Braving Uncertainty

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The world has changed drastically and fast.  We hit the brakes and went from 100mph to 0mph in a very short amount of time.  COVID-19 has officially hit the worldwide pause button, but despite this crisis, positive things are happening in the world every day and I want to write about what’s real, what matters, what’s on my mind and in my heart.

First of all, let’s recognize this elephant in the room as a grieving process so we can feel the feelings and move forward.  We all just suffered a loss of control and normalcy worldwide.  As we know, when a tragedy or loss happens, denial is first.  People think it isn’t real and carry on as usual.  Bargaining is next and that’s when people make little deals on the side to try and keep things as normal as possible.  Anger moves in and takes over like a storm while sadness and fear hide in the corner waiting to be seen.  As the news is announced to us all day every day, acceptance may or may not be reached.  This is real and isn’t going away unless we all do our part; the sooner the better.  Once we do accept this is happening, we can start creating a new normal, and a new normal is where creativity and ingenuity lives.

For many of us, living rooms have been turned into gyms, dining rooms into workspaces, and kitchens into restaurants.  Social distancing, travel restrictions, working from home, kids are home without school/daycare, grocery shopping and cleaning protocols, washing hands, and bingeing Netflix more than usual are just a few ways we’ve all had to adjust to our new lives.  Not only that, cabin fever has taken on a whole other meaning for so many of us!  Now is the time to get creative and learn a new skill or hobby.  Let’s face it, using the excuse that you don’t have time won’t work for anyone right now.  Virtual meetings, coffee dates, dinner dates, cooking classes, walks, yoga, meditation, games, happy hour, wine tours, dances, book clubs, and tea parties are just a few virtual events I’ve taken part in and I have to say, it’s been fun, given the circumstances we’re in.  Now more than ever, what we need to get through this, is connection but in a virtual setting for now.  Not only that, but we also need kindness, courage, love, patience, compassion, and understanding.

I am concerned about people living in domestic violence and unhappy marriages who are forced to self isolate together, children, single parents, single people, the sick and vulnerable, the invincibles, the unemployed, and those who long to be together but can’t right now.  It’s difficult being apart from the ones you love and on the other hand, it’s difficult being with the ones you don’t love.  Reach out to the people in your life as a support and to get support to help combat loneliness.  Excluding people is never a good idea and even more so now.

Be kind.

Uncertainty means being vulnerable and being vulnerable is scary to so many of us.  It can bring out the best and worst in all of us.  Now that uncertainty is being forced upon us, we have no choice but to lean into it and spread hope instead of fear.  It’s in times like these when we need to have faith and trust ourselves things will work out again soon.  Believing that whatever happens, we will find a way out of it. It’s not like our lives were 100% certain before, right?  We still survived and thrived.

In my experience when it comes to uncertainty, one way to turn that around is by practicing gratitude in a mindful space.  Take your soul for a ride and think about all the wonderful things you already have.  This is what creates happiness from within and is long-lasting.  Perhaps one of the silver linings is the fact we all had to slow down and when that happens, we have time to reflect on our needs and wants.  What and who is important to us and why.  As it turns out, we don’t need much; but we do need each other.  It’s time to relax and take one day at a time, find some light in the dark.  Try not to make the uncertain certain.  For me, connecting by video with coworkers, friends, family, and loved ones has been a lifesaver to make the best of a difficult situation.  Thank goodness we live in a high tech world now.

I truly believe when things calm down,  things will be different but in a good and positive way.  We all have time to think about the future and our goals right now.  Let’s see what happens next and hold onto hope.

All my gratitude to every single frontline worker out there in all the essential services, and a special shout out to my friends in hospitals.  My heart truly goes out to all of you and I can’t imagine how you must feel right now.  I see you and I hear you.  Additionally, thank you to everyone who is doing their part.  We’re all braving this uncertainty together and it will get better soon, we’ve got this.

Please enjoy the beautiful song Imagine by John Lennon and be safe and healthy everyone 🙂

Happy Easter and Passover from a distance.

Virtual Hugs ❤

Jen
XO

**Wondering which book to read next?  Copies of Winning While Losing:  The Upside of Heartbreak are still available in all formats on iTunes, Google Play, Kobo, and online bookstores worldwide.  All my gratitude to YOU!

Empty Your Heart

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Empty your heart, dear one
Release all the blockages and pain
Tell me everything
I’m listening…

Untangle the pain and suffering
It’s interesting how messy things can get
How we keep packing one thing on top of another without realizing it
Unpack what you don’t need anymore

Years of accumulated emotions, unspoken words, lost opportunities, secrets, and guilt
They all hold us hostage and they are weighing you down my friend
You let it hurt, now let it go
Bleed it all out…

If you want to be free, learn the lessons
What is life trying to teach you right now
You may not know the answer yet, but in time you will
Dust off your heart and clean it up for new possibilities

Cracks from heartbreak are just that; cracks
You still have a pulse and blood pressure; you’re alive
Anything is possible…
Four chambers pump life into you every single day

Stop the decay and start the growth
Throw away the whip and wrap compassion around yourself instead
Slow down, listen to your heart and trust what it’s telling you
You can do this, you really can

Talk it out
Cry, scream, run, walk, dance, sing, write, draw, laugh
Do whatever it takes to empty your heart
Make space and fill it with love, compassion, peace, happiness, healing, gratitude, and forgiveness

Most of all, make room for those magical moments
For what is real, because that’s what life is all about
Open your eyes and relax
Listen…

A “yes” or a “no” can change one’s life forever
Remember that…
It’s not your previous life or relationship you miss, it’s the routine
Get out of your head

And empty your heart…

Much Love,

Jen

 

**This blog is dedicated to my dear friend Danielle Lewis in North Carolina who like all of us, is learning how to empty her heart each and every day and she is doing a lovely job!  Not only has she started her own healing journey, but she also created her own podcast called Mom’s Still Standing.  Please be sure to subscribe to it on iTunes or Spotify.  She even has me on there as a guest speaker!  I think we can all relate to emptying our hearts at one time or another and just like how we spring clean at home, we need to do the same thing with ourselves.  Have a great week everyone ❤

**Winning While Losing:  The Upside of Heartbreak is still available on all online bookstores worldwide.  All my gratitude to YOU!  xx

~ Dare to live courageously…

 

A Letter To Pain

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In the past, as some of you know, I wrote different letters to myself and recently, after reflecting on how far I’ve come, I think it’s time to write a letter to Pain.  Instead of blaming Pain for all the heartache it caused me over time, I’m going to look at Pain from a spiritual point of view and how it changed me into the woman I am today.

One thing I know for sure is that we always have a choice in our lives, for every decision that comes our way which makes us accountable for ourselves.  If things are decided for us, then we get to decide how to handle it.  What we decide becomes our new life path and leads us to exactly where we need to be in order to learn what we don’t know yet.  Even if it’s the second, third or hundredth time around.

Author Caroline Myss says there is no wrong path, we are all on the right path; but here’s the thing, we just might not be managing it very well.  We may have taken a detour along the way.  Therefore, in knowing we have a choice to get back on track and more aligned with who we really are; the path we are on always leads us home.  Back to ourselves and to our purpose.

 

Dear Pain,

Unfortunately, I know you well.  A little too well, actually.  I’ve seen you come and go throughout my life, sometimes disguised as pleasure, and I have to say, it is never easy or comfortable when you come to visit me.  Most of the time you appear without warning out of nowhere and end up making me feel scared, angry, disappointed, confused, upset, and hurt.  Your timing is incredible because it’s always inconvenient with my plans, forcing me to stop what I’m doing or take another detour.

However, these stops and detours have served a purpose while you were here.  All because of you, Pain, I found ways to handle you, heal you, and let you go.  There is no strength if there is no struggle and if there’s any silver lining to be found within you, Pain, this is it.  You’ve given my emotional muscles a real workout.

You see, Pain turned up the volume of the unworthy voices in my head and I believed them.  Pain knocked me down, but I fought to live.  Pain was my best teacher and worst nightmare all rolled into one.  I’ll never forget the lessons learned in the classroom outside the classroom.  Pain tried to make me fail but after a while, I passed the tests and received the blessing of insight.  Looking back, I see what needed to be learned and why.  So many rich meanings and a spiritual awakening occurred.

Pain, I can’t carry you around on my back anymore, you are too heavy and dark for me.  Not only do I need light, but I also need to feel light.  I finally realize Pain is a reverse role model of what not to do.

Here are some examples of what Pain brought me on the left, and on the right are some things Pain taught me:

Lies = Honesty

Mean = Kindness

Revenge = Walking Away

Selfish = Giving

Stealing = Generosity

Negative = Positive

Self-Righteous = Forgiving

Betrayal = Setting Boundaries

Quiet = Vocal

Closed Minded = Open-Minded

Ignoring Myself = Self-Care

Physical Symptoms = Exercise

Emotional Symptoms = Asking For Help

Holding On = Letting Go

Old Me = New Me

Thanks to you, Pain, I found new hobbies, interests, friends, work, perspective on life, parenting skills, awareness, and a new life.  Everything got better.  I even taught my kids how to handle you because unfortunately, they have seen you too.  Now I have more compassion, empathy, strength, understanding for others dealing with loss, suffering, and divorce.

Thanks again to you, I discovered the power of music, reading, writing, practicing mindfulness, living in the moment, accepting truths, and forgiveness is a gift I give to myself.

Writing is a big part of who I am, it leads me back to myself.  It is my life purpose, so much so that I wrote a book about you, Pain, and I still can’t believe it.  Don’t get too excited, just because I write about you doesn’t mean I like you.  I’m simply trying to understand and decode you for myself and others.  Happiness doesn’t come to me, it comes from me.  It is a choice and how I perceive life experiences.  Writing makes me happy.

You taught me the hard way to put the relationship with myself first, so I don’t put myself second with others.  I question what real love is, what do I want, need, from a meaningful relationship.  You showed me dealbreakers, pitfalls, narcissism, toxicity, and wove red flags in my face.  Now I ask more questions, and I’m careful with who I trust.  You’ve sent me difficult/selfish people, heartbreak, loss, tragic events, unfortunate circumstances to handle which taught me many things about myself and life.  Because of being cheated and deceived, I’ve become more vigilant and discerning.  Respect is a 2-way street, I  accept nothing less.  You certainly tested my patience and my ability to control my emotions.  Now I can see one of the reasons why you showed up was to protect me from other forms of pain.

At the moment,  I am practicing gratitude on a daily basis, my heart feels lighter, more peaceful.  I’m finished hiding behind you Pain, now I’m more obvious.  I found the courage to stand up and live my best life, imperfections and all.  What I’ve learned is this: if you focus on the hurt, you will continue to suffer.  If you focus on the lessons, you will continue to grow.  All because of you, Pain, I grew, learned, discovered, and even avoided you.  People came and went thanks to you.  I also apologize for being just like you at times, a royal pain in the A**!

The new me feels free, empowered, happy with myself,  and never gives up.  I can walk away from you, but with a grateful heart for all the life lessons.  I know I can’t live my life “Pain-free” but the next time you do arrive, I aim to be more prepared.

I never thought I would say this, but thank you Pain for showing up in my life, and for everything you’ve taught and brought me.   I’m exactly where I need to be in my life with my work, friends, family, love, and myself.  No experience goes unwasted, no mud, no lotus.  If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be me, right here, right now.

Dare to live courageously…

Much Love ❤

Jen
XO

One of my favorite songs Never Give Up, by Sia is what I listen to while I go for my walks down by the river.  I love it, I hope you do too.

**Hello Everyone and Happy September!  Copies of Winning While Losing:  The Upside of Heartbreak are still available at all online bookstores worldwide.  All my gratitude to YOU ❤

Be Your Own Mirror

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To all my Zumba friends, this one’s for you ❤

2016 has been an eventful year for me because I wrote my first book and continued to heal from my traumatic divorce like a rock star.  In March 2017, my book will be released and more healing will occur which I am dually grateful for and excited about.

Recently, I was at one of my Zumba classes, and a song came on that brought me back to the good old 80’s and inspired me to write this blog.  The song was Man In The Mirror by Michael Jackson and in it, he is sending the message that in order to make a change in this world you need to look at yourself first and take a look in the mirror.  We are living in a world where we tend to play the blame game over and over again and are so afraid of taking any responsibility for our own actions.  Not only does this get you to nowhere land but it stunts your personal growth and development big time.

In order to move forward in life and learn from our mistakes, we need to stop complaining and depending on other people to make changes for us.  We need to take a look in the mirror at ourselves and make the changes from within that we want to see because that’s where it all begins.  Imagine if only half of the world’s population could do this and how much fighting could end and how much peace could be gained.

It’s easy to turn a blind eye to what’s happening to people less fortunate than us and so much more work to look within ourselves, but in the end, it’s also more rewarding long-term to be your own mirror.

Another song that ties in with this one is also by Michael Jackson and it’s called Heal The World.  This is a cry for help for those in need and since it’s the Christmas season, what better time to do this.  Everyone has their issues and situations they’re dealing with and healing from, and all it takes is a little compassion and an open heart to help someone thrive.  Even though we might live in different countries around the world, we are still connected and want the same things out of life which are love, connection, and peace.  If we could only realize we’re all in this life together, we could really heal the world and make it a better place for you and for me and the entire human race.

My best wishes and love to each and every one of you in 2017 and thank you so much for your support all this time, I am extremely grateful for YOU.

Enjoy the music, be your own mirror and heal the world ❤

 

Much Love ❤

Jen

 

3 Day 3 Quote Challenge Round 2

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I have recently been nominated for another 3 quote 3 day challenge by one of my new friends and followers Gursimran Kaur and her blog titled Rum n Raisins http://gursimrankaur16.com/  Just the name of her blog makes me think of rum raisin ice cream which makes me hungry! 🙂 Gursimran is a young aspiring blogger who wants to work for peace, become the most amazing lawyer, travel the world, follow her bliss and live her dream!  She is truly an inspiration, please feel free to check out her blog and follow her.

I am a huge quote person so this challenge is more about narrowing my thousands of choices down to three per day! For today, I will be sharing quotes by Rumi who is an inspiration to me.  So here we go.

 

“Close your eyes, fall in love, stay there”

 

“Listen with ears of tolerance, See through eyes of compassion, Speak with the language of love”

 

“I am yours.  Don’t give myself back to me”

 

I am changing the nomination rules to anyone and everyone is welcome to participate in this 3 day 3 quote challenge.  I look forward to reading more and adding them to my massive collection.  😉

 

Much Love,

 

Jen
xo

Loving Maya Angelou

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Maya Angelou is a true compassionate woman with an outstanding sense of humor.  Her quotes are so real and honest you always know where you stand with her.  I have to say I do miss her and her funky glasses, her wise slow talking grandmotherly voice, her interviews with Oprah Winfrey, and her punchy lines that can shock and inspire all at the same time.  I’m so grateful there are many quotes of hers widely available to all of us and today I just thought it would be nice to list some for all of you.   Here’s to you Maya, with love. ..

“When people show you who they are, believe them”

“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option”

“You will face many defeats in your life but never let yourself be defeated”

“If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you will be”

“Jealousy in romance is like salt in food.  A little can enhance the savor, but too much can spoil the pleasure and under certain circumstances, can be life-threatening”

“Do the best you can until you know better.  Then when you know better, do better”

“Hate has caused a lot of problems in this world, but it has not solved one yet”

“If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change your attitude”

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty”

“I do not trust people who don’t love themselves and yet tell me ‘I love you.’  There is an African saying which is:  Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt”

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you”

“If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love.  Don’t be surly at home.  Then go out in the street and start grinning good morning at total strangers”

“To those who have given up on love, I say; trust life a little bit”

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away”

“You can’t use up creativity, the more you use, the more you have”

“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he handles these three things:  a rainy day, lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights”

“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back”

“I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life”

“My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept that love in return”

“A woman’s heart should be so lost in God that a man would have to seek Him to find her”

Maya-7

Missing you Maya, you’re awesome!

Jen
xo

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

Full Size Render 2

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

Compassion Fatigue and the Fertility Nurse

bleeding heart1

I would like to apologize for not blogging these past two months.  Life got busy!  However, I’m back and happy to be here again.  I recently attended the 4th Annual Compassion Fatigue Conference in Kingston, Ontario put on by Francoise Mathieu who is the Owner and Director of Compassion Fatigue Solutions which is an excellent resource for helping professionals.  This year, I was a panel speaker at this conference in early June and it was a privilege to be involved in discussing how coaches and nurses who work in Fertility can unexpectedly cross the invisible line from being compassionate into compassion fatigue if we are not careful. Infertility patients can ride an emotional roller coaster which is completely understandable due to what they have to go through and sometimes without realizing it, helping professionals can find themselves sitting right next to them on that same roller coaster, hoping for the best and fearing their outcomes which can have serious personal and professional drawbacks which in turn does not benefit the patient.  As helping professionals, we need to adopt the same theory as on the airplane, “Put your oxygen mask on first, caring for others requires taking care of yourself first.”  I believe this so much that it is inscribed on the back of all of my business cards as a reminder to others and also for myself.  The goal for helping professionals is to give excellent quality care to our patients and to do that, we have to remember to take care of ourselves along the way because we count too.   This way, everyone benefits.

I would like to share and invite you to read my presentation which can be found at the following link:

Click to access Riding-the-Emotional-Roller-Coaster-with-the-Patient1.pdf

If you would like to read more presentations given by other great presenters, please visit the following link:

https://compassionfatigue.ca/blog/

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments.  Thank you!

~ Jennifer Juneau
Registered Nurse, Solution Focused Life Coach

CALLING ALL NURSES: HOW MUCH OXYGEN IS LEFT IN YOUR TANK?

Have you ever been on an airplane and really paid attention to the flight attendant that is acting out the proper way to put on your oxygen mask in case of an emergency?  I am guessing the answer to that is “no.”  I have a challenge for you the next time you find yourself on a flight to paradise.  One of the reasons the flight attendant is demonstrating this necessary policy is because in order to help other people, you have to start with yourself first.  The same is true when you apply that to your career as a nurse.  We are not only taught but expected to take care of the patients, their families, and our colleagues, only to find out later that we forgot to take care of ourselves along the way too.  This is a normal consequence of doing a good job for others but not for us.  Is it possible to think that we count too?  Or is that just being selfish?  If we don’t put our oxygen mask on first, where does that leave us?  On the plane with the others heading for a crash landing in a town called BURNOUT.

The best way to avoid stress and burnout as a nurse is to start by putting your oxygen mask on first so that you have enough to give to others.  Also, you can only give what’s in your tank so it’s important to monitor this amount that you have at all times.  You do realize I am using a metaphor here and that the oxygen mask is an analogy for taking care of yourself, right?

Stress and burnout are rapidly increasing all over the world in every helping profession out there.  In schools, burnout is not even talked about which is sad.  Nurses are often overlooked for all the hard work they do and at the end of the day, we are expected to take care of our families at home and friends in need.  All of this is possible, as long as we take care of ourselves and don’t run our bodies on empty.  When our oxygen tank is no longer in the green and is heading straight for the red, it’s time to jump into self-compassion mode!  What is self-compassion anyway?

Self-compassion involves 3 key components that can ease our stress by far. (Neff, 2003)  Start by treating yourself kindly like the way you would treat a good friend who is suffering rather than using harsh judgment on yourself.  Two, try to see your own experience as part of a larger human experience instead of isolated and abnormal.  We are not perfect and neither is life.  Third, become aware of what you are feeling emotionally and let them be as they are instead of suppressing them for a later date.  On a physiological side which is a great side for nurses to understand, when we are being self-compassionate to ourselves it releases the “feel good” hormones of oxytocin and opiates.  Similarly, if we are self-critical when we have a bad day, it threatens our defense system and cortisol and adrenaline are released into the bloodstream making us feel even worse.  We become irritable, tired and stressed.  Do you see the road sign that is up ahead?  Burnout.  Unless you make a change soon, that is where you will end up.  So how do you change?

Practice the 3 key components of self-compassion and give yourself a time out or a break.  When you are able to do this, several things will begin to occur such as a greater desire to learn and grow, higher motivation, less frustrations, increases in life satisfaction, connectedness, gratitude, more effective coping skills, more caring and supportive relationship behaviour, more conscientiousness and improved health and wellness.

I am highly supportive of nurses all over the world who work so hard not only at work but also at home.  Give yourself a big hug for being such a compassionate person to others and then give yourself another hug for being a compassionate person to yourself.  You count too and not just during nurses week!  Remember, whatever you do, don’t forget to check your oxygen tank and put your mask on first!     -JJ