Checking In with Your Heart

“Everybody has a calling. Your real job in life is to figure out why you are here and get about the business of doing it.” – Oprah

Today I pulled out a book I had purchased in August 2012 and had never opened it, other than to write an inscription in it. This particular book, The Daily Om, was purchased at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY when I was there for their Being Yoga Conference Retreat. I purchased the book because I’ve always enjoyed the wisdom, messages and stories of The Daily Om and used to receive them via email. By the way, some of their on-line courses are very helpful as well. On another note, their Daily Om Horoscope is always ever so appropriate. Go figure!

I guess you can say that I wasn’t all too surprised when I read the first story (what a magical universe we live in). You see, I’ve always loved hearts as far back as I can remember. I used to doodle, draw and cut out hearts all the time as a child. I’d buy anything with hearts or the word Love on it. I still do! As I read the first story, it reminded me of the intent behind InspireLoveServe and why I felt the line- Lead from the heart…Right from the start- had to be included. As I mentioned in a previous blog, these words have become part of my philosophy, purpose and way of living. I don’t think I could have come up with such a deeply spiritual and profound description if I tried; yet, there it was staring me in the face. It was tailor-made! So, here it is:

Linking Center: Checking In with Your Heart

Every day, we experience a magical twilight between our dreaming and waking states. During this brief period of time, our minds still remember that all things are possible. We can smoothly transition to the physical world without losing a sense of hope when we first cheek in with our heart center before we even get out of bed.

Our heart center is our link between body and spirit, instinct and inspiration. It does not take long to hold a thought of loving gratitude for that which beats within us — in a mere moment we can review all we want to accomplish in the light of love. When we get into the habit of beginning our day from the heart, all of our activities glow with the infusion of conscious intent, and all interactions occur with compassion.

We can restart our day right now my imagining how love and inspiration feel. As light glows from our heart, radiating out through our bodies into the space around us, any feelings of stress or frustration seem to melt away. Now we see each person we encounter as a fellow traveler along the journey of life, and every activity becomes part of a spiritual partnership. As conscious participants in the cycle of giving and receiving, we share our light with others as we become enlivened ourselves, with our heart leading the way.

In the intersection where body and soul meet, our heart beats in time with the rhythm of the universe. It does the physical work of supplying our body with life force without our attention…but for its spiritual work, we need to be conscious. When we concentrate on its rhythm and glowing light, we remember that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Then we know that we can choose any time to check in with our heart center and, in doing so, experience the joy of being in love with life.

You know the quote, Do what you love and love what you do? Well, if we check in with our hearts, we can tap into that knowingness of why we are here. This particular Daily Om story spells it out pretty clearly. The key though is to figure out how we are going to get about the business of doing it. Decisions, decisions…Choose wisely!

How can you inspire, love, serve AND lead from the heart…right from the start in your daily life?

Carry on, darlings!

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC

Go for the Joy

“We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.”               —Joseph Campbell

It’s no secret I love books. As a matter of fact, I saw a post the other day that said, “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” Can you relate? Well, I think every room in my place has books….all types of books….even in the bathroom. In addition to the books I enjoy reading, I am especially drawn to little motivational / inspirational books. I always have been as far back as I can remember. One particular book I picked up recently is called, Joy.

This book is rather colorful and contains wonderful quotes on every other page, along with ways we can cultivate that state of Joy –  regardless of what we have going on in our world. Since my last couple of blogs were pretty intense and heavy, I figured I’d keep this one light and fun. Plus, it’s the start of a new year. Who can’t use a little more joy in their life? I think it’s safe to say that we all can. But, once again, it’s an internal job. It’s not something we can seek outside of us….it’s something we were born with, and it’s up to us to choose to live in Joy. As stated in the book’s jacket, “If we want joy to be the story of our years, joy must be the story of our days. Joy must be a daily choice, a habit, a promise we make to ourselves. Joy must be the way we travel.”  Love!

Joy also builds our resilience muscle, especially when we are experiencing tough and challenging times in our lives. And yes, we can find joy even during the times we are grieving and in pain,  The more we tap into our internal state of joy, the more that becomes our default setting. I also believe joy is contagious. It seems that the more joy we scatter, the more that comes back our way!

So, I leave you with a list of ways we can tap into joy and bring more of it into our every day lives (taken from my recent lovely acquisition). I invite you to pause and reflect on each one and how you demonstrate these qualities (or ways you would like to incorporate them into your life). While they are very simple, it’s also very clear how some of us may have difficulties  / roadblocks / challenges in working with them, especially if joy wasn’t something that was engrained in us as we were growing up. It may have even been looked upon as frivolous, selfish or hokey-pokey. Nevertheless, here goes:

  • Prepare for joy
  • Believe in joy
  • Feel joy
  • Encourage joy
  • Accept joy
  • Notice joy
  • Choose joy
  • Inhabit joy
  • Recognize joy
  • Savor joy
  • Live joy
  • Experience Joy
  • Begin joy
  • Desire Joy
  • Take joy
  • Anticipate joy
  • Give joy
  • Receive joy
  • Create joy
  • Follow joy
  • Share joy
  • Spread joy
  • Cultivate joy
  • See joy
  • Catch joy
  • Double joy
  • Crave joy
  • Welcome joy
  • Magnify joy
  • Find joy
  • Be joy
  • Make room for joy

Some of these really excite me when I look at them in a more creative fashion. I’m looking forward to finding ways I can expand on them beyond the obvious. After all, we should not have to wait for the holidays, special events, or celebrations to experience joy….as it is an inherent part of life….“Life is a gift. Open with joy.”

This new year, let’s be the Joy we want to see in the world!

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC

 

A Meaningful To-Do List

Be Merry. Be Happy. Be Bright.

About 20 years ago, one of my girlfriends (and soul sister), Patti, sent me a beautiful card for Christmas that I have treasured ever since. As a matter of fact, I keep it in a picture frame and display it every year as part of my decorations. Over the years, I have also typed it up on colorful stationary and passed it on to staff members, friends and family.

With three major holidays this month – Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa and, in addition, Winter Solstice and New Year’s Eve, I thought I’d share the contents of the card with you. Needless to say, we don’t have to wait for the holidays to do any of these things. In my humble opinion, what you are about to read should be part of our to-do list on a regular basis…..just sayin’

This Christmas

  • Mend a quarrel
  • Seek out a forgotten friend
  • Write a love letter
  • Share some treasure
  • Give a soft answer
  • Encourage youth
  • Keep a promise
  • Find the time
  • Forgive an enemy
  • Apologize if you were wrong
  • Think first of someone else
  • Be kind and gentle
  • Laugh a little
  • Laugh a little more
  • Express your gratitude
  • Gladden the heart of a child
  • Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth
  • Speak your love
  • Speak it again
  • Speak it still once again

If you are in need of a little token gift, strapped for cash, or just want to be mindful of where and how you are spending your money, you can get creative with this beautiful to-do list, add to it, create your own, print copies or have it printed on cardstock at Staples, and perhaps slip into small frames as gifts. You can also roll them up and tie with a lovely ribbon. We don’t have to spend an inordinate amount of money on a gift. Simple, no fuss gifts from the heart carry our energy, love and intention with them. They are the gifts that keep on giving.

Create away darlings….and remember… be merry, happy and bright!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

Good Morning Sunshine…Hello Joy

“The Joy of Being, which is the only true happiness, cannot come to you through any form, possession, achievement, person or event – through anything that happens. That Joy cannot come to you – ever. It emanates from the formless dimension within you, from consciousness itself and this is one with who you are.” Eckhart Tolle

There’s nothing like seeing someone first thing in the morning and feeling a ray of sunshine beaming down on you. I can best describe it as a feeling of inner Joy. When I was working, a couple of my colleagues- Susanne and Ivette- and I would always exchange the greeting, Good Morning Sunshine, and the other would say, Hello Joy! And since tomorrow is Susanne’s birthday, I was inspired to write this blog by the memory of this exchange – and one that we continue to have when we see each other at our monthly birthday luncheons.

Simply stated, we are either Joy or not. Joy is something that comes from within our very being, our essence, our true self. We can’t make it up, seek it outside ourselves, buy it, or expect it to come to us. This type of “expectation” is one that just causes more pain, suffering, disappointment, negativity and unhappiness. In the book, A New Earth,  Eckhart Tolle goes on to say that Unhappiness or negativity is a disease of our planet.” He wrote these words ten years ago, and they are ever so true to this very day. He further states that “Pollution is on the outer level, negativity is on the inner. It is everywhere! It’s not just in places where people don’t have enough, but even more so where they have more than enough.” When I saw him interviewed on Super Soul Sunday, he remarked how the tremendous amount of earth’s energy field is produced by people. No kidding! That is definitely clear as daylight. How can we shift the energy field?

Imagine if every single person took responsibility for the energy they bring into a room? Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist, speaker and author, talks about this in her Ted Talk, My Stroke of Insight (one of those talks that went viral). If you haven’t heard of her, she was a brain researcher who studied her own stroke as it was happening. Talk about things happening for a reason and living one’s purpose! Being left in a state of pure consciousness (and unable to speak, read, write or walk at the time), she was ever so conscious of the positive and negative energy that different people brought into the room. Imagine if more people chose to clear themselves of negative energy, be still and connect to their inner being-ness and knowing-ness, and operated from that place of Love and Joy? Imagine what that would do to our beautiful planet’s energy field?

It’s not a difficult thing to do. All it entails is to be aware of that moment of negativity creeping up, and choose differently. Some may argue that it is easier said than done; however, with practice, diligence, and healthy boundaries, we do come to that place where choosing differently becomes our default setting. Sometimes, a good visual helps us be with what is in that moment (my visual happens to he a big red stop sign in my third eye – with flashing lights around it). If we stay rooted and grounded in the present moment, we are better equipped to be more mindful and aware of the decisions we make, exchanges we have, what we are willing to let into our own personal space or energy field, and the energy we bring into a room.

And speaking of energy fields, this is a time of year people tend to unravel, spiral, lose control, and push themselves into a state of sheer exhaustion…all self-imposed by the way! Rather than enjoy each moment, each day, each exchange or interaction, the “Negative Nancys and Debbie Downers” come out to play, tensions build, tempers flare, guilt sets in and the ugly in people comes out. Obviously, we have the ability to rise above all that if we take the time to listen, make our well-being a priority, heed our intuition, honor our boundaries, and bring consciousness and awareness into our daily modus operandi. With practice, commitment, patience, steadfastness and grace, we can all honor our inner needs during trying times by taking care of ourselves and protecting our precious energy field – regardless of the people and/or circumstances with which we are dealing (and if there are people who add way too much stress to your life, well it’s then time to “clean house”).

Here are a few simple and power-filled tips that pop up now and then on Facebook and Instagram, and they are right on the money.

To Protect Your Energy:

  • It’s okay to cancel a commitment
  • It’s okay to change your mind
  • It’s okay to want to be alone
  • It’s okay to take a day off
  • It’s okay to do nothing
  • It’s okay to speak up
  • It’s okay to let go 

If someone gets upset at you, that is their problem not yours! Remember, YOUR well-being, sanity, peace of mind, health and wellness should be the priority…..just sayin’!

Now that the holidays have started, we can savor them in a stress-free and enjoyable way. Time is precious, and we have the ability to enjoy wonder-filled and beautiful moments with our friends and loved ones and when we are alone too.  If we tap into our true essence and acknowledge our limitless, love-filled, miraculous and joyous self, cut ourselves some slack, loosen up, relinquish the need to control, ask for help and make our well-being a priority, we will be walking around radiating lots of Sunshine and Joy! The choice is ours to make….doom, gloom and negativity or sunshine, joy and positivity? If you ask me, it’s a no-brainer….wink, wink.

To keep my energy levels in check, I’m going to add one more to the list. I will only be blogging on Wednesdays throughout the month of December. This way, I can relax more, spend time reading and perhaps even write more!

Protect your energy, embrace the joy and shine away darlings….You’ve got the power!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

 

Soul Spaces & Personal Sanctuaries

“Your home both reflects who you are and can help transform who you are.”              -Marianne Williamson

Not everyone enjoys moving and setting up a new home or apartment. Me? I love it! It thrills me.  I’ve moved so often, and am so good at it, that I always say I could have owned my own moving / staging company. As a matter of fact, the average number of years I have remained in one place has always been about 6-9 years. And, I am known for leaving things behind and starting “fresh.” There is so much to be said for the art of “paying forward” and keeping the abundance circulating! Doing so warms my heart and brings me joy.

There was a time where I briefly, ever so briefly, thought about the money I have spent decorating my new places. Then one day, I had an “aha” moment and realized that one of the reasons I’ve always enjoyed moving and decorating new spaces was because it’s allowed me to express my creativity. Each new house or apartment I have ever lived in has reflected who and where I’ve been at that point in my life. Oftentimes, I referred to these new places as “sanctuaries” for my soul to rest, renew, heal, evolve, grow and expand. Today, every where you look you find books and articles on creating your personal sanctuary, creating a sacred space, your personal oasis.

One such book I came across 4 years ago while I was at Lumeria in Maui, was SoulSpace Transform Your Home, Transform Your Life. It was written by Xorin Balbes who, at the time, was the owner and designer of this beautiful yoga and educational retreat oasis. As Marianne Williamson writes in the forwards, “If you are looking to make your home more reflective of the deepest truths of who you are and what you want in life, then SoulSpace is the coolest thing you could possibly read…..This book is unique and filled with wisdom, not only about design but also about us, not only about beauty but also about transformation, not only about how to decorate your rooms but also about how to better your life.” Just reading those words made my mouth water, and I couldn’t wait to savor all the wisdom and beauty the book had to offer.

Since Xorin was on the property during our stay at Lumeria, we got to talk to him quite a bit and had the opportunity to hear his soul speak. Needless to say, practically everyone in our group purchased the book, and I have since purchased some as gifts. As I read Xorin’s book, it was as if all the pieces of the puzzle known as my “moving life” fell into place. It was yet another “aha” moment. So much so, that it made me feel as if I could have penned that book myself. I had a whole lot of Xorin Balbes inside my heart and soul!

Creating your own personal sanctuary, sacred soul space and oasis is a whole lot easier to do when you live by yourself and do not have a house full of children or anyone else to answer to. However, I truly believe that where there is a will, there is a way. It does not mean that we have to live in a cluttered mess, a house that looks like a college dorm or one giant playroom. Every thing and every one should have their own personal space. Organization, attention to detail, love and intention are key factors. Remember, your outer world reflects your inner world! I invite you to sit on that for just a moment. Pause….inhale….exhale…Your outer world reflects your inner worldWhat does your living space reflect? What does it say about you? Does it reflect calm or chaos? Do you reflect calm or chaos?

Do you have a sacred space that supports your dreams, is inspirational, and houses the items that nurture your soul? It could be a corner of a room, an alcove, an extra room, maybe even an area of your bedroom or your entire bedroom for that matter. Our mind, body and soul need a place of calm, ease, deep peace, a place to retreat to, unwind, decompress, rest and relax. A place where we can write, reflect, seek inspiration, read, ground ourselves, dream, pray, meditate or perhaps even help us heal emotionally and spiritually. If you do have such a place, then kudos to you…how awesome! I’d love to hear all about it. If you don’t, then why not? Do you make the time to rest and relax? If not, why not? If you don’t, I humbly invite you to read my previous blog, R&R. 

For me, the end of a relationship usually signaled a time to move on, start fresh and do some big-time resting and relaxing. The way I decorated was always reflective of where I was at that point in time. Playing with color, furnishings and different designs expressed my moods and stages. The most important design element though has been the love, intention, fun and energy that has gone into creating my own personal sanctuaries. My home is my temple, my sacred soul space, my oasis.

Helping others create their sacred space(s) is also fun, exciting, meaningful and therapeutic. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I love to organize, purge, give away and display items that bring joy and nurture the soul. They can be different works of art, religious artifacts or deities, delicious candles, incense, essential oils, inspiring books, coloring books, meaningful jewelry and accessories, crystals, stones, pictures, found treasures or souvenirs from world travels or places of exploration, special gifts, journals, a comfy pillow and yummy blanket, soothing music, plants and flowers (one must always have fresh flowers). Regardless of the space we have available to us, the size of our home or the number of people living in it, our home will either reflect calm or chaos. More importantly, it should be a place where we can flourish and not just exist.

You know the all too common question, “Where do you live?” Well, in the introduction to SoulSpace, Xorin invites us to consider the question in a new way, and I will leave you to do so with his beautiful words of inspiration:

“Where do you live? Where do you feel alive? Where do you feel safe, peaceful, hopeful and supported? Where can you explore your hobbies, think, learn and love? If your home is just a temporary holding pen where you leave all your things during the day instead of a beautiful space that makes you feel safe and calm every time you walk in the door, something is wrong. Your home is more than a place where your possessions are – it is a place where your body can recharge, where your passions can be fulfilled, where you safely explore yourself and your desires, and where your soul can rest, be inspired and soar. Home is about satisfying our basic animal needs: eating, sleeping, seeking shelter. But it is also about achieving transcendence on earth through our other needs, the ones that are the basis of our humanity: beauty, love and creativity.”

Where do you live, darling?

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

Who’s in Charge Here?

“I need to take an emotional breath, step back, and remind myself of who’s actually in charge of my own life.” Judith M. Knowlton

 

Greetings darlings! Well, if all goes well, today I will be returning from a much needed and long anticipated visit to Kripalu in Lenox, MA. Staying there always leaves me  feeling so relaxed, renewed, recharged, refreshed and connected to nature ( much needed after all the celebrations that took place in the month of October).

There’s nothing like giving ourselves permission to go out and do the thing(s) that our mind, body and soul are calling us to do. Once again, the key is to acknowledge it, make a plan, and consciously choose to schedule it as a priority. I personally see it as a duty and responsibility we have to our higher self, and we do not need anyone’s approval (other than our own) to do so. It’s self-respect at it’s best! If we aren’t in charge, then who is?

So, I am going to keep today’s post light and fun, especially since some of you may still be catching up / finishing up with the I AM exercise that was part of my blog, Exercising the I AM in You. And, since I believe in total transparency, I also needed to schedule some posts for publication in advance for while I was away.  My intention (as I type this) is to disconnect and do a digital detox while at Kripalu. Digital detoxes are also a much needed thing we can all benefit from every now and again….disconnect to reconnect!

Remember how as kids we always needed to get a permission slip signed for a filed trip or class trip of some kind? Perhaps you are the one signing them now if you have children. Well……here goes……

I invite you to make  your own permission slip for the field trip, activity or pampering you have been needing, the dream you’ve been holding onto, the thoughts you haven’t allowed yourself to voice, or any other activity your heart is telling you it needs. Like one of the pages in the I Am Her book says, “Give yourself permission to live.”

  • Take out a sheet of paper and at the top of it write: I Give Myself Permission To
  • At the very bottom of it, write: Starting This Very Moment
  • You are now ready to list the things you will be giving yourself permission to do

Perhaps this is an activity you would also like to share with your Tribe. It’s always fun to share these types of activities with those girlfriends who support and encourage one another. It’s also a good way to hold yourself, and each other, accountable. Make a night of it, host a pot-luck dinner or a happy hour and gather around the table. Have nice art supplies of all kinds if you really want to make it special. That’s  the event planner in me speaking – a simple idea evolves into an “event” of some sort. One thing I know from experience though is that a fun time will be had by all!

Now go take charge, and enjoy yourself!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

Special Wishes for AJ

“And the Child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him” Luke 2:40

Today’s blog is dedicated to a very special little man named Arie Joseph  (AJ). He is my God-daughter’s son who is being baptized today.

In addition to all the prayers, blessings and special wishes that will be showered upon AJ on this day, it is also a very special day for his parents, as is with any rite of passage in a child’s life. On baptism day, parents are up close and personal to the sacrament that brings their child into Christianity. It’s a commitment parents make. It is also a responsibility they have as caretakers of their child’s beautiful mind and soul to instill some sort of belief / faith in them. As a child grows and matures, they may stray from their religion / faith  or maybe even find another one that resonates more for them. Regardless, parents have laid the foundation for spiritual, faith based practices, beliefs, morals and values in hopes of creating a kind, loving, compassionate, wise, responsible and productive citizen of the world.

The experiences of being a first time parent, diapers, dishes, sleep, lack of sleep, food prep, doctor appointments, teething, runny noses, fevers, food allergies, work schedules, child care and other dilemmas (remember- the bigger the child – the bigger the problems) can be daunting and overwhelming. Then throw in how one will discipline the child and the parenting style that both parents may or may not see eye to eye on. Having been in education for 33+ years, I experienced first-hand the chaos, confusion, angst, anxiety, destructive behavior, and struggle that families go through when they are at odds with the basic tenets of how to raise a child. After I ended my career, I came across Dr. Shefali. I don’t recall if I first saw her TED talk or her interview on Super Soul Sunday, but what a game changer she is!

Once you see Dr. Shefali, listen to her, and really hear what she is saying, your life, world and awareness will be forever changed. Had I come across Dr. Shefali’s work sooner, I swear I would have created a parent workshop or parenting classes around her first book, The Conscious Parent. Furthermore, if I ran a private school, this book would be mandated reading for parents and/or caretakers before accepting the child into school. It would also be required reading for the teachers. I am telling you, it’s a book every parent-to-be (or person responsible for raising a child) should read way before they even plan on starting a family (and for anyone working with children). THAT is how POWERFUL Dr. Shefali’s books are! As a matter of fact, I gifted The Conscious Parent to AJ’s parents when I learned they were expecting and also gave my girlfriend Barb (Grandma / Abuela) Dr. Shefali’s other book, The Awakened Family. My darlings, this is definitely a gift that keeps on giving!

If there is anything we have learned by now, is that the “Authoritative” approach to discipline and public shaming does not work. It’s not healthy and is destructive to say the least. Instead of building a child up, enforced disciline and punishment tears the child down – leading to shame, resentment, self-esteem issues, eating disorders, insecurities, hostilities, behavioral issues and other self-sabotaging behaviors…..and yes, it is a form of bullying. One of the things that struck me is how she is able to show us that children are a mirror of our own unresolved issues. In her book, The Awakened Family, Dr. Shefali also shows us how and/or why children’s needs aren’t being met and why they truly feel they are not being “heard” by parents or don’t feel a connection to the parent(s). She poses some profound questions for parents to ask themselves:

  • Where am I as the parent failing to connect with my child?
  • What in the child longs to be recognized, but is being ignored?
  • How can I help mitigate the feelings of inferiority and shame that my child experiences?
  • And most importantly, how am I projecting my own internal shame onto my own child?

In Dr. Shefali’s words, “Unless we begin to turn the spotlight within and ask these difficult questions, our children will live in the legacy of shame that will continue into future generations. And the epidemic of bullying will continue to soar.” Dr. Shefali’s books integrate Eastern and Western philosophies and show us how to parent in an evolutionary and conscious way. She gives us daily skills and tools that are transformational, healing and lead both children and parents to a place of calm, ease and joy. I highly recommend Dr. Shefali’s book to anyone thinking about starting family, just started one, is struggling with the “my way or the highway” style of parenting and/or caretakers responsible for raising children. Her books make an awesome gift for anyone who is being blessed with a new baby in their family. The books are blessings in and of  themselves!

So, on AJ’s special day, I am sending the Diaz-Spencer Families many heartfelt special wishes and blessings and will close with a beautiful prayer from Marianne Williamson’s book, Illuminata – A Return to Prayer.

Dear God, Thank you for the birth of Arie Joseph into the world and into this family.  We offer ourselves this day as caretakers of his spirit and his higher mind. May we fulfill with strength the glory of our role, in AJ’s life and in the lives of his parents, Erica and Doug. May the spirit of this family, from generations past and into the future, burst forth to bless and sustain Arie Joseph. Amen.

Let the celebration begin!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

 

Generosity of Spirit

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed”

I love this quote by Maya Angelou! It gets to the heart of the reciprocity in giving. Oftentimes, people feel uncomfortable receiving. They feel that they are the ones who want to give. What we fail to realize and discount is the Joy that it brings to both the giver and the receiver. These gifts do not even have to entail money. Regardless of how large or small, someone’s generosity can be something as simple a flower, a home-made meal, lending a hand, being present for someone, helping them get through a tough time in their life, holding the space for them to talk, assisting them in some way or sharing words of wisdom. These gestures are blessings, indeed, and are examples of one’s generosity of spirit. What matters most is the intention behind our act of giving.

When we give gifts from the heart and bestow these beautiful blessings onto others, it is important that we do so freely, unconditionally and without expectation. If not, there is no true joy in giving. Throughout my life, I couldn’t understand why my mother would give things away so freely, even gifts that I recently may have given her. Over time, and when I found myself doing the same thing, I had an “aha moment” and realized it was because it brought Joy not only to the receiver but especially to the giver.

Joy is truly the most powerful emotion I personally feel while giving of myself to those in need. When I give lovingly of myself to others, whether it is time, presence, or attention, I feel that reciprocity of Joy. It’s like a two way street. I also feel much joy and purpose when I give actual things away…clothing, shoes, household items, furniture, etc. to friends and those in need. I know it fills the other person’s heart with joy and gratitude as well. And on that note….My darlings, before discarding something that may not be of any value or significance to you any longer, please, please, please do NOT throw it away! Many people are quick to throw things out, even perfectly new and useful items. There is always someone somewhere who would delight in being the recipient of your cast-offs. This generosity of spirit is a blessing you can bestow on someone and one they will be forever grateful!

The spiritual benefits we receive in giving are connectedness and oneness. It’s almost like being used as an instrument of God’s peace (you know the disclaimer by now – if God doesn’t resonate for you, by all means replace it with a word that does). Knowing we are being used and doing God’s work, paying forward, being of service, and spreading light and love is a deeply powerful feeling. The emotions that arise for us when doing so are blessings that uplift us and fill our heart with joy, grace, gratitude and purpose. We learn to be more mindful of the “gift in giving” and also the abundance and wealth that keeps circulating via our generosity of spirit.

What blessings have you received lately? How did it make you feel? Who do you know who exemplifies generosity of spirit? In what ways do they show this? How do you demonstrate your generosity of spirit?

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

Living with Joy

“A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love” Mother Teresa

I truly believe we are wired for happiness as it is part of who we are innately. If you missed Sunday’s blog, Happiness is an Inside Job, kindly check it out. It’s sort of the pre-cursor to this post on Joy.

Joy is the feeling….the expression of  happiness. Much has been written about Joy. One thing that seems to be a common thread on the subject is that Joy is something that we choose and have to keep choosing time and time again despite the catastrophic events that may be going on in and around our life and the fear, stress, anger, grief, illness and death we all experience. We can look at these life events as Obstacles to Joy, as the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu call them in their groundbreaking book, Lasting Happiness in a Changing World – The Book of Joy (a wonderful, funny, touching and inspiring read by the way). Or, we can look at these obstacles as opportunities to allow us to tap into that love and happiness in our heart and feel those moments of Joy that are always present. We just need to consciously choose to “linger” in those moments. Lingering in those moments of Joy, however brief or fleeting they may seems at first, is something Sheryl Sandberg talks about in her amazing book, Option B (another great read and resource). When we take the time to be still and sit in silence, we experience how love, gratitude, grace, and happiness permeate our mind and body. All those “feel good” chemicals get released into our bodies, and we feel that sense of elation and joy. It’s truly a no brainer. If we can constantly bring ourselves back to our true nature, which is love, happiness and joy show up!

Regardles of what we have going on in our lives, we can make the conscious choice to feel, create and spread happiness and joy. We either choose to be happy or not. When we are mindful, awake, and present to the events that are unfolding, we can approach each activity, chore, task, and even challenge from a place of happiness, reverence, gratitude….almost like a meditation in action. And what happens when we do so? We feel a deep sense of Joy! Furthermore, we can  feel peaceful, calm, serene and at ease even when circumstances around us or in our life are not peaceful.

Living from a  state of consciousness, choosing to create and spread happiness and live fully in our life is much grander than seeing life as an accident of “random forces.” Seeing life from a place of completeness signifies wholeness, and that is a space where we can live. Being in this space allows us to see the love, abundance, wealth, beauty, magic and joy in all areas of our life. More importantly, it allows us to operate from that place of abundant joy and happiness as opposed to scarcity and sadness. At any moment in time, regardless of whatever turmoil or chaos is around us, we can connect to our heart and the love, bliss and happiness which is our internal state of being. Remember, it is a choice that only we can make!

Joy is probably one of the most powerful emotions we can feel when we give freely of ourselves. Giving is a two way street and brings both the giver and the receiver much Joy. Can you think of a time you were able to give someone the support or words of wisdom they needed at just the right time? How did they feel? How did this exchange of energy make you feel? I bet hearts were full of joy! This reminds me of a beautiful quote by the late, great Maya Angelou, “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” 

Given the state of affairs swirling around us these days, it is imperative that we do all we can to live in, create and spread Happiness and Joy any way we can. We are each uniquely different and creative in our own ways. We have talents, gifts and abilities that differ person to person. Our jobs, careers, positions and roles in our family allow us a platform to be the change, create and spread Happiness and Joy. Embrace this privilege my darlings! Let’s make a conscious choice to enjoy each and every day and discover more Joy in our lives. Repressing joy, even during difficult times, is not a wise thing to do nor a healthy way to live. We can find, create, appreciate, spread and be grateful for Joy during the most challenging times in our life. These challenging times are when we must “linger” in those moments of Joy.

I invite you to take a moment and reflect on ways you can find, create, appreciate, spread and be grateful for Joy. Tap into that burning love in your heart, and let it guide your way!

 

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

 

Happiness is an Inside Job

“If you want instant happiness, the secret is to open your heart and give freely without any expectations. The intention behind your giving is the  most important thing for when you give unconditionally and from the heart, the energy and joy in the art of giving increases many times over.” Chopra Center Happiness Series

Have you ever listened to someone say, “I want to find happiness” or perhaps found yourself uttering those words? Sometimes we expend so much energy on that “quest for happiness” when, in reality, it’s been inside us all along. We tend to treat happiness as if it’s this mysterious state that can only be attained by looking and searching for it in the external world or something that only “another person” can make us; yet, it’s a superpower we’ve had all along and one that has been sitting in the middle of our chest since birth. The source of all happiness, is found in the heart. Once we learn to open our hearts to the love and compassion that reside within, we really step into and embrace this superpower.

Years ago, I participated in an 8 week online event given by the Chopra Center. It was called The Happiness Series. Each week explored a different component, and one of them was called Open Your Heart. That particular week, we looked at and explored what they called four intangibles that really bring people happiness. They are Attention, Appreciation, Affection and Acceptance. If we look at these as gifts from the heart, set intentions to practice them, and pay attention to the feelings, sensations and emotions that arise when doing so, we will find our heart opening more and more over time. With the passing of time, and the more we practice these four intangibles, we will actually “feel” our heart center getting wider and more expansive.  The key is to remember to give these gifts freely and without expectation (yes, without any expectation at all).

Characteristics of the four intangibles / gifts of the heart:

Attention– Deep listening, presence, being open, understanding the other person’s perspective – even if we don’t agree with it, not giving advice (unless asked), not  interrupting (we’re all guilty of doing this). By listening attentively to someone, we are actually helping to calm their brain (the amygdala in particular as it is the center for emotions).

Appreciation– Letting someone know you value them and are grateful they are in your life, appreciating them for who they are (the qualities you love about them).

Affection– Caring deeply, expressing it through words, physical touch, and/or other actions, being there for them (loving touch is vital – it releases pain and mood elevating chemicals throughout the body).

Acceptance– Seeing and accepting someone completely even with all their weaknesses, inconsistencies and shortcomings (one of the most deepest human needs).

In light of everything going on in our world today, Mother Nature is really calling us to step up. Yes, prayer is good, but our actions are more powerful, impactful, life altering and much needed! It starts with each and every one of us wanting to take part in the healing of our world. How do we step up? Where do we start? How can we navigate the madness, destruction, devastation and crisis humanity is experiencing? It simply starts with our willingness to open our hearts! I invite you to focus on consciously opening your heart this coming week in ways that perhaps you’ve never done before. Set the intention to weave those four intangibles into your every day existence and watch what happens. You may even want to keep a journal / list of your experiences, the thoughts, emotions, and sensations that show up for you (oh, and they will show up, the good, bad and everything in between – just hold the space for it in your heart center). Perhaps you’d like to keep a gratitude journal or even write a thank you letter to someone you deeply care about, admire, has inspired you, challenged you or is struggling with a life event. These are just a few ways that you can incorporate Attention, Affection, Appreciation and Acceptance in your daily life. If you sit and tap into your creativity, I am certain you will come up with your own unique ways to offer your gifts of the heart.

However you choose to document, memorialize and personalize your experiences, one thing will be certain: this art of giving unconditionally without expectation, and from the heart, will impact you in unimaginable ways. It will also trickle down to the people around you and will impact them as well. You will find yourself feeling lighter, happier and joyful.  If and when someone says, “I want to find true happiness,” you can look right in their eyes, and with a whole lot of love, compassion, understanding and a heart wide open, you will confidently respond with, “Happiness is an inside job all you have to do is open your heart!

My darlings, inspire, love, serve with a heart wide open. Be that light that lights the way for others, and be the change this world so desperately needs. Every single day and encounter presents us with an opportunity to lead from the heart…right from the start. Please use your Superpower always and in all ways!

Inhale Love… Exhale Gratitude, JTC