Closing Out 2022

“Some people will get mad at you for not being who they want you to be. One of the biggest forms of self betrayal is living your life by their rules instead of your own. Your task is simple: be kind, be real, be humble, keep growing and unapologetically live your best life“

Greetings, darlings!

I think we can all agree that this time of year can leave us exhausted, depleted and wishing the holidays were over before even starting. Life tends to move at rapid speed just about now. As a result, we oftentimes end up resenting everything and everyone in our path to what could be an enjoyable and meaningful holiday season.

I’m tapping into to writer, speaker, and author, Yung Pueblo, for some end of year inspiration to share with you. The opening quote pretty much summarizes a basic truth in life and one we can learn much from, don’t you think?

Keeping our stress in check, setting intentions, setting boundaries and staying grounded can, and will, improve our relationships- personally and professionally- improve our health, and the added bonus is that it will create space for us to enjoy and experience a meaningful end to the year.

And let’s not forget that many people are grieving unimaginable losses right about now, and the holiday season is a source of much added pain, suffering and stress. A lot of that suffering is often directly linked to other people’s expectations or opinions of where they should be along their grief journey.

Feeling resentful, feeling like we have to live up to other people’s expectations, and living by their rules is EXHAUSTING! so why do it? Why permit someone else to be the boss of you? As I’ve said other times, what we permit, we promote.

How about we start promoting a new way of doing the end of 2022? A new way of doing 2023? How about a new way of doing life… on our own terms?

I came across a post from yung pueblo that will radically transform the way you experience the end of year, change the way you show up and move through life, preserve your sanity, inspire you to be your best self, find meaning and joy in whatever it is your doing, AND keep your stress levels at an all time low. Here’s what he has to say:

1 Say no to situations that burn way too much of your energy.

2 Let your intuition guide you, not fears or cravings.

3 Don’t listen to the feeling that you need to perform for others.

4 Surround yourself with people who love the authentic you.

There you have it… plain and simple.

And speaking of the holidays, they are always difficult when you’ve lost someone. And especially difficult is the “first” of any holiday without that person. As adults, we sometimes forget that children and teens grieve too, and it may look very different than the way we are grieving. Overall, grief has it’s own way with each and every individual. It has its own timeline, it’s varied, unpredictable and life-altering.

If you and your family are looking at the “first” holiday without a loved one, I encourage you to check out an older post of mine, Are You Grieving?

In that particular blog, you will find tips for self-care, addressing your activity level, getting support from others, relating to other family members, and ways of continuing the bond with your loved one. As a matter of fact, I may even repost it next.

So…as we’re closing out the year, let’s hit the pause button and re-examine the way we are going about our daily life. What can we tweak? What needs radical changing? What is causing you stress? Do you feel rested or exhausted? And most importantly, are you willing to change the things that aren’t working for you?

What else will you be focusing on for the remainder of 2022?

May you be kind and loving to yourself…always and in all ways! JTC

The Heal is Real

“With every breath I take, I am getting healthier and healthier.”

Dear Body,

Keep being beautifully flawed.

Don’t strive to be anything but what you are in your healthiest, happiest state.

You deserve to feel celebrated.

You have done so much for me, and I vow to love you a little more everyday that I have the gift of waking up.

You are a sexy force of nature.

Thank you

I came across this beautiful piece on instagram a couple of weeks after my explant surgery ( you may want to check out my previous blog, Doing a Thing, if you haven’t already perused it- it will explain it all). Dear Body truly spoke to my soul. Unfortunately, I have no idea who wrote it, but it was not me.

As a matter of fact, my last blog was the day before my surgery, and here it is 3 months post-op and already feeling like a million bucks! I have not blogged since then for a number of reasons. It’s not that I wasn’t writing, because I pretty much journal every day. Primarily though, I just wanted to focus of my post-explant healing.

There is a saying in the explant community, The Heal is Real. In all honesty, I was a little skeptical and unsure about that pre-op. Let me tell you now that I’m on the other side- and I’ll shout it off the mountain tops- THE HEAL IS REAL!!!

Yep, it sure is!

The hundreds of thousands of women who’ve been sharing their stories on line, and who’ve often been ignored or gaslit by the doctors who do not believe in Breast Implant Inflammation (BII), have been coming out in droves. Thanks to the internet, YouTube, blogs and social media platforms, women have been telling their stories, sharing pre and post-op pics – some actually show pictures of their removed capsules and implants- and even surgeons are speaking out and sharing pictures of these “toxic bags.”

And toxic bags they are. You should see some of the pics…mold, discoloration, particles floating in them….yikes! As a matter of fact, some surgeons have stopped doing implants altogether and are speaking out about the dangers of breast implants and BII. My…..we’ve come a long way, baby!

Within the first week of my surgery, my energy level was through the roof. If you know me, you know I have a lot of energy to begin with. Let’s just say it has gotten enhanced… wink, wink. My joint inflammation decreased- to the point where I have zero inflammation in one of my knees which was perpetually inflamed for years. Furthermore, the osteoarthritis pain in my hands is gone! The icing on the cake thus far is that bloodwork that was done 3 weeks post op shows my thyroid levels are improving!

Grateful….ever so grateful!

I’m keeping this particular blog short and sweet as I basically wanted to do a quick follow up to my last blog. I’ve also been on a social media sabbatical, so I am easing my way back.

Darlings, I encourage us all to read Dear Body over and over again and make a commitment to LOVE ON YOUR BODY (which happens to be the name of a new song by the very talented Londrelle). I highly recommend you listen to it over and over again! Sometimes I even have it on replay when I am showering and doing some self massage.

I am loving on my body and loving by small boobs more than ever!!!!

Grateful…ever so grateful!

Sending you all much love and abundant blessings, JTC

Doing a Thing…

“Every woman that finally figured out her worth has picked up her suitcases of pride and boarded a flight to freedom which landed in the valley of change.” Shannon L. Alder

So…I’m doing a thing. Something I’ve been wanting to do for some time. Something I’ve entertained and talked about for years (but have had orthopedic issues which were more pressing and needed tending to). Something I am hoping will improve my health and long-term quality of life. As someone who has always been into health and wellness, I can honestly say that my lifestyle is all about self-care. And at this point in my life, it makes all the sense in the world to do this thing…it’s been overdue.

Back when I was 40 years old- probably in a place of not really knowing my Self and my worth- I was into heavy weight training, spin classes, aerobics, kick-boxing, step and all things related to body image and achieving that perfect “balance” in body physique. To the dismay of my husband at the time, I got breast augmentation. He could not understand why on earth I would want them because he didn’t feel I needed them. But, you know how vanity and ego work hand in hand. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I did not realize how the beauty industry was such a toxic part of our society and deeply rooted in white supremacy.

Now, 20+ years and several pounds later (and guess where most of THAT weight has gone), I have decided to finally get my breast implants removed. I continue working on dissolution of the ego so, YES, I’m boarding my flight to freedom and landing in the valley of change. If you know me, you know how much I love and embrace change!

As a matter of fact, the explant surgery is scheduled for tomorrow, June 2nd.

If you follow me, you know that I believe sharing is caring, that our stories inspire, educate, and motivate others. It is part of what it means to be human in this web on interconnection. I’m a firm believer in what Maya Angelou used to say, “When you learn, teach.”

So…I am passing along some basic information about Breast Implant Inflammation- otherwise known as BII.You can google it yourself and fall into the rabbit hole- but I’m here to spare you. I just wanted to pass on some info in the event you or someone you know is contemplating getting implants or having them removed.

Disclaimer: all the information regarding BII that follows I got from various sources online.

BII is an informal term that some women — and even some doctors — use to describe a range of unexplained symptoms that women can experience following cosmetic breast augmentation or reconstructive breast surgery with implants. 

Some symptoms may include, but are not limited to:

joint and muscle pain, memory loss, concentration problems, breathing problems, chronic fatigue, sleep disturbance rashes, skin problems, dry mouth, dry eyes, anxiety, depression, migraines, hair loss, gastrointestinal problems, symptoms of EBV, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Sjogren’s, Fibromyalgia, Lyme, toxic shock …and the list can go on and on.

The symptoms can appear any time after implant surgery — some people develop symptoms immediately, while some develop them years later. A lot of the symptoms of BII are associated with autoimmune and connective tissue disorders, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma. Some people who have BII also get diagnosed with a specific autoimmune or connective tissue disorder, but many do not. In many, but not all cases, surgery to remove the breast implants improves or completely resolves the BII symptoms. BII is not currently recognized as an official medical diagnosis, and there is no diagnosis code for it. It is poorly understood and hasn’t been studied much as a unique condition.

“BII is a cluster of symptoms that don’t fit into any other classic disease diagnosis,” says Diana Zuckerman, Ph.D., president of the National Center for Health Research and a researcher who studies breast implant safety issues. “We believe that it eventually will be recognized as a medical condition, but that process will take time.” Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the major plastic surgery societies, and other health authorities have been devoting more attention to BII than they did in the past.

In May 2019, the FDA released a statement noting that the agency’s officials are “taking steps to better characterize [BII] and its risk factors, and are considering ways to help to ensure women have all of the information they need to make informed decisions about whether to obtain breast implants or to remove existing breast implants in an effort to reverse systemic symptoms.” In October 2019, the agency published a draft of recommendations to implant manufacturers for new labeling for breast implants. The agency advised manufacturers to include information about the risk of systemic symptoms in a boxed warning and in a patient decision checklist that would be included in patient information booklets.

In addition, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation are developing and funding new research on BII. To date, there haven’t been any studies that looked at the number of women with breast implants who develop BII. More women have been reporting BII symptoms to doctors and to the FDA during the last few years, which may be because social media groups and media coverage helped to raise awareness of the condition. Thousands of women have joined online communities related to breast implant illness.

From my personal experience, I can tell you there are thousands of stories, experiences, support, resources and tools on these private social media groups. That is a rabbit hole I found myself falling into once I scheduled my surgery. While these groups are informative, supportive and educational, I decided two weeks ago to just stay off socials as I prep for my surgery. Keeping my nervous system regulated is a daily practice, so I’ll go back on after the fact and share my experience with the group. The members are truly very supportive!

Also, I would highly recommend watching the documentary Explant. As described online, Michelle Visage, a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race, author and podcaster, is no stranger to the limelight. And now she adds documentary star to her list of accomplishments with the release of Explant, streaming on Paramount+ Michelle Visage had her breast implants removed after 20 years of unexplained, undiagnosed illness. Now her deeply personal journey is available to the masses, with the hopes of redeeming other women, through Explant.

I found it to be a stellar documentary, so well done, so much research, interviews, internal memos leaked, clips of hearings, lots of history, foul play and press clippings….. It’s definitely worth watching. Had something like this been around back then, I would have NEVER gotten breast implants! If you are contemplating getting implants, please watch this documentary…do your research! If a child, relative or friend is contemplating getting them, recommend the documentary. Hey, I am all for plastic surgery if that is what you want to do or have to do for obvious reasons like post- mastectomy or are transitioning and want to have top surgery. I’m simply a firm believer in being an educated consumer. and knowing your options.

These days, I’m simply not into doing anything that puts my own health at risk anymore. So…I’m hoping that, like scores of other women who’ve had explant surgery, my autoimmune issues may start improving. And if they do, great! If not, it’s still a win-win because I am getting something out of my body that I wish I had never put in.

I’d like to send a shout out to all my supportive friends who are my lifeline…you know who you are, what you do and how you do it! I am truly blessed and infinitely grateful to be surrounded by such loving and badass goddesses, soul sisters and humans who know how to show up and how to rally around you. We are always there for each other because, in the words of my dearest friend Patti, “This is what we do.”

The following affirmation found its way to me, and its timing is perfect:

“I am choosing to commit to myself, my health and my healing. I commit to the practices and actions that help me be clear, centered and grounded. I know that when I take care of myself, everything aligns in my life beautifully.”

See you on the other side!

Infinite love and gratitude, JTC

Allow Yourself Some Grace

“ Today I choose to think thoughts that will manifest positive results in the future.“

So… I knew I was making a mistake getting a caffeinated tea at 7 AM when I got to NYU for a doctor appointment. I must admit, I wasn’t fully present. Just as I was finishing a text to one of my girlfriends, one of the nurses showed up and started talking to me. The little voice wanted to warn me, but I shut it up, finished my text and engaged in conversation.

Then, as if that wasn’t enough, I stopped at my local coffee shop, Booskerdoo, for my customary chai latte with oat milk which I always get upon my arrival at the shore. Not good! Not wise! Did I listen? Of course not. I was elated and on a high after getting a great report one year post – knee replacement surgery. Sidenote – the other knee isn’t that great, but it’s been OK and hasn’t been giving me too much of an issue pain wise considering I have osteoarthritis and have complete space loss on weight bearing.

Having my left knee replaced greatly relieved the stress I had put on my other knee for the four years until I had the surgery. Thank you, God!

And speaking of space, which was my 2022 word, here it is five months into the new year, and I’ve had so much of it. I’ve been more intentional, deliberate, diligent, vigilant, and even more discerning as to where, how, when, and with whom I expend my energy.

I’ve said “no” more often, taken things off my plate, reevaluated relationships of all kinds- including my relationship with time- and determined what energies are or aren’t worth my time and attention. Yes.. it’s about boundaries, self-care, self-preservation, self-respect and total alignment, congruency and integrity with thoughts, actions and how to show up and move in the world. It’s about allowing yourself some grace!

Speaking of grace, I am also truly blessed to have a close inner circle of friends which I hold close to my heart. These relationships have deepend over the years as a result of mutual love, constant support, authenticity, genuineness, transparency, integrity, vulnerability, and mutual respect. And when called upon, or when I text, “Can you chat?” they show up!

Enter your people – the ones who know what to say and what to do. Enter chamomile tea. Enter the breath, yoga mat, meditation, prayer, visualization, mantra and music. Enter grounding, rooting, centering, and regulating the nervous system.

Rather than stay in my head, I listened to my body and let it lead me. As Tony Robbins always says in his trainings, “If you’re in your head, your dead.” I needed to drop into my body and utilize my tools so that I could feel Embodied once again.

Back to the caffeine though: I was feeling very ungrounded and anxious over elective surgery that is coming up on June 2nd (and that’s for another blog)… wink, wink. The caffeine got me jittery which, in turn, got me anxious. Scrolling and reading about other peoples experiences didn’t help- no matter how well intentioned and educational it is. It definitely did not/does not serve my nervous system, so I’ll be unplugging for the next couple of weeks.

Oh, and let me not forget a totally irresponsible decision I made that put my friend’s beloved dog in danger. I saw friends outside their house and called out to their dog. Now mind you, I didn’t pull over. Since no one was behind me I just stopped the car. Since my mind was scattered, I was not present. I was not mindful of my actions. Little did I expect the dog to run into the street. OMG! Can you just imagine the shock ????

Thank God, guardian angels, powerful and divine beings that nothing happened!!! When I realized the dog was in the street, I had the presence of mind to open my car door and call its name and it immediately jumped into my car. I still have the distressed look on the owner’s face emblazoned in my mind’s eye, and I don’t think I’ll be forgetting that anytime soon.

The other thing I did after my grounding practice was pull one of Elena Brower’s cards from her Practice You Oracle Deck and it read: “The Universe is listening. I am thinking with love.” It also asks: when do you feel most at home in the silence within yourself?

Well, that was an easy one to answer because I practiced it. I showered myself with love, got silent, went within, and used the tools and resources I have to connect with the infinite all, my higher self and angelic guidance.

Needless to say, just a few minutes into my practice I felt better already. I felt the energy shifting. It’s as if the earth was pulling me deeper and deeper into herself via a luminous grounding cord. As I lay on my stomach with my forehead on the mat, feeling my belly press against the ground every time I inhaled, I felt held. It was as if Divine Mother and Mother Earth were whispering “I got you.”

The thing is that when we are in our heads, we forget who we truly are. We forget of our divine connection. We forget we are energy and that energy shifts with each thought or intention. We forget how powerful we truly are. We forget we are the co-creators of all our experiences. We forget how our thoughts can manifest positive results!

My intention for the next two weeks, since I will be self quarantining, is to give myself even more space. I will create my own daily mini retreats filled with all things that nourish and nurture my soul. If there is one thing I’ve learned to do well, it’s self-care and rest… Oh, and pre-hab and prep for surgery. I know all will be well!

And how ironic that I accidentally flipped my calendar and ended up with tomorrow’s affirmation/inspiration!?!?!? I truly believe there are no accidents or coincidences. The message needed to be read, digested and integrated today:

“Today I choose to think thoughts that will manifest positive results in the future “And in my beloved Sister-goddess friend’s, Kat’s words….And so it is!

What you are reading is the journaling and free writing I did after my practice. It just flowed out of me. Needless to say, I appreciate your time and attention…Thank you for reading! Comments always welcome.

Staying calm….and carrying on, JTC

The Power of Resting Radiantly

“I honor and acknowledge my body as the sacred vessel that houses my inner light. I invite deep rest into every cell of my being. I trust that I deserve to be supported, nurtured, and held unconditionally. I know the earth can hold me. “ Tracee Stanley

Greetings, darlings!

It’s been quite a while since my last blog! Last time I wrote was a week before my knee replacement surgery, and here it is 12 weeks post-op today. Woohoo!!! If you missed my previous blog, She Ready, I invite you to go back and read it before you read this one.

Those of you who know me, know that I take prepping and planning for surgery seriously in terms of nutrition, exercise, supplements, tonics, spiritual practices, yoga, meditation and rest. I am the Queen of Rest! Sadly, rest is undervalued in our society; yet, it is what our bodies and brains need to function optimally. Instead, a culture of busyness, burning the candles at both ends, and sheer exhaustion are the badges people wear as signs of success, value and self-worth. Not for me! I’ve learned my lesson the hard way.

Since this was my 6th orthopedic surgery (the 4th in nine years), I know a thing or two about prepping my mind, body and spirit for the assault and trauma this type of surgery inflicts on the body. With each surgery I’ve had, my prepping and planning have been key. However, this time around I took it to another level. Little did I know what the practice of Yoga Nidra was about to do for me!

Back in March, I received Tracee Stanley’s book, Radiant Rest. From the moment I started it, I referred to that book as my forever companion. That is how powerful, transformative, soothing, and nurturing this book is! And the practices??? They just speak for themselves! Allow me to share an amazing experience I recently had.

I have been doing 2-3 yoga nidra practices daily since receiving Radiant Rest back in March. Mind you, I had not yet scheduled my surgery at this point. It wasn’t until the first week in April that I did so.

In addition to these practices, I’was doing daily yoga practices- which were primarily restorative and yin- just before bed. Meditation, journaling, prayer, hydration, nourishing food, music and mantra, rest, sleep, quiet and stillness have been my non-negotiables for years now. Hence, why I am the queen of rest…wink, wink. These practices soothe my nervous system and keep me grounded, rooted and resourced. Consistent yoga nidra practices have been the icing on the cake though!

On May 11th, the morning of the surgery, I was up in the wee hours (3AM), I did my meditation, called in my ancestors, elders, saints, Goddesses, etc… took a shower which was then followed by the Waves of Aum yoga nidra practice, as well as a short yoga and prayer practice, a dance party with Pitbull for one and off to the hospital I went.

I was as ready as ready can get when I walked through those doors and down into the pre-surgical holding area. I walked in, head high, back straight knowing my posse of benevolent beings were right behind me. I was relaxed, surrounded by light and held by all those divine beings, Oh, and I wore a crown headband my soul sister, Kat, had given me. It made a big hit  with the nurses to say the least. Like I shared with them- we must always celebrate life and find joy in even the difficult times.

So when the time came, I walked into the operating room, was introduced to everyone, thanked everyone and hopped onto the table. As I was being hooked up to everything, I was doing my own guided practice. I swear I was already into the void even before the spinal tap needle went into my body. I even had a smile on my face as I sat up and bent over.

Surgery went well, I felt great afterwards, ate up a storm, PT and OT had me up and walking and going up stairs within the hour of being brought to my room. Now…here is where it gets really fascinating and why I wanted to share my experience with you. 

Since my body is sensitive to pain medications, I was given Tramadol because it’s not a  heavy narcotic. By 7PM I was ready for sleep, yet all I could do was watch each hour on the clock pass by. Needless to say, I did NOT sleep a wink all night!!!! At around 3AM I googled the damn thing only to learn that Tramadol causes insomnia.

Darlings, I ask you this: If you know someone has a sensitive system, especially because they do not take medicine, why on earth would you give them something that may cause insomnia??? Did the nurse on that shift even know of its potential side effects??? I think not. By the time she changed my meds, the damage had been done…yikes!!!

Mind you, sleep is sacred to me. As I previously mentioned, sleep is one of my non-negotiables. However, I know the reason I wasn’t trashed, exhausted, depleted or wiped out the day after surgery was because I spent the entire night with Tracee Stanley’s soothing voice in my ear….I lost count as to how many yoga nidra practices I did along with other meditations and post-surgery meditations. While I only got about an hour sleep around 5 in the morning, my mind and body were TOTALLY RESTED! The beloved Yoga NIdra Goddess held, soothed, and sustained me. Every cell of my being was rested, supported, and nurtured. I hope you can appreciate how deeply powerful this practice can be!

In addition to my daily practices, I had also been using Tracee Stanley’s Empowered Life Oracle Cards. They are a deck of self-inquiry cards which I use daily after my morning yoga nidra practice. If you follow my blog, or have read some of my essays, you know how much I love me some self-inquiry and inner-investigation!

I pull a card every morning before I even get out of bed, so my journaling is usually rich in content and filled with early morning downloads. I knew I was prepping for my surgery the best way I know how, but these yoga nidra rituals took that preparation to another level! My clarity, connection to source and intuition have  been so on point! I’ve never felt so relaxed,  restored and radiantly rested! And, yes, I continue these practices because the body needs rest in order to heal!

The increase in physical activity, walking, physical therapy, and exercises multiple times a day is exhausting! And if there is anything I have learned over the years, it is to honor and meet my body where it is! Doing so is grace. It is respect. It is discernment. It is self-worth. It is self-love. It is self-care. It is care for the self. It is our birthright. It is peace.

I actually emailed Tracee with my experience- much of which is included in this blog- and I was blown away when she responded. I felt so honored and grateful for her response!

Darlings, I encourage you to share you experiences. with authors, spiritual teachers, mentors, etc. for it’s important for us to share our stories of how they’ve inspired us, motivated us, served us or how they have impacted our lives. And let me take a moment to thank those of you who leave a comment or reach out to me and share how a particular blog has impacted you. Merci! Gracias! Grazi! Obrigado! Thank you!

As Tracee shared in one of her posts, “Maybe you feel like you’ve lost that part of yourself under all of life’s overwhelming demand. But yogic wisdom tells us that the thriving, vibrant radiance is who we are, and it is eternal; it is a light that never goes out.”

Darlings, may you always know how vast your being-ness is and that your creativity, inspiration, and potential are boundless. May you find and tap into practices that remind you of your greatness and how much your gifts are needed in this world. May radiant rest be your north star!

May you always lead from the heart…right form the start, JTC

Inspired Action

“You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control what happens through you.”  Carl Lentz

Greetings, darlings!

How are y’all doing? I don’t know about you, but I feel like the days, weeks and months are flying by since quarantining started back in March. I simply can’t believe it is already Memorial Day Weekend, can you?

What have y’all been up to? Have you found your groove? Are you feeling settled? Unsettled? Are you reacting from a place of fear, or responding from a place of love? Are you letting the times control you, or are you taking control of the times?

If there’s one thing that having a consistent meditation and yoga practice has done for me throughout this time is that it has kept me calm, peaceful, harmonious and inspired. Not much has changed on that front. I am very well aware of what I can or can’t control, the actions I consciously choose to take or not take as well as the thoughts and conversations I am willing to entertain. Ahhh…the power of discernment!

Our spiritual / emotional muscle is one that, when exercised regularly, really strengthens our resolve. It keeps us mentally stable and emotionally regulated. This is a time when our self-care practices need to take front and center stage. For me personally, self-care practices are key to being resilient, especially during trying, difficult or challenging times.

Needless to say, I have not veered from my non-negotiables (aka self-care practices). During this time of collective grief and loss, I am choosing to do all I can to keep my vibrational frequency high and to fill my little corner of the universe with positivity, encouragement, hope and inspiration. I am enjoying being engaged in deep conversations with some of my peeps who are also using this time creatively and purposefully and working the work of inner inquiry, growth, expansion and  transformation. I love hearing what they’re dreaming up and all the ideas they have “percolating” (my new favorite word that my friend Kat has been using).

Percolating. There’s no greater feeling than being in a state where you feel like you’re in an inspirational vortex of energy.  As I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, the Sheri and Nancy Show, Sheri referred to this inspirational vortex as “being in the quantum soup.” I just love that too and can so relate!

We all have the ability to tap into these higher dimensional frequencies. However, the one precursor for doing so is that we catch ourselves and stop with the complaining, negativity and all the doom and gloom jargon. The only purpose that serves is to attract more doom, gloom and negativity. It’s a mindfulness practice to catch ourselves when we’re veering off course and course-correct. Remember, energy flows where attention goes!

In my humble opinion, I feel these are times we must be impeccable with our thoughts,  actions and with what we bring forth to offer.  Imagine if we all took responsibility for the energy we are bringing to those around us and to the energy we are releasing into the collective. Hmmmm…What is your energetic offering?

Only we can control what happens through us. Only we can determine what inspired action to take. Only we can make the decision to shift from barely surviving to gloriously thriving. Only we can shift from reacting to responding. Only we can reframe what is happening “to us” to what is happening “for us.” Only we can hold ourselves accountable for the ways in which we choose to show up during these times of uncertainty. And if there’s anything we know, it’s that we all show up differently because we are each uniquely different and we are all on our own path to self-realization.

This isn’t a competition by any means. This is about our own individual lifestyles, behavior patterns and habits of mind, how they play out in our lives and how they influence the conscious (or unconscious) choices we make and the actions we take.

I’ve chosen to be pretty proactive during this time of quarantining. Since the sheltering at home started, I have made sure to show up for myself each and every day. I’ve even upped some of my practices. So please indulge me as I attempt to document what the past few months have entailed. And full transparency here…I am not boasting nor bragging. It’s just that if I ever feel the need to reference what I did during this period, a blog post is easier to find than looking through a stack of journals.

When the quarantine started, I had a few books that I had recently purchased- The Beautiful No; A Year of Yes; Untamed; A Gift of Forgiveness; and More Myself. I loved and devoured them all in no time. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy a good book. Especially non-fiction books filled with good story telling and a healthy dose of inspiration. I save juicy and trashy ones for beach reading. Podcasts have also accompanied me on many walks.

Once all the non-essential establishments closed and yoga studios started zooming classes, I joined the ranks of those taking livestream classes. I am sort of amazed that I just completed my 80th consecutive livestream class.  Not skipping a day, and even doubling up on classes now and then, has served me well. I’m working my yoga practice and, in turn, my yoga is definitely working me. Peace. Calm. Tranquil. Centered. Grounded. Inspired.

In addition to my regular meditation, prayer and gratitude practice, I found this lovely meditation by Nadav, on Insight Timer that I keep telling everyone about. It’s called Lokah- Mantra for Happiness, Health & Freedom. And it repeats 108 times. His voice is beautiful and peaceful as is the melody. More commonly known as Lokah Samastah Sukino Bavantu, this mantra basically translates to “May all beings everywhere be happy, healthy and free.” There’s something very peaceful and fulfilling in sending these vibrational wishes out into the universe. I have been doing this meditation in the early mornings and before going to sleep at night. It has been a real source of comfort for me.

Like many of you, I’ve spent a lot of time in the kitchen and have gotten very creative with some of my dishes. What can I say? I’m a foodie, so I don’t mind cooking. Having said that, I do miss my occasional breakfast, lunch or dinner out with my girls. But after cooking everyday for the past 2+ months, I have finally started doing curbside pick up once or twice a week. And I am now entertaining partaking in responsible physical distancing in small gatherings with two or three other people.

As we’ve all witnessed, social media and the internet have been overflowing with course offerings of all kinds- some free and others reduced or on a sliding scale. The lifelong learner in me has been taking full advantage of things that call to me. The way I see it is that we can never go wrong with investing in ourselves!

The free Off the Mat Leadership Summit was just finishing up when the quarantine started. Since then, I completed  The Return of the Priestess Summit; Dr. Melody Moore’s Self Approval Summit; Seane Corn’s The Yoga of Awakening workshop; Hala Khouri’s Yoga for Self-Regulation and Trauma course; and Ashley Turner’s Resilience Summit.

A couple of my friends also participated in some of these, so it was nice to be able to expand and delve deeper into our conversations around what we were learning, the organizations the presenters founded and/or are involved in, the work they are doing and how they are living a life of purpose.  We also got lots of free resources from them as well (and a list of recommended books, available programs and other resources to consider). The next round of books waiting to be read are The Body Keeps Score- Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma; Waking the Tiger- Healing Trauma; Me and White Supremacy- Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor and The Success Principles Workbook.

These books will support the next leg of my journey. My next endeavor is the Level One training I signed up for with Little Flower Yoga that will enable me to teach yoga and other mindfulness practices to children and adolescents aged 3-18. Let’s just say I heard the calling in meditation one morning and, when you hear the voice, you don’t ignore it! It was clear as a bell, and then all sorts of synchronicities followed. 

Then I looked back to the physical traumas (accidents, falls, surgeries, disabilities) I’ve had in my life, my 33+ years as an educator in an at-risk school district where trauma, violence, abuse and crisis was an every day part of many of the students’ lives and how I was always involved in student and staff support services to the point where, when I became a school administrator, I was the educational leader in charge of support services.  Crisis intervention was a daily thing most days. In looking back, I see the call to volunteer in an orphanage or group foster home and perhaps with children who may have physical disabilities very clearly. Divine Alignment. Vortex of Energy. Quantum Soup. Inspired Action. 

Speaking of inspired action, I am in awe of the many people and boots on the ground organizations doing so much good and providing much needed services as well as opportunities to be of service. They are all a source of deep inspiration! This is a time we are all being called to serve in our own unique way….but we can only do so at our best if and when we put the oxygen mask on first. 

Being a HUGE self-care advocate, I’ve often referred to self-care practices as my non-negotiables. So, in addition to yoga, prayer, meditation, music / mantra, reading, self-study,  and nutritious food, I’ve been making sure I get my sleep, silent time, and time away from my phone. I drink plenty of water, juice regularly, take all my supplements, get out in nature, work out a little each day, slather on the lotions and potions, work with essential oils, treat myself to fresh flowers, and even allow myself some PJ mornings in bed. There have been many a day I’ve been called to rest, and that’s good too! Our bodies are always talking to us, so it’s wise to listen. Listen and feel. Then take right action. And sometimes, right action may look like doing nothing at all.

Phone calls, FaceTime and/or zoom calls and celebrations with friends have provided that sense of connection that we as humans need. Making sure to reach out to friends or people I haven’t spoken to in a while is important to me. And I’m so grateful for the people who’ve called to check in on me. We are wired to connect and, as a species, we are interdependent. If there is anything we are all learning through this time of physical distancing is that it’s not about the “I/Me” but the “We/Us.”

As I reflect on these times we’re all experiencing, and other times in my life when I’ve been resilient, I’m thankful that I have the practices and a toolbox crammed with resources to tap into. These practices and resources have always allowed me to take accountability for my life, establish healthy boundaries, call upon my inner fortitude, embrace change, live fearlessly, do hard things, deal with loss and grief, be bold and unapologetic about some of my choices and move through life happily, positively, optimistically and with an attitude of gratitude. And whether you realize it or not, You have a resilience muscle that you’ve engaged when tough times have come calling for you. Now is as good a time as ever to think about that.

So… as a way to thank you for entertaining this personal “documentation” of sorts, I would like to share a brief self-inquiry practice you can do if you feel like you could use a little inspired actionIt’s one that was offered to me at one of the Resilience Summit’s sessions.

Before doing so though, I invite you to maybe light a candle, burn a little incense or maybe even burn a little sage or palo santo to clear your space of any stagnant or unwelcome energy. Have a piece of paper or a journal nearby and something with which to write…a pen, pencil, colored pencils, gel pens, markers….whatever floats your boat. You may also decide you want some soothing music in the background. Get comfortable, close your eyes if it feels safe to do so, take 4-5 deep breaths, exhaling slowly, then return to your regular breathing,

Take a moment to look at the following questions then, when you are ready, close your eyes again and ask yourself the questions:

  • What does resilience mean to me?
  • How does it look like?
  • How does it feel?
  • What are the qualities I possess that I feel are resilient?
  • What are my strongest qualities?
  • What are the qualities that I actually want to build within myself?

After sitting with these questions for a bit, contemplate the following:

  • Remember a time (or the last time) you had to be resilient. Take yourself back to that time and place. And when you recall that place, remember what it felt like to be resilient, to tap into that inner strength, or that place of wisdom / inner knowing. 
  • What were your tools?
  • How did you move through whatever obstacle, challenge or difficulty you were facing?
  • How did you overcome the obstacle, challenge or difficulty? 

When you are ready, open your eyes and START WRITING. When you feel that you have written all that there is to write, ask yourself:

  • How can I move towards what strengthens me?
  • How can I move away from what weakens me? (These can be people, places, situations, thoughts, activities, habits, etc.) and write some more.

At some point, you may also want to consider documenting your own version of what this period of sheltering at home or working on the frontlines has looked like for you, especially if you have young children, grandchildren or maybe even for future generations. We are living through unprecedented times. But just like past generations of our resilient ancestors, we, too, will get through this and move towards a new world.

Darlings, when the going gets tough, we must rely on our tools. We must use them. Embody them. There will always be things we can’t control, but our tools will always help us in responding to them in a way that serves us…and in deciding how we chose to move through whatever happens. So let’s decide to move through these times with patience, much needed positivity, grace, fierce determination, inner fortitude, loving-kindness, and a heart wide open. 

Here’s to us and to our skillfulness, capabilities and resourcefulness…Stay calm and percolate on! JTC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planting New Seeds: Inspiration for Tumultuous Times

“We alive at this time are the luckiest people who have ever lived –and the ones facing the wildest, most terrifying challenges. This is not just a deep paradox, it is an existential invitation to keep waking up, right now.“ Terry Patten for Grateful Word of the Day

Greetings, my darlings!

The title of this blog is actually the title of a piece one of my beloved yoga teachers, Laura Wootton, posted and one you will read a little later on.

I haven’t blogged all that much lately and, with all that is swirling around us these days, I’ve done what I usually do when faced with challenging times: I tend to unplug, go within, journal, be still, practice some silence, color, listen to music and guided meditations and read a whole lot. Taking the time to be introspective fills me up.

This time has also allowed me to be very mindful and selective of what I choose to post and/or share. I don’t want to add to the hysteria and anxiety that is out there. On the contrary- I want to be the calm in the chaos. This is a mindset I’ve subscribed to for many years now.

Our words hold the capability to either ignite fear or inspire love. I choose the latter. Our words, thoughts and our self-care practices help us to self regulate and calm our nervous system. Fear puts us in fight or flight mode, spiking cortisol levels and causing more dis-ease in the body… not an ideal situation for those with an already compromised immune system. I do not want to add to that, so I’ve been uber-cautious.

When I read Laura’s post, I realized her words were what we all need to hear right now. These are the times, as Laura writes , for planting new seeds. So…. I will leave you with her inspiring words for tumultuous times:

The world is shifting in big ways. Our systems and belief systems are being tested and reassessed. Although this time is tumultuous, it is creating space for needed changes.

The feeling of what is happening comes to me as this image… imagine an area of firmly packed dirt. It has been in its place for years, untouched. It is so packed that new seeds can’t penetrate its surface. The process we are undergoing right now is like taking a shovel to this packed dirt… breaking up all that is stuck in it, excavating it, discovering things that have been lodged in the dirt for years. As we break up the packed dirt, we create space for new life. Now seeds can be planted and nurtured in this space again.

Our structural systems and belief systems are being excavated like the packed dirt. It feels tumultuous, but this process is creating space for new experience and more authentically-aligned life paths.

This is a time to:

  • Look at your life and the way you’ve been living it… are there any ways that you have not been living authentically? How can you create space for more joy and creativity in your life?
  • Enjoy quality time with loved ones while you’re all at home… call loved ones who are far away. We are being offered an opportunity to connect deeply with each other.
  • Ponder the dreams that you have kept “on the shelf” for years because there’s “no time” to pursue them.
  • Contemplate the “seeds” you’d like to plant in your life… visualize what you’d like your life to look life if you’re given a fresh start.

Some affirmations that could be helpful in this time:

I am grounded and stable.
I am worthy of love and joy.
I trust the unfolding of my life.
I create space for joy in my life.
I value myself and my relationships.
I am always Divinely Aligned.
I am guided to my most authentic Self-expression.
I love unconditionally, and I am loved unconditionally.
I receive what I need, and I release what I do not need.
Love and hugs to everyone ❤️🤗❤️

Thank you, “Lovely Laura,” for sharing your wise words and for being such a beacon of light during these times. Your inspiration is deeply appreciated. And thank you for being someone who is helping to move humanity forward!

Here’s to each and every one of us planting new seeds AND choosing/finding inspiring words for tumultuous times!

Lead from the heart… always and in all ways, JTC

Daily Renewal

“What do you do every day to make yourself come home to your Self?”

Greetings, my darlings!

I hope y’all are lovin’ on your Self and finding ways to shower yourselves with daily self-care practices…

Why? Because running around and burning the candles at both ends, like we are all known for doing at some point, requires a good plan for recovery. Just like an athlete, Olympian or rock star, post-performance practices are key to recovery.

Also, this is around the time of year that New Year’s resolutions start to fall by the wayside. We tend to lose focus, be derailed by the weather, or simply get lazy.

Having the presence of mind to check in with ourselves, periodically, throughout the day allows us stay grounded and focused on our intentions, goals and dreams. In order to do so, we need mental clarity. And mental clarity is one of those things that oftentimes gets sacrificed. As a result, we fall back into old patterns, feel scattered or feel ourselves spiraling.

Daily renewal allows us to hit the pause button and reflect. And it can be as simple as breathing and connecting. Focusing on the breath and connecting to the energy we want to feel (or are feeling) allow us to plug into ourselves. Scanning our bodies for sensations allows us to feel where we may be holding onto tension. Tuning into the sounds around us and becoming aware of our thoughts (without getting caught up in them or creating a story) sharpen our ability to just observe.

All of these things can be done just about anywhere or anytime. This practice of being present to our own body, mind and spirit is at the root of our well- being and greatly impacts our performance and ability to show up for ourselves… and then others.

It’s a mindfulness practice that simply translates to being present and engaged in whatever is going on, whatever it is we are doing or whomever it is we are with at that precise moment. The more we practice, the clearer we get with ourselves and the more likely we are to recognize a behavior or pattern that isn’t serving us, an area where we’re holding on when we should be letting go, or an opportunity to change the way we look at something in order to change the way we go about living our life…and living it fully and meaningfully!

I invite you to take a moment to assess your personal daily renewal practices. What are they? What is your mental state after you do them?

The key is knowing the practices that work for us personally: the various tools we have in our toolboxes that help us to ground ourselves. They can be mediation, yoga, music, chanting, tapping, nature, affirmations, hot soaks in the tub or a warm shower, dancing, journaling, breathwork, color therapy, painting, reading, or a host of other hobbies or activities that engage us in the present moment and let our creative side come out to play.

The beauty of these practices is that we are able to stay in tune with our bodies. They contribute to our physical and mental health, energize us when needed, boost our mood and add to our overall emotional fulfillment.

Any type of awareness meditation can be very revealing, especially if we take the time to journal afterwards. I recently took a workshop titled Reflections on Your Inner World, where we were instructed to sit in stillness for 10 minutes and just observe our thoughts (you can say them silently to yourself as you’re doing so). After the 10 minutes were up, we journaled about it all for 10 minutes.

The presenter encouraged us to write, draw and/or use crayons if we wanted. I immediately created 5 headings in different colors: breath; scents; sounds; sensations; and thoughts. Then I preceded to list words, phrases or sentences under each category. And let me tell you something…. this awareness meditation was indeed revealing!

As the presenter stated, “Below the surface of everyday life is a vast reservoir of wisdom and knowledge, and accumulation of life experiences. Meditation and journaling can help you listen deeply, giving a voice to that inner landscape, integrating what was witnessed in the subconscious and connecting you to your higher Self “

Daily renewal mindfulness practices of all kinds will leave us enjoying our lives more. They will help us sleep better, encourage us to play and be more creative. These practices will transform the way we look at things, at other people, and help us to understand ourselves and our place in the world better. We grow to appreciate everything more, while reducing stress hormones along the way. And lastly, daily renewal keeps us in a constant state of love and gratitude … for all things large and small!

My darlings, if we want spiritual peak performance, we must make the time for daily renewal. We need to hold ourselves accountable for our performance, and tweak/vary our practices along the way. Renew away!

Lead with Love… always and in all ways, JTC

Dreamin’ in Waves

“Being alone without distractions gives us the opportunity to feel a sense of calm that comes from releasing the need to be switched on. Quality alone time can bring the body back to a calm state, switch off the stress response, and help people connect to their intuition and creativity.” Ariadne Kapsali

End of year thoughts as I sip on a sweet vermouth on the rocks with a generous twist of lemon and read Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton in my beloved Hollywood Riviera: I’m a consummate dreamer, avid seeker, hopeless romantic, and a love and gratitude junkie who is always searching. And who gets much pleasure and joy from being of service.

I also cherish the sanctity of my alone time. For years I searched outside myself. In the last couple of decades though, I’ve taken to searching within. The need for solitude is always at the top of my list. It’s been the most rewarding journey ever!

Don’t get me wrong though, the rewards come with a price. Some people aren’t willing to pay that price. However, it’s a price I’ve always been willing to pay- even if it means not playing by the rules of convention, society, culture, etc.

I often remark that we really can’t place a price tag on peace, serenity, and tranquility. I don’t care how much money is involved. I’ve noted that some of the wealthiest people I know are the ones who lack peace and true joy in their lives. And the reason is clear… peace comes from within… we create our own joy…even if it means making the conscious decision of being alone and entering a relationship with oneself.

There is a remarkable difference between being alone and being lonely. People who cherish their solitude will always tell you they may be alone but far from lonely.

When we enter into a relationship with our “Self,” loneliness is not an issue. Learning to know oneself, stripped of all our titles, roles and the expectation of others, is one of the most rewarding gifts we can “gift” ourselves. We know the varied roles we play and how we dance in and out of the many relationships, titles and positions we assume. But there comes a point (at least for me it did) where we want to push back and truly figure out who we are, what we want out of life, how we want to define ourselves and how we want to live and love.

We learn to break with convention and what is expected of us. We become more blazingly daring, more courageous, more vulnerable and, as a result, more liberated!

Free to ponder everything or nothing at all. With me, it’s usually everything (at once too)… purpose, meaning, intention, relationships, all the whys, life and even death. Especially death. The subject fascinates me.

So it’s on this day, the day after a brilliant light and teacher, Ram Dass, transitioned, that I find myself thinking back on my journey and the path that yoga has taken me on.

Ram Dass translates to Servant of God. And that is something that spoke to me many, many years ago when I started reading his books and learning about the work and contribution he’s made to mankind and society. One of his quotes that has always stuck with me is, “We are all walking each other home.” It’s something Ram Dass spoke at length about in his book, Fierce Grace. It’s a book about aging and coming to terms with death and dying.

I think that when we live with the conscious awareness that we are all terminal and make friends with this notion, life becomes more meaningful, richer and significant.

These are but a few waves of thoughts that have been flowing in and out of my awareness. This is what alone time does for me. It allows me to go on an exploration of sorts: reflect on what inspires me, where I’ve been, who I’m becoming only to unbecome and become again, and dream and wonder of possibilities that still await to unfold. That’s why I titled this blog dreamin’ in waves.

As I was finishing up this blog, I came across an article which spoke about the importance of setting boundaries, especially this time of year when we are flooded with invitations to parties, lunches, dinners and all sorts of social gatherings. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, is that it’s OK to cancel plans and/or decline invitations. That falls under the self-care umbrella for me. Ironically, this time of year calls for much-needed alone time in my book…wink, wink

I’ve also found that responding honestly is best. So, rather than making up a story or telling a lie, decline invitations with honesty, gratitude and warmth. It’s the right thing to do AND the respectful thing to do for ourselves and others.

Darlings, I encourage us all to carve out some alone time- especially before the end of this year. If you feel inspired to get lost in your thoughts and do a little journaling, then do so. If you’d like a few prompts for doing so, be sure to check out my last blog, End of Year Inspiration, for a few questions you may find useful.

In the meantime, I will personally be working on them myself as I prepare to usher in 2020a new decade to fill with much love, endless joy, real compassion, loving- kindness, radical honesty and accountability, fierce grace and gratitude….and hope. There’s always room for hope!

May the long time sun shine upon us all!

Infinite Love and Gratitude, JTC

My Guest Blogger Returns

Protect Your Peace

by Lucy Del Gaudio

A few days, I asked a friend if I could do anything for them, what could I do and they said, “Help Me Find Peace.”  I was surprised by the response but also understood what they were saying.

Peace is something we completely take for granted.  Today’s world, filled with social media and negativity, the thoughts of the “light at the end of the tunnel” seem to often be unreal. The last few years, I learned to be more at peace with myself and not be at war with my thoughts.  Trust me, at times, my peace is disturbed and it’s hard to shake; but, I’ve learned different ways of protecting myself from people and situations that aren’t good for my peace.

What do I do to Protect My Peace?

Meditate – I meditate everyday… at least 3 times a day.  I try to give myself at least 5-15 minutes of peaceful practice to gather my thoughts.

I leave the negative of yesterday in the past and start my day as a fresh new page.  This one was super tough.  Negative Nelly, as one friend calls me.  I had to tell myself that there’s nothing I can do or change with the negative in my path.  Let it go, and give yourself peace to start a new page.

I run.  Lucy, a few years ago, would have told you that she does not run.  Lucy, today, tells you I love running.  It offers me so much.  It gives me time to think of my day and time to myself which is so important.  When I run with “the tribe” it gives me a chance to talk about things going on, and talking to others is so important.  When running by myself, I created a playlist of songs that make me feel good- but songs of my soundtrack of life. On my off days, I give myself time to practice yoga.  It soothes the soul and makes me feel peaceful.

I nurture my creative side by reading, writing and appreciating different styles of art.  For someone with dyslexia, reading can at times be challenging- but I love to read.  I actually read multiple books at the same time.  I have several books that I read every year, and I love getting recommendations about what to read. 

I write in multiple journals about everything.  It allows me to tell the universe how I’m feeling without judgement.  As other arts – going to see concerts and eat great meals with “the spouse” always makes me peaceful.  Going to the MOMA and sitting in front of Monet’s Waterlilies is one of the most peaceful places for me.  I find myself doing that often without people knowing. 

Protecting your peace can look completely different than mine, but you get the gist of it.  Being at peace with YOU, and making sure YOU are your first peaceful priority, will make you radiate peace to others.

Be kind to yourself.. give yourself those moments you need.

May the peace in me, be the peace within you.

Namaste ❤️

Thank you, Lucy, for this wonderful, peace-filled inspiration. I absolutely love when synchronicities occur and we follow up on our hunches, we pay attention to our intuition, our thoughts, or simply acknowledge our connection and interdependence. Darlings, this piece was inspired by one of Lucy’s post, which simply said: Protect Your Peace. Just as I was getting ready to scroll down, the thought that it would make a good blog crossed my mind. Instead of allowing it to be fleeting thought, I wrote it in the comments. Conversely, instead of just glossing over it, Lucy responded saying that she thought so too. So…I told her to “get on it.” And, she did! And now, her lovely blog is out there for whomever needs it. Isn’t it just magical?

I love the exchange of energies and how we either raise the peaceful vibration of the collective consciousness, or we succumb to destructive, negative and low vibrational thoughts, words and actions. Which will you choose? Oh, and by the way, how do YOU protect your peace?

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC