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

 

 

My Guest Blogger Returns

Red Lipstick is My Armor

by Shannon Green

I was never a very confident person growing up. 

I was constantly teased by my brother for my “witch-nose,” teased by the public school kids for having to attend Catholic School, mocked for getting good grades, and called anti-social by my 5th Grade teacher because I enjoyed reading books during recess. I’ve had glasses and braces simultaneously, been called too sensitive, too emotional, and too nice.  I’ve been asked “why do you smile so much” like it was a bad thing. 

Over the years, I’ve struggled with trying to figure out who I am and how to love myself despite of all of the criticism.  I’ve tried on a few different masks over the years to try to fit in, but none of them really felt comfortable –  until I decided to take them off completely and just see what being me felt like. 

After returning from Maui and adjusting back to reality, I knew that if I wanted to continue feeling the bliss I had experience while I was there, I needed to do some serious self-work. I needed to overcome the things that were feeding my insecurities and fears. I needed to admit that I was stressed out, which literally took a case of Shingles to make me come that realization. Not kidding.  Five years ago, just a few weeks after returning from my amazing Maui Yoga Retreat, I came down with Shingles. Luckily for me it wasn’t a severe outbreak, but it was enough for me to FINALLY admit that I was stressed out. Years of denial, both to me and my friends, had finally culminated in my body retaliating against me; as if to say,“You aren’t listening to me so I am going to make you listen to me!”

Let me set the stress stage for you. At this time, my husband and I were living with my in-laws while he finished up yet another Bachelor’s Degree (this time in Mechanical Engineering) in hopes of getting a better job than his previous Master of Fine Arts afforded him.  I was terrified we would never have enough money to move to our own place and that we would have to live with my in-laws forever. My work was ok. I wasn’t unhappy at work, but I also wouldn’t say I was happy.  Additionally, I had been hoping to start a family by now, but that wasn’t happening. Because of this, I was seeing various doctors and trying everything I could to figure out the problem.  

After returning from Maui, I realized that I needed to make the “Maui-State-of Mind” a permanent thing. I had a glimpse of how good life could be, and I needed to figure out how to sustain that feeling back home.  So, like everything I do, I tackled this with full force, as if it were a college class I needed to ace. I started reading “May Cause Miracles” by Gabrielle Bernstein. The book promised change in 40 Days, and I worked each chapter religiously.  I bought more books and more journals, and I became devoted to figuring out how to “let go” and “surrender” and how this differed from just “giving-up.” I read about love and forgiveness. 

I became a junky for all things Hay House, which is funny because I don’t think I even knew what Hay House Publishing was at the time.  I became obsessed with Marianne Williamson’s book “A Return to Love,” which has become one of my absolute favorites. I was downloading Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s 21 Day Meditation Challenges onto my phone every time a new series came out. I just kept following any signs I could find. If a name was mentioned in a book I was currently reading, I wrote it down and I researched it later. Who was the author?  What was the book?  I took the list Yaya gave me,  went to the library, and I checked out as many books as I could find. Little did I know at the time but, bit by bit, things started to change.  I had started to change, and life had started to change along with it. 

My husband eventually graduated in December 2013 and, about 10 months later, we found our beautiful home. By 2015 we were living in our house, and he was working at a good job. I realized that the fear and insecurities I had surrounding money had disappeared. Additionally, my job was starting to change too. At one point in 2015, I was working for 6 different people. Wow! That is a lot of personalities, but there was change on the horizon and, by 2016, I was working for the one person I had wanted to work for. 

I had also come to a huge decision about having a family. We were just in the final stretch of closing on our new home, and I was at yet another doctor appointment.  Unfortunately for me, I was meeting with a doctor who had a terrible bedside manner.  I was already on the verge of tears when I realized I didn’t need to keep doing this. I could stop at any time. It was my decision to make. I decided I needed to stop seeing these doctors. I knew that I wasn’t strong enough to continue with the stress of the multiple doctors’ appointments and the disappointment I felt each month when nothing I was doing was working. Once I realized that I could stop going to see these doctors, I had this amazing feeling of peace wash over me. I knew what I had to do. I had to stop going. I had the power to stop. So, I stopped. And I felt free. With this stress now lifted form my heart, I felt a huge relief wash over me. I could now concentrate on living in Maui-Bliss!

With all of those stress creators out of the way, I realized that one of my biggest insecurities still needed to be addressed: how I felt when I looked in the mirror. I believe we are always our harshest critics, and every time I looked in the mirror I heard those voices from my childhood. I knew I had to face this fear – this insecurity head on, and I thought to myself, “What is one thing I have always wanted to try but was always too scared to look foolish?”  The answer was “red lipstick.”

Now, up until this point in my life, I was fairly neutral about my lipstick colors. I tended to wear more natural colors and focused my makeup on eyeshadow and black mascara because I have always liked my eyes. My lips are naturally thin on top. Truthfully, I hardly have an upper lip. I have always been afraid to try red lipstick because I have such a fair complexion spattered with freckles, and I was terrified I would pick the wrong shade… and then end up looking like Bozo the Clown. I was determined to do it though. Face the fear of the red lipstick. So I did what I always do, and I researched the best red lipsticks. Truly I did! I went to my computer and Googled it. 

Once I had purchased the “perfect” red I rushed to the bathroom mirror to try it on. The first day I wore it, I felt a little self-conscious. Like I was trying too hard but, as the days passed by and I wore it more and more, I realized that it was boosting my confidence. In fact, applying my red lips each morning became like adorning my armor to face the world! I had on my war-paint! Once applied, I was ready for battle! I could face anything! Who knew that a little red smear on my lips would give me such confidence?? Just the littlest thing like wearing red lipstick gave me the boost I needed to make other changes in my life. 

After reading Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,”  I revamped my entire wardrobe and only kept those items that “sparked joy” and made me feel beautiful, powerful, and confident. I realized, as I went through my clothing, that so many items had been bought to make me “fit-in” and “blend” with the crowd so people would accept me as one of them.  My childhood drama of wanting to be liked was still replaying itself because I was afraid to just be me. Enough! I said goodbye to anything that I did not love. 

Fast forward to the present: 2018. I have been back a month from the most amazing Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica and, yes, this past week I was experiencing such inner turmoil that seemed to come from no-where. All of a sudden I felt those old insecurities bubble up to the surface again. I felt like that teenage girl who just couldn’t believe that she was anyone special. The old voices were getting louder and louder each day. Luckily for me, I was able to talk to some very amazing friends of mine who helped me realize this as old drama and not truth. Then, as often seems to happen in my life, the signs started to appear. I am currently reading Eckhart Tolle’s book ,“A New Earth” and have just got to the chapter titled “The Pain-Body” which he describes as follows: 

Any negative emotion that is not fully faced and seen for what it is in the moment it arises does not completely dissolve. It leaves behind a remnant of pain….. The remnants of pain left behind by every strong negative emotion that is not fully faced, accepted, and then let go of join together to form an energy field that lives in  every cell of your body. It consists not just of childhood pain, but also painful emotions that were added to it later in adolescence and during your adult life, much of it created by the voice of the ego. It is the emotional pain that is your unavoidable companion when a false sense of self is the basis of your life.  

The energy of old but still very-much-alive emotion that lives in almost every human being is the pain-body.”

Wow! That was it, exactly what I was experiencing. I read on to the following: 

The pain-body awakens from its dormancy when it gets hungry, when it is time to replenish itself. Alternatively, it may get triggered by an event at any time. The pain-body that is ready to feed can use the most insignificant event as a trigger, something somebody says or does, or even a thought.”

As I was reading this and sharing these passages with my friends, I started to wonder why this was coming up. Hadn’t I already dealt with this issue?  I re-read some of my journal entries from last year and saw I had written about these same insecurities back then, but I had forgotten. I realize now that I had never fully dealt with the issues. I had skimmed the surface but never dug deeper. Now I knew why it was coming up again. Now I could put a name on it. The pain-body. 

“Nothing ever happened in the past that can prevent you from being present now; and if the past cannot prevent you from being present now, what power does it have?” ~ Echkart Tolle, “A New Earth”

There is no benefit to me by replaying these old negative stories in my head. They do not serve me. They no longer existed; yet, I carried them inside of me where they were eating holes trying to escape back into reality. I was giving them power.  

I believe that this was resurfacing because of the amazing experience in Costa Rica. I had recharged myself. My armor was now more than just on the surface. It was more than just red lipstick giving me confidence.  It was positive energy that was radiating from inside of me and surrounding me. I believe that this old story has come back to me at this time because I am now able to face it completely and finally slay this dragon. I believe that just being able to recognize this has already started me down the path. I know it will probably come back around to test me, but I feel confident that I will be successful in recognizing it for what it is and stop the pain-body from feeding.

During the week, as I was talking to Yaya and other friends about this issue, I thought about how often we try to suppress our true authentic-self in order to appease others and make them feel more comfortable- which in turns leaves us feeling badly because we are stifling ourselves. We end up feeling uncomfortable and unhappy. Why do we do this? Why do we change our behavior? We want to fit in. We want to be liked. We are not often encouraged as children to be confident in ourselves and celebrate our uniquenesses.  So we adorn these masks to fit in, to blend in; until ultimately, we fade away, and we become scared to be ourselves because “what if no one will like me?”…. and we wonder why we aren’t happy??? 

But then we meet people we can take our masks off with…. People who love and accept us for our quirks and differences, and we realize when we are around them we feel like the sun is brighter, the sky is bluer, jokes are funnier, food tastes better, and life is just grand! I know I have been fortunate enough to find these people in my life and seeing that this way of life is possible. The hard part is being able to remember this when I don’t have them around me 24/7. It is work, and it isn’t always easy. According to Yaya, that is why they call it “a practice.”  Luckily, I know that support is only a phone call away. 

I realize now that those people who don’t understand the true-me are the same ones who tell me I am “too sensitive, too emotional, and too nice,” but I have realized that I don’t’ want to change those things about me in order to make them feel more comfortable. In fact, those are all things I love about myself!    

I have a huge heart and want to be friendly to everyone. I love to give hugs. I love to smile. I love to cry especially when I am happy. I will be your cheerleader and champion routing you on whenever you need me. I don’t want to change. If I make you feel uncomfortable with my behavior, I am sorry you feel that way; but, I am NOT going to change! I am going to wear red lipstick to yoga class because that is what I love to do.

So I leave you asking this:

  • What old stories do you replay in your head that you have adopted as “truth”? 
  • What are your pain-bodies? Can you recognize them when they appear?
  • What masks do you wear?  Why do you wear them?
  • Are there people you remove your mask for? How does it feel when you are around them?
  • How do you live your authentic self?
  • Is there something you stopped doing that you really liked because someone told you it was “stupid?”
  • Is there something you want to stop doing because it does not serve you, but you are too afraid to stop? This could be a behavior or activity. 
  • What brings you joy?
  • If there something that you always wanted to try but were too scared? Maybe a new hobby or hairstyle?

Sometimes, something as trivial as red-lipstick can make you feel like you have adorned your Knight’s Armor and gives you just enough confidence to slay your dragons. I know for me it surely has. Wishing you the best on your journey! 

 

Thank you, “Blondie,” for digging deep, digging even deeper with each re-write while you were “on assignment,” and for the journey you shared with us. I’m sure it was cathartic and a long time coming! Personally speaking, we can all relate!  I’m certain you have touched many hearts with this blog. I’m honored, blessed and grateful to be part of your life! Love you! Mama Yaya xoxo

PS- Looking forward to your next one!

Don’t Be Amazing…Be Available

“Through prayer, trial and error, surrounding myself with people who are better than me in so many areas, I am an example of what God can do with somebody who is not amazing, but available.” -Carl Lentz

Are you open to being used by the Divine? Interested in being challenged? Resigned to living a life that is continually out of your comfort zone? Are you a dreamer or a doer? Do you operate from a default setting in your life? Or do you believe you always have options? Do you believe you can overcome challenges? Will you use your story, or will your story use you? These are some of the things I’d like to explore along with you, as I write, and as you read. But first, a little background info on Carl Lentz.

I learned about Carl Lentz when I saw him interviewed by Oprah on Super Soul Sunday. She called him a “rock star pastor.” If you can picture a guy with tattoos and sporting a motorcycle jacket, and who happens to be very easy on the eyes….yep, definitely NOT the picture of a pastor of any kind. Despite wanting to get to see him preach at Hillsong Church in NYC, where he is the lead pastor, I have yet to get there. Someday! So…the next best thing was having my physical therapist, Ed, happen to mention him during a conversation, and he lent me his book, OWN THE MOMENT.

Needless to say, I am glued to the book! Carl’s rawness, wit, wisdom, faith, grace, love, compassion and no-nonsense radical honesty fill page after page. Quite frankly, I think I am crushin’ on the pastor….wink, wink!!! I recall seeing him on Super Soul Sunday and remarking to myself that I needed to find me a man like him! What can I say?

I can say that I was glued to this book even before I opened it. Not only did the title resonate for me, but when I read the quote on the back, I knew I was hooked:

“This is our challenge as humans: to make the most of what we do have. I do not want to be so fixed on the future that I miss the power of the present. I do not want to be so motivated on what is next that I miss the joy right here, right now. And I know that it’s possible to maximize the days, the hidden moments. The parts of the journey that seem mundane can be turned in to memories that last forever.” 

Pastor Carl Lentz, you are speaking my language!

So back to the questions I posed at the beginning. I find that when I “prime” myself for my day ahead, take the time to get centered, pray and meditate, I ask the Divine to use me…to work through me…to send me whomever needs motivation, inspiration, consolation or an ear to listen. And guess what? There’s a special “delivery” each and every day. Sometimes there are a couple. But this is the beauty when we align ourselves to the Divine and the God of your own understanding. Our purpose is not is the role or title we have on the job, our purpose is to  demonstrate how we live from the heart. And to take it a step further, it’s how our actions and words are aligned with the power of Love.

I am willing to bet that, each and every day, each one of you reading this sentence right now is presented with a person, situation or circumstance that is challenging. It’s there for a reason, and you can bet it requires you to delve a little deeper into your heart and soul. In doing so, then and only then, can we can fully comprehend why our buttons are being pushed. And what is the result of being challenged? Simply stated, we grow. We awaken. We evolve. We expand. We transform. We ascend. We come home to our Self. We come back to a place of Love.

However, we won’t transform if we operate from the confines of our comfort zone. Comfort zones are stagnating. It’s a no-brainer. Growth cannot occur when we are confined to a prison we have crafted for ourselves. If someone or something is pushing you to step out of your comfort zone, I say leap! Leap as high and wide as you can. No worries, the net will appear.

In the safety of that net, you will find that it’s OK to dream. I’m a big proponent of dreaming BIG. But I also believe in chasing those dreams with a vengeance and making them happen. So don’t hang out on that net for too long! We can either be a dreamer and leave it at that….sulking when nothing happens, or we can be a doer……We can make certain our dreams take flight. What can I say? Fly, darling, fly! It’s our first class ticket to freedom and a life filled with unimaginable possibilities. As long as we are willing to be used for a higher purpose, we will always be met with opportunities that will exceed our wildest dreams.

Unfortunately, not everyone believes in the power of their imagination. Why not? Because it takes work, attitude, vision, intention, passion, grit, resilience and perseverance. To some, it’s just easier to act from a default setting. What does that mean? Well, someone who always has an excuse, finds a reason for not trying or doing something, prefers the status quo, or is not interested in shaking things up, and then complains when nothing changes / improves in their life, operates from that place. That is their default setting. For this type of person, it’s easier to list the reasons why they can’t succeed, forge ahead, take a risk or make a change. This is a person who is comfortable in their “stuckness.” In actuality, this person is NOT making themselves available for their greatness to unfold.

These are the people who feel they don’t have options. And if there is something we ALWAYS have, it’s options. We can always exercise our option to do better, be better, act better and live better. It’s a choice that only we can make. It cannot be made for us. And it’s not up to us to make that choice for someone else, regardless of how much we love and care for that person. We can plant seeds, light the way, and gently guide. But when met with resistance, it’s time to back off. It’s not our job to “fix” anyone.

However challenging it may seem, trust me, this is not a challenge you want to take on. There are challenges, and then there are challenges! We have enough challenges on our journey through life that continuously break us down…without needlessly putting ourselves in a situation that will not serve us. And trying to “fix” someone, anyone, is not a challenge that serves any of us. We can only fix and change ourselves. THAT is something you can bank on! The key to overcoming our challenges is to not allow ourselves to be consumed by them. By this I mean get “lost” in the story to the point where the story that we have created around our difficulty has totally taken on a life of its own and has consumed us to the point of no return. Yikes!

If we are lucky, we catch ourselves when we start to do this and quickly take a different route rather than depleting our energy…change the narrative….change the story. We have all been there at some point or another. The “shift” occurs when we catch ourselves, OR when we get so tired of telling the same, old story that it is getting us sick, and we realize it’s finally time to tell a different story… to use the story for our betterment and the betterment of others rather than let the story use us.

It’s also helpful to have a cadre of supporters and surround ourselves with people who are better than us, people who serve as role models and sources of inspirational. People to have lived, loved and lost and have the courage to forge ahead and excel in life where others may have just given up. In one of my earlier blogs I spoke about the importance of having our very own spiritual board of directors. These people are our moral compass. They are the ones who allow us to hold ourselves accountable. These are the people who we look up to as the wise sages they so rightfully are.

Everything I just wrote about came to me as I was reading the first few chapters of Carl Lentz’s book.  I am looking forward to finishing it soon because it’s such an enjoyable read. It’s real. It’s relevant. It’s funny. It’s inspiring. It’s life. And the message I keep getting, page after page, is that it is more important to be available than it is amazing.

That is a tall order and a difficult thing to do in a society, and time in our world where,  all too often, our self-worth is measured by the number of likes on social media and, as Carl Lentz says, “in a society that worships money, sex and fame.”  However, if we embrace each new day with intention, steadfastness, and integrity, and as an opportunity to inspire, love, serve, and willingly ask the Divine or the God of our understanding to guide and direct us, we make ourselves available. Available to be used for far greater things that we ever could have dreamed or imagined. Available to do amazing things!

Living in and for these moments sets my heart on fire. It’s what keeps me grounded, present and mindful of the impact I am able to make. It’s what brings me joy. It’s what fearlessly allows me to embrace the hidden, teachable moments that bring transformation and inspiration. It’s what gives me the fierce courage to go out into the world with a heart wide open. It’s what keeps be flying high. Living from a place of availability is what keeps me connected to the beautiful tapestry of life. Now THAT is amazing!

My darling, given the day-to-day challenges you are faced with, how do you prefer to live your reality? Do you prefer to be amazing or available? Just asking…..

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Guest Blogger

“How I Met My Yaya and Faced My Fears”

 by Shannon “Blondie” Green

Recently, while on a Yoga Retreat with my dearest people in this world, Yaya (as I call her but as you may know as the one and only Jo-Ann Carricarte, the driving force behind this blog) mentioned  that I should guest blog for her, as part of my Yaya mentorship (more to come on that at another time).  As we were discussing the “assignment,” I expressed my concern that I wouldn’t know what to write about. She suggested that I should start at the beginning of my journey.  So that is where this story begins…

Time: March 2013

Place: Lumeria, Maui, HI

Now I will admit that prior to this experience I was the quintessential worrywart and control freak. Reflecting back, I now see that I lived in constant fear. My life consisted of many “what-if” scenarios, and I believed it was normal to worry about things like money, health, cars breaking down, etc.  I set my watch ahead about 10 minutes so I wouldn’t be late, and I always had to wear it. I believed everything had to be planned, and planned, and planned some more. I did not have faith to just let things unfold organically. When things did not go as I planned, I did not handle it gracefully and with ease. I responded very emotionally and often had a difficult time resolving the problem. At this point in my life I was 36, and I knew that these behaviors were not serving me…and I certainly wasn’t happy in my life, but what I didn’t know was what I could do to change things.  Luckily for me, I had an amazing, life long best friend, Christy, who decided she was going to organize a weeklong yoga retreat to Maui. And luckily for me, my best friend from college, Claire, convinced me that we NEEDED to go!

As we began our first class, Christy spoke about being present and living in “Maui Time,” where it didn’t matter what time it was, where life moved a little more slowly, and the idea of being purposeful in what we said, thought and did while we were there. At this point, I did something that I will never regret; I decided to remove my watch for the duration of the retreat.

The second thing that happened was that Christy gave us each a small journal to use while we were there. Each day, she would give us journaling exercises and if we chose to do them or not was left up to us.  I soon became engrossed in writing in my little pink journal. My thoughts and reflections helped me realize that one of the reasons I was sad and struggling in my life was because I was filled with so much fear.

The third thing that happened was I met Yaya.  I honestly don’t remember how the conversation began, but there was some mention of her name “Jo-Ann” but how everyone called her “Mama Yaya”. Somewhere along the way I dropped the “Mama” part, and she just became “Yaya” to me.  Any of you who know Jo-Ann know just how “Yaya” she is. She is this vibrant being filled with love and energy. She is funny and energetic, but serious and very much about living her authentic self.  As the week went on, you would often find her “holding court” at the dining room table after we had finished a meal, sitting at the head of the table while me, Claire, and a few of the other ladies were bombarding her with questions about what books to read, what websites we should check out-  all the while writing down everything little thing she said…the list in my journal includes among them the following books, websites, and authors: Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, The Four Agreements, A Return to Love, The Law of Divine Compensation, Wishes Fulfilled, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life, The Power of Now, A New Earth, Daily Om, Daily Love by Mastin Kipp, Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Hay House Publishing, Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, and even more.

Who was this Yaya person?? How did she know all of this stuff and how could I get some of it??? I knew she held answers, and I wanted to know more. I wanted to know everything. I wanted to find the peace and energy and love she spoke of.  My journal is full of entries that talk about how I wanted to have an open heart and clear mind.  How I wanted to listen to the wisdom of my body, my desire to let go of fear and the things that frighten me. I wanted to make room for miracles and be open to abundance coming into my life.  I journaled about my fears of not becoming a mother, of not finding purpose, of growing old and unfulfilled and my desire to release these fears. I knew I needed to let go of my fears and somewhere during that week I began to learn how.

March 15, 2013:  Journal Entry

“Today I let go of what weighs me down.  I accept that my life is unfolding as it should be. I surrender. I am not afraid of what is not happening. I detach from trying to control that which I cannot control.  I surrender to the will of God and the Universe.  I open my heart to whatever may come into it. I welcome what may come in.  I am not afraid of things that don’t turn out the way I thought.  I will enjoy every moment as it unfolds.”

As I reread these words from my journal the other day, I can honestly say that I don’t know if I wrote them or copied them from someone.  They sound so wise and profound that I believe I likely stole them from someone else- except I didn’t note who said them, which I normally do if I write down a quote I like. Regardless, this was the point at which I surrendered and let go. As I continued to read my old journal, I can see how this day was a turning point where I decided to let fear stop running my life. One thing I know is that the girl who arrived in Maui on March 12, 2013 was not the same girl who left Maui a week later.

The journey hasn’t been easy, and it is still continuing. I won’t lie, it  has been a journey that has taken many years and a lot of work, but it has been wonderful and fulfilling. and I hope to share some of that with you as a guest blogger for Yaya.

So I leave you with the following few questions:

  • Looking back, do you see a turning point in your life where you surrendered and let go of the fears that were holding you back from being your authentic self? 
  • Was there an event that happened that made you realize you wanted to see things differently and live life differently? 
  • Was there a person you met that inspired you to make the change that you had been afraid to make?
  • What tools (journaling, authors, podcasts, etc) have helped you on your journey? 

Oh, and in case you are wondering about that watch, I took of in Maui. It has never been put back on my wrist. ☺

 

Bravo! Thank you, my beautiful Blondie (aka “La Bomba”) for such a beautiful reflection! You took the first step, rose up to the challenge and produced the first of many future blogs to come. I am so proud of how much you have grown, evolved and embraced your magnificence since Maui brought us all together! I am proud of how fabulously you are playing your own version of “Yaya” in your everyday life, both personally and professionally. Thank you for the reflection questions you posed. Thank you for making a difference and making the world a more beautiful place. Thank you for the light you bring to others. Thank you for your love. Lastly, thank you for choosing to inspire, love, serve AND lead from the heart…right from the start! I look forward to reading more!!! Love, Yaya xo

A Revolution

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Annie Dillard

“I doubt that anyone on their deathbed wished they had spent more time at work, on social media or holding grudges or feeling resentful. Your time and your energy are the currency of your life. How do you spend them?” Terri Brown

Greetings darlings!

I came across a brilliant piece on IG the other day that I will share with you at the end of this blog. It really called to me. Just reading and re-reading it is a meditation and a revolution in and of itself. And the quote above, which I saw in my lovely acupuncturist’s office, reminded me of some of the journaling I had done in Costa Rica while on my recent yoga retreat. I also felt it would be a nice counterpart to the piece at the end.

We are living in new times, there’s a sense of awakening and shifting in the collective consciousness that is taking place, and we are all participants in it. Some of us are doing it willingly, and others are having some difficulty with it. Nevertheless, we are all here to take part in the awakening of humanity and the ascension of our most beautiful and precious Earth.

As Marianne Williamson remarked in a podcast I was listening to the other day, “Our life is a platform.” I totally agree with it! We do not have to be a celebrity or a mogul to affect change. We do so in the ordinary way we go about our lives.  Whether it is through our jobs, careers, professions, hobbies or simply the way we conduct ourselves everyday. We are either presenting ourselves with a heart wide open or one that is closed…..closed to all the possibilities, magic and miracles that are always swirling around us and accessible to all… closed to our greatness, light, magnificence and purpose.

Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I was here for a purpose. Like many of us, it took me quite sometime to figure that out. I always loved talking to people, felt like a peace and love junkie and that I was part of something much greater…something I couldn’t name. But once I figured it out, I realized I was put here to inspire, love, serve. It’s how I want to live out my days. My time and energy are indeed the currency of my life, and I intend to use them wisely.

It is my deepest belief that we can all employ this mentality. The precursor to it is to lead from the heart…right from the startWe can’t go wrong with this philosophy because we come from a place of Love in doing so. We come from a place of truth. We come from a place of an innate knowing that we are part of that something which is much greater than all of us. A greatness we need to embrace wholeheartedly, own and act from it. We are amazing light beings in a miraculous symphony called A Revolution.

The cracks in our society, all the injustices and atrocities that are being exposed these days, and the light that is starting to come through as a result, via the modern-day awakened beings and agents of change of all ages, are shifting our perspective and we are seeing that all good is rooted in the principle of Love. We are the activists we have been waiting for. As Michael Kahn writes in is book, Whatever Arises Love That, “We have chosen to incarnate at a time when the entire planet is undergoing the process of awakening to fulfill the prophecies of every awake being who came before us.” 

I had to read and reread that line several times before I read any further. We’ve always had the prophets, the sages, activists and the change makers for centuries. However, we are these modern-day sages and light beings. Wow! Do we have a enormous responsibility, or what? What an honor to be following in the footsteps of all the light beings, sages,  carriers of wisdom and change makers who have paved the way for us.  I find it utterly humbling! When I take the time to sit with this notion, it connects me to the great love and sense of passion and purpose that beats widely in my heart.

And speaking of my heart, I guess that is why I am sharing this beautifully written piece by Julia Myers with you. Wild Woman Sisterhood had posted it and, when I read this precious work of art, it stirred that love, purpose and passion that resides in my heart. I suppose that is how this particular blog came to be.

I invite you to center yourself, allow yourself to land and arrive, and enjoy the read:

“The old threads are unraveling,
Get your needles ready.
We are stitching a new quilt
of humanity.

Bring your old t-shirts,
worn out jeans, scarves,
antique gowns, aprons,
old pockets of plenty
who have held Earth’s treasures,
stones, feathers, leaves,
love notes on paper.

Each stitch
A mindful meditation.
Each piece of material
A story.

The more colour the better,
so call in the tribes.
Threads of browns, whites,
reds, oranges
Women from all nations
start stitching.

Let’s recycle the hate, the abuse,
the fear, the judgment.
Turn it over, wash it clean,
ring it out to dry.
It’s a revolution
of recycled wears.

Threads of greens, blues, purples
Colourful threads
of peace, kindness,
respect, compassion
are being stitched
from one continent to the next
over forests, oceans, mountains.

The work is hard
Your fingers may bleed.
But each cloth stitched together
Brings together a community.
A world, our future world
Under one colourful quilt.
The new quilt of humanity.”

—Julia Myers

Pause….breathe…observe….feel! Remember, your time and energy are the currency of your life. How are you spending them?

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

PS: Please check back on Wednesday for a special guest blogger. It has been my deepest desire to motivate some of the people in my life to try their hand at blogging. You know what you know, and one thing I know for sure is that we all have a story to tell and people to inspire. Sometimes, someone has to nudge, cajole and even push them into seeing it….any idea whom that person may be? Just sayin’…… 

Inspired by the Sea

“Live with intention and create your own legacy. Live it, go for it and stay dedicated to following your truth. You have much to offer.” –JTC

Since the beach is such an inspiring place for me, and since my last two blogs – Beach Baby and Beach Bum Bliss –  were inspired by time spent at the beach, I decided to pull out some of the pieces I’ve written there. Actually, most of  the pieces have been written on “The Hollywood Riviera” (as my cousins and I have taken to calling Hollywood Beach in Florida). Just so you know darlings, I’ve never shared this side of my writing with anyone. So, perhaps it’s time I do just that. May it touch you in some way, shape or form! Here goes:

A New Dawn

Lonesome Star. Brilliant Moon. Waves Crashing. Swirling Colors of Yellow, Blue, Orange and Pink. Seagulls Hovering. Cruise Ships Entering. Wind Sweeping. Palms Swaying. Light Approaching. (November 2007)

Visions

Visions of white sand, turquoise waters, luscious plant life in all shades of green. Visions of early mornings, sacred spaces, holistic rituals and a calm center. Visions of practicing gratitude, compassion, loving kindness and helping the less fortunate. Visions of peace, a global community, uniting hands, minds, bodies and spirits for the good of humanity. Visions of abundance and wealth, giving and receiving. Visions of a beautiful circle called Life. (May 2008)

Post Hurricane Frankie

Stillness…in the air, in the water, in my heart. Quietness… all around me, inside me, within me. Stillness & Quietness. (August 2008)

6AM Quiet Darkness

Full Moon Shining. Stars Illuminating. Heavens Protecting. Life All Around Me. Air. Water. Birds. Trees. Nature. Nocturnal Creatures. Light. People. Breath. Music. Rejoice!!! (Easter Morning 2009)

One

One Soul. One Heart. One Mind. One Body. One Look. One Touch. One Caress. One Kiss. One Today. One Tomorrow. One Forever. One Eternally. One You. One Me. One Us. One. (April 2009)

Twilight

Darkness all around me. Raindrops falling on my dewy skin. The fresh scent of rain permeates my inner being. Rough waves crash & collide and become one on the shoreline. The breeze blows and the palms sway. Twilight is turning into dawn.

A light is on the horizon waiting to start the day. Dawn is soon approaching. Light, a hint of pink, a clearing, clouds hovering up above. The sun is creeping up, an orange ball of flame. Up, up and away obscured by dark clouds. Yet, its rays shine down between the clearing. A new day has graced us. (August 2009)

 

It’s amazing how memories are stored in our bodies and on a cellular level! As I typed each piece, I was transported to the exact time and place where I wrote each one. Memories flooded my mind and sensations crept through my body. Memories of hope, love, peace, humanity and the intention to live a life of purpose and meaning, as well as leave behind a legacy of love, peace, service and unity. All this still lives wildly in my heart, and I gratefully approach each new day with a sense of steadfastness, integrity, intention and grace. It is a practice, both on and off the yoga mat, as I move through my days.

How do you move throughout your days? Do you set intentions? What legacy are you creating? Remember darlings, we all have much to offer. Now go out and find ways to inspire, love, serve AND lead from the heart…right from the start!

Inhale Light & Love…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

PS: Throughout the remainder of April, my blogs will be published on Sundays only. I will be going on a yoga retreat next week and need time to prepare then time decompress as I renter….wink, wink!