Welcome Home

“We are all just walking each other home” ~ Ram Dass

Dear Anxiety,

So, here we are, we meet again. You have this habit of showing up whenever things are going well and your goal is to disrupt that and throw me under the bus while watching…

You’ve managed to pull the trigger many times and have succeeded by setting my nervous system on fire and clouding my judgment over the years

Well, I have news for you Anxiety, you’re not a prison life sentence. Instead, you’re a key through a doorway and I get to decide where my life leads next

We’ve known each other for a long time and yet it’s only recently that I want to befriend you.  You’ve been there all along trying to protect me.  I’ve then recoiled from you thinking you are trying to hurt me

This has only made our relationship more fearful and stronger. I fear and ignore you and distract myself which makes you cry louder and stronger, like a child not being heard

I hear you now and I see you so I’m going to welcome you in instead of running from you or stiffening against you. 

Come, sit, and know that things are safe.  When I turn to you and sit with you, I know you will begin to calm and over time, you won’t need to scream so loud

We can coexist and I can live my life knowing you won’t hurt me

As the late and great Maya Angelou once said, “I know why the caged bird sings. A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.”

I have the key to the cage that Anxiety tries to wrap around me. Despite this cage, I can still find peace and happiness and sing my song too. I also have wings that allow me to escape that cage anytime

I’m tired of your overwhelming waves that wash over me out of the blue. I feel like I’m underwater in those unmanageable anxious moments

You increase my breathing and heart rate, right to the point of fainting while you just sit there and watch the entire downward spiral unfold…

You slowly creep in and send me into panic mode for no real reason and I become my own worst enemy. It’s not fair to me or to the ones I love

Thankfully, my amazing support system handles me with undying care and unconditional love. They are tired of you too Anxiety. Your persistence is annoying

I tell myself to meditate, sit down and slow down. Walk outside in nature, listen to music, write, or paint. With growth, there are going to be growing pains, please be patient…

Breathe…

I don’t need to figure out how to keep going at this high level of anxiety, I need to figure out how to calm my nervous system down

I can be self-compassionate when sitting with this feeling and get curious by asking, “Why is it here right now? What is Anxiety trying to teach me?”
Anxiety is not accurate
Anxiety serves no purpose in life
Anxiety can challenge relationships to the point of destruction for no real reasons
Anxiety shows up when things are going well
Anxiety is a royal pain in the ass

Be aware of anxiety, but don’t make it your lifestyle. Become more present. Cultivate calm because anxiety is contagious but so is calm. Therefore, when I heal myself, I heal others in the process

I’m falling in love with the process of becoming the very best version of myself. I need more time to do less

It’s a continuous work in progress to speak kindly to yourself because your inner child is listening and so is the Universe. Be careful what you put out there because it will come back to you

Be open to what’s next and stop worrying about how it will all play out. I’ve spent countless years metabolizing pain and anxiety, it’s time to let it all go, and stop gaslighting myself…

I’ve realized the peace I’ve been seeking for so long is not out there in the world. It’s inside of me. I’ve been searching for something familiar that I already had inside. That’s why I can’t find it out there. It’s almost like you’ve been looking for your keys and they’ve been in your pocket the whole time

Walk yourself back to who you truly are; your loving and imperfect self. It’s time to build a safe haven within and with the one you love

After all, you’re only human

It’s time for us to say goodbye, Anxiety. I definitely don’t need or want you in my life. You’ve caused me enough trouble, and you’re not welcome to live here anymore

I’m saying hello to a peaceful, true, and deep love instead, I’m finally safe…

Welcome home, Jen ❤

**This blog was written in collaboration with a dear friend of mine as if Anxiety was a person and is dedicated to anyone and everyone who experiences various degrees of anxiety at different times in their life.  Sometimes it’s deceiving that what we see on the outside is not what’s going on on the inside. Please know you are not alone and we can get through this together.  All my love to all of you.  Just like Bruno Mars, you can Count On Me

Love Always,

Jen ❤

**Copies of my book, “Winning While Losing: The Upside of Heartbreak” are still available on the publishing website FriesenPress. All my gratitude to all of you ❤

~ Dare To Live Courageously…

Let Go or Be Dragged

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As we move closer to the end of 2017, it’s a wonderful time to become more reflective of what happened, ask ourselves what we desire in 2018 and determine what’s important to us and why.  I recently did this exercise with my wonderful friend Basak.

For me, it’s been a year of ups and downs, and at the same time, I’ve learned so much about myself in the process like how to apply some additional coping mechanisms to decrease stress.  How to surrender and let go has been BIG on my agenda.  Letting go of who and what’s not right for me is a constant learning experience and I know I’m not alone.

One thing I am grateful for this year is how well our co-parenting scenario is going.  Especially for the sake of my kids because we are all doing the best we can with what we’ve got in our new normal and that’s a huge relief for everyone.

The dating world is another story, I am still learning how to recognize red flags more, and let go of those clever wolves in sheep clothing.  Dating has been both good and not so good but I refuse to let that drag me down and around.

Just like Richard Branson says; “If I cut you off, chances are you handed me the scissors.”  It’s better to let someone walk away from you than all over you.  Just let them go one way, and you go the other way.

I learned how to park my brain and engage my spirit by being grateful for everything I have both internally and externally.  I crave inspiring things and people in my life.  It’s what’s on the inside that matters most to me.

Let’s be honest, life is complex and our emotions even more so when you are being dragged.  This can be painful like when you’re swinging on those monkey bars and hanging on so darn tight.

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We can’t move forward if we are always looking backward.  Sounds simple but it’s true.  Try driving a car while always looking in your rearview mirror.  I’ll make sure I’m off the road that day!

Stop trying to fit in and go where you belong.  That’s where you can be your true self and feel comfortable with who you really are.  Find your tribe, let go of bad vibes and people that drag you down.  Lean into support instead.

I learned to stop hanging on for the sake of other people’s feelings.  This is the most disrespectful thing you can do to yourself.  There’s a saying; “There’s no need to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.”  So let go before you get burned.

Forgive yourself for making mistakes, you’re only human just like everyone else.  This will bring you peace.

Above everything, love yourself with every cell in your human body by being self-compassionate.

As author Mark Nepo says “Maybe there’s a better life plan for you that you don’t know about.  Hope for good, allow for even better.”

There will be times in your life when you don’t know why something is happening.  Create your own closure if you can’t obtain it from the source.  Instead of trying to find a happy ending, why not try and create a new beginning?

I learned it is physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally exhausting to hang onto something that is dragging you around, especially for so long.  Listen to your body and intuition.

Picture this…

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A guy is on the ground being dragged behind a horse and is hanging onto the reins for dear life.  The horse goes about his business every day, eating, galloping, doing number one and two, but the guy will not let go despite knowing it doesn’t feel good, smell good, or look good, he’s just hangin’ on to hang on!  The horse gallops and jumps in all kinds of weather and there’s that guy, still hangin’ on through the air, mud, and tall grass.  From an outsiders point of view, what do you see here?  What do you think of him as he gets dragged right in front of you?  Are you screaming inside your head saying “OMG just let go!”  This guy doesn’t realize he has a choice; to be courageous and do something about it.  Excuses like being in “limbo” don’t cut it but making a decision certainly does.

Remember those scissors?

Life situations are very similar.  We hang onto something dear to us that we can’t accept has already left and we end up being dragged.  Or we let go but keep running back to the same problem in the first place, even though we know it’s not right for us.  This destroys our self-respect, dignity, and self-worth.  It’s poison to our brain and once we realize we are sick and tired of being dragged, only then can we finally let go.

If someone or something is running away from you, let go because that means it wasn’t meant for you anyway.   It was there for a reason, but now it’s over, so time to move onto something much bigger and better.

Being dragged by someone or something blocks the Universe from letting the light and good enter our lives.  However, once you let go, you create an open space that’s always been there but now the blockage is gone and something better can arrive in its place.

Back to the horse scenario, learn how to let go of the reins, get up, dust yourself off, and don’t get dragged anymore.  Run your own race and stay in your own lane where you belong.  I’m sure that horse is tired of dragging you around anyway!

From what I’ve learned, when you do let go, you attract what’s right for you in return.

So here’s to less drama in 2018 and continuing to learn more about how to let go of what’s not meant for us so we can choose the path to true happiness.  Why?  Because we’re so darn worth it!

Let go or be dragged.  You always have a choice.

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“Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck” ~ Dalai Lama

Enjoy your holidays, much love and gratitude to you ❤

Jen
XO

PS:  My book “Winning While Losing:  The Upside of Heartbreak” is available at all online bookstores worldwide.  Dare to live courageously…

 

 

 

The Gift of Forgiveness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Much Love,

Jennifer Juneau

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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

BUTTERFLY BEAUTY

imagesCAF480VF       “Butterflies can’t see their wings.  They can’t see how truly beautiful they are, but everyone else can.”   -Author Unknown

People are like this too.  When we are unable to see ourselves from the inside out, we actually close ourselves off from the many possibilities that exist.  We have so many beautiful strengths and gifts already inside of us that can lead to anything we are truly passionate about.  Imagine the word “courage” being a beautiful butterfly inside of you with all its colours, strength and perseverance.  If you could only take a step back and start seeing what everyone else is seeing inside of you and realize you already have the beauty, power and determination to spread your wings and fly.  Courage and fear always go hand in hand.  Don’t let fear stop you here though.  The true meaning of courage is to be afraid, but with your body shaking and your heart pounding, to get up and move forward anyway.  Even if you are the only one who understands this, it is the most inspiring way of being able to advance yourself to your highest potential in your life.  When you make a decision or take on an action where a risk is involved whether that may be actual or imagined fear, it becomes the driving force beneath growth.  Another element that co-exists with courage and fear is vulnerability.  In order to be courageous, we must be vulnerable and put ourselves out there along with the fears of being judged and ridiculed by others, even by our friends and family.  This is often easier said than done.  However, vulnerability if seen in a positive light is actually the birthplace for innovation, creativity and change.  Imagine Steve Jobs not being vulnerable and deciding not to express his idea for Apple?  What would have happened?  Since he was vulnerable and had the courage to speak up and follow through on his ideas, despite the critics, look at what happened!  We need to realize that we are all human and we are all afraid of the exact same things and it doesn’t matter if you are an average citizen or a famous person.  The trick is to believe in yourself and remain positive about your beauty, power and determination like the butterfly.  We can achieve this by stopping the external comparisons of others in order to have high self-esteem and start by being more self-compassionate by speaking kindly to ourselves while accepting all of our strengths and weaknesses as they are.  Consider this famous quote by T.S. Elliot; “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” The beautiful Monarch butterfly is able to fly from Canada to Mexico every fall for the winter.  Now that is something.   What gifts do you have that everyone else can see but you can’t?    -JJ