Where’s the Love?

How are you at receiving, really taking in, the love and abundance around you? In the clamor of everyday life, can you feel the great joy that is your natural state?

Me, I sometimes struggle.

I know in my head that I am loved and respected. I have a beautiful family, gorgeous friends, lovely colleagues, several spiritual communities. Love is all around, but I often can’t feel it. Old brain training and all—what we do and don’t get in childhood becomes the patterns of our brain in adulthood. It’s a fact. But it’s not our deepest, fullest truth.

Which is a good thing, because not truly experiencing love not only leaves me soul-starved and set up for some kind of soul-crushing, body-hurting binge, it frustrates the heck out of people in my life. It’s not nice for them when I deflect their affection.

Today while I was cycling in the park a simple little idea popped into my head:

Start where I am! I adore music, dance and other movement, and nature. Why not load up on these fun, nurturing things and sink way down into them as they are happening. Deepening my experience with these safe, joyful activities, I know from brain science, educates body and mind for ever-deepening enjoyment of the bigger, deeper, eternal joys of life.

I can’t just wait for these times to happen. I need to put fun stuff on my calendar, and let them happen fully, then slow down to feel the delight in my throat, chest and solar plexus. The sweet, cool, relaxed sensation that comes, that’s love. That’s contentment. That’s serenity. Unshakeable. The real deal. Infinite, eternal, sustaining, curative, centering, powerful.

Thus educated, my system is all the more ready to receive love and joy. Here’s another little secret: I don’t do this just for me. When I feel full and fed, I am stronger. I can reach higher and deeper, make stronger connections and be the peace I want to see in the world and in the people around me.

How about that?


Find more like this at gayedelman.com.



25 Ways to Relax in Under a Minute

Taking care of yourself equals receiving the care and love of your higher power. Self care is imageGod’s love, pure and simple. Your creator does not need or want you to feel all beat up, bent out of shape and burnt out. Your creator wants you to feel rich, lovable, fulfilled and loved. This is where your strength and comfort come from.

The hardest times to do self-care are when you’re beset by life’s unavoidable obligations, trials and tribulations. Try one of these when you’re so overwhelmed you feel you can’t possibly take more than a minute.

  1. Brush your hair
  2. Pull up your socks and tie your shoes
  3. Wash your hands sloooowly after using the loo; revel in the hot soapy water
  4. Splash cool water on your face; blot ever so gently
  5. Take a long, slow drink of water. Keep a water bottle nearby for this
  6. Look around the room and pick out everything that’s your favorite color
  7. Raise your shoulders up to your ears. Hold to the count of 30, then drop them. Repeat
  8. Send someone a little “thinking of you” text or email
  9. Lightly run your hairbrush over the tender inside of each arm and give yourself a chill

10. Read a page in a meditation book you keep near your work station just for that purpose

11. Call your BFF and ask permission to work just a little bit not-so-hard. I promise she’ll give it to you.

12. Pray this three times to yourself: “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.”

13. See how many things you can write in a minute that you’re grateful for

14. Stare out the window. Set a timer. Find one at http://www.online-stopwatch.com/countdown-timer/  I dare you!

15. Make a list of what you’ll do with your first million.

16. Pray the Serenity Prayer a few times: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Or another favorite prayer or inspirational verse. You might like to memorize one or two at a more relaxed time for this purpose. I often use the 23rd Psalm. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+23&version=KJV

17. Stop. Breathe. Wait. Tell yourself, “There is nothing in front of me that’s life or death.” (Unless, of course there is. In which case, put this blog down and  go to it!)

18. Consider the importance to life of marshmallow peeps https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAUUL-Ypdu8

19. Repeat to yourself: I am enough, I have enough, I do enough.

20. Reach your arms around yourself and give yourself a big hug!

21. Take off your shoes and assuage your arches

22. Think of a friend who’s struggling and send her some good vibrations

23. Think of someone who’s on your last nerve, like your boss or your teenage son, and pray, “Bless him. Bless me.” Repeat.

24. Stand up. Reach up. Streeetch as tall as you can. Lean to left. Lean to the right. Streeeetch!!!!

25. Forward this list to someone who might need it! Pat yourself on the back for doing a good deed. Feel better!!!!!

Find more self-care, self-loving guidance in my book The Hungry Ghost: How I Ditched 100 Pounds and Came Fully Alive. Find more inspirational suggestions in other blogs at gayedelman.com. You can also sign up to receive the blog as an email newsletter.

The Belly Button Principle

Life’s a lot of work, right? This is where the Belly Button Principle comes in, because life is a toggle between inner labor and outer efforts. Innie and Outie, for short.

I need to build my inner resources with solitude and self-care. Time for contemplation and stillness. Prayer and meditation. Listening to beautiful music. Time in nature. Lovely spiritual reading like my current favorite, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom by John  O’Donohue.  Long walks. Qigong. Reiki. Sometimes, a deep, mindful talk with an anam cara (soul friend).

That’s when, where and how I connect to The Great Mystery. That’s the Innie.DSC00139

But I don’t live only in the inner world. No one can. Even religious contemplatives come out of contemplation to do life-sustaining chores.

I also need to move through daily life. That’s the Outie. Doing my professional work sharing messages of healing and hope and helping others do the same. Filling up the car’s gas tank. Preparing beautiful meals for myself and my beloved family. Leading peer-support meetings and fulfilling responsibilities to my religious fellowship. Showing up when people need me.

For me to thrive, these two areas, the Innie and the Outie, have to be in balance. Too much Innie, and I miss the chance to receive inspiration and love from other people and the opportunity to be of service. Too much Outie, and I lose my way, get crabby and mess up, sometimes letting myself, and others, down.

So, on an ideal day,  I make sure that I’ve got the Innie work in place before I embark on the Outie work. I also take the Outie stuff into Innie Land. They feed and support each other. When they are in balance, I’m in balance. And my world is a better place! That’s the Belly Button Principle.

Now, how about you? How do you keep your Innie and your Outie in balance?

To comment, read more Joyblogs, or sign up to receive the Joyblog by email, go to http://www.gayedelman.com. And yes, please do share! XOX!!!

Have you seen my new book, The Hungry Ghost: How I Ditched 100 Pounds and Came Fully Alive? Says a recent reader: “I was expecting another diet book. Instead I received a wealth of life inspiration!” 


Fun with Friends!

A couple of Sundays ago I had a ton of fun speaking to the friendly folks the Unitariangay at lectern 4-14-2 Universalist meetinghouse near me in Lincroft, New Jersey. The title of the talk was “Your Food, Your Spirit: Clearing Worldly Obstacles to Soul Growth,” based on my new book The Hungry Ghost: How I Ditched 100 Pounds and Came Fully Alive.

I’m so grateful to my friend Jo Grazide  (who took all these photos) for introducing me with such kindness and generosity.  And to all the folks who showed up, listened eagerly, laughed at all the right places and asked really good questions at the end.gay edelman talk at uucmc 4-14-8

What was really satisfying was seeing how well my experience recovering from food addiction translates into larger things like slowing down, listening to one another and our higher power, and generally being a kind, more caring person.

Because when it gets right down to it, whether I’m using food, drugs, alcohol, TV, gambling, etc., to avoid being present in my life, I’m not having my life. I’m not present to myself or the people I love and serve. As the sub title of The Hungry Ghost says, our goal is not just weight loss or cessation of hurtful distractions, but complete freedom! Now there’s a universal purpose for you!

gay edelman talk at uucmc 4-14-6

gay edelman talk at uucmc 4-14-7

The Fire This Time

Fire heals and nourishes. Fire lights and shows the way. And fire destroys.

Three years ago this month, I lost four beloved friends in an hellacious house fire.

It was my next door neighbors, friends for over 30 years. The sole survivor lived with us a month, having escaped with absolutely nothing. No clothes, no money, no ID. And no family.

The losses weigh heavily. It was my neighborhood’s 9/11. We rallied, we grieved. We sorted through the facts and our feelings. We shared memories and cried together.

It was months before I could so much as light a candle. And just last summer when I burned damp wood in the back yard, two neighbors came running because the smell so reminded them.

But light four candles I do, for these friends:

Sheri. My age. She took care of my babies while I worked, and was the kind of auntie every child needs, loving, firm, generous, always forgiving. And funny! That girl could turn a phrase and see the light side. She also harbored deep pain, and did her best to face it, but the going was tough.

Deidre. Sheri’s daughter. I wrote a letter to support Deidre’s adoption, so I felt like her auntie. In the long summer nights when Deidre and my boys were little, she and Sheri would come over and sit in my yard. The children would play, running back and forth between the two yards. Sheri and I chatted and watched the night fall and the kids wind down. As the kids got older, the families spent less time together, and most connections were yard-talks. But that special kind of neighbor love was there. In the coming years, Deidre had a hard path to walk. Gifted and troubled, she was starting to make her way.

Denise. Sheri’s sister, who lived with Sheri and the rest of the family. A gentle, quiet woman, she had moved in only recently. She was most known in our neighborhood for how often she rambled with the family dog, Sammy, and for her shy, sweet “hellos.” Every day she’d go up to the local deli for a chicken sandwich and tea. The day after the fire, the deli sent us a tray of sandwiches, with a note. Sammy also perished in the fire, a fact not often remembered but significant just the same. Poor little guy. I will add a candle for his happy little dog-soul.

Anthony. Deidre’s boyfriend. I never met him directly but I embrace him in my heart as much as all the others. Sheri had encouraged his and Deidre’s relationship and his presence in the household as a possible healing influence on Deidre. I love him for that, and because he was the age of my own sons, who knew him slightly and whom I love more than life itself.

Losses like these, thank goodness, don’t happen in most American lives. I actually took each of my young adult sons aside some days later to say that in my 60 years I’d never been through anything remotely like this and while I couldn’t promise, it was unlikely they would ever again go through something so horrifying.

But losses are as common and inevitable as breathing in, breathing out. I don’t like to indulge self-pity, but I do believe in the honesty of the facts, and the facts are these: You don’t get to be 63 years old without taking a few body blows.

The choice then is to rise again, or to lie there in the ashes. Sometimes I do have to stay down awhile. But never for long.

Humans are way more resilient than we think. People don’t fall apart. We reassemble ourselves. And we don’t do it alone.

There’s a new house next door now, brand, spanking new. A sweet, beautiful young couple lives there, with their little dog, Louie. Life goes on. Life wants to win. And love always wins.

We remember. We grieve. And we rejoice. Rest in peace, dear friends. You are alive and well in our hearts.

Many of my thoughts on love and life are in my new book The Hungry Ghost: How I Ditched 100  Pounds and Came Fully Alive which is about far more than food and weight. 

16 Ways to Feel Good NOW!

Today is all we have. Let’s make it a good one!

Self care is not selfish. It’s impossible to be who we’re supposed to be in the world if we aren’t who we’re supposed to be to ourselves. When I first learned this lesson, I had to make a list of possible ways of self-nurture because in the crunch, everything went right out of my head. I’ve had so many conversations this week where we ended up talking about baseline self-care that I decided to share my list. When I’m feeling lower than whale poop, like nobody likes me, everybody hates me and I might as well eat worms, I know I need a dose of self-mothering. Some nice things to do:

• Slather on sweet-scented lotions or oils

• Light a scented candle

• Go to the library, wander through the stacks and take out whatever speaks you—a whole pile of novels, memoirs, travelogues. Don’t forget the section of movies, music and books on tape

• Pick up new do-dads for your hair, a new hairbrush, a different conditioner while you’re food shopping

• Send thank you notes to people who’ve done something nice for you. Send one to yourself in the mail

• Pet your dog or cat

• Get your hair cut just the way you like it

• Schedule a massage. Too pricey? Start saving up. Make a jar and put a few bucks in whenever you can

• Drink a cup of hot herbal tea

• Go through your photo albums

• Call a trusted, nurturing, supportive friend

• Go to meditationoasis.com and listen to a guided imagery.

• Have a nice nap

• Take a walk in a nearby nature site—or around your back yard

• Tend your houseplants

• Color, in a coloring book or on a blank piece of paper. Don’t forget to breathe in that eau de Crayola!

Put Yourself Into Intensive Care

I love my picnic breakfasts, with my oatmeal, decaf, books and notebooks in my jungly backyard.

If you are wounded, you need extreme self-care. If you are hurting, you need radical self love. We are all wounded. We are all hurting. If you are in crisis, this is not hot news. If you are not in crisis, you probably still most likely have dark times, moments, relationships, pockets in your soul. Frustrations, disappointments—they’re always there. It’s the human condition. “Be kind to everyone you meet,” said the philosopher Maimonides, “for he is fighting a great battle.”

Extreme self-care. Radical self-love. If there’s anything I know to be true, these principles say it. I’m not talking about greed, or escapism, or profound self-indulgence. I’m not talking about hurting others to help myself.

I am ever more dedicated to what my friend Betty calls, “putting myself into intensive care.”

Grace is a gift that must be claimed. What if my friends and family gave me a birthday party and I didn’t show up? Silly me! My gift to myself—and to the people in my life—is attention to health, soul and sanity. If I am not centered and clear inside myself, in my soul and spirit, what I give to the world is suspect. This I know. I do not what to put out a polluted product. I can’t let my little light shine if I don’t feed its fire, can I?

I’m finding at this time in my life I show up to the party by giving myself abundant time to connect with my inner higher self: In the mornings, prayer, meditation, reading inspiring literature, scribbling in my journal and reflection. During the day, brief moments to stop and breathe, conscious effort to mindfulness, music, movement in the form of walking, cycling or Qigong. But even when I had three little kids and a full time job in NYC, I grabbed what moments I could. On the train. In the bathroom! With the kids—I’d put on some rhythmic music and we’d all dance our pants off.

All to cut through the suffering and embrace life on life’s terms and be well-equipped to live an abundant, generous life.

Intensive care. That’s the ticket! Are you ready to ride?

Where’s My Money???

This handy, dandy art work is the result of my million years of living, working and trying to understand how money gets made ethically, number one, and how to get behind what I know and love to do in and for the world, number two.

Whew! With thanks to my business coach, Melody Stevens I have come to believe that the best place to work from is in the spot where heart meets market. And that, said Ms. Mel as we both roared with laughter right there in the Manalapan, NJ Starbucks, is reality!

I don’t have to sell out. I have to buy in…to my own work, my own calling, my own strengths, my own abilities.

Okay! As my friend Traci Bild  would say, “I am my own lottery ticket!”

Meaning, my life is my own, as I choose to make it. With the help of my higher power, always and forever, one day at a time.

Any questions?


6 Ways to Release Old Trauma

We can’t change the past but we can loosen its hold on us. The brain heals. New circuitry gets laid down. New cells grow. Pain eases. We thrive.

Healing is a lifelong process. Start now.

  1. Physical exercise. The ideal minimum is 20 minutes a day; if that’s too much, do what you can.
  2. Mindfulness. Be in the now. Be in the present moment. Do this by gently remembering your breath. Feel it go in. Out. Use your senses. Hear the cars going by. Look around the room and pick out all the red or blue. Feel the air on your skin or your feet on the floor. Smell the atmosphere around you.
  3. Meditate. A more focused form of mindfulness, this means sitting quietly; you can repeat a one-word mantra (love; peace; om) or just gently, repeatedly follow your breath. Start with three minutes a day, but start, even if you just sit on the edge of the bed when you wake up in the morning.
  4. Get help. If you haven’t already, ask a trusted friend or health care professional for a referral to a psychotherapist who specializes in trauma recovery.
  5. Ingest wisely. Honor your body’s nutritional needs. Eat moderately, and only healthy food. If there’s something you can’t stop eating once you start, don’t start. Trust me, you’ll be happier.  Ditto drugs and alcohol. Don’t use what hurts you. It’s not worth it. You deserve better.
  6. Dare to be joyful. Just feel into delight a little at a time if that’s all that’s possible for now. For abuse survivors, happiness can feel dangerous. Dare to feel the fear and be happy anyway. It will get easier. Promise.


Does God Care About My Shower Curtain?

God is in the details, even the really small ones.

I used to be an atheist. I was very religious about it, quite adamant about there being no God. I made a god out of the no-God, in fact.

But then I had to believe in something, to get my body and my life back from rampaging overeating and obesity.

I went to a peer support group and was told that to get help I had to believe in something other than my own ego or my own will. If I would invoke this power, the others promised, I would have recovery.

Fast forward a couple of decades or so. My dreams have come true. One hundred pounds gone forever. Good-as-possible health is mine. And along the way I discovered within me a capacity to connect with an energy, a force, a being that is so powerful, so loving and kind, well, it’s more than I dare see or think about our feel some of the time.

It’s the human condition, or at least my human condition, to resist the power of joy.

Anyway. When I first decided to try out this newfound higher power years ago, I figured I’d test it with my outfits in the morning. Okay, HP, I’d think-pray, guide me. How bad could it be, right? Worse case scenario, I wouldn’t have a best-dressed day.

From there I learned to turn more and more over until, on a good day, I truly do surrender my entire life—efforts, outcomes, others—to the universe and just keep trudging forward, doing the next right thing. On a good day, I trust that while I may be confused, someone/something bigger, better grander than tiny moi isn’t.

But I still struggle to believe that Higher Power could care that much about me and my little life.

Yesterday I was shopping for a new shower curtain. You should know, btw, that I hate to shop. I mean, detest it. There were a lot of designs. I stood there a good five minutes. I kept thinking about my bathroom’s plain white walls. I tried to think what the other folks who live me appreciate or at least not hate. Décor-wise I really felt any color would do, what with the white walls. I mean, I was really dithering, trying, you know, to get it perfect. Finally, I checked with my gut, grabbed the bright and shiny one I’d first been attracted to and went home.

Last night I put it up. Bam! It matched perfectly the salmon pink fixtures and gray tiles I’d forgotten all about in my focus on the forgiving white. It’s lovely! It matches! Honest to God, I felt the presence of a power greater than myself. (Don’t laugh. I’ll explain.)

Now I don’t believe God gave me that shower curtain. I don’t have a Santa Claus God who finds me parking spaces and puts checks in the mail just when I need them. I don’t think life or God is that simple. (Besides, if God gives parking spaces, then who gave me the whiplash? See why this doesn’t work for me?)

However, I’m now wondering: Does the real God have better things to do than help me choose a shower curtain? Apparently not. This God, the God of my understanding, is so powerful, so enormous, so beyond my human understanding, that yes, it can participate in this huge executive decision regarding my downstairs bathroom.

So how much does this all matter? In terms of showers, and the big picture, not much. In terms of knowing I’m not alone, that there’s a source in me to resolve all issues great and small, my experience is a reminder that his eye is on the sparrow. And, it seems, on even silly little joys like my shiny new shower curtain.