Strengthen Your Attention Muscle

“In the rush of modern-day life, it’s easy to push aside small concerns and fail to notice you’re no longer your old, happy self.”

Hello my darlings!

I hope this blog finds you happy and in good spirits!

If you’re not in good spirits, perhaps you and/or your life is tipping out of balance. Perhaps you’ve failed to notice the gradual changes that undeniably occur when we are disconnected from our mind, body and spirit. When this occurs, it’s safe to say that our minds ruminate and our lives feel like we are on a perpetual hamster wheel… spinning, spinning, spinning!

A common practice in yoga class is to be still and connect to our breath. After a few lengthy and deep inhalations and exhalations, we are encouraged to check in with our mind, our body, and our spirit. In doing so, we are able to tap into our thoughts, the sensations in our bodies and the emotions that rise up to the surface.

Our attention is a muscle that, once exercised, can reap wonderful rewards. The more we practice being still and checking in with our feelings, our thoughts, and our surroundings, the more we are able to be present in our bodies as well as in our relationships. And…. the more we are able to connect with Source- “the infinite all” and our higher self.

Today’s society, the happenings in our world and government, and the constant overflow of information that is in our in boxes and on our devices, contribute to the constant simulation of our senses. As a result, we feel a mental overload of huge proportions. Without tools that allow us to sort through the noise, mental clutter and stimulus, we are doomed to feel like our life is spinning out of control. We seem to be doing, doing, doing instead of being, being, being!

Our nervous system is so flooded with cortisol, that we operate from “fight or flight” mode” as opposed to “rest and digest” mode.

If we have any hopes of living a more gracious, connected, joyous, balanced, and peaceful life, we must remove ourselves from this state of overwhelming busyness. We MUST allow ourselves the time and the space to disconnect.

In doing so, we are affording ourselves the opportunity to be, see, hear and feel.

A simple thing we can do at the end of a difficult, challenging, or trying day, is to notice how our body feels. This is one way we can strengthen our attention muscle. Over time, and with practice, it becomes second nature…. trust me!

So where do we start?

-We start by setting aside uninterrupted time to check in. This means powering off our devices or placing them on airplane mode.

-Find a place to sit quietly and comfortably.

– After a few deep cleansing breaths, notice where your body feels constricted.

– Where is it that you hold on to stress or discomfort in your body?

-What do you feel?

-Allow yourself to feel and, If you are compelled to write, journal what ever arose during this time you took to scan your body.

-The more you do this throughout your day, the more you are in your body and the more equipped you become at addressing these areas in your body.

We can look at this practice as a gift we give ourselves. Being able to be in our bodies- distraction free- is a gift. It’s a necessity. It’s life altering. It allows us to be aware of thoughts that may not serve us and encourage us to reprogram our brain with thoughts that enhance our wellbeing.

It has been proven that the quality of our life is connected with our ability to tune in and pay attention. Multitasking, 24/7 connection, fatigued adrenals, and exhaustion do not make for a badge of honor. On the contrary, radical self-care allows us to live a more deeply satisfying life.

So what are some activities that allow us to be in our bodies and add to our well-being? Activities that allow us to care for our inner child?

The following suggestions come directly from someone I follow on IG because I love how she is using her social media platform to help us to heal and consciously create a new version of ourselves (check out the.holistic.psychologist on the gram).

  • Go for a walk or a hike
  • Do yoga
  • Meditate
  • Make a cup of tea
  • Listen to an educational podcast
  • Go to “Youtube University”
  • See a therapist/energy worker/healer
  • Connect with someone you love
  • Spend 15 minutes in total silence
  • Do a tough work out
  • Plan a “staycation”

And what are some of my favorite things to do when I am feeling exhausted or spread too thin, or have had a long day? In addition to the suggestions above, I enjoy soaking in an Epson salt, essential oils infused tub. Sometimes I even throw in fresh flowers. I make sure to light a candle and drink plenty of water when I am soaking (wine on some occasions). Doing a few restorative yoga poses before bed is a must for me, especially after a soak in the tub. I also like to spend a few hours in silence. At times, I purposely shut off the phone. Taking a walk in nature is something I enjoy as well. Getting to bed earlier than usual is a delightful and indulgent treat. And, as you can surmise, journaling is at the top of my list…wink, wink! Writing in my gratitude journal is something I try and do in the evenings as soon as I get in bed.

What are your coping mechanisms when dealing with difficult situations or emotions? What activities allow you to feel renewed or recharged? What practices do you have that allow you to connect to Source?

My darlings, tough times call for tough measures. In order to be our best selves and show up fully engaged and passionately committed to ourselves and for the greater good of all beings, we need to make our self-care a priority. In doing so, we will strengthen our attention muscle in a way that will allow us to live a life of balance, purpose and meaning!

The following is a piece that one of my yoga teachers read to us while we were in savasana. It comes from Danna Fauld’s book, What’s True Here, New Poems and Other Writings. May you be renewed by it as much as I was upon hearing the words!

Renewed by Source

Just as the the steady rain quenches the earths thirst, so too am I renewed by source energy through stillness and through prayer. Without a daily connection to silence, I can’t hear the guidance or feel the love that always moves inside me. The balance of being and doing seems and entirely beyond reach until I grow quiet and allow a wisdom far greater than my own to lead me home.

Inhale Love & Light… Exhale Grace and Gratitude, JTC

Reflections and Intentions

“An unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates

Happy June, my darlings!

I spent this past Memorial Day weekend on a lovely, peaceful lake pet sitting a dear friend’s little fur baby. I intentionally approached the weekend as if I was going away on a retreat to an oasis somewhere. After all, I was in a gorgeous, spacious, well appointed home which sits right on one of the most beautiful and pristine lakes nearby, and it was only four miles from home. No traffic, no noise, no crowds. In my book, that constitutes as bliss!

Retreating from our daily activities and routines for an extended period of time affords us the opportunity to go within to connect and examine our lives. It’s an opportunity to catch up on reading, reflecting, asking ourselves some questions, seeing and feeling what arises, deep diving into those feelings, unpacking it all and perhaps even doing some stream of consciousness writing (which is just what I did and will be sharing with you). I love having these uninterrupted chunks of quietude at my disposal because it also allows me to catch up on webinars, TED talks and podcasts.

One of my to go to podcasts is Maria Shriver’s Meaningful Conversations which airs on Mondays. The one I listened to this past weekend was her interview with Sharon Salzberg, who is an internationally known meditation teacher and author. I’ve also had the privilege of seeing her speak while away on past retreats, so I wondered what she had been up to of late. This particular podcast dealt with love, connection, significance, longing, meditation and other tools we can use to transform suffering into connection.

Here’s where my stream of consciousness writing comes in….so please bear with me…. wink, wink!

This podcast got me thinking about my own life and how I’ve always felt that one can be the loneliest in a relationship, especially when that relationship isn’t serving us and is causing us to suffer. I thought about the importance of love and connection and how they are necessary to life and to feeling joyful and happy. Being part of a community and having healthy relationships, with people from all walks of life, are known factors in the happiness and longevity equation.

I thought about the concept of “love” and how we often have this idealized version of it in the context of a romantic setting. Afterall, haven’t young girls been taught to equate love with the fantasy of having a Prince Charming come and sweep them off their feet? It’s time we do away with that notion, don’t you think? Who needs a prince when you’re a Goddess????

Love comes from the smallest of places; a smile, an act of kindness, someone’s generosity or generous spirit, a courtesy, a thoughtful note or card or varying expressions of love or service. The key to our joy, happiness and fulfillment is not only receiving these things we call blessings, but to also express our deepest thoughts and heartfelt emotions to others.

We need to connect to our HEARTS- this is how we experience love, connection, empathy, compassion, gratitude, appreciation and significance. This is how we connect to all our feelings and emotions. I truly believe that there is no room for loneliness and suffering when our hearts overflow with love and connection of all kinds and from varied sources. Beautiful, enriching and heart expanding relationships come in all shapes and sizes and NOT just in the romance department!

I am so BEYOND blessed to have a rich network of friends, girlfriends and soul sisters. And by the way, they are of all ages. Thank you, Evelyn Abrams, for the wise words you shared with my thirtysomething-year-old self many years ago!!! I will always remember that spectacular trip to Italy and you telling me to have a multitude of friends- both much younger and much older than myself. Duly noted!

These loving relationships bring me joy, they fill my life with purpose and meaning, and pose opportunities for continued exploring and learning. I view their presence in my life as a form of grace that’s been bestowed upon me from the Divine. My heart overflows with gratitude- daily- for the varied groups of people with whom I get to share my life and walk alongside. And where there is gratitude, you can bet there is joy…a whole lot of joy!

Gratitude, and being of service, are the foundation of the love and joy In my life. Nothing brings me more joy, appreciation and humbleness than writing about my blessings, what I am thankful for, and what arises each day. It is witnessing those little moments of grace that are so easy to overlook when we are stuck in our stories or the narratives we are spinning. It’s being aware of the moments that present themselves as opportunities for us to be of service, lend a hand or just show up. I cannot tell you how much these moments can fill our heart space with joy!

When I am in this flow, I feel like I’m carrying out one of the most important legacies (there were many) that my parents left behind. You see, they left big shoes to fill! They had BIG personalities, generous hearts and touched many lives. My parents were people of service and were very generous with their time and energy.

In my humble opinion, if we all took the time to be still, breathe, meditate, show up for ourselves and others, and write down what we are thankful for, I truly believe there would be more happy people walking around and serving as love and gratitude ambassadors.

The numbers of clicks or likes we get on social media would be insignificant. No one can determine our worth other than ourselves. WE are the ones who need to be examining our own lives! Why give that power away?

I examined my life this past weekend by recalling all the layers of me that have been shed over the decades. I recalled the people, romantic partners, and colleagues who were both in my life- and shed from my life- with love, appreciation, and gratitude for the roles they played. I examined the different layers of me that have since evolved, and keep evolving…and will continue to evolve through the many stages of my life.

Our experiences shape us. Our losses shape us. Our struggle shapes us. Our pain shapes us. Most importantly though, our love and gratitude shape us AND allow us to operate from a deep well of sustenance, support and spaciousness.

It’s in that spaciousness that we can find opportunities to love, connect, as well as a plethora of mindfulness tools to use and move about our days and our lives. These tools are the steppingstones to living a purposeful life. A life that is incredibly filled with an over-abundance of presence, intention, connection, grace, gratitude, love, and joy.

And so this is where my stream of consciousness stopped.

Perhaps you’ll be inspired to set aside some time for reflections and for setting intentions. I love to say that we can be both a masterpiece and a work of art in progress.

Remember, each day presents us with a myriad of opportunities to express our appreciation to the Universe for all the lessons and the blessings in our lives.

Here’s to the beauty of examining our lives and living fully, joyously and intentionally!

Inhale Love & Light… Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

Closet Ghosts vs. Closet Beauties

“Closets should be a sanctuary that calm the chaos of everyday life.” Me

Closets come in all shapes and sizes . We do not need to have an enormous walk-in closet for it to be beautiful. A closet, regardless of its size, when well-organized and appointed, should take our breath away when we open its doors.

However, this is not always the case. For many, closets are places that hold many secrets. Closets can be very telling in this way. They reveal insecurities, fears, losses, shame, betrayals, confusion, doubts and a host of other suppressed feelings and emotions.

Feelings and emotions that, when not felt and dealt with, hold us back and forever keep us in a cycle of unrest and wanting more. Cycles that rob us of our peace and serenity. As a result, we tend to store things that no longer serve us and perhaps even cause us suffering because of the sheer volume of things inside of them and the often time disorganization, mess, and clutter that accumulates as a result.

What we fail to realize many times, is that what we hide controls us. It’s heavy. It weighs us down. It cripples/ paralyzes us. It blocks energy from flowing and keeps new things from entering our lives. And if there is anything I know for sure, is that avoidance compounds a problem! In order to eliminate the problem, we must first look at its root cause.

Before doing so though, allow me to rewind for a moment. I had a blog scheduled for last week called Closet Ghosts. The title, and blog, organically evolved from conversations I was having with my Scorpio soul sister Kat, and my dear pseudo-daughter and guest blogger of long ago, Blondie. However, the blog mysteriously disappeared. I know I did not trash it or accidentally discard it. After a live chat with IT people, the culprit and root cause was probably an Internet glitch that prevented my work from being saved at that moment in time.

I exhaled deeply at this point, and came to the conclusion that the cyberspace gods didn’t want that blog to be published…. wink, wink.

What was I to do? Freak out? Stress? Allow it to ruin my day? I don’t think so… absolutely NOT! I just closed my laptop and went about my day. I didn’t even want to expend any more of my energy coming up with a new blog for I could not even remember all the details of it because, many times, I’m just in the “zone” as I write. So…..here I am, a week later, and here is a new blog… inspired by the one that is somewhere in cyberspace.

Let’s fast forward to root causes. An assumption we often make along our journey, is to think that the same mindset that created the problem will be able to fix it. Absolutely not! The root cause of an issue, that is inevitably causing us to suffer, is always buried deep inside of us. We must be willing to do the messy and painful work of going within, dusting off the cobwebs and uncovering the many levels of limited beliefs that are holding us back from moving forward with our lives. And this is one thing the ego mind is most uncomfortable doing!

That is why we must go within and connect to our hearts. Taking a look around our immediate surroundings and our personal space, especially our closets, is a good barometer of the state of our hearts. The clutter, mess, and disorganization in our personal spaces is a clear reflection of the mess, clutter and disorganization that resides deep within us.

Being aware of this is the first step. Awareness doesn’t fight, criticize or judge. It’s simply there, it’s eye-opening, and it’s transformational. And in order for us to grow, we must always be in a constant state of transformation. Our messes and our problems are opportunities knocking at our door.

In Michael Singer’s book, The Untethered Soul, there’s a chapter called Removing Your Inner Thorn. In it he talks about the spiritual journey being one of constant transformation. He goes on to say the following:

“In order to grow, you must give up the struggle to remain the same, and learn to embrace change at all times. One of the most important areas requiring change is how we solve our personal problems. We normally attempt to solve our inner disturbances by protecting ourselves. Real transformation begins when you embrace your problems as agents.

Spring cleaning is a wonderful time of year to assess the areas in our lives that need clearing, cleansing, decluttering, organizing and discarding so that vital life force energy can enter the walls that house our physical and spiritual selves. It’s the perfect time to assess and identify what we are allowing to control us and make an intentional, informed and concerted effort to change. A good place to start is our closet(s).

Once we clear away our emotional clutter, the clutter that is blocking that flow of life force energy, we will also be clearing away a lot of the issues that are blocking us in life. Once we clear out our Closet Ghosts, there will only be Closet Beauties to greet us when we open those doors.

So regardless of its size or shape, there are many organizing tools we can utilize that will maximize the space that we have. I love organizing, so I like to open a closet and feel like it’s a store display. Now mind you, I do not have huge walk-in closets. However, I do have things that allow me to maximize the space I have like skinny hangers, clear shoeboxes, matching canvas bins, decorative hooks, baskets and shelving that allow me to store as well as display some of my possessions. Hanging articles of clothing by color is also very appealing to the eyes. What can I say? Having beautiful, well-organized closets brings me joy!

And speaking of JOY, another reason that our clutter can cause us suffering and, therefore, zap our joy, is because we are no longer the same person we were when we bought all those things in the first place, nor are we looking at those things with the same level of awareness and consciousness any longer. We are in a constant and ever changing pattern of ebbing and flowing.

Once we have swept away those issues that have been blocking us in life, we will know in our hearts that we are whole perfect and complete just the way we are and that we do NOT need one more thing to add to that circle of completeness and wholeness. We have transformed to the point where we look at those external circumstances, situations, and emotions that were our Closet Ghosts and have bid them farewell.

In bidding them farewell, we swing our doors wide open for all to see the Closet Beauties that reside within… both in our closets and in our hearts.

Carry on my darlings!

Inhale Love & Light… Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

PS: If you are in huge spring cleaning mode and/or are getting ready to move, check out my Spring Cleaning blog from March 2018. It contains some pointers and guidelines from one of my favorite books, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. And in her words: “Clear your clutter and enjoy the magic of a tidy home-and the calm, motivated mind said it can inspire.”

Spring Cleaning and Moments of Grace

“Going with the flow is responding to cues from the universe. When you go with the flow, you’re surfing Life force. It’s about wakeful trust and total collaboration with what’s showing up for you.” Danielle LaPorte

Anyone who knows me knows how much I enjoy cleaning out, clearing out, organizing and staging. The change of seasons is an especially exciting time for me.

As I wrote in my Spring Cleaning blog last year (2018), March is all about clearing out, cleaning up from the winter and getting ready for spring, especially in the northeast. As with any type of creative and inspirational project, I believe the key is to have fun doing so. By the way, if you want some specific tips and guidelines to help you organize, clean, donate, purge or pack up to move, be sure you check out my spring cleaning blog from last year.

This past Monday, my plan to write a spring cleaning-related blog was hijacked by an unexpected event. You know the saying “Be careful what you wish for?” Well, let me tell you a little story.

I have been itching to take on a spring clearing or cleaning project but wasn’t sure of what project to tackle. I was also thinking about what kind of blog to write this week. Perhaps a blog dealing with clearing out and organizing closets would be fun. Just like that, a turn of events took place that determined the type of spring cleaning that I would be doing. And this type of spring cleaning would force me to go with the flow.

To make a long story short, the storage area in my condo complex had a leak. This storage area is on the ground floor in another building and, I must confess, it’s not the nicest, cleanest, or pleasant smelling space (if you know what I mean). So what did this mean? It meant that we all had to remove our contents by the end of the day!!!

I took a moment to pause, breathe, and think about my options. One option would be to see if there was another space where I would be able to move my things into. However, upon seeing the space, I realized it was a long schlep which required a maze of twists and turns. Not very practical if you know what I mean. Plus, it would wreck havoc on my body.

The other option, was to rent a storage space, a truck from Home Depot, and move my plastic bins and other belongings in there for the time being and until the repairs in the storage area of the complex would be fixed.

Let me interject something here. The “Me” of 20 years ago would have flipped out, been stressed out, and would be freaking out and spiraling out of control. Today’s “Me” proceeded accordingly with a mind and eyes wide open to infinite possibilities. In other words, I went with the flow. BIG time.

In doing so, I was able to notice the moments of grace that popped up to make this task at hand more bearable and even pleasant.

In order to do so, I re-wound to the beginning of my day to appreciate how the universe “set me up.”

I got to the yoga studio thinking that the class I was going to take, to ease into my Monday morning, was at 9 o’clock. Upon arrival, I was informed the class was at 9:30; so, I decided to make a cup of tea, go into the studio where the class was going to be held, the candles were already lit and so was the incense, and I plugged in my phone to listen to some music, sit in the stillness alone and breathe.

The next thing that happened was that the instructor, Barbara, not only delivered a soothing, therapeutic class, but shared a beautiful reading at the end of class that had to do with water and the flow of life. I will share this piece with you at the end.

I recall laying in savasana and remarking to myself that life is indeed so much easier when, instead of fighting the current or whatever it is that is showing up for us, we just look at the guiding cues from the universe instead. Remember what I said about walking around with the mind and eyes wide open?

That is just what I did when I went to Home Depot to inquire about renting a truck, and learned that it was first come first serve. The fact that I saw one van in the parking lot struck me.

It’s also what I did when I went next-door to the Extra Storage Space, and encountered a friendly and helpful service provider, Joe, who showed me to a space that was pretty close to the elevators. This space would not require me to schlep a long distance with my belongings.

It’s also what I did as I was driving back to Home Depot, to rent the van that I knew would be there for me, and took a moment to wonder who I could get to help me. Immediately, I saw a text from my beloved friend, and pseudo-daughter, Linda Lou. Hmmmm…. could this be yet another cue from the universe? I immediately called her and asked if she had an hour or two to spare. As it turns out, she was my angel for the afternoon.

It’s also what I did when I realized two things: I said I wanted a spring cleaning project, and I have been wanting to organize purge and consolidate the contents of all my storage containers. Coincidence? I don’t think so…wink, wink.

Well, my Darlings, the universe delivered once again! It may not have been what I expected, but I went with the flow, drove a van for the first time, fell out of the back of the van on one occasion, and still managed to have fun and laugh along side Linda Lou. I was even able to provide her an ear to listen. The universe is so magically humbling as it is comical, don’t you think?

As I soaked in an epsom salt and essential oils bath that evening, I reflected back on the day. I was able to appreciate the numerous moments of grace that showed up and carried me as I flowed with the ups and the downs of what could have been a stressful, fatiguing and annoying day. Instead, I found myself filled with a deep sense of grace for all these little moments that were, in fact, big moments. I was held…much like I felt held while immersed in that scented bath.

Over the next month, and at my leisure, I will be able to take the time to go through all my storage bins in a clean, pleasant smelling, spacious and well lit area. And you can bet I will have a helper… and music…and snacks. After all, it’s important to have fun and celebrate life fully engaged in whatever it is we are doing!

The following is the lovely reading that was shared in class: Enjoy!

Water is a great teacher that shows us how to move through the world with grace, ease, determination, and humility. When the river breaks at a waterfall, it gains energy and moves on. As we encounter our own waterfalls, we may fall hard, but we always keep going. Water can inspire us not to become rigid with fear a hold fast to what is familiar. Water is brave and does not waste time clinging to his past but flows onward without looking back. At the same time, when there is a hole to be filled, water does not flee from it, fearful of the dark; instead, it humbly and bravely fills the empty space. In the same way, we can face the dark moments of life rather than running away from them.

Eventually, a river will empty into the sea. Water does not hold back from joining with a larger body, nor does it fear a loss of identity or control. It gradually and humbly tumbles into the vastness by contributing its energy and merging without resistance. Each time we move beyond our individual egos to become part of something bigger, we can try our best to follow the lead of the river.

Coming up next… the closet blog… stay tuned!

Inhale Love & Light… Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

Mind over Matter

“The real meditation is how you live your life.” Job Kabat-Zin

Jon Kabat-Zin is known as the Godfather of modern Western mindfulness meditation. He’s been preaching and teaching Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for decades. This is a program that teaches us mindfulness skills to use in our daily lives.

I had the pleasure of seeing him at an Omega Institute Being Yoga Conference many years ago where he was one of the keynote speakers. It was so impactful to see and witness how “present” and powerful he was. Even when silent, and scanning the audience as he made eye contact, he exuded power and presence.

I recall remarking to myself that I wanted to have this effect whenever I had to speak before a large crowd. I wanted to drink the “mindfulness cool-aid.” And that I did because, ever since then, one of my daily goals and aspirations in life has been to show up and be present wherever and with whomever I am.

Being able to stay afloat in today’s world, and having tools to self-regulate, was part of several conversations I had with a couple of friends this past weekend. Everything today is fast and furious, and the sands of time seem to be slipping by rapidly. Having tools, and utilizing them, can help us to slow down, regroup, regain some clarity, enjoy time with friends and loved ones and even strengthen relationships.

The point of being mindful is to live in the moment and appreciate whatever it is that shows up without having a meltdown or feeling like we’re just spiraling into a dark abyss. In order to do this, we must be mindful or “in the moment.” We must allow ourselves opportunities to “land and arrive” in our bodies and then be fully aware of whatever it is we are doing in that moment. Even sipping tea, washing dishes, or cutting vegetables are all opportunities for us to be present and focus on what we are doing.

So…..after a weekend of much conversation, home-made scrumptious food and jokingly “trying to solve the problems of the world,” I chuckled as I came across the latest issue of Breathe magazine. It is appropriately titled The Mindfulness Special.

If you’ve never held this beautiful magazine in your hands, I suggest you treat yourself to one. The magazine contains articles on wellness, kindness, mindfulness and inspiration…. right up my alley! It’s filled with practical, short pieces that allow us to inhale and exhale deeply. I guess that is why the magazine is called Breathe.

I decided to peruse it when I got on the train for my ride home from visiting my friends this past weekend. As I flipped through the articles and the pages, I came to the back of the magazine. I took the time to read Mind over Matter because it was all quotes, from a variety of people, designed to inspire us to live in the moment. Who doesn’t love a good quote?

I, for one, am a sucker for good quotes; so, in the spirit of stewardship, love, caring and sharing, I will leave you all with these precious gems that will allow you to pause, land, arrive, inhale and exhale deeply.

Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more. Mother Teresa

Training your mind to be in the present moment is the number one key to making healthier choices. Susan Albers

In today’s rush, we all think too much, seek too much, want to much, and forget about the joy of just being. Eckhart Tolle

Nothing can dim the light that shines from within. Maya Angelou

Our own worst enemy cannot harm us as much as our unwise thoughts. No one can help us as much as our own compassionate thoughts. Buddha

Look for the answer inside your question. Rumi

Pure awareness transcends thinking. It allows you to step outside the chattering negative self-talk and your reactive impulses and emotions. It allows you to look at the world once again with open eyes. And when you do so, a sense of wonder and quiet contentment begins to reappear in your life. Mark Williams

The mind is like water. When it’s turbulent, it’s difficult to see. When it’s calm, everything becomes clear. Prasad Mahes

Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it. What is wrong is seeking it’s outside when it is inside. Ramana Maharshi

Life is a dance. Mindfulness is witnessing that dance. Amit Ray

The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little. Jon Kabat-Zin

Mind is a flexible mirror, adjust it, to see a better world. Amit Ray

Mindfulness is like that-it is the miracle which can call back in a flash our dispersed mind and restore it to wholeness so that we can live each minute of life. Thich Nhat Hanh

Your calm mind is the ultimate weapon against your challenges. So relax. Bryant McGill

Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without figuring it will always be the way (which it won’t). James Baraz

It is my hope that the above quotes touch something in all of us, and that we all continue to inspire, love, serve AND lead from the heart… right from the start!

Breathe…

Inhale Love and Light… Exhale Grace and Gratitude, JTC

Inner Clarity

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

Think about this for a moment, my darlings: the present moment is where we have “an appointment with life” as Thich Nhat Hanh is known for saying. After all, the past no longer exists and neither does the future. Yet, many of us live somewhere between the two… with one foot in the past and one in the future.

What happens when this occurs? We are either depressed or anxious. Sad or worried. Rather than being so fully steeped in present moment awareness and the joy and happiness that can be found there, we are living in some imaginary place where life does NOT exist.

Enjoying and basking in the joys that are ever so present in our lives, even during difficult times, takes practice. It takes work to undo the havoc we’ve created by doing all the things that keep us from being mindful and fully engaged in our everyday lives. I like to say that we are so caught up in “do-ing” that we have forgotten the subtle art of “be-ing.” We’ve gotten so far removed from the simplicity of life!

Instead, we allow ourselves to get caught up in “stuff” that is devoid of meaning. The minutia that robs us of quality life and quality time with ourselves and our loved ones. These are the stressors in our lives. The things that require endless work and drain us of our life energy. And guess what? It’s a choice we make. Yep, we choose our behaviors. And what we allow, persists!

The more important question is: WHY do we allow ourselves to get caught up in the things that keep us from being front and center in our own lives?

For some, it may be the fear of missing out while for others it may be the inability to be enjoy their own company. Some of us may actually enjoy the chaos, maybe even create it, and others may just throw their hands up and feel that there’s nothing they can do about it. And yet for some, running from the present moment can be a defense mechanism which keeps them from “feeling.”

One thing I know for sure is that, when we allow ourselves to get caught up in the vicious cycle that tears us away from our joy and happiness, it is because we are lacking inner clarity. In my book, inner clarity is part of self-care. And the art of self-care is also a practice.

If you are not sure where or how to start, fear not! As with all things divinely ordained, I just finished reading an email from Panache Desai, and in it he listed six steps to help us maintain inner clarity.

  • Avoid chaotic and stressful situations. All they serve to do is derail your focus and draw you into their chaos. 
  • Calm and center yourself several times a day through a habit of conscious breathing. Doing so, lowers stress and reminds you of who you really are and why you’re really here. 
  • Unplug yourself at least once a week from all devices, social media and news cycles. We are drowning in information, much of it increasingly negative. Step away from what’s secondary and focus on what’s primary. 
  • Go out into nature. We are natural beings. We are meant to be in forests, at the seashore and in the open. We are not meant to be tied to screens and cubicles and artificial lighting. 
  • Get as much sleep as you can. Sleep is restorative. Sleep is relaxing. Sleep is necessary to mental and physical health. A lack of sleep can lead to a lack of focus and clarity more than any other cause. 
  • Get as much exercise as you can. We were meant to move. When we move, we are using our bodies, and our minds, as they are supposed to be used. When you are sedentary, your mind and your body become clogged with sediment. Exercise flushes out the unnecessary, leaving you lighter

If you take the time to use these steps as a guide and make them a part of your everyday coming and going, I can assure that you will start to to feel refreshed, renewed, vibrant, energetic, joyous, expansive, peaceful and clear. Invest in your Self, my darlings…you’re worth it!

Inhale Love & Light… Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

In the Privacy of Your Own Heart

“Your soul…that inner, quiet, empty space…is yours to consult. It will always guide you in the right direction.”

Hello my darlings!

As I was re-reading my last blog, The Never Enough Problem, I realized that I wanted to expand a bit more on the topic of comparison and that what truly matters along our journey.

As you are probably aware, there was a recent challenge on social media where people were posting pictures of themselves from 10 years ago as well as pictures of themselves now. In case you’re wondering…no, I did not partake. I just felt that it was some ego-driven activity which instead of being fun, probably caused a whole lot of anxiety, stress, discontent and self-loathing for many. Comparing photos, devoid of meaning and purpose, will just leave many of us feeling that we’re not enough, not good enough, etc., etc.. And we all know the unhealthy and unproductive places where that leads!

As I was looking at some of the pictures (which was extremely obvious that they had been “tinkered” with), I wondered what the message behind it all meant. What was the purpose? Was it something that made people feel better, or just raised the bar of comparison and distress to new heights? What’s with the use of filters of all kinds and an array of finishes that can make a 90 year-old face as smooth as a baby’s behind? Thanks, but no thanks….you can keep the “altered reality.”

Then I came across my friend Loriana’s post. She kind of expressed the thoughts that were in my head. Had she taken residency up in there? Her words echoed the thoughts that were swirling in my brain, but I had yet to make sense of them all. She went on to ask us, “Is this really what matters and defines us?” Good question! And if that wasn’t enough, she then she went on to say, “We criticize the advertising agencies about putting pressure on all of us for aging and body image issues…then we play along.” Aha…How very true! Let me not even get started on the 20 year olds in ads for “anti-aging” products. Hello….their skin is flawless because they are 20 not because of the use of a product “intended” for “mature” skin!!!!!! Like I said, don’t let me get started…that’s for yet another blog…wink, wink.

So back to Lori…she posed a better option which entailed some dynamite questions that I am going to share with you. After all, you know how much I love to share and how much I love questions and opportunities for reflection and journaling. Her questions were a perfect follow-up to my previous blog and speak to the issue of comparisons. And considering we just had a Super Blood Moon Eclipse, which is a perfect time for rituals, reflecting, meditating and journaling, I thought Loriana’s questions are spot on as we leave past energies behind and move onward.

But, in order to move onward, we must first move inward. Astrologers are encouraging us to use this new energy to go within and connect with ourselves. There is no better place than the privacy of your own heart to get some answers and clarity. We’re not going to get answers “out there” in social media fantasy world. Nope! It’s by tapping into our soul- the quiet and stillness within- that will always guide us in the right direction…OUR right direction.

So…if you are up for some soul-searching and tapping into the jewels and the wisdom that are housed in there, I invite you to set aside some time to look over Loriana’s questions, reflect on them and write away! These are meaningful and thought-provoking questions that will really put our lives and our soul’s  purpose in perspective. Thanks, Loriana (aka Princesa), for posting these great questions and encouraging us to Go about or day, slay our dreams and IGNORE what AGE we look and how we got there and instead LOOK WHERE WE ARE GOING!

  • How did you improve your Self over the last 10 years?
  • Did you find your SOUL PURPOSE?
  • Did you CHASE your dreams?
  • Did you CRUSH your goals?
  • Did you FIND your VOICE?
  • Did you determine, challenge and FIND YOUR STRENGTH?
  • Did you BUILD your CHARACTER?
  • Did you FIND COURAGE to so something you would not normally do or leave a situation that was toxic?
  • Did you MAKE MEMORIES?
  • Did you MAKE time for those you LOVE?
  • Did you MAKE a DIFFERENCE in someone’s life?
  • DID you ArmorUp for LIFE and transform your life through nutrition, fitness and lifestyle – to prepare for whatever illness comes your way?
  • Did you ArmorUp for LIFE  and find balance and the strength to be BRAVE and be the best version of yourself, so you can be prepared for the next challenge you face?

And, if I may add my two cents, after you answer these questions, go back and ask yourself HOW you went about doing the things you answered YES to. And for those in which you answered NO, as yourself, WHY NOT? My darlings, we need to keep digging, keep revealing!

This kind of work is what makes us BADASSES! It’s what keeps us moving. It’s what allows us to keep learning, loving and growing. It’s what gives us direction and builds resilience. It’s what gives us the inner fortitude and strength to face the never-ending multitude of challenges that come our way. It’s what allows us to live with intention, purpose, meaning, grace and gratitude.

Here’s to your magnificent and awesome Self!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

PS   ArmorUP is a movement created by Loriana Hernandez-Aldama and inspired by her passion to encourage wellness in others after her battle with Leukemia and a bone marrow transplant. She is a journalist  with more than 20 years of on-air television experience in TX, anchoring prime-time and morning news as well as reporting on a national and local level. Loriana also does speaking engagements and works tirelessly at encouraging us all to ArmorUP for Life. You can check out her work at http://www.armoruoforlife.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Beginnings

“There’s a universal life force that supports and orchestrates everything. It all works together in perfect harmony. You are one of those moving parts.” -Wayne Dyer

Happy New Year darlings!

The new year is an auspicious time of the year to set goals, intentions, and resolutions of all kinds. A popular tool for doing so is a vision board. There are all sorts of classes, workshops, webinars and how-tos that help us design, create, and execute our very own vision board. All we need to do is google “vision board” and there are sites upon sites to explore and help us create one.

Why are vision boards so popular? Because there is most definitely a power in visualization and manifestation. After all, we are divine co-creators in this most powerful, comical and magical universe.

The art of vision boarding has become quite profitable to say the least, as we can see when we google them. We see supplies and resources of all kinds. In reality though, all we need are scissors, old magazines, glue, poster board and, if we prefer, a nice picture frame that we can use to display our creation.

Currently, I have two vision boards hanging. One is more of a life visioning board in that the images and words represent and guide the life I live, how I want to conduct my life, as well as the meaning, purpose and significance here in this lifetime. The other vision board is more of a dream board…which I made in the new year of 2018 and represented what I wanted to manifest in my personal life last year.

When we use pictures and words to depict our dreams, wishes and desires, we stimulate the emotional part of our brain. In doing so, we also activate the Law of Attraction. I don’t know about you, but anytime I have written anything down, put up images, power words, affirmations or motivational displays representing my wishes and desires, the universe conspired to deliver. I’m amazed when I come across some random journal entry from long ago and how what I wrote about has come to fruition. Darlings, whether you believe it or not, we all have the power to co-create anything we put our minds to. We are powerful beyond measure!

On this New Year’s Day, I took the time to really look at and examine the vision board I made last January. Once I looked at all the images, words and phrases that I had used, I took the time to write each of those words in my journal. It was almost as if by looking solely at the words, I was able to see yet another vision that was created. In a sense, it gave me a different perspective.

Perspective is something a beloved yoga teacher of mine spoke about in class this morning as she decided to start the class with all of us in legs up the wall. For the non- yogis out there, legs up the wall is an uber- restorative and highly beneficial pose. If there’s only one pose you could do each day, it would be legs up the wall. By being inverted, we are forced to look at things from a different angle. Since it was the start of the new year, my teacher chose to talk about looking at things from a different angle while we where in this pose.

And looking at my vision board from a different angle is just what I did. I created the vision board in hopes of attracting a romantic partner in 2018. The images and words I chose represented the lifestyle I would be living. As I looked at my 2018 vision board and the words that I had chosen, I realized that I was, in fact, living that life..sans the romantic partner. Hmmm… how interesting and fascinating!

After looking at my vision board from a different angle for quite some time, I realized I did not want to change or alter it for 2019. Instead, I want to work with it more actively and intentionally. How did I come to that conclusion? Well, I happen to come across a vision board checklist by Jack Canfield in Mantra Magazine, and I realized that I did not “truly” integrate all components of my board all as fully as I needed to.

I thought I’d share the checklist with you so that we can all benefit from some type of guideline on how to best benefit from the time, intention and love we have put forth in creating our very own vision, dream or life visioning boards. And, I will also share the words and phrases I used on my board because I’m all about the sharing. Besides, some words/ phrases may resonate for you and you can incorporate them into your beautiful creation. But first, the checklist:

  • My vision board depicts goals and dreams in all areas of my life, or in just one specific area that I’d like to focus on.
  • The images I chose represent or symbolize the experiences, feelings and possessions I want to attract into my life on my board.
  • There are positive affirmations, inspirational words, quotations and thoughts on my board.
  • Only words and images that best represent my purpose, my ideal future and words that inspire positive emotions and me were used on my vision board.
  • My vision board is neat, and I was selective about what I placed on my vision board.
  • I keep my vision board somewhere prominent, such as near my bed or on my desk.
  • I leave my vision board in a viewable position as often as I am comfortable with.
  • I spend time each morning and evening visualizing, affirming, believing and internalizing my goals.
  • I look at the images that represent my achievements, and feel gratitude as my dreams begin to manifest.
  • I wrote down the date I created my vision board.
  • I create a new vision board each year.
  • I regularly hold my vision board in my hands and really internalize the future it represents.
  • I read my affirmations and inspirational words aloud at least twice a day
  • I see myself living in the manner of my life is on my vision board.
  • I regularly feel myself in the future I have designed.
  • I believe the items on my board are already mine when I look at them.
  • I am grateful for the good that is already present in my life.
  • I acknowledge and celebrate any goals I have achieved.
  • I acknowledge and learn from the changes I have seen and felt.
  • I regularly acknowledge the law of attraction at work in my life.
  • I have fun and never give up.

And now, I will leave you with a laundry list of words, phrases and quotes for you to peruse, ponder and contemplate. Yes, there are so many! That’s because my vision board is quite large and some of the words are in all types of fonts and sizes (it wasn’t until I actually wrote the words in my journal that I was quite amazed at how many there were).

Love-own your glow-light carriers-transform your world-bliss-good times-getting better all the time-live your best life-real-the yoga of awakening-fearless living-widen your world-eternity now-surround yourself with people who lift you higher-give happily ever after-balanced is beautiful-natural spiritual progress-share your passion with the world-when your vacation becomes a lifestyle-yes you can-believe-truly gracious-truly joyful-truly dazzling-truly daring-come out come out whoever you are-the magic-it’s a match-gratitude-when dreams take flight-the beach-great outdoors-shining moments-a place to dream-love begins at home-live in paradise inside and out-a place in the sun-gorgeous-living out loud-beautiful-a little night music-recharge your body and spirit-get away from it all only to discover more-where are we going-see, hear, taste, smell, touch-explore your senses-widen your world-glimpse the possibility of a diverse, peaceful and creative future-bathing beauty-go glam-adventures in the kitchen-homey eternity-bring some glamour to the table-time for reflection-your time is your own-resilience-integrate-self-awareness-engagement-vibrance-getting the love you want...didn’t I tell you were so many!?!?

Finally, a quote that says it all: “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, and find eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land, there is no other life but this.”

It’s time we all create and manifest the life we want and the changes we wish to be and see in this world. Now go create, dream and inspire… may the force be with you in 2019, my darlings!

Inhale Love & Light… Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

Defy Age…Quality of Life

“There is a fountain of youth; it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap into this source, you will truly have defied age.” -Sophia Loren

If you happen to be doing Deepak Chopra’s current 21 Day Meditation Experience, Energize Your Life, you too came across this quote on the day the meditation dealt with anti-aging being a skill you can master. That meditation inspired this blog, as I thought it would be an appropriate follow up to my previous blog, Aging or Ageless…What are You?

I’m a big advocate for quality of life. This from someone who used to be a workaholic.  When we have experienced so many losses in life, some of them tragic and others long-lived, we tend to have an awakening of sorts and start to connect the dots. We come to realize that it’s not solely about the job, career, the big house, over consumption and consumerism, living life in the fast lane and money, money, money. What good are all of these things if we don’t have the quality of life and the energy to live life?

Who has the energy you may ask? Well, according to Deepak, it’s the people who are mastering the aging process that radiate life and energy. And how we do that? By the choices we make. He further went on to share that studies have shown that the most effective anti-aging results come from a holistic approach that minimizes toxic and unbalancing influences on our bodies, minds and emotions.

If we take a long, hard look at the people around us, those in our lives, and perhaps even complete strangers, we can pretty much tell by looking at them if they radiate life and energy. Further examine their eating habits, social habits, hobbies, outlook on life, social/familial interactions, listen to their tone and conversations, and we have a good indication if they are on the fast track to aging and whether or not they have any semblance of quality of life. Obviously, it’s just as important to take a good look at ourselves to see if there are any areas we can improve on.

Here are some questions that came to mind as I was writing:

  • What are your energy levels like?
  • Do you look at the glass half full, or half-empty?
  • Do you feel you are taking life for granted?
  • What are your talents?
  • How do you express your creativity?
  • How do you exercise your mind?
  • Do you live to work, or work to live?
  • What type of physical exercise do you get?
  • Do you eat genetically modified foods, processed foods, foods out of a box or whole, organic, clean and green foods that are not genetically modified?
  • How would you describe your relationships in general?
  • What is the quality of your friendships?
  • Do you partake in any self-destructive/self-sabotaging behaviors?
  • Do you drink, smoke or do drugs?
  • How do you minimize the stress in your life?
  • Can you identify the stressors in your life?
  • What mindfulness resources or tools do you employ to maintain the calm in the chaos?
  • Do you drink plenty of water and get at least 8 hours of sleep?
  • Can you identify the areas of your life which you feel aren’t being lived to the fullest?

Why so many questions? Well, because these types of questions help us identify areas that need further examining, cultivating and nurturing. It’s that simple! No hidden agendas or complicated formulas. And what is even simpler? The fact that people who age well have the following seven things in common:

  1. Meditation
  2. Wide social support system, friends, family and community groups
  3. Close emotional and familial ties
  4. Take multi-vitamins and mineral supplements daily
  5. Good sleep alternating with daily activity
  6. Life-long curiosity
  7. Willingness to undertake new challenges

As with all things, habits, attitudes, activities and practices in life, it primarily comes down to balance. And speaking of balance, I will leave you with something one of my nieces (and hopefully a future guest blogger) posted on Instagram a while back. It spoke to me so much that I had her print it on card stock, and I enclosed them in my birthday thank you cards. As you should know by now, I love anything motivational and inspirational!

Balance is key. In everything you do. Dance all night long and practice yoga the next day. Drink wine but don’t forget your green juice. Eat chocolate when your heart wants it and kale salad when your body needs it. Wear high heels on Saturday night and walk barefoot on Sunday morning. Live high and low. Move and stay still. Embrace all sides of who you are. Be brave, bold, spontaneous and loud and let that complement your abilities to find silence, patience, modesty and peace. Aim for balance. Make your own rules and follow your own path and don’t let anybody tell you how to live according to theirs.

Remember, my darlings: quality of life, quality of life, quality of life… and in the process, you will find yourself defying age!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

Aging or Ageless…What are You?

“Your age is less chronological and more spiritual and attitudinal.” -Jane Fonda

Hello darlings! I have been a little behind on my writing as a result of all the birthday activities I planned for my milestone birthday. In the months, weeks and days leading up to the big party day, I made it a point of really being present and engaging FULLY in the final planning and prepping for the birthday-related activities and celebrations, as well as enjoying the company of friends who traveled near and far to spend time with me and partake in all the fun. And it all was pretty much stree-free!

So how does 60 feel? And where on earth did that number come from? All I can say is that it is just a number. As I am known for saying, “I am actually 35 in my head.” Furthermore,  I have been making it a practice to feel like an ageless goddess for quite some time now. Can you relate? If not, have I got a book for you…sit tight!

We all have the power to be ageless goddesses. We all have the power to tap into our youthful energy. We all have the power to feel fresh, alive and new. What’s the secret? Our state of mind, our attitudes towards aging, the joy and passion by which we live our lives, the self-care physical, emotional and spiritual practices we employ, being our unique self, and the intentions and grace by which we approach each day is the secret. Oh, and let’s not forget starting each day with a grateful heart and constantly creating opportunities for celebrating life. That, my darlings, is what I know for sure!

What’s another secret? I think it has a lot to do with re-inventing ourselves over the course of our lifetime. And boy, have I done just that in my lifetime! All you have to do is take a look in my closet, and it will leave you wondering who lives there. And let me not forget the different haircuts and hair color…oh, and the accessories! They are like props. And you know how much I love props! Oops, and I almost forgot the many places I’ve lived in and decorated….each different and unique and reflective of where I was along my journey in life.

Expressing our true self and living from this place of uniqueness and authenticity requires grit, courage, braveness and boldness. It’s all there inside of us….we just need to tap into it. As Deepak Chopra stated in one of his meditation series, “We all have access to youth. It’s always accessible.” 

And while we are on the topic of being ageless, Christianne Northrup, M.D., author of Goddesses Never Age, notes that we should ask ourselves these 2 questions every day:

  • Who do you really want to be? 
  • Who would you be if your age weren’t a factor?

She encourages us to not only ask ourselves these questions every morning, but to actually live them throughout our day. Talk about transformation and re-inventing ourselves! These two questions hold infinite possibilities for us. I think if we truly stopped and did ask ourselves these questions every single day, and went out and lived them, that we just might find ourselves living fuller, richer and more vibrant, exciting and meaningful lives. What do you think? How are you living your life these days? Could you use a little more fun, zest, pizzazz, color, adventure, wonder, and awe?

Speaking of color and pizzazz, I received a birthday travel mug that is fun, colorful  and has a great piece written on it pertaining to age….I just don’t know who wrote it. This piece pretty much sums up the fact that age is a state of mind while also giving us some things to think about. So, I invite you to make yourself a cup of tea, or coffee, and sit back and enjoy the following. And if you know someone who could use a pick me up or a laugh, feel free to pass it on!

Age

“How old are you? Personally, at this moment I have no idea how old I am. I do remember a few milestone birthdays, 18, 21, 40… But in my head, nothing has ever changed. I keep wondering when everyone is going to catch on to the fact that for the last thirty years I’ve been masquerading as an adult. 

Perhaps we are, as the saying goes, “only as old as we feel.” In that case, I’ll stay lost in my bewilderment…because really, life is what we make it, and age is nothing but a state of mind.”

Life is for the living darlings, because each passing day brings us one day closer to the day we drop our physical attire and move on. How do you want to live out your days? For me, I want to live them boldly,  bravely and with fierce grace. Will you join me? Here’s to living our uniqueness and celebrating life!

Inhale Love  & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC