Love YourSelf First

Love yourSelf first

Love yourSelf first

Many years ago when I was still married, I had just learned that my Grandfather had died in a car accident. While I wasn't terribly close to him, I still felt the sadness of his passing and it was at this moment that my husband decided to tell me that he wanted to see other people.

I was devastated. And this is not about him. Yes, his actions were painful, and it was my response to it all that caused me the most pain.

I internalized this experience so deeply, telling myself I wasn’t enough, I didn’t love him well enough, I wasn’t a good enough wife, spouse and partner, I wasn’t a good enough mother, I wasn’t attractive enough, adventurous enough… I spent several days horizontal on my couch after that revelation. And I told NO ONE because of the deep shame I felt in not being able to be the perfect wife and the have the perfect relationship.

I could sit here and write that this experience was the reason I felt all these things, and it would be a lie. A believable one, but a lie nonetheless. The reason I say this is that I am the person that allowed myself to get to this point. Somewhere during the course of my time on this planet, I had begun to believe that my needs weren’t important. That my value was only important when I was making others feel good about themselves. I can bring this back to childhood, and experiences I had then, but this isn’t the point I want to make of to help you understand.

I had been telling myself that I wasn’t good enough long before I got married. To compensate for that, I became a master at figuring out what people needed, emotionally & physically and did my best to ensure that they received it, even if it meant blurring my personal boundaries. Eventually, I didn’t know where my boundaries were anymore and I kind of forgot that the word no existed. This actually helped me excel in my career because I was always willing to get things done (even if I had no idea what I was doing), but internally was quite damaging because of the high level of stress I carried almost perpetually.

Because I didn’t know how to ensure my needs were being met, I had my first burnout in my mid-20’s and started affirming my boundaries in my work environment, learning how to say no to certain projects, but I still had a long way to go. Career nos aren’t the same as relationship nos. At least they weren’t for me. I kept saying yes in my relationships because I was afraid and didn’t believe that I could. I was saying yes to so many other people except the person that needed to hear yes with the most desperation.

MySelf.

I spent years not listening to the cry for a Yes from within. OK, that sounds dramatic; what I mean is that I kept getting signs that I needed to pay attention to something deeper within, that I kept ignoring. Bouts of pneumonia, psoriasis, burnout, depression, using food and alcohol to self-soothe, a bout of shingles. I had moments where I would listen a little more deeply, but more often than not, everything seemed to hard and complicated, so I would go back to my patterns of ignoring what was going on and not giving myself what I really needed. I kept saying that I just needed to press a reset button, that would be easier.

The reset button finally did get pressed. It got pressed in a pretty spectacular separation filled with so much conflict. Amidst the chaos of it all, I began allowing mySelf to be in stillness. It started with Sunday afternoons, ever other weekend when the kids would go to their father’s and I’d exhausted myself with busy-ness for the rest of the weekend and I would have nothing left to do but sit and cry. I hated the crying. I felt so weak. What I didn’t realize at the time was the power of the release it was giving me. Each Sunday afternoon, I would finally slow down enough to feel. And through those feelings, I began to hear mySelf a little bit more.

I got a better job, I found a better home, I let go of toxic friendships and begin to weed out actions that were truly not serving me on a whole. I began to reconnect with MySelf. I learned to listen to what my feelings were telling me! What resistance to people, places and experiences meant. I started learning to value my energy and understanding that above all else, I need to feel whole before I give and that I am allowed to receive - and first and foremost, I need to receive from mySelf first. I cannot authentically receive something from another person than I am unwilling to receive from mySelf first. Love, nurturing, caring. And I keep learning this more deeply every day.

This is how the Emotional Empowerment Program came to be.

I did not learn how to do this on my own and you don’t have to either. I have had beautiful, powerful and brilliant teachers show up to me through each chapter. Without the guidance from another person who has gone through similar obstacles and lessons of life, it can be hard to know how to make the shifts. Coaches, mentors and spiritual teachers help light the way when you can’t see the truth of where you’re headed.

Are you ready to make the shift to Emotionally Empowered? Start saying yes to yourSelf.

XO Jessica

Return of Joy

I’ve had quite the whirlwind of a November and while it would take more than one blog post to fully describe it, I want to write about the concept of patience and joy.

Simple and easy! Right?

The summer months were a slow amble for me. Partly in the pleasant way that summer should be, with days dedicated to deciding which body of water to swim in, whether you should reapply sunscreen now, or 10 minutes from now after your fifth dip in the river, and whether ice cream can count as dinner (it can). Partly in the way where you might be waiting for your life to happen.

And that part was kind of big. Like the piece of the pie for the waiting was the piece leftover after you’ve served everyone, but it’s too big for one person to have, but you really, really want to just plop it onto your plate and eat all of it. And then it gives you a tummy ache with repercussions.

So there I was, mostly enjoying the summer, with this big piece of undigested pie looming over me. Ever stating that I was open to solutions, surrendering to “what is”, basking in my intention to be patient. And I was everything but patient. And still I sat with it, mostly settling into accepting it, and slowly but surely moving forward. I was in the Waiting Place, as Dr. Seuss described to a perfect T.

What I surrendered to was the fact that I was not in surrender. I was in uncertainty of the greatest kind; facing a complete shift in my identity and purpose and moving into one of… What exactly? Ah, there was the problem. I was able to casually throw around the word “Coach” before, when not everything was riding on it, when I was trailing that part of my career behind me like a tattered security blanket, but never as the new, tailored suit I wasn’t accustomed to be wearing.

It wasn’t that I doubted my ability, but I had my reservations that others would buy this reinvented version of me. And it wasn’t just that this was a reinvention, I mean, I’ve had a few reinventions over the past 20+ years, this was more of an unveiling of who I really am. I’d fit myself into structures and constructs that weren’t a reflection of me many times. And I think I did it well. To a certain point. Yes, I did it well until I didn’t. And once I didn’t, I couldn’t go through the paces anymore. Anyone else ever feel that way? Like, I can do this! I’ve never done it before, never even considered it, but you know what, I’m eager, I love to learn and I take direction well and I will do it. And you will be happy with me doing it. And then, after a time, it doesn’t fit anymore. And once you realize that it doesn’t fit, you can no longer squeeze yourself into it.

And what is it exactly?

It can be a number of things. It is the job you’re no longer suited to. It is the relationship you can’t be in any longer. It is the home you can’t stand living in. It is the habit that doesn’t bring you pleasure anymore. And so on, and so forth.

It is often the recognition that you are denying yourself joy.

And I mean true joy here. This doesn’t have to be complicated; joy can be found in the simplest things. It can be found in the softness of a pet’s fur, the way the light streams into your bedroom in the morning, the sigh of your baby sleeping, the feel of your partner’s hand resting on your hip in the middle of the night.

I believe endeavours fuelled by joy yield more rewards, as in if you focus more on your ROJ (return of Joy), then you begin to increase your ROI (return on investment), otherwise known as “I want to know that what I take away from this is worth if not more, than at least the equivalent of what I put into it”.

If you focus more on your ROJ (return of Joy), then you begin to increase your ROI (return on investment)

If you focus more on your ROJ (return of Joy), then you begin to increase your ROI (return on investment)

This can easily be misinterpreted as “Follow Your Bliss”. While I definitely think you should pursue things that light you up, practically speaking, it’s not always realistic to say you’re going to live off making moonbeam lanterns for the needy. What it means, in real-life application is, what brings you joy right now?

If the answer is nothing, it’s time to start looking for one thing. One thing that does bring you joy. If work is where you’re struggling to find it, then start there. Maybe you have access to the prettiest post it notes and you’ve created a secret stash so you get the pink ones shaped like stars.

By finding the small things that bring you joy, in whatever environment you’re in, you begin to find bigger things that bring you joy. This is along the lines of  the “Flip Switch” concept from Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting, by Lynn Grabhorn. She recommends that each morning, when you rise, you choose one thing to focus on in a positive light, no matter how small. Maybe it’s that you like your nail colour, the particular shade of blue on the shirt you choose the wear, anything as long as you consciously choose it, and make it your “flip switch”. At any point during the day, when you notice yourself move into a negative headspace, flip the switch and focus on that one thing. All your energy goes into noticing it, and feeling it and allowing yourself to move into a better feeling place. It’s taking steps towards creating joy.

I first used this practice when I was moving through separation. I had post-it notes all over the place; on the sun visor of my car, on my computer monitor, on my bathroom mirror. I felt super silly any time I was asked about them, but it worked. Any time I felt myself spiraling away from joy, I’d see the reminders and re-set my mindset. Sometimes it was really hard! Sometimes all I could muster was gratitude that I had opposable thumbs. But gradually, that began to change. And I felt like the range of emotions that I was functioning within began to expand; rather than just rage, to less rage, to sorrow, and I went into the realm of neutrality, then into bursts of laughter and finally into periods of sustained joy. The other emotions were still present, but I could travel from one to the other with more ease, without being stuck in one awful spot for days at a time.

As the emotional range expanded, so did the rest of my life. I got jobs that increased in pay, moved to homes that met my list of wants and needs. If I were to put the quality of life on a graph, it would be moving in an increasingly upward direction. But I’m not super into graphs, so I’m not going to do that.

So back to my slow amble through the summer, and thinking about how I was going to be both fuelled by joy, and bring my coaching services into the fray with a commitment that hadn’t been there before. It took patience. Step by step, I kept track of the underlying current of where my state was on a daily basis. Every day I looked for one thing that brought me joy. And there were days that I was sure I was full of shit. Some of those days were back to back to back. But, within each of those days, I had the full range of states at my disposal. This concept doesn’t mean you are going to be joyful all the time. What it does mean, is that your return to joy, or your bounce-back, will be better and better each time.

And I have bounced back! In the full swing of coaching, loving each client call, each new person I get to work with. I have an abundance of joyful moments to flip the switch on. I am filled with appreciation for the forced wait, the patience that I grudgingly accepted and the encouragement I was given along the way.

There Is No Perfect

Full disclosure: I have been resisting writing this post for EVER! I’d sit down and start with one paragraph, then shut it down, and wander back a couple of weeks later and add a few more paragraphs, then a week later, pull it up and scrap the first paragraph and so on and so forth. WHY? Why? Because this endeavour has been a big step for me not only professionally, but emotionally and spiritually as well.

I’ve been running this business very part time for a few years, but launching fully and completely is a whole different ballgame. I’m doing it, but I also have to shush that not-so-helpful inner speak as I take each step. Fortunately I have some excellent tools to deal with that, and I still need to take the initiative to USE those tools. My goal, each time I sit down at the computer to write, is to be as true to myself as possible, and sometimes looking inward without filters can be a bit daunting and leave you feeling kind of exposed. Vulnerability and I are still working on becoming friends.

When I first sat down to write this, it was because I’d just officially launched my business and website and was thinking about the best way to introduce myself. I had a blog in the past, which was borne of a painful time and was fuelled by that hurt anger; this project, this writing, is far more exciting and joyful, even if fuelled by some massive change, which can sometimes be just a little scary.

The push it took me to launch Jessica Dawn Coaching was not as perfect as I would have liked it to be. I was in the process of building my business as a side project, while working a full time job running a Canadian national charity. The security of that steady paycheque was very nice and so I was taking my time to make sure everything was launched perfectly. I was waiting for the perfect timing, the perfect circumstances and the perfect safety net to catch me “if”. Of course, nothing is ever perfect, and timing isn’t always something that can be planned.

First, let me rewind a touch.

18 months ago, I made a big decision and offered to carry my friend’s baby. I’d watched her go through multiple miscarriages and, she finally got to the point where her and her husband had decided to move forward with a Gestational Carrier.

As a single Mom to two kids that I adore, I knew the gift of family was sacred. The fulfillment, wonder and endless learning that can come from watching these little beings grow into fascinating adults is rather inexplicable. I also felt that it would be potentially frightening to place your trust in a complete stranger to grow your biological baby, even though many people go this route. Ultimately, I offered to help… Like, what’s a year of my life when I can help my friends? Right? Those who know me well, know that I am definitely an outside the box kind of person and this wasn’t a decision that I made in an instant, it’s something that I carefully considered over a three-year period, as I learned more about the world of infertility, IVF, and the lengths that people go through to have families. I felt that I would be selfish if I hadn’t offered at that point, and so I offered, they accepted, and the project was initiated; it’s a thorough process that I’ll write more about in another blog, but if you have ever undergone IVF, you will know that it’s a process that takes time. If you have not gone through the process, trust me when I say it is. When I easily offered up a year of my life to my friend, that wasn’t a completely accurate timeline, especially when factoring in the pre-screening required to become accepted as a gestational carrier. In realistic timelines, the process is really much closer to a year of preparation, then actual pregnancy, and that often overlooked postpartum period.

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I knew when I offered, that I was initiating a big change. And when I look back in retrospect, I know that the change being initiated was more than what would take place in my body, but it wasn’t a conscious knowing at the time.

I was running a national charity and felt that it would be best to cut my mat-leave short, so I returned to work after 8 weeks and was promptly notified that my position was being eliminated.

Excuse me? I had just grown and pushed out a baby for someone and now my job was coming to an end? This was not the perfect transition I had been dreaming of! In the weeks after receiving that news, it took me some time to digest, however, I knew that I had, at some level, initiated this process somewhere in the depths of my being. 

My transition would, instead of being perfect, be based on faith that everything would be turning out for the highest good. What is that saying? You’ve definitely read it in your Facebook feed at some point…

Jump, and build your wings on the way down, it quickens the focus.
-Ray Bradbury

It’s clearly time for me to do what my soul has been whispering for some time. Focus that energy on creating the life I really want! What I really want to is to be of service to others, to offer a different perspective, to shine some light and some insight.

Welcome to Jessica Dawn Coaching, I specialize in personal change management. Transitional guidance and helping you sort out what the heck is going on in your life and how to take charge in a loving and joyful way. I’ve been there and I’ve got some great tools to help you navigate rough waters and step into your power.

I look forward to working with you!