Doing a Thing…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some symptoms may include, but are not limited to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you on the other side!

Infinite love and gratitude, JTC

Allow Yourself Some Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Staying calm….and carrying on, JTC

The Blessed Pause

“Busy-ness steals imagination. Being constantly over scheduled dims creativity. Doing the most limits your capacity to expand.” -Octavia Raheem

Greetings, my darlings, and Happy New Year!

I meant to get this blog our sooner, but I have been taking a lot of time to rest since the start of the new year. If you read my previous blog, Blessings Bloom, then you know I made rest and honoring my body a huge priority starting January of last year. Well…it appears I’ve continued that…wink, wink.

SInce writing that blog, I decided that my word for 2022 was going to be Space. It kept popping up over and over again- in meditations, yoga nidra practices and social media posts. Space allows for the blessed pause. Or is it that the blessed pause allows for space? EIther way, they are both the antithesis of my most dreaded word, and one I have been dilligent about eliminating from my vocabulary, and that is busy.

In her IG post, yoga teacher, author, creator and teacher who is devoted to rest, Octavia Raheem, goes on to say:

“I used to respond to how are you with “busy,” a snorky smirk, then lift my chin with an air like being busy somehow proved that I was “somebody.” I was so proud of my over-scheduled life and wore busy as a badge of tired honor. My busy proved that I was important and worthy of something…I mean right? A messy truth is that my busy was costing me my health, relationships, clarity. It was costing me myself. My busy was a place to hide from a deeper calling and purpose and too much to fit in this space. But listen, busy can be a sneaky yet broad daylight type of thief. Stealing things from you that are priceless, precious and purposeful.”

WOW! POWERFUL! Can you relate? I sure can This was a very old version of me. I’ve written about that in past blogs over the years. And if you are a woman, head of household, perhaps a single parent, or someone juggling all the balls life throwing at you, I am certain Octavia’s words in one way, shape or form resonate for you.

Darlings, the start of a new year can exacerbate this “busyness” state without us even realizing it. January tends to be a time of year when people feel compelled to do, do, do because it’s the start of a new year, new beginnings, and perhaps a new you. Lists are made, planners get crammed with “goals” and “to do lists” and overscheduling of all types. Yet, the most important part of this time of year- especially in the northern hemisphere where it is winter season- is REST. It’s slowing down. Moving slowly. Honoring the cycles of the moon and sun. It’s the blessed pause.

Have you ever noticed that when we move slowly time goes by slowly as well? That when we pause we create space for clarity, connection and for our intuition to sharpen? That this space seems like we’ve been given extra time? So much of this is tied to our quality of life!

In fact, if we take a page out of Mother Nature’s book, we see the beauty of honoring the season and how important it is to go within, tap into our inner vastness and even “do nothing and rest afterwards” which happens to be one of my favorite sayings. Pausing and resting also allow for expansion and spaciousness. Who doesn’t want more spaceousness in their lives?

When we are on constant “doing mode” our nervous system is stressed, taxed, fatigued and overloaded. We miss the simple pleasures of the winter season. And these simple pleasures are extremely soothing, nourishing, expansive and vital for the soul and for our growth.

Taking the time to periodically disconnect from all the distractions of social media and the toxic, fear-mongering of the news cycle will also add to the quality of your life… the quality of your being. It gifts us with yet more space and time as well as inner peace.

Darlings, don’t limit your capacity to expand! In fact, I encourage you all to follow Octavia Raheem and her work. Her new book- Pause, Rest, Be: Stillness Practices for Courage in Times of Change will be released on February 1st. If you go on her IG, you will see other offerings of hers in addition to ways to be part of the virtual book club.

Given the times we are living, we need to not only have a hefty toolbox of spiritual tools and practices, but we must take action: put ourselves in the right physical, emotional and mental state and put the tools into place. This, my darlings, is an ongoing practice!!!

I wish you all the joys of the blessed pause! JTC

Blessings Bloom

“The most valuable possession you can have is an open heart.” Carlos Santana

Wow! Here we are, at the end of yet another tumultuous year! Where did you go, 2021?

If there is anything that 2020 and 2021 have taught us as a collective, is that life is messy! I believe that to really feel and live the messy, human experience, we have to enjoy the beauty in the mess. Find the joy. Keep an open heart. Looks for ways to expand. Love hard. Love deeply. Spread the love, and find the blessings that are always blooming around us.

This time last year, we were all faced with looking back at a year that brought with it collective grief, loss, violence, trauma and heartbreak. This time last year the general sentiment was that we needed 2021 to be filled with hope, kindness, compassion, empathy, peace, unity, community, reverence and respect for all of humanity and, above all, LOVE. After the cards 2020 dealt us, we were ready for some BIG changes.

How was 2021 for you? Did you experience any big changes or shifts? How did you show up for your Self and others? How did others show up for you? Did you find yourself re-evaluating relationships and the value, or lack thereof, that people bring to your life? Did you intentionally make any big changes in your life? Did you set a goal or have a vision for 2021? Did you have a particular word for the year? Do you have a vision or a word for 2022?

For me personally, 2021 flew by in a heartbeat!!! I feel like I was so much more productive in 2020. However, I did feel more present, expansive, resourced, rooted and rested than ever before. I made rest and honoring my body a huge priority starting January 2021 since I knew I was going to have one of my knees replaced. My focus was keeping my nervous system regulated and in rest and digest mode. A necessary part of that was also keeping fear mongers at bay and not operating from the matrix of fear.

I think what also helped was that my word for the year in 2021 was REVERENCE….for all things and all beings. Feeling deeply became a practice as did finding the blessing no matter how messy life got.

I feel that I dedicated my time to what and who mattered most and balanced play with rest. With reverence as my guide, I was very intentional and discerning with how, what, where and with whom to expend my energy- especially given the energy I would need to have for the months following my surgery.

Choosing reverence as my word for 2021 came on the heals of discernment and intention (words for the two years prior). In my estimation, they are a perfect trifecta. And that trifecta is made even sweeter by bringing in the rest piece. If you missed my August blog titled, The Power of Resting Radiantly, you may want to check it out.

See, the thing about being fully rested is that it allows us to be present, intentional, discerning and in a space where we see blessings bloom…..and being able to find, and even enjoy, the blessings in the mess. Let’s face it, we make better decisions in all areas of our lives when we are rested. We are better equipped to deal with the messy aspect of our lives. Heck, we are even able to feel the gratitude those moments present regardless of how challenging they may be.

The most magical thing about being fully rested is our connection to the Divine. Our intuition is sharpened, we can feel and sense the downloads happening and the ways inspiration and guidance are presenting themselves. We are more awake and open to life’s synchronicities and are more present in our daily interactions. More importantly though, I feel that we are better able to get out of our heads and drop into our hearts. In doing so, we approach life, people, circumstances and just about everything else with an open heart.

In dropping into my heart center, I think my word for this next year may be either connection or integration. Exploring all sorts of connections and keeping an open heart to what lays ahead, what may show up, and the blessings that bloom around it all. Sometimes making connections also involves reflecting back on where we’ve been and how we got to where we are. A little self-inquiry can help guide the way.

Being able to integrate all of it is also a work in progress and a determining factor as to how we proceed and how we show up for this human experience. Who says I can’t choose 2 words….wink, wink!?!?!

A self-inquiry process allows us to have or establish a vision of where we want to go, where we want to be either personally or professionally, what we need to change or refine and further identify things, people, situations or circumstances that are no longer serving our highest good. These, too, are blessings!

What are some blessings you would like to see bloom in 2022?

What are some of the practices that would support YOUR physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health?

As we bring 2021 to a close, I will leave you with some lovely affirmations from Yoga with Kassandra that will help support you and your practices as you venture into a new year. May they serve you well and, as the saying goes, take what you need and leave the rest!

I treat my body with love and respect

I allow all parts of me to be expressed.

In this moment I release all thoughts and worry.

When challenges arise, I stay anchored in hope.

I allow myself to slow down and rest.

My self-esteem is growing day by day.

I send healing energy to all parts of my body.

Darlings, I thank you for support, comments, feedback and for taking the time to read my blogs. May 2022 bring you all sorts of abundant blessings, and may you have the clarity, calm and ease to receive them- even if they come disguised as challenges.

Just remember, an open heart is our most valuable possession! JTC

Love, Gratitude and Blessings

“All the great teachers have left us with a similar message: Go within, discover your invisible higher self, and know God is the LOVE that resides within you.” -Wayne Dyer

Imagine the world we could live in if everyone was consciously connected to the divine LOVE that resides within each and every one of us. Imagine if we all acted from this space. Imagine if we all took the time to make connecting with our higher self a practice. Imagine if love was a way of life for all human beings.

Imagine if we all had some kind of formal GRATITUDE practice. Imagine if gratitude was our daily attitude. Imagine if gratefulness was the state we embodied. Imagine if gratitude was our forever companion.

Imagine if we all saw the BLESSINGS that abound. Imagine if we all took the time to see the lessons and the blessings that always present themselves. Imagine if blessings didn’t exist.

Imagine if we all led from a place of love, gratitude and blessings. Imagine if we could all be a healthy bridge between past and future generations. Imagine the healing that would provide. Imagine how proud our ancestors, known and unknown, would be of us all. These are some of the things I’ve been pondering this week.

Baby steps though…it all begins with each and every one of us committing to going within, connecting to the love that is our essence, doing the work, dealing with and clearing past traumas, limiting beliefs as well as conscious and unconscious biases that do not serve us and doing our part to dismantle systems of oppression that are not serving all of humanity. Knowledge is POWER! And as Maya Angelous always said, “When you know better, do better.”

Yesterday I took a beautiful class with Acosia Red Elk. She is an Enrolled Member of the Umatilla Tribe in Northeastern Oregon. One of her many talents is that she is an Indigenous Yoga Teacher and Facilitator. The class was a 7 Generation Prayer Flow and Time Line Clearing, and it was so powerful, emotional and moving!!!

I especially loved the way she referred to us all being a mini earth and that we are also the ripple effect of the past. One of the things that struck me was when she said that we are all indigenous people and that we all carry indigenous wisdom in our body. The knowingness is there, my darlings. We just have to create the space and the practices to connect, ground and access this inner wisdom that has been passed down for generations and generations.

Our bodies are filled with knowledge and information. This information is the rippling effect of each choice and life experience that our ancestors and elders had. ..in other words, “The teachings of our ancestors were the foundation for who and where we are today.” When Acosia Red Elk said this, I was overcome with emotion. The tears were stinging my eyes! I found myself breathing deeply into this knowing. I felt it in my bones.

If we take the time to think about our ancestors, regardless of when they existed on this planet and the lessons, experiences and choices with which they were faced, they all had the same goal: to thrive and survive. I’ve often said that we are our ancestors unfulfilled wishes, unspoken words, the product of their hopes and dreams, and the answers to their prayers. That, in itself, is so powerful!

When we take the time to acknowledge these things, hold them in love and gratitude without judging them, we can see the blessing that we are. We can see how we stand on the shoulders of fiercely determined individuals who fought, prayed and dreamed for all of us who are alive at this very moment in time. Now what do we do with that knowledge?

On this day of remembering, one that is complicated and painful for many, I leave you with the following:

What kind of ancestor do you want to be for future generations?

What kind of bridge do you want to build in order to connect past and future generations?

What kind of world and planet do you want to leave for future generations to inherit?

How can you honor those who came before you?

What wisdom can you pass on to your loved ones?

What teachings have served you on your journey thus far?

Which ones haven’t?

What learned behaviors have been an obstacle and are in need of clearing?

What must you forgive your Self for?

Who or what in your life is in need of forgiving?

How can you commit to being the change in your little corner of the universe?

What kind of ripple do you want to be?

Despite everything currently going on in our world, please do not be discouraged by it. I encourage us all to see the good in the world because there truly is a whole lot of it! We can each be a part of it….we can each be a wonder in the world…one that is filled with remembrance, truth, love, gratitude and blessings!

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

A Letter to My Ancestors

“Today has been prayed over. This week has been prayed over. I am held. We are held.” Octavia Raheen

On this auspicious day, Halloween, when it is believed that the veil between the realms of living and dead becomes the thinnest, I wanted to take some time to connect with my ancestors. So…earlier today I took out my journal and penned the following:

To my Beloved Ancestors; Known and Unknown,

It is with a full, infinitely grateful heart that I thank you for the lives you’ve lived, the roads you’ve traveled and your eternal presence on the other side. I know I come from a lineage of fiercely strong women and determined men whose shoulders I stand on and who’ve made it possible for me to walk this earth for the past 63 years. I know I am your answered prayers, hopes and dreams fulfilled, and the voice many of you did not have given the centuries you traversed this planet and all the countries from which you come…Portugal, Spain, France, Cuba…just to name a few.

I am in awe of the centuries of love and wisdom- as well as struggle, determination, perseverance and resilience- that accompanies me and has for the past 63 years. To think that some of you never even lived to half my age given the times and conditions in which you lived! You’ve been my constant companions, guides, sages and guests in all of my homes whether or not I knew it at the time. Now, the door is always open. there’s always an empty seat at my table and I know you’re riding shotgun with me…wink, wink.

Thank you for the love and guidance in, and over, my life. The core of my inner being feels held, supported, nurtured and surrounded by your luminous light. I wish I would have been able to meet more of you in my lifetime! That day will come though…

With an open, love-filled heart and open mind, I ask that you continue making your presence known to me. I’m in awe of the most sublte as well as monumental ways you communicate with me. May I always stay awake to these magical and magnificent moments in time!

The more I connect with my breath, the more I feel your life force breathing through me. The more I connect with my intuition, the more I sense your guidance and subtle nudging. And the more I sit in silence, the louder your voices come through. The more I ask, the quicker I receive. Thank you for these moments!

I know I am divinely guided, guarded, directed and protected. Thank you for surrounding me with your love and light always…and in all ways.

Every fiber of my being is a tapestry that has been energetically woven throughout space and time by all of you, known and unknown. I bow in reference to you all!

Jo-Ann Theresa Carricarte

The Culture of Fear…Us vs. Them

What if our religion was each other? If our practice was our life? If prayer was our words? What if the temple was the Earth? If forests were our church? If holy water- the rivers, lakes and oceans? What if meditation was out relationships? If the Teacher was life? If wisdom was self-knowledge? If love was the center of our being?” Ganga White

Oh to live in this world and in that way! Guess what though, darlings? We can if we choose to!

Love is a way of life. Pure and simple. And when we stray from that, most likely, we’ll find ourselves operating from a place of fear. Fear divides, separates, isolates and harms. 

On this 20th anniversary of 9/11, I find myself thinking about the “culture of fear” that took hold in the aftermath of 9/11.  A culture of fear that has permeated every area of life, society, politics  and humanity. A culture of fear that we saw at the onset of war 20 years ago all the way up to the insurrection this past January and everything in between, and we continue to see…. despite different presidents, administrations and policies and the downside of social media.

The questions  that continue to resurface for me time and time again are:

“How have you shown up in the past 20 years?”

“How do you want to show up in the next 5, 10, 15 or 20 years?

“What is your relationship with fear?”

“Do you operate from a place of fear or a place of love?”

“Are you able to look at others who are different from you from a place of love?”

“How do you feel when you encounter someone who looks different than you? Of a different race, religion, color, or culture than you?

“How have you bought into the culture of fear?”

“In what areas of your life do you operate from fear?”

“Are you able to “ignore the story and see the soul” as one of my beloved teachers and author of  Revolution Within, Seane Corn, encourages us to do?

The greatest poets, mystics, spiritual and religious teachers have taught us and continue to teach us that separation, division and fear separate us from our truest essence and connection to the Divine- that which is pure love- God’s only religion (and when I say God I mean the God of your own understanding be it a higher power, the Holy Mother, Mother Earth, the cosmos, the universe, etc). 

Fear separates us. Fear makes us do  crazy things. Fear makes us operate from a place of scarcity. Fear gets us into wars. Fear kills, maims, ostracizes, isolates, and destroys everything in its wake. Fear is the great divide. Fear divides us into two clearly distinct camps- us vs. them. 

In my humble opinion, It is in the wake of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 that we all should be doing some MAJOR self analysis, self-inquiry and inner investigation (just a few of my favorite things) because our future, our world  and our legacy depend on it. I found some inspiration, as well as a deep sense of grief, in the words of Kerri Kelly, founder of @ctznwell, author, podcaster and speaker:

“I had thought 9/11 was the worst of it- the most unimaginable and devastating loss- but it was just the beginning for so many. Since then, people of Arab and South Asian descent have been intimidated, surveilled, incarcerated and killed in exponentially increasing numbers. Military service members have given and taken their lives. Families have been torn apart through brutal immigration policies and mass incarceration. Millions of Americans have been surveilled and harassed. Black and brown communities have been targeted by racist militarism turned inward through law enforcement. And too many of us have given into a culture of fear, distrust and division.”

Her words alone give us much to reflect on, investigate, question, and even grieve. In one of her recent posts, where the words above come from, Kerri Kelly poses the following questions

What did we learn from the past 20 years?

Where has violence and militarism gotten us?

How do we repair the harm at home and around the world?

How do we create the conditions for true safety and care for all people?

How do we be good ancestors to those we lost?

How do we shift the legacy of 9/11 from one war to one of collective care?

I was fortunate to catch an interview with Kerri Kelly and Valerie Kaur on the anniversary of 9/11 and found myself lost in thought and thinking about this entire event with a different set of lenses. I don’t know about you, but I know I was a totally different person on so many levels 20 years ago. However, the one thing that has been a constant for me though has been love and following my heart. So… it’s not surprising that I was drawn to Ms. Kaur. I learned of Valerie Kaur a couple of years ago when I saw an interview about her work and her book  and, since it all revolves around my favorite topic, love, I was instantly drawn to her and started following her work.

Valerie Kaur is a civil rights leader and founder of The Revolutionary Love Project. She is also the author of See No Stranger. The Revolutionary Love Project “envisions a world where love is public ethic and shared practice in our lives and politics.” They generate stories, tools and thought leadership to equip people to practice the ethic of love in the fight for social justice. The Revolutionary Love Project inspires people to build beloved communities where they are. They teach core practices of revolutionary love backed by research and infused with ancestral wisdom. In addition to educational tools, they produce training,  courses, artwork, film, music and mass mobilization that center the voices of BIPOC communities. It is their belief that we can “birth a world where we see no stranger.” 

For the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Valerie Kaur recently re-released the film, Divided We Fall – Americans in the Aftermath, that was made in 2006 and is just as relevant today. You can see the film for free  and access the Educator’s Guide to the film as well as the Screening and Dialogue Guide at valeriekaur.com. The film apparently toured hundreds of US cities, won international awards and became known as the “go-to documentary on post 9/11 hate crimes.”

Darlings, the tools are out there for those of us who want to be part of re-imagining and birthing a new world. It takes work, a lot of self-study, blood, sweat and tears, but wouldn’t it be worth it if we could play a small part in birthing this new world? What a way to honor and pay homage to our ancestors, those who lost their lives in past wars, on 9/11 and its aftermath!!!  Imagine the world we could create for future generations? And speaking of future generations, what world would you like for them to inherit? What legacy do you want to leave behind? 

It is my hope that this blog has made you pause, think and reflect. Perhaps some of my questions resonated for you? Perhaps you feel inspired by Kerri’s words, feel motivated to read See No Stranger or interested in looking into The Revolutionary Love Project? 

Remember…when faced with a choice, always choose Love over Fear…Love can be a way of life…pure and simple!

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

The Power of Resting Radiantly

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

Greetings, darlings!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharing Love

“The chance to love and be loved exist wherever you are.”

So does the opportunity to share the love others put out there. And that is precisely what I’ve chosen to do on this Valentine’s Day 2021. As I read Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper just now, I realized that all the sentiments she expressed resonated for me. I could not have written it any better!

So… in the spirit of caring, sharing and loving on this Valentine’s Day 2021, I’ve decided to share Maria Shriver’s essay, titled “Rest in Love.” I realize some of you may already subscribe to The Sunday Paper. In that case, read no further. Just know I’m sending you BIG love from my heart to yours.

I hope Maria’s essay lands just where it needs to land on this day…. right smack in your heart space. I invite you to have a journal or something to write on so that you can reflect on the essay and write about the feelings, emotions, experiences, memories, dreams, hopes, sensations and intentions that may have arisen as you read. Here goes….

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Does hearing that make you smile, or does it make you weep? Are you looking forward to today, or are you mad that you aren’t where you want to be when it comes to love? If your answer is the latter, let’s take a walk (not a real one, of course, although I’d love that). Let’s take a moment to simply connect and be.

After all, that’s what love is really all about. It’s about being wholly yourself with another human and feeling loved for who you are. It’s not about a fancy dinner, a piece of jewelry, flowers, sex, or chocolates. Don’t get me wrong, those things are great, but they don’t define love on their own.

Love is deep. It’s varied. It’s complex and yet also simple. It’s romantic but also platonic. It can fill your heart up, and it can break it into a thousand little pieces.

I’ve learned a lot about love over the years—what it is and isn’t—and much of what I’ve learned has come from a painful place. That said, it’s all helped me get to a more loving space in my life.

Here are a few things I’ve learned:

Love is about acceptance. It’s not about changing someone to fit your needs.

Love is about feeling fully seen and understood. It’s also about loving yourself deeply and wholly first. Don’t try to alter yourself to gain love. It doesn’t work.

I wish I’d known about all the different love languages (they are really important and useful). I wish I’d known that every single person speaks love differently and needs something different from you. Challenge yourself to learn the love language of the people in your life.

I wish I’d known the importance of clearing up and cleaning up your attachment issues before you unconsciously throw them onto someone who has no idea what they are responsible for.

I wish I’d known that love can go slow. It doesn’t have to be fast, exciting, or on the edge. As a friend once said to me, contentment is underrated.

I wish I’d known that some people simply want to rest in love. They just want to be, not do. Be courageous enough to rest with love.

I wish I’d known that a deep friendship and a deep love can go together. I wish I’d known that conflict was inevitable in love, and that learning how to argue effectively is an art form that can actually bring people together.

I wish I’d known that everyone has triggers, and everyone has trauma. Be informed about both, otherwise you are going to keep tripping on land mines.

To be good at love you have to be courageous enough to apologize. Ask for forgiveness. You have to make your relationship a priority. Get good at continuing to make it so.

And, if you come to find yourself feeling less than, gaslit, or scared, know that is not love. Value yourself enough to get up and go even if you don’t know where you are going. And if you are scared to leave for any reason, seek help.

I wish I’d been better prepared for the ups and downs of love and life. Actually, it turns out I was prepared. I just didn’t know it.

When it comes to love, I feel like I’ve learned a lot and like I’ve also learned nothing at alI. I feel like I’m really good at it, even though I’ve made mistakes. Today, my eyes are wide open to love. I see love in me that I never saw before. That makes me happy.

I also see it in people and places I never even noticed before. That makes me grateful. My heart, though bruised, is also wide open. Leonard Cohen wrote that the cracks are what allow the light to get in. I would add that the cracks are what allows the love to get in as well.

Not too long ago, I had a dream that had a profound impact on me. I was out in The Open Field. I was very much alive, and music was playing. I was happy. I was dressed like I was in high school, which is to say like a flower child. I was surrounded by people who have loved me, and even those who have broken my heart. I went to each person and thanked them for being there. I thanked them for loving me, supporting me, and teaching me what I needed to learn. I told them how grateful I was for the love and the lessons. To me, the fact that they were in my dream signaled that the love we shared was still there. It signaled that love had endured even though I didn’t think that it had.

I also took a moment to apologize to those who loved me that I couldn’t love back. I was struck by that; sometimes you can’t love someone who loves you, and sometimes someone you love can’t love you back. It’s usually for a whole bunch of reasons that have nothing to do with you. Remember that.

I’m sharing this with you now just in case you find yourself alone today. Just in case you find yourself dealing with a broken heart today. Just in case you don’t have a date tonight. (I don’t either, lol.)

You see, I believe that everyone who ever loved me, and who ever loved you, still does. That’s true regardless of whether they are still around or not. Their love lives on in you.

That’s the thing about love. The person who loved you may no longer be here. They may have broken your heart, ghosted you, or passed away. But the memory of how you felt when it was good, when your heart felt full, that’s yours. They can’t take that away. You can bring that forth any time you want. You can make your heart feel full even if they are no longer looking into your eyes.

And if you find yourself today still in the midst of a relationship that is challenging or traumatic, then give yourself extra love. If you want to leave, know that you have the strength to do so. Dig deep. You can find it. I know that when things are bad, it can be hard to see the way out. But get quiet and ask yourself what you need. Maybe it’s the courage to speak up, or maybe it’s help from someone else. Believe that you can get there. You can.

So on this day when the world is celebrating what feels like one kind of love, go easy and know that love doesn’t only come in one shape or size. If you don’t have a valentine, don’t despair. Be open today to other gestures of love. Let them in. If someone tells you today that you have made them feel loved—a friend, a child, whomever—let it land. That’s love too.

And if you are in love, if you have your person, count your blessings. Celebrate what you have and be gentle with it because love is so very fragile. It’s the greatest gift of all, and nothing else compares. That’s the truth.

Today, also be mindful of what you say to yourself. Be kind, be loving, and focus on filling your heart up. That’s not someone else’s job. It’s your own. Don’t worry about the cracks. Those that love the best have lots of cracks. Those that love the best have told me there’s no one big secret to enduring love. It’s just lots of little decisions and choices along the way that keep you in conversation, in connection, in commitment, in forgiveness, and in acceptance.

Know that you are worthy of being loved fully, wholly, and completely until the end of God’s time. Believe me, it’s true. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Dear 2020

The thankful heart opens our eyes to a multitude of blessings that continually surround us.” James E. Faust

Oh what a year you’ve been, 2020!!!

You’ve slammed us, ripped us open, turned us upside down and inside out and brought us to our knees. You’ve presented us with unimaginable challenges, unfathomable heartbreaks, traumatizing losses and left us no other option than to reframe, realign and find meaning in the mess of it all.

The stars, astrologers and sages alike told us you’d be bringing us a year filled with much needed change, shifts, awareness, truth, revelation, tumultuous emotions, enlightenment, new paradigms, realignment of values and beliefs, reframing of perspectives….the list can go on and on. I guess you did not disappoint on that front. Are congratulations in order, 2020?

In a nutshell, 2020, you have made us re-evaluate every single facet and aspect of our lives. You’ve made us look into the dark corners and crevices of our being. On the bright side- because there is always a bright side- deeper, more meaningful relationships, friendships, and creative ways of being, living, loving, working, parenting, playing, learning, celebrating and grieving have been at the core of you.

You’ve led many to life-altering revelations and the freedoms and liberations that only come from our own dark night of the soul and the excavation that comes with it. This work isn’t easy, 2020, and you know it. Perhaps that’s why you did what you did? Perhaps there were so many of us so asleep, disconnected, disassociated, numbed, clueless, ignorant and walking through life like a zombie that we needed to feel and experience your wrath?

Through it all, 2020, you’ve given us opportunity after opportunity to open our hearts to love and open our eyes to see….to truly see!

You’ve made us angry, sad, distraught, question, analyze, reason, doubt, observe, value, appreciate, and connect with ourselves AND our shared human experience like never before in the history of humanity. You’ve made us repeatedly pivot. You’ve tested our patience, beliefs, resilience and faith. You’ve taught us the importance that letting go, change and impermanence play in our lives and mental and emotional well-being. You’ve shown us our unconscious biases and internalized racism. You’ve exposed the faulty cracks in our foundation. You’ve made us unlearn only to continuously learn again and again.

The Great Reset; The Reckoning; those are but only two of the monikers you’ve been given, 2020. I personally don’t find them offensive, do you? After all, you’ve been showing us for years that we’ve needed a reckoning. You have sent us wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, demonstrations, protests, mass shootings, a global pandemic, quarantine, a presidential election unlike any other in the history of the United States (just to name a few) and exposed bullies, modern day lynchings, corruption, abuses of all kinds and white supremacists. You’ve made people speak truth to power, exposed the ills of greed, racism, oppression, human/sex trafficking, and have even made people take hoarding to another level. You’ve made us look at marginalized communities in a different light and shown us the difference between equity and equality, fairness and justice, and the oppressor and the oppressed.

How about all the trauma, 2020? All the PTSD that will change people’s lives in ways yet to be imagined? The healing that has yet to occur? The businesses and jobs lost? People’s livelihood? The people that have been suddenly taken from our lives in epic numbers? The people who died alone? The families that were unable to be by their loved one’s side? The millions of people affected by these deaths? Are you done with us yet?

However, one of your miracles, 2020, is how you have made people come together to help those in need. You’ve put faces to names by showing us essential and front line workers who’ve been taken for granted in the past. Everyday, ordinary people from all walks of life, artists, actors, writers, musicians, entertainers, chefs, lawyers, sports figures, health and wellness professionals, mentors, and even young children have been stepping up to help others. Now that’s a beautiful thing!

Through it all, 2020, you’ve shown us new ways to be hopeful, humble, thankful and grateful. You’ve shown us to have reverence for Mother Earth and her native people. You’ve implored us to value and appreciate people of all backgrounds, different heritages, cultures, races, color, and gender and to put judgement aside. Judge less and love more seems to be your mantra! The realization that we are more alike than we are different has even been demonstrated by geneticists and agencies such as Ancestry and 23 and Me.

You’ve given us opportunity after opportunity to be accountable for how we show up for ourselves, our communities and how we show up in the world…the importance of human dynamics and interpersonal relationships. And let us not forget the importance of creativity, innovation and Post-Traumatic Growth you’ve been nudging- no scratch that- forcefully pushing us towards by way of our own personal expansion and receptiveness. Time and time again, you’ve shown us what it means to be kind, compassionate and have empathy. Like Ellie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, Nobel Laureate and activist is known for saying, “Even in darkness it is possible to create light and encourage compassion.”

You’ve worked me, 2020, and I’ve worked you. I’m not the same person I was back in March. I’m tapping into the post-traumatic growth mindset as much as I can! It’s something I’ve always done and will always do. I’m actually looking forward to where this post-2020 journey takes me and the infinite possibilities that await to inspire, love, and serve.

Being the perpetual, self-proclaimed gratitude junkie that I am, I’m thankful for your lessons and blessings, but I can’t say I’m going to miss you. I think it’s time for your final curtain call….take a bow and exit stage left. However, the realist in me tells me that you may have just been a dress rehearsal for what awaits in 2021. Hmmm….

See ya 2020….