Good morning beautiful soul!
May this classic nugget of inspiration brighten your Sunday!
PEOPLE | IDEAS | PURPOSE
Good morning beautiful soul!
May this classic nugget of inspiration brighten your Sunday!
The shortcomings of both poverty and riches is that we always want more.
“You can my love!”
If I had a dollar for every time I spoke these words to my stubborn English Bulldog, Desmond, I’d be a multi-millionaire!
Desmond taught me beautiful life lessons during his 11 years- in particular- how to let go of the overwhelming need to control, and how to choose surrender in the face of defeat.
After years of vacuum-cleaner battles, loud noises, and other oddities that set him off, I learned to look him in the eyes and endearingly tell him, “you can my love“.
The simplicity of reciting this phrase aloud brings an immediate sense of peace, calm, and surrender.
Next time feelings of contraction or resistance surface, try saying this simple phrase aloud or in your mind: “yes, you can my love” and bask in the peaceful wake that follows.
What does it mean to you to “Love What Is“?
I serendipitously rediscovered an insightful passage I had written down in a journal two years ago from Bryon Katie, author of Loving What Is, encouraging me to ask the four questions of any stressful thought that surfaces:
I personally love Katie’s last question, “Who would you be without that thought?” , because it conjures up the image of chain-breaking, freedom, and lightness of being.
As you venture into the new year, how will you choose to address stressful thoughts in your life? Have they become your master, or will you render them unfounded?
Excerpt from “Loving What Is”
To think I know what’s best for anyone else is to be out of my business.
Even in the name of love, it’s pure arrogance, and the result is tension, anxiety, and fear.
Do I know what’s right for me?
That is my only business.
Let me work with that before I try to solve problems for you.
In loving connection,
What drives the essence of who you are?
There are undoubtedly times in life when we feel like hitting the reset button and when this happens, I turn to inspiring thought leaders for mental reactivation. I picked up a copy of New York Times best-selling author Brendon Burchard’s classic, The Charge: Activating the 10 Human Drives That Make You Feel Alive to find this inspiration. Brendon is widely considered the world’s leading high-performance coach as well as the most watched, quoted, and followed personal development trainers of all time. A near-death car accident and painful breakup with his first love served as motivation for writing the book coupled with a longing to answer the questions Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter?
I love the connection I feel when reading the thoughts of expansive, passionate thinkers and my intention in sharing this condensed book summary with you is twofold: First, to provide you with self-discovery questions you can implement immediately to deepen your understanding of what drives your behavior and how to move your life’s happiness needle if you find yourself off-track. Second, my goal is to inspire you to connect with more of his highly insightful work.
The 10 human drives are broken into two categories: 5 baseline drives and 5 forward drives. Let’s start by examining the 5 baseline drives together.
Think of baseline drives as the starting point or the foundational behaviors shared by every human being.
Whether we admit it or not, we all desire a certain level of control in life, and while we cannot control others despite our most concerted efforts, we can control two things: our outlook and our character. We can also control how we choose to live our life: caged, comfortable, or charged. Brendon encourages us to “safeguard our outlook” by choosing optimism to keep things in perspective. He introduces the concept of “control for new”, a strategy that focuses on planning time specifically for new things in life in order to mitigate boredom, depression, and malaise while at the same time feeding our body a healthy dose of dopamine. Neuroscience shows our brains are enticed by novelty, so make it a practice to try new endeavors as often as possible.
The second baseline drive addresses our innate desire to have the ability to understand, perform, and master anything in life. From tasks to relationships, competence breeds confidence and without competence in our life, we are more likely to experience anxiety, stress, fear, even apathy. Brendon’s research shows that when we lack competence in a particular area, we are likely to procrastinate. Conversely, with competence, we are more likely to work harder and smarter at the task at hand. The key to competence: learning.
The third baseline drive speaks to how authentically we are living life. How aligned are our relationships, work environments, friendships, thoughts, and behaviors with our intentions? Does your gut tell you to move on and step into your truth yet your head continues to rationalize the behavior and keep you stuck and unhappy? Do you continue to show up at a job that deteriorates your soul when you would rather be following your passion and truly living and creating in your element? Do you even know what your element is?
Remember, you are not defined by your past or the people in the past who had particular expectations of you.
Tip: Choose 3 words that describe “who I am” in terms of traits/ nature, then choose 3 words that describe “how I treat others“. Let these words serve as a guidepost for living more congruently.
The fourth baseline drive shines light on the importance of being others-focused. “Be curious about others and they will be curious about you.” According to Brendon, one of the best questions you could ask another person to show you care is: “Wow! How did that make you FEEL?” When caring for others, it is paramount to prioritize self-care. We serve best when balanced, rested, and nurtured. We cannot give to another what we do not have. Try these: Care for thyself. Be more vulnerable. Give your presence to others.
Connection: (n) a relationship in which a person, thing, or idea is linked or associated with something else. Connection is vital for humans. It’s the spark that keeps us going in troubled times, the bond that keeps friendships alive despite long distances, and it’s the intimate, engaging conversations with loved ones. To me, connection is the peanut butter and jelly of my life’s travel experiences, knowing we are somehow bonded with others, no matter how different our backgrounds geographically, culturally, socially, or spiritually. It’s knowing we all share life’s most elemental emotional needs. Throughout my travels and experiences around the world I have found one thing to be certain: we all want to be seen, loved, and cared for.
Tip: Don’t forget the saying “you will become like the 10 people you hang around most “. Choose your company wisely.
Now let’s take a look at what Brendon calls the forward drives. These are the drives that have the ability to propel our happiness needles, pushing us forward into a more engaged life. A warning on forward drives: They are not easy and are often met with great resistance. Anything that challenges us to be a better version of ourselves invites discomfort and tests the limits of what we think is possible. This is what makes life so fascinating! We can choose to step forward trusting that personal growth is worth the risk. Let’s take a look at each of the 5 forward drives in a bit more detail.
I love this first drive! After all, change is what makes life exciting! By focusing on positive outcomes (gains) instead of perceived setbacks (losses), we are able to step into change with less resistance. Let’s face it, it’s easier to talk about change than to make change. Change demands we drop fear and familiarity and adopt the discomfort of uncertainty and future possibilities. By asking “What if? ” questions and using “I’ll get to __________” statements, we shift our focus to the pleasurable aspects of change. Making change = finding clarity.
“It’s hard to have vision when you haven’t seen all the options. If you are truly in a position to change something in your life, what have you been trying to do/achieve over the past 12 months to make the change a reality?” – B.B
A major change I’ve been holding back from making in my life because of an expectation of a loss or associated pain is:
A clear and bold new change I could make in my life would be to:
Who doesn’t love a good challenge?! Our brains LOVE challenges!!! This is how we stretch ourselves and get out of our comfort zone! Remember the forward drives are often met with resistance because they force us to expand into unchartered waters. Let’s not forget that the #1 human drive is control, so it makes sense that challenges will disrupt our natural desire for control. Good news is that we have control over our outlook, so we can choose to accept challenges that come our way and apply positive outcomes to them.
Accepting challenges means you are being part of the solution. Brendon suggests designing a 12-month challenge chart, picking a new 30-day challenge for each month, including personal, social, and giving challenges. This gets our brains into forward thinking and activates our desire for vision and clarity in life. I highly recommend this activity as it opens up the doors to following your deepest desires and sets a pathway for achieving it!
“Easy and Comfortable are DETRACTORS of living a charged life. ” – B.B
We all have a desire to express who we are daily. From the clothing we wear, to the music we listen to, to the messages we post on social media, these are all forms of self-expression. Even if you don’t self-identify as a creative, you are! Don’t forget you are one in 7.5 billion people in the world. You have a unique way of expressing everything you do and say, and when you suppress this drive, you miss out on the simplest form of happiness.
“Creativity isn’t a trait, it’s a discipline. Creativity isn’t a spark, it’s a slog, an iterative process.”
According to Brendon there are two ways to define contribution: we can give “of” (self) or give “to” (cause). Giving of the self means we share our talents, gifts, and strengths with the world. We intentionally give our best efforts. We show up authentically and fully expressed. One of the best gifts we can give to the world, Burchard shares, is the concept of a life fully expressed. This is an act of contribution that is often overlooked and minimized by the more familiar types of contribution such as donating money or time to a particular cause. Everyday we can contribute by giving of ourselves, and in return receive joy and happiness!
A new and deeply meaningful giving experience I’d like to create is:
Someone who could use my mentoring is:
Consciousness: (n): the state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings. Practicing consciousness means asking self-reflection questions like: How present am I in this moment? Where shall I focus my thoughts right now? How are others feeling / thinking in this moment? How would I like to interact with or influence them? Am I contributing positively in my relationships? When we live with an increased level of consciousness, we experience more happiness because, as Brendon says, “we are choosing to be present to the love that is already around us. ”
Ask Yourself: If I were more aware and directive of my consciousness in life, my life would change in these ways:
In order to connect with a higher consciousness on a more regular basis, I could:
For an in-depth examination of his work, I invite you to indulge your brain in any of Brendon’s #1 NYT best-selling books including The Motivation Manifesto, The Millionaire Messenger, and his most recent, High-Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way.
The only thing you risk is growth!
It’s no secret. I am, admittedly, a learn-a-holic. I derive ridiculous amounts of pleasure from the mere absorption of information. The unknown becomes known. That may explain my insatiable appetite for Anthony Bourdain’s traveling series, Parts Unknown. His distinct gift of documenting the lives, flavorful fare, and vibrant cultural traditions of the world’s unrevealed places bolsters my intense passion for and longing to understand the world and the nearly 7.5 billion people in it.
Inquiring minds ask a lot of questions, and yes, I am without question, a questioner.
This morning while enjoying a quick walk in the outdoor inferno, I listened to an insightful Kwik Brain podcast. Jim Kwik is an expert on all things brain-related, particularly accelerated learning. You may recall his name from the 6-part series I shared on Brain Health and essential oils last spring. You can find them here, in case you missed them. I had the pleasure of meeting Jim in Las Vegas at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, thanks to an introduction by a dear friend and behavior design expert, Linda Fogg-Phillips.
In this morning’s bite-sized dose of brain-expanding learning, Jim shared tips for calming the mind by way of the user-friendly acrostic “Q.U.I.E.T.”, (which by the way happens to be an awesome book on the power of introversion by Susan Cain), to help listeners turn off their incessant internal chatter. He said, “Your brain is not designed to work at full steam all the time. Regular simmering down with these tips and hacks is a brilliant move for your wellbeing in life and career. ”
By asking ourselves questions like, “Who am I right now?” and “What do I live for?“, we are able to tap into the present moment and help focus the mind. Try asking, “What do I really need right now?“, or “What is the most delightful thing I have seen all day?” Ask yourself better questions. Asking questions, Jim says, directs our focus and helps us concentrate on what’s most important.
Get into nature. Opt outside.
There is plenty of scientific evidence showing the positive effects of spending time in the great outdoors. Surrounded by nature, our bodies naturally relax and our brains release feel good chemicals like serotonin. A tip I picked up on another Kwik Brain podcast suggested using the first and last hour of each day to our advantage. These are the hours we are typically less distracted, and have the highest ability to control. (Hint: avoid grabbing your phone and reacting first thing in the morning as well as responding to work emails late at night when you could be reading/ relaxing in your bed setting your brain up for much needed time recovering).
By integration, Jim is referring to the integration of our 5 senses: touch, taste, sight, sound, and smell. He notes, ” Scientists can now show it’s possible to regulate how aroused you are through the five senses, as well as through the vestibular system.” The vestibular system is our sensory system controlling things like our forward and backward motions, as well as working in tandem with our body awareness sense, proprioception, to provide a sense of balance and spatial orientation. These are often referred to as our sixth sense. By activating any one of our senses, we are able to step out of our minds, and into our bodies.
Here’s where aromatherapy shines! By activating our olfactory system (sense of smell), we are able to get our of our heads, and into our bodies! As I write this post and share with you, I am diffusing Cilantro essential oil and am enjoying the steady mist of this fresh, herbaceous, and incredibly cleansing essential oil. Cilantro essential oil is used to help support the body in detoxing from heavy metals and free radicals, and is especially helpful in reducing anxious feelings. Here are some other key benefits of using Cilantro essential oil.
In addition to activating your sense of smell to initiate a quiet mind, you may try integrating other senses by:
Movement. Shakes things up and gets blood flowing! According to a Harvard Medical School Journal, aerobic exercise may boost the size of the hippocampus- the part of the brain involved with verbal memory and learning. You can read the full story here. In addition to supporting your heart and lungs, exercise boosts endorphins and is a form of meditation in motion. The effort given to a particular motion, whether it’s hiking, cycling, walking, running, fishing, golfing, or playing tennis helps take our minds to a different place and often frees us temporarily of our troubles. I find that chopping fresh vegetables has a similar relaxing effect on the mind, and of course, so does enjoying my favorite sweet treats at night!
Jim’s final suggestion in Q.U.I. E.T ing the mind is Transcendental Meditation. You may be thinking, “What is it? and “How exactly do you do this?” In a simplified explanation, TM, as it’s commonly referred to, involves the use of a mantra for 15–20 minutes twice per day while sitting with the eyes closed. This may be a particular phrase, affirmation, or sequence of words on which you choose to focus. Close your eyes, and repeat the words or phrasing over and over in your mind and allow them to come into laser focus. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right or if it feels like it’s just not your thing.
Like most things in life that are good for us, quieting the mind is a habit, and according to my dear friend and behavioral design expert Linda, habits begin as seedlings and through practice, consistency, and a favorable environment, they grow into thriving behaviors.
Here’s to discovering a little more QUIET in your world.
Stand In Love,
Seasons of life come and then they go.
Welcome them all with open arms, and trust your Captain.
When questions abound, and you are not sure which way to go, look up; God is always with you, and you are never alone. He is your Captain. He will steady the rocking ship, calm the turbulent waters, and steer you into the right direction. He is your Captain.
Captain by Hillsong United:
Through waters uncharted my soul will embark
I’ll follow Your voice straight into the dark
And if from the course You intend I depart
Speak to the sails of my wandering heart
Like the wind You’ll guide
Clear the skies before me
And I’ll glide this open sea
Like the stars Your Word
Will align my voyage
And remind me where I’ve been
And where I am going
Lost in the shallows amidst fear and fog
Your truth is the compass that points me back north
Jesus, my Captain, my soul’s trusted Lord
All my allegiance is rightfully Yours
Thank you God for reminding me where I’ve been, and where I am going.
Photo: Murchinson Falls National Park, Uganda.
I don’t know what it is about the 4th of July that scratches my insatiable travel itch but I have my suspicions.
Perhaps a dose of nostalgia?
Or the undeniable truth that I have a deep-seated passion for global adventures.
I long to explore untraveled parts of the world in order to connect with locals, to communicate in unfamiliar languages, to discover new sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and to collect incredible stories along the way to share with friends and family.
One of my favorite 4th of July travel memories dates back to the summer of 2000. I willingly agreed to join my dear friend Jesica in Israel en route to a volunteer job on a small kibbutz in the beautiful Negev desert.
Our assignment: Harvesting the world’s most plump, succulent, mouthwatering dates.
We connected at Ben Gurion airport in the wee hours of the night, completely jet lagged, yet buzzing with anticipation of the mysterious adventure that lie ahead of us. Our unairconditioned room was sparsely decorated and I specifically recall sleeping with the overhead light on to deter the scurrying cockroaches in search of a cooler oasis. Little did I know this wouldn’t be the last time I’d be sleeping with the lights on; The volunteer housing I would call home for the next 3 months had similarly sparse and buggy decor! Yikes!
The following morning, volunteer assignment in hand and typical overpacked backpack & acoustic guitar in tow, we traveled 4.5 hours south to our home away from home, a charming hilltop kibbutz named Grofit. Located in the Aravah valley of the Negev desert, this place would serve as a classroom of sorts, rewarding us with the kind of life lessons that only stepping out of your comfort zone provides.
A kibbutz is essentially a commune of people sharing land, resources, and the desire to enjoy a family friendly, relaxed lifestyle. Today, kibbutz residents represent only 2.5% of Israel’s total population and while current modes of operation are far from the pioneering days, they continue to attract tourists as well as locals seeking a peaceful getaway from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
What I cherished most from my experience was the daily community fellowship, the meals enjoyed together prepared by loving hands, and above all, the opportunity to experience multiple cultures, languages, and rich conversations daily. It was a chance to serve the needs of the kibbutz and in exchange we received the freedom to embark on once-in-a -lifetime adventures including an overnight hike up Mt. Sinai, lead by a team of Bedouins and camels, snorkeling in the Red Sea in Dahab, and the thrill of meeting a local Jordanian family thanks to our taxi driver who insisted we stop in for a visit at 11:45pm to meet his relatives! I will never forget that night!
Each day, I shared 10 hours with migrant workers from India & Thailand, as well as volunteers from Belgium, Poland, France, Denmark, and South Africa! Talk about the learning opportunities!
At dawn, our team drove into the date fields, feeling the coolness of night before the sun rose to the east over the Jordanian mountains.
The work was physical, the heat oppressive.
At times, I pondered the social injustices of the world as I placed nets around the unripened date fruits high in the sky. I marveled at the agility and fearlessness of my Thai and Indian teammates, and admired their fortitude despite the dire circumstances which brought them thousands of miles away from loved ones in order to make a living.
Freedom to travel is a gift.
Service to others is a gift.
Relationships are a gift.
Learning is a gift.
Curiosity is a gift.
and gifts….. well……
Gifts are meant to be shared with the world. Thank you for allowing me the gift and freedom of sharing this story with you!
What is your favorite 4th of July memory? I would love to hear from you in the comments!
Until next time friends,
Stand In Love, Jen xo
Do you ever wonder if there is such a thing as achieving balance? Do you ever feel pulled in so many different directions you doubt balance is possible? Between family responsibilities, the kids, work deadlines, bills, friendships, exercise, eating right, cleaning, and shopping, where on Earth is the time to find the elusive sense of balance we are encouraged to locate?
As I sit Indian-style in my office chair tapping away on my laptop, inhaling the gorgeous diffused aroma of patchouli, lime, and frankincense, I wonder if my body (physical, emotional, and spiritual) is appropriately balanced? Yesterday at a luncheon with our local dōTERRA community we listened to Dr. Sarah Johnson, DC and cervical spine specialist, share tips on the subject of achieving balance naturally. Her words, and more importantly her questions, linger inside my head and heart today and have created a desire to share with a larger audience. Do you listen to the silent words spoken by your body each day?
Let’s take a moment together to close our eyes and feel deeply inside of our bodies. Do you sense pain or discomfort anywhere? Are you carrying around repressed emotions? Stuffed feelings? Unconfronted numbness? Is that tension in your neck and shoulders due to carrying around a heavy burden for years that you have just allowed to become the new norm? How about that nagging discomfort in your lower back or hips? Is that from lifting inattentively, or is it a conglomeration of unaddressed emotions pooling together in a little circle trying to grab your attention, begging for release?
Our bodies are masters of adaptation. They are built to respond to stress, and habituate. The risk of this adaptation is that when we keep pushing a new normal on all three levels (mind, body, spirit), the body, out of self-preservation, keeps going until it no longer can resulting in dis-ease and discomfort.
This week, I have been digging feverishly into Kathy Truman’s insightful book, Feelings Buried Alive Never Die, and have come to some powerful realizations surrounding the origins of feelings and emotions, as well as the unique space they take up in our bodies.
Put simply, feelings and thoughts are made of energy and energy is matter. Physics teaches us that matter is never destroyed, but can be altered. So what happens to our thoughts and feelings since they are virtually indestructible?
Feelings are born moment-to-moment and what we choose to do with them profoundly impacts our overall health and wellness. Please re-read that sentence. Let’s think of emotions like grains for a moment. Is it your tendency to toss feelings into the storehouse of your mind or heart, unconsciously collecting them one-by-one and allowing them to accumulate unaddressed? Every kernel of hurt, every ragged rejection, every bit of anguish, pain, confidence-snatching humiliation, breath-taking overwhelm, every slicing condescending comment thrown our way, and every grain of grief. What happens when these storehouses get filled to the roof? One of two things may happen; We start a second storehouse, or the lid bursts unexpectedly on the overfilled one.
I would like to suggest a third option: Sift through the grains. Sort the emotions, one by one. Take away the prison-like power of negative emotions, break the stronghold by walking straight into them. Wait, you may be thinking, “Well, that’s painful and will cause heartache Jen. ” Yes, it will hurt. Yes, it will sting, often unbearably. Yes, you may shed oceans of tears. Yes, you may have to go places (metaphorically speaking) you prefer not to, but what is the alternative? Allow the undigested emotions to destroy the cells in your body causing symptoms of dis-ease?
In Dr. Joan Borysenko’s book, Minding the Body, Minding the Mind, she describes feelings this way:
“Positive Emotions create bodily sensations of openness and expansiveness. They invite the world in. The body feels relaxed, even though some emotions such as joy are very energizing. In contrast, negative emotions create a tight, contracted feeling. Everything pulls inward. The world is pushed away. Positive feelings invite unity. Negative feelings invite isolation. Becoming a skilled observer of your own emotions allows you to make a conscious choice between love and unity, or fear and isolation. ”
I want to choose love and unity every single time. I believe we have the capacity to reject fear and isolation. A line from one of my favorite songs goes like this:
“FEAR is a LIAR. He will take your breath, stop you in your steps. He will rob your rest, steal your happiness. Cast your fear in the fire, cuz fear, he is a liar.”
The fascinating thing about essential oils is that they have the capacity to support individuals on both a physical and emotional level. The beauty of nature and creation is such that our bodies receive the chemistry of essential oils on the cellular level via cell receptors. With a variety of Certified Pure, Therapeutic Grade essential oils to choose from, there are several solutions to meet your emotional needs.
A favorite for emotional support is the Emotional Aromatherapy Kit, containing essential oil blends specifically formulated with balanced chemistry to deliver the desired outcomes. With names like Peace, Forgive, Cheer, Passion, Motivate, and Console, they are designed to touch right on the epicenter of our emotions.
What if all we had to fear was LOVE? Would that bring us into balance?
Until next time my cherished friends,
Stand In Love, Jen
To learn more, or to bring these natural treasures into your home today, please start here.
According to recent American Psychology Association research, “women are more likely to report physical and emotional symptoms of stress than men, such as having had a headache (41 percent versus 30 percent), having felt as though they could cry (44 percent versus 15 percent), or having had an upset stomach or indigestion (32 percent versus 21 percent) in the past month. The same survey also reported that women are more likely than men to report that they eat as a way of managing stress (31 percent versus 21 percent).”
Whether you are a naturally high-energy individual, a professional in a high-stress environment, a mother juggling multiple to-do lists, or all of the above, this post is for you.
Turns out, there are two types of stress: positive and negative. Positive stress, eustress, is produced during heightened states of arousal, and is commonly linked to a specific goal. Negative stress, distress, is similar to free-floating anxiety, and unlike eustress, which stops cortisol production as soon as the desired goal is complete, sends our body into the proverbial fight-or-flight stress response. The cortisol has no place to go, and wreaks havoc on our bodies.
If left unchecked, stress can and WILL disrupt the following:
Wow, that’s pretty much every inch of our physical bodies, not to mention spilling into every millimeter of our neurosystem.
Yes, eat your fruits and veggies, limit fat and sugar intake, and move your body. Sounds familiar, right?
Well, what about time spent with friends and loved ones? According to author and friendship expert Shasta Nelson, lacking intimate relationships with friends is equivalent to smoking several cigarettes a day! If you are interested in learning more about building awesome friendships, check out this post. Additionally, I highly recommend reading her book full of mind-blowing research Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness.
So that brings us to my area of expertise- aromatherapy and using essential oils to boost mood and reduce stress and anxious feelings. As a perpetual learner, this subject has been my central focus for the last 18 months and continues to impress upon me fresh insights that I simply MUST share with the world. (Isn’t that what we do when we LOVE something so much? )
Why use essential oils? The short answer is this: THEY WORK.
Which ones you ask?
Let’s start with Jen’s Top 5 Essential Oils for Stress Reduction
For all the times we feel overwhelmed, burdened, burned out, or simply at our wit’s end, there are natural solutions to support you. Think of essential oils as partners in your wellness journey. Full of chemistry, completely diverse, and always there when you need them!