Light A Candle Instead Of Cursing The Darkness

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We are all victims of circumstance but we have a choice of remaining in victim mode or stepping out of it and living our life.  Sometimes we can see trouble coming and other times it catches us right off guard sending us into a downward spiral but either way, we need to decide if we want to be happy or not.  Initially, it’s natural to feel great disappointment, hurt and grief but it’s not healthy to live there permanently.

Things happen, I’ve seen trouble coming and it has also knocked me off my feet, leaving my head swirling and my heart broken.  However, I cannot and will not let that define me.  When I read this quote, it was like I heard music and corks popping out of champagne bottles!

 To me, darkness represents being deeply disappointed, the hard times, handling tough emotions, the struggle, the pain and even change.  Everyone defines it differently depending on what they’re going through.  When you think about it, if you try to navigate through the dark without any light, it’s very difficult to see where you’re going or what is right in front of you.  You might bump into things, trip over something or even worse, stub your toe which only causes more pain.  The other thing about darkness is that it seems to hide us well.  Maybe people like the dark for that reason alone.  They don’t want any help so they don’t want to be seen.  The question comes when that same person endlessly criticizes or complains about their situation but doesn’t do anything to make it better; cursing the darkness.  Or maybe they just want to be found by someone, be seen, heard and understood.   After all, we all crave connection.

The simple act of shedding some light on the subject can change the entire space where darkness lives.  You can see what and who is around you, what is ahead of you and that feeling of being on edge is less.  It’s a more comforting, positive response, a new perspective.  Igniting a spark inside you is an action step in moving forward because you are no longer thinking about making it better or wishing for it, you are making the effort and doing it.  Lighting a candle could mean reading positive daily affirmations, finding activities that bring you joy and doing them as much as possible, practicing gratitude even in the dark moment, trying to find the hidden life lesson inside your situation or reaching out to your support system to help you and accepting their help.  It can also mean stop denying and start feeling the pain because the only way out of it is through it.  When you decide to do this, your mind shifts from controlling to allowing and your body shifts from stress to peace.  It doesn’t magically disappear but it certainly becomes more manageable.  Having an open mind and an open heart changes a negative into a positive with an intention to do so.  Darkness is a wonderful teacher that helps us grow through personal development because without darkness there can’t be light.

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All of our life’s tragedies big or small have their time and space for darkness.  Just keep in mind that at some point, you will need to turn on a light to be able to see clearly instead of wishing it wasn’t so dark.  It’s time to live in the joy zone.

Much love,

Jennifer Juneau

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Lights In Your Tunnel

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We like to search for those final happy destinations in life.  You know, the ones that will finally make us feel relieved and satisfied.  We work so hard on a project, exams, a relationship, or our health while focusing on the end result which is that light at the end of the tunnel.  Or perhaps it’s a separation or divorce that turns your world upside down.  The truth is, we crave that light, it’s all we can think about to help motivate us to move forward because in our minds we believe the moment  we can see that light, the difficult situation will end.  You say “When all this is over I can finally relax and be happy.”

Is that really true?  Maybe…to an extent.

Is it possible to be happy right now while you are in that long, dark tunnel?  Tunnels are scary, cold, intimidating places.  You are probably wondering how can one be happy in such a depressing place?  Sometimes we miss the boat by going in alone and limiting our vision on the end result when we could be using some light and support to navigate that tunnel.

Little moments in life are worth celebrating just as much as the big ones.  By having something to look forward to like meeting a friend for coffee, scheduling a Skype call from someone who is important to you, reading uplifting blogs that give your life meaning, planning a mini vacation or just eating your favourite food with your kids all represent little pot lights in your tunnel.  Each friend, family member or supportive person is worth a light in your tunnel.  The more positive people and moments you have creates more support in your situation.  And the brighter your environment is, the more tolerable and comfortable the situation will be, therefore you will begin to feel happier and even more relaxed.  You need these lights to help you cope better.  It’s time to celebrate coping better because you are doing the best you can and every action step counts.

If something really great happens to you that represents a chandelier!  It’s time to celebrate again.

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Be grateful for everything you have and see how many colored lights appear.  By shifting your perspective, the tunnel is now an illuminating space that transformed from unpleasant to beautiful.   Light replaces darkness the same way love replaces fear.

If you are going through a difficult time right now, don’t wait until it’s over to celebrate all your milestones you are achieving along the way.  You could be waiting months or years before you see that light at the end of the tunnel.  Why would you want to deprive yourself that way?  Do it now because you’re worth it.

Take comfort along the way by always having something to look forward to with the people who care for you.  Those who you know well and those whom you’ve never met before but seem to cause a positive ripple effect in your life.  Notice the happy little surprises that pop up.  These are your lights that will decorate your life and lead you out of the tunnel because you have the right to be happy now.

Celebrating a win doesn’t mean you need to do something outrageous or expensive, just be kind to yourself.   If that seems difficult, ask yourself “What would I buy my 10 year old self right now that would make me happy?” or “What have I wanted to do but have been putting it off?”   Maybe the answers to both questions are chocolate and a massage?

Sounds good to me…that’s a win-win.

Much love,

Jennifer

P.S….All my gratitude to the lights and chandeliers in my tunnel. You are amazing!

The Art of Grieving

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Whether we loved a family member, a relationship or a job, the loss is something to be acknowledged and the grieving process is absolutely necessary to be able to reach the other side.  The most famous author on grieving is Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.  Not only has she written books for the general public but they are textbooks for the medical profession and for those working in palliative care.

When it comes to grieving a loss, there are generally five stages that appear and re-appear without much warning.   They don’t always go in order and they can reappear out of order so it’s important to keep this in mind and know that it’s normal if they don’t follow a certain path.  Grieving is very personal and everyone handles it differently which is why it’s important to have a good support system to help you recover.  The reason we grieve is because we cared and loved which is reason enough to deal with the situation so we can move on in our lives in a healthy manner.

The first stage is Denial.  The person who is grieving the loss of a loved one, a relationship or a job could be in denial by feeling like they just can’t believe it.  They feel shock and numbness.  In the person who is dying, they could feel disbelief and may go about their life pretending that an illness does not exist.  In the person who has lost a relationship or a job, they may act like nothing is/was wrong.

The second stage is Anger.  This emotion can be directed at your loved one who is dying because they didn’t take better care of themselves or it could be directed at yourself that you didn’t take better care of them.  In the person who lost their job or a relationship, anger may be directed at how they were treated or mistreated.  Many thoughts and feelings of anger come up here and you question yourself incessantly.  However, anger is a necessary stage of the healing process because it gives us the drive and energy to move on.  Be willing to feel it, the more you do, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal.  Because anger can be so consuming, having a good support system of friends and family around you is critical and if that is not enough, professional support is always available including support groups.

The third stage is Bargaining.  Before the loss it may seem like you will do anything to spare your loved one like “Please God, I will never be angry with my daughter again if you’ll just let her live.”  After a loss, bargaining might look like “What if I devote the rest of my life to helping others, then I can wake up and realize this has all been a bad dream.”  Sometimes guilt is bargaining’s roommate.  We remain in the past trying to negotiate our way out of the hurt.  We ask ourselves the “what if” and “if only” questions in this stage but in reality, our loved one is truly gone.

The fourth stage is Depression.  This is where our attention moves from the past into the present.  Empty feelings are deeper than we could ever imagine.  It is not a mental illness it is an appropriate response to a great loss.  This is where people often withdraw from life and wonder “Why go on at all?”  Sadness blankets us and we cry more than we ever thought possible.  But perhaps our eyes need to be washed by our tears once and awhile so that we can see Life with a clearer view again.  Tears don’t always have to win.  The positive side of this difficult stage is that depression can slow us down and allow us to take real stock of the loss.  It makes us rebuild ourselves from the ground up.  It clears the deck for growth by taking us to a deeper place in our soul that we would not normally explore.  It promotes you to the fifth stage.

Acceptance.  The ability to accept the permanent reality that your loved one, a relationship or job is physically gone.  It doesn’t mean this is okay or right, but you can just accept it.  You learn to live with it and readjust yourself and your roles.  Finding acceptance may be just having more good days than bad.  You may start to reach out to others and become involved in their lives.  You re-invest in your friendships and relationships with others and with yourself.

I have grieved a loss many times in my life, I know the process is never easy or smooth.  It hurts and it feels long.  However, what I can tell you is that time is your best friend and you need to allow yourself off the hook for everything while you go through this transition and give yourself the time to do so.  It does get better with time, that I know for sure.  Sometimes we beat ourselves up on top of our loss which only makes us feel worse in the end.  By treating yourself with care and understanding rather than judgment, knowing you’re not alone and being mindful of your emotions, self-compassion is the light that casts out darkness in our minds.  Talk to yourself as if you are talking to a friend who is suffering.

The other side of pain is comfort, the other side of fear is love, the other side of unpleasant is beauty.  Keep moving forward and focus on the positive side because what we put our attention on, we get more of it.  In this case, focus on comfort, love, and beauty.   Just remember that if you falter, it’s okay, you are only human and know you can rise and try again when you are ready.  You can do it.

Loss, is very personal and so is the journey to recovery, it starts from within.  If we can embrace the grieving process instead of running away from it and be kind to ourselves when we feel at our worst, that is the beauty in the art of grieving.

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“New beginnings are also described as painful endings.”  ~ Lao Tzu

“People are like stained glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out but when the darkness sets in, their beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”  ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

~ By Jennifer Juneau, Registered Nurse, Life Coach