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

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise the I AM in You

“All of us are seeking the same thing. We share the desire to fulfill the highest, truest expression of ourselves as human beings….the most valuable gift you can give yourself is the time to nurture the unique spirit that is you.” -Oprah

As children, we are taught to love others and treat them with kindness and compassion; yet, we rarely heard the message that it first starts with us. I don’t know about you, but I feel the most important lesson that should be taught early on in life is to do just that: Love and accept ourself, show up for ourself with loving-kindness, compassion and understanding. Take care of our beautiful soul and nurture it with food for all the senses. The value in this lesson is that we learn to put our Self first, and not in a selfish way, but in a self-preserving way!

Fast forward to when we are in our adult lives, and we will most likely get to the point where we seem to be unraveling, disconnected, lost, not grounded, spiraling, fatigued, anxious, and exhausted from doing, doing, doing and giving, giving, giving. Why? Because we are doing and giving to others. We are “do-ing” instead of “be-ing.” We’ve all heard the adage, “If you don’t take care of yourself first, you can’t take care of anyone else.” Why is that so difficult to do? We’ve put ourselves at the bottom of the “to do” list, that’s why!  We should have been at the top of the list all along had we been taught to do so early on in life.

Somewhere along the line, we find ourselves lacking joy, stamina, wonder, love, excitement, creativity and a host of other things. We are quick to see the gifts in others and admire them in ways we seem to have lost the ability to do for ourself. We lose touch with our true essence and the connection to that divine energy that is much greater than us. Where did it go? Well darlings, remember the line from the Wizard of Oz? You’ve had the power all along.” You just mis-placed it, gave it away, ignored it or chose to forget about it all together. There comes a point in your life where you must find it, polish it, step into it and reclaim the divine power and glory that is You. How? Well, a good place to start is to turn inward and start acknowledging your personal gifts and uniqueness. We all have them. We’ve just lost sight of them. Be still and listen!

Look around and take a close look at all the young girls and women of all ages, beautiful women inside and out, who fail to see their beauty, light, uniqueness and gifts because they are so caught up in doing for others or comparing themselves to others. Just think about the behavior that is being modeled for younger generations. It’s certainly not a healthy one. A good way to break this cycle is to first acknowledge the behavior and then consciously “choose” to end this cycle of madness and struggle. Instead of prioritizing your schedule, schedule your priorities (when I heard my lovely friend Christy once say this, I felt a shift occur in my mind). And if you’re not sure of your priorities, a great way to re-claim them is to identify your “non-negotiables.” As I’ve shared before, mine are prayer, yoga, meditation, sleep, water, nutritious foods, exercise (and other self-care practices). Nothing, or no one, comes between me and my non-negotiables. Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way! What are the things your mind, body and soul need in order to “show up” for yourself in a healthy, kind, compassionate, mindful and peaceful way? And by the way, leave the guilt at the door when doing so! These are the things that need to be a priority on your schedule. Along with the guilt, leave the prioritizing of the schedule in the past, and start scheduling your priorities!

Another powerfully insightful way to identify and connect with your personal gifts, uniqueness and divine power is a wonderful exercise called I AM. If my memory serves me correctly, I first did it as part of Iyanla Vanzant’s Inner Vision Institute Do the Work series. It “appears” to be a simple task and one you may have doubts about. It may also be one that you struggle with as you try to “come up” with what to write. You see, with each passing day, you will most certainly find yourself delving deeper and deeper, excavating and finding those long-lost gifts you have buried or, perhaps, never even acknowledged.  You do this exercise for 7 consecutive days, and all it requires is a pen and paper (no typing – it must be hand-written).

Directions:

As will all sacred practices / rituals, I suggest you take a moment to perhaps light a candle, clear your space, burn some sage, palo santo or incense. Take a few deep breaths, get comfortable, set an intention and don’t over-think. Approach the activity with an open mind and open heart! Now take a piece of paper (you may want to do this in your journal) and write Day 1 at the top. Then, below that, write I AM. Number your paper from 1-40. You are now ready to say to yourself, “I am……” and write whatever comes up next to each number. Do not judge or over-think – just go with the flow! You will do this for 7 consecutive days. 

Believe me, you will be amazed and in awe of the magnitude of what you have written. It will leave you feeling empowered, strong and in love with You. No one….I will say it again….no one, can give you the most valuable gift of nurturing the unique spirit that is you other than You! In doing so, you will fulfill your highest, truest expression of yourself as a human being, and not a human “do-ing.”

Happy exercising and remember, just do you…. And love who you are!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

 

Special Wishes for AJ

“And the Child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him” Luke 2:40

Today’s blog is dedicated to a very special little man named Arie Joseph  (AJ). He is my God-daughter’s son who is being baptized today.

In addition to all the prayers, blessings and special wishes that will be showered upon AJ on this day, it is also a very special day for his parents, as is with any rite of passage in a child’s life. On baptism day, parents are up close and personal to the sacrament that brings their child into Christianity. It’s a commitment parents make. It is also a responsibility they have as caretakers of their child’s beautiful mind and soul to instill some sort of belief / faith in them. As a child grows and matures, they may stray from their religion / faith  or maybe even find another one that resonates more for them. Regardless, parents have laid the foundation for spiritual, faith based practices, beliefs, morals and values in hopes of creating a kind, loving, compassionate, wise, responsible and productive citizen of the world.

The experiences of being a first time parent, diapers, dishes, sleep, lack of sleep, food prep, doctor appointments, teething, runny noses, fevers, food allergies, work schedules, child care and other dilemmas (remember- the bigger the child – the bigger the problems) can be daunting and overwhelming. Then throw in how one will discipline the child and the parenting style that both parents may or may not see eye to eye on. Having been in education for 33+ years, I experienced first-hand the chaos, confusion, angst, anxiety, destructive behavior, and struggle that families go through when they are at odds with the basic tenets of how to raise a child. After I ended my career, I came across Dr. Shefali. I don’t recall if I first saw her TED talk or her interview on Super Soul Sunday, but what a game changer she is!

Once you see Dr. Shefali, listen to her, and really hear what she is saying, your life, world and awareness will be forever changed. Had I come across Dr. Shefali’s work sooner, I swear I would have created a parent workshop or parenting classes around her first book, The Conscious Parent. Furthermore, if I ran a private school, this book would be mandated reading for parents and/or caretakers before accepting the child into school. It would also be required reading for the teachers. I am telling you, it’s a book every parent-to-be (or person responsible for raising a child) should read way before they even plan on starting a family (and for anyone working with children). THAT is how POWERFUL Dr. Shefali’s books are! As a matter of fact, I gifted The Conscious Parent to AJ’s parents when I learned they were expecting and also gave my girlfriend Barb (Grandma / Abuela) Dr. Shefali’s other book, The Awakened Family. My darlings, this is definitely a gift that keeps on giving!

If there is anything we have learned by now, is that the “Authoritative” approach to discipline and public shaming does not work. It’s not healthy and is destructive to say the least. Instead of building a child up, enforced disciline and punishment tears the child down – leading to shame, resentment, self-esteem issues, eating disorders, insecurities, hostilities, behavioral issues and other self-sabotaging behaviors…..and yes, it is a form of bullying. One of the things that struck me is how she is able to show us that children are a mirror of our own unresolved issues. In her book, The Awakened Family, Dr. Shefali also shows us how and/or why children’s needs aren’t being met and why they truly feel they are not being “heard” by parents or don’t feel a connection to the parent(s). She poses some profound questions for parents to ask themselves:

  • Where am I as the parent failing to connect with my child?
  • What in the child longs to be recognized, but is being ignored?
  • How can I help mitigate the feelings of inferiority and shame that my child experiences?
  • And most importantly, how am I projecting my own internal shame onto my own child?

In Dr. Shefali’s words, “Unless we begin to turn the spotlight within and ask these difficult questions, our children will live in the legacy of shame that will continue into future generations. And the epidemic of bullying will continue to soar.” Dr. Shefali’s books integrate Eastern and Western philosophies and show us how to parent in an evolutionary and conscious way. She gives us daily skills and tools that are transformational, healing and lead both children and parents to a place of calm, ease and joy. I highly recommend Dr. Shefali’s book to anyone thinking about starting family, just started one, is struggling with the “my way or the highway” style of parenting and/or caretakers responsible for raising children. Her books make an awesome gift for anyone who is being blessed with a new baby in their family. The books are blessings in and of  themselves!

So, on AJ’s special day, I am sending the Diaz-Spencer Families many heartfelt special wishes and blessings and will close with a beautiful prayer from Marianne Williamson’s book, Illuminata – A Return to Prayer.

Dear God, Thank you for the birth of Arie Joseph into the world and into this family.  We offer ourselves this day as caretakers of his spirit and his higher mind. May we fulfill with strength the glory of our role, in AJ’s life and in the lives of his parents, Erica and Doug. May the spirit of this family, from generations past and into the future, burst forth to bless and sustain Arie Joseph. Amen.

Let the celebration begin!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

 

On This Day

“On this day, the Lord gave you life. May you use it to serve here.” Snatam Kaur

On this day, October 25, 1958, a baby girl was born and was given the name Jo-Ann Theresa Carricarte. Yep…..me! Apparently, by what I’ve been told, it was a happily anticipated event (I was late) and my birth brought much joy because a baby girl was born into our family. You see, most of my first cousins were males, and the few female cousins were already much older than me. So, I guess I was like a new toy…a doll.

My mama told me that I drew a lot of attention in my early years. If you saw baby pictures you’d understand why.  Suffice to say I have her to thank for my fashionista ways (among so many other things, of course). She dressed me up every single day. I mean really dressed me up…to the nines! When she would take me out in the carriage or stroller, people asked her if she was taking me to a party. Can you imagine?  Mama was every bit the fashionista herself. Those were the days! Everyone dressed up at all times. Women wore fashionable dresses, shoes, hats, gloves, broaches, necklaces and earrings, stunning coats and furs….you rarely saw them in pants. As a matter of fact my only living grand-mother, at the time, passed at 102 never having worn pants. Can you believe that? And the men! Oh the men were dapper in their slicked back hair, structured suits, ties, bow ties, sweater vests, sports jackets, overcoats, hats and polished shoes. Looking back, all my aunts and uncles were every bit fashionistas too! Guess it’s in my DNA! My favorite picture of me, probably around the age of 3, is sitting on a little stool with my legs crossed and sporting a spectacular pair of black lace high heels belonging to my mother. I can still see them in my mind’s eye. They were absolutely gorgeous and stunning! I’m willing to guess that’s how and when my life-long love affair with shoes started. Shoes are my beloved children…wink, wink!

Now onto lessons and blessings. As I look back at every decade in my life thus far, I can clearly see the lessons I was meant to learn and the people / teachers who were instrumental in my learning, growing, evolving and enlightenment – especially in the area of romantic relationships, which is what I will share with you now. I’ll start with my early teens. They were difficult. I really didn’t feel like I “fit in.” I had a strict mother and the strictest of aunts, and my high school years weren’t as fun as you would imagine. As a matter of fact, my high school years were mortifying! Don’t get me wrong, I tried to make the best of those years. Did I mention I went to an all girl Catholic high school and that we lived two doors away from the school? And that I had a super jealous and possessive Cuban boyfriend? What was I thinking? Was I even thinking?

High school was truly mortifying – I wasn’t even allowed to hang out with girlfriends at night and had to have a chaperone when I went out with the boyfriend! In addition, the “tape” that was running through my head at the time was that of when  I was little and my aunts saying, “What’s wrong with that girl? She can’t sit still. What’s the matter with her?” Now darlings, we know JUST how destructive those tapes can be! In one way, shape or form, they become part of the limiting beliefs we start to construct for ourselves. Regardless though, my mother instilled in me the will, desire and drive to be “different” when it came to how I presented myself as well as when it came to fashion, of course. She used to tell me to be a leader and not a follower, and that  I shouldn’t want to “look” like everyone else in a room despite the current fashion trend. Like I said earlier, she was grooming me to be a fashionista (with out me even knowing it). Seriously though, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the influence my parents, grand-mother, aunts and uncles who are no longer with us had on my life. They were made of substance, integrity and dignity and taught me to live my life in that manner. I’m proud of the legacy they left behind, and I try my best to be conscientious and mindfully uphold the values they instilled in me.

So what brought me comfort? Journaling (surprise, surprise), music, and our Saturday shopping trips to Alexander’s in Paramus. My dad would drive, peruse the store, buy himself some cashews, and sit outside on a bench as his ladies had their shopping fun. And boy did we have fun, and did I enjoy putting outfits together! Presentation, presentation, presentation…Thanks, Mama! And Honey-Honey (that’s what my dad and I called each other), cashews are still my favorite, and I always think of you when I eat them. By the way, when I finally did start to think, it was bye-bye boyfriend!

On to the “trying twenties.” I always joke and remark that a nice Cuban girl leaves the house in either a wedding dress or a body bag (pregnancy being a BIG taboo and don’t even THINK about going away to college). So what did I do? I got married after my freshman year in college to get out of the house. I was “in love,” he looked like John Travolta, cool as could be and came from an absolutely amazing and wonderful Italian family. They took me in as if I was one of their own. Good Italian in-laws always put their daughters-in-law before their own boys. I learned how to cook and keep an uber-clean house. Oh, and they were big into fashion as well!!! My most valuable lesson though, was Respect….especially between two romantic partners. Once that line of respect is crossed, whether by lying, cursing, arguing and screaming to out-do / out-say one another, you’re done. You can kiss your relationship good-bye. And that is exactly what we did.

The “terrific thirties” was a very fun and exciting time for me. I was free and self sufficient. It was a time where I relished being extremely independent and dedicated to my career (my career is for yet another essay altogether). In addition to teaching, I was an adjunct professor at a local community college, tutored on the side and even worked as an optometric assistance – fashion was a hobby I was very committed to, so I had to pay the bills!

During the first half of my thirties, I was in a relationship that commenced in my late twenties and one that worked for both of us. We had the best of both worlds. We each enjoyed our individual alone alone time  and then enjoyed the time we had together. That was an important lesson in itself. What was the other one?  Don’t loose yourself to another person. You see, when we were together, a lot of it revolved around what he wanted to do, when and how. Don’t get me wrong, we loved each other deeply, but there were times I should have spoken up and didn’t. Speak up, or you will lose yourself! You guessed it, I started to lose myself. More lessons learned!

My “fabulous forties” brought a whole lot of change, challenging and stressful situations and, by the same token, were very enlightening. Allow me to rewind a bit and set it up for you, The later part of my thirties brought an unexpected surprise to me, my families and my friends. Little did any of us ever, ever, ever expect me to say I was getting married again….and to a Cuban guy! You see, I had sworn off Cuban men after my super jealous and possessive high school boyfriend. That man I was marrying was a gem! I loved our relationship, the way he loved me and how he showed it. I always remarked that he reminded me of my cousin Al and the relationship he’s always had with his beloved Sheryl Ann. My then husband-to- be may have had an over-bearing, possessive, and jealous mother, but I was always his priority as was our relationship. Truth was first and foremost – as it should be. I always remarked that I felt that I could fall backwards off the Empire State Building, and he would be there to catch me. That’s just who he was…..honorable, respectful, sweet, hard working, a man of integrity and of his word…..and an amazing dresser who loved to shop! You know the feeling when someone has your back? Well, he did. And boy, did I ever enjoy our “hug therapy,” as we coined what we would do the second either one of us walked in the front door. We were always very supportive of each other’s goals, dreams and ambitions.   Sadly, the one guiding principle that was a mainstay in our relationship –  truth, was the one that I failed to honor in the end. I guess I was still grappling with finding my voice on some level and didn’t have the words, courage, confidence or the skill-set to adequately explain what I was feeling and experiencing.

Hindsight is a most powerful tool and, years later when all was said and done, I realized I was peri-menopausal in my early forties. I came to realize that my emotions were all out of control. I was fighting hard to stay in control and even control the behavior of a man I knew for 20+ years when our worlds collided. I ended up dating him and tried to change and save him too. We all know that does NOT work! The only person we can change and/or save is ourself – and that is only if we choose to do so. Another lesson learned! In a last-ditch effort to salvage the relationship, I moved in with him for what I called “my limited engagement of broadway.” You see, I knew it wasn’t going to work, so I was wise enough not to give up my apartment. I still recall my mama saying it was the smartest thing I had done!

The next person I dated for about a year in my mid-forties was like a knight in shining armor. A big lesson I learned from him was that I didn’t have to do it all by myself. I didn’t have to be Wonder Woman, so I took off the cape. I was so exhausted and worn down from what I had put myself though in the previous relationship, that I actually allowed myself to rest and to let someone take good care of me. I remember sleeping a lot. This man would cook for me, watch me sleep and knew what I needed and when I needed it. Sadly, the emotional reality of what I had previously put myself though was starting to take a toll on me and on our relationship. That emotional reality was actually the catalyst for me to do something entirely differently. THAT is when I came to the realization that I needed to be by myself for a while and get to know Me. I had always been in relationships and knew who Jo-Ann was as a daughter, sister, cousin, friend, aunt, lover, wife, teacher, school administrator, colleague, caregiver – but who was Jo-Ann deep down at the core? The other lesson I learned from this man was to do things “the right way” no matter how painful it may be, so I prayed to God to give me the skillful words to honestly convey what I was feeling and why I needed to end the relationship. I asked, and the words were delivered!  This man may not have understood or believed my reasons for ending what “appeared” to be a wonderful relationship at the time, but it had nothing to do with him and everything to do with ME.  There’s that famous line in Sex and the City where Samantha tells Smith, “I love you, but I love myself more.”  Yep, that’s what I was feeling! It was a “conscious uncoupling” and the right thing to do in my heart. I was able to put my head on the pillow at night and know that I did things the “right way” just like we had promised each other we would always do. Lesson mastered, wink wink!

It was also at this time when I found my yoga practice. It saved my life! Yoga opened me up in unexpected ways, softened my heart and started to change me from the inside out. The more I studied yoga philosophy and delved deeper into the Eight Limbs of Yoga, which are ethical precepts / guidelines for yourself and how you interact and show up in the world, the more that I felt like I was coming home. The more I studied and practiced, the more my soul was set on fire. The more self-inquiry and inner investigation work I did, the more I was able to be mindful and present in the “now” and for the people in my life.  Another HUGE lesson I learned at this time was to be in relationship with my Self first (this also prepared me for how I was to “show up” in my next romantic relationship months before I was turning the big 50). Honestly, I had not learned to do that. It was circa 2005 when I went on what I called a “self-imposed tour of celibacy” and dedicated that time to working on me. My sacred living space became my own ashram, my own sacred dwelling place, my own church. I found myself in a relationship with the Divine, Spirit, the Source in unimaginable ways. God is not solely in a building. He/She is in every living, breathing thing we say or do, how we say or do it,  and is ever present in the magnificent beauty around us and in us. My main goal was to be in a relationship with myself, the Divine and learn how to truly love myself unconditionally – the way the Divine Creator has done since the day I was born. This is what allowed me to show up 100% ready, willing and able when “Scandalous” blew into my life (Scandalous needs a blog all to himself…wink, wink). What I will share is that unconditional love, patience and leaving my ego at the door were the fruits born of this relationship. So were detachment, letting go, surrendering and non-judgement. What wonderful tools to have as I was entering my fifties!

Fifties are freeing and filled with much fabulousness! That’s what I always heard the women around me say. I can personally vouch for the fact that they are. However, it requires work. When we work on ourselves, find ourselves, find our path, purpose, and passion and, more importantly, our voice to speak our truth, we are FREE! It requires so much gut-wrenching, heart-opening and soul-bearing painful work; nevertheless, the benefits are all worth it. My fifties were a time of just that. I grew into my authentic Self and loved it. I was able to look back, connect the dots and see how every single life experience led me to this wonderfully freeing and liberating decade, the work I was doing and how I was being of service to my Maker. My goal wasn’t just to talk the talk, but to truly and authentically walk the walk. I have been able to show up this way because I learned how to first make the time to show up for myself. “Lead by Example” became my mantra both personally and professionally. Truth, authenticity, transparency, discernment, integrity, steadfastness, reconciliation, resilience, gratitude, joy and balance have been my guiding principles throughout my fifties. They’ve been valuable lessons and blessings for which I am eternally grateful. As I look back, I see how much love I was blessed with having and how each romantic partner was instrumental in weaving this tapestry of a masterpiece I call ME. I would not change or alter a thing! I approach each new day from a place of  reverence and the deepest gratitude possible that fills my heart with endless love and joy. No one is doing that for me….I AM doing it for ME! My daily request is to be used as an instrument of peace and for the ability to be of service to whomever needs motivation, consolation, inspiration, an ear to listen or some sage advice.  You can bet that God and this most beautiful, whimsically magical, oftentimes mysterious, hilariously comical and infinite organizing Universe always delivers on all counts!

The relationship that has been the most lasting- one even life-long, and others spanning 20-30+ years has been that of my Tribe of Girlfriends. And let me not forget the “Lovelies” that came into my life during this fiercely fabulous decade! The constant, ever supportive, entertaining, amusing, special, creative, passionate, and sacred girlfriend relationship is one I value more than anything. Having said that, beware of women who don’t have female friends and/or their own tribe for that speaks volumes!!!  And if there is one additional piece of sage advice I’ve learned and can share with you regarding “that new special person” in your romantic life, is that Your Tribe Knows Best. SImply stated! Throughout our life, our girlfriends have probably known us better than we’ve even known ourselves for they have seen and been there through it all….the good, the bad, the ugly, the highs and the lows. Remember, they are part of our Spiritual Board of Directors; therefore, they need to be consulted!  FYI though, you may have to ask some of them for their input. Not everyone may be as forthright as you would be or expect them to be. Your Tribe knows when you’re not being yourself, when your energy is being depleted, when you seem overwhelmed, compromised, not being true to your Self and not in a good place. Just ask! I will say no more on the subject other than to quote my lovely Linda Lou, “Period. The end.”

As you know, I like rituals and celebrations, so I am thinking of a word I want to work with this coming year. Maybe even two words. What keeps showing up for me, time and time again, is Grace (and my confirmation came when my yoga teacher was sharing the word she wants to work on as she embarks on a new year as well). I want to find Grace in the places that I never knew it existed. I want to dig deeper than ever before and help others do the same. The start of the InspireLoveServe blog was a good starting point. I want Grace to revel itself in unexpected places, the dark as well as the light places, and I want to be able to share those places with you so we can linger together in those moments of Grace.

Now that I’ve unlearned things I learned, only to relearn them in a way  that better serves me, I also relearned how to be a child again and approach each new day with a deeper sense of wonder, awe, magic, creativity and playfulness. This is something we should all do more of, don’t you think?  We should all want to spend more time in nature and do more of the things that bring us joy and nurture our mind, body and soul….things that bring us a sense of calm, ease and deep peace, and encourage all those around us to do the same. Just look at small children and see how open, loving, free and inclusive they are. They are fearless, open and accepting…they don’t see color, race or religion. They are so spirited, carefree and vibrant! I want to live in that kind of world. It is my deepest desire that we all re-learn to approach life and others from a place of love, compassion and kindness and that we see our souls reflecting back at us when we look deeply into another’s eyes and deeply listen to their words. Another thing I know for sure is that in order to heal the world, we must first heal ourselves. We must move from a place of fear and separation to one of love and oneness.

I’ve recently taken to looking more and more at the life vision board that I created just before going into surgery in January of 2016, and seeing that I am living and doing most of the things I included. More importantly though, I want to continue growing, evolving, serving, learning, deepening and expanding my practice, inspiring mindful seeds of change, making a difference in the world and in the healing of humanity, helping others grow into their best self, empowering and supporting young girls, paying forward, celebrating with friends and family, going on adventurous retreats and cozy getaways, loving deeply and passionately….to sum it up –  Living With Intention! And as far as romantic relationships go, who knows? I am perfectly happy in the most fulfilling and intimate relationship I’ve ever had, and that is the one I’m in with Me. If that realization isn’t a moment of Grace in and of itself, then what is? What I do know for sure is that the appropriate soulmate will show up in divine time, and we will be able to reap all the beautiful benefits of having “worked the work” over the course of the time it took for us to come together. I’ve learned not sweat the small stuff my darlings…I have arrived!

Sixty is virtually around the corner. I’ve heard “60” described as seismic, sensational and spectacular. Starting tomorrow, each new day will bring me closer to that mountain top called 60. Each new day will bring me new opportunities to serve here. I mentioned Snatam Kaur’s song, On This Day, in an earlier post. Please take a moment to listen to it if you haven’t already done so. She has such an angelic voice! Listening to that song is an absolutely sacred and meaningful way to start the day! It allows us to settle in, ground, root, re-commit and set the tone for the way we’d like to approach the day, shine our brilliance and magnificence, and honor that life we’ve been given.  Each day we open our eyes is our birth day. We are given life again. How can we not ask, “How can I serve here?” Yep…Grace it is, and Gracefully is how I’ll do it!

“The ghosts of all the women you used to be are all so proud of who you have become, storm child made of wild and flame.” Nikita Gill

 

This essay is dedicated to all the women, ancestors and guides that paved the way for me, walk along side of me and have made it possible for me to carry out their legacy. With infinite love, grace and gratitude, Jo-Ann Theresa Carricarte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Okay With Not Being Okay

“A revelation that puts things into perspective” 

Today’s writing is inspired by an Instagram post that my niece wrote earlier in the week. Before I get to that though, let me just be honest and tell you I have no idea what direction this post is taking. You see, sometimes I read or hear something that inspires me and other times I just ask the Divine to inspire me, connect the dots, speak through me and just guide me in whatever direction I can best serve the people reading my post…some of whom I know well and others who are complete strangers. Sometimes, I furiously type away, look at what I’ve written, and wonder where the words came from. You get the picture, right?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I like sacred rituals that honor, respect and celebrate the divine that lives inside all of us. So, I will share my writing routine with you. In most instances, I come home from yoga and meditation, grab a bite to eat then start my ritual for writing. I burn some delicious incense ( btw Maur I LOVE the Communication and Wisdom one you got me – you are now my official supplier), light a candle that has beautiful red hearts on it (thanks Ms. Kath), say a little prayer, and put on the lovely moonstone and lava mala beads that the amazing Daria Montferrante made for me (many of my near and dear friends have received custom malas that Daria has made for them). Since I’ve just come home from class, I feel like a totally open vessel and channel for communication And let me tell you, it can be very overwhelming having thoughts, words and ideas just filling my head. Whew! It leaves me no choose but to let go and surrender to the Divine, knowing that what needs to be communicated will flow seamlessly.

Getting back to the topic at hand, Be Okay With Not Being Okay…..this is truly a wonderful example and extension of my previous blog on Authenticity. If you missed The “A” Word, please check it out. However, my niece’s post inspired me for a number of reasons, primarily being the fact that she is 29 years old and is already on the “path to self-awareness and self discovery” at what I consider a fairly young age. She has found her voice, her feelings and is using them wisely. I had a “proud auntie” moment, shared her post with some of my closest friends and remarked how I wish I was that wise at her age (Thanks Maur for reminding me that I was just where I needed to be at 29 and learning the lessons I needed to learn). We all learn at different rates, have different feelings at different times and act on them warranted by the circumstances / situations in our lives and where we were at such time.

Megan’s post had to do with the revelation she had as she read the words Be Okay with Not Being Okay in the book she was reading by Latesha Randall with Sebastian Walker called The To-Be List – 70 Reminders that Life is About Being, Not Doing. What I was most impressed with about her writing was that she was able to dig deep and find the words to authentically and unapologetically be herself and acknowledge the fact that she was “allowing” herself to feel things she’s never allowed herself to do. She was actually sitting with her feelings, allowing them to arise and, more importunely, be Okay with them. Now if that is not an “aha” moment and a valuable, instrumental lesson to learn at her age!!! She further went on to explain how her past conditioning has been to bury her feelings and not ALLOW herself to feel them  because the magnitude of those feelings would “destroy her.”  In actuality, my dearest Megan (and I know she will be reading this because she is my number one supporter and encourager of my blogging)  allowed herself to be broken open and transcended to another level of self awareness and evolution. Megan, a true Empath, also found the words to express how deeply she feels every little thing. Can you imagine being able to express this at her age?????? It takes many of us until adulthood to have this awareness (that is if you allow it – remember, some people are still walking around in a sleep-like state). As she stated, “It reminds me that it IS okay not to always be okay and you can CHOOSE to be okay with that.”  Now THAT is authenticity and transparency at its best!

As a result of Megan’s writing,  I’d like to address the 20-30 something year olds aka”youngins” reading this essay (feel free to share with the youngin’s in your life). Many of you beautiful souls have come into this lifetime with a very specific mission and purpose. Therefore, there are many, many “sensitive” empathic and compassionate souls on this earth who are here to shine a light on the darkness this world is experiencing and to help heal humanity through your own healing, You are the healers, light workers, peacekeepers and future spiritual leaders. The key, is to have this realization and understanding, surround yourself with supportive individuals who “get it,” and “like-minded” friends who will be your allies in doing the work you came here to do. Some of you are fortunate enough to have parents and family members who are “open minded” or perhaps healers themselves and understand your path.  They are able to guide and support you as well as encourage you to embrace the beautiful “gifts” you have been given. Some of these gifts are painful ones albeit if you are an empath, like my niece, because you actually FEEL deeply and have the ability to feel other people’s suffering. It’s a double edge sword that can be viewed as both a curse and a blessing. What you “choose” to do with this gift is your choice and one that only you can make for yourself. And don’t worry if you don’t have it all figured out, it’s okay!

There are so many resources available today unlike decades ago. Magazines and books of all kinds, the internet, positive social media outlets, podcasts of all types and on-line webinars to meet your every need, online yoga, meditation, pranayama, guided visualizations, retreats, an overabundance of yoga studios and meditation / mindfulness centers, schools and college courses, metaphysical centers, mediums, intuitives, shamans, energy healers, life coaches and spiritual advisors…just to name a few!  They are all resources to guide you along your spiritual journey here should you choose to fully step into your magnificence, power, purpose and light. I encourage, invite and urge you beautiful souls out there to embrace the gift of You and the gifts you’ve been given. Develop them, understand them, expand on them and put them to good use. You don’t have to have all the answers, just trust the process and be passionate about what it is you choose to do, knowing that it may change, evolve and look differently over time. It’s all okay!

I took a short break and perused the new issue of Mantra Magazine (one of my faves – if not my favorite these days). It’s all about yoga and health, and every single product they advertise is vegan. According to Maranda Pleasant, Editor in Chief, she believes that  the magazine is actually a “movement.” In her words, “Media should be a force for good. Now more than ever, media matters. The stories in the magazine and the causes we champion need to be louder, brighter and stronger. We will defend and create a new culture for women that outshines negative cultural programming. Sticking together, all of us – yogis, creatives, pioneers – changing the world for the better.” These values, ethics and integrity is why I love this magazine so very much. It is diverse, inclusive, so rich in content, creativity, short and brief articles and interviews, aryuvedic recipes, life around the globe, self-care practices, design and loads of wisdom for everyone, especially the youngin’s making their way on the path. So why bring up this magazine? Well, since I wanted to address the youngin’s in this post, it just so happens that the section called The Wisdom of Women asked several women what they wished they had known when they were 20.

So, I will leave you with various beautiful, heartfelt, soulful, sound and sage advice from some of the women featured in this particular issue. Here’s what they wish they had known when they were 20:

“I wish I would have known how OKAY it was to not have everything figured out when it came to my career path and what I wanted to do with my life. Life has a funny way of taking you down paths you least expected, and you experience things that shift your perspective tremendously. All the things I wanted to do at 20 look nothing like what I’m passionate about today.”

“I wish I knew at 20 that my life was just beginning.  I thought that if I didn’t have a list of goals and plans for my life that my life would fall apart. But guess what? My life fell apart with the plan anyway! I wish I knew that no amount of planning will protect you from life and all that it offers. Goals are good, but life teaches the lessons that cultivate character and wisdom is born.”

“That true love grows from having a deep and intimate love of your whole self (the pleasant, neutral AND unpleasant aspects of yourself). It’s OKAY to spend time alone and if necessary developing yourself and this love before focusing outward on loving relationships with others.”

“It’s really okay to say no and not feel guilty. Using my voice does not mean being loud. I do not have to prove myself to anyone. If someone sees you struggling and offers assistance, accept it. Self-care is as vital as oxygen. The more disconnected we are for the rhythms of nature, the more discontent we feel. Rise and rest with the sun, be fluid like water, purge like fire, root down and rise up like trees.”

“I wish I had known the power I had to create a life that was filled with peace and joy. I had not yet been formally introduced to yoga or the power of intentional and mindful living. I suffered, thinking the entirety of creation was working against me. What I now know is that it was preparing me for my current experience.”

“At 20, I wish I would have known that having an ample body with curves is a beautiful body, that comparing myself to anyones else’s body, spirit and soul is absolutely futile.”

And one  that really resonated for me….“Holding on too tight can be destructive. Surrender isn’t weakness. You have to love and accept yourself fully first before anyone else can and will. Doing it all is not a badge of honor. It’s a fast track to illness. Take off the super-hero cape and burn it! You will voluntarily take the time on this life to slow down and stop, or you will be forced to stop. Life is precious”

I invite you to take the time to read over these quotes, let their authenticity marinade in your beautiful souls and head space, see what feelings arise and the revelations that may just change your perspective!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

PS: Thank you, Megan, for the thoughts you shared and inspirations that arose for me as I read your post. You are wise beyond your years, and I’m blessed and grateful to be on this journey with you. I can’t wait to see all the magical places it takes you and the difference you will be making in peoples lives (as you already are). Continue to inspire, love, serve AND lead from the heart…right from the start. It’s in your blood! xoxo

Radiate Wisdom

“My being is wise and knowing”

We have all experienced profound wisdom in our life via life experiences, self inquiry and mindful practices that allow us to see the lessons and wisdom gained. It allows us to be connected to “Source” and have many “aha moments” whether we are alone or with other “like-minded” individuals. The more we tune into these moments, the more connected we are to our inner “guru” or teacher and the more we can appreciate other people’s words of wisdom.

Throughout my 20’s-40’s, whenever my Mama shared her wisdom, I used to do some MAJOR eye rolling! I’m sure you’ve been guilty of doing the same, right? She used to tell me that I had a lot of college degrees, but she went to “The University of Life” as she called it. Oh the eye rolling and head shaking that went on!!!!!! I still cringe when I think of my audacity and how arrogant I was to this woman who brought me into the world. She truly was a wealth of knowledge. I just didn’t see it. My warped thinking at the time went something like this: “What could she possibly know when she didn’t even go to college? I don’t even know if she ever got to finish HS!” Regardless, Mama did in fact go to the University of Life or, like many spiritual masters call it, Earth School.

An activity that is truly reflective, allows us to tap into our own wisdom and radiate that wisdom, is writing a letter to our younger Self. Have you ever done this? I’ve done a few over the years. It’s a pretty powerful experience. As a matter of fact, what sparked this blog was coming across a letter I wrote to my 13 year old self. When I wrote that, I also then wrote one to my 55 year old self. I would like to share these with you now:

Dearest 13 year old JT, Develop a practice…tune into your inner guru, the Divine, and know that all will be well. Let love, compassion, joy and peace guide your every step, word and interaction with others. Life is a divinely ordained journey that helps us to grow, evolve and become our best Self. Worry less, laugh more….no need to worry for all your needs and everything you need in life will be yours by your Divine birthright. Be kind to yourself and others and live mindfully, present, awake and aware of the energy you bring forth. Stay in the light. Shine your light and know you are perfect and whole the way you are…..Love is the essence.

Dearest Present Day 55 year old JT, By now you know the Divine connection you have with God and the Universe. You’ve learned practices and filled your spiritual toolbox with lots of  resources that allow you to show up and be present. Keep growing, evolving and shinning your light. All things come in Divine order and in God’s timing. Your ultimate soulmate, opportunities for philanthropy and resources needed will, by right, find their way to you. In the interim, continue leading from the heart…right from the start.

Earth School is a life-long journey that affords us the opportunities to amass voluminous amounts of wisdom. This wisdom, sage advice and inner knowingness can be shared via our interactions with friends, family members, colleagues and the stories we choose to share. This is what the elders of centuries ago shared around the campfire. It truly is a privilege and honor to be able to impart our sage advice and wisdom with others. It can also be looked at as a responsibility we have to other human beings. And, when others share their words of wisdom, regardless of who they are, their life or living circumstances, perspective and outlook, let’s try not to roll our eyes! Oftentimes we look at others’ life circumstances and wonder who are they to be sharing their advice and suggestions. In fact, they have earned that right because they, too, have gone to The University of Life / Earth School. Their life may look a little differently to us; nevertheless, we should not discount the value in what they have to share. Embrace it! We are all pure knowledge, we just have to embrace that thought, tap into our own teacher/guru, shine our light and confidently radiate wisdom.

I invite you all to write a letter to your younger Self. Pick an age….12, 15, 21……and share your words of wisdom with your younger self. You may also want to write one to your present day self. Just write away….don’t censor your writing. Let it flow. You may just surprise yourself with what comes out. Why? Because your inner guru/teacher will be doing the talking. Keep shining brightly my darlings!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

The Power of We….Who’s Your Tribe?

“Although individual spiritual practice is essential, and can take us a long way on our journey, to truly awaken beyond the fears and timetables of our ego, we need to engage in transformative interactions with other people who share our aspirations” Craig Hamilton

We all need a spiritual “board of directors“….don’t we? I’m not certain, but I think Wayne Dyer, or maybe someone at Hay House, can be credited for saying this. In my humble opinion, I strongly and unequivocally believe it to be so very true!  So, in addition to the Tribe(s) in my life, I decided to create my very own spiritual board of directors. It’s members? Well, lets start with Wayne Dyer, Mother Teresa, Maya Angelou, Gandhi, Princess Di, Martin Luther King, Louise Hay, my elders and ancestors and the likes of others whom are still on this earth and for whom I’m grateful for the work they do and the impact they are having on humanity. They include, but are not limed to, Seane Corn, Deepak Chopra, Oprah, Marianne Williamson, Tony Robbins, Maria Shriver, Thich Nhat Hahn, Eckhart Tolle, Carloyn Myss, Iyanla Vanzant, Pema Chodron, The Dalai Lama, and Pope Francis. It truly warms my heart to see all the young and aspiring spiritual and religious teachers who are attracting the younger generation and millennials such as Matt Maher, Carl Lentz, Panache Desai, Gaby Bernstein, Maria Forleo, and Mastin Kipp.

When I look back my 59 youthful years of  life, I see that I  primarily always surrounded myself with “like minded” friends, even though I didn’t have the verbage “like-minded” in my repertoire of words back in in my 20’s and 30’s. Nevertheless, I had wonderfully supportive and varied pockets of people with whom I “connected.” We had a “common purpose” (or as my friend Mdm. B from work coined –  unity of purpose). These may have been gym friends, work related colleagues, running buddies, and girlfriends who I could call at 2AM if I needed them (and they could do the same). Oh, and let me not forget my shopping friends…what would we do without our retail therapy? More importantly, though, the last 4- 6  years, have brought my Maui sisters as well my Highland Family, otherwise known as my Highland Tribe or Sangha into my life. They have been instrumental in my spiritual and emotion growth. So many beautiful friendships have blossomed there! I seriously do not know how I would have gotten through all I’ve been through the last 5 years without them……you guessed it, that’s for yet another post!

Having a “sacred space” and our  own “tribe” with whom we can share our deepest thoughts, emotions, values, dreams, challenges, highs, lows and aspirations, without being judged, is vital to our spiritual and emotional growth. It becomes  a way of living as we begin to reap the healing benefits and wisdom each member of the group brings to the table. Trust me, it is very cathartic, therapeutic, healing, and validating to be able to pick each other’s brains without trepidation or the fear of being judged, feeling less than or unworthy. Do you have an environment or tribe that cultivates this level of evolutionary support?

Also essential for our mental, emotional, and spiritual evolution are love and connection. As Tony Robbins says, “Emotion is the force of life.” According to Tony Robbins, love and connection are one of the 6 human needs (the others are certainty, variety, significance, growth and contribution….more on those at another time). Unfortunately, we don’t always have the financial means and wherewithal to stay in the “retreat or workshop” environment in our daily lives. It’s not always feasible for me personally to go to Kripalu or Omega. That’s why I love my Tribe, my Sangha and community of like minded peeps. In addition to books, I seek for guidance and inspiration from the great thought leaders on Super Soul Sunday, watch TED talks, take advantage of the over abundance of free on-line seminars, mediations, and classes. Oftentimes, I also go to events Highland Yoga or some other venue offers.

Remember when I said I was a student of life? Well, I will now leave you with practical questions that Craig Hamilton, the founder of Integral Enlightenment, shared at a global online seminar I was part of several years back. They are key questions to ask yourself in order to have your own community, tribe, or spiritual board of directors. These are the people who will accelerate and support your awakening and evolution. Begin to ask yourself these questions:

  • Of everyone I know, with whom can I really be myself?
  • Among all my friends, family and colleagues, who truly shares my deepest values and highest spiritual aspiration?
  • Do I have any social structures in my life where I feel free to stretch myself – and my relationships – beyond my comfort zone?
  • Is there someone in my life who presents me with healthy challenges and encourages healthy risks, rather than being afraid to “rock the boat” with me? Someone I trust to stand up to me with pure intentions and care for my own betterment and that of our shared higher ideals?
  • If a number of people come to mind, count yourself among the fortunate. Then, arrange with your newly identified “evolutionary partners” to begin creating a conscious container for on-going growth and shared inquiry.

On a more personal note, it is my tribe, my peeps, my spiritual board of directors, my spiritual gangsters and my good vibe tribe that have gotten me through some of the darkest and most challenging periods of my life – the times I’ve been broken open, brought down to my knees and have come out on the other side…like a phoenix rising from the ashes of transformation, growth and evolution.  Remember darlings, we are NOT meant to go through this journey of life alone!! Together we accomplish so much more and are better able to inspire, love, serve AND lead from the heart…right from the start!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

A Conversation for Your Heart and Soul

APPROACH: Noun

-The act of drawing near, a coming

-An access; opportunity

-A manner in which a problem is solved or a policy is made

-The way of doing something

Several years ago, in one of my yoga classes at Highland Yoga Studio in Butler, NJ, the instructor talked about the word “approach” and ways she related to it and had been working with it. As I listened to what she was saying, the neurons in my brain started working overtime and it started me thinking on ways I approach situations, opportunities, people, challenges, my yoga practice, interactions and life in general. Whew….lots to think about! I  felt like my brain was a pin ball machine!!! However, it also started me thinking of my approach to what would be a new school year  (on the heels  of a change in leadership and the transition that followed……that’s a whole other blog….maybe even a book).

At that point, I “chose” to believe that it would be a good school year. Why? Because, trust me, it could NOT have gotten any worse than the previous year as a result of the many challenges, resources and personnel we lost. Despite the support, or lack thereof, that we might or might not have received, I made a “conscious choice” to maintain a positive outlook and work on my personal “approach.”  So, I share with you some thoughts on the word approach and some questions I found myself asking. I share this in hopes of awakening something – a thought, a feeling within you, a stirring of some sort. And if it makes you uncomfortable….great! That means something inside you is at work. You may be “unearthing” something that needs to come to the surface. Please don’t run from it!!! Sit with it and breathe deeply.

Take some time to converse with your heart and soul as you answer these questions. As with any good, deep, soulful conversion, it may go on for hours, days and maybe even weeks….perhaps even longer! I personally like to journal, you may choose to do the same:

  • How do you choose to show up each day – for yourself, for others you encounter throughout the day?
  • How do you start the day?
  • How do you approach self-care?
  • What does self-care look like to you?
  • Are you kind, loving, compassionate, patient and forgiving of yourself?
  • Do you approach your family, friends, loved ones, spouse, partner and pets with kindness, love, compassion, empathy, dignity, patience, respect, integrity and non-violence?
  • Do you act or react when a challenging situation arises?
  • What’s happening inside of you right now?
  • Do you pause, create space and allow your natural awareness to arise?
  • Do you allow yourself the space to be mindful and non-judgemental?
  • What is your approach to your job?
  • Have you set an intention?
  • What is it?
  • How will you chose to approach a new day, a stranger, a task, meeting, project, person, colleagues, etc.?
  • Are you hopeful?
  • Are you happy?
  • Is there something that needs changing?
  • What is it?
  • Are you rigid or flexible?
  • Do you have an open or closed mind?
  • Will you choose to be optimistic or pessimistic?

Without a doubt, approach is a CONSCIOUS choice, a DELIBERATE, thought-out CHOICE.  Our choices speak volumes! And, we are all role models…..a very powerful and influential position with which we have been graced. We have the ability to create or destroy depending on the approach we take. If given the choice, why not make mindful, patient, positive, inspiring, compassionate, respectful and non-violent choices – straight from out heart center – that create community and help to mold ourselves, children, family, friends, and partners into Peaceful Warriors???

Darlings, I urge you all to AWAKEN your senses and those of the people around you. We only get to do each day once, so why not CHOOSE to APPROACH each day with a sense of mindful awareness, wonder, patience, honor, respect, integrity, compassion, understanding, empathy and peace??? Collectively, we CAN choose to be the peace this world so desperately needs. Our influence is exponential and is just another way to inspire, love, serve AND lead from the heart….right from the start!

Inhale Love….Exhale Gratitude, JTC