THE LONG STORY
My name is Giulia – spelled the Italian way, with a “G” but pronounced in English as Julia.
My parents were both Italian immigrants who arrived in South Africa in the late 50’s. I was born here and yes, I do speak Italian. I grew up in Johannesburg and moved to Cape Town in 2010.
After reading the “short version” of my story, you may be wondering why am I doing what I am now doing? What led me to this chapter and season of my life?
Well… many, many moons ago, when I was 14, my mom died suddenly.
She got sick on a Tuesday and died on the Saturday of the same week. She had pernicious leukemia and I had no clue that she was so ill. Her death was a tsunami in my world. Something is me shut down. A gate closed in my heart and a deep ache set in.
I don’t remember the details, just the bad feelings and a deep sense of inner emptiness and pain, which I tried to run away from for the next 20 years.
Because the pain of her sudden death was too much for me to deal with at the time, I went to live in my head where it was safer and where I did not have to feel all the sadness and grief, the loss and anger, the devastation and aloneness. But in doing that, I disconnected from my inner child, my sexuality and creativity.
Growing up in an Italian family, food was always the centre of most things and also the solution to most ailments. And I am sure this is the case for many people growing up.
We got a lot of love from eating our food and even more when we ate a lot and finished everything… and we lost love when we did not want to eat and did not finish our food.
So in me, in the world of my inner child, the seeds were sewn that:
FOOD = LOVE
Food became a substitute for my mother, food was immensely comforting and soothing… it was company, solace, some respite from the world out there that was scary and overwhelming and that I did not always know how to deal with.
Living in my head served me in some ways… after matric, I did engineering for a year, pharmacy for five years, homeopathy for four years and metaphysics and life coaching for another four years.
From 1984 until 1995, all was well… and then one cold winter’s day in June 1995, I ate too much (which was something I had been doing for a long time… since a child, I was just lucky that I was naturally slim and it did not show), and I felt so bad and decided to throw up… it worked, I felt better and it was like a switch went on inside of me – at first I thought I was in control, but as is the case with any addiction, I was in control in the beginning, and slowly, slowly, I began to lose power and my drug of choice started to get more and more power and control over me and before I knew it, I was in the clutches of my addiction and I couldn’t escape. And the downward spiral began – I was using food to cope with life.
Everyone has their own rock bottom – that point where something has to change, or else… At that rock bottom place, I felt so much shame and disgust, so much anger and despair, so much loneliness and emptiness, and so much fear and anxiety and helplessness. My rock bottom came in 1999 when I attempted suicide, and when I came out of hospital and was sitting at home on my lounge floor, I had a very frank conversation with myself: I could choose to leave or I could choose to stay – both were ok. But if I chose to stay, then something needed to change! I chose to stay…
I chose to live! But it took the next 15 years to walk the journey of healing from the self- destructive path I had been living to a place of more wholeness, acceptance and self-love.
Colleen helped me make the journey from my head back to my heart. I remember sitting in many of her classes, tears streaming down my face, as I began to remember what it was like to feel again, the good feelings and also the immense sorrow and grief that I had locked away for such a long time.
In 2007, at the age of 37, I had my first relationship with a man 27 years older than me – still a dear friend – he was the dynamite that I needed to explode my world and crack my heart open, and for this, I am forever grateful.
When I moved to Cape Town in 2010, I met Shakti, who helped me make the journey from my heart to my yoni (Sanskrit word for womb). She awakened me to this delicious life force (kundalini) that is present and moves in and through my body. She helped me re-connect with my inner feminine and opened me to the sacred dance of my inner beloveds and to this understanding that life is making love to me all the time. Now, when I walk and feel the wind brush over my skin, and look into the sky and feel the sun kiss my eyelids, when the rain drips down the back of my neck and the ocean comes to wash my feet, I understand…
My journey of integration and applying all that I had learned deepened when I met Gav, my Beloved, in 2012 and also when I left the safety of the corporate world in 2013. It was in these two unknown worlds, where I really began to go deeper inside myself and discover more of all the treasures my teachers could only awaken and point me to, but that I alone, had to find and uncover inside of myself. Colleen and Shakti awakened so much in me and their very Being and Presence reminded me of what was possible, but it was up to me to walk that road to the deepest parts of myself and find all that had been forgotten and lost and left behind.
In this dance with my Beloved Gav, I get to experience, apply, integrate and live so much of what I learned and gathered over all these years of courses and workshops and retreats. Through this God-gifted relationship, I get to deepen my relationship with God and with myself and I experience a love I thought I had never known before, only later to realise that it was always there, because it is who I am. We are mirrors to each other, I help Gav connect to parts of himself he is disconnected from and he does the same for me. We are friends, playmates, lovers, adventurers… Feeling, listening and seeing hearts, ears and eyes to each other, and praise God, the journey continues.
Through Biodanza, Bliss Dance and 5 Rhythms, I started to inhabit more of my body. But it was through Movement Medicine with Ya’Acov, Susannah and Caroline, that I really discovered the inner dancer and went on many journeys with her to reclaim lost parts of myself, and welcome and celebrate my becoming, my remembering and my homecoming. I am so grateful to this body, to these teachers, to music and to the dance for the revitalizing and nourishing of my body, mind, soul and heart that it has gifted me with.
The practice of Iyengar Yoga and especially Kundalini Yoga continues to awaken more of me and help bring more presence into this body. Breath is my constant and every faithful companion that brings me back home to my body and the “this” moment, again and again and again.
Words are so limited, but for the sake of this piece of writing, I will say that for me:
God = Truth = Love
You can use whatever name for God that works for you.
Only to say that the more I remember God in every breath, every gesture, choice, decision, action, intention, purpose, dream, vision, interaction, connection, smile, word, perception, perspective, seeing, hearing and listening… the more I live in flow, in service, in surrender, with ease and joy and peace and love. There is nothing more to say.
Nature has been a constant presence in my life since I started hiking in the late eighties. Yes, Mother Nature… there is so much to say here about her, but words could never capture the essence of what nature means to me… if you are a nature lover, you will know what I mean. She is the face of God, that quintessential presence and beauty that stirs in me such awe and wonder and delight, and gifts me with such nourishment, comfort, remembering, support and freedom. She invites me to keep returning to the wildness of my soul.