Living a Succulent Life

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair” -Khalil Gibran

One of the beauties of disconnecting from social media and taking a digital detox is that we can appreciate the fullness of life and the spaciousness of all the hours in a day’s time. It’s like having this huge vessel called “time” at our disposal for us to do whatever we want…to fill it however we want without getting caught up and sucked into endless and mundane hours of social media feeds, emails, texts and phone calls.

Whenever I get away, which is usually for a 3-4 week period, I intentionally unplug. I want to take in Mother Nature’s elements, eyes wide open, feel her gifts and allow the sense of spaciousness, awe and wonder carry me to parts unknown. Oftentimes, those parts unknown are the deep dark places in my soul that are calling for some attention and want to come out and play. I find myself so totally present and immersed in my surroundings, that I lose track of the time of day. As a matter of fact, time isn’t even an issue, unless I have to be showered, dressed and  ready to go out somewhere.

What I found this past August was that my days seemed extra long. There was a sense of expansiveness and vastness, as if extra hours had miraculously been added to my days – more so than other times I’ve unplugged and disconnected. In addition to being off social media, I barely had my phone on me. When I got to it, I got to it. The other thing I find during these periods is how my creativity gets sparked, how ideas for future blogs seem to pop up, and how many books I get to read. More importantly though, I love the sense of lightness, clarity, mindful presence, and the peace and calm that washes over me and carries me through my days. I like how being 100% present for whomever I am with feels deep down in my soul. Time is sacred my darlings, and we should not take it for granted by filling it with meaningless pollution that robs it of its sacredness.

These periods also offer a window into the lives of people who are living in a total state of distraction. People who can barely complete a sentence without looking down at their phones and getting caught up in a text, alert of some kind, or sucked into the dark hole of social media feed “oblivion.” Forget about even having a meaningful conversation when they can’t even complete a distraction-free sentence.

I may have asked you before, but do you cringe when you  hear people go on and on about how “busy, very busy, very very busy they are?”  Or is it just me? I often wonder if being able to say how “busy” we are is some sort of badge of honor. A badge of honor that leads to exhaustion, lack of sleep, meaningless conversation, lack of wonder, creativity, and appreciation for the enormous amount of untapped beauty, nature and magic that surrounds us. A badge of honor that is keeping us from living a wild and succulent life. Mother Nature’s gifts are all there for us to see, feel, hear, smell and taste. What are we waiting for? Why are we waiting? The time is NOW to live fully and to take big juicy bites out of life. If not now, then when? Darlings, let this blog be an invitation for living a succulent life!

As if on cue, when I got home and was unpacking and putting away my journal, magazines, etc., I happened to notice that one of my favorite books seemed to pop out of nowhere. The delightful book, Succulent Wild Woman – Dancing with Your Wonder-Full Self! by SARK is a fave of mine because it is jammed packed with inspiration and topics like being and becoming a succulent wild woman, fears, outrageous adventures, blocks to succulence, healing, sexuality, love and romance, creative expression, money and power, building a succulent community, and more. At the end of each chapter there are even books, resources and music to further guide and awaken our wonder-full Self.

Also on cue, when I picked up the book it opened to a very colorful page and the title, which spanned both pages, read “Being a Succulent Wild Woman.”  The book is also adorably colorful, entertaining and done in her handwriting by the way. Well, I just have to share all these little golden nuggets with you. Some of these nuggets may seem a little “out there” for some of us, and for others of us it will be nothing short of an ordinary happenstance. So, if you feel like you want to delight Mother Nature or feel that you could use a little succulence in your life, here’s a good starting point:

Being a Succulent Wild Woman 

  • Bathe naked by moonlight
  • Marry your self first –  promise to never leave you
  • Buy yourself gorgeous flowers
  • Practice extravagant living
  • Invent your life over if it doesn’t feel juicy
  • Cradle your wonder places like precious babies
  • Be delicious
  • Eat mangoes naked – lick the juice off your arms
  • Discover your own goodness
  • Smile when you feel like it
  • Shout: I’m here! I’m succulent and I’m loud!
  • Be rare eccentric and original
  • Describe yourself as marvelous
  • Paint your soul
  • Investigate your dark places with a flashlight
  • Make more mistakes!
  • Weave your life into a net of love
  • Your are enough you are enough you are enough
  • Celebrate your gorgeous friendships with women
  • Tell the truth faster
  • End blaming
  • Dress to please your self
  • Let your creative spirit rush. Flow. Tumble. Leak. Spring. Bubble. Stream, Dribble out of you
  • Be inwardly outrageous
  • Seek out other succulent wild woman – encourage the sharing of mutual treasures 

I think it’s time I re-read this book, considering I am entering a new decade in life! As a matter of fact, I may just start as soon as I finish writing this blog, especially since it’s a rainy, gloomy Sunday, and that sets the stage for a perfect and quiet day of reading.

Wishing you much succulence today and always!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

My Daily Prayers

“Prayer is simply talking to God as a friend and should be the easiest thing we do each day.” -Joyce Meyer

I believe in the power of prayer, especially the collective power of prayer. Calling on our fellow prayer warriors when needed is something that magnifies the act of praying. That’s one of the beauties of social media. When you put a call out there, prayer warriors step into action. A simple act of just holding someone in our consciousness and sending a quick prayer out makes a difference and can be felt. I’ve felt that energy first hand. It’s like a wave that lifts us up and keeps us from drowing in despair.

Sometimes I even write my own prayers depending on what’s going on or what I’m working on. Like the above quote states, it’s as easy as talking to a friend. These days, I find myself retreating to prayer more and more often as a result of what’s going on in the world, our country, and in the daily lives of friends and loved ones. I find myself having conversations with God more and more often. And, by the way, if the term “God” doesn’t resonate for you, by all means substitute it with whatever term works for you- Spirit, Divine Mother, Mother Earth or whomever is the God of your own understanding.

There are a couple of books I keep handy that contain some of my favorite prayers. At this stage of the game, they are pretty beat up because I’ve been using them for years and years. One of them, Mother Teresa’s, A Simple Path, is literally falling apart. Another one, Marianne Williamson’s, Illuminata A Return to Prayer, is a paperback and its pages are curled up and dog-eared. Tosha Silver’s book, Change Me Prayers- The Hidden Power of Spiritual Surrender, is another favorite. This one is still in mint condition because it’s fairly new. And of course, there are some lovely prayers in Thich Nhat Hanh’s books, Happiness and No Mud, No Lotus- The Art of Transforming Suffering. All of these are my daily go-to books for prayers.

Do you have any favorite prayers?  I do, so I’ve decided to share some of my favorites with you on this Sunday morning. I don’t know about you, but I feel we could all use a few extra prayers in our lives these days. The world needs our prayers, the cosmos, the planet, all it’s inhabitants….this is my belief, but I feel like you can relate on some level.

The prayers appear in the order I tend to say them. The first one was composed by me a long, long time ago. And the last one is one that I recite at the end of my yoga practice. May these prayers serve you in some way, and may you get from them whatever it is you may be needing this morning.

Dear God, Guardian Angels, Powerful and Divine Beings. Thank you for another day. Thank you for returning my soul back to me. Thank You for your compassion and understanding, truth, virtue, love, beauty and abundance. Thank You for removing all the obstacles. Continue to pave the way and clear the path. Continue to shine Your luminous rainbow over all of us. My mind is open. My heart is open, Continue to fill it with Your love. Continue to fill it with Your light. Continue to guide me, guard me, direct me and protect me. I always ask You to use me as an instrument of Thy peace, and to send me whomever needs inspiration, consolation, a word of advice, or an ear to listen. 

__________

 Dear God, I give this day to you. May my mind stay centered on the things of spirit. May I not be tempted to stray from love. As I begin this day, I open to receive You. Please enter where You already abide. May my mind and heart be pure and true, and may I not deviate from the things of goodness. May I see the love and innocence in all mankind, behind the masks we all wear and the illusions of this worldly plane. I surrender to You my doings this day. I ask only that they serve You and the healing of the world. May I bring Your love and goodness with me, to give unto others wherever I go. Make me the person You would have me be. Direct my footsteps, and show me what You would have me do. Make the world a safer, more beautiful place. Bless all Your creatures. Heal us all, and use me, dear Lord, that I might know the joy of being used by You. Amen

__________

Dear Lord, Help me to spread thy fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Thy Spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may be a radiance of Thine. Shine through me, and be so in me that every soul I come into contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Thee O Lord! Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as Thou shinest: so to shine as to be a light to others. The light O Lord will be all from Thee; none of it will be mine! It will be Thou, shining on others through me. Let me thus praise Thee without preaching, not by words, but by my example, by the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to Thee. 

__________

Lord, make me a channel of thy peace. That where there is hatred, I may bring love; That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness; That where there is discord, I may bring harmony; That where there is error, I may bring truth; That where there is doubt, I may bring faith; That where there is despair, I may bring hope; That where there are shadows, I may bring light; That where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted; To understand than to be understood; To love than to be loved. For it is by forgetting self that one finds; it is by forgiving that one is forgiven; It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.

__________

Dear Lord, the Great Healer, I kneel before you since every perfect gift must come from You. I pray, give skill to my hands, clear vision to my mind, kindness and meekness to my heart. Give me singleness to purpose, strength to life up a part of the burden of my suffering men, and a true realization of the privilege that is mine. Take from my heart all guile and worldliness. That with the simple faith of a child, I may rely on You. 

__________

May all beings be happy, healthy and free from suffering. May we all be fed, may we all be healed, and may be all know that we are loved. May we have peace in our hearts, peace in our homes, and peace in the world. Om shanti, shanti, shanti.

__________

While some people can get lost in prayer, others may have an aversion to it. If you are one of those people who feel awkward or uncomfortable reciting formal prayers, I encourage you to take pen to  paper and just tap into your heart. Allow your feelings, emotions, cirumstanstance or life events guide you into an intimate conversation with Spirit.

Lastly, I leave you with a beautiful quote, and food for thought, by Mother Teresa: 

“God speaks to us in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.” 

 

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

 

Love is Wisdom in Action

“Love is the impulse to embrace the innocence of life that brings spiritual harmony to the forefront of your experiences, Whenever love is poured into your heart or sent out as blessings to others, the light within all things awakens.”  – Matt Kahn

It’s not unusual for us to be reading a few books simultaneously, don’t you agree? Well, along with Carl Lentz’s book, OWN THE MOMENT, which I talked about in my previous blog, I am also reading a couple of others. Can you relate? Well, one of the other books I’m currently engaged in is Matt Kahn’s Whatever Arises Love That.

As noted on the back cover, the book is described as containing “groundbreaking teachings on ENGAGING LOVE as the MOST POTENT CATALYST for transformation and healing.” Another review noted that “the act of opening your heart is recognized as the timeless remover of obstacles.” When I read the words remover of obstacles, I paused. I paused for  quite some time. You see, that’s what Matt Kahn’s book does, and that is why it’s taking me an extremely long time to read. It seems like every page is a revelation and invitation to do just that – pause, take stock, go within and do some inner investigation. There’s nothing like good self-inquiry to dust off the cobwebs and move forward from a place of love and healing – rather than from a place of fear and separation.

This morning, I happened to be listening to Marianne Williamson’s talk on the Hay House World Summit and, naturally, she was talking about love and miracles. It got me thinking of all the ways that choosing love over fear has enhanced my life. How operating from a place of love is real, it’s indestructible and it is who we are. So how can we not operate from a place of love?

And miracles? Well, as she noted, miracles occur when a shift in perception occurs. How true is that?!?!?! The moment we shift from a place of fear and separation to a place of love, everything changes and everyone benefits. We change, our chemistry changes, our bodies change, our outlook changes and the people around us can feel and see the change. It is truly palpable!

Returning to a place of love is something we choose to do over and over again. It’s a choice we are faced with making every time something or someone shows up and ruffles our feathers. Just recently, I was faced with a situation that hurt my feelings. My call to action was to pause and tap into my toolbox. I relied on love’s wisdom to get me trough. Coming from a place of love, as opposed to from a place of judgement, allowed me to take my time and shift my perception. It allowed me to act and not react. When the going gets tough, I take action! I tap into the teachings, music, mantra, meditations, movement, visualizations, stillness, writing and a whole lot of inner investigation. You see, allowing feelings to arise and loving them without judgement is a healing process in itself. It’s something Matt Kahn talks about throughout his book. With each layer we peel away, we are able to clearly see love is wisdom in action.

It amazes me how much lighter we feel when we operate from this heart centered, inner knowingness…how connected, guided and directed we feel, and how our hearts just keep expanding more and more. One of the most powerful practices I have found is to send out my love as blessings to another during a challenging period / circumstance. The more love and light we stand in, and the more love and light we send out to others, the more we heal and the more collective healing that takes place. It’s a win-win situation!

There’s nothing like operating from a heart wide open. A closed heart, encased in a protective shield of armor, doesn’t work for me. It would make me feel like a fraud. It would announce to the world, or anyone who is listening, that I don’t trust anyone or anything. In my humble opinion, this just causes a whole lot of suffering. I can definitely see how abusive or violent circumstances would cause someone to guard their hearts from further pain. But doing nothing to address the situation can only cause more pain and suffering. Love is a healing balm. Showing ourselves unconditional love, tender mercy, sweet compassion, constant forgiveness, on-going understanding, and endless patience all result in unquantifiable inner peace. These are all practices that help us heal and reclaim our true innocent nature. How do we know this? Again, love is wisdom in action!

One of my favorite quotes, derived from A Course in Miracles, is “Every decision I make is a choice between a grievance and a miracle. I relinquish all regrets, grievances and resentments, and choose a miracle.” I cannot begin to explain how empowering this is. It’s love’s wisdom in action. I’ve employed that mindset for many years now, and it always brings about a sense of clarity and harmony. It helps me tease out any remaining grievances that may still be lingering beneath the surface. It also allows me to see if my Ego has come calling. And, as you are probably very well aware by now, nothing positive, constructive or beneficial happens when we operate from the Ego. Instead, allow Love to come knocking at the door!

Love certainly came calling, and I opened the door nice and wide this week as I grappled with how to handle the situation that hurt my feelings. I greeted Love as an old familiar guest. Luckily, forever conscious.com generally has some good exercises, visualizations and meditations for clearing and cleansing, so I got to work. Below you will find a most powerful part of the activity I did that truly allowed me to accept, release and let go of any and all unwelcome feelings that were anything but Love. The activity also allowed me to peel away even more layers that led to some pretty powerful, empowering and insightful revelations. It showed me a couple of areas I still need to work on. However, I was able to fully embrace the beauty around the challenging situation with a humble and grateful heart while still honoring my feelings and emotions. More importantly, I was able to have a deeper conversation with my Self that allowed me to nurture my wounded inner child.

As with all sacred rituals, please take a moment to clear your space and ground yourself. You may also want to have pen and paper handy. For the entire activity, you can check out the Taurus New Moon Ritual May 2018 on foreverconscious.com,  and you will be guided through a very lovely and significant experience.

Close your eyes and place your hands over your heart center. Think about a recent change or something confronting that is coming up for you. Perhaps you are dealing with a bad boss, or perhaps you recently ended a relationship. Just think about whatever is troubling you, or whatever changes are making you uneasy. Try to just focus on one.

 Think about the situation you have chosen, feel into it. Go through it all in your mind while keeping your hands on your heart. Now find 10 things you can be grateful for around this situation. Really challenge yourself to think about the good that has come from it.

Once you have come up with 10 things that you feel grateful for around this situation, notice what thoughts and feelings have arisen for you now. Notice if any solutions or new ways of looking at things have emerged. Notice and feel that all things in our life have a beauty as long as we open ourselves to it.

When in doubt my darlings, turn no farther than your heart, for it holds all the wisdom you will ever need! Feel the love xoxo

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

My Guest Blogger

“How I Met My Yaya and Faced My Fears”

 by Shannon “Blondie” Green

Recently, while on a Yoga Retreat with my dearest people in this world, Yaya (as I call her but as you may know as the one and only Jo-Ann Carricarte, the driving force behind this blog) mentioned  that I should guest blog for her, as part of my Yaya mentorship (more to come on that at another time).  As we were discussing the “assignment,” I expressed my concern that I wouldn’t know what to write about. She suggested that I should start at the beginning of my journey.  So that is where this story begins…

Time: March 2013

Place: Lumeria, Maui, HI

Now I will admit that prior to this experience I was the quintessential worrywart and control freak. Reflecting back, I now see that I lived in constant fear. My life consisted of many “what-if” scenarios, and I believed it was normal to worry about things like money, health, cars breaking down, etc.  I set my watch ahead about 10 minutes so I wouldn’t be late, and I always had to wear it. I believed everything had to be planned, and planned, and planned some more. I did not have faith to just let things unfold organically. When things did not go as I planned, I did not handle it gracefully and with ease. I responded very emotionally and often had a difficult time resolving the problem. At this point in my life I was 36, and I knew that these behaviors were not serving me…and I certainly wasn’t happy in my life, but what I didn’t know was what I could do to change things.  Luckily for me, I had an amazing, life long best friend, Christy, who decided she was going to organize a weeklong yoga retreat to Maui. And luckily for me, my best friend from college, Claire, convinced me that we NEEDED to go!

As we began our first class, Christy spoke about being present and living in “Maui Time,” where it didn’t matter what time it was, where life moved a little more slowly, and the idea of being purposeful in what we said, thought and did while we were there. At this point, I did something that I will never regret; I decided to remove my watch for the duration of the retreat.

The second thing that happened was that Christy gave us each a small journal to use while we were there. Each day, she would give us journaling exercises and if we chose to do them or not was left up to us.  I soon became engrossed in writing in my little pink journal. My thoughts and reflections helped me realize that one of the reasons I was sad and struggling in my life was because I was filled with so much fear.

The third thing that happened was I met Yaya.  I honestly don’t remember how the conversation began, but there was some mention of her name “Jo-Ann” but how everyone called her “Mama Yaya”. Somewhere along the way I dropped the “Mama” part, and she just became “Yaya” to me.  Any of you who know Jo-Ann know just how “Yaya” she is. She is this vibrant being filled with love and energy. She is funny and energetic, but serious and very much about living her authentic self.  As the week went on, you would often find her “holding court” at the dining room table after we had finished a meal, sitting at the head of the table while me, Claire, and a few of the other ladies were bombarding her with questions about what books to read, what websites we should check out-  all the while writing down everything little thing she said…the list in my journal includes among them the following books, websites, and authors: Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, The Four Agreements, A Return to Love, The Law of Divine Compensation, Wishes Fulfilled, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life, The Power of Now, A New Earth, Daily Om, Daily Love by Mastin Kipp, Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Hay House Publishing, Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, and even more.

Who was this Yaya person?? How did she know all of this stuff and how could I get some of it??? I knew she held answers, and I wanted to know more. I wanted to know everything. I wanted to find the peace and energy and love she spoke of.  My journal is full of entries that talk about how I wanted to have an open heart and clear mind.  How I wanted to listen to the wisdom of my body, my desire to let go of fear and the things that frighten me. I wanted to make room for miracles and be open to abundance coming into my life.  I journaled about my fears of not becoming a mother, of not finding purpose, of growing old and unfulfilled and my desire to release these fears. I knew I needed to let go of my fears and somewhere during that week I began to learn how.

March 15, 2013:  Journal Entry

“Today I let go of what weighs me down.  I accept that my life is unfolding as it should be. I surrender. I am not afraid of what is not happening. I detach from trying to control that which I cannot control.  I surrender to the will of God and the Universe.  I open my heart to whatever may come into it. I welcome what may come in.  I am not afraid of things that don’t turn out the way I thought.  I will enjoy every moment as it unfolds.”

As I reread these words from my journal the other day, I can honestly say that I don’t know if I wrote them or copied them from someone.  They sound so wise and profound that I believe I likely stole them from someone else- except I didn’t note who said them, which I normally do if I write down a quote I like. Regardless, this was the point at which I surrendered and let go. As I continued to read my old journal, I can see how this day was a turning point where I decided to let fear stop running my life. One thing I know is that the girl who arrived in Maui on March 12, 2013 was not the same girl who left Maui a week later.

The journey hasn’t been easy, and it is still continuing. I won’t lie, it  has been a journey that has taken many years and a lot of work, but it has been wonderful and fulfilling. and I hope to share some of that with you as a guest blogger for Yaya.

So I leave you with the following few questions:

  • Looking back, do you see a turning point in your life where you surrendered and let go of the fears that were holding you back from being your authentic self? 
  • Was there an event that happened that made you realize you wanted to see things differently and live life differently? 
  • Was there a person you met that inspired you to make the change that you had been afraid to make?
  • What tools (journaling, authors, podcasts, etc) have helped you on your journey? 

Oh, and in case you are wondering about that watch, I took of in Maui. It has never been put back on my wrist. ☺

 

Bravo! Thank you, my beautiful Blondie (aka “La Bomba”) for such a beautiful reflection! You took the first step, rose up to the challenge and produced the first of many future blogs to come. I am so proud of how much you have grown, evolved and embraced your magnificence since Maui brought us all together! I am proud of how fabulously you are playing your own version of “Yaya” in your everyday life, both personally and professionally. Thank you for the reflection questions you posed. Thank you for making a difference and making the world a more beautiful place. Thank you for the light you bring to others. Thank you for your love. Lastly, thank you for choosing to inspire, love, serve AND lead from the heart…right from the start! I look forward to reading more!!! Love, Yaya xo

Conscious Self-Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC

Radical Self-Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC

 

Live With Intention

“The number one principle that rules my life is intention. Thought by thought, choice by choice, we are co-creating our lives based on the energy of our intentions.”  -Oprah

 

Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

These words by Mary Ann Radmacher have been around for years and years. I’m sure you’ve seen them in print in one fashion or another. A very dear friend and soul sister of mine gifted me a framed copy of these very words in what seems like another lifetime ago. As a twenty-something year old, I thought it was such a cool gift, and I found myself wanting to live this way…..in my mind it screamed “wild and carefree.” What did I know back then?  My mindset at the time was that if you weren’t living life on the edge, then get the F^@& off because you were taking up too much space. Crazy!

However, at this  point in my life, the words have taken on a different meaning and purpose. The carefree, throw all caution to the wind, twenty something in me didn’t examine the deeper truths behind the words as the wild and free fifty-something in me now does. The title in itself, Live with Intention, says it all. Anything we do with intention is pleasurable to the mind, body and soul. And let’s not forget how powerful it is to live from that space! Over the years, and throughout my many moves, this is one piece of art that has stayed with me. I’ve always hung it where it is visible, and I can see it every day. It’s a reminder to do each and every thing with purpose, meaning, mindfully, deliberately, and intentionally…like a sacred offering.

Hmmmmm…Upon further scrutiny, I wonder why the author didn’t add one or two more lines? I would have added Be grateful, and my last line would have been Love. Nevertheless, each line in this piece contains the wisdom of the ages and conjures up all sorts of images – of things I want to do, how to do them and with whom I want to do them in 2018. What images or thoughts come up for you?

There is always room in our day for contemplation, exploration, growth, expansion, discernment, seeking out deeper truths, widening our horizons, stepping out of our comfort zone, shifting our perspective, and changing things that need changing. Oh, and let’s not forget living fully alive! It all starts with our choices, willingness and intention to do so. It’s called living an examined life. And there’s nothing more beautiful than doing just that. In my mind’s eye, I call it Living with Intention. When we live with intention, we are in perfect harmony…mind, body and soul. Life just flows seamlessly thereafter. It doesn’t get any sweeter than that, darlings!

The inspiration for this piece came from two places and almost back to back. In a new year’s day yoga class, we were asked to think about how we want to live in 2018. A short time later, one of my Lovelies asked our group what was our one powerful word for 2018. Our answers were Discipline, Intention, Aspire, Surrender, Fearless, Purpose, and Simplicity. By now I am sure you’ve figured out which word was mine….wink, wink. Do you have a powerful word for 2018?

This is a nice activity to do with our students, children, family members, friends and loved ones. If we put up the word(s) somewhere visible, it can serve as a gauge for us throughout the days, weeks and months to come. As we glance at the word, we can pause and take a moment to check in with our heart, mind, body and soul and see how we are doing. It’s also a good way to set the stage for young ones to learn to live with intention. Having conversations about their words also teaches them a little about accountability and power. If you ask me, we can all use a little accountability, as well as fun. What can I say? I just love activities!

Carry on, darlings!

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC

Now I Know My ABC’s

Accept Differences – Be Kind – Count Your Blessings – Dream – Express Thanks – Forgive – Give Freely – Harm No One – Imagine More – Jettison Anger – Keep Confidences – Love Truly –  Master Something – Nurture Hope – Open Your Mind – Pack Lightly – Quell Rumors – Reciprocate  – Seek Wisdom – Touch Hearts – Understand – Value Truth – Win Graciously – Xemplify Kindness – Yearn For Peace – Zealously Support A Worthy Cause

Precisely ten years ago, I received these ABC’s in a holiday card that I have kept ever since. It too makes its way around my place during the holidays, as does the one I wrote about in a previous post, A Meaningful To-Do List.  Today, more than ever, it seems like the world needs these ABC’s on steroids! I silently give thanks for all the people around the globe who are working hard and tapping into their tools every single day to exemplify these traits, for these human beings are part of our global community helping to heal humanity.

The healing though, as with many things in life, must first start with ourselves. We have been blessed with the privilege of being alive, and with that comes a responsibility to grow and evolve into the very best person we can be. If you are committed to self-improvement, inner investigation and evolving mentally, emotionally and spiritually, you know it’s not an easy job. The work can get ugly, messy, and painful; but, the rewards outweigh it all. Remember, true transformation occurs from the inside out, and it takes time, practice and patience! One of my favorite quotes is, You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress at the same time.”  Amen to that!!!!

As I was thinking about what to write about in this blog, I came across some questions that one of my favorite people in the world, Seane Corn, posed at a yoga workshop I did with her about 4 years ago. These questions really require us to get to the core of who we are…both our light and shadow side. If we want to be able to live peacefully, coexist and truly effect change, I believe we have a responsibility to ourselves, and the life we have been given, to really dig deep and work hard at chiseling away the dark residue from our shadow side. It’s hard work. It’s also heart work!

Below are numerous questions – I invite you to peruse them, answer them if you like, share them with your tribe, have conversations about them, or just see what thoughts, feelings and emotions arise inside you as you read through them. Hopefully, you will find them useful in some way – if not now, then sometime along your personal journey.

  • How are you showing up for yourself?
  • How are you showing up for others?
  • What tapes are running through your head?
  • What conditioning, grief, dysfunction, pain, sorrow, situations or people who no longer serve you are you still holding on to? Why?
  • What limiting beliefs are holding you back or keeping you stuck in “victim” mentality?
  • Are you in a state of denial?
  • What hurts, traumas, surgery, loss or life situation has shown up?
  • What behavior do you turn to when you want to avoid feeling your feelings?
  • Who or what situation has brought you to your knees?
  • Who or what has broken your heart wide open?
  • Do you choose love over fear?
  • Do you act from a place of love or fear?
  • How can you connect to your pure essence which is Love?
  • How do you show compassion, empathy, understanding and kindness to others?
  • What ways do you show up for yourself from a place of hope, love, compassion, understanding and empathy?
  • Who taught you how to love?
  • How do you contribute to the collective energy of the planet? 
  • Are your thoughts, views, actions and speech negative and judgmental in nature, or are they positive?
  • What words do you use?
  • What type of language do you use to communicate with others?
  • Does your language emanate positive or negative energy?
  • What types of example are you setting for those around you…partners, children, family, friends, co-workers and strangers?
  • Who are your closest relationships?
  • Who or what triggers you?
  • What sensations do these triggers cause in your body?
  • Do you react or pause, then act?
  • What tools can you employ so you don’t react?
  • Do you abuse power?
  • Do you have issues expressing love and acceptance to those of a different race,  nationality, color, gender or religion?
  • What words / language do you use that causes separation?
  • What does peace look and feel like for you?
  • What ways can you contribute to making your surroundings, as well as the collective energy of the world, more peaceful?
  • How can you exercise patience, understanding and non-judgement?
  • What are you grateful for?
  • How do you express gratitude for what shows up in your life?
  • Who were / are your spiritual teachers?
  • What’s your shadow side?
  • How do you shine your light?
  • How do you step into your power?
  • What change do you want to see in the world?

Darlings, may you always feel your essence with each heartbeat…LOVE, LOVE, LOVE…..and send that out to into the world….and feel the earth pulsating with LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! Oh, and one last thing – please be sure to practice your ABC’s…wink, wink!

Inhale love and light…Exhale grace and gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

A Meaningful To-Do List

Be Merry. Be Happy. Be Bright.

About 20 years ago, one of my girlfriends (and soul sister), Patti, sent me a beautiful card for Christmas that I have treasured ever since. As a matter of fact, I keep it in a picture frame and display it every year as part of my decorations. Over the years, I have also typed it up on colorful stationary and passed it on to staff members, friends and family.

With three major holidays this month – Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa and, in addition, Winter Solstice and New Year’s Eve, I thought I’d share the contents of the card with you. Needless to say, we don’t have to wait for the holidays to do any of these things. In my humble opinion, what you are about to read should be part of our to-do list on a regular basis…..just sayin’

This Christmas

  • Mend a quarrel
  • Seek out a forgotten friend
  • Write a love letter
  • Share some treasure
  • Give a soft answer
  • Encourage youth
  • Keep a promise
  • Find the time
  • Forgive an enemy
  • Apologize if you were wrong
  • Think first of someone else
  • Be kind and gentle
  • Laugh a little
  • Laugh a little more
  • Express your gratitude
  • Gladden the heart of a child
  • Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth
  • Speak your love
  • Speak it again
  • Speak it still once again

If you are in need of a little token gift, strapped for cash, or just want to be mindful of where and how you are spending your money, you can get creative with this beautiful to-do list, add to it, create your own, print copies or have it printed on cardstock at Staples, and perhaps slip into small frames as gifts. You can also roll them up and tie with a lovely ribbon. We don’t have to spend an inordinate amount of money on a gift. Simple, no fuss gifts from the heart carry our energy, love and intention with them. They are the gifts that keep on giving.

Create away darlings….and remember… be merry, happy and bright!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

Heartfelt Thanks

“What amazes me is that before we can count we are taught to be grateful for what others do. As we are broken open by our experience, we begin to be grateful for what is, and if we live long enough and deep enough and authentically enough, gratitude becomes a way of life.” -Mark Nepo

Throughout our lives, we pretty much can tell when someone is telling the truth or not and if their words and intentions are genuine or not. Well, the same goes for the expression of heartfelt gratitude. Our gratitude either comes from the heart or pays lip service. It’s either genuine or impure. We are either authentic or a fraud, transparent or all smoke and mirrors. The choice is always ours to make.

The blessings that are bestowed upon us are vast and endless. The more we are grateful for, the more abundance that seems to show up in our lives. And I don’t just mean the abundance that we know as money. Abundance comes in all ways and from a bottomless well called The Universe.

For me personally, gratitude is most certainly a way of life. It is my manifesto for living. That is why I am a self-proclaimed “gratitude junkie.” Much of what we go through in life teaches us to be thankful for all of it….the good, the bad and the ugly. I like to call it the “lessons and blessings.” Here’s a thought though: Why should we have to wait to be broken open time and time again or live long enough before we finally learn to be grateful for all that is?

Furthermore, why should this week be any different that any other week of the year? Just because there is a day that is earmarked on the calendar as “Thanksgiving” and a ton of related paraphernalia flooding our senses doesn’t mean we can’t live each and every single day from a place of deep gratitude and express heartfelt thanks. Think of the shift that would occur if we stopped to give thanks throughout the day and not just at the traditional meal time. By now we know the positive effects that a gratitude practice has on our nervous system and how it promotes health and well-being. Imagine if we all expressed genuine thanks throughout the day? Imagine the impact and shift that would occur in our lives and the lives of others? Imagine.

So on this day before Thanksgiving, I want to share with you with a few questions to ponder. Some of the questions come from a lovely Attitudes of Gratitude Guided Journal by M.J. Ryan that I found years ago. I am not sure if it is still in print but, if it is, it’s something worth checking into. It lays the foundation for a beautiful practice and also makes a thoughtful and meaningful gift. You can choose to journal your answers or perhaps make them part of a family activity this week or even on Thanksgiving Day. It’s a good opportunity to put away the electronics and have yourself some meaningful conversation!

Also, if you and/or your family recently lost a loved one, and this holiday season is the first without at that person, you may want to consider answering these questions as a way of honoring their memory. You can even write them each on a piece of paper, fold each one, place in a bowl and pass it around, have each person pick one and share their answer. I am sure you can come up with your own questions to add to the list. Create away! So here goes:

  • How has gratitude brought more grace into your life?
  • Has gratitude made you feel more fulfilled? How?
  • How can you teach gratitude to others?
  • What are some of the ways gratitude comes naturally into your life?
  • Do you approach life with a positive or negative attitude?
  • Are you a pessimist or an optimist?
  • How do you cultivate a true and deep appreciation for what you have?
  • What unique gifts have you been blessed with?
  • What are you grateful for about you?
  • Count the number of ‘Thank you’s” you say during one day. Could you say more?
  • How can you teach gratitude to your younger ones?
  • Honoring your connection to your ancestors gives you a sense of belonging and wholeness. How do you honor your family? Hoe do you honor their legacy?
  • Who have you most learned from in your life?
  • Life is a journey on which you become more and more fully who you are meant to be. Who is that person?

When we choose to cultivate attitudes like love, joy and gratitude, we begin to “remake” the world. -M.J. Ryan

 

Meditation:

May You Know Gratitude 

May you know gratitude. May you be grateful for the abundance in your life. May you also be grateful for the people, feelings and experiences that cause you pain and discomfort – they are here to teach you. Express your gratitude everyday and you will find even greater abundance in your heart and in your life with each passing day.

 

Heartfelt thanks and blessings darlings…today, always, and in all ways!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC