Stay In Your Own Lane

Stay in your own lane. I’ve been using this phrase a lot lately. To me it means to nurture and take care of ourselves, pay attention only to opinions that matter and to focus on things that bring us happiness and joy. I try to stay in my own lane.

But what happens when we get sideswiped?

I was cruising along this week when a few insensitive comments, loss of sleep, and thoughts of loved ones that I miss knocked me out of my lane.

I have been able to deal with each of these things in the recent past with a level head and a light heart (or at least I’m trying), but cumulatively they really knocked me off-center.

So how do we get back in our lanes?

As I watched the April snow fall on my beautiful, partially bloomed, very confused Magnolia tree, nature, once again, revealed the answer.

We stay the course and do our best. We deal with each thing that has knocked us out of our desired path the best way we can. And we eventually get back in our lanes.

Each experience makes us uniquely who we are and moves us closer to our authentic selves. Our imperfections are what makes us human, more alike than different, and I think this is the bigger picture.

The flowers on my Magnolia tree may look less than perfect this Spring, but the tree is much more than something beautiful to look at. As I peered into the tree, I smiled at what I saw through the wind-swept branches.

On this cold, snowy Spring morning, my Magnolia tree is the sturdy home which gently cradles a mother dove in her nest. Can you see her?

Stay in Your Own Lane2

 

 

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Be All There

I see a lot of my parents in me. My dad was loyal, forgiving and compassionate, and my mom was loving, kind and supportive. What I’ve learned in the past 10 months is how to be all of these things to MYSELF.

As some of you may know, I lost my dad suddenly in August and experienced several months of debilitating grief. As I look back on this sad time, I will be forever grateful for what I have learned.

A big part of my grief was the realization that I was no longer a daughter, a role I had known my entire life, since both of my parents were now gone. I was confused and I felt lost. I had to rebuild who I was.

What actually happened was better than I could have ever imagined. Instead of rebuilding who I WAS, I became who I wanted to be, the best version of myself.

Since I was working with a blank slate, I only put back the pieces of myself that I wanted and put aside the rest. This left a LOT of open space for me to Be All There. I continuously strive for this presence each day.

Here are some of the things I’ve found that make me feel happy and healthy and like the best version of myself……so far! Since I’ve written about all of them in previous posts, I’ll just list them here. Please feel free to comment and ask questions on any of these if you’d like more details.

  1. Minimalism
  2. Yoga
  3. Meditation
  4. Nutrition
  5. Fitness
  6. Nature
  7. Positivity
  8. Creativity
  9. Gratitude
  10. Intention

Are you the best version of yourself? If so, that’s awesome! I’d love to hear about what works for you!

If not, it’s never too late (and so worth the effort) to retool who you are, and I seriously don’t think you have to experience what I did to get started. I’d love to use my experience to help you if I can, so please let me know if I can be of any assistance to you on your journey!

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Be All There!

Jeanne

My Cup of Tea

 

tea cup collection

I have a small collection of tea cups. They represent something more to me than just sipping a cup of coffee or tea. It’s what happens while drinking a hot beverage with a family member, good friend or acquaintance that appeals to me. The slower pace, limited distractions and simplistic act of drinking a hot beverage usually foster a relaxed conversation that can range from the superficial to some pretty deep stuff.

Until recently, I didn’t realize that I was just as fragile as one of the cups in my collection. I’ve always been an emotional person, and I’ve had some major changes in my life the past few years. At times, I haven’t felt very confident, loveable or stable, but I always thought that I hid my feelings behind a “put together” façade.

I learned this wasn’t the case as I was having a cup of coffee with a friend and she commented on how far I’ve come in terms of my personal development. She said in the past she’d censored what she said to me because she didn’t want to upset me.

My initial reaction was sadness. I felt bad that my good friend couldn’t be herself around me. My thoughts quickly changed to pride. The point my friend was making (and which I’m very grateful for) was that I’m not that person anymore, that I’m a better version of myself.

I’m proud of where I am today. I’m physically and emotionally stronger than I’ve ever been! Here are a few things that have helped me along the way:

1. Meditation: I don’t do anything special, I just sit still and focus on my breath. When my thoughts become intrusive, I try to refocus on my breath. Counting backwards from 100 has been helpful and I always set a timer so I don’t get distracted by wondering how much more time is left in my session. I started with 5 minutes and I’m currently meditating for 8 minutes every day. Check out Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s free meditation series:

https://chopracentermeditation.com/

2. Writing: I write very day. Usually after I meditate, I write down one or two things that I’m grateful for and I also write my intention for the day. These things aren’t always earth shattering. For example, I’ve been grateful one or two times for a much-needed nap! I have a pretty red journal that I like, but anything will do. I’ve accumulated a stack of journals over the years and there are a few marble composition notebooks in the heap. Although I don’t have this one yet, I hear The Desire Map Day Planner, by Danielle LaPorte is pretty cool.

I also write here, on my blog. This public format has actually been very helpful in two specific areas, confidence building and authenticity. I am open and honest in my posts and I’ve gotten some positive feedback on both the content and quality of my writing.

journey cup of tea

3. Yoga: I do my own thing, at home with either a DVD or a YouTube video. I just finished day 11 of the YouTube series,  “30 Days of Yoga With Adriene.” I set up a little space in my house where I  practice yoga. It’s simple, my mat is nearby, along with a Happy Buddha statue  and my aromatherapy diffuser. I have a blanket that I roll up for support when I need it but I want to get a yoga block soon.

buddha

 

4. Decluttering and Minimalism: This has been an amazing part of my journey! I first noticed Courtney Carver’s, Be More With Less blog on Facebook and began to read her posts about the benefits of consuming and owning less. Creating a paired down living space (and an emotional space) have obvious benefits. What I didn’t expect were the secondary gains. When I started to reduce and remove things (clothes, household items, relationships, social media) that didn’t provide joy and meaning, I had more room for the things I truly loved. This has become a new mindset for my husband and me, which is addicting! I started with this simple rule: For a new article of clothing or household item to come into my house, I have to get rid of one item. This way, at least I could get a handle on what I already owned and keep that number from growing.

If you don’t know where to start, look up Courtney’s blog http://bemorewithless.com/author/admin/

and Joshua Becker’s blog on Minimalism http://www.becomingminimalist.com/about-us/.

I’m so grateful to those of you who have supported me throughout one of the most challenging periods of my life, for you have truly sustained me and I continue to learn from you. I’ve even developed closer relationships with some of you as I’ve focused on becoming more authentic! Thank you!

I’ve shed the unrealistic need for everyone to like me, and so, if I’m not your cup of tea, it’s really OK, make room for someone who is.

 

 Cup of tea

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~Jeanne

 

Forgiveness

If you haven’t heard about the recent firestorm of activity surrounding Brian Williams, you can read about it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/07/business/media/brian-williams-helicopter-incident-in-iraq.html?_r=0

In short, after 33 years of being in broadcasting and under the scrutiny of the media, it has been revealed that Mr. Williams  misspoke twice and embellished, yes lied about, factual information while reporting the news.

Heck, I misspoke twice today…so far. While I don’t condone being dishonest and I completely understand why people in the public, especially those whose business it is to report the facts, should be held to the highest of ethical standards, I think we need to gain some perspective here.

To my knowledge, Mr. Williams hasn’t intentionally caused physical or emotional harm to anyone and, had he done so, I think my reaction would certainly be different.

He’s clearly tarnished his pristine image and made things difficult for NBC. According to a recent New York Times article,

“NBC’s credibility is damaged by this because their principal news figurehead, which is really what an anchorman is, had some clear credibility questions distinguishing the truth from the reality,” said Mark Feldstein, a professor of broadcast journalism at the University of Maryland, who previously worked at NBC News.

I think much of the general public has enjoyed “dog piling” up on Mr. Williams because they can point a finger at him and say, “See, he’s not perfect.” Even though they themselves can identify with this imperfection, they hold Mr. Williams to a much higher standard and may even rejoice at his fall from grace. It perplexes me as to why some people may feel better about themselves as a result of this embarrassing moment in time.

But what if there’s a bigger, teachable moment here? Since no one was hurt in any way from Mr. William’s stretching the truth for what I believe may have been for “entertainment” value, what if we can forgive him instead of shame him?

What if we can identify with Mr. Williams as a fellow human being who messed, albeit in a big way, came clean, apologized, then moved on to be given another opportunity to repair his good name? What if we can feel better about ourselves by forgiving him?

In my quest for my own authenticity (still a work in progress), I recognize when I mess up, but I no longer hold onto the shame I once felt for it isn’t useful. I admit that I’ve made a mistake, apologize, when necessary, then move on to try to do better.

I for one want to give Brian Williams this same opportunity. Maybe if he explains his motives, which we most likely share (wanting to impress, fit in, keep his job, etc.) we would see that we’re all part of the same humanity, celebrity or not, and we all make mistakes. Maybe if we can forgive him, we can forgive ourselves and ultimately feel better about our own imperfections.

Lighten Up

to lighten up means to relax, to become less serious or less angry (urbandictionary.com).

Happy New Year! Besides authenticity and self-love, this year I’m going to focus on fun!

I’m not quite sure when I became so serious. Perhaps it’s when I became a parent and  felt the tremendous responsibility of impressionable hearts, minds and souls. Or, it could have been when I became a teacher and developed my unwavering professional persona. I think I always had a serious side, but my youth kept it in check. What I do know is that it’s time for me to lighten up!

I recently went through some old pictures that my parents had and was instantly transported back in time to a feeling of disappointment and heartache. As I held the pictures and looked at myself as a preteen cheerleader, these emotions were replaced by gratitude and acceptance. The perspective that I have as a mature adult processed a heavy emotion from my past in a new way which wasn’t haunting anymore.

JF Cheerleading

I tried out for cheerleading in high school and I didn’t make it. I certainly didn’t go into tryouts unprepared. I practiced my cheer routines, my cheerleader voice and my cheerleader look, over and over again. I was obsessed. I even practiced when I wasn’t supposed to be practicing and can still remember my gym teacher, Mrs. Farina, yelling (when I was practicing my splits during PE), “Fornarotto, if you do one more split, I’m going to make sure you don’t even try out for cheerleading!”

I was pretty excited about the whole idea of being on the high school cheerleading squad. It meant being on the big high school stadium field in front of a crowd and representing my school. I knew how exciting that could be since one of my sisters twirled and the other cheered on that big field when they were in high school.

But, it wasn’t meant to be, I didn’t make it and I was crushed. I felt humiliated and heartbroken. I was lacking something that the other girls had, some of whom were my good friends. I had done all I could to prepare for tryouts and my best wasn’t good enough.

Looking at these old pictures reminded me that I used to really enjoy playing and being part of a team. I played softball and did gymnastics for many years. I was even on these varsity teams! I was also reminded that I cheered for several years for recreational teams, that I WAS a cheerleader. It may not have been on the big field in front of a huge crowd, but  I had fun doing it.  I also did other things that my sisters and my friends didn’t do, like play softball and do gymnastics.

JF Softball

JF Gymnastics

As I look to the future and focus on lightening up, I realize that I need to let go of the heavy feelings that I harbor from the past. However, I think that glancing back and not dwelling on the past can be healing when experienced through the lens of a new perspective.

I have to do things that bring me joy regardless of how others may judge me. In Brene’ Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, she talks about living a “wholehearted life.”

“Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are. Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”

JF Lighten Up

I’m more of a softball kind of girl.

 

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Feeling Gray

Feeling Gray

I’m not looking for sympathy or advice here, I just want to put my feelings into words and this format seems to help me. Of course, I would welcome any comments. When I express my emotions in writing they don’t seem so overwhelming and I can start to move through them.

I tend to hold in my feelings and even dwell on them, rather than share them as they come up. I’m always concerned about how other people will receive what I have to say and if my sharing will be off putting to them. I’ve written about being sensitive before and I’m well aware that I have a “unique” way of interpreting interpersonal relationships. There are times when my feelings consume me and I just have to share. Unfortunately, the “getting it out” takes precedence over my tact and I can say things, well, rather bluntly.

My focus lately has been on sharing more of who I am, being more authentic, and having the self confidence to express myself and my needs,  IN A NON CONFRONTATIONAL WAY.

Let’s just say, I need some more practice in the finesse department. I shared something recently and really hurt someone’s feelings that I care a lot about. I had been holding it in for a while and it came out all wrong. I apologized, but I can’t take back the confusion and hurt I caused, and I know I was extremely off putting (exactly what I’ve tried to avoid my entire life).

I’m feeling pretty embarrassed, misunderstood,  and very, very sad. This makes me want to abandon the whole idea of authenticity and go back to being slightly detached so I can keep my emotions to myself. This way I can never hurt anyone’s feelings and know I won’t be judged for sharing mine.

But this morning I read “The Story of the Hummingbird,” as told by celebrated Kenyan environmental activist, women’s rights advocate, and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai.
http://thekidshouldseethis.com/post/wangari-maathai-i-will-be-a-hummingbird
“We are constantly being bombarded by problems that we face and sometimes we can get completely overwhelmed. So it (the hummingbird) flies to the nearest stream and takes a drop of water. It puts it on the fire, and goes up and down, up and down, up and down, as fast as it can.”

Rather than get discouraged, I will take a lesson from the hummingbird, who tries to put out a fire with droplets of water from its tiny beak. I will continue to do the best that I can in moving towards my personal goals even when they seem daunting.