Life Story Project: We Are All Living Our Own Project

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Inspiration can be found in so many corners of our lives and one of my favorite places that really touched my heart was on the television show Life Story Project.  The show was aired on “OWN:  The Oprah Winfrey Network” and then unfortunately was cancelled due to network issues.  Andrea Syrtash and Dale Curd were the two hosts on Life Story Project and when I saw it was discontinued last year, I decided to write to Andrea to express my love for the show and for her compassionate way of exploring and questioning people’s hearts and lives on the streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada about real life topics.  Andrea quickly responded to me and we connected instantly bringing us to a new found friendship where inspiration and support continues to live on.

Life Story Project is about people’s stories and how connection, courage and vulnerability bring us inspiration and promotes personal growth and development within ourselves.  This 4 minute sizzle reel video clip of Life Story Project perfectly describes what the show was all about and I cannot describe it any better than Andrea and Dale.  It’s actually something to be felt.  After watching the video, please read the interview I was able to have with Andrea where we dig deeper into the details of the show and how inspiration touched her heart and life as well.

JJ:  “Can you briefly describe the inspiration behind your show Life Story Project?”

AS:  “I was cast to co-host the show and didn’t create it; but my understanding is that the creators (Mitch and Dale) were inspired by the fact that everybody has a story and that we don’t generally take the time to find out about peoples’ experiences. Intimate conversations about life-changing moments took place on a couch placed in the middle of busy parts of the city. This was to remind the audience that life is happening all around us and everybody is experiencing something significant.”

JJ:  “What was it like calling out to people to come and sit on the famous purple couch and have a conversation?”

AS:  “I’m an extrovert, so it’s not tough for me to engage people in conversation! I did wonder if they’d be open to having an intimate conversation with the cameras rolling; but I think the fact that “OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network” was on our sign and the consent forms helped. Even if people didn’t immediately trust me or my co-host; I think they trusted her and her brand. My co-host and I got rejected a fair bit but I was still surprised that so many people agreed to be interviewed by us and were so open and honest during the recorded conversation.”

JJ:  “How did you choose your life topics to talk about?”

AS:  “Every episode had a contrasting theme (Triumph & Failure, First Moments and Last Moments, Love & Regret etc). The creators wanted to pick themes we all have running through our lives and show the highs and the lows.”

JJ:  “So many inspiring stories were told on your show by the people on the streets of Toronto, you must have felt that inspiration the same as your viewers did like myself.  What was it like hearing people be so emotionally vulnerable?”

AS:  “Hosting the show was uplifting, inspiring, draining and eye-opening. Viewers saw a small percentage of all the interviews I conducted over the 4-6-week shoot. We generally shot for over 8 hours in the blazing sun and sat down with each guest for anywhere from 10-45 minutes. The stories were incredible and I was in awe of how open, honest, vulnerable and real the people I spoke with were. They were wise and articulate and their experiences had a deep effect on me. I often found it tough to sleep after a full day of shooting as I’d review some of the extraordinary stories I heard! Many stuck with me and I still think of them today…”

JJ:  “Was there ever a strange incident that happened when you were trying to recruit people to sit on the couch and talk with you?”

AS:  “We decided that we never wanted to convince people to share something that they weren’t comfortable freely sharing. Both my co-host and I have this thing where people easily open up to us and we feel fortunate that people trust us this way; but sometimes we sensed that people shared more than they wanted to! I recall one incident in which a guest mentioned a very personal experience that she had never told anyone and I felt discomfort as she was describing it because I could tell she was uncomfortable. She returned to the set later that day and asked that we wouldn’t air her story. Of course we were happy to oblige. We didn’t want any participant to regret coming onto the couch for an interview…”

JJ:  “If you had to pick one inspiring story that you heard, which one would it be?”

AS:  “There were so so many inspiring stories. I think about a guest who was deaf and her parents didn’t teach her sign language so she had no way to communicate until she was about 4 years old. She talked about having a voice and not taking it for granted…which was pretty incredible to hear from someone who can’t hear herself speak out loud.  I think about the firefighter who almost died in a blaze (intentionally taking off his oxygen mask) because he felt like a failure and how now he teaches other men in service to be vulnerable heroes. I think about the woman who loved her husband so much that their code word for ‘I love you’ was ‘oodles’ and how after he tragically died of cancer in his 30s, she found a letter from him that said he wanted her to find someone who loved her half as much as he did. Honestly, there were moments of inspiration in every interview. It’s tough to pick one!”

JJ:  “What day of the week did you tape your show and how many hours did it take?”

AS:  “We taped the show every day of the week (as far as I recall)! I had days off since my co-host and I alternated days. The weekend interviews had a different pace than the weekday interviews since people are generally in a different head space during the busy work week…”

JJ:  “What were some of the Toronto locations you chose to film your show in?”

AS:  “The show was filmed all over the city in locations like The Beaches, Dundas Square, King Street West, The Distillery District, Centre Island and more…”

JJ:  “I am very sad that Life Story Project is no longer on the air, as are many fans.  Where they can go now to watch some clips?”

AS:  “I’m sad about it, too! I’ve heard that occasionally a re-run will air; but episodes aren’t available yet on-demand.  There are some clips on YouTube but not all of them.”

JJ:  “Do you see a possibility of making a similar show in the near future?”

AS:  “I enjoy connecting with real people in a truly unscripted way. Life Story Project was genuinely spontaneous. Even if the guests were briefly pre-interviewed; Dale and I never knew much before the guests sat down to have a conversation with us. I’d love to do more shows that explore human relationships and highlight peoples’ incredible stories.”

JJ:  “Andrea you are a relationships life coach, an author and guest speaker on many famous television shows.  What was it like co-hosting with Dale on the show?”

AS:  “While I hardly worked on set with Dale (we filmed on different days); I really enjoyed working with him on this show. He and I are like-minded and believe everybody’s story matters. One thing that you didn’t see, perhaps, is that Dale and I joke around a lot.  We can certainly get serious but we also don’t take ourselves too seriously.”

All of my gratitude to Andrea and everyone from Life Story Project for inspiring my life because in essence, we are all living our own life story project the very best we can. We are all connected, therefore never alone.

You can see more of Andrea’s work on her webpage http://www.andreasyrtash.com/

Love,

Jen
xo

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What I Know For Sure…Now: A Letter To My 21-Year-Old-Self

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Okay seriously, life is full of lessons whether you want to learn from them or not.  When you do learn, you expand your personal growth and development and make necessary changes so they don’t happen again.  If you don’t learn the life lessons, they will keep happening over and over until you do.  They won’t go away on their own.  That’s just the way it is…sigh.

No matter what age you are, something happened to you that affected your life and how you reacted to it changed you.  It didn’t kill you, it made you stronger.   But what if you could have a conversation with your younger self and give advice that would save you time and grief or give you confidence and perseverance in various areas of your life?  I know I’ve thought about this and I’d like to share what I know for sure… now.

Dear Jen,

You are 21 years young now and are studying very hard to become a nurse.  You have chosen a career path that is helpful and compassionate which aligns with who you are and your core values in life. Yes studying is hard, working in the hospital is hard but never give up because you are on the right path; you’ve got this.  Know that every day you will touch a life or a life will touch yours, this is the beauty in nursing.

What if I told you when you graduate you will move to another country to work and travel?  Not just once but twice. Nursing can open many doors for you and later on there is another big opportunity coming up that you cannot say no to, in Qatar.

Don’t always expect to be acknowledged and appreciated for all the hard work you do, people are tired and busy in their own worlds but in your heart, just know you are doing your best and in the end, you will be rewarded by Him.  Know your own self-worth because if you think you are cheap, people will see and treat you as cheap. Try not to control every outcome, just relax and enjoy the ride because you have so much ahead of you, a world of experiences that will blow your mind!

Life Coaching is in your future which is another beautiful helping profession and by walking this path, you learn so much about yourself in the process and it’s an automatic win-win for you and your clients. You will be so inspired, you will really love this but it takes work to get it going.  Don’t give up.

Relationships are complicated but a very big part of your life Jen.  Friendships are to be treasured and respected by both sides otherwise, it’s not worth it.  Everywhere you go, you will meet new friends and connect well with them for life because of who you are.  You have many amazing friends who inspire you so hang on tight they are your rocks during your toughest moments.   Don’t forget to be there for them too and love them with all your heart.  Sadly, one of your closest friends will be diagnosed with cancer and cannot beat it.  However, having known her, changes your perspective on life for the better because you learn to appreciate the little things, slow down and look within yourself for answers to life’s complicated questions.  You have all the solutions inside you, just dig deep because they’re all there.  You feel a deep sense of gratitude for having known her and you miss her.

Family is another important part of your life and you need to show your appreciation for everything they do for you.  Nobody’s perfect and everyone is doing the best they can, just like you Jen.  Perfection is a dangerous thing and not even possible so let it go.  Imperfections are what make people beautiful including you.  It all depends on your perspective, try to look at them as your gifts.  Your entire family loves you unconditionally, you love them too and you get along with everyone.

Ah, romance, romance.  You have met some really nice guys that showed interest in you so far and you have been interested in some of them.   But Jen, you need to have more self-confidence you need to love yourself more.  Learn how to be assertive and stand up to the ones who don’t treat you right and hold hands with the ones who do.  Don’t get blindsided by flattery, take it for what it is which is sweet.  Not every guy will understand your kind heart but that’s ok, it’s not your job to convince him of it.  Never let the good guy get away, easier said than done.  Romantic involvement is complex and fleeting.  Don’t settle for someone, make sure your man adores you, protects you, makes time for you, has the same values as you, has your back on everything and knows how to use a hammer!  This will save you a ton of frustration…

What you really want is someone who makes you smile, is proud of you, supports you and inspires you, is emotionally there for you and treats you like his queen.  Not a man who drains you or takes advantage of your good nature or abandons you.  He will love you with his whole heart by making you his number one priority and not let his external environment control how he feels or acts around you.

He must know his own core values and who he truly is on the inside otherwise he is a chameleon adjusting to every external environment, not a man.

If you are looking for a chameleon, go to Costa Rica.

Make sure he never interrupts you or puts you down in front of other people; he should be singing your praises instead.  You are a fine catch young lady and never forget that!  😉

You put everyone’s needs ahead of your own and deep down, you want your needs met too and why not?  People pleasing and putting yourself last is killing you without you even realizing it.  You need to take better care of yourself so you have the ability to take care of others.  Everywhere you go you are a caretaker.  Learn to set some boundaries for yourself otherwise people will walk all over you as if you were a doormat.  “No” is a complete sentence, remember that my love.  And whatever you do, don’t let the opinions of others influence you to the point of doing nothing.  You’re better than that.

Be very mindful of selfish people and narcissists in your life.  They are your biggest threat because they give subtle red flags and are very good at charming you.  Take off those rose colored glasses so you can actually see the color red.  They are only interested in themselves so don’t kid yourself into thinking they have something to offer you.  They are takers and you are a giver so you are vulnerable in this situation.  Be very, very careful.

I know you can’t see it now but your heart of gold will fall in love with one man and two children over the years.  Unfortunately heartbreak is in your future but this tragedy has its silver lining.  You experience two sides of the same coin but you are a trooper, a real warrior.  Facing these various betrayals are the biggest stressors you will go through but it’s not what happens to us in life that determines who we are, it’s how we cope and react to it that counts and you have excellent coping skills.  Like grace under fire. You are not a victim so don’t play that role, ever.  You might feel like you are all alone in this but you’re not.  You are stronger than you realize and you have God in your corner.  This is a time for self-compassion and practicing self-care, finally.  You have put this off long enough Jen so time to pay attention to yourself.  It’s self-discovery time.  Be a good example for your kids because they are always watching and taking notes.  Learn the lessons here and don’t worry so much, everything is going to be okay.

You really need a vacation, you should plan one.

Writing blogs for you is a positive emotional outlet and an incredibly important way of dealing with stress because getting your emotions out on paper or a screen is cathartic.  A wonderful healing tool for all.  Not only are you helping yourself but also helping others by letting them know we are all in this together, nobody is alone.  An amazing world of bloggers is out there and each person has something beautiful to offer, appreciate each and every one of them from your heart because they are probably fighting a battle of their own you know nothing about.  You learn to write your way out of this betrayal and when writing the story of your life Jen, don’t let anyone else hold the pen, own it.  You get to write your own ending.  On the other side of this fear is freedom so hang in there, you’re doing great.  You are finding your inner voice and are finally starting to use it.  Better late than never girl!

Exercise has always been a priority in your life but during this time you must keep moving more than ever.  The physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits are endless.  Exercise helps to get the negative energy out, clear your mind, release those endorphins and make you feel empowered again.  You meet more friends along the way who support you and you can’t imagine your life without them because they are just so fun to be with!  You learn new activities like Zumba and PiYo which you even become addicted to!

As you make your way through the pain with your kids, your vision becomes clearer and you slowly get your strength back, thanks to your family and friends here and all around the world.  Connection has empowered you to stand up for what you believe in and fight for your rights my little warrior.  You are getting to know and love yourself more and more each and every day, the butterfly is emerging.  One of the greatest lessons you can learn is to practice gratitude, forgiveness and surrender.  These are the silver linings in the dark clouds.  You will make it to the other side Jen, you are almost there so don’t give up now.  Music and lyrics inspire you and give you energy.  There’s one song that’s about standing for something and getting stronger which is exactly what you need right now.  You need to stand for you.  Share this song with your amazing friends and in the meantime…ROAR!

To be continued in another 20 years….

And this is what I know for sure….now.

Love,

Jen
xo

Smile In Your Liver

“Smile in your liver” ~ Ketut Leyir
From the movie Eat Pray Love ~ by Elizabeth Gilbert

I saw the movie Eat Pray Love when it first came out in 2010 and I thought it was interesting and great.  At the time I was more obsessed with the travel destinations of Italy, India and Indonesia in the movie and the basic story line of how a woman left an unhappy marriage and started over.  Having watched this movie again years later with some changes in my own life made me pay very close attention to Julia Roberts’ role and I was listening to the words of precious Ketut like he was sitting in my living room talking to me.  He is so amazing, I wish I had my own medicine man.  For the record, I am still obsessed with the travel destinations…

“You make serious face like this, you scare away good energy. To meditate, only you must smile. Smile with face, smile with mind, and good energy will come to you and clear away dirty energy. Even smile in your liver.”

Before we try and understand what adorable Ketut is trying to say, let’s review the roles of our liver first and try to understand the meaning behind his quote; “Smile in your liver.”

The liver’s main job is to filter the blood coming from the digestive tract, before passing it to the rest of the body. The liver also detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes drugs. As it does so, the liver secretes bile that ends up back in the intestines.  The liver also has the ability to regenerate itself if injured or surgically excised.  It is located on the upper right side of your body.

Maybe what Ketut is really saying is smiling in your liver essentially means going deep within yourself to be happy from the inside out.  Smiling in your liver filters the negativity coming from your gut feelings and prevents these negative feelings from passing throughout the body.  A smile has the ability to dissolve anger and resentment and metabolizes negative emotions while assisting in the decision making process.  A smile is also known for removing blockages so that one can forgive, accept and feel kindness flowing.  As it does so, a smile triggers endorphin production the “feel good” hormones that end up back in your belly making you feel at peace.  Your mind is calm and the smile you wear on your beautiful face is radiant; just like your liver.  If your smile is lost or cut off by someone or something, it is not lost forever and can be transformed again.  A smile is always right.

You could say it’s about striking a balance in your life and maintaining your personal power.  Yoga and meditation can help to slow down the monkey mind and when combined with deep breathing and smiling, your body feels more energized and peaceful.  I am currently on this learning journey and yoga is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself and my smiling liver.  Life gets pretty busy and crazy sometimes and we run to keep up with it.

But is that the right thing we should be doing?

Should we pick up the pace a little bit and run even faster?

I don’t think so.

Personally, when life gets that overwhelmingly crazy, the best thing we can do is the opposite – slow down.  Seems counterintuitive, right?  Well here’s the thing.  Not only does slowing down allow us to catch our breath, we can begin to see clearly and we can feel what our body is telling us ie: our gut feelings.  Gut feelings never lie and we should pay more attention to them because often times they can guide us in the direction that is most right for us or even re-direct us away from something that is harmful to us.  You become more mindful of what you really need.  If you don’t slow down and keep running that monkey mind marathon, you will never be able to hear what your life is trying to tell you, or get your attention to pay attention.  Stay grounded, slow down and silence your mind because you either control your mind or it controls you.  It’s that simple and your liver will thank you for it by smiling deep within yourself.  Now I just need to decide when I am going on my next trip!

SMILE IN YOUR LIVER!  🙂 

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Much Love,

Jennifer

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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The Gift of Forgiveness

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What is forgiveness?   It is making a deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you.  It takes a strong person to say “I’m sorry” and an even stronger person to forgive.  Forgiveness brings the forgiver peace of mind and frees them from their own anger and deeply held negative feelings. It empowers you to recognize the pain you suffered without letting that pain define you, enabling you to heal and move on with your life.  In essence, it’s about giving up the hope that the past could be any different and accept that something happened.

The opposite of forgiveness is revenge.  This negative emotion is never sweet and can literally tear you apart.  If you get revenge on the person who harmed you, they may no longer suffer depending on the revenge but either way, it will have a direct impact on your life where you will only suffer more.   Some people say the best revenge is just moving on and let karma do the rest.  What are your thoughts on that?

Confusion about forgiveness is when we think about forgiving someone who has harmed us, we believe we are saying to that person it’s okay what they did and we’re letting them off the hook or giving up our control. This isn’t true and it’s not about accepting bad behavior.  We might even see ourselves as a doormat.  When you forgive, you do not wear rose-colored glasses or deny the seriousness of what happened to you. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting.  Maybe some of you reading this blog have felt this way and I have to admit I did for a long time too.

Forgiveness comes in its own time and shouldn’t be rushed so if you are struggling with forgiveness then it’s not the right time and that’s okay.  When you do feel ready to forgive, try to recognize the causes that led that person to act as they did and this can help facilitate the process of forgiveness.  I am currently on my own journey of forgiveness and I understand how difficult it can be, you are not alone.

Why should we forgive?  Here are a few things I have discovered about forgiveness.

  • It makes us happier
  • Improves our emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health
  • Sustains relationships worth saving
  • Self-esteem, confidence and self-worth return at a higher level
  • If we don’t transform our pain, we transmit it to those around us
  • When you forgive you don’t change the past, you change your future by rising above what happened. It’s life changing for the better
  • Sets you free from that person and their negativity, you take your power back

How do we forgive someone who has harmed us deeply?  This is where the rubber fails to hit the road.

  • Accept and process your anger even though it’s difficult, be patient
  • Acknowledge your revenge fantasies, they are just that
  • Forgive yourself it’s crucial to your healing
  • Try to see a common humanity between you and the person you are trying to forgive
  • See them with a compassionate eye. They’re only human just like you
  • Realize the cure for pain and suffering is where personal growth and development can arise. This is usually a time where you might see the silver lining in your situation
  • Forgetting about it and pretending it did not happen is not forgiveness

In the beginning, it’s really hard and it takes so much strength to forgive.  To change the world, we need to change our mind.  Hanging onto these negative emotions ends up hurting us in the end.  When you don’t forgive, you keep that wound open and you inflict more pain on yourself which isn’t healing for you at all.

Forgive them even if they aren’t sorry and even if you never get that apology.  I know…that’s a tough one.

When we struggle with being right or being happy, we are still struggling with forgiveness and that’s okay.  We need to discover how to get out of our own way and stop holding ourselves hostage because we end up blocking the flow of happiness in our life.  After all, on the other side of forgiveness is a personal freedom which is amazingly beautiful.

Forgiveness happens when we stop holding a grudge and let go of our right to resentment for being mistreated. It doesn’t mean we stop protecting ourselves but it does mean we let go of emotional retaliation which only hurts us in the long run. Carrying around revenge in your heart will only weigh you down in negativity. It takes more strength to be able to forgive but what you resist can persist and that is no way to go through life carrying around this unnecessary baggage. Say it for yourself and move on, you are actually giving yourself a gift of peace by doing this.

True forgiveness is a gift to ourselves, the other person doesn’t need to be present or even know we have forgiven them because forgiveness takes place in our minds and in our bodies.  We do it for ourselves so we can be at peace and live our best life, free from negativity.  By letting go of the past and surrendering to what is, you create the process of emptying your mind. The only way to stop the vicious cycle of reacting to pain by causing more pain is to step out of the system by taking a step back.

Most importantly, we need to allow our hearts fill with compassion and learn how to forgive ourselves.  This might be more difficult than forgiving another human being because we are so hard on ourselves.   Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it.  Hindsight is always 20/20.  Your best teacher is your last mistake so it’s important to learn from it so it is not repeated in your life and then move on.  Just because you made a mistake doesn’t mean you are a mistake.  Try and be self-compassionate.

Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.  Trust yourself and forgive them.

I wish you all the very best on your journey of giving yourself the gift of forgiveness.

“By owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.  And when we own the story, then we can write the ending.”  ~ Brené Brown

 Much Love,

Jennifer Juneau

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Being Enough: Fitting In vs. Belonging

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“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”
~ Brené Brown

I am slightly obsessed with Brené Brown and if you have never heard of her before, allow me introduce you to her.  She has a Ph.D. in Social Work and has been studying shame, courage and vulnerability for over fifteen years now.  She has appeared on TED Talks, Oprah and has written inspiring books such as The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are and Daring Greatly:  How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead.

One of my favorite chapters she writes about is on fitting in vs. belonging.   They are not the same thing and one gets in the way of the other.  They are two sides of the same coin.

Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted.   It’s the disease to please.  It’s chasing down some acceptance and worthiness so we can feel better about ourselves.  “I will feel worthy when…” or “I’ll be whoever or whatever you need me to be, as long as I feel like I’m a part of this.”  It’s an uncomfortable feeling. Remember high school?

Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.  True belonging only happens when we present our authentic selves, imperfections and all.  It’s about self-love and self-acceptance and embracing who we are.  Essentially, it’s the act of courage and unconditional love for ourselves.  You know when you belong somewhere or with someone because you can feel it in your body.  You feel loved at peace and free.

Therefore, fitting in gets in the way of belonging.  It’s the gremlins that set up camp in our heads that tell us “you’re not good enough.”  It’s hard to feel worthy of love and belonging when you listen to this little monster.   The truth is, love and belonging means uncertainty but they still go together.  And according to Brené, those who have a strong sense of love and belonging, have the courage to be imperfect.

I found this concept really interesting because many people believe that fitting in and belonging are the same thing when in fact they’re not.  My question to you is this; are you living your life according to fitting in or belonging?  The next question is why?  Sometimes you just have to say “enough already” and let yourself off the hook.

Much love,

Jennifer Juneau

Thank You For Being Such A Pain ~ By Mark I. Rosen

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Not only is this a catchy, punchy title for a book, it makes a lot of sense…once you read it.  For some this may trigger some laughter and for others they might find it offensive at first glance.  Personally, I found it funny and real. Little did I know it was going to wake me up to something bigger and better.

I was at a conference last year when I came across this book and after reading the description on the back cover and browsing through the table of contents, people around me started to ask me questions and we joked about the title.  Even when I bought the book, the volunteers working the table asked me to read it and come back to give them a report on it!  This was a big conversation piece and I could hardly wait to dive in and read it.

As it reads on the back cover, “With wisdom and humor, Thank You For Being Such A Pain offers gentle and compassionate guidance for understanding and healing relationships with difficult people.  The author Mark I. Rosen, Ph.D., reminds us that nothing in your life happens randomly and your pain has a deeper purpose; frustration and pain are as necessary for your personal and spiritual growth as love and joy; transforming enmity and completing unfinished business may be the most important skills you can learn in life; and when you make an effort to work on your inner self, your outer relationships will be transformed.”  The bottom line is that after reading this book, it can change the way you see the difficult people in your life as well as the way you see yourself.  The silver lining awakening is that over time, you will be able to thank the difficult person for what they said or did to you because it helped you learn something about yourself and it made you grow into a better human being.  Your higher self.

Everyone can relate to this book because there are difficult people everywhere we go and there have been times where we are the difficult person.  (I know, harsh but true…).  We can’t always point the finger at someone else, it’s important to take some responsibility for our own actions and how we may have contributed to the situation.  After all, nobody’s perfect.

Gasp! 

I really love how the author explains the emotional and spiritual side of understanding the difficulties, options for dealing with difficult people, why people are difficult, healing the difficulties, embracing the adversary and relating to difficult people overall.

I would like to share a powerful exercise from the book that I recently found to be helpful in my own life after being heart broken and it’s called Three Healing Letters.  The purpose of this exercise is to use writing as an outlet for emotional release, most commonly anger and sadness.  For all the writers out there, just remember do not send, post, give these letters to the difficult person!  This exercise is just for you and your heart.

Letter 1:

With pen in hand or computer in front of you, write a letter to the difficult person.  Feel free to say whatever is on your mind and in your heart, don’t hold anything back.  How were you hurt?  What was taken away from you?  How has your life been affected?   What do you think of the person?

Take your time when you write and there is no deadline so add to it as needed over how many days, weeks, months it takes.  Pay attention to how you feel in your body, what physical sensations are happening as you write?  These are your emotions being released, be kind to yourself.  Keep writing.

Read what you have so far out loud with all your emotion while imagining the difficult person is sitting in front of you not interrupting or defending.  Find a quiet, private area to do this… 🙂

When you no longer feel the intensity of emotions inside you as you write and read the letter out loud, the letter is finished.  Resist the temptation to mail it!

Letter 2:

Now you can write the fantasy reply you would love to receive to letter 1.  Take a different position by writing as if you were the difficult person.  What do you want to hear?  What would you like the person to say to you that would ease the pain and make you feel better?  What type of apology would provide some closure for you?  What would you like to be acknowledged?

Continue to pay attention to your physical reactions as you write, cry it all out if you feel like it.  Even though you may never receive a letter like this it will feel good to express it.

Letter 3:

As strange as it may sound, write the difficult person a thank-you letter.  Thank them for all the positive things they did for you in your relationship despite the wedge that sits between you now.  What might be the blessing in disguise here for you?

Thank the person for teaching you valuable life lessons that you wouldn’t have normally seen if it wasn’t for them.  Not only did they teach you about patience and compassion but also about sharpening your relationship skills for future use with others. You may even want to thank them for not seeing the real you because now you are free to find someone who truly appreciates you for who you really are.

If you are having trouble finding anything positive or unable to say thank you, then your anger hasn’t been fully vented or dealt with yet.  Please know this is okay and that you need to spend more time on letters 1 and 2 while reminding yourself there is no deadline.  Time is your friend.

When you have completed letter 3, you are finally able to forgive, let go and surrender.  You have healed from within because love replaced fear and gratitude shifted your perspective.  Burn the letters, shred them or even bury them in the sand and have them washed away for good.  Do something profound to mark the occasion of putting the past behind you where it belongs.

You are light and free.

Now you can say “thank you for being such a pain” with compassion for yourself…and mean it.

Hugs,

Jennifer  xo

Filling Your Heart with Values

Core Values

When I took my training in becoming a life coach a few years ago, my favorite Module was on our values.  When we talk about values, there is an emotional connection making them extra special because values converge and define us, they are who we are at our core.   Anyone who knows me well knows that emotional connection is huge and is a core value in my life.  I am not after the external materialistic things, I value what’s within.  Values are one word such as compassionate, respect, determined and have a strong tonal emphasis, they cannot be changed but you can add more to who you are over time and through experience.  Values drive our choices in all life areas.

As a coach, when I ask my clients about a goal they would like to achieve in their life, it is a privilege for me to be beside them hearing their stories and offering them a helping hand.  People amaze me all the time with their determination, resilience and love for life.  They want to better themselves the same way an athlete wants to better themselves with the assistance of a coach.  Some clients say they want more peace in their life and others want a loving relationship.  After stating their goal in a positive way, my next question is key “why is that important to you?”  This is the most beautiful WHY question because it’s all about values.  Answers are from the heart because that’s where values live, even the heart is somewhat shaped like a V.  Values represent love.  Love of self and love of others.  If something is not that important to you in reaching a goal, you won’t be able to answer the “why.”  In other words, you don’t value it that much.

How do you know what your values are and are you truly living out your values?

Perhaps you value sharing in your family life but you live making selfish decisions.  This is most likely not your value but a belief that you should share because that’s what families do with each other.  Therefore sharing is not about who you are and there is a conflict between your values and beliefs.  On the other hand, if compassion is your value and you live your life helping others then you know and respect one of your values and live it out authentically.  Principles are the manner in which you carry out your values.  Therefore principles drive your behavior.  They are like an unwritten law that acts as a compass when you get lost because you can always refer back to them.  Beliefs can diverge us and are stories with the word “because” in it.  They are something we tell ourselves such as “I believe I should act this way because….”  The good news is that beliefs can be changed if they are self-limiting or imposed on us by someone else like a parent, ex, etc.

In love relationships, we look for the things we have in common with someone, their likes, dislikes and the list goes on.  You may have many likes and things in common with someone but maybe you don’t share the same values in different areas such as career, friends, love, or children.  Over time this could be one of the reasons why the relationship may not have worked out because after the honeymoon of likes is over, reality of who this person is and what is important to them shows up.  It’s their values, the matters of the heart that speak up.  If your values clash, chances are your relationship may clash eventually too.  Think of it this way, imagine the most mismatched couple you know who hardly has anything in common with the other person, the cliché opposites attract comes up a lot, and yet they are happy and have been together forever.  Why is that?  It’s because they share the same values, the heart of the matter is the same.

If you don’t know what your values are yet, I encourage you to take your time and find out what they are so you can live an inspiring and authentic life you deserve.  One exercise that may be helpful is to imagine it’s your 80th birthday party and all your friends, followers and family are there giving a toast about you.  What would you like them to say about you that rings true to your life?  Answers are one word such as inspiring, loyal, caring, etc.  Ask yourself the million dollar question “why is that important to me?” It is crucial to know the answer.  Once you know what they are, use your principles to live out your values and do it with passion and grace.  You can drill down even deeper and on a scale of 1 – 10, scale each value on how true you are living them and strive to do better.  Out of that list, what are your top three values?

Most of all, find that special person who shares your same values and fills your heart with even more values knowing that anything is possible.

If you are interested in hiring me as your coach, I am happy to be with you.  Values guaranteed.  We can begin with a 30 minute free session.

Much love,

Jennifer Juneau
Jennifer.juneau1@gmail.com

The Power of Vulnerability: Brene Brown

If you are not familiar with Brene Brown’s work, allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite speaker’s on earth.  She is a researcher, a storyteller and a Texan according to her Twitter account. When we live with vulnerability, we live with our whole hearts which creates a beautiful feeling of happiness. This 20 minute TED talk is so inspiring I highly recommend you take the time to watch it because in the end, we are all enough.