Choosing Love at All Times

“Love has the ability to multiply itself. It has a mysterious component in that it always multiplies itself, and it never divides.” 

I just came across this sentence in yet another book I am reading (yep, number 3). Since I was going away, I didn’t want to carry any hardcover, cumbersome books. Instead, I grabbed a small, soft-covered book that I have had for years yet had not read. The book, Returning to Oneness – The Seven Keys of Ascension, by Leslie Temple-Thurston with Brad Laughlin, was the perfect travel companion.

This has been a love-filled week… the Royal Wedding, time spent with loving friends and family, being the recipient of many acts of lovingkindness and generosity of spirit, as well as opportunities that required me to dig deep and choose love (see previous blog, Love is Wisdom inAction). I’ve also had the opportunity to send out love in many ways to others, some whom were aware and others who may not have even had an inkling I was doing so.

Which leads me to a little exercise the author noted in a section of the book which goes on to talk about the fact that beyond loss and gain we can always find love:

If you are feeling love, even for five minutes in the middle of some working day, stop and watch how all-encompassing it is. It connects and contains, Send it out in the form of gratitude, appreciation and wishes for others to receive the gift of grace that you are enjoying in the moment. Just let your heart center create the intentions and the love will do its work of multiplication.

If we are in a state of choosing love at all times, then we can, in fact, see beyond the loss and gain. Why? Because the energy exchange of love does not involve loss or gain. It just is.  It is a state of heart. It is a state where we have shifted into. It means shifting into a love-based state from a power or fear-based state.

Getting past a fear-based state requires a lot of work, blood, sweat and tears. Fear, in all its glory, is actually tied to loss. And, as we know by now, loss comes disguised in many fashions. When we think of loss, we tend to think of someone dying, a job we lost or a relationship that has ended. A part of the book which caused me to pause and journal, was the example of the many different kinds of loss we experience in our lifetime.

As noted, “Some examples of loss would be: disapproval, criticism, blame, rejection, betrayal, abandonment, self-doubt, lack of self-esteem, withholdings, and grievances. Loss can me so many things on so many levels: loss of face, of dignity, of energy, of happiness, of connection, of resources, of inspirations, of your divine state and so forth.”

Wow! Reading this made me pause for a long time. It made me examine how these losses have played out in my own life. It was a choice I made because I don’t want my Ego’s limited mind messing with my Soul’s natural state of wholeness and boundlessness. Playing “the witness” allowed me to look at the shadow issues that may still be lurking in the crevices of my conscious and subconscious mind. It’s very interesting to witness what “shows up” when we tackle the  patterns surrounding the different states of loss. As I like to say, “our work is never done.” If we want to live in a state of higher vibration, we must take the time to do the work, And remember, it’s a practice, not a perfect. Hence, the lessons that constantly tend to show up for us – especially when we least expect them!

Each and every day, we are faced with situations and circumstances that will require us to make a choice, Will we choose a low vibrational habit such as grievance, regret, resentment, fear and anger, or will we  let go of all that and choose love? As noted in the book, “Letting go is a very important part of the path of love and, be assured, it gets easier with practice.”

Ah, there’s that word again: Practice. And you know what I’m about to say next, don’t you? Everything, every THING, is a practice – not a perfect. So you see, the more we practice, the easier it does get. It becomes our default setting (I spoke about default settings in a previous blog, Don’t Be Amazing…Be Available).

When we tap on the doorway of the heart, fling the door wide open, and welcome that light filled, divine presence within us, we witness our natural state, which is love. It’s inside each and every one of us! We just have to “clean house.” In doing so, we are making ourselves available for that beautiful and abundant exchange of energy that is in a constant state of multiplication. In choosing love at all times, we are opening ourselves up to the grace of knowing the our Ego is not our true self. Rather we connect with our true essence – the essence of our soul, the experience of pure “beingness.” And in the process, we’ve learned to kick the Ego to the curb.

And if we aren’t there yet, we can rest assured that life will constantly give us opportunities to master this lesson. So even if our Ego hasn’t quite made it to the curb yet, we can at least show it the way to our front door! That is, of course, if we have evicted it from the room / space it is housing in our brain. Just keep choosing love at all times!

I will leave you with a meditation, from the first chapter of the book, which I just finished. May this blog and the meditation serve you in one way or another. Rest in the knowingness that you will gain from it whatever it is you need. That’s the beauty of guided meditations. We can do the same one consecutively, but what shows up may differ each time!

A MEDITATION

Sit comfortably. Take five or seven deep breaths until your breathing becomes calm and deep. Now visualize your core as it is situated along the central axis of the body. It looks rather like a luminous fluorescent tube running down the center of your subtle body. In the physical body, it corresponds more or less to the spine but sits slightly in front of it. By visualizing it, you begin to feel its presence.

Imagine that you, as your essential Self, are the core. Think of how we write the letter “I,” a straight vertical column. It means us – who we are. The letter “I,” describing who we are, comes from the shape of the core. It is the most powerful energy meridian in all the bodies, and it is actually the “I.” It is where the presence of the “I am-ness” is situated in us. At the same time, it is also situated at the very center of the cosmos. It is not to be confused with the “I am something in particular,” such as “I am a loser,” “I am an artist,” or “I am tall with  brown eyes.”

Sit with your attention on the core, holding center and feel your ‘I am-ness” for a while.

Oh, and if you missed Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon at the Royal Wedding, go to youtube and check it out, check it out, check it out…wink, wink. He’s now one of my favorites, right up there along with Pastor Carl Lentz. And one last thing, keep putting yourself in the way of love!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

 

Let Your Love Shine

“Do not chase love, choose love. Do not need love, share love. Do not fear love, embrace love. Do not seek love, become love.” -Creig Crippen

Darlings, this will be the last blog for the month of February, and it brings us to the conclusion of Ten Thoughts for Whole Living. I hope that, over the course of these past several weeks, you’ve found Ten Thoughts useful in some way, shape or form. I am a firm believer in that whatever we need shows up at precisely the time we need it most. Like the saying goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” This is one of my favorite quotes that I’ve learned to love and embrace over the years!

Don’t be fooled though, the teacher isn’t always a person. Many times the teacher could be horrible working conditions, unimaginable horrors, tragedies, world events, social injustices, atrocities,….and the list goes on. And, unless we are behind closed doors with someone, we never know exactly what they are going through at that particular moment in time. As a matter of fact, I am still blown away when someone shares how a particular blog was exactly what they needed on a given day. It’s serves as a reminder that everyone is fighting their own battle. Most times, we would not know that from looking at someone, especially if they are faking it until they make it. Sometimes, all we can do is just keep putting one foot in front of the other, one breath and one moment at a time…..and let our love shine!

That is why it is so important to nurture ourselves with love. Stressful times call for stressful measures. Measures that soothe our soul, excite our spirits and give us hope. Hope that we will come out the other end standing taller than before. When we love and nurture ourselves, we can handle the tough times a little easier. It’s a skill we’ve cultivated along the way. We’ve learned to laugh out loud, with others and at ourselves. It brings a little fun into our lives, and we can all use more fun and laughter!

So on this last day in February, I leave you with the last of Ten Thoughts on Whole Living. I hope they’ve enriched the quality of your life and your love of Self!

  • Stress can push your internal resources to the breaking point. Make time to unwind.
  • Your core supports the whole body. Explore ways to keep it strong.
  • Just because a task is important doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.
  • Missteps are part of any process. Stay focused on where you’re headed.
  • Cultivate the art of knowing when to move on.
  • Don’t shrug off compliments; honor and remember them.
  • Resist the urge to overanalyze every experience. Live each moment instead.
  • Generous acts are more than simple gestures. They’re a way of life.
  • Let pleasure expand your perspective.
  • Make this the day you stop dreaming and start doing.

Darlings, remember to choose, share, and embrace love… and let your love shine!

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC

Hello Love

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart” – Confucius

Hello Loves! Over the past few weeks, I have been sharing Ten Thoughts on Whole Living with you. I believe that each one of those thoughts / affirmations / power statements are ways we can treat ourselves with a little more tender loving care. They are ways for us to open the door and say, “Hello Love” in ways that no one else can do for us. Why? Because we are the ones holding ourselves accountable.

When we become accountable to ourselves and for the love we give ourselves, a major shift occurs in our psyches, body language, actions and outlook on life. We become more grounded, confident, skillful, vibrant, jovial, aware, alive and have a zest for life….joie de vivre!  No one, or nothing, can disturb our peace regardless of whatever madness is hovering above and waiting to make landfall. There is a sense of steadfastness and undisturbed equanimity that come with loving ourselves and owning it. At least that’s how I can personally best describe it.

We’ve all looked for love in the wrong places. Why? Because society and consumerism have brainwashed us into thinking that love is something we can only find outside ourselves…like lasting happiness and peace. We now know better. We have the tools, practices, resources and life experiences to show us the way back to our true Self. THIS is where love resides…..Hello Love!

We are now better equipped and more knowledgable than our parents, grand-parents and past generations. We’ve learned to fall, pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and forge ahead. And no one better stand in our way! Like the saying goes, “Everything you need to know is already inside of you.” Now THAT is something I wish I would have told my younger self!

Here are some more Ten Thoughts on Whole Living that you can explore, work with, act on, and use along your journey. As Maya Angelou said, “When we know better, we do better.” Can I get an Amen?

  • When you commit your dreams to paper, you give them a place to take root.
  • Be mindful of where you put your attention. The shape of your life will follow.
  • When you view your health as a non-negotiable, your priorities naturally shift.
  • Positive change starts with truth, and no one knows it better than you.
  • You’re more than just what you do for others.
  • Before you react to an emotion, first consider the source.
  • Learning to let go begins with understanding why you’ve been hanging on.
  •  Do more than understand stress reduction; put it into practice.
  • There’s no way to grow without taking a few risks.
  • Setting boundaries doesn’t keep others out. It defines where your life begins.

Carry on darlings!

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC

 

 

Finding Your Passion

“What lights you up more fervently than anything else in your life? Listen to whatever immediately comes to you – these are the signs leading you to your true passion, your heartfelt desire and ultimately, your destiny”  -Desire & Destiny Meditation Series

 

Some of the things that show up in our lives aren’t all warm and fuzzy. These are the hard lessons that oftentimes break us open, bring us to our knees and leave us in an extremely vulnerable state. A state that can be such a blessing when all is said and done. It’s been my experience that the more I’ve been brought to my knees, and have been broken open, the more that my heart expands and blossoms. Being in that vulnerable space allows for our hearts to blossom like a ten thousand petal lotus. It also takes those times for us to stop and listen to what our heart is trying to tell us.

Such times tend to lead us toward greater opportunities and are meant for us to find what sets our souls on fire. It makes us ask questions like: What are my gifts and talents?What brings me joy? What excites me? What do I have the most fun doing? Where do I feel like I belong? What makes me come to life? What makes me feel like I am being of service? How can I serve? And, what is at the bottom of all these questions? It’s passion. Passion is what drives us to be the very best we can be. It’s our soul expressing itself through our intention. It’s that spark in our eyes, the skip in our step and the opportunities that allow us to shimmer and shine.

Unfortunately, there will be people in our lives who may attempt to extinguish our light as a result of their notions of what we “should” be doing. Other times, our internal dialogue will keep us from living our passion because of the stories we have created for ourselves. Part of the journey is looking at those stories as well as the situations and circumstances that have broken us open and ask ourselves, “What is this situation here to teach me?” I always say there are lessons and blessings to be found in each challenging moment. They may not look like what we may have imagined, but they are lessons nevertheless.

When we do what we are passionate about, our dreams, desires and successes come to fruition. We feel alive when we do what we love. We feel aligned, productive, and creative. We don’t feel like we are working. It feels more like fun!

If we aren’t having fun doing what we love, then we must examine our situation. We’ve all had experiences where the thought of going to work the next day was sickening. How about constantly getting sick on the job (and boy can I speak to that)!?!?! Or feeling like our life energy is slowly being drained from us? Is this a way to shower ourselves with love? Obviously not, but it certainly is a way to get our attention!

These situations allow us to determine what we are no longer willing to compromise. And it usually boils down to our health, well-being and quality of life. We cannot put a dollar amount on our mental, physical and spiritual well-being. What we can do, is live our passion – for it will most definitely lead us to our calling. It may not all happen at once but, taking the initial steps of determining and following what our hearts and souls are tugging at us to do, will always put us on the right path. We are telling the universe that we are ready!

For many of us, the second half of our lives presents us with the opportunity to do redefine ourselves and how we want to live out this time in our lives. Our life experiences and wisdom have brought us to a place where we no longer do anything we do not want to do. It’s a time where we want to focus more on being of service in ways that only we can do via our unique creative expression of who we are. It’s a time in our lives where we’ve learned what happens when we don’t take care of ourselves and the importance self-love, self-care and self-respect play in all facets of our existence.

So darlings, to keep us in a constant state of showering ourselves with love and affection, I leave you with another dose of Ten Thoughts on Whole Living. When we take the time to pause, breathe and shift some of our thoughts and actions, magic tends to happen!

  • Rather than muscle through your day, take a moment to breathe and go with the flow.
  • Personal growth is a winding path. Expect to revisit the same issues and the same mistakes.
  • Empower your decisions and your self-esteem by learning to say no.
  • Tune into your sense of smell. It connects you to your emotions and your health.
  • Surrender isn’t about giving up. It’s about letting go.
  • Listen to your body; it knows what it needs most.
  • Balance is self-improvement with self-acceptance.
  • Invest in your work space. Inspiration and fresh ideas bloom in a positive atmosphere.
  • Use your vacation as an opportunity to engage your creative side.
  • In everything you do, align your actions with your personal philosophy.

Here’s to keeping the passion and the magic flowing!

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC

Love the Little Things

“It’s amazing how the little things – like your smile – can lift my spirits and remind me I am loved.”

Just in case no one has told you today that they love you, I will…..I LOVE YOU! Now, tell me THAT didn’t bring a smile to your face!?!?!?! You see, it’s those little things, those subtle nuances we sometimes overlook, the smallest gesture of love and affection shown to us, the wisdom shared that brightens our day, a chance encounter with someone who left us feeling high on life….the little things that lift our spirits!

It’s good to just hit “Pause” at times and take stock. Examine the little things that show up in our lives that we sometimes tend to overlook or give a second thought. There is so much love, joy, grace, humility and gratitude to be found in those moments! We can take it a step further and examine the ways our presence leaves other people feeling as well. The smallest of gestures, like a smile, can literally save a person’s life! We’ve all seen and heard examples of that over the years. Sometimes, just looking into a stranger’s eyes, or having someone look into our eyes, affirms that we have been seen. That is a powerful act in itself!

I’ve been hitting the pause button a lot these days and taking the time to love the little things. I’m taking the time to savor the beauty around me, the acts of kindness shown to me, even the unwelcome inconveniences that show up. There’s beauty in each moment should we choose to subscribe to that mindset. Despite the crisis and calamities around us, we can choose how to respond to them…..we can find little things to love even in times of crisis, death, and other tragic life circumstances. It’s all in the perception, and our perception is mighty powerful!

In keeping with the Love theme this month, I will continue to share Ten Thoughts of Whole Living with you. These power statements / affirmations allow us to shift our perspective and put us in a different head space. Ten Thoughts present us with opportunities to not only love the little things, but it’s sends our brain the subtle message that says, “I am taking the time to love my Self.”

  • You already possess all you need to stay calm. It’s just a matter of practice.
  • Food isn’t just fuel; It has the power to heal.
  • You can’t slow the aging process by getting tough on your body. Be gentle instead.
  • Breathe deeply. Healthy, strong lungs fan the flames of well-being.
  • Pay close attention to the patterns in your life. They’re the keys to doors only you can open.
  • No one likes a lecture. Inspire by example.
  • You don’t need a lot of time to get fit; you just need consistency.
  • Real authentic change emerges only from a place of deep focus and intention.
  • When you really listen, without reacting or judging, things become a lot more clear.
  • Bad news gives us the rare chance to pause and reflect on what matters most.

 

Love thyself darlings, and all the little things that come with it….oh, and remember to keep smiling!

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

 

Start Wherever You Are

“You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed, so is your destiny.” -The Upanishads

Wherever YOU are…not where someone “thinks” you should be, how long it should take you to “be there” or doing what THEY deem is the “appropriate” thing for you to be doing. Just be…..BE YOU, in all your glory, divinity and magnificence! How about just making and taking the time meet your Self  and start wherever you are?

I recall the first time I decided to do just that: take the time to meet my Self…really meet myself and decide who I was. It was the first time I had decided to be in a relationship with me. Invest in Me. Become intimate with my Self. Explore my life. Assess my assets and re-assess my core values. Take a hard look at my core beliefs. Examine how I was living, breathing, eating and conducting myself. Trust me when I say this did NOT sit well with some people.

You see, that’s what often happens when we break free from the status quo and break from the mundane,  the routine, jump off the stressful carousel of life and look for ways to come back to our Self. It’s what we do when we want to live a deeper, more meaningful life. It’s work that some people may be uncomfortable doing because it brings about a certain level of change. Let’s face it, not everyone is comfortable around the face of change! Others may just not “get it” because they are on a totally different path or have a very different level of awareness. We may even find others who feel the need to poke fun at us…..and it may even be a family member. Regardless, we shouldn’t let any of that take us from going on whatever life exploration journey we feel called to go on.

Little did I know the life journey I was about to embark on when I took my first step onto a yoga mat. Little did I know the changes that were awaiting me. Little did I know how life-altering a yoga practice would be. Little did I know how expansive my mind, body and soul would become. Little did I know how I was about to enrich my life. Little did I know of the impact that yoga philosophy would have on my life, values and core beliefs. Little did I know that I was going to have the most fulfilling soulful relationship of my life. Little did I know how peaceful and happy my life would be. Little did I know how critical, judgmental or weary some people could be when we are living a life that doesn’t mirror theirs. Not that it mattered to me because there is only one person I need to be accountable for, and that person is Me. At the end of the day, we are the only person that matters. How we love and honor ourselves should be the one investment we are all committed to making…always and in all ways!

However, at the time I was embarking on this journey, I didn’t have the words to accurately describe the how, when, what, when and why I was undergoing this change. All I knew was that it was the ultimate form of self-love and ecstasy I could have ever imagined. I felt like I had come home to my Self. When I finally did find the words, it was magical!

That’s what happens when we meet ourselves…really meet ourselves for the first time. It requires us to put and end to all that external and internal chatter and criticism and own our authenticity, bravery and courage. I can’t think of a better way to meet our date with destiny than choosing to own our truth, authenticity, bravery, courage, divinity, fiercelesness, grace and vulnerability! Oh yes, and with a sense of awe, adventure, magic and openness to the infinite possibilities, love and abundance that is always available to us.

Darlings, when we take full-on responsibility for who we are in the face of scrutiny, you will not believe how it stops some people dead in their tracks. There is this one woman I know who, whenever I would see her (which wasn’t often), would always insist on asking if I was dating anyone and why I was not doing so. Well, when I finally felt comfortable enough in my skin, owned my truth, bravery, courage, and found the precise mindful words…..it shut her right up. Now, I wasn’t a bitch or anything. Remember, it’s all in the delivery. I am a firm believer that we should always speak our truth kindly, clearly, calmly and compassionately… and with a smile. I recall feeling so at home when I said something like, “I AM in a relationship with me. I AM taking the time to fall in love with me.”  Yep, it was priceless, and she was speechless….and has never brought up the subject again. Period. The End!

So my darlings, let’s continue showering ourselves with some good lovin’… Ten Thought on Whole Living sets the stage for us to do just that. These thoughts allow us to meet ourselves where we are, open our minds to new ways of thinking and being, and give us new ideas and practices that allow us to approach our life, our self-love and self-care in more mindful, enriching and enlightening ways. Here are some more Ten Thoughts for you to consider:

  • When you believe in an abundant universe, your world feels more plentiful.
  • A healthy diet is about how you prepare, not just choose, your food.
  • Walk, run, dance, and jump a little every day.
  • Explore your inner adventurer. Try things that excite you.
  • Sustainable living goes beyond a single action; it requires a shift in our philosophy.
  • Your limitations aren’t flaws; They are opportunities to cultivate self-kindness.
  • Think of smarter, greener ways to stay warm and dry this winter.
  • The most motivating thoughts spring from gratitude.
  • Become aware of what you are eating…and why.
  • A resolution isn’t what you “should” do; it’s a chance to move your life forward.

Start wherever you are, and come home to You.. to your mind, body and spirit…it is the most important date you can ever have! Finding my Self was my deepest desire. What’s yours?

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC

Conscious Self-Love

“Everything in life is most fundamentally a gift. And you receive it best and you live it best by holding it with very open hands.”  – Leo O’ Donovan

We are each a gift. Our presence in this lifetime is a gift to those around us. When we stand in that knowingness, in our power, see it, feel it, smell it, taste it and embody it wholeheartedly, we are in alignment with our essential being. We are better able to honor our role in this cosmic carnival of life. We are better able to embrace our life, take juicy bites out of it, celebrate it and be more conscious of the love, affection and attention we first give ourselves. Showering ourselves with conscious self-love is an intentional act!

So, as we continue moving through this love-filled month, a month that I hope is filled with radical self-love for all of us, I will continue sharing with you Ten Thoughts on Whole Living. If you missed my previous blog, Radical Self Love, I encourage you to check it out before going any further so that you will know the focus of my writings throughout this month.

  • Forgiveness is more that a one-time choice; it’s a whole approach to living.
  • Develop a consciousness of your body. You’ll more effectively maintain balance.
  • Make your workout anything but routine.
  • Embrace the full spectrum of energy, from charged-up thrills to moments of calm.
  • Family traditions are a screed practice- they affirm our deepest values.
  • The best gifts are infused with intention.
  • Sometimes the situations that make you most vulnerable offer the greatest rewards.
  • True beauty can’t be applied from the outside; it must emerge from within.
  • Think simpler. Less fuss equals less waste.
  • Living well requires a focus on the present, not just a promise for tomorrow.

As we read these thoughts on whole living, we can examine how they each play out in our lives. We can think of ways we embody these practices. Some may stand out more than others. Perhaps some strike a chord. We can look at the feelings that arise as we read them, and take some time to sit with these feelings, name them, and describe them.

The more we honor the gift of our life, and everything else that shows up in our life as the divine gift that it is, the more we will be able to fully embrace our greatness and be more conscious of the love, affection and attention we first give ourselves. It’s never to late to start….the point is to start wherever we are.

Approach the act of conscious self-love as the most intimate relationship you will ever have….Enjoy and savor every moment!

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC

Radical Self-Love

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” Buddha

Greetings, darlings! Since my last two blogs dealt with relationships, I figured I would delve a little more into the most important, authentic, up close and personal relationship we can ever have – the relationship with oneself. And since February showers us with all things love, everywhere we turn, I thought it would be nice to place ourselves in the spotlight for a change. After all, we deserve it! If we don’t shower ourselves with radical self-love, who will? What images does the phrase radical self-love conjure up in your mind?

Love is our divine birthright and, in my humble opinion, we should unapologetically own it. Yep, stand tall, proud, open-hearted and grateful for the unconditional love that supports us and is always available inside of us – the Divine life force that brought us into this existence. The love that oftentimes shows up at unexpected times. The one we call by many names….Father, Mother, God, The Creator, Divine Being, Celestial Being, Allah, Spirit, The Almighty, Great Mother, Divine Source  and all other names denoting a Supreme Being. We are an extension of this divinity! How can we not shower ourselves with love knowing the great love that resides in us? How can we best honor the Source? How can we be more gentle with ourselves? How can we be more loving with ourselves?

Some people have mastered the art of loving others but have lost themselves in the process. They have forgotten about themselves, their needs, desires, wants, dreams, and aspirations. They are quick to meet the needs of everyone around them but wouldn’t know where to start, or how to start, taking care of themselves. They are barely getting by. If you are one of these people, I encourage you to think long and hard as you ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What happened to me?
  3. How did I let this happen?

Whether you have forgotten how to shower yourself with love or not, I am certain we can all practice a whole lot more radical self-love. Let me ask you this? If you could spend an entire day showering yourself with love, and taking care of your Self, what would it look like? How could you carve out some time for some self-care practices or routines that would allow you to amp up your livelihood?  What is your soul calling you to do or not do?

For some reason, I felt compelled years ago to rip out certain pages from Body and Soul magazine (not even sure they are still in publication – perhaps under another name). They used to have a monthly feature called Ten Thoughts on Whole Living. Now I know why I kept these pages – because some day I would be able to share them with you! So, throughout the month of February, I will be sharing some of these thoughts on whole living with you to help you get jump-started on some major self-love, self-care and mindfulness practices and/or enhance your already existing practices.  Being mindful of our needs and attitudes towards ourselves, our thoughts and actions greatly impact our quality of life. My heartfelt wish for you is that you feel inspired and motivated to shower yourself with a whole lot of love and affection!

  • Ease into the day slowly: take a few minutes each morning to gently wake up. 
  • Be straightforward. An honest response often trumps a clever one.
  • Discover new ways to share the things you love. 
  • Worry breeds anxiety; intuition invites calm.
  • Create habits that help you live sustainably – wherever you are.
  • Don’t second guess; sometimes the best idea is the one that comes first. 
  • Respond to life with openness and curiosity.
  • Don’t wait until you have no room left in your day to breathe; make space now.
  • Anger has a way of evaporating in the face of compassion. 
  • Find pleasure in the simplest of tasks. 

Another great way to work with these Ten Thoughts on Whole Living is to use them as journal prompts. You can set the stage by lighting a candle, centering yourself, connecting with your breath, and anything else that helps you to feel grounded. Read and think about each one and how you can apply them to your way of being. When you are ready to write, don’t over think; just write from the heart and see what comes up. As I like to say, lead from the heart….right from the start. You may just surprise yourself!

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC

 

A New Year…A New You

“The mind and body are not separate. What affects one, affects the other.”

The beginning of a new year is when most gyms are packed, everyone is purchasing new memberships to health and fitness clubs, attendance in yoga classes is on the rise, resolutions of all kinds are made, and new sorts of diets seem to be the “trend du jour.” However, studies show that within the first couple of months everything falls by the wayside. Why? Well, in my humble opinion, it is because it’s just that – a trend – as opposed to being a “lifestyle.”

Routine, practice, patience, wisdom and consistency, as well as willing to do the work of inner reflection, are the keys to living a healthy life of balance and well-being. It’s really a lifestyle. If we don’t deal with the gunk that is clogging our energy channels, and deal with the emotions that are the “root cause” of the unhealthy life style, all the resolutions and hours at the gym will not do a thing. Yes, we may see the scale drop a bit; however, before long, it will climb right on up there and may even surpass where we started. We may even burn out along the way. If you aren’t sure where or how to start the inner work and self-observation, I invite you to check out my previous blog, End of Year Review & Rituals. It contains some good questions for reflecting and writing.

True transformation begins from the inside out. And while a new year is the perfect time to start a transformation process,  just remember that transformation does NOT occur overnight. It is a journey of sorts. There will be the highs and the lows, the twists and the turns, the pretty and the ugly,  and the comfortable and uncomfortable feelings that are sure to arise. Stick with your commitment to your Self, and please don’t short change your Self! Remember, we are all here to learn the necessary lessons that will help us to transform into the highest and best expression of our true Self. These lessons will be physical, mental, emotional and spiritual ones, so addressing one with out the other is fruitless. That is why so many people give up those first few months of the new year. They approach the physical aspect of the journey and ignore the other important components of their being.

It is my belief that, in addition to becoming the best version of ourselves, we are here to also help others do the same. When I look back at some of my journals from years ago, one of the things I would sometimes end my writing with would be “Inspire Love Serve.” Is it a coincidence that I chose that as the name of my blog? I think not! It was part of my approach and purpose in my quest for being of service to myself and to others.

If you’ve been following my blog, you can see I have been trying to do just that – Inspire. Love. Serve. If you are new to my blog, Welcome! Since I started blogging in September 2017, I believe I’ve written over 40 pieces. It really brings me joy to know that in some way, shape or form, someone reading the blog may be touched, inspired or impacted by something I wrote or shared. I write from a personal perspective and also include lots of “tools” and resources available for us to use in our quest to truly transform from the inside out.

Mantras and affirmations are  powerful tools when stated and released with purpose and intention. They key word here is “intention.”  Resolutions are typically punitive and restrictive, whereas intentions are pleasurable for our mind, body, soul and our senses. By shifting our perspective and operating from a place of intention, we have a better chance of adhering to our desires.

As I was looking through some of my notebooks, I came across mantras for perfect health from a meditation series I did a while back. I believe it may have been from one of the early Oprah and Deepak Chopra 21 Day Meditation Experiences. Below, I will list for you the different aspects of perfect health that were featured and a Mantra  / Affirmation / Intention to go with each one.

  1. The Journey to Perfect Health: “I commit to living perfect health.”
  2. The Nature of Perfect Health: “Balance is my true nature.”
  3. The Intuition of Your Body: “My Mind and body are in perfect health.”
  4. The Wisdom of Your Body: “I trust the wisdom of my body.”
  5. The Rhythm of Your Mind & Body: “My actions are blissfully free from attachment to outcome.”
  6. The Perfection of Your Body: “I am perfection. I am healthy. I am strong.”
  7. Honoring Your Body:  “My body is a magnificent vehicle that connects me to spirit.”
  8. Restoring Balance: “With awareness, I create healthy habits.”
  9. Creating Balance: “My outer world reflects my inner world. Existence, Consciousness and Bliss.”
  10. Breathing for Balance: “I am one with the breath of life.”
  11. Eating for Balance: “I choose foods that help me thrive.”
  12. Connecting for Balance: “I cherish my every connection. I am the other in myself and myself in others.”
  13. Moving for Balance: “I am flexible, powerful and balanced. My life is in balance with cosmic law.”
  14. The Balance in Silence: “I intent to take steps each  day toward perfect health.”
  15. Living well: “My little changes amount to big benefits. Everything I desire is within me.”
  16. Living Nature: “I am an exquisite expression of nature. I am absolute existence. I am a filed of all possibilities.”
  17. Living Creatively: “Through rest and play, I open my creative channels.”
  18. Living Passion:  “I live my life with passion and enthusiasm….How can I help? How can I serve?”
  19. Living Optimism: “My life unfolds in Divine order. My actions achieve maximal benefit with minimum effort.”
  20. Living Agelessly: “I am ageless and timeless.”
  21. Living Perfect Health: “I create my perfect health.”  

I hope these are helpful to you in some way. May you find comfort and ease, and may these mantras / affirmations help guide you through your own transformation throughout 2018.

Here’s to a New Year and a New You…Now let’s go out and live with intention!

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC

 

Special Edition… ‘Tis the Season

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

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

10 Ways To Have Yourself a Merry Little Holiday

by 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC