Step into your purpose.... create a 2012 you'll love

Resolutions are not one of my favorite things because after many years of listing lofty goals, I failed miserably. By day three, I was off the wagon, whether it was saving more money or finishing one of the many books I have cooking in the back of my head. After not following through on these ambitious goals, I'd hate myself for going back to my old ways and thus the never ending cycle of failure to realize my resolutions continued. But something happened last year that worked and I want to share.

Instead of resolutions, I created intentions. I did not share them with the world. I just lived them. That is, I surrendered to my intentions. I gave them attention by living them. I did as my wise elders do, let the universe take care of the details.

Know this: whatever you pay attention to will grow, whatever do don't, won't. This is an eternal truth that my mom has shown me as tends to her garden, the fruits which everyone around her gets to enjoy-- avocados, squash, plantains, passion fruits, bananas, pineapples, pigeon peas, oregano, cilantro, rosemary, soursop, panapen, lemons, and more. Mami's plot is tiny in the scheme of the planet, but it is really a lot bigger. She nurtures each of those plants with impeccable attention, each day. And wonderful things happen--the universe responds!

You are like a garden filled with delicious gifts. Your pure potential is there. Idle. Waiting for you to tend to it. Nurture your fruits with impeccable love. Realize yourself. Share yourself.

Whatever your intentions for 2012 are, I encourage you to above all, live in state that is truthful to you-- in every way. When you live in conflict with your internal truth, when what you do is opposite to who you are, your spirit will tell you and you will feel dis-ease. This spiritual malaise will turn into physical sickness. Do not think one thing and live another. It will catch up. Be mindful of this my beautiful seƱoritas.

Here are six ways to create a 2012 you'll love:

I came to win, to fly, to conquer, to thrive, to prosper, to rise...

Today's anthem, brought to you by the bodacious fellow Caribbean ladies, Nicki Minaj & Rihanna

Be bold. Be strong. Be gentle. Be kind. And, as my momma says, go get it, you were born to win!

Encourage the good in your life & watch magic unfold

Have you set your intentions for 2012? I have been formulating mine gently in my head, thinking deeply about what I desire to manifest in my life in the next calendar cycle. These desires are personal, and intimate and have nothing to do with anyone else. So, my advice, take a deep breath, and carefully craft your intentions for your next year with loving care.

This beautiful chant from David Simon of the Chopra Center will help put you in the right frame of mind. Click here for it. This chant is an invitation to cultivate a state of mindfulness that allows you to bring things, experiences, people into our life that nourish you putting you closer to the flow of life.

According to the yogis or yoga or Ayurveda honoring everything in the manifest world – that is, everything that has form – has a three-fold expression. In other words, all of life has a beginning, middle and an end to it. Gardeners, farmers, fishermen / women, people who are always conversing with nature, understand this cycle. The nature of life is that everything that is born must die. Every relationship that we enter into has its end already written. It’s a hard-core fact. So instead of despairing, the yogis and wise people of world say that if we ride the wave of beginnings, middles and endings in life with effortlessness, balance, enthusiasm, appreciation and grace we hit the jackpot. They say this is the key to living a conscious life. 

David Simon--who by the way is battling brain cancer– says that if we surrender to this flow of life, if we are not struggling or resisting all the time, if we are not trying to impose our individualized ideas about how things should be but have an awareness of how things are then we experience the sweet fragrance of life.

“When we are willing to accept the cycle of beginnings, middles and ends without a lot resistance, then we experience a joyfulness that we feel tangibly in our minds, bodies, hearts, & soul-- it’s a sweet fragrance that arises when our personal experience is in tune or is in alignment with nature, with the divine.” Yup, we experience divinity.

I will share that this is not just available to yogis or wise people of the world. This year, I have had moments where I tapped into simple joy -- watching dew on a leaves --  that made me well up with joy. That photo heart shaped leaves above with morning dew captured a momentary sweetness that Simon was referring to -- pure bliss, joy and timelessness.  I just stood there experiencing those leaves. I opened myself to see what was and not what I wanted to see and bam!  

So there you go, understand that life will take you through cycles, up, down, sometimes out, but get up, and accept things as they are, surrender to those cycles with effortlessness, balance, enthusiasm and appreciation and tap into the joy that is around you. 

Best of luck with your intentions. 

R.I.P Cesaria Evora

Cesaria Evora is the reason why I first wanted to learn Portuguese. After more than a decade of listening to her songs I still don't speak it, yet despite my language deficiency, I've been able to enjoy the Cape Verdean goddess' gorgeous voice and soulful songs. She's been a constant as I write, cook, read, or chill in the warm lavender baths I am fond of taking.

Today, as I replayed Afropop's live recording of her first New York City show all day, it hit me that  although I have never really fully understood or understand what she is singing on a conscious level, the universality of her music enters sweetly into my gut.  I realized that I get Cesaria because she reminds me so much of the women in my father's small lush Caribbean town filled with Africa's scattered children.

Her homeland, Cape Verde, a string of islands off the coast of Africa colonized by Portugal, is in many ways just like the string of islands of the Caribbean colonized by Europeans of all sorts. Many people on these islands share one thing: a unique African expression that transcends language, time and generations. My three aunts, two of them, Himilice and Minerva, who are R.I.P., and Aida, who still blesses my world with her joie de vivre, are black women who love to sing and sing with love. They could be Cesaria. Cesaria was them.

It was today, as I remembered Cesaria, I was able to fully appreciate the connection. Thank you barefoot goddess. Je t'aime beaucoup. Here's one of my favorite Cesaria songs Petit Pays. Enjoy...

Cheers to today

Animals and laughing babies, good prescriptions for a lovely start of the weekend. 

Self love and other tricky feelings...

My definition of self-love-- the knowing that you are a worthy human being-- continues to expand on a daily basis. It's an endless and most important conversation to have with myself, and with others which is why I explore the topic in my book. Self love, acting on it, self care, is ground zero for life. It's where I believe every act and choice we make begins...

Yesterday, I added another level to my awareness of self-love after reading Sara Benincasa's exploration to her addiction to apologizing. The humorously titled post I am Not Sorry About My Vagina and Other Apologies We Should Retract, is worth reading . 

Benincasa is a recovering apology addict. She writes insightfully about the many boneheaded apologies she has made over the years. Some apologies are so tragic that they are funny. She asked women to share their apology stories. Illuminating.

This is the thing: women are conditioned to say sorry for things we have no business being sorry for! By the way, this is not to be confused with not having the humility of accepting when you are wrong and recognizing when your actions hurt others. 
The female apology addiction is bigger and different than that and one worth exploring. An anecdote of  one woman is telling: she apologized to a hospital staff for being unable to stop crying after having an abortion! 

Yes, we apologize for feelings, we apologize to those who hurt us or for desiring things that perhaps we don't feel we deserve...  The list is long.  But, its worth asking yourself today: what are you apologizing for? And should you be saying you are sorry? Because sometimes love is not having to say that you are sorry!

We are the universe and the universe lives in us...

The view my my childhood home
I am back from the Caribbean after a long weekend visiting my large extended beautiful tribe. The visit was to celebrate the wedding of a cousin. It was a country wedding without all the highly curated and superficial trappings often found in a big city or upper class nuptial, where people mortgage their homes to throw the biggest party simply to impress. You know these events, the shoes, handbag, title and bank account define you as someone worth talking to or knowing. None of this happened at this sweet nuptial. It was unedited humanity, raw, kind of intense, but pure. Love all around. Here, everyone was worth dancing with, talking to and laughing with. Kids and the elders were invited and found on the the dance floor with the young, the beautiful and the bold. The bride, my cousin, told me that she invited 230 people but ordered food and drinks for 280 (the entire town!) "People who I may not have invited will show up and I want to make sure there is enough for all," she said. At this party, everyone ate at the main table.

There are many lessons from my visit besides a gentle reminder of the generous spirit of many members of my family. But, I want to share one precious moment:

In this small lush town I noticed that all the children walk around knowing that they own the earth. They  own it not in a mortgage-owning kind-a way, more like intuitively understanding that they are part of the universe and the universe resides inside of them. Think of an eagle gracefully soaring across the sky knowing that the sky is his highway.

My sister and I were crossing a creek with a 10 year old cousin and he was barefoot because my big sis had borrowed his flip flops. It was dark out and the stars up above were huge and sparkly. As he ran across the small path along the corridor of the creek, he shouted, "I am God, watch me fly!" I shouted back to him. "Yes, indeed, you are God." And he said to me: "I am glad that you can see it!"

I pray that he never forgets. That I never forget. That you, reading this post, never forget: that you are God, that you can fly!

I think that my little man cousin understood that he is sacred in great part because of where he lives,  surrounded by lush trees, water, sun and water, both sweet and salty. Honestly, not having that much money allows him to be closer to nature and to himself in a way that all the modern day accoutrement's keep other city kids from connecting within.

Life is beautiful...beach day with my sisters.

Where ever you are and whomever you're with, may you have the space in your heart (and mind) to be fully present. Happy weekend.

World AIDS Day...

It's time to talk / think about AIDS in America. Latinas and African American women are disproportionately affected by AIDS. The disease is the leading cause of death among Black women. Latinas are right behind. Protect yourself with the facts.