India Travels: My Journey,Meditation and Dedication

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As I embarked on this healing journey, I had intentions to deal with my own DUKKHA-the gnawing sense of dissatisfaction and heartbreak in my life-and to free myself from the shackles of fear, anger, sadness, attachment and aversion for my own benefit and the benefit for all sentient beings-and that is the highest aspiration, BODHICHITTA.

And as I travel, I breathe and focus on the journey-and that is the singled pointed concentration, SAMATHA.

And as I journey to see my blogging friends, we open the windows of our five senses and that of our mind.

We hear the babble of water, the roar of engines, the chirping of birds and our inner silence-and that is SOUND

We see the towns and the beaches, the brightness of sun and the darkness of starry nights-and that is SIGHT

We breathe in the aroma of spices in the markets, the fragrance of incense in temples and the stench of exhaust-and that is SMELL

As I journey to see each and every one of you, we hug one another with total happiness and excitement for being able to meet in person for the very first time-and that is TOUCH

As we eat, we taste the texture of Paneer and spiciness of Golgappa, deliciousness of Chapatis and sweet comfort of Chai-and that is TASTE

As I fly from city to city over rivers and mountains, I watch my mental state, emotions and thoughts come and go-and that is MIND

I become aware of sound, sight, smell, touch and taste and bear witness to my wandering mind-and that is insight-VIPASSANA

As I travel, I see that my outer landscapes are ever changing and so are my inner landscapes; my thoughts, as well as my mental and emotional states; they rise and fall and go through cycles-and that is impermanence, ANICCA

The traveller is one with the path, the friends are one with the traveller, we are all part of the journey and the journey becomes a part of us.  We travel as one, we share joy and pain and as we do, the sense of our separate impermeable selves erodes and diffuses, and whether we are men or women or Canadian or Indian, we breathe as one and feel as one-and that is no separate self-ANATTA

As I go deeper in my compassionate silence at night, I realize that all the things surrounding me, lack their own independent existence-and that is great emptiness-SUNYATA

As we share our emotions without reservations, we do so with compassion and without judgment toward ourselves and each other-and that is loving-kindness, METTA

And through it all I experience the deep, mystical intuitive wisdom of the heart, not the wisdom of knowledge or trying to figure things out-and that is perfection of wisdom PRAJNA PARAMITA

And so my outer journey through time and space becomes one with my inner journey into the arms of forgiveness and healing heart and the discovery of who I really am-and that is MEDITATION

And underlying this entire journey to India and to myself, is an overwhelming sense of gratitude:  to the country of India, to the spiritual healing I came searching for and found and most of all I am grateful for my lifelong friendships with all of you and look forward to many more times being spent together in person-and that is MY JOURNEY, MEDITATION AND DEDICATION TO YOU

I hope to see you again and all my new friends in India soon

 

Dhanyavaad ❤

 

Jenny
xo

 

 

 

Zumba (A to Z Challenge)

Welcome to the last day of #TheA-ZChallenge, the letter Z!!  I thought I would end my challenge with a BANG by showing you a video of what Zumba® is all about!  Behind the camera is the wonderful Kelly Galbraith who did all the creative editing and leading the way is awesome Zumba® instructor Gina Adams!  I would like to give a big shout out to Catherine Horne-Lepine, Dulce Maria Arroyo, Bety Ramos, Josée Levesque, Julie Bertrand, Tee Beaudry, Skeena CL Salvas, Rébecca St-Amour and many more awesome participants at LIME Fitness Canada who came out to do this video.  A HUGE thank you to each and every one of you!!!

The history of Zumba® is amazing because in the mid 1990s, Columbian dancer and choreographer Alberto “Beto” Perez forgot his tape of aerobics music for a class he was teaching. He went to his car, listened to music – consisting of non-traditional salsa and merengue music – and improvised a class using this non-traditional aerobics music.   Zumba® was born!

So enough chit chat, let’s see the video 😛

 

And we’re done!!!

Much Love ❤

 

Jen
xo

You (A to Z Challenge)

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I love you so much
Your kind heart is like a bright, shining light
That paves the path of darkness in all of us

You have a way of making people feel comfortable
Especially in uncomfortable situations
You are a caring soul, a giving and helpful person

You have been through so much lately
Your wounds are still visible and hot to the touch
Despite all that, you’re healing and have come a long way, keep going

You’ve made some mistakes along the way, that’s how we learn
Realize and accept you are part of a common humanity that is imperfect
You can forgive yourself now for not knowing any better
Pieces of your soul have been shattered and scattered
People who care about you are collecting them
And rebuilding a new you, with you

You need to be gentle with yourself
It’s okay to cry or be emotional
This is how you heal from the inside out

It may take more time than you thought, once bitten, twice shy
Carve out some time for yourself so you can hear your soul speak
Be compassionate with yourself, we’re all in life this together

Your friends love you and want to see you happy
They may show their care and concern by giving you advice
You are never alone, you know what’s best for you

I appreciate you so much
You need to stop beating yourself up
Leave the insecurities behind, just breathe

You are beautiful and talented
You don’t need to criticize or judge
Listening to the inner critic only causes you unnecessary pain

You are imperfect and graceful
You are authentic and strong
You are fierce and vibrant

May you find the love you desire one day, you deserve it
May you find the one who truly cares about you unconditionally
May you find the path that is right for you

May you always remember these self-compassionate words
They are from me to you, Jennifer
Yes, YOU

 

**This is self-compassionate talk in a tough world sometimes.  It is positive talk that can heal your mind, body and soul.

Happy Friday ❤

 

Much Love ❤

Jen
xo

 

 

Nursing (A to Z Challenge)

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“Put your oxygen mask on first, caring for others requires taking care of yourself first”  ~ Jennifer Juneau, RN

It’s hard to believe it but I’ve been a nurse for 100 years!  Or at least it feels like it some days.

One of the reasons I wanted to become a nurse was because I care about people and I highly value compassion.  In the real world of nursing, time is a big factor in being able to give the proper amount to patients and I had to adjust to minimal time.  I also had to adjust to minimal bathroom breaks and skipping or scarfing down my lunch in 10 minutes flat.  Then it was my pager going off at all hours for emergencies and to this day that beep scares me 😛  Years later, I discovered the maximum benefits of having a massage and pedicure for my tired body and feet.

Florence Nightingale would be proud of me and my cold hands, warm heart 😉

Speaking from experience, nurses are not very good at taking care of themselves because they are too busy taking care of everyone else.  This is a true fault ask any nurse but I’ve learned my lesson and now I practice self-care.  Nurses are also the worst patients, ask any nurse or doctor for that matter.  I’ve been on the other side of that intravenous needle and let me tell you, it’s no party but I can empathize with my patients more because of it.

I’ve worked in three different specialties which have been very rewarding; the Operating room, Fertility In vitro fertilization and Women’s health.  Each area has its ups and downs just like life and I think being a nurse has made me who I am today.  I care deeply about people and nursing has allowed me to connect with them on so many different levels because nurses spend the most time with patients one on one.  I’ve sat with patients who cried then I went home and cried; after all, we’re human too.  Nursing is a great profession because we can promote and teach about health, prevent and treat disease and help people cope with illness and surgery.  It is an exciting high tech world with the equipment we use and sometimes we even show the doctors how to use it.  Those are fun but rare moments.  Patients are the best because they often give nurses hugs and even chocolate.  I love both so they always put a smile on my face 😀

I’m grateful for my nursing profession it’s been quite a journey so far.  I’m also grateful for all the patients, fellow nurses, doctors, managers, secretaries, cleaning staff and co-workers I’ve met along the way.  You are all amazing people!

Do you have any stories about nurses?  Be nice….

 

Much Love ❤

Jen
xo

 

A-to-Z Challenge

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The month of April is around the corner and is special for us bloggers because it’s the Ultimate Blogging Challenge called the #A-to-ZChallenge.com  I am participating in this event along with many of my WordPress friends and today is the theme reveal.  For me the theme is NO THEME 😛

Starting April 1st, each day except for Sundays are represented by a letter from the alphabet.  Instead of following a particular theme, I will write about whatever inspires me on a daily basis because I have a wide variety of interests, loves and even dislikes 😉

I know hard to believe right?

Get ready for some interesting stuff heading your way on April 1st beginning with the letter A 🙂

See you then,

 

Much Love,

Jen ❤

Love More By Caring Less. Huh?

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I love my friends they are my rocks in life.  We lean on each other in times of trouble and in times of laughter so much to the point where we offer each other advice on everything.  It doesn’t always mean we take the advice from each other but it is very comforting knowing we’re all in this together with big open hearts and love.

Friends often give each other advice even when we don’t ask for it.  It’s because we care so much and don’t like to see our friends suffering so we try to brainstorm a solution for them right there on the spot, I know I am also guilty of trying to fix a situation. This can be interpreted in two different ways, one that it is being done out of love and protectiveness or two, they are controlling, judging and criticizing everything you do.

I can understand why someone might think about it in the second example because it may come across like an attack and they aren’t accepting you as you are.  “You need to change.”  Change is scary and when we’re scared, we get defensive.

Now imagine if I said to you “Well *friend* I just love you.  I don’t care what happens to you.”

Huh???

Does this statement make you feel more relaxed, less anxious?  To some, it may come across as something cold but if I were to translate it to mean, “I really don’t care what happens to you, no matter what you do, I won’t love you any less.”  Real love comes from people who are both totally committed to helping—and able to emotionally detach.

Try this example; think of someone you love but causes you to feel angry, sad or anxious.  Now write “If ________ would only ____________ then I could feel ______________.”  Now scratch out the first part of that sentence so only this remains; “I could feel _______________.”

Yes, your lovely friends’ cooperation would be lovely, but you don’t absolutely need it to experience any given emotional state. This is incredibly hard to accept—it would be so easy to feel good if others would just do what we want, right? Nevertheless, you can feel sane even if your crazy-making friend stays crazy.  This is the key step to loving without caring.

We need to find our own ways to be happy and not depend so much on other people, especially the undependable ones!  Even if all your lovely friends remain insane forever, it’s still possible you’ll find opportunities to thrive and joys to embrace.   The bottom line is that we are powerless over other people and when we can accept that hard fact, that’s when we start creating our own happiness.  There are days when it feels like a non-stop cha-cha where it’s one step forward and two steps back but you have to trust yourself and your friends.  It’s all in the power of letting go of control and loving more.

One day it would be nice to hear “Friend, I love you unconditionally—I don’t care what happens to you.”  This is the kind of loving and uncaring friend we should all have in our lives.  The one who lets us be who we really are, to be free to do and choose what we want.  Live and let live, love and let love.  And in the end they will love us till the day we die no matter what.  As you support your friends this way, maybe they will mirror the same support back to you.  Either way you can be happy so what do you care?

At the same time, if you disagree then I lovingly and respectfully do not care 😛

To all my loving friends out there ❤

 

So much love to you all,

 

Jen 🙂
xoxo

 

 

 

 

Sexual Health-Know The Risks, Enjoy The Benefits

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Now that I have your attention, I’m about to have a serious conversation with you from a nursing perspective and the area of work I am in which is Women’s Health.  In honor of International Women’s Day I thought this would be a good post to put out there today.

In North America, regular screening for cervical cancer in women is done on a proactive, preventative basis instead of on a reactive one.  In Canada, depending on which province you live in, this type of screening can be anywhere from every year to every three years.  In Ontario where I work, it’s every three years for women to have their regular pap test done.  There are exceptions which I will get to shortly.

What is a pap test?

A pap test is a routine screening test done during a vaginal examination to check for abnormal cells on the cervix.  A speculum is placed in the vagina and a sample of cervical cells is collected using a soft brush.  The specimen is then sent to the laboratory to be examined under a microscope.  When all cells are normal, the pap test result is normal.  An abnormal pap test result means some of the cells on the cervix did not change normally and there is some abnormal growth in the cells of the surface layer of the cervix.  This is called dysplasia.  If these cells go undetected and continue to grow, they may develop into cervical cancer.  This is the reason why regular screening is crucial for women.

What does an abnormal pap test mean?

It can mean one of six things.

ASCUS – (Atypical Squamous Cells of Undetermined Significance)
This means there are mild changes in the cervix and the test detected some abnormal cells.  It may be caused by something as minor as an infection, irritation, inflammation or thinning of the vaginal tissue in perimenopause or menopause.

LSIL – (Low Grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesion)
Again, mild changes detected with some abnormal cells.  However, these changes are related to the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

ASC-H – (Atypical Squamous Cells, Cannot Exclude High Grade Intraepithelial Lesion)
Some abnormal cells cause by moderate to severe dysplasia.

AGC – (Atypical Glandular Cells)
Some abnormal cells of glandular type that may be arising from inside the cervical canal.  Patients here require a surgery called a Cone Biopsy

HSIL – (High Grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesions)
Moderate to severe dysplasia, precancerous lesions are present.  Patients here require surgery called a LEEP

Adenocarcinoma – Cancer of the Cervix

When patients have an abnormal pap with their family doctor, they are referred to a Gynecologist who specializes in Colposcopy which is further testing of the abnormal cervical cells.  I work with an amazing Obstetrician/Gynecologist, Dr. Constance Ling, MD, FRCSC

What is Colposcopy?

It is similar to the pap test except that once the pap is complete, vinegar  4% is sprayed onto the cervix to highlight any abnormalities that might be there.  After waiting a minute the Dr. looks through the colposcope at the cervix.  The colposcope looks like a microscope on wheels.  If there is a need to take a biopsy, it is done at that time and sent to pathology for examination.  Results can be any one of the six listed above and if necessary a future surgery can be booked to remove the abnormal cells and tissue.  Patients are closely monitored every 6 – 9 months having their colposcopy done until they have two normal paps in a row.  Once they reach this milestone they are discharged from the Gynecologist back to their family doctor once a year for their regular pap tests.  This is the exception to the rule of being seen once every three years.

What Causes An Abnormal Pap?

It can be from anything mild like an irritation, infection or inflammation to most commonly the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which is a sexually transmitted disease that causes genital warts.  This virus can live in the body and go undetected for years without symptoms unless the warts become visible or a woman has an abnormal pap result.  Therefore, for those who are not in a committed relationship, it is important and recommended to use condoms as protection because you or the one you are with may have this virus and not even know it and could pass it on for life.  Men are the carriers of HPV and it is said that 75% of the sexually active population will be exposed to this virus at some point in their lives.  Even if you are married or in a committed relationship, you won’t know if you or your partner has this virus unless either of you have symptoms.  Furthermore, there is no way to trace back to who or when you contracted HPV because it depends on the sexual history of every person your partner has been with prior to you.  When your immune system is down the virus can become active in your body which can result in an abnormal pap test.  By taking a daily multivitamin, not smoking and getting a vaccine called Gardasil 9, this can greatly help in clearing your paps back to normal again.  Smoking feeds the HPV virus making it worse and chances of developing cancer are increased.

What is the Gardasil 9 Vaccine?

Gardasil 9 is an intramuscular injection that is given three times in the deltoid muscle over a period of 6 months.  It keeps the HPV strain you have been exposed to quiet while protecting you from the other 8 that you haven’t been exposed to which greatly reduces the chances of cervical cancer from developing.  Men can also receive this vaccine to protect themselves, prevent the virus from becoming active and causing genital warts or spreading it to other people.  Young girls aged 11 and 12 are now being offered this vaccine for free in schools across Ontario before they become sexually active so they are protected ahead of the game.  Boys are not yet included in this free offer, however it is widely available and recommended they get it too.  After all, they are the carriers.  By only vaccinating the girls, we are solving half the problem.  Boys and adults need to pay for this vaccine and at pharmacies it costs around $200/injection x 3.  Where I work we get it at cost from the drug company directly and we charge $160.00/injection x 3.  Private health insurance plans often cover part of the cost however what is your health worth to you?  Let’s stamp out HPV one vaccine at a time.

What is my advice on this?

Knowledge is power and talking about this subject is not taboo it’s essential.  If you have kids, put on a brave face and talk to them about it, live a healthy lifestyle, have regular check-ups and pap tests with your Dr. get the Gardasil 9 vaccine and if you are not in a momogamous relationship, use condoms when you are sexually active to protect yourself and the one you’re with.  You really don’t want to have this on your mind when you are with the one you love.  By being proactive, taking care of yourself and knowing your sexual health, you can relax and enjoy the benefits.

Happy International Women’s Day!

 

~ Jennifer Juneau, RN
**P.S. – Please feel free to comment below and if you would rather send me questions in an email you can reach me at Jennifer.juneau1@gmail.com

 

 

All My Gratitude

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I know I’ve been on a roll lately with my This Is India mini-series and I just wanted to thank everyone within and outside of WordPress for their love, support, kindness, likes, comments and friendship.  You guys are amazing!  Thank you for joining me on my healing journey through India by following me and reading all my blog posts, it was a way for me to get my story out.  I really enjoyed reading the comments every day and answering them with a smile or laughing right out loud!

All my gratitude to everyone in India for making my experience so memorable, Piyusha, Shambhavi, Chandrajit, Darshith, Binay, Bhavya, Neerja, Dinesh and Srinath.  You are all in my heart.

I have made even more WP friends in India because of this mini-series so it looks like my water bottle and I will have to make another trip one day to more cities and hilarious airports.  In the meantime, if you would like to connect more with me and see how crazy my life really is, join me on:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

 

All My Gratitude To YOU From Around The World,

Jenny ❤
xo

Finally, my friend Michelle reminded me about this song by Canadian artist Alanis Morrisette titled Thank You and it’s about taking time off, letting go, forgiving, being vulnerable, exposing your true self courageously and thanking all the consequences that happened to you.  It’s a true story of her career and her time off in India, while thanking India for the healing.  How appropriate, connected, relevant and amazing.

Thank you India

This Is India – Part 3

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January 10th– 13th, 2016, The Sattva Spa and Wellness Retreat, Rishikesh, India

Here we go again back to the airport!  I flew from Bhubaneswar to Delhi and then Dehra Dun so I could reach The Sattva which was going to be my safe haven and place to let go of stress.  But first, let’s go back to the airport…

After checking in I loaded my luggage onto the belt and watched the numbers climb like my scale at home.  Before they could tell me it’s over, I said it first.  They directed me to the location to pay for my excess baggage which I did and suddenly I was having flashbacks of math class which gave me heart palpitations 😛  I couldn’t even imagine what the end bill would be after all the airports I’ll be going through.  I was not allowed to check my bags all the way to Dehra Dun, they made me get my luggage in Delhi and do the entire process and payments again there too.

That’s where things got weird.

At Delhi there was a kind young man who tried to help me decrease my excess baggage weight by shifting some things into an extra bag I had.  He quickly unzipped my flashy colorful suitcase, I burst out laughing and turned 50 shades of red because I completely forgot about things in that suitcase…ahem…unmentionables and my bathroom bags were flying around and getting stuffed in a bag by a complete stranger.  I thought men were shy here?  Apparently not everyone.  His intentions were good trying to save me money and at this point I didn’t care what he saw, I was on the same mission he was.  Then I thought, wow, this is India.  I thanked him, paid him some Rupees and I was off like the wind to security.  Yes you guessed it, another line up of ladies and gents and I watched my water bottle sail on through to the other side.  My goodness, this is India!

Being a female foreigner solo traveler, I have many strikes against me as far as being a target or having several people gazing at me and I mean long gazing.  I just carry on and do my thing 😀

After arriving in Dehra Dun it was dark outside and I had a driver waiting for me from the retreat.  It was another 1.5 hour drive to get there and the roads were twisty, unguarded and full of fallen rocks.  Monkeys also lined the roads and they were just hanging out watching the cars go by, honking their horns of course.

The staff at The Sattva were very welcoming and offered me supper right away in my room with some Masala Chai.  Yum!  The temperature was cooler, at night it was +3 C and in the day around +16 C.  After going to bed early and having a great sleep, I woke up in the morning and opened the curtains to see my view.  I thought I was in paradise and I suddenly felt very peaceful.

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The package I took was called The Rasa and it included yoga and meditation each day, 3 vegetarian meals per day, 2 spa treatments per day every day (that’s right) and many other perks.  I really enjoyed the yoga and Ayurvedic treatments which consisted of full body massage and scrub, hot oil local treatments, hot oil hair treatments, head massage and foot massage.  After every treatment I would lay in the steam room and then take a shower after.  This is definitely India.

I wrote in my diary that is pictured at the beginning which was a gift from my dad for Christmas.  Each day I have been keeping track of my goings on as well as my thoughts and feelings.  This was a great place to let the stress go away and never return again.  I was completely on my own during this time and I had the chance to reflect on what I want and what I don’t want in my life.  There’s a quote I wrote awhile back and lately I’ve been looking at it daily to help remind me how to be strong.

“Sometimes you have to give up on people.  Not because you don’t care but because they don’t.  A person’s actions will tell you everything you need to know.  Love yourself enough to say goodbye to those who don’t make time for you or know how to love you back.  Let go of what hurts, even if it hurts to let go.”  ~ Jennifer Juneau

Unfortunately, I received some sad news during this time and the mom of my very close blogging friend Bhavya became sick and needed to be in hospital.  This meant Bhavya had to fly home to her mom and be with her which was completely understandable.  Both of us were sad that we couldn’t meet because we had been texting daily about this visit for months.  I urged her to go and we would keep in contact which we did and still do.  Her nickname is chicwithmessybun and her blog site is called Pages From My Diary.  Please check her out she is such an amazing girl.  We will see each other soon honey bun, I miss you.  Xoxo

I was able to juggle things around with my flights and itinerary and I decided to go back to Bhubaneswar to see some temples that I didn’t have time to see before.  I told Darshith I was coming back and he was happy to hear that so we planned to meet again at some point during my second unexpected visit.

I felt completely rejuvenated and relaxed after being at The Sattva.  I met other single women who were guests there from USA, Italy, Peru and Mexico and we would usually see each other over breakfast outside by the pool.  The staff were so helpful and respectful because they would allow you to roam around on your own schedule and just connect with nature again.  I read my book Brida quite a bit and did some journaling to clear my mind.  I was so happy I had this added in the middle of my trip because it was exactly what I needed for my mind, body and soul.  Here is a picture of my yoga instructor who had the nicest voice and was really great in teaching me new yoga moves.  The other picture is the adorable spa girl who did all my treatments and put me in a trans.  She has the best fingers and hands in the entire world and I am forever grateful to her.  I highly recommend this beautiful spot if you get the chance to go.

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Time to endure another adventurous rocky road drive back to the airport with my excess baggage, water bottle and peace of mind.

Stay tuned for part 4 out of 6….coming soon….

Much Love,

Jenny
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

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