Dear Mums, yep this is hard

Oh man, I don’t know about you but this forced iso is hard when you have children. Yes, it is necessary to fight this virus by staying at home, but it is still hard. I have heard from countless Mums recently, all sharing about moments when they have desperately hide from their family members. I am one of them, because sometimes it’s one question too many. Sometimes it’s one screaming, annoying, angry, defiant, bored, emotional, messy, face too many. Sometimes you have given everything you had to give and you still have to keep giving.

So Honey, hide from your family when you must. You cry if you want. Give the finger to your cat (a personal favourite of mine) if that helps release the tension. This is hard, it’s not just you. That shame or Mum-guilt you are carrying doesn’t belong there; many of us are feeling bat-crap-crazy at the moment. You do not have to be perfect in this moment. You can’t meet all their needs. You are not letting them down. I guarantee, if you are even worried about your kids in this moment, you are loving your kids as best as you can.

My girlfriends and I have been more connected recently because we need to hear the “Oh me too, today was horrible” or the “You did so well” or a “I’m so happy you had a great day today”. We send each other funny memes or encouraging posts, because this is hard. It’s not a competition over who has it worse… it’s hard for us all in our own ways. Sweetheart, now is not a time for comparision. We are processing everything that’s going on, as well as other stresses like joblessness, cancelled plans, feelings of unrest and so on whilst raising children. It is incredibly hard some days. But hey… We are doing the best we can. Let’s give ourselves a break.

You are not alone – this is actually hard. I hope by hearing that you feel less alone, less like a failure and that tonight after the kids have gone to bed you can realise how hard you have been working. Well done Babe, you are amazing.

Love Jess xxoo

PS – Yes there are also many Dads who are in the same boat, but this one is for Mums because I am one 😉

My resolve today.

I have no idea anymore. Yeah, I honestly have no idea what’s going on or what’s going to happen next; I would say that none of us do. But you know what… that is Ok, I am at peace with it because it is outside of my control. If there is a choice between stress or peace, I’m going to choose peace every time. I’ve also read that Jesus is the Prince of Peace, so naturally I will choose Him any day of the week. Before this all started, I was reading my way through a book in the Bible called Proverbs. It’s filled with short phrases full of wisdom and I am always up for getting some extra wisdom in my life. I would encourage you even if you don’t like the Bible or Christianity that these words are still good – it’s worth a look 🙂

There is one line that is standing out for me at lot at the moment; you can see shadows of its influence in my previous post.

Today I am holding onto kindness for my fellow man. I have no idea any more, but I will still be kind. I may cry, I may feel sad, I may feel uncertain, but I will still be kind. When people are scared they react in all sorts of ways, but I can still choose to be kind. I am determined to carry myself with kindness and be like ‘honey’ for those I engage with. May people walk away (more accurately ‘turn off their phones’) from their interactions with me soothed and stronger.

Today I am holding onto kindness for myself. When the kids are driving me crazy, when I feel weak and weighed down… I will be kind. I will give myself space to feel and move through the emotions. I will allow for growth in its many stages and forms. I will make self-compassion my companion.

I will share kind words to sweeten souls and give health to bodies – This is my resolve today. What is yours?

Love Jess xxoo

Letting go and holding on

As countries continue to go into lockdown and people’s livelihoods are disappearing, it is a season of uncertainty for us all. I was speaking with a friend in the USA this weekend (via Instagram) and he said he was “trying to hold on and let go at the same time”. What wise words for us all to apply to our lives.

Letting go:

All of us will have things that we need to let go of at the moment and some of them are so very, very hard to do. They might be wedding plans, long awaited holidays, jobs and careers, personal dreams, new businesses, studying, fitness plans, financial goals… I honestly can’t name them all. There are so many ‘things’ that COVID-19 has impacted and we have all been impacted in one way or another. So today, why don’t you give yourself permission to mourn the things you need to let go of – mourn the things that can no longer be.

I suggest you allocate 20-30 minutes to write down the dreams/goals/plans in your life that are not longer possible and really be honest with how you feeling. Allow yourself to actually feel disappointed, angry, frustrated, depressed, sad or whatever. After that timing however, let’s do some letting go. If we are going to keep going, it’ll be easier if we aren’t holding onto things that are no longer a reality. The world has changed for the foreseeable future and it’s time for us to be resilient. You can do this; you can rise and rise again. You can let go of those hopes and dream and put others in their place. I will be doing the same. Our new dreams may look very different and not as ‘glamorous’ for a while, but having dreams/plans to look forward to is important for us all. Take a moment… let go with me. It is hard and almost unbelievable, but we are in this together. You are not alone; everyone will be faced with changes. Let them go dear friend. Even if you have tears in your eyes, take a moment to mourn and let them go.

Holding on:

As we are doing our ‘letting go’ now is also a time to ‘hold on’ more than ever before. Hold on to relationships, hold onto hope, hold onto self-compassion and hold on faith or beliefs. Hold on to the idea that you will survive this. Hold on dear heart. I will be honest and say that I have moments during the day when I think ‘Is this really happening?’ I feel sadness as I look at the lives lost, the virus spreading, people without work, nations shutting down – it is the reality of what is happening. But I don’t stay in that place. Instead I hold onto my faith in God and my belief in the extraordinary ingenuity and endurance of the human race.

Today I am holding onto the people I love, messaging them words of hope or sending them funny memes to lighten their day. I am being more intentional about my connections, not necessarily in quantity but in quality. I am also treasuring and being mindful of the the moments I find joy and sharing them with others. Today I am holding onto hope, hope for a cure, hope for a breakthrough and good news. Today I am holding onto self-compassion and realising that sometimes I will feel strong, while other times weak and that is ok. Lastly, I am holding onto my personal faith. Faith in a God who cares for us, who hears us, who has empowered us and loves us without measure.

What are you holding onto today? Just like our letting go exercise, why don’t you write them down and spend some time focusing on the things that are your strength today? When you feel down, remind yourself of what you are holding onto.

As things around the world continue to unfold, we will be letting go and holding on at the same time. Both are equally important particularly in moments of such rapid of change. Take a breath, take a moment, you are doing so well.

Love Jess xxoo

PS – I’ve been spending time on a live dance party on Instagram by DJ dnice (click on his name for link to his profile). Although I know nothing about him, he plays great music and it’s honestly a lot of fun having a virtual party with about 100k people. Things really go off when he does a hat change 🙂

Dear Anxious Heart

Dear Anxious Heart,

I speak peace over you right now
Peace over the fears and thoughts that keep you up at night
Peace over the worries that weigh your heart down.

I speak peace over you right now
Peace over your body and your breathing
Peace over tension in your shoulders and the tightness in your chest.

I speak peace over you right now
I have known the bondage of anxiety
And I know the sweet freedom of peace
So, I will speak it over you just as it was released over me.

I know that your mind is crowded with thoughts right now and you want to chase them all down, but we both know that it’s not possible because you can’t hold onto them long enough. Take a breath and sit with me in this moment, sit with me and bring your uncomfortable feelings; I am not afraid of them, you are safe here. I will not tell you to ‘get over it’ or ‘just stop thinking about it’ and I’ll mentally punch anyone in the head who says those words to you 😉 I understand that it’s not that easy – I’ve got you.

I don’t know your situation, but I will tell you what I know… I know that it’s possible to break out of this mental prison. It’s possible to come out the other side (it really is), however I also know it’s hard for you to believe that right now. I have personally worked for years on my thoughts, fight/flight reactions, breaking down lies and perfectionism while failing, trying again, failing, trying again and again. It is hard work, but it can be done. Maybe I will write more about this one day (ok I will, just for you), but for today, you need to be seen in this moment and told that you can and will survive this. Go read the beginning bit again, change is coming your way. Sit with it today. Sit with it. We’ll talk more later ok?

Love Jess xxoo

Be ‘the person’ for someone

Disclaimer: For this blog I mention influential women in my life. Countless men have also influenced and empowered me, but today I focus on the females who have led the way. Quite frankly my dears, you are breathtaking.

This quote is really challenging me right now, causing me to do a lot of reflection on the past and present. I’m asking myself questions about who has influenced me in the past, what do I need to hear from others in my current season (who do I need now) and who am I encouraging on their journey?

By looking back through my relationships in years gone by and noticing who has helped me, I’m sure most people wouldn’t even be aware of their impact. I think of women named Joelle, Lauren, Sarah (x 3), Rose, Jenny, Lorna, Amanda, Tash, Nat, Lara, Liz (x2), women who I looked up to and admired for different reasons. Through them I learned so much about positive: mental health, sexuality, playfulness, intelligence, strength, endurance, perspective, self-discovery and intimacy with God. Each of them in their own way has allowed me to accept myself a little more and not shut off parts that I thought were unacceptable. I owe them thanks for living their lives authentically. I still need you and I honestly can’t express my thanks adequately for the way you have shared your lives with me (either up close or from afar).

I know that as I have and continue to be been positively influenced, I would hope that others are encouraged or inspired by how I navigate my life and my own battles and frustrations. For those behind me in life’s journey I honestly find it harder to articulate what I would like to share. There are so many things to say, so many fears to diffuse and lies to pull down, but I know you will be defeat them too. If I could share a few thoughts, I would look at you with sincere eyes and tell you that…

You are probably doing better than you think.
I know it’s hard sometimes, but honey, in my eyes,
you are wonderful just as you are in this moment.
The growth and victories will come in time.
All you have to be by the age of (X) is yourself
and that’s all that is required.
And don’t worry about getting older, it’s actually really great.

The quote below by Atticus Poetry wonderfully encapsulates my personal approach to Wellness Coaching (my paid profession) as well as how I like to mentor others. It speaks about creating space for people to be their authentic selves, because when we are our true selves that’s when growth takes place. Am I the type of person others feel safe to be themselves around? Do they know that I will love them where they are at, not where they ‘should’ be. Do I give people permission to be a work in progress; both a masterpiece and a mess at the same time?

One of the things I value most in relationships is authenticity. I believe that without authenticity we are all just living in the shadows, putting filters over our true selves and leaving us and others disappointed with reality. Of course I’m not saying that we should live our lives into a microphone sharing our every thought, however I would advocate sharing your victories when you feel you can. It’s so important that you do, because you have wisdom to share and there may be someone who desperately needs it right now.

Isn’t it empowering to realise that you can give other people comfort in their journey because of how you have navigated yours? Your journey could be the answer for someone else who is struggling in theirs. Emphasis on your journey. Not my journey, not that ‘super-star’ sibling you have or big-time success story from school or even that 50 km running, blonde haired, perfectly sculpted influencer you follow (God bless them too though)… but your unique journey. Be ‘the person’ for someone else that you needed by being authentically you.

Love Jess xxoo

Life’s Intermissions

Intermission (noun). A pause or break. A period during which action temporarily ceases; an interval between periods of action or activity.

Have you ever had a season in your life when you feel like everything is on pause? It might be caused by illness, a career break, a bad decision or a change in social situations, but whatever the reason it can be incredibly frustrating. It can feel like you’re in a holding pattern just waiting for your life to re-start. I know because I have been there a few times myself.

Say it with me “I’m in an intermission.” When those thoughts of uncertainty, and the feelings of being forgotten or left behind come creeping in, just remind yourself that this is only temporary. I know it doesn’t feel like it right now, but it is. Everyone has ‘intermission’ moments in their lives and despite being uncomfortable they aren’t necessarily a bad thing.

For the audience, an intermission builds anticipation for what’s to come in the acts to follow
– Sue Brickey

If you feel you are enduring an intermission in your life, let me encourage you to see it as an opportunity to reflect. For Christians it’s a time to trust and draw closer to God as Psalm 62:5-8 shows us how it’s done. It’s a forced pause for you to take stock of what you want in life and what your values are. It’s an opportunity to change the next scene in your life. If you don’t like what happened in the past, it’s time for change. If the past was great, it’s time for stepping up into something bigger and better or trying something completely different. I know for me, the way I see life’s intermissions has always determined what the next ‘act’ looks like and how well I make it through.

As long as we don’t check-out, things will get moving again eventually and a new act or season will start. This interruption to your life, might just be exactly what you didn’t realise you needed.

“I’m at an intermission in my life. I’m looking forward to what will come next.
I’m just at a pause. So it’s alright, it’s not over yet.”
– Author unknown

Love Jess xxoo

For more encouragement in the struggle read: Gratitude, When Faith and Hope Run out or Ten Times Braver

For the Struggling Creative

Any time I post a blog I will undoubtedly get someone misinterpreting what I am saying, because well, that’s what people do. We interpret what we think someone is saying and we put our own lens over it. It’s not bad, it just happens and is inevitable if you are going to share your creations with the world. I know all of this yet I’ll be honest, there is still always a moment right before or after I post a blog when I hesitate and wonder if maybe I should just stop doing this thing. There are two questions I have around blogging – should I create anything at all and is it worth being vulnerable to do it?I know that being creative takes courage. It takes courage to share what’s in your heart without being able to control the outcome or manage the misunderstandings that will inevitably occur. I look at artists, designers, songwriters, dancers, writers, chefs, musicians (anyone in the creative industries really) and I take my hat off to them and say thank you. Thank you for sharing yourself with the world. Some of you bring me so much joy as I experience what you have created and I’m grateful you pushed through your fears to share what you have with your fellow humans. I may not always like your expression or agree with every message, but I acknowledge your courage and say well done.

“There is no creativity without vulnerability”
– Brene Brown

If I am going to be misunderstood and perhaps ‘take a personal hit’ for something I have written, why on earth would I keep doing it? It’s because for every person who misinterprets what I’m saying, I get another who tells me “that’s just what I needed to hear today” or “Far out, I never knew that was happening in the world”. It’s for those people that I keep sharing my thoughts. There are many times when I think to myself… “Nah, don’t write any more Jess, honestly who really cares what you are thinking”. And then for some reason I just keep doing it anyway. As I said before, there is always a moment when I put myself out there and I question if it’s worth sharing. If no one likes this, is it still worth creating? For me, the answer is yes. I create for the fun of it. If I can, you can too. Create because you can. Dream it. Do it. Work at it. Create something uniquely you. You can do it. You should do it.What started out as a blog to update people on our travels has morphed into an avenue for me to share my thoughts. My short unedited writings are unlikely to make it into main-stream media, so I continually check in with my heart to see if it’s worth doing. Does it still provide me with a creative outlet? Yes. Do I enjoy putting words and thoughts together even if I struggle in the process? Yes. Although I only write about things I have already processed, many people don’t know that I’ve already moved on. How could they, unless I told them. So sometimes I get a message from someone asking me if I’m ok, or perhaps someone (*cough* my husband) looks at me sideways for a few days, wondering if I’m ok (love you Babe). It is the price I am willing to pay by sharing honestly with others.

What price are you willing to pay to be creative? If you are willing to be misunderstood, misinterpreted (which you will), then keep going for it. I would encourage you to create and share it with the world. The ‘world’ may end up being your five friends on TikTok or your Nan the next time you see her, but I would remind you that the people you impact need to see your creativity.  I have heard many amazing original songs that I wish everyone knew the lyrics to. I have viewed some breathtaking photos which will never be in a gallery and I have tasted some amazing meals by home chefs that will never feature on cooking shows. However, it is the exchange of other peoples ideas in those moments that enriches my own life; I am aware of the impact. One of my Pinterest boards is full of other people’s creativity that in turn inspires my own. I am so grateful for my fellow creatives and I need you to keep it up.

Those moments in time when others have shared their giftings with me have added delightful wonder to my life. I am a better person because of the things others create and my life is richer for all their hard work. But let’s be real, not everything everyone dreams up can be a masterpiece and some people excel because they have trained hard for many years. With all this in mind, even if your creative expression doesn’t get the recognition you think it should or you lack the resources/time/energy to develop your craft, it may still be worth it – simply for the joy of creating. Create simply for the joy of creating.

This leads me back to my original questions – should I create anything at all and is it worth being vulnerable to do it? Yes and yes. Let’s keep creating for the fun of it. Let’s keep being vulnerable and push past our fears by sharing our ideas with those around us. Please, please dear reader keep on creating and I will too. Let’s do it together.

Love Jess xxoo

PS – Those who know me well are aware of my love of the music group BTS, and will probably have a little smile as they read this. 😉 If you like dance you’ll appreciate this gem – the choreographer and dancers in this video just blow me away.

A different plant

I was out in my backyard this week, spending some time in nature and being mindful of the beauty around me. I saw these two plants and they captured my attention. Some of you may have seen my post on Facebook:

Both of these plants are in the same season (winter), but they are at different stages of growth and development. One is blooming, so vibrant and fertile. The other is shedding its leaves to conserve water and energy, eventually building cells to protect the exposed areas until the season changes. Both are beautiful for their own reasons.

What these little plants reminded me of was that different plants flourish in different seasons. It’s winter in Australia right now, but when summer comes, these plants will look very different. Instead of the picture looking like above, the plant on the left will be blooming while the other will be protecting itself from the heat. Growth for each plant will accelerate at different times of the year, but regardless of which season I see flowers, neither is better than the other. These plants are just totally different and thrive in different seasons. In their very DNA they were designed to bloom at different times, because quite simply, they are different plants.

The lesson I take away from this is that people (*cough* Spiritual people) are great at talking about ‘knowing your season’, myself included, but we can get tripped up when we see others in the same season as us. We compare ourselves to others who are our same age or life-stage or working in a similar role. When we feel we are conserving or withering while someone else is thriving or blooming, it’s important for us to be mindful of how we view ourselves. Essentially, you are a different kind of plant to me and I to you. I would not expect my Crepe Myrtle to bloom in winter, what a ridiculous notion, but goodness I can catch myself expecting to see blooms in every season of life. It sounds like this:

The simple take away is yes, you are different plant and therefore you bloom at a different time to someone else and that is ok. Perhaps your beauty is in looking after yourself. If you try to force yourself to bloom in the wrong timing, you’ll be too exhausted for the growth that could be coming your way.

Having simple one-liner to hold onto, like “I am a different plant” and speaking it to yourself, is incredibly powerful. It is a useful tool to cut through the lies we sometimes tell ourselves.  This one is helpful for me, maybe it will be helpful for you too. So, my friends next time you look at a fellow stay-at-home parent, or the colleague who is excelling in the same work industry as you, stop that poisonous comparative thought in its tracks and say it with me “I am a different plant.”

Love Jess xxoo

PS – For those concerned or bursting to encourage me, I don’t feel as though I am in a hibernating winter or sweltering summer. In case you are wondering, that was last year 🙂 But I know there will be winters and summers all throughout my life, so it’s good for me to keep being reminded of these lessons regardless of where I am in that cycle and whoever else I see alongside me.

A confession: Playing small

I have a confession to make, I have been playing it small. Ever since my son has come along, I have been a slightly lesser version of myself. I have been holding back, uncertain of my capacity and locking away parts of myself and my giftings, less I should fail. I think many people (especially Mums) feel this way, especially when re-entering the workforce or trying something new. We can feel insecure, don’t see what we have to offer and feel conflicted about where our loyalties lie. For me, I have returned to work and joined the creative team at my local church, you know, just two big commitments at once, nothing major haha.

The last seven months have been interesting for me as I have observed myself react to situations and people that I previously would not have struggled with. I have been my own worst enemy, continually undermining myself: Don’t make suggestions, don’t disagree, keep your head down, keep your eyes down, don’t rock the boat, be easy going, stay in the background, keep out of people’s way, don’t be ambitious, don’t have dreams. Be small.

But, I am not small. It’s just taken me a little while (with a few bumps and false starts) to rediscover that fact. I have gifts, talents and skills that should not be hidden. I have something to offer. I was created to shine in my own particular way and I do no-one a service by making myself less to accommodate others. Others don’t shine brighter because I stop shining. It doesn’t work like that; we shine brighter together. I didn’t even realise I was turning down the dimmer switch, but apparently, I was. Good to know. Good to finally recognise. Good to stop.

So looking forward, what does this re-discovery of identity mean for me? Externally, not much. I know the season I am in and I know my capacity and current commitments. I’m aware of my energy levels and honestly, at the moment I like going with the flow and doing my part for another person’s vision. Internally, I feel I am waking up. I am allowing myself to dream a little about what is stirring in my heart. I am curious about the things that I struggle with and wonder what is hiding underneath. If I don’t re-check what my passions are and look for opportunities to develop and learn, I will keep being small. I could easily get stuck in this place, not moving forward. Nothing has to change in this moment, it’s my own heart that’s changing. Instead of unrest, I am at peace on the inside.

I share this with you dear reader, because I feel like someone else needs to hear these words. Have you turned down the ‘dimmer’ in a certain area of your life? Let me challenge you to see where you might be playing small? You were not created to be small; you have something to offer this world in your own special way. Your offering, will look different to mine and woohoo for that. If you too feel you have been stuck, come on sweetheart, let’s take a moment to dream together. It’s time to stop playing small, even if it’s only evident in our hearts.

Love Jess xxoo

Meet Greta

Hi everyone, I would like you to meet Greta. Some of my girlfriends have suggested this might be a bit of a laugh to share with you all. Here is our story…

Jess’ Story:

Last night Tim got home from work at about 5pm and I was starting my overnight shift at 7:30pm. I immediately went to have a shower and was looking forward to having some alone time to wash off the day.

As the water was running I saw a reasonable sized Daddy-long-legs spider in the corner of the shower, and realised that it was too late to remove her. So I had two options:

  1. Flush her down the drain (which I didn’t really want to do)
  2. Leave her be.

Now is that point I made the mistake of calling her Greta. I spent the rest of the shower slightly tense that either she would fall, drown and float down the drain, or crawl over my back while I was shaving my legs.

At one point, she did make an attempt to crawl up the wall and fell. Time seemed to slow as I watched her bungee down towards the wet floor! I embarrassingly let out a squeal as I was now slightly attached to Greta and didn’t want to see her life cut short.

I’m happy to report that we both survived the shower, but needless to say, I will probably look for her next time I hop in. As this whole saga was happening, I did think that a male would probably never have this problem. He would probably just squish the spider and go on with his life, whereas I named her and got invested as to whether or not she survived my shower.

And that is my story. I hope you enjoyed it and don’t think I’m a crazy person.

Tim’s story:

This morning I got in the shower.
Saw a Daddy-long-legs spider on the wall.
Knocked spider onto the floor, flushed it down the drain.
Had shower.
The end.

Love Jess xxoo