Overflowing With Gratitude

“Find just one thing that you feel grateful for right now and let that gratitude pour through your body. It’s a healing balm, like the warmth of the sun.” -Tosha Silver

Right now, it’s hard to pinpoint just one thing I am grateful for because my heart is still overflowing with gratitude post-birthday celebrating. I’m even grateful for burning the candles at both ends and being sick for two weeks post all the celebrations! If gratitude is a healing balm like the warmth of the sun, then I’ve been scorched! What can I say?

Welcome to my world! As a self-proclaimed gratitude junkie, I am ALWAYS finding gratitude and IN ALL WAYS…from the minuscule to the monumental. It’s simply a way of life for me. Throughout the light-filled, as well as dark times of my life, I find gratitude in each of those moments. Why? Because it fills my heart with joy and it keeps my nervous system happy. I guess you can say that my gratitude practice is one of my non-negotiables. It’s a ritual that keeps me fueled, joyous and humbled regardless on the circumstances that may be occurring around me or in my life. It’s a practice that allows me to  find the light, stay in the light and be the light.

As a result, I seem to have surrounded myself with brilliant light beings…some whom I’ve known forever, some whom I’ve met along the way and others whom have been recently  dropped into my universe. And it is because of these beautiful beings in my life, that I celebrated my “journey to 60” again and again, and in different ways this past October. It was of utmost importance for me to celebrate the beautiful light beings in my life. It’s all about the celebrations, darlings. It’s about always finding ways to celebrate life!

Between birthday lunches and brunches, a karma yoga class that was “designed” to inspire, love and serve, a celebratory dinner complete with Cuban comfort food, and then a 60 for 60 birthday bash dance party, I found myself at a loss for words. All I could do was “feel.” And what I felt was profound!

It took a while to process, but it felt like generations of love and gratitude pulsing through my veins. Generations of legacies left behind flowing through my heart and coming out front and center. There were times where I so strongly felt the presence and pride of my spirit family. Those who sacrificed, cleared the path and paved the way for me, who made it possible for me to be alive and become who I am today: a masterpiece AND a work in progress.

The culmination of all the festivities was the birthday bash, where all the people who’ve been a significant part of my journey to 60 were gathered under one roof. I felt like I was atop the mountain of 60 looking out at the people whom I most wanted to celebrate for their presence in my world. There are not enough words that could not adequately describe the gratitude, love and joy I felt on this most special and beautiful occasion. My heart was, and is still, overflowing  with gratitude. And, I must admit, it’s all a bit overwhelming.

For days leading up to the birthday bash, I reflected on everyone who would be gathered together, and I was humbled by the thought of the many blessings, much love and overwhelming wealth and abundance that show up in my daily life by way of my various vibe tribes: my longtime friends, my Lovelies, my Yayas, my Circle of Sacred Soul Sisters, my Pseudo-daughters, my Shopping Partners in Crime, my Sangha, my adopted Mother Yaya, my Goddesses, my Mama Bear and Papa Bear, my sister/mother/friends who were there in spirit, and family members whom have entertained all my fanciful whims over the years since what were apparently my early days of “Mama Yaya in training.” All I kept thinking to myself was, how can one person be so lucky?

Gratitude, that’s how! Unconditional love, that’s how! Stepping into the legacy my parents left for me, that’s how! Spreading love and kindness, being love, sharing love, being the light and seeing the light in others, that’s how! Celebrating others, that’s how! Proclaiming yourself a gratitude junkie, that’s how! I kept hearing my mama’s voice in my ears, telling me, You are reaping what you have sown…That’s how!

As I further reflected, I realized it wasn’t about the number of people in my life or gathered under one roof, or the number I could have had if space and money allowed, but it was about the QUALITY of my friends/family/relationships: their integrity, character, respect, kindness, compassion, open heart, generosity of spirit, sense of humor, outpouring of unconditional love and acceptance, inclusiveness, intimate friendship, un-wavering support, and the sacred space we all hold for each other during the happy, sad, pretty, ugly, nice and messy times of our lives.

My oldest friend, Ileana, whom I’ve known since I’m four years old, gave a beautifully touching and spontaneous toast, as did another long time friend of mine, Barbara, who had us all in stitches. And boy did I laugh at the Limerick my cousin’s wife, Sheryl Ann,  wrote for me. She’s also known me since I was five. Throughout all of this, as I looked out atop my place on the mountain of 60, I realized their toasts and memories pretty much summed up my evolution on this journey to 60. And on some very deep, emotional level, I felt like the child who always wanted to make people happy, be seen, recognized and validated.

That afternoon, especially after Ileana’s spontaneous toast, I felt seen, and I had to thank her for seeing me. I don’t think I’ve ever uttered the words thank you for seeing me. She saw me in ways I had never even seen myself as I was growing up, and I had to express my deep gratitude for doing so. Which leads me to these questions:

  • Have you ever thanked someone for seeing you?
  • Have you ever been thanked for seeing someone?

It’s powerful stuff. Give it a try….you may just surprise yourself with the mind-boggling and breathtaking  feelings and memories that come up for you. I think it’s both a gift to ourselves and the other person when we express being seen. I know I’m going to be more mindful and intentional in expressing the words “I see you” and “thank you for seeing me” to others as I continue on my journey.

And speaking of journeys, when all was said and done, parties over, tears shed and laughs shared, we realize that’s all a part of life. Our lives are made up of moments, and what we do with those moments is what counts, inspires,  touches lives and what creates our legacy. There will always be the light and the dark, but it’s important to find your tribe and create joy in each of these moments, and ALWAYS make and take the time to CELEBRATE LIFE….always and in all ways. Remember, we are all simultaneously masterpieces and works of art progress. Now carry on!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC / Mama Yaya

 

 

 

 

The Sky’s the Limit

“Do what makes you happy…on your birthday and every day” 

The Sky’s the Limit is the name of the establishment where “Scandalous” took me to and I jumped out of a plane ten years ago, on the eve of my fiftieth birthday. I’ve written about that experience before, and I recently came across pictures that I didn’t realize I still had in my possession.

In looking back on that day, it was definitely symbolic of what this past decade was going to be like. Now, skydiving was nothing I had ever thought of doing. But then again, I did a lot of things I never thought I would have done with Scandalous.

I recall sitting inside the little plane as it made itself up and thinking how liberating it was probably going to feel as soon as we jumped.  Fear, nor anxiety, did not play into it at all.  And that’s the truth! It couldn’t because I was so damn present in every second of every moment as the plane ascended into the sky. As a matter of fact, I did not even read anything I was given to sign nor did I pay attention to the video you are instructed to watch. If I had, then I can only speculate that fear may have shown up.

I remember breathing…connecting with my breath…long deep inhales, long smooth exhales. It was like a meditation as I sat there getting in tune with my breath and remarking to myself how I was most likely going to feel one with all things as soon as I was “out there.” Well, it was beyond liberating and freeing and the most zen-like moment    I could have never imagined all in one. There was the rush of the free fall, the silence once the parachute opened and the “appearance” and illusion of stillness even though we weren’t still by any means. The stillness, silence, curvature of the horizon and expansiveness were breathtaking in an exponential way.

In looking back to the past ten years, my 50’s were all about freedom,  liberation and expansiveness….freeing myself of many things, people and circumstances that were not for my highest good. It was about giving up the need to control. It was about pain, loss and suffering. It was about eliminating illusion and attachments. It was about looking at things from a different perspective and having a bird’s-eye view of things. It was about silence and stillness. It was about spiritual expansion. It was about feeling and doing things from a deeper and more meaningful place in my soul.

So what will this next decade bring? I would venture to say perhaps more of the same but on more profound levels, grander scales and with greater heightened awareness. And let’s not forget daily opportunities to celebrate life and the beautiful souls I get to walk with on this path in the light.

And I have to look no further than at how my Mama lived her life. Sharing the love, celebrating in style and leaving her mark is something Mama did very well….on top of being beyond generous, Mama brought  joy to everyone with whom she came into contact. I have a good example for how to live out the rest of my days. Mama was always a good example of how life should be lived as well as celebrated. A friend and co-worker of mine once remarked that Mama was all about the celebration…from her outfits to her outlook. This same friend also shared the following words with me when Mama left this physical world: “Your mom exhibited a true sense of  freedom- free to think, to dress, to act, to speak what she believed in….the true Madame Butterfly.”  

Yep, that pretty much described my Mama! And pretty much describes the person I grew into over the last ten years. So on this day, when Mama gave birth to me 60 years ago, I am grateful for all the characteristics my little 5 ft., sassy, bold, brave, funny, fierce and fashionista Mama somehow managed to leave ingrained in me. She truly showed me, by example, that the sky’s the limit!

Darlings, regardless of your age (for I truly believe it’s just a number), I invite you to take a page from Mama’s playbook, live out loud, and leave your mark wherever you go!

Inhale Love & Light….Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

100 Blogs…A Prayer of Gratitude

“When the personality comes to serve the energy of the soul, that is authentic power.”

-Gary Zukov, The Seat of the Soul

Greetings, darlings, and welcome to blog number 100! I can’t believe it was one year ago today that I published my first blog after lots of encouragement and the support of some friends. I guess it was the right time, and I was in the right place. Happy Anniversary, InspireLoveServe!

While I was away this past month, I toyed around with ideas for an anniversary blog, scribbled some things down, yet ultimately knew that what I wanted to convey was just a profound sense of gratitude for being able to inspire, love and serve from the very depths of my soul.

Gratitude for the love and support of friends, family and acquaintances. Gratitude for their support and encouragement. Gratitude for my yoga and meditation teachers. Gratitude for being able to share my lessons, blessings, struggles, mistakes, successes, eccentricities, energy, passion, guidance, reflections, tools, resources, thoughts, ideas, insights, and, oftentimes, my wit and sense of humor, and my overall animated self. Gratitude for being able to speak from the heart. Gratitude for a lifetime of journaling. Gratitude for my inner fortitude and resilience. Gratitude for those of you who participated in one of my personal homework assignments and shared the three words / sentences that best described me. Gratitude for the over achievers who couldn’t stop at three. Gratitude for not being overly preoccupied with the number of followers or comments I receive (or lack thereof). Gratitude for the bloggers out there who have found me and are following me. Gratitude for the people who take the time to read, reach out to me and share how a particular blog resonated for them. Gratitude for those of you who have shared or passed on my blogs  to others. Gratitude for the strangers who have  found their way onto my blog and have shared it too. Gratitude for a year that has been filled with much creativity, reflection, courage, transparency, openness, healing, growth, fun, laughter, transformation, confidence, authenticity and, above all, joy.

And speaking of joy, I have joyfully and unapologetically stepped into my authentic power at this stage of my life, and upon deciding to start a blog. Yippie!  It’s been a long road. The blog has evolved and will continue to evolve, as I have evolved and will continue to evolve as well. No stagnation for me! I truly feel a deep sense of accomplishment and purpose in being able to use my personality to serve what my soul came here to do: inspire, love and serve. 

And speaking of inspiration, I recently completed the latest Deepak and Oprah 21 Day Meditation Experience, The Energy of Attraction, and I loved it so much that I purchased the series (as I oftentimes do). As I started listening a second time around, I came upon a comment that Oprah shared which really hit home for me: “You’ll know when you’ve hit your sweet spot when your desires are more about being than getting.” Perhaps that’s why I am not overly concerned at this point in time with numbers and statistics related to my blog??? Instead, I am allowing my soul and my purpose to be my guide every time I sit down to write. Handing my writing over to God and the Divine always works best! After all, they are the overseers and keepers of my soul here on earth.

While I ultimately would like to gain more followers and have more interaction with my readers, I know it will occur when the time is right. As a matter of fact, I have quite a bit of homework to do in that department! For now though, my hope is that each blog lands in the hands of whomever is meant to read it. As they say, “Take what you need and leave the rest.” That’s the approach I have taken up until now, and it feels genuinely good in my soul. It truly is about being and not gettingso I guess I’ve hit that sweet spot.

And on that note, I will leave you with a lovely prayer that I hope fills your heart with joy and inspiration. It was written by Joyce Rupp. I’m not sure where I picked it up, but it is most appropriate as my heart is currently overflowing with gratitude as I write this anniversary blog.

Prayer of Gratitude

To be grateful for what is, instead of underscoring what is not.

To find good amid the unwanted aspects of life, without denying the presence of the unwanted.

To focus on beauty in the things of life, as well as being deliberate about the great beauties of art, literature, music and nature. 

To be present to one’s own small space of life, while stretching to the wide world beyond it.

To find something to laugh about in every day, even when there seems nothing to laugh about.

To search for and to see the good in others, rather than remembering their faults and weaknesses.

To be thankful for each loving deed done by another, no matter how insignificant it might appear.

To taste life to the fullest, and not take any part for granted.

To seek to forgive others for their wrongdoings, even immense ones, and put the past behind.

To find ways to reach out and help the disenfranchised, while also preserving their dignity and self-worth.

To be as loving and caring as possible, in a culture that consistently challenges these virtues.

To remember to say or send “thank you” for whatever comes as a gift from another.

To be at peace with whatever cannot be changed.

Heartfelt thanks for allowing me to come into your world, your home and your heart! Infinite love and gratitude, Jo-Ann T. Carricarte

Cherished Memories

“Cherish your beautiful memories for sometimes these are the Blessings that you are left with.” 

While writing my Father’s Day Blog, My Honey-Honey, I came across pictures of my dad and his brothers when my Honey-Honey was only 4 years old in 1918. Alongside that picture was another one of them as adults with their mother. It must have been taken sometime in the late 1950’s-early 60’s. Seeing these pictures got me reminiscing.

It got me thinking about the memories I have from when I was a little girl and the obvious love these 4 sons had for their mother. A mother who essentially raised them without a dad (because he left them) and how she was able to sendher boys to the US to boarding school. Once reunited again, the family dynamic, as I saw it, was one of closeness, love, caring, unity and family. Everything was centered around the “hub” of my grandmother’s house.

We all lived just blocks from each other, with the exception of my uncle Eugene and his wife, Juanita (who changed her name to Joan), and who lived downstairs from my grandmother. My uncle Henry (the perpetual eccentric bachelor who I am saving for another blog), lived with my grandmother in the upstairs apartment. These four grown men cared for their mother until the day she died at 102. And, as a matter of fact, my uncle Henry followed her 6 months later. I am convinced he died of a broken heart.

As I was preparing to write this blog, I came across this little 3×5 gratitude book I had purchased about six years ago. It’s called The Gratitude Book – 50 Prompts to Keep the Grateful Feelings Flowing. As I was flipping through the pages, I came across an entry that dealt with an experience from my childhood for which I am grateful. What perfect synchronicity!

The experience from my childhood years that I was and still am grateful for, was having a sense of family beacuse all my aunts, uncles and cousins were an active part of my life. As I’ve mentioned in past blogs, I guess the fashionista in me was groomed by these individuals, for they were impeccably dressed at all times. Regardless if we were out, with company  or just lounging at home, it would not be uncommon to see my uncles and my Honey-Honey in a sports jacket and sometimes even sporting a tie or bow-tie. They definitely knew how to dress to impress!

The women were always fashionable in their dresses, skirts, suits, shoes, hats, gloves, etc. My mom was the only one who ever dared to wear slacks when they came into fashion (Mama, like yours truly, was a little rebellious in her younger times).  Oh boy, when my grandmother saw her… and me sporting bell-bottom pants!?!?!?!?!?!?  I thought she was going to fall off her chair. She could NOT conceive of a woman wearing pants or even wanting to. It was all pretty hilarious at the time!

My aunts and uncles all stuck together. I am sure they must have had their disagreements or arguments, but it was never public or in front of the children. Yes, they’d squabble, but only about little “stuff” or “annoying” habits. And it was usually like a comedy act. Overall, I liked the sense of “rituals” that were established. On Sundays, the grown ups on my father’s side would gather at my grandmother’s house for cake, coffee and canasta. On Saturdays, we typically went to one of my maternal aunt’s place for amazing meals. Unlike my mother, her sisters LOVED to cook. Thank the Lord I inherited that trait from them. I may not know how to make Cuban food, but I can cook, and I’m damn good at it!

The sense of cohesiveness was of great impact on my life. Perhaps that is why I love entertaining so much and hosting gatherings. Over the years, my friends have become my family. I’ve always loved having parties where everyone was included…. it’s never  mattered to me if someone was married or single, everyone has always been welcome. Even friends of friends are always welcome. The more, the merrier!

If there’s anything I know how to do, it’s throw a great party. My party planning somehow always turns into an event. What can I say? I can’t keep it simple in this arena- a theme here and there, props, activities, entertainment, delicious food and drink and most times even complete with party favors of some kind. I can’t help myself. It’s all about living, loving and celebrating life!

I love the sense of belonging, camaraderie, unity of purpose, intention and overall gratitude for being able to bring beautiful people together to celebrate their presence in my life. We are all gifts in each other’s lives, and it’s important to celebrate the privilege and honor of being alive yet another day. These memories are the blessings that you are left with when someone is no longer here in the physical world.

While my parents, aunts, uncles and even some cousins are no longer physically alive, their memories, habits, gatherings, rituals, and love live inside me every day. I honor their memories by doing what I do best….celebrate life! And as my Honey-Honey taught me: live each day to the fullest and lead from the heart.

Do you have any memories that you hold near and dear? Well, I will leave you with the following prompt from The Gratitude Book: What is one experience from your childhood that you’re especially grateful for? Write about how it felt at the time and, in retrospect, how it’s affected your life.

Stay tuned to my upcoming blog, where I will share some other prompts from the book. Happy reminiscing!

Inhale Love & LIght…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

Too Blessed to Be Stressed

There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  -Albert Einstein

Well my darlings, since it’s “Black Friday,” I imagine that many of you are out scurrying around and perhaps already starting to feel stressed. How is it that we allow ourselves to get to that point around the holidays? I’ll tell you a little secret – it’s because we choose to allow it. Rather than seeing and enjoying the blessings and miracles around us, some of are spiraling and choosing to allow self-imposed demands and stress to blind us. This is precicely when self-care needs to be at the top the list! “Too blessed to be stressed” is a great mantra to turn to these days.

When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, hit the “Pause” button, breathe and listen to what your body is telling you it needs. It will intuitively tell you what you need to do in order to restore a sense of balance, calm, ease, peace and enjoyment in your life. I’m going to keep today’s blog short and leave you with beautiful affirmations I received several years ago when Iyanla Vanzant used to publish a monthly newsletter. Each month dealt with a particular principle, and Gratitude was the one for November. I invite you to pause and breathe between each affirmation (nice juicy deep breaths), and see what images pop into your mind. Linger in each moment… for just a bit. Acknowledge the beautiful miracle that YOU are, and celebrate your beautiful gifts. And while you are at it, look around at all the miracles in your life. Hopefully, these afirmations, and the beautiful visuals they conjure up, will serve to help you stay in the Too Blessed to Be Stressed mindset!

Affirmations

I gratefully accept all the health, wealth and happiness that the Universe expresses through me every day.

I am deeply thankful for the beauty of life that flourishes around me.

I give thanks for all that I have and all that I shall be. I am open to all possibilities.

I am grateful I am abundant in all areas of my life.

With great gratitude, I release that which has served its purpose in my life, knowing that a greater good automatically replaces that which is no more. 

As I continuously explore that which is my true calling in life, I give thanks for the knowledge that allows me to nurture my heart’s desire with love, compassion and confidence.

With deep gratitude, I give thanks for all the experiences that have made me who I am. I am thankful for the wisdom and knowledge that pulls me forward toward my divine purpose. 

I am in deep gratitude for God’s endless gifts.

Stay calm and carry on!

Inhale Love… Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

Special Wishes for AJ

“And the Child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him” Luke 2:40

Today’s blog is dedicated to a very special little man named Arie Joseph  (AJ). He is my God-daughter’s son who is being baptized today.

In addition to all the prayers, blessings and special wishes that will be showered upon AJ on this day, it is also a very special day for his parents, as is with any rite of passage in a child’s life. On baptism day, parents are up close and personal to the sacrament that brings their child into Christianity. It’s a commitment parents make. It is also a responsibility they have as caretakers of their child’s beautiful mind and soul to instill some sort of belief / faith in them. As a child grows and matures, they may stray from their religion / faith  or maybe even find another one that resonates more for them. Regardless, parents have laid the foundation for spiritual, faith based practices, beliefs, morals and values in hopes of creating a kind, loving, compassionate, wise, responsible and productive citizen of the world.

The experiences of being a first time parent, diapers, dishes, sleep, lack of sleep, food prep, doctor appointments, teething, runny noses, fevers, food allergies, work schedules, child care and other dilemmas (remember- the bigger the child – the bigger the problems) can be daunting and overwhelming. Then throw in how one will discipline the child and the parenting style that both parents may or may not see eye to eye on. Having been in education for 33+ years, I experienced first-hand the chaos, confusion, angst, anxiety, destructive behavior, and struggle that families go through when they are at odds with the basic tenets of how to raise a child. After I ended my career, I came across Dr. Shefali. I don’t recall if I first saw her TED talk or her interview on Super Soul Sunday, but what a game changer she is!

Once you see Dr. Shefali, listen to her, and really hear what she is saying, your life, world and awareness will be forever changed. Had I come across Dr. Shefali’s work sooner, I swear I would have created a parent workshop or parenting classes around her first book, The Conscious Parent. Furthermore, if I ran a private school, this book would be mandated reading for parents and/or caretakers before accepting the child into school. It would also be required reading for the teachers. I am telling you, it’s a book every parent-to-be (or person responsible for raising a child) should read way before they even plan on starting a family (and for anyone working with children). THAT is how POWERFUL Dr. Shefali’s books are! As a matter of fact, I gifted The Conscious Parent to AJ’s parents when I learned they were expecting and also gave my girlfriend Barb (Grandma / Abuela) Dr. Shefali’s other book, The Awakened Family. My darlings, this is definitely a gift that keeps on giving!

If there is anything we have learned by now, is that the “Authoritative” approach to discipline and public shaming does not work. It’s not healthy and is destructive to say the least. Instead of building a child up, enforced disciline and punishment tears the child down – leading to shame, resentment, self-esteem issues, eating disorders, insecurities, hostilities, behavioral issues and other self-sabotaging behaviors…..and yes, it is a form of bullying. One of the things that struck me is how she is able to show us that children are a mirror of our own unresolved issues. In her book, The Awakened Family, Dr. Shefali also shows us how and/or why children’s needs aren’t being met and why they truly feel they are not being “heard” by parents or don’t feel a connection to the parent(s). She poses some profound questions for parents to ask themselves:

  • Where am I as the parent failing to connect with my child?
  • What in the child longs to be recognized, but is being ignored?
  • How can I help mitigate the feelings of inferiority and shame that my child experiences?
  • And most importantly, how am I projecting my own internal shame onto my own child?

In Dr. Shefali’s words, “Unless we begin to turn the spotlight within and ask these difficult questions, our children will live in the legacy of shame that will continue into future generations. And the epidemic of bullying will continue to soar.” Dr. Shefali’s books integrate Eastern and Western philosophies and show us how to parent in an evolutionary and conscious way. She gives us daily skills and tools that are transformational, healing and lead both children and parents to a place of calm, ease and joy. I highly recommend Dr. Shefali’s book to anyone thinking about starting family, just started one, is struggling with the “my way or the highway” style of parenting and/or caretakers responsible for raising children. Her books make an awesome gift for anyone who is being blessed with a new baby in their family. The books are blessings in and of  themselves!

So, on AJ’s special day, I am sending the Diaz-Spencer Families many heartfelt special wishes and blessings and will close with a beautiful prayer from Marianne Williamson’s book, Illuminata – A Return to Prayer.

Dear God, Thank you for the birth of Arie Joseph into the world and into this family.  We offer ourselves this day as caretakers of his spirit and his higher mind. May we fulfill with strength the glory of our role, in AJ’s life and in the lives of his parents, Erica and Doug. May the spirit of this family, from generations past and into the future, burst forth to bless and sustain Arie Joseph. Amen.

Let the celebration begin!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

 

Generosity of Spirit

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed”

I love this quote by Maya Angelou! It gets to the heart of the reciprocity in giving. Oftentimes, people feel uncomfortable receiving. They feel that they are the ones who want to give. What we fail to realize and discount is the Joy that it brings to both the giver and the receiver. These gifts do not even have to entail money. Regardless of how large or small, someone’s generosity can be something as simple a flower, a home-made meal, lending a hand, being present for someone, helping them get through a tough time in their life, holding the space for them to talk, assisting them in some way or sharing words of wisdom. These gestures are blessings, indeed, and are examples of one’s generosity of spirit. What matters most is the intention behind our act of giving.

When we give gifts from the heart and bestow these beautiful blessings onto others, it is important that we do so freely, unconditionally and without expectation. If not, there is no true joy in giving. Throughout my life, I couldn’t understand why my mother would give things away so freely, even gifts that I recently may have given her. Over time, and when I found myself doing the same thing, I had an “aha moment” and realized it was because it brought Joy not only to the receiver but especially to the giver.

Joy is truly the most powerful emotion I personally feel while giving of myself to those in need. When I give lovingly of myself to others, whether it is time, presence, or attention, I feel that reciprocity of Joy. It’s like a two way street. I also feel much joy and purpose when I give actual things away…clothing, shoes, household items, furniture, etc. to friends and those in need. I know it fills the other person’s heart with joy and gratitude as well. And on that note….My darlings, before discarding something that may not be of any value or significance to you any longer, please, please, please do NOT throw it away! Many people are quick to throw things out, even perfectly new and useful items. There is always someone somewhere who would delight in being the recipient of your cast-offs. This generosity of spirit is a blessing you can bestow on someone and one they will be forever grateful!

The spiritual benefits we receive in giving are connectedness and oneness. It’s almost like being used as an instrument of God’s peace (you know the disclaimer by now – if God doesn’t resonate for you, by all means replace it with a word that does). Knowing we are being used and doing God’s work, paying forward, being of service, and spreading light and love is a deeply powerful feeling. The emotions that arise for us when doing so are blessings that uplift us and fill our heart with joy, grace, gratitude and purpose. We learn to be more mindful of the “gift in giving” and also the abundance and wealth that keeps circulating via our generosity of spirit.

What blessings have you received lately? How did it make you feel? Who do you know who exemplifies generosity of spirit? In what ways do they show this? How do you demonstrate your generosity of spirit?

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC