The Art of Gratitude

“Sometimes we’re so busy chasing all the things we haven’t got that we forget to notice all the things we already have, the people in our lives and the fortunate circumstances in which we live.”

One of my earlier blogs, Rise and Shine…An Attitude of Gratitude, talked about how my gratitude practice came to be and the important part gratitude plays in my life. It’s my mainstay, my manifesto for living, my therapist, my guide and my fundamental source of joy.

I can’t say I would be the person I am today if I didn’t have a formal gratitude practice. I’ve relied on this practice to get me through some of the darkest and most difficult times of my life. Gratitude sets things straight for me, clears my head, re-centers me when needed, gives me an attitude adjustment and allows me to live a full, joyful, peaceful, meaningful and purposeful life. Without a gratitude practice I, too, may have slipped into the dark world of depression like so many of my family members and members of society.

Being a self-proclaimed gratitude junkie has its benefits. How so? Well, I’ve been in the dark, have had troubled times, been broken open and broken down, at times didn’t know how I’d take the next step (literally and figuratively), been surrounded by death and losses and torn apart by life circumstance…..like we all have been subjected to in life. However, the art of finding gratitude in those moments has always been a game changer.  In addition, I am able to commiserate and understand how we all get knocked down and find it difficult to get back up because I’ve lived it and have shared in the pain we all feel during such times. These experiences allow me to speak from experience and, more importantly, from the heart.

We all come across people who sometimes are in such a troubled or sorrowful state that they can’t seem to fight their way out of a paper bag. I’ve actually had people say that they have a hard time finding one thing for which they can be grateful. This I find hard to believe, but sadly there are troubled souls like this out there. Can you relate? Perhaps you’ve been there? Like I said, I think we’ve all been there in varying degrees. Perhaps you find yourself currently taking up residency in this state? Perhaps you are in a perpetual state of loss, grief, or darkness? Perhaps you don’t know how you’re going to get through the next hour or the day?

What we all must tap into is the knowingness that our nervous system can NOT be happy and sad at the same time. All it takes is a few seconds of identifying something we are grateful for, and our nervous systems shifts. We feel lighter, happier, and more hopeful. The more we do this practice and make it a routine, make it our default setting and our modus operandi, the more we will experience unimaginable shifts in our psyches, in our bodies and in our hearts.

It’s common for me to have numerous books and journals containing writing prompts on the subject of gratitude. So on this beautiful, first day in July, a sunny Sunday morning where the birds are chirping outside my window in the early morning stillness, I will share with you some prompts that will help you to keep your gratitude flowing.

The first one is more of an exercise and is especially useful if you do not have a gratitude practice. My intent is to list a month’s worth of prompts to set you on your way. While some of these require some thought, there may be days you’re just not into digging so deeply, so you can simply start with “I am grateful for” and list 2-3 things. By all means this is more than enough! You are more than enough. Now that is even a good place to start!

  1. Start by listing everything you are grateful for. List the big things, the little things, and everything in between. Write until you can think of anything else. And then write some more. This will kick off your gratitude practice and help you see just how much you have to be grateful for.
  2. What is one aspect of your daily life that you don’t always take time to appreciate, but that you’re actually grateful for?
  3. What are some of the things that are constants in your life – things that you’ll always find comfort in, things that you can always be grateful for?
  4. What is  one thing your parents taught you that you are grateful for?
  5. What are three of your physical characteristics that you are grateful for?
  6. What are three of your personality traits you are grateful for?
  7. What are three personality traits that you are grateful for in others?
  8. Write about one person who has taught you the most. What did they teach you and why are you grateful to have learned from them?
  9. What is one thing in nature that you are grateful for? What is something you can do to show your gratitude for this?
  10. Who is one person who is grateful for you? What have you done to make their life better?
  11. What are three things you are truly grateful for about your job (or hobby if you aren’t currently employed)?
  12. Do you have a spiritual practice that you are grateful for? What does it mean to you?
  13. Write about one book that you are especially grateful for. How has reading it changed you? If you could thank the author, what would you say?
  14. What is one talent that you possess that you’re extremely grateful for?
  15. What are you most grateful for about your home? What do you appreciate most about living there?
  16. Why are you grateful to have been born during this time?
  17. Who is a person or group of people from the past you’re grateful for? Why? What about them do you most appreciate?
  18. Write about something that has changed over the course of history that you are grateful for?
  19. We all make choices every day in our lives. Which choices have you made that you are the most grateful for?
  20. What is one thing your body can do that you are grateful for?
  21. What are you most grateful for about all the latest advances in technology?
  22. What animal are you especially grateful for? How do they make your life better?
  23. What music are you the most grateful for? Is there a song or musician who inspires you?
  24. Write one thing for each of your five senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste) that you’re grateful for
  25. What is one way you’ve changed that you’re grateful for?
  26. What are you grateful for about the country you live in? What are you grateful for about the specific part of the country you live in?
  27. What is one surprise you’ve experienced that you were (and are) grateful for?
  28. Have you ever been helped by a stranger? If you could tell them how grateful you are for them, what would you say?
  29. If there’s anyone who you generally dislike, what is something about them that you’re grateful for?
  30. What is the most empowering thing you’ve ever done? What about this experience are you grateful for?
  31. When you look back on your life thus far, what are you the most grateful for?

Darlings, may you find gratitude in the littlest of things, as well as the biggest of things,  and may you be inspired to commit to a daily gratitude practice. If you already have one, as I do, may we find ways to deepen the practice and enrich each other’s lives!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

My Daily Prayers

“Prayer is simply talking to God as a friend and should be the easiest thing we do each day.” -Joyce Meyer

I believe in the power of prayer, especially the collective power of prayer. Calling on our fellow prayer warriors when needed is something that magnifies the act of praying. That’s one of the beauties of social media. When you put a call out there, prayer warriors step into action. A simple act of just holding someone in our consciousness and sending a quick prayer out makes a difference and can be felt. I’ve felt that energy first hand. It’s like a wave that lifts us up and keeps us from drowing in despair.

Sometimes I even write my own prayers depending on what’s going on or what I’m working on. Like the above quote states, it’s as easy as talking to a friend. These days, I find myself retreating to prayer more and more often as a result of what’s going on in the world, our country, and in the daily lives of friends and loved ones. I find myself having conversations with God more and more often. And, by the way, if the term “God” doesn’t resonate for you, by all means substitute it with whatever term works for you- Spirit, Divine Mother, Mother Earth or whomever is the God of your own understanding.

There are a couple of books I keep handy that contain some of my favorite prayers. At this stage of the game, they are pretty beat up because I’ve been using them for years and years. One of them, Mother Teresa’s, A Simple Path, is literally falling apart. Another one, Marianne Williamson’s, Illuminata A Return to Prayer, is a paperback and its pages are curled up and dog-eared. Tosha Silver’s book, Change Me Prayers- The Hidden Power of Spiritual Surrender, is another favorite. This one is still in mint condition because it’s fairly new. And of course, there are some lovely prayers in Thich Nhat Hanh’s books, Happiness and No Mud, No Lotus- The Art of Transforming Suffering. All of these are my daily go-to books for prayers.

Do you have any favorite prayers?  I do, so I’ve decided to share some of my favorites with you on this Sunday morning. I don’t know about you, but I feel we could all use a few extra prayers in our lives these days. The world needs our prayers, the cosmos, the planet, all it’s inhabitants….this is my belief, but I feel like you can relate on some level.

The prayers appear in the order I tend to say them. The first one was composed by me a long, long time ago. And the last one is one that I recite at the end of my yoga practice. May these prayers serve you in some way, and may you get from them whatever it is you may be needing this morning.

Dear God, Guardian Angels, Powerful and Divine Beings. Thank you for another day. Thank you for returning my soul back to me. Thank You for your compassion and understanding, truth, virtue, love, beauty and abundance. Thank You for removing all the obstacles. Continue to pave the way and clear the path. Continue to shine Your luminous rainbow over all of us. My mind is open. My heart is open, Continue to fill it with Your love. Continue to fill it with Your light. Continue to guide me, guard me, direct me and protect me. I always ask You to use me as an instrument of Thy peace, and to send me whomever needs inspiration, consolation, a word of advice, or an ear to listen. 

__________

 Dear God, I give this day to you. May my mind stay centered on the things of spirit. May I not be tempted to stray from love. As I begin this day, I open to receive You. Please enter where You already abide. May my mind and heart be pure and true, and may I not deviate from the things of goodness. May I see the love and innocence in all mankind, behind the masks we all wear and the illusions of this worldly plane. I surrender to You my doings this day. I ask only that they serve You and the healing of the world. May I bring Your love and goodness with me, to give unto others wherever I go. Make me the person You would have me be. Direct my footsteps, and show me what You would have me do. Make the world a safer, more beautiful place. Bless all Your creatures. Heal us all, and use me, dear Lord, that I might know the joy of being used by You. Amen

__________

Dear Lord, Help me to spread thy fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Thy Spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may be a radiance of Thine. Shine through me, and be so in me that every soul I come into contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Thee O Lord! Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as Thou shinest: so to shine as to be a light to others. The light O Lord will be all from Thee; none of it will be mine! It will be Thou, shining on others through me. Let me thus praise Thee without preaching, not by words, but by my example, by the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to Thee. 

__________

Lord, make me a channel of thy peace. That where there is hatred, I may bring love; That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness; That where there is discord, I may bring harmony; That where there is error, I may bring truth; That where there is doubt, I may bring faith; That where there is despair, I may bring hope; That where there are shadows, I may bring light; That where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted; To understand than to be understood; To love than to be loved. For it is by forgetting self that one finds; it is by forgiving that one is forgiven; It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.

__________

Dear Lord, the Great Healer, I kneel before you since every perfect gift must come from You. I pray, give skill to my hands, clear vision to my mind, kindness and meekness to my heart. Give me singleness to purpose, strength to life up a part of the burden of my suffering men, and a true realization of the privilege that is mine. Take from my heart all guile and worldliness. That with the simple faith of a child, I may rely on You. 

__________

May all beings be happy, healthy and free from suffering. May we all be fed, may we all be healed, and may be all know that we are loved. May we have peace in our hearts, peace in our homes, and peace in the world. Om shanti, shanti, shanti.

__________

While some people can get lost in prayer, others may have an aversion to it. If you are one of those people who feel awkward or uncomfortable reciting formal prayers, I encourage you to take pen to  paper and just tap into your heart. Allow your feelings, emotions, cirumstanstance or life events guide you into an intimate conversation with Spirit.

Lastly, I leave you with a beautiful quote, and food for thought, by Mother Teresa: 

“God speaks to us in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.” 

 

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

 

Get Clear on the Why

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

 

My Guest Blogger Returns

Red Lipstick is My Armor

by Shannon Green

I was never a very confident person growing up. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I leave you asking this:

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

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

 

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

PS- Looking forward to your next one!

Expand Your Light

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

Full Moon Greetings my darlings!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sagittarius Full Moon Ritual for Expanding the Light Within

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

You will need:

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

Directions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC