Radiate Wisdom

“My being is wise and knowing”

We have all experienced profound wisdom in our life via life experiences, self inquiry and mindful practices that allow us to see the lessons and wisdom gained. It allows us to be connected to “Source” and have many “aha moments” whether we are alone or with other “like-minded” individuals. The more we tune into these moments, the more connected we are to our inner “guru” or teacher and the more we can appreciate other people’s words of wisdom.

Throughout my 20’s-40’s, whenever my Mama shared her wisdom, I used to do some MAJOR eye rolling! I’m sure you’ve been guilty of doing the same, right? She used to tell me that I had a lot of college degrees, but she went to “The University of Life” as she called it. Oh the eye rolling and head shaking that went on!!!!!! I still cringe when I think of my audacity and how arrogant I was to this woman who brought me into the world. She truly was a wealth of knowledge. I just didn’t see it. My warped thinking at the time went something like this: “What could she possibly know when she didn’t even go to college? I don’t even know if she ever got to finish HS!” Regardless, Mama did in fact go to the University of Life or, like many spiritual masters call it, Earth School.

An activity that is truly reflective, allows us to tap into our own wisdom and radiate that wisdom, is writing a letter to our younger Self. Have you ever done this? I’ve done a few over the years. It’s a pretty powerful experience. As a matter of fact, what sparked this blog was coming across a letter I wrote to my 13 year old self. When I wrote that, I also then wrote one to my 55 year old self. I would like to share these with you now:

Dearest 13 year old JT, Develop a practice…tune into your inner guru, the Divine, and know that all will be well. Let love, compassion, joy and peace guide your every step, word and interaction with others. Life is a divinely ordained journey that helps us to grow, evolve and become our best Self. Worry less, laugh more….no need to worry for all your needs and everything you need in life will be yours by your Divine birthright. Be kind to yourself and others and live mindfully, present, awake and aware of the energy you bring forth. Stay in the light. Shine your light and know you are perfect and whole the way you are…..Love is the essence.

Dearest Present Day 55 year old JT, By now you know the Divine connection you have with God and the Universe. You’ve learned practices and filled your spiritual toolbox with lots of  resources that allow you to show up and be present. Keep growing, evolving and shinning your light. All things come in Divine order and in God’s timing. Your ultimate soulmate, opportunities for philanthropy and resources needed will, by right, find their way to you. In the interim, continue leading from the heart…right from the start.

Earth School is a life-long journey that affords us the opportunities to amass voluminous amounts of wisdom. This wisdom, sage advice and inner knowingness can be shared via our interactions with friends, family members, colleagues and the stories we choose to share. This is what the elders of centuries ago shared around the campfire. It truly is a privilege and honor to be able to impart our sage advice and wisdom with others. It can also be looked at as a responsibility we have to other human beings. And, when others share their words of wisdom, regardless of who they are, their life or living circumstances, perspective and outlook, let’s try not to roll our eyes! Oftentimes we look at others’ life circumstances and wonder who are they to be sharing their advice and suggestions. In fact, they have earned that right because they, too, have gone to The University of Life / Earth School. Their life may look a little differently to us; nevertheless, we should not discount the value in what they have to share. Embrace it! We are all pure knowledge, we just have to embrace that thought, tap into our own teacher/guru, shine our light and confidently radiate wisdom.

I invite you all to write a letter to your younger Self. Pick an age….12, 15, 21……and share your words of wisdom with your younger self. You may also want to write one to your present day self. Just write away….don’t censor your writing. Let it flow. You may just surprise yourself with what comes out. Why? Because your inner guru/teacher will be doing the talking. Keep shining brightly my darlings!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

Living with Joy

“A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love” Mother Teresa

I truly believe we are wired for happiness as it is part of who we are innately. If you missed Sunday’s blog, Happiness is an Inside Job, kindly check it out. It’s sort of the pre-cursor to this post on Joy.

Joy is the feeling….the expression of  happiness. Much has been written about Joy. One thing that seems to be a common thread on the subject is that Joy is something that we choose and have to keep choosing time and time again despite the catastrophic events that may be going on in and around our life and the fear, stress, anger, grief, illness and death we all experience. We can look at these life events as Obstacles to Joy, as the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu call them in their groundbreaking book, Lasting Happiness in a Changing World – The Book of Joy (a wonderful, funny, touching and inspiring read by the way). Or, we can look at these obstacles as opportunities to allow us to tap into that love and happiness in our heart and feel those moments of Joy that are always present. We just need to consciously choose to “linger” in those moments. Lingering in those moments of Joy, however brief or fleeting they may seems at first, is something Sheryl Sandberg talks about in her amazing book, Option B (another great read and resource). When we take the time to be still and sit in silence, we experience how love, gratitude, grace, and happiness permeate our mind and body. All those “feel good” chemicals get released into our bodies, and we feel that sense of elation and joy. It’s truly a no brainer. If we can constantly bring ourselves back to our true nature, which is love, happiness and joy show up!

Regardles of what we have going on in our lives, we can make the conscious choice to feel, create and spread happiness and joy. We either choose to be happy or not. When we are mindful, awake, and present to the events that are unfolding, we can approach each activity, chore, task, and even challenge from a place of happiness, reverence, gratitude….almost like a meditation in action. And what happens when we do so? We feel a deep sense of Joy! Furthermore, we can  feel peaceful, calm, serene and at ease even when circumstances around us or in our life are not peaceful.

Living from a  state of consciousness, choosing to create and spread happiness and live fully in our life is much grander than seeing life as an accident of “random forces.” Seeing life from a place of completeness signifies wholeness, and that is a space where we can live. Being in this space allows us to see the love, abundance, wealth, beauty, magic and joy in all areas of our life. More importantly, it allows us to operate from that place of abundant joy and happiness as opposed to scarcity and sadness. At any moment in time, regardless of whatever turmoil or chaos is around us, we can connect to our heart and the love, bliss and happiness which is our internal state of being. Remember, it is a choice that only we can make!

Joy is probably one of the most powerful emotions we can feel when we give freely of ourselves. Giving is a two way street and brings both the giver and the receiver much Joy. Can you think of a time you were able to give someone the support or words of wisdom they needed at just the right time? How did they feel? How did this exchange of energy make you feel? I bet hearts were full of joy! This reminds me of a beautiful quote by the late, great Maya Angelou, “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” 

Given the state of affairs swirling around us these days, it is imperative that we do all we can to live in, create and spread Happiness and Joy any way we can. We are each uniquely different and creative in our own ways. We have talents, gifts and abilities that differ person to person. Our jobs, careers, positions and roles in our family allow us a platform to be the change, create and spread Happiness and Joy. Embrace this privilege my darlings! Let’s make a conscious choice to enjoy each and every day and discover more Joy in our lives. Repressing joy, even during difficult times, is not a wise thing to do nor a healthy way to live. We can find, create, appreciate, spread and be grateful for Joy during the most challenging times in our life. These challenging times are when we must “linger” in those moments of Joy.

I invite you to take a moment and reflect on ways you can find, create, appreciate, spread and be grateful for Joy. Tap into that burning love in your heart, and let it guide your way!

 

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

 

Happiness is an Inside Job

“If you want instant happiness, the secret is to open your heart and give freely without any expectations. The intention behind your giving is the  most important thing for when you give unconditionally and from the heart, the energy and joy in the art of giving increases many times over.” Chopra Center Happiness Series

Have you ever listened to someone say, “I want to find happiness” or perhaps found yourself uttering those words? Sometimes we expend so much energy on that “quest for happiness” when, in reality, it’s been inside us all along. We tend to treat happiness as if it’s this mysterious state that can only be attained by looking and searching for it in the external world or something that only “another person” can make us; yet, it’s a superpower we’ve had all along and one that has been sitting in the middle of our chest since birth. The source of all happiness, is found in the heart. Once we learn to open our hearts to the love and compassion that reside within, we really step into and embrace this superpower.

Years ago, I participated in an 8 week online event given by the Chopra Center. It was called The Happiness Series. Each week explored a different component, and one of them was called Open Your Heart. That particular week, we looked at and explored what they called four intangibles that really bring people happiness. They are Attention, Appreciation, Affection and Acceptance. If we look at these as gifts from the heart, set intentions to practice them, and pay attention to the feelings, sensations and emotions that arise when doing so, we will find our heart opening more and more over time. With the passing of time, and the more we practice these four intangibles, we will actually “feel” our heart center getting wider and more expansive.  The key is to remember to give these gifts freely and without expectation (yes, without any expectation at all).

Characteristics of the four intangibles / gifts of the heart:

Attention– Deep listening, presence, being open, understanding the other person’s perspective – even if we don’t agree with it, not giving advice (unless asked), not  interrupting (we’re all guilty of doing this). By listening attentively to someone, we are actually helping to calm their brain (the amygdala in particular as it is the center for emotions).

Appreciation– Letting someone know you value them and are grateful they are in your life, appreciating them for who they are (the qualities you love about them).

Affection– Caring deeply, expressing it through words, physical touch, and/or other actions, being there for them (loving touch is vital – it releases pain and mood elevating chemicals throughout the body).

Acceptance– Seeing and accepting someone completely even with all their weaknesses, inconsistencies and shortcomings (one of the most deepest human needs).

In light of everything going on in our world today, Mother Nature is really calling us to step up. Yes, prayer is good, but our actions are more powerful, impactful, life altering and much needed! It starts with each and every one of us wanting to take part in the healing of our world. How do we step up? Where do we start? How can we navigate the madness, destruction, devastation and crisis humanity is experiencing? It simply starts with our willingness to open our hearts! I invite you to focus on consciously opening your heart this coming week in ways that perhaps you’ve never done before. Set the intention to weave those four intangibles into your every day existence and watch what happens. You may even want to keep a journal / list of your experiences, the thoughts, emotions, and sensations that show up for you (oh, and they will show up, the good, bad and everything in between – just hold the space for it in your heart center). Perhaps you’d like to keep a gratitude journal or even write a thank you letter to someone you deeply care about, admire, has inspired you, challenged you or is struggling with a life event. These are just a few ways that you can incorporate Attention, Affection, Appreciation and Acceptance in your daily life. If you sit and tap into your creativity, I am certain you will come up with your own unique ways to offer your gifts of the heart.

However you choose to document, memorialize and personalize your experiences, one thing will be certain: this art of giving unconditionally without expectation, and from the heart, will impact you in unimaginable ways. It will also trickle down to the people around you and will impact them as well. You will find yourself feeling lighter, happier and joyful.  If and when someone says, “I want to find true happiness,” you can look right in their eyes, and with a whole lot of love, compassion, understanding and a heart wide open, you will confidently respond with, “Happiness is an inside job all you have to do is open your heart!

My darlings, inspire, love, serve with a heart wide open. Be that light that lights the way for others, and be the change this world so desperately needs. Every single day and encounter presents us with an opportunity to lead from the heart…right from the start. Please use your Superpower always and in all ways!

Inhale Love… Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

Ask and You Shall Receive

“When someone we love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure”

Dedicated to Zenaida Figueroa Carricarte, my Mama, on the 9th anniversary of laying her to rest 10-6-2008

As the last leg of Mama’s journey began on her 84th birthday on June 5, 2008, I asked God, Guardian Angels, Powerful and Divine Beings for the following: that Mama go peacefully; for me to be there by her side; for lots of PATIENCE, compassion and under standing. I will forever be grateful for God’s grace and the way the Universal and Divine Plan unfolded.

I remember it was around mid-morning, and I decided to take a half day from work, bring a birthday party to her, and go to to the hospital to see Mama. After all, I just knew this was Mama’s last birthday on earth. Work was just not that important once I put things in perspective.  Upon leaving work, I went to the store and got party hats, balloons, snacks, party decorations and headed over to the Argentinian bakery for the decadent cake they are known for making. When I got to the hospital, I really thought that we were going to lose her that day and was thankful for having the presence of mind to put Mama before work. You see, at another time in my life, work came first, second and third! That was quite a day with a bunch of her admirers coming to see her, staff from the nursing home popping in, and doctors, nurses and aides she had gotten to know at the hospital over the years dropped by as well. I just kept taking pictures. I took pictures of everything and everyone! She was discharged back to the nursing home a few days later, and the party continued there. I decided not to go away for the month of July as I was accustomed to doing and just spend it with her….a stay-cation of sorts. I kept taking pictures….of everyone and everything!

I will be forever grateful for the honor of being able to play “Mother” and do things with her that kept me fully present in the beauty of the moment and the awareness to treat each day with her as if it were her last. I will be forever grateful for the simple things that brought Mama joy and for the opportunity to spoil her, plan her last birthday party, feed her, massage her legs and arms, scratch her back, play dress up, do her makeup and even cut her hair. I will be forever grateful for wheeling her along the river, taking her to the cemetery to visit Papi’s grave, visit the Our Lady of Fatima statue that was at Lourdes’ and Jorge’s house, buy her all the foods she craved (even though she only ate 2 bites at best), and spend time reading the dozens of cards and letters my Robert Waters Panthers and Pantherettes wrote to her. And I kept taking pictures… of everything and everyone!

Mama had a couple of good months, but once September rolled along you could tell that she was done. October 2nd, her last day with us, was filled with an on-going stream of visitors coming to say their goodbyes, so I was glad to just have it be the two of us once the last of the visitors left. I still remember the awesome wine Sara brought and the delicious home-made Italian food Francine brought to the nursing home that night. We talked, laughed, ate and drank wine because I had decided to spend the night by Mama’s side. It was obvious that Mama was leaving us any moment. As I lay in bed with her, a couple of hours before she crossed over, I caressed her, chanted and sang to her, talked to her about my lifetime of memories, and named all the spirit family members who were waiting for her. Their light and energy could be felt around us. I told her how God, the Angels and other family needed her now. My dharma, or purpose, in my mother’s life became crystal clear to me at that precise moment. Upon coming into this lifetime, I chose her  so I could play “Mother” to her (she was left motherless at the tender age of three). And that loss was something she never got over. Mama referenced her mother “Mamaita” almost daily as well as how much she missed her. Mama had only one tattered picture of her in her possession…how sad. She guarded that picture with her life! As I sit here typing, a memory of Mama asking me if I “would take care of her” came to mind. She took to asking me this over the years as her health declined more and more. She wanted to be taken care of “like a little girl.”  She even had a few stuffed animals by her side.

I will be forever grateful for the alone time I had with her that last night. I will be forever grateful for all the pictures I took of everyone who came to see her, pictures from her party, our field trips in July, activities in August, pictures from her last day and even pictures from the day of her burial and repast. Lastly, I will be forever grateful for the gift of being able to do her make-up once she was dressed and coiffed in her casket. That was the BEST 50th birthday gift!! You see, Mama died 2 weeks before my 50th. What an honor to spend that sacred and alone time with her and make sure she looked like her fashionista self. It took a lot of perseverance, negotiation and ultimately releasing it into the universe, but my wish was fulfilled!  And, yes, I kept taking pictures….. of everyone and everything! I was creating memories….cherished memories that became my treasure.

Mama passed peacefully. I was by her side. And boy did I walk away with a lot of patience, compassion and understanding. “Ask and you shall receive!”

I encourage all of you to live each day with intention and purpose and as if it were the last day. When we do so, we have more fulfilling days. We are able to really see who and what matter. We are more present, Alive and in tune to the precious gift of life we have received.

If you are interested in the dying process, and what the body goes through emotionally, physically mentally and spiritually as it prepares to cross over, I recommend you download Crossing the Creek by Michael Holmes. My mom’s Hospice social worker gave me a hardcopy years ago, and I have since shared it with numerous people. This book is no longer in print, but the author has made it available for free download. It is an absolutely wonderful and valuable resource. In addition, the Zen Hospice Project always puts out wonderful articles too. If you go on their website, you see the beautiful ways they honor palliative and end of life care. Remember darlings, we are all terminal….some of us are just lucky enough to know it!

It is my belief that death, like any other rite of passage, is something that can, and should be celebrated. It does not have to be all doom and gloom; after all, we are celebrating someone’s life and the contribution they made while on this earth. It’s also a meaningful, memorable and sacred act to send our loved ones off with much love, intention, appreciation, respect, honor, integrity and dignity (and bubbly, fun, laughter and even a dance party). It’s equally important for us to express OUR wishes to our family, friends and loved ones as well. When you think of it, there’s always a reason or opportunity to Celebrate Life! Ask and you shall receive…Just remember to take pictures…of everyone and everything!

Inhale love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

Strong Calm…A Season of Change

“Each day is a gift…Open with joy”

Fall is such a beautiful time of year. It’s when Mother Nature takes out her richly colorful pallet and paints for us in the most beautiful shades, tones and hues. We capture this season’s beauty on our iPhones and cameras and, if you’re the artistic type, you take out your paint brushes, canvas,  or color pencils and sketch pads and capture its beauty through your creative lens. Fall is also a time of shedding, falling leaves and is synonymous with the art of letting go. Fall brings with it many holidays commencing in September through the end of the year. It’s also a time of year that people tend to get sad, miss their loved ones who have passed on,  send young children off to school for the first time or even off to college leaving them to be empty nesters, or are simply wallow in the fact that life isn’t exactly how they “expected” it to be.

Fall months have been a time of a lot of loss in my life and lots of endings, especially in the month of October. I had not yet given this much thought this year until last week when I was in yoga. My teacher passed out cards and instructed each one of us to pick a card. The card I pulled read Strong Calm. Hmmm, I found this to be quite interesting. I placed it down on my yoga mat and decided to remain open to whatever arose throughout my practice. At some point, it hit me. I set the intention to take a different approach and outlook on the fall season this year. Rather than be reminded of the many losses and allow myself to get funky and sad, I decided to approach this time of year with a “Strong Calm”  much like yoga – grounded, rooted, inner calmness and a strong core. In doing so, I can shift my perspective and look and all the beauty, abundance, miracles,  magic and wealth, and wisdom that has shown up in my life after losing my parents, selling my Florida sanctuary, putting down my beloved Blackie-Mama, ending relationships, having surgeries and ending my career.

When we take the time to reflect and count our blessings, we have the opportunity to carefully examine our life, choices we’ve made, their outcome, people who’ve come into our lives and others who are no longer part of it. The lessons we’ve learned become crystal clear. More importantly though, we are able to see the richness and fullness of our lives. We see the depth, scope and significance of the relationships we have with our friends and loved ones as well as the relationship we have with our Self.  We appreciate the beauty that surrounds us and gain an understanding of the destruction around us. We are better equipped to see the light and the dark, as well as the love and the fear. With a sense of “strong clam,” we can hold a space for all of it.  In this space, is where grace and gratitude can be found.  Gratitude opens our hearts!

By now y’all know that I’m a gratitude junkie. Gratitude is miraculous! Being grateful fills our hearts with endless amounts of love and pure joy. It is what gets us through anything we are going through, regardless of how challenging and difficult it may be. Our mindset is the key. I don’t know about you, but I am choosing to approach this beautiful Season of Change with a Strong Calm. Here’s how you can do the same: Write down the ten hardest or most terrible things that ever happened to you. As you look over the list, can you see the gifts that each of them brought? Take the time to write about each of these gifts and feel the sense of joy and gratitude that fills your heart center.

I now leave you with beautifully written piece by John O’Donohue. If I had to give it a title, it would certainly be Strong Calm:

“May you awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence. May you have joy and peace in the temple of your senses. May you receive great encouragement when new frontiers beckon. May you respond to the call of your gift and find the courage to follow its path. May the flame of anger free you from falsity. May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame and may anxiety never linger around you. May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul. May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention. May you be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul. May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.”

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

Broken Down or Broken Open

“Being Alive and present with those I love is how I want to live my new life. This is what I want to motivate me: quality of life, quality moments and quality love”        JT Carricarte

How ironic that I finished Elizabeth Lesser’s book, Broken Open – How Difficult Times Help Us Grow just days before my “epic” orthopedic surgery in 2012. Whew! Was that book preparing me for something of great magnitude without me having the slightest inkling! Little did I know that I would be in for yet another self discovery journey over the three years following that surgery (only to have surgery again in 2016). Broken Open not only prepared me for the change I was about to undergo, but it equipped me with the strength and inner fortitude I needed to battle the most difficult, challenging and life altering event I was about to experience. Oh, this most fascinating and funny universe of ours surely knows how to deliver!

I took the book out as I sat to write this blog, and I had written the following on the inside cover: “This book, by far, is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. As if divinely ordained, I finished reading it just days before I went into the hospital (and I had ordered it quite some time before that). I must have purchased 10 copies and gave them to  my Girls for Christmas. It’s an absolutely  beautifully written book that makes you embrace The Phoenix Rising.” In case you’re interested in reading this book, Elizabeth Lesser shares stories about people who’ve “risen from the ashes” after suffering all types of loss such as death, divorce, illness, loss of a job, and how they did so with love and wisdom.

If you’ve ever heard Elizabeth Lesser speak, seen her interviewed or have read any of her books, you know how, real, heart-warming, compassionate and honest she is.  She’s such a gifted writer and storyteller. Talk about total transparency! In her book, Elizabeth asks, “Will we be broken down and defeated, or broken open and transformed?” I don’t know about you, but I’ve always opted for the later. I’m not sure who instilled that in me. Was it my father? Was it my mother? Did I, in an effort to be independent from a controlling Cuban mother? Somehow, in their own way, my parents instilled in me the knowing that I could get through anything I was faced with head on. Thanks, Mama and Honey-Honey – I don’t know how you did it, but it worked! Is there such a thing as being too independent? Let me not even go there….that’s for another blog!!!

We all have choices in this life, and we can either choose to break down and succumb to the poor me/why me/victim mentality, or we can be broken open and forge ahead with strength, grace, faith and gratitude knowing that whatever experience we are going through is for our highest good, and we will come out of it transformed. We can call them lessons and blessings alike for there is, indeed, a silver lining in every single challenge and life event with which we are faced. Furthermore, these life events are also “priming” us for something much greater than we can imagine. Sometimes we are so caught up in what is happening, that we fail to see the big picture or, at the very least, acknowledge there even is a big picture even though we may be unable to see it at the moment. One thing I have learned though, is that these moments are somehow tied to our life purpose,  rich in learning experiences, and the wisdom that comes with it.

When I read Broken Open, I was planning on ending my career in the near future, but this magical universe of ours had a different plan of sorts. If you read my first blog, I mentioned how unfulfilled, underutilized, suffocated, and compromised I felt on the job. I knew I needed to get out of there. My soul desperately needed expansion and air. I am a free spirit and my wings felt like they had been clipped. I desperately needed to fly free! Despite my spiritual practices, yoga, meditation, working out, being out in nature, etc., I was constantly fatigued, exhausted, and sick. My quality of life was taking a hit, as was my personal and social life. All I did was work, work, work and saw less and less of my friends. I couldn’t wait to get home to go to bed. Sometimes, I’d be sleeping by 7PM. More importably though, while I was in tune with my body, I wasn’t listening to it. You know very well what happens when we don’t listen to our bodies, right? It will find a way to get our attention. In the end, if we fail to listen to these signs and messages, we will certainly broken down. That is precisely what happened to me. I went to work one day, suffered an injury that evening and was unable to return to work. I’m sure you can relate and can share your own experiences of being brought down to your knees. The game changer is what we choose to do once this occurs. Do we accept defeat, or are we willing to be transformed? In either case, our mindset will be the determining factor. Will we blossom into something extraordinary or wither away? The key my darlings, is the willingness to change and do things differently.

Even if we love change and accept it freely and willingly, it’s all together a different thing when the quality of our life is affected. It poses a new set of challenges. In my particular case, I found myself being able to do less and less, suffered from chronic pain 24/7 and was forced to establish “new normals” with each passing day. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other in hopes of getting through that particular day. When I looked in the mirror, I was unrecognizable. Stressful situations take a toll on our mental, emotional, spiritual and physical well-being, especially when the joy is seemingly zapped from our life. This is when our limits are tested, and we have ask ourselves, “Will I be defeated or transformed?” No one can do this for us. This is when we dig deeper than we ever have before, down to the very core of our existence. This is when we re-evaluate everything we think we know and have learned only to have to re-adjust our thinking and re-learn all over again. But it’s all good! You know the saying, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” No kidding! In the end though, the outcome is sweeter, more meaningful and rich in lessons and blessings alike. This is when we are able to look back, connect the dots, and have a sense of deep gratitude for the opportunity to start anew.

Personally, my experience and brush with death in 2012 not only made me thankful to be ALIVE, but it gave me a major attitude adjustment. It made me re-group, re-think my quality of life and re-assess my boundaries. It motivated me to re-commit  to living a life of inspiration, love, and service while being totally mindful and present each and every step of the way…..quality life, quality moments and quality love! And part of that quality of life, quality moments and quality love is having the opportunity to share my lessons and blessings with you via my blogging in hopes that you too will find ways to inspire, love, serve even when facing the challenging times in your life. Use these times, your talents, gifts, uniqueness and whatever platform you have each and every day to share your stories and  lead from the heart…right from the start!

When faced with a difficult or challenging life event or loss of some kind, will you  choose to be broken down and defeated, or will you choose the beauty of being broken open and transformed?

Inhale love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

Be Good to You

“To love yourself as you are is  a miracle, and to seek yourself is to have found yourself, for now. And now is all we have, and love is who we are.” Annie Lamott

I love how Annie Lamott  added “for now” in this quote because the art of finding ourself is an on-going process. Just when we think we’ve mastered the art, some other lesson or blessing comes around that makes us dig deep into our souls and and explore this journey of ours called “Life.” Hopefully, we are able to see the miracle of love that our life is and how unconditionally God loves us (if you’re not comfortable using the word God, please substitute it for your higher power/maker). What comes to mind is this: If we are loved so unconditionally, that the universe always has our back, then why do we have such a difficult time loving and accepting ourself? I truly believe we have all been there at some point in our lives, don’t you?

So how do we get to that place of love and acceptance? By “doing the work.” We can call it whatever we like….a process, a spiritual journey, working the work, self discovery, self inquiry, inner investigation, finding ourself or, my favorite, peeling away the layers of the onion. We owe it to our magnificent, miraculous, sacred self to grow and evolve into better versions of ourself. It requires a lot of patience, compassion and understanding of our true essence (which is Love) in order to deal with whatever self-defeating and limiting beliefs, attitudes and unhealthy habits of mind we have chosen to use as our self sabotage weapon of choice. Oh, and let me not forget lots of tears! It’s an on-going process that changes over and over again as we grow and mature during the different phases of our lives. Over time, with grace and much gratitude, we learn to shed layer upon layer and let go of what doesn’t serve us along with the “attachment” to an end state of being. There is no end  because everything changes! What truly matters is that we are committed to honoring, loving and accepting our precious and miraculous life right NOW, and for now.

If you tend to feel guilty, greedy, irresponsible or self-centered when it comes to discovering who you are, be sure to check out what Elizabeth Gilbert says in her September piece for Oprah Magazine. She essentially expands on the following: “You have the right to figure out who you are; A spiritual journey bears no resemblance to a spa vacation (love this one); Doing something for yourself isn’t by definition selfish; Going on a spiritual journey can be a public service.”

So how else can you Be Good to You? Here’s some 1st Aid for the Soul, and you can start right now:

  • Be yourself, truthfully.
  • Accept yourself, gratefully.
  • Value yourself, joyfully.
  • Forgive yourself, completely.
  • Treat yourself, generously.
  • Balance yourself, harmoniously.
  • Bless yourself, abundantly.
  • Trust yourself, confidently.
  • Love yourself, whole heartedly.
  • Empower yourself, immediately.
  • Give yourself, enthusiastically.
  • Express yourself, radiantly.

Please remind yourself that everything is a process and not a perfect! Let these principles marinade inside of you. You may want to use each one as a springboard for journaling or identifying what is keeping you from embracing them. Each one of these “remedies” can be explored as deeply as you are ready, willing and able to do so. Perhaps you work on one a week, one a month or, for you overachievers out there, all at once (you get the picture). Let me just say this….less is more! It’s about quality not quantify. It’s not a competition. It’s about how you choose to show up for yourself and honor the sacred gift of YOU.

I will leave you with a very real, raw and relevant quote and affirmation by Tannaz Chubb from her lovely little book, Messages for the Soul. (Shout out to my Yaya Maria for gifting us Yayas this treasure trove of a book)

“Do you feel the love that you have for yourself radiating through your being? Can you look in the mirror, deep into your eyes and say to yourself – I love you? Today is the perfect day to practice this”

Affirmation:

“I honor my body, mind and soul and treat it with love and respect. Everyday I am finding new ways to Love myself more. I love you.”

 

Love who you are darlings!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

 

If Not Now…When?

Boundaries allow me to take care of myself. Boundaries enable others to take care of themselves. Boundaries create freedom of choice. To give, share, or support need not mean taking care of. I can say no and still give love and support. Boundaries keep me in my divine, right space.” Iyanla Vanzant

Do you find yourself getting irritated, being unforgiving of your slip ups, questioning your self-worth, giving away your personal power, giving too much of yourself to others, not valuing your time, being too self-critical, feeling compromised, and perhaps even feeling fatigued, drained and exhausted? Well, then someone needs to work on setting boundaries! We all need boundaries darlings. As children we needed them, and we need them even more so as adults. Why? It’s quite simple. We need boundaries because we need our mental, emotional and spiritual health in tact.

Today, more than ever, the art of setting boundaries needs to be honored if we want to face each day with grace, hope, inspiration, kindness, understanding and ultimately engage with others in the best way possible. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel like we are on “fast forward” and everyone is just scurrying around. The minutes, hours days, weeks, and months feel like they’re just slipping away and into some black hole somewhere.  Despite all the wonderful self-help tools and resources out there, a great many of us are still giving more and more of ourselves away and doing less and less to honor our Soul’s needs. As a result, our quality of life is deteriorating and will only worsen unless we stop, take stock of the things we know we should be doing to take care of ourself,  look at the areas of our life that are out of balance and are being compromised, identify areas in need of healthier boundaries, and love our Soul enough to finally draw a line in the sand…”If not now, when?”

Back when I was working with establishing boundaries (circa 2005 shortly after I found my yoga practice), I’ll admit it was a little challenging. Not everyone around me, especially loved ones, were very happy. However, it was about my mental, emotional and physical well-being and not about them. I was working on myself and changing; unfortunately, that didn’t sit well with everyone. Sometimes people aren’t comfortable being around someone who is changing and morphing before their very eyes. People can be very set it their ways and would never dream of stepping out of their comfort zone and rocking the boat. And others simply may not be able to understand because they have a different perspective.  However, I will tell you this – I felt better and healthier once I learned to set boundaries and was very clear and committed to what I was willing to do if the line was crossed. My mental, emotional and physical health improved by leaps and bounds!

Our life is a miracle, a precious gift, and we need to honor our own sacredness. Imagine if we all made that a  priority?  Think of it as your moral and spiritual obligation to the miraculous gift of life and love you were given. One of the best ways you can do this is to take care of yourself. If you aren’t already doing so, then I humbly ask you, “What are you waiting for?”  If you answered “yes” to some of the questions I posed at the beginning, I am certain your physical, emotional and spiritual body have been sending you signals and trying to get your attention.  Are you listening? What has to occur to you before you start to shift and make changes? Right now is a great time to just pause, reflect and make a list of the things that are keeping you from taking care of yourself. No excuses, no blaming, no shaming, no judging…..just the facts! Take time to be still and listen to what your body is trying to tell you, feel it, see what shows up, maybe even journal on the thoughts and emotions that arise. It may not be as easy as it sounds for you personally. After all, every one is different. Regardless, be as truthful, authentic and open as you possibly can, and remember to be patient with yourself! Furthermore, ask yourself this: If your life isn’t working, whose responsibility is it?

Next up….loving yourself….. Check back on Friday for more ways to be good to yourself,  inspire, love, serve AND lead from the heart… right from the start.

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

Love

“Love is an action, a choice. Love is not really an emotion” Mastin Kipp

On this love-filled family wedding weekend, I’m taking a short cut and leaving you with this beautiful piece on Love from Mastin’s The Daily Love, which I came across a while back. It is an essay I am certain you will want to read over and over as well as pass on. I dedicate this to Carly and Thomas….enjoy darlings!

To love someone is to choose to show up to be devoted to The Divine through that person. So often in life these days we think that Love is easy or that Love only feels good, but that is not the full extent of what Love is- especially relationship Love. People think that relationship Love must mask your true feelings, it must always be a euphoria of some kind, or that Love must be a trade.

But that is not what Love is.

Love is a constant offering to serve the Heart of the person you are in relationship with. Love is a constant surrendering of your protective ego, so that the Heart can open even more and show you the unknown beauty of its depth. Love transcends language, religion and belief systems. Love is the deepest gift that we could ever be given by someone and the greatest gift we could ever give ourselves.

Love is not a trade. Love is not a power trip. Love is not some grandiose expression of infatuation. Love is a humble and subtle power that guides us to grow into titans of giving. Love asks us to see beyond the fear of our partner and to dive deeper than their egos would want us to and not to leave, even when all that is triggering us wants to run.

Love shows up when fear is present and asks for more… Love is bigger, Love is brighter, Love is more powerful than any other force in the Universe, because at the core of every cell  in the universe, is the deep yearning and desire to Love and be Loved. Love does not march in with pomp and circumstance. Love whispers. Love silently beckons us to get over ourselves so that we can see the beauty that lays within us and in every other sacred soul.

We are not sent to judge, for judgement is just a request for Love. We are sent to Love the parts of ourselves and the world that lacks it. We were sent to be the Love in the seeming void of Love. We, indeed, are the answer. No one is coming for what we had already come.

Our job is to wake up to the Love then be it.

Our job is to Love.

Affirmation

“I am Love…I give love where I see it lacking…My ego is the servant of my heart”

 

 

 

 

Rise and Shine…An Attitude of Gratitude

“Gratitude turns what we have into more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for the future”  Melody Beattie

I don’t remember exactly when I became such a “gratitude junkie.” Perhaps it is something I grew into as I deepened and expanded my spiritual practice and deepened my faith. However, I do recall watching the Oprah Winfrey Show back in the day, and she shared how she started keeping a gratitude journal. Being a self-proclaimed “student of life” and hearing how Oprah’s life was shifting with her gratitude practice I, too, started keeping a gratitude journal. Every day, I wrote 3-5 things for which I was grateful. It was just a matter of time before I started feeling so much lighter and happier! To this day, I have a gratitude journal that I write in almost daily. If I skip a day, then my list of things I’m grateful for is longer that next day. My gratitude practice has evolved greatly since then, and sometimes I use a quote or The Chopra Center’s 21 Days of Inspiration booklet, which is based on Deepak Chopra’s book, The Seven Spiritual Days of Success as a springboard to start writing. One thing I learned long the way, is that our nervous system can NOT be happy and sad at the same time. It’s an impossible feat. Given the choice, don’t you want your nervous system happy and have all those feel-good endorphins running through your body? It’s a natural “high” my darlings!

Aside from my gratitude journal, which I usually write in at the end of the day, I love starting my day with an “attitude of gratitude.” I love this morning ritual. After saying “thank you” as my feet touch the ground, and take care of the bathroom necessities,  I make my bed, brew a cup of Yogi Tea, read the little message on the tag (which may also spark a journal or gratitude journal entry), and hit the floor ready for my “morning practice.” Everything I may need for my morning practice is within reach: prayer books, yoga mat, bolster, essential oils, mala beads, singing bowl, journals, gel pens in all colors, angel cards and books upon books to support my practice. This “discipline” for a lack of a better word, is truly a lifestyle. For me personally, it’s one of my non-negotiables You are probably wondering what are my non-negotionables ….they are yoga, meditation, prayer, sleep, water, nutritious foods and other self care practices (how non-negotiables came to be are for yet another blog). These daily rituals evolved over time, but really took on a new meaning when I went on a yoga retreat, with the lovely Christy Naida, and stayed at Lumeria Maui (educational and adventure retreat oasis). Shout out to my Maui Sisters by the way!!!!

At the time, this was back in 2013, Lumeria Maui had Daily Rituals and Core Values that emphasized “An Attitude of Gratitude.” As I read them, they truly resonated for me and allowed me to visualize how I wanted to live each day of my life. I was so touched by their core values, that I even wrote them in my notebook. Here they are, straight from their website:

  • Reverence –  “We actively honor each day, the land, our ancestors and teachers, one another, the process and ourselves.”
  • Beauty – ” We delight in revealing and protecting the beauty that surrounds and inspires our environment.”
  • Wonder – “Life is dynamic. We remain open to new ways of learning, sharing and being. We look forward to and enjoy imagining the possibilities.”
  • Collaboration- “We are inspired by the potency of what we can create together and seek paths to inspire our collective growth.”
  • Nourishment- “We are committed to providing that which feeds our bodies, souls and minds in a sustainable way.”
  • Presence- “We strive in all actions and interactions to be fully present to the gift of ourself, our friends, and the opportunity to serve with love, compassion and enthusiasm.”
  • “We end each day in ritual to the setting sun.”

What a beautiful practice and manifesto for living, don’t you agree? So, over time, these core values and daily rituals became part of my everyday existence. Can you imagine if we all lived from this place of grace and gratitude??? Just pause for a moment and think how your life, the life of those around you, the life of your family and friends, colleagues, and even strangers would be like if we all subscribed to this way of being. Think of the peace and healing the human spirit would experience and the enduring impact on the healing of this most beautiful planet we share.

Regardless of the problems and losses we all experience, having a formal gratitude practice is life altering. It allows us to experience joy and happiness regardless of the life situation we are experiencing. We become more resilient. As a matter of fact, having a gratitude practice has been instrumental in my healing over the years and helps me to get through any challenging situation I may experience. Along with my Tribe, this practice has gotten me through some of the darkest and most difficult  times of my life. Having an attitude of gratitude allows me to approach each day from my heart center and affords me the ability to inspire, love, serve AND lead from the heart…right from the start. 

If there was one, lasting “quick fix” I would recommend for anything you are going through – whether it be an illness, loss, grief or major life event – it would be to start keeping a gratitude journal. Rise and shine with an attitude of gratitude, and watch the ripple effect it creates around you…..it’s magic!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC