Jean Anne Costa
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Year End Review

Affirmation:  I examine the past with an eye on my best future.
I must admit I have a terrible memory when it comes to events of the past.  I never remembered much about my childhood.  Then my children grew into adulthood and I couldn’t remember a great deal of their childhood.  It’s just not the way my  mind works.  Oh, attach a significant emotional reaction to something and I can remember instantly.  Like, holding my oldest daughter’s hand as we walked together to her pre-school.  Or, when my youngest crawled into bed with me early in the morning to hug for a while before she went off to school.  My son always has a project.  He always has had a project and I can clearly remember every one of them because of the excitement he generated as he took them on. 
For me, it seems very important to review the past.  It’s probably why I keep a journal and a little pocket calendar where I write the day’s past events.  It reminds me of looking in the rear view mirror of the car before changing lanes, or simply to be aware of what’s going on around me. 
I have a monthly and a yearly practice of asking myself 10 questions that I feel will improve the quality of my life going forward.  I gathered these several years ago from a newspaper article by Sharon Randal from Henderson, Nevada.
1. What was the hardest thing I had to do this year?
2. What was the most fun?
3. What were the milestones?
4. What was my biggest accomplishment?
5. What’s something I wanted to do but didn’t?
6. What was my biggest surprise?
7. What was the best thing I did for another?
8. What was something I worried about that I don’t worry about now?
9. What made me proud?
10. Describe a moment I want to remember.
I feel the only reason to review the past, is to find a way to live better in the future.  Look it over, learn the lesson and then let it go.  The last part may be the hardest lesson of all.

New Years Intention

It’s almost the new year.  Instead of a resolution, I set an intention.  It’s more effective and less intimidating.  I find it helpful when being introspective to have a list of words to which I can refer.  Since we’re working on positive affirmations I thought I’d share the list I have used for several yoga retreats I’ve facilitated.  It’s expanded with each sharing.  Please feel free to add your own.

Accomplished, Faithful, Hopeful, Humble, Empowering, Grateful, Connected, Integrated, Joyful, Direct, Discerning, Loving, Capable, Sense of Humor, Enlightened, Compassionate, Influential, Dedicated, Delightful, Dependable, Diligent, Devoted, Learner, Energized, Imaginative, Improver, Attentive, Daring, Facilitator, Family Oriented, Accepting, Free, Fun, Inventive, Laughs Easily, Aware, Sensitive, Tender, Honest, Articulate, Artistic, Courageous, Inquisitive, Instructor, Passionate, Sexy, Sensual, Present, Grace Filled, Careful, Beautiful, Healthy, Observing, Patient, Unique, Preserving, Vulnerable, Radiant, Refined, Adventurer, Satisfied, Educated, Calm, Content, Peaceful, Open-Minded, Transformative, Serene, Truthful, Perfect, Spontaneous, Thoughtful, Creative, Experienced, Leader, Teacher, Guide, Encouraging, Seeker, Trustworthy, Happy, Abundant, Planner, Visionary, Gentle, Soft, Triumphant, Understanding, Uplifting, Supportive, Prosperous, Contributor, Discoverer, Nurturing, Graceful, Glowing, Hearty, Hardy, Hottie, Playful, Fulfilled, Forgiving, Non-Judgemental, Non-Grasping, Chocolate-Filled, Dreamer, Questioning, Optimistic.

I know some are adjectives and some are nouns.  It shouldn’t matter, use them anyway that works for you. 

So, take a few quiet minutes and re-read the words.  You are looking for words that stir an emotion in you.  Don’t over analyze it.  Circle the ones that jump out at you.  Pick three or four from your list and write them down.  You can do this as many times as you like.  Let the sentence be a statement of how you want to perceive your life.  Write it in the present tense.  See how it sounds, see if it truly resonates with you.  Sometimes it’s the sentences we have trouble saying to ourselves that’s the most effective but for this exercise, just see if you can find a few words that make you feel positive about your life.
For example:  I am an accomplished, faithfilled, optimistic dreamer or I live a life filled with compassion, gratitude and peace.

Please share your new intention if you create one that you suits you.

Smiling

Affirmation:  I smile early, laugh daily and dance often.
It’s the day after Christmas.  I am very blessed because most of my family lives close by and we get to spend the holiday together.  I am also exhausted and feeling a little let down.  Not only that, but we now have 6 inches of snow outside and so, for those of us who live in the South, the world has stopped.  My husband was due to take his mother home today.  She has been here for a week.  I had plans to go to Mass and to run a few errands and to relish my time alone.  Perhaps, this affirmation should be the one about being flexible?  But, what I’m looking for here is a way to pick up my spirits.  I know I can suffer from holiday let-down and today it feels very present.   I read many years ago, that you can fool your body into feeling better by smiling. So, there are mornings I sit and journal with a smile on my face.  If I happen to look up and see myself in a mirror, that silly grin on my face improves my spirits,  Also, there’s a phenomena out there called “Laughing Yoga.”  Look it up on the Internet if you haven’t seen it before.  So, on mornings like this, or days like this, I am smiling.  It hasn’t kicked in yet but I’m sure it will, perhaps after I have a strong cup of tea and find my favorite book and take some quiet time to count my blessings, again.

Beginning the Journey

How’s your self-talk going?  You know, all those things you say to yourself throughout your day.  Sometimes, you’re having the conversation when you’re alone.  Sometimes, you’re having the conversation when you’re with others and you’re not feeling comfortable, maybe you’re even feeling very uncomfortable.  What are the phrases you’ve adopted over the years?  “Boy, am I stupid.” or “I never get it right!” or “Wow, was that lame, or what?”  This blog is about changing the things you tell yourself.  You can do it.  Anyone can do it.  Why would you want to start saying positive things to yourself?  Will it make any difference?  Join me as we go on this journey.  We’ll take it one step at a time.  For today, just notice when your self-talk weakens you, makes you feel powerless, or useless.  Pay attention!  Notice.

Strengthening Faith

Affirmation:  I know by meditating on Jesus, throughout my day, I am union with the Divine; Miracles are created and without struggle my life will be transformed in ways beyond my imagination.
Advent, Christmas.  It’s the time of year when we celebrate one of the most widely recognized holidays in the world.  For some, it’s simply a secular holiday:  time off from work, time to be with family and friends, a time with some sort of rituals that hopefully bring comfort and peace.  But, for me, it’s about the birth of my savior.  I must admit I am always full of doubt.  I am a skeptic.  I need and seek out experiences that affirm my faith as I see it and that encourage it to deepen, to strengthen.  I decided to dedicate Advent as a time to do just that.  I have made a conscious decision to invite Jesus, the Blessed Mother, my Angels and guides to join me, to stay with me, throughout my entire day.  I believe, actually, that they never leave me, it is I in my busyness, my attention to worldly activities, who leaves them.  But, for this season, and hopefully going forward, I have made a conscious effort to pray unceasingly.  What does that look like?  Well, it includes morning and evening prayers.  It includes a book I read before I journal called, In Conversation with God, and it includes taking a deep breath throughout the day and simply saying “Jesus.”  It’s a perfect word to go with a deep inhale and a long exhale and I feel like it brings me back to that place I so desire to be; in the presence of God.

Your Best Life

Affirmation:  My life is Joy filled, Miracles occur, Love surrounds me and permeates every aspect of my existence.
I know that there have been times in my life, that when asked how I envision my best life, it would have revolved around my body shape, how much money I had and if I had a place at the beach!  Oh, I can still obsess over my body, not so much what the shape is any longer, but how it’s feeling from day to day.  I can still be concerned about my income and my outgo and, I love to be at the beach.  But, when I take the time to notice what truly makes my life richer, it has nothing to do with things.  It’s all about inner peace and happiness.  It’s all about my spirit.  How I feel about what’s happening to me, not about what’s taking place.  There will always be challenges in our lives, for as long as we live but how we perceive those challenges is what really matters. 
I’m reading Joyce Meyer’s book about Power Thoughts.  She has a great story about two young men who head out to capture wolves.  They can get $500 for each wolf they bring back alive.  They don’t find any and fall asleep.  When they awaken, they are surrounded by a pack of hungry, drooling wolves.  One of the young men says to the other “Hey, wake up, we’re rich!”  It made me smile.  Oh sure, he was probably eaten along with his friend but I’d like to think he died happy. 
Anyway, what will it take for you to be surrounded by wolves and to still think positively?  That’s the affirmation you want to create.  You want to tell yourself something that will build a fortress of beauty and resilience within.  Find that one phrase that you’ve been repeating to yourself, that phrase that is not serving you but injuring your spirit and re-write it.  Create it with wonderful words that resonate deeply within you.  Write it out.  Write it again and again.  Sit with it.  Let it seep deep within you and wait and notice.  One day you’ll look around and you’ll be amazed that your life is exactly the way you created it to be, it will be your best life.

Kind and Gracious

Affirmation:  I am kind and gracious to all people, especially those I love the most.
You’d think the second part of this affirmation isn’t relevant, wouldn’t you?  Of course, you’re kind and gracious to the people you love the most, but is that the way it really is?  I find I often take the people I love for granted.  They seem to be the ones who take the brunt of my bad moods.  I know they’ll forgive me.  Also, I have a few people in my life whom I love but who are a challenge to my intention.  I have to work extra hard to stay kind and gracious.
“Raymond” is a song by Brett Eldredge.  Have you seen it?  It truly is a wonderful tale.  He sings, “She calls me Raymond.”  The fellow telling the tale is a janitor in a nursing home.  There’s one lovely woman who thinks he’s her son.  She is obviously suffering from Alzheimer’s.  He never corrects her.  In fact, he sits with her, he does little things to care for her; he is kind and gracious to her.  It seems his goodness is simply a part of his nature.  I visit an Alzheimer’s unit once a month.  I’ve watched the people who work in this unit.  It takes a special person to care for people with this disease.  The first time I went, I wasn’t sure I’d ever go back.  I cry when I watch this video.  I think it gives me great solace that there are people like “Raymond” in the world.  It’s a wonderful example of unselfish caring.  I know it’s just a song but he represents all those people out there that care for those who cannot care for themselves and there are many, many amazing caregivers.  I wonder if they need an affirmation to remind them to be kind and gracious or if it’s simply a part of their demeanor, like the man portrayed in the video?

Audacioius

Affirmation: I am audacious.  I believe I have special gifts to share with the world.  I say “Yes, I Can.”
The first time the word audacious became part of my awareness was when I studied Julia Cameron’s, The Artist’s Way.  She talks about how sometimes the only difference between a successful something and an unsuccessful something is all about how audacious the creator is.  Right after that chapter, I remember happening upon an art exhibit all made out of human hair.  It was a gallery exhibit, a private exhibition!  I found it repulsive but someone had decided it was art and had sponsored this artist.  That’s when I fully realized what it meant to be audacious.  Oh, it doesn’t have to be art.  It can simply be about life: taking a chance, stepping outside of our comfort zone.  I’m sure you have examples that come to mind.  How about some actors, comediennes or singers?  What about some of our politicians?  Oh, yea, audacious. 
So, it’s easy for me to stay small.  It’s easy to believe I’m just another human on this planet of billions but that doesn’t do anything for me or for anyone else.  There’s a wonderful poem by Marianne Williamson, called “Our Deepest Fear” about letting our light shine.  She says if we hide it, it helps no one and “if we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
So, I decided to be audacious.  I am sure several in my circle would tell you it didn’t take much to push me to that place, but the truth is, it took a conscious decision.  I am getting older.  Life is going faster.  I don’t want to die or be dying and have too many regrets.  If I tell myself, I am audacious, I will try things I don’t believe I can do.  I will make life a great adventure, instead of letting it be mundane.  Yes, I Can.  Yes, I Will.  How about you?  Anything you’ve thought about putting out into the world?  Go for it!  Yes, You Can!

Pain & Suffering

Affirmation:  I have Miracles in my mouth.
Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.  These are words from my husband.  I believe they are Buddhist in origin but he was the one to share this concept with me.
Right now we are in the second week of Advent, in case some of you haven’t noticed that it’s the Christmas season.  Christmas!  What emotions does that word stir in you?  I must admit, many times throughout the season, the one emotion I feel is panic.  But, I love the season.  I love the music, I love decorating the house (It looks so warm and inviting with the tree and the lights.), I love sharing stories via cards; I love buying gifts for my family and friends, I love the opportunity to give to some who are less fortunate than I.  I love the cold, because I snuggle in, wrap up, eat more soup.  I love preparing for the miracle of the season, Christmas day.
But, when I talk to others, the word “hate” has come up quite a lot with regard to this time of the year.  What do you think?  Is it OK to recognize that you hate something, to own that?  Is that different from dwelling on it, letting it affect your spirit, your whole being?  I wonder?  You don’t want to disregard how you feel about something but is it healthier, once you recognize it, to reframe it to something more positive?  And then, how do you do that?  What if this has been a horrible time for you in your life?  I’m sure you can all think of difficult experiences that have taken place at certain times of the year and you carry that in your memories and your cells.  But, can one turn that around?  Can you go from acknowledging the pain but eliminating the suffering?  How would one do that? 
What if every day you found one thing that brought you joy, one small thing and you let yourself absorb it?  If you could recognize the blessings that can come at this time, would you begin to feel better about the season?  If you felt better, would the suffering be less?  If you find the blessings, would that soften your heart towards that day of hope that is coming, very very soon? May you have a joy filled, blessed Advent and a miraculous Christmas.

Body Image

Affirmation:  I Love My Body.
Can you say it?  Can you believe it?  I must admit it’s quite a challenge.  Recently, someone asked me if I liked my body.  I said “no.”  Afterwards, I was so disappointed.  Here I’ve been affirming it for months but my gut reaction to the question  in no way reflected my goal. Not only am I am integral part of the American society with all the hang-ups presented to us through the media about the female image, I have also had quite a bit of pain, not to mention, cancer, throughout the years.  After talking to my chiropractor and re-evaluating how I visualized my body, I decided it was time to change my thinking and so, I came up with the above affirmation.  Oh, there’s much more to it.  I tell myself I am strong, resilient, flexible, powerful.  Any words that affirm this body  in a positive light.  When I took the time to closely examine how I could feel about my body, I realized I was only focusing on the negative and had totally neglected the positive aspects; like the fact that most of my body does not hurt, or that I have produced the miracle of three healthy children.  My body is a miracle unto itself.  I understand so little of how it operates but it does; most of it in good working order, miraculously. So, I am making a very conscious effort to value my body, to believe in its ability to heal itself, to be strong and healthy.  I believe it begins by loving it.