Tag Archives: acceptance

Nothing but the truth

I would have laughed if someone told me circumstances in my life this year would present challenges beyond my wildest dreams . Boring old predictable Jenna. Ever-reliable Jenna. Unruffled Jenna. My life felt settled, but I guess Jon Shedd’s words became popular for good reason. Ships in the harbor are safe but that’s not what ships are built for. The only problem was I didn’t know I was boarding the ship.

Fast forward twelve months and I feel like I’ve gone through the wringer multiple times. I’ve faced my soul. I’ve looked it in the eye and didn’t like everything I saw.

There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.
~  C.G. Jung

Teetering around the edges of my comfort zone isn’t new for me but this year I catapulted so far away I landed in uncharted waters without a life vest. Extraordinary family stresses as well as emotional and physical breakdowns relentlessly roared in my face. I sought counselling and tried medication to help tame the ugly beast but in the end discovered it’s up to me to find a way to progress. I’ve made mistakes and said things I regret. I’ve seen things I didn’t want to see and swallowed unpleasant truths. For the first time I’ve opened my eyes and looked the beast square in the eyes. For the first time in my life I’ve faced the truth warts and all. It doesn’t sit well but it feels authentic. For the first time I’m telling the whole truth.

I’m pretty tired I think I’ll go home now ~ Forrest Gump

Life goes on

Time marches on relentlessly, can you believe it is mid May already? This post focuses on the ups and downs of everyday life and celebrates my acceptance of letting life flow as it pleases.

our-journey-our-story

Six weeks have passed since Game Over when I walked away from my city job feeling humiliated but very relieved to be out of the unfriendly environment. After that brief encounter everything at home seemed more appealing and I welcomed its comforting embrace.

How proud we were to attend the ceremony to see our youngest daughter graduate from University and receive the revered Vice-Chancellor’s award for her contribution to University life. Peter and I are in awe of the positive influence our daughter has on others, she is mesmerizing and a motivator to all. As Laura walked on to the stage to receive her awards I thought my heart would burst with joy.

One day I suddenly decided to track down my old school friend Libby through Facebook. We hadn’t seen each other for 30 years and met up to catch up on all the news on our lives. There is something special about old friends, they remember and see you as a younger person. The best mirror is an old friend.

Four weeks after the city office saga a former colleague invited me to return to work at the suburban campus for one day a week with further hours working from home. This offer suited me perfectly and I eagerly accepted. So for now I have the best of both worlds.

Every year I look forward to Mothers Day and cherish our family celebrations but this year was extra special when all three of my adult children joined Peter and I for a lovely homemade dinner.  My children each gave me a card and wrote personal and heartfelt   messages that I will treasure forever. These are the words people often say at funerals when it is too late for the person to hear. I’m so proud of the loving and sensitive nature my children exude. Being a mother is the most rewarding experience imaginable.

My poor old Dad had a setback recently. He stumbled and fell over while visiting my mother’s grave to lay red roses to honor her birthday . We later learned he had a heart attack, which restricted blood flow to his leg causing it to give way underneath him. He had surgery to dislodge the clot and his progress has been slow because he has lost strength in the leg. Next he is off to a rehabilitation hospital to help try to reinstate his independence. My Dad is old and tired and it breaks my heart to see him struggling to walk.

Peter and I have been talking about life being short and making the most of every day and have decided to return to Europe in September this year to discover more of Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland. Just like last time I’m a little tentative to leave my dog, my family and my home for seven weeks but I know how lucky I am to have the chance to see more of the world and grow with new experiences.

 

 

 

In a good place

It’s been a while since I’ve written a personal blog post but now feels like the right time to share. I’m not the same person I was two years ago and continue to evolve every day. It is only now when I read my earlier blog posts that I fully comprehend the extent of the insecurity I lived with.

I thought changing my thoughts and attitudes would be easy as long as I was determined to change. I was wrong. Transformation is a slow process making it difficult to know change is taking place. For every step forward there are many backward and sidewards steps that sometimes become unexpected benefits and sometimes they are just setbacks. Some days I felt confused and wished I’d never rocked the boat. I thought I was losing my identity which it turns out was exactly what I was trying to do. For me the glass was always half empty and I’d convinced myself that was all it could ever be.

When I decided to change I wanted to generate a new mindset so I started reading daily blogs and Facebook inspirational pages about happiness, gratitude, positivity and peace. At first they seemed fanciful but I kept on reading them like using flashcards to teach children to read, hoping they would infiltrate my way of thinking. Every day I’d try to incorporate the tone of the messages into my life. At first it felt unnatural but I persisted until the words started making more sense and gradually made way for positive change within.

Any type of life change is difficult. Life is not a fairy tale with everything resolving at the end leaving everyone to live happily ever after. Life is interesting and complicated  with a random mix of joys, obstacles and challenges. I’ve learned that it’s not what happens but how we react and deal with life that makes us who we are. Now I see opportunities where I once saw challenges. Instead of feeling hurt or intimidated by people who are rude and disrespectful I now pity them. I’ve learned to be honest with myself and live happily in my own skin. I trust my heart will guide me.

Anyone determined to make changes to their life should accept it is not easy but understand we are all capable of far more than we imagine.

you-have-to-be-your-own-hero2Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right. ~ Henry Ford

The mind is everything. What you think you become ~ Buddha

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Enjoy the little things

Not yet old but way past young I’m staring another birthday in the face still wondering where I fit in to this crazy world. Life is a mystery I’m unraveling as I go. In my heart I’m still a little girl looking for acceptance.

Memories of defining moments dotted throughout my life randomly flash through my mind at the oddest times.  I never want to forget these memories because they make me who I am, for better or worse.

In this snowballing culture of greed and excess I strive to live my life simply and with compassion. Sometimes I satisfy my own expectations but other times I let myself down.  That’s okay, I’ll keep trying. Every day brings another chance to try again.

I live a comfortable life and want for nothing. Possessions are nice to have but they are just things. The love of my husband, my three children and my little dog mean more to me than anything else in the world. These people give me purpose and make my life worthwhile. They make me laugh, love, hurt and swell with pride.  They make me feel.

My wish is for people to take time to enjoy the little things that make them smile. A smile brightens everyone’s day.  I’ve chosen some picture quotes reflecting  messages I’d like to share with you on my birthday 26 June 2014.

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cm246thumb-enjoy-the-little-thingsHappiness-chinese-proverb

 

 

Eternal love

The creaking sound of her rickety rattan chair comforts Nina as she sinks down into the seat. Every afternoon she enjoys sitting and admiring her garden.

Familiar sounds echo as she breathes in the earthy pleasures of rich soil and damp leaves. A cool breeze blows gently on her skin. Sitting and watching she feels alive, in harmony with nature.

Nina’s garden is her haven, a place of renewal where she nourishes her soul. Silently she thanks each plant and ornament for bringing her joy,  they are valued members of her extended family.

Nina lives alone in a modest old timber house. A wooden nameplate bearing the name Akiko,meaning Iris; light and bright, hangs at the cottage entrance.

Her life is quiet and sometimes lonely. Most days she gardens and preens her tiny house. She does this for her own satisfaction and because she is grateful for everything she has.

As she sits looking at the garden her gaze is drawn to her flourishing Suma bush. She involuntarily gasps at its radiance. An affectionate loving smile spreads across her face. This plant tells her story.

As a young woman Nina spent her lunch breaks in the tranquil Jenku Gardens. This peaceful daily experience inspired her to create her own garden. She knew little about gardening but was eager to learn.

Nina planted a Suma bush near her front entrance so she could admire its soft beauty and smell its subtle fragrance each time she came in and out of her house.

Despite meticulous care and constant love her Suma failed to thrive. The foliage thinned and the vibrant green leaves faded to an insipid yellow.

Nina felt a deep sense of failure and loss. It broke her heart to see her Suma in such a bad state. Reluctantly she moved the plant to the back garden.

Weeks later she noticed new green shoots sprouting on the Suma’s spindly stem. Nina’s heart filled with thanks knowing her plant was showing signs of regeneration.

It dawned on her that this species survives better in the shade. She realised her Suma could not flourish where she’d wanted it to grow no matter how much care she lavished on the plant.

This lesson taught her to respect the inherent needs of each species. Over years her garden grew and matured into a place of natural beauty with thriving plant and bird life coexisting within her garden sanctuary.

Drawing her attention back to today a Pipi bird swoops under the Suma plant searching for food in the rich soil. Nina smiles and thanks every element of nature for keeping her company her whole life.

She feels tired and closes her eyes letting her head nod forward. She feels like she is floating.

“Nina?”

Nina hears her mother’s voice. She must be dreaming. Such a lovely sweet sound.

“Mum?”

Their arms instinctively embrace in a warm hug. Neither wanting to let go.

Nina’s tears flow freely as she recalls all the times she’d felt lonely and longed to talk things over with her mother.

“Take my hand Nina, it’s your time to rest with me.”

Months after her death Nina’s family sold Akiko cottage for a high price to a land developer. It took less than a day to bulldoze the house and garden leaving an empty block prime for multi story town houses.

Nina’s granddaughter Mai stands motionless looking at the barren land where her grandmother’s cottage and garden once were. She feels like she has been punched hard in the stomach sucking her breath away.

Mai closes her eyes and imagines all the times she sat chatting with her grandmother while looking at her precious garden.

Mai releases a primal scream and falls to her knees.

“They can destroy everything you created Grandmother but they can never destroy how loved and valued you made me feel.”

 

Get groovy

Have you noticed how everybody seems to be extraordinarily busy?  Every day I see people swept up in the momentum of life relentlessly pushing themselves to satisfy all of their self-appointed tasks.

Getting caught up in the pursuit of busyness comes at a price and usually results in a loss of freedom.

We all have the same  24 hours (or 1440 minutes) in each day we live. How we choose to spend it is entirely up to us.

During 2013 I revisited my past many times in my blog posts but now choose  to write only in the present. I’ve spent enough time thinking about past mistakes and will not waste another minute doing this. What’s done is done and I’m leaving it behind.

If you live with regrets, have a crappy job, are trapped in a loveless relationship, have lost your creative edge or lack motivation to do anything fun in your life, then snap out of it right now. This is your life and you should make the most of every day.

My challenge for you is to press  play on Feelin’ Groovy and sing along as loud as possible (see lyrics below if you weren’t around in 1966).
I guarantee it will bring a smile to your face and almost two minutes of joy to your day. How you choose to spend the remaining 1438 minutes is up to you.

The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)

Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last

Just kicking down the cobble stones
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy

Ba da, Ba da, Ba da, Ba da…Feelin’ Groovy

Hello lamp-post
What cha knowin’?
I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’
Ain’t cha got no rhymes for me?
Doot-in’ doo-doo
Feelin’ groovy

I’ve got no deeds to do
No promises to keep
I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning time drop all it’s petals on me
Life, I love you
All is groovy

Acceptance

Closure is something most people desire and I am no different.

As another calendar year nears the end it seems natural to look back and reflect on how the days unfolded.

I acknowledge 2013 as my first year of change after challenging myself to wake up and pay attention.

Jenna DeeIt took many months and multiple attempts but eventually I found closure on some life situations that had been holding me back for too long.

So it is with satisfaction and a feeling of content that I  close the door on these events and walk towards a new year of challenges.
No regrets.

This morning I read this poem on http://smallactofkindness.wordpress.com/ that eloquently expresses the essence of my post today.

You are not your age,
Nor the size of the clothes you wear,
You are not a weight,
Or the color of your hair.
You are not your name,
Or the dimples in your cheeks,
You are all the books you read,
And all the words you speak,
You are your croaky morning voice,
And the smiles you try to hide,
You are the sweetness in your laughter,
And every tear you’ve cried,
You’re the songs you sing so loudly when you know you’re all alone,
You’re the places you’ve been too,
And the one that you call home,
You’re the things that you believe in,
And the people that you love,
You’re the photos in your bedroom,
And the future you dream of,
You’re made of so much beauty,
But it seems you forgot,
When you decided that you were defined,
By all the things you’re not.
~e.h

Getting to know you

A year ago I found it difficult to disclose things about myself. Perhaps I was fearful of judgement or maybe I doubted my qualities and uniqueness.

After a series of monumental life situations I experienced a physical and emotional reaction and knew I needed to re-evaluate my existence. My body was screaming at me to find a better way of coping with stress.

My search within led to blogging as an outlet to explore emotions and interact with others about the ups and downs of everyday life.  Initially I was guarded about exposing my vulnerabilities but gradually started sharing personal stories, which began the regeneration of my self-confidence.

As my first year of discovery draws to a close I’m stepping further outside my comfort zone and revealing more about myself that I haven’t blogged about this year.

I’ve written some questions and answers that may connect more of my personality puzzle pieces together. I would love readers to answer the same questions as a post on their own blog or in the comment section to my post. Feel free to answer one or all of the questions, or add new questions, as you wish.

What is your real name and where do you live?
My name is Jennifer Donovan but I prefer Jenna Dee.
I live in Melbourne, Australia

What makes you sad?
I was a lonely child and yearned for a sister close to my own age. As a mother I had a son followed  by two daughters close together in age who grew up as great friends. As adults my daughters are not as connected as they once were and this makes me a little sad.

Seeing the loss in my Dad’s eyes because he misses the love of his life, my mum, who died seven years ago.

What are your major mistakes?
Although I’ve learned to let go of regrets I believe their acknowledgement as a part of our lives is important.

Getting married at 18 remains my biggest mistake. Although legally an adult, I was an unworldly child with no idea of the enormity of my decision. The marriage lasted 7 years and finally failed after we decided to have a child.

When I was pregnant with my first child my husband started ignoring me and staying out all night. I was upset he didn’t want to share the joy of having a baby. I am ashamed to say I began a relationship with a married man I worked with. To me it was nice having someone pay attention to me but to him it was more. He talked about leaving his family to be with me, which freaked me out. I ended the relationship abruptly and broke his heart, which I am not proud of.

When was the last time you cried?
Recently I cried tears of being overwhelmed when I attempted public speaking (described in my post Closer to the Edge) . Sometimes sad movies cause a few tears to fall.

When my mother died seven years ago my tears flowed freely There are only three times in my life I remember sobbing uncontrollably; when my first marriage finally ended, when I lost a baby early in a pregnancy (the first baby for my second husband and I) and when my mother died.

What makes you angry?

  • Arrogant people who feel they are superior to others.
  • Every type of injustice.
  • I feel upset that my daughter who is a lesbian is not entitled to the same privileges as heterosexuals.

What is your most recent happiest memory?
Celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary this year in Shanghai, China. We travelled to Tongli in rural China to the ancient houses and gardens that hold mystical power over me. As we entered one of the courtyards light fluffy snow started to fall making it a magical memory.

When were you most scared?
Being in Fiji during Cyclone Oscar in 1983. This was the only time in my life that I thought I was going to die and at the moment of realisation a bizarre feeling of peace and calm filled my body.

When my relationship with my son disintegrated and he left home. I was terrified for his safety and well-being.

The night my mother fell and the emergency hospital staff told us that her injuries were the worst kind.

When were you most brave?

  • Making the decision to return to university as a mature age student when I was 37.
  • Knowing I needed to reclaim my individual identity and revert to using my family name Donovan, even though I knew it upset my husband.

What haven’t you done that you wished you had done?

  • Lived independently as a single adult.
  • Participated in a study abroad program.
  • Taught English in Japan.

What makes you different from most people?

  • I don’t like being around a lot of people. Situations such as airports, trains, crowed pubs and shopping malls make me uncomfortable. I like my own company and love being with my family but I don’t have a large circle of friends.
  • Unlike most people I prefer silence rather than listening to music or the radio.
  • I’m not easily led towards fads, fashion and trends preferring to enjoy my own treasures.

Who has influenced your life?
I met my husband Peter when I was 16 and he was 18 and formed a close friendship. We married 12 years later after my first marriage ended and have now been married for 25 years.

We are different in personality and ideals but it seems to work for us. Peter is my steadying influence and is tolerant and kind. As the person I am closest to, Peter often bears the brunt of my frustrations.

We are a team and I am proud of the parents we are to our children. He is my soul mate and I would be lost without him in my life.

My mother also influenced my life. She was quirky and had an uncanny ability to see through the falseness of some people. My mum saw the best in me and gave me confidence to believe in myself.  After she died I struggled to maintain my self-confidence without her input. My mum was the kindest, most understanding and wise person I have met in my life.

What is the greatest lesson you have learned?
This year has been by far the most influential year of my life creating possibilities for many changes within.

The greatest lesson I have learned is that to change your life all you have to do is change your attitude. It is that simple.

Ocean voyage

Many moons ago it was within my reach
I let it slip from my grasp
I’m older and wiser now
I see the truth

Sailing on the ocean
Gliding free leaving
the past in the wake
of sea mist

The horizon beckons
both sunlit and stormy
Paradise
awakens the senses

Independent minds flow freely
Guided from within,
humble and obscure
Rippling like a stream to the sea.

Long deep breaths
release waves of relief
the juggling balls fall
imploding all fear.

Disfavour ebbs and flows
everything has its time
clarity comes naturally forward
in whatever way it pleases

Nurture love
show gratitude and be kind
walk barefoot in the sand
and smile.

Closer to the edge

Most of the time I’m comfortable in my existence and can fairly accurately predict my reaction to most situations. As an introvert I’m not usually emotionally demonstrative.

Writing helps me see things with clarity and put my thoughts into words. It is my strongest form of expression and communication.

Recently I stepped outside my internal written world when a writers group held an open microphone event for people to read aloud their work to a like-minded audience.

As the event coincided with the first year anniversary of my blog I eagerly signed up to read Zen Moments that summarizes the highs and lows of my year of self-discovery.

Listening to the other readers was motivating and I didn’t feel nervous. Soon it was my turn to step up to the microphone to read.

The moment I began reading the reality of speaking my truths hit me like a brick and my voice started to falter. My vulnerabilities and insecurities erupted and involuntarily flooded my body. I was completely thrown by my unexpected emotional reaction.

As I spoke tears sprung to my eyes and words choked my throat.  I couldn’t go on. My heart thumped like a ticking time bomb and I wanted to run out the door, but I stayed still.

Another writer kindly came forward to stand beside me and continue reading my piece. As she spoke my words it was if I was hearing them for the first time. I felt like I was standing naked on the stage.

She had almost finished and invited me to resume reading, but as soon as I spoke again my tears returned. Again she kindly continued to finish reading for me while I stood beside her.

The audience applauded as I self-consciously left the stage.  Immediately someone who I have wanted to become closer with for some time gave me the warmest hug and told me she was proud of me. This made me very happy to know she cared.

My old self would have lamented my awful public speaking experience  but I chose to accept what happened for whatever it was.

That day I was proud to have satisfied my intention which is

Letting things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.