Setting the Tone

“Because no matter how hard a conversation is, I know that on the other side of that difficult conversation lies peace. Knowledge. An answer is delivered. Character is revealed. Truces are formed. Misunderstandings resolved.”         Shonda Rhimes

Let’s face it – there are times to have conversations and definitely times NOT to have conversations. The key lies in knowing the circumstances that can resolve or sabotage a conversation. If a productive, respectful, dignified and heart to heart conversation is what we are looking for, then we must adhere to setting the tone for having them.

I’ve found the following guidelines I established for myself very helpful. I will admit though, it took me several years and many lessons before mastering the art of setting the tone. Hopefully, you can relate!

  1. We make bad decisions that result in poor judgement when we are tired / over-tired/ distracted / hungry. Do NOT have conversations under these circumstances!
  2. If we do not have time to talk, do NOT make a phone call, take a call, or return a call regardless of what the other person make think. What another person thinks of us is their business not ours!
  3. There are certain conversations, especially the ones dealing with our feelings, reflections and relationships that MUST be discussed in person and when we have created the time and space to do so – when we can sit across from the other person and speak from deep within our heart and soul. Just remember, the other person may need time to reflect on what was said before responding. We must honor that. Conscious communication at its best!
  4. A conversation with someone who is inebriated is pointless and a waste of time and energy because they are “handicapped.” A person under the influence can be irrational and perhaps even belligerent and mean. They probably won’t even remember what was said or deny ever having said / done anything. This one can be a little challenging. Sometimes ignoring the person works best – other times they may test our patience. It’s a tricky road to navigate. The best option is probably to be nowhere near this type of compromising situation to begin with. We should remove ourselves whenever possible. Boundaries!
  5. Act, don’t react. Pause. Create the space to let things BE. Take the time to think. adhere to the 48 hour rule before responding (especially if it’s something that pushed our buttons to the max). Everything is a process, and our process is as uniquely different as are the lessons we are each here to learn. The “process” needs time and space to evolve and unfold. While some of us are exceptional at communicating verbally, others communicate best in writing. Either way, honor the process!
  6. Some things are better left unsaid. Silence speaks in its own way. If there is something we feel we just need to get out, take the time to sit with it, write about it, get the feelings and the energy out, release them (burn them if you desire), and wait for the appropriate time to present itself. Hand it over to the Divine. When such time presents itself, what and how things need to be expressed and experienced just happen. Perfect synchronicity and divine intervention!
  7. Agreeing to disagree is oftentimes the best solution provided there is no animosity or sarcasm. At times, some conversations need to be re-visited at a later point in time. Let go and go with the flow!
  8. Lastly, it’s not what gets said, it’s how it gets said. We must speak our truth kindly, calmly and compassionately (and with a smile when needed). Keep it simple too. It’s all in the delivery!

Since we are all human, I’m sure we’ve all had our share of lessons when it comes to deciding when and how to have conversations. We all have our own styles of communicating, and that is something that took me years to learn. When I was much younger, I just assumed everyone was open, ready, willing and able to talk about anything, anytime and anywhere. Surprise, surprise…..Not so! It took a while, but I finally got it.

One thing I know for sure though is that peaceful, non-violent communication is the way to go, especially in today’s times. It  can resolve a lot of misunderstandings and allow us to attain deeper levels of understanding and enlightenment. If we all take the time to listen deeply and communicate consciously and peacefully, we can certainly shift the communication dynamic to one that resonates with our soul, raises our vibration and not diminishes it.

Good vibes, darlings!

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC

THE Conversation

“Share your conversations with those closest to you.”

In life, most of us take the time to plan in an effort to have productive lives, successful careers and wonderful families. We have become the master planners when it comes to investing and finding creative ways to raise and save money as well as innovative ways to work and travel. We have taken planning and hosting celebrations of all kinds to another level –  births, graduations, bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs, sweet sixteen, first dates, engagements, milestone birthdays, bachelor and bachelorette parties, wedding showers, weddings, gender reveal parties, new homes….you get the picture, right? But why do so many of us fail to plan for one of our most important dates of our lives? The one event that planning for, as long as we are alive, can provide us (and our families) with the utmost sense of security, comfort and peace of mind….Welcome to THE Conversation.

What conversation am I talking about? Well, if you missed my previous blog, The Pain of Death, you may want to first start there. In many cultures, death and dying is a sacred rite of passage and is spoken about, meticulously planned for and celebrated in a myriad of ways. Yet in others, talking about death – much less planning for it – is a taboo. Then there are people and cultures that fall somewhere between both. Where do you fit in?

What is your relationship with death? Did your family talk about it when growing up? Have you experienced the death of a loved one yet? Have you had to suddenly plan for someone’s passing? Have you ever gone to a funeral, wake or memorial service and say to yourself, “So and so never would have wanted this.” Or “So and so would have wanted x,y, and z.”  Or “What did they know about so and so?” Well, the sad reality is that “So and so” failed to make their wishes known.

Failing to make our wishes known when it comes to our health care, in the event something happens where we are left unable to make decisions for ourselves, can leave us without any quality of life whatsoever – perhaps even in a vegetative state. Failing to make our wishes known in the event of our passing can be catastrophic. Especially if there is money, property and THE most important investment property yet – children. What if a sole parent, or both parents, tragically die and a young child or young children are left behind? These are scenarios that happen every single day. Just think about all the people who left their home in the morning and never came back. Do you think they thought they were going to die that day? How about people who go to sleep at night and never wake up? I’m sure they had a laundry list of  “to-dos” for the following day, and dying was not an item on THAT list.

Consumerism and materialism in this country is off the charts. Everyone wants more, more, more….more money, more beauty, more clothes, cars, houses, vacations, gadgets, indulgences, experiences, and people will spend money they have and don’t have to attain the latest “thing” du jour that promises blah, blah, blah. Everything has to be “in order” or at least “appear” to be in order to the outside world. That’s all fine and good if that’s your idea of a nice life and is what floats your boat. But how about investing some of that time, energy and resources in planning for a nice death?  Or at best, having conversations about it with close friends and loved ones. Have you spoken to a loved one about your end of life wishes? Have you secured proper planning? Do you have an advanced health care directive? Have you designated a health care representative that will honor your wishes?

We have so many on-line planning tools and resources at our fingertips these days. In addition, many funeral / memorial homes even have personal planning guides available where one can document information such as vital statistics, personal records, estate information, insurance and beneficiary info, military history, family history, memorialization instructions, persons to contact or notify, the location of one’s will, and agencies, companies and organizations to contact. Why do we fail to plan? Any educator will give you the answer to that question – because failing to plan is planning to fail. Simply stated.

If we aren’t comfortable talking to our family, for whatever reason, then we can talk to our beloved friends. We can even enlist the help of some of our friends to aid us in getting the ball rolling. While I’ve had an advance directive and a will for as long as I can remember, and many of my friends and family are aware of my “overall” wishes, a couple of years ago I took the “planning” to an even more detailed, organized level. Not only did I update the legal documents, but I also recorded what I want done with my remains, the kind of event celebration and music I want and even took pictures of jewelry, furniture, and items that are near and dear to me and I want to bequeath to friends and loved ones. I put all these pictures in a photo album and, next to each one, I listed the person’s name and their phone number. The key is to remember to take pictures of any new acquisition….wink, wink, and make sure to give copies of your documents to the people who matter most.

As a matter of fact, one of my lovely friends and I just set a date for me to come over and help her do the same. Now remember, the idea is to not only be organized but to also have fun doing so. Set the mood, burn some incense, light candles, have great music playing in the background……..Make a fab event out of it, and plan to celebrate your successful accomplishments. I am sure we will celebrate will a little Pinot Noir and perhaps some delicious snacks or a nice meal. Remember, at best, snacks are always a must! And, at the end of this process, what we will be celebrating is the sense of comfort, ease and peace of mind we can have by having had THE Conversation and, ultimately, being prepared. What a beautiful, mindful, thoughtful and considerate gift to leave behind for our loved ones as a souvenir of our last rite of passage!

Isn’t this so much better than the added stress, anxiety, frenzy and heartbreak we leave behind if we fail to prepare? Loved ones left behind are already stressed and heartbroken. Why add uncertainty, confusion, drama, and perhaps even conflict, to an already painful moment in their lives?

So, darling, if you are someone who has been avoiding THE Conversation, may I ask you  why? If you are in need of having this convo, my wish for you is that, after reading this, you may feel inspired to share your conversation with those closest to you….or at best make you a little more comfortable and at ease doing so. Just remember to make the process fun and entertaining….Oh, and remember the snacks xo

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

 

The Pain of Death

“Opening up to the pain of death, our own or that of someone we love, is one of the most mysterious blessings of life.” Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson goes on to say that nothing focuses us more clearly on what matters, helps us drop our defenses more quickly or gives us more compassion for human suffering – that death has become one of our greatest teachers. This, I know to be true. Why? I guess because I have been up close and personal with death my entire life.

What got me thinking about this? Well, allow me to back track. Just a few  days ago, very dear friends of mine suffered the double, mind-boggling and incomprehensible loss of their soul sister and her husband. Another dear friend of mine lost a life-long soul sister a couple of weeks ago. Over the past year, numerous friends and acquaintances have lost a loved one as well: mother, father, brother, best friend, soul sister, spouse. The thing is, most of the people who passed did so unexpectedly. I don’t know what is more painful, an unexpected death or a diagnosis and watching someone wither away very quickly. That’s a tough one!

As a result, I’ve spent most of today thinking about death, loss, grief, pain, suffering and resilience. That’s what the pain of death does to us. It makes us have conversations with ourselves. Conversations that make us explore the mystery and intrigue behind this so-called rite of passage. A passage that is so beautiful and marks the end of a soul’s purpose here on earth, yet one that is so painful and sorrowful for those who are left behind, ones who’ve never been taught to talk about death or have never been up close and personal to it. Today, I shed lots of tears for the human suffering of my own friends who are trying to process their grief. Today made me examine my life and reflect on my relationship with this rite of passage called death.

My intimate relationship (and fascination) with death started at an early age. I lost a couple of classmates when I was in elementary school. A dearly beloved cousin of mine passed away when I was in 8th grade (he was one year older than me). From there, it was my only living grandmother, uncles and aunts, their husbands and wives, cousins and, ultimately, my parents. Over the course of my career, there were a few students and several co-workers that passed away too. And when people who are our own age, and who are our contemporaries, come to the end of their life, we really turn inward and examine our own lives – whether we want to or not. A key factor for us is to get comfortable talking about death.

Is being up close and personal to death a blessing? Is having experienced all these losses the reason I am able to show up hold the space for others to grieve? Is being fascinated with the afterlife, reincarnation and research stories of near death and out-of-body experiences what enables me to have conversations with the dying and help them cross over peacefully? Is having gone though my own out of body experience and being in a place of pure love, consciousness and bliss the reason why I can so freely talk about  death and dying? Is my understanding of the many aspects and changes the body undergoes as it prepares for that final breath what helps me comfort and prepare someone for their transition or the transition of their loved one? Is my passion for organization and event planning why I can so readily help someone to organize their end of life affairs, wishes and celebrations? Is embracing and working through the stages of grief what helps to build resilience? Is gratitude what has made me so resilient? Questions, questions and more questions! No wonder my head, heart and body were screaming for attention today!

Though today’s tears, reflections, and heartfelt pain for shared human suffering, I realized that all this death, loss, grief, pain, suffering, life altering moments and resilience have shaped my spiritual and healthy relationship with the dying process. It is a gift for which I am grateful. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that a few of my friends held the space for me to make sense of all this today……infinite love and gratitude for your presence, love and support……and for yoga, foot reflexology and amazing dinner with friends! Our Tools and our Tribe are a must go to in life and in death. These are our blessings!

Like any other rite of passage, I believe end of life is something we must plan for and celebrate. And that includes our own end of life! After all, we are all terminal! This is a date we all have and cannot cancel, reschedule or postpone. We must have a say in our own planning and celebrating. However, much of the planning, and many of the conversations, fail to take place. We must fix this, my darlings. We must reshape the way we think and talk about death, and allow it to be our greatest counselor, mentor and teacher.

Next up……THE Conversation!

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC

Our Compassionate Self

“Compassion in action has to start with ourselves. It is unconditional compassion for ourselves that leads naturally to unconditional compassion for others.” -Pema Chodron

Somewhere in one of my notebooks I scribbled a quote by Ram Das, “Compassion=Fierce Grace.” It got me thinking. The word fierce in front of grace really denotes something deeper, more powerful and radical. When we think about it, we must be fierce, loyal, loving, brave, diligent, respectful, honorable, persistent and insistent with showing ourselves compassion. This dedication to our “compassionate self” is really the cornerstone and foundation on which the rest of our relationships are built.

In my mind, the word fierce also signifies strength. And in my humble opinion, being strong is a precursor to being compassionate. Strength in our beliefs, values, vision, integrity, priorities, practices, authenticity, self-preservation and personal power allows us to help and support others without losing ourselves. Yet, I realize how daunting this can be for empaths and highly sensitive people. That is why remaining steadfast in our loving-kindness practices is part of the equation.

Once we are able to stand strong with ourselves and shower ourselves with love, compassion and understanding, will we be able to stand alongside another and genuinely be our compassionate self…no pretense, no sense of obligation, duty, judgement, resentment or need of accolades. We will be able to hold the space for that person’s struggles, sorrows or suffering without taking on their struggles, sorrows or suffering. We can lend support, show acceptance, understanding, and be non-judgmental yet stand in our own personal power. Why? Because we have done our own housekeeping and taken care of our Self first.

It’s all about alignment (as is any yoga pose). A strong foundation can hold us, support us, lift and carry us. Showing ourselves compassion is spiritual work. It’s knowing and wanting to be aligned to that divine essence in us – which is part of the bigger divine creative power that gives us life, holds and sustains us. It’s wanting to show up in our best light. It’s wanting to be of service. It’s wanting to be part of the universal energetic flow of giving and receiving. And when we do it from a place of our personal power, from a place of fierce grace, we know we are able to be compassionate without depleting ourselves.

Every day we are faced with the opportunity to be compassionate, if we take the time to notice (just sayin’). We can go throughout our day, eyes wide open or sealed shut. The choice is ours to make. We can help others heal and help to move humanity forward, and that is also a choice we must make. And we can’t make that choice without first helping and healing ourselves. I believe it is our privilege and a responsibility we have to ourselves for having been given the gift of life….the gift of another day.

I will leave you with a beautiful prayer-meditation from the lovely book, May You Know Joy – Meditations for Everyday Living:

Compassion

May you know compassion. May you know that compassion is innate in all human beings. Nurture compassion and begin accepting yourself for who you are and without judgement. Be genuine in your motives and take time to listen and understand and care for yourself. From this grounded practice, take your compassion into the world. Compassion runs deep and has incredible healing powers. 

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC

Tuning Into Silence

“Silence calms my soul and fills my heart with deep peace.” JTC

For some people, silence is torturous. They will keep themselves busy, occupied, over-scheduled and over-extended because the sound of silence drives them crazy. While I once fit into the category of “constant business,” I am glad that I hung up that hat,  retired that role long ago and now have such an intimate and healthy relationship with silence. It’s one thing I cannot live without. Taking the time to tune into silence is sacred for me. It’s also one of my non-negotiables.

Silence calms my soul because it re-calibrates me, connects me, grounds me, restores me and renews my mind, body and soul. It fills my heart with deep peace, serenity and tranquility. The art of practicing silence allows me to honor my connection and alignment to my higher self. I also look upon it as energy management. And boy have I learned a lot about energy in this last decade of my life!!! I’ve also learned to be over-cautious of where, how and with whom I choose to share my energy. I guess you can say it’s all about moderation, self-awareness, self-regulation as well as self-preservation.

We live in a world of distractions and sensory overload. A world that bombards us with constant noise, news feeds, consumerism, social media, etc., etc. Multiply all that with our professional lives and then our personal lives. Then top it off with the social commitments, family responsibilities and perhaps the not-so-stable people we encounter on the job, in our social lives, and in our personal lives. Yet, people are accepting this as the status quo despite the toll it’s taking on their lives, bodies, minds, souls, and relationships…….Yikes!!!!!! This way of living has become their sense of normalcy, so no wonder silence drives them bonkers!

As I’ve gotten older, learned to opt out of the cacophony and chaos of life, and redefined my own sense of normalcy, I value and honor the peace that comes with silence. I’ve grown to become very respectful of my own boundaries. I do not allow anyone or anything to disturb or rob me of my peace. Anything or anyone that does has to go….or at best I censor the “air time” I give the situation or the person. Let’s face it, there are people with whom our energies just don’t jibe, as well as personalities and behaviors that fall under the category of energy vampires. If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that we can’t rationalize or engage with irrational or unstable people. In these cases, it’s best to harness and guard our energy, stand in our power, honor our boundaries and remain silent. At times like these, silence becomes the most beautiful voice.

For me, silence is self-care of the highest degree…..self-preservation, self-love and self-respect. In censoring and honoring where, when, how and with whom I share my energy, I am able to sit with a certain amount of chaos and noise when I have to. I just don’t engage in it. I become the observer, connect with my breath and marvel and how far I’ve come. Tuning into silence is a sacred practice and one for which I am grateful.

Next up…..The Compassionate Self. Stay tuned my darlings!

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace &gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

Just Linger

“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” – Oscar Wilde

“Just linger”…..these are words we often hear in yoga class when we are in the middle of a pose or exploring our edge. The word linger has also been showing up a lot for me ever since I read Sheryl Sandberg’s last book, Option B. So when I heard my teacher say it this morning in class, a light bulb went on, and I thought it would make a good topic to write about. My friend Kat and I talked a little about it while we were having breakfast after class (there are great conversations to be had after a good yoga class).

Lingering in a moment – whether it be pleasant, unpleasant, difficult, easy, chaotic, calm, exasperating or enthralling (you get the gist) can be a wonderful teachable moment. We have much to learn from our own awareness and observation when we take a some time to linger in a moment just as it is unfolding. Bearing witness to the thoughts and feelings, the sights and the sounds, the comfortable and uncomfortable holds much wisdom and it’s all free….there for the taking, should we want to venture into unchartered terrain.

The beauty of yoga is that thoughts, feelings and sensations always arise and give us the opportunity to dissect them. At times, things that come up are repressed situations that we buried long ago and are in need of healing and releasing. Other times it may be traumatic emotions stored on a cellular level and one’s we’ve been suppressing –  for way too long – that are no longer serving us and causing dis-ease in our physical and emotional bodies. That’s just what lingering in a moment does…..it gives us the space to process the energy, feel, release, let go and surrender. These are all blessings! Just like when you’re in a yoga pose, each part of the process allows us to go deeper, delve into another layer, explore how that feels, dig deeper, yet delve even further through more layers and, ultimately, let go, surrender and feel at ease.

Other moments that I see as blessings are those “inconvenient” moments (which really end up not being inconvenient after all). They include, but are not limited to, being stuck in traffic, taking a wrong turn, thinking you’re at the wrong place at the wrong time, a change in plans, asking for something and having it show up (just NOT the way we thought it would). I’m sure you can add to the list. However, for me personally, something wonderful and beautiful always comes of these moments when I choose to “linger” in them. I may experience new sights, a neighborhood I never knew existed or was unfamiliar with, meeting someone I was meant to meet, or seeing someone I haven’t seen in years and it happened because I looked out the car window while stuck in traffic All these little blessings would have escaped me had I not chosen to linger, be aware and be present.

When we linger in the present, we also have the opportunity to breathe, inhale deeply and exhale slowly, and realize that all we have is that precise moment. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “It’s where we have an appointment with life.”  The past doesn’t exist nor does the future. We can view them as figments of our imagination. When we take the time to inhale and exhale deeply, we feel grounded. There is deep satisfaction in taking refuge in our grounding breath as we observe, but do not get swept up in, the chaos that is around us. We rise above it as we become more aware of our surroundings and the beauty and magic that is all around. Typically, the anxiety, angst, frustration or inconvenience we were feeling just tends to wash away when we just linger.

We can also linger in the moments that are pleasurable to all our senses. So often, people are just scurrying around, dashing from one place to another, devoid of all awareness and pleasure. We all need to balance all that “do-ing” with “linger-ing.” We can linger in bed instead of making a mad dash out of it, during our morning routine, and our self-care practices. Other ways of lingering: enjoying a movie, spending quality time with a friend, walking / playing with our beloved pet, putting down the phone, stopping the incessant scrolling, disconnecting from electronics, practicing silence, restoring cleanliness and order to our sacred spaces, resting whenever we need it, sipping our tea reverently, luxuriating in the tub, cooking with love and intention, feeling the soil while gardening, sipping delicious wine, reading for pleasure, basking in the warm sun, expressing gratitude, enjoying the sounds of birds chirping or building a nest, watching our cats/dogs and their antics, being mesmerized by a colorful sunrise/sunset, expressing your creativity by painting, drawing, journaling or crafting, making passionate love, kissing tenderly, eating sumptuously, singing in the shower, journeying down a new path….and on and on and on.

Blessings in disguise show up in all ways, at unexpected times and often when we need them the most. The key is to be open and explore them. “Just Linger” might become my phrase for 2018. In addition to having a new word for the year, why not also have a phrase?

Enjoy your lingering, darlings!

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC

Checking In with Your Heart

“Everybody has a calling. Your real job in life is to figure out why you are here and get about the business of doing it.” – Oprah

Today I pulled out a book I had purchased in August 2012 and had never opened it, other than to write an inscription in it. This particular book, The Daily Om, was purchased at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY when I was there for their Being Yoga Conference Retreat. I purchased the book because I’ve always enjoyed the wisdom, messages and stories of The Daily Om and used to receive them via email. By the way, some of their on-line courses are very helpful as well. On another note, their Daily Om Horoscope is always ever so appropriate. Go figure!

I guess you can say that I wasn’t all too surprised when I read the first story (what a magical universe we live in). You see, I’ve always loved hearts as far back as I can remember. I used to doodle, draw and cut out hearts all the time as a child. I’d buy anything with hearts or the word Love on it. I still do! As I read the first story, it reminded me of the intent behind InspireLoveServe and why I felt the line- Lead from the heart…Right from the start- had to be included. As I mentioned in a previous blog, these words have become part of my philosophy, purpose and way of living. I don’t think I could have come up with such a deeply spiritual and profound description if I tried; yet, there it was staring me in the face. It was tailor-made! So, here it is:

Linking Center: Checking In with Your Heart

Every day, we experience a magical twilight between our dreaming and waking states. During this brief period of time, our minds still remember that all things are possible. We can smoothly transition to the physical world without losing a sense of hope when we first cheek in with our heart center before we even get out of bed.

Our heart center is our link between body and spirit, instinct and inspiration. It does not take long to hold a thought of loving gratitude for that which beats within us — in a mere moment we can review all we want to accomplish in the light of love. When we get into the habit of beginning our day from the heart, all of our activities glow with the infusion of conscious intent, and all interactions occur with compassion.

We can restart our day right now my imagining how love and inspiration feel. As light glows from our heart, radiating out through our bodies into the space around us, any feelings of stress or frustration seem to melt away. Now we see each person we encounter as a fellow traveler along the journey of life, and every activity becomes part of a spiritual partnership. As conscious participants in the cycle of giving and receiving, we share our light with others as we become enlivened ourselves, with our heart leading the way.

In the intersection where body and soul meet, our heart beats in time with the rhythm of the universe. It does the physical work of supplying our body with life force without our attention…but for its spiritual work, we need to be conscious. When we concentrate on its rhythm and glowing light, we remember that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Then we know that we can choose any time to check in with our heart center and, in doing so, experience the joy of being in love with life.

You know the quote, Do what you love and love what you do? Well, if we check in with our hearts, we can tap into that knowingness of why we are here. This particular Daily Om story spells it out pretty clearly. The key though is to figure out how we are going to get about the business of doing it. Decisions, decisions…Choose wisely!

How can you inspire, love, serve AND lead from the heart…right from the start in your daily life?

Carry on, darlings!

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC

Live With Intention

“The number one principle that rules my life is intention. Thought by thought, choice by choice, we are co-creating our lives based on the energy of our intentions.”  -Oprah

 

Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

These words by Mary Ann Radmacher have been around for years and years. I’m sure you’ve seen them in print in one fashion or another. A very dear friend and soul sister of mine gifted me a framed copy of these very words in what seems like another lifetime ago. As a twenty-something year old, I thought it was such a cool gift, and I found myself wanting to live this way…..in my mind it screamed “wild and carefree.” What did I know back then?  My mindset at the time was that if you weren’t living life on the edge, then get the F^@& off because you were taking up too much space. Crazy!

However, at this  point in my life, the words have taken on a different meaning and purpose. The carefree, throw all caution to the wind, twenty something in me didn’t examine the deeper truths behind the words as the wild and free fifty-something in me now does. The title in itself, Live with Intention, says it all. Anything we do with intention is pleasurable to the mind, body and soul. And let’s not forget how powerful it is to live from that space! Over the years, and throughout my many moves, this is one piece of art that has stayed with me. I’ve always hung it where it is visible, and I can see it every day. It’s a reminder to do each and every thing with purpose, meaning, mindfully, deliberately, and intentionally…like a sacred offering.

Hmmmmm…Upon further scrutiny, I wonder why the author didn’t add one or two more lines? I would have added Be grateful, and my last line would have been Love. Nevertheless, each line in this piece contains the wisdom of the ages and conjures up all sorts of images – of things I want to do, how to do them and with whom I want to do them in 2018. What images or thoughts come up for you?

There is always room in our day for contemplation, exploration, growth, expansion, discernment, seeking out deeper truths, widening our horizons, stepping out of our comfort zone, shifting our perspective, and changing things that need changing. Oh, and let’s not forget living fully alive! It all starts with our choices, willingness and intention to do so. It’s called living an examined life. And there’s nothing more beautiful than doing just that. In my mind’s eye, I call it Living with Intention. When we live with intention, we are in perfect harmony…mind, body and soul. Life just flows seamlessly thereafter. It doesn’t get any sweeter than that, darlings!

The inspiration for this piece came from two places and almost back to back. In a new year’s day yoga class, we were asked to think about how we want to live in 2018. A short time later, one of my Lovelies asked our group what was our one powerful word for 2018. Our answers were Discipline, Intention, Aspire, Surrender, Fearless, Purpose, and Simplicity. By now I am sure you’ve figured out which word was mine….wink, wink. Do you have a powerful word for 2018?

This is a nice activity to do with our students, children, family members, friends and loved ones. If we put up the word(s) somewhere visible, it can serve as a gauge for us throughout the days, weeks and months to come. As we glance at the word, we can pause and take a moment to check in with our heart, mind, body and soul and see how we are doing. It’s also a good way to set the stage for young ones to learn to live with intention. Having conversations about their words also teaches them a little about accountability and power. If you ask me, we can all use a little accountability, as well as fun. What can I say? I just love activities!

Carry on, darlings!

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC

Go for the Joy

“We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.”               —Joseph Campbell

It’s no secret I love books. As a matter of fact, I saw a post the other day that said, “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” Can you relate? Well, I think every room in my place has books….all types of books….even in the bathroom. In addition to the books I enjoy reading, I am especially drawn to little motivational / inspirational books. I always have been as far back as I can remember. One particular book I picked up recently is called, Joy.

This book is rather colorful and contains wonderful quotes on every other page, along with ways we can cultivate that state of Joy –  regardless of what we have going on in our world. Since my last couple of blogs were pretty intense and heavy, I figured I’d keep this one light and fun. Plus, it’s the start of a new year. Who can’t use a little more joy in their life? I think it’s safe to say that we all can. But, once again, it’s an internal job. It’s not something we can seek outside of us….it’s something we were born with, and it’s up to us to choose to live in Joy. As stated in the book’s jacket, “If we want joy to be the story of our years, joy must be the story of our days. Joy must be a daily choice, a habit, a promise we make to ourselves. Joy must be the way we travel.”  Love!

Joy also builds our resilience muscle, especially when we are experiencing tough and challenging times in our lives. And yes, we can find joy even during the times we are grieving and in pain,  The more we tap into our internal state of joy, the more that becomes our default setting. I also believe joy is contagious. It seems that the more joy we scatter, the more that comes back our way!

So, I leave you with a list of ways we can tap into joy and bring more of it into our every day lives (taken from my recent lovely acquisition). I invite you to pause and reflect on each one and how you demonstrate these qualities (or ways you would like to incorporate them into your life). While they are very simple, it’s also very clear how some of us may have difficulties  / roadblocks / challenges in working with them, especially if joy wasn’t something that was engrained in us as we were growing up. It may have even been looked upon as frivolous, selfish or hokey-pokey. Nevertheless, here goes:

  • Prepare for joy
  • Believe in joy
  • Feel joy
  • Encourage joy
  • Accept joy
  • Notice joy
  • Choose joy
  • Inhabit joy
  • Recognize joy
  • Savor joy
  • Live joy
  • Experience Joy
  • Begin joy
  • Desire Joy
  • Take joy
  • Anticipate joy
  • Give joy
  • Receive joy
  • Create joy
  • Follow joy
  • Share joy
  • Spread joy
  • Cultivate joy
  • See joy
  • Catch joy
  • Double joy
  • Crave joy
  • Welcome joy
  • Magnify joy
  • Find joy
  • Be joy
  • Make room for joy

Some of these really excite me when I look at them in a more creative fashion. I’m looking forward to finding ways I can expand on them beyond the obvious. After all, we should not have to wait for the holidays, special events, or celebrations to experience joy….as it is an inherent part of life….“Life is a gift. Open with joy.”

This new year, let’s be the Joy we want to see in the world!

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC

 

Now I Know My ABC’s

Accept Differences – Be Kind – Count Your Blessings – Dream – Express Thanks – Forgive – Give Freely – Harm No One – Imagine More – Jettison Anger – Keep Confidences – Love Truly –  Master Something – Nurture Hope – Open Your Mind – Pack Lightly – Quell Rumors – Reciprocate  – Seek Wisdom – Touch Hearts – Understand – Value Truth – Win Graciously – Xemplify Kindness – Yearn For Peace – Zealously Support A Worthy Cause

Precisely ten years ago, I received these ABC’s in a holiday card that I have kept ever since. It too makes its way around my place during the holidays, as does the one I wrote about in a previous post, A Meaningful To-Do List.  Today, more than ever, it seems like the world needs these ABC’s on steroids! I silently give thanks for all the people around the globe who are working hard and tapping into their tools every single day to exemplify these traits, for these human beings are part of our global community helping to heal humanity.

The healing though, as with many things in life, must first start with ourselves. We have been blessed with the privilege of being alive, and with that comes a responsibility to grow and evolve into the very best person we can be. If you are committed to self-improvement, inner investigation and evolving mentally, emotionally and spiritually, you know it’s not an easy job. The work can get ugly, messy, and painful; but, the rewards outweigh it all. Remember, true transformation occurs from the inside out, and it takes time, practice and patience! One of my favorite quotes is, You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress at the same time.”  Amen to that!!!!

As I was thinking about what to write about in this blog, I came across some questions that one of my favorite people in the world, Seane Corn, posed at a yoga workshop I did with her about 4 years ago. These questions really require us to get to the core of who we are…both our light and shadow side. If we want to be able to live peacefully, coexist and truly effect change, I believe we have a responsibility to ourselves, and the life we have been given, to really dig deep and work hard at chiseling away the dark residue from our shadow side. It’s hard work. It’s also heart work!

Below are numerous questions – I invite you to peruse them, answer them if you like, share them with your tribe, have conversations about them, or just see what thoughts, feelings and emotions arise inside you as you read through them. Hopefully, you will find them useful in some way – if not now, then sometime along your personal journey.

  • How are you showing up for yourself?
  • How are you showing up for others?
  • What tapes are running through your head?
  • What conditioning, grief, dysfunction, pain, sorrow, situations or people who no longer serve you are you still holding on to? Why?
  • What limiting beliefs are holding you back or keeping you stuck in “victim” mentality?
  • Are you in a state of denial?
  • What hurts, traumas, surgery, loss or life situation has shown up?
  • What behavior do you turn to when you want to avoid feeling your feelings?
  • Who or what situation has brought you to your knees?
  • Who or what has broken your heart wide open?
  • Do you choose love over fear?
  • Do you act from a place of love or fear?
  • How can you connect to your pure essence which is Love?
  • How do you show compassion, empathy, understanding and kindness to others?
  • What ways do you show up for yourself from a place of hope, love, compassion, understanding and empathy?
  • Who taught you how to love?
  • How do you contribute to the collective energy of the planet? 
  • Are your thoughts, views, actions and speech negative and judgmental in nature, or are they positive?
  • What words do you use?
  • What type of language do you use to communicate with others?
  • Does your language emanate positive or negative energy?
  • What types of example are you setting for those around you…partners, children, family, friends, co-workers and strangers?
  • Who are your closest relationships?
  • Who or what triggers you?
  • What sensations do these triggers cause in your body?
  • Do you react or pause, then act?
  • What tools can you employ so you don’t react?
  • Do you abuse power?
  • Do you have issues expressing love and acceptance to those of a different race,  nationality, color, gender or religion?
  • What words / language do you use that causes separation?
  • What does peace look and feel like for you?
  • What ways can you contribute to making your surroundings, as well as the collective energy of the world, more peaceful?
  • How can you exercise patience, understanding and non-judgement?
  • What are you grateful for?
  • How do you express gratitude for what shows up in your life?
  • Who were / are your spiritual teachers?
  • What’s your shadow side?
  • How do you shine your light?
  • How do you step into your power?
  • What change do you want to see in the world?

Darlings, may you always feel your essence with each heartbeat…LOVE, LOVE, LOVE…..and send that out to into the world….and feel the earth pulsating with LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! Oh, and one last thing – please be sure to practice your ABC’s…wink, wink!

Inhale love and light…Exhale grace and gratitude, JTC