Love Who You Are

Kiss your own body, and hug your own curves. You are made of LOVE and honey and hot peppers, when it’s necessary. You are a Wild Woman Goddess!”

Happy Valentine’s Day, my darlings! I hope we are all taking some time today to shower ourselves with lots of loving-kindness!

Let me start by saying that I had a most beautiful draft finished for today’s blog but, somehow (and unbeknownst to me), I failed to save it AND accidentally discarded it. By the looks of it, and by what I have read online, it appears that it is gone.

Apparently, the universe did not want me to publish that blog. So on this rainy day in South Florida, the day before Valentine’s Day, I have spent most of the day deleting 16,000+ photos and videos from my phone. And wouldn’t you know I came across some beautiful quotes and ideas for this blog you are about to read. I know, I know… I’m taking the easy way out here; nevertheless, I want to remind us all that we are beautiful, spirited, strong, talented and powerful Goddesses!

We’re powerful alright! We each possess gifts and skill that allow us to be whomever we want to be- without needing anyone’s approval. Not that the road to this place in our lives has been an easy one for any of us. But on a day like today, a day we celebrate all things love-related, we need to fully embrace the road that got us here as well as celebrate our MAGNIFICENCE. We need to own our GODDESS POWER!

Some of us are full-blown Goddesses to the core, and others of us are Goddess-in-training. For those of us who are not quite sure what authentic Goddess Power looks like, allow me to share something I came across as I was clearing out my photos:

  • Authentic Goddess Power is knowing who you are: Your Beauty
  • Authentic Goddess Power is knowing what works for you and what does not: Your Truth
  • Authentic Goddess Power is being your own best friend: Empowered Relationship with Yourself
  • Authentic Goddess Power is being connected with your soul and I AM presence: Spiritual Power
  • Authentic Goddess Power is having the courage to do what is right: Making the Tough Choices
  • Authentic Goddess Power is living from Your Creativity: Not the competitive ego

As any true Goddess knows, the other key piece is to make sure we surround ourselves with people who are authentic, inspiring, passionate, motivated, grateful and open-minded. And most importantly, those who see the greatness in us!

As if right on cue, when I was working on my ill-fated blog, my dearest and loving friend, Kat, sent me a beautiful prayer/ affirmation. We’re unsure where it came from… perhaps Louse Hay???? The moment I saw it, I knew it needed to be part of my Valentine’s Day blog.

Since I’m all about sharing the love and paying forward, I will share the prayer/ affirmation with you as MY Valentine’s Day gift to YOU. As with all prayers and affirmations, you may want to further tweak it to suit your needs:

“I am willing to see the magnificence of me. I now choose to eliminate from my mind and my life every negative, destructive and fearful idea and thought that would keep me from being the magnificent Goddess that I am meant to be. I now stand up on my own two feet, support myself and think for myself. I give myself what I need. It is safe for me to grow. The more I fulfill myself, the more people love me. I join the ranks of women healing other women. I am a blessing to the planet. My future is bright and beautiful. And so it is!”

My Darlings, on this day, and every day, we must make sure we put ourselves at the top of our to-do list. For when we do so, we TRULY step into our AUTHENTIC GODDESS POWER and become UNSTOPPABLE and LIMITLESS!!!

Inhale Love & Light… Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

Wholehearted Living

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

The Never Enough Problem

“Give thanks for everything that you are and everything that you have- that’s the first step toward discarding a scarcity mentality.” -Wayne Dyer

The above quote is from the Wayne Dyer calendar that my dear girlfriend and soul sister, Maureen, gave me for Christmas. I love all things Wayne Dyer! I love lighting my morning candle that sits on my altar and tearing the page to see that day’s quote. It’s become a morning ritual as I take a few deep breaths and let the message land.

It just so happens that I had just started reading Brené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, and the first chapter is on scarcity. And at breakfast with some of my yoga sisters, we were talking about abundance vs. attachment to money and the times we’ve worried about “not having enough.” Talk about synchronicity! Right then and there I knew I had to write a blog on this unfortunate epidemic that seems to get more and more prevalent in our culture. As Ms. Brown notes in the book, “Worrying about scarcity is our culture’s version of post-traumatic stress.” 

Wow! When I read that line I paused. Whew… how true! There are three components that she attributes as the source of scarcity, but more on that later. First, I want to give you a little food for thought via a section of Lynne Twist’s book, The Soul of Money, which Ms. Brown shared in her book:

For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is “I don’t have enough time.” Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of…Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds are racing with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to that reverie of lack…This internal condition of scarcity, this mind-set of scarcity, lives at the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice, and our arguments with life.

I saw Lynne Twist on an episode of Super Soul Sunday where she was talking about the aforementioned bookSome of the things she spoke about really stuck with me. She stated that when we live in a “not enough” mentality, every aspect of our lives play into a toxic myth of scarcity, and then it results into a deficient relationship with ourselves. She further went on to say that, if we buy into it, we create it and end up accumulating more than we need for fear of not having enough. The end result is that we succumb to the three toxics myths: there’s not enough; more is better; it’s just the way it is and there’s nothing we can do about it.

According to Ms. Twist, the flip side of the scarcity mentality is that we learn to let go of the chase, addiction, and pathology which is part of the culture we live in and instead nourish, love and share what we already have. When we do so, what we already have expands. As we learn to shift our mentality, we learn the power of true prosperity- sharing, serving and contributing. We yearn to make a difference in our lives.

I don’t know about you, but there was a time in my life where it was my norm to operate from a place of  lack and not having enough. Can you relate? And let’s face it, social media has only exacerbated this problem for many of us. Studies have shown that more and more people and children of all ages feel depressed, inadequate and “not good enough” as a result of this illusion of “perfection” that people on social media put out there. It’s a dynamic that is playing out on all levels of our society and culture. How exhausting!!!

And exhausted was precisely how I felt many years ago! That is, until I started cultivating the wonderful and magical practice of gratitude. The more I read about gratitude and how it rewires our brains and makes new connections, the lighter, happier, fulfilled and peaceful I felt. The more I approached life from a place of abundance, as opposed to a place of lack, the more that showed up.

It’s been my experience that operating from a place of scarcity just perpetuates more of that in our lives. Conversely, the more we operate from a place of gratitude, love, wealth and abundance, and keep that circulating in our lives, more of it shows up. The key, I’ve found, is to take a moment to pause and notice when, and how, love, wealth and abundance show up and express thanks. Darlings, gratitude is a beautiful and life-altering thing!

It also helps to surround ourselves with”like-minded” people who also operate from this point of view. The moment we change or alter our perspective or, as our beloved Wayne Dyer used to say, “Change the way you look at things at the things you look at change,” things can’t help but to change. You can take that to the bank! As with all things change-related, it all starts with choices.

We have the power to choose. We must be discerning, methodical and mindful of our thoughts and how they relate to our choices and our soul’s purpose. And, as we make different choices, we start to reshape our lives, the lives of people around us and the different groups we belong to.

The beauty in it is that, once we are on the other side of the scarcity mentality, the more peaceful and fulfilled we feel. We become even more grounded and grateful when we see ourselves in others as their lives play out in the unhealthy ways ours used to. And to think of how fatiguing it all is! We can relax in the knowingness that there is always enough. We can put down the shame, the comparison and the disengagement that perpetuates the never enough problem. By the way, shame, comparison and disengagement are the three components of scarcity Brené Brown refers to.

Here’s are some of  Lynne Twist’s words I jotted down from the Super Soul Episode that will hopefully resonate for all of us or, at best, get us  thinking more deeply on the subject of scarcity, not having enough and our attachment to money:

“The yearning to make a difference in life is what everyone wants. Money flows, just like water…and when you hold on to it, it stagnates and becomes toxic. Let it carry our intent, our love…direct the flow with soulful purpose and you will feel vibrant and alive. It’s an expression of who you are: True Prosperity.”

By looking at all our bountiful blessings, celebrating them, identifying our accomplishments, the gifts of our friendships, the love of our friends and family, the generosity of spirit of others as well as ourselves, the beauty of nature and the presence of our pets, the amazing organizing power of our universe and the cosmos, being aware  and expressing thanks for the myriad and divine ways love, wealth and abundance show up in our lives, we cannot help but to feel “full” and prosperous. We cannot help but to share our True Prosperity with others in both minute and magnificent ways. This, my darlings, is when we truly experience the “great fullness” of our lives.

What do you say we all commit to banishing the never enough problem from our lives? Let’s all free ourselves with healthy doses of love, gratitude and service and watch what we appreciate, appreciate!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

Be Merry

“Throughout this holiday season remember…always… that you are love, that you are loved and that YOU ARE ENOUGH.” -Panache Desai

For the first time in quite a few years, I decided that I would spend Christmas Day in Christmas PJs reading and watching Hallmark movies. In my book, this falls right under the “self-care” category. And by now you probably know what a self-care advocate I am!

I started this Christmas morning in meditation, prayer and gratitude for the blessings, love, abundance, resilience and hope that have always been present in my life- regardless of whatever life experiences or challenges I’ve experienced. Journaling my gratitude is a form of prayer for me. When done, I then lit my Christmas lights, candles, and made myself a cup of hot tea and indulged in decadent home-made cookies a dear friend of mine gifted me. Then it was time to open the thoughtful and meaningful gifts I was given.

Needless to say, I’ve been savoring this quiet, tranquil, reverent and restful day to the fullest. I’ve actually been humbled by going within throughout the day and reflected on “things” that showed up as I read Richard Paul Evans’ latest Christmas book, The Noel Stranger. Hence, the late Christmas blog.

My day yesterday was spent making the rounds. I started my first visit with friends at 2:30 in the afternoon. Four stops later, I finally walked in my door at 11:50PM. I guess one can say my Christmas Eve was a day/evening full of laughter, delicious food, Christmas festivities, fires burning, cocktails of all kinds, music and even dancing.

Even though it was an extremely long day, it was something I wanted to do. It was not something I “had” to do. Quality time with loved ones and the gift of our presence are priceless. So…I spent quality time with friends who are my family. What was most important though, was that LOVE and INTENTION were at the heart of it all.

My darlings, we can’t put a price tag on love or wrap it in paper, ribbon and bows; however, love is the one gift that is sure to keep on giving. All we need to do is connect with that expansiveness that is our being and tap into the vast love that is our essence. If we allow love to be our guiding light, even the most tiring or trying situations in our lives can be a little lighter, joyful and merrier.

So on this Christmas Day, I wish you all a warm, loving and peace-filled day. May you find joy and goodwill wherever you are, in whatever you are doing and whomever you are doing it with. May you carve out some time to be silent, with your Self, and reflect on the beauty and the meaning of the season. May you feel the love that sustains you and spread that love to everyone you encounter on your path.

If you are feeling alone, lost or unloved on this day, please know that YOU are love, YOU are loved and that there is always someone nearby waiting to hold YOU in love.

Heartfelt thanks to all who take the time to read my blogs and perhaps even share them when called to do so. YOU are important to me because YOU have given me the opportunity to share my stories and write about the things I am passionate about. YOU allow me to inspire, love, serve.

Find the calm and merry on!

Inhale Love & Light… Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

Gratefulness, Gratitude & Thanksgiving

“Shine brightly. See beauty. Speak kindly. Love truly. Give freely. Create joyfully. Live thankfully.” -Mary Davis

As I was in Whole Foods earlier this week, I happened to pick up Natural Awakenings magazine because I was curious  to see the featured articles, as they typically vary from county to county. There’s always something to gleam from the articles in this lovely FREE magazine that, as noted in it, is your guide to a healthier, more balanced life. In each issue readers find cutting-edge information on health, nutrition, fitness, personal growth, green living, creative expression and the products and services that support a healthy lifestyle. If you’ve never seen it and happen to stumble across it in your local yoga studio, farmers market, health food store, etc., pick it up. It’s a little gem…a FREE gem.

As I was perusing the magazine, I came across an article by Kristi Nelson titled Why Gratefulness Brings Happiness. By now y’all know I love all things dealing with gratitude and gratefulness, so I decided to do a quick read and had an “aha” moment of sorts.  And since today is Thanksgiving Eve in the US, I was inspired to write about how helpful it is to differentiate between gratefulness, gratitude and thanksgiving. I hope I do the article justice!

As per the author, gratefulness is a proactive orientation to life. If you’re like me, you may have just stopped reading and repeated that again – a proactive orientation to life. In its most simplest terms, I believe it primarily means that gratefulness is our modus operandi. We awake each day  hard-wired with a sense of thankfulness for all things small and large. We are thankful for waking up, for another day, for our senses, and perhaps even all the functions that our miraculous body conducts during our sleeping and waking hours that we may not even be remotely aware of. In my mind, when we operate from that sense of gratefulness, we are aware of the fullness and vastness of life, the limitless possibilities, the infinite organizing power of the universe as well as  our connection to all things.

According to the article, gratitude is more of a response. We respond and are grateful for something that happened, something going well. I’m sure we’ve all expressed gratitude for that new job, a gift, the weather, a parking spot, early dismissal from work/school, a snow day, finding the perfect shoe for the perfect outfit, a sale, finding a partner in love and in life…you get the idea, right? I’m  sure we can all come up with a laundry list of “things” for which we are grateful regardless of how mundane or magnificent they may be.

Thanksgiving…this is where I had my “aha” moment. According to Ms. Nelson, thanksgiving bubbles up when we’re so filled with a sense of gratefulness – that great fullness – that we overflow into finding ways to express thanks aloud and in actions, such as delivering praise or being of service. Intersting…I never thought of it that way. I always equated thanksgiving to the holiday. It makes all the sense in the world, when you think of it. Thanksgiving is a day for us to voice aloud our great “fullness” and express what we are most grateful for. Some of us may even be inspired to be of service….and not just on Thanksgiving, or any holiday for that matter. As a matter of fact, most shelters have to turn down people wanting to be of service on most major holidays.

Which brings me to this: we do NOT have to wait for a holiday to express our gratitude, give thanks before a meal or be of service. We can wire/rewire our brains to operate from a place of gratefulness each and every day of our waking life. We can cultivate gratefulness as a way of being rather than some intermittent feeling we have on certain calendar days.

Darlings, I encourage you to take a few minutes each day to pause, be present, connect with your heart, and allow yourself to feel as well as notice all those things for which you can be grateful. Remember that life is but a series of fleeting moments, and each day brings us closer to “our expiration date.” Please be aware of even the simplest and most basic things we take for granted and be grateful. Be grateful for the hard times as well as the easy. The hardships and the successes. The nice and the messy parts of life. The highs and the lows. At the end of the day, and at the end of our lives, I believe wholeheartedly that every single experience we have, as spiritual beings in a physical body, is a lesson and a blessing, don’t you?

It’s really important to take the time to write down the things for which we are grateful. Cultivating gratefulness as well as a gratitude practice changes our lives. If you like journals, then go out and get yourself one that speaks to you. If you need structure, then pick up one that is more structured, provides an outine, or has prompts. As a matter of fact, my dear friend, Nikki,  gifted me the perfect Friendsgiving present. It’s called Good Days Start With Gratitude Journal. If you want to cultivate and attitude of gratitude, this is the perfect item to compliment your practice. Needless to say, it makes for a great hostess gift, birthday and/or holiday gift. I believe it’s even appropriate for children. In my opinion, it’s equally important to get children on the gratitude path as early as possible.

You can find the journal on http://www.prettysimplebooks.com or order it on Amazon

So…as a way to express my gratitude and thankfulness for YOU, for taking the time to read my blogs, for following me and perhaps even sharing my blogs with others (please, please, please share), I will leave you with some a few beautiful quotes I selected from the aforementioned  journal. Who knows? These quotes  may even serve as a springboard for some good writing of your own…Wishing you love, peace and joy on this Thanksgiving Day and all days!

  • Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude. -Denis Waitley
  • The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. -Oprah Winfrey
  • I didn’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find my happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude. -Brene Brown
  • Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for. -Zig Ziglar
  • When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege is to be alive- to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. -Marcus Aurelius
  • The small happy moments add up. A little bit of joy goes a long way. -Melissa McCarthy
  • When I started counting my blessings my whole life turned around. -Willie Nelson
  • I always find beauty in things that are odd and imperfect – they are much more interesting. -Marc Jacobs
  • God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well. -Votaire
  • This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before. -Maya Angelou
  • When you are grateful – when you can see what you have – you unlock blessings to flow into your life. -Suze Orman
  • The true secret of happiness lies in taking interest in all the details of daily life. -William Morris 
  • Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people  see nothing. -Camille Pissarro
  • Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance. -Eckhart Tolle 
  • Put you heart, mind and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success. -Swami Sivananda
  • If you are gracious, you have won the game. -Stevie Nicks
  • Gratitude and attitude are not challenges. They are choices. -Robert Braathe
  • Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart. -Winnie the Pooh
  • Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present. -Jim Rohn
  • Trade you expectation for appreciation and the world changes instantly. -Tony Robbins
  • I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greatest part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition. Martha Washington

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

 

Overflowing With Gratitude

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Aging or Ageless…What are You?

“Your age is less chronological and more spiritual and attitudinal.” -Jane Fonda

Hello darlings! I have been a little behind on my writing as a result of all the birthday activities I planned for my milestone birthday. In the months, weeks and days leading up to the big party day, I made it a point of really being present and engaging FULLY in the final planning and prepping for the birthday-related activities and celebrations, as well as enjoying the company of friends who traveled near and far to spend time with me and partake in all the fun. And it all was pretty much stree-free!

So how does 60 feel? And where on earth did that number come from? All I can say is that it is just a number. As I am known for saying, “I am actually 35 in my head.” Furthermore,  I have been making it a practice to feel like an ageless goddess for quite some time now. Can you relate? If not, have I got a book for you…sit tight!

We all have the power to be ageless goddesses. We all have the power to tap into our youthful energy. We all have the power to feel fresh, alive and new. What’s the secret? Our state of mind, our attitudes towards aging, the joy and passion by which we live our lives, the self-care physical, emotional and spiritual practices we employ, being our unique self, and the intentions and grace by which we approach each day is the secret. Oh, and let’s not forget starting each day with a grateful heart and constantly creating opportunities for celebrating life. That, my darlings, is what I know for sure!

What’s another secret? I think it has a lot to do with re-inventing ourselves over the course of our lifetime. And boy, have I done just that in my lifetime! All you have to do is take a look in my closet, and it will leave you wondering who lives there. And let me not forget the different haircuts and hair color…oh, and the accessories! They are like props. And you know how much I love props! Oops, and I almost forgot the many places I’ve lived in and decorated….each different and unique and reflective of where I was along my journey in life.

Expressing our true self and living from this place of uniqueness and authenticity requires grit, courage, braveness and boldness. It’s all there inside of us….we just need to tap into it. As Deepak Chopra stated in one of his meditation series, “We all have access to youth. It’s always accessible.” 

And while we are on the topic of being ageless, Christianne Northrup, M.D., author of Goddesses Never Age, notes that we should ask ourselves these 2 questions every day:

  • Who do you really want to be? 
  • Who would you be if your age weren’t a factor?

She encourages us to not only ask ourselves these questions every morning, but to actually live them throughout our day. Talk about transformation and re-inventing ourselves! These two questions hold infinite possibilities for us. I think if we truly stopped and did ask ourselves these questions every single day, and went out and lived them, that we just might find ourselves living fuller, richer and more vibrant, exciting and meaningful lives. What do you think? How are you living your life these days? Could you use a little more fun, zest, pizzazz, color, adventure, wonder, and awe?

Speaking of color and pizzazz, I received a birthday travel mug that is fun, colorful  and has a great piece written on it pertaining to age….I just don’t know who wrote it. This piece pretty much sums up the fact that age is a state of mind while also giving us some things to think about. So, I invite you to make yourself a cup of tea, or coffee, and sit back and enjoy the following. And if you know someone who could use a pick me up or a laugh, feel free to pass it on!

Age

“How old are you? Personally, at this moment I have no idea how old I am. I do remember a few milestone birthdays, 18, 21, 40… But in my head, nothing has ever changed. I keep wondering when everyone is going to catch on to the fact that for the last thirty years I’ve been masquerading as an adult. 

Perhaps we are, as the saying goes, “only as old as we feel.” In that case, I’ll stay lost in my bewilderment…because really, life is what we make it, and age is nothing but a state of mind.”

Life is for the living darlings, because each passing day brings us one day closer to the day we drop our physical attire and move on. How do you want to live out your days? For me, I want to live them boldly,  bravely and with fierce grace. Will you join me? Here’s to living our uniqueness and celebrating life!

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

Keeping It Real

“With a greater awareness of who you are, and a deeper  understanding of how you define a friend, you can clear a path to choosing people with whom to spend time.” -quote from Breathe Magazine

What is a friend? What kind of friend are you? What qualities do you look for in a friend? Do you embody these qualities? Who would you like to spend your time with? These questions can and do speak volumes when we take the time to listen. Listen to our own answers and perceptions of what friendship means. After all, as in all relationships, friendship is most definitely a two-way street.

How are your friendships going these days? Oh boy, that could be a potentially loaded question given the “political” and “polarizing” times we are living in. Nevertheless, these are the times we need our friends and a sense of community and connection the most, and when we may be called to be there for a friend who is having difficulty in life. Personally, I don’t know what I would do without my circle of like-minded, supportive and soulful friends. They add value to my life. And as I grow older, I’ve place a higher value on the power of friendship to shape and influence my life. I have grown to a place where I am very grateful for the friends who’ve come into my life, both those who’ve remained and others whose time it was to leave. And then there are others who are still there but no longer play a prominent part of my everyday existence for whatever reasons.

Friendship can mean different things to different people. And in the digital society we are living in, friendships take on different forms. Some are up close and personal and some are virtual. Either way, the more we are aware and can deeply define and embody what is is to be a friend, the healthier, stronger, more meaningful and more valuable our circle of friends become. So much so, that somewhere along the line our friends become the family with whom we choose to spend time with, spend holidays with and with whom we celebrate life. These are the people we invest time in, especially if we don’t have a family or if our real family leaves us feeling emotionally and physically drained. As in all life-related things, discernment is key!

We cannot underestimate the power of love in friendships and its significance in our lives. As I was reading an article on friendships, it was suggested that we look at all the people we know and identify the ones who are truly our friends. The ones who make time for us and the ones whose company enlivens and enriches us.

Here are the three traits the article encourages us to look for in a real friend:

Ability to Listen

“Sometimes, the greatest thing friends can do is simply to listen to each other. Friends who are able to put aside their own life experience and focus on the experience of others are the most likely to contribute to relationships in a happy and peaceful way.”

Trust

“Trusting a friend to speak openly from the heart, to do what they say they will, and to understand when something said in confidence should be kept to themselves- are all vital in a true friend.”

Perspective

“Friends who offer fresh perspectives, ideas, experiences, and advice can help you to learn more about yourself, see life from another angle, and grow as a more well-grounded person.”

Darlings, let’s keep it real here…if we want to have friends, we must learn to be a friend. These three traits pretty much surmise what it takes to be a friend. They also give us an opportunity to examine ourselves and identify whether or not we embody these specific traits. The other key piece is discernment.

I plan on looking at these traits to further identify when and how I need to navigate these traits when a friend comes calling. Sometimes, all a person wants is someone to listen. Other times it may be someone whom they can trust with a deep sentiment. And yet other times, a friend may just want some perspective. They key is knowing and being able to identify the need. Personally, I know I have to work at this better. Sometimes, I’m very quick to offer perspective or share an experience when in actuality the person may really just need to talk and be heard.

Ahhhhh the art of practicing deep listening! We are so often quick to jump and offer our assistance or share in a manner that resonates for “us.” However; during such times, it’s vital to hit “pause” and listen…listen and discern the need. In doing so, we tap into our compassionate communication skills. If we are going to be generous with our time, and expect our friends to reciprocate when needed, then we need a major dose of keeping it real.

And speaking of communication skills and keeping it real, be sure to stay tuned for my next blog where I hope to share some guidelines and valuable aspects of face-to-face conversations. I think we can all use a refresher on conversation etiquette, don’t you?

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

The Art of Gratitude

“Sometimes we’re so busy chasing all the things we haven’t got that we forget to notice all the things we already have, the people in our lives and the fortunate circumstances in which we live.”

One of my earlier blogs, Rise and Shine…An Attitude of Gratitude, talked about how my gratitude practice came to be and the important part gratitude plays in my life. It’s my mainstay, my manifesto for living, my therapist, my guide and my fundamental source of joy.

I can’t say I would be the person I am today if I didn’t have a formal gratitude practice. I’ve relied on this practice to get me through some of the darkest and most difficult times of my life. Gratitude sets things straight for me, clears my head, re-centers me when needed, gives me an attitude adjustment and allows me to live a full, joyful, peaceful, meaningful and purposeful life. Without a gratitude practice I, too, may have slipped into the dark world of depression like so many of my family members and members of society.

Being a self-proclaimed gratitude junkie has its benefits. How so? Well, I’ve been in the dark, have had troubled times, been broken open and broken down, at times didn’t know how I’d take the next step (literally and figuratively), been surrounded by death and losses and torn apart by life circumstance…..like we all have been subjected to in life. However, the art of finding gratitude in those moments has always been a game changer.  In addition, I am able to commiserate and understand how we all get knocked down and find it difficult to get back up because I’ve lived it and have shared in the pain we all feel during such times. These experiences allow me to speak from experience and, more importantly, from the heart.

We all come across people who sometimes are in such a troubled or sorrowful state that they can’t seem to fight their way out of a paper bag. I’ve actually had people say that they have a hard time finding one thing for which they can be grateful. This I find hard to believe, but sadly there are troubled souls like this out there. Can you relate? Perhaps you’ve been there? Like I said, I think we’ve all been there in varying degrees. Perhaps you find yourself currently taking up residency in this state? Perhaps you are in a perpetual state of loss, grief, or darkness? Perhaps you don’t know how you’re going to get through the next hour or the day?

What we all must tap into is the knowingness that our nervous system can NOT be happy and sad at the same time. All it takes is a few seconds of identifying something we are grateful for, and our nervous systems shifts. We feel lighter, happier, and more hopeful. The more we do this practice and make it a routine, make it our default setting and our modus operandi, the more we will experience unimaginable shifts in our psyches, in our bodies and in our hearts.

It’s common for me to have numerous books and journals containing writing prompts on the subject of gratitude. So on this beautiful, first day in July, a sunny Sunday morning where the birds are chirping outside my window in the early morning stillness, I will share with you some prompts that will help you to keep your gratitude flowing.

The first one is more of an exercise and is especially useful if you do not have a gratitude practice. My intent is to list a month’s worth of prompts to set you on your way. While some of these require some thought, there may be days you’re just not into digging so deeply, so you can simply start with “I am grateful for” and list 2-3 things. By all means this is more than enough! You are more than enough. Now that is even a good place to start!

  1. Start by listing everything you are grateful for. List the big things, the little things, and everything in between. Write until you can think of anything else. And then write some more. This will kick off your gratitude practice and help you see just how much you have to be grateful for.
  2. What is one aspect of your daily life that you don’t always take time to appreciate, but that you’re actually grateful for?
  3. What are some of the things that are constants in your life – things that you’ll always find comfort in, things that you can always be grateful for?
  4. What is  one thing your parents taught you that you are grateful for?
  5. What are three of your physical characteristics that you are grateful for?
  6. What are three of your personality traits you are grateful for?
  7. What are three personality traits that you are grateful for in others?
  8. Write about one person who has taught you the most. What did they teach you and why are you grateful to have learned from them?
  9. What is one thing in nature that you are grateful for? What is something you can do to show your gratitude for this?
  10. Who is one person who is grateful for you? What have you done to make their life better?
  11. What are three things you are truly grateful for about your job (or hobby if you aren’t currently employed)?
  12. Do you have a spiritual practice that you are grateful for? What does it mean to you?
  13. Write about one book that you are especially grateful for. How has reading it changed you? If you could thank the author, what would you say?
  14. What is one talent that you possess that you’re extremely grateful for?
  15. What are you most grateful for about your home? What do you appreciate most about living there?
  16. Why are you grateful to have been born during this time?
  17. Who is a person or group of people from the past you’re grateful for? Why? What about them do you most appreciate?
  18. Write about something that has changed over the course of history that you are grateful for?
  19. We all make choices every day in our lives. Which choices have you made that you are the most grateful for?
  20. What is one thing your body can do that you are grateful for?
  21. What are you most grateful for about all the latest advances in technology?
  22. What animal are you especially grateful for? How do they make your life better?
  23. What music are you the most grateful for? Is there a song or musician who inspires you?
  24. Write one thing for each of your five senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste) that you’re grateful for
  25. What is one way you’ve changed that you’re grateful for?
  26. What are you grateful for about the country you live in? What are you grateful for about the specific part of the country you live in?
  27. What is one surprise you’ve experienced that you were (and are) grateful for?
  28. Have you ever been helped by a stranger? If you could tell them how grateful you are for them, what would you say?
  29. If there’s anyone who you generally dislike, what is something about them that you’re grateful for?
  30. What is the most empowering thing you’ve ever done? What about this experience are you grateful for?
  31. When you look back on your life thus far, what are you the most grateful for?

Darlings, may you find gratitude in the littlest of things, as well as the biggest of things,  and may you be inspired to commit to a daily gratitude practice. If you already have one, as I do, may we find ways to deepen the practice and enrich each other’s lives!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC