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Posts Tagged ‘joy’


Enjoying the sun

On the eve of my 38th birthday, I sit here in a cafe, wanting to sing out at the top of my lungs, bursting with passion and light. There are hardly words powerful enough to express how much I love my life, how much happiness I feel inside. On a daily basis, my spirit is overflowing with radiant joy and I am forever in search of the right words, words compelling and powerful enough to do it justice. And I realize this is a good challenge to have! But it wasn’t always this way. I fought a long, hard, soul-wrenching journey to arrive in this place.

As is so often the case on one’s birthday, I too find myself in deep reflection of my past journey: each choice made, every road taken, to get me to the place where I am today. When I was a teenager I said to my friends that when I was older I wanted to move around and live in different places. Somehow I knew I wasn’t meant to stay where I was. It seems I always had a wanderlust inside of me, and I could never have imagined what a self-fulfilling prophecy that statement would become. I first dipped my exploratory toes in the water by leaving my home town to move to the summer beach town of York Beach, Maine. This first spreading of my wings would allow me to take flight, and fly I did… straight across the ocean to spend a full year of living in Spain. After that year abroad, there was no going back. I knew it was only full steam ahead.

But the real meat of my journey began when I left college and stepped boldly into adulthood, venturing out on my own as an independent, self-sufficient, fearless adult. And that was the beginning of the journey to fulfilling my childhood prophecy.

I’ve been thinking about the scene in Eat, Pray, Love where Elizabeth Gilbert is contemplating the meaning of her own journey and what the city of Rome represents to her. This got me to thinking of each of the incredible, distinctive cities in which I have lived and worked as an adult, and what they represented to me. And I asked myself, “If I could find one word to define what each city meant to me, what would it be?” Somehow the answers came to me almost instantly.

The first city on my journey was Boston. And the word:

Foundation.

Paul Revere Boston

Photo by Flickr User NathanF.

In my senior year of college I was determined to end up anywhere but Boston, as I was already eager to soar to more distant shores. But it seemed that there in Boston I was meant to stay (at least for then), so that I could build the strong foundations under my feet. No matter where else I have lived, Boston is always the home in my heart, the place where I was able to develop into a strong adult, the place that forged the fire of my inner identity. Boston and her people would have a powerful influence over how I would see the world, over my political ideology, my values, and my manner of interacting in the world. This city, so real and down to earth, would encourage in me my open and direct, “tell it like it is” nature, my high energy and fast-paced, sarcastic wit… oh and of course a superior driving ability. 😉

During my six years in Boston, I had the fortune of experiencing what it truly means to be fulfilled by a career, and to love going to work every day. My work in international educational travel allowed students to open their eyes and see the world. This work took me overseas multiple times per year, using my Spanish, connecting with foreign souls, learning about the world…building the foundation of who I would become.

Boston would also teach me about the highest and lowest experiences of the heart, connecting me with my first true love, my first passionate soul connection, and in turn my first debilitating broken heart and my first sobering bout of depression. And though I could never have imagined it at the time, this was all part of building a solid foundation, it was laying the building blocks of a strong heart.

When my despair began to overshadow the beauty in my life, when I could no longer bear to look at sights of memories gone by, without being torn apart by the pain, that is when I knew it was time to move on. After six years of exploring her historic cobblestone streets, meandering past her gas lanterns, and taking in the salty sea air, it was my time to leave Boston.

My next destination was Washington, DC, a city to which, only a few years prior, I had stubbornly stated that I would never move. And yet here I was. And the word for DC:

Exploration.

After 911 decimated the student travel industry, I left behind the career I had loved and the only life I had known, to explore being a new version of myself. Passionate about foreign affairs and spurred on by the events taking place in the world, I enrolled in a Master’s of International Affairs program at George Washington University. I remember my first weeks in DC, being so excited to explore a new place. I ventured out around her quaint neighborhoods, admiring her majestic Ambassadorial residences, and charmed by her tree-lined streets, this time with colorful row-houses, a contrast to the dark brownstones of Boston. I was enchanted by her vibrant cherry blossoms, her colorful tulips and daffodils sprouting out from every corner. I was captivated by her diversity, her rich cultural and international identity; and by so many amazing and idealistic causes, initiatives, and events unfolding across the city. Engaged and mentally stimulated at every turn, I was exploring a completely different life than the one I had known in Boston.

DC cherry blossoms

It didn’t take long, however, for me to realize that my exploration into graduate school was not in fact the right path. Turned off by bureaucracy and red-tape, this fast-talking, fast-moving Bostonian needed something that was much more dynamic, much more fluid. After one semester, I decided to take a leave of absence to explore other options.

The sages say “Ask and you shall receive.” If I wanted fast-moving and dynamic, that was exactly what I would get when I suddenly found myself in my very first start-up role. Here in a city known for government and politics, I had found a tiny slice of the dot-com world. And the exploration continued. As I developed into my first ever management role, building out an entire department, team, and infrastructure from scratch, and working infinite hours to do so, at the same time there was a deep exploration of the heart taking place. I was involved (or perhaps “entangled” would be a better word) with my next love, a man who now lived 3,000 miles across the country, in Los Angeles; a man that had “accidentally” become my best friend, a man that could complete my sentences, a man that understood ever fiber of my being. But with this exploration came great challenge and confusion, for this man and I had several years between us, and we were in decidedly different phases of our lives, both ready for different things, and seemingly heading in different directions. And so all good things shall come to an end.

I loved my time living in Washington, DC, but from the moment I arrived, I somehow knew it was only temporary. There was a deep calling within me, an inner knowing that I must one day move to the west coast. When this man suddenly met another woman and chose her to walk beside, I knew that this period of exploration was over, and that instead it was time for decisive action. Around the same time, my start-up had gotten acquired, and I knew it was becoming time to move on from Washington, DC. After four years of walking past the White House and the great halls of Congress, biking the shores of the Potomac River, sitting next to the magnificent seat of Abraham Lincoln and looking out over the National Mall in deep contemplation, I knew it was time to leave the nation’s great capital. And it was the time to take the next step towards my destiny path of moving to the west coast.

It is safe to say that had it not been for this man, Los Angeles would never in a million years have been on my radar. In fact ask him at the time and he would have told you that I hated Los Angeles. And yet the next thing I knew I was loaded up in my 1997 Saturn, with a friend and my loyal feline companion, and I was going for broke. I knew I had to fight for love.

Photo by Flickr user victoriabernal.

Photo by Flickr user victoriabernal.

3,000 miles later I drove into the city of Los Angeles, the blazing sunset lighting up the palm trees and sparkling with possibility over the sea before me. And so began my new life on the west coast. And the word that would come to represent Los Angeles:

Awakening.

It was here in Los Angeles that the man for whom I had risked it all, rejected me and wrote me out of his story. He was moving on and in the blink of an eye, he was out of my life forever. Forget about him having been my best friend, forget about him having known my soul more deeply than any other being, forget about all of the sincere promises to be in my life forever. None of that seemed to matter. He disappeared into the night. And here begins the “dark night of the soul.” Having just given up a high-paying, stable job and great friends in DC, I now found myself jobless, friendless, and virtually alone in the City of Angels. Despite the name, I felt no angels by my side. I felt completely alone in a vast sea of emptiness, left with nothing but a gaping hole in my heart.

Looking back with hindsight, I can now see that what I’ve described above are the perfect conditions to launch one into a powerful spiritual awakening; when one hits the true rock bottom and when there is nowhere deeper to go, I believe that this is when we are perfectly prepared to crack wide open. And crack open I did.

There were angels in Los Angeles, and those angels guided me to yoga.

The practice of yoga would change my life forever and in ways of which I could never dare dream. The yoga created a profound energetic shift within me and magic began to stir. Psychic dreams began to occur, my empathic abilities became incredibly heightened. I could feel the Kundalini energy awakening within me. In one of my darkest moments, all of these swirling energies culminated for me in a powerful out of body experience. My spirit left my body and in an instant I was embraced in the warm light of the Divine. When I came back into my body, my life would never again be the same. I knew for certain the immortality of my own soul, I knew that I was part of a greater sea of energy, of a collective consciousness. And I  knew that I would never again be alone. “Awakening” truly is the only word that I have been able to identify that comes close to describing what I experienced.

After this experience, my connection with Los Angeles was never the same. I would hike regularly in the Hollywood Hills and each time I did, I would be overcome with emotion when I would reach the top and look down on the breathtaking, expansive city below. And I understood in an instant why the Spaniards had named it “The City of Angels.” They too must have felt what I felt. Love poured down from the heavens and into my soul. I now knew that there were angels all around me. I felt them. I sensed them. It is somewhat ironic given the negative stereotypes of Los Angeles, but to this day, Los Angeles remains the place on this Earth where I have felt the most spiritually connected.

As I continued down the yogic path, my life began to align in crazy and undeniable ways. My intuition and inner guidance grew stronger and stronger and signs appeared to me, left and right, guiding me along my path, showing me which way to go. And the signs were very clearly pointing in one direction, and one direction only: to San Francisco. And the word that has come to encapsulate San Francisco for me:

Expansion.

How do I even begin to describe the magic, the sheer expansion that has occurred in my life since moving to San Francisco? There is so much: So much beauty, so much Grace, so much of the right person showing up at the right time, so much of the perfect opportunity falling in my lap at exactly the moment that I needed it, so much unexplainable mystery and synchronicity that defies all reason and logic. And it happens on a regular basis.

I moved to San Francisco on the tails of another dot-com job, thus continuing on the career path previously started in Washington, DC. But it became quickly clear to me that this job was merely a catalyst to get me to San Francisco. The job that brought me here eventually let me go, releasing me into the perfect storm of freedom and opportunity, a culmination of all of my different life experiences coming together in a singular moment; a moment that I don’t even remember, the moment when I chose be a writer. Looking back, I truthfully have no recollection of this precise moment, of the how, the why, the when. It just happened. It was as if the Divine hand of Grace reached down and took me over and I was simply on auto-pilot.

San Francisco golden Gate view

From that moment on my life has expanded beyond my wildest dreams. I am blown away and humbled on a daily basis by the large audience that has gathered in support around me, from all around the world; people who are actually interested in hearing what I have to say: ME. This still astonishes me. My writing has been featured in various online publications; I appeared in my first print magazine, as Martha Stewart’s Blogger of the Month in her Whole Living Magazine (I still have to pinch myself over this one!), and I am honored for my next, upcoming appearance in Origin Magazine. I have been interviewed by the most wonderful people, truly beautiful souls who are aligning with their true paths. And I know, with such clarity, that I too have aligned with my true purpose: to help people to heal, by sharing my experiences of triumph over darkness, and by sharing stories of the healing power of yoga, as I do weekly in my blog, The Yoga Diaries™. I believe that yoga has the power to heal the world and I am on a personal mission to share that message.

As I marvel at the unbelievable blessings that occur in my life on a daily basis, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for these gifts. And through the ongoing expression and practice of gratitude, I see even more of it flow into my life. The beauty continues to compound upon itself. I have met the most incredible people on this journey: beautiful friends who walk beside me on this soul path; amazing connections around every corner, people who are living from the heart and following their passions to do good for the world. All of this has amazingly even led to me working with a best-selling author, who has become a good friend. And I continue to be blown away. I stand in awe, every single day, of the wonderful souls that surround me, that support me, and that help my spirit and my life to expand beyond all wonder.

I often have younger people express to me their confusion about their paths, struggling to make sense of where it’s all going. And I always assure them that one day they will reach a point where they will be able to look back and realize that all the dots connected. As I reflect on my own journey, I am once again able to see the same thing. Not only do the dots connect, but if we are open and paying attention to the signs around us, they do so in miraculous and mind-blowing ways.

I stand on the many hilltops of San Francisco, looking out at the spectacular beauty all around me, and all I see are limitless possibilities. And I feel my spirit expand towards the heavens.

Heart Wide Open Cropped

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As we begin a new year, I pause to reflect back on all that has come before: all of the trials and tribulations, the beautiful and painful moments, all of the invaluable lessons learned. And I realize how far I have come, how much every experience, every moment has contributed to a beautiful transformation that has made me the strong, vibrant, and happy woman that I am today. And I am grateful.

After living through the darkest years of my life, I came to fully understand the valuable piece of knowledge that through our thoughts and our feelings, we create much of our own reality. Armed with that knowledge, I made a conscious choice to turn my life around, and in turn throughout 2011 and 2012, I have experienced and LIVED the happiest, most joy-filled, abundant, expansive years of my life. Now that I have integrated very conscious practices into my everyday life, as a way of life, rather than something fleeting, I know that I hold the power to make 2013 and beyond equally as potent, magical, and blissful.

Here’s to a lifetime of continued abundance and happiness. ♥

Photo by Flickr user Chema Escarcega.

Photo by Flickr user Chema Escarcega.

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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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Today a dear friend of mine sent me the following quote:

If you want the rainbow, you have to tolerate the rain.”

I don’t know who said that quote, other than to say that it came from a Chinese Fortune Cookie: the little nuggets of wisdom that they are.

I’m not sure if this friend intended it, or if it was “accidental,” but it was poignantly timed with an idea that I had posted earlier in the day, about the fact that the Wheel of Fortune is always turning. I wanted to get across the idea that although we may have tough times, that seem hard to bear, that during those times we are simply at the bottom of the wheel; and as the wheel is perpetually turning, it does mean that we will inevitably, in a matter of time, be back up at the top of the wheel again, experiencing good times. The rainbow will follow the rain.

The responses that I got to this message really made me think. While I intended it to be an inspirational message of hope, it occurred to me that there are a couple of ways that we can choose to look at this metaphor, and most of us have been on both sides of this coin: We can of course see that as the wheel spins, that there will always be hard times, and we can fear, even dread those times. But the other way that we can choose to view it, is that even those hard times are a gift: that without those low times, we cannot fully appreciate the high times. And instead of fearing them, we can embrace them for the wisdom and growth… and perspective… that they bring us.

Through my own experiences, I have come to fully believe that the pain and sorrow that we feel in our lives, is directly proportionate to the joy and elation that we are capable of feeling; meaning that if you experience the lows, viscerally, then you will experience the highs that much more ecstatically. This has been my experience throughout my life. For that reason, I am grateful, truly, for all of the pain and hard times that I have had in my life, for I know that out of those times comes an ever greater and more powerful capacity for joy.

In the type of yoga that I practice, which is based on Tantric philosophy, we talk a lot about the darkness and the light, and the idea that you cannot have one without the other. You cannot experience light without experiencing the darkness that comes before it. And so we practice embracing both sides, the dark and the light, the yin and the yang, the Shiva and Shakti energy.

When I opened my email and read the quote about the rainbow, it solidified this idea for me. If we do not live through and tolerate the rain, we would never be able to experience the rainbow. I don’t know about you, but even if it means living through the rain, the metaphorical hard times, the bottom of the Wheel of Fortune, I am not willing to give up the rainbow…

A special thank you to Jules for being my inspiration today.

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