Celestial Goodness: Being Present & Yet Trusting in the Unknown…

Hello beautiful people and welcome to this dose of Celestial Goodness. As always, thank you for joining me in this space and on this journey. I appreciate your time and your presence. See this week’s video here: https://youtu.be/E5otfDvznZQ

How are you doing? Well—I hope that all is well with your heart, mind, soul, and body. There is an old hymn that someone in my family used to listen to, and these lines have stayed in my mind. “When peace like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to know, it is well, it is well, with my soul.”

And so before I get into our main topic, I wanted us to just check in with ourselves. How is your heart? Is it well? How is your mind? Are you overthinking or is your mind calm? How is your spirit? Settled or unsettled? How is your physical body? At this very moment, how are you? Are you tense? Unclench your jaw. Think about your favorite person in the world—I hope that brought a smile to your heart. Think about the most beautiful thing that you have ever seen? Maybe you thought of many things, but those two things—favorite person, and beautiful thing can almost immediately help to shift a mood.

With one of my favorite people ❤

We must check in with ourselves, the body is so wise, and can tell us so much. Of course, it is on us to listen, and then to take action. Sometimes the action is no action—to rest, or be in stillness. In our society today, we talk a lot about mindfulness and about “being present.” There is so much going on and so much of it feels like a constant assault to our nervous system, that it is more important than ever to keep ourselves grounded, centered, and steady in our body and soul. The founder of Headspace, Andy Puddicombe said, “The biggest gift we can each give ourselves is the gift of being present — engaged with life, connected with each other, listening with kindness, staying open-minded, free from judgment.”

There are many ways of accomplishing this, but I would say that two of the easiest ways are to check in with ourselves, ask those questions, and bring our focus to this moment through breath. Sometimes just breathing deeply brings us into the conscious awareness that we are here now—not in the past and not in the future. Going too far in either direction can create anxiety and a lot of unnecessary stress. (Disclaimer: this is not meant to minimize anyone’s deep trauma, and if that is your reality, I am a huge advocate of seeking professional help for that).

As a recovering overthinker—and not fully recovered yet, sometimes I get in my own head and I need a reminder to just come back to the present moment and center myself. I am thankful to have some lovely people around me to remind me of the tools at my disposal for staying present. My cousin, my sister—the OG edgesnatcher, and some of my closest friends remind me when I forget. Granted they all have their different methods of reminding me lol, laughter, sage words, memes, but my cousin has been known to call me (internationally mind you), and actually breathe with me. Once I was crying so hard (I am a water bucket after all ), and she just said, “it’s okay honey, breathe with me.”

“Breathe with me honey…” ~Cuzzy wuzzy Toya

There are things that we can do to help calm our own nervous system—we can help ourselves to find our way back to the present moment. Fun fact, when I teach my university students the art of negotiations, one of the things that I remind them is that they should pay attention to their breathing. If they catch themselves doing small, shallow breaths, they should consider a small break to just refocus their breathing. It has been proven that making decisions when your nerves are frayed is no bueno. You are more inclined to make poor decisions.

The beach is my favorite place to practice mindfulness hahaha

So we are going to just breathe together for a moment. If you are reading the blog, then I would encourage you to just take in a handful of deep but comfortable breaths. Do what is called “diaphragmatic breathing.” Sit or lie in a comfortable place. Place one hand on your chest—preferably over your heart chakra, and place one hand on your abdomen. Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold for 2 seconds, and then exhale for 6 seconds—slowly and steadily through your mouth. Breathe up from your diaphragm.

Once I have my breathing down, I like to include a small mantra. Some good ones are, “I am safe,” “I am supported,” “I am at peace,” “I am love.”

When I am done, I like to just thank my heart—at that point I can generally feel it beating and that too is a reminder—once we are alive, there is so much hope, there is so much potential for love, beauty, joy, and peace. From a centered place, we are agents of these things—we are as Paulo Coehlo would say, warriors of light. “The Warrior of the Light is a believer. Because he believes in miracles, miracles begin to happen. Because he is sure that his thoughts can change his life, his life begins to change. Because he is certain that he will find love, love appears.” We are never sure if or when these things will happen—the various things that we want for our future—we just trust that they will or that if they don’t, we can still be at peace. As we take action by living each day, putting out the intention for what we desire, listening to the guidance that we receive on next steps, and staying present, we realize one day that this is the journey, and that it is constantly unfolding each day before us.

The journey is the destination…

I am sure that I have spoken before about the topics of patience, trust, flow, and navigating the unknown, but these are always good topics to come back to, especially when they have been on my own mind heavily. I would not consider myself a patient person naturally, that is something that I have been learning over time. I do think that the concept of trust is tied into patience. How do I stay in the flow of my life, especially when the things that I think I want have not yet appeared. How can I trust that what I desire, or rather what I want and need will come to me? I have been known to give the advice to others that we know not the hour of our own good fortune. Maybe we must wait another day, week, month, year or years, but the journey really is the destination, and we don’t give up just because it hasn’t happened when we might want it to. So many people in the world believe in things that they cannot see. We believe until we see. How can we savor whatever phase and space we are in at the moment while also keeping our heart and mind open to what lies before us?

Keeping the faith…

I was not always a morning person—I used to prefer to stay up late, a certified night owl if you will, but in my adulting life, I have become a morning person. It does not matter what time I go to sleep, I will probably wake up before my alarm and before the sunrise. This is surprisingly ok with me because I have grown to relish that time—the quiet hours before the majority of the world is awake. In that quiet time, everything feels so peaceful, and the potential of a new day lays out before me.

One of my favorite parts of the early morning is watching the new day come in. From my living room and office, I have a wonderful view of the East. As a connoisseur of greeting the day, I have learned that every sunrise is different; some come in slowly without much fanfare or colors, sometimes it is raining or cloudy, but light will eventually peak in, and those dark blue/grey days are also quite beautiful. Some sunrises come in and they are simply magnificent to behold. I cannot look away—because if I do, I might miss some of the splendor, the vibrancy of the colors, the way each looks like a painting meant just for me.

There is also a certain speed to which the sunrise (and sunsets) happen. It all happens very quickly in the grand scheme of things, but yet if you are watching, each moment feels like a beautiful eternity watching a masterpiece unfold. I may not be sure of a lot of things in my life at the moment of a sunrise, but I can always be sure that morning will come. I can trust in that, even when I have to be patient for the sun. I cannot rush the sun. It moves at its own pace, but when it comes, it shines brightly. Insert, “Here comes the sun, doo-doo-doo-doo… it’s alright…,” here!

There is also something comforting about this process. In those moments of stillness, of silence, just appreciating nature, something happens to my spirit. I notice that when I ease into the day, I don’t feel the anxiety of all the things that need to get done, or worry about some of the things that I carried into the dreamworld with me. That act of being present to watch the sunrise, makes me feel more centered, more empowered to handle the uncertainties of the day. It is also a huge reminder and lesson in patience and trust. I have patience for the sunrise, and I trust that morning always comes. I can do the same for other things in my life. 

The river nearby reminds me to stay in the flow…

Rainer Maria Rilke said, ““Were it possible for us to see further than our knowledge reaches, and yet a little way beyond the outworks of our divining’s, perhaps we would endure our sadness’s with greater confidence than our joys. For they are the moments when something new has entered into us, something unknown; our feelings grow mute in shy perplexity, everything in us withdraws, a stillness comes, and the new, which no one knows, stands in the midst of it and is silent.” Every day contains the potential for miracles.

Paulo Coelho also said, “The only trap I must beware not to fall into, is to think that each day is the same as the next. In fact, each morning brings with it a hidden miracle, and we must pay attention to this miracle.”

Watching Celeste grow has been a miracle….

Life is filled with a lot of unknowns. How we approach navigating the unfolding can make life heaven or hell. Being in the flow of life, trusting that whatever comes we will be able to handle it, and being able to see the miracles of life are all beneficial tools for helping to cultivate trust in the future. Being present, breathing, living, loving, laughing, and trusting are so helpful right now. There is a lot going on in the world and it can be overwhelming.

Stolen from my cousin on her recent trip home to Jamaica ❤

I encourage you to take even one moment to appreciate the beauty that is still abundant, especially in nature. Appreciate the people around you, and trust—even when things feel hard—that life is supporting you endlessly. I hope that the stars shine brightly over your week, that it is a beautiful week indeed, and that you allow life to surprise you with delightful things and experiences.

If you do ever feel overwhelmed, just remember me saying—like my cousin, “its ok honey, just breathe with me…” or like my sister, “it’s ok sweetie, you’re doing great.” I venture to say that things are better than you might even realize—the not great stuff has a way of taking over everything else, so we have to fight a little harder to see what is working, what is going well, and how some of what we used to worry about has actually worked out! You got this, and I believe in you!

You’re doing great sweetie…

Celestial Goodness: The Lunar New Year & Do you have space in your life?

Hello beautiful people and welcome to this dose of Celestial Goodness. As always, thank you for joining me in this space and on this journey. I appreciate your time and your presence. I was going to make a posting two weeks ago about the beginning of the Lunar New Year, but things have been a little bit busy. That being said, I think it is an important part of this 2023 energy, and so we will have two topics for this dose of Celestial Goodness. See this week’s video here: https://youtu.be/DVsRxbfuY4E

I actually wrote up a short article for our newsletter at work, so some of this is adapted from that. While much of the world celebrated New Year’s Day on January 1st, thanks to the Gregorian calendar, there are many people in the world who abide by different calendars and thus different New Years. If you have been following my channel or blog for a while, you may have heard me mention that some of my best friends from college are Asian, and over the years, I have gained some exposure to different cultural practices.

The crew ♥️
Throwback ♥️

It was in this way, that I learned that there are different cultures and religions that use a lunar calendar or a lunisolar calendar to celebrate a new year. With these calendars, the months are observed by the cycles of the moon. In the East Asian cultural sphere some of the Lunar New Year celebrations for this year began on January 22nd, 2023. (There are some that will begin on February 20th). The date of January 22nd is because the New Year begins with the first new moon of January and last until the next full moon. Sunday, February 5th marks the full moon and the end of the new year celebrations. Most lunar celebrations are filled with beautiful celebrations, delicious foods, and cultural traditions that go back for thousands of years. For example, I learned from Melody that in Chinese culture, red envelops are given during special occasions and holidays. The color red symbolizes energy, happiness, and good luck. Wrapping money in red paper is expected to bestow more happiness and blessings.

Hermanas for life ♾️♥️

I also learned that the number 8 was considered to be the luckiest number because it is associated with wealth and prosperity. Having friends from a wide range of the Asian diaspora taught me that while a lot of people say, “Chinese New Year,” that “Lunar New Year,” is more accurate since while there are similarities, there are also major differences in the celebration of the holiday across the region. The most important part of the holiday for everyone, however, is spending time with family and friends. This year will usher out the year of the Tiger, and we will welcome the Year of the Rabbit.

I have found through my own astrological studies that the Eastern Zodiac lines up very well with one’s Jupiter placement in Western Astrology. In the Eastern Zodiac, the zodiac wheel consists of 12 animals. The 12 zodiac animals are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. (Please note that in some countries, like Vietnam, you will find that this is the year of the cat—in place of the rabbit).

In addition to the animals, five elements of earth, water, fire, wood and metal are also mapped onto the traditional lunar calendar. Each year is associated with an animal that corresponds to an element.

The Rabbit is said to be the luckiest sign of the zodiac, and this year’s element of water is said to promote calm and smoothness, so hopefully we may all have a wonderful and peaceful year. To sum up, one of my horoscope apps said this, “2023—the year of the Water Rabbit. Drumroll please, you are about to enter a year filled with magic. As if making an appearance directly out of a magician’s hat, 2023 will cast a spell on you, and it is just what the world needs right now…The Rabbit is considered the luckiest sign of the zodiac, and for many people, this will be the ongoing theme of 2023. Many of you will experience stretches of luck that can’t be explained and can be surprising. Others may experience situations that seem anything but lucky, and yet, with the undercurrent beneath these experiences, you will see that they were carrying you to places that were indeed auspicious. That’s why it is so important this year—and all the time, really—to always assume the best. Just because something that happens in your life appears to be unfortunate or undesirable at the time does not preclude it from bringing something unexpectedly wonderful into your life…this is a year for cultivating inner peace and harmony, as well as fostering connections with others….Let us strive to make the most of this auspicious year by focusing on inner peace and harmony and by supporting and uplifting one another.” I think that is a beautiful approach to this lunar new year.

Speaking of support and uplifting vibes, the next topic of discussion was inspired by one of my most supportive and uplifting friends. A few weeks ago, my friend Notoya took me to brunch.

Throwback 👸🏾👸🏾🇯🇲🇯🇲♥️♥️

She is a Jamaican queen, one of the hardest working people that I know, bold, courageous, and when she knows what she wants, she goes for it. As the Roman poet Virgil said, “Audentes fortuna juvat,” or rather “Fortune favors the bold.” I hope that fortune will always favor her. My heart felt uplifted and renewed by our conversation. You know that spending time with some people is truly like feeling the sunshine pour into all of your nooks and crannies. As we were discussing life and laughing away, one of the things she leaned in and asked me was, “Do you have space in your life for the things that you want?” It made me pause.

Did I have space in my life for the things that I desire at this juncture of my life? I didn’t know—I had to take stock, of this and since then, it has been a constant on my mind. She said to me, “clear away the old things that are taking up energy…” she meant the unused things, the things that represented an old chapter of my life, and things that I needed to let go of. She also said, and this is something that my mom has also asked me—do you have space in your actual space and calendar for love, for adventure, for peace, and for joy? Is there room for another person? Have you made time in your calendar for these things? You mean someone couldn’t fit in next to my plants (which are looking amazing by the way)? Notoya asked if there was room in my closet for someone else’s clothes—hahaha, that made me laugh cause my friends know how much I love clothes—the sparklier, the better. I got what she was saying, and it really did make me think.

Do I have space for joy? peace? Love?

The O street mansion flashed across my mind. Ever since my visit to the O Street Mansion—a beautiful home, (you can visit if you are in the DC area), to be sure, but it also gave me high anxiety because they had never thrown anything away—it was truly a hoarder’s dream come to life. There were many treasures, but I also felt overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of things everywhere. I have analyzed whether I have something because I truly need it, or if it is because it is satisfying some deeper underlying issue.

The O street mansion
Inside the mansion
I’m gonna swing from the chandelierrrrrrr
Stuff and more stuff but …#blessed
Rosa parks room at the mansion 💜

I gave Marie Kondo a hard time when she first came out, primarily because of the debate about books and whether they give us joy. Yes my books give me great joy, so it is admittedly hard for me to let go of books. also have two magazine subscriptions and so I have a pile of magazines that I will soon release to vision boarding.

My favs

When I was little, a fresh immigrant to Wisconsin, it dawned on me that we were poor in terms of a lack of resources. My mom and aunt worked as hard as they could, but the reality was that there were things that I had to do without. I think that created a dynamic later where if I had something I kept it, or I got other things—maybe things in bulk just in case. However, I am cognizant that is also a lack mentality, and a fear of running out and being without. I don’t do that anymore, and I like my space to feel spacious, airy, and uncluttered. A few years ago when I was moving a friend came by to help me pack, and he was like “why do you need 100 store plastic bags.” Sirrrrrr, that is a black person tradition—those grocery bags serve multiple purposes, but I did think—will I ever use all these bags? Probably not. Sometimes you need another person who is not as invested in the stuff as you are to help you let go. My younger sister is ruthless when it comes to getting rid of things. Her philosophy is one thing in, then one thing out. I know everyone is different, and you may be holding on to certain things for reasons only known to you. But I do wonder and must ask the question—by holding on to things that you do no longer need, or that carry no true sentimental value, what are you blocking from entering your world? Where in your life could benefit from making some room and some space? What is it that you even want for your life?

Make room for good stuff 🌺

Here are some things to think about. What are the things that you are no longer using? What are broken things or things that have holes in them? Do you have any plants that have died or that are unable to be nursed back to health? Old papers (FYI—Office Depot and Staples will shred I think it is 3 pounds of papers free, and then I think it is less than 99 cents per pound after that)? Old pictures and memorabilia of old relationships? Clothes and shoes that you don’t wear or plan to wear ever again? 

These are just a few things to think about. Celestial Goodness is a judgment free zone. I noticed that when I got rid of some things, that I did feel better. My mood greatly improved clearing out stagnant energy. This is also true for the digital world. I saw somewhere that someone asked the questions—Why am I saving this? How will I feel if I release it?

Let it go ⛄️

You might not know what to do with the things. Remember that one man’s junk is another’s treasure. You can donate things, sell things, give gifts, or trash stuff. The world is not easy for a lot of people, and your old, unused items could be a blessing for someone else. I think as a society, we also don’t realize how much stuff we have until maybe it is time to move, or someone passed away and we have to reconcile their life in things. I made a vow several years ago, that I would not put things in an official storage unit because I would probably never use those things again and I would just be spending the money to store things that I probably could have repurposed. Again, everyone has their reasons for holding on to things, but if you ask yourself the questions—what do I want for my life, and is there currently space for it, you might be very surprised.

Recent pics of Celeste 💕✨

There might be things that you can let go of. Mommy always kinds of rolls her eyes when I tell this story, but I think it is an important one. For years, she wanted a particular vehicle—but for years she was holding on to her old minivan. At one point I told her it would probably cost more to fix the minivan than to just get a new vehicle. The minivan eventually stopped working properly (cue safety hazard), and sat in our family’s garage for a while just taking up space. I did what any oldest child who wanted to see her mother manifest something better for herself would do… I called the Purple Heart Foundation and scheduled for them to do a midday pick up. They yoinked that van so fast. Insert diabolical chuckle here. Mommy was of course horrified, and perhaps a little upset, but they say if you want a new vehicle, and there is an old vehicle taking up room in the garage, then there is no space for the new vehicle. Once the old van was gone, it wasn’t long before she was in her actual dream car.

lol how fast the Purple Heart 💜 folks drove off

This is an analogy for life—if we want the things that we say we want, then we must make space for them. I hope that this makes you think, makes you analyze whether you have things that you can let go of. Make physical and energetic space because it is the year of the Rabbit—a lucky year, and you just never know what life is waiting to surprise you with—of course, if you have the space for your blessings. Make space for your blessings. May it be an auspicious time for all of us, and may the stars shine brightly over your week. May it be a beautiful week indeed.

Have an amazing week ♥️✨