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The year was 1995. I was 20 years old and I found myself alone at a friend’s apartment in London. It was a cold winter day and because London was dark by 3pm, I was stuck in the apartment very early in the day. Dinner consisted of a pathetic bowl of ice-cream as I watched a dreadfully boring tv show (on a screen full of static snow) about cheese-making in Britain. This was my first Christmas spent alone. It is a day I will never forget. I had never felt so alone in my life.

The second Christmas I would spend alone was in 2007. I was now 32 years old and living in Los Angeles. I spent the day curled up in an agonizing ball of tears, grieving over the man I loved, who would be spending his first Christmas with the woman who had replaced me. There was no eating on that day. The pain was too great to allow for food. It was too much to even answer the phone. I talked to no friends or family that day. The only place I could bear to be was alone with my grief. That was the low point of my life.

The third Christmas I would spend alone is this one: 2011. I am now 36, almost 37 years old and I am living in San Francisco. It is so fascinating and thought-provoking for me to reflect on all of the Christmases between this one and that first lonely Christmas spent in London. To be honest with you, I don’t even remember where I spent all of the Christmases in between. There may have been other lonely holidays spent alone, but the ones I remember are the ones I’ve mentioned. Those are the ones that stand out as the painful and defining moments in my life.

I ponder the 16 years that have passed since I served myself that Christmas ice-cream “feast,” and it is hard to even fathom the person I was and the person I have become. A lifetime of changes, heartaches, joys, triumphs, laughter, tears and adventures have taken place over those 16 years. From Spain to Boston, to Washington, DC, Los Angeles to San Francisco, I have lived across a span of 6,000 miles. I have gone from being a student living in Spain, to planning international travel, to being a graduate school drop out, to working at the United Nations in Geneva, through my first acquisition as a manager at a start-up, to working at a minimum wage job struggling to pay my rent, back to management in a start-up, to being fired and now to being an inspirational writer. It has been a path I could never have imagined and a level of growth and transformation that is immeasurable by time or space.

As I write this post, it is Christmas Eve and I am curled up in my pajamas with my two kitties, the only two constant companions in my life over the past decade. They are the wall between me and the full grip of loneliness. I will not be with close friends or family this Christmas, not because I don’t have those, but simply because we are all in different places this year and circumstances prevent us from being together. Is it easy to be alone? I would certainly be lying if I said “yes,” but I am here to tell you that there is an indomitable strength and fortitude that has come from having to face the depths of such solitude. Walking through such loneliness over a span of so many years has forced me to walk through the fire and it has allowed me to emerge a Spiritual Warrior. And with that has come the knowledge and the wisdom that I am my own strongest ally, that with my inner strength and fire I can overcome and endure any plight or challenge that comes my way.

I am here today to reach out to all of the other lonely souls out there who feel that they are all alone and who feel that they are the only ones. I am here to tell you that you are not alone. I am here to tell you that you are one of millions, that as I write these words there are countless other people in the exact same situation, wishing that they had loved ones with whom to share the holidays. And I am here to tell you that there is strength in that. You are not alone. None of us are alone. We are all connected by heart and spirit. We are all Spiritual Warriors and if we can tap into that collective energy we can feel the love and brotherhood among us.

I am also here to tell you that there is opportunity in solitude. I could spend Christmas Day alone and depressed about how everyone else I know is with loved ones. It would be far too easy to go to that place. But I refuse to allow myself that poisonous indulgence. Instead I will begin my day with a deep meditation, allowing myself to access that profound well of inner calm and the connection to my higher self and Universal love; that place where peace washes over you. Then I have organized a Christmas dinner, a dinner of complete strangers, an opportunity for other solitary souls to come together to share a dinner in the comfort of community; an opportunity to get to know new people, to share stories, to laugh and to allow ourselves to feel the joy of simple human connection.

If you are alone this Christmas, be comforted in knowing that in fact you are not alone. Reach out and connect with strangers. Go out to the pub and strike up a conversation with your neighbor. Go volunteer at a soup kitchen and connect with others by giving of your heart. Go to a yoga class and flow with a community of like-minded souls. Remember that we are all brothers and sisters on this journey of souls and none of us are ever alone. We are all connected.

Whatever holiday you celebrate, from my heart to yours…..

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Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the United States, a day of giving thanks and expressing gratitude for all of the gifts in each of our lives. Thanksgiving as a cultural holiday is all about turkeys and stuffing, pumpkin pies, laughing with family, watching football, playing board games…so many different ways for families to come together and share their joy with one another. For many families it also involves saying Grace at the dinner table.

I remember as a kid being very uncomfortable with this concept. I didn’t come from a particularly religious family, so for me saying Grace was synonymous with praying. It was something that religious families did, something that for me involved that awkward and elusive word “God.” It was simply something that was not part of my vocabulary and it was definitely something that felt a bit too ritualistic for my taste.

I have now realized that while saying Grace is a practice performed by many different religions and spiritual traditions all over the world, at its core the concept really has nothing to do with the institution of religion itself. Grace is simply about the attitude of being grateful, expressing joy for all of the beautiful things in your life. It is not about wishing for more, but instead it is about being grateful for exactly what you have, whatever or however little that is. And I have also realized that it is far more than just a mere ritual of words. The act of saying Grace, the proactive and conscious practice of gratitude has much, much more power than one might possibly imagine.

The Gratitude Tree by Nick Wormell

Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, has spent his whole adult life centered in and sharing the practice of gratitude and gratefulness. He explains gratitude as having two inter-related branches: one is gratefulness and the other is thanksgiving. He describes gratefulness using the image of a bowl, as a representation of life. As one has the experience of feeling so appreciative, so full of gratitude, their bowl gets filled to the brim, just to the point where it is almost overflowing. You’ve all felt this sensation at some point in your lives: When you are so grateful for something that has occurred to you, perhaps the news that you landed the dream job, perhaps a dear friend or family member giving birth to a healthy baby. Whatever the situation may be, you are so elated and bubbling over with joy that you feel the sensation of the bowl filling up with happiness and gratefulness.

As you focus on these jubilant life situations and wonderful emotions, as you feel the overwhelming sense of gratitude and appreciation, the bowl gets so full that it begins to overflow into the second branch of gratitude: thanksgiving. As a result of feeling the ecstasy of the absolute fullness of life, you now begin to attract beautiful things back into your life. As your own gratefulness overflows, thanksgiving brings ever more bounty into your life. And as you begin to become aware of and consciously focus on your feelings of gratitude, you notice that as they get more powerful and more a regular part of your life, so too does the flow of abundance into your life.

This awesome power of gratitude has become ever more evident to me as I’ve studied more and more about the power of the mind, the power of our thoughts to impact our surroundings and our experiences, the power of our emotions to attract beauty into our lives. As I wrote about recently in my post “The REAL Secret,” our thoughts do have power, both for good and bad. And if we can allow ourselves to live with conscious awareness of what we are thinking and feeling, and if we can harness our thoughts to focus on the beauty, to feel absolute joy and gratitude for any and all of the positive elements in our lives (regardless of what other negative elements may exist), magic will happen. By focusing on that for which we are grateful, by practicing gratitude every single day, by seeking out the beauty and the positivity in every waking moment, we can create our very own cornucopia of abundance.

Looking back on my awkward childhood relationship with the concept of saying Grace, I now look back and nod with understanding. I now get it. I understand why people say Grace and I fully appreciate how powerful a practice it actually is. And while I am still not a religious person and probably will not be holding hands around the Thanksgiving dinner table to say Grace, I realize that I don’t have to. I hold gratitude in my own heart, in my own way, every moment of every day. And my cup (or bowl) runneth over…

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Have you ever known the person who thinks that they have it worse than everyone else? No matter what tragedies may have befallen your own life, their situation is somehow always more tragic. Whenever you talk to them they have that dreadful “woe is me” tone that makes you roll your eyes and want to hang up the phone. And even when you try to be a good friend and offer words of encouragement they find ways to pooh-pooh anything you say. The person who seems to pride themselves on spouting off nothing but negativity, that somehow if they can drag you into their negative web that they will feel better about themselves.

We’ve all known these people.  Heck, perhaps at one time or another we’ve even been that person. Come on people, let’s be honest. I know I’ve definitely been there at one dark time or another. I’m sure many of you have too.

Here’s the thing that those people (or we) do not realize. By allowing themselves (or ourselves) to wallow in their (or our) own angst and fester in their (or our) own negativity, they (or we) are actually poisoning themselves (or ourselves). Here’s why: our thoughts have power. Yes folks, you heard right and I can’t say it loudly enough. Our thoughts have power. Now many of you naysayers who have heard about the Law of Attraction and watched or read The Secret will now be rolling your eyes and think that this is new-agey horseshit. Allow me to clear some things up for you. I have studied the Law of Attraction for the past several years and I have seen proof positive of its validity in my own life: for both good and bad.

You know those days when you wake up and stub your toe and then the whole day spirals downhill from there? That is the simplest example of the Law of Attraction. You started with a negative thought and you focused your energy on it, and because of that you attracted more negative things into your life that day. You become like a magnet. I have seen my negative thoughts perpetuate more negativity and create drama in my life, and on the flip side I have seen how harnessing the positive thoughts can truly change your life in brilliant and magical ways.

Let me talk about The Secret for a second. While the underlying premise of this book and film resides in Universal truth, their portrayal of the Universal Law of Attraction is actually a bit too literal and oversimplified. The Law of Attraction does not mean that you can focus all of your attention on a new bike and then “poof” a new bike will appear. It does not even mean that you can focus on your dream job, and that if you put it on your vision board that you will one day manifest it. That is a false and very misleading teaching. Here’s why: All the Law of Attraction truly states is that like attracts like, meaning that if you focus on the negative, you will attract more negativity into your life; and alternatively if you focus on the positive, you will attract more positivity into your life. It does not allow you to focus on one specific thing that you really want and then allow that thing to come to you, all wrapped up in a pretty bow. No siree!

And the reason is because that thing which you may be trying to manifest may in fact not be meant for you. You may be trying to manifest the return of an old lover. But if there is another lover in your future that you are meant to find, that is a better fit for you, the Universe is never going to allow the return of the old lover. The same is true of the dream job. I use my own life for this example. I was trying to manifest success in the .com world, but instead the Universe pulled one of its famous tricks on me and got me fired and now on the path to being a writer. We often do not know what is best for us, therefore the Law of Attraction is not as simple as we focus on something that we really want and then we get it.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s get back to the main point, that our thoughts do have power. You don’t just have to believe me and my experiences about the power of thought. In this age when we as human beings are starting to become more aware of our consciousness and its power, quantum physics is no longer an occult subject for the airy-fairy hippies.  It has now moved to the forefront of major research institutions like Stanford, Harvard and Princeton. There have been loads of scientific studies performed about the power of the mind. As Lynne McTaggart points out in her book The Intention Experiment, the most comprehensive body of research has been amassed by William Braud, a psychologist and the research director of the Mind Science Foundation in San Antonio, Texas, and later, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology.

If you wish to learn more about the science of the mind, I recommend Lynne’s book as well as works published by the scientists on her team. In recent years I have also seen a plethora of articles published in major scientific journals about the power of meditation to actually change the chemistry of the brain. It is no longer just a fanciful theory. Modern science has finally caught up to the ideas that ancient mystics, scientists and philosophers have known for centuries: our thoughts do have power.

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make our world.”
~Buddha~

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”
~Marcus Aurelius~

“The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings
can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.”
~William James~

“Outer changes always begin with an inner change of attitude.”
~Albert Einstein~

Ok, so if it’s true that our thoughts can change our lives, how then do we implement that? I’ve discovered that the reason why so many people discount the teachings of The Secret is because they think “if it were that easy, everyone would be doing it.” We all know that when we are stuck in that dark and negative place, it can be extremely difficult to change our thoughts to something positive. It is our human nature that when we feel miserable and defeated, that just like the person I mentioned in the beginning, all too often we feel that nothing could ever improve our situation. We dwell on the negative. And in that situation the Law of Attraction IS actually working, but it is working on the negative side and against your favor. You are a magnet for more negativity to come into your life. To get it to work IN your favor, you have to change your thoughts. It is not an easy thing to do, but it is wrong to believe that it does not work. It takes a truly committed Spiritual Warrior to force themselves to change their thoughts, even when they are at their darkest.

There’s the old saying “fake it ’till you make it.” This couldn’t be more true when it comes to changing your thoughts. I’ve learned that even if you are feeling down in the dumps, if you can force yourself to focus on the positive, you can change your life. This is exactly what I have done in my own life. Because I have had such radically life-altering success by practicing the Law of Attraction and by choosing to focus on the positive, I want to share with you exactly how I did it.

Many of you who have read my prior pieces know that I have lived through what I can only aptly describe as a “dark night of the  soul” in recent years. There were many times when I did not want to get out of bed, when I felt completely alone, abandoned and unloved, when I felt that things couldn’t get any darker. I had reached my rock bottom. It was during that time that I began to study and practice the Law of Attraction, really as an act of desperation. I took a course about the Law of Attraction and I learned about the concept of a Gratitude Journal, a concept with which I’m sure many of you are familiar. By writing down that for which we are grateful, we are focusing our thoughts, our energies on the positive. I took this lesson one step further.

Every night before I would go to bed, I would make two lists: 1. First I would make a list of ALL of the good things that happened that day, no matter how small, no matter how seemingly insignificant. Even if it was something as small as the store clerk smiled at me, I wrote it down. I searched through my memory banks trying to find any possible positive thing that occurred in that day, and I wrote them all down. 2. Secondly, I would make a list of all that I was grateful for in that day. Some things would remain constant, others would change from day to day. But by writing these two lists, everyday, by actually writing down the words, I was giving them more power and energy. By forcing myself to focus on the positive, even though I felt deep sadness, I was beginning to shift my energetic vibration, and the energy in my life began to shift. I began to attract more positivity and magic into my life. As I forced myself to do these exercises everyday for months on end, I began to notice that more and more unexpected and beautiful things began flowing into my life. And the positive energy compounded upon itself. The longer I did it, the more powerful the energy became, and the more magical synchronicity came into my life.

I have shared these exercises with each beautiful soul that has reached out to me from a place of darkness asking for help. And one person after the next has told me that by doing these simple exercises, they too have started to see positive shifts in their lives. I am never surprised by this of course, because I know for myself that it truly works. So what’s the REAL Secret then? It is not simply to focus on a specific, tangible thing that you want in your life. It is instead to focus on every positive, beautiful thing that occurs in your day, to force yourself to change your negative thoughts instead to positive ones. It is to view the glass as half full, always. The REAL Secret is to continue focusing on the positive and then to simply allow, to be open to whatever beauty may come, and not pigeon-hole yourself into a specific outcome. If you do this, every day, if you truly make a conscious effort to look for the good in each day, to write it down and focus on it, I promise you that you too will change your life for the better.

For great resources on how to practice the Law of Attraction, I can recommend the following books, in addition to Lynne McTaggert’s book mentioned above: The Power of Intention, by Wayne Dyer and The Law of Attraction, by Esther & Jerry Hicks.

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Today is September 24th. This used to be a special and happy day for me. This is the birthday of the man who was once my best friend, the truest and most trusted friend I’d ever had on this Earth. But when this man left my life, and subsequently became the most painful and profound loss I’ve ever experienced, that is when September 24th did a complete 180 and became a sad and dark day for me.

Last September 24, 2010, is the day that it would become a prophetic day for me…

That day had come as it had for the previous three years and it had dragged me right back down into the darkness. The pain was palpable. But that day I made a decision. I made a decision that I would no longer allow any negative thoughts to get the better of me, to pull me down into the muck. That day, I decided to commit myself to a 365-day challenge of positivity, that for every day for a year I would force myself to focus on the positive, to find the beauty, the good and the magic in every day. That day, September 24, 2010, was the day that I began “365 Ways to Raise Your Vibration”.

This is the very first vibration that I posted that day:

“365 Ways to Raise Your Vibration”: #1: Sing at the top of your lungs in the car!

You see, the minute I had the idea (which by all means came as a flash of pure inspiration) to start this challenge I was filled with a powerful surge of love, and it was as if the Universe were saying, “Yes, yes brave girl, go forth!” I began singing at the top of my lungs, filled with positive vibration, as I drove down the freeway and that was the moment that I fully understood that we can change our thoughts, and that by doing so, we can raise our energetic vibration and create more joy for ourselves.

Each day that followed, I would look for something good in that day and I would post my daily “vibration” on my personal Facebook page. I was doing this purely for my own purposes, to raise my own spirits, to drag myself out of the quagmire of dark and murky emotions. It was truly an act of desperation. But that’s when something magical and completely unexpected began to happen. One friend after the next began asking me from what book I was getting this and where they could buy it! “From what book”?!! These were not from any book, these were my own thoughts. Wow! I had no idea that a simple little idea could have such an impact on other people, but many friends began emailing me to tell me that my posts were inspiring them, that my thoughts were encouraging them to stop and smell the flowers and to look for the beauty in their own lives.

Then one day my Mom told me that I should publish this as a book. Seriously? Was this seriously something that I, little old me, could do? After all, I wasn’t a writer, nor had I ever wanted to be. So what business did I have thinking about writing a book? Absolutely none! I tucked it into the back of mind as something I would possibly explore later. But apparently the Universe had other ideas for me. A few weeks later I was unexpectedly fired from my job, fired for the first time in my life. And let me tell you, I am not the type of person to get fired. I have always excelled at every job I’ve ever had: I am a super hard-worker, an over-achiever and was always one to get promoted (in fact I HAD been promoted only 6 months prior to this shocking blow!), so I knew immediately that this had to be for a greater purpose.

Shortly after getting fired and not really sure of what I was going to do next, into my inbox popped an email: Hay House Publishing was announcing an upcoming Writers’ Workshop. The main purpose of the workshop was to learn how to write a book proposal and how to submit it to agents and publishers. Hmm. This seemed like very odd timing to me. My friends had asked me where they could buy this book that was not a book, my Mom had told me I should publish this as a book, and I had just been fired from my job. Do you see where I’m going here? It seemed as clear as day to me with this email about the Hay House Workshop, that the Universe was offering me a breadcrumb. I knew I needed to follow it. I immediately registered for the workshop.

A few months later, in April of 2011, I went to the Hay House Writers’ Workshop in San Diego. They taught us all about how to build our platform, our audience, how to get our message out and how to write and submit a book proposal. Many of the tips that they gave us about how to build our platform had to do with leveraging social media: creating a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, blogging, and cross-cultivating all of these channels to increase our audience. Half of the audience was completely lost. “What’s a blog? What’s a Wiki? What is Twitter?” These were the types of questions being asked. I, on the other hand, was on fire. I had come from the .com world, so this was old hat to me. I knew exactly what I needed to do. I flew home from San Diego that night and I literally stayed up half of the night launching and linking all of my social media sites.

It is now only five months later since attending that Hay House Writers’ Workshop and I am thrilled and moved to have over 21,000 fans in 36 countries around the world, speaking two different languages. I am regularly blogging in English and Spanish, I have had my work featured in multiple publications and I have completed and submitted my book proposal, with the full intention of publishing 365 Ways to Raise Your Vibration as a book.

So as I sit here on September 24, 2011, I find myself completely stupefied as to how a simple little thought on a dark day one year ago, could have completely changed my life, and the lives of so many other people. I have managed to stay true to my commitment and I have posted something different every single day that raised my vibration. And believe me this was no small task. Like anyone, I had my days where I did not want to get out of bed, when life seemed hopeless and without purpose. I had other days where friends were crappy or bad things happened, some days when the proverbial skies seemed nothing but dark. How on earth could I find the light on those days? I forced myself. I knew that I had to fulfill this commitment to myself and eventually to my 21,000 fans, so even on the darkest of days, I searched high and low, I went out seeking until I could find something that raised my vibration that day, no matter how small. And I have now done this every single day for 364 days.

As I prepare to post #365, I sit here in awe and wonder: in absolute amazement that I have actually managed to fulfill this commitment for an entire year, but moreover completely blown away by how beautifully and magically my life has changed since making that commitment and setting that intention. Make no mistake: Our thoughts DO have power, and if we are strong enough to catch the negative thoughts and change them instead to positive thoughts, absolute magic can happen in our lives. So while September 24th was once a special day, and then became a dark day, I now view it is a destiny day. It was the day that I decided to change my life. And the Universe responded. What will be your destiny day?

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Cathedral of Cusco

I remember the moment as if it were yesterday. We were walking through the main square of Cusco, Peru, towards the majestic Cathedral glistening in the afternoon sun, when Danielle said to me, “It’s all perfect Jeannie. You are simply in the gestation period, things are incubating. You are getting ready to have a rebirth.” Who is Danielle and to what on earth was she referring? Danielle Hougard was the Anusara Yoga teacher who was leading me on my first ever yoga retreat. But she was not just any yoga teacher. Danielle is one of those special “Earth Mother” types, the type of woman who exudes love and motherly instincts from every cell of her body, the type of woman who is truly in touch with her intuition, the Spirit of Earth and Sky, and the energies of every living creature around her. This is a wise women who just seems to “know” things, and somehow when she says them you just know that you can trust her.

Danielle was responding to my story of how my life had fallen into ruins: I had moved across country to fight for love, only to find myself rejected and abandoned. If that wasn’t enough I had arrived at the beginning of the recession and was thrust headfirst into months of unemployment. Running out of money and desperate for work, I was compelled to take a minimum wage job at a retail store. It was depressing enough that I had gone from a successful, high-paying management career in Washington, DC, to making minimum wage, but in the depths of my own heartache, I was now forced to endure hundreds of happy couples strolling about arm in arm as the irritating Christmas carols pumped out incessantly through the loudspeakers of the shopping mall. But worst of all, every day I lived in fear that the man who had broken my heart would stroll in with HIS new girlfriend on his arm. This was my rock bottom. If there is a Hell on Earth, this was definitely it.

Fortunately through a stroke of “luck,” I was finally able to find a “real” job. Things were looking up, I could finally leave my minimum wage job and get back to building my career….Or so I thought. Sadly my luck would not last and I was laid off several months later, and found myself yet again in a period of protracted unemployment. So here I was in Peru, six months after having been laid off and I hadn’t had a single bite to the hundreds of resumes sent. My life was completely stagnating. I was having no luck on the job front, no luck on the love front, every cell in my body ached and mourned for the loss of my best friend, and I was depressed to the point where I did not want to get out of bed in the morning. The only thing I could feel in my life was a palpable feeling of stagnation. I was completely stuck.

Danielle’s response to this story was a friendly smile and a reassuring nod, telling me that everything I had just described was actually “PERFECT,” that although on the surface it felt like things were stagnating, that actually behind the scenes there were forces at work, and that I was simply in the gestation period…that I was simply getting ready for a powerful rebirth. Though to my rational (and depressed!) mind this sounded a little bit unusual and way too good to believe, the certainty with which she spoke these words gave me a momentary peace. I prayed that she was right.

By now you may be wondering what I was doing in Peru after the story I just described and given my obvious state of unemployment. Well, call me a risk-taker, but when life gets really dark and gloomy, that’s when something deep inside of me says “SCREW IT” and propels me to go do something incredible and adventurous, to try to drag myself reluctantly out of the muck. All of my life I had dreamed of going to Peru. When I was in high school Spanish class, my teacher would show us pictures of Machu Picchu and I just knew that I had to go there one day. So when I found myself in the midst of my “dark night of the soul,” and completely stuck, I knew I had to do something to try to unstick myself.

Several days after walking through that square in Cusco, we found ourselves on the very tip-top of Huayna Picchu Mountain, high above the breath-taking, mind-boggling and awe-inspiring creation that was Machu Picchu. This masterpiece defied human logic and comprehension. Its ruins were perfectly intact, each of its thousands of individual stones stacked so flawlessly and at such exquisitely engineered angles that they would remain intact and stable for hundreds of years of enduring the elements. There are honestly not any words I could ever use to adequately express what it felt like to be standing up there at 8,920 ft, literally on top of the world. As I looked around us, I was overcome with goosebumps at the beauty of the jagged, majestic mountains that shot dramatically up into the heavens, hugged and nurtured by the blankets of fog. If there was a God, he/she was certainly here. I felt the great Spirit of the Earth in the wind that whispered into my ears, in the Sun that warmed my back, and in the solid stone beneath my feet, stones that had held the weight and cradled the souls of hundreds of thousands of humans across the centuries. I was awed to my core. Standing up here at this great height, surrounded by the magic and mystery of Mother Earth, I knew I was being supported.

Me on top of Huayna Picchu Mountain, with Machu Picchu far below

At the end of our 10-day journey, completely moved and humbled by the Grace, beauty and humility of the Peruvian people, we returned home to the States, and I back to the chains of stagnation in Los Angeles. The minute I touched down in Los Angeles, I knew I had to leave. I am a stubborn person. And because I loved Los Angeles and felt a profound spiritual connection with her, I had previously been determined to stay there, despite the fact that the signs seemed to point elsewhere. But now the Universe had given me a breadcrumb to follow. You see, this yoga group, led by this sweet soul Danielle, was actually from San Francisco, and I only found them through an “accidental” twist of fate through a web search. Nobody on the trip could figure out why I was staying in Los Angeles after the horror I had described. They encouraged me to move to San Francisco. Considering that my life was completely stagnant and that I had already lost everything of importance that I could possibly stand to lose, I decided it was time to break free of my prison.

This is when Grace took over. Only five days after moving to San Francisco, for what was intended to be a one-month temporary sublet to test out the waters, a job offer had fallen unexpectedly into my lap. Over the weeks that followed, I frantically looked for a permanent apartment in San Francisco, searched desperately for someone to take over my lease in Los Angeles, packed up my entire one-bedroom apartment in 24 hours and drove the entire load, by myself, the six-hour drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco, and then started my new job the next day. Just like that, my life had shifted dramatically. Danielle’s words about an impending “rebirth” were ringing in my ears. But what I didn’t know was that this was just barely the beginning. I was only in the earliest contractions and still had over a year of “labor” ahead of me.

17 months later, after months and months of undue stress and anxiety in my corporate job, I was let go. Bowled over by the unexpected blow, I picked myself back up and threw myself immediately back into the job search. But the minute I did so, another breadcrumb was laid down for me. I had written my very first blog post, about my journey of healing through yoga, and it had felt good. But not only did it feel good, it got a good response. Somehow, as if in a daze, I suddenly found myself with my own blog and I began writing. Never having had any interest in being a writer, it was as if a higher force had suddenly taken over and was simply pulling my puppet-strings and moving me along a new and unexpected path. But this path felt right.

Now only eight short months since losing my job, I have over 20,000 beautiful, bilingual fans in 35 countries around the world, my work has been published in several different publications, I am now a regular contributor to Elephant Journal, writing in both English and Spanish, I’m about to be featured in Martha Stewart’s Whole Living Magazine, and I have just completed and submitted my very first book proposal, with the hope that I will soon be a published writer. I couldn’t have imagined this dramatic turn of events in my life even eight months ago when I lost my job. In fact almost daily I look back and scratch my head with delight and wonder. But there would be no way in my wildest, craziest dreams that I could have imagined this, as we walked through that square in Cusco talking about my impending “rebirth.”

A few weeks ago we had a reunion from our Peru trip, now just past the two-year mark since we took our trip, and I was reminding Danielle of this moment from Cusco. Danielle then told me something that I hadn’t yet known, something that made this entire experience even more unbelievable and magical to me: the name Cusco means “navel of the Earth.” Danielle had been right, I was in the gestation period and I was getting ready for a “rebirth.” What I hadn’t realized was that I had to go to Cusco, the “navel of the Earth,” in order for the “rebirth” to begin…

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