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

 

 

The Unexpected Shift

“Perfection is an Illusion”

Sometimes inspiration comes from the most unlikely source and arrives in the midst of chaos. Can you relate? It was circa 1998-99, I had just turned 40, my father was dying and my mother was having a breakdown. Caregiving was taking its toll on me, and I experienced my first and only panic attack. Where was my breath? I knew how to breathe….after all, I was a gym rat at the time, cardio queen, spin master, and had run many races leading up to the NYC Marathon. You could say I knew a thing or two about breathing. Nevertheless, it was extremely alarming as I fought to understand what was happening to me. Shortly thereafter, my then husband, Jorgie (such a beautiful, thoughtful and caring soul), decided to “take me away” for the weekend.

I recall going over the Tappan Zee Bridge and being able to see the tower belonging to the Castle Hotel in Tarrytown, NY. It was so beautiful! We were shown to our room which, by the way, resembled an Upper West Side NYC apartment….we could actually see the Hudson River from our windows. Needless today, the room was beautifully appointed and topped off with not one, but two, four poster beds complete with spectacular bedding, linens,  and luxurious treats of all kinds. Aside from a few mishaps such as leaving incense burning in the room, setting the fire alarm off, and our waiter accidentally giving me a “regular” cappuccino (instead of decaf) which kept me totally sleep deprived and awake most of the night, we had a lovely stay. Oh well…stuff happens…So much for much-needed R&R!

At some point upon our return home, I guess my brother and I were having a conversation where I must have mentioned my panic attack. In typical Jules fashion, he proceeded to ramble on an on about mental illness statistics and how my “quest for perfection” was MY mental illness, and there is NO SUCH THING AS PERFECTION! You know how you turn on a light switch? Well, I immediately felt the flip of a switch in my head. It was an epiphany! Who would have thought that “Bro” would have been the catalyst for the shift I was about to embark on !?!?!?!?!

I had gone to therapy on and off over the course of a few years to work on certain things, and I remember the analogy the therapist gave me that has stuck in my mind since then. It’s one I often find myself sharing with others who are at crossroads in their lives. Imagine you are on a boat with a toxic person, and the boat is sinking right along with this person. Are you sinking with them? Or, are you jumping ship? I don’t know about you, I am certainly not going down with a sinking ship. This act, like all self-care acts, is called self-preservation! The heavy weight on that boat can be a person, belief, attitude, situation, or circumstance. My quest for perfection was drowning me, and some of the toxic people around me were keeping me from coming up for air. I quickly started shifting and learning the art of letting go!

Letting go is freeing! Letting go of the need to be perfect, to control, or anything associated with the notion of perfection is liberating. Letting go of anything, or anyone, no longer serving us is the best gift and the highest form of self-love  and self-care we can give ourselves!

I’m sure you all have a story of someone who shifted your perspective, how it impacted and shaped your life, and how it may have saved you from further pain and suffering that you were causing your Self……and we do know a thing or two about the subject of pain and suffering. All the great masters will tell you, pain is an inherent part of life, but suffering is optional! I am forever grateful for that lesson my brother taught me for it allowed me to shift, let go and live life more fully and at ease. I said good-bye to the A- Type characteristics and my OCD tendencies that, unbeknownst to me at the time, were causing me so much suffering. Wow!….Talk about life-altering!

We now know how dis-ease in the body manifests into full blown diseases (I did not know this at the time). Just pick up the timeless treasures and international best sellers Louise Hay wrote, Heal Your Body and/or You Can Heal Your LifePeruse a catalog from Omega or Kripalu, or anything from a mind, body spirit wellness organization and see all the different healing modalities being used to treat all these dis-eases and diseases in the body. Look at all the books on the topic of health, well-being and mind, body and soul connection. There’s so much research out there on the mind/body connection and how our bodies intuitively know how to heal. I also like Dr. Joe Dispenza’s book, You are the Placebo –  Making Your Mind Matter. The point is that our thoughts, emotions, perceptions, actions and beliefs impact our well-being. Our thoughts and emotions can, and do, affect our body and well-being both positively and negatively. The choice is ours. Hopefully, by now we have mastered lessons on conscious choice making, self defeating beliefs and other habits of mind that either support us or get us sick. One thing I learned for sure is it all starts with being more loving. kind and compassionate with ourself.

Darling, is there something that’s causing you suffering: a behavior, habit, belief, emotion or attitude that is weighing you down and no longer serving you, impacting the people / relationships around you, or getting you physically sick? Is there an area of your life you would like to experience more balance? As with many things in life, the art of letting go is a practice, so be patient with yourself should you want to give it a much needed try. The “unexpected shift” you will undergo will be like being in that sinking boat and having a life preserver thrown your way!

You are the artist, now go out and create a new masterpiece. Remember, we are always a work in progress. Embrace the shift, and watch others also want to Inspire, love, serve AND lead from the heart right from the start! 

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

Bye Bye Fear…Hello Faith & Love

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was greater than the risk it took to bloom”  Anais Nin

Oh darlings…..the “F” word…Fear! Volumes upon volumes have been written on the subject, yet we sometimes allow fear to hijack our minds and kidnap our souls. Yet, in the end, it’s actually quite simple. As Michael Singer asks in his book The Untethered Soul, “Do you want to be happy?” Your answer will be either yes or no. Hopefully, it’s a resounding YES……no “ifs, ands, buts” allowed….don’t “qualify” that yes or attach “conditions” to it. Make no mistake about it, fear will paralyze you….and do I have a first hand experience for you, but that’s yet for another post.

So what happens when we allow fear to take over our thoughts, when we ignore our gut feeling (our internal GPS), operate from a place of fear and/or allow fear to be our default setting? Well, you can answer that for yourself. Just pause for a moment and reflect on a time you made a decision based on fear, took a certain action because you feared what would happen, ignored the “feeling” you had that was guiding you to do otherwise, or just feared the thought of allowing yourself to do something differently. My guess is that nothing good came of it, am I right?  After all, nothing good ever happens when we act from a place of fear! It’s truly simple….we either have faith or fear. We either operate from a place of love or fear. When we operate from a place of fear, we are forgetting our connection to the divine, our oneness with that power that is greater than us and we are actually creating a whole lot of suffering in our lives simply by being sucked into the “stories” we are telling ourselves.

Do you want to “live” a juicy, joyful, rich, peaceful, meaningful and fulfilled life or “fear” life altogether? Do you want to continue to suffer or do you want freedom? Well, the first step is to get out of your comfort zone….aka the “prison” you have created for your Self. To be fearless, fierce in your conviction and faith is knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that you are Divinely guided, guarded, directed and protected. This is why it’s so important to take the time to be still, listen and connect. Meditate, breathe, practice yoga, let the uncomfortable feelings to come to the surface, get the blocked energies that do not serve you out of your system, release them and let them go. Continue being “the witness” to your thoughts, and let them go. Letting go is an art and a practice in of itself. And just when we let go, more “stuff” in need of letting go shows up. Yup! There are layers upon layers of things in need of letting go before we come to that place where we can breathe a sigh of relief and feel liberated. The key is to have an open mind, be willing to stay in that flow of connection, and creating that space and those rituals that will allow you to delve into the sensations, feelings and emotions that arise. It’s like a purification process. It’s growth, transformation and evolvement at its best. It allows you to soar and fly free!

What’s the flip side? I am willing to guess you know the answer to that as well…..more inner turmoil, tension, anxiety, blocked energy channels, dis-ease in the body, the body breaking down….just to name a few. If we operate from our heart center, the knowingness that we are love and that the universe is always conspiring in our best interest, we will be better equipped to inspire, loveserve AND lead from the heart…right from the start. There is no other way! The heart will soften as opposed to feeling rigid, it will feel expansive rather than closed off and we will feel confident, deeply rooted in our faith and unafraid. We will be grounded, centered, peaceful, calm, serene and feel a sense of expanded awareness. More importantly, we will feel divinely guided, guarded, directed and protected. Why? Because the choices we make will be from our higher Self and be more evolutionary.

So, are you saying bye bye to fear and hello to faith & love? Remember what the late, great Maya Angelou used to say, “When you know better, you do better.” Enough said!

I leave you with this short prayer from the Live Your Yoga Conference at Omega that I came across while perusing through one of my notebooks:

“May we be protected together. May we be nourished together. May we create strength among one another. May our study be filled with light. May we not oppose each other. Om, peace, peace, peace” 

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

Be Still…Connect & Listen

“The degree to which you do not believe you have time to spend ten minutes sitting quietly, is the degree to which you desperately need to spend ten minutes sitting quietly. If we did nothing else in our spiritual practice but reduce our accelerated pace, the world would be transformed overnight” Donna Farhi

I walked into my acupuncture appointment last week at Stillpoint Acupuncture & Yoga in Denville, NJ, and the lovely Terri had this quote posted in her waiting room. I knew the quote was one I wanted to use for the post you are about to read. Donna Farhi,  brilliant author, international yoga teacher and retreat leader, could not have expressed this sentiment more eloquently. By the way, her book, Bringing Yoga to Life… The Everyday Practice of Enlightened Living is truly a manifesto for living whether or not you are a yoga practitioner.  If you want to bring your “life to life,” then this is a book for you! It is so chock full of wisdom and depth….This book was given to me as a gift and, in turn, I too have given several as gifts. It’s just one of those books you return to again and again for just about every paragraph is a revelation (thanks, Peem, for this observation, or I could have highlighted the entire book).

So, back to the topic of being still, connecting and listening….call it meditation, prayer, contemplation, reflection – or whatever suits your fancy. The point is that allowing ourself to sit in stillness, preferably in the quiet of the early morning,  can and will eventually set the tone for our outlook, attitudes and interactions with people throughout our day. It allows us to connect with our breath (our life force, prana, chi) ease into our morning, and bring clarity to our thoughts and emotions. Let’s be perfectly clear here, our minds will never be empty of thoughts, but we can step into “witness mode” and just acknowledge those thoughts without becoming them and getting all wound up in the stories our reptilian brain is spinning for us. Instead, we can lovingly bring our attention and focus back to our breath.

The practice of being still allows us to connect and align ourselves to our “higher power” the Divine force in the Universe. The more we do this, the more we are able to have a 360 view, like older dragonflies are said to have. The art of being still, listening, connecting and aligning are, like other mindfulness practices, a conscious choice we make. This quiet time we create, allows us to pray, ask for guidance, talk  to God (or whomever your higher power is) and listen to the voice and messages that show up. There is truth in the saying that “stillness speaks“…let the feelings and that wave of peace and calm wash over you! Listen to what your heart is telling you or guiding you to do. In doing so, it allows you to feel deeply rooted and grounded and gives you the confidence, ease and grace to approach the start of a new day like the precious gift it is.

I like to start my day, even before getting out of bed in the morning, by listening to Snatam Kaur’s song, On This Day. It’s actually a birthday song, and it’s significance, the words, and her soothing angelic voice remind me of the fact that I have been given life on this day yet again. I open each day as the gift that it is, and I want to live it to the fullest, use my time wisely, and serve accordingly. For me, this is truly a meaningful, significant, remarkable, powerful and inspirational way to embrace the new day ahead. One of my  beloved yoga teachers, Angela, played this for me at the end of class on my birthday last year. It’s coming up to just about a year of listening to this song every day. And, if you know me, you know I like to share…in turn, I’ve sent it on to some friends on their birthdays. Talk about exponential influence! I’m a firm believer in sharing the love. After listening to the song, I say out loud, “Thank you” as my feet are beginning to touch the ground. I enjoy my early morning quiet time. Oh and a word of advice, shut off your phone! Don’t put it on silence or vibrate…..just shut it off!!! It makes a world of difference, and I like to say that my entire body exhales the moment I turn off my phone. It allows for a deeper level of relaxation, concentration and connection. I have other morning rituals that, as you can very well surmise, are for yet another post!

It saddens me when I hear people say they don’t have time to meditate, or be still….seriously???? Darlings, all we have is time, and what we chose to do with it is another story altogether. These are the individuals that, as Donna Farhi’s quote hammers home, are in need of stillness and quiet the most! These are the individuals who are stuck, tend to be reactive, tightly wound or restless, oftentimes anxious and/or depressed, perhaps have unhealthy addictions, always running away from their issues, spend hours and hours trolling social media and, as a result, are most likely to be their own worst enemy. Can you relate? Do you have people in your life that fit this description? Are you the poster child for this description? if so, then it’s high time you let go of behaviors, situations, and circumstances that aren’t serving you and find a better, more balanced way of living. Your health and peace of mind deserve it!

Another valuable lesson I’ve learned along the way, is that we CANNOT change people. Don’t waste your energy, or you will be the one who winds up sick! Instead, follow the rules the airlines give us, “In the event of a change in cabin pressure, put the oxygen mask on yourself first”…..this is the time for you  to work on yourself, make your Self a priority, dedicate time to your Self. Shower your Self with loads of self-love and self-care. Trust me, people around you will begin to see the change in you – a different, calm, peaceful, centered, glowing and vibrant you. They will most certainly want to know your secret!

Remember, as with any practice…..that’s just what being still is….a practice, and not a perfect. Over time, I can assure you that your mind, body and soul will also want some quiet, down time before you go to bed…..especially when you find yourself sleeping like a baby!  I think we can all agree that we’ve mastered the art of “doing”…..let’s challenge ourselves to practicing the art of “be-ing”…you’ll be surprised at the magic that shows up! I leave you with a beautiful quote and affirmation by Tanaaz Chubb from her precious book, Messages for the Soul:

“Your heart is trying to speak, are you listening? Your heart holds its own type of wisdom that is different from the wisdom of the mind and body. Tune into the smooth hum of your heart, and see what it is asking from you today.”

“I am open to the Divine messages of my heart, and I am ready to hear its message. I trust my intuition and know that my heart will guide me”

Be Still….Connect and Listen!

Inhale Love….Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of We….Who’s Your Tribe?

“Although individual spiritual practice is essential, and can take us a long way on our journey, to truly awaken beyond the fears and timetables of our ego, we need to engage in transformative interactions with other people who share our aspirations” Craig Hamilton

We all need a spiritual “board of directors“….don’t we? I’m not certain, but I think Wayne Dyer, or maybe someone at Hay House, can be credited for saying this. In my humble opinion, I strongly and unequivocally believe it to be so very true!  So, in addition to the Tribe(s) in my life, I decided to create my very own spiritual board of directors. It’s members? Well, lets start with Wayne Dyer, Mother Teresa, Maya Angelou, Gandhi, Princess Di, Martin Luther King, Louise Hay, my elders and ancestors and the likes of others whom are still on this earth and for whom I’m grateful for the work they do and the impact they are having on humanity. They include, but are not limed to, Seane Corn, Deepak Chopra, Oprah, Marianne Williamson, Tony Robbins, Maria Shriver, Thich Nhat Hahn, Eckhart Tolle, Carloyn Myss, Iyanla Vanzant, Pema Chodron, The Dalai Lama, and Pope Francis. It truly warms my heart to see all the young and aspiring spiritual and religious teachers who are attracting the younger generation and millennials such as Matt Maher, Carl Lentz, Panache Desai, Gaby Bernstein, Maria Forleo, and Mastin Kipp.

When I look back my 59 youthful years of  life, I see that I  primarily always surrounded myself with “like minded” friends, even though I didn’t have the verbage “like-minded” in my repertoire of words back in in my 20’s and 30’s. Nevertheless, I had wonderfully supportive and varied pockets of people with whom I “connected.” We had a “common purpose” (or as my friend Mdm. B from work coined –  unity of purpose). These may have been gym friends, work related colleagues, running buddies, and girlfriends who I could call at 2AM if I needed them (and they could do the same). Oh, and let me not forget my shopping friends…what would we do without our retail therapy? More importantly, though, the last 4- 6  years, have brought my Maui sisters as well my Highland Family, otherwise known as my Highland Tribe or Sangha into my life. They have been instrumental in my spiritual and emotion growth. So many beautiful friendships have blossomed there! I seriously do not know how I would have gotten through all I’ve been through the last 5 years without them……you guessed it, that’s for yet another post!

Having a “sacred space” and our  own “tribe” with whom we can share our deepest thoughts, emotions, values, dreams, challenges, highs, lows and aspirations, without being judged, is vital to our spiritual and emotional growth. It becomes  a way of living as we begin to reap the healing benefits and wisdom each member of the group brings to the table. Trust me, it is very cathartic, therapeutic, healing, and validating to be able to pick each other’s brains without trepidation or the fear of being judged, feeling less than or unworthy. Do you have an environment or tribe that cultivates this level of evolutionary support?

Also essential for our mental, emotional, and spiritual evolution are love and connection. As Tony Robbins says, “Emotion is the force of life.” According to Tony Robbins, love and connection are one of the 6 human needs (the others are certainty, variety, significance, growth and contribution….more on those at another time). Unfortunately, we don’t always have the financial means and wherewithal to stay in the “retreat or workshop” environment in our daily lives. It’s not always feasible for me personally to go to Kripalu or Omega. That’s why I love my Tribe, my Sangha and community of like minded peeps. In addition to books, I seek for guidance and inspiration from the great thought leaders on Super Soul Sunday, watch TED talks, take advantage of the over abundance of free on-line seminars, mediations, and classes. Oftentimes, I also go to events Highland Yoga or some other venue offers.

Remember when I said I was a student of life? Well, I will now leave you with practical questions that Craig Hamilton, the founder of Integral Enlightenment, shared at a global online seminar I was part of several years back. They are key questions to ask yourself in order to have your own community, tribe, or spiritual board of directors. These are the people who will accelerate and support your awakening and evolution. Begin to ask yourself these questions:

  • Of everyone I know, with whom can I really be myself?
  • Among all my friends, family and colleagues, who truly shares my deepest values and highest spiritual aspiration?
  • Do I have any social structures in my life where I feel free to stretch myself – and my relationships – beyond my comfort zone?
  • Is there someone in my life who presents me with healthy challenges and encourages healthy risks, rather than being afraid to “rock the boat” with me? Someone I trust to stand up to me with pure intentions and care for my own betterment and that of our shared higher ideals?
  • If a number of people come to mind, count yourself among the fortunate. Then, arrange with your newly identified “evolutionary partners” to begin creating a conscious container for on-going growth and shared inquiry.

On a more personal note, it is my tribe, my peeps, my spiritual board of directors, my spiritual gangsters and my good vibe tribe that have gotten me through some of the darkest and most challenging periods of my life – the times I’ve been broken open, brought down to my knees and have come out on the other side…like a phoenix rising from the ashes of transformation, growth and evolution.  Remember darlings, we are NOT meant to go through this journey of life alone!! Together we accomplish so much more and are better able to inspire, love, serve AND lead from the heart…right from the start!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

How Can I Serve….Synchronicity

“Giving to others through service is simply recognizing what you do best in any given moment and offering that to someone else” Deepak Chopra

If there is one thing you can be sure of, is that nothing, not a thing, happens by chance. It’s said that we cannot connect the dots looking forward (if anything that will cause you anxiety). However, we can look back at events and connect those dots that got us right to this moment in time. The Now. Well darlings, these “dots,” this synchronicity, has been divinely charted for us by our Maker (God, the Universe, whatever entity resonates for you). This beautiful, infinite organizing force in the Universe is always conspiring on our behalf and for our greatest good…. even if we do not “see it” the way we “expected it” to look like (ohhhhh expectations……that”s for yet another blog all together).

A few weeks ago, I was on Day 15 of the Deepak and Oprah 21 Day Meditation Experience. I’ve been taking part in them since the inception of the meditation series. Day 15 was “How Can I Serve.” As I listened to it, journaled the questions for reflection (this is the meat and potatoes of the “work” by the way), and reflected on what it means to be of service, what I have to offer, my gift, etc., I knew I had to get moving on the Blog I had wanted to create for years. You know when you just know??? After all, blogs and books are outlined in my head and journals, and notebooks and more notebooks contain a plethora of material in them to fill volumes upon volumes. Remember, I am a student of life, so I take lots of notes!!

It’s customary for me to post something inspirational or motivational on Facebook in the morning either before or after I meditate. I usually go with the flow and see how it unfolds. Sometimes I post things in the evenings as food for thought. I believe it was the morning of Day 15 that I posted something, and my friend, Mary, commented that I needed to start a blog. When I replied that it was something I have been wanting to do,  my neighbor, Annie, followed up my comment with the link to WordPress. Are you following me? Synchronicity! The time came for me to step up my game and take it to the next level. I had to put on my big girl panties and take action!

Needless to say, I eventually made my way onto WordPress, didn’t have a clue what I was doing and somehow purchased the domain. Then, I attempted to start writing. Easier said than done when you have no clue as to how to even navigate the site that is staring you in the face! I tried and tried and got tired of trying. If there is one thing I’ve learned along the way, is that when you try and try and get no where, it’s not the time to do it. So, I decided to just leave it alone. I didn’t judge, moan or get annoyed…..I knew that exact moment wasn’t the time. I also knew that the “right” time would present itself.  I happily went along my way. A few days later, since I’ve also learned to ask for help, I reached out to my friend Jenn (SHIFTFORWELLNESS.COM). I asked her if she wouldn’t mind sitting with me for an hour or two and give me a brief tutorial. The ever-gracious Jenn sat with me, guided me through WordPress and I took copious notes. Just enough though to get started.  Oh, and we had yummy snacks and a delicious salad prepared by Jenn, the hostess with the mostest….snacks are always good, don’t you think?

So, back to the topic of Synchronicity…I’ve also learned to pause, take note of what is unfolding and how, and proceed accordingly. When I was working, I called it “wait time.” Someone, some-thing, is guiding my boat, and I’m not about to mess with that higher power! Not everyone acknowledges these divine messages / messengers. Not everyone is open, aware, awake or enlightened…..and I don’t mean that in a condescending way. It’s just a fact of life. There are many people among us who are close minded, rigid in their thinking,  and essentially sleep walking their way through life. It takes years of learning, stumbling, falling and picking ourselves up before we actually acknowledge there IS a “better way” and start making evolutionary choices that better serve us and the good of all. Being flexible, open, mindful and present to what is unfolding in front of our very eyes is a finely tuned gift. It is intentional and magical!

For those of you who know me well, you know how much I like rituals, ceremonies, celebrations…any and all things sacred that mark new beginnings and special occasions. Like service, it’s something we do for others as well as ourselves. That is why I announced inspireloveserve.blog in September, the start of a new school year for many and on the day of the glorious full moon.  If you are struggling with ways to serve, I’d like to offer you this: reflect on your gifts, your talents, the things that bring you joy and fulfillment …..you know, those things that make you happy when you’re doing them and can do them for hours!?!?!?!? Tap into that and let your creativity take you on a magical, mystical ride. I love this quote from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic:

“What is creativity? The relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration”

Darling, what sets your soul on fire?

I challenge you to go out and do it…Inspire, Love, Serve AND Lead from the heart….Right from the start!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

 

A Conversation for Your Heart and Soul

APPROACH: Noun

-The act of drawing near, a coming

-An access; opportunity

-A manner in which a problem is solved or a policy is made

-The way of doing something

Several years ago, in one of my yoga classes at Highland Yoga Studio in Butler, NJ, the instructor talked about the word “approach” and ways she related to it and had been working with it. As I listened to what she was saying, the neurons in my brain started working overtime and it started me thinking on ways I approach situations, opportunities, people, challenges, my yoga practice, interactions and life in general. Whew….lots to think about! I  felt like my brain was a pin ball machine!!! However, it also started me thinking of my approach to what would be a new school year  (on the heels  of a change in leadership and the transition that followed……that’s a whole other blog….maybe even a book).

At that point, I “chose” to believe that it would be a good school year. Why? Because, trust me, it could NOT have gotten any worse than the previous year as a result of the many challenges, resources and personnel we lost. Despite the support, or lack thereof, that we might or might not have received, I made a “conscious choice” to maintain a positive outlook and work on my personal “approach.”  So, I share with you some thoughts on the word approach and some questions I found myself asking. I share this in hopes of awakening something – a thought, a feeling within you, a stirring of some sort. And if it makes you uncomfortable….great! That means something inside you is at work. You may be “unearthing” something that needs to come to the surface. Please don’t run from it!!! Sit with it and breathe deeply.

Take some time to converse with your heart and soul as you answer these questions. As with any good, deep, soulful conversion, it may go on for hours, days and maybe even weeks….perhaps even longer! I personally like to journal, you may choose to do the same:

  • How do you choose to show up each day – for yourself, for others you encounter throughout the day?
  • How do you start the day?
  • How do you approach self-care?
  • What does self-care look like to you?
  • Are you kind, loving, compassionate, patient and forgiving of yourself?
  • Do you approach your family, friends, loved ones, spouse, partner and pets with kindness, love, compassion, empathy, dignity, patience, respect, integrity and non-violence?
  • Do you act or react when a challenging situation arises?
  • What’s happening inside of you right now?
  • Do you pause, create space and allow your natural awareness to arise?
  • Do you allow yourself the space to be mindful and non-judgemental?
  • What is your approach to your job?
  • Have you set an intention?
  • What is it?
  • How will you chose to approach a new day, a stranger, a task, meeting, project, person, colleagues, etc.?
  • Are you hopeful?
  • Are you happy?
  • Is there something that needs changing?
  • What is it?
  • Are you rigid or flexible?
  • Do you have an open or closed mind?
  • Will you choose to be optimistic or pessimistic?

Without a doubt, approach is a CONSCIOUS choice, a DELIBERATE, thought-out CHOICE.  Our choices speak volumes! And, we are all role models…..a very powerful and influential position with which we have been graced. We have the ability to create or destroy depending on the approach we take. If given the choice, why not make mindful, patient, positive, inspiring, compassionate, respectful and non-violent choices – straight from out heart center – that create community and help to mold ourselves, children, family, friends, and partners into Peaceful Warriors???

Darlings, I urge you all to AWAKEN your senses and those of the people around you. We only get to do each day once, so why not CHOOSE to APPROACH each day with a sense of mindful awareness, wonder, patience, honor, respect, integrity, compassion, understanding, empathy and peace??? Collectively, we CAN choose to be the peace this world so desperately needs. Our influence is exponential and is just another way to inspire, love, serve AND lead from the heart….right from the start!

Inhale Love….Exhale Gratitude, JTC

Why Blog?

“Our task is to choose to live our own life as an example of grace and humanity, and to surrender to both the light and the dark, and to create a space within for beauty and devastation and for all that life will reveal”  Seane Corn

Unbeknownst to me, the idea of starting a blog came to me around June 2012. At that time, the seeds were already being dropped into my head and, subconsciously, I began watering them with my beliefs, actions, intentions and, yes, compromises I had made years past and over the next several years. I recall being so sick with an upper respiratory thing and a looming migraine that was threatening to take me down. At the time, I was an assistant principal in an elementary school, and there was a Saturday workshop being conducted for administrators. Additionally, we had to bring in our laptops for something (swapping out? re-imaging? You get the picture). I was so sick that I considered staying home and have the laptop issue resolved at school. However, something was pulling me to go. Ariane de Bonvoisin, author of The First 30 Days of Change, was the featured speaker at our workshop.

Now, if you know me, I LOVE CHANGE…It’s what keeps us alive, thriving, growing and ever-transforming into better versions of our old selves. Something (my internal GPS) was telling me to go despite how violently ill I felt. Through “divine intervention,” the Universe used a dear friend and co-worker of mine as a messenger. My friend sent me a text along the lines of this speaker being someone that would be of interest to me. I immediately googled the author…there it was! I picked myself up, armed myself with some herbal remedies, tissues, water, etc., and I headed to the workshop / seminar.

Our stories and journeys are not only our lessons but they teach others as well. What we do and how we do it has the power to light the path for others in need and can serve as a great source of inspiration, motivation and consolation. We are all on the same path, returning home to find ourselves, our true self, the connection with that force that is greater than ourselves and that resides inside each and every one of us…..and to light and pave the way for others. How we live out our purpose is as unique as we are. It is our responsibility as a human being to want to contribute…to inspire, love, serve and leave behind a legacy of love and service. Let’s be clear, what I just mentioned is our purpose; However, it is up to us, our passion, and our willingness to be vulnerable, broken open, courageous, brave, fearless, fierce, intentional and deliberate that will allow us to grow, transform, flex our resilience muscle, make an impact and affect change. In the end, it’s all about healing ourselves, helping others to do the same and, in turn, helping humanity to heal. I know, without a shadow of a doubt,  we are here on this earth to love, serve and uplift each other.

Oh, and did I mention ask for help? Yes, you heard it…..Ask for help. If you are that rock everyone comes to, the fixer, the handler (come on now, we all have a little Olivia Pope in us), you know how difficult it is to ask for help. Well, my darlings, if we do not learn to ask for help and allow others the joy of helping us, you can be sure the Universe is going to deliver some hard lessons and get us to utter the word help;  I need help; Can you please help me…. Get the picture? Trust me, this will teach us to leave the EGO at the door!

Towards the last several years of my career, I was fed up with what I saw and experienced first hand: fed up with the big egos, the abuse of power, politics, lies, bullying, harassment, intimidation, a system not doing “right” by its clientele and personnel, the back stabbing and everything else that comes with working in a toxic work environment. I felt that my talents and my gifts weren’t even being tapped into. My creativity and light were being zapped! Nevertheless, I was committed to impacting and influencing others by continuing to “work the work” of self transformation, talk the talk and, more importantly,  walk the walk. I committed to living my yoga off the mat. The more my yoga and meditation practice deepened and flourished and the more I studied yoga philosophy, the more that I felt morally compromised and suffocated. The more I spoke my truth, operated from an authentic and transparent place, the more I saw that I no longer fit in that organization and that my soul needed, and was craving, expansion……Be careful what you wish for……that will be for another post!

The only thing that got me through those last few years leading up to 2012 and the last few months on the job, were to Lead from the heart….Right from the start, always and in all ways. And, boy, can I give you ways to do that!!!!!

Hence…….the Inspire Love Serve Blog.

Please stay tuned!

Inhale love….Exhale gratitude, JTC