Jean Anne Costa
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Financial Prosperity

Affirmation:   We attract financial prosperity
Money!  I’m fairly thrifty on most things.  But, I don’t like to feel like I have to be thrifty.  I like to choose to be thrifty.  Can you see the difference?  It reminds me of some diets I’ve been on.  As soon as I felt I was denying myself of some specific food, I wanted it more.  Recently, I have joined Weight Watchers Online and I’ve been fascinated by the amount of food I can eat and also that I can eat anything I want, within a reasonable amount.  It seems to be working for me.  It’s the same with money, I don’t mind watching my pennies, I just want to do it because I have a responsibility to be financially aware and prudent not because we are in dire straits.  Maybe an ounce of prevention will help to keep us from being in real financial difficulties, maybe.
The affirmation:  We attract financial prosperity is one of the few where I include my husband in the statement.  Our finances are totally interwoven.  I guess that’s fairly normal after 42 years of marriage.  I remember the first time I told him about this affirmation.  We were in church.  He was pretty skeptical.  Then the donation basket was passed and I asked him for some additional cash to put in it.  Being the great guy he is, he immediately handed me more money.  “See”, I said, “We do attract financial prosperity!”  He smiled and just shook his head.
My study group, The Seekers, has been working on the book Second Blooming for Women.   One of the topics has led to a lot of discussion both within and outside the group.  The statement is, “If money were no object ________.”  How would you fill that in?  I love asking people this question.
My husband has a story about being in speech class in college.  He decided to speak about the song “If I Ruled the World.”  To gather information, he went around asking people what they would do if they ruled the world.  One person he asked was a young co-worker.  He was the delivery fellow at their local pharmacy.  This young man gave the question a great deal of thought and finally shared, “I would have someone set me up in business.”  Sandy, my hubby, said, “I don’t think you get it.  You RULE the whole world.”  The young man again gave it quite a bit of thought and what do you think he answered?  “Yup, if I ruled the world, I’d have someone set me up in business.  That’s what I’d do.”
When I was first confronted with the fill in the blank about money, I must admit my vision was limited.  Not as much as the delivery guy but more than I like to admit. Then, after speaking with my group, I found myself imagining all sorts of altruistic activities.  “No object” you say, “Well, I’d cure cancer, make sure everyone had any proven, available inoculations, feed the hungry, especially the children and finally, I would make a supreme effort to educate the women of the world.”   I might have to own a private jet in order to get around tending to the whole world but I’m willing to do whatever is necessary. 
Then came the real revelation.  Money may be limited but that doesn’t mean I can’t still devote some of my income to those things I feel are important.   My donations may not take care of the whole world but it would at least take care of a part of it.  I do set aside part of our income to give to charity.  As we shared some of our ideas, it came to me that I have been giving money to educate women.  I make a monthly donation to my high school, Saint Agnes Academic High in College Point, N.Y.  It’s an all girl school and I credit it and the teachers I had for the life I now live.  It was a wonderful environment.  It showed me my potential.  I had nuns and lay teachers who had their PHDs in Mathematics, English, and Latin, to name a few subjects.  They were remarkable women and by being in their presence, I began to see that I too could educate myself and reach heights I never before dreamed possible.  
What about you?  If money were no object what would be your priorities?  Remember, we are spiritual beings.  We have the gifts and ability to tap into the unseen, the unknown, the power of God!  Truly, the only limits that exist are the limits we place on ourselves.  It’s our choice; do we go to the ocean with a thimble, a bucket or a pipeline?   It’s all yours just like the sun shines on all of us, prosperity can belong to everyone; dream large. 

Pentecost

Affirmation:   Come Holy Spirit, fill the heart of Your faithful.  Enkindle in me the fire of Your love.
We are approaching the feast of Pentecost.  This marks the day when the Holy Spirit descended onto the apostles and transformed their lives.  I must admit there are several aspects to this feast day that appeal to and fascinate me.
The first one is that after this event, these mild, uneducated, socially awkward men (and I like to think, maybe a woman or two) shrugged off their fears and anxieties and went out into the world preaching and converting it to the message of Jesus Christ.  This whole tale is just remarkable to me.  In fact, it is one of the foundations for why I believe, why I remain a Christian.  I just am in awe of the fact that these men who after the crucifixion were hiding in a room and fearful for their lives have an expericnce that enables them to go off and to preach “the good news.”  How else can one explain what took place if it wasn’t a miracle?  I know I’d need such a dramatic experience before they’d get me out of that room and off to preach to all the corners of the world.  In my mind, the fact that these fishermen were able to completely change the world is proof enough that Jesus Christ is Lord.
The second aspect of this feast day lies in my belief in that we are all more than we seem.  The world is more than it seems.  There are unseen forces affecting every aspect of our existence of which we have very little knowledge.  The Holy Spirit is our counselor, our guide, our path to holiness.  I’m very glad there is such a resource available and I fully intend to take full advantage of it. 
To prepare for Pentecost I have found a short prayer that I am saying daily, sometimes several times a day.  I am saying it and then I am expecting miracles to occur, sort of like the apostles brushing themselves off and finding new found strength and courage.  I don’t know what the miracles will be but I’m anxiously awaiting their occurrence.  Yes, I believe I will recognize them.  I already await the miracles of life because of my faith in Jesus but this feels like I am strengthening my chances. 
So, for the last couple of weeks I say:  Come Holy Spirit, fill the heart of Your faithful.  Enkindle in me the fire of Your love. 

Weakness

Affirmation:   I avoid all thoughts that weaken me. 
I am an optimist by birth.  I have a dear friend who is a yoga teacher like me and is involved with the planning of the Pink Ribbon Yoga Retreat.  We’ve not only done the yearly four day beach retreat but we have presented several day retreats.  Our concern is always the same. “Is the space big enough to hold all the people who will want to attend?”  We laugh at ourselves now, because the space has always been big enough and it has always been the perfect space.  My experience has been that when things are done with the right intention and lifted up to a Higher Power for their blessing, they usually not only turn out well, but better than you ever dreamed possible. 
Another example of this in my life is when my eldest daughter married.  This is her second marriage.  She is a remarkable woman and has weathered situations no one should have to experience.  But, she experienced them with grace and dignity.  She was unmarried with two small children and her father and I prayed daily that her life would be abundantly blessed.  We never prayed that she’d remarry, unless that was her plan and what she wanted.  We wanted whatever she wanted and that was our prayer.  She did meet someone, a wonderful man with two terrific teenage boys.  (I bet you wondered if there is such a thing.  I am here to tell you, there is.)  They form a marvelous blended family.  If her father and I had prayed for a man for her to marry and a family for her to love, we could not have imagined a situation as blessed as the one she now has. 
But, it is true, I sometimes obsess.  I get caught up in thoughts that repeat themselves over and over.  And, normally they are not thoughts that empower or lift me up.  They can be doom and gloom or questions to which I have no answer and may never have an answer.  That’s when I reroute my thoughts.  Prayer is usually the first step even if it’s a single word.  It turns off the thoughts and turns me around back to those things that are important to me and those thoughts that empower and do uplift. 
When I’m obsessing, I call upon; I avoid all thoughts that weaken me.  It helps to remind me of how I want to perceive the world, at least my world.  I don’t have space for things that deplete my energy.  One of my goals in life is optimal health and that definitely begins with how and what I am thinking.

Manifesting

Affirmation:  I am always manifesting.  I manifest to my highest and best.
What we think about, we bring about.  What we concentrate on, we draw towards us or are drawn towards.  I think of the story about the father teaching his son to drive.  Up ahead is a bolder and the father is very concerned that the boy will run into it.  He repeats over and over, “Watch out for that bolder!”  What do you think happens?  Of course, the boy hits the bolder.  How could he possible miss it?  It’s the one thing that’s being pointed to over and again.
We do the same thing in life and so many times, it’s about something negative.  I was with a person once who kept telling me how much trouble she was to her husband.  The man seemed genuinely crazy about her but she kept telling him over and over, how difficult a person she was with whom to live.  I could only imagine how long it would take him to start to believe it.  And, then what would happen?  Would he stay around or would the ground be prepared with the negative comments to grow something she had believed would happen all along?
I participate in the Pink Ribbon Yoga Retreat (.org) every year.  I facilitate it and am one of the yoga teachers.  Our first year in 2005, one of our yoga teachers kept repeating that she didn’t feel skilled enough to teach cancer patients.  She was an extremely gifted teacher and she taught a wonderful gently yoga, a type of yoga very appropriate for cancer survivors.  When the evaluations came in there was one (out of about 20) that mentioned one of the teachers seemed uncomfortable in her teaching skills.  Did she manifest that? 
That’s not to say we manifest everything, although there are some who would disagree with me on that point.  What about you?  I am a breast cancer survivor.  I never dreamed I would get breast cancer.  Now, I have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic, pre-high cholesterol and with osteopeni.  I don’t know who they are talking about because to look at me, you’d never guess I was dealing with any of those issues.  And, just last month, an eye doctor diagnosed me with some sort of condition that exists in only 10% of the population.  I know, I hadn’t manifested that ailment.  I didn’t even know it existed.  And, I know I’m not the only one who has received surprises throughout their lives.
I did however manifest the life I am now living.  I feel blessed beyond belief.  My life is full of love and joy.  My days are rich with people to nurture and who nurture me.  I wake up to a world of beauty and richness.  My faith is continuing to grow.  Even though I have these physical challenges, I still feel like I am strong and healthy.  I think it’s because one of my affirmations is:  This terrific body is Powerful, Strong and Balanced.   
It is a puzzle isn’t it?  I know we manifest our own reality.  I know it!  I also know, life throws things at us we never even dreamed of, both blessings and challenges but why take the chance to manifest those things we don’t’ want to deal with, they may come along anyway.   Why not make the effort to believe in the concept that we can create our destiny?  Why not go for the moon?  Maybe then if you fall, it will be into the stars and not flat faced down into the mud. 

Affability

Affirmation:   I accept people as they are and celebrate their relationships with me.
I like people.  When I’ve taken the Meyers Briggs Personality Test, I come out evenly between the introvert and the extrovert.  The test doesn’t tell you how well you relate to people, but whether or not you get energy from being with people or being alone.  The goal is to find a middle ground.  For me, I need some of both and the challenge can be finding that balance. 
I remember when I was in graduate school getting my Masters in Social Work.  My very first course was taught by a dynamite young woman.  She was so energetic and knowledgeable.  It was a fun and interesting course.  She came in one day and it was immediately noticeable to me that she was not her usual self.  She went on to teach the class.  It was a three hour class.  As the class progressed, she seemed to be feeling better.  Her energy level seemed to be rising and she seemed to be enjoying the process more and more.  When the class ended, I took the time to chat with her and I asked her how she was feeling.  She told me she felt great but that when she had first arrived for the class, she had a migraine headache.  Teaching the class had helped her eliminate the headache.
I, too, am a migraine sufferer.  I’ve had a few “doozies.”  I can tell you, standing in front of a classroom for three hours and teaching would not be the way for me to eradicate a headache.  I need medication and I need a dark, quiet room.  I decided there and then, this woman was getting her energy in a very different way than I was.  She’s probably a high level extrovert.  Wouldn’t you agree?
I work very hard at staying connected to my family and friends.  I know how important it is for my psychological and physical well being.  It’s easier sometimes than others.  I seem to be able to putter around the house forever.  I love a day when I have nothing scheduled and I get to go about town doing my errands and perhaps stopping somewhere fun for a quiet lunch and an opportunity to people watch.    
I remember a friend once told me she loved children, but only her own.  Truly, I can relate to that.  I too can feel the same way about people.  And, sometimes I fall into the trap of finding fault with some friends.  I try not to go there with family, but it happens there too.  But, how does that improve the quality of my life?  If I’m finding fault with them, what are they thinking about me, if they’re thinking anything at all?  I want to simply enjoy my relationships, even those casual ones that come from interacting with people who are working to help me with all my different projects and errands.  I want to like and to appreciate everyone.  I know that isn’t feasible but I can make an effort. 
One of my daily readings talks about “affability.”  It says it’s not a trait most pay attention to but when it’s missing, it’s always noticeable.  I like to be affable.  I like to notice people, learn their names, and be kind to them, even if it’s only in a small interaction.  I have found one way to appreciate people is to simply accept them for the way they are, not to judge, not to have expectations, especially expectations about which they have no knowledge.  So, every day, I remind myself, I accept people as they are and celebrate their relationships with me.   And, I hope that’s how they are thinking about me, if they’re thinking about me at all.

Relationships

Affirmation:   My friends bless my life and I treasure their relationships with me and hold them in my daily prayers.
Relationships can be a tricky thing.  I think most of our problems and issues relate to our relationships.  There have certainly been a million books about them and how to improve them or deal with them, or understand them.  How do you do with your relationships?  Are you more at ease with strangers than in your family circle? 
I’ve been married a long time, almost 43 years at this writing.  Every so often, my husband, Sandy, speaks about his “good friend” and then he gives me a name.  I cannot tell you how many times I have not had a clue who the person is that he has mentioned.  One day, I asked him how come he thought of so many people as being his “good friend.”  He told me, he chose to think of them that way.  He chose to think about and refer to many of his acquaintances as good friends.  Sandy is an unusual man in many ways but one quality he has which I have been told by friends that their husbands do not have, is he has a huge range of friends and he does a remarkable job of keeping in touch with most of them.  I loved the idea that he also claimed them as his good friends.  Why not?  How we think about others is very often how they think about us.  I believe it must be very unusual to have someone in our lives that we dislike that likes us. 
I’ve had my struggles.  I try hard to get along with everyone but I find some to be easier than others.  I have a friend who refers to herself as a “low maintenance” friend.  It’s the truth isn’t it?  Some people we simply flow along with, others are often trying to pull us upstream.  But, after my husband’s teaching, I decided the best way for me to create more harmonious relationships was to take the time to value the people in my life and along with valuing them, offer up prayers for their well being and for that of their loved ones.  If I choose to believe my friends bless my life, they will.  If I choose to believe they are draining my energy and causing me angst that, too, will be true.  Once again, it depends on me and the way I choose to think.  I want the people in my life to be loved and I hope that they will respond in kind. 

Labeling

Affirmation:   I am lovable, I am worthy, I do well.
I recently heard a radio broadcast that talked about a study to help students improve their grades.  They had some students put the letter “A” on the top of their test paper before they began the test.  They had others put an “F.”  What do you think happened?  You probably guessed it right.  The students with the “A” did better than they even expected; the students with the “F” did worse than they expected.  I’m not saying we don’t have to make an effort to do well.  I don’t believe that, but I do believe we can improve our chances of success by how we visualize the results. 
Have you read about the study with water?  Yes, water.  It was part of the movie, What the Bleep.  Dr. Masaru Emoto, a Japanese scientist took jars of water and wrote words on the jars.   And, then he took  pictures of the frozen crystals of the water both before labeling and after.  Did you guess what happened?  The jar marked with “You make me sick” was muddy and ugly.  The jar marked “love and gratitude” was bright and clear and shiny. 
So, I practice labeling my jar, me.  What happens when I label myself?  I like to think, I am creating within me, the same effect that the words had on the water or on the student who put the “A” on the test paper. 
Have you heard the phrase, “Act the way you want to be and soon you’ll be the way you act?”  How do you think you get there?  It has to begin with our thought process.  We must believe in ourselves.  We must!  It all begins with how we think.  World peace depends on me.  It depends on how I see myself and how I then relate to the world.  If I can believe in myself, see myself as lovable, worthy and doing well, I will extend that love and kindness to all those whose lives touch mine and from there, blessings will be bestowed of which I know not, but I believe will make the world a gentler place.
What thoughts are you holding in your mind and heart today?  Let them be soft, kind, and centered on love and compassion. 

Crisis of Faith

Affirmation:  I freely forgive myself and others.
I am having a crisis of faith.  I’ve been fortunate enough to attend within the last month, two workshops revolving around mindfulness.  The first was a two day yoga workshop taught by a Buddhist monk.  The second was a day long silent sangha (community gathering) taught by an ordained minister in the tradition of Tich Nat Han.  Along with these two events, I have been immersed in my Catholic Lenten tradition.  The same themes keep coming up:  Love, Kindness, Compassion & Equanimity.   One of my affirmations is:  I live a Christ-centered life of love, peace, joy, gratitude and compassion.  I have been working on these themes for a long time but I have a question, something about which I am very confused.  At what point in a relationship are we supposed to take care of ourselves?  According to AA, that’s one of our first responsibilities but whenever it’s addressed in a spiritual context, it’s always about being forgiving and compassionate towards the other.  Throughout Lent and these workshops, I have been led to look at the things that people do that upset me and find in myself what is wrong with me and then to respond to them with loving kindness.  I am kind.  I do forgive.  I have worked hard in my life to not overreact to someone else’s issues but don’t you think there are times when we have a responsibility to remove ourselves from a relationship?  And, don’t you think no matter how gently you try to do that, the other person generally gets angry with you, feels hurt and abandoned?  And then what?  What is your responsibility then?  Are you supposed to continue to be a part of their lives at your own expense?  Let’s take an extreme case, how about someone who abuses you, either physically or verbally?  We can’t possibly be expected to stay in a relationship like that.  What does the Buddhist say then, or Tich Nat Han or Jesus?  When is this discussed?  I can tell you, it wasn’t discussed at the retreats I attended.  It never seems to be discussed.  It always seems to me like I am getting the same message:  Get along with everyone.  If you’re not getting along with someone, it is something within you that is askew.  Isn’t it possible to forgive others but not want them in your life?  How do the “spiritually evolved” balance self care and compassion?   If we are not compassionate with ourselves, how can we possibly be compassionate towards others?  Isn’t the greatest commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself? ” Perhaps, the answer lies here in this writing.  Maybe it is a question of balance.  Finding that place in you where you can love another but recognize that in order to survive you need to love yourself, too. 

Why I Believe

Affirmation:   I know by meditating on Jesus throughout my day, I am in union with the Divine; miracles are created and without struggle my life will be transformed in ways beyond my imagination.  Thank you, Loving Jesus, for entering into my heart and strengthening our connection.
Faith, what does that look like to you?  My husband says it’s “trust on steroids.”  It has also been said, the opposite of faith is not doubt but certainty.  I am not certain.  I have listened to others talk about their faith and their relationship with Jesus.  I have heard the stories of the “born again.”  Many times I am filled with envy and always with quite a few questions.  My faith journey has been slow and steady, climbing up, slipping down, ever hopeful that I don’t slip below my last starting place.
I have not found it easy to be faith filled.  I have to work at it every day.  Why do I work on it?  Why is it important to me?  How will it benefit me?  Will it benefit me?
I love to read and hear the sermons about God’s bountiful love and care for us, His children.  There are many preachers who see God as this entity that only wants what’s best for us.  And, they lead me to believe that His best is also my best.  There is where the difficulty lies.  Oh, yes, I would like to believe that.  I would like to believe that anything I prayed for would come to pass but I know that’s not true.  We don’t get everything we ask for, sometimes it seems like someone isn’t’ even out there.  Thankfully, sometimes we get something even better than we could have imagined.
So, why do I want to live a life of faith?  Is it to ensure that my afterlife will be comfortable, not the fires of hell?  Well, even that aspect isn’t guaranteed, is it? 
Today, as I journaled about this question, I decided the reason I want to be faith filled, meditating on Jesus throughout the day is that I believe God is with me.  I believe God never leaves me, if I ask Him to be with me.  It is I who comes and goes.  I believe that through my faith, I will be able to deal with whatever life throws at me.  And, that whatever that is, through faith, it will be miraculously transformed into something good, maybe something great, something beyond my wildest imagination.
I need to believe.  I have chosen to believe.  I have chosen the theology and doctrine that I grew up with.  It’s not perfect but it enables me to live life with less fear and anxiety than I could without it.  For today, this is my faith.  This is why I believe.

Sailing

Affirmation:   Perhaps I cannot control the wind but I can adjust the sail.
While attending a family wedding, I was seated next to someone I had never met before.  For me, that’s always an opportunity to learn something new.  This woman was delightful to talk to and we quickly got on the subject of facing our fears, of doing those things that we find challenging.  She shared that she had many challenges in her life and she had several sayings that had helped her through them.  The first one she shared with me was from Eleanor Roosevelt:  “You gain strength and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You must do the things you think you cannot do.”  It reminds me of Picasso, “If someone tells you, you are not a painter, paint.”  But, the one she found the most helpful was:  Perhaps I cannot control the wind but I can adjust the sail.  She said she framed it and put it where she would walk past it several times a day. 
She had created an affirmation and she had discovered a way to let it seep into her unconscious.  And, she indicated that it had worked for her.  She had faced her challenges and she was well on her way to a fuller, healthier life. 
When we create an affirmation, we are adjusting the sail.  We are adjusting our sail.  We are putting it up into the winds of life and steering it in a direction that will benefit us.   Life is full of breezes and storms.  Why not do everything in our power to set our course the way we want it to go?  Write out your affirmations.  Put them where you will see them and read them daily, or as she did, several times a day.  They will take shape and help you sail into a life full of meaning and blessings.