inspiration

  • The Hard Part of Follow Your Bliss

    Cup of coffee to start the day
    Morning coffee

    It’s Wednesday and I woke up feeling tired. It’s not exactly in line with my living mantra of Follow Your Bliss, but it’s real life.

    I’m often awake around 3-4am, but I think it was closer to 4:30 this morning because the birds were chirping. I managed to fall back asleep around 5:30 and slept til 8, which felt really late to me. Maybe that’s where my day went a little sideways. I wasn’t even out of bed and I was already feeling behind in my day. In hindsight, I should’ve just stayed put and let myself enjoy the space of nothingness. Or at least grabbed my journal and dumped the negative thoughts that were starting to pile up in my brain on paper so as not to completely derail my day.

    I jumped out of bed, made my coffee, and headed for the couch and my laptop. Big Mistake. Scratch that, not a mistake – because I don’t believe in mistakes or in doing things wrong – I believe everything happens for a reason and it all teaches us something if we’re willing to see the lesson. In it’s simplest form, it teaches us to not do that again, whatever that happened to be. We make a choice or a decision and there’s a result that comes from that decision, which we either like or we don’t. In my case, my choice to go right into work mode caused a ripple effect of….ERG! UGH! and F*#K! for lack of a better description.

    Today I’m yet again reminded of the life lesson (life lessons keep repeating themselves until we actually learn them and change the behaviour that causes them to appear in the first place) that it’s impossible to do it all and incredibly stressful to even entertain the idea.

    I’m a firm believer in the Follow Your Bliss mantra, so much so that it’s tattooed on my left arm in memory of my brother Steven. I know without a doubt that we are all here to bring our natural gifts forward to share with the world and light it up in a way that it’s never seen before. Each and every one of us has unique talents that the world will never see if we don’t believe in ourselves and share them – which means that the very people that need to hear your voice/see your creativity/resonate with your words – will miss out. YOU may be just what someone else needs in order to heal. That’s what Follow Your Bliss means to me.

    Follow Your Bliss tattoo on Jen's arm
    The tattoo

    The hard part of Following Your Bliss is the behind the scenes part that no one sees. Trying to learn a bunch of new things simultaneously, for example. In my case: web design, business card design, accounting software, marketing, branding, becoming savvier with your social media, email marketing, SEO, completing the courses and training that your new business is based on – health & wellness coaching, body language training certification, human behaviour courses and essential oils, preparing for new public speaking opportunities – always fun for those with any ounce of anxiety – and of course, the fear of putting yourself out into the world in a whole new way, just to name a few.

    It’s working all hours of the day, trying to juggle a gazillion moving parts and finding your way all on your own. The benefit to working for someone else is that you show up, you’re told what to do, you put in your day and then you go home. When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re on your own. There is no one there to tell you what to do and no user manual to guide you. However, I knew I couldn’t work for someone else which, by the way, is a key indicator that you too are an entrepreneur at heart if that resonates with you.

    It’s a powerful experience in trusting and having unwavering faith in yourself and there have definitely been times when my faith wavered. You need to have a burning passion and a ton of grit to see this through. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried (today as a matter of fact), I’ve taught myself more than I ever thought I could, and had times where I’ve never felt more alone (also today).

    This journey of Following Your Bliss is not for the faint of heart.

    Having said that, I’ve been blessed with incredible mentors along the way that have helped me immensely in my journey (that is, when I allowed myself to reach out for help).

    An amazingly patient and insanely talented young website designer named Daynna Hartjes A Daynna Life  helped me create this beautiful foundation from which everything else will be built upon.

    My very good friend and motivational guru, Shelli Varela Shelli Varela, who had me on her podcast (which was totally awesome) and is always ready to offer words of wisdom or a kick in the [email protected]* whenever I need it.

    The stunningly authentic and beautiful Tara Marino and the Elegant Femme community Elegant Femme, whose courses have been the catalyst for me in reconnecting to my truth and my bliss.

    Vanessa Van Edwards and Danielle Baker at Science of People where I received my certification as a Body Language Trainer along with a ton of knowledge and experience on going down the entrepreneurial path.

    These wonderful people brought me back to shore when my little boat, the SS Jenny, was adrift.

    Jen and husband looking at each other
    My rock

    Especially, my husband Earl.

    After deciding 4 hours ago that I was NOT going to do anything work related today because I recognized that insufferable feeling of swimming upstream and the need to walk away, I’ve just written an 1000 word blog. Is it really work related though? EVERYTHING ends up being work related on some level when you’re an entrepreneur. It’s either directly related to work or becomes inspiration for your work.

    I find writing to be cathartic, therapeutic, soul nourishing and stress relieving. It’s an opportunity to express my deepest thoughts, dreams, feelings and desires and hopefully connect with others through my words and perspectives. It’s both work and play, content creation and therapy, cultivation and bliss.

    It’s also – I’ve just realized – the easiest way for me to do the thing I’m trying so hard to do – inspire others by Following My Bliss.

    There is a flip side to everything we do in life. The yin and the yang, light and dark, expansion and contraction. What makes the path of Following Your Bliss different from the usual slog through life is that you’re Following YOUR Bliss rather than someone else’s.

    Jennifer sitting in the sun, following her bliss
    In my happy place – at home in the sun
    As tough as it gets, the inner light that’s guiding me shines bright enough to light even the darkest of times.

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  • Go Your Own Way

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    Do you have the Fleetwood Mac song in your head right now? Because I do and I really wish I’d bought this pillow when I saw it during a visit to see family in Okotoks, Alberta last summer. I can only hope to come across it again on my next visit because it speaks to me on so many levels.

    Not only do I love the song, it seems that these very words were written on my heart and soul from before birth. I’ve always had the sense that I was intended to follow my own path, but I never really understood the importance of doing so. I dabbled with it here and there throughout my life, cautiously and ever-so-gingerly stepping down the path less travelled, but only to trudge back to the well-worn route of societal norm. A lack of faith in myself combined with the disbelief that I really could do things my way and succeed routinely rerouted me.

    I always struggled with the “normal/traditional/typical” idea of having to go somewhere you wouldn’t normally want to be, to work for someone else in the traditional full-time, M-F job. To me, it felt like being stuck in a box, where the totality of my personality (my heart and soul) was often checked at the door and my valuable time (because all we have is our time and we don’t know when that time is up) was traded for financial compensation. Although some jobs (job, by the way, standing for Just Over Broke) provided me with a sense of fulfillment and the feeling that I was contributing to something larger than myself, most were just not “it”, as my very good friend and guru Shelli Varela would say. Click here to check out her website.

    In the most recent case, I left a high-profile (from an Ontario Fire Service perspective) “career highlight” of a job to quite literally follow the tattoo on my arm, and take my own advice.

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    I’ve always been a firm believer in the power of following your heart, your gut, your bliss, your inner compass or whatever you call it, but my actions weren’t in totally in alignment with my inner beliefs. I knew in my heart that the position wasn’t ultimately fulfilling me despite the fact that I was doing well at it and receiving positive feedback.

    After taking time off to think things through and have an honest conversation with myself, I gave my notice. I slept better than I had in months once the decision was made. That was enough acknowledgement from my heart and soul that this was right for me.

    I may not have known what “it” was at that point, but I knew that what I was doing definitely wasn’t “it”. I also knew that if I just started to rediscover the things that spoke to my soul, that I would eventually uncover my unique path, the one that would lead to my bliss. Having said that, I’ve found that walking one’s own path doesn’t just lead to the destination of bliss, the bliss is lived in the journey itself.

    My favourite soul nourishing activities these days are yoga, meditating, reading, working on my Wellness Coach training, and researching holistic wellness. I love feeding my brain and watching Ted Talks and documentaries of trusted motivational & transformational humans. Click here to see the You Tube videos I watch and subscribe to.

    Vanessa is an example of someone who followed her own path and created a hugely unique and uber successful business based on her own personal struggles with social awkwardness. Check out her website here.

    When you start taking even the tiniest of steps to honouring what’s in your heart and listening to the small, quiet voice of your soul, the path-YOUR PATH-unfolds before you. It’s such a beautifully personal and empowering journey within, words can’t even describe it.

    Listen to your soul.

    Honour your heart.

    FOLLOW YOUR BLISS.

    GO YOUR OWN WAY!

     

     

     

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  • Fall Into The Blue

    When I look up to the sky now,

    It looks different to me.

    I have a new understanding

    Of how expansive life can be.

    I’ve lived mostly in a bubble,

    Quiet in my world

    Until bit by bit

    It began to unfurl.

    Today it blew wide open

    When I jumped in tandem

    The universe at once

    Seemed both connected and random.

    I was completely at ease

    Until it came time to fly

    A moment of mind numbing fear,

    And then we were a part of the sky.

    I shut my eyes at first

    As my body and stomach turned

    Once we levelled out

    I knew what I was there to learn.

    Believe in yourself,

    Live with arms open wide.

    Trust yourself,

    Let your heart be your guide.

    Put faith in others

    That show up in your day

    Embrace flight

    When it comes your way.

    If you feel inspired

    To do something new

    Just seize the moment

    And fall into the blue.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Week 4 of my sabbatical

    Greetings all! So this is the fourth and final week of my month long sabbatical from work.You may or may not have noticed that there was no week 3 post. Week 3 was kind of a blur for me, complete with ups, downs, tears, laughter and a dance with dear old depression….but what I learned in week 3 changed my life.

    When I decided to take the break from work, my goal was to pursue writing a second book, and to get all (each and every one) of the things done that I never seem to have time to do (clean closets, clean house, change my name from my wedding TWO years ago, paper work for my husband’s company, etc, etc.)

    I also took on a huge clothing order for the fire department that I volunteer for. (I had NO idea what a job that was going to turn out to be.)

    Having said that, you can likely already see what may have led to my week 3 meltdown.

    I set the bar so high for myself, I completely set myself up for failure. I couldn’t possibly achieve all of the things I intended to in the time I had off, which left me feeling like a failure. The bigger question though was what on earth motivated me to do that?

    After much contemplation, I realized the following about myself:

    • I have always lived my life from a place of fear and insecurity. Even when things were going well for me, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Maybe not consciously, but it was always there in the background, as all limiting beliefs about ourselves are.
    • Due to my insecurity, I became a people pleaser in an effort to fill up what I thought was a fault in my personality. I tried too hard and often gave too much in an effort to prove myself, my worth, my value.
    • I chased after certain jobs thinking that they were the key to my happiness. I thought a “career in a certain field” was the missing piece of the puzzle, that the right job would define me and what I’m capable of, and without it, I would always feel incomplete.
    • I always longed to feel comfortable in my own skin. That was never going to happen when I was always trying so hard to be who I thought other people wanted me to be.

    I then realized the following about life:

    • Nothing external will EVER, ever, ever fill that void within you. You can only fill it from the inside.
    • If you are not completely happy with who you are right now, in this moment, you will never be happy or fulfilled with anything outside of you, be it the right job, the right house, the right spouse. It’s like trying to fill a sieve.
    • Your pain and suffering is an ego thing. Only the ego feels the need to justify itself. You think you need certain things to be happy, but if you interrupt the incessant voice in your head telling you that you’re not enough as you are, and tune into what’s in your heart, you’ll begin to hear the still, quiet voice telling you that you ARE ENOUGH, you ARE WORTHY, you are LOVED exactly as you are.
    • We are all unique and therefore all have something unique to bring to the world that no one else can. There’s no need to compare yourself to, or compete with, anyone. Comparing and competing is your ego talking again.
    • No two paths are alike. Honour your uniqueness, follow YOUR path.
    • The key to happiness is being present in the moment, no matter what you are doing in that moment. You will drive yourself crazy and miss all the important moments right in front of you if you’re always thinking about wanting to be somewhere else.

    I now look to my dogs for guidance. When they sleep, they sleep like they mean it; they snore. When someone says “walk”, they’re at the door and ready to go, when they’re hungry, they eat. They live completely in the moment and they love their humans with all their heart.

    …and they think I’m awesome just the way I am.

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Week 2 of my sabbatical from work

    The fact that I’ve just rewritten this sentence three times in an attempt to portray an accurate representation of my place in life right now indicates that…I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

    When I first decided to take a month off work, I had grandiose visions of  me spending time with some of the most inspiring people I know and using the powerful insights gained to write my second book.

    When someone at work asked me what my plan was for my time off, and I shared my dream with her, she replied with a laugh, “Sounds pretty ambitious.” My response was-in my head, of course-“You just wait, I have this all figured out. You’ll see.”

    Ok, so turns out she was right.

    It was pretty ambitious of me. However, I’ve also come to realize that in life, doing what you want to do comes after doing what needs to be done.

    When it comes to my extremely well thought out game plan of talking to people and sharing their stories through my writing, I failed to take into account the space factor. This may very well be an introvert thing-the need to make space in our lives before we can move forward and introduce something new in our world-but maybe not.

    I found that the first week I had time off, I did some visiting (ok I visited one girlfriend one day and spent time with family the second day), had lunch with a friend (same friend I visited with the first day) did some errands, reached out to some university professors to send my first book to, phoned an old chum, walked my dogs (almost daily) and the rest of my time was spent on catching up on the myriad “unfinished things” at home.

    Far from glamorous and even farther from ambitious, but it had to be done. When I first thought of having the time off, there was the vision of my super-awesome-road-tripping-talking-with-inspiring-people-and-having-inspiring-conversations thing happening. When I actually had the time off, so many other things came up for me that needed my attention.

    I had to get things done that needed to be done, in order to make space for what I really wanted to be doing. I just cannot sit down and relax, never mind write, if the house is a mess or there’s something nagging at me that I know needs to be done. So there, first week off was basically a get ‘er done week.

    This week, however, I actually had room to take on something new-and this will absolutely shock anyone who knows me well-dinner. I made dinner for my family on both Monday and Tuesday of this week, and surprisingly, I absolutely enjoyed doing it and took great pleasure in having my family together at the kitchen table to share a meal.

    Having said that, I also spent two days sorting and organizing my husband’s receipts for his business, but I’m convinced that conquering that momentous job gave me the added inspiration to tackle dinner.

    Today is Wednesday of week two and although my first week and a half off didn’t go exactly as planned, I’m still happy that I made the decision to take this time for myself.

    I am getting a lot of things done that I wouldn’t have had time to do if I hadn’t taken the time off, and in doing so I’m making room for new things to come, whatever they may be.

    Raindrops on a leaf

     

     

     

     

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  • My Current Adventure

    Day two of my month-long sabbatical from work and I’ve never felt so relaxed and at ease. Who wouldn’t be, right? A month off work to do whatever you want with?

    When coworkers heard that I was taking a month off, I heard a multitude of comments. “How did you pull that off?”, “Must be nice. I couldn’t afford to do that.”, “Are you going to a tropical island?” and my personal favourite, “You suck.” My response was that, first of all, anyone can take a month off because it’s in our collective agreement, it just wasn’t widely known. Second of all, it’s not that I’m better off than anyone else financially or that I can “afford” to take the month off. It was something I prepared for by cutting back on spending the month before I went off,  and making sure the months bills were covered for the month I would be off. A little planning ahead makes all kinds of things possible.

    What started as a simple conversation with the director of HR-in which I expressed interest in moving to another position as an opportunity for growth-turned into my current hiatus from the workplace.

    The director only had two options for me, neither of which seemed plausible, and I said with a sigh, “I just wish I could take a month off to write and explore some other options.” When she told me that there was something in the collective agreement that allowed that type of leave, pending approval of course, I saw a shimmering of a light at the end of the tunnel. And it no longer felt like a train.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that my current job sucked, it’s just that my heart wasn’t in to it. Some of you may be thinking, “Suck it up, Sally. That’s life.” But I disagree.

    If I’m spending 7 hours a day, 5 days a week at a job that I don’t find fulfilling or inspiring, or at the very least, rewarding in some way, then I’ll never be more than where I am. Growth is a part of life and if you’re not growing, what are you doing? I’m a growth-oriented individual and a student of life. I look at everything as a learning experience and an opportunity to understand more about the person that I am and what motivates me.

    Someone at work tried to convince me that I just need to wait it out and see what happens. I said to that person, “when a flower starts to grow you don’t tell it to wait.” He told me to stop putting fertilizer on it. “It’s a good job, it’s close to home, decent pay, secure.” None of those statements speak to my soul.

    I know that most people don’t get it; my never-ending quest to discover those precious things that make my heart sing and put a smile on my face, that light me up from within and make me want to be a better person.

    But that’s ok. It’s not for them to understand, or for me to explain. All I know for sure is that following my heart and my own unique path just feels right. Life is too short to walk the path that others think you should be on.

    Our main goal in life is to find and nurture our God-given talents so we can use them to help others. If you’re not making the most of the gifts you’ve been given, no one else can either.

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  • Listening to your gut

    They say that old habits die hard, and from what I’ve experienced with my old habits, it’s true. One completely unproductive old habit that I’m working on changing is the way I react to things. Consider the following scenario; when somebody says something that I may not necessarily agree with or like, it creates an instant passing of judgement, or a reaction. A decision is automatically made and typically my brain is telling me something along the lines of “Nope…they’re wrong. You need to say this…, or do this…, or react like this…” However, I have recently discovered that there’s another option, if you allow it. A space, a pause, a time for reflection, between stimulus and response.

    Instead of reacting instantly, spewing out a rebuttal of some sort or a barrage of reasons as to why you’re right and someone else is wrong, just pause. Catch yourself before you even let the automatic thought get started. Just wait.

    Let the words fall softly and settle. Get out of your head, and into your heart. Just giving yourself a minute to not respond or react, gives you space. It provides breathing room for you to consider what’s been said, and to just let it be. It’s quite possible that it doesn’t even require a response. In the socially connected era that we live in with instant messaging and immediate response, we think we have to respond right away. It’s a learned behaviour. A habit that could very possibly die hard if you so chose.

    The pause allows you to consider the validity of what someone else is saying and go on from there without needing to qualify it as either right or wrong, negative or positive. It just is. It’s a thought, an opinion, an observation of one kind or another. That moment that you give yourself creates an inner calm that slowly but surely undoes the reaction response. Once you’ve done it a few times you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see how nice that space can be, and how easy it is to tap into it.

    So the next time you feel yourself about to react to something, remember to pause and to check in with your gut, and choose to go with the calm that’s there rather than the chatter in your head. It’s a more peaceful way to go through life. And who wouldn’t choose that?

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