The “A” Word…Authenticity

“Authenticity is not something we have or don’t have. It’s a practice…a conscious choice of how we want to live. Authenticity is a collection of choices we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen” -Brene Brown

There’s so much to be said about Authenticity that I do not know where or how I want to approach this topic. There are so many great quotes out there on authenticity that I could fill an entire page and just leave you to reflect on them. Maybe bringing it back to basics is a good place to start. I saw a  quote that exemplifies it perfectly – “Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.” As with everything in life, it comes down to the choices we make on a daily basis. It’s truly a daily practice and one that requires us to first get “real” with ourselves.

Throughout our lives, we are taught to act a certain way, look a certain way, speak a certain way, we are imbued with primitive instinctual behaviors and dogmatic ideals. We  are led to believe that this is how we will be safe, successful, liked, loved, accepted and respected. Then what happens? We spend most of our adult life “undoing” all those belief systems because we’ve found they didn’t serve us. How do we know they didn’t serve us? Well our body has a wonderful way of letting us know. When we aren’t being authentic, real, transparent, truthful, and our true selves, lots of dis-ease forms in the body and manifests into rage, anger, pain, eating disorders, self-loathing, extreme weight gain/loss,  anxiety, depression, substance abuse and addictions of all sorts, resentment and the list goes on….. Is this a way to live?

So, at some point the realization hits us and we realize we don’t want to live that way. And that’s when the work of “undoing” everything we are NOT commences. It requires us to have that “aha moment” and make the conscious choice to start doing things differently. And yes, it requires work (remember the peeling away the layers of the onion visual). That’s when a lot of us embark on the quest to “find ourselves” only to realize we were there all along but lacked the courage to simply be who we are….perfect, whole, unique and complete just the way we are. We learn to stand up for and embrace our self-values, self- worth, self-respect and integrity. We practice self-awareness and self-acceptance. We find our voice. Eventually, we find ourselves stepping into a field  where we are willing to live life without pretense or defense. We learn to tell the truth, ask for what we need, communicate it clearly, kindly and compassionately. There is so much freedom in doing so! We stop the compromising that doesn’t serve us. We learn to let go of who we thought we were supposed to be and embrace who we are. More importantly, we accept, acknowledge and step into our Divine uniqueness and magnificence. How liberating is that?

I don’t know about you, but I like affirmations. They are powerful statements and they work! Just look at those limiting beliefs we’ve all had at some point in our lives and the power they had over us! Yep….thoughts are powerful! Given the choice, wouldn’t you prefer to fill your beautiful head space and your surroundings with positive, powerful and uplifting thoughts? Of course you would!

Affirmations from Iyanla Vanzant’s Inner Vision institute

  • Today, I am connected firmly and passionately to my true self.
  • I realize my potential, and I honor it by allowing myself to be uniquely me.
  • I consciously release all false versions of who I thought I was and consciously replace them with a connection to my authentic self.
  • The most secure place of impact in my life happens when I am honest myself. Today, I choose honesty!
  • I create loving relationships from a place of knowing who I am (really am).
  • In this moment, I focus my attention of using my time and talents to create a world that supports a greater unfoldment on Life.
  • Today, I align my inner, higher Self with my day to day activities, blessing everything that requires me to change and grow.
  • Today, I stand grounded in the power of my most authentic self.

I encourage you to do what my friend Jenn (shiftforwellness.com) suggests: write these affirmations on post-its, place them around your home or workplace. I would also add to make them into signs, posters, banners, use them to journal….be creative, use your imagination and have fun with them. The point is, that affirmations and visuals are  powerfully pleasing. Here’s to you, your truth, your voice, your spirit, your authenticity and your beautiful, whole and complete Self!

Remember darlings, life is too short to pretend….choose to be real!

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

 

 

 

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