Closet Ghosts vs. Closet Beauties

“Closets should be a sanctuary that calm the chaos of everyday life.” Me

Closets come in all shapes and sizes . We do not need to have an enormous walk-in closet for it to be beautiful. A closet, regardless of its size, when well-organized and appointed, should take our breath away when we open its doors.

However, this is not always the case. For many, closets are places that hold many secrets. Closets can be very telling in this way. They reveal insecurities, fears, losses, shame, betrayals, confusion, doubts and a host of other suppressed feelings and emotions.

Feelings and emotions that, when not felt and dealt with, hold us back and forever keep us in a cycle of unrest and wanting more. Cycles that rob us of our peace and serenity. As a result, we tend to store things that no longer serve us and perhaps even cause us suffering because of the sheer volume of things inside of them and the often time disorganization, mess, and clutter that accumulates as a result.

What we fail to realize many times, is that what we hide controls us. It’s heavy. It weighs us down. It cripples/ paralyzes us. It blocks energy from flowing and keeps new things from entering our lives. And if there is anything I know for sure, is that avoidance compounds a problem! In order to eliminate the problem, we must first look at its root cause.

Before doing so though, allow me to rewind for a moment. I had a blog scheduled for last week called Closet Ghosts. The title, and blog, organically evolved from conversations I was having with my Scorpio soul sister Kat, and my dear pseudo-daughter and guest blogger of long ago, Blondie. However, the blog mysteriously disappeared. I know I did not trash it or accidentally discard it. After a live chat with IT people, the culprit and root cause was probably an Internet glitch that prevented my work from being saved at that moment in time.

I exhaled deeply at this point, and came to the conclusion that the cyberspace gods didn’t want that blog to be published…. wink, wink.

What was I to do? Freak out? Stress? Allow it to ruin my day? I don’t think so… absolutely NOT! I just closed my laptop and went about my day. I didn’t even want to expend any more of my energy coming up with a new blog for I could not even remember all the details of it because, many times, I’m just in the “zone” as I write. So…..here I am, a week later, and here is a new blog… inspired by the one that is somewhere in cyberspace.

Let’s fast forward to root causes. An assumption we often make along our journey, is to think that the same mindset that created the problem will be able to fix it. Absolutely not! The root cause of an issue, that is inevitably causing us to suffer, is always buried deep inside of us. We must be willing to do the messy and painful work of going within, dusting off the cobwebs and uncovering the many levels of limited beliefs that are holding us back from moving forward with our lives. And this is one thing the ego mind is most uncomfortable doing!

That is why we must go within and connect to our hearts. Taking a look around our immediate surroundings and our personal space, especially our closets, is a good barometer of the state of our hearts. The clutter, mess, and disorganization in our personal spaces is a clear reflection of the mess, clutter and disorganization that resides deep within us.

Being aware of this is the first step. Awareness doesn’t fight, criticize or judge. It’s simply there, it’s eye-opening, and it’s transformational. And in order for us to grow, we must always be in a constant state of transformation. Our messes and our problems are opportunities knocking at our door.

In Michael Singer’s book, The Untethered Soul, there’s a chapter called Removing Your Inner Thorn. In it he talks about the spiritual journey being one of constant transformation. He goes on to say the following:

“In order to grow, you must give up the struggle to remain the same, and learn to embrace change at all times. One of the most important areas requiring change is how we solve our personal problems. We normally attempt to solve our inner disturbances by protecting ourselves. Real transformation begins when you embrace your problems as agents.

Spring cleaning is a wonderful time of year to assess the areas in our lives that need clearing, cleansing, decluttering, organizing and discarding so that vital life force energy can enter the walls that house our physical and spiritual selves. It’s the perfect time to assess and identify what we are allowing to control us and make an intentional, informed and concerted effort to change. A good place to start is our closet(s).

Once we clear away our emotional clutter, the clutter that is blocking that flow of life force energy, we will also be clearing away a lot of the issues that are blocking us in life. Once we clear out our Closet Ghosts, there will only be Closet Beauties to greet us when we open those doors.

So regardless of its size or shape, there are many organizing tools we can utilize that will maximize the space that we have. I love organizing, so I like to open a closet and feel like it’s a store display. Now mind you, I do not have huge walk-in closets. However, I do have things that allow me to maximize the space I have like skinny hangers, clear shoeboxes, matching canvas bins, decorative hooks, baskets and shelving that allow me to store as well as display some of my possessions. Hanging articles of clothing by color is also very appealing to the eyes. What can I say? Having beautiful, well-organized closets brings me joy!

And speaking of JOY, another reason that our clutter can cause us suffering and, therefore, zap our joy, is because we are no longer the same person we were when we bought all those things in the first place, nor are we looking at those things with the same level of awareness and consciousness any longer. We are in a constant and ever changing pattern of ebbing and flowing.

Once we have swept away those issues that have been blocking us in life, we will know in our hearts that we are whole perfect and complete just the way we are and that we do NOT need one more thing to add to that circle of completeness and wholeness. We have transformed to the point where we look at those external circumstances, situations, and emotions that were our Closet Ghosts and have bid them farewell.

In bidding them farewell, we swing our doors wide open for all to see the Closet Beauties that reside within… both in our closets and in our hearts.

Carry on my darlings!

Inhale Love & Light… Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

PS: If you are in huge spring cleaning mode and/or are getting ready to move, check out my Spring Cleaning blog from March 2018. It contains some pointers and guidelines from one of my favorite books, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. And in her words: “Clear your clutter and enjoy the magic of a tidy home-and the calm, motivated mind said it can inspire.”

College Admissions Scam

“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.” Khalil Gibran

Greetings darlings!

As I was checking my emails this morning, I came across Mallika Chopra’s blog on the college admissions cheating scam. Being all too familiar with the expectations, absurdities, insane practices and stresses related to getting a child into college, I put aside the blog I was working on for today and instead decided to share the outstanding blog Ms Chopra wrote.

Not only is it on-point, but it also puts parenting styles into perspective and places what is truly most important in clear view: a child’s overall well being. In addition, it offers us all opportunities to have meaningful conversations with our children, colleagues, peers, friends and family.

Enjoy the read and share if you care!

Dear Friends

As my phone exploded with texts from friends about the college admissions cheating scam, my reaction was sadness and non-surprise. It also forced me to reflect on my own achievement orientation and parenting style.

In the last month, my frustrated conversations with friends and family has involved testing accommodations, affirmative action against Asian student, sports recruiting, legacy admissions, inherent advantage for the affluent, donations, and most importantly, the tragic reality of suicide in colleges. I have also had really honest, sometimes uncomfortable, conversations with friends about how an elite college education can transform the social and economic path for some families and communities whereas for others (like mine) it is assumed it is part of our children’s path.

The college bribery and cheating scandal is about fraud, and how rich parents have made moral sacrifices and criminally participated in a scheme to get their kids into college. But the problem lies deeper and we need to start addressing the root causes of a system that is not only rigged, but creating anxiety for our kids.

Our kids are anxious, stressed out, tired, over diagnosed, and over medicated. The system as a whole is to blame – schools, colleges, testing organizations, counselors, therapists, and the list goes on and on. And while the system is broken, we as parents need to take responsibility. 

When we send kids messages that success is dependent on getting into a certain college, we are stripping their soul of living a meaningful life. When we overschedule our kids so they can pad their resumes with varsity sports, club teams, volunteering, and justify that they love it, even if they don’t get enough sleep, we as parents need to take responsibility. When we let our kids take an overload of AP’s and honors classes, and say that their counselor said they can do it and it’s necessary for college admissions, and then we see our kids on edge, we as parents, need to take responsibility. When we stress about our kid’s ACT or SAT scores, and burden them with extra tutoring, we are playing into the system. When we justify getting our kid’s extra time on testing or letting them have unneeded medication to stay alert, while perhaps deep down inside knowing they don’t need it or we didn’t do everything to avoid it, we are sending our kids a message about what matters most to us. 

As parents we need to send our kids a different message. 

• Sleep, right now, is the most important aspect of your health and happiness.

• Who you are as a person matters more than what you achieve.

• I believe in you and your abilities, and am proud of what you choose to do.

• Teenage years should be a time of discovery. 

• If you aren’t passionate about something, even if you have been doing it for a while, its ok to try something else.

• It is ok to fail. By failing, you learn.

• Be bored. That’s when creativity often bursts forth.

• Just because “everyone” is doing it, doesn’t mean you need to.

• When you are kind, I am so proud of you.

• How can we give back to the world?

• I love you.

Kahlil Gibran reminds us that:

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

As parents, it is our responsibility to transition from an achievement-oriented discussion in our homes to one of nurturing our kids to know that they are special. Our role is to help guide our children to discover their unique talents to find connection and to serve their communities and their world. Let us remember that our children are sacred gifts. We can best serve them, and ourselves, with unfiltered love and genuine acceptance.

It is my hope that Mallika Chopra’s blog will get everyone thinking about our children’s overall well-being and perhaps even how we perpetuate a system that is destroying our children’s physical, mental and emotional health. May this blog spark reflections, questions and opportunities for deep-diving conversations.

Inhale Love & Light… Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

Ease and Effortlessness

“If you align in any moment with the flow of life as it presents itself, it will unfold in the right way at the right time with spontaneity and ease.” -Tosha Silver

There was a time in my life when I had to make sure that I was in control of every little thing, what would happen, when it would happen, how and with whom. The OCD in me maintained such a tight schedule, that the possibility of any sort of magic, spontaneity or synchronicity to occur were less than likely.

No wonder I was stressed! If I was going to entertain a large crowd, I would obsess over it for the weeks leading up to it. If I was hosting a dinner party, I would be setting the dining room table days in advance and making sure every little detail was “perfect.” I would let all the details consume my every waking moment. By the time the day or evening came, I’d already be exhausted.

At times, I’d be so hell-bent on something happening a certain way, that I would struggle when it appeared that it would not work out. And when it didn’t, I’d have a meltdown. I was like a fish swimming upstream. A part of me never paused long enough to notice that perhaps I was being “divinely guided” in another direction.

Whew! When I look back, it’s almost as if I do not recognize that person. Thank goodness those years are long gone!

By no means am I saying to throw planning and scheduling out the window. A certain degree of planning is always necessary. If we don’t plan, we are actually planning to fail. Any solid educator or highly successful person will attest to that. What I am saying is to be aware of that ever-so fine line between planning and obsessing.

Once we cross over the border to obsession, we’re doomed. We often have physical symptoms or get sick. But the sooner we come to that point in our lives where we realize that we cannot control everything, we are on our road to OCD recovery.

That’s when we start learning to sit back, chill out, relax, and have faith in knowing that everything will work out…as we see it happening with our own eyes. Before we know it, we have mastered the art of letting go and just letting life happen. Struggles be gone… how sweet it is!!! There’s absolutely no turning back once we’ve learned to have faith in the process.

For me, there is no better reminder of ease and going with the flow than when I’m on my yoga mat or when I sit on the beach and look out at the ocean. I love watching the waves roll in. Even when the waves crash, they do so ever so effortlessly. It’s as if they just melt into one another. There’s no struggle, no pushback…the pattern just repeats itself over and over again.

Letting go with ease and effortlessness is what we can do when faced with a decision, situation or problem we are unsure as to how to address. We can either get stuck ruminating in our heads or align ourselves with that power that is greater than us. Aligning ourselves with Source, is where faith comes in.

The faith in knowing we do not have to take on that decision, situation or problem and do battle with it in that very instant. We know, deep in our souls, that it’s already being handled. The lovely and delightful book by Tosha Silver, Outrageous Openness- Letting the Divine Take the Lead, is a perfect read in that it opens our eyes to the myriad of ways the Divine is always handling the details and conspiring in our favor. Through the often funny, poignant and practical vignettes contained in the book, we are delightfully and creatively shown how we can release the exhausting pursuit that has us seeking everything from perfection and control to safety and security.

The book club I belong to decided to pick this book last month. While I had previously read it when it was first published, I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading it again. It allowed me to reflect and rejoice!

Tosha Silver’s Book a gem. As one of the reviews states: “By allowing the Divine to lead the way, we can finally put down the heavy load of hopes, fears, and opinions about how things should be. We learn how to be guided to take the right actions at the right time, and to enjoy the spectacular show that is our life.”

Darling, if you feel your life is lacking a fair amount of ease and effortlessness, and you feel exhausted and keep hitting dead ends, then it’s time to do something about it. If you feel like your life is a constant struggle and you’re tightly wound up and ready to snap, it’s time to snap out of it!

Know there IS a better way. You don’t have to go at this thing called “Life” alone. Actually, we aren’t wired to “go at it alone.” We are all wired to a path of enlightenment, and this is NOT a solitary path. The Divine is always there to guide us and show us how to live with ease and effortlessness.

All we need to do is be open…. outrageously open!

Inhale Love & Light… Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

Inner Clarity

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

Think about this for a moment, my darlings: the present moment is where we have “an appointment with life” as Thich Nhat Hanh is known for saying. After all, the past no longer exists and neither does the future. Yet, many of us live somewhere between the two… with one foot in the past and one in the future.

What happens when this occurs? We are either depressed or anxious. Sad or worried. Rather than being so fully steeped in present moment awareness and the joy and happiness that can be found there, we are living in some imaginary place where life does NOT exist.

Enjoying and basking in the joys that are ever so present in our lives, even during difficult times, takes practice. It takes work to undo the havoc we’ve created by doing all the things that keep us from being mindful and fully engaged in our everyday lives. I like to say that we are so caught up in “do-ing” that we have forgotten the subtle art of “be-ing.” We’ve gotten so far removed from the simplicity of life!

Instead, we allow ourselves to get caught up in “stuff” that is devoid of meaning. The minutia that robs us of quality life and quality time with ourselves and our loved ones. These are the stressors in our lives. The things that require endless work and drain us of our life energy. And guess what? It’s a choice we make. Yep, we choose our behaviors. And what we allow, persists!

The more important question is: WHY do we allow ourselves to get caught up in the things that keep us from being front and center in our own lives?

For some, it may be the fear of missing out while for others it may be the inability to be enjoy their own company. Some of us may actually enjoy the chaos, maybe even create it, and others may just throw their hands up and feel that there’s nothing they can do about it. And yet for some, running from the present moment can be a defense mechanism which keeps them from “feeling.”

One thing I know for sure is that, when we allow ourselves to get caught up in the vicious cycle that tears us away from our joy and happiness, it is because we are lacking inner clarity. In my book, inner clarity is part of self-care. And the art of self-care is also a practice.

If you are not sure where or how to start, fear not! As with all things divinely ordained, I just finished reading an email from Panache Desai, and in it he listed six steps to help us maintain inner clarity.

  • Avoid chaotic and stressful situations. All they serve to do is derail your focus and draw you into their chaos. 
  • Calm and center yourself several times a day through a habit of conscious breathing. Doing so, lowers stress and reminds you of who you really are and why you’re really here. 
  • Unplug yourself at least once a week from all devices, social media and news cycles. We are drowning in information, much of it increasingly negative. Step away from what’s secondary and focus on what’s primary. 
  • Go out into nature. We are natural beings. We are meant to be in forests, at the seashore and in the open. We are not meant to be tied to screens and cubicles and artificial lighting. 
  • Get as much sleep as you can. Sleep is restorative. Sleep is relaxing. Sleep is necessary to mental and physical health. A lack of sleep can lead to a lack of focus and clarity more than any other cause. 
  • Get as much exercise as you can. We were meant to move. When we move, we are using our bodies, and our minds, as they are supposed to be used. When you are sedentary, your mind and your body become clogged with sediment. Exercise flushes out the unnecessary, leaving you lighter

If you take the time to use these steps as a guide and make them a part of your everyday coming and going, I can assure that you will start to to feel refreshed, renewed, vibrant, energetic, joyous, expansive, peaceful and clear. Invest in your Self, my darlings…you’re worth it!

Inhale Love & Light… Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

Tis the Season to Sparkle

“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. All things can be mended. Not with time as they say, but with intention. So go love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for light that is you.” -L.R. Knost

I saw the above quote on my neighbor’s Instagram, and it spoke volumes to me. It got me thinking, and thinking some more, and then realized I had to use it as inspiration for a blog.

It’s safe to say that the world has always been a broken place, or we would not have the advancements, developments, and changes that have taken place since the dawn of time. We humans have been broken and flawed as well and, with each generation, we hope we do better and leave things a little better than our parents and their parents before them.

If it weren’t for things gone wrong in history and over the progression time and space, things wouldn’t be fixed, and there would be no reason for just causes. Ghandi’s famous quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world” wouldn’t be on the tips of everyone’s tongues, on clothing, accessories, furnishings and a myriad of social media platforms.

What’s important is that we, as a human race, are awakening and evolving more rapidly than what seems like any other generation before us. That’s what technology has done for us. Every thing we need to know, what to do and how to do it is at the tips of our fingers…merely keystrokes and seconds away. However, it’s what we do with the knowledge we obtain that is the key.

How we integrate this knowledge into our being and everyday life is what propels us to those higher levels of awakening and ascension. It’s what allows us to tap into our inner light and shine it brightly. It’s how we integrate this knowledge and apply it to everything in life… our encounters, struggles, challenges, interactions and personal and professional relationships.

We cannot master a skill without experiential knowledge though. We can have all the book smarts in the world, but unless we immerse ourselves in practicing, engaging, sharing, comforting, giving, serving and allowing ourselves to be an active and vulnerable participant in the shared human experience, we may as well dig a hole and jump into it. We cannot light the way for others if we do not see our own light… our own influence, which is remarkably exponential by the way!

What else is exponential? Love. At the core of all our actions, is love. It is the love of self that permits us to “love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally.” It’s our love of self that fuels us to be and do better…to grow, expand, awaken and evolve. It’s this love that ignites our passions and makes us want to share them with the world. It’s what makes us ask, “How can I serve?”

Well, we can start by acknowledging all those broken places in us, in our families, communities and in the world and asking ourselves how we can be the light that seeps in. What work do we have to do that will ultimately lead us to sharing our stories, insights, knowledge, passions, strengths and gifts with everyone around us? What work have we done that we can share with others? What mountains have we had to climb that has prepared us to do just that?

I have been having conversations with friends recently about our individual mountains. Whatever it is we’ve gone through/are going through, can NEVER be in vain. It’s all so connected to our life’s purpose and our ability to be the light that mends our broken world with love, peace and harmony. While it may take some time, and many lessons, we start to look back and connect the dots, we start to see the big picture… that which is our distinct essence- our higher calling and higher purpose/destiny. We may even have more than one purpose!

Darlings, our stories, experiences and challenges need to be shared, books written, support groups established, speaking engagements solidified, articles authored, websites designed, blogs started, programs, businesses, trainings and webinars created, non-profits founded, gardens planted, cakes baked, venues decorated, art (in all forms) created, songs and poetry written, movies and plays directed, produced and filmed and performances of all kinds scheduled. The list goes on and on…this is how we shine our own unique and essential light. This is how we climb our individual mountains, integrate all our experiences and celebrate our doing so. This is how we light the way, forge a path for others and leave our broken world a little better than when/how we found it. This is how we mend it, contribute and pay forward. This is how we inspire, love, serve.

What are your experiences calling you to do?

Whatever it is our experiences are calling us to do, me must tap into our inner artist, dreamer and creator to lead the way, and our desires are guaranteed to be driven by love and passion. And speaking of passion, I will leave you with some exceptional and inspirational quotes that are sure to get all of us thinking, dreaming and creating!

“You have to be burning with an idea, or problem, or wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.” Steve Jobs

“Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate.” Jon Bon Jovi

Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” Oprah Winfrey

“There is no passion to be found playing small- in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Nelson Mandela

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” Harriet Tubman

“You can’t fall if you don’t climb. But there’s no joy in living your whole life on the ground.” Unknown

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” Amelia Earhart

Tis the season to sparkle, my darlings! So how about we all go about doing just that? Let’s all shine brightly…and remember to love extravagantly, intentionally and unconditionally!

Inhale Love & Light… Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

Dedicated to my niece, Megan, on being chosen as Teacher of the Year by her peers. She’s had her own mountains to climb this past year, but she did not let that affect her performance, love of teaching or her studies. At the age of 30, she is most definitely on the path to greatness!

Seeing the Jewel Inside

“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.” Pema Chodron

Why is it that self-care and self-love are so easy for some and difficult and challenging for others? Why is it that we can easily see and name it when we look at other people’s regimen and practices, regardless of how much they have on their plates, yet can’t muster up the courage and honesty to treat our Selves gently and lovingly?

Where do you fall in the scheme of things, my darling? Are you busy pondering the “how,” “when,” and “why” to the point of mental exhaustion, or are you proactive and loving to yourself and dedicated to your self-care / self-love practices?

Do you realize you are a jewel that needs the polishing and care that only YOU can bestow upon your Self? Are you giving your Self away? Are you fatigued? Frustrated? Angry? Lethargic? If the answer to most of these questions is yes, then allow me to ask you, “Why?” And spare me the excuses…wink, wink! Let’s just keep it real.

Speaking of excuses, as I enter this new decade, one of my new favorite quotes is by Daryl McDaniels (you may remember him for his hip-hop legacy and group Run-DMC). I read the quote in his memoir, Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide, and it says, “Excuses don’t explain and explanations don’t excuse.”  How freakin’ GREAT is that???? I am applying it to so many areas of my life these days! First and foremost, I am done with giving excuses and, secondly, I don’t care to listen to other people’s BS excuses any longer. Why ? As the quote says, excuses don’t explain and explanations don’t excuse. It’s plain and simple! Essentially, where there is a will, there is a way. More importantly, love will find the way…..as in self-love!

So, back you…the precious jewel that you are. The one who gives, nurtures and takes care of everyone, and the one who makes sure everyone’s needs are met. The one who will go above and beyond…yes, to the point of exhaustion, fatigue and then some. You are precious! You are needed! You have special gifts to share with the world! You have a responsibility to honor, cherish, and protect the gift of life you have been given! You can put down the heavy lifting. Be done with the struggle. Let go of whatever is weighing you down. Release what / who is not serving your highest good. Forget about who thinks what of you. Be you. Do you!

We need to take all that energy, angst, stress, and discomfort and throw it all away. Let it go, release it, acknowledge we are not perfect AND yet perfectly flawed. We are all unique and precious and must courageously, honestly, gently and lovingly treat our Selves that way. We need to hold our Selves in our loving arms and live…..live joyously, peacefully, and happily without the unnecessary demands we put on our lives. It’s a movement we must all be part of and support each other on. Furthermore, we need to hold ourselves, and each other, accountable in doing so. It’s really quite simple when you think about it.

Currently, there is a Spirit Voyage Global Sadhana going on, and Jai Jagdeesh (love her music by the way) is the featured person who posts daily messages and leads the participants in chanting, movement, meditation and stillness. Her message the other day,  which one of my beloved teachers shared in class, speaks to the topic of self-love and self-care perfectly. Her words are so eloquent, that I must share them with you in hopes of inspiring you to look inside and reassess You, your motives, habits, practices, priorities, needs and desires. I can plant a seed of intention, but YOU must do the watering! First though, please take a moment to center yourself BEFORE reading the following:

They say, “With love all things are possible.” I would add the words “self” and “sweet” to make it: With Self-love, all Sweet things are possible.” When we cherish ourselves, taking the time to treasure all that we are and carve space for all that we are becoming, there is no limit to the sweetness we can create. When rested, our minds are limitless. When heeded, our hearts flood us with courage. When loved, TRULY loved by WE OURSELVES, our bodies can rise to any occasion. We can do the work we were born to do easily, joyfully, sweetly. Limitless luminosity, all available to bless the earth.

Beautiful, or what? Inspiring? Motivating? Affirming? Is your heart open? Is your soul speaking to you? Is it crying out to you? How’s your breathing? Are you breathing, or are you holding your breath? How is your posture? Are you relaxed, or are your shoulders scrunched up by your ears? Is your heart open, or is it closed?

You may want to take a few moments to just sit and be still, re-read the words, and connect with the emotions it brings up and the sensations you feel in your body. Breathe into all of it. Inhale and exhale deeply. Hold it all. No judgement….just be the witness to whatever arises without engaging in it. Know you are being held, supported, and loved. When you feel the need to move, do so. You may even want to take a few moments to journal about your experience.  The important thing is that you were courageous and took a moment to look inside. And remember, it’s all good!

My wish for us all is that we always make the time to listen to the whispers of our souls in order to better see the valuable and luminous jewel inside AND live our brilliance!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

Succulent and Wild at Any Age

“I think it’s easy to stop ourselves from being too bright, too happy, too successful. Conformity also soothes us. We can predict it, and there is an illusion of control. Unfortunately, we also stop ourselves from being too visible, unusual or vivid.” SARK

How many times has someone remarked, “You are too much,” and you know it wasn’t in a fun way? How many times have you stopped yourself from being too loud, too different or too much?

In her lovely and colorful book , Succulent Wild Woman, by SARK (which I mentioned in my previous blog), she goes on to state how we crave our individuality, our wild, special selves, and how we want to live out adventures and be seen for our essences. Is  that not the truth? Is that not the hero’s journey? Is that not why we fight tooth and nail?

Yet, how many of us allow other people, as well as these people’s own issues and/or insecurities, to diminish our greatness, our individuality and extinguish our light? Who are these people anyway? Why do we allow them to take our power away? Why do we permit them to zap our joy? Furthermore, why are we stopping ourselves from being who we were brought here to be? The struggle in this arena is real my darlings!

This is a topic I am certain we all find ourselves talking about and struggling with regardless our age and stage in life. So,  I am going to keep this blog short and sweet because I want to hammer home a very important message. A message for all women of all ages out there as well as the men out there who are raising young girls. We must cease telling young girls and women that they are “too much!”

In doing so, a little light in their heart of hearts gets extinguished more and more until nothing is left. No self-worth, no creativity, no joy, no aliveness, no zest for life, no vitality, and no purpose or sense of belonging. Instead, they get infused with feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, sadness,  aloneness, isolation and emptiness. And, by the way, this goes for young boys and men too (I just happen to love to support and empower the youngest of girls as well as the oldest of women).

The following are some additional golden nuggets from SARK’s book that can guide us to being succulent and wild at any age (if you missed my last blog, Living a Succulent Life, you may want to check it out):

The definition of a Succulent Wild Woman: A woman of any age who feels free to FULLY express herself in EVERY dimension of her life.

A note to young or not yet formed succulent wild women: Stand firm and whole as a woman. You are precious and irreplaceable. Treasure your female self. Choose innocence. Invent ways to feel more free. Investigate your darknesses.

A note to those who love succulent wild women: Learn thoroughly your own female side. Support freedom and release judgements. Be sexual only mutually. Let go of fears. Speak respectfully. Spend real, intimate time with women. 

What do you say? Let’s take it easy on ourselves and on the women around us. Lets encourage each other whenever possible. Let’s call each other out when we are not showering our Selves with love or speaking in a self-deprecating manner. Let’s catch ourselves when we are about to say something disparaging or unfavorable about our own Self. Let’s color outside the lines. Let’s live out loud. Let’s be bold. Let’s be brave. Let’s be fearless. Let’s be juicy.  Let’s be flashy, eccentric, gregarious, or outlandish. Let’s be real. Let’s be raw. Let’s be relevant. Let’s be whomever we want to be….whenever we want! Oh, and those people who think we are too much??? As the saying goes, “They’re not our people.” Cut them loose darlings, for they are not serving your highest good. Trust me. Better yet, trust your instincts!

In a nutshell, we can be wild, free and succulent regardless of our age and stage in life. Carry on…wink wink!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

 

100 Blogs…A Prayer of Gratitude

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

-Gary Zukov, The Seat of the Soul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer of Gratitude

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be at peace with whatever cannot be changed.

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

What Kind of Life Do You Want?

“You are fulfilled when you get up on the morning. So many times we get up in the morning, we’re depressed. We’re down. We’re angry. We’re frustrated. But when you can wake up saying, ‘I’m glad to be alive. There is purpose to this day.’ To me, that is success. And I would argue that once you have that internal success, then externally it’s just a manifestation of what happens internally in the best possible way.” -DeVon Franklin

The other day I was googling something Oprah related. Actually, I was wondering if there was a recent sighting of her in Newark, NJ days prior. Why? Because I saw someone at the airport who could have been her exact double. The poney-tailed hair, funky glasses, the eyes, the teeth, body type, minimal make-up, complexion all screamed, “Queen O,” except what would she be doing at the airport. After all, doesn’t she have her own plane? I definitely did a double-take. Poor woman! I’m sure she must get hounded by people all the time….I didn’t hound, I just stared!

Back to google…..so I came across some links from her “Life You Want Tour,” when Oprah had been in Newark a few years back. As with all things lately, synchronicity has been playing a major role in my life. Today, as a matter of fact, a few of us went to breakfast after class and the topic of synchronicity came up, as did affirmations, signs, career changes and big life questions. Much of what we talked about is summarized in a link I clicked on. I’m not sure which one it was, but I did take a picture of the 10 powerful Oprah quotes that were shared.

For some reason, I was guided to snap the picture. After this morning’s powerful conversations, I now know that I am meant to share these power thoughts / life lessons with you – today, not tomorrow or some other time, but NOW:

  1. Your purpose is the thread that connects the dots between everything you do. Your legacy is every life you’ve touched.
  2. No gift is made for you to hold within yourself. Everything gets bigger by sharing it with the world.
  3. It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly, that to live a perfect imitation of someone else’s life.
  4. You have no power in someone else’s territory.
  5. Your life is speaking to you all the time. First in a whisper. Then a thump. Then a brick. Then a brick wall.
  6. Everything that has happened to you, was happening for you.
  7. The life you want begins by embracing the life you have. The life you have is miraculous and it matters!
  8. Courage is doing what you know you need to do before you are forced to do it.
  9. What you focus on expands.
  10. When you set the vision, the universe will rise up to meet it.

As long as we are living our purpose, which undeniably is to love, serve, uplift each other, help to heal and move humanity forward, and be the change we want to see in the world, we are on track. We are a success. We are doing what we came here to do. The key is to find what sets our soul on fire, what we are passionate about and then go out and live the life we want. Not sure how or where to start? Well the 10 power thoughts is a great place for starters!

I will now leave you with Carl Lentz’s words from his book, OWN THE MOMENT, which happened to fit right in with the conversations we were having at breakfast. I just love synchronicity! The key is to be open to it.

Do you know where you are headed? Maybe the more important question is: Do you know who sent you? Because if you trust the “who,” the “where” is far more bearable when you face seasons of uncertainty. Purpose is more than a job or a scenario that you think is right for you. Living with purpose is a mentality. We can achieve our purpose in any scenario if we trust the plan and who created the plan in the first place. There is no better time than now to own some of the hardest questions in this life. Why are you here? Where do you find joy and passion in this life and how can you do more of that? One thing is for certain; Avoiding these questions creates more pressure and less peace. God didn’t put you on this earth to merely exist and vanish. Live with purpose, on purpose. Every single day. (From the chapter I Have No Idea Where I’m Going)

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

PS: I’d like to take a moment to send a “shout out” to my Highland Tribe! We are truly blessed to have such a beautiful place to practice, learn and hold the space for whatever needs sharing and whomever needs holding. Beautiful friendships have been formed at Highland Yoga Studio in Butler, NJ, and friendships continue to blossom. It’s a beautiful place to seek refuge….both on the mat and in each others arms!

Get Clear on the Why

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC