On this Valentine’s Day

“If you want to change the world, love a woman” -Lisa Citorie

In honor of Valentine’s Day – a day to celebrate love and all the people we hold near and dear in our hearts, I want to share a beautiful essay with you that I came across long ago. I cannot even begin to tell you where I found it, but I was inspired to save it. So on this day, let’s celebrate the power of women, the sisterhood, the goddesses, the feminine divine, our holiness, our roles as creators in the cycle of life, in nature, in our hearts, in our homes, in our lives, in the workplace and in the world.

To Love a Woman by Lisa Citorie

If you want to change the world…Love a woman-really Love her. 

Find the one who calls to your soul, who doesn’t make sense. Throw away your check list and put your ear to her heart and listen. Hear the names, the prayers, the songs of every living thing – every winged one, every furry and scaled one, every underground and underwater one, every green and flowering one, every not yet born and dying one…Hear their melancholy praises back to the One who gave them life. If you haven’t heard your own name yet, you haven’t listened long enough. If your eyes aren’t filled with tears, if you aren’t bowing at her feet, you haven’t ever grieved having almost lost her.

If you want to change the world… love a woman-one woman beyond yourself, beyond desire and reason, beyond your male preferences for youth, beauty and variety and all your superficial concepts of freedom. We have given ourselves so many choices -we have forgotten that true liberation comes from standing in the middle of the Soul’s fire and burning through our resistance to Love. There is only one Goddess. Look into Her eyes and see, really See! See if she is the one to bring the axe to your head..If not, walk away. Right now! Don’t waste time “trying.” Know that your decision has nothing to do with her because ultimately it’s not with who, but “when” we choose to surrender.

If you want to change the world… Love a woman. Love her for life-beyond your fear of death, beyond your fear of being manipulated by the Mother inside your head. Don’t tell her you’re willing to die for her. Say you’re willing to LIVE with her, plant trees with her and watch them grow. Be her hero by telling her how Beautiful she is in her vulnerable Majesty, by helping her to remember every day that she IS Goddess through your adoration and devotion.

If you want to change the world… Love a woman in all her faces, through all her seasons and she will Heal you of your schizophrenia-your double-mindedness and half-heartedness which keeps your Spirit and body separate-which keeps you alone and always looking outside your Self for something to make your life worth living.

There will always be another woman..Soon the new shiny one will become the old dull one and you’ll grow restless again, trading in women like cars, trading in the Goddess for the latest object of your desire. Man doesn’t need any more choices.What man needs is Woman, the Way of the Feminine, of Patience and Compassion, non-seeking, non-doing, of breathing in one place and sinking deep intertwining roots strong enough to hold the Earth together while she shakes off the cement and steel from her skin.

If you want to change the world… love a woman, just One woman. Love and protect her as if she is the last holy vessel. Love her through her fear of abandonment which she has been holding for all of humanity. No, the wound is not hers to heal alone. No, she is not weak in her co-dependance.

If you want to change the world… Love a woman all the way through until she believes you, until her instincts, her visions, her voice, her art, her passion, her wildness have returned to her- until she is a force of love more powerful than all the political media demons who seek to devalue and destroy her.

If you want to change the world, lay down your causes, your guns and protest signs. Lay down your inner war, your righteous anger and Love a woman…beyond all of your striving for greatness, beyond your tenacious quest for enlightenment. The holy grail stands before you if you would only take her in your arms and let go of searching for something beyond this intimacy. What if peace is a dream which can only be remembered through the heart of Woman? What if a man’s love for Woman, the Way of the Feminine is the key to opening Her heart?

If you want to change the world…Love a woman to the depths of your shadow, to the highest reaches of your Being, back to the Garden where you first met her, to the gateway of the Rainbow realm where you walk through together as Light as One, to the point of no return, to the ends and the beginning of a new Earth.

On this Valentine’s Day, I raise a glass to you-  my darling goddesses, the ultimate expression of the feminine divine…and to all the men and women who know how to love a woman (or who are willing to learn…wink, wink)!

Feel the Love!

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

Special Edition… ‘Tis the Season

‘Joy is Prayer. Joy is Strength. Joy is love.” -Mother Teresa

Season’s Greetings darlings! I read a most beautiful article written by Elizabeth Lesser  yesterday, featured in Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper, and I felt compelled to share it with you. I love, love, love Elizabeth Lesser and her style of writing! Her messages are always so deep, profound and life-altering! So, here it is:

10 Ways To Have Yourself a Merry Little Holiday

by 

It’s that time of year again: the modern miracle known as “The Holidays,” when into the dark little months of late November and December, we squeeze Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years Eve, and a myriad of other celebrations, from ancient Solstice rituals to the more contemporary rites of school plays, office parties, and community gatherings. Throw into that mix a generous dose of unrealistic expectations, dysfunctional family feasts complete with political disagreements, airplane flights and long drives, darker days, colder weather, budget-busting shopping, excess eating and drinking, and no wonder that along with “peace on earth, goodwill toward men,” come seasonal stress for most, and for some, real depression and loneliness.

Some greet the season with excitement and joyful expectation. Others dread the whole thing. Personally, I harbor both excitement AND dread. So I’ve come up with some ways for all of us to stay healthy and sane, to celebrate and enjoy, and to dig into the real meaning of the holidays. Of course, another option is just to ignore the madness completely (good luck with that) or to knock yourself out trying to live up to all of your holiday expectations (good luck with that, too).

Here are my ten ways to approach the season with reasonable expectations and good cheer.

1) Be Kind: Stress doesn’t bring out the best in us, so remember to take a few breaks during a busy day or at a family gathering or whenever you feel overwhelmed. Find a quiet spot—even if you have to go into the bathroom and lock the door—and just sit still for a minute or two. Put your hand on your chest and pat your heart gently. Then take a nice deep breath into that spot and flood yourself with warm feelings of kindness toward yourself first. Breathe in acceptance and forgiveness and appreciation. If you only have time to do that, it’s enough. You can add this to the practice, too: As you exhale, let the breath of kindness move back out and feel it all around you—as if you were wrapped in a cloak of light. Now inhale again, and breathe kindness into your belly, your organs, your bloodstream. Exhale, and feel that cloak of light expanding. Inhale again, all the way down to your fingers and toes and deep into the center of your bones, flushing every cell with warmth and vibrancy. On each inhale, bring kindness into your body. On each exhale, extend the cloak of healing light further and further—embracing the people in your life, those in the world with whom you disagree, and finally our whole big, amazing, hurting, evolving world. This is a wonderful practice to do when you wake up, when you go to sleep, or whenever you like during the day. 

2) Simplify: We live in an excessive culture. There’s just too much going on. But there’s one thing we seem to have too little of: time. We fill each day with too much activity, too much stuff, too much media, and too many responsibilities pulling on us in too many directions, and time races away. We go to bed at night and wonder where the heck the day went. We wake up and do it again. And now at the holidays, we’re supposed to add more excess to the excess. More food, more socializing, more presents that require more money. I think it’s a revolutionary act to resist the more-more-more culture and, instead, to simplify. Purchase fewer gifts and put more thought and meaning into the ones you do give. Say ‘no’ to engagements that will only add more stress to your week. Say ‘yes’ to gatherings that fill your soul and make you and others happy. Unplug from the 24/7 news and social media. Spend time in nature. Look at the stars. Find a little kid and hitch your wagon to their wonder.

3) Roll With the Changes: As families change and grow, traditions change as well.  For example, if you are a working woman who had a stay-at-home mother, instead of knocking yourself out trying to reproduce the exact old-fashioned holiday of your childhood, relax your standards. Do what fits YOUR life and infuse it with meaning, humor, and love. Or if you are a divorced dad or mom, share the holidays with your ex with as much generosity and harmony as you can conjure up. It will be the best gift you give to your kids this year. If you are far away from your family (or choose not to be with them), invite others into your home and give the words “extended family” new meaning. 

4) Help Others: not because you SHOULD but because it feeds everyone—the giver and the receiver. Find someone who is struggling financially or emotionally or physically, and lend them a helping hand, soothe their loneliness or hunger or confusion or pain. Check out the stories of every holiday tradition—from Thanksgiving to Hanukah to Christmas. If you celebrate any of these holidays, you might as well get down to what they are really about: generosity, connection, the promise of light-in-the-darkness. Be that light for someone else.

5) Drop In: to a church or mosque or synagogue or temple or . . . you get the idea. Even if you have no religious affiliation or belief—even if you have deep-seated problems with religion in general—these kinds of spaces have a mysterious quality that can bring peace to a visitor. They carry within their walls the prayers and songs of our human family. Most places of worship welcome all people, even those just looking for a touch of grace. Instead of hurrying by that church you have passed a hundred times on the way to work, take a moment to enter its doors and sit quietly, imbibing the beauty.

6) Take Care: Eat well, drink water, exercise, and then be merry. Instead of making one more feeble New Year’s resolution to join a gym or cut back on the drink or sugar or Twitter, do it right now. You will be amazed at how just the littlest bit of movement and healthful habits will lift your spirits and reduce your stress. And sleep for goodness sakes, do whatever it takes to get enough of it. Sleep deprivation is at the root of so many of our mental and physical problems.

7) Love Everything: Even the hard times; even the cranky and crooked people of the world; even yourself, with all of your embarrassing shortcomings. If loving everything seems impossible, start with forgiveness. Forgive all sorts of people—those from your past, your work, your family, even those abhorrent jerks and so-called enemies in the news. Bitterness towards others is like drinking poison. Put down the bitter cup and take up… 

8) Tenderness: See what happens if you keep your heart open and soft. When you feel fear, or anger, or judgment clutching at your chest, put your hand on your heart and pat lightly. Instead of shutting down, stay open. Stay tender. Just try this and see what happens. Your mind will tell you it’s not safe to be open, that you don’t want to soften, that you’ll tenderize only if the other person changes first. But those strategies haven’t really worked, have they? Try something new.

9) Connect: When you practice love, forgiveness, and tenderness sincerely and consistently, you begin to feel so connected to other people and to life itself that your sense of “me” frays at the edges, loosens, merges. I heard a man at a retreat with the teacher, Eckhart Tolle, say that he’d been practicing compassion meditation and a weird thing was happening to him. “I don’t know who I am anymore,” the concerned man said. And Eckhart replied, “Congratulations.” When you let go of that firm sense of who you are, and what you must protect, and why you are better or worse than anyone else, you are free. There’s less fear, less striving, less of the need to prove your case. There’s more room to let others in, more comfort with the world just as it is, and at the same time, more courage to speak up for truth and beauty.     

10) Joy to the World: How strange that we have everything we need to cheer up right this minute, but so often, joy alludes us. You may recoil at this idea. You may think, “She has NO idea what I am going through; cheering up is not possible.” But I have met some of the most joyful people in the most unlikely, difficult places, including jails and hospitals. And some of the gloomiest, most aggrieved people in luxurious homes and privileged situations. Albert Einstein said that the most important thing to pursue is “sacred awe.” If you think about it, how awe-some—preposterous really—that we are here at all. That YOU showed up here on this little blue marble floating in space. Each one of us has a joyful core that is truer than the worry, the sadness, the blame, the fear. Find your joyful core. Trust it. Be it. Share it.

ELIZABETH LESSER is the author of several bestselling books, including Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow and Marrow: Love, Loss & What Matters Most. She is the co-founder of Omega Institute, recognized internationally for its workshops and conferences in wellness, spirituality, creativity, and social change. She has given two popular TED talks, and is one of Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul 100, a collection of a hundred leaders who are using their voices and talent to elevate humanity.

 

Together we can all inspire, love, serve. And if you choose to Lead from the heart…right from the start, you will see a big shift in your life and the lives of the people around you. Now go out and Have Yourself a Merry Little Holiday!

See you all back here on Wednesday for my own little holiday to-do list.

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

 

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

Ask and You Shall Receive

“When someone we love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure”

Dedicated to Zenaida Figueroa Carricarte, my Mama, on the 9th anniversary of laying her to rest 10-6-2008

As the last leg of Mama’s journey began on her 84th birthday on June 5, 2008, I asked God, Guardian Angels, Powerful and Divine Beings for the following: that Mama go peacefully; for me to be there by her side; for lots of PATIENCE, compassion and under standing. I will forever be grateful for God’s grace and the way the Universal and Divine Plan unfolded.

I remember it was around mid-morning, and I decided to take a half day from work, bring a birthday party to her, and go to to the hospital to see Mama. After all, I just knew this was Mama’s last birthday on earth. Work was just not that important once I put things in perspective.  Upon leaving work, I went to the store and got party hats, balloons, snacks, party decorations and headed over to the Argentinian bakery for the decadent cake they are known for making. When I got to the hospital, I really thought that we were going to lose her that day and was thankful for having the presence of mind to put Mama before work. You see, at another time in my life, work came first, second and third! That was quite a day with a bunch of her admirers coming to see her, staff from the nursing home popping in, and doctors, nurses and aides she had gotten to know at the hospital over the years dropped by as well. I just kept taking pictures. I took pictures of everything and everyone! She was discharged back to the nursing home a few days later, and the party continued there. I decided not to go away for the month of July as I was accustomed to doing and just spend it with her….a stay-cation of sorts. I kept taking pictures….of everyone and everything!

I will be forever grateful for the honor of being able to play “Mother” and do things with her that kept me fully present in the beauty of the moment and the awareness to treat each day with her as if it were her last. I will be forever grateful for the simple things that brought Mama joy and for the opportunity to spoil her, plan her last birthday party, feed her, massage her legs and arms, scratch her back, play dress up, do her makeup and even cut her hair. I will be forever grateful for wheeling her along the river, taking her to the cemetery to visit Papi’s grave, visit the Our Lady of Fatima statue that was at Lourdes’ and Jorge’s house, buy her all the foods she craved (even though she only ate 2 bites at best), and spend time reading the dozens of cards and letters my Robert Waters Panthers and Pantherettes wrote to her. And I kept taking pictures… of everything and everyone!

Mama had a couple of good months, but once September rolled along you could tell that she was done. October 2nd, her last day with us, was filled with an on-going stream of visitors coming to say their goodbyes, so I was glad to just have it be the two of us once the last of the visitors left. I still remember the awesome wine Sara brought and the delicious home-made Italian food Francine brought to the nursing home that night. We talked, laughed, ate and drank wine because I had decided to spend the night by Mama’s side. It was obvious that Mama was leaving us any moment. As I lay in bed with her, a couple of hours before she crossed over, I caressed her, chanted and sang to her, talked to her about my lifetime of memories, and named all the spirit family members who were waiting for her. Their light and energy could be felt around us. I told her how God, the Angels and other family needed her now. My dharma, or purpose, in my mother’s life became crystal clear to me at that precise moment. Upon coming into this lifetime, I chose her  so I could play “Mother” to her (she was left motherless at the tender age of three). And that loss was something she never got over. Mama referenced her mother “Mamaita” almost daily as well as how much she missed her. Mama had only one tattered picture of her in her possession…how sad. She guarded that picture with her life! As I sit here typing, a memory of Mama asking me if I “would take care of her” came to mind. She took to asking me this over the years as her health declined more and more. She wanted to be taken care of “like a little girl.”  She even had a few stuffed animals by her side.

I will be forever grateful for the alone time I had with her that last night. I will be forever grateful for all the pictures I took of everyone who came to see her, pictures from her party, our field trips in July, activities in August, pictures from her last day and even pictures from the day of her burial and repast. Lastly, I will be forever grateful for the gift of being able to do her make-up once she was dressed and coiffed in her casket. That was the BEST 50th birthday gift!! You see, Mama died 2 weeks before my 50th. What an honor to spend that sacred and alone time with her and make sure she looked like her fashionista self. It took a lot of perseverance, negotiation and ultimately releasing it into the universe, but my wish was fulfilled!  And, yes, I kept taking pictures….. of everyone and everything! I was creating memories….cherished memories that became my treasure.

Mama passed peacefully. I was by her side. And boy did I walk away with a lot of patience, compassion and understanding. “Ask and you shall receive!”

I encourage all of you to live each day with intention and purpose and as if it were the last day. When we do so, we have more fulfilling days. We are able to really see who and what matter. We are more present, Alive and in tune to the precious gift of life we have received.

If you are interested in the dying process, and what the body goes through emotionally, physically mentally and spiritually as it prepares to cross over, I recommend you download Crossing the Creek by Michael Holmes. My mom’s Hospice social worker gave me a hardcopy years ago, and I have since shared it with numerous people. This book is no longer in print, but the author has made it available for free download. It is an absolutely wonderful and valuable resource. In addition, the Zen Hospice Project always puts out wonderful articles too. If you go on their website, you see the beautiful ways they honor palliative and end of life care. Remember darlings, we are all terminal….some of us are just lucky enough to know it!

It is my belief that death, like any other rite of passage, is something that can, and should be celebrated. It does not have to be all doom and gloom; after all, we are celebrating someone’s life and the contribution they made while on this earth. It’s also a meaningful, memorable and sacred act to send our loved ones off with much love, intention, appreciation, respect, honor, integrity and dignity (and bubbly, fun, laughter and even a dance party). It’s equally important for us to express OUR wishes to our family, friends and loved ones as well. When you think of it, there’s always a reason or opportunity to Celebrate Life! Ask and you shall receive…Just remember to take pictures…of everyone and everything!

Inhale love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

Love

“Love is an action, a choice. Love is not really an emotion” Mastin Kipp

On this love-filled family wedding weekend, I’m taking a short cut and leaving you with this beautiful piece on Love from Mastin’s The Daily Love, which I came across a while back. It is an essay I am certain you will want to read over and over as well as pass on. I dedicate this to Carly and Thomas….enjoy darlings!

To love someone is to choose to show up to be devoted to The Divine through that person. So often in life these days we think that Love is easy or that Love only feels good, but that is not the full extent of what Love is- especially relationship Love. People think that relationship Love must mask your true feelings, it must always be a euphoria of some kind, or that Love must be a trade.

But that is not what Love is.

Love is a constant offering to serve the Heart of the person you are in relationship with. Love is a constant surrendering of your protective ego, so that the Heart can open even more and show you the unknown beauty of its depth. Love transcends language, religion and belief systems. Love is the deepest gift that we could ever be given by someone and the greatest gift we could ever give ourselves.

Love is not a trade. Love is not a power trip. Love is not some grandiose expression of infatuation. Love is a humble and subtle power that guides us to grow into titans of giving. Love asks us to see beyond the fear of our partner and to dive deeper than their egos would want us to and not to leave, even when all that is triggering us wants to run.

Love shows up when fear is present and asks for more… Love is bigger, Love is brighter, Love is more powerful than any other force in the Universe, because at the core of every cell  in the universe, is the deep yearning and desire to Love and be Loved. Love does not march in with pomp and circumstance. Love whispers. Love silently beckons us to get over ourselves so that we can see the beauty that lays within us and in every other sacred soul.

We are not sent to judge, for judgement is just a request for Love. We are sent to Love the parts of ourselves and the world that lacks it. We were sent to be the Love in the seeming void of Love. We, indeed, are the answer. No one is coming for what we had already come.

Our job is to wake up to the Love then be it.

Our job is to Love.

Affirmation

“I am Love…I give love where I see it lacking…My ego is the servant of my heart”

 

 

 

 

Bye Bye Fear…Hello Faith & Love

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was greater than the risk it took to bloom”  Anais Nin

Oh darlings…..the “F” word…Fear! Volumes upon volumes have been written on the subject, yet we sometimes allow fear to hijack our minds and kidnap our souls. Yet, in the end, it’s actually quite simple. As Michael Singer asks in his book The Untethered Soul, “Do you want to be happy?” Your answer will be either yes or no. Hopefully, it’s a resounding YES……no “ifs, ands, buts” allowed….don’t “qualify” that yes or attach “conditions” to it. Make no mistake about it, fear will paralyze you….and do I have a first hand experience for you, but that’s yet for another post.

So what happens when we allow fear to take over our thoughts, when we ignore our gut feeling (our internal GPS), operate from a place of fear and/or allow fear to be our default setting? Well, you can answer that for yourself. Just pause for a moment and reflect on a time you made a decision based on fear, took a certain action because you feared what would happen, ignored the “feeling” you had that was guiding you to do otherwise, or just feared the thought of allowing yourself to do something differently. My guess is that nothing good came of it, am I right?  After all, nothing good ever happens when we act from a place of fear! It’s truly simple….we either have faith or fear. We either operate from a place of love or fear. When we operate from a place of fear, we are forgetting our connection to the divine, our oneness with that power that is greater than us and we are actually creating a whole lot of suffering in our lives simply by being sucked into the “stories” we are telling ourselves.

Do you want to “live” a juicy, joyful, rich, peaceful, meaningful and fulfilled life or “fear” life altogether? Do you want to continue to suffer or do you want freedom? Well, the first step is to get out of your comfort zone….aka the “prison” you have created for your Self. To be fearless, fierce in your conviction and faith is knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that you are Divinely guided, guarded, directed and protected. This is why it’s so important to take the time to be still, listen and connect. Meditate, breathe, practice yoga, let the uncomfortable feelings to come to the surface, get the blocked energies that do not serve you out of your system, release them and let them go. Continue being “the witness” to your thoughts, and let them go. Letting go is an art and a practice in of itself. And just when we let go, more “stuff” in need of letting go shows up. Yup! There are layers upon layers of things in need of letting go before we come to that place where we can breathe a sigh of relief and feel liberated. The key is to have an open mind, be willing to stay in that flow of connection, and creating that space and those rituals that will allow you to delve into the sensations, feelings and emotions that arise. It’s like a purification process. It’s growth, transformation and evolvement at its best. It allows you to soar and fly free!

What’s the flip side? I am willing to guess you know the answer to that as well…..more inner turmoil, tension, anxiety, blocked energy channels, dis-ease in the body, the body breaking down….just to name a few. If we operate from our heart center, the knowingness that we are love and that the universe is always conspiring in our best interest, we will be better equipped to inspire, loveserve AND lead from the heart…right from the start. There is no other way! The heart will soften as opposed to feeling rigid, it will feel expansive rather than closed off and we will feel confident, deeply rooted in our faith and unafraid. We will be grounded, centered, peaceful, calm, serene and feel a sense of expanded awareness. More importantly, we will feel divinely guided, guarded, directed and protected. Why? Because the choices we make will be from our higher Self and be more evolutionary.

So, are you saying bye bye to fear and hello to faith & love? Remember what the late, great Maya Angelou used to say, “When you know better, you do better.” Enough said!

I leave you with this short prayer from the Live Your Yoga Conference at Omega that I came across while perusing through one of my notebooks:

“May we be protected together. May we be nourished together. May we create strength among one another. May our study be filled with light. May we not oppose each other. Om, peace, peace, peace” 

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC