences on this retreat. There are many I continue to come back to and call upon. One of the most powerful visions I call upon a regular basis was me as a fountain.

From this vision I realized, the water has to return to me, to my basin in order to keep functioning. I truly mean that water has to RETURN TO ME!! I have to continue to feed, water, nourish myself in all senses of those words. Physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. If I don’t do this, the fountain will literally dry up and break down, CEASE FUNCTIONING. Now, the beauty of this fountain you can hopefully see in the picture below, is there is PLENTY of water/me that will splash over, out, around. It is these SPLASHES I share with others (my children, my dog, my family, my friends, my clients and the greater communities I am a part of). There is MORE THAN ENOUGH in those splashes. In fact, because those splashes have come from my healthy, nourished basin, they are of very HIGH QUALITY. So, if I forget to allow that water to flow back in to my basin, there is less and less splash, less and less of me to share. And what is shared is MEAGER.

Now in my vision, my fountain is a luminous magenta, but I couldn’t capture a photo of that. But in our town, one of my favorite things to drive by is this fountain. I am sad when the water gets turned off in the fall, although rejoice when it’s converted in to a lit up Christmas tree. And I fully CELEBRATE when it is turned back on in the spring. I literally say “Hooray” to my girls the first time I see it.

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If there is one lesson I will strive to impart to all I share my SPLASHES with it is this:

BE A FOUNTAIN!!!

Emergence

Wow, I haven’t written in a really, really long time! I am preparing for my next retreat with my coach, Joanne Lutz, “Calling In The Muse.” One of our prep steps is to read (well, I listen in the car) Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I am LOVING it! Probably why I’m actually writing, again.

If you are family or a Facebook friend, you are well aware of what has traditionally been my annual pattern. I tend to have some sort of funk, every year. When in the year it starts, varies. How long it lasts, varies. How deep it goes, varies. Yep, had another one this year. They seem to be lightening, I continued to work with Joanne, go to support group, etc. this time (which hasn’t always been the case). But no way around it, they SUCK!!!

I do have a new modality I am excited to try to see if it can change things and that’s EMDR. Haven’t scheduled the appointment, yet, because honestly they usually start late fall, early winter. But if I’m truly honest about it, probably would be a good idea to look in to starting EMDR now. I’ll let you do your own research about what EMDR is, if you’re interested.

What I really wanted to write about is the emergence, what it’s like when I come out of these funks.

Well, I was already emerging out of it when I returned to Costa Rica, this time with my 2 daughters on a group tour. If you’re new to following me on social media or here, then you don’t know that my first major retreat was in Playa Chiquita, Costa Rica led by Joanne and with 2 dear friends as fellow participants and it was called “Embracing The Magic” (Are you catching a theme here, yet?) On this most recent trip to Costa Rica, from the second our plane’s wheels hit the tarmac in San José, I saw the mountains, took a nice deep breath and felt the magic enter my body. If you have never been to Costa Rica, I urge you to go. It is truly a magical place. The energy of the earth, the people, the flora, topography, the wildlife. I’ve traveled quite a bit and I have never experienced a place like this. #puravida

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When I was in Costa Rica this second time around, I again had many magical experiences. One in particular, was when I chose to move out of my comfort zone, put my Deep Blue rub on my knees and hike down 518 (Livie and her friend Leighton on the trip counted them) extremely steep stairs down to the base of La Fortuna Waterfall to swim in the natural pool. Take a break, more Deep Blue and then hike back up them. Our wonderful guide Heidi cautioned us that if we have bad knees, we might not want to do it. I have bad knees (although they’re getting better), but I didn’t relax in to that as an excuse. Swimming in the natural pool of a waterfall was a bucket list item for me. When I posted the pic of me in the pool to Facebook, I was nervous as the funk meant extra weight gain and I was a little body conscious. The pic and story got more likes than when I posted my professional photo shoot pics. Wow! To top it off, one of my soul sisters from when I did Iyanla Vanzant’s Wonder Woman Weekend Workshop told me she was getting the sense another huge transformation was on the horizon for me.

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So even though this emergence has been amazing, how it is unique this time is it is also more grounded than it has ever been before. Our modality works a lot with the Tibetan philosophy of the Elements (Earth, Space, Fire, Air and Water). I am striving and moving toward living in balance. I am also a Fire personality (or a Pitta Ayurvedic Dosha). But I now know, when I my Fire dims low, sometimes all the way down to just red coals, is when the funks tend to come in. In the past, when I have emerged, my fire has RAGED, it’s actually been too much. This time it is way more in balance.

I know there are many contributing factors to this more balance. One of them is I practice many different modalities. Wonder Woman Weekend solidified my relationship with God that I have always had. It transformed it from Disconnection to Wholeness. I returned with a risen vibration, a knowledge and comfort with the Divine within me, in a way I never have before. I told Joanne, “Let’s kick it up a notch!” and she of course, obliged. She encourages me to try different things on to see what resonates and works for me.

This had led me to opening up to Spirit’s putting the acupuncturist and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner in front of me that was meant for me. I’ve done acupuncture before, when we lived in Massachusetts. But since being in Connecticut, none of the practitioners’ cards or names resonated with me, so I never made an appointment. I know now, Universe was having me wait for Karen. I met Karen a year after she moved to Darien as her daughter joined my older Cadette Girl Scout troop. The following week, she was in my meditation class at the library. Out of context, I didn’t recognize her until she came up to me after. Found out, she was an acupuncturist and TCM practitioner. Invited her to come to Beth Leas’s Total Life Care Center’s networking breakfast the following week and we haven’t looked back since. I started seeing her as a client immediately upon our return from Costa Rica.

She has introduced me to The Dragon’s Way, Qigong, Master Lu and countless new things. I am seeing immediate changes in my body as we bring my organs, Qi, so much in to balance. She is also an essential oils wise woman and has joined my team. I am doing dōTERRA 30 day Spring cleanse.

I now start my Wednesdays with Karen, then move right in to my weekly call with Joanne. WOW! So much is coming in to alignment, getting unstuck, getting released, getting healed.

I just booked my next two retreats: “Calling In The Muse” with Joanne in Western Mass in June and “Imagine A Woman” with Dani Stillwell and Mama Yahfaw (members of Mama Iyanla’s God Squad from Wonder Woman) on Lake Huron, MI in July. I am looking in to going to one of Karen’s teacher (Master Nan Lu’s) Dragon’s Way Deep Dive retreats up in Garrison, NY.

As Elizabeth Gilbert advises in Big Magic, I wrote this for me.

Writing is healing for me.

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I am living Pura Vida!

 

Divorce is Not Just the “D” Word: Support Group

Group of human hands showing unity

Group of human hands showing unity

  • Are you unhappy in your marriage and considering divorce?
  • Have you started the divorce process and finding you are feeling confused and swept away by the whole thing?
  • Has your partner served you with separation or divorce papers and you’re feeling blindsided?
  • Or are you divorced and struggling in this new chapter of your life?
  • Are you in a relationship with someone who is going through a divorce?

Come learn how divorce doesn’t have to be the “D” word, but can actually be a time of great personal growth. Lean on others who are also going through the un-coupling process for support in our caring and safe group. Explore customized tools designed to help you learn more about who you are, what your obstacles are and how to overcome them.

As a woman who has grown through my own divorce, I have decided to use my certification as a life coach and my highly developed intuition to offer one on one coaching, support groups, workshops and meditation.

Please join me for our support group:

The daytime group meets the second Thursday of every month from 10 am – 11:30 am at Total Life Care Center, 52 East Avenue, Norwalk, CT. Upcoming dates: 10/3, 11/12, 12/10.

The evening group meets the third Thursday of every month from 7 pm – 8:30 pm at Total Life Care Center, 52 East Avenue, Norwalk, CT. Upcoming dates: 9/17, 10/15, 11/19, 12/17.

$50 Founding Member price. Package price for 3 months paid at beginning for $120 ($40/group).

$125 Founding Member package price includes a 1:1 with Julie

RSVP to juliepunishill@gmail.com
 

Fire Meditation

As I sit here waiting for the blue moon of July 31st to rise above me, I thought maybe I’ll write something. It’s been such a long time since I’ve written.

Where to start?

I am alone.

Sometimes that moves in to lonely.

When it is lonely it is because I am afraid of something and I am not allowing myself to feel the fear. When I don’t allow myself to feel my feelings, I go away from myself. I lose my connection to me. When I am disconnected, I am lonely.

I am lonely for me.

Yes, I would like to have a special someone in my life to share things with. To be connected to. But as I’ve traveled this path I have realized I don’t NEED a husband, a boyfriend, a partner. I may like to have a relationship, but I don’t need to have one.

I have achieved such a level of happiness. A true happiness on my own! As me!

As my coach says, I am living my life to the richest and fullest I have ever lived it. I truly am.

You know how I’m doing that? There are many things I am doing to experience such joy, such happiness.

One of the things I did, I did this winter into spring when I had a small self hibernation period. I chose to detach from the outer world, not in depression and isolation, but as a time of great inner healing. It was precipitated by a break up. A relationship that truly triggered some deep, deep wounds that I had never had the courage to look at, the courage to heal. For that, I will always be eternally grateful for the message monster of this person, of this relationship. So I spent 3 months or so choosing to limit my exposure and interaction with the outside world. I truly was hibernating and focusing purely within. Listening and noticing whatever was coming up.

Maybe I will write another post about how my totem animal has morphed from a butterfly to a snake. This started on my spiritual retreat in Costa Rica last year “Embracing the Magic.” I used to have a paranoia of snakes, I am serious, a true paranoia. During that retreat that morphed in to me being a snake. Weird, huh? At the end of the retreat I had one of the most powerful visualizations and experiences I have ever had meditating. We were meditating at Gandoca, which is a power center of Earth, what some call Ley Lines. There was a thunder storm. We were doing an Elements meditation. I literally felt the energy of the earth come up both of my legs as I sat on that bench under the pavilion as two snakes coiling up my legs!

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Snakes hibernate and snakes shed their old skin that no longer fits them.

I just finished a shedding. In actuality I just emerged from a period of cleansing and detoxing.

When I first read what snake medicine is inThe Discovery of Power through the Ways of Animals, by Jamie Sams, David Carson and Angela C. Werneke in Costa Rica, it talks about how snakes have the power to charm and embrace fire medicine. Those who can wield the power of fire medicine are quite rare. This really spoke to me and excited me.

In June, I met Kristin Trotter Van Wey, a healer in her own right and now a friend. She read my palm and immediately said “You are a fire!” Now this is a message I have been getting a lot over the years, but I have been afraid to embrace it. From an Ayurvedic specialist, to the fact that I always run hot, have a ruddy complexion and red is my favorite color and always has been. Somehow this time I really heard it.

Now because of the work I’ve done, I have the courage to really step in to it and embrace my Fire!

Another thing Kristin said to me is Fire people must spend 80% of their time in self care. Now this is something Joanne, my coach, and I have been talking about for YEARS. How I do better when I am focusing on and need to make sure I am doing enough self care. But for some reason I was finally in a place to really hear it.

SO… it has been a summer of self care for me!!!

For example, on the Fourth of July, I declared it Happy Independence Day for me and this is how I spent my day: Started with a 45 min, over 2 mile walk with my dog where I added in some run intervals along the river and Long Island Sound. I ended up doing 10 minutes of running total. Haven’t run since last fall, so that was a good start and felt really, really good. Then treated myself to breakfast on the patio at our local farm to table restaurant, which I ate mindfully. Read some of my book club book while I finished my green tea. Off to my first Tarot card reading and Jin Shin Jyutsu energy session. WOW!!!! Came home made a nutritious rainbow salad and ate it mindfully. Detox soak bath with dōTERRA essential oils while I listened to my Theta Wave Chakra Balancing and diffused grapefruit oil. Grapefruit oil is “honoring your body.” Rested on bed to meditation music and let my skin breathe. Self massage including nice foot massage with dōTERRA body lotion with grapefruit oil in some places and lavender oil in others. Off to the store to buy fresh organic fruit for fruit salad I said I would bring to our fireworks gathering. Walked to the beach with my friend, Tina and 3 new friends to watch the fireworks. Home and to bed by 10:30. What a blissful, joyful and nourishing day!

Since I have been focusing on self care, my fire has truly caught and is now blazing! Self care stokes my fire.

This week was a bit of an anniversary of sorts for me with an old relationship. I was a little melancholy. However, a dear friend (who has been a friend forever) and I have really started leaning on each other in regards to our romantic relationships and where we are emotionally with men (and of course other things). I realized this week that I’m not alone just because I’m not in a relationship. Of course I’ve had this realization before, but it felt important to have it amidst this melancholic period of missing this particular person. This old, forever friend has been my connection. Instead of texting this ex and staying engaged and tied to a relationship that no longer serves me, I text her.

I took inspiration from another friend, Beth Prins Leas, who posts amazing morning meditation musings every day on facebook. Today’s was about the blue moon.

So I decided to build a fire tonight under the blue moon. As I have waited for the moon to rise over head, I have listened to music, eaten dinner mindfully, texted with my forever friend, and texted with both of my daughters.

My forever friend has suggested I dance by my fire, under this blue moon and that is what I will do.

After I dance, I will sit, embracing my fire and meditate under the lunar power of the blue moon.

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Divorce Coaching

How Did We Get Here?  My journey to becoming a divorce coach.

 

 

 

 

I am a certified life coach specializing in divorce. My personal experiences, education, training and mostly my powerful intuition all come together to form a unique perspective. I bring all of these to the table as I guide clients to finding the ground, discovering their voice and developing a stronger connection to their true selves.

I suffered from clinical depression for 8 years in my 20’s. In my healing process I truly found a modality of healing that resonated and truly worked for me. While I was going through marriage counseling in this modality with my ex-husband he asked what I was passionate about. When I searched my soul I realized I felt the most alive when I would offer help to new members of our therapy community at our weekend residential therapy retreats. This is when I truly felt alive.

So, when my therapist, April Prita Manganiello, started the Institute for Conscious Counseling and Coaching in Essex, Massachusetts, I enrolled! After a two and a half year intensive program of half instruction and half practicum, I graduated a certified life coach in January of 2010.

As I went through my own divorce, I continued my personal growth work with my therapist and my coach. As my divorce process neared its conclusion, I realized I should actually specialize in divorce as my niche.

Next to Me

I am going in for an elective surgery on Wednesday morning. I will admit, although I am excited about the procedure, I am also a bit nervous and scared. When I was two I had a traumatic surgical experience. So, as I approach this new surgery I have been clearing and healing the remaining ick from way back when.

I have spent the last 7 years really finding my true self, learning to rely on myself and trust me. Sometimes instead of being a grounded, authentic self place of strength I find myself putting the steel rod up my spine, making myself as strong as possible, because I can take anything and no one can knock me down.

As I approach Wednesday and other challenges in my life, I’ve realized I am doing myself a disservice when I “steel” myself. I push others away, I don’t allow them to support me or accept them on their offers to lean in.

So many of my loved ones and friends have offered me love and support around my surgery and recovery. This has been hard for me to let in. It truly has. I’ll admit I have walls up and I find it hard to bring them down and be fully vulnerable with those who are the closest to me. Many of you might find this surprising because of how much I share on here. But to be truly vulnerable with those nearest and dearest to my heart still scares me.

So for all of you who have offered TLC, meals, rides for my kids and just overall support, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I truly hear the sincerity of these offers and they warm my soul. Please know I am working on letting myself be vulnerable and accepting this help.

But most importantly, please know I feel the loving place from which these offers are being made. This truly means the world to me and I feel truly loved.

Joanne wrote a newsletter article years ago and I have referenced it here before about sitting on the ledge with someone, just letting them know you are there.

This is what I feel from all these offers and love. My loved ones and friends are offering to sit next to me as I go through this surgery and recovery period.

They are sitting right next to me on the beach, my special place.

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Alignment

Photo edited by Kara Glover Billhardt

Photo edited by Kara Glover Billhardt

I am at this remarkable place in my life where things really seem to be sliding in to place.

Joanne observed a few years ago that I do better when I am involved in some sort of regular therapeutic relationship. She actually noticed it when I was taking Debra Woog’s business course I’ve mentioned before in 2012. So about 4 months ago I gave myself the gift of regular bi-weekly sessions with Joanne.

Between these sessions and the ACJ support group, I have emerged out of this last depression in a completely different way than other times. This time I didn’t come out of it with a period of mania, but pretty grounded in fact. The depression slowly eased. It has now completely lifted. This feels so much more healthy.

You know I give Joanne her due credit, but this time what I’ve learned and, coming to trust is, it’s me. I’ve been the guide in our sessions some times, a lot of times. I’ve had the insights, the epiphanies.

Such a great place to enter in this time when my daughters are returning to school.

Meditation group is thriving, which is thrilling!

My volunteer positions are hitting high gear and I’m loving it.

I am ready to launch two new support groups this year, one for those who are divorcing, the other for stay at home parents. I am looking for space to hold these and then I will have more information about them.

I am finding myself refining my elevator pitch. Over the last 3 days, 6 people have asked me for my business card.

I actually committed to a price menu plan and emailed it out to potential client.

I will be moving this site to wordpress.org and doing a complete branding redesign.

Will be hiring Kara to do a photo shoot with me for better images for this new site.

This is a very exciting, yet grounded time for me.

All the pieces seem to be finding their niche.

Letter

This spring while watching an episode of Glee I was really struck by one of their original songs. The title is “You Have More Friends Than You Know.”

On the trip home from my most recent “A Continuing Journey” workshop, this song came on from my playlist. I started to cry as I sang along and belted out the chorus. I listened to it a few more times and decided it was time I wrote a letter to my friends and family.

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As many and most follow my blog, I knew this would be the perfect place to write this letter.

Dear Friends and Family,

Over the past two years I have been participating in an amazing support group and working with my own coach. I have really been working on how when I feel alone it triggers depression for me. When this depression is triggered, I pull away from all of you and I isolate. Of course, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy and making myself, in fact, more alone.

I have finally grown to realize how this hurts those who I love and in fact truly love me. I am robbing you of the opportunity to be my friend, my loved one. Joanne, my coach, wrote a beautiful piece once about truly being present with someone in their journey is just being willing to sit on the ledge next to them and be present, letting them know you’re there.

Myriads of my friends and family have done this for me over the years, only for me to shun them when I truly need them in my depressions. I now realize how this hurts you all and I do sincerely apologize for that. I know it comes from a shame place for me of “this depression is so dark and ugly, how can anyone love me when I’m in it.” I truly know now this is not giving those who have chosen to surround me in friendship and love any credit, whatsoever.

Through my own journey I have learned I am never alone as I have always had me. It’s something I’ve been learning and realizing over all my years in therapy.

I had a recent extremely powerful session with Joanne where I was talking about a traumatic incident from my childhood when I was pulled under by the ocean waves in Maui at age 6. When I was revisiting this incident I remembered hearing my own voice telling me to stop panicking, relax, ride it out to the end and that it would be ok. The ocean did in fact drop me back on the beach, after pounding the hell out of me, of course. But I hadn’t been alone, I had been there for me. Also, of course when I was able to stand up, my father was on his way in to the ocean, my sister was there and my mother, too.

I don’t think it was until I truly understood how I’ve never been alone that I could allow myself to see how my isolating actions when I’m suffering from depression truly hurts those I love and who love me.

I know now I have more friends than I know!

With all my love,

Julie

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