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

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

 

 

Radiate Wisdom

“My being is wise and knowing”

We have all experienced profound wisdom in our life via life experiences, self inquiry and mindful practices that allow us to see the lessons and wisdom gained. It allows us to be connected to “Source” and have many “aha moments” whether we are alone or with other “like-minded” individuals. The more we tune into these moments, the more connected we are to our inner “guru” or teacher and the more we can appreciate other people’s words of wisdom.

Throughout my 20’s-40’s, whenever my Mama shared her wisdom, I used to do some MAJOR eye rolling! I’m sure you’ve been guilty of doing the same, right? She used to tell me that I had a lot of college degrees, but she went to “The University of Life” as she called it. Oh the eye rolling and head shaking that went on!!!!!! I still cringe when I think of my audacity and how arrogant I was to this woman who brought me into the world. She truly was a wealth of knowledge. I just didn’t see it. My warped thinking at the time went something like this: “What could she possibly know when she didn’t even go to college? I don’t even know if she ever got to finish HS!” Regardless, Mama did in fact go to the University of Life or, like many spiritual masters call it, Earth School.

An activity that is truly reflective, allows us to tap into our own wisdom and radiate that wisdom, is writing a letter to our younger Self. Have you ever done this? I’ve done a few over the years. It’s a pretty powerful experience. As a matter of fact, what sparked this blog was coming across a letter I wrote to my 13 year old self. When I wrote that, I also then wrote one to my 55 year old self. I would like to share these with you now:

Dearest 13 year old JT, Develop a practice…tune into your inner guru, the Divine, and know that all will be well. Let love, compassion, joy and peace guide your every step, word and interaction with others. Life is a divinely ordained journey that helps us to grow, evolve and become our best Self. Worry less, laugh more….no need to worry for all your needs and everything you need in life will be yours by your Divine birthright. Be kind to yourself and others and live mindfully, present, awake and aware of the energy you bring forth. Stay in the light. Shine your light and know you are perfect and whole the way you are…..Love is the essence.

Dearest Present Day 55 year old JT, By now you know the Divine connection you have with God and the Universe. You’ve learned practices and filled your spiritual toolbox with lots of  resources that allow you to show up and be present. Keep growing, evolving and shinning your light. All things come in Divine order and in God’s timing. Your ultimate soulmate, opportunities for philanthropy and resources needed will, by right, find their way to you. In the interim, continue leading from the heart…right from the start.

Earth School is a life-long journey that affords us the opportunities to amass voluminous amounts of wisdom. This wisdom, sage advice and inner knowingness can be shared via our interactions with friends, family members, colleagues and the stories we choose to share. This is what the elders of centuries ago shared around the campfire. It truly is a privilege and honor to be able to impart our sage advice and wisdom with others. It can also be looked at as a responsibility we have to other human beings. And, when others share their words of wisdom, regardless of who they are, their life or living circumstances, perspective and outlook, let’s try not to roll our eyes! Oftentimes we look at others’ life circumstances and wonder who are they to be sharing their advice and suggestions. In fact, they have earned that right because they, too, have gone to The University of Life / Earth School. Their life may look a little differently to us; nevertheless, we should not discount the value in what they have to share. Embrace it! We are all pure knowledge, we just have to embrace that thought, tap into our own teacher/guru, shine our light and confidently radiate wisdom.

I invite you all to write a letter to your younger Self. Pick an age….12, 15, 21……and share your words of wisdom with your younger self. You may also want to write one to your present day self. Just write away….don’t censor your writing. Let it flow. You may just surprise yourself with what comes out. Why? Because your inner guru/teacher will be doing the talking. Keep shining brightly my darlings!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC