Falling into Myself

“Beauty and Strength Come from Within”

This week marks 10 years that the Universe “removed” me from a most toxic work environment. Despite the challenges that followed, I will be forever grateful.

You see, for years leading up to the start of yet another school year in 2012, I felt my soul was getting more and more compromised. My integrity, values, self respect, intentional way of living, being and moving in my world were not in alignment amid that type of work environment where backstabbing and outright meanness, bullying and harassment from “higher ups” was the status quo.

Thankfully, my yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices kept my head above water-barely shall I say- and, unknowingly, prepared me for the journey that lay ahead….especially the physical journey. The irony was that despite being in tune with my body, I was not listening to it. I asked the Universe to intervene- it delivered and, just like that about a week later, I was removed from a place that otherwise would have been the cause for whisking me away in a stretcher or in a body bag that school year.

Fast forward a few weeks later, on the eve of my 54th birthday, and I almost died on the operating table (amidst cursing and screaming as per my surgeon), as I lay there for 7 hours getting put back together again. I had several out of body (near death experiences) immediately after my surgery due to my horrifically low blood pressure and blood loss. In total, I had to get 5-6 units of blood. This surgery would also require a future one, which I was in denial about from the onset, until I had no choice but to have it 3 years later. Then another one 4 years after that…all because I wasn’t listening to my body while in that toxic environment where I was working anywhere from 10-15 hour days.

At the time, I was a vice-principal. As I just told you, I was in tune with my body as a result of my yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices, but I wasn’t “listening” to the sounds that were coming from it. Sounds where a simple Google search would have had me running to my orthopedic surgeon mind you!

Looking back now, that “forced” removal brought with it the forced “rest” that comes with physical rehab. The inquiry and inner investigation that came with it was the start of a much needed and overdue rest practice. It was the start of me falling into me.

After 12 years as a VP in such a toxic atmosphere and working with bad behavior ( and in some cases mentally ill higher ups), recovery didn’t come easily. I couldn’t immediately process all of it as I was trying to process WTF happened to me…to my body… what I put it through…and how I was going to get through each day moving forward. Would I ever walk on my own again? Would I get any feeling back in my leg? Would the nerve pain ever subside? Who will help me? I also looked skeletal, and all I could do when I saw my friends was cry. The fact that the end of my career got ripped out from under me didn’t even factor into the equation at this point in time.

It took me years of tears, physical therapy, sadness, self-love, compassion, rest, patience, and tapping into my resilience and inner fortitude to feel it all in order to heal. You know how the saying goes, “You have to feel it to heal it.” It wasn’t until last year, after my last orthopedic surgery and finding myself free of physical pain and debilitation, that I FINALLY started enjoying retirement…only to have another surgery this past June. It was one I had wanted to have done years ago but was consumed with all things orthopedic. If you haven’t read my last two blogs, Doing a Thing and The Heal is Real, you can read about my elective surgery.

Thanks to one of my beloved teachers, Tracee Stanley, and her online portal, the practice of Yoga Nidra has played a VITAL role in the quality of my life, rest, healing, presence, discernment and intentionality over the past couple of years. These practices and habits have also helped me to eradicate the word “busy” from my vocabulary. If you know me, you know how I loathe that word!

We all know the saying about time being our most valuable currency, and we should be very discerning about how we choose to spend it. Of late, I have been looking at time as a function of mindful moments where I choose to be 100% present. No multitasking allowed…wink, wink. Not even something as simple as talking on the phone and doing something else. I try my best to give my full attention to the person or the activity I am engaged in. In retrospect, I think that my 2022 word, spaciousness, has been a game changer. It’s allowed me to explore ways to create more space, fluidity and awareness.

Being aware, fully rested, grounded, rooted, and resourced has gifted me with the magic of presence . Over the years, I’ve evolved into a human BE-ing rather than a human DO-ing. And I really owe it all to my rest practices; both the forced ones from years ago and the ones I’ve cultivated with teachers like Tracee Stanley and Octavia Raheem. Tracee’s book, Radiant Rest, Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation and Awakened Clarity as well as Octavia’s book, Pause Rest Be: Stillness Practices for Courage in Times of Change, have also been game changers! I know this may sound crazy, but these books and rest practices have gifted me with more time, space, creativity, clarity, discernment, intuition and grace. Now THAT is the power of rest!

What we have all put our bodies through in this toxic culture of productivity and 24/7 connectedness is mind blowing! Stop and think about it for a moment. No wonder our bodies have been broken down, why we’ve been brought to our knees, developed diseases from all the dis-ease in our bodies and perhaps even live in a state of depression and/or anxiety. I encourage you all to take the time to determine where your life is out of balance, what needs to change, who or what you need to let go, what you want to call in and what areas of your life are in need of deep healing.

Have you been listening to your body?

How do you tune in to your inner GPS?

Are you numbing yourself so you don’t have to feel and, if so, in what ways?

What is your relationship with loss and grief?

How do you deal with transitions or sudden changes?

In what ways do you care for your inner Self?

As I’ve written in other blogs, September and October have always been difficult months for me due to the many losses that have occurred in those months. As I prepare for yet another big transition, I am able to see that as a result of my mindfulness practices, yoga, meditation, and rest, I find myself in deep gratitude for endings and new beginnings.

I am presently getting ready to move out of a place I’ve called home and have lived in for 12 years. A place I refer to as my Treehouse Oasis because of all the trees outside my windows, the myriad of birds that visit, the high vaulted ceilings, and the peace, serenity and quietude that surrounds it.

As I look back on these 12 years, my Treehouse Oasis has been a refuge of sorts. It’s been a place of sacred ritual and much healing: physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It has held me, held endless tears, losses, and grief – welcomed and unwelcome as well as planned and unplanned. Conversely, it has also been a place filled with much love, immense gratitude, celebrations, learning, unlearning, evolving and transformation. And let me not forget REST….for it is the foundation of beauty and strength in my book. My mama was right all those decades ago! Too bad I listen listen back then.

The hardest part will be leaving my close-knit circle of friends, since I will be taking up residence in my little seaside “crash pad” for a while. I know new life experiences, people, adventures and opportunities that will enable me to InspireLoveServe await. Nevertheless, it will be yet another transition I find myself preparing, planning and organizing for during this time of year.

I will be falling into myself yet again. The thing is that I’ve realized falling into oneself is a continuous process of releasing, shedding, becoming, unbecoming, calling in and attracting. It’s a process that, when embraced, fills our hearts with joy, intention and meaning. I admit that I love change, I embrace it and I thrive on it. So…I know that all good things await.

September, the fall season and the darkness that comes with it is a great time to look back, take stock, assess, let go and create space to draw in. I will continue to look back and reflect on these past ten years and connect the dots: see all that had to fall away so that new circumstances, people, places, adventures, beauty and blessings could come in. I am steeped in deep gratitude for all of it and, along the way, I will be planting some new seeds this autumn.

What seeds are you planting this autumn?

How do you want your life to evolve?

What do you need more of?

What do you need less of?

Where is your energy best spent?

Darlings, there is no season quite like Autumn! May this season of change bring you a beautiful harvest, abundant blessings, beauty, strength, and space to be still and listen! JTC

Doing a Thing…

“Every woman that finally figured out her worth has picked up her suitcases of pride and boarded a flight to freedom which landed in the valley of change.” Shannon L. Alder

So…I’m doing a thing. Something I’ve been wanting to do for some time. Something I’ve entertained and talked about for years (but have had orthopedic issues which were more pressing and needed tending to). Something I am hoping will improve my health and long-term quality of life. As someone who has always been into health and wellness, I can honestly say that my lifestyle is all about self-care. And at this point in my life, it makes all the sense in the world to do this thing…it’s been overdue.

Back when I was 40 years old- probably in a place of not really knowing my Self and my worth- I was into heavy weight training, spin classes, aerobics, kick-boxing, step and all things related to body image and achieving that perfect “balance” in body physique. To the dismay of my husband at the time, I got breast augmentation. He could not understand why on earth I would want them because he didn’t feel I needed them. But, you know how vanity and ego work hand in hand. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I did not realize how the beauty industry was such a toxic part of our society and deeply rooted in white supremacy.

Now, 20+ years and several pounds later (and guess where most of THAT weight has gone), I have decided to finally get my breast implants removed. I continue working on dissolution of the ego so, YES, I’m boarding my flight to freedom and landing in the valley of change. If you know me, you know how much I love and embrace change!

As a matter of fact, the explant surgery is scheduled for tomorrow, June 2nd.

If you follow me, you know that I believe sharing is caring, that our stories inspire, educate, and motivate others. It is part of what it means to be human in this web on interconnection. I’m a firm believer in what Maya Angelou used to say, “When you learn, teach.”

So…I am passing along some basic information about Breast Implant Inflammation- otherwise known as BII.You can google it yourself and fall into the rabbit hole- but I’m here to spare you. I just wanted to pass on some info in the event you or someone you know is contemplating getting implants or having them removed.

Disclaimer: all the information regarding BII that follows I got from various sources online.

BII is an informal term that some women — and even some doctors — use to describe a range of unexplained symptoms that women can experience following cosmetic breast augmentation or reconstructive breast surgery with implants. 

Some symptoms may include, but are not limited to:

joint and muscle pain, memory loss, concentration problems, breathing problems, chronic fatigue, sleep disturbance rashes, skin problems, dry mouth, dry eyes, anxiety, depression, migraines, hair loss, gastrointestinal problems, symptoms of EBV, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Sjogren’s, Fibromyalgia, Lyme, toxic shock …and the list can go on and on.

The symptoms can appear any time after implant surgery — some people develop symptoms immediately, while some develop them years later. A lot of the symptoms of BII are associated with autoimmune and connective tissue disorders, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma. Some people who have BII also get diagnosed with a specific autoimmune or connective tissue disorder, but many do not. In many, but not all cases, surgery to remove the breast implants improves or completely resolves the BII symptoms. BII is not currently recognized as an official medical diagnosis, and there is no diagnosis code for it. It is poorly understood and hasn’t been studied much as a unique condition.

“BII is a cluster of symptoms that don’t fit into any other classic disease diagnosis,” says Diana Zuckerman, Ph.D., president of the National Center for Health Research and a researcher who studies breast implant safety issues. “We believe that it eventually will be recognized as a medical condition, but that process will take time.” Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the major plastic surgery societies, and other health authorities have been devoting more attention to BII than they did in the past.

In May 2019, the FDA released a statement noting that the agency’s officials are “taking steps to better characterize [BII] and its risk factors, and are considering ways to help to ensure women have all of the information they need to make informed decisions about whether to obtain breast implants or to remove existing breast implants in an effort to reverse systemic symptoms.” In October 2019, the agency published a draft of recommendations to implant manufacturers for new labeling for breast implants. The agency advised manufacturers to include information about the risk of systemic symptoms in a boxed warning and in a patient decision checklist that would be included in patient information booklets.

In addition, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation are developing and funding new research on BII. To date, there haven’t been any studies that looked at the number of women with breast implants who develop BII. More women have been reporting BII symptoms to doctors and to the FDA during the last few years, which may be because social media groups and media coverage helped to raise awareness of the condition. Thousands of women have joined online communities related to breast implant illness.

From my personal experience, I can tell you there are thousands of stories, experiences, support, resources and tools on these private social media groups. That is a rabbit hole I found myself falling into once I scheduled my surgery. While these groups are informative, supportive and educational, I decided two weeks ago to just stay off socials as I prep for my surgery. Keeping my nervous system regulated is a daily practice, so I’ll go back on after the fact and share my experience with the group. The members are truly very supportive!

Also, I would highly recommend watching the documentary Explant. As described online, Michelle Visage, a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race, author and podcaster, is no stranger to the limelight. And now she adds documentary star to her list of accomplishments with the release of Explant, streaming on Paramount+ Michelle Visage had her breast implants removed after 20 years of unexplained, undiagnosed illness. Now her deeply personal journey is available to the masses, with the hopes of redeeming other women, through Explant.

I found it to be a stellar documentary, so well done, so much research, interviews, internal memos leaked, clips of hearings, lots of history, foul play and press clippings….. It’s definitely worth watching. Had something like this been around back then, I would have NEVER gotten breast implants! If you are contemplating getting implants, please watch this documentary…do your research! If a child, relative or friend is contemplating getting them, recommend the documentary. Hey, I am all for plastic surgery if that is what you want to do or have to do for obvious reasons like post- mastectomy or are transitioning and want to have top surgery. I’m simply a firm believer in being an educated consumer. and knowing your options.

These days, I’m simply not into doing anything that puts my own health at risk anymore. So…I’m hoping that, like scores of other women who’ve had explant surgery, my autoimmune issues may start improving. And if they do, great! If not, it’s still a win-win because I am getting something out of my body that I wish I had never put in.

I’d like to send a shout out to all my supportive friends who are my lifeline…you know who you are, what you do and how you do it! I am truly blessed and infinitely grateful to be surrounded by such loving and badass goddesses, soul sisters and humans who know how to show up and how to rally around you. We are always there for each other because, in the words of my dearest friend Patti, “This is what we do.”

The following affirmation found its way to me, and its timing is perfect:

“I am choosing to commit to myself, my health and my healing. I commit to the practices and actions that help me be clear, centered and grounded. I know that when I take care of myself, everything aligns in my life beautifully.”

See you on the other side!

Infinite love and gratitude, JTC

Faith. Hope. Love.

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” Mahatma Gandhi

How is your heart?

Darlings, this is a question a couple of my teachers hav been repeatedly asking these days. It’s a question I wanted to write about in February’s blog- which I never ended up writing. It’s a question to sit with and ponder on a daily basis. It’s a question that may just reveal a whole lot of “stuff” given the times we are living. Stuff that you may just have stored “in there” somewhere and that is in need of feeling and releasing. That “somewhere” being your body-your cells: the place where all trauma is stored. And even your heart.

Pause for a moment. How is your heart?

Doesn’t it seem like the world is spiraling out of control? Do you sometimes find yourself losing faith? Losing hope? Wondering where has all the love gone?

Just when we are on the precipice of losing all faith in humanity, we see images from all over the world of people opening their homes and hearts to others who are in the midst of war and have lost everything and perhaps everyone in their family. Images that speak to the power of love and grace. Images that truly restore our faith in humanity and fill us with hope even in the midst of such atrocities.

I’m reminded of a quote by Desmond Tutu:

Hope is being able to see there is light despite all of the darkness.

It’s hard though. It’s also a practice: one that needs repeating again and again until it becomes second nature. It’s something we have to do because we are constantly being bombarded with real-time images and happenings. We are bearing witness to the best and the worst of humanity- which is both an upside as well as a downside of social media. However, in doing so, we ourselves may be triggered. Our own past traumas, perhaps accumulated and unhealed ones, may be rising to the surface and adding to the distress we may already be feeling.

What practices have you relied on in your life to get you through your darkest of times? What rituals allow you to see the light despite all of the darkness?

Darlings, we can’t lose faith. We can’t lose hope. We can’t lose love. Why not? Because the world has always been in some sort of turmoil since the beginning of time. All our ancestors have had to bear witness to traumas of all kinds: wars, famine, genocides, pandemics, social and racial injustices, economic injustices, terrorism, devastation, and unimaginable atrocities. These are the things that have brought about change, evolvement, awakening, activism, movements, technologies, etc., etc., etc. For better or worse, humanity has been moving forward.

As author and researcher Brene Brown recently said, “Understanding our emotions and experiences is our life’s work. The more we learn, the deeper we can continue to explore.”

Her book, Atlas of the Heart, may be something you’d like to check out. I recently started reading and it is so rich in research and human emotions! As a matter of fact, a five-part series built around the research and teachings of Atlas of the Heart, is out and streaming on HBO Max. Check it out…check it out…check it out!

How is your heart?

This is a wonderful question that will be sure to illicit lots of deep and meaningful thoughts and conversations. Give it a try….you may be surprised at all that arises time and time again!

One breath, one moment, one day at a time…may we all lead from the heart…right from the start! JTC

Blessings Bloom

“The most valuable possession you can have is an open heart.” Carlos Santana

Wow! Here we are, at the end of yet another tumultuous year! Where did you go, 2021?

If there is anything that 2020 and 2021 have taught us as a collective, is that life is messy! I believe that to really feel and live the messy, human experience, we have to enjoy the beauty in the mess. Find the joy. Keep an open heart. Looks for ways to expand. Love hard. Love deeply. Spread the love, and find the blessings that are always blooming around us.

This time last year, we were all faced with looking back at a year that brought with it collective grief, loss, violence, trauma and heartbreak. This time last year the general sentiment was that we needed 2021 to be filled with hope, kindness, compassion, empathy, peace, unity, community, reverence and respect for all of humanity and, above all, LOVE. After the cards 2020 dealt us, we were ready for some BIG changes.

How was 2021 for you? Did you experience any big changes or shifts? How did you show up for your Self and others? How did others show up for you? Did you find yourself re-evaluating relationships and the value, or lack thereof, that people bring to your life? Did you intentionally make any big changes in your life? Did you set a goal or have a vision for 2021? Did you have a particular word for the year? Do you have a vision or a word for 2022?

For me personally, 2021 flew by in a heartbeat!!! I feel like I was so much more productive in 2020. However, I did feel more present, expansive, resourced, rooted and rested than ever before. I made rest and honoring my body a huge priority starting January 2021 since I knew I was going to have one of my knees replaced. My focus was keeping my nervous system regulated and in rest and digest mode. A necessary part of that was also keeping fear mongers at bay and not operating from the matrix of fear.

I think what also helped was that my word for the year in 2021 was REVERENCE….for all things and all beings. Feeling deeply became a practice as did finding the blessing no matter how messy life got.

I feel that I dedicated my time to what and who mattered most and balanced play with rest. With reverence as my guide, I was very intentional and discerning with how, what, where and with whom to expend my energy- especially given the energy I would need to have for the months following my surgery.

Choosing reverence as my word for 2021 came on the heals of discernment and intention (words for the two years prior). In my estimation, they are a perfect trifecta. And that trifecta is made even sweeter by bringing in the rest piece. If you missed my August blog titled, The Power of Resting Radiantly, you may want to check it out.

See, the thing about being fully rested is that it allows us to be present, intentional, discerning and in a space where we see blessings bloom…..and being able to find, and even enjoy, the blessings in the mess. Let’s face it, we make better decisions in all areas of our lives when we are rested. We are better equipped to deal with the messy aspect of our lives. Heck, we are even able to feel the gratitude those moments present regardless of how challenging they may be.

The most magical thing about being fully rested is our connection to the Divine. Our intuition is sharpened, we can feel and sense the downloads happening and the ways inspiration and guidance are presenting themselves. We are more awake and open to life’s synchronicities and are more present in our daily interactions. More importantly though, I feel that we are better able to get out of our heads and drop into our hearts. In doing so, we approach life, people, circumstances and just about everything else with an open heart.

In dropping into my heart center, I think my word for this next year may be either connection or integration. Exploring all sorts of connections and keeping an open heart to what lays ahead, what may show up, and the blessings that bloom around it all. Sometimes making connections also involves reflecting back on where we’ve been and how we got to where we are. A little self-inquiry can help guide the way.

Being able to integrate all of it is also a work in progress and a determining factor as to how we proceed and how we show up for this human experience. Who says I can’t choose 2 words….wink, wink!?!?!

A self-inquiry process allows us to have or establish a vision of where we want to go, where we want to be either personally or professionally, what we need to change or refine and further identify things, people, situations or circumstances that are no longer serving our highest good. These, too, are blessings!

What are some blessings you would like to see bloom in 2022?

What are some of the practices that would support YOUR physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health?

As we bring 2021 to a close, I will leave you with some lovely affirmations from Yoga with Kassandra that will help support you and your practices as you venture into a new year. May they serve you well and, as the saying goes, take what you need and leave the rest!

I treat my body with love and respect

I allow all parts of me to be expressed.

In this moment I release all thoughts and worry.

When challenges arise, I stay anchored in hope.

I allow myself to slow down and rest.

My self-esteem is growing day by day.

I send healing energy to all parts of my body.

Darlings, I thank you for support, comments, feedback and for taking the time to read my blogs. May 2022 bring you all sorts of abundant blessings, and may you have the clarity, calm and ease to receive them- even if they come disguised as challenges.

Just remember, an open heart is our most valuable possession! JTC

The Culture of Fear…Us vs. Them

What if our religion was each other? If our practice was our life? If prayer was our words? What if the temple was the Earth? If forests were our church? If holy water- the rivers, lakes and oceans? What if meditation was out relationships? If the Teacher was life? If wisdom was self-knowledge? If love was the center of our being?” Ganga White

Oh to live in this world and in that way! Guess what though, darlings? We can if we choose to!

Love is a way of life. Pure and simple. And when we stray from that, most likely, we’ll find ourselves operating from a place of fear. Fear divides, separates, isolates and harms. 

On this 20th anniversary of 9/11, I find myself thinking about the “culture of fear” that took hold in the aftermath of 9/11.  A culture of fear that has permeated every area of life, society, politics  and humanity. A culture of fear that we saw at the onset of war 20 years ago all the way up to the insurrection this past January and everything in between, and we continue to see…. despite different presidents, administrations and policies and the downside of social media.

The questions  that continue to resurface for me time and time again are:

“How have you shown up in the past 20 years?”

“How do you want to show up in the next 5, 10, 15 or 20 years?

“What is your relationship with fear?”

“Do you operate from a place of fear or a place of love?”

“Are you able to look at others who are different from you from a place of love?”

“How do you feel when you encounter someone who looks different than you? Of a different race, religion, color, or culture than you?

“How have you bought into the culture of fear?”

“In what areas of your life do you operate from fear?”

“Are you able to “ignore the story and see the soul” as one of my beloved teachers and author of  Revolution Within, Seane Corn, encourages us to do?

The greatest poets, mystics, spiritual and religious teachers have taught us and continue to teach us that separation, division and fear separate us from our truest essence and connection to the Divine- that which is pure love- God’s only religion (and when I say God I mean the God of your own understanding be it a higher power, the Holy Mother, Mother Earth, the cosmos, the universe, etc). 

Fear separates us. Fear makes us do  crazy things. Fear makes us operate from a place of scarcity. Fear gets us into wars. Fear kills, maims, ostracizes, isolates, and destroys everything in its wake. Fear is the great divide. Fear divides us into two clearly distinct camps- us vs. them. 

In my humble opinion, It is in the wake of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 that we all should be doing some MAJOR self analysis, self-inquiry and inner investigation (just a few of my favorite things) because our future, our world  and our legacy depend on it. I found some inspiration, as well as a deep sense of grief, in the words of Kerri Kelly, founder of @ctznwell, author, podcaster and speaker:

“I had thought 9/11 was the worst of it- the most unimaginable and devastating loss- but it was just the beginning for so many. Since then, people of Arab and South Asian descent have been intimidated, surveilled, incarcerated and killed in exponentially increasing numbers. Military service members have given and taken their lives. Families have been torn apart through brutal immigration policies and mass incarceration. Millions of Americans have been surveilled and harassed. Black and brown communities have been targeted by racist militarism turned inward through law enforcement. And too many of us have given into a culture of fear, distrust and division.”

Her words alone give us much to reflect on, investigate, question, and even grieve. In one of her recent posts, where the words above come from, Kerri Kelly poses the following questions

What did we learn from the past 20 years?

Where has violence and militarism gotten us?

How do we repair the harm at home and around the world?

How do we create the conditions for true safety and care for all people?

How do we be good ancestors to those we lost?

How do we shift the legacy of 9/11 from one war to one of collective care?

I was fortunate to catch an interview with Kerri Kelly and Valerie Kaur on the anniversary of 9/11 and found myself lost in thought and thinking about this entire event with a different set of lenses. I don’t know about you, but I know I was a totally different person on so many levels 20 years ago. However, the one thing that has been a constant for me though has been love and following my heart. So… it’s not surprising that I was drawn to Ms. Kaur. I learned of Valerie Kaur a couple of years ago when I saw an interview about her work and her book  and, since it all revolves around my favorite topic, love, I was instantly drawn to her and started following her work.

Valerie Kaur is a civil rights leader and founder of The Revolutionary Love Project. She is also the author of See No Stranger. The Revolutionary Love Project “envisions a world where love is public ethic and shared practice in our lives and politics.” They generate stories, tools and thought leadership to equip people to practice the ethic of love in the fight for social justice. The Revolutionary Love Project inspires people to build beloved communities where they are. They teach core practices of revolutionary love backed by research and infused with ancestral wisdom. In addition to educational tools, they produce training,  courses, artwork, film, music and mass mobilization that center the voices of BIPOC communities. It is their belief that we can “birth a world where we see no stranger.” 

For the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Valerie Kaur recently re-released the film, Divided We Fall – Americans in the Aftermath, that was made in 2006 and is just as relevant today. You can see the film for free  and access the Educator’s Guide to the film as well as the Screening and Dialogue Guide at valeriekaur.com. The film apparently toured hundreds of US cities, won international awards and became known as the “go-to documentary on post 9/11 hate crimes.”

Darlings, the tools are out there for those of us who want to be part of re-imagining and birthing a new world. It takes work, a lot of self-study, blood, sweat and tears, but wouldn’t it be worth it if we could play a small part in birthing this new world? What a way to honor and pay homage to our ancestors, those who lost their lives in past wars, on 9/11 and its aftermath!!!  Imagine the world we could create for future generations? And speaking of future generations, what world would you like for them to inherit? What legacy do you want to leave behind? 

It is my hope that this blog has made you pause, think and reflect. Perhaps some of my questions resonated for you? Perhaps you feel inspired by Kerri’s words, feel motivated to read See No Stranger or interested in looking into The Revolutionary Love Project? 

Remember…when faced with a choice, always choose Love over Fear…Love can be a way of life…pure and simple!

May you always lead from the heart…right from the start, JTC

The Power of Resting Radiantly

“I honor and acknowledge my body as the sacred vessel that houses my inner light. I invite deep rest into every cell of my being. I trust that I deserve to be supported, nurtured, and held unconditionally. I know the earth can hold me. “ Tracee Stanley

Greetings, darlings!

It’s been quite a while since my last blog! Last time I wrote was a week before my knee replacement surgery, and here it is 12 weeks post-op today. Woohoo!!! If you missed my previous blog, She Ready, I invite you to go back and read it before you read this one.

Those of you who know me, know that I take prepping and planning for surgery seriously in terms of nutrition, exercise, supplements, tonics, spiritual practices, yoga, meditation and rest. I am the Queen of Rest! Sadly, rest is undervalued in our society; yet, it is what our bodies and brains need to function optimally. Instead, a culture of busyness, burning the candles at both ends, and sheer exhaustion are the badges people wear as signs of success, value and self-worth. Not for me! I’ve learned my lesson the hard way.

Since this was my 6th orthopedic surgery (the 4th in nine years), I know a thing or two about prepping my mind, body and spirit for the assault and trauma this type of surgery inflicts on the body. With each surgery I’ve had, my prepping and planning have been key. However, this time around I took it to another level. Little did I know what the practice of Yoga Nidra was about to do for me!

Back in March, I received Tracee Stanley’s book, Radiant Rest. From the moment I started it, I referred to that book as my forever companion. That is how powerful, transformative, soothing, and nurturing this book is! And the practices??? They just speak for themselves! Allow me to share an amazing experience I recently had.

I have been doing 2-3 yoga nidra practices daily since receiving Radiant Rest back in March. Mind you, I had not yet scheduled my surgery at this point. It wasn’t until the first week in April that I did so.

In addition to these practices, I’was doing daily yoga practices- which were primarily restorative and yin- just before bed. Meditation, journaling, prayer, hydration, nourishing food, music and mantra, rest, sleep, quiet and stillness have been my non-negotiables for years now. Hence, why I am the queen of rest…wink, wink. These practices soothe my nervous system and keep me grounded, rooted and resourced. Consistent yoga nidra practices have been the icing on the cake though!

On May 11th, the morning of the surgery, I was up in the wee hours (3AM), I did my meditation, called in my ancestors, elders, saints, Goddesses, etc… took a shower which was then followed by the Waves of Aum yoga nidra practice, as well as a short yoga and prayer practice, a dance party with Pitbull for one and off to the hospital I went.

I was as ready as ready can get when I walked through those doors and down into the pre-surgical holding area. I walked in, head high, back straight knowing my posse of benevolent beings were right behind me. I was relaxed, surrounded by light and held by all those divine beings, Oh, and I wore a crown headband my soul sister, Kat, had given me. It made a big hit  with the nurses to say the least. Like I shared with them- we must always celebrate life and find joy in even the difficult times.

So when the time came, I walked into the operating room, was introduced to everyone, thanked everyone and hopped onto the table. As I was being hooked up to everything, I was doing my own guided practice. I swear I was already into the void even before the spinal tap needle went into my body. I even had a smile on my face as I sat up and bent over.

Surgery went well, I felt great afterwards, ate up a storm, PT and OT had me up and walking and going up stairs within the hour of being brought to my room. Now…here is where it gets really fascinating and why I wanted to share my experience with you. 

Since my body is sensitive to pain medications, I was given Tramadol because it’s not a  heavy narcotic. By 7PM I was ready for sleep, yet all I could do was watch each hour on the clock pass by. Needless to say, I did NOT sleep a wink all night!!!! At around 3AM I googled the damn thing only to learn that Tramadol causes insomnia.

Darlings, I ask you this: If you know someone has a sensitive system, especially because they do not take medicine, why on earth would you give them something that may cause insomnia??? Did the nurse on that shift even know of its potential side effects??? I think not. By the time she changed my meds, the damage had been done…yikes!!!

Mind you, sleep is sacred to me. As I previously mentioned, sleep is one of my non-negotiables. However, I know the reason I wasn’t trashed, exhausted, depleted or wiped out the day after surgery was because I spent the entire night with Tracee Stanley’s soothing voice in my ear….I lost count as to how many yoga nidra practices I did along with other meditations and post-surgery meditations. While I only got about an hour sleep around 5 in the morning, my mind and body were TOTALLY RESTED! The beloved Yoga NIdra Goddess held, soothed, and sustained me. Every cell of my being was rested, supported, and nurtured. I hope you can appreciate how deeply powerful this practice can be!

In addition to my daily practices, I had also been using Tracee Stanley’s Empowered Life Oracle Cards. They are a deck of self-inquiry cards which I use daily after my morning yoga nidra practice. If you follow my blog, or have read some of my essays, you know how much I love me some self-inquiry and inner-investigation!

I pull a card every morning before I even get out of bed, so my journaling is usually rich in content and filled with early morning downloads. I knew I was prepping for my surgery the best way I know how, but these yoga nidra rituals took that preparation to another level! My clarity, connection to source and intuition have  been so on point! I’ve never felt so relaxed,  restored and radiantly rested! And, yes, I continue these practices because the body needs rest in order to heal!

The increase in physical activity, walking, physical therapy, and exercises multiple times a day is exhausting! And if there is anything I have learned over the years, it is to honor and meet my body where it is! Doing so is grace. It is respect. It is discernment. It is self-worth. It is self-love. It is self-care. It is care for the self. It is our birthright. It is peace.

I actually emailed Tracee with my experience- much of which is included in this blog- and I was blown away when she responded. I felt so honored and grateful for her response!

Darlings, I encourage you to share you experiences. with authors, spiritual teachers, mentors, etc. for it’s important for us to share our stories of how they’ve inspired us, motivated us, served us or how they have impacted our lives. And let me take a moment to thank those of you who leave a comment or reach out to me and share how a particular blog has impacted you. Merci! Gracias! Grazi! Obrigado! Thank you!

As Tracee shared in one of her posts, “Maybe you feel like you’ve lost that part of yourself under all of life’s overwhelming demand. But yogic wisdom tells us that the thriving, vibrant radiance is who we are, and it is eternal; it is a light that never goes out.”

Darlings, may you always know how vast your being-ness is and that your creativity, inspiration, and potential are boundless. May you find and tap into practices that remind you of your greatness and how much your gifts are needed in this world. May radiant rest be your north star!

May you always lead from the heart…right form the start, JTC

Dear 2020

The thankful heart opens our eyes to a multitude of blessings that continually surround us.” James E. Faust

Oh what a year you’ve been, 2020!!!

You’ve slammed us, ripped us open, turned us upside down and inside out and brought us to our knees. You’ve presented us with unimaginable challenges, unfathomable heartbreaks, traumatizing losses and left us no other option than to reframe, realign and find meaning in the mess of it all.

The stars, astrologers and sages alike told us you’d be bringing us a year filled with much needed change, shifts, awareness, truth, revelation, tumultuous emotions, enlightenment, new paradigms, realignment of values and beliefs, reframing of perspectives….the list can go on and on. I guess you did not disappoint on that front. Are congratulations in order, 2020?

In a nutshell, 2020, you have made us re-evaluate every single facet and aspect of our lives. You’ve made us look into the dark corners and crevices of our being. On the bright side- because there is always a bright side- deeper, more meaningful relationships, friendships, and creative ways of being, living, loving, working, parenting, playing, learning, celebrating and grieving have been at the core of you.

You’ve led many to life-altering revelations and the freedoms and liberations that only come from our own dark night of the soul and the excavation that comes with it. This work isn’t easy, 2020, and you know it. Perhaps that’s why you did what you did? Perhaps there were so many of us so asleep, disconnected, disassociated, numbed, clueless, ignorant and walking through life like a zombie that we needed to feel and experience your wrath?

Through it all, 2020, you’ve given us opportunity after opportunity to open our hearts to love and open our eyes to see….to truly see!

You’ve made us angry, sad, distraught, question, analyze, reason, doubt, observe, value, appreciate, and connect with ourselves AND our shared human experience like never before in the history of humanity. You’ve made us repeatedly pivot. You’ve tested our patience, beliefs, resilience and faith. You’ve taught us the importance that letting go, change and impermanence play in our lives and mental and emotional well-being. You’ve shown us our unconscious biases and internalized racism. You’ve exposed the faulty cracks in our foundation. You’ve made us unlearn only to continuously learn again and again.

The Great Reset; The Reckoning; those are but only two of the monikers you’ve been given, 2020. I personally don’t find them offensive, do you? After all, you’ve been showing us for years that we’ve needed a reckoning. You have sent us wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, demonstrations, protests, mass shootings, a global pandemic, quarantine, a presidential election unlike any other in the history of the United States (just to name a few) and exposed bullies, modern day lynchings, corruption, abuses of all kinds and white supremacists. You’ve made people speak truth to power, exposed the ills of greed, racism, oppression, human/sex trafficking, and have even made people take hoarding to another level. You’ve made us look at marginalized communities in a different light and shown us the difference between equity and equality, fairness and justice, and the oppressor and the oppressed.

How about all the trauma, 2020? All the PTSD that will change people’s lives in ways yet to be imagined? The healing that has yet to occur? The businesses and jobs lost? People’s livelihood? The people that have been suddenly taken from our lives in epic numbers? The people who died alone? The families that were unable to be by their loved one’s side? The millions of people affected by these deaths? Are you done with us yet?

However, one of your miracles, 2020, is how you have made people come together to help those in need. You’ve put faces to names by showing us essential and front line workers who’ve been taken for granted in the past. Everyday, ordinary people from all walks of life, artists, actors, writers, musicians, entertainers, chefs, lawyers, sports figures, health and wellness professionals, mentors, and even young children have been stepping up to help others. Now that’s a beautiful thing!

Through it all, 2020, you’ve shown us new ways to be hopeful, humble, thankful and grateful. You’ve shown us to have reverence for Mother Earth and her native people. You’ve implored us to value and appreciate people of all backgrounds, different heritages, cultures, races, color, and gender and to put judgement aside. Judge less and love more seems to be your mantra! The realization that we are more alike than we are different has even been demonstrated by geneticists and agencies such as Ancestry and 23 and Me.

You’ve given us opportunity after opportunity to be accountable for how we show up for ourselves, our communities and how we show up in the world…the importance of human dynamics and interpersonal relationships. And let us not forget the importance of creativity, innovation and Post-Traumatic Growth you’ve been nudging- no scratch that- forcefully pushing us towards by way of our own personal expansion and receptiveness. Time and time again, you’ve shown us what it means to be kind, compassionate and have empathy. Like Ellie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, Nobel Laureate and activist is known for saying, “Even in darkness it is possible to create light and encourage compassion.”

You’ve worked me, 2020, and I’ve worked you. I’m not the same person I was back in March. I’m tapping into the post-traumatic growth mindset as much as I can! It’s something I’ve always done and will always do. I’m actually looking forward to where this post-2020 journey takes me and the infinite possibilities that await to inspire, love, and serve.

Being the perpetual, self-proclaimed gratitude junkie that I am, I’m thankful for your lessons and blessings, but I can’t say I’m going to miss you. I think it’s time for your final curtain call….take a bow and exit stage left. However, the realist in me tells me that you may have just been a dress rehearsal for what awaits in 2021. Hmmm….

See ya 2020….

Mirror, Mirror

“Imagine a country whose citizens-maybe even its leaders- are brave, calm, and open towards each other; A country whose people realize that all human beings belong together as one family and must act accordingly; a country guided by common sense.” BR. David Steindl- Rast

Today is Election Day here in the U.S., and I wanted to take a moment to commemorate this moment in history that I (and everyone who I reading this) am blessed with being alive to experience. We are all part of history in the making.

I’m not attached to any election outcome. Non-attachment is a Buddhist mindset I’ve learned to cultivate over the years because of the simple fact the attachments lead to suffering. Nonattachment is a practice, and I’m a firm believer that whatever happens is happening for a reason and that life happens FOR us not to us.

I believe the past four years- and especially the past eight months since the pandemic- have held up a mirror to all of us. A mirror to look at the divide and brokenness within ourselves, our own internal biases, prejudices, anger, trauma and see where we can be more compassionate, loving, and accepting. This, of course, is a practice as well.

During these times of uncertainty, the one certainty is that what is occurring in our nation is a direct reflection of the heart and soul of each and every one of us.

As one of my teachers and mentors often reminds us, the times we’ve been living have been challenging us to step fully into all of it: our fear, anxiety, division, and transform that to empathy, compassion, and a deep love of self and of others.

The mirror that is being held up to us is there to truly and deeply examine our own lives, challenges, attachments, privileges, thoughts, actions, entitlements, speech, choices, relationships, beliefs, biases, and the role we are each playing in the healing of humanity and of our planet. I believe the mirror is there for us to deeply examine our own personal integrity and values.

Regardless of the outcome of today’s election, what will be revealed is the true nature and soul of our country… of its people.

Weeks ago, I came across a post that my neighbor borrowed from a friend- who probably borrowed from a friend, etc., etc. It’s a piece that was written by a President Trump supporter and one that really spoke to me. It speaks to the times we’re living and experiencing- individually and collectively- it speaks to the failure to communicate, to our humanity, integrity, dignity, values, disappointment, reverence for life and the fracture of relationships, friendships and society. I’ve shared it with many friends since having read it, and I’ve come back to it again and again. It’s both haunting and sobering.

So on this Election Day, I will leave you with that post. I don’t know who wrote it or where it originated. All I know is that whomever has shared it has “borrowed it from a friend.”

“I know you think I’m preoccupied with this President; that he is the reason I’m so angry and bitter and frustrated these days—but you’re wrong. This isn’t about Donald Trump.

It’s never been about him.

It wasn’t about him during the campaign or on Election Day.

It wasn’t about him when recordings of him boasting about sexual assaults surfaced.

It wasn’t about him when he said protestors at campaign rallies should be roughed up.

It wasn’t about him when he left refugee families stranded at the airport.

It wasn’t about him when he attacked the press.

It wasn’t about him when he sabotaged the Affordable Care Act.

It wasn’t about him when he blamed racial violence on “both sides.”

And it isn’t about him today: it’s about us.

This is about me and it’s about you.

It’s about my grief at the ugliness you feel emboldened to post on social media now, the nastiness you seem newly capable of, the disgusting words you now so easily toss out around the dinner table.

It’s about my disbelief at your sudden tolerance for his infidelity, his cruelty, his intellectual ignorance, his immorality, his disrespect for the rule of law, his alliances with dictators — things you once claimed you could never abide in a leader.

It’s about my incredulity at your surprising resentment for marginalized people; for your inability to muster any compassion for those who are hurting or frightened or threatened.

It’s about my disappointment at your easily manipulated nationalistic fervor; how the God and Guns, America First, Love it or Leave it rhetoric, so easily took root in your heart — how hostile to outsiders and foreigners you’ve become.

It’s about my amazement at your capacity to make your faith so pliable, that you could amen a compulsive liar, a serial adulterer, a fear-mongering bully; a man in nearly every way antithetical to the Jesus you’ve always said was so dear to you.

It’s about my sickness seeing you excuse away his coddling of racists, his public attacks on the FBI, his impulsive firings of Cabinet members, his Tweet rants against individual citizens and American companies.

It’s about my grief seeing you respond to his near-hourly display of recklessness and overreach, with a shrug of your shoulders or a turning away from it all.

It’s about me watching you ignore in him and even celebrate in him, the very things you claimed made Hillary Clinton the ‘greater of two evils’ when you voted: blatant corruption, financial impropriety, pathological lies, lack of morality.

It’s about my sadness at seeing you make a million tiny concessions—and how easy it now is for you to consent to actions, that only three years ago you’d have told me fully disgusted you.

Most of all, it’s about me realizing that when all this is over—we are still going to have to deal with all of this. Our fractures are going to outlive this Presidency.

You see, I really don’t give a damn about Donald Trump.

He doesn’t matter to me. He never has.

He’s a three-time married, C-level reality TV celebrity, with a long and well-documented resume of sexual misconduct, financial disasters, and moral filth.

He’s a professional predator who’s spent his life exploiting people for personal gain. That’s who he was before and who he will be when he leaves office.

Donald Trump, the President will be gone one day, and his disastrous Presidency will be well preserved.

History will have documented his every lie, every misdeed, every abuse of power, every treasonous betrayal — and he will be fully revealed as the monster that many of us are fully aware that he is.

That’s not why I am so disgusted and so filled with sadness these days.

I don’t care about Donald Trump because I don’t know or live alongside or love or respect Donald Trump.

I know and live alongside and love and respect you — or at least I once did, and I’m going to have to try and do that again.

Our relationship and our family and our church and our neighborhood and our nation are going to be trying to clean up the messes long after this President is gone.

When this is all over, the divides and the fractures and the wounds between us are going to remain.

This is why I’m angry and bitter and frustrated; not because of Donald Trump — but because of me — and because of you.”

Borrowed from a friend.

Darlings, regardless of the outcome of today’s election, our lives will go on and we all will be faced with letting go, moving on and stepping into our place in our human family, community, and the world with love, peace, intention and purpose. Showing up any other way would be a disservice to humanity. We’ve had many an opportunity for healing ourselves and healing humanity and, if we don’t get this right, this magical universe will continue giving us opportunities to do just that. Let’s work on ourselves, my darlings. Let’s leave the world a better place for future generations. Let’s honor our ancestors and continue the work they started!

Regardless of the outcome of this election, the work to heal the individual and collective fractured divide will continue…. what role will you be playing?

Be well, stay safe and God bless us all!

May we continue to move forward with love and intention, curiosity, unity and hearts wide open! JTC

Inspired Action

“You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control what happens through you.”  Carl Lentz

Greetings, darlings!

How are y’all doing? I don’t know about you, but I feel like the days, weeks and months are flying by since quarantining started back in March. I simply can’t believe it is already Memorial Day Weekend, can you?

What have y’all been up to? Have you found your groove? Are you feeling settled? Unsettled? Are you reacting from a place of fear, or responding from a place of love? Are you letting the times control you, or are you taking control of the times?

If there’s one thing that having a consistent meditation and yoga practice has done for me throughout this time is that it has kept me calm, peaceful, harmonious and inspired. Not much has changed on that front. I am very well aware of what I can or can’t control, the actions I consciously choose to take or not take as well as the thoughts and conversations I am willing to entertain. Ahhh…the power of discernment!

Our spiritual / emotional muscle is one that, when exercised regularly, really strengthens our resolve. It keeps us mentally stable and emotionally regulated. This is a time when our self-care practices need to take front and center stage. For me personally, self-care practices are key to being resilient, especially during trying, difficult or challenging times.

Needless to say, I have not veered from my non-negotiables (aka self-care practices). During this time of collective grief and loss, I am choosing to do all I can to keep my vibrational frequency high and to fill my little corner of the universe with positivity, encouragement, hope and inspiration. I am enjoying being engaged in deep conversations with some of my peeps who are also using this time creatively and purposefully and working the work of inner inquiry, growth, expansion and  transformation. I love hearing what they’re dreaming up and all the ideas they have “percolating” (my new favorite word that my friend Kat has been using).

Percolating. There’s no greater feeling than being in a state where you feel like you’re in an inspirational vortex of energy.  As I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, the Sheri and Nancy Show, Sheri referred to this inspirational vortex as “being in the quantum soup.” I just love that too and can so relate!

We all have the ability to tap into these higher dimensional frequencies. However, the one precursor for doing so is that we catch ourselves and stop with the complaining, negativity and all the doom and gloom jargon. The only purpose that serves is to attract more doom, gloom and negativity. It’s a mindfulness practice to catch ourselves when we’re veering off course and course-correct. Remember, energy flows where attention goes!

In my humble opinion, I feel these are times we must be impeccable with our thoughts,  actions and with what we bring forth to offer.  Imagine if we all took responsibility for the energy we are bringing to those around us and to the energy we are releasing into the collective. Hmmmm…What is your energetic offering?

Only we can control what happens through us. Only we can determine what inspired action to take. Only we can make the decision to shift from barely surviving to gloriously thriving. Only we can shift from reacting to responding. Only we can reframe what is happening “to us” to what is happening “for us.” Only we can hold ourselves accountable for the ways in which we choose to show up during these times of uncertainty. And if there’s anything we know, it’s that we all show up differently because we are each uniquely different and we are all on our own path to self-realization.

This isn’t a competition by any means. This is about our own individual lifestyles, behavior patterns and habits of mind, how they play out in our lives and how they influence the conscious (or unconscious) choices we make and the actions we take.

I’ve chosen to be pretty proactive during this time of quarantining. Since the sheltering at home started, I have made sure to show up for myself each and every day. I’ve even upped some of my practices. So please indulge me as I attempt to document what the past few months have entailed. And full transparency here…I am not boasting nor bragging. It’s just that if I ever feel the need to reference what I did during this period, a blog post is easier to find than looking through a stack of journals.

When the quarantine started, I had a few books that I had recently purchased- The Beautiful No; A Year of Yes; Untamed; A Gift of Forgiveness; and More Myself. I loved and devoured them all in no time. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy a good book. Especially non-fiction books filled with good story telling and a healthy dose of inspiration. I save juicy and trashy ones for beach reading. Podcasts have also accompanied me on many walks.

Once all the non-essential establishments closed and yoga studios started zooming classes, I joined the ranks of those taking livestream classes. I am sort of amazed that I just completed my 80th consecutive livestream class.  Not skipping a day, and even doubling up on classes now and then, has served me well. I’m working my yoga practice and, in turn, my yoga is definitely working me. Peace. Calm. Tranquil. Centered. Grounded. Inspired.

In addition to my regular meditation, prayer and gratitude practice, I found this lovely meditation by Nadav, on Insight Timer that I keep telling everyone about. It’s called Lokah- Mantra for Happiness, Health & Freedom. And it repeats 108 times. His voice is beautiful and peaceful as is the melody. More commonly known as Lokah Samastah Sukino Bavantu, this mantra basically translates to “May all beings everywhere be happy, healthy and free.” There’s something very peaceful and fulfilling in sending these vibrational wishes out into the universe. I have been doing this meditation in the early mornings and before going to sleep at night. It has been a real source of comfort for me.

Like many of you, I’ve spent a lot of time in the kitchen and have gotten very creative with some of my dishes. What can I say? I’m a foodie, so I don’t mind cooking. Having said that, I do miss my occasional breakfast, lunch or dinner out with my girls. But after cooking everyday for the past 2+ months, I have finally started doing curbside pick up once or twice a week. And I am now entertaining partaking in responsible physical distancing in small gatherings with two or three other people.

As we’ve all witnessed, social media and the internet have been overflowing with course offerings of all kinds- some free and others reduced or on a sliding scale. The lifelong learner in me has been taking full advantage of things that call to me. The way I see it is that we can never go wrong with investing in ourselves!

The free Off the Mat Leadership Summit was just finishing up when the quarantine started. Since then, I completed  The Return of the Priestess Summit; Dr. Melody Moore’s Self Approval Summit; Seane Corn’s The Yoga of Awakening workshop; Hala Khouri’s Yoga for Self-Regulation and Trauma course; and Ashley Turner’s Resilience Summit.

A couple of my friends also participated in some of these, so it was nice to be able to expand and delve deeper into our conversations around what we were learning, the organizations the presenters founded and/or are involved in, the work they are doing and how they are living a life of purpose.  We also got lots of free resources from them as well (and a list of recommended books, available programs and other resources to consider). The next round of books waiting to be read are The Body Keeps Score- Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma; Waking the Tiger- Healing Trauma; Me and White Supremacy- Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor and The Success Principles Workbook.

These books will support the next leg of my journey. My next endeavor is the Level One training I signed up for with Little Flower Yoga that will enable me to teach yoga and other mindfulness practices to children and adolescents aged 3-18. Let’s just say I heard the calling in meditation one morning and, when you hear the voice, you don’t ignore it! It was clear as a bell, and then all sorts of synchronicities followed. 

Then I looked back to the physical traumas (accidents, falls, surgeries, disabilities) I’ve had in my life, my 33+ years as an educator in an at-risk school district where trauma, violence, abuse and crisis was an every day part of many of the students’ lives and how I was always involved in student and staff support services to the point where, when I became a school administrator, I was the educational leader in charge of support services.  Crisis intervention was a daily thing most days. In looking back, I see the call to volunteer in an orphanage or group foster home and perhaps with children who may have physical disabilities very clearly. Divine Alignment. Vortex of Energy. Quantum Soup. Inspired Action. 

Speaking of inspired action, I am in awe of the many people and boots on the ground organizations doing so much good and providing much needed services as well as opportunities to be of service. They are all a source of deep inspiration! This is a time we are all being called to serve in our own unique way….but we can only do so at our best if and when we put the oxygen mask on first. 

Being a HUGE self-care advocate, I’ve often referred to self-care practices as my non-negotiables. So, in addition to yoga, prayer, meditation, music / mantra, reading, self-study,  and nutritious food, I’ve been making sure I get my sleep, silent time, and time away from my phone. I drink plenty of water, juice regularly, take all my supplements, get out in nature, work out a little each day, slather on the lotions and potions, work with essential oils, treat myself to fresh flowers, and even allow myself some PJ mornings in bed. There have been many a day I’ve been called to rest, and that’s good too! Our bodies are always talking to us, so it’s wise to listen. Listen and feel. Then take right action. And sometimes, right action may look like doing nothing at all.

Phone calls, FaceTime and/or zoom calls and celebrations with friends have provided that sense of connection that we as humans need. Making sure to reach out to friends or people I haven’t spoken to in a while is important to me. And I’m so grateful for the people who’ve called to check in on me. We are wired to connect and, as a species, we are interdependent. If there is anything we are all learning through this time of physical distancing is that it’s not about the “I/Me” but the “We/Us.”

As I reflect on these times we’re all experiencing, and other times in my life when I’ve been resilient, I’m thankful that I have the practices and a toolbox crammed with resources to tap into. These practices and resources have always allowed me to take accountability for my life, establish healthy boundaries, call upon my inner fortitude, embrace change, live fearlessly, do hard things, deal with loss and grief, be bold and unapologetic about some of my choices and move through life happily, positively, optimistically and with an attitude of gratitude. And whether you realize it or not, You have a resilience muscle that you’ve engaged when tough times have come calling for you. Now is as good a time as ever to think about that.

So… as a way to thank you for entertaining this personal “documentation” of sorts, I would like to share a brief self-inquiry practice you can do if you feel like you could use a little inspired actionIt’s one that was offered to me at one of the Resilience Summit’s sessions.

Before doing so though, I invite you to maybe light a candle, burn a little incense or maybe even burn a little sage or palo santo to clear your space of any stagnant or unwelcome energy. Have a piece of paper or a journal nearby and something with which to write…a pen, pencil, colored pencils, gel pens, markers….whatever floats your boat. You may also decide you want some soothing music in the background. Get comfortable, close your eyes if it feels safe to do so, take 4-5 deep breaths, exhaling slowly, then return to your regular breathing,

Take a moment to look at the following questions then, when you are ready, close your eyes again and ask yourself the questions:

  • What does resilience mean to me?
  • How does it look like?
  • How does it feel?
  • What are the qualities I possess that I feel are resilient?
  • What are my strongest qualities?
  • What are the qualities that I actually want to build within myself?

After sitting with these questions for a bit, contemplate the following:

  • Remember a time (or the last time) you had to be resilient. Take yourself back to that time and place. And when you recall that place, remember what it felt like to be resilient, to tap into that inner strength, or that place of wisdom / inner knowing. 
  • What were your tools?
  • How did you move through whatever obstacle, challenge or difficulty you were facing?
  • How did you overcome the obstacle, challenge or difficulty? 

When you are ready, open your eyes and START WRITING. When you feel that you have written all that there is to write, ask yourself:

  • How can I move towards what strengthens me?
  • How can I move away from what weakens me? (These can be people, places, situations, thoughts, activities, habits, etc.) and write some more.

At some point, you may also want to consider documenting your own version of what this period of sheltering at home or working on the frontlines has looked like for you, especially if you have young children, grandchildren or maybe even for future generations. We are living through unprecedented times. But just like past generations of our resilient ancestors, we, too, will get through this and move towards a new world.

Darlings, when the going gets tough, we must rely on our tools. We must use them. Embody them. There will always be things we can’t control, but our tools will always help us in responding to them in a way that serves us…and in deciding how we chose to move through whatever happens. So let’s decide to move through these times with patience, much needed positivity, grace, fierce determination, inner fortitude, loving-kindness, and a heart wide open. 

Here’s to us and to our skillfulness, capabilities and resourcefulness…Stay calm and percolate on! JTC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Global Pause

“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smokey skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”

Greetings, my darlings!

I saw the above statement posted somewhere on Instagram and found its words to be comforting for, deep down inside, it is exactly how I feel…. like many of us feel. As I mentioned in my previous blog, When Things Feel Out of Control, this unprecedented GLOBAL pandemic of our time is an opportunity for us to re-group, re-align and re-define who we want to be in the space we occupy in the world. It’s a time for feeling, healing- mind, body and soul- awakening, and raising the vibration of the collective consciousness.

It’s a time for recalibration as well as finding balance, truth, freedom and liberation. But in order to attain those states, we must first take the time to feel hard feelings. What are they? Can you name them? A few may be sadness, anger, rage, grief, resentment, a sense of deep loss. What does this feel like in your body? What sensations do you feel?

There is a saying that goes something like, “Our suffering gives us Xray vision to the suffering of others.” But first, we must identify our own human suffering, our traumas,  and how our choices, thoughts, beliefs, actions, speech, lifestyle, hatred, prejudices, consumerism, and activism, or lack thereof, all play a part in the collective suffering of the world.

In my humble opinion, we are all being shown what it means to be human.  After all, we are ONE human race….a race that MUST move forward. There is no going back! Nor should we want to go back. Each and every one of us are part of a beautiful symphony of life that is being orchestrated to move humanity forward and the name of the composition is  Compassion, Empathy and Love….for ourselves and others.

I’ve spent a lot of time this past week thinking about how we can move forward. How I can help to move humanity forward. It all starts with ourselves. I find myself asking:

  • “Who do I want to be?”
  • “Who am I becoming?”
  • “How do I want to move through my life?”
  • “What part of life do I want to do differently?”
  • “How do I want to feel today? Everyday?”
  • “What do I have to give, contribute and offer?

I feel like we are living a moment in time that we cannot take for granted. As I’ve pondered the meaning and significance of what it means from shifting from an I/Me mentality to a We/Us mentality, more questions arose around “engagement.”

As a people:

  • How do we want to engage?
  • How do we want to be, feel and act?
  • How do we want to interact with each other?
  • How do we want to work?
  • How do we want to parent?
  • How do we want to play?
  • How do we want to be in community?
  • How do we want to engage with our neighbors?
  • How do we engage with our families? 
  • How do we want to show up in our intimate relationships?
  • How do we want to show up for our finances?
  • How do we want to engage with technology?
  • How do we want to use social media?
  • How do we want to show up for human rights and equality?
  • How do we want our government and our leaders to show up?

These questions also allow us to identify the areas of our lives that are not working for us (as well as areas that are). They provide a window for us to analyze how we want to move through our individual world and the collective world. But, like any kind of transformation, destruction, careful planning and precise vision go hand in hand. We owe it to ourselves to create a space for new visions, new thought patterns and new belief systems. We need to call on our imagination and creativity. And in order to do so, we must create the time and space to do so.

Luckily for us, this pandemic has gifted us with much time. And we can either use our time productively or get swept up with other forms of addictions or unhealthy habits. As a society, and as a human race, we have become disconnected and disengaged from our mind, body and spirit. Sadly, there are more people connected to their electronic devices these days than engaged in human, face-to-face connection. In many cases, they are connected in unhealthy ways.

Ways that lack boundaries, censorship and discernment. I was listening to a podcast with Glennon Doyle about her new book, Untamed (a must read), and she said the following: “Text messages are not the boss of me.” OMG how brilliant! Seriously, how can we allow our devices to be the boss of us? Have you ever been with someone who can’t engage in a conversation or finish a sentence because they are so distracted because they continue to text? Rather than being respectful, mindful, present and fully engaged with a human body before them, they are more concerned with what’s going on in the palm of their hand. Are you one of this people, dearest reader?

I feel like there is this monumental, gargantuan force that is pushing us to go isolate and go within so that we learn to be together again. A force that is showing us what it means to be human. A force that is connecting us all in unimaginable ways despite our “social/physical distancing.” We are being shown alternatives, and taking part in new ways to stay connected.  New ways to interact, work, teach, learn, play, care, support and make a difference. Thanks to the numerous artists, musicians, poets, authors, teachers, meditators, spiritual activists, healers, coaches, psychologists, community leaders, activists, schools and universities, we are re-defining the meaning of human connection. We’ve been so disengaged and out of our bodies for so long, that it now feels like we’ve been dropped suddenly into our bodies anew.

Darlings, we are all a part of a new history in the making. It’s like we are all being called to be a part of this new creation. New world.  New society. New culture. New economy. New politics. New systems. New beliefs. All old systems appear to be crumbling,  falling apart,  making way and opening this new portal for us to step through.

The biggest questions that remains is, “Will you CHOOSE to be left behind or walk through the gateway to a new world?” I don’t know about you, but I’m packing lightly…wink, wink!

In closing, I’d like to offer up prayers for all of us. I think it’s safe to say we have all lost friends and loved ones to COVID19. Here’s a beautiful prayer that spoke to me when I came across it on social media during the early days of the pandemic:

Prayer for Pandemic

May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake. May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable. May we who have the luxury of working form home remember those who must choose between preserving their health and making their rent. May we who have the flexibility to care for our children remember those who have no options. May we who have to cancel our trips remember those who have no safe place to go. May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those who have no margin at all. May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home. As fear grips our country, let us choose love. During this time we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us find ways tp be in the loving embrace of God to our neighbors. Amen.

Thanks for reading! Lead from the heart…always and in all ways, JTC

PS: If you’re looking for some good reading or inspiration to accompany you on your own personal journey, or to comfort you during this time, below are a few of my favorite books:

  • A Return to Love,  by Marianne Williamson
  • Revolution of the Soul, by Seane Corn
  • Healing, by David Elliot
  • The Beautiful No, by Sheri Salata
  • Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes
  • Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle
  • Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
  • The Gift of Forgiveness, by Katherine Schwarzeneggar
  • More Myself, by Alicia Keys
  • Whatever Arises, Love That, by Matt Kahn
  • Inquire Within, Poems by IN-Q
  • The Wisdom of Sundays, by Oprah WInfrey
  • I’ve Been Thinking, by Maria Shriver
  • Broken Open, by Elizabeth Lesser
  • When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chodron
  • The Untethered Soul, by Michael Singer
  • The Book of Awakening, by Mark Nepo
  • Illuminata – A Return to Prayer, by Marianne Williamson
  • Outrageous Openness, by Tosha Silver
  • Change Me Prayers, by Tosha Silver
  • Astrology for the Soul, by Jan Spiller
  • Daily Om, by Madison Taylor
  • Practice You – A Journal, by Elena Brower