moments

  • 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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  • What I Learned on the Bathroom Floor of the Hampton Inn, Outer Banks, NC

    Last Thursday my husband, 16 year old daughter and I left Ontario and headed for North Carolina in my beloved blue Chevy Colorado. I was meeting with of a group of women, that I’d done a 3 month on line course with, in Outer Banks, North Carolina. The fact that I was willing to make the trip to North Carolina to spend the weekend with 10 other women that I’d only met on social media is in itself nothing short of a miracle for this recovering introvert. I say recovering because I realized during this weekend experience that “introvert” (in the way I was applying it to myself) was a life jacket that no longer served its purpose. I love the introvert in me, and how it connects me to beautiful fellow innies, like my charming new friend Susan, but choose to now see myself as deep (thank you Tara) rather than introvert as an excuse for being different.

    Also of importance is that I was once diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety. Goes to show you that when you’re being called to do something by a higher power (whatever that higher power may be for you – gut instinct, spirit, God, the universe, your soul) you can overcome ANYTHING.

    The workshop (which wasn’t really a workshop but I still struggle to find the words to accurately describe what it was) started on Saturday at 10am. I’d met two of the ladies the night before because they were staying at the same hotel and they’d joined my hubby and daughter and I for dinner. Another fun fact, when my new acquaintance, Linda, sent me a message and invited me to her room for a beer, I actually went. My husband even teased me saying, “you’re going to talk to a stranger!?”. Yes, I was that much of an introvert that I rarely talked to people I didn’t know. I was never one for small talk or for being a conversation starter. But this was different. Although we’d only chatted on our  Facebook group page, we all shared the same journey of self discovery. We knew that we’d like each other because our hearts and souls had connected long before our persons had actually met.

    It’s almost like a knowing when you don’t really know, you know?

    I loved Linda the instant I saw her. Interesting to also note that first impressions are made the moment we see someone, before they even speak. Subconsciously we make decisions about myriad things we’re picking up on without even knowing it.

    Next we met Michelle who, funny enough, I bonded with when she reached across the table to pull apart the shell of the shrimp I was trying to dismantle. Not only was I eating off someone else’s plate (Linda’s), which is rare for me, I was totally comfortable with my   other new friend helping me navigate the best way to do it. Introvert’s generally do not eat off of other’s plates unless they’re family or long time friends, and hesitate when someone else enters our space, and that includes family and long time friends. You can see how I let the introvert label hold me back.

    Saturday morning the three of us shared a ride over to the sacred location for the gathering and I was feeling totally at ease about the day ahead.

    Thinking back, that may have been the only time I felt at ease that day because I just pictured things coming to a crashing halt in my head as I typed those words. Don’t get me wrong – the day, the location, the women, the experience – all absolutely gorgeous. I just wasn’t mentally prepared for the staunch resistance that would come up for me over the course of the day. In my mind, this was going to be a beautiful, sensual, flowing happily through the day unfolding of insight and acceptance. In reality it was all of those things, but it played out very differently due to some misperceptions about myself that were holding on so tightly and so deeply ingrained that everything in me fought to let them go.

    Even through the discomfort, every time I looked across the room and met June’s gaze, she was smiling back at me. It’s like she knew something I didn’t. I felt warmth, love and acceptance in her smile and it will stay with me forever. Much like Laurie’s authenticity and laughter. I can hear it now…

    When I got back to the hotel that night, I was physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted and when my husband asked me about my day, I told him it felt like group therapy bootcamp. Yet I instinctively knew this was a pivotal part of the most beautiful transformation in process.

    I’d shared with the ladies earlier in the day that I’d been struggling with menopause symptoms, most notably, the lack of sleep. I blamed the shortage of slumber for almost everything, come to think of it. (Deirdre, who spirit had given me as a loving partner for the weekend, suggested a book* that would help and I was thrilled because I love books and it gave me hope.) Menopause had become another non-serving identity like my introvert pfd and that night, it arrived like clockwork around 4am. And I fought it. I wrestled with it, I cursed it, and then I did something different with it.

    Tara, our pure white light of a guide and mentor on this journey, tells us to ask our Indie** for assistance when we need it. So I did. I sat up in the bed, crossed my legs and held my face in my hands with tears silently sliding down my cheeks.

    “Sage (that’s my Indie’s name), help me please. What do I do? Tell me what to do.”

    My husband woke up and gently put his hand on my back in an act of love and kindness. It didn’t help. In fact, I almost recoiled from it. Which told me that what I really required in that moment was space. But where do I go in the middle of the night in a hotel room in the Outer Banks of North Carolina? Carolla, to be exact.

    I picked up my journal, my pen, and the huge, thick, luxurious, black blanket that I’d thrown in the truck at the last minute because I thought Emmy would like it for the drive. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew instinctively that I needed to be swathed in soft, and that blanket was it.

    I went to the bathroom, closed the door ever so softly so the click wouldn’t wake my hubby and daughter and turned on the light.

    I folded the blanket in fourths so it would be soft on the hard tile floor, but still large enough for me to curl up on. I sat down with my journal in hand but I didn’t write. I thought I would (a writer by nature, it seemed like a possible outlet for my inner angst), but writing wasn’t what I needed. It was what I thought I needed. What I actually needed, was to lie down on the floor and let go. I curled up on the blanket and felt my body soften and my mind relax. I was struck by the realization that the softness of the blanket and the solidness of the floor was EXACTLY what I required at that moment. My Indie brought me to my knees by taking me to the floor.

    It was there that I was able to let go. To really let go – of what I thought I needed – and embraced what my inner being knew I needed. I let go of the struggle with menopause and what it meant to me. I let go of the meaning I’d attached to insomnia and sleeplessness, the struggle, the constant dismay and blame. I suddenly saw it as an opportunity. A gorgeous opportunity for me to have space, to entertain infinite possibility, to have no agenda, no thoughts, no restrictions or rules.

    I stared at the under side of the vanity and the welcomed the different perspective it gave me. Yes, it’s beauty is seen from the top, but it’s foundation is underneath, and equally beautiful. I looked at the toilet paper role and my mind flashed back to earlier in the day when Tara asked for a box of Kleenex and LA (who works with Tara) brought out a role of toilet paper and set it on the coffee table. We all shared a heartfelt laugh.

    I was there for an hour. Completely at peace. I was in awe that I could see how being awake at this time of the morning was a gift, not a curse. That instead of fighting it, I embraced it. Allowed it. Welcomed it.

    We were to be at the beach house for 6am Sunday morning as Tara had planned for us to watch the sun rise down on the beach and journal. When I met Linda in the lobby at 5:45, I felt peaceful, but still a little bewildered by the change in perspective. As much as I welcomed the shift, part of me was still skeptical. Would this peacefulness last? Would lethargy set in? Will I be too tired to fully immerse in the experience of the day? It can’t possibly be that easy to change something I’ve struggled with for over a year. Can it?

    As we walked to the car, Linda asked if I slept well. I told her I’d been awake since 4 and what I’d learned from the bathroom floor. She’d only slept a couple of hours herself. I wasn’t alone and smiled a little at the thought.

    The sunrise was everything Tara knew it would be for us, unique to each, but also the same. Spiritual, beautiful, soul soothing, heart full. As we shared our experiences back at the beach house, 10 women shared their intimate moments of awakening. Cecile so eloquently described it as transcendent. Carla was overcome with emotion and forgiveness. We all felt love. For ourselves and our journey within.

    When I asked my Indie “Who am I?” as Tara had suggested, a poem flowed through my pen, connecting my outer being with my inner being. I shared it with the group. I thought I was writing about the ocean but when reading it out loud, I realized it was also about me.

    It felt good to write poetry again.

    As the day drew to a close, my new friends – my sisters as I called them in a poem I’d written while on the bathroom floor – commented on how much more relaxed and peaceful I looked compared to the day before. Stephanie, who my soul recognized as the embodiment of softness and strength,  said she could see it in my face. The resistance was gone and I felt it in my core. Like the ocean waves, the angst had washed away and left my beautiful truth shining in the sun.

    At one point, I’d moved to the floor (on my soft, sensual blanket of course) and was sitting with the sun shining on my face, to which Tara asked, “are you ok in the sun, Jen?”

    I couldn’t help but smile.

    Tara, I’ve never been more ok. It’s right where I belong.

     

    *The book Deirdre recommended – https://www.drnorthrup.com/wisdom-of-menopause/

    **For more information on the Indie and the Femme Types – http://elegantfemme.com

     

     

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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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  • My daughter’s Christmas present

    My twelve year old daughter asked for a massage for Christmas. She’s a hockey player and she often asks me for a back massage, but I must admit, I’m not very good at it. I’ve only had one massage myself, several years ago, but I felt like a million bucks afterwards and wondered why on earth I had waited so long to have one. I wanted to buy a massage for everyone I knew, it was that powerful of an experience. So when my daughter asked for one, I went and got her a gift certificate with the same RMT that had done mine.

    Her appointment was this morning and since she is only 12 and didn’t quite know what to expect with it being her first one, I went in and sat with her while she had the massage done. There was soft music playing in the background, the room was serene and welcoming and the RMT (Gillian) explained everything to Sydney before starting. When we told her that Syd was playing in a hockey tournament tomorrow, she was able to adapt the massage in order to target certain muscles that would specifically benefit her in her games tomorrow. I joked that she was just like the pro athletes that have a massage before the big game. (It wouldn’t surprise me if she wants one after the big game now too!)

    I was fascinated by how she worked with each muscle group and seemed to be almost listening to each muscle as much as feeling the tension in them. I noticed how she would tilt her head a little to the side as she worked on a specific muscle, as if to be waiting for it to speak to her through her hands. She reminded me of the movie The Horse Whisperer, I suppose we’d call her the “muscle whisperer”. She clearly had found her calling. She was both completely focused on what she was doing, but also ensured her patient’s comfort at all times.

    What struck me most about the whole experience was the moment when I felt insanely close to tearing up while watching her work on Syd. I remember thinking to myself, “what is that all about?? why do I feel like like I’m about to cry??” But as soon as the thought registered, along came the answer. It was  watching someone (someone that I’d only met once before, and that Sydney had never met before) treat my daughter (my pride and joy), with the same tenderness, the same presence, the same level of connection that I had thought only a Mother could.

    It was a tender moment for me. To be there to witness first hand how much Sydney enjoyed it and how it was a beautifully relaxing experience for her, and to see the degree of care with which Gillian took of my baby.

    As parents, we love nothing more than sharing our children’s happiness with them, but to be able to share such a peaceful, nurturing moment with my daughter was purely bliss.

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