My Honey-Honey

“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.”

My father, Julio R. Carricarte, was born in Cuba on October 1, 1914. Just 3 months before he turned 80, he suffered a massive stroke that left him unable to speak or walk. Essentially, he was trapped in his body. Since he was non-ambulatory, and needed total care, we made the decision to place him in a nursing home…..and that’s an entirely different blog all together! He crossed over on July 7, 1999 at the age of 84. I was 40 at the time and can now look back and see everything I didn’t know that I didn’t know!

My dad and I always called each other “Honey-Honey.” It’s something he started when I was very young, and I just followed along. It was our special “something-something.” To be honest with you, I have no recollection of how or when it started, but it’s a nickname that I held onto until the last day I spoke to him: the day before he crossed over. The day I gave him permission to let go, because I was going on vacation three days later, and I told him so. I told him that if he wanted to let go, he had to do so BEFORE I left, because Mama could not have handled that on her own. He passed the next day and looked as beautiful as ever and just as I had left him the day prior (unlike two days before where he was distressed and on oxygen). That’s a call I will always remember getting!

Over the years, there were many calls: he fell, he hurt himself, he pulled out his feeding tube, he was being sent to the ER, etc., etc., etc. But that Wednesday at around 7:45 on  the evening of July 7th, I had a fleeting thought of going to visit  him but decided against it, because I wanted to remember him glowing, sparkling and present (should something happen while I was away). I got “the call” shortly thereafter within a half hour. Now mind you, I never worried about getting a call from the nursing home. Over the years, it’s something one becomes immune to. This call was different: the nurse asked me right up front if I was alone or had someone with me. In that instant, I knew! As a matter of fact, when I told her I had someone with me, and asked if it was finally over, she responded, “Yes.” My body exhaled like never before. Ironically my body felt like Jello, so I’m glad I was not alone. I took deep breaths, collected myself, called Cousin Al and made the decision to tell Mama the following morning.

At the time, I literally lived about 20 minutes from the nursing home, so I got there in no time.  I remember how warm his body felt. I remember cleaning his hands and under his finger nails. I remember him looking as if he was sleeping, I remember him at peace…finally! I remember being grateful for giving him permission to let go. At that point, he was a shell of the man I knew as my Honey-Honey. He had withered away. He had given up the fight years earlier. It was time, and I am blessed to have had him in my life as long as I did…even though I didn’t know what I didn’t know at the time!

Honey-Honey was a character! Ask anyone who knew him, and they will attest to that. His humor, the glint in his eyes, “the look” he’d cast with that smirk on his lips (strabismus eye and all – it would take a while for you to be able to focus on the eye that was looking directly at you). He had a sense of humor that would bring you to tears and the biggest heart that would give you his last penny and make you feel like everything was going to be OK. He was gregarious, outspoken, a spokesperson for others,  and deeply loved and admired by all who knew him.

My Honey-Honey LOVED life! As I may have mentioned in a blog long ago (or I’m totally making this up), I asked him what words of wisdom he had to share with me on the occasion of his youthful and vivacious 79 years of age. How ironic that this conversation took place just days before he suffered his devastating stroke and was never able to form a sentence or articulate a feeling other than a vehement “No” or a few choice curse words. This from a man who never cursed in front of me!

I do recall his eyes during those times…..oh those eyes! They were like daggers to my heart. Oh, and the way he would hold my hand, fingers interlaced, and place it on his chest as he looked at me with those damn eyes! My heart would break. I couldn’t handle when he would break down and cry sometimes. I didn’t know at the time, but I could feel his entrapment, his pain, his frustration, and his embarrassment as he lost his independence and needed someone to care for his most basic needs. I felt his desperation in wanting to be free as well as his exhaustion when he gave up the fight.

So, back to the question I asked him about his words of wisodm. In retrospect, where did I even manage to pull that question from? I mean yes, I was on some path to self-realization, but not nearly the “spiritual” path that lay ahead of me and that evolved over the decades. What was Honey- Honey’s answer? Take one day at a time and live it to the fullest.” Then he went on to tell me and my husband at the time, Jorgie, how he would never be able to get a good night’s sleep if he worried about what the next day would bring. Furthermore, he said that was why my mother took so many “pills.” And of course he cast Mama one of his mischievous looks and silly grins as he said it!

At that point in his life, he wouldn’t even take an aspirin! Actually,  he had a little “incident” and was taken to the ER a few week before his stroke. He was prescribed blood pressure meds, checked himself out of the hospital, and he decided not to take the prescribed medication. So what did he do with them? He flung the blood pressure meds out an eleventh floor window when my Mama was hounding him about taking his medication. That was my Honey- Honey!

Honey-Honey had a “strong character” yet was loving, funny, giving, and the epitome of “service.” Oh, and did I mention he was the forever “poster child” for living life out loud? He was vivacious, cheerful, a jokester, a prankster and the best dressed, best smelling, Dapper Dan in town! As a matter of fact, my mom (Ms. Fashionista herself) used to tell me stories of how he would get his suits custom-made in Cuba. Seriously!?!? And if that wasn’t enough, he would have two pairs of slacks made for each suit! Wow! Honey-Honey had come a long way!!! Of course, this was well after he first came to the states as a child and then went back to Cuba as a young adult (where he eventually met my Mama and got remarried).

Allow me to digress for a moment. Before Honey-Honey married Mama, he was married to a Jewish woman named Josephine. For some strange reason, I have their divorce decree. Weird! Apparently, he broke her heart (a trait I obviously inherited, and not proud of…wink, wink). By what my mother told me (because he never spoke about it), she died very young…leukemia or cancer…something like that. Don’t even ask me why I am sharing this, but I guess it is a story I want my nieces and nephew to know…family history!

So back to Honey-Honey’s childhood. He was one of four brothers born to an amazing mother named Angela Ramos (with too many surnames to even recall at this point in my life). I used to get a kick out of reciting all her names when I was a young child. My grand-mother, aka Nany,  was a school teacher in Cuba in the early 1900’s and would have to travel by horseback to teach.

I can’t imagine how uncomfortable that must have been! Dresses, layers of undergarments, corsets, boots and coiffed hair-dos. I remember as a child looking at the old, tattered, sepia photos and being enthralled by them. Nany taught the children of “the help.” Class pictures looked like a scene out of The Little Rascals! Oh the eyes on those children, their expression, their mischievousness, their light, love and probably adoration for this beautiful human being who taught and loved them was visible to the naked eye! I believe her spirit lives on in my niece, Megan.

However, at some point, my grand-father (whom I never met) left my grandmother with four small boys (Louis, Henry, Eugene and my dad). My grand-father fled to Mexico (hence, the Carricarte families I learned of back in my running days upon seeing who made it into the NYC Marathon). As adolescents, my dad and his brothers were shipped off to boarding school in Virginia. The Virginia Military Academy to be specific. My Honey- Honey was eleven at the time (I believe he was the youngest of his siblings). It is there that he got a taste of what it was like to live in America. His experiences at the military academy shaped who he was to become as an adult,  how he would choose to live a life of service and the legacy he would ultimately leave behind.

During one of our conversations, Honey-Honey shared with me how impacted he was by the generosity and compassion of the family members of his fellow cadets. So much so, that he would never forget it. You see, during holidays, everyone would return home to their families. Obviously, that was not an option for a kid from Cuba with no family in the states. He was embraced and taken in by his fellow cadets’ families during these times. That generosity of spirit is something that he always remembered, and I guess that is why Honey- Honey became the man that he became and left behind the legacy that he did!

Back in 1999, on the eve of his passing and when I started to ponder his eulogy, (as I recorded Frank Sinatra music to play at his funeral), I  started to think about the words to say. I thought, “What tribute can you pay a man whose whole life was a tribute?” A tribute to goodness, kindness and generosity. A couple of weeks before his major stroke, he received the highest tribute and honor which he felt he did not deserve: He was given the Hudson County Senior Citizen of the Year Award! And he was up against a nun! He could NOT wrap his head around that (especially since he was not a church go-er). I’ll always remember how humbled he felt.

At his eulogy, I shared the following: ‘There really was no need for words. For my father’s life spoke loud and clear. He lived life as an exclamation, not an explanation. Julio, aka Honey-Honey,  was a man who was always there to lend a hand or solve a problem for friends, family, neighbors or perfect strangers. A man you could call on at any hour of the day or night, and believe me, people called. A man who did not acknowledge the powerful word, “no.” It simply did not exist in his vocabulary when it came to helping, lending a hand or somehow serving. As a result of his illness, we’ve already missed this man and have paid  numerous tributes to him over the years. This one, however, is the final tribute.”

I went on to share some of my favorite memories of Honey-Honey: grocery shopping with him as a child on Sundays after he picked me up from church; our yearly trips to Florida and how he always got lost because there was “always a better or quicker” route to take; the array of “fix-me-upper” cars he would get at auction and put them back together again (always having parts left over) – this is true – Cousin Al, the family historian, will attest to it; the hearty appetites and needing to eat steak even if Mama made chicken (according to him, chicken was bird food); the gusto with which he ate his food (a foodie for sure even though the term didn’t exist back then); the hearty servings of cantaloupe (get this- filled with vanilla ice-cream and pancake syrup); the loose bills he always had in his pocket (which sometimes he lost, and sometimes my mother just helped herself to); his pockets filled with coupons for Shop-Rite and his multiple weekly runs to redeem them; indulging in Aramis soaps, cologne, aftershave, body lotions and potions (so that his skin would be as soft as a baby’s behind); his joy for spoiling  and buying things for his grand-children (even buying bags of groceries filled with their favorite cookies, ice-cream and other treats). Obviously, I had to stop somewhere, or I could have gone on and on. We would have been there for days!

My intention was to give you, as I did with everyone present the day of his funeral, a snapshot of my fondest memories. Yet, my fondest and most heart-warming memory of my Honey-Honey was his zest for life. His joie de vivre. His exuberance. His ability to take live his life as if it was his last day on earth. In his own words, “If I was to worry about tomorrow or things to come, I would not enjoy today nor would I be able to sleep at night.” These are the wisest of words, my darlings! Remember them…I sure do!

My consolation at the end of his physical life form here on earth was that, prior to his stroke, Honey-Honey did live each day to the fullest. His words of wisdom will forever ring in my ears and in my heart. I can’t tell you how many people I have spoked those word to and and with whom I shared his sage advice.

Honey-Honey was loved by everyone who knew him. I can now clearly see and appreciate his big personality, his loyalty, boldness, braveness, tenacity, relentlessness, joyfulness, resilience and fearlessness, as well as his ability to detach, accept, forgive, surrender and let go. Julio R. Carricarte led from his heart. He taught me to do the same.

My greatest desire at this stage of my life is to leave behind a legacy of love and service, like my Honey- Honey, and to inspire others to do the same- especially his grand-children whom he deeply loved and great-grandchildren whom he never met. It is my hope that both our legacies will live on in the hearts and minds of generations to come.

Thank you, Honey- Honey! I hope you are proud of how I am filling those big shoes you left behind. I love you! 

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

 

What Kind of Life Do You Want?

“You are fulfilled when you get up on the morning. So many times we get up in the morning, we’re depressed. We’re down. We’re angry. We’re frustrated. But when you can wake up saying, ‘I’m glad to be alive. There is purpose to this day.’ To me, that is success. And I would argue that once you have that internal success, then externally it’s just a manifestation of what happens internally in the best possible way.” -DeVon Franklin

The other day I was googling something Oprah related. Actually, I was wondering if there was a recent sighting of her in Newark, NJ days prior. Why? Because I saw someone at the airport who could have been her exact double. The poney-tailed hair, funky glasses, the eyes, the teeth, body type, minimal make-up, complexion all screamed, “Queen O,” except what would she be doing at the airport. After all, doesn’t she have her own plane? I definitely did a double-take. Poor woman! I’m sure she must get hounded by people all the time….I didn’t hound, I just stared!

Back to google…..so I came across some links from her “Life You Want Tour,” when Oprah had been in Newark a few years back. As with all things lately, synchronicity has been playing a major role in my life. Today, as a matter of fact, a few of us went to breakfast after class and the topic of synchronicity came up, as did affirmations, signs, career changes and big life questions. Much of what we talked about is summarized in a link I clicked on. I’m not sure which one it was, but I did take a picture of the 10 powerful Oprah quotes that were shared.

For some reason, I was guided to snap the picture. After this morning’s powerful conversations, I now know that I am meant to share these power thoughts / life lessons with you – today, not tomorrow or some other time, but NOW:

  1. Your purpose is the thread that connects the dots between everything you do. Your legacy is every life you’ve touched.
  2. No gift is made for you to hold within yourself. Everything gets bigger by sharing it with the world.
  3. It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly, that to live a perfect imitation of someone else’s life.
  4. You have no power in someone else’s territory.
  5. Your life is speaking to you all the time. First in a whisper. Then a thump. Then a brick. Then a brick wall.
  6. Everything that has happened to you, was happening for you.
  7. The life you want begins by embracing the life you have. The life you have is miraculous and it matters!
  8. Courage is doing what you know you need to do before you are forced to do it.
  9. What you focus on expands.
  10. When you set the vision, the universe will rise up to meet it.

As long as we are living our purpose, which undeniably is to love, serve, uplift each other, help to heal and move humanity forward, and be the change we want to see in the world, we are on track. We are a success. We are doing what we came here to do. The key is to find what sets our soul on fire, what we are passionate about and then go out and live the life we want. Not sure how or where to start? Well the 10 power thoughts is a great place for starters!

I will now leave you with Carl Lentz’s words from his book, OWN THE MOMENT, which happened to fit right in with the conversations we were having at breakfast. I just love synchronicity! The key is to be open to it.

Do you know where you are headed? Maybe the more important question is: Do you know who sent you? Because if you trust the “who,” the “where” is far more bearable when you face seasons of uncertainty. Purpose is more than a job or a scenario that you think is right for you. Living with purpose is a mentality. We can achieve our purpose in any scenario if we trust the plan and who created the plan in the first place. There is no better time than now to own some of the hardest questions in this life. Why are you here? Where do you find joy and passion in this life and how can you do more of that? One thing is for certain; Avoiding these questions creates more pressure and less peace. God didn’t put you on this earth to merely exist and vanish. Live with purpose, on purpose. Every single day. (From the chapter I Have No Idea Where I’m Going)

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

PS: I’d like to take a moment to send a “shout out” to my Highland Tribe! We are truly blessed to have such a beautiful place to practice, learn and hold the space for whatever needs sharing and whomever needs holding. Beautiful friendships have been formed at Highland Yoga Studio in Butler, NJ, and friendships continue to blossom. It’s a beautiful place to seek refuge….both on the mat and in each others arms!

Get Clear on the Why

“You may very well be the only obstacle separating you from your greatest desires.” -Tegan Trovato

Why do we sometimes self-sabotage our efforts? Why do we sometimes feel we are not enough? Why do we live to work instead of work to live? Why do we exhaust ourselves trying to prove to “someone” that we are capable, able and more than qualified to do the job? Why do we seek external validation? Why do we focus on what we have not done rather than celebrating all our accomplishments? Why can’t we give ourselves permission to cut ourselves some slack? Why do we find it hard to step into our greatness? Why can’t we accept, once and for all, that we are MORE than enough?

These are the questions that came up for me as I was reading an article by Tegan Trovato on my flight home from Dallas this past week. She is the founder of Bright Arrow Coaching. The article was titled, “What if You’re the Only Obstacle?” and was featured in Mantra Magazine (one of my faves). I’m going to have to scope out the work she does!

The article really got me thinking about the career I had, the people I worked with, the people under me, above me, the qualified, unqualified, healthy, unhealthy, stable ones who were a pleasure to work with,  as well as the unstable and challenging ones who were my greatest teachers. It got me thinking of some of the “higher-ups” I worked with who didn’t even know what they didn’t know. It got me thinking of my transition from an elementary school teacher to vice-principal of an urban, at-risk, high school in a very politically charged school district, and the unfathomable number of hours that would be the “norm” for me to put in on any given day. I’m talking 12-15 hour days, some days longer, and the hours some of us put in on the weekends due to sporting events, etc. It got me thinking of how physically sick, and how often I was sick, during the last 12 years of my career. Talk about exhaustion! Why? For what? Approval of course. Acceptance. Validation. What a waste of energy! All because I was not validating my Self. Instead, I was my own obstacle!

All these thoughts arose, I think, because I’ve been doing some intense writing exercises and journaling as a result of the book I am reading, which I mentioned in two of my blogs: Taking Charge of Our Own Healing and Choosing Love at All Times. Additionally, I’ve been having some pretty deep and healing conversations with a few girlfriends, and we have all been doing a lot of processing and excavating in an effort to get to the root cause of our past and current behaviors, pain, fears, suffering, exhaustion, obstacles, and self-sabotaging limiting beliefs that do not serve anyone. In essence, we were working to get clear on the why! And, by the way, if you missed the previous blog, My Guest Blogger Returns, check it out and see how “Blondie” got clear on her why. And it all started with a little red lipstick…wink, wink!

Getting clear on the why is necessary if we want to live our fullest and best life and own the greatness that is our birthright. It also offers us a sneak peek into the “why” behind other people’s behaviors. By this, I mean those behaviors that are less than nice and outright mean. Behaviors that we sometimes can’t wrap our heads around because that is not our operating system.

As I was reading the chapter on forgiveness and betrayals in the book I’ve been working with, I found myself digging deeper into my subconscious mind. Here I thought I was in the clear; that I no longer had any resentments nor was there anyone I needed to forgive. Surprise, surprise! I thought about the betrayals of those “not so nice” colleagues with whom I worked. The colleagues who were my peers as well as higher-ups like some principals, supervisors, assistant superintendents and even a few superintendent of schools. Some of these people were the unhealthiest people I have ever seen: unhealthy in mind, body and spirit. One could see and feel it.

Having worked my way up the ranks in a primarily patriarchal system, there were certain behaviors of men that, sadly, you could typically expect. Over time, more and more women, like myself, were holding positions that only men once held. The behaviors I had a difficult time understanding at the time were that of the women in power.

Power in the wrong hands is not a good thing. It’s disastrous! It is detrimental to the work force, the work place, humanity and to society at large. We see that everyday in every industry. But being a woman who has always been about supporting and lifting other women up, I looked back at the toxic and hurtful behaviors, and I saw how destructive they were- to say the least. More importantly, I came to the realization that I needed to forgive these people. Why? Because I was now in a place to better comprehend and get clear on the why they behaved, said and did the things they did.

What kinds of things? Well, let’s start with intimidation, bullying and harassment. Oh, and yelling, screaming and carrying on! And let me not forget the lies and the back-stabbing. Some of these higher-ups belittled and disgraced many of the qualified, dignified, smart, respected, and empowered women (as well as men) who knew how to lead, how to engage, how to relate to the community and to families, how to solve problems and, yes, how to love. Now that is authentic power if you ask me!

They would just squash, defame, insult, and disrespect anyone their ego and/or wounded / deprived child was threatened by. God knows I worked with plenty of women whose default setting was to tear a woman down instead of lifting them up, who took credit for the work others did rather that celebrating each other’s successes and accomplishments, who set people up for failure rather than encouraging others to live  up to their highest potential, who were the obstacle rather than the remover of obstacles which, by the way, is the job of a true leader. Rather than illuminating the path for others, these colleagues and higher-ups darkened one’s trajectory. How on earth could they put their head on the pillow at night? Didn’t their souls feel compromised? Did they even realize they had a soul? Did they sell their soul to the devil just to get to where they got?

It is my firm belief that people act out of their state of consciousness. That is why I try to always choose the miracle over the grievance, anger, resentment and regret. However, as I reflected on how the different types of loss has shown up for me in my life, and how it impacted my own behaviors and beliefs, I found myself wondering how damaged, wounded and scarred these men and women were/are.  I was able to see how the dis-ease in their lives is showing up/ has shown up as disease in their bodies. I was able to see how they feed their “hungry ghost.” I was able to get clear on the why.

In getting clear on the why, I was also able to release them. I was able to forgive myself for subconsciously holding onto some type of grievance or resentment. Like truth, karma always prevails. We are all living out our own karma in this lifetime. My own karma has allowed me to excel and succeed in ways I never thought possible, and I am forever grateful for all the lessons and the blessings! Speaking of blessings, I even wrote a prayer of thanks in my journal for those people, and in it I prayed for them to awaken to the light of their true nature, so they can heal their lives and the lives of those around them.

So, back to the questions I posed at the beginning. I think the answer to all of those questions comes from a valid point that Tegan Trovato pointed out in her article: we seek approval and validation from other people rather than granting ourselves the permission tostep into our own power and take action.” As she notes, “I can tell you from spending thousands of hours with adults in the growth and self-development mode that many of us are waiting for some kind of permission.” 

Darlings, we must accept the fact that we do not need to seek permission or validation from anyone other than our Self. Whether we want to or not, we must also come to the realization that we may just be our own obstacle. Yes, there will be people on our path who will be our greatest challenges, but it’s up to us to take on that challenge. A challenge that calls for us to be courageous, brave and stand in our authentic, able, capable and more than qualified power and not allow the unhealthy behaviors of others to dim our light. In doing so, we cease the need to seek outside ourselves for the often misunderstood and detrimental validation of others. As the saying goes, “Everything we need to know is already inside of us.”  Furthermore, we can finally accept the fact that we are MORE than enough!

I will leave you with the following questions and invite you to sit with them for a while. You may want to journal, talk to friends about them, meditate on them and maybe even journal some more:

  • What is something you need to get clear on?
  • Do you have any unhealthy habits you need to break?
  • Are you thriving or barely surviving?
  • What are the fears that are limiting your potential?
  • Is their something, or someone, who is keeping you from being your best self? Whom you need to forgive?
  • How / When do you give your power away?
  • Do you always seek outside yourself for answers, approval, validation, or permission?
  • When was a time that you remember being your own obstacle? Your own worst enemy?
  • In what ways are you committed to personal / spiritual growth and self-development?
  • Do you know what your greatest desire is?
  • Do you know just how powerful beyond measure you are?

When in doubt, just get clear on the why. In doing so, you will be better able to inspire, love serve AND lead from the heart…right from the start!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

 

My Guest Blogger Returns

Red Lipstick is My Armor

by Shannon Green

I was never a very confident person growing up. 

I was constantly teased by my brother for my “witch-nose,” teased by the public school kids for having to attend Catholic School, mocked for getting good grades, and called anti-social by my 5th Grade teacher because I enjoyed reading books during recess. I’ve had glasses and braces simultaneously, been called too sensitive, too emotional, and too nice.  I’ve been asked “why do you smile so much” like it was a bad thing. 

Over the years, I’ve struggled with trying to figure out who I am and how to love myself despite of all of the criticism.  I’ve tried on a few different masks over the years to try to fit in, but none of them really felt comfortable –  until I decided to take them off completely and just see what being me felt like. 

After returning from Maui and adjusting back to reality, I knew that if I wanted to continue feeling the bliss I had experience while I was there, I needed to do some serious self-work. I needed to overcome the things that were feeding my insecurities and fears. I needed to admit that I was stressed out, which literally took a case of Shingles to make me come that realization. Not kidding.  Five years ago, just a few weeks after returning from my amazing Maui Yoga Retreat, I came down with Shingles. Luckily for me it wasn’t a severe outbreak, but it was enough for me to FINALLY admit that I was stressed out. Years of denial, both to me and my friends, had finally culminated in my body retaliating against me; as if to say,“You aren’t listening to me so I am going to make you listen to me!”

Let me set the stress stage for you. At this time, my husband and I were living with my in-laws while he finished up yet another Bachelor’s Degree (this time in Mechanical Engineering) in hopes of getting a better job than his previous Master of Fine Arts afforded him.  I was terrified we would never have enough money to move to our own place and that we would have to live with my in-laws forever. My work was ok. I wasn’t unhappy at work, but I also wouldn’t say I was happy.  Additionally, I had been hoping to start a family by now, but that wasn’t happening. Because of this, I was seeing various doctors and trying everything I could to figure out the problem.  

After returning from Maui, I realized that I needed to make the “Maui-State-of Mind” a permanent thing. I had a glimpse of how good life could be, and I needed to figure out how to sustain that feeling back home.  So, like everything I do, I tackled this with full force, as if it were a college class I needed to ace. I started reading “May Cause Miracles” by Gabrielle Bernstein. The book promised change in 40 Days, and I worked each chapter religiously.  I bought more books and more journals, and I became devoted to figuring out how to “let go” and “surrender” and how this differed from just “giving-up.” I read about love and forgiveness. 

I became a junky for all things Hay House, which is funny because I don’t think I even knew what Hay House Publishing was at the time.  I became obsessed with Marianne Williamson’s book “A Return to Love,” which has become one of my absolute favorites. I was downloading Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s 21 Day Meditation Challenges onto my phone every time a new series came out. I just kept following any signs I could find. If a name was mentioned in a book I was currently reading, I wrote it down and I researched it later. Who was the author?  What was the book?  I took the list Yaya gave me,  went to the library, and I checked out as many books as I could find. Little did I know at the time but, bit by bit, things started to change.  I had started to change, and life had started to change along with it. 

My husband eventually graduated in December 2013 and, about 10 months later, we found our beautiful home. By 2015 we were living in our house, and he was working at a good job. I realized that the fear and insecurities I had surrounding money had disappeared. Additionally, my job was starting to change too. At one point in 2015, I was working for 6 different people. Wow! That is a lot of personalities, but there was change on the horizon and, by 2016, I was working for the one person I had wanted to work for. 

I had also come to a huge decision about having a family. We were just in the final stretch of closing on our new home, and I was at yet another doctor appointment.  Unfortunately for me, I was meeting with a doctor who had a terrible bedside manner.  I was already on the verge of tears when I realized I didn’t need to keep doing this. I could stop at any time. It was my decision to make. I decided I needed to stop seeing these doctors. I knew that I wasn’t strong enough to continue with the stress of the multiple doctors’ appointments and the disappointment I felt each month when nothing I was doing was working. Once I realized that I could stop going to see these doctors, I had this amazing feeling of peace wash over me. I knew what I had to do. I had to stop going. I had the power to stop. So, I stopped. And I felt free. With this stress now lifted form my heart, I felt a huge relief wash over me. I could now concentrate on living in Maui-Bliss!

With all of those stress creators out of the way, I realized that one of my biggest insecurities still needed to be addressed: how I felt when I looked in the mirror. I believe we are always our harshest critics, and every time I looked in the mirror I heard those voices from my childhood. I knew I had to face this fear – this insecurity head on, and I thought to myself, “What is one thing I have always wanted to try but was always too scared to look foolish?”  The answer was “red lipstick.”

Now, up until this point in my life, I was fairly neutral about my lipstick colors. I tended to wear more natural colors and focused my makeup on eyeshadow and black mascara because I have always liked my eyes. My lips are naturally thin on top. Truthfully, I hardly have an upper lip. I have always been afraid to try red lipstick because I have such a fair complexion spattered with freckles, and I was terrified I would pick the wrong shade… and then end up looking like Bozo the Clown. I was determined to do it though. Face the fear of the red lipstick. So I did what I always do, and I researched the best red lipsticks. Truly I did! I went to my computer and Googled it. 

Once I had purchased the “perfect” red I rushed to the bathroom mirror to try it on. The first day I wore it, I felt a little self-conscious. Like I was trying too hard but, as the days passed by and I wore it more and more, I realized that it was boosting my confidence. In fact, applying my red lips each morning became like adorning my armor to face the world! I had on my war-paint! Once applied, I was ready for battle! I could face anything! Who knew that a little red smear on my lips would give me such confidence?? Just the littlest thing like wearing red lipstick gave me the boost I needed to make other changes in my life. 

After reading Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,”  I revamped my entire wardrobe and only kept those items that “sparked joy” and made me feel beautiful, powerful, and confident. I realized, as I went through my clothing, that so many items had been bought to make me “fit-in” and “blend” with the crowd so people would accept me as one of them.  My childhood drama of wanting to be liked was still replaying itself because I was afraid to just be me. Enough! I said goodbye to anything that I did not love. 

Fast forward to the present: 2018. I have been back a month from the most amazing Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica and, yes, this past week I was experiencing such inner turmoil that seemed to come from no-where. All of a sudden I felt those old insecurities bubble up to the surface again. I felt like that teenage girl who just couldn’t believe that she was anyone special. The old voices were getting louder and louder each day. Luckily for me, I was able to talk to some very amazing friends of mine who helped me realize this as old drama and not truth. Then, as often seems to happen in my life, the signs started to appear. I am currently reading Eckhart Tolle’s book ,“A New Earth” and have just got to the chapter titled “The Pain-Body” which he describes as follows: 

Any negative emotion that is not fully faced and seen for what it is in the moment it arises does not completely dissolve. It leaves behind a remnant of pain….. The remnants of pain left behind by every strong negative emotion that is not fully faced, accepted, and then let go of join together to form an energy field that lives in  every cell of your body. It consists not just of childhood pain, but also painful emotions that were added to it later in adolescence and during your adult life, much of it created by the voice of the ego. It is the emotional pain that is your unavoidable companion when a false sense of self is the basis of your life.  

The energy of old but still very-much-alive emotion that lives in almost every human being is the pain-body.”

Wow! That was it, exactly what I was experiencing. I read on to the following: 

The pain-body awakens from its dormancy when it gets hungry, when it is time to replenish itself. Alternatively, it may get triggered by an event at any time. The pain-body that is ready to feed can use the most insignificant event as a trigger, something somebody says or does, or even a thought.”

As I was reading this and sharing these passages with my friends, I started to wonder why this was coming up. Hadn’t I already dealt with this issue?  I re-read some of my journal entries from last year and saw I had written about these same insecurities back then, but I had forgotten. I realize now that I had never fully dealt with the issues. I had skimmed the surface but never dug deeper. Now I knew why it was coming up again. Now I could put a name on it. The pain-body. 

“Nothing ever happened in the past that can prevent you from being present now; and if the past cannot prevent you from being present now, what power does it have?” ~ Echkart Tolle, “A New Earth”

There is no benefit to me by replaying these old negative stories in my head. They do not serve me. They no longer existed; yet, I carried them inside of me where they were eating holes trying to escape back into reality. I was giving them power.  

I believe that this was resurfacing because of the amazing experience in Costa Rica. I had recharged myself. My armor was now more than just on the surface. It was more than just red lipstick giving me confidence.  It was positive energy that was radiating from inside of me and surrounding me. I believe that this old story has come back to me at this time because I am now able to face it completely and finally slay this dragon. I believe that just being able to recognize this has already started me down the path. I know it will probably come back around to test me, but I feel confident that I will be successful in recognizing it for what it is and stop the pain-body from feeding.

During the week, as I was talking to Yaya and other friends about this issue, I thought about how often we try to suppress our true authentic-self in order to appease others and make them feel more comfortable- which in turns leaves us feeling badly because we are stifling ourselves. We end up feeling uncomfortable and unhappy. Why do we do this? Why do we change our behavior? We want to fit in. We want to be liked. We are not often encouraged as children to be confident in ourselves and celebrate our uniquenesses.  So we adorn these masks to fit in, to blend in; until ultimately, we fade away, and we become scared to be ourselves because “what if no one will like me?”…. and we wonder why we aren’t happy??? 

But then we meet people we can take our masks off with…. People who love and accept us for our quirks and differences, and we realize when we are around them we feel like the sun is brighter, the sky is bluer, jokes are funnier, food tastes better, and life is just grand! I know I have been fortunate enough to find these people in my life and seeing that this way of life is possible. The hard part is being able to remember this when I don’t have them around me 24/7. It is work, and it isn’t always easy. According to Yaya, that is why they call it “a practice.”  Luckily, I know that support is only a phone call away. 

I realize now that those people who don’t understand the true-me are the same ones who tell me I am “too sensitive, too emotional, and too nice,” but I have realized that I don’t’ want to change those things about me in order to make them feel more comfortable. In fact, those are all things I love about myself!    

I have a huge heart and want to be friendly to everyone. I love to give hugs. I love to smile. I love to cry especially when I am happy. I will be your cheerleader and champion routing you on whenever you need me. I don’t want to change. If I make you feel uncomfortable with my behavior, I am sorry you feel that way; but, I am NOT going to change! I am going to wear red lipstick to yoga class because that is what I love to do.

So I leave you asking this:

  • What old stories do you replay in your head that you have adopted as “truth”? 
  • What are your pain-bodies? Can you recognize them when they appear?
  • What masks do you wear?  Why do you wear them?
  • Are there people you remove your mask for? How does it feel when you are around them?
  • How do you live your authentic self?
  • Is there something you stopped doing that you really liked because someone told you it was “stupid?”
  • Is there something you want to stop doing because it does not serve you, but you are too afraid to stop? This could be a behavior or activity. 
  • What brings you joy?
  • If there something that you always wanted to try but were too scared? Maybe a new hobby or hairstyle?

Sometimes, something as trivial as red-lipstick can make you feel like you have adorned your Knight’s Armor and gives you just enough confidence to slay your dragons. I know for me it surely has. Wishing you the best on your journey! 

 

Thank you, “Blondie,” for digging deep, digging even deeper with each re-write while you were “on assignment,” and for the journey you shared with us. I’m sure it was cathartic and a long time coming! Personally speaking, we can all relate!  I’m certain you have touched many hearts with this blog. I’m honored, blessed and grateful to be part of your life! Love you! Mama Yaya xoxo

PS- Looking forward to your next one!

Taking Charge of Our Own Healing

“Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls you.” -Akshay Dubey

I came across this quote today which is so on point given the conversations some girlfriends and I have been engaging in recently. They have been revolving around the work we’ve been doing and bumps, craters, landmines and struggles we encounter when we are committed to spiritual work and personal growth.

There’s nothing like those deep, soulful and soul-bearing conversations that are almost healing sessions themselves. The endless, meaningful, and stirring talks my girlfriends and I have are extremely therapeutic to say the least! They are enlightening, encouraging and sometimes even revealing. At times they serve as a compass, a lighthouse or  guideposts as to where we are in need of getting to but are lost in the murky and, oftentimes, rough waters. They may also reveal for us the waters we have yet to chart as we continue our journey to healing and come to a place where damage done to our inner child no longer controls us. Yep, it takes work! It takes patience, perseverance, and  practice…..and our commitment and dedication to do the necessary and life-altering work.

As we all continue to embrace the work we have yet to do, it’s important we take the time to honor how far we have come – acknowledge we’ve done the best we can with the tools we have been given. And, as we acquire more and more tools, we gain more and more resources to continue forging ahead on our path to healing, awakening and enlightenment.

Where do we start? Well, we must connect with our true Self, our pure essence: Love. That pretty much lays the foundation and charts the onset of our course. If you missed my blog, Choosing Love at All Times, you may want to check it out. It wil serve as a lovely blueprint for doing the healing work that will allow you to operate from a space of love.

Next, comes the art of forgiveness. Oh, I know what you may be thinking, “That “F” word”…wink, wink. Sadly, it’s word that tends to get a bad rap. Yet the art of forgiving truly keeps us in a stuck state…unable to make a move. Being unable / unwilling to forgive is the biggest barrier and obstacle keeping us from being able to operate from a space of love at all times.

Rather than being able to expand our heart and dissolve all the contractions that keep us from operating from a place of love, being unwilling or unable to forgive just constricts us even further…it constricts our mind, body and spirit. It clogs up our energy centers and keeps us unable to experience higher emotions such as love, joy, acceptance, understanding, compassion, empathy, tolerance, and peace. The peace that resides deep within us that allows us to brave whatever storm we encounter.

And where do these obstacles that keep us from forgiving come from? Well, as you can probably guess, they come from our childhood and have been stored in our subconscious memory, our cells and in our body. They are the programming we have experienced throughout our lives as far back as our infancy stage. If we do not address, accept, process, and release the emotions, betrayals and hurt our bodies have been holding onto, we essentially are allowing the damage we have experienced to control us…to hijack our capacity to love and our ability to heal.

There’s a section I came across when reading the chapter on forgiveness and betrayal in the book I’m reading (which I mentioned in Choosing Love at All Times) that is so on point and relevant for the crisis humanity is experiencing: “Victim consciousness and its opposite, the tyrant, are holding the whole world from ascending into the new paradigm of heart-centered consciousness. As we unlock the betrayal knot associated with the victim consciousness, we take a giant step forward in moving beyond the polarities of victim-tyrant, of power-powerlessness, of win-lose, and into the paradigm of love and of win-win consciousness.” Holy Cow!

Yep, so simple yet so difficult for some to do. As long as we come from a mindset of self-importance, of wanting to be right, seek revenge, and let the Ego-mind do the talking, we will be unable to get to the root cause of the problem, to let go and move on. We will get so clouded in grievance, resentment, revenge, regrets, anger, hate and who knows how many other self-destructive and self-sabotaging feelings, that we will forever be “lost at sea.” And this my darlings, is the ultimate betrayal…a betrayal to ourselves!

I mentioned earlier that the word forgiveness gets a bad rap. It is still often misunderstood. Some hold on to a belief that forgiving means condoning the actions or grievance that was done. However, it’s quite the opposite. It’s choosing to let go of our self-importance, letting go of the victim consciousness, leaving our ego at the door and releasing ourselves from the notion that we are separate from the “other.”

In choosing to look at things through a different lens, we are often able to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and better understand the unresolved hurt and pain they must be experiencing. It takes a certain amount of humility and generosity of spirit to let go of stories we have created for ourselves. When we do so, when we change the narrative, shift the energy, unclog those energy centers, actively participant in our own healing, and experience the freedom in letting feelings of hurt and betrayals go, we experience our true Self.

It is then that we re-establish our connection to our Self – that unbounded, vast energy and essence of Love. It is then that we experience a spiritual and divine awakening. Rather than allowing our hurts, illusions and fabricated stories to control us, we are taking charge of our own healing.

I find prayer very helpful in the healing process. Sometimes, I write my own and other times I reference some that I’ve come across. Sometimes I keep them, and other times I release and burn them. I especially love Marianne Williamson’s prayers from her book, Illuminata- Return to Prayer. The book I am currently reading, Returning to Oneness- The Seven Keys of Ascension, contains beautiful prayers to assist us along the journey. The following prayer is from the chapter on forgiveness and betrayals:

A PRAYER

Oh eternity, please take all of these states of mind which are unbalanced, and balance and clear them. Do this so that I may see more clearly and find my way home more easily. I offer up these feelings of betrayal, and I ask to be able to forgive and to live more in my heart. I give thanks, knowing it will be done.

Inhale Love & Light… Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

 

Expand Your Light

“By expanding and aligning with the light within, you will always be guided, and you will always have the wisdom and knowledge you need to move forward.” Tanaaz

Full Moon Greetings my darlings!

In one of my previous blogs, I shared a portion of a new moon ritual from from one of my favorite sites, forever conscious.com, by Tanaaz. She always has the loveliest rituals for clearing and cleansing, and I find them to be most powerful. As a matter of fact, some of my “Yayas” and I include Tanaaz’s weekly energy reading as one of our “must-do” activities on Sunday evenings. And, quite often, we compare notes on the magnitude of the activity and what arose for us when doing so.

I must confess though, I didn’t get to reading this week’s forecast yet as I got a little side-tracked last night by the 3 pets I am sitting for…..they are so entertaining! I just get lost observing their behavior, dynamics and interactions with each other. There are two adorable little dogs, Diva Mia and Miss Ellie, and the sweetest of cats, Penny (aka Penny-Lishcious). So, it wasn’t until this morning that I opened up my weekly email and realized the full moon is tomorrow. I took a glance at the Full Moon Ritual and decided I wanted to share Tanaaz’s entire article with you.

As per Tanaz, “The May 29th Full Moon in the fiery, adventurous sign of Sagittarius is going to be opening our minds, expanding our hearts, and encouraging us to take that leap of faith.” By now, you are well aware I am all about expanding our hearts, leading from the heart, and always aligning and connecting to the divine light source within us, so how could I not share the Full Moon Ritual for Expanding the Light Within???

I am a firm believer in taking the time each and every day to ground, connect, align, and ask for guidance. I tap into my heart. It’s equally important to take the time to ask,”How can I serve?” One of my personal prayers is, “Dear God, my mind is open. My heart is open. Continue to fill it with your love. Continue to fill it with your light. Continue to guide me, guard me, direct me and protect me.” This little ritual of mine primes my day and truly allows me to go out into the world feeling safe, grounded and with clarity. More importantly, it allows me to go about my intention to inspire, love serve AND lead from the heart…right from the start.

Now back to the ritual! Tanaaz goes on to say:

“This Full Moon is really going to help us get in touch with our true desires, and to think about how we can upgrade and shift our lives to a new level.

This Full Moon also has extra special meaning for me, as it falls on the death anniversary of my sister who passed away last year. Her name means light, and so I felt inspired to make this ritual about finding and expanding your own light.”

Sagittarius Full Moon Ritual for Expanding the Light Within

This ritual is best done from May 28- June 9, 2018

You will need:

  • Smudging tool of choice (sage, palo santo, incense etc.)
  • 3 Candles
  • Pen and 3 paper (plus more for journaling if you wish)
  • Bowl of water

Directions:

1.) Smudge your surroundings and your aura using your preferred method. You can read more about how to do this here. As you smudge, recite the following mantra-

“As I release I become a true expression of my light. As I cleanse, my light shines brighter than before. As I let go and surrender, the light within me glows. I am a glowing, radiant, white light.”

2.) To set up your ritual, light your candles and place them in a row. Take your pieces of paper and write one of these words on each paper- “Action”, “Mindset”, “Expression”. Fold up the three pieces of paper and shuffle them around so it’s not clear which is which. Leave them to the side for later.

3.) Take 7 deep breaths in and out just to relax and settle into your body. Gaze on the candles in front of you for a moment and then close your eyes. See the light behind your eyes, and then imagine a beautiful big, ball of blue energy in front of you. See this ball of energy as a magnificent light that is here to nourish, heal and expand you.

4.) As you inhale, imagine breathing in as much of this blue light energy as possible. See the beautiful blue energy going into your body, see it filling you up and nourishing your insides. See it expanding your energy. See the blue ball getting smaller with every inhale. As you exhale, imagine releasing any junk or toxic muck from inside of you. Really push it out of you. Keep breathing like this until you have inhaled all of that beautiful blue ball of energy.

5.) With your eyes still closed, quietly ask your higher self, spirit guides or guardian angels, to guide you to finding your true light and your true self. When you feel ready, take your three pieces of paper that you wrote on earlier. Shuffle them around and then without looking, choose one paper to go in front of each candle.

6.) Each of your three candles represent the past, present, and future. The word in front of the first candle (the past) represents what you need to let go or release. It represents something that you need to adjust, change, or let go of in order to move forward. The second candle represents the present and what you need to focus on right now. It indicates where you need to put your energy. And the last candle represents the future and what is ahead for you.

Open up the pieces of paper to see what message is in front of each candle for you.

For example, “mindset” may indicate there is something in your mindset holding you back or that you need to use your mindset to become more positive or confident. Mindset can also represent clarity, and feeling clearer on a mental level.

“Action” may indicate that you need to think about your actions before moving ahead, or that you need to stop holding yourself back and take steps to get things moving. Action is very much about adjusting something on a physical level in order to see results and change.

“Expression”, may indicate that you need to express your truth about something, or to connect with how you are really feeling. It can also indicate creativity and perhaps a time where you can really feel confident to share your ideas and bring them to the table. Expression is also about being true to yourself, and expressing your true self out into the world.

Use your intuition to guide you to the appropriate meaning for you.

7.) Feel free to journal or write down whatever insights or inspirations are stirred for you. Accept the message, even if it doesn’t make sense to you just yet, and know that more clarity will come in time.

8.) Take your piece of paper in front of the first candle and burn it while repeating “I am light”. Drop the paper into the bowl of water when it gets too hot. Repeat this for the next two papers, using the corresponding candle.

9.) Now sit with your hands in prayer position. Close your eyes and feel your beautiful energy radiating around you. See the blue light that has filled and nourished you. Feel the message you received about your past, present, and future. When ready, repeat this mantra or write your own:

“Thank you for now I am filled. Thank you for now I know the way. Light is within me, around me, and flows through me. I will spread light. I will be light. I am light.” 

 

Wow! Action. Mindset. Expression. Three powerful words, don’t you think?  Just glancing at these three words gets my wheels spinning! Action is required it we want to do something or change something; Mindset is needed to get that change rolling; and Expression is how it will all unfold and how it leads us to be the fullest expression of who we are meant to be. I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to doing this little ritual. Why? Oh, maybe because I am always delightfully intrigued and surprised at what shows up!

Darlings, may you always be guided by your heart, allow it to expand and radiate the light within, and may you allow it to guide you to inspire, love and serve!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

Choosing Love at All Times

“Love has the ability to multiply itself. It has a mysterious component in that it always multiplies itself, and it never divides.” 

I just came across this sentence in yet another book I am reading (yep, number 3). Since I was going away, I didn’t want to carry any hardcover, cumbersome books. Instead, I grabbed a small, soft-covered book that I have had for years yet had not read. The book, Returning to Oneness – The Seven Keys of Ascension, by Leslie Temple-Thurston with Brad Laughlin, was the perfect travel companion.

This has been a love-filled week… the Royal Wedding, time spent with loving friends and family, being the recipient of many acts of lovingkindness and generosity of spirit, as well as opportunities that required me to dig deep and choose love (see previous blog, Love is Wisdom inAction). I’ve also had the opportunity to send out love in many ways to others, some whom were aware and others who may not have even had an inkling I was doing so.

Which leads me to a little exercise the author noted in a section of the book which goes on to talk about the fact that beyond loss and gain we can always find love:

If you are feeling love, even for five minutes in the middle of some working day, stop and watch how all-encompassing it is. It connects and contains, Send it out in the form of gratitude, appreciation and wishes for others to receive the gift of grace that you are enjoying in the moment. Just let your heart center create the intentions and the love will do its work of multiplication.

If we are in a state of choosing love at all times, then we can, in fact, see beyond the loss and gain. Why? Because the energy exchange of love does not involve loss or gain. It just is.  It is a state of heart. It is a state where we have shifted into. It means shifting into a love-based state from a power or fear-based state.

Getting past a fear-based state requires a lot of work, blood, sweat and tears. Fear, in all its glory, is actually tied to loss. And, as we know by now, loss comes disguised in many fashions. When we think of loss, we tend to think of someone dying, a job we lost or a relationship that has ended. A part of the book which caused me to pause and journal, was the example of the many different kinds of loss we experience in our lifetime.

As noted, “Some examples of loss would be: disapproval, criticism, blame, rejection, betrayal, abandonment, self-doubt, lack of self-esteem, withholdings, and grievances. Loss can me so many things on so many levels: loss of face, of dignity, of energy, of happiness, of connection, of resources, of inspirations, of your divine state and so forth.”

Wow! Reading this made me pause for a long time. It made me examine how these losses have played out in my own life. It was a choice I made because I don’t want my Ego’s limited mind messing with my Soul’s natural state of wholeness and boundlessness. Playing “the witness” allowed me to look at the shadow issues that may still be lurking in the crevices of my conscious and subconscious mind. It’s very interesting to witness what “shows up” when we tackle the  patterns surrounding the different states of loss. As I like to say, “our work is never done.” If we want to live in a state of higher vibration, we must take the time to do the work, And remember, it’s a practice, not a perfect. Hence, the lessons that constantly tend to show up for us – especially when we least expect them!

Each and every day, we are faced with situations and circumstances that will require us to make a choice, Will we choose a low vibrational habit such as grievance, regret, resentment, fear and anger, or will we  let go of all that and choose love? As noted in the book, “Letting go is a very important part of the path of love and, be assured, it gets easier with practice.”

Ah, there’s that word again: Practice. And you know what I’m about to say next, don’t you? Everything, every THING, is a practice – not a perfect. So you see, the more we practice, the easier it does get. It becomes our default setting (I spoke about default settings in a previous blog, Don’t Be Amazing…Be Available).

When we tap on the doorway of the heart, fling the door wide open, and welcome that light filled, divine presence within us, we witness our natural state, which is love. It’s inside each and every one of us! We just have to “clean house.” In doing so, we are making ourselves available for that beautiful and abundant exchange of energy that is in a constant state of multiplication. In choosing love at all times, we are opening ourselves up to the grace of knowing the our Ego is not our true self. Rather we connect with our true essence – the essence of our soul, the experience of pure “beingness.” And in the process, we’ve learned to kick the Ego to the curb.

And if we aren’t there yet, we can rest assured that life will constantly give us opportunities to master this lesson. So even if our Ego hasn’t quite made it to the curb yet, we can at least show it the way to our front door! That is, of course, if we have evicted it from the room / space it is housing in our brain. Just keep choosing love at all times!

I will leave you with a meditation, from the first chapter of the book, which I just finished. May this blog and the meditation serve you in one way or another. Rest in the knowingness that you will gain from it whatever it is you need. That’s the beauty of guided meditations. We can do the same one consecutively, but what shows up may differ each time!

A MEDITATION

Sit comfortably. Take five or seven deep breaths until your breathing becomes calm and deep. Now visualize your core as it is situated along the central axis of the body. It looks rather like a luminous fluorescent tube running down the center of your subtle body. In the physical body, it corresponds more or less to the spine but sits slightly in front of it. By visualizing it, you begin to feel its presence.

Imagine that you, as your essential Self, are the core. Think of how we write the letter “I,” a straight vertical column. It means us – who we are. The letter “I,” describing who we are, comes from the shape of the core. It is the most powerful energy meridian in all the bodies, and it is actually the “I.” It is where the presence of the “I am-ness” is situated in us. At the same time, it is also situated at the very center of the cosmos. It is not to be confused with the “I am something in particular,” such as “I am a loser,” “I am an artist,” or “I am tall with  brown eyes.”

Sit with your attention on the core, holding center and feel your ‘I am-ness” for a while.

Oh, and if you missed Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon at the Royal Wedding, go to youtube and check it out, check it out, check it out…wink, wink. He’s now one of my favorites, right up there along with Pastor Carl Lentz. And one last thing, keep putting yourself in the way of love!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

 

Love is Wisdom in Action

“Love is the impulse to embrace the innocence of life that brings spiritual harmony to the forefront of your experiences, Whenever love is poured into your heart or sent out as blessings to others, the light within all things awakens.”  – Matt Kahn

It’s not unusual for us to be reading a few books simultaneously, don’t you agree? Well, along with Carl Lentz’s book, OWN THE MOMENT, which I talked about in my previous blog, I am also reading a couple of others. Can you relate? Well, one of the other books I’m currently engaged in is Matt Kahn’s Whatever Arises Love That.

As noted on the back cover, the book is described as containing “groundbreaking teachings on ENGAGING LOVE as the MOST POTENT CATALYST for transformation and healing.” Another review noted that “the act of opening your heart is recognized as the timeless remover of obstacles.” When I read the words remover of obstacles, I paused. I paused for  quite some time. You see, that’s what Matt Kahn’s book does, and that is why it’s taking me an extremely long time to read. It seems like every page is a revelation and invitation to do just that – pause, take stock, go within and do some inner investigation. There’s nothing like good self-inquiry to dust off the cobwebs and move forward from a place of love and healing – rather than from a place of fear and separation.

This morning, I happened to be listening to Marianne Williamson’s talk on the Hay House World Summit and, naturally, she was talking about love and miracles. It got me thinking of all the ways that choosing love over fear has enhanced my life. How operating from a place of love is real, it’s indestructible and it is who we are. So how can we not operate from a place of love?

And miracles? Well, as she noted, miracles occur when a shift in perception occurs. How true is that?!?!?! The moment we shift from a place of fear and separation to a place of love, everything changes and everyone benefits. We change, our chemistry changes, our bodies change, our outlook changes and the people around us can feel and see the change. It is truly palpable!

Returning to a place of love is something we choose to do over and over again. It’s a choice we are faced with making every time something or someone shows up and ruffles our feathers. Just recently, I was faced with a situation that hurt my feelings. My call to action was to pause and tap into my toolbox. I relied on love’s wisdom to get me trough. Coming from a place of love, as opposed to from a place of judgement, allowed me to take my time and shift my perception. It allowed me to act and not react. When the going gets tough, I take action! I tap into the teachings, music, mantra, meditations, movement, visualizations, stillness, writing and a whole lot of inner investigation. You see, allowing feelings to arise and loving them without judgement is a healing process in itself. It’s something Matt Kahn talks about throughout his book. With each layer we peel away, we are able to clearly see love is wisdom in action.

It amazes me how much lighter we feel when we operate from this heart centered, inner knowingness…how connected, guided and directed we feel, and how our hearts just keep expanding more and more. One of the most powerful practices I have found is to send out my love as blessings to another during a challenging period / circumstance. The more love and light we stand in, and the more love and light we send out to others, the more we heal and the more collective healing that takes place. It’s a win-win situation!

There’s nothing like operating from a heart wide open. A closed heart, encased in a protective shield of armor, doesn’t work for me. It would make me feel like a fraud. It would announce to the world, or anyone who is listening, that I don’t trust anyone or anything. In my humble opinion, this just causes a whole lot of suffering. I can definitely see how abusive or violent circumstances would cause someone to guard their hearts from further pain. But doing nothing to address the situation can only cause more pain and suffering. Love is a healing balm. Showing ourselves unconditional love, tender mercy, sweet compassion, constant forgiveness, on-going understanding, and endless patience all result in unquantifiable inner peace. These are all practices that help us heal and reclaim our true innocent nature. How do we know this? Again, love is wisdom in action!

One of my favorite quotes, derived from A Course in Miracles, is “Every decision I make is a choice between a grievance and a miracle. I relinquish all regrets, grievances and resentments, and choose a miracle.” I cannot begin to explain how empowering this is. It’s love’s wisdom in action. I’ve employed that mindset for many years now, and it always brings about a sense of clarity and harmony. It helps me tease out any remaining grievances that may still be lingering beneath the surface. It also allows me to see if my Ego has come calling. And, as you are probably very well aware by now, nothing positive, constructive or beneficial happens when we operate from the Ego. Instead, allow Love to come knocking at the door!

Love certainly came calling, and I opened the door nice and wide this week as I grappled with how to handle the situation that hurt my feelings. I greeted Love as an old familiar guest. Luckily, forever conscious.com generally has some good exercises, visualizations and meditations for clearing and cleansing, so I got to work. Below you will find a most powerful part of the activity I did that truly allowed me to accept, release and let go of any and all unwelcome feelings that were anything but Love. The activity also allowed me to peel away even more layers that led to some pretty powerful, empowering and insightful revelations. It showed me a couple of areas I still need to work on. However, I was able to fully embrace the beauty around the challenging situation with a humble and grateful heart while still honoring my feelings and emotions. More importantly, I was able to have a deeper conversation with my Self that allowed me to nurture my wounded inner child.

As with all sacred rituals, please take a moment to clear your space and ground yourself. You may also want to have pen and paper handy. For the entire activity, you can check out the Taurus New Moon Ritual May 2018 on foreverconscious.com,  and you will be guided through a very lovely and significant experience.

Close your eyes and place your hands over your heart center. Think about a recent change or something confronting that is coming up for you. Perhaps you are dealing with a bad boss, or perhaps you recently ended a relationship. Just think about whatever is troubling you, or whatever changes are making you uneasy. Try to just focus on one.

 Think about the situation you have chosen, feel into it. Go through it all in your mind while keeping your hands on your heart. Now find 10 things you can be grateful for around this situation. Really challenge yourself to think about the good that has come from it.

Once you have come up with 10 things that you feel grateful for around this situation, notice what thoughts and feelings have arisen for you now. Notice if any solutions or new ways of looking at things have emerged. Notice and feel that all things in our life have a beauty as long as we open ourselves to it.

When in doubt my darlings, turn no farther than your heart, for it holds all the wisdom you will ever need! Feel the love xoxo

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

Don’t Be Amazing…Be Available

“Through prayer, trial and error, surrounding myself with people who are better than me in so many areas, I am an example of what God can do with somebody who is not amazing, but available.” -Carl Lentz

Are you open to being used by the Divine? Interested in being challenged? Resigned to living a life that is continually out of your comfort zone? Are you a dreamer or a doer? Do you operate from a default setting in your life? Or do you believe you always have options? Do you believe you can overcome challenges? Will you use your story, or will your story use you? These are some of the things I’d like to explore along with you, as I write, and as you read. But first, a little background info on Carl Lentz.

I learned about Carl Lentz when I saw him interviewed by Oprah on Super Soul Sunday. She called him a “rock star pastor.” If you can picture a guy with tattoos and sporting a motorcycle jacket, and who happens to be very easy on the eyes….yep, definitely NOT the picture of a pastor of any kind. Despite wanting to get to see him preach at Hillsong Church in NYC, where he is the lead pastor, I have yet to get there. Someday! So…the next best thing was having my physical therapist, Ed, happen to mention him during a conversation, and he lent me his book, OWN THE MOMENT.

Needless to say, I am glued to the book! Carl’s rawness, wit, wisdom, faith, grace, love, compassion and no-nonsense radical honesty fill page after page. Quite frankly, I think I am crushin’ on the pastor….wink, wink!!! I recall seeing him on Super Soul Sunday and remarking to myself that I needed to find me a man like him! What can I say?

I can say that I was glued to this book even before I opened it. Not only did the title resonate for me, but when I read the quote on the back, I knew I was hooked:

“This is our challenge as humans: to make the most of what we do have. I do not want to be so fixed on the future that I miss the power of the present. I do not want to be so motivated on what is next that I miss the joy right here, right now. And I know that it’s possible to maximize the days, the hidden moments. The parts of the journey that seem mundane can be turned in to memories that last forever.” 

Pastor Carl Lentz, you are speaking my language!

So back to the questions I posed at the beginning. I find that when I “prime” myself for my day ahead, take the time to get centered, pray and meditate, I ask the Divine to use me…to work through me…to send me whomever needs motivation, inspiration, consolation or an ear to listen. And guess what? There’s a special “delivery” each and every day. Sometimes there are a couple. But this is the beauty when we align ourselves to the Divine and the God of your own understanding. Our purpose is not is the role or title we have on the job, our purpose is to  demonstrate how we live from the heart. And to take it a step further, it’s how our actions and words are aligned with the power of Love.

I am willing to bet that, each and every day, each one of you reading this sentence right now is presented with a person, situation or circumstance that is challenging. It’s there for a reason, and you can bet it requires you to delve a little deeper into your heart and soul. In doing so, then and only then, can we can fully comprehend why our buttons are being pushed. And what is the result of being challenged? Simply stated, we grow. We awaken. We evolve. We expand. We transform. We ascend. We come home to our Self. We come back to a place of Love.

However, we won’t transform if we operate from the confines of our comfort zone. Comfort zones are stagnating. It’s a no-brainer. Growth cannot occur when we are confined to a prison we have crafted for ourselves. If someone or something is pushing you to step out of your comfort zone, I say leap! Leap as high and wide as you can. No worries, the net will appear.

In the safety of that net, you will find that it’s OK to dream. I’m a big proponent of dreaming BIG. But I also believe in chasing those dreams with a vengeance and making them happen. So don’t hang out on that net for too long! We can either be a dreamer and leave it at that….sulking when nothing happens, or we can be a doer……We can make certain our dreams take flight. What can I say? Fly, darling, fly! It’s our first class ticket to freedom and a life filled with unimaginable possibilities. As long as we are willing to be used for a higher purpose, we will always be met with opportunities that will exceed our wildest dreams.

Unfortunately, not everyone believes in the power of their imagination. Why not? Because it takes work, attitude, vision, intention, passion, grit, resilience and perseverance. To some, it’s just easier to act from a default setting. What does that mean? Well, someone who always has an excuse, finds a reason for not trying or doing something, prefers the status quo, or is not interested in shaking things up, and then complains when nothing changes / improves in their life, operates from that place. That is their default setting. For this type of person, it’s easier to list the reasons why they can’t succeed, forge ahead, take a risk or make a change. This is a person who is comfortable in their “stuckness.” In actuality, this person is NOT making themselves available for their greatness to unfold.

These are the people who feel they don’t have options. And if there is something we ALWAYS have, it’s options. We can always exercise our option to do better, be better, act better and live better. It’s a choice that only we can make. It cannot be made for us. And it’s not up to us to make that choice for someone else, regardless of how much we love and care for that person. We can plant seeds, light the way, and gently guide. But when met with resistance, it’s time to back off. It’s not our job to “fix” anyone.

However challenging it may seem, trust me, this is not a challenge you want to take on. There are challenges, and then there are challenges! We have enough challenges on our journey through life that continuously break us down…without needlessly putting ourselves in a situation that will not serve us. And trying to “fix” someone, anyone, is not a challenge that serves any of us. We can only fix and change ourselves. THAT is something you can bank on! The key to overcoming our challenges is to not allow ourselves to be consumed by them. By this I mean get “lost” in the story to the point where the story that we have created around our difficulty has totally taken on a life of its own and has consumed us to the point of no return. Yikes!

If we are lucky, we catch ourselves when we start to do this and quickly take a different route rather than depleting our energy…change the narrative….change the story. We have all been there at some point or another. The “shift” occurs when we catch ourselves, OR when we get so tired of telling the same, old story that it is getting us sick, and we realize it’s finally time to tell a different story… to use the story for our betterment and the betterment of others rather than let the story use us.

It’s also helpful to have a cadre of supporters and surround ourselves with people who are better than us, people who serve as role models and sources of inspirational. People to have lived, loved and lost and have the courage to forge ahead and excel in life where others may have just given up. In one of my earlier blogs I spoke about the importance of having our very own spiritual board of directors. These people are our moral compass. They are the ones who allow us to hold ourselves accountable. These are the people who we look up to as the wise sages they so rightfully are.

Everything I just wrote about came to me as I was reading the first few chapters of Carl Lentz’s book.  I am looking forward to finishing it soon because it’s such an enjoyable read. It’s real. It’s relevant. It’s funny. It’s inspiring. It’s life. And the message I keep getting, page after page, is that it is more important to be available than it is amazing.

That is a tall order and a difficult thing to do in a society, and time in our world where,  all too often, our self-worth is measured by the number of likes on social media and, as Carl Lentz says, “in a society that worships money, sex and fame.”  However, if we embrace each new day with intention, steadfastness, and integrity, and as an opportunity to inspire, love, serve, and willingly ask the Divine or the God of our understanding to guide and direct us, we make ourselves available. Available to be used for far greater things that we ever could have dreamed or imagined. Available to do amazing things!

Living in and for these moments sets my heart on fire. It’s what keeps me grounded, present and mindful of the impact I am able to make. It’s what brings me joy. It’s what fearlessly allows me to embrace the hidden, teachable moments that bring transformation and inspiration. It’s what gives me the fierce courage to go out into the world with a heart wide open. It’s what keeps be flying high. Living from a place of availability is what keeps me connected to the beautiful tapestry of life. Now THAT is amazing!

My darling, given the day-to-day challenges you are faced with, how do you prefer to live your reality? Do you prefer to be amazing or available? Just asking…..

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be a Queen & Own Your Power

“May you listen to the voice within the heart even when you are tired. When you feel yourself breaking down, may you break open instead. May every experience in life be a door that opens your heart, expands your understanding and leads you to freedom.” 

In honor of Mother’s Day,  I didn’t want to approach this blog in the  traditional way of celebrating all our mothers and everyone out there, men included, who do their fair share of “mothering.” Instead, I want us to celebrate the Mother who lives in each of us. Where or how do we start? Well, going within of course!

Please pause for a moment to center yourself. You may want to clear your space with some sage , incense or even light a candle. Take a few deep, slow breaths. As you do so, feel your heart expand. Feel the Love that is the essence of who you are. You may want to close your eyes here, and take as many breaths as you need to feel grounded, centered and serene. When ready, ask yourself these questions….. and you may even feel inspired to journal away!

  • How do you mother yourself?
  • Do you listen to the great mother voice within?
  • If so, how? If not, why not?
  • Do you allow your inner Mother to take care of you?
  • If so, how? If not, why not?
  • Do you approach your inner Mother with a heart wide open?
  • If so, in what ways?
  • Do you approach your inner Mother from a place of loving-kindness, compassion, understanding, and wisdom of the ages that has been handed down to you?
  •  If not, why not?
  • Do you operate from a place of Love, or do you keep your heart padlocked under lock and key?
  • If your heart is secured tighter that a federal reserve bank, what are the blocks, obstacles or limiting beliefs that are keeping you from operating from a place of Love?

The art of writing / journaling offers us opportunities to delve deep. The deeper we dig and go within the heart and soul, the more layers we peel away, the more cobwebs we clear away, and the more we will be able to step into our power…the more we can claim our glory. And if that isn’t liberating, then I don’t know what is!

In honor of our inner Great Mother, I want to share something that was written by Oprah Winfrey. I found it in one of my many notebooks, of course, as I was trying to piece together inspiration for today’s blog. Another source of inspiration came from one of my beautiful teachers who planted the “inner mother” seed in class today, and it got me thinking…. So, on this Mother’s Day;

Be a Queen…Own Your Power

Be a queen. Dare to be different. Be a pioneer. Be a leader. Be the kind of woman who in the face of adversity will continue to embrace life and walk fearlessly toward the challenge.

Take in on. Be a truth seeker, and rule your domain, whatever it is: your home, your office, your family – with a loving heart.

Be a queen. Be tender. Continue to give birth to new ideas, and rejoice in your Womanhood.

We are daughters of the “Goddess” here to teach the world how to Love. It doesn’t matter what you’ve been through, where you came from, who your parents are, or your social or economic status. None of that matters. What matters is how you choose to express that Love through your work, through your family, through what you have to give to the world.

Be a Queen. Own Your Power and Your Glory.

So on this Mother’s Day,  regardless of your gender, love your inner Mother.  Love her some more. Better yet, just love more. Love everyone and everything. Glance at strangers, and send them love too. And remember to send out your love to our Great Mother Earth while you’re at it!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC