Falling into Myself

“Beauty and Strength Come from Within”

This week marks 10 years that the Universe “removed” me from a most toxic work environment. Despite the challenges that followed, I will be forever grateful.

You see, for years leading up to the start of yet another school year in 2012, I felt my soul was getting more and more compromised. My integrity, values, self respect, intentional way of living, being and moving in my world were not in alignment amid that type of work environment where backstabbing and outright meanness, bullying and harassment from “higher ups” was the status quo.

Thankfully, my yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices kept my head above water-barely shall I say- and, unknowingly, prepared me for the journey that lay ahead….especially the physical journey. The irony was that despite being in tune with my body, I was not listening to it. I asked the Universe to intervene- it delivered and, just like that about a week later, I was removed from a place that otherwise would have been the cause for whisking me away in a stretcher or in a body bag that school year.

Fast forward a few weeks later, on the eve of my 54th birthday, and I almost died on the operating table (amidst cursing and screaming as per my surgeon), as I lay there for 7 hours getting put back together again. I had several out of body (near death experiences) immediately after my surgery due to my horrifically low blood pressure and blood loss. In total, I had to get 5-6 units of blood. This surgery would also require a future one, which I was in denial about from the onset, until I had no choice but to have it 3 years later. Then another one 4 years after that…all because I wasn’t listening to my body while in that toxic environment where I was working anywhere from 10-15 hour days.

At the time, I was a vice-principal. As I just told you, I was in tune with my body as a result of my yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices, but I wasn’t “listening” to the sounds that were coming from it. Sounds where a simple Google search would have had me running to my orthopedic surgeon mind you!

Looking back now, that “forced” removal brought with it the forced “rest” that comes with physical rehab. The inquiry and inner investigation that came with it was the start of a much needed and overdue rest practice. It was the start of me falling into me.

After 12 years as a VP in such a toxic atmosphere and working with bad behavior ( and in some cases mentally ill higher ups), recovery didn’t come easily. I couldn’t immediately process all of it as I was trying to process WTF happened to me…to my body… what I put it through…and how I was going to get through each day moving forward. Would I ever walk on my own again? Would I get any feeling back in my leg? Would the nerve pain ever subside? Who will help me? I also looked skeletal, and all I could do when I saw my friends was cry. The fact that the end of my career got ripped out from under me didn’t even factor into the equation at this point in time.

It took me years of tears, physical therapy, sadness, self-love, compassion, rest, patience, and tapping into my resilience and inner fortitude to feel it all in order to heal. You know how the saying goes, “You have to feel it to heal it.” It wasn’t until last year, after my last orthopedic surgery and finding myself free of physical pain and debilitation, that I FINALLY started enjoying retirement…only to have another surgery this past June. It was one I had wanted to have done years ago but was consumed with all things orthopedic. If you haven’t read my last two blogs, Doing a Thing and The Heal is Real, you can read about my elective surgery.

Thanks to one of my beloved teachers, Tracee Stanley, and her online portal, the practice of Yoga Nidra has played a VITAL role in the quality of my life, rest, healing, presence, discernment and intentionality over the past couple of years. These practices and habits have also helped me to eradicate the word “busy” from my vocabulary. If you know me, you know how I loathe that word!

We all know the saying about time being our most valuable currency, and we should be very discerning about how we choose to spend it. Of late, I have been looking at time as a function of mindful moments where I choose to be 100% present. No multitasking allowed…wink, wink. Not even something as simple as talking on the phone and doing something else. I try my best to give my full attention to the person or the activity I am engaged in. In retrospect, I think that my 2022 word, spaciousness, has been a game changer. It’s allowed me to explore ways to create more space, fluidity and awareness.

Being aware, fully rested, grounded, rooted, and resourced has gifted me with the magic of presence . Over the years, I’ve evolved into a human BE-ing rather than a human DO-ing. And I really owe it all to my rest practices; both the forced ones from years ago and the ones I’ve cultivated with teachers like Tracee Stanley and Octavia Raheem. Tracee’s book, Radiant Rest, Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation and Awakened Clarity as well as Octavia’s book, Pause Rest Be: Stillness Practices for Courage in Times of Change, have also been game changers! I know this may sound crazy, but these books and rest practices have gifted me with more time, space, creativity, clarity, discernment, intuition and grace. Now THAT is the power of rest!

What we have all put our bodies through in this toxic culture of productivity and 24/7 connectedness is mind blowing! Stop and think about it for a moment. No wonder our bodies have been broken down, why we’ve been brought to our knees, developed diseases from all the dis-ease in our bodies and perhaps even live in a state of depression and/or anxiety. I encourage you all to take the time to determine where your life is out of balance, what needs to change, who or what you need to let go, what you want to call in and what areas of your life are in need of deep healing.

Have you been listening to your body?

How do you tune in to your inner GPS?

Are you numbing yourself so you don’t have to feel and, if so, in what ways?

What is your relationship with loss and grief?

How do you deal with transitions or sudden changes?

In what ways do you care for your inner Self?

As I’ve written in other blogs, September and October have always been difficult months for me due to the many losses that have occurred in those months. As I prepare for yet another big transition, I am able to see that as a result of my mindfulness practices, yoga, meditation, and rest, I find myself in deep gratitude for endings and new beginnings.

I am presently getting ready to move out of a place I’ve called home and have lived in for 12 years. A place I refer to as my Treehouse Oasis because of all the trees outside my windows, the myriad of birds that visit, the high vaulted ceilings, and the peace, serenity and quietude that surrounds it.

As I look back on these 12 years, my Treehouse Oasis has been a refuge of sorts. It’s been a place of sacred ritual and much healing: physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It has held me, held endless tears, losses, and grief – welcomed and unwelcome as well as planned and unplanned. Conversely, it has also been a place filled with much love, immense gratitude, celebrations, learning, unlearning, evolving and transformation. And let me not forget REST….for it is the foundation of beauty and strength in my book. My mama was right all those decades ago! Too bad I listen listen back then.

The hardest part will be leaving my close-knit circle of friends, since I will be taking up residence in my little seaside “crash pad” for a while. I know new life experiences, people, adventures and opportunities that will enable me to InspireLoveServe await. Nevertheless, it will be yet another transition I find myself preparing, planning and organizing for during this time of year.

I will be falling into myself yet again. The thing is that I’ve realized falling into oneself is a continuous process of releasing, shedding, becoming, unbecoming, calling in and attracting. It’s a process that, when embraced, fills our hearts with joy, intention and meaning. I admit that I love change, I embrace it and I thrive on it. So…I know that all good things await.

September, the fall season and the darkness that comes with it is a great time to look back, take stock, assess, let go and create space to draw in. I will continue to look back and reflect on these past ten years and connect the dots: see all that had to fall away so that new circumstances, people, places, adventures, beauty and blessings could come in. I am steeped in deep gratitude for all of it and, along the way, I will be planting some new seeds this autumn.

What seeds are you planting this autumn?

How do you want your life to evolve?

What do you need more of?

What do you need less of?

Where is your energy best spent?

Darlings, there is no season quite like Autumn! May this season of change bring you a beautiful harvest, abundant blessings, beauty, strength, and space to be still and listen! JTC

She Ready…

“Let choice whisper in your ear and love murmur in your heart. Be ready. Here comes life.” Maya Angelou

She ready…not to be confused with the Netflix comedy by the same name. When I say “She,” I mean Me.

Ready for what you may ask? Well… I mean ready for life. The quality of life that comes when you finally make the decision to have your knee replaced after four, long, agonizing years of pain, being able to do less and less, being limited to the activities you do, how much time you spend on your feet, how far you walk, and being kept from truly savoring and enjoying the juicy life you are used to living.

You see, having a high tolerance for pain can be a double edge sword. I’ve been so used to body pain since I’m 15 years old that, with each orthopedic surgery, I’ve become accustomed to tolerating excruciating pain- unbeknownst to others because I’m not the type to bitch and moan. This is not to say that you may not be aware I’m in pain, but most people in my world have no idea the level of pain I’ve tolerated since I needed my first orthopedic surgery at 15….I am now a young 62 and resilient AF!

The decision to undergo a 6th orthopedic surgery did not come easily. However, when I look back at 2020 and everything that brought me to the decision to have surgery, I can connect the dots and see how, unbeknownst to me at the time, I was prepping my nervous system for the assault, beating and trauma my body will take. As I stated earlier though…She Ready!

Since the beginning of the pandemic/lock down, I’ve spent a lot of time studying, learning and expanding my knowledge on trauma and resilience, It has included all kinds of trauma and the effects of it on the body and on the nervous system. It all started with a trauma informed yoga training I did which deepened my understanding on the numerous types of trauma that imprint themselves in the body, how the body keeps score and our responses to trauma. I’m not going to get into all of that because I’ve written blogs in the past of how our issues are in the tissues, and have even included some resources, etc. etc. Remember, sharing is caring!

Needless to say, my thirst to understand all kinds of trauma and causes of trauma; especially raced-based trauma, generational trauma, inherited trauma, cumulative trauma, developmental trauma, shock trauma, the vagus system, and responses to trauma was heightened. I’ve taken a deep dive into all kinds of books, stories, podcasts, webinars and summits solely centered around the personal experiences of black bodies of culture. With the exception of a handful of books written by white authors, all the books I’ve been reading since last year have been written by black and brown people of color. That was, and continues to be, an intentional decision on my part.

So what does all this have to do with making the decision to have surgery yet again? Well, my studies have also had me very focused on the effects of trauma on one’s nervous system- and regulating my own nervous system- especially in light of the collective trauma we have been experiencing as a global family. In addition to deeply resting, which is a practice in and of itself (more on that in my next blog), I have utilized all my tools and practices daily, without fail, and that has kept me deeply rooted, grounded, resourced, relaxed, rested, non-reactive and connected to Source…the whisper in my ear, the love in my heart and the spiritual GPS at the core of my being.

There’s no place for fear here: Faith/Love over Fear…always and in all ways!

Learning to listen to your body is a practice. I’ve learned to drop into my body, its sensations and what this intelligence is telling me. This inner-knowingness, this faith, conviction and connection to the divine never steers me wrong. On the contrary, when I haven’t listened to that whisper, things go awry. Like Lady O says, “First comes the whisper, then the nudge, then the rock, then the brick and then the brick wall.”

Darlings, we cannot ignore our connection, guidance and direction to that which is greater than us. I totally realize that what works for me may not work for you. But that’s where boundaries and discernment come into play and fear mongers are kept at bay.That’s where focus comes into play and allow it to guide your way. What we choose to focus on greatly influences and determines the quality of our lives, the quality of our decision-making and, ultimately, our peace of mind. Personally, I do not make decisions from a place of fear. Been there, done that and nothing good has ever come of it!

It was that connection to Source that awakened me in the wee hours one morning and clearly directed me to cancel a much-needed R&R trip to Florida (aka my beloved Hollywood Riviera) and move up my surgery. I was truly looking forward to lounging and soaking up sun, swimming everyday, spending time with my cousins and close friends, getting a little pet therapy and even attending a wedding. However, the message I received was loud and clear! It also echoed what I already knew and what some of my closest peeps had already articulated to me.

You see, I’m the first one to always tell everyone that we must take care of our Self FIRST. That we are no good to anyone else if we don’t put ourselves first. That quality of life needs to inform our decisions. That we must always listen to our bodies. Well…..I guess you can say that I was fed a hefty dose of my own medicine…wink, wink.

As of this writing, I am 8 days away from having my knee replaced- and fortunately it’s not on the same side that has already endured five surgeries and all the trauma and long-term effects they’ve had on me. I am actually looking forward to being on the other side of this, You see, when you’re bone-on-bone, no amount of PT, anti-inflamatory, injections, exercise, massage, CBD, etc., will alleviate the pain. The pain will continue to worsen-as it has. The beauty with surgery is that surgical pain has a beginning and an END date!

Pain robs a person of so many things including their motivation and inspiration. I’d like to say that my studies have kept me from blogging, that I want to be intentional with what I blog about, that I’ve been enjoying spending time on the Jersey Shore, or that I’ve been very engaged celebrating life. While there is some semblance of truth to all of that, I believe that the primary reason I have not blogged in months is attributed to finding out in January that I needed surgery- as well as the escalating pain which, to some degree, also zapped me of my own motivation and inspiration. I was stuck in that pain vortex which zaps your spirit and your energy.

But now…She Ready…more than ready!

My choice is to let love guide the way….always and in all ways!

She Ready…Ready to reclaim my life, my power, my purpose and my joy!!!

Lead from the heart…Right from the start! JTC

PS. Here’s an affirmation from yesterday’s Wayne Dyer calendar: “I’m here on purpose, I can accomplish anything I desire, and I do it by being in harmony with the all pervading creative force in the universe “

Secrets of Inner Peace

“There is a criterion by which you can judge whether the thoughts you are thinking and the things you are doing are right for you. The criterion is: Have they brought you inner peace?”  Peace Pilgrim

Ever since I was a little girl (elementary school age) growing up in Jersey City, NJ, I was drawn to The Novelty Shop which used to be near Journal Square and on my way home from school. I was drawn to all things peace and love related, incense, oils, beads, etc. They also sold pipes, bongs and rolling paper, which is probably the reason my strict, Cuban mother did NOT like me frequenting that store. Who knows what fear-based “story” she was telling herself and getting wrapped into.

So, it’s no wonder that I’ve always been a love, peace and gratitude junkie- and even more so as I’ve become a “woman of a particular age.” As we all come to learn at one point or another in our lives, it all boils down to “choices” and “lifestyle.”  For me, there is no other way. Anything and anyone that disrupts my peace has to go. Now that may sound cruel to some, selfish to others; however, it is called self-preservation and part of the self-love, compassion and respect we establish for ourselves. It’s also part of healthy boundary setting. I don’t know about you, but I guard my inner peace like it’s nobody’s business.

Why? Because like many of us, I have the battle scars to show for the times I wasn’t knowledgeable, conscientious and skilled at the importance of guarding my inner peace like a precious gem or sacred temple. Guarding our inner peace is an art we must  learn to master. Like Maya Angelou is known for saying, “When you know better, you do better.”

Since December is a mere 3 days away (where did this year go?), and people are already feeling and expressing the anxiety and stress that sadly comes with the holidays (shouldn’t we all be ENJOYING the holidays?), I want to share with you some principles that we can look at, contemplate and practice each day in December (and throughout the new year for that matter). I happened to come across a little book the other day, and it was the inspiration for this blog. I purchased it in 1999 when I was up at Yale, in New Haven CT, for some training. This little 4×4 gem was written by J. Donald Walters and is titled Secrets of Inner Peace. 

For several years after purchasing this book, I kept it on my bathroom counter and looked at it every single morning and in the evenings. I made a concerted effort to practice these thoughts/concepts…many which were new to me given my age and where I was along my spiritual journey at the time. As with affirmations and mantras, the key is to go back to them throughout the course of our days, look at them, say them out loud, repeat them silently and, as the author suggests, “While falling asleep, carry the words into your subconscious, absorbing their positive influence into your whole being. Let it become thereby an integral part of your normal consciousness.”

My darlings, below are 31 precious thoughts that we can all contemplate and utilize each and every day starting December 1st. Over time, you will see and feel a shift in your be-ingness, thoughts, perception, disposition and even your actions. These statements/thoughts are tools we can refer to continuously. Over time, and with active practice, they become integrated and are part of our operating system. Furthermore, they are seeds that we can choose to water each day and watch them blossom into the most beautiful expressions of love and inner peace.

The Secret of Inner Peace

  1. …is self-control: not scattering your energies, but holding them in check and directing them usefully.
  2. …is giving full, interested attention to everything you do.
  3. …is to live fully in the moment, releasing past and future into the cycles of eternity.
  4. …is inner relaxation- physically, emotionally, mentally then spiritually.
  5. …is non-attachment; being ever conscious that nothing and no one truly belongs to you.
  6. …is contentment: consciously holding happy thoughts.
  7. …is desirelessness: realizing that happiness is within you, not in outward things or circumstances.
  8. …accepting things as they are, and then, if necessary, acting calmly to improve them.
  9. …is realizing that you cannot change the world, but you can change yourself.
  10. …is cultivating harmonious friendships, and shunning the company of peaceless persons.
  11. …is projecting peace outward into your environment.
  12. …is a simple life; reducing your definition of “necessities.”
  13. …is a healthy life: exercising regularly, eating properly, and breathing deeply.
  14. …is a clear conscience; remaining true to your highest ideals.
  15. …is acting in freedom, from your inner center, and not in bondage to the world’s demands. 
  16. …is accepting truth, in all circumstances, as your guide.
  17. …is not coveting what others have, but knowing what is yours by right will find its way to you.
  18. …is never complaining, but acknowledging that what life gives you depends on what you give, first, of yourself.
  19. … is accepting responsibility for your failures, and realizing that only you can turn them into successes.
  20. …is found in self-conquest, not in the mere cessation of hostilities. 
  21. …is practicing willingness, even though your mental habits urge you to cry, “No!”
  22. …is smiling in your heart, even when others scowl.
  23. …is giving joy, rather than demanding joy of others.
  24. …is including others’ well-being in your own.
  25. …is harmlessness: never deliberately hurting anyone.
  26. …is working with others, never against them.
  27. …is meditation, and tapping into the  wellsprings of soul-peace.
  28. …is raising your consciousness: directing energy to the brain, then centering it at the seat of higher awareness between the eyebrows.
  29. …is self-acceptance: not blinding yourself to your faults, nor hating yourself for them, but claiming your higher reality in Infinite Light.
  30. …is loving God, and striving to be worthy of His love for you.
  31. …is loving others impartially, without selfish motive.

As I was typing, I surprised myself by how I was able to finish, or come close, to finishing each thought. I even recalled certain circumstances, events and people whom were challenging me throughout different times and how I was practicing  these principles.  It’s a testament to the power of affirmations as well as the power of conscious choice-making. The more we practice affirmations and act on them, the more we re-wire our brains and the more these affirmations become our default setting. These Secrets of Inner Peace will change your life. Wouldn’t you agree that we Can all use a little more peace in our every day lives? Remember, the power is within you!

In the days, weeks and months ahead, may we all find ourselves tapping into the plethora of tools and practices that we have cultivated over the years, and may we “choose” our thoughts, words and actions wisely. I hope these Secrets of Inner Peace will be your trusted companions and guide you along your journey.

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC