Physically Distanced Yet Socially Connected

“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was  not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.”  Sonya Renee Taylor

I’m sure you’ve all seen the above quote circulating  all over social media these days. It brings to mind one that  I just looked at, “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” This quote is one of many little inspirational cards that came in a lovely wooden box, created by Kathy Davis, that was gifted to me by a dear friend. It seems to speak louder than words these days in light of this global pandemic we are living through. We’ve been so busy “making a life” that we’ve forgotten lots of things and people along the way! What will we do with this?

This is  a good time as any to think and reflect on where the art of busyness has gotten us. What good is the accumulation of wealth if we don’t share it? What good is it if we aren’t being of service in some way? How has the quest to obtain more things, make more money, work longer hours or climb the corporate ladder higher impacted the actual quality of our lives? In most cases, the pursuit of these lofty goals have left us feeling exhausted, angry, lonely, disconnected, unfulfilled, peace-less, anxious and, in some cases, in debt. It’s a good time to rethink what’s really of importance. What can we make more space for?

This pandemic, which is shining a HUGE spotlight on inequalities and injustices of all kinds, is also serving as a plague of oneness and wellness. It’s about damn time, don’t you think?

During this time of physical distancing,  this pandemic has gifted us with quality connections and the reality that we indeed are all connected. Technology, creativity and inventiveness have given us new ways to stay connected, celebrate, honor life and death, work, teach, learn, exercise, move our bodies, meditate, pray, sing, dance, worship, express love, donate, contribute, serve and come together globally like NEVER before. We’ve been given an opportunity to deeply question, examine and fine-tune our values. As a result, we are seeing humanity through an entirely new and incredible lens. What will we do with this?

The question(s) we are faced with asking ourselves at this time in history do not differ from the questions past generations asked themselves about this mystery of life. Nor will it differ from questions future generations will ask. Each generation has a way of reframing the same question(s): What does it mean to be human? Who am I? How can I  make an impact? How can I contribute and be of service? 

These are all questions that every generation has experienced in times of social, political, economic, cultural and personal turmoil and unrest. One thing we can’t escape though is the pain. Pain is a price we pay for the privilege of being alive. What we do with that pain is the game-changer! Ahhh….the so called mystery of life!

I think it’s safe to say that we are witnessing a coming together of humanity that will be written about for years. What will we do with this?

“How can we all flourish moving forward?”  That’s a question a speaker I was listening to posed. How can we use the gifts this pandemic (although painful and tragic) has given us and put them to good use? After all, we truly are one another’s keepers. If we don’t watch out for each other, the animals, the earth, who will?

The way I see it is that we  have a responsibility to each other. A responsibility that will shape the way we move forward and how we look at all humans…especially the ones whom we never saw, paid attention to, acknowledged, maybe discriminated against or felt unfavorable towards. This pandemic has certainly been an inconvenience to some but, to those living on the margins, it’s always been a matter of life and death. The pandemic has just exacerbated the magnitude of their daily battle to survive. What will we do with this?

Many of these folks are the ones now deemed  “essential workers.” These are the various individuals who are putting their own lives, futures, and the lives of their families at risk to help each and every one of us. We’re seeing heroes of all kinds and from all walks of life emerge.

Many of us have been so busy “making a life” that not only have we failed to “make a life,” but we’ve failed to to see that the life we were so busy making has not allowed us to see that we are all connected and that our choices impact us all on a global level.

Who will be as a people, a family, community, society, and global citizens? Who do we WANT to be? What changes do we want to see? What change are we willing to be? What are we willing to do about it? 

These are only but a few questions I’ve been asking myself for years and years. But now they seem more important than ever. Constantly going within, questioning and dismantling old thoughts or belief systems is how we grow, evolve, make a difference, serve, contribute and change the trajectory of our lives.  It’s also how we can change the trajectory of our society and how we can change the world. It’s time for a new world, don’t you think? One that fits all of humanity and nature, as noted in Sonya Renee Taylor’s brilliant opening quote. What will we do with this?

For more questions that will allow us to identify the areas of our lives that are not working for us (as well as areas that are), and my thoughts on the opportunities this pandemic brings to the forefront, check out my previous blog, The Global Pause. Many of the questions posed in that blog  provide a window for us to analyze how we want to move through our individual world and the collective world. Should you be looking for some good reads, The Global Pause also contains a list of some of my favorite books to support you through these times.

As technology has shown us, this is a time for creativity, dreaming, inventiveness, imagination, transformation and rebirth. We are all a part of it, so we better make the best of it…wink, wink.

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

The Global Pause

“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smokey skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”

Greetings, my darlings!

I saw the above statement posted somewhere on Instagram and found its words to be comforting for, deep down inside, it is exactly how I feel…. like many of us feel. As I mentioned in my previous blog, When Things Feel Out of Control, this unprecedented GLOBAL pandemic of our time is an opportunity for us to re-group, re-align and re-define who we want to be in the space we occupy in the world. It’s a time for feeling, healing- mind, body and soul- awakening, and raising the vibration of the collective consciousness.

It’s a time for recalibration as well as finding balance, truth, freedom and liberation. But in order to attain those states, we must first take the time to feel hard feelings. What are they? Can you name them? A few may be sadness, anger, rage, grief, resentment, a sense of deep loss. What does this feel like in your body? What sensations do you feel?

There is a saying that goes something like, “Our suffering gives us Xray vision to the suffering of others.” But first, we must identify our own human suffering, our traumas,  and how our choices, thoughts, beliefs, actions, speech, lifestyle, hatred, prejudices, consumerism, and activism, or lack thereof, all play a part in the collective suffering of the world.

In my humble opinion, we are all being shown what it means to be human.  After all, we are ONE human race….a race that MUST move forward. There is no going back! Nor should we want to go back. Each and every one of us are part of a beautiful symphony of life that is being orchestrated to move humanity forward and the name of the composition is  Compassion, Empathy and Love….for ourselves and others.

I’ve spent a lot of time this past week thinking about how we can move forward. How I can help to move humanity forward. It all starts with ourselves. I find myself asking:

  • “Who do I want to be?”
  • “Who am I becoming?”
  • “How do I want to move through my life?”
  • “What part of life do I want to do differently?”
  • “How do I want to feel today? Everyday?”
  • “What do I have to give, contribute and offer?

I feel like we are living a moment in time that we cannot take for granted. As I’ve pondered the meaning and significance of what it means from shifting from an I/Me mentality to a We/Us mentality, more questions arose around “engagement.”

As a people:

  • How do we want to engage?
  • How do we want to be, feel and act?
  • How do we want to interact with each other?
  • How do we want to work?
  • How do we want to parent?
  • How do we want to play?
  • How do we want to be in community?
  • How do we want to engage with our neighbors?
  • How do we engage with our families? 
  • How do we want to show up in our intimate relationships?
  • How do we want to show up for our finances?
  • How do we want to engage with technology?
  • How do we want to use social media?
  • How do we want to show up for human rights and equality?
  • How do we want our government and our leaders to show up?

These questions also allow us to identify the areas of our lives that are not working for us (as well as areas that are). They provide a window for us to analyze how we want to move through our individual world and the collective world. But, like any kind of transformation, destruction, careful planning and precise vision go hand in hand. We owe it to ourselves to create a space for new visions, new thought patterns and new belief systems. We need to call on our imagination and creativity. And in order to do so, we must create the time and space to do so.

Luckily for us, this pandemic has gifted us with much time. And we can either use our time productively or get swept up with other forms of addictions or unhealthy habits. As a society, and as a human race, we have become disconnected and disengaged from our mind, body and spirit. Sadly, there are more people connected to their electronic devices these days than engaged in human, face-to-face connection. In many cases, they are connected in unhealthy ways.

Ways that lack boundaries, censorship and discernment. I was listening to a podcast with Glennon Doyle about her new book, Untamed (a must read), and she said the following: “Text messages are not the boss of me.” OMG how brilliant! Seriously, how can we allow our devices to be the boss of us? Have you ever been with someone who can’t engage in a conversation or finish a sentence because they are so distracted because they continue to text? Rather than being respectful, mindful, present and fully engaged with a human body before them, they are more concerned with what’s going on in the palm of their hand. Are you one of this people, dearest reader?

I feel like there is this monumental, gargantuan force that is pushing us to go isolate and go within so that we learn to be together again. A force that is showing us what it means to be human. A force that is connecting us all in unimaginable ways despite our “social/physical distancing.” We are being shown alternatives, and taking part in new ways to stay connected.  New ways to interact, work, teach, learn, play, care, support and make a difference. Thanks to the numerous artists, musicians, poets, authors, teachers, meditators, spiritual activists, healers, coaches, psychologists, community leaders, activists, schools and universities, we are re-defining the meaning of human connection. We’ve been so disengaged and out of our bodies for so long, that it now feels like we’ve been dropped suddenly into our bodies anew.

Darlings, we are all a part of a new history in the making. It’s like we are all being called to be a part of this new creation. New world.  New society. New culture. New economy. New politics. New systems. New beliefs. All old systems appear to be crumbling,  falling apart,  making way and opening this new portal for us to step through.

The biggest questions that remains is, “Will you CHOOSE to be left behind or walk through the gateway to a new world?” I don’t know about you, but I’m packing lightly…wink, wink!

In closing, I’d like to offer up prayers for all of us. I think it’s safe to say we have all lost friends and loved ones to COVID19. Here’s a beautiful prayer that spoke to me when I came across it on social media during the early days of the pandemic:

Prayer for Pandemic

May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake. May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable. May we who have the luxury of working form home remember those who must choose between preserving their health and making their rent. May we who have the flexibility to care for our children remember those who have no options. May we who have to cancel our trips remember those who have no safe place to go. May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those who have no margin at all. May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home. As fear grips our country, let us choose love. During this time we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us find ways tp be in the loving embrace of God to our neighbors. Amen.

Thanks for reading! Lead from the heart…always and in all ways, JTC

PS: If you’re looking for some good reading or inspiration to accompany you on your own personal journey, or to comfort you during this time, below are a few of my favorite books:

  • A Return to Love,  by Marianne Williamson
  • Revolution of the Soul, by Seane Corn
  • Healing, by David Elliot
  • The Beautiful No, by Sheri Salata
  • Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes
  • Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle
  • Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
  • The Gift of Forgiveness, by Katherine Schwarzeneggar
  • More Myself, by Alicia Keys
  • Whatever Arises, Love That, by Matt Kahn
  • Inquire Within, Poems by IN-Q
  • The Wisdom of Sundays, by Oprah WInfrey
  • I’ve Been Thinking, by Maria Shriver
  • Broken Open, by Elizabeth Lesser
  • When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chodron
  • The Untethered Soul, by Michael Singer
  • The Book of Awakening, by Mark Nepo
  • Illuminata – A Return to Prayer, by Marianne Williamson
  • Outrageous Openness, by Tosha Silver
  • Change Me Prayers, by Tosha Silver
  • Astrology for the Soul, by Jan Spiller
  • Daily Om, by Madison Taylor
  • Practice You – A Journal, by Elena Brower

 

 

 

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

Standing on Holy Ground: A Reflection

“No matter where life takes you, the place that you stand at any moment is holy ground. Love hard, and love wide and love long and you will find the goodness in it.”

As we age, it seems to me that everything becomes holy: time, resources, friends, family, experiences, trials, and tribulations alike. Every encounter, every decision, and every opportunity that presents itself shows up bearing a myriad of lessons, blessings, and opportunities for healing. More importantly though, I believe that whatever shows up, and in whatever way, shape or form it does, is an opportunity to love bigger and better.

I was struck by the opening quote that was featured in A Network for Gratefulness a few weeks ago (another one of my favorite daily emails). It got me thinking about the 61 years of life on this holy planet that I’m about to celebrate in a few days and the many, many, many (did I say many?) ways love has shown up in my life. A friend once told me that I love hard, deep, and passionately. Wow…when I think about it, that was a beautiful compliment. I’ll take it!

When that compliment came to mind, I found myself reflecting on the friends, family and lovers (some whom aren’t even in my life any longer but I will always love) and how blessed I have been. I’ve had a lot of “love” role models. I’ve been gifted with a circle of people throughout my lifetime that have held and carried me through all the phases of my life. The circle continues to widen, and the significance of that is something I cherish deeply.

Opportunities to choose love over fear, togetherness over separation, inclusivity over exclusion, and sacredness over ungodliness are opportunities to cherish as well. And the common and holy thread among them all is LOVE. As the opening quote reminds us, the place that we stand at any moment is holy ground. So…why not treat it as so?

Reflecting on all of this also got me thinking about the habits of mind that have shaped me and have been important to me. What are my personal ABC’s for thriving, succeeding, and for living a full and happy life? What do I deem sacred and holy for me?

I sat with my list of ABC’s for several days and found myself thinking about how each attribute/quality/habit has shown up and what each one means to me. I guess my ABC list is my own personal list of what matters/has mattered most throughout my lifetime.  As I sit and reflect, I am able to look back now and connect the dots. I see the richness, fullness and holiness that have been a part of my 61 years of life experiences here on this planet (which include the good, the bad and the ugly, of course).

By the time this blog is published, I will have probably tweaked my list several times. Needless to say, many of the words that are also of significance to me got bumped as I revisited the list over and over again over the course of several days. When I think about it, it’s an exercise that assigns weight to the individual words you are choosing. It would have been easier to select more than one attribute/quality/habit for each letter of the alphabet, but I didn’t want easy. I wanted the challenge of digging deep. I wanted to go on an exploration of sorts! Being on a social media detox has gifted me with lots of uninterrupted time. So here goes:

My ABC’s

  • A- appreciation
  • B- boundaries
  • C- courage
  • D- determination
  • E- enthusiasm
  • F- forgiveness
  • G- gratitude
  • H- happiness
  • I- intention
  • J- joy
  • K- knowingness
  • L- love
  • M- memories
  • N- neatness
  • O- optimism
  • P- perseverance
  • Q- quality
  • R- resilience
  • S- spirituality
  • T- truth
  • U- understanding
  • V- values
  • W- wonder
  • X- Xenodochial (had to look this one up… wink, wink)
  • Y- youthfulness
  • Z- zeal

I’ll tell you this much- it’s an exercise I encourage you to make the time to do. And it’s not one to do at a single sitting- for you will keep revisiting your list a multitude of times. But when you’re done, it will serve as your very own validation/ affirmation. It’s a way for you to reflect on your habits of mind, see the essence of who you are, and the sacred qualities and gifts that are uniquely yours to share with the world.  All that’s required is an open heart.

Remember to lead from the heart…right from the start!

Infinite Love & Gratitude, JTC

The Disease to Please

“If you have to change the essence of who you are for people, then there is something seriously wrong with that scenario.”

Do I look OK? Am I dressed right? What will he/she think? Why can’t I just be me? What will they think if I pass? What will they think if  I cancel plans? Can I tell the truth? Am I OK? Am I smart enough? Does what I have to say matter? Are they going to think I’m too much? Should I say anything? Should I voice my opinion? What if I can’t bring myself to…? How will  it look if I…?

Sound familiar? It should. After all, these are but a few of a long list of the unhealthy, detrimental and  disempowering questions we tend to ask ourselves over and over again, throughout our life, when we have fallen ill with the disease to please. 

You all know what I’m talking about, right? We’ve all been there. We’ve all succumbed to the perils of insecurity, incessant  thinking/questioning and the often fatal opinion of others. We spend so much of our lives worrying about what other people will have to say about us that we expend unreasonable, unproductive and unhealthy amounts of time and energy being all things but the most important: ourselves.

Over time, all this worrying, pondering and ruminating just serve to cause dis-ease in the body as well as the feeling that we are inept and not enough. It leaves us questioning our worth and our value.

The thing about disease though- if we don’t address the root cause, it will just spread like a malignant tumor.

There comes a point in our lives- and I think it comes with wisdom and life experience (not just book smarts, looks and youth), that we need to periodically take a step back, regroup, reassess, redefine,  and re-establish that essential essence of the magic, divinity and sacredness of who we are. We aren’t here to play small, succumb to bullshit nor people pleasing. We are here to break free of the chains that bind us- the limited and outdated beliefs that hinder us- step into our power and glory, take a hard look in the mirror and proudly say, “This is who I am…I AM supported, connected, one with the power of the universe, love, truth, open to divine wisdom and one with the infinite all, my higher self and angelic guidance.” And so it is!

The thing is that another person’s opinion of us should not be our problem. It’s their problem, and it usually is their problem because of their own unresolved issues that need tending and addressing. We each need to address our own “stuff” and deal with it. We, and only we, can determine when is the time to put that heavy load down.

When we decide to rid ourselves of that heaviness, we open up the space to let the light in. We open up the space for us to look at our issues and deal with them head on by digging deep into all the dark places. Remember… the issues are in the tissues. I actually wrote a blog by that name a while back. Check it out if you think it may serve you.

If we continue to “choose” to carry that weight around, we can rest assured that it will take  a toll on our health. Sleepless nights, irritability, anxiety, depression, anger, rage, resentment, gastrointestinal ailments,  overeating, not eating, high blood pressure, distraction, impatience, headaches, migraines, substance abuse….and just about every other ailment that comes along with not living an authentically beautiful and meaningful life.

Given the times we are living in, and all the divisiveness, separation and brokenness we are seeing around us, we are all being called to be and to give more of ourselves. In a podcast I was listening to, Sheri Slata said something that hit it right on the mark. She said, “Your best contribution to the world is your own happiness.”

We can do so by sharing our reality from the inside out, not the other way around. By digging deep and exploring who we want to be. We can look at who we spend time with, who is our very own circle of influence, and examine our shared values. We can look at the integrity of the lives we are living and analyze if it is in alignment with such values. After all, when we are out of alignment- physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually- our bodies will let us know.

It also helps to lean into our circle of friends, our community, sangha, and other trusted advisors to share our journey, tell our story and celebrate the many accomplishments that have brought us to where we are today. When we look back and connect the dots, we can see and appreciate how every single step was orchestrated to get us to where we are standing this very minute.

Where we’re standing may not be the exact place we’d like to be, but there is beauty in appreciating that as well.

Stand tall… and celebrate it all, my darlings!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

Acting on Assumptions

“I don’t think we can stop making assumptions, or placing people into boxes. What we can do is be aware of the boxes we are placing ourselves and others into. There are good boxes, there are bad boxes, and there are simply ugly boxes. Awareness is the key.”  Runa Magnus leader of #NoMoreBoxes movement

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been engrossed in reading, re-reading, as well as listening, and re-listening to Seane Corn’s new book, Revolution of the Soul, where we are invited to awaken to love through raw truth, radical healing and conscious action. I’ve also been reflecting, diving deeply and journaling the many answers to the numerous, complex and thought-provoking questions that are posed in her book club discussion guide. Whenever I had the time to sit and work on my blog, I was tugged and quietly pulled away only to immerse myself once again in Seane’s words and teachings- with the rawness, sincerity, humor and beauty that only Seane (aka Cici) can deliver.

The other book that tugged at me and read in 2 days (after seeing her on Super Soul Sunday last week) was Chanel Miller’s extraordinary book, Know My Name. True to the words written in the book’s jacket, “Know My Name will forever transform the way we think about sexual assault, challenging our beliefs about what is acceptable and speaking truth to the tumultuous reality of healing.”

Aside from the courage, vulnerability, humility, pain, trauma, truth, broken systems, power dynamics, discrimination, oppression, degradation, privilege, race, conscious activism and social change both authors speak to, I found a common thread to be that of assumptions– and how easily we tend to make them without even noticing- and how destructive and hurtful acting on assumptions can be.

In the fast paced, sensory overloaded, hustle-bustle, burn-out, grind culture we live in where busyness is glorified and romanticized, and 24/7 connectivity, news feeds and sleep deprivation are the norm, it’s easy to get caught up in assuming and judging. Doing so ultimately leads us to putting people into boxes. And when we put people into boxes, we are usually doing so from an unconscious state of being and/or lack of clarity, or from limiting beliefs, prejudices, stereotypes or our own personal and/or cultural belief system. Sound familiar? You are not alone…we are all guilty of doing so.

The key to changing this behavior is to become aware of when we are doing so and being aware of the problems and misunderstandings we create for ourselves and others when acting on assumptions. 

I came across the following questions as I was reading the article, And the assumption is? that was featured in Breathe Magazine (one of my favorites):

  • When did you last find yourself making an assumption about someone?
  • What assumption did you make and why?
  • How did this impact you and your relationship with this person?
  • Would the situation had been different if you hadn’t made an assumption?
  • What will you do differently next time?

Reading and reflecting on these questions will bring to light the times we’ve acted in an unskillful way and/or as a result of our unconscious behavior. These questions offer a portal in which we can peek into our hearts and hold ourselves accountable for the hurt we have caused ourselves and others.

In Revolution for the Soul, Seane poses a powerful question that helps us to become aware of our complicity: How do my own biases and privilege contribute to separation and oppression? 

In the section of her book where she talks about accountability, justice and a call to action, she writes: “The bigger issue is the resistance that those of us with privilege have to looking at how our own behavior and belief systems perpetuate oppression- either consciously or subconsciously- and our failure to hold ourselves accountable. So much of our biases, bigotry and prejudice is historical, ancestral and cultural; it informs and impacts how we live and how we relate to one another.  We are taught to fear differences instead of celebrating them, to distrust those who think, look and act differently, rather than learning from them. All of these beliefs, live in the body and, no matter how conscious we think we are, can erupt  in moments of overwhelm and stress. When that happens, our own biases, ignorance and fears rub up against someone else’s. If we aren’t aware of what’s happening, all that rubbing creates friction, which leads to more conflict and misunderstandings, which in turn lead to pain, suffering and even death.”

It’s an oftentimes painful process, and a rude awakening to say the least, to see how we can, and do, contribute to our fractured world and times we are living in. All of our thoughts, perceptions, words, and actions either heal or hurt, build or destroy, come form fear of love, liberate or oppress. I think it’s safe to say that we can clearly see how acting from assumptions plays into all of this and how what’s going on “out there’ is a reflection of what’s going on “in here” inside our minds and hearts.

All change begins within…it’s a process and one that will accompany us throughout our lifetime. Throughout this process, opportunities will always arise that will either test us or free us. Opportunities that can and will make us wonder where certain thoughts are coming from.  Opportunities that will challenge us to stop attaching labels and putting people in boxes. Opportunities that will allow us to get to know someone on deeper levels rather than making erroneous assumptions about them. Opportunities to see different perspectives. Opportunities to see another’s struggle or lack of privilege. Opportunities that will make us uncomfortable. Opportunities to step out of the boxes we put ourselves in. Opportunities to make a difference and be the change. Opportunities to see and feel the consequences of our actions. Opportunities to have different thoughts and make different choices. Opportunities to inspire. Opportunities to love. Opportunities to serve.

And what does all of this mean?  It means we are all human. We are not perfect. We all have faults. We have our flaws. We all have our own stories, narratives, doubts and insecurities. We will stumble. We will fall. We will fail. We will pick ourselves up again. We will succeed. We will stumble yet again. We will do better…because we can always do better… we can choose to do better!  This is a truth I strongly believe in.

Thanks for reading!

Inhale love and light…Exhale grace and gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

Strengthen Your Attention Muscle

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

Hello my darlings!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So where do we start?

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

-Find a place to sit quietly and comfortably.

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

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

-What do you feel?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Renewed by Source

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

Inhale Love & Light… Exhale Grace and Gratitude, JTC

Wholehearted Living

“No one can create negativity or stress within you. Only you can do that by virtue of how you process your world” -Wayne Dyer

Yes, I am a Wayne Dyer junkie! As a matter of fact, in the third blog I wrote last year, The Power of We…Who’s Your Tribe, I mentioned that Wayne Dyer sits on my spiritual board of directors. If you have not read it, I invite you to do so. Of the 120+ blogs I’ve written, that one is still one of my favorites. If you do not have a spiritual board of directors, I highly encourage you to form one…wink, wink!

Having like-minded supportive people whom we can connect to, without being judged, is vital to our spiritual and emotional growth. Whether dead or alive, the wisdom and life experiences we obtain from our support network is both therapeutic and validating. Our community of like-minded individuals help us see and process our world. Over time, our perceptions and thoughts change, we move from a scarcity mentality to one of being and having enough, we learn to lead with an open heart, we embody the power of vulnerability and authenticity, we shift from fear to love, we learn to flex our courage, we build our resilience muscle, we value our connections and learn the secrets for wholehearted living.

All of this takes time, energy and a life-long commitment to change, growth, expansion and transformation. We must have that burning desire to learn and push beyond our boundaries. More importantly though, we must learn the art of letting go.

The art of letting go requires us to live and lead from the heart. It requires us to leave our egos at the door and silence the nasty and obnoxious roommate we have living in our heads. It is recognizing everything that is holding us back and learning the skills to move forward. It is the utilization of every tool in our spiritual toolbox. It is when we live and work from that space in our hearts that we are better able to engage with ourselves, our friends and family, our communities and the world at large. That is what the art of letting go and wholehearted living look like.

In Brené Brown’s Book, book, The Gifts of Imperfection,  she designed “guideposts” for living wholeheartedly. These guideposts also make a cameo appearance in her book, Daring Greatly, and I will share them with you a little later. As I read each guidepost, I realized that each and every single one personifies what life here in “Earth School” is all about.

You see, Earth School always brings us people, circumstances and situations to learn from. A lot of the learning comes from the exchange of information we have when we take part in meaningful and enriching conversations with others. These conversations allow us to share our insights, questions, speak our truth, share our wisdom and embrace new ways of looking at things. It goes beyond the nagging and complaining and having the same meaningless, dead-end, and shallow conversations that leave us feeling empty, without purpose, hopeless, negative and maybe even worse off than when we started.

Whether we like it or not, no one is exempt from Earth School’s curriculum or its classes. The lessons may be tailor-made to suit our own individualized curriculums, but the over-arching themes are what lead us to wholehearted living. How we process our world throughout the process of living wholeheartedly is what spiritual awakening is about. Wholehearted living, in my mind’s eye, is about living a quality life AND thriving while doing so!

I will leave you with the ten guideposts that Ms. Brown defined and encourage you to spend some time thinking long and hard about each one. Perhaps share them with your tribe, discuss them and maybe even journal about what may be keeping you stuck or may need tweaking. It is a good way for us to access where we are with our individualized curriculum. 

These guideposts are just that….a guide. Their purpose is not to create negativity or stress. We do enough of that for ourselves! Instead, look at the guideposts as tool to help us dig, delve, excavate and reveal the parts of our lives we may want/need to work on. Oh, and we must remember to acknowledge and celebrate the ones we have under our belts!

  1. Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think
  2. Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism
  3. Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness
  4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear
  5.  Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need for Certainty
  6. Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison
  7. Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion and a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth
  8. Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle
  9. Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-Doubt and “Supposed To”
  10. Cultivating Laughter, Song and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool and “Always in Control”

Darlings, consider the guideposts your “cheat notes”….do with them what you please, or do nothing at all. As Wayne Dyer would say, the choice is yours by virtue of how you process your life….Change your thoughts, change your life!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

In the Privacy of Your Own Heart

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

Hello my darlings!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s to your magnificent and awesome Self!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secrets of Inner Peace

“There is a criterion by which you can judge whether the thoughts you are thinking and the things you are doing are right for you. The criterion is: Have they brought you inner peace?”  Peace Pilgrim

Ever since I was a little girl (elementary school age) growing up in Jersey City, NJ, I was drawn to The Novelty Shop which used to be near Journal Square and on my way home from school. I was drawn to all things peace and love related, incense, oils, beads, etc. They also sold pipes, bongs and rolling paper, which is probably the reason my strict, Cuban mother did NOT like me frequenting that store. Who knows what fear-based “story” she was telling herself and getting wrapped into.

So, it’s no wonder that I’ve always been a love, peace and gratitude junkie- and even more so as I’ve become a “woman of a particular age.” As we all come to learn at one point or another in our lives, it all boils down to “choices” and “lifestyle.”  For me, there is no other way. Anything and anyone that disrupts my peace has to go. Now that may sound cruel to some, selfish to others; however, it is called self-preservation and part of the self-love, compassion and respect we establish for ourselves. It’s also part of healthy boundary setting. I don’t know about you, but I guard my inner peace like it’s nobody’s business.

Why? Because like many of us, I have the battle scars to show for the times I wasn’t knowledgeable, conscientious and skilled at the importance of guarding my inner peace like a precious gem or sacred temple. Guarding our inner peace is an art we must  learn to master. Like Maya Angelou is known for saying, “When you know better, you do better.”

Since December is a mere 3 days away (where did this year go?), and people are already feeling and expressing the anxiety and stress that sadly comes with the holidays (shouldn’t we all be ENJOYING the holidays?), I want to share with you some principles that we can look at, contemplate and practice each day in December (and throughout the new year for that matter). I happened to come across a little book the other day, and it was the inspiration for this blog. I purchased it in 1999 when I was up at Yale, in New Haven CT, for some training. This little 4×4 gem was written by J. Donald Walters and is titled Secrets of Inner Peace. 

For several years after purchasing this book, I kept it on my bathroom counter and looked at it every single morning and in the evenings. I made a concerted effort to practice these thoughts/concepts…many which were new to me given my age and where I was along my spiritual journey at the time. As with affirmations and mantras, the key is to go back to them throughout the course of our days, look at them, say them out loud, repeat them silently and, as the author suggests, “While falling asleep, carry the words into your subconscious, absorbing their positive influence into your whole being. Let it become thereby an integral part of your normal consciousness.”

My darlings, below are 31 precious thoughts that we can all contemplate and utilize each and every day starting December 1st. Over time, you will see and feel a shift in your be-ingness, thoughts, perception, disposition and even your actions. These statements/thoughts are tools we can refer to continuously. Over time, and with active practice, they become integrated and are part of our operating system. Furthermore, they are seeds that we can choose to water each day and watch them blossom into the most beautiful expressions of love and inner peace.

The Secret of Inner Peace

  1. …is self-control: not scattering your energies, but holding them in check and directing them usefully.
  2. …is giving full, interested attention to everything you do.
  3. …is to live fully in the moment, releasing past and future into the cycles of eternity.
  4. …is inner relaxation- physically, emotionally, mentally then spiritually.
  5. …is non-attachment; being ever conscious that nothing and no one truly belongs to you.
  6. …is contentment: consciously holding happy thoughts.
  7. …is desirelessness: realizing that happiness is within you, not in outward things or circumstances.
  8. …accepting things as they are, and then, if necessary, acting calmly to improve them.
  9. …is realizing that you cannot change the world, but you can change yourself.
  10. …is cultivating harmonious friendships, and shunning the company of peaceless persons.
  11. …is projecting peace outward into your environment.
  12. …is a simple life; reducing your definition of “necessities.”
  13. …is a healthy life: exercising regularly, eating properly, and breathing deeply.
  14. …is a clear conscience; remaining true to your highest ideals.
  15. …is acting in freedom, from your inner center, and not in bondage to the world’s demands. 
  16. …is accepting truth, in all circumstances, as your guide.
  17. …is not coveting what others have, but knowing what is yours by right will find its way to you.
  18. …is never complaining, but acknowledging that what life gives you depends on what you give, first, of yourself.
  19. … is accepting responsibility for your failures, and realizing that only you can turn them into successes.
  20. …is found in self-conquest, not in the mere cessation of hostilities. 
  21. …is practicing willingness, even though your mental habits urge you to cry, “No!”
  22. …is smiling in your heart, even when others scowl.
  23. …is giving joy, rather than demanding joy of others.
  24. …is including others’ well-being in your own.
  25. …is harmlessness: never deliberately hurting anyone.
  26. …is working with others, never against them.
  27. …is meditation, and tapping into the  wellsprings of soul-peace.
  28. …is raising your consciousness: directing energy to the brain, then centering it at the seat of higher awareness between the eyebrows.
  29. …is self-acceptance: not blinding yourself to your faults, nor hating yourself for them, but claiming your higher reality in Infinite Light.
  30. …is loving God, and striving to be worthy of His love for you.
  31. …is loving others impartially, without selfish motive.

As I was typing, I surprised myself by how I was able to finish, or come close, to finishing each thought. I even recalled certain circumstances, events and people whom were challenging me throughout different times and how I was practicing  these principles.  It’s a testament to the power of affirmations as well as the power of conscious choice-making. The more we practice affirmations and act on them, the more we re-wire our brains and the more these affirmations become our default setting. These Secrets of Inner Peace will change your life. Wouldn’t you agree that we Can all use a little more peace in our every day lives? Remember, the power is within you!

In the days, weeks and months ahead, may we all find ourselves tapping into the plethora of tools and practices that we have cultivated over the years, and may we “choose” our thoughts, words and actions wisely. I hope these Secrets of Inner Peace will be your trusted companions and guide you along your journey.

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC