5 Years Under The Microscope

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As of today, it’s been 5 years since my marriage ended, and I couldn’t be happier.  As strange as that may sound, let me explain why.

Separation and divorce are never wished upon anyone but if you are in the middle of one now, you need to find the silver lining and blessings it has for you and your new life because trust me, they’re there.  That’s not to say you have to skip the grieving process, in fact, you must go through it to get over it, that I know for sure.  Everyone grieves differently and takes their own amount of time to do so and my one piece of advice is to be patient during the process.  Once you do accept that it happened, you are able to move onto the silver lining stage.

In the beginning for some, an amicable conversation can take place where both sides agree to separate and live their own lives.  On the other hand for some, it’s often a total shock you didn’t see coming.  This is exactly what happened to me; I was blindsided.  However, the day he left was the day I arrived.  This was the part where I found out who I was and what I was made of.  Divorce has put my life under the microscope for the past 5 years and I had no choice but to examine it closely.

Relationships are like a microscope looking into our emotional wellbeing.  These relationships shine a light on the old and open wounds still begging for closure.  Once I was on my own, it was time for me to take a long, hard look at myself and where I came from.  What did I have to do to become the person I was meant to be?  On the flip side, what did I have to let go of in unbecoming the person I thought I was?  I went from being shut down and pleasing to a woman who became vocal with boundaries.  This led me to let go of toxicity and hang on to love so that healing could take place.

I’m a firm believer that anything you lose comes around in another form, whether that’s through friendship, a love relationship, partnership, or even self-love.  Basically, you get to genuinely meet yourself for the very first time, once and for all. This is the greatest silver lining and blessing in disguise because that’s where you discover what you truly want and need in life.  What makes you happy, how, who, and why.  It also shines a light on what are your dealbreakers now.  All that time under the microscope finally paid off, and I think I gained some years back in my life.  How fantastic is that?  Time to celebrate, cheers!

“Leave some room in your heart for the unimaginable”  ~ Mary Oliver

Much Love ❤

Jen
XO

~ Dare to live courageously…

**I recently wrote an article that was published in the online magazine Thought Catalog and it is titled “An Open Letter To Pain:  I Think I’m Ready To Let You Go”  Have a wonderful weekend everyone 🙂

**As always, copies of “Winning While Losing:  The Upside of Heartbreak” are available in all formats at online bookstores worldwide.  All my gratitude to YOU xx

Project-Self: Self-Respect and Self-Worth

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As I live my life and deal with everything being thrown at me, there seems to be this recurring feeling that never really goes away.  Whether it’s on my good days or not so good days, the topics of self-respect and self-worth are front row and center.

For the past few years, I made a commitment to myself to get to know myself better from within.  When you give yourself what you need first, you get it in return.  For example, if you feel you are not getting respect, ask if you respect yourself first.  If you feel like you are not feeling worthy or validated, are you aware of your own worth?  It also works on the flip side.  For example, if you don’t respect yourself, it is difficult to show respect to others.  If you don’t see your own worth, you will not see it in others either.  This is why it’s so crucial to pay attention to how we behave in all our relationships.  So many people give unsolicited advice to friends, family and even strangers on how they should live their lives but when it comes to themselves, they can’t take their own advice.

Ironic?  Absolutely.

So where do we begin?  With ourselves; by realizing we are enough and deserve happy and healthy relationships right from the get-go.  When in doubt, it’s time to have a little pow-wow with self-respect and self-worth to remind us we need to set boundaries with people and sometimes walk away from it all.  Self-compassion plays a huge role when we are struggling through something like this and we can start talking to ourselves the same way we would to a good friend, in a loving and forgiving way that supports our mental and emotional health.  If you are not a priority in someone’s life then why is it ok to be an option?  If that person you are with is not a priority, then why do you keep holding on?  If someone is treating you badly, ask yourself why you keep letting them?  If someone can’t see your worth, make sure that someone isn’t you.  Rise up.  It takes a lot of strength and courage to let go of toxic relationships that only feed your ego and not your soul.  If you are in an unhealthy relationship and know it, ask yourself why are you staying?  What I know for sure, is that I would rather be on my own than with the wrong person.  Life is way too short and wasting time with someone or with yourself is not a good idea.  We all have a choice and whatever you decide, you are responsible for it.  If you want to make a change, then you have to take action because thinking about it won’t change anything.

By taking action, you are showing self-respect and self-worth because you know in your heart you deserve more than what you’re getting and you are honoring your feelings.  Bravo for realizing it because as soon as you do this, the world opens up and the Universe responds by supporting you.  Draw a line in the sand, stand up, say no, walk away, let go, do what you need to do but just make sure you do something that supports YOU.  Speak your truth!

I would like to share a short letter I wrote.  It isn’t for one person but for the collective bunch who try to disrespect any of us and can’t see clearly.

 

“Dear You,

I know you are struggling to pay attention to me, see me for who I am and make me a priority in your life.  I just want you to know, I don’t need your validation because as of now, everything is over and I’m validating myself.  I’m not upset, I’m awake.  I see what I want and need in my life and I know I deserve more because I’m so worth it.  Out of respect, I have to walk away and since this is a one-sided relationship, this doesn’t work for me anymore.  I can no longer sit here looking straight ahead and seeing the past and no future.

All I ever asked was for you to spoil me with loyalty, love, respect, affection, attention, friendship, and great conversation.  I can finance myself just fine.  Apparently, that was asking too much of you.  What is too much for me is waiting, wondering, and wishing for a life that doesn’t exist with you.  It’s too expensive for my mental and emotional health, I am worth so much more than you’ll ever know.  It’s unfortunate that previous relationships poison present ones because when things are not dealt with at the moment, they carry over into the next relationship.  That isn’t fair to either side but it happens all the time.  Future relationships lose their chance of being healthy if nothing changes from within.

Now I realize that sometimes you have to love people from a distance to let them become who they need to be and sometimes you need to love people from a distance so you can be the person you need to be.  I am owning my emotions so I can let them go while moving forward.  Due to the circumstances and as a sign of self-respect, I have to go.  Maybe one day you will realize you hurt the one girl who would never hurt you.

“People will teach you how to love by not loving you back.  People will teach you how to forgive by not apologizing.  People will teach you kindness by their judgment.  People will teach you how to grow by remaining stagnant.  Pay attention when you’re going through painful and mysterious times.  Listen to the wisdom life is trying to teach you.”  ~ Meredith Marple

All the very best to you and thank you for all the life lessons.”

 

Much Love ❤

Jen
XX

** I hope you are enjoying the Project-Self blogs so far. Thank you to everyone for reading and liking them.  As I write I learn and as I learn I write.  Working on myself is a process but it’s also one I enjoy doing and I hope you do too in your own life ❤

** “Winning While Losing:  The Upside of Heartbreak” is available at online bookstores worldwide and at FriesenPress online bookstore.  I am grateful for all the love from my readers.  Please check out the wonderful reviews people have left on my website 😀

~ Dare to live courageously…

 

 

Project Self: Self-Love

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How many of us think self-love is selfish?  It’s a common misconception, and you’re not alone.  There are two ways to love yourself, one being in a toxic, narcissistic way where you don’t have any regard or empathy for others, which disconnects you from others and is not recommended.  The second is a nurturing, protective way of loving yourself that genuinely connects you with others.

While I was navigating a life crisis, my divorce, I suddenly found myself under the microscope.  I realized it was time to accept my imperfections, define my needs in a timely manner and reintroduce myself, to myself.  It’s during times of rumbling and wrestling with our story that turns on the bravery switch inside ourselves.  Instead of running and hiding, it took courage to stay, understand and learn from it, and since I was under the microscope, I had to examine myself.  To know yourself you need to spend time with yourself on the good and bad days.  Own it.  All of it.

That’s when the game changed for me.

All these tasks were not easy to do but needed to be done to be able to live my best life.

Imagine…

The best way I could achieve this was to start loving myself unconditionally in a caring, and kind way that protected me.  I had to realize I was enough and not worry about what other people thought.  To find my own happiness and stop pleasing others.

The first step was to stop beating myself up and start talking to my younger self, the child inside that was hurting and scared.  I used loving words instead of critical ones.  Self-compassion is a form of self-love because as soon as you start talking to yourself like you would with a good friend, and realize we are all human and make mistakes, then you can begin to relax, and get to know yourself for who you are, your values, and love yourself for it.

The second step was to define a need from a want.  For example, we all need food, water, clothing, and shelter.  These are requirements to live day to day.  A want is something that is extra, desired, not necessary but nice.  That list is extremely long for all of us.  When looking at our needs from a self-love perspective, what do you need to love yourself?  Boundaries are a good place to start, followed by self-compassion, and good self-care.  Owning your story instead of blaming others is also essential.

People treat us based on how they see us treating ourselves.  So if we don’t set boundaries with ourselves, then other people will think it’s ok to walk all over us.  The more you love yourself, the less nonsense you are going to tolerate.  This is also a form of self-respect which is another upcoming blog in this series.

It’s common to love many things outside ourselves like different foods, movies, cars, homes, careers, and more, but as soon as you hold up a mirror, what do you feel?  Disgust, fear, shame, guilt?  Or do you feel proud, grateful, accepting and happy?  Are you at the top of your love list, somewhere in the middle or didn’t realize you even had a spot on this list?

What do you practice? Fear or self-love?  Do you ask, “What will people think?”  or say “I am enough.”

What would it take for you to love yourself more?  Try to think of 3 ways you can practice more self-love in your own life.

Ways I found self-love:

*Rebuilding relationships workshop with Diane Valiquette.  This is one of the best workshops I’ve ever taken where she says the most rewarding and powerful relationship you will ever have is the one with yourself.  It also sets the tone for all your future relationships with others.  That is the truth!

*Writing, reading books, exercising, eating well, listening to music, mindfulness, accepting my imperfections, self-forgiveness, spending quality time with friends and family and asking for help.

I’ve learned it’s best to ask for what you need instead of hoping someone will notice.  You are in charge of your own life and if you don’t speak up, then nobody will know what you’re thinking and you are to blame for not saying anything.  Plain and simple.  By asking for what you need means you love yourself enough to fill those needs.  If you are still not getting your needs met, after trying everything, that’s when you can walk away and say “This doesn’t work for me anymore.”  This in itself is an act of self-love.  Of course, it’s not easy because relationships aren’t easy, but your peace and happiness are worth it, therefore, take the time to practice self-love.  The more you love yourself, the less fear you will feel.

Since this re-introduction to myself, I am no longer the same person I was before, which is a good thing.  I am stronger and more courageous than ever, aware of my needs, and aware of what I can and will not tolerate in my life.  Self-love is an ongoing process and I am committed to it each and every day because it’s at the top of my list.

What about you? ❤

**Note to self:  “Close your eyes, fall in love, stay there”  ~ Rumi

 

Much Love and Self-Love ❤

Jen
XO

***I hope you are enjoying the “Project-Self” blog series so far.  Stay tuned for more…

***All my gratitude to everyone who bought, borrowed, read, reviewed, liked, and shared my book with others.  The feeling of joy is bursting out of me each day!  Pick up your copy of “Winning While Losing:  The Upside of Heartbreak” at online bookstores worldwide or at the FriesenPress online bookstore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Say “No” With Grace and Love

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For many women and some men, just the thought of having to say “no” to someone or set a boundary can create the sweaty palms, a racing heart and feelings of shame.

I recently attended an event that a friend of mine created and I was honoured to be one of her guest speakers.  My topic was centered on how to take care of yourself while taking care of your business.  We always take care of our clients and colleagues only to find out later that we forgot to take care of ourselves along the way too.  Why do we do that?  Maybe we were just brought up that way, we don’t want to disappoint others because we know how bad it feels, or is it because we don’t have the right words to let someone down with grace and love?  On the other hand, is taking care of yourself before taking care of others a selfish act?  One thing I do know is that I’ve been there and I’ve learned from my mistakes.  I am a helping professional on two levels, a life coach and a nurse.  Saying “no” is usually not part of my vocabulary but over the years, I realized it can be and asking for help is a sign of strength, contrary to popular belief.  If you ignore your boundaries, you are headed for burnout.

In order to have a more well-balanced life, something’s gotta give.  Where do we draw that blurred line?  A great place to start is with the oxygen mask theory by putting your own oxygen mask on first because caring for others requires taking care of yourself first.  You can only give the oxygen in your tank so you must monitor it at all times so you have enough to give to others. It is about creating a healthy boundary for you.

Cheryl Richardson, a guest on the Oprah Show and author of The Art of Extreme Self-Care says “when we all care deeply for ourselves we naturally begin to care for others, our work, friends and family in a healthier, more effective way.  We tell the truth.  We make choices from love instead of guilt and obligation.”  My favourite chapter in her book is called “Let Me Disappoint You” which is about mastering the art of disappointing people, learning ways on how to manage their disappointment by not taking it personally and by setting some boundaries by saying “no” out of respect for ourselves.  Clearly, there will be times in your life where a “no” is inappropriate but when you have a real choice, consider your options before jumping in and saying “yes!”

So how do we end the madness?

*Buy some time…when someone asks a request of you take your time to give your response.  You could even say “I need to check with someone before I commit” (even if that someone is you).  Prepare the other person that you might not be able to commit upfront so they can consider other options if needed.

*Absolute yes or no…is this request something you absolutely need to do or not do?  When you use the word absolute, it changes the importance and urgency of the request just a tad which can be helpful in making a decision.

*Tell the truth with grace and love.  You can say “I feel bad about letting you down but I need to, my plate is full.”  Don’t leave the door open when you need a lock.  There is no need to over explain which is what most of us tend to do because we feel guilty.

One of the hardest things to do is say “no” to someone you care about and having to manage their disappointment.  However, what’s even harder is saying “yes” to someone you care about when you really want to say “no” then having to manage your anger and resentment towards them long term.  Think about what drains you and what replenishes you.  After all, this is your life and you are in charge of it.  Remember, you are not responsible for everyone’s happiness or sadness for that matter.  You are most responsible for your own.

Take good care of yourself…and live an authentic, meaningful life.

Much Grace and Love,

Jennifer