Category Archives: Insights

Learning to Smile

In the past, I have touched base on various moments of residual hurts I’ve experienced over the years. Though they’ve impacted me in different ways, I’ve grown to appreciate them as they’ve shaped my perspectives as the adult I am today.

As I sit here and reflect, I cannot help but smile. The journey to my smile has been a jagged one with so many twist and turns. With moments of what I like to call, “starburst” with the euphoric power to lift the spirit to new heights as it leaves a lasting mark. These burst of lights come in many shapes, phrases, and tones. Whether it be from the connection of being in the right place at the right time or randomly “bumping” into opportunities; each has the momentum to bring lasting smiles.

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Boreas by John William Waterhouse (1903)

I have had the privilege to embrace these moments. Some are more noticeable than others but they all have given me the strength to push through some of the darkest of times. Which brings me to the title…Learning To Smile.  Smiles are not really mastered until they have reached a level of genuine bliss. We are raised in a world where standards must be met.

Proper interaction of hellos and goodbyes with a standard etiquette come with the expectation of knowing when or how to approach life’s routine. Dealing with depression makes this very difficult at times. I can say from experience; smiles have the power to elude many from noticing the shivering chaos which resides behind it. Over the years I have buried myself in work to avoid confronting issues; however, time has a way to catch up with us when we least expect it. At this particular moment, I’m proud to say that I have developed a love for Jesus that I didn’t know before.

I have always believed in a higher divinity. I just often struggled with man’s perspective on how I should approach religion. Always being told the struggle in my life was from sin I still had in my life; really scared me in ways that I didn’t notice. It created a mindset that I needed to do more to have some type of normalcy in my life. When life would throw a curve ball; I was quick to blame myself. This constant condemnation of myself created the monster of insecurity leading to morphed acceptance of toxic verbal and at times, mental abuse. Staying sin conscience pulled me further from the lord as it made me feel unworthy.

 

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Windflowers by James William Waterhouse (1903)

 

I used to think I was the one mistake the Lord made. The anomaly not meant to prosper. Visiting different churches over the years fueled this fire deep within of wanting to seek the truth. Some things made no sense to me. Seeing pillars of the church partake in negative behaviors such as gossip, profanity and malicious intent proved to be disappointing. So, much so that I actually took a step away from the Lord all together.

When I say, “took a step away”; I say it loosely. I always had this undying respect for my Lord Jesus but was ashamed that I could never live up to the ideology of Christianity. I can’t tell you how many times I have felt the lords presence as he brings me peace when the past rips my heart open and insomnia grasp every breath I chokingly try to take. Jesus would whisper in my ear how special  I am and provide me memories of those closest to me. This brought me comfort as I realized I have been blessed with the most precious gifts…my family.

The past few months my husband has devoted his time to the Lord. Studying and reading daily… drawing closer with the Lord. Feeling his peaceful energy has softened my heart on so many levels. Without intent; he has encouraged me to seek the Lord. I have found a great appreciation for the message of Grace from Joseph Prince. Understanding the true meaning of grace has brought the warmest of smiles. I have the strength to take on the day knowing my heart rest in Jesus. My character is changing due to my love of Jesus; not because of rules or expected duties. I strive to be the best me because I want to show my love for Jesus and plant those seeds of grace.

In closing, I want to take a moment to encourage you to find your genuine smile. Make an effort to reach out to those you haven’t spoken to in a while and remind them that you care. Be slow to anger and quick to listen to those closest to you as you show them how much you love them. This life becomes beautifully blissful with love, so lets spread it with every aspect of our lives!

 

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Ophelia by James William Waterhouse (1889)

 

 

 

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New Prospects – New Opportunities

 

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Red Cardinal by Jenn M 2017

 

 

Today I wanted to discuss the importance to stepping out of your comfort zone. The grumbles of life can weigh a ton at times; leaving our shoulders tired and weary. Leaving the mind to fend for its self as it tries to connect the dots to a puzzle that plays in a residual loop.

How do we evolve? How do we change the mundane cycle we all have come accustomed to?  It took me some time to reflect and realize; with every new experience; with every new perspective; with every new spark of interest …we are evolving to be better than we were yesterday. So, how do we harness this exactly?Well, to be perfectly honest with you; it is rather easy. It’s human nature to remove or back away from something that is deemed a threat or toxin. It’s our warped perception of what is normal or rational that keeps us grounded to the same spot in life. Time does not seize to continue; however, you can seize to move. Some have mastered the art of having the illusion that they are moving forward. Bouncing around like a ping ball game scoring moments of bliss all to be shattered in a moment. Superficial growth is the worst. when the dust settles and the lights dim… the reality of being stuck in that time capsule from those stark memoirs of the past plagues the reflection in the mirror. I know because I have been guilty of this too.

 

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Wild Flowers by Jenn M 2017

 

Grasping every motivational slogan I can to push me through the day. Picking up every self-help book I can put my gritty little fingers on. Taking those steps to what I thought was helping me get closer to a better me. Well, that all went up in smoke. Sure we gain valuable insights about ourselves, so I can’t say it was a complete waste. But, what I  can say is; there weren’t any substances to give those new changes life.

 

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Magnolia Leaves by Jenn M 2017

 

Now, I have found the missing link. I needed to change my daily routine. Purge all that brought me sorrow and pain. Letting go of the things that made it difficult to get out of bed every morning. I no longer work a typical 9-5 job. Staring at spreadsheets for about 80% of my day was slowing leading me down a dark hole of suffocation. The struggle was real…taking that first step to say; I quit. Those were the hardest words to say as they carried the weight of so much responsibility. Picturing my kids, my husband, and even my pets. Having glimpses of living on the streets with nowhere to go almost kept those words locked away. But the pain in my chest reminded me of the late nights with little to no interaction with my kids. Reminded me of the hard work I put in day after day for someone else to reap the benefit. To see bonuses that should have been mine given to a manager that never lifted a finger to assist on those complicated projects.

 

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Pomegranate Branches (New Growth) by Jenn M 2017

 

I had to make a change and it has been the best choice I have ever made! Time is now on my watch versus the clock controlling me. Who knew all I needed was to have the belief in myself. To trust my own instincts that I knew and was very capable of making it in anything I ever chose to pursue. So, the best lesson I have learned the last few weeks has been, New prospects lead the some of the best opportunities. So,  I want to challenge you to try something new. Step out of your comfort zone. Soon you will not only surprise yourself but those around you will enjoy your smile as they see you evolve to who you always wanted to be!

 

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Wild Flowers 2  (So Many Opportunites) by Jenn M 2017

 

Shades of Depression: My Journey #2

Whisper breeze

Clapping leaves

Chirping birds among the trees

The song of life means the world to me…

After a long night of restless sleep; I was pleasantly surprised to wake with smile. Has that ever happened to you? When you fall asleep with a scornful frown from the headache of that day but wake with a smile for no apparent reason. That was me today. Maybe it was from the fun weekend I had catching up with a special someone that I havent seen in 3 years or visiting with family from out of town. Maybe it was from the fun evening I had with family that I haven’t seen in ages and the way they welcomed me with open arms…

Whatever the case may be…the feeling of renewing optimism seems to be taking hold. The past is not of importance today, the future will just have to wait…something tells me to enjoy this moment. Be attentive to those I surround myself with and embrace the smiles shared.

Smiles…they are wonderfully given. Some of the best smiles I have received have been from total strangers. A while back, I was shopping at the outlets with my family. I noticed my knee was bothering me again, so I chose to sit on the bench outside the store to rest. Soon after, a woman, well over my senior, came to sit next to me.

Trees from Rio Vista Park by Jenn M

She chuckled and said…”your knee got the best of you too?” I smiled and said, “yes,ma’am”. She further explains that she had seen me in a few stores back and noticed I was limping a bit. She also said, she could tell I was wincing but smiled assuring the kids that I was good. Allowing them to shop freely.

Her observation surprised me. I explained how it has been a while since I was able to take them shopping with the stack of medical bills that never seizes to stop piling up. I remember it feeling so easy to talk with her. We ultimately chatted for about 15 minutes but it felt like hours. She expressed her need to keep spending time with her grandbabies and how everyday was a new opportunity to say  “I love you” to the ones we love.

I talk to many people but seldom do I meet a stranger that speaks with such genuine sincerity. To meet someone to be openly honest and content with life is very inspiring. Surprisingly enough, we chatted about everything from family moments, gardening to our favorite books but we never exchanged names. Yet, it seems like every so often, on days like today, her shimmering blue eyes and her sweet smile seems to remind me …. Today, is a new opportunity to say, “I love you” to my loved ones. Smile and laugh with those around me and above all, embrace each moment. Be present versus being distracted with social media or the constant search for greener pastures. Take a moment to water my own grass and one day it will be the best shade of green….

Spring Grass by Jenn M

Shades of Depression: My Journey #1

 

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White Rose by JennM 2017

 

 

Today, I woke with the intense feeling of needing to touch base on a subject many try to avoid. The subject of choice, depression. In this day in age; where there is an abundance of tools and resources available at the tip of our fingers; it is not likely that many would openly admit they have fallen into some sort of entanglement of depression.

We are a driven species constantly evolving with time and experience; yet, there are moments when doubt seems to creep it’s way in;  leading us to second guess our decisions or in many severe cases; remain stagnant. Speaking from my own experience; depression has a way to impact not only our perspective towards life but also has the tendency to impact us on a more physical level.

Stress, in general, can cause headaches, night sweats, aches and pains throughout the body. This is due to our body stiffing up from tense situations. I have had moments when my stress levels would get so high to the point that I literally felt the burn deep within my chest. So, how do I deal with stress? Well, I wish I had a clear-cut answer for you, but to be honest; there are days when the many distractions prove to be just a distraction and the issue or problem grows in significance.  Days of insomnia begin to trickle in and hours become minutes with time lost.

Since I was a child; I have dealt with several levels of depression. All of which never really had the guidance of a professional.  I buried myself in books, admired art, explored the land through hikes. I never realized it until recently that I was escaping from the life around me. Becoming a true introvert. Learning new things purposely chosen to be completed alone. Is that always the smartest technique? Well, no and yes. Yes as these new projects or skills helped me trudge through some of the lowest parts of my life. To the world around me; I am strong, independent, intelligent, optimistic and in many cases, self-motivated. What many don’t see is the struggle it is to get out of bed. Or the days when I every second seems to sting liked burning needles are traveling through my body. When weepy tears seem to fall with even the slightest invitation of a moment of silence.

You see, no matter how many projects I start; there is always an end. When the dust settles; the conflict of my issues still remain. People say to forgive those that have inflicted pain or heartache but what they don’t tell you is that it is extremely harder to do than said. Sometimes, the level of forgiveness changes just to get through the day. I know I have days when It seems like I need to forgive every minute of the day. Brimming tears are always hidden behind a smile and laughter mask the bellows of anger… pain. I’ve reached a level of self-reflection to understand the importance of filling in the void with something meaningful. The importance of trust and honesty.

The older I  get, the more I want to break out of my shell and allow others into my world but I am more worried about my world getting tainted. Does that make sense? I’ve gladly been alone for so long but now the superficial layers of smiles and giggles no longer warm the heart. I guess what I’m getting at is… I want … no, I need to have a genuine connection. But, I ask myself, “Is my joy of solitude and isolation worth the risk of opening the door for another just to feel connected? Is the image of that picture-perfect gathering real or just a facade of what society deems as a must have to be complete?”

 

Closing the Chapter

 

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Picture Credit: Pinterest 

 

The eyes of the soul of the multitudes are unable to endure the vision of the divine. ~Plato

Where to begin… I thank the countless of messages sent to my site and my email & I assure you that I do have so much to say…those who know me best; know I’d rather sit in silence than to inflict my own negativity to those around me. So, the past couple of weeks; I chose to take that seat at the back of the room with little to no light. Trying not to ruffle any feathers or bring unwanted attention.

The truth is that; there are times in our lives that we just have to accept things for what they are. In that same token; it the same rule of thumb applies to people. The less I expect from people; the less likely I’d be let down. So, with this in mind; taking the bitter with the sweet does give life more substance.

I know, I like to discuss things which bring positive vibes…sharing those smiles… but in reality; there is a side of me that is ….detached, so to speak. The routine of life takes effect and I’ve mastered the routine with a smile. Internally, it can be the simplest thing to remind me how fragile a smile truly is.  Is is genuine? Is it meant with sincerity?

These are the questions that I ask myself these days. It’s a shame when you have to question the motives of those around you … but, what do we do? Sure we can shun them out…make them take a step away…close the door… but, what does that bring??

It will be the next wave of individuals who will undoubtedly let you down. So, what do we do about this cycle? Well, speaking for myself; I just refuse to allow anyone too close…Naturally, I don’t mean to be this way and I don’t want to …but it’s safer. Losing a friend of 8 years is tough. It felt like a separation from a spouse.

 

 

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Family Tree by Johannus Boots

 

People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die.

~ Plato

However, closing that chapter was greatly needed. You can’t help someone who does not want to help themselves. True friends will understand the word “no” and should make an effort to understand that is always given with sincerity. As grown individuals, we should be trying to help each other grow to be the best us.

So, after a long drawn out self-reflecting process; I’ve decided to only have those that bring the best of me out as friends.. the rest can fall into acquaintances mode…and in some cases; leap off that ledge of goodbye!

So… to all my lovely readers; I will begin to post daily again… maybe several times a day… I just need to find my muse… my inspiration again….And I assure you; I will catch up and read your blogs soon!! I’m excited about that part! I can’t help but feel like a kid in a cookie jar! 🙂

When does planning become too much?

 

 

 

Wow, what a day. Just as I think the day was set in stone to be another hectic day; I get relief with the stillness of my lens and my besties… My Yorkie Edward and my mother’s Jasmine aka Jazzy. Today, we had some cancellations which were a huge blessing. This week’s schedule was very hectic although I did manage to hit the trails a couple of times.

As rocky of a relationship my mother and I have; I do enjoy spending time with her these days. I would like to think it is because I’m not that mean of a person to hold on to grudges but in reality; it’s the human compassion I naturally tap into when I see or hear of someone going through struggling times. I mentioned in my last post that this can be such a blessing or it can by my kryptonite. Over obligating myself dry… Well, there is truth in that but today; I realized it’s a balance of sort that I personally need to have.

 

 

You see, as much as I like the notion of having a day with literally nothing to do… I don’t think I’m genetically prone to enjoy it. It’s my nature to have a backup plan for my backup plan …With this being said, I have to plan everything. There needs to be a reason or order to whatever I’m doing…

Which brings me back to my question, “When does planning become too much?” I jokingly laugh to myself as I type tonite because of so many concepts raceing through my mind right now. The balance of planning and going with the flow has been a difficult thing for me to master these days. I want to say it started once I decided to work from home. It’s funny because of a few months back I was very frustrated with the reality of my limited mobility and now… I fell in love with the freedom to pick my own day.  The issue I have bumped into is how it allows time for more distractions to take hold…

 

“Embracing the sun, 

Kissing the wind,

Peals of laughter unfold inspirations from deep within”

– JennM

 

So, after careful thought and consideration; I have decided to use the word “no” more this upcoming week. With the wonderful prospects for new employment opportunities filling me with anticipation; I will not over book myself. I just wrapped up 3 clients today and I have decided to take a break from contacting the new recommendations. I grin at this notion because; this is the hardest for me.  You see, helping others create their bios; or map out their strategic marketing plan or even getting lost in the financials of a local mom and pop business as an effort to help them stay in the green and recoup any losses they have incurred or preventing potential issues; has been solidified as a daily habit.

My day is filled with emails, text, calls all day. When I’m not busy physically doing something; I’m outlining a proposal or catching up on emails etc. So aside, from the scheduled appointments, I already have; I will not be scheduling anything else. The goal is not to eliminate all activity from my day. It’s more of an effort to slow it down enough to find a solution… a balance to work and life. Make an effort for more laughs and more moments of resounding relaxation! Oh, I just pictured a hammock gently rocking in the wind as it dances to distant waves rolling onto the shore… looking around at the walls in my room right now… Yes, relaxation is the key for this next week! I’m not sure what the outcome will be but I do hope that it allows less insomnia filled nights or reducing the constant ticking of to-do lists rolling in my head on a continuous loop… Wish me luck!

 

“Feathered dancers, 

Whistling chimes,

Whimsical flutters, 

Mother Nature’s exquisite design…”

-JennM

 

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Why do I help??

“Virtue is relative to the actions and ages of each of us in all that we do.” – Plato

 

So , today I wanted to touch base with a concept that has been the defining catalyst to many choices I have been making lately. At times it can be of great pleasure but in others; i’m left cleaning up a mess or feeling overwhelmed with too much to do. I have this habit I guess; to help others even when I know they will not help themselves… I see that they are who they are and set in their ways but when they need me… there I go … helping them despite my better judgment.

What drives us to push forward everyday? It is 10PM and I am just starting to take a moment for myself. As normal as this concept is… it’s really a joke. I will be cleaning up the house in a few minutes… tending to the animals… checking in on my in-laws and now my mother… making sure they took their meds… will probably hit the shower again around 11:45ish and won’t officially lay down until around 12:30ish…followed by me staring up at the ceiling wishing for sleep to settle… I guess that is why I relish the days that I can escape from the world a bit.

Albert Pine

Turning off my phone… dropping out of pocket… there are times when solitude is my peace. I know many would argue that it is not rational for a person to want to be left alone all the time but when the hell did it become rational to run ourselves dry… staying on that hamster wheel? When I was a kid; I remember the elders siting at the table drinking coffee with the front door open. I used to lay out on the porch with a pillow and blankets and just stare up at the trees… it was  nice. Peacefully still as I listened to the trees speak . Even now I can remember having such an imagination. Dreaming of having a life just as sweet.

These days; I see myself slipping back into the old routine. Hustle and bustle all day, everyday. The more it happens; the more I retreat back into my perfect pit of isolation. Laughing to myself; I just pictured myself as a crazy old lady! Just like that movie Grumpy Old Men… The truth is…Even though I see this habit resurfacing; I can’t stop it. I don’t get back to the people who call or message me. I don’t call or message those that I do genuinely want to speak to.

Princess Diana

Its almost as if  the very notion to pressing the buttons is too daunting. Like my arms are so heavy with responsibility that It’s getting difficult to see the optimistic inspiration around me… rationally my mind speaks to me of what to do but I just can’t seem to do it these days… I guess i’m just tired… you know I read a quote the other day in reference to creating a life worth being in versus always planning that vacation… Please if you have the secret remedy ; i’d love to know. Sure, I know some of you will email and tell me to learn to say “no” but what I can say is that, it is soo much easier said than done.  Who will tend to my mother who just had stroke… who will listen to my in-laws concerns when their kids are too busy to do so.. maybe it boils down to the fact that I know all to well that feeling of loneliness… questioning your very existence … accepting heartache and frustration just to know your alive…

When I see them; I see people of struggle. They lived a colorful life and now they need to feel that unconditional grace. Can I say that it’s not difficult when all the negative memories come flooding back; no, but what I can say is, that I hope when I can no longer tend to myself because of early Alzheimer’s  disease or when the simple task of walking needs assistance; I hope someone has compassion for me. Even if they now my darkest of flaws; that they choose to forgive me for my iniquities and help me should I need it. So, despite my frustrated rants… I will welcome the busy day again and hope what effort I put in brightens their world a bit. Hope the laughs we share are enough to bring them peace in the wee hours of the night… that they feel the love and appreciation I have for them despite any failures they may have had… To find comfort in knowing that I will always be here even when their pride doesn’t allow them to ask…

 

“No one is useless in this world who lighten the burdens of another ” – Charles Dickens