Loving What Is

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:

  • Is it true?
  • Can you absolutely know it’s true?
  • How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  • Who would you be without that thought? 

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.

-Bryron Katie

In loving connection,

Jennifer xxx

Sustaining the Gift of Frankincense

 

 

Sustainability is a process, not an endpoint.  I want to improve the biggest disconnect people have with essential oils- sourcing.” -Dr. Anjanette DeCarlo.

Far away in the northern stretches of the self-declared state of Somaliland lies one of the most biologically diverse forests harboring over 1000 plant species, 200 of which are endemic.  This vast coastal wonderland rests on the edges of the Gulf of Aden, ushering in life-sustaining fog and mists.

Welcome to the Cal Madow, where the Frankincense trees grow.

Translated as Black Mountains, the Cal Madow is home to three of the most prized Boswellia species:  Boswellia carterii,  Boswellia frereana, and Boswellia sacra.  These trees grow in remote rocky outcrops and on sheer cliff faces, making the harvesting dangerous work.   To extract the valuable resins, the trees are first “cut” or “wounded” causing them to exude a viscous, milky-white liquid as a form of self-defense.  This precious material is later collected, dried, sorted by quality, and distilled for numerous health and wellness applications. 

Frankincense History

With a variety of uses, there is no question why Frankincense was highly esteemed by ancient civilizations and used for the most sacred of practices. For some religions, Frankincense is correlated with one of the most prized possessions of ancient biblical times, as it was considered valuable enough to be given as a gift to Christ after his birth. Frankincense was also used during religious ceremonies for salves for soothing skin and perfume. The perfume or aroma that Frankincense emits promotes feelings of satisfaction, peace, relaxation, and overall wellness, which explains its unique value in ancient times.

Generations of Somalis and Somalilanders have harvested Frankincense trees preserving a rich cultural heritage passed down for centuries.  In fact, the harvesting of Frankincense represents an income for over 300,000 people-roughly 10% of the population of Somaliland.  This number continues to increase as the ongoing drought has wiped out 70-80% of the nation’s livestock forcing thousands of nomadic farmers to head north with their families in search of survival opportunities.

Frankincense Sustainability

International demand for Frankincense essential oil is on the rise and according to Dr. Anjanette DeCarlo, scientific researcher and director of Conserve the Cal Madow, the Boswellia trees in the Cal Madow are under threat.  Conserve the Cal Madow is a conservation and research project aiming to protect the Cal Madow forests and the frankincense economy.   DeCarlo shared in a recent phone interview that “she has always had an incredible sensitivity to trees from a very young age, finding comfort and protection among them during uneasy times.”  As fate would have it, Anjanette was approached with an opportunity to combine her talents in Ecological Economics, Sustainable Development, and Environmental Conflict Resolution with her passion for Social Enterprise.  “Frankincense chose me, ” she said.

Anjanette’s first trip to Somaliland took place in 2010 to conduct a supply chain analysis of how and where Frankincense oil comes from and how it gets to market.  CNN recently produced a 3-part documentary highlighting her work, which she says, ” is vital to the entire industry to let people know what’s happening in Somaliland, to educate international buyers and consumers, and to educate harvesters themselves so they understand the value of their product in the world market.”

Recent drone photographs taken by DeCarlo and her team confirm cross sections of the current Cal Madow forest conditions.  Evidence of over-harvesting, double harvesting, bark stripping, as well as environmental threats like drought and wood-boring beetles demonstrate the ongoing need for international intervention to preserve and protect this biologically rich, old-growth forest from increased degradation.

At the heart of this open-source analysis, lies DeCarlo’s passion for partnering with the local chiefs, elders,  landowners, and harvesters as well as international companies involved in the supply chain.  “I want to work with companies who come forward because we need international buyer support.” 

Answering the Call

dōTERRA, the world’s largest essential oil company proactively accepted that call.  On stage this September at an annual convention in front of a crowd of 35,000 Wellness Advocates,  dōTERRA CEO and cofounder, David Stirling, announced the company’s latest sustainability initiatives including a 3.3 million dollar pre-investment into the communities of Somaliland.   “We asked the local elders in Somaliland ‘what do you want?’ Their answer, ‘We want to build schools and we need access to health care.’ ”

Understanding the importance of investing in local communities through mutually beneficial partnerships, dōTERRA plans to open a regional hospital in the Sanaag region of Somaliland in Spring 2018 which will serve 400,000 people, and has already constructed 2 schools which provide much needed education for local youth.

DeCarlo’s heartfelt sentiments were eloquently expressed that same day on stage. “dōTERRA is making a commitment to include sustainability as a pillar to identify ways to protect ecosystems and to amplify ecosystem services.”  She continued educating, “our health is directly related to the health of the Earth, and so we want to make sure that when we’re amplifying our health with essential oils, we ensure the ecosystems where those plants come from are as healthy as the oils that we put on our bodies.” 

Join Us

Simple ways to get involved include:

  • purchase your Frankincense oils from a company like dōTERRA, with a proven track record of developing long-term, mutually beneficial supplier partnerships while creating sustainable jobs and providing reliable income in underdeveloped areas.
  • share this post with friends and family to promote on-going education.
  • follow Dr. Anjanette DeCarlo’s work on Facebook.
  • Visit Conserve the Cal Madow to see photos of these amazing trees and gain more in-depth analysis of the projects and how you can help.
  • Learn more about the vast therapeutic benefits of Frankincense essential oil.

 

Jennifer Miller is a Las Vegas based dōTERRA Wellness Advocate, speaker, and marketing consultant.  She volunteers as a Community Partner for global nonprofit BeadforLife, whose mission is to provide entrepreneurial training to 1 million impoverished people globally by 2027.   Click here for a listing of upcoming events, or Follow her on instagram or Facebook @standinlovejen .  To host your own BeadforLife marketplace or essential oil party this holiday, please email:  deboughjl@gmail.com .  

 

 

 

 

Bringing HOPE to the World

Thank you so much for joining Stand In Love today!  I am honored to welcome you if you are a first-time guest!  This is a place to connect with like-minded change-makers around the world intent on sharing light and love in order to serve humanity.

 Serving People.       Inspiring Ideas.      Living Your Purpose.  

I recently caught up with a girlfriend from my hometown of Chicago whom I befriended during my college days as a waitress in an upscale Italian Steakhouse.  She is currently traveling through India and Nepal as a missionary, delivering hope to victims of sex trafficking.   I sent her essential oil vials to take on the journey, in order to support both her emotions as well as those of the women and children she encountered on the streets.

Sex Trafficking Defined

According to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of commercial sex or forced labor. A 2011 Department of State report revealed the geographic locations with the highest percentages of sex trafficking victims include: Thailand, India, Mexico, Philippines, Honduras, and Nepal.  This is not to say that sex trafficking doesn’t exist in the United States, it does.   International travel-hubs like California and Texas host higher concentrations of immigrant populations and subsequently, have higher sex-trafficked victims.

Alarming statistics

According to research, over 20 million adults and children are bought and sold worldwide into commercial sexual servitude, forced labor, and bonded labor.  Almost 6 in 10 identified trafficking survivors were trafficked for sexual exploitation-98% of which are women and girls.

This is a criminal act in over 130 countries, yet sex trafficking is reported to be one of the fastest growing enterprises in the world.   This is unacceptable.  We must create awareness where there is none, and increase awareness where it is stagnant.

Why Share?

Last night while listening to some acoustic recordings by singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman, I reflected on my decision to join doTERRA as a Wellness Advocate earlier this year.  Why do I share essential oils with others? Why did I choose this journey?

The short answer is this:  People matter to me.

I learned that nearly 2/3 of the nations where these precious, potent, and pure essential oils are sourced are developing countries.  For me, the opportunity to share oils with the world is an educational platform.   My heart beats for the deeply impoverished, the lost, the forgotten, and the voiceless.  I am passionate about connecting with people and creating global bridges of understanding, and doTERRA gives me that incredible opportunity.

Each time I share a bottle of these highly aromatic oils, my mind is instantly transported to the British Columbian forests where Arborvitae trees stretch towards the sky, the vast Bulgarian lavender fields, and to the dry, dusty, and desolate stretches of Haiti where the Vetiver root is sourced and distilled.  The benefits of using these oils goes beyond personal health and wellness.  It is about coming into relationship with the human beings who helped in the arduous processes of harvesting, farming, and distilling.

Operation Underground Railroad.

doTERRA’s philanthropic arm, Healing Hands Foundation, has already made a huge impact in so many lives around the world.  The most recent partnership of the Foundation is an organization created to rescue children from slavery and from sex trafficking- Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R. Rescue).  Founded in 2013 by Tim Ballard, the rescue team is composed of former CIA, Navy SEALs, and Special Ops operatives that work together with local law enforcement to rescue children.  To date, O.U.R. has rescued 693 victims and assisted in the arrests of more than 300 traffickers around the world.   Read about his undercover and emotional journey in Haiti here.

Spreading HOPE.

You may be thinking, “How can I help?” or “How can the sale of one essential oil bottle help put a stop to sex trafficking?” 100% of the proceeds from the sale of every bottle of HOPE Touch essential oil are donated directly to the mission of Operation Underground Railroad.

Let’s join together and help spread HOPE to a world so desperately in need of our love, caring, and voices.

Learn More.

To learn more about Operation Underground Railroad and how your donations through the purchase of the HOPE Touch essential oil are helping children around the world, click here.  To purchase this oil, please click here.

For more information about the Healing Hands Foundationclick here.

@standinlovejen on Instagram

@standinlove on Facebook

 Jennifer Miller is a Las Vegas based writer, doTERRA wellness advocate, and business coach for global NGO BeadforLife.  Her passions include: serving people, inspiring ideas, and helping others live their purpose.  For more inspiration on beginning your essential oil journey, click here

 

 

 

 

 

Pillar 2: Mental Fitness

Ever considered the fitness level of your brain?   We are constantly reminded that physical exercise helps increase oxygen to our brains and promotes overall health, but when was the last time you saw an advertisement urging you to increase flexibility and motor functioning of your supercomputer?

Welcome to Pillar 2 in our 6-part series on Brain Health.  This week’s focus:  Mental Fitness.  In case you missed last week’s post on Pillar 1 of Brain Health: Physical Exercise- you can find it here.

Our brains, like our muscles, are hungry for activation and use.  Today’s blog post is a video interview with Linda Fogg-Phillips, director of Tiny Habits Academy.  Linda is an expert in habit formation and behavior design, having taught over 65,000 people around the world through a rigorously tested scientific model designed by her brother, Stanford Ph.D and professor, B.J. Fogg.  Whether you want to adopt new personal habits, or train members of your business to help improve the lives of their clients, Tiny Habits can help!

We explore 5 key components of Mental Fitness and share insights on positive habit formation while pairing them with the purest and most potent essential oils in the world!  You don’t want to miss this!

Enjoy the show !

Feel free to share these tips with your friends and family, it’s the best way to reinforce your learning!! #standinlove#tinyhabits

 

 

To begin your journey with these life-changing essential oils, click here.

Thanks for joining, and see you next week as we explore Pillar 3: Food  & Nutrition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What No One Tells You About Habits

“Maintaining constant high motivation is unsustainable, but if things are easy to do even when motivation is low, they are more likely to succeed. ” – BJ Fogg, PhD.  

While in Salt Lake City last weekend, I toured the famed Temple Square, as well as the architecturally appealing public library where exposed glass elevators and unique art installations added intrigue and emotion to a book-exploring expedition.   Thanks to a chain of serendipitous events I arrived in Salt Lake City eager to connect with Leah Barker the CEO of global poverty eradication nonprofit Choice Humanitarian and to train with  Linda Fogg-Phillips, M.S. Health Promotion and Exercise Physiology.  Linda serves as the Director of the Tiny Habits Academy, a Behavior Design platform founded by her younger brother, BJ Fogg PhD., a renowned innovator, scientist and teacher at Stanford.  BJ’s focus is on teaching people who design solutions for others.  

My goal for you as readers of StandinLove is simple:  sharing this methodology will help you  practice the skill of creating new habits.   According to BJ’s research, it’s not the adopted habit itself that matters, it is the fact you acquired the tools needed to create these new habits.  You gained the necessary skills that will help you succeed in multiple areas in your life.  

What is a tiny habit?

A “Tiny Habit” is a baby behavior.  Yep.  One little, itty-bitty action that, when repeated, builds momentum and results in the formation of a bigger, long-term habit.   A “Tiny Habit”, according to Dr. Fogg’s design is a behavior:

      • you do at least once a day
      • that takes you less than 30 seconds
      • that requires little effort 

Recipe for Tiny Habits:

According to BJ’s research, the recipe for developing tiny habits has 3 simple ingredients:

  1. Identify the behavior you want in your life.                                                                                What behaviors are you looking to add to your life for increased positive benefit?  Do you want to develop a new health routine, nutrition option, start a new hobby, increase your home organization, de-stress more effectively, begin to exercise regularly, or maybe practice gratitude more often?   These are merely prompts to get your brain thinking and to inspire you to think about what YOU want to do in your life.  This is about you and your life.
  2. Find out where it fits in your life.                                                                                                                 BJ says an important part of implementing this new tiny behavior is to  “Plan to do the new tiny behavior after an extremely reliable habit you have, what I call an “anchor.”   Notice the key point in this ingredient towards making a tiny habit:  planning.  With just a tiny bit of thought beforehand and a touch of mapping out your desired behaviors, you are already on the road to successful tiny habit formation! 
  3. Match it to an anchor routine.                                                                                                          The anchor is the habit or behavior you always do.  The anchor must be a reliable habit, extremely precise, and is most effective when it is tied to the desired frequency of the new tiny behavior.

 Examples of Tiny Habits.

After I brush, I will floss one tooth.”

After I pour my morning coffee, I will text my mom.”

After I start the dishwasher, I will read one sentence from a book.”

After I walk in my door from work, I will get out my workout clothes.”

After I sit down on the train, I will open my sketch notebook.”

After I hear any phone ring, I will exhale and relax for 2 seconds.”

“After I put my head on the pillow, I will think of one good thing from my day.”

“After I arrive home, I will hang my keys up by the door.”

By having the AFTER I __________,  I will ____________ formula, it is simple to introduce a new desired specific behavior by linking it to an existing behavior (the anchor) you are already doing!  Automatic. Powerful. Simple. Effective.

Why use tiny habits?

By design, implementing Tiny Habits increases your ability to make changes in your behavior in simple, effective, and fun ways!  Each time you perform a tiny habit, you then have the opportuntity to celebrate your big success!  Imagine having 3 tiny habits a day, all super simple to peform, and then having mini victory dances as soon as you think to do them, AND once you complete them!  That sounds like fun to me! I was thrilled to practice Tiny Habits for the week prior to my trip, and I look forward to continued training with Linda and BJ to bring you even more helpful tools and tips!

According to Dr. Fogg, “Most people haven’t mastered making desired behaviors automatic. That is a key focus in Tiny Habits: training automaticity.   Once that is rock solid, you can then work toward the full behavior without losing the automaticity.  That is how you eventually master the FULL behavior as a habit. “

Benefits of implementing Tiny Habits.

  • Gain skills (increased ability)-  the heart of any behavior change
  • Learn behavior sequencing
  • Build self-confidence for behavior changes
  • Chance to celebrate tiny victories multiple times daily!

Want to try  Tiny Habits for yourself for a week?  It is fun, and I promise you will learn a thing or two about yourself, and have a GREAT time in the process.  My favorite Tiny Habit was “After I wake up in the morning and put my feet on the ground, I will say ‘it is going to be a GREAT day!’ ”

Cheering you on as you choose Tiny Habits and celebrating your victories alongside of you!

xo Jen

 

 

 

 

International Women’s Day Tribute: Got Core Values!

“I want a positive, healthy learning environment for my child, and I will do anything to make that happen.  I believe every child deserves the right to thrive.” – Sandi Herrera, CEO Got Core Values!

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day tomorrow under the banner #BeBoldForChange, I am honored to celebrate the passion and vision of one relentless Las Vegas corporate-culture coach turned public school education advocate, Sandi Herrera.  Sandi is the CEO and founder of Got Core Values!, an innovative nonprofit organization whose mission is to transform the lives of children in the public school system through the development and implementation of core values and culture coaching for school administrators, teachers, and leaders.

Sandi shared her bold vision with me this week during a conversation over green smoothies at a neighborhood Starbucks.

Delivering Happiness Inspiration.

Sandi’s chance encounter with  Delivering Happiness  founder Tony Hsieh earned her the position of COO in 2009, heading internal culture and training for the organization.  Her skills in organizational and relationship systems coaching would reach new heights as she engaged C-level executives of businesses across the nation with the heart of Delivering Happiness: to inspire passion and purpose in the workplace for a happier world.  Through rigorous study of positive psychology and neuroscience research, Sandi and her team inspired the hearts and souls of workers around the world.   The world took notice, and so did the local Las Vegas community where Delivering Happiness runs its international operation.  Desiring happiness and positivity in their work environments, local schools began requesting this hybrid of consulting and coaching.

Internal Reckoning.

At the time Sandi was delivering happiness to executives in top corporations, she was pained by the challenges her own son faced in the local school system.  “School culture affects kids perceptions.  I’m not going to have my child feel like he’s a bad person just because he is not in a conducive learning environment.”   Sandi quickly found herself internalizing the core values of Delivering Happiness, whose number one core value is  “Be true to yourself. Live with passion and purpose.”  Could one mother impact the learning environment for her child and create a domino effect resulting in thriving educational environments for all children?

The answer… YES.

Leveraging her expertise and success in talent dynamics, culture coaching, and leadership  development, Sandi has worked fastidiously over the past four years introducing  Got Core Values! into six Clark County district high schools including Title 1 schools, like Mohave High School in North Las Vegas and magnet schools like West Career and Technical Academy in Summerlin.   Through rigorous piloting, testing, and measuring results, Sandi is ready to expand her culture coaching team and take on the valley’s vast network of public schools, with the goal of 30 implementing partners before the start of the school year this fall.

Ambitious Solutions.

Her passion and pursuit of transforming the public school system is not limited to coaching and introducing culture into the school climate.   It is extended to engaging local businesses to partner with schools in the district.

“Companies want to help so much, but often times they don’t know what to help with or how to help.”  Sandi’s mission is largely relationship driven: to break down barriers between schools and businesses with a focus on collaboration.  “Organizational culture is organizational culture.  There are nuances, but at the base of it all, we are all human beings.  And when we realize that we are both in the people business, that is how we will make progress and have momentum forward. ” 

Sandi believes there is tremendous power in the business community, and by partnering with a local public school, educators and business leaders will learn from each other, develop a new common language that will help them implement strategies for effective communication, leadership, culture, and relationship building from the top.  All of this will flow to the students, the future leaders and members of our communities. Sandi’s dream of core values and comprehensive positive sustainable cultures in our schools does not stop in Las Vegas.  Her sights are set on replicating this coaching methodology nationally and globally.

I have witnessed Sandi’s compelling work first hand.  Her determination and pointed focus on the goal of delivering core values to schools for the benefit of the team, students, and neighboring communities is nothing shy of remarkable.  She is living the #BeBoldForChange motto and serves as an inspiration to us all as we celebrate International Women’s Day 2017.

LEARN MORE

If you are an educator, administrator, business leader, or concerned community member inspired by Sandi’s story, please contact Got Core Values! to learn how to contribute your time and talent in the local community.

You may also follow Got Core Values! on Facebook for updates.

Happy International Women’s Day to all my beloved friends around the world inspiring change everyday!   #StandinLove #IWD2017 

3 Tips for Whole-Hearted Living

“The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.” – Julia Cameron

Hello friends of StandinLove!  If this is your first visit to the blog, I would like to welcome you!  So glad you popped in!
This is a creative place where people from around the world gather in connection.  It is about People | Ideas | Purpose.    StandinLove represents  3 words and 1 purpose.  The S from Stand is for Serving People.  The I from in is for Inspiring and Inviting Ideas.  The L from Love is Living your Purpose.    How do we SIL?  Connection, Engagement, and Encouragement.   On that note, I am beyond grateful for the group success of this weekend’s Share the Love connection event!

The purpose?  Invite friends new and old into the BeadforLife circle to share our hearts over good old-fashioned cups of hot Ugandan black tea.  The ambience was just right.  The rains descended from a cloudy desert sky, providing a much-needed shower to the dry and dusty landscape.  We filled our cups, and together, imagined we sat alongside the makers of the beautifully rolled recycled paper jewelry that brought us all together Saturday afternoon.   What I appreciated most about this particular small-group gathering is the realization that the women came together not just for the BeadforLife jewelry, but to connect with one another out of a deep desire to be a part of something larger than themselves.  It was beautiful to behold.  We collectively raised over $900 for BeadforLife, which will send 3.28 deeply impoverished women to the Street Business School– a 6 month entrepreneurial training program taught in mobile classroom environments in Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, and Kenya!

Sharing thoughts and viewpoints on subjects we currently enjoy, we practiced something friendship expert and author Shasta Nelson refers to as frientimacy.  I offered a few insights from inspiring writers who have influenced my passion for living each day with whole-hearted intention.

What does it mean to live with your whole heart? Let’s discover 3 simple ways we can start connecting with our whole hearts today, in honor of February 13th: Self-Love Day!

Live Passionately.

What makes your heart sing?  What makes it difficult to go to bed at night and makes you jump out of bed first thing in the morning?  Enjoying a favorite variety of coffee?  Spending time with friends and loved ones?   Refurbishing a well-loved piece of furniture? Organizing your ideas for a new business venture?  Checking a life goal off the bucket list?  Creating visions for future opportunities? Overcoming life challenges with bravery and courage? Learning something new? Influencing others with your creativity?

To live passionately is to live life creatively:  To unlock, unblock, and unleash your creative genius.    Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way has been a staple in learning environments around the world.  One of her many tips to rediscovering passion and creativity in your life is enjoying what she refers to as an Artist’s Date.  This solo rendezvous is designed to replenish your creativity bucket as well as connect you to the things you appreciate most in life.  A walk in the park admiring nature, a trip to your favorite shop, or maybe a drive to a remote location to experience peace and tranquility.  Cameron recommends choosing activities involving all the senses to maximize the creative potential.  Intentionally focusing on what you smell, hear, touch, see, and taste feels incredibly invigorating!

Love Compassionately.

Best-selling author Richard Bolles discusses more than just career transitions in            What Color is Your Parachute.   Whether you are embarking on a new career, entering retirement, or in the middle of a life transition, he takes you on a journey of self discovery, helping you identify your unique talents and gifts with the goal of sharing them with people at home, in the workplace, and in the world.   After completing the detailed, self-reflective  7-petal exercise he concludes with this thought-provoking observation, ” The more you ponder the mystery of you, the more you must ponder the mystery of all those you encounter; every loved one, every friend, every acquaintance, every stranger.” 

Incredibly profound if you stop to consider the implications.  The more we come to understand ourselves at our core, the better we will come to understand and appreciate others.   Why? Because if we truly honor and explore our unique preferences and creative talents, we will then create the opportunity to love others more deeply recognizing their specific talents and gifts.   This understanding of ourselves and others leads to increased compassion and allows our hearts to be full.   There is a reason this book has been a best-seller for over 45 years!

Give Generously.

In Rising Strong,  renowned author and shame researcher Brené Brown explores the concept of giving generous assumptions.  She looks at giving in terms of intangibles like forgiveness, empathy, and giving someone the benefit of the doubt.   The theory presumes  people are giving their very best at any given moment.  She says when we give someone the most generous assumption possible, we invite opportunities to connect on a deeper level.   I believe this plays a fundamental role in whole-hearted living, as it creates space for people to be human.  It grants permission to make mistakes.  It allows grace a seat at the table.  Giving generous assumptions about others helps quiet our own nagging, critical voice telling us to be perfect and releases others from expectations we have placed upon them.

When dealing with relational conflict she says, “What is the hypothesis of generosity? What is the most generous assumption you can make about this person’s intentions or what this person said?”

This notion of giving generous assumptions requires a little strength and a lot of courage.  It means we first have accept ourselves, so we understand how to practice with others.   It is difficult to give from a place of lack. When we give generous assumptions to ourselves, we silence the inner voice, we learn to trust ourselves, and we make room in our hearts.  Making room in your heart is a key component of whole-hearted living.  Creating space to love others.

Please share your thoughts in the comments on any of the reading selections, as well offer books you love that explore living and leading with your whole heart.  We all learn from each other in this beautiful circle of exchange!

Have a terrific week, and I look forward to connecting with you all again soon!

StandinLove,  Jennifer

PS.  BeadforLife is 50% off through the month of February.. if you have an idea or an event at which you would like to share BeadforLife, please let me know, and I’ll be happy to support you! 

 

 

 

 

To Those Who Grieve

 

“Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery’s shadow or reflection: the fact that you don’t merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief.      – C. S. Lewis

Whether it was Brene Brown’s well-researched discourse in her latest book Rising Strong, Mikki Wade’s thought-provoking insights during a recent Transformation Cafe podcast, or the courageous and contemplative journey of the Petit Prince, St. Exupery’s imaginary protagonist in the novel of the same title,  the subject of grief and how to navigate its winding path have been the source of incessant mental chatter over the past several days.

What do these three seemingly unconnected conversations share, and why do I feel compelled to share them with you? 

After contemplating the subject for hours on long early morning desert hikes,  I have come to the realization and appreciation that we all experience grief in one form or another, and with that comes the tendency to avoid it and the discomfort it brings.   Tony Robbins writes in  Awakening the Giant,  “people will go to further lengths to avoid pain in their life than to have pleasure”, pointing out our natural preference to avoid, deny, and bury grief right alongside the other uncomfortable emotions we would rather not feel.   I would like for us to peel the cover off grief, expose it, get used to it, and let it cultivate room for deeper love.  We can do this together.   You are not alone in your grief.

Exposing Grief

The holidays are breeding grounds for grief encounters, and according to Grief Recovery Method expert Mikki Wade, grief is a normal reaction to loss. Grief is experienced when loved ones move away, kids grow up, companions pass, and youth disappears taking health, vitality, and ambition with it. Grief is the loss of a career, an opportunity, or strength in deteriorating muscles. Grief resides in the ends of  relationships and is reborn in new ones.  We may grieve a new home, a new school, even a new leader.   Grief dwells in old memories, experiences shared with friends, even in thoughts we project in the future.  We grieve intangible things like poverty, world hunger, social injustice, as well as the rich feelings once entertained about love during our adolescence.  Grief’s messiness leads to its avoidance, yet its familiarity functions as a bridge connecting us through a shared sense of humanity.

We have permission to grieve and the process of grieving is completely normal and natural.  What a relief to know we can grieve, and that it is a process.   We can give ourselves the gift of grieving.  In other words, we don’t have to condemn ourselves for feeling grief.  Grief is not a common cold quickly remedied with a cup of chicken noodle soup and a couple of days in bed.  It is a process.

Last night while watching an episode of The Crown, a young Queen Elizabeth sat opposite  Edward VIII,  her uncle who abdicated the throne the same year of his coronation forcing Elizabeth’s father, George VI, into succession of the throne.  The scene takes place after King George VI’s untimely death making Elizabeth, the heir-apparent,  Queen of England at age 27.  When she asked him for an apology, he replied, “for what?”  Elizabeth courageously replies,  “for taking away any sense of normalcy in my life and for removing from me the ability to be a countryside mother and wife.” The young Queen Elizabeth grieved not only the loss of her father, but also the inevitable loss of a privacy now faced with royal responsibilities.

 

Getting Acquainted With Grief

A dear friend and mentor, Amy Lynn Frost, MBA and MA Spiritual Psychology, published a series of articles on what she refers to as  The Shadow Self.   She encourages us to invite our shadow-selves, described as “the storehouse of our physical and emotional losses, repressed dreams and intense experiences of all kinds” to dance with us.  By inviting these dark, secret, unpleasant, and difficult sides of ourselves to dance, we acknowledge them as partners which help make us a whole human being.

“People who genuinely love themselves have fear and dislike parts of themselves too. They have become self-loving because they have the courage to become acquainted with their shadow-self. After you work with the shadow and integrate it into your “whole self” you realize it’s not bad or evil, it’s just a part of you needing a voice.  The shadow has valuable lessons for us.  We must take the time to listen. ” – Amy Frost

Could simply identifying our own grief help us live more fully?  What if instead of burying the dark, hurting parts of ourselves, we joined hands with them and brought them into the light?  What if by waltzing with our grief, we were able to discover that which we long for?

“Longing is a vital and important part of grief, yet many of us feel we need to keep our longings to ourselves for fear we will be misunderstood, perceived as engaging in magical or unrealistic thinking, or lacking in fortitude and resilience.”- Brene Brown

Loving is Grieving

It is common for me to grieve time spent abroad longing for deep cultural connections with strangers, the chance to converse in foreign languages, and the rich shifts in perspective that occur upon returning.  I decided to satisfy this grieving by re-reading Le Petit Prince in French, dictionary by my side.   We traveled vicariously together from planet to planet in search of answers to life’s toughest questions.  He discovered he grieved his precious rose all along.  His grief caused an internal awakening, rendering him grateful for his love for her.  To love is to grieve, and to grieve is to love.

It was Queen Elizabeth II who said, “Grief is the price we pay for love”.

Thank you Mikki Wade, Brene Brown, and Amy Frost for your courage to explore this subject and share your research with us so we don’t feel alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ragnarian Rapport Floods the Mohave Desert

What’s the best way to get to know someone?

Endure 24-36  hours temporarily crammed in a passenger van with 5 others, run 3-11 miles on adrenaline, sleep-maybe- and repeat twice.

What brings together road and trail warriors, often complete strangers, in one of the toughest overnight challenges offered in 19 of the most scenic locations across the United States?

Reebok’s Ragnar Relay.   A veritable test of endurance, collaboration, and will.

And what, pray tell, are the motivating factors that stir the hearts and soles of these participants known in Ragnar lingo as Ragnarians?  After spending an enthusiastic 3 days following teams PimpMyStride and SupaFupaTroopers, it was abundantly clear: Camaraderie, Challenge, and Conviction. 

I had heard of the wildly decorated team vans, the clanging of cheering cowbells, the colors of warrior-like painted faces, and the creativity of costumed runners, but admit I never explored the relational depths of such an undertaking.   A Ragnar Relay team consists of 12 runners divided into 2 vans with approximately 200 miles to cover in the span of 2 days and 1 night.  Each runner completes 3 of the 36 varying course segments accumulating a minimum of 12-13 miles.    6 people and 1 van is considered an ultra team, with each runner performing double duty and 26+ miles.   Intrigued by challenges involving endurance and mental fortitude, I decided to venture into the welcoming community of Ragnarians.  Thanks to a volunteer opportunity with the local police department and a gracious invitation on social media, I was afforded an insider’s glimpse.

Camraderie

Eager to share the Ragnar experience from the runner’s perspective, I met team captain and repeat Ragnarian Annie Pham of San Diego at her team’s strategic location, a rented Vegas mansion, for some pre-race interviews Thursday night.   Together with team Unsupervised Adults, we lounged on the back patio, under the glowing light of a low-hanging desert moon as teammates proffered their resolves for accepting this rigorous endeavor.   Christy, Kelly, and Claire expressed their appreciation of fostering new friendships within this united tribe of spirited adventurers.  “Running is usually a solo sport, ” said 13 time marathoner Claire, “but Ragnar gives you the opportunity to share your love of running in community.”  “It’s the togetherness, the friendships that form, the bonding that happens during an event like this that keeps me coming back, ” shared Kelly. “I’m a first timer,” said Christy, “and I am glad Kelly invited me for this amazing challenge .”  Annie’s impact as team leader was self-evident.  The meticulously planned and printed running time tables, scheduled wake-up calls, and the abundantly stocked kitchen mere hints of her exceptional leadership abilities.

Challenge

“I decided that before my 55th birthday in March of 2017, I would run a 1/2 marathon and compete in a Ragnar Relay,” said team member Rowan, a Dosimetrist from CA when I asked him why he chose to accept the call to run.   Rowan graciously admitted his status as a novice runner, highlighting his commitments to stay in shape and connect with others in a satisfying team environment.

Over 350 teams took the Ragnar Relay challenge in Vegas this year including groups from Central Christian Church, Hakkasan Group, and a local high school team from Henderson called the Coronado Sole Runners.   Some teams combined challenge with philanthropy, opting to add a fundraising component for their favorite charities.

In addition to the inherent course challenges (uphill climbs, knee-stressing descents,  fatigue, fear, and inescapable desert sun) was the relational challenge.   An interruption of all things comfortable:  space, sleeping arrangements, and status quo.  Teams carried the task of motivating each other, lifting spirits, and continuing to encourage weary and worn-out minds and legs that yes, they could finish the race set out before them.  They had to believe, even when the pain and struggles seemed impossible to overcome.

Conviction

Enter team 1: SupaFupaTroopers.   I met van 1 of team 1 at Exchange 3 of 36 in the middle of Lee Canyon Road, approximately 12 miles downhill from Mt. Charleston Snowboard and Ski Resort,  just off US95.   It was the first runner witnessed at our exchange that afternoon.  I grabbed my brass bell, dashed into the street cheering with ebullient enthusiasm as teammates Mark and Mark exchanged the slap bracelet– the Ragnar version of a relay baton.  Ranging in age from 17-41, this team not only lucked out getting their team number to be 1, they actually finished in first place!   Mark Bennett, a collegiate runner for Southern Utah University and 15:06 5k runner took the relay’s longest leg, an 11.1 mile run through the desert’s Joshua trees and thorn bushes on a trail of rocky gravel, the last 5 miles of which he said were an uphill battle .

I learned at the finish line late Saturday morning talking with the wife of one runner, that the team set a specific goal of finishing in under 24 hours.   As seasoned participants, this team held fast to the belief that they could and would accomplish this quest.   Together, they did.

Better Together

As a relational and community bonding event, Ragnar Relay rallies dreamers and conquerors to bring their best selves to a team to accomplish the goal.   With social media tags like #bettertogether, #innerWild, # chasethesun,  and #chasethemoon, it was clear that this experience had implications reaching far beyond the scope of running.  Thank you Ragnarians for sharing your culture and inspiring the notion that everything is achievable when you are in it together.    The impossible becomes possible, the unrealized turns to reality through the power and strength of togetherness.