I was standing outside with my feet planted into the ground to look up and see the beauty of the night. Instantaneously I felt a sense of calm, balance, and appreciation for life and the beauty of nature.
Looking back on this photo, I am transported back to this feeling and reminded of my group practice, Storm Haven’s, tagline “Seek refuge and support from the storms of life.”
While life can bring great joys and majestic wonders, as humans, life can also bring great challenges that we wish we could escape, avoid, or push away. Although, when we do…we find it may only makes the difficulties worse and the sorrows heightened. Shadows of despair may be cast into what joy we previously had. Like a lonely ship at sea 🌊 enveloped by the storms of life desperately wanting to get to the safety of the cove.
Storm Haven’s tagline was born from this experience…from the pain (storms) I witnessed so many of my clients within and the relief that came by two humans discussing, processing, and finding a way forward—with tools that allowed them to develop a new relationship with the challenges of life and discovering new ways of responding.
This is my mission. May everyone know what it means to live the intentional and well lived life and not miss the beauty right outside our door ❤️
Gators 🐊 have evolved for optimal efficiency. They do not waste time or energy on pursuits that will deplete versus fuel them unless the benefit of such pursuit is deemed worthy. In fact, gators lurk below the surface monitoring for opportunities (will this help me?) and threats (will this harm me?) and simply appear to ignore everything else.
As tasty morsels come into the gators path the only ones that prompt a response are the ones worthy of their chomp.
In life, humans have the appearance of their own tasty morsel experiences that come along their path. Before deciding to chomp, there is exists a space between the experience and our response where we have the opportunity to ask “will this harm me?” or “will this help me?”
When humans learn how to stay in the present and mindfully respond they are able to reap the rewards with an intentional life.
If worthy of the chomp then take action and enjoy! If not worthy of the chomp then deploy the tools of chosen response, see if there is anything worth pursuing, process it out, and remain in the fierceness of the zen-like state of being a gator 🐊
Yesterday as I buzzed around from one task to another, my back sent a tinge of pain that was echoed from the past. In that moment, I found myself thinking upon when I had my back injury.
Back on October 28th, 2021, I was rushing about and did not see the patch of slippery water on my bathroom floor. In one split second I went from full able bodied to the worst pain I have experienced in my life (and I birthed four children). As I filled a water bottle to pour into my diffuser, I envisioned adding some peppermint in and pulled from the future of what that moment would feel like…to be grounded and calm as I sat down for my next online client session.
Well, I was grounded alright as water dropped from my newly filled cup, I had the briefest of a flashing thought, “be careful, you may slip on that water…” Oh that thought was ever so brief and no sooner had a microsecond passed, my feet went up above my head and down I went in one ungraceful and swift swoosh. I was on the ground and screaming in excruciating pain. I could not collect my thoughts as I instinctively rolled over in a child’s pose and did the best I could to breath through that moment. The body is a wonderful thing, it takes over and does what is needed when survival is at stake. While still very much in pain, I was able to regain my mind enough to think of my client who would be waiting online for me in two short minutes.
I began yelling for my family. I needed help. No one responded. No one was home. I was alone and unable to move. I had my Apple Watch on so, thankfully, I was able to text my oldest daughter for help. Thankfully, she was just pulling up to our home and came running inside. She grabbed my phone and I sent my client what was the most comprehensive message I could fathom. My ethics brain kicked in…”do not tell too much, don’t make your client hold your pain, boundaries Jen…”
Here is what I was able to say,
“I am so sorry. I need to cancel. I was prepping for our session (filling my humidifier) and slipped on some water in my bathroom. On my back right now. I need to reschedule. Will text later.”
See while there are different schools of thoughts on how to communicate with a client when the therapist is the one in pain, I modeled being human and real and in that moment I was being my authentic self…the best I could anyway while in blinding pain as I considered whether to head to the ER or not and I may have…if I could have moved.
See I had slipped on slippery water while I was rushing about from one thing to the next and in between clients. I had let me last client go beyond that 50-minute mark and had mere minutes to tend to my in-between session needs. My mind was in overload and I was not living the lessons I taught so passionately to my clients. I was overbooked and had over extended myself beyond too far. I did not take the care needed in that moment to slow down and pay attention and I was fully in the repercussions of that lesson now.
Vernon Law says, “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.”
During that time and through my healing, I came to a realization that my body is in fact more fragile than my yesteryears and did not so easily rebound. I also found myself within a sort of existential crisis of aging and how short life is. Being unable to move freely and do the things I loved was difficult. Why was my body not cooperating?!?!
Paralleling this unfortunate event was a sense of reset into what is important, what direction I wanted to head, and what this included. It took a months to heal and it was one day at a time. I took the first week off from clients as I was unable to walk with ease…let alone sit in one position for each client session. It was a painful lesson.
While healing, I also had to practice some self-compassion between what I wanted to do and what I could actually do and also carry that lesson to today to slow down, do not rush, enjoy this moment—even if things are not where I want them to be. Living a valued based life is, while clichè, about the journey and not the destination.
While I slowly healed through present day, it left a distinct lesson in its wake. My back still aches upon occasion to this day. It now serves as a reminder that—while I am functioning pretty well now—I need to take care of my body, mind, and overall life balance.
I am not perfect- I still fall into the hustle and bustle and the glorification of societal influence and pressure within the glorification of busy. Heck! If I am hustling and bustling within a passion and living within my values bring it on : ) However, today the tinge of echoed back pain serves as a worthy reminder to be followed. It is one day at a time and often moment to moment decisions of which path to take in front of me. My mind tells me, “remember to pace, Jennifer, pace.”
Moral of the Story: avoid the puddles of “water” that lay before you as metaphorical disguises of the glorification of busy. 😊💛
In 2018, I packed up and ventured abroad in pursuit of living within my values and the intentionally cultivated life, a reflection of my work with clients (i.e., a mindful life). Italy served as my home base as I soaked up travel all across Europe. Then, just a short year later, I came back as a virus was taking hold overseas, the pandemic that would eventually find its way to the United States and send us into a whirlwind of quarantine and a balance of dismay and the discovery of what is truly important in life.
Now, heading into 2022 and, what seems like a lifetime later, I am gearing up once again to quench my inner travel bug. This time my home base will be Japan while also keeping a foothold in California. I am grateful that my passion career allows me the ability to be anywhere in the world while providing services to clients in California and Ohio (where I hold licensure).
Since I have provided ongoing and effective online therapeutic services since 2017, and as aligned within my previous pursuits overseas, I am beyond thankful that I am blessed to take my wonderful clients with me on this next adventure : )
So, here we go : ) Traveling Abroad is set for April 2022!
Urge surfing can be used with any urges (e.g., urges to avoid, escape, or push away unwanted emotions, urges within procrastination, urges to isolate, urges to self-harm) you experience, including action urges of emotions that don’t serve us well.
Emotions also serve a purpose. Similar to when our stomachs rumble to signal hunger, emotions signal us of a greater need. With this, we can have the urge to run from the action urge of anxiety or grief /loss because of the discomfort of the experience. If we can learn to sit with the emotion, be curious, and identify what it is trying to communicate to us…we can, in turn, take positive action within it and ultimately respond mindfully (versus react) to its signal. When we are able to do this, the strength of the wave is diminished.
To Urge Surf, visualize urges rising and falling like waves. Rather than trying to fight against the wave and be tossed and turned upside down, practice the skill of noticing and observing then surfing the wave until it’s lost it’s power.
Each urge has 3 stages:
RISE WITH INTENSITY
The rise of intensity is when the urge is triggered or begins building up. This is when, if we are able to notice and name what is happening (pay attention non-judgmentally to the sensations that are occurring for us). We can be curious and open to this experience and choose in that moment to not fight against it. We can also deploy our learned coping /mindfulness strategies (breath work, grounding, engage our 6 sensations of sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing plus movement) so that the wave does not grow as big.
2) The peak is the point the urge is the strongest, like the white caps of the crest of the wave as it peaks. It is slightly before this that we must choose whether to surf and ride the wave or be taken down by it. If we choose to ride, we can continue to take deep mindful breaths as we ride our surfboard. This stage can last up to 20 minutes.
3) The crash starts when the urge begins to lessen, like a wave after it has peaked and starts falling back into the ocean and towards the reclaimed calm.
We can often become anxious in anticipation of the future or sad about the past. It can be helpful when we are able to live in the present.
If this sounds like you, the following activity may be useful. If you would like to try it out, write “future” on a piece of paper. Under “future” write “present” and under “present” write “past.”
When you feel caught up in thoughts or emotions, slide/move your finger up or down the page to determine where you are. Are you in the past, present, or future?
After a few times you can move the written out page to a visual in your mind. This can be a useful strategy as you move about your day in order to determine your current mindset. If you find you are in the future or past, you can then ask yourself what you may be able to do to move back to the present. This is an intentionally lived and mindful life, a life within the present.
Humans are wired for connection so it is no wonder that being single on Valentine’s Day can bring with it a sense of feeling left out.
Society has a way of communicating that being in a relationship is the only way you get to celebrate Valentine’s Day. THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE! Whether you are single by choice or single for reasons beyond your control (e.g., because we are in a pandemic 😷), you do not have to be in a relationship to take part in this holiday.
There is no rule that says you have to celebrate Valentine’s Day but if you would like to, these tips may help:
—Shift the focus and be your own secret admirer
Practice self-care, compassion, and self-love. Instead of focusing on what you may not have, reframe your mindset onto what you do have and treat yourself well.
—Reduce or eliminate love triggers
Today may not be the day to watch a movie with a romantic love story or listen to love songs. Rather, try a new genre or better yet plan something new that you can look forward to. Focus on your holistic growth by going on a hike, trying a new virtual workout, participating in a new activity, and/or tuning into YouTube for some virtual travel sights. In fact, research shows planning, watching, or re-living a past travel experience in your mind can elevate the feel good chemicals as if you were actually on the trip.
—Plan a Singles Zoom Date with Friends
Get together with others to play online games, watch a movie, cook a meal together, or just hang out.
—Shower someone else with care
Do you know of someone else who is single or recently lost a loved one? Sending a small but thoughtful gift could mean the world to another. Bonus, it may bring increased levels of happiness and connection to you also.
Valentine’s Day can be a joyful time if you are within a relationship but quite difficult if you find yourself alone. If you’re struggling with severe feelings of loneliness and inability to cope, it may be a good idea to reach out to a caring mental health professional. The global pandemic has brought with it a whole array of difficult and residual effects. We all need someone sometimes to help and support.
When we build a campfire, does it burn eternally? Do we build it once and never tend to it again? No, of course not, similar to our devotion of creating a rich, full, and meaningful life, we have to tend to that campfire every single day to keep the flames burning. Life is similar, we have goals we are striving for, obstacles we face, and things we must put into action to keep our flames blazing. This may include stepping back and assessing the campfire several times a day to add new logs to the campfire and generate new sparks and/ or maintain the everlasting campfire (i.e., a rich, full, and meaningful life). Of course, within balance, once we have a strong campfire built, life is also about just being and enjoying the warmth of the campfire you have built, adoring the dance of the red, orange, and yellow flames, throwing a new log on occasionally to keep the spark alive, and remembering life is not a destination, it is a journey…sometimes a journey that takes many logs being added to our campfire. Live the intentional life, a life full of campfires.