Lovin’ on YOU

“The most desired human emotion, love, is the energy of the heart and soul that brings balance, harmony, and healing.” David Elliot

Greetings darlings, and Happy Valentine’s Day to all! I’m such a love and gratitude junkie that this week is one of my favorite weeks of the year. It’s not that I need a particular holiday to celebrate love and be loving. That’s an everyday activity in my book!

Living with a heart wide open and loving wildly, fiercely and passionately is, in my book, a non-negotiable. As David Elliot writes in his book, Healing, love expands and uplifts you when felt and expressed. When you feel love you feel connected to all things through your heart. Isn’t that the truth?

Yet, there are many out there who do not approach life and love from this vantage point. People are disconnected from their hearts, minds are fearful and closed off, and emotions are locked away somewhere deep down inside. I was recently listening to a meditation that stated the biggest journey we will ever take is the journey within. Now that is the absolute truth!

It is only when we journey within that we start to peel away the layers of feelings and emotions that have kept us stuck, sick and block us from truly living with a heart wide open. This journey to the self is one of self love. It’s sweet and painful. Revolutionary and transforming. Poignant and profound.

Darlings, the most important relationship we will ever have is that with our Self. It may sound cliche-ish to some, but it’s radically true. Just think about it for a moment- if we do not love ourselves, how can we love another??? And I mean truly love- the kind that is unconditional and one where we’re connected by our values, integrity, differences, and similarities just the same. And not just in a romantic sense either.

If there’s one thing I’m a big proponent of, and advocate for, is radical self love (and self-care).

What does radical self love look like to you?

How do you love yourself?

In what ways are you unloving to yourself ?

These questions can start you on “lovin’ on YOU” in more ways than you can imagine. Once we crack that door and let the light seep in, we’ve taken the first step towards spiritual, physical, emotional and mental well-being. After all, we are the guardians of our soul and our one precious life in this lifetime. Loving yourself is our responsibility. It doesn’t fall onto anyone else. It’s solely ours!

Part of my Valentine’s gift to myself was coming to Kripalu in Stockbridge, MA for their R&R program. You can do as much or as little as you want and select from numerous daily classes, workshops, and activities. There’s also various healing arts and services that are available should you want to pamper yourself even more so.

In their own words, “Kripalu envisions an awakened, connected, and compassionate world in which all people and communities are empowered to realize their full potential for the transformative wisdom and practice of yoga. Presence, Inquiry, Practice, Compassion, Integrity, and Service are behaviors that positively impact how we manage ourselves, how we treat each other, and how we interact and connect.” What a way to live and love!

As I read and reread the above, it’s ever so clear that all of that starts with our own journey within. Once we show up for ourselves, we can show up for others- in a healthy, meaningful and more sustainable way.

So…on this beautiful, sunny day in the Berkshires, I’m going to share with you my little takeaway from yesterday’s arrival at Kripalu. It’s their Guidelines for Self and Community Care which I think are beautiful ways to live and love…. ourselves and others!

Be present to your own body, mind, and heart. The felt sense of your own inner experience is at the root of your well-being and ability to serve the community.

Inquire into your habits. Notice impulses and behavior that are not fully aligned with your highest intentions. Your words and behavior impact your own experience, the experience of others, and the environment we create together.

 Explore new ways of caring for and expressing yourself. Allow this time to include the potential discomfort of learning something new.

Be kind to yourself and others. Each one of us is learning, growing and doing the best we can in any given moment. Embrace the opportunity for supported growth.

Demonstrate integrity by speaking and acting your truth respectfully and compassionately. Our community flourishes as each of us brings forth what is within. Our shared stories and experiences foster community and connection.

Darlings, my wish for you is that you ALWAYS take the time to be present with yourself, dive deeply into your heart, listen to the wisdom of the heart, and shower yourself with compassion and loving awareness. And…remember…it is always a practice!

Here’s to Lovin’ on YOU!

Lead with Love…always and in all ways, JTC

Blind Clarity

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.” Antoine de Saint Exupery

There’s nothing as intense and overpowering as the moment of clarity. It’s when our hearts and minds are open, and we are in alignment with all things that are possible for us. It’s blinding!

I spent quite a bit of time listening to and watching several energy updates and forecasts for the new year and new decade, and it seems like clarity of thought is front and center in all things personal, professional, political and worldly. It’s about time, don’t you think?

After all, thanks to the information we have at our fingertips, and the work we’re doing on ourselves, we are evolving, transforming and growing, in rapid rates, faster than ever before. We’re more in touch with our intuition and with our bodies.

As Lee Harris commented on his energy forecast, “People are coming back to their sensory selves faster than ever before.” This, my darlings, is becoming the new normal. Yippie!

When we operate from this connected place, we can’t help but notice that we are leading from the heart. We’re leading from a place of divine truth. We’re leading with ease, confidence, joy and love. Can you relate?

Conversely, it is lack of clarity that creates chaos, frustration, sadness and fear. These emotions are poison. They sabotage our goals, dreams, and our day-to-day living and interaction with others. When we dust off our glasses, put aside the fear mongering we are seeing so much of these days, and connect to our hearts, we are able to see everything clearer, bigger, more illuminated. We are able to intentionally interact with others at much higher levels than ever before. We are blinded by the light of clarity!

I believe that, when this occurs, our senses are heightened. We are more discerning. We have a laser beam focus. There’s an emotional awareness and connection to spirit that comes from operating from our heart center.

I also believe that Mother Nature is one of our greatest teachers and that the universe self corrects in ways that bring in all sorts of disasters so that humanity can come together. Just look at the compassion, empathy, togetherness and love that arises after disasters. Our hearts get ripped open, don’t they? And our hearts may also get triggered just the same.

It’s these triggers that we need to put under a microscope. These triggers may be keeping us from living out our greatness and from serving in ways we were meant to serve… with love.

Serving with love and intention is a practice just like any other practice. And it does take time, effort, patience, persistence and perseverance.

Don’t you think it’s high time we knock down the walls of fear, frustration, tension, conflict, and separation and build foundations of love, patience, ease, compassion, and unity? Don’t you think it’s time we take our thoughts, desires, aspirations and dreams and give them life in the world? Don’t you want to live in alignment with your creative flow? Don’t you want to operative from higher levels of emotional awareness and intelligence?

Are you willing to do the work? Nothing in our lives changes unless we are willing to do the work and get clear in all matters of the heart. It’s time to step up and step out, darlings!

If you don’t know where or how to start, I am here to tell you how simple it can be. Note to self…it may be simple, but it may also be painful! Nevertheless, it all starts with getting to know you better as well as setting daily intentions. I am also here to remind you that your intentions create your reality.

So…before we get to a little practice for setting intentions, allow me to share a few questions I came across as I was perusing many, many pages of the spectacular new issue of Mantra Magazine (my fave). The ENTIRE issue is on wellness. It’s like one big interactive journal!

These questions will help you to get to know YOU. I invite you to peruse them, use them as journaling prompts or topics of conversations with some beloved friends. Use them in any way that will serve YOU:

  • When do I feel most creative?
  • What qualities do I value and desire in my friends?
  • Where do I feel at peace?
  • What makes me feel valued and important?
  • What do I look forward to the most?
  • What do I struggle with the most?
  • What makes me feel calm and centered?
  • What do I do when I’m feeling overwhelmed and stressed?
  • When do I feel confident in myself?
  • How do I want to feel in the world?
  • How can I face my fears more?
  • How can I cultivate more confidence in myself?
  • How can I improve my thinking in order to make my life better?
  • What would help me grow as a person?
  • What new ways can I express myself?
  • What do I need more of?
  • What do I need less of?
  • When do I get mental clarity?
  • How can I stay in tune with my body?
  • When do I feel emotionally fulfilled?
  • What makes me feel energized?
  • When am I most empowered?
  • When do I feel joyful?
  • What obstacles are holding me back?
  • What are my greatest sources of inspiration?
  • When do I feel most proud of myself?
  • What makes me feel valued and important?
  • What is my greatest insecurity?
  • What thoughts consume me throughout my day?
  • How much time do I devote to self-care?
  • What are the things I’d like to say no to?
  • What are the things I’d like to say yes to?

Lots to think about, right? Lots to act upon as well lots to excavate and elevate!

Now, for a little practice on intention setting all that is required is your willingness, your breath and your heart.

Upon awakening each day, resist the temptation to reach for your phone or electronic devices. Doing so will only fill your mind with clutter and distractions.

Begin your day by sitting in bed, a chair, yoga mat or meditation cushion. Close your eyes, and focus on your breath a little while. By focusing on how your breath travels through your body, you are practicing conscious breathing. Now bring your attention to your heart center, and see/feel it opening and blossoming like a lotus flower. When you feel ready, ask yourself:

What word or phrase embodies my wishes for today?

Let that word or phrase fill your heart, your mind and your awareness. You may be feeling one way, but your heart may be telling you something else. The key is to honor that voice of the heart, your instinct and intuition because the heart connects us to the flow of love.

When you are ready, open your eyes slowly, and take a few deep breaths. Keep your intention(s) close to your heart, and tap into it throughout your day and throughout all your encounters and interactions.

Darlings, I invite you to make this an every day practice. Remember, consistency creates the change we want to see. Sit as little or as long as you would like. The point is to be consistent with your practice so that you can be open to your spiritual and energetic self. This morning ritual will allow you to move throughout your day with confidence, purpose, ease and love.

As we are always reminded in yoga…. it’s a practice- not a perfect- so leave that judgemental voice out of the picture! Bid it farewell. And speaking of judgemental voices, be sure you check out my previous blog New Decade – New Voice if you have not already done so. Carry on, my darlings!

Lead with Love… always and in all ways, JTC

End of Year Inspiration

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” Alice Walker

Greetings, my darlings!

Can you believe it’s but a mere couple of weeks before the end of yet another year? I can’t believe that 2020 is right around the corner! When I was growing up, the year 2020 seemed like ages away and, now, here it is!

This is the time of year known for reflecting and setting intentions for yet the start of another year. We look at others for inspiration, maybe at our elders or role models for some motivation and hit the books, podcasts, webinars and who knows what else for some added enlightenment. We journal, make vision boards, write affirmations and create a vision for what or whom we want to grow into as we continue our evolution on this planet.

Throughout our lives, we tend to find ourselves emulating some of those role models, people we know/don’t know, and perhaps even some of our peers, colleagues and esteemed friends. It’s just something about them that strikes us and lights a fire under us. We want to be just like them!

One thing we tend not to look at though, is how many of those same people are emulating us (including ones we may not even know but see in passing). Just think about that for a moment…do you know how powerful you truly are?

I’ve always said that we really never know how many people’s lives we touch and how exponential our influence can be. As we become older and wiser, we tend to better understand the impact and the scope of such influence. Perhaps we get more serious about the choices we make, seek out opportunities to exercise our leadership skills, find ways we can be of service and make a difference and maybe even lend our voices to those who cannot use their own.

There comes a point where we align ourselves and our thoughts, views, speech, actions and intentions with our values and beliefs, so that we can uphold and be the embodiment of those same beliefs and values. In doing so, we become a source of inspiration, motivation or consolation for others. As a result, we may continuously find ourselves looking for ways to keep ourselves in check.

A good way for me to keep myself in check is journaling…..about everything! Good, bad and everything in between. However, one of my favorite things to do this time of year is to take a deeper dive and ask myself significant questions. Everywhere we look these days we see questions upon questions designed to help us review, reflect, take stock of the year we are leaving behind and determine how we want to step into a new year.

I’ve been compiling a list of questions to do just that. A few are from past blogs, posts I’ve seen, and others are from conversations I’ve been having lately. I am going to be working on them over the next several days…especially while on the beach! Being by the ocean always puts me in a reflective mood!

I hope you will join me for some end of year inspiration! 

  1. Are you living a life you can admire? Explain how or why not.
  2. Is your heart in the right place? If not, why not?
  3. Are you living a life of meaning and purpose? 
  4. Are you feeling conflicted in any way? If so, how?
  5. Where are you being unloving to yourself?
  6. Where are you being very loving to yourself?
  7. Are you a peaceful person, or are you filled with rage, regrets, grievances or resentments?
  8. What stories or narratives are you creating around situations and are they helping or sabotaging you?
  9. How can you change the story/narrative?
  10. Who or what disrupts your peace?
  11. Are there any people you need to release from your life? Who are they and why?
  12. Who is someone with whom you need to have a heart to heart conversation?
  13. What were some of your challenges this past year?
  14. What were some of your accomplishments and proud moments?
  15. Do you operate from an open heart or a tightly guarded/closed heart?
  16. How do you express and show your love on a daily basis?
  17. What personal strengths and uniqueness can you share that will contribute and add value to the lives of others?
  18. In what ways are you helping to move humanity forward in your own little corner of the world?
  19. What kind of world do you want to live in?
  20. What role are you playing in healing your own wounds so, that in turn, you are contributing to the collective healing of humanity?

Darlings, I wish you all a merry and happy everything- each and every day of your lives! And may you find joy even in some of the saddest moments that may arise. May you carve some time to sit with your thoughts, recollections of this past year, and find ways to continue to be a light in your own corner of the world. Now go out there and touch lives in unimaginable ways!

As one of my yoga teacher friend says, “May you be blessed, and may you continue being a blessing!

Inhale Love and Light…Exhale Grace and Gratitude, JTC

Standing on Holy Ground: A Reflection

“No matter where life takes you, the place that you stand at any moment is holy ground. Love hard, and love wide and love long and you will find the goodness in it.”

As we age, it seems to me that everything becomes holy: time, resources, friends, family, experiences, trials, and tribulations alike. Every encounter, every decision, and every opportunity that presents itself shows up bearing a myriad of lessons, blessings, and opportunities for healing. More importantly though, I believe that whatever shows up, and in whatever way, shape or form it does, is an opportunity to love bigger and better.

I was struck by the opening quote that was featured in A Network for Gratefulness a few weeks ago (another one of my favorite daily emails). It got me thinking about the 61 years of life on this holy planet that I’m about to celebrate in a few days and the many, many, many (did I say many?) ways love has shown up in my life. A friend once told me that I love hard, deep, and passionately. Wow…when I think about it, that was a beautiful compliment. I’ll take it!

When that compliment came to mind, I found myself reflecting on the friends, family and lovers (some whom aren’t even in my life any longer but I will always love) and how blessed I have been. I’ve had a lot of “love” role models. I’ve been gifted with a circle of people throughout my lifetime that have held and carried me through all the phases of my life. The circle continues to widen, and the significance of that is something I cherish deeply.

Opportunities to choose love over fear, togetherness over separation, inclusivity over exclusion, and sacredness over ungodliness are opportunities to cherish as well. And the common and holy thread among them all is LOVE. As the opening quote reminds us, the place that we stand at any moment is holy ground. So…why not treat it as so?

Reflecting on all of this also got me thinking about the habits of mind that have shaped me and have been important to me. What are my personal ABC’s for thriving, succeeding, and for living a full and happy life? What do I deem sacred and holy for me?

I sat with my list of ABC’s for several days and found myself thinking about how each attribute/quality/habit has shown up and what each one means to me. I guess my ABC list is my own personal list of what matters/has mattered most throughout my lifetime.  As I sit and reflect, I am able to look back now and connect the dots. I see the richness, fullness and holiness that have been a part of my 61 years of life experiences here on this planet (which include the good, the bad and the ugly, of course).

By the time this blog is published, I will have probably tweaked my list several times. Needless to say, many of the words that are also of significance to me got bumped as I revisited the list over and over again over the course of several days. When I think about it, it’s an exercise that assigns weight to the individual words you are choosing. It would have been easier to select more than one attribute/quality/habit for each letter of the alphabet, but I didn’t want easy. I wanted the challenge of digging deep. I wanted to go on an exploration of sorts! Being on a social media detox has gifted me with lots of uninterrupted time. So here goes:

My ABC’s

  • A- appreciation
  • B- boundaries
  • C- courage
  • D- determination
  • E- enthusiasm
  • F- forgiveness
  • G- gratitude
  • H- happiness
  • I- intention
  • J- joy
  • K- knowingness
  • L- love
  • M- memories
  • N- neatness
  • O- optimism
  • P- perseverance
  • Q- quality
  • R- resilience
  • S- spirituality
  • T- truth
  • U- understanding
  • V- values
  • W- wonder
  • X- Xenodochial (had to look this one up… wink, wink)
  • Y- youthfulness
  • Z- zeal

I’ll tell you this much- it’s an exercise I encourage you to make the time to do. And it’s not one to do at a single sitting- for you will keep revisiting your list a multitude of times. But when you’re done, it will serve as your very own validation/ affirmation. It’s a way for you to reflect on your habits of mind, see the essence of who you are, and the sacred qualities and gifts that are uniquely yours to share with the world.  All that’s required is an open heart.

Remember to lead from the heart…right from the start!

Infinite Love & Gratitude, JTC

Acting on Assumptions

“I don’t think we can stop making assumptions, or placing people into boxes. What we can do is be aware of the boxes we are placing ourselves and others into. There are good boxes, there are bad boxes, and there are simply ugly boxes. Awareness is the key.”  Runa Magnus leader of #NoMoreBoxes movement

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been engrossed in reading, re-reading, as well as listening, and re-listening to Seane Corn’s new book, Revolution of the Soul, where we are invited to awaken to love through raw truth, radical healing and conscious action. I’ve also been reflecting, diving deeply and journaling the many answers to the numerous, complex and thought-provoking questions that are posed in her book club discussion guide. Whenever I had the time to sit and work on my blog, I was tugged and quietly pulled away only to immerse myself once again in Seane’s words and teachings- with the rawness, sincerity, humor and beauty that only Seane (aka Cici) can deliver.

The other book that tugged at me and read in 2 days (after seeing her on Super Soul Sunday last week) was Chanel Miller’s extraordinary book, Know My Name. True to the words written in the book’s jacket, “Know My Name will forever transform the way we think about sexual assault, challenging our beliefs about what is acceptable and speaking truth to the tumultuous reality of healing.”

Aside from the courage, vulnerability, humility, pain, trauma, truth, broken systems, power dynamics, discrimination, oppression, degradation, privilege, race, conscious activism and social change both authors speak to, I found a common thread to be that of assumptions– and how easily we tend to make them without even noticing- and how destructive and hurtful acting on assumptions can be.

In the fast paced, sensory overloaded, hustle-bustle, burn-out, grind culture we live in where busyness is glorified and romanticized, and 24/7 connectivity, news feeds and sleep deprivation are the norm, it’s easy to get caught up in assuming and judging. Doing so ultimately leads us to putting people into boxes. And when we put people into boxes, we are usually doing so from an unconscious state of being and/or lack of clarity, or from limiting beliefs, prejudices, stereotypes or our own personal and/or cultural belief system. Sound familiar? You are not alone…we are all guilty of doing so.

The key to changing this behavior is to become aware of when we are doing so and being aware of the problems and misunderstandings we create for ourselves and others when acting on assumptions. 

I came across the following questions as I was reading the article, And the assumption is? that was featured in Breathe Magazine (one of my favorites):

  • When did you last find yourself making an assumption about someone?
  • What assumption did you make and why?
  • How did this impact you and your relationship with this person?
  • Would the situation had been different if you hadn’t made an assumption?
  • What will you do differently next time?

Reading and reflecting on these questions will bring to light the times we’ve acted in an unskillful way and/or as a result of our unconscious behavior. These questions offer a portal in which we can peek into our hearts and hold ourselves accountable for the hurt we have caused ourselves and others.

In Revolution for the Soul, Seane poses a powerful question that helps us to become aware of our complicity: How do my own biases and privilege contribute to separation and oppression? 

In the section of her book where she talks about accountability, justice and a call to action, she writes: “The bigger issue is the resistance that those of us with privilege have to looking at how our own behavior and belief systems perpetuate oppression- either consciously or subconsciously- and our failure to hold ourselves accountable. So much of our biases, bigotry and prejudice is historical, ancestral and cultural; it informs and impacts how we live and how we relate to one another.  We are taught to fear differences instead of celebrating them, to distrust those who think, look and act differently, rather than learning from them. All of these beliefs, live in the body and, no matter how conscious we think we are, can erupt  in moments of overwhelm and stress. When that happens, our own biases, ignorance and fears rub up against someone else’s. If we aren’t aware of what’s happening, all that rubbing creates friction, which leads to more conflict and misunderstandings, which in turn lead to pain, suffering and even death.”

It’s an oftentimes painful process, and a rude awakening to say the least, to see how we can, and do, contribute to our fractured world and times we are living in. All of our thoughts, perceptions, words, and actions either heal or hurt, build or destroy, come form fear of love, liberate or oppress. I think it’s safe to say that we can clearly see how acting from assumptions plays into all of this and how what’s going on “out there’ is a reflection of what’s going on “in here” inside our minds and hearts.

All change begins within…it’s a process and one that will accompany us throughout our lifetime. Throughout this process, opportunities will always arise that will either test us or free us. Opportunities that can and will make us wonder where certain thoughts are coming from.  Opportunities that will challenge us to stop attaching labels and putting people in boxes. Opportunities that will allow us to get to know someone on deeper levels rather than making erroneous assumptions about them. Opportunities to see different perspectives. Opportunities to see another’s struggle or lack of privilege. Opportunities that will make us uncomfortable. Opportunities to step out of the boxes we put ourselves in. Opportunities to make a difference and be the change. Opportunities to see and feel the consequences of our actions. Opportunities to have different thoughts and make different choices. Opportunities to inspire. Opportunities to love. Opportunities to serve.

And what does all of this mean?  It means we are all human. We are not perfect. We all have faults. We have our flaws. We all have our own stories, narratives, doubts and insecurities. We will stumble. We will fall. We will fail. We will pick ourselves up again. We will succeed. We will stumble yet again. We will do better…because we can always do better… we can choose to do better!  This is a truth I strongly believe in.

Thanks for reading!

Inhale love and light…Exhale grace and gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

Grow Through It All

“When our souls are healthy, we change the environment; the environment doesn’t change us” -Pastor Carl Lentz

This past week I have been finishing up the numerous books I’ve been simultaneously reading. While I still have 2 more to go, I did finish Own the Moment by Carl Lentz. And not only did I thoroughly and enthusiastically enjoy reading it, but I finally made it to service at Hillsong Church this morning. What an experience! One can’t help but getting that feeling of  coming alive and getting our souls infused with a healthy and relatable dose of “the all-knowing word.”

I will be taking a few weeks off from posting my blog, because I need to diligently and fervently work on all the blogs I want to write and schedule before going away and disconnecting from social media. I usually schedule one per week, usually on Wednesdays, while I am away. I will keep you all posted!

But not to worry…I am going to leave you with some meaningful food for thought, conversation, guidance and perhaps even some writing for the next couple of weeks while I devote some uninterrupted time to writing myself. Should you choose to deeply explore the questions, it is my hope that you will be left feeling an expansive sense of Self. There is always room for growth, darlings! The key is to be accountable and keep plugging away at this most powerful, pure-hearted, heart-centered and self-loving process.

So, I leave you with some questions from Own the Moment. The questions were scattered throughout the book. I may have tweaked some questions and added a few of my own. Nevertheless, I selected the ones that spoke to me in hopes they speak to you as well. Like I said, reflect on them, talk about them, journal or simply explore them in which ever way serves you best:

  • Do you know where you are going?
  • What drives you?
  • What shapes you?
  • What fuels you?
  • What guides you?
  • Are you changing?
  • Are you influencing?
  • What are you listening to today?
  • Is it helpful?
  • Is it life-giving?
  • Where do you put your focus?
  • What are your challenges?
  • Who challenges you?
  • Do you have broken relationships because you’re consumed with the wrongs somebody else committed and you have failed to own your part in the matter?
  • Can you be more constructive and look inward to bring change in your life?
  • Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?
  • What do you demand for your own life?
  • What are your non-negotiables?
  • Do you know your convictions –  the “yes, I wills” and the “no, I won’ts?”
  • Are you changing your environment, or is your environment changing you?
  • Have you had to adjust your standards to fit in?
  • Have you lived with such conviction as people start rethinking their standards because of you?
  • How can you influence others?
  • Are you clear about your intentions?
  • Do the people in your life feel valued and appreciated?
  • If so, why? What do you do that makes them feel this way?
  • What would you do if you truly didn’t care about what other people thought about you?
  • How would you live, what would you pursue, and ultimately  how much fun would you have?
  • How many things in life would you have already tried if you didn’t fear failure?
  • How many people in your life might you be holding to an unrealistic standard of completeness when you have areas that are in the process of healing?
  • Do you find yourself living in the past?
  • Are you constantly in a hurry?
  • If you take a genuine hard look at what influences you today and the relationships that you hold most dear, are they helping or hurting you?
  • Could it be said that some things that should not be an option in your life have been given the opportunity to grow?
  • What makes you the most insecure in life? Why?
  • Where can you find time to stop and be grateful for all that you have in your life?
  • What is the one thing you can do today that can make a huge difference in the life of another?

We can look at our answers and realize our journey, and our task, is to do the work in order to grow through whatever it is we are going through and, ultimately, evolve into the best version of ourselves AND live a full, meaningful and purposeful life in the process! We have much to do in terns of growing. By the same token, we can also look to see if we are allowing the way we live to suck the passion out of our lives.

We can further investigate our answers and determine if we are living a balanced, grateful, rich, inspiring and benevolent life- and one that is filled with peace, tranquility and serenity. We can see, and feel,  if we are operating from a place of love or fear. We can look to see if we’re choosing to live in joy despite of the life circumstances that befall us all.

Ultimately, our answers will reveal if we are living from a place of truth, transparency and authenticity, or of we are living a life of dishonesty, fraud, lies, deceit, half-truths, and omissions that are compromising our soul’s integrity. Remember, the choice is always ours to make!

Darlings, stay calm, cool and continue to grow through it all

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

Now I Know My ABC’s

Accept Differences – Be Kind – Count Your Blessings – Dream – Express Thanks – Forgive – Give Freely – Harm No One – Imagine More – Jettison Anger – Keep Confidences – Love Truly –  Master Something – Nurture Hope – Open Your Mind – Pack Lightly – Quell Rumors – Reciprocate  – Seek Wisdom – Touch Hearts – Understand – Value Truth – Win Graciously – Xemplify Kindness – Yearn For Peace – Zealously Support A Worthy Cause

Precisely ten years ago, I received these ABC’s in a holiday card that I have kept ever since. It too makes its way around my place during the holidays, as does the one I wrote about in a previous post, A Meaningful To-Do List.  Today, more than ever, it seems like the world needs these ABC’s on steroids! I silently give thanks for all the people around the globe who are working hard and tapping into their tools every single day to exemplify these traits, for these human beings are part of our global community helping to heal humanity.

The healing though, as with many things in life, must first start with ourselves. We have been blessed with the privilege of being alive, and with that comes a responsibility to grow and evolve into the very best person we can be. If you are committed to self-improvement, inner investigation and evolving mentally, emotionally and spiritually, you know it’s not an easy job. The work can get ugly, messy, and painful; but, the rewards outweigh it all. Remember, true transformation occurs from the inside out, and it takes time, practice and patience! One of my favorite quotes is, You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress at the same time.”  Amen to that!!!!

As I was thinking about what to write about in this blog, I came across some questions that one of my favorite people in the world, Seane Corn, posed at a yoga workshop I did with her about 4 years ago. These questions really require us to get to the core of who we are…both our light and shadow side. If we want to be able to live peacefully, coexist and truly effect change, I believe we have a responsibility to ourselves, and the life we have been given, to really dig deep and work hard at chiseling away the dark residue from our shadow side. It’s hard work. It’s also heart work!

Below are numerous questions – I invite you to peruse them, answer them if you like, share them with your tribe, have conversations about them, or just see what thoughts, feelings and emotions arise inside you as you read through them. Hopefully, you will find them useful in some way – if not now, then sometime along your personal journey.

  • How are you showing up for yourself?
  • How are you showing up for others?
  • What tapes are running through your head?
  • What conditioning, grief, dysfunction, pain, sorrow, situations or people who no longer serve you are you still holding on to? Why?
  • What limiting beliefs are holding you back or keeping you stuck in “victim” mentality?
  • Are you in a state of denial?
  • What hurts, traumas, surgery, loss or life situation has shown up?
  • What behavior do you turn to when you want to avoid feeling your feelings?
  • Who or what situation has brought you to your knees?
  • Who or what has broken your heart wide open?
  • Do you choose love over fear?
  • Do you act from a place of love or fear?
  • How can you connect to your pure essence which is Love?
  • How do you show compassion, empathy, understanding and kindness to others?
  • What ways do you show up for yourself from a place of hope, love, compassion, understanding and empathy?
  • Who taught you how to love?
  • How do you contribute to the collective energy of the planet? 
  • Are your thoughts, views, actions and speech negative and judgmental in nature, or are they positive?
  • What words do you use?
  • What type of language do you use to communicate with others?
  • Does your language emanate positive or negative energy?
  • What types of example are you setting for those around you…partners, children, family, friends, co-workers and strangers?
  • Who are your closest relationships?
  • Who or what triggers you?
  • What sensations do these triggers cause in your body?
  • Do you react or pause, then act?
  • What tools can you employ so you don’t react?
  • Do you abuse power?
  • Do you have issues expressing love and acceptance to those of a different race,  nationality, color, gender or religion?
  • What words / language do you use that causes separation?
  • What does peace look and feel like for you?
  • What ways can you contribute to making your surroundings, as well as the collective energy of the world, more peaceful?
  • How can you exercise patience, understanding and non-judgement?
  • What are you grateful for?
  • How do you express gratitude for what shows up in your life?
  • Who were / are your spiritual teachers?
  • What’s your shadow side?
  • How do you shine your light?
  • How do you step into your power?
  • What change do you want to see in the world?

Darlings, may you always feel your essence with each heartbeat…LOVE, LOVE, LOVE…..and send that out to into the world….and feel the earth pulsating with LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! Oh, and one last thing – please be sure to practice your ABC’s…wink, wink!

Inhale love and light…Exhale grace and gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

End of Year Review & Rituals

“In the end, these things matter most…how well did you love, how fully did you live, how deeply did you let go” -Buddha

We should we have to wait until we are at the end of our life to ask ourselves these questions? As a matter of fact, if we change the lens by which we view life, we come to realize and accept the fact that we are all terminal.  I saw a very appropriate quote by Tony Robbins a couple of weeks ago where he says, “There’s something coming for all of us. It’s called death. Rather than fearing it, it can become one of our greatest counselors.” Wow…our greatest counselor!

When people are faced with death, in most cases, that is when they begin to live. Now that is sad! Why should we wait until the end of our life to live? Really live….live with courage, fierceness, passion, creativity, optimism, integrity, wisdom, balance, honor, grace, acceptance, kindness, gratitude, compassion, joy, peace, purpose and love. The list can go on and on. I invite you to pause for a moment. Perhaps inhale deeply and exhale very lengthy a few times. Now, read the following questions, linger between each one, and see what shows up: What would you add to this list? How can you stay connected to these values (or your own) and keep them in check? Do you have any rituals that allow you to move through your life as an expression of those values?

So moving onto the topic of rituals, like many of you, I have a few of my own. As much of an extrovert and social butterfly that I am, I’m also a loner and introvert. I relish my alone time and the silence that surrounds me. As I’ve gotten older, I have become even more sensitive to noise, bright lights, crowds and activities that are devoid of meaning and purpose. And guess what? I would not have it any other way. Been there, done that! I need the quiet time to rebalance, review, regroup, renew, reconnect, recharge. This is a ritual that is one of my non-negotiables. I love the space it holds for me to be able to connect with my creativity, set intentions and create a vision for how I want to proceed with the time I have left here on this earth. I want to be able to move through my life as a full expression of that vision and the values I hold near and dear.

One of the rituals I look forward to the most are the end of year ones….especially New Year’s Eve. The LAST thing I want to be doing is being out anywhere near midnight! However, twenty years ago I did the midnight run in Central Park….operative words….twenty years ago!  There have also been times, here and there, that I’ve gone out to an early dinner. And yes, I made sure to be home early as well.

I love the end of year ritual(s) I’ve set up for myself. They bring me joy and peace. When I’m in Florida, I like to be on the beach for sunrise. There’s something magical about the stillness and quietness that time of morning. The beach is a lovely place to meditate and do a little yoga practice as the sun is rising. Oh, the feeling of doing sun salutations when the sun is peaking through the horizon! It’s breathtaking. THAT is when I truly feel the connection to all that is. To feel like a tiny grain of sand in the universe puts a whole lot into perspective.

If I am home in NJ, I still like to arise early and do my daily rituals. The sun rises outside my bedroom window (love this exposure), so I hunker down, go within, connect and listen, and move my body. With either scenario, I make sure I take the time to journal. Lots of questions seem to pop up all over the place this time of year, and I usually pick and choose from here and there and create a list for myself to ponder and write about.

By noon time, I clean. Yes, I clean and do any laundry that may need to be done (and make sure all the garbage is thrown out). Oh, and by the way, I pop the cork on a bottle of champagne to usher in the cleaning and cleansing of my beloved sacred space and the new year that awaits. Add a little music to  set the tone, and voila! Devotional music puts me in the head space to perform my cleaning activities like a mediation….an offering up to the Divine. After the cleaning, I then move onto another ritual…the bathing ritual. Oils, candles, music, maybe some herbs and flowers, exfoliation, a few bubbles (and bubbly on the side).

Another activity I like to do, is create a vision board. When I haven’t made one, I’ve written my intentions and visions for the forthcoming year in my journal. Last year, I tweaked my existing vison board – it’s more like a “life visioning board.” It represents the intentions for how I want to be living, serving and being of contribution. It amazes me when I look at it and see how so many things are in alignment with that vision and are coming to fruition! Taking the time to write or create a vision is a very powerful tool. Just the other day, I came across something I had written back in 2008, and I just sat there in amazement, reading and shaking my head at all the things I wrote that I ended up manifesting. Oh, this magical and comical universe of ours surely knows how and when to deliver!

To celebrate my accomplishments, I make myself a nice meal and enjoy it. A new ritual I started a couple of years ago was a Blessings Jar (you can use a big mason jar, bowl, or buy a decorative one in HomeGoods or a place like that). Blessings appear always and in all ways, but I tend to write about random occurrences and synchronicities….ones that may not even appear as a blessing but truly are a blessing for me. Perhaps during my morning practice this year may be a good time to empty my blessings jar, unfold all the little pieces of paper, and read what I have written in the past year. It’s truly humbling to say the least!

There have been many years that I’ve been in bed before the stroke of midnight – cozy, snug like a bug in a rug. Other times, I may do a some more journaling, a little yoga practice and/or a guided mediation. One year, I was just finishing the end of my practice at midnight. That was a beautiful experience in and of itself. It’s a powerful feeling to connect energetically with the millions of people in the world who are ushering in the new year in prayer and meditation, It’s like a spiritual global community coming together with a sense of unity of purpose.

This New Year’s Eve, I am actually going to a yoga class in the early evening with my “Lovelies.” Now, this group is uber-special to me….thats why I call them the Lovelies. Some of them are yoga teachers (either full or part time) and others are educators who also have their YTT certification as well (something I know I will be doing at some point along my journey). These gals are magical light beings, and I am infinitely grateful for their love, energy, inspiration, and generosity of spirit. Who knows? Maybe this will become a new yearly ritual too!

Do you have any end of year rituals? If so, what are some of yours? I’d love to hear about them. Plus, you may give me a few new ideas to add to my list. I’m all about the sharing!

Below are some questions I may be pondering leading up to New Year’s Eve. Feel free to contemplate them, come up with your own, or maybe even share yours with other people as well. Coming up with age appropriate questions for children is also a lovely and meaningful activity. Some of the following questions are my own, some I got from the Chopra Center, and some are a combo of both. I hope they are helpful to you!

  • What did you learn this year? (skills, knowledge, awareness, etc.)
  • What did you accomplish? 
  • Is there anything that still feels incomplete to you?
  • Is there something you would I have done differently? Why?
  • What did you release? 
  • What else needs to be released?
  • Are there people in your life you need to release? (who are they and why)
  • What were the most significant events in your life this past year? 
  • What right choices did you make?
  • What do you feel especially good about?
  • What really matters most to you?
  • What was your greatest contribution this year?
  • What were the fun things you did?
  • What were the not-so-fun? (and why)
  • What were your biggest challenges/roadblocks/difficulties this past year?
  • How did you grow from them?
  • How are you different this year than last?
  • What were some of your significant and/or game changing blessings in 2017?
  • What are you particularly grateful for?
  • How did you express and show your love?
  • How fully did you live this past year?
  • How deeply did you let go?
  • Are you currently living a life of meaning and purpose?
  • Who or what is keeping you from living the fullest expression of who you are?
  • What personal strengths and uniqueness can you share that will add value to others?
  • How can you share your gifts with the world?
  • How do you want to live your life in 2018? 
  • What do you see yourself doing next year?

In closing, I will also leave you with a short prayer from the book, Change Me Prayers – The Hidden Power of Spiritual Surrender, by Tosha Silver.

Releasing

Let me release all that is outgrown and align with the Divine for the highest unfolding. The perfect routes are already selected and will unfold naturally and easily. Let me know my true nature as Love. Divine Beloved, change me into One who easily releases all that wishes to go. Let me move with courage and ease. As I stand on the threshold of the new, let me trust that all that needs to happen will happen in the most uplifting and joyous ways. What is needed is already known. I will be guided, shown, and provided for in every way. All is well.

Darlings, may you release 2017 with a sense of grace and gratitude for all that was, and may you fill your 2018 with what matters most-  Love and Faith. Happy New Year!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

Exercise the I AM in You

“All of us are seeking the same thing. We share the desire to fulfill the highest, truest expression of ourselves as human beings….the most valuable gift you can give yourself is the time to nurture the unique spirit that is you.” -Oprah

As children, we are taught to love others and treat them with kindness and compassion; yet, we rarely heard the message that it first starts with us. I don’t know about you, but I feel the most important lesson that should be taught early on in life is to do just that: Love and accept ourself, show up for ourself with loving-kindness, compassion and understanding. Take care of our beautiful soul and nurture it with food for all the senses. The value in this lesson is that we learn to put our Self first, and not in a selfish way, but in a self-preserving way!

Fast forward to when we are in our adult lives, and we will most likely get to the point where we seem to be unraveling, disconnected, lost, not grounded, spiraling, fatigued, anxious, and exhausted from doing, doing, doing and giving, giving, giving. Why? Because we are doing and giving to others. We are “do-ing” instead of “be-ing.” We’ve all heard the adage, “If you don’t take care of yourself first, you can’t take care of anyone else.” Why is that so difficult to do? We’ve put ourselves at the bottom of the “to do” list, that’s why!  We should have been at the top of the list all along had we been taught to do so early on in life.

Somewhere along the line, we find ourselves lacking joy, stamina, wonder, love, excitement, creativity and a host of other things. We are quick to see the gifts in others and admire them in ways we seem to have lost the ability to do for ourself. We lose touch with our true essence and the connection to that divine energy that is much greater than us. Where did it go? Well darlings, remember the line from the Wizard of Oz? You’ve had the power all along.” You just mis-placed it, gave it away, ignored it or chose to forget about it all together. There comes a point in your life where you must find it, polish it, step into it and reclaim the divine power and glory that is You. How? Well, a good place to start is to turn inward and start acknowledging your personal gifts and uniqueness. We all have them. We’ve just lost sight of them. Be still and listen!

Look around and take a close look at all the young girls and women of all ages, beautiful women inside and out, who fail to see their beauty, light, uniqueness and gifts because they are so caught up in doing for others or comparing themselves to others. Just think about the behavior that is being modeled for younger generations. It’s certainly not a healthy one. A good way to break this cycle is to first acknowledge the behavior and then consciously “choose” to end this cycle of madness and struggle. Instead of prioritizing your schedule, schedule your priorities (when I heard my lovely friend Christy once say this, I felt a shift occur in my mind). And if you’re not sure of your priorities, a great way to re-claim them is to identify your “non-negotiables.” As I’ve shared before, mine are prayer, yoga, meditation, sleep, water, nutritious foods, exercise (and other self-care practices). Nothing, or no one, comes between me and my non-negotiables. Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way! What are the things your mind, body and soul need in order to “show up” for yourself in a healthy, kind, compassionate, mindful and peaceful way? And by the way, leave the guilt at the door when doing so! These are the things that need to be a priority on your schedule. Along with the guilt, leave the prioritizing of the schedule in the past, and start scheduling your priorities!

Another powerfully insightful way to identify and connect with your personal gifts, uniqueness and divine power is a wonderful exercise called I AM. If my memory serves me correctly, I first did it as part of Iyanla Vanzant’s Inner Vision Institute Do the Work series. It “appears” to be a simple task and one you may have doubts about. It may also be one that you struggle with as you try to “come up” with what to write. You see, with each passing day, you will most certainly find yourself delving deeper and deeper, excavating and finding those long-lost gifts you have buried or, perhaps, never even acknowledged.  You do this exercise for 7 consecutive days, and all it requires is a pen and paper (no typing – it must be hand-written).

Directions:

As will all sacred practices / rituals, I suggest you take a moment to perhaps light a candle, clear your space, burn some sage, palo santo or incense. Take a few deep breaths, get comfortable, set an intention and don’t over-think. Approach the activity with an open mind and open heart! Now take a piece of paper (you may want to do this in your journal) and write Day 1 at the top. Then, below that, write I AM. Number your paper from 1-40. You are now ready to say to yourself, “I am……” and write whatever comes up next to each number. Do not judge or over-think – just go with the flow! You will do this for 7 consecutive days. 

Believe me, you will be amazed and in awe of the magnitude of what you have written. It will leave you feeling empowered, strong and in love with You. No one….I will say it again….no one, can give you the most valuable gift of nurturing the unique spirit that is you other than You! In doing so, you will fulfill your highest, truest expression of yourself as a human being, and not a human “do-ing.”

Happy exercising and remember, just do you…. And love who you are!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

 

Why Blog?

“Our task is to choose to live our own life as an example of grace and humanity, and to surrender to both the light and the dark, and to create a space within for beauty and devastation and for all that life will reveal”  Seane Corn

Unbeknownst to me, the idea of starting a blog came to me around June 2012. At that time, the seeds were already being dropped into my head and, subconsciously, I began watering them with my beliefs, actions, intentions and, yes, compromises I had made years past and over the next several years. I recall being so sick with an upper respiratory thing and a looming migraine that was threatening to take me down. At the time, I was an assistant principal in an elementary school, and there was a Saturday workshop being conducted for administrators. Additionally, we had to bring in our laptops for something (swapping out? re-imaging? You get the picture). I was so sick that I considered staying home and have the laptop issue resolved at school. However, something was pulling me to go. Ariane de Bonvoisin, author of The First 30 Days of Change, was the featured speaker at our workshop.

Now, if you know me, I LOVE CHANGE…It’s what keeps us alive, thriving, growing and ever-transforming into better versions of our old selves. Something (my internal GPS) was telling me to go despite how violently ill I felt. Through “divine intervention,” the Universe used a dear friend and co-worker of mine as a messenger. My friend sent me a text along the lines of this speaker being someone that would be of interest to me. I immediately googled the author…there it was! I picked myself up, armed myself with some herbal remedies, tissues, water, etc., and I headed to the workshop / seminar.

Our stories and journeys are not only our lessons but they teach others as well. What we do and how we do it has the power to light the path for others in need and can serve as a great source of inspiration, motivation and consolation. We are all on the same path, returning home to find ourselves, our true self, the connection with that force that is greater than ourselves and that resides inside each and every one of us…..and to light and pave the way for others. How we live out our purpose is as unique as we are. It is our responsibility as a human being to want to contribute…to inspire, love, serve and leave behind a legacy of love and service. Let’s be clear, what I just mentioned is our purpose; However, it is up to us, our passion, and our willingness to be vulnerable, broken open, courageous, brave, fearless, fierce, intentional and deliberate that will allow us to grow, transform, flex our resilience muscle, make an impact and affect change. In the end, it’s all about healing ourselves, helping others to do the same and, in turn, helping humanity to heal. I know, without a shadow of a doubt,  we are here on this earth to love, serve and uplift each other.

Oh, and did I mention ask for help? Yes, you heard it…..Ask for help. If you are that rock everyone comes to, the fixer, the handler (come on now, we all have a little Olivia Pope in us), you know how difficult it is to ask for help. Well, my darlings, if we do not learn to ask for help and allow others the joy of helping us, you can be sure the Universe is going to deliver some hard lessons and get us to utter the word help;  I need help; Can you please help me…. Get the picture? Trust me, this will teach us to leave the EGO at the door!

Towards the last several years of my career, I was fed up with what I saw and experienced first hand: fed up with the big egos, the abuse of power, politics, lies, bullying, harassment, intimidation, a system not doing “right” by its clientele and personnel, the back stabbing and everything else that comes with working in a toxic work environment. I felt that my talents and my gifts weren’t even being tapped into. My creativity and light were being zapped! Nevertheless, I was committed to impacting and influencing others by continuing to “work the work” of self transformation, talk the talk and, more importantly,  walk the walk. I committed to living my yoga off the mat. The more my yoga and meditation practice deepened and flourished and the more I studied yoga philosophy, the more that I felt morally compromised and suffocated. The more I spoke my truth, operated from an authentic and transparent place, the more I saw that I no longer fit in that organization and that my soul needed, and was craving, expansion……Be careful what you wish for……that will be for another post!

The only thing that got me through those last few years leading up to 2012 and the last few months on the job, were to Lead from the heart….Right from the start, always and in all ways. And, boy, can I give you ways to do that!!!!!

Hence…….the Inspire Love Serve Blog.

Please stay tuned!

Inhale love….Exhale gratitude, JTC