Thankful and Grateful

“Thanksgiving is about celebrating the gifts that are within us. It’s a holiday that’s about honoring the gift of friendship. It’s about recognizing the gift of family. It’s about opening your heart and your mind to the larger picture of family. It’s about reaching out to those who might not have a family or a place to go and inviting them to the table.” Maria Shriver

Thanksgiving was my mama’s favorite holiday. She always loved fall colors and would oftentimes keep fall decorations up all year…leaves, flowers, etc. It was kind of funny seeing fall colors amidst Christmas and Valentine’s decorations, but my mom marched to the beat of her own drummer. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree after all…wink, wink!

I get how she used to feel. It saddens me to see this beautiful time of year get lost among all the Christmas decorations and displays. Retailers want us to shop, shop, shop even if it’s at the expense of rushing everything along. All we do is rush….we need to slow down and appreciate the beauty and the bounty each season bestows upon us as well as the people around us….without feeling stressed!

Thanksgiving is a beautiful time of year for contemplation. Just as we gather provisions for the holiday, it’s a perfect time to pause and take stock of all we are blessed to have in our lives and the people with whom we get to share life. Many of us don’t have large families anymore or no family left, so the gift of friendship and camaraderie become more special. And if you know of someone who is alone or has no place to go, please consider extending an invite to them so they can enjoy as well.

And let’s not forget how stressful family can be. It’s no wonder many people have taken to going away for the holidays or hosting Friendsgiving parties!

With the political climate the way it is, an already stressful holiday gathering for some can end up being catastrophic. People shift from calm to chaotic in record breaking time and, oftentimes, bringing on panic attacks. It’s as if the first of November comes with it this dark, looming event of epic proportion. And if you don’t fall into this category, perhaps this time of year burns you out. You hit the wall and crash. You abandon your self-care practices and spiral into a dark abyss.

The holidays are a time in which we need to amp up our self-care practices so that we can enjoy all the blessings that come with gathering with our friends and loved ones. What self-care practices allow you to remain in an undisturbed space of calm and ease? What allows you to maintain the calm in the chaos?

Boundaries play an important part in all of this as well. Who is welcome at your table? What will or won’t you allow in your space? What conversations or topics are welcome? What items should and shouldn’t be brought to the table? 

As  I was reading Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper, I came across an article by renowned therapist, Lori Gottlieb. In it, she listed a few pointers that can help us move through the holiday season with less stress and more calm and peaceful ease. Since “sharing is caring,” I want to pass on the pointers  from Ms. Gottlieb’s article as an offering to you on this Thanksgiving:

  1. Take care of your health: eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, don’t use substances to numb your feelings.
  2. Say no, guilt-free: protect your time so you don’t become overwhelmed.
  3. Stay connected: if you’re feeling sad or anxious, reach out to friends or a therapist. Remember, you aren’t alone.
  4. Reach for the gratitude: focus on one or two things that you’re grateful for this year or that you look forward to creating in your life in the new year.
  5. Have perspective: it may be that everywhere you go, all you see are reminders that it’s the holiday season, but really the world hasn’t stopped, the holidays are short-lived and, before you know it, life will be back to normal (now that’s something to celebrate!).
  6. Remember that you’re a grownup now: it’s easy to slip back into childhood roles when we’re around our families, so if you notice this happening, step away to the restroom, take some deep breaths, look at your adult face in the mirror, and smile because you’re an adult now and you’re finally free to do as you please.

Darlings, my wish for you this Thanksgiving is that you have a day filled with the warmth of friendship, the love that surrounds you and the joy of creating new memories.

Infinite Love & Gratitude, JTC

Wholehearted Living

“No one can create negativity or stress within you. Only you can do that by virtue of how you process your world” -Wayne Dyer

Yes, I am a Wayne Dyer junkie! As a matter of fact, in the third blog I wrote last year, The Power of We…Who’s Your Tribe, I mentioned that Wayne Dyer sits on my spiritual board of directors. If you have not read it, I invite you to do so. Of the 120+ blogs I’ve written, that one is still one of my favorites. If you do not have a spiritual board of directors, I highly encourage you to form one…wink, wink!

Having like-minded supportive people whom we can connect to, without being judged, is vital to our spiritual and emotional growth. Whether dead or alive, the wisdom and life experiences we obtain from our support network is both therapeutic and validating. Our community of like-minded individuals help us see and process our world. Over time, our perceptions and thoughts change, we move from a scarcity mentality to one of being and having enough, we learn to lead with an open heart, we embody the power of vulnerability and authenticity, we shift from fear to love, we learn to flex our courage, we build our resilience muscle, we value our connections and learn the secrets for wholehearted living.

All of this takes time, energy and a life-long commitment to change, growth, expansion and transformation. We must have that burning desire to learn and push beyond our boundaries. More importantly though, we must learn the art of letting go.

The art of letting go requires us to live and lead from the heart. It requires us to leave our egos at the door and silence the nasty and obnoxious roommate we have living in our heads. It is recognizing everything that is holding us back and learning the skills to move forward. It is the utilization of every tool in our spiritual toolbox. It is when we live and work from that space in our hearts that we are better able to engage with ourselves, our friends and family, our communities and the world at large. That is what the art of letting go and wholehearted living look like.

In Brené Brown’s Book, book, The Gifts of Imperfection,  she designed “guideposts” for living wholeheartedly. These guideposts also make a cameo appearance in her book, Daring Greatly, and I will share them with you a little later. As I read each guidepost, I realized that each and every single one personifies what life here in “Earth School” is all about.

You see, Earth School always brings us people, circumstances and situations to learn from. A lot of the learning comes from the exchange of information we have when we take part in meaningful and enriching conversations with others. These conversations allow us to share our insights, questions, speak our truth, share our wisdom and embrace new ways of looking at things. It goes beyond the nagging and complaining and having the same meaningless, dead-end, and shallow conversations that leave us feeling empty, without purpose, hopeless, negative and maybe even worse off than when we started.

Whether we like it or not, no one is exempt from Earth School’s curriculum or its classes. The lessons may be tailor-made to suit our own individualized curriculums, but the over-arching themes are what lead us to wholehearted living. How we process our world throughout the process of living wholeheartedly is what spiritual awakening is about. Wholehearted living, in my mind’s eye, is about living a quality life AND thriving while doing so!

I will leave you with the ten guideposts that Ms. Brown defined and encourage you to spend some time thinking long and hard about each one. Perhaps share them with your tribe, discuss them and maybe even journal about what may be keeping you stuck or may need tweaking. It is a good way for us to access where we are with our individualized curriculum. 

These guideposts are just that….a guide. Their purpose is not to create negativity or stress. We do enough of that for ourselves! Instead, look at the guideposts as tool to help us dig, delve, excavate and reveal the parts of our lives we may want/need to work on. Oh, and we must remember to acknowledge and celebrate the ones we have under our belts!

  1. Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think
  2. Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism
  3. Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness
  4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear
  5.  Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need for Certainty
  6. Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison
  7. Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion and a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth
  8. Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle
  9. Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-Doubt and “Supposed To”
  10. Cultivating Laughter, Song and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool and “Always in Control”

Darlings, consider the guideposts your “cheat notes”….do with them what you please, or do nothing at all. As Wayne Dyer would say, the choice is yours by virtue of how you process your life….Change your thoughts, change your life!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

Soften Your Edge

Being relaxed, at peace with yourself, confident, emotionally neutral, loose, and free-floating- these are the keys to successful performance in almost everything you do.” -Wayne Dyer

Soften your edge is another term we hear in yoga class a lot and one that can be applied to our everyday lives. When I heard my teacher-friend, the lovely Tara, say these words in class the other day, I once again thought it would be a good topic to write about (much like a previous blog, Just Linger, inspired by yet another wonderful teacher, Erin).

We can go though life in a state of perpetual conflict, grievance, sadness, anger, frustration, disappointment, resentment and constantly hit brick walls, or soften our edge, sink in, open up and flow with effortless ease. And it is this state of calm, ease, peace, expansiveness and flow that allows us to be in balance. The more we tap into practices that keep our mind, body and spirit in that state of balance and effortless ease, the more we realize we don’t have to struggle or force anything to go our way. It just happens. The disciplines of  Yoga and Ayurveda teach us that the path to perfect health is learning to maintain balance……in mind, body and spirit. And that is why I LOVE YOGA. It changed my life!

Yoga philosophy can be traced back more than 5,000 years. This practice is much more than physical poses. It encompasses physical, mental and spiritual practices which allow us to “unite” our mind, body and spirit. These practices, or disciplines, are based on moral and ethical principles that allow us to align all parts of our being with our thoughts and actions. They afford us tools that will allow us to approach life from a place of equanimity and equilibrium.

The practice of yoga offers us opportunities for self-reflection, self-regulation, the practice of kindness, self-compassion and self-awareness. It’s an inside job! A job that is not dependent on external circumstances; yet, it rewards us with much success and is one that enhances our performance in ALL areas of our lives.

Since I’ve been immersed in the world of yoga, I’ve heard sooooooo many people say,  “I’m not flexible, I can’t do yoga.” Unfortunately, that is a false perception and misunderstanding. There was a time in my life I had a limited range of motion due to surgery as a teen and, I too, subscribed to that limited mindset. Over the years, there have been times I’ve been more or less flexible as a result of subsequent orthopedic surgeries and joint replacement appliances. However, we do NOT have to be  contortionists to do the “physical” practice of yoga.

Yoga is so much more that those physical postures. It requires us to tap into ourselves, our minds, emotions and belief systems. It’s about meeting our body where it is, honoring what it can and cannot do, exploring our edge, and respecting it. Much as in life, when we engage with others, we should be able to meet them where they are, explore our similarities and respect our differences. In order to do so, we need our spiritual toolbox and resources.

The practice of yoga restores harmony in our mind, body and spirit. It’s about going within and loosening every thought pattern and emotion that grips at us and takes over our minds and, oftentimes, makes us act unskillfully. The inner work and exploration we do as a result of our practice allows us to relinquish the grievances, resentments, anger and unresolved issues that are holding us hostage and keeping us stuck at every turn. It frees us! It’s not uncommon to hear a yoga and meditation practitioner say that they felt “at home” when they found yoga. That’s what yoga does, it brings us home to ourselves….to the very core of who we are. It brings us back to a healthy and renewed place of calm, ease, equanimity, loving-kindness, compassion and self-awareness.  Yoga softens our edges.

Our breath is another tool that allows us to soften our edge. It’s brings us back to the present moment instead of being stuck elsewhere. And that “elsewhere” is usually a dark, anxiety ridden, self- induced little shop of horrors. Something as simple as connecting with our breath diffuses the volatile diatribe waiting to explode within us like projectile vomit. Not a pretty sight!

When we are in the present moment, and have a clear head, we realize that we are the ones making something the struggle that it has become. We have been the ones adding fuel to the fire. There is absolutely no need for that – we can remember that at any given moment, we can connect with our breath and make a different choice. How liberating is that? Bringing ourselves back to the present moment allows us to shift our perspective from being “stuck” to one where we are able to see the infinite possibilities and choices that truly exist. As Deepak Chopra says, “We gain access to the creative and nurturing flow of our own nature.”

And on this note, I will leave you with a passage from the book, The Golden Present, for you to ponder.

“Health is your birthright, not disease; strength your heritage, not weakness; courage, not fear; bliss, not sorrow; peace, not restlessness; knowledge, not ignorance. The person with health and strength of body, soundness of mind, with morality and spirit is a real gem among all humanity. Such one possesses the true treasure.”

 

Wishing you a relaxing, peaceful, blissful, free-floating kinda day xo

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC