The moment I accepted my life was a beautiful, chaotic, sometimes a little-messy-but-always-entertaining circus was the moment I felt a true release.

There's no sense in fighting the madness, but I've picked up a few tricks to keep the show going along the way.

I hope they work as well for you as they have [and still do] for me.

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Get outta here, Bear!

bear

I wish I could take credit for the title of this blog post, but it wasn’t I who coined the phrase, it was one of my life lines, Christina Mortti of Good Graces Photography. And she has no idea how much it stuck.

A little background on my dear friend Christina and how the phrase came to be:  Mortti and I have lived together for a total of 3 of the 6 years we’ve known each other.  (Currently, we live a mere 7 minutes apart and try to get together at least once a week.)  She’s someone I used to catch myself envying for her often relaxed view of the world, until I learned how to adopt this view myself.  It’s not that she doesn’t care about things, but Mortti’s got a way of diffusing otherwise intimidating situations to a simple every day occurrence or slight nuisance.

Case in point: A couple of years ago, after visiting her Grandparents in the North Carolina mountains, she told me and a group of our friends how her father had cautioned her against going out for a run by herself in the woods during the visit.  A legitimate concern, he asked “What would you do if you were by yourself and came upon a bear?!” and in true Mortti fashion she replied with a simple “I’d just look at it and say ‘Get outta here, bear!’ and keep going.”

At first when we heard the story, we replied with a few “that’s so Mortti” type comments and went about our way. Crisis adverted, right? Totally. Who wouldn’t simply wave off a bear and keep going about their way?  I’m sure it happens all the time up in the mountains!  But there was something about the phrase that just …. it just stuck with me.

“Get outta here, Bear!” I caught myself saying it at random when any similar situation would come up in conversation.  The phrase has this odd power to dwarf that which seems overwhelming.  The things you get yourself worked up about that probably haven’t even happened yet?  Yea, those are bears.  Fears and anxieties?  Those are bears, too.  Intimidating people or situations?  Bears.  Long training run or race coming up?  Bear.  Mean people?  Bears.  Negative or attack thoughts against yourself? BEARS! BEARS! BEARS!  Borrowed worries from the future? Bears.  Again.

See where I’m going here with this?

I probably say “Get outta here, Bear!” at least every other day.  Sometimes it takes me getting worked up about something before I realize it’s just another bear.  When that happens, I’ll picture the issue or person as a bear standing in front of me, I wave my hand, tell it to get outta here [real talk: sometimes it’s get the f outta here], take a deep breath and boom….I start to see the situation with a bit more clarity.  I’ve done this with fears, anxieties, frustrations, negative and attack thoughts against myself, you name it – I’ve totally “bear’ed” it.

But hey, that’s what you gotta do sometimes.  Look something straight in the face and with a wave of the hand say “Get outta here, Bear!” and keep on walking.  Seriously, it’s like magic.  Try it this week and let me know how it works out for ya.

Thanks, Mortti, for always being yourself and for helping the rest of us make it through the day just a little bit easier.  You help keep the circus running.

Especially when the bears get out of line.  🙂

Until next time, xxo,

jennie b

I wasn’t supposed to be here right now.

I wasn’t supposed to be writing to you.  I was supposed to be reveling in much needed family time with Sista Sista and her newest little, Baby B.  However, the Powers that Be had other plans in mind.  Due to the wicked crazy influx in snow and ice storms (most recently the one that plowed through the U.S. just yesterday), flights were canceled leading to their trip from Connecticut to this charming little city by the sea to be postponed, date TBD.  To say I was am was disappointed is a pretty big understatement.

me and sista sista

That picture’s me and Sista Sista when I was brought home from the hospital. Not to brag, but I’m her first memory as a human. Ok so maybe I am bragging a bit, but, that’s a pretty phenomenal thing right there, huh? Talk about the ultimate one-upper. I was her first memory …. BOOOOOOYAHHHH! 🙂

In all seriousness, yes, I was disappointed that plans were changed and canceled, but more importantly I’m learning yet again to be O.K. when the plans I had held in my mind simply just don’t work out.  I got a really giant lesson in that this past Holiday Season when plans changed and a 2 week house guest wasn’t here, and again on my 31st birthday when my computer crashed sending the entire day to hell in a hand basket (worst.birthday.on.record.), and again last Friday when my car wouldn’t crank up and I ended up going home with an unplanned, brand new, shiny starter for the Honda.  You can have the best, well-laid plans and sometimes they just don’t happen.

The biggest mistake we make, when things don’t happen as we had hoped or planned, is to hold on to the outcome that was lost.  Staying stuck in what didn’t happen as opposed to going with the flow of what is happening.

I’ve struggled with not getting frustrated when my plans didn’t go as I’d hoped, realizing not only am I part control freak, but I often become too attached to the outcome and place entirely too many expectations on that outcome.

Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t ever make any plans or have any expectations, but what I am saying, and learning, is to be O.K. if things don’t quite pan out.  My Uncle told me once, and forgive me as I’m paraphrasing this, expectations lead to future frustrations.  Well now ain’t that truth, huh?  This is something I consciously work on anytime situations such as these arise.  And when I’m planning things, I try to pump the breaks when it comes to what I’m expecting as possible outcomes.

The news of Sista Sista’s cancelled trip did upset me, yet after I acknowledged and allowed the feelings of sadness and disappointment to have their due time, I was able to see there were other plans, unbeknownst to me, in the works, surrender to those plans and move into the acceptance and trust phase with much more ease.  It’s all about letting go, remember?

Come to find out, though, in a special circus twist, it’s probably for the best Sista Sista and two month old Baby B weren’t able to make it here this weekend.  Last night (Friday night) I found myself coming down with a wicked, gnarly head cold.  I haven’t been sick in over a year, but 5 days ago I actually noticed how poorly I’d been taking care of myself these past few weeks.  Not getting at least 7 hours of sleep at night, I hadn’t taken my daily probiotic in 3 weeks – simply because I was too lazy to go pick up a new bottle, I’d filled my schedule to the brim and not left adequate time to work out as much as regularly, and I definitely have not been eating as well I could have been.  I commented to myself that I better clean up house or I was heading towards an exhaustion “check yourself” cold.  And here I am. So this morning I’ve gathered my arsenal of cold remedies and confined myself to bed with House of Cards Season 3.

cold remedies

[ACV + honey tonic, the netty pot, re-stocked probiotic, mucinex D = I like to work with Eastern & Western remedies.]

I guess things really do work out the way they’re meant to be.  And we can see that when we let go and surrender to the current moment.

School of Life = winning.  Jennie Boo = still learning.

Until next time, stay safe & warm out there!

xxo,

jennie b

[ clarity break ]

clarity break image

I’ve learned quite a bit over the past year and maybe one of the most important things is the value of a [ clarity break ], which I was reminded of just last Tuesday, the 17th.

I had arrived at work wicked early, 7:15 am to be exact, to knock out some detailed work before everyone started arriving.  You see I work in a busy, mid-sized dermatology practice where my makeshift desk is in the middle of a hallway.  Not the most conducive location to be writing content, editing the website or for concentration of any kind, really.  (NOTE: This is no secret, it’s been discussed with my managers and unfortunately there’s no other place for me to go in the office. I work remote one full day a week and during peak patient times, I try to do my best staying focused and in the zone!)  I thought I’d found the answer in arriving long before my coworks, but this was far from what happened.  You know those times when everyone needs to talk to you about something?  People who don’t ask you questions, have questions.  The printer and phone start going off simultaneously, and the noise level seems so astoundingly loud that even your headphones and the podcast coming through can’t dull it out? Yea. It was one of those mornings.

Inside, I could feel it. The annoyance – the frustration – it was starting to bubble like a pot of water on the stove. Previously when I was only trying to think positively all the time, I would insist on sticking it out and trying to think of one positive thought after another and wait for the bad feelings to magically disappear from my conscious. Let’s be serious here, positive thinking is WONDERFUL! It really can work miracles for a mental shift and I’m always a fan of trying to see the positive in situations, but realistically a few simple positive thoughts don’t always do the trick.  Sometimes you need to physically remove yourself from the environment to get that mind shift.  You need a break.  A quick and simple clarity break.

And that is exactly what I did.  I recognized I was on the crazy train so I promptly put on my jacket, grabbed my keys and headed for the parking lot.

Sitting in frustration, allowing the annoyances inside to fester and grow wouldn’t have done me or my work any good.

I ran down the street to a coffee shop, placed my order and while my drink was being made, took advantage of those few minutes to get back to my center.  I returned to my work station feeling a little lighter and ready to get back to my day.  The noise, traffic and every day occurrences were still there, however I had simply shifted my mental state to where they just didn’t seem to bother me as much.  And that is the beauty of a clarity break.

Now I know not everyone has a flexible work schedule that allows leaving to happen, and believe me it hasn’t always been the case for me, but here’s a few other places I’ve escaped too for a clarity break:  the patient privacy room, electrical closet, staff bathroom, gone for a walk outside my office, heck I’ve even sat in my car in the parking lot for 8 minutes!  The key is what happens during this break:

  • Each time I take a clarity break, I breathe deeply, in and out of the nose, whispering the word “let” on the inhale and “go” on the exhale in my mind.  I’ll do this for no less than 3 concentrated breaths and usually I stop at 5 (unless it’s a really cray cray moment I’m escaping!).
  • After my concentrated breathing, I’ll start shifting my mind to something that makes me feel like I’m smiling from inside. For me, it’s images of the ocean, my goddaughter Bean, or something that’s on my vision board, but it can really be anything in the world depending on who you are.  The key is that it’s got to make your heart smile, not just your lips.  Something you’re truly truly grateful for and connected to.
  • Hold this image for a few moments until there’s nothing left but that feeling from inside, take a few more deep breaths and then open your eyes.

Mental.shift.like.woah. You can do this in as few as 3 or 4 minutes and sometimes that’s all it takes to stop the spiraling crazy train dead in it’s tracks.  It’s so simple, yet so effective.  How had I not discovered this 4 years ago?! (oh wait – I was a totally different person 4 years ago…. 😉 )

Moral of the story: Clarity breaks help keep the circus in check.  Know what I’m saying, boo?

Until next time, xxo

jennie b

Eating my Words. Mindfully.

I mentioned in my last post that I’d be discussing one of my top tools for letting go and without further a do, that top and *one of my most favorite* tool is ……

Meditation.

You read that correctly.  Meditation is my favorite tool for helping me to let go.  I’ve come so far since being a Meditation School Drop Out in August of 2010.  <— reading through that post made me laugh so much.

I started my real journey in meditation about 3 1/2 years ago.  I would dabble a little here, return to it after a few days or weeks there.  I’d go solid with daily practices during a few 21 day challenges, maybe even keep it going for a few weeks after.  There were many different phone apps that came in to play and the more I dove into this practice called meditation, the more I actually started seeing the benefits that so many people had talked about.  You guys, they weren’t lying! This stuff is good. Like silent, golden, calm your nerves in wicked bad traffic good!

Last Summer, roughly 4 years after my post about being a Meditation School Drop Out, I made the commitment to myself (and to the benefit of those around me) to go all in on my quest to practice meditation faithfully and daily.  Repetition is key when it comes to sitting in silence, I’ve learned, and the benefits amplify the more disciplined you are in your practices.  I’m happy to say I’ve stuck to that commitment having only missed a handful of days a month, and for a solid 9 month running, that ain’t bad, yo.  In hind sight – holy cannoli – it’s been a HUGE blessing!

You see, through all the craziness of the circus these past few months, there’s been a steady, sometimes whisper silent, calmness that hasn’t left my side.  My thoughts have been clear and I’ve been able to identify when my ego was stepping in to throw me off track.  I’ve been able to sit and allow my thoughts and feelings and emotions to come and go in a judgement free, safe zone.  Imagine sitting on a park bench nestled between sadness and anxiety (or any other highly uncomfortable feeling/emotion/thought) and you’re all just looking back and forth at each other and everyone’s just sitting there and nodding as if to say:

“Yea, we’re here. You should probably just get comfortable with us because we’re gonna be here for a while.”

Then you sit there. And one day they get up and walk away. Sometimes they come back for a bit and that’s ok, too, but then they get up and walk away again and all you have to do is sit there and watch them come and go.  Acknowledge them, allow them a safe space to sit and let them be.  And meditation helps make that possible.  WHO KNEW?!?  Well, clearly a lot of people knew, and I guess somewhere deep down inside, I knew, but now I reaaaaally know. Crazy, right? Ahhh the circus, never a dull moment.

I read through and pour over anything I can get my hands on when it comes to meditation.  I love Deepak Chopra’s 21 Day Meditation Challenges, I’m an avid follower of Gabby Bernstein, I rarely turn down the opportunity to snag a little Headspace, and much much more.  Mantras, mudras, malas – I’m a believer!  And as the circus travels along, I’ll fill you in on all of this and more, but before all of that I knew I needed to confess that not only have I re-enrolled in meditation school, I’m practically going for my master’s degree.  And I love it.  I absolutely love it!  And it’s hard for me to imagine where I’d be today with out it.  Literally – haha!

Eating my words? Yes, yes I am. But these days, at least I’m doing so mindfully.

Until next time, xxo

jennie b

ps – Happy Ash Wednesday!! Today marks the start of my most favorite season on the religious calendar, you know. 🙂

I double dog dare you not to dance.

If you’ve been around my circus for a while, way back in the days of the sassy steel magnolia’s red couch, you may remember my affinity for music.  (Music Snack, anyone?! Heyoo!) Music keeps me going. It does the talkin’ when I can’t find the words.

I started to notice one particular song seemed to keep popping up in my Pandora, on my radio, my iphone, my cds – you name it, this song just happened to be playing there.  I’ve often turned to Stevie Wonder’s amazingness in times of need or celebration, however clearly I wasn’t picking up the significance of this one! That is, until I found myself catching up on the winter finale of Scandal. [Please feel free to reach out if you find yourself wanting to yell “It’s Handled!” on a regular basis as well.]  Anyways, there I was, filling up on take out sushi, loving the winter finale but knowing a wicked twist was on the horizon when BAM the song came on.

My immediate thought was HOLY CRAP, there it is AGAIN! Ugh, THIS SONG IS STALKING ME. [<— Because that happens, right? No. No it does not.]

Not exactly the wicked twist I was expecting, but then Olivia started talking. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is when it allllllll came together and made sense.  She was letting go of all the circumstances weighing her down and she was dancing it out to Stevie. That’s why the song kept coming in to my awareness, I just hadn’t bothered to pay attention because I was too caught up in my head to see/hear what was right in front of me. Someone, this time in the form of the formidable Olivia Pope, had to spell it out for me this round.  I could’ve sworn I heard a giant, collective sigh of “hot damn, she finally gets it” come from above. Thanks, guys. Again.

2014 was such an amazing year, but let’s be honest … shit ended pretty heavy. #realtalk

So tired. So exhausted. And here comes Stevie, whispering the sweet everythings I hadn’t realized I wanted needed to hear.  So now it’s your turn to listen to the greatness. I dare you to try and be in a bad mood while listening to it.  And I double dog dare you not to dance.

(If this video is showing, click here to be taken to YouTube.)

My action – my resolution – my song …… what up, 2015? I got your number, boo.

Coming up in the next post, I’ll fill you in on one of my tools to help with letting go.  It’s one of my favorites, for sure!

Until then, xxo

jennie b

let go.

Posted in circus, let go

let go image

Two words, five letters, more meaning than you could ever imagine. I’ve had so many troubles with the concept of letting go for entirely too long.  We’re talking about things that go back to high school, here. (I’ll do the math for you, my 10 year reunion was 3 years ago..) Issues? Present. ……but not for long.

In order to move forward you have to let go of the past. That was one of the first things I heard on January 1, 2015.  I’d woken up super early that morning [with a super clear head, mind you, as I was the designated driver the evening before], and for some reason I had the strongest urge to take a yoga class.  I hadn’t taken a class in a studio in over 2 years.  I’m super, super picky about yoga studios because they aren’t always the most….friendly or relaxing place to visit, you know?  The stars were aligning because less than half an hour later I found myself at the studio just six minutes from my house with my mat rolled out in the back corner of a full class room.  The teacher had already started talking by the time I sat down, but the first sentence I caught was ‘In order to move forward you have to let go of the past.‘  Again, guys, I got the message loud and clear.  *But I do so very much appreciate y’all making these messages so freakin obvious for me, because you know I can be a little stubborn sometimes! 😉

Those two words never seemed to leave my mind in the following days.  Even during meditation when I would try to focus on a particular mantra, the words ‘let go’ never could seem to leave my awareness.  It wasn’t until a week and a half later, when I went to my first restorative yoga class at that same studio from New Year’s Day, that it all started to make sense.  And it was all thanks to this poem the teacher read during our last pose.

She just let go.

Finally, it all made sense. Now letting go of the past doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting all about it, but letting go of all the emotionally charged ….ehck….. tied to it.  You make that decision to let go and even though I didn’t need permission, I felt like something, someone was saying ‘It’s ok now, Jennie Boo. Let go.‘  I felt like a giant weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

And so that, my friends, is my one and only resolution for 2015.  Let go.  Some days and some things are easier to let go than others,  but what’s a resolution if it’s not something you gotta work on? Am I right?

Next up is the song that’s been by my side since the third week of December. Hope y’all love some Stevie as much as I do!

jennie b

 

P.S. Check out my awesome stack of Spanish flash cards I just spent the past 45 minutes cutting up! I’m excited.  Voy a hablar espanol en poco tiemp! File this under Don’t just stand there.

IMG_20150211_212552

 

breaking up is [easy] to do.

Sunday was my last day – day 28 – of the big cleanse, however it was only day 2 of the big social media cleanse. Let’s rewind to Saturday….

I found myself lounging in bed at 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning (no judgments, please), scrolling through my news feed on Facebook only to find I had absolutely no interest in 60% of the postings that were showing up. I was already wasting time but wasting time with scrolling through people who have about as much impact or influence on my life as a meter maid in LA? Double whammy.

Fast forward to about 2 1/2 hours later. After 3 rounds of going through my friends list I was 549 “friends” lighter. It was ah-mazing. Amazing. Cutting the ties that held me to past flames and crushes, their friends, their friends’ friends, their family members, their other ex-girlfriends (I mean on those stats alone, I cleared out about 250 “friends” right there. Kidding. Ok maybe only a little.), people who I’d barely had anything to talk about when I did know them, people I befriended just to be nosey, the list goes on.

And then there were the “friends” I would catch myself checking which would only lead to feelings of jealousy, or a decreased sense of self-worth. Yea, those “friends”. Let’s pause for a moment of clarity: why on Earth would I ever want to do that? Am I that much of an emotional cutter at the matured age of 29?? Come on, JB. Time to release and rid the toxins. Adios, suckers.

facebook cleanse

Facebook = Cleansed

Sunday morning I hit the twitterverse. I love twitter. Always have since 2008 when I first joined, but following 1,111 accounts? That’s a bit excessive. I spend more time weeding out the annoying, complaining, self-loathing, mindless-ness just to find the good stuff. Another hour(ish) passes and boom…..that load was 412 accounts lighter. My twitter feed is grateful and my creative urges are more satisfied now that I can find stuff I really do enjoy and find entertaining. Ah-mazing.

twitter cleanse

Twitter = Cleansed

What did I learn from the big social media cleanse? It was a lot easier than I first thought it would be. Breaking up isn’t so hard to do when you stop the feelings of obligation and put your wants and needs first for a change. Getting back down to the basics helped me remember why I fell in love with social media in the first place. (Given it’s about 65% of my day job, that’s a good thing.  A really really good thing.)

So now I’ve cleansed my body – more on that later this week – and my online communities, who knows what’s next in the pipeline. No holds bar at this time & place.

My word, I’m lovin’ this new found cleansing power. How about you? Anything you may need to cleanse?

l&m,

Jennie B

no title.

Posted in let go
I want to be
like the waves on the sea,
like the clouds in the wind,
but I’m me.
One day I’ll jump
Out of my skin.
I’ll shake the sky
like a hundred violins.

– Esperanza, The House on Mango Street