My Guest Blogger

“How I Met My Yaya and Faced My Fears”

 by Shannon “Blondie” Green

Recently, while on a Yoga Retreat with my dearest people in this world, Yaya (as I call her but as you may know as the one and only Jo-Ann Carricarte, the driving force behind this blog) mentioned  that I should guest blog for her, as part of my Yaya mentorship (more to come on that at another time).  As we were discussing the “assignment,” I expressed my concern that I wouldn’t know what to write about. She suggested that I should start at the beginning of my journey.  So that is where this story begins…

Time: March 2013

Place: Lumeria, Maui, HI

Now I will admit that prior to this experience I was the quintessential worrywart and control freak. Reflecting back, I now see that I lived in constant fear. My life consisted of many “what-if” scenarios, and I believed it was normal to worry about things like money, health, cars breaking down, etc.  I set my watch ahead about 10 minutes so I wouldn’t be late, and I always had to wear it. I believed everything had to be planned, and planned, and planned some more. I did not have faith to just let things unfold organically. When things did not go as I planned, I did not handle it gracefully and with ease. I responded very emotionally and often had a difficult time resolving the problem. At this point in my life I was 36, and I knew that these behaviors were not serving me…and I certainly wasn’t happy in my life, but what I didn’t know was what I could do to change things.  Luckily for me, I had an amazing, life long best friend, Christy, who decided she was going to organize a weeklong yoga retreat to Maui. And luckily for me, my best friend from college, Claire, convinced me that we NEEDED to go!

As we began our first class, Christy spoke about being present and living in “Maui Time,” where it didn’t matter what time it was, where life moved a little more slowly, and the idea of being purposeful in what we said, thought and did while we were there. At this point, I did something that I will never regret; I decided to remove my watch for the duration of the retreat.

The second thing that happened was that Christy gave us each a small journal to use while we were there. Each day, she would give us journaling exercises and if we chose to do them or not was left up to us.  I soon became engrossed in writing in my little pink journal. My thoughts and reflections helped me realize that one of the reasons I was sad and struggling in my life was because I was filled with so much fear.

The third thing that happened was I met Yaya.  I honestly don’t remember how the conversation began, but there was some mention of her name “Jo-Ann” but how everyone called her “Mama Yaya”. Somewhere along the way I dropped the “Mama” part, and she just became “Yaya” to me.  Any of you who know Jo-Ann know just how “Yaya” she is. She is this vibrant being filled with love and energy. She is funny and energetic, but serious and very much about living her authentic self.  As the week went on, you would often find her “holding court” at the dining room table after we had finished a meal, sitting at the head of the table while me, Claire, and a few of the other ladies were bombarding her with questions about what books to read, what websites we should check out-  all the while writing down everything little thing she said…the list in my journal includes among them the following books, websites, and authors: Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, The Four Agreements, A Return to Love, The Law of Divine Compensation, Wishes Fulfilled, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life, The Power of Now, A New Earth, Daily Om, Daily Love by Mastin Kipp, Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Hay House Publishing, Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, and even more.

Who was this Yaya person?? How did she know all of this stuff and how could I get some of it??? I knew she held answers, and I wanted to know more. I wanted to know everything. I wanted to find the peace and energy and love she spoke of.  My journal is full of entries that talk about how I wanted to have an open heart and clear mind.  How I wanted to listen to the wisdom of my body, my desire to let go of fear and the things that frighten me. I wanted to make room for miracles and be open to abundance coming into my life.  I journaled about my fears of not becoming a mother, of not finding purpose, of growing old and unfulfilled and my desire to release these fears. I knew I needed to let go of my fears and somewhere during that week I began to learn how.

March 15, 2013:  Journal Entry

“Today I let go of what weighs me down.  I accept that my life is unfolding as it should be. I surrender. I am not afraid of what is not happening. I detach from trying to control that which I cannot control.  I surrender to the will of God and the Universe.  I open my heart to whatever may come into it. I welcome what may come in.  I am not afraid of things that don’t turn out the way I thought.  I will enjoy every moment as it unfolds.”

As I reread these words from my journal the other day, I can honestly say that I don’t know if I wrote them or copied them from someone.  They sound so wise and profound that I believe I likely stole them from someone else- except I didn’t note who said them, which I normally do if I write down a quote I like. Regardless, this was the point at which I surrendered and let go. As I continued to read my old journal, I can see how this day was a turning point where I decided to let fear stop running my life. One thing I know is that the girl who arrived in Maui on March 12, 2013 was not the same girl who left Maui a week later.

The journey hasn’t been easy, and it is still continuing. I won’t lie, it  has been a journey that has taken many years and a lot of work, but it has been wonderful and fulfilling. and I hope to share some of that with you as a guest blogger for Yaya.

So I leave you with the following few questions:

  • Looking back, do you see a turning point in your life where you surrendered and let go of the fears that were holding you back from being your authentic self? 
  • Was there an event that happened that made you realize you wanted to see things differently and live life differently? 
  • Was there a person you met that inspired you to make the change that you had been afraid to make?
  • What tools (journaling, authors, podcasts, etc) have helped you on your journey? 

Oh, and in case you are wondering about that watch, I took of in Maui. It has never been put back on my wrist. ☺

 

Bravo! Thank you, my beautiful Blondie (aka “La Bomba”) for such a beautiful reflection! You took the first step, rose up to the challenge and produced the first of many future blogs to come. I am so proud of how much you have grown, evolved and embraced your magnificence since Maui brought us all together! I am proud of how fabulously you are playing your own version of “Yaya” in your everyday life, both personally and professionally. Thank you for the reflection questions you posed. Thank you for making a difference and making the world a more beautiful place. Thank you for the light you bring to others. Thank you for your love. Lastly, thank you for choosing to inspire, love, serve AND lead from the heart…right from the start! I look forward to reading more!!! Love, Yaya xo

A Revolution

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Annie Dillard

“I doubt that anyone on their deathbed wished they had spent more time at work, on social media or holding grudges or feeling resentful. Your time and your energy are the currency of your life. How do you spend them?” Terri Brown

Greetings darlings!

I came across a brilliant piece on IG the other day that I will share with you at the end of this blog. It really called to me. Just reading and re-reading it is a meditation and a revolution in and of itself. And the quote above, which I saw in my lovely acupuncturist’s office, reminded me of some of the journaling I had done in Costa Rica while on my recent yoga retreat. I also felt it would be a nice counterpart to the piece at the end.

We are living in new times, there’s a sense of awakening and shifting in the collective consciousness that is taking place, and we are all participants in it. Some of us are doing it willingly, and others are having some difficulty with it. Nevertheless, we are all here to take part in the awakening of humanity and the ascension of our most beautiful and precious Earth.

As Marianne Williamson remarked in a podcast I was listening to the other day, “Our life is a platform.” I totally agree with it! We do not have to be a celebrity or a mogul to affect change. We do so in the ordinary way we go about our lives.  Whether it is through our jobs, careers, professions, hobbies or simply the way we conduct ourselves everyday. We are either presenting ourselves with a heart wide open or one that is closed…..closed to all the possibilities, magic and miracles that are always swirling around us and accessible to all… closed to our greatness, light, magnificence and purpose.

Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I was here for a purpose. Like many of us, it took me quite sometime to figure that out. I always loved talking to people, felt like a peace and love junkie and that I was part of something much greater…something I couldn’t name. But once I figured it out, I realized I was put here to inspire, love, serve. It’s how I want to live out my days. My time and energy are indeed the currency of my life, and I intend to use them wisely.

It is my deepest belief that we can all employ this mentality. The precursor to it is to lead from the heart…right from the startWe can’t go wrong with this philosophy because we come from a place of Love in doing so. We come from a place of truth. We come from a place of an innate knowing that we are part of that something which is much greater than all of us. A greatness we need to embrace wholeheartedly, own and act from it. We are amazing light beings in a miraculous symphony called A Revolution.

The cracks in our society, all the injustices and atrocities that are being exposed these days, and the light that is starting to come through as a result, via the modern-day awakened beings and agents of change of all ages, are shifting our perspective and we are seeing that all good is rooted in the principle of Love. We are the activists we have been waiting for. As Michael Kahn writes in is book, Whatever Arises Love That, “We have chosen to incarnate at a time when the entire planet is undergoing the process of awakening to fulfill the prophecies of every awake being who came before us.” 

I had to read and reread that line several times before I read any further. We’ve always had the prophets, the sages, activists and the change makers for centuries. However, we are these modern-day sages and light beings. Wow! Do we have a enormous responsibility, or what? What an honor to be following in the footsteps of all the light beings, sages,  carriers of wisdom and change makers who have paved the way for us.  I find it utterly humbling! When I take the time to sit with this notion, it connects me to the great love and sense of passion and purpose that beats widely in my heart.

And speaking of my heart, I guess that is why I am sharing this beautifully written piece by Julia Myers with you. Wild Woman Sisterhood had posted it and, when I read this precious work of art, it stirred that love, purpose and passion that resides in my heart. I suppose that is how this particular blog came to be.

I invite you to center yourself, allow yourself to land and arrive, and enjoy the read:

“The old threads are unraveling,
Get your needles ready.
We are stitching a new quilt
of humanity.

Bring your old t-shirts,
worn out jeans, scarves,
antique gowns, aprons,
old pockets of plenty
who have held Earth’s treasures,
stones, feathers, leaves,
love notes on paper.

Each stitch
A mindful meditation.
Each piece of material
A story.

The more colour the better,
so call in the tribes.
Threads of browns, whites,
reds, oranges
Women from all nations
start stitching.

Let’s recycle the hate, the abuse,
the fear, the judgment.
Turn it over, wash it clean,
ring it out to dry.
It’s a revolution
of recycled wears.

Threads of greens, blues, purples
Colourful threads
of peace, kindness,
respect, compassion
are being stitched
from one continent to the next
over forests, oceans, mountains.

The work is hard
Your fingers may bleed.
But each cloth stitched together
Brings together a community.
A world, our future world
Under one colourful quilt.
The new quilt of humanity.”

—Julia Myers

Pause….breathe…observe….feel! Remember, your time and energy are the currency of your life. How are you spending them?

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

PS: Please check back on Wednesday for a special guest blogger. It has been my deepest desire to motivate some of the people in my life to try their hand at blogging. You know what you know, and one thing I know for sure is that we all have a story to tell and people to inspire. Sometimes, someone has to nudge, cajole and even push them into seeing it….any idea whom that person may be? Just sayin’…… 

The Simplest Meditation

“For today: Slow down and breathe. Feel your heart beating. Make it simpler. Even simpler than that. Inhabit the space  you are in. If it feels too constrictive let go of things. Clear it out. Give away and offer up the things that clutter your space. You are too precious and life is too short. ” -Christy Naida Linson

I had the good fortune to go to Costa Rica on a wonderful yoga retreat recently. It was actually a present to myself for my upcoming 60th birthday, which is in a few months. The person who led the retreat was my friend and teacher, and the person whose words you just read in the quote above. What a treat it was! As was being in the company of 20 other beautiful souls. Even the staff at Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat were unforgettable. They were like one big happy family and ever so gracious!

Each day either before or after class, we were given a word, a thought or a question to meditate on and journal about. Upon our arrival, and after a long travel day for most, it was the word “allow” then “arrive.” These are two mighty powerful words that can alter our presence, perspective and our practice. As does the phrase, “I have arrived,” which Thich Nhat Hanh is known for speaking about. As a matter of fact, he has a verse that he suggests is wonderful to practice during walking meditation. It’s the first thing that came to mind when Christy lovingly encouraged us to allow ourselves to arrive:

  • I have arrived. I am home.
  • In the here, in the now.
  • I am solid. I am free.
  • In the ultimate I dwell.

We were encouraged to “allow” our thoughts to arise without judging them as right or wrong (which most of us have been programmed to do at some point in our lives). As Thich Nhat Hanh says in his book, Happiness, “When we focus on arriving, we arrive at the destination of life. The present moment is a destination….I have arrived means I have stopped running. I have arrived in the present moment because only the present moment contains life.”

The act of arriving is the simplest meditation we can do. It is one that will immediately place us in the present moment….the here and now.  You may be thinking otherwise but, with time and practice, we can train ourselves to be the observer and simply witness the thoughts in our heads without engaging or giving life to them. There’s a simple beauty in being able to do so. It also pays to be a keen observer of the obstacles that keep us from being present (which was one of the questions we are asked to reflect on as well).

For me, “arriving” is landing in my body and feeling a deep sense of rooting, connection and grounding. Being so totally in the here and now that I soak in the surroundings, sights, sounds and smells- with each breath, and wherever I am…..at home, the beach, the yoga studio, cleaning or even washing dishes or some other mundane task. It’s giving my attention to how my body is feeling from the subtle sensations to whatever thoughts arise. I try not to get caught up in the thoughts, especially if they do not serve my highest good. Rather, I let them float away as if they were in beautiful white clouds. Staying true to my practice, and my nonnegotiables, is all part of my radical self-care maintenance plan, and it is what allows me to feel like I have arrived.

An obstacle that can sometimes keep me from being present, or feeling like I’ve arrived, is when I have a packed day. Honestly speaking though, part of my self-care regimen is making sure that doesn’t happen. Hence, the discernment I employ (or should I say radial discernment) as to how, when, where, why and with whom I expend my energy on. However, there are those days that are beyond our control. The days that “duty calls.”

On those kind of days, I find myself making sure I do a special morning meditation and set my intention(s) for the day. Also, I make sure to stay hydrated and either pack or purchase wholesome foods and snacks that will fuel me. Music is everything to me, so I make sure to listen to music that will keep me calm, peaceful and serene. No hard rock, hip hop, salsa or merengue…..wink, wink! It’s all about setting the tone and priming my Self for the type of day that awaits me. Preparing oneself for a trying and/or long day can be a meditation in itself. Try it and see!

How else can we practice the simplest of meditations? Well, I personally love watching  the waves roll in. Just like our thoughts, waves come crashing in and then seamlessly flow back out. Watching the sunrise or sunset is also magical and so serene. These are wonderful times of the day to express gratitude for another day of having the privilege of being alive. A slow walk in the park or somewhere outdoors provides us with a lovely opportunity to use the “I have arrived phrase.”

One place I make sure I’ve arrived is in the car. Personally though, I do NOT like listening to any sort of meditation-like talk in the car because it really distracts the brain from the primary task of driving. Zoning out is NOT an option behind the wheel! Being present while driving is a task in itself.

Over the course of the last several months, I have found that one of my favorite things to do is to lay on the floor in a supportive, heart-opening pose and just feel my heart beat. Post- Costa Rica, I find myself doing this a whole lot more as I listen to Steve Gold’s song, So Much Magnificence. For some reason, this song has become my anthem for “allowing and arriving,” as well as letting go of any remains of the day that may be weighing me down.  I think it’s because I would listen to it in the afternoons before class, and it was one of the last songs we listened to while in a delicious restorative pose on our last night of practice. Perhaps it’s a subtle way of keeping those memories and feelings alive!?!?

Just about anything we do can be a simple meditation. The idea is to be engaged fully in whatever it is we are doing, and do just that one thing. The practice simply calls for us to tune into our breath. When we make this a daily practice, we catch ourselves during those times in which we are holding our breath – our life force. Believe me, it happens more than we think, and that’s so not good! Regardless of where we are, whom we are with or what is going on in our lives, we can safely land and arrive in our bodies….one breath at a time.

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

 

Flowing with Sensitivity

“Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears.” – Edgar Allan Poe

One of my new favorite magazines is called Breathe. My dearest and oldest friend, Ili, turned me on to it. The issue I recently purchased (well a couple of months ago) was The Well-being Special. This particular edition contains numerous articles for each of the following categories: Wellness, Kindness, Mindfulness and Inspiration. As you can imagine, this magazine is right up my alley!

I can’t begin to tell you how much content this magazine offers. There must be about 10 articles for each of the featured categories. And the visual graphics are extremely soothing. The featured  quotes cannot help but to touch us in some way. Here’s the welcoming one from the Wellness section: “Whether you’re working, resting, or playing, treating yourself like the guest of honor in your own life will lead towards inner peace.” Just how lovely is this quote? It makes me stop, inhale deeply and let it all out with a sigh…And let’s not forget how true it is!!!!

One of the articles that I especially enjoyed was the one on highly sensitive people titled, “Sensitive People; the Untold Story.” We’ve been talking a lot about this topic in one of my yoga classes, so the timing of this article was spot on with where my thoughts have been recently traveling.

You see, I never considered myself to be a “highly” sensitive person as I was growing up. I don’t even think I had that vocabulary or knew how to express some of the things I would feel. As I have gotten older and wiser, I have learned to embrace the fact that I am a sensitive soul (maybe not Highly, but sensitive to some degree). It’s like meeting a new me for the first time. It’s also allowed me to look at other people though a different lens, be more patient, compassionate and better understand them.

Needless to say, highly sensitive people (HSP) are often misunderstood, judged and even poked fun at. As noted in the article, sensitive people “perceive and process the world at a deep level, are often incorrectly labeled shy or deemed overly dramatic and told to calm down. But being fine-tuned to their environment isn’t something they can throw off – it’s part of the nature of the internal system of the Highly Sensitive Person.”

We tend to have a picture in our heads of what a “sensitive” person looks and acts like, but we have learned there is a wide spectrum of highly sensitive people in the world. “The HSP trait manifests on a sliding scale and to varying degrees of extremity.”  Also, the reality is that some of us may know we are highly sensitive, and some of us may still have no idea other than knowing that we feel very deeply to the point of sometimes feeling weighed down or depleted.

 The truth of the matter is that “there are certain people who are predisposed to perceive sensory data more deeply because of the nature of their internal system.” What does this mean? Well, it means that such individuals tend to experience  the world rather differently than the rest of society.

Since I am such a self-care advocate, student of life, and love writing / sharing  ways we can continue to grow, evolve and help ourselves and others, I thought it would be beneficial to summarize and share the tips offered in the article for grounding and setting boundaries. Grounding is an important aspect for all of us to do on a daily basis. It allows us to feel deeply rooted and supported. It is especially necessary for HSP do to because of the nature of their openness and ability to unwillingly take on someone else’s pain or energy which, in turn, leaves them feeling dehydrated, depleted and exhausted. Setting boundaries is equally as important and something we do for ourselves and for others. Here goes:

Grounding:

  1. EAT GROUNDING FOODS such as root vegetables, leafy greens and nuts. These types of foods rebalance and regulate the body and its ability to heal.
  2. ENERGY CLEARING at home, in the workplace and especially after visitors. You can burn/ smudge sage, Palo Santo or even use ready-made clearing sprays infused with essential oils.
  3. GET OUTSIDE IN NATURE walk barefoot in the grass, talk to plants or hug trees.
  4. LET NATURE IN and open doors and windows because it resets the energy to neutral. Have plants in  commonly used spaces, especially near electronics as it purifies and recycles the air.
  5. WATER is known for its healing powers. Take baths using bath salts for added detox, take a swim, wash hands when leaving places, and drink lots of water.
  6. RELAXING BREATH is a useful tool for achieving a relaxed and clear state of mind. Connect with your breath and feel grounded. Controlled breathing techniques help to reset and regulate the nervous system, inducing an increased state of calm.

Setting and Holding Boundaries 

  1. SAYING NO is a critical part for establishing boundaries and for one’s sensitivity to external factors. Be clear about what not to do or where not to go. Comfort comes first.
  2. PROTECTING PHYSICAL SPACE by having a designated place and space that’s just for you. It should be somewhere you can retreat to, to center and ground.
  3. LIMITING TIME WITH SPECIFIC INDIVIDUALS is key. Learn to leave a place or situation when ready. Disconnect and take quiet time to relax.
  4. LIVING IN LINE WITH NATURAL ENERGY whenever possible try to work, socialize, exercise and eat when it best suits you, and wake and sleep naturally. Choose spaces and places with natural light and get outdoors regularly.

Whether you or someone you know is a sensitive soul, there are wonderful resources out there. You can visit hsperson.com or look into some of Dr. Elaine Aron’s work. She is the author of the following books:

  • The Highly Sensitive Person
  •  The Highly Sensitive Child
  • The Highly Sensitive Person in Love
  • The Highly Sensitive Person’s Workbook
  • Psychotherapy and the Highly Sensitive Person

In retrospect, I wish I had known of the existence of these books early on in my life journey. They would have answered a lot of questions for me. It’s taken me a lot of life experience, personal growth and learning about energy to come to a point in life where I am extremely discerning as to where, when, why and with whom I choose to expend my energy. Self-preservation, darlings!

Also, I think these books would have prepared me as I embarked on my teaching  profession. After all, educators and administrators come across highly sensitive children and staff all day long. And all of us, in every profession and calling, come across people whom are highly sensitive. The more we know, and the better we are able to support HSP, the better prepared we are to be in any kind of relationship with such beautiful and deep feeling souls.

I hope to share a few more articles and tips from Breathe magazine in some upcoming blogs. By now, you should know I’m all about the sharing and anything that calls our souls to inspire, love, serve AND lead from the heart…right from the start!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude.

 

Driven to Distraction No More

“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention.”

Do you find yourself constantly distracted? How about constantly “connected” to your electronics? Do you find yourself constantly checking your social media and emails 24/7? Are you fearful of missing out? Is your phone always within reach? Do you sleep with it?  Is your phone on the table when you eat? Do you go to the bathroom with it? Do you shower with it?  Do you find your memory lapsing? Are you unable to have a meaningful, uninterrupted conversation when in the company of friends or loved ones? Do you respond to every single text and phone call regardless of where you are, what you’re doing and with whom? If you find yourself shaking your head yes to these questions, then perhaps it’s time for you to break up with your phone or, at best, dial back your phone use.

Doesn’t it seem increasingly more difficult to obtain someone’s undivided attention these days? In my world, and perhaps in yours too, there’s nothing more distracting, disturbing and disrespectful that being with someone who is in a haze of electronic / phone addiction. An addiction? Yep, that’s exactly what it is. Just think of all the dopamine and oxytocin our brain releases, leaving us wanting more, more, more!

In all honesty, it takes the joy out of an encounter or time supposed to be spent with someone. It turns a would-be meaningful and significant gathering into a meaningless, annoying and perhaps even an empty one. Here’s a powerful visual: If you can imagine trying to converse with someone, and having an intruder constantly tap you on your shoulder, interrupting you incessantly and trying to get your attention…well this is what it’s like being with a person who is addicted to their phone and every alert, notification and various rings. This is what it is like being with a person who has been driven to distraction.

The other thing I find very disturbing and so frightening these days is still seeing people texting while driving, walking, or at a light – oblivious of the potential danger that may be coming their way. Distracted driving is truly an epidemic. Accident statistics for distracted driving and distracted pedestrians have been on the rise over the years, yet we “don’t get it.” What’s not to get? Why do we willingly put our lives, or the lives of our children, grandchildren and loved ones on the line? The audacity…how dare we!!! How about we engage in  conversation with whomever is in the car with us? How about we give our undivided attention to driving in the first place and being accountable for the lives for which we are responsible?

If we want to own the privilege of being alive, truly blossom into our “humanness” and capture moments, we desperately need to pay attention. We need to be present. We need more face to face contact. Interacting with others, looking into each other’s eyes, listening deeply, reading each other’s body language, and connecting on deeper levels cannot, and must not, become a lost art!

How disturbing is it to see the lack of face to face contact among family members and even couples out in public? I swear sometimes I feel like we are going to start seeing a generation who will be selectively mute. Can we all agree there is definitely a difference in our intellectual and social skills when we are present and face to face with someone vs. when we rely on electronic forms of communications (which is often mis-communication)? I’d like to think so!

Our mental health and physical safety are really on the line these days. If we know the pitfalls of being driven to distraction, why is it so difficult to attain a healthy relationship with our electronics?

Here are a few tips for doing just that:

  • Notice what the first thing you do is upon opening your eyes in the morning 
  • Start your morning in gratitude, meditation or prayer 
  • Do not bring your phone into the bathroom other than perhaps to listen to music 
  • Refrain from answering the phone when you’re in the shower or on the toilet 
  • Pay more attention to when and how often you scroll through social media and check emails
  • Just for one day, take note of every time you scroll through social media and  length of time you were consumed in that task…physically write it down add up the time (guaranteed you will be blown away)
  • Try it for a week (you’ll be shocked)
  • Designate specific times of the day to check in 
  • Look up more often – especially when someone is talking 
  • Take notice of your posture whenever you’re engaged with your electronics
  • Set a timer throughout the day where you just stop and breathe (and if at work, walk away from your computer)
  • Challenge yourself to waiting 10-15 minutes before checking your phone each time you have the urge to look at it 
  • Disable unnecessary alerts and reduce notifications (news, pop-ups, posts, emails, etc)
  • Unsubscribe to unecessary emails
  • Put your phone on airplane mode when in a meeting, having meals, at the movies, in class or spending quality / intimate time with friends, family and lovers
  • Shut off your phone more often for an extended time – an hour or two or perhaps longer 
  • Place your phone in a drawer, another room or out of sight when you are reading, writing, meditating, having sex, etc. (out of sight-out of mind)
  • Put your phone on Do Not Disturb while driving and encourage your children to do the same (key here is to lead by example)
  • Keep your phone in your pocket or bag when walking anywhere and be aware of your surroundings
  • Look people in the eyes and smile more – acknowledge their presence
  • Give yourself a curfew, unplug a couple of hours before going to bed and, as Arianna Huffington encourages in her book, Thrive, “Politely escort your electronics out of your bedroom”
  • Take a digital detox and spend valuable time doing the things you say you never have time to do 

The idea here is to set some healthy boundaries for ourselves. In doing so, we remove unnecessary distractions, alter our brain chemistry and feel more relaxed and at ease. When we take the time to assess how we are utilizing our time for needless activities, we come to appreciate how precious time really is. We start looking up more,  we come to realize that all we have is time, and what we choose to do with it is the game changer. As Wayne Dyer was known for saying, “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.” 

And on this note, have you ever seen the YouTube video, Look Up, by Gary Turk? The official video is about three years old, and it’s billed as a “spoken word film for an online generation.” How about the one by Max Stossel called This Panda is Dancing – Time Well Spent? It speaks to the “architects of the digital world” and is pretty cool and so on point. Check it out, check it out, check it out!!!

It is my sincere  hope that you take away from Driven to Distraction No More whatever it is you needed. As always, feel free to share and pass on! Oh, and remember to find ways to inspire, love, serve AND lead from the heart…right from the start!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

 

The Art of Disconnecting to Reconnect

“In a world full of doing, doing doing, it is important to take some time to just breathe and be.”

Have you mastered the art of disconnecting? Have you noticed the alignment to Source and the creativity that’s unleashed when you take the time to do so?  Do you make it a habit of regularly and intentionally taking the time to disconnect? Do you find yourself more patient and at ease when you disconnect? If so, you’re ahead of the game.

We can all use time to hit “Pause” and relax, refresh, recharge, regroup, recalibrate and even rejoice. Not only can we all use the time, but it is imperative that we make the time to do so. In my humble opinion, taking the time to disconnect is one of the best self-care gifts we can give ourselves. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again….having self-care practices is not selfish. It’s actually self-preservation!

We live in sensory overload times. Don’t you sometimes feel like a pin-ball machine with things and people coming at you from all directions? With distractions of all kinds? How about all the social media feeds than can consume hours on end? For some people, it consumes a great part of their day; yet, these are the same people who claim they have “no time” and are “too busy.” I’d like to ban those two phrases, but that’s for another blog…wink, wink!

Taking the time to disconnect rewards our minds, bodies and souls with precious gifts. Let’s start with the gifts of being, breath, presence, and awareness. Then there’s the silence, tranquility, focus, discernment, grounding, connection, creativity, openness, patience, grace, alignment, and truth…..just to name a few. Disconnecting for brief periods frees us up to actually use all our senses. It’s like seeing, breathing, listening, feeling, smelling and touching things in new ways. We are gifted with opportunities to uncover layers upon layers of distractions in need of peeling away. These opportunities allow us to shed whatever it is that is heavy and weighing us down. No doubt about it!

Nothing or no one can provide this experience of the senses for us other than ourselves. Taking time for ourselves is something we can do at home. We do not have to travel across the world, go to a spa, ashram, or spend a ton of money on. Disconnecting is something we can do from the comfort of our own private sanctuary. It just requires a willingness and desire to do so. In today’s fast-paced times, we can all stand to reap the benefits of jumping off the carousel or removing ourselves from the perpetual hamster wheel, and BE STILL.

When we give ourselves permission to disconnect and practice be-ing, we emerge a totally different person. We are less burdened, there’s an air of lightness in us, and we are better equipped to show up for ourselves and for the people in our lives:

  • We learn to be more mindful of our actions and reactions.
  • We get to see and examine our shortcomings and look though a different lens.
  • We can better identify our needs, desire and wants.
  • We know what it takes for us to be our best Self and are no longer willing to compromise anything less.
  • We learn to schedule our priorities and keep our non-negotiables close to the vest.
  • We learn to guard and protect our energy like the peaceful warriors / goddesses that we are. And guess what?
  • We learn not to care about what others have to say about our self-care practices and our mastery of the art of disconnecting. Because, when we do re-connect, we can bet it will be at another level of awareness and awakening. It’s a beautiful thing!

Think about this for a moment…..all electronic equipment needs charging in order for it to work. Well, human beings are no different….surprise, surprise!?!?!?! Just sayin’ my darlings!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

Inspired by the Sea

“Live with intention and create your own legacy. Live it, go for it and stay dedicated to following your truth. You have much to offer.” –JTC

Since the beach is such an inspiring place for me, and since my last two blogs – Beach Baby and Beach Bum Bliss –  were inspired by time spent at the beach, I decided to pull out some of the pieces I’ve written there. Actually, most of  the pieces have been written on “The Hollywood Riviera” (as my cousins and I have taken to calling Hollywood Beach in Florida). Just so you know darlings, I’ve never shared this side of my writing with anyone. So, perhaps it’s time I do just that. May it touch you in some way, shape or form! Here goes:

A New Dawn

Lonesome Star. Brilliant Moon. Waves Crashing. Swirling Colors of Yellow, Blue, Orange and Pink. Seagulls Hovering. Cruise Ships Entering. Wind Sweeping. Palms Swaying. Light Approaching. (November 2007)

Visions

Visions of white sand, turquoise waters, luscious plant life in all shades of green. Visions of early mornings, sacred spaces, holistic rituals and a calm center. Visions of practicing gratitude, compassion, loving kindness and helping the less fortunate. Visions of peace, a global community, uniting hands, minds, bodies and spirits for the good of humanity. Visions of abundance and wealth, giving and receiving. Visions of a beautiful circle called Life. (May 2008)

Post Hurricane Frankie

Stillness…in the air, in the water, in my heart. Quietness… all around me, inside me, within me. Stillness & Quietness. (August 2008)

6AM Quiet Darkness

Full Moon Shining. Stars Illuminating. Heavens Protecting. Life All Around Me. Air. Water. Birds. Trees. Nature. Nocturnal Creatures. Light. People. Breath. Music. Rejoice!!! (Easter Morning 2009)

One

One Soul. One Heart. One Mind. One Body. One Look. One Touch. One Caress. One Kiss. One Today. One Tomorrow. One Forever. One Eternally. One You. One Me. One Us. One. (April 2009)

Twilight

Darkness all around me. Raindrops falling on my dewy skin. The fresh scent of rain permeates my inner being. Rough waves crash & collide and become one on the shoreline. The breeze blows and the palms sway. Twilight is turning into dawn.

A light is on the horizon waiting to start the day. Dawn is soon approaching. Light, a hint of pink, a clearing, clouds hovering up above. The sun is creeping up, an orange ball of flame. Up, up and away obscured by dark clouds. Yet, its rays shine down between the clearing. A new day has graced us. (August 2009)

 

It’s amazing how memories are stored in our bodies and on a cellular level! As I typed each piece, I was transported to the exact time and place where I wrote each one. Memories flooded my mind and sensations crept through my body. Memories of hope, love, peace, humanity and the intention to live a life of purpose and meaning, as well as leave behind a legacy of love, peace, service and unity. All this still lives wildly in my heart, and I gratefully approach each new day with a sense of steadfastness, integrity, intention and grace. It is a practice, both on and off the yoga mat, as I move through my days.

How do you move throughout your days? Do you set intentions? What legacy are you creating? Remember darlings, we all have much to offer. Now go out and find ways to inspire, love, serve AND lead from the heart…right from the start!

Inhale Light & Love…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

PS: Throughout the remainder of April, my blogs will be published on Sundays only. I will be going on a yoga retreat next week and need time to prepare then time decompress as I renter….wink, wink!

Beach Bum Bliss

“Like seashells, we are beautiful and unique each with a story to tell.”

Sea shells, turquoise and sea-foam green waters, bronzed and glowing skin, sun bleached hair, freckles and the scent of Bain De Soleil Orange Gelee SPF, layered on top Coconut oil and Australian Gold SPF with instant bronzer… Ahhhh! A serene ocean setting and layering tricks for that perfect tan…. hey, layering products is the key to achieving that bronzed goddess look! Just make sure you slather all that on BEFORE heading out in the sun and BEFORE putting on a bathing suit. Throw in a good trashy beach novel and voila….total bliss!

Why is it that everything, EVERY thing, EVERY accessory, and EVERY piece of clothing looks better when we have that sun-kissed look? If you are a beach bum, like yours truly, then you know exactly what I am talking about. However, even a Beach Bum should know when to curtail the sun bathing, right? Operative word here, “should.”

Can you believe I actually had an appointment with the dermatologist on the heels of having been away for over three weeks? What was I thinking?!?!?!? As I sat in the waiting room, I realized it was NOT the ideal time to be seen by a dermatologist. Ooops! We had a good laugh though because she shared how, on occasion, her mom tells her how pale she looks, and asks her if she’s feeling OK. Case in point!

I truly admire how healthy, pale, ivory skin looks on some women. On me? I just can’t seem to do it for very long. Now having said that, like many of my fellow sun worshipers out there, I am paying the price for a lifetime of sun worshiping…wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and sun spots. Ughhh! As a matter of fact, whenever I see young girls with beautiful milky skin today, I urge them to stay out of the sun!!!! Now THAT is something I would have NEVER thought that I would EVER succumb to saying. Ah, the wisdom of the ages!

Years ago, I even tried staying out of the sun for a bit. This Beach Baby even sported long sleeves and long pants at the beach! My cousins thought I had lost my mind. For a while, I embraced that “pale” look.  I “learned” to embrace it, used exceptional facial creams and maintained a wonderful skin care regimen and was actually “OK” with it. Until…….I bought my Florida Sanctuary. Oh dear! I call it my “falling off the reformed, sun worshiper wagon”…..done and done!

These days, I no longer put in 10 hour days in the sun like I used to back in the day; however, I do allow myself to enjoy whatever time I have in the sun! Even if it’s for two hours, I bask in it while reading a fascinating novel and sporting a cute bathing suit, sun hat, sandals, beach cover up and perhaps even sipping a little bubbly on occasion (or a poolside cocktail). AND… lots and lots of water. Water is my all time favorite! You can also find me writing poetry and journaling while I am at the beach. That’s when I feel the most creative and inspired.

There’s some sort of magic that occurs when I’m at the beach, swimming at the pool or just working on my tan. Walking alongside the beach, or even riding a bike there, is blissful. It’s like a meditation in action. Just as I can read or write, swim or walk, I can just as well be silent and in tune to the sights, sounds and stillness around me. And lets not forget the people watching and occasional parade of lifeguards doing their morning routines…..hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little eye candy now and then!

If I could, I would swim every day! It soothing to feel that connection of oneness with the water. It’s mesmerizing! Right stroke, left stroke, right stroke-head tilt and breathe…left stroke, right stroke, left stroke-head tilt and breathe….when I fall into that rhythm, I just glide. I feel like a fish, a manatee, even a mermaid! Hmmmm!

Speaking of mermaids, I saw  a lovely quote by Anais Nin that made me stop, chuckle and ponder: “I must be a mermaid. I have no fear of depth & a great fear of shallow living.”

Can you relate? Time spent in contemplation and delving deep within is never wasted. Neither is honest, soulful and meaningful conversation. What matters is finding that place and time for doing so. Whether it is at the beach, in your yard, in the shower or in the comfort of your own designated sacred space, the important thing to remember is that we are all unique and have our own stories to tell. Sometimes they are funny and light, other times they are deep and dark. Regardless, we can all embrace our uniqueness and the stories that arise when we are transported to our magical, blissful, happy place.

Do you have any stories you would like to tell? If so, get them out there! You never know who may be influenced, impacted and inspired by what you have to share.

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

Beach Baby

“Dear Ocean, thank you for making us feel tiny, humble, inspired and salty…all at once”

What is it about the cool waves, warm sunshine, hot sand, lovely seagulls, swaying palm trees, the feel of a soft breeze or, even sitting poolside early morning, that captivates me, enchants me, grounds me and allows me to inhale and exhale ever so deeply? Personally, there’s nothing like being at the beach, in the ocean and soaking up some sun to re-calibrate me, my senses, thoughts, feelings, energy, humility and spirit.

Well. I guess my childhood and upbringing was a huge influence. You see, I come from a family of “beach bums” as I like to say. My northeast family were the beach lovers. We were the ones that schlepped to Florida every year, rented houses on the Jersey Shore and eventually some of us owned second homes in the sunny state.

On the other hand, my southeast family avoided the sun like the plague! And this was long before sun block, UVA/UVB rays, long sleeve shirts, beach hats, and protective beach attire of all kinds….before all the warnings of sun damage and skin cancer… before the warnings to stay out of the sun between the hours of 12-2. Seriously? They wouldn’t be caught dead outside soaking up some rays! Needless to say, my aunts and cousins living in Florida rarely went to the beach and some never even used their pools. I guess they thought it made for a pretty decoration! Hence, the ivory, non-wrinkled, smooth and beautiful skin they sported well into their 80+ years young.

Oh well! I didn’t fall into that category! The only thing as while as Ivory Snow on my body are the areas beneath what the smallest of bathing suits covered over the years. For some reason, I’ve always detested tan lines. Perhaps it was all those baby pictures of me!?!?!?!

Throughout my childhood, my parents would schlep to Bear Mountain State Park, various lakes, down the shore and even to Miami Beach on a regular basis. I recall pictures of me up at Bear Mountain, in a wooden play pen and every other necessary item for an outing. There are pictures of me in ruffled panties, a bandana and sans a bathing suit top. I’d be playing in the sand, on a seesaw, or just parading around….without a top! Hmmmm…funny how some habits from when you’re 3-5 years old leave a lasting impression! Suffice to say, my parents succeeded in raising and training a full-fledged Beach Baby.

All kidding aside though, I really feel the magnitude of the universe when I am  by the beach. I feel like a tiny speck of sand on the planet. It is this feeling that humbles me and makes me see that we are all little grains of sand, side by side, and how we are all more alike than different. It gets me thinking about the intelligent force of creative energy out there in the cosmos. I can also be in the ocean for hours!  Being in the healing, salt water purifies me, and I feel connected to an entire underwater world and the beauty that resides there. I have a FB friend who does a lot of diving, including night diving, and she  posts the most majestic, colorful and enthralling underwater pictures. It makes me want to live in the underwater world!

Obviously, this Beach Baby feels at home when at the beach. And nothing depicts this captivating, enchanting, purifying and grounding feeling more than one of Doreen VIrtues’ Angel Cards:

The Ocean

‘The deep blue sea speaks to your soul, healing and soothing you. Even the act of imagining yourself dipping into its healing womb brings about desirable effects. better yet, spend time physically near the ocean. Allow its power and beauty to wash away away cares and concerns.”

Is there a special place that speaks to your soul, heals and soothes you?

Next up, a little Beach Bum Bliss and more confessions from the Beach Baby…wink, wink.

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

Your Creative Power

“Life is a work of art and we are its artists.” –Sandra Magsamen

I love Sandra Magsamen! A friend of mine turned me on to her art years ago. You’ve probably seen her plaques, mugs, books, cards, ceramics, and calendars bearing her signature images, motifs and messages from the heart. They are colorful, uplifting and make you smile. Just the other day, I pulled her book, Living Artfully, off the shelf. I haven’t looked at it in about ten years or so, and I think it’s about time to start perusing it again.

Her book reminds us that we are indeed the artists in our lives. The problem is that many of us have let our paints dry, we’ve put away our brushes, forgotten our dreams,  have let 24/7 electronic connectedness consume us and have forgotten how creative we were as children. We have forgotten the power of our imagination and the possibilities that dwell in our creative force field. It’s time we reclaim the dreams, possibilities and rediscover our creative power. Why? Because it’s fun, and I’m sure you will agree that we need to have more fun!

We all have creativity inside of us. It lives in our hearts and minds every single moment of every single day. When we were children, we lived in this field of creative energy. I invite you to take a moment to ponder these questions:

  • What did I love to do when I was a child?
  • How did I fill my days?
  • What mattered?
  • Who and what made me happy?
  • What are my most cherished memories?
  • What things and activities did I truly treasure?
  • What things did I really not like? 

Let your imagination run wild here as memories flood your mind. Allow all your senses to engage you. Visualize every last detail of those memories – the sights and the sounds. Connect with the feelings that these memories evoke. Think about the hours you spent playing, imagining and creating all sorts of things.

Even people who’ve had less than pleasurable childhoods used their imagination to create a life they would want to have someday. And guess what? Many of them did. They held onto hope and tapped into their dreams, strength and became resilient. Along the way, they learned the power of creativity, visualization and the law of attraction. At some point in all our lives, we must take the time rediscover our creative power. In doing so, we come alive…..in living color! Oh, and we must ask questions, a whole lot of them!

In Living Artfully, there’s mention of a UCLA study that documented the following: on average, at age five we engage in creative tasks 98 times a day, laugh 113 times a day and ask 65 questions. By age forty-four, the numbers fade to 2 creative tasks a day, 11 laughs and 6 questions. Keep in mind, this book was published in 2006. Also, I don’t know when that study was done, but I would be willing to say that in today’s world, where children as young as one and a half are already addicted to their parents phones and even have their own iPads, the numbers have really dwindled.

And on this note, please allow me to digress a moment. Sadly, a child’s creativity is already being squashed by overuse of these technologies. I believe there should be a designated place and time for technology use. Brain development is being affected and social skills impaired since technology makes it difficult for a child to pick up on social cues. Overuse of technology is keeping children from developing the ability to think critically or be creative. Oh, and the lack of exercise and physical play is causing us to see obesity in children on the rise. And let’s not forget about posture. Let’s face it, children will model what they see the adults in their lives doing! Hmmmmmm

All the more reason we must foster an environment of creativity, fun and play. And what better way to do it than to meet that head on, full throttle, and in hot pursuit! It starts with us adults learning how to be a child again and awakening our senses and lust for play, imagination, curiosity and invention…..each and every day. In doing so, we gain confidence, and it does wonders for our self-esteem! Tapping into our creativity encourages us to color outside the lines and to take risks. We become more flexible and open. We embrace mistakes and find creative solutions. More importantly though, we are able to live more fully as we actively engage all our senses and savor the beauty, magic and possibilities around us. Just think how inspiring this could be to the little ones in our lives!

How can we tap into our inner child, and our creative, artist Self? If you are at a loss, or need a place to start, here are a few ways to do so:

  1. Give yourself permission to be you
  2. Have fun and have a sense of humor
  3. Get curious and ask lots of questions
  4. Learn to meditate 
  5. Invite creativity to be part of your everyday routines and activities
  6. Play loud music and dance freely 
  7. Think of yourself as a creative person and you will become one
  8. Act as if everything you do is a creative expression of who you are
  9. Be innovative, recycle and reuse
  10. Look at things from a different perspective
  11. Get yourself an adult coloring book or download ready-made images for coloring
  12. Take dance classes
  13. Get together with friends and paint, make pottery or play games
  14. Go bowling, ride a bike, pick up a new hobby
  15. Play tourist in your own town
  16. Learn about crystals / maybe learn to make jewelry
  17. Learn how to knit / crochet / sew / play an instrument 
  18. Read the book Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
  19. Watch travel films / home renovation shows
  20. Redecorate by simply moving furniture around
  21. Experiment with color anywhere and everywhere
  22. Make “play dates” with friends, play dress up and do things that bring you joy
  23. Experiment with new recipes and different cuisines
  24. Start / join a book club…or any type of club
  25. Smile and laugh more and see what happens

Darlings, I hope this blog joyfully inspired you and that you discover more ways to live a life that vibrates with creativity and inspiration. Now go out and tap into your creative power and create away!

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC