Author Archives: Jennifer Chandler

My Last Blog Post

My Last Blog Post

It is a sunny but cold Sunday. The snow is still clinging to the roofs and blanketing the ground. Little buds that were emerging have been reminded it’s not spring yet but their time will come. It seemed like the perfect day to say goodbye to my website.

If I was to listen to what I preach to others then I would hear, “It’s not all about where you’ve been, it’s about where you want to go.” I could continue an archeological dig that would reveal what has gone into building my business and this blog but what’s the point? I would simply be trying to talk myself into staying the course but really it’s time to let new opportunities emerge.

My carefully crafted professional identity has switched between comforting and smothering over time. All of us can rationalize and say, “This is as who I am and what I do, so why change? It’s only going to complicate things.” The complication has existed anyway by virtue of the many hours I’ve spent feeling like there is something new on the horizon and it’s time to spread my wings.

Inside me is a yearning to break free. In the moments when I allow myself to venture beyond my safe, conventional thinking I see another woman in the picture. This woman looks like me but healthier. She is still writing but on a fresh page with creative juices flowing. She is learning new things and is immersed in fun activities. Her work with women in transition and support for humanity, family and friends remains.

As for my Esteem Rising ®  blog, over the course of the last couple of weeks I’ve tried to save as many of my blog posts as possible – that weren’t already on file. I was surprised to learn that I had written almost 800 blog posts! (Not all grammatically correct but posted) My more passionate reflections, rants, interviews with interesting people and commentary about Human Trafficking were the first to find security on a memory stick.

What I noticed over time was a distinct difference in frequency and enthusiasm with my writing.  My blog was not entirely Sparking Joy.  If I apply the Marie Kondo philosophy to my website (and work) I need to tidy things up. I will begin to assess what is valuable. What doesn’t spark joy will be acknowledged for its service and thankfully let go.

I have people to thank, including you readers for helping this website and blog to develop. Some very special people who come to mind are:

Jill, who told me to find my voice and not be afraid to write with authenticity.

Lise, Pat, Mar and Dean who read my blog from the beginning and along with so many others contributed their personal opinion on site and via email.

Ray, my “Web Guy”, who patiently and professionally answered so many odd tech questions from me while changing and maintaining jenniferchandler.com.

So, I would like to think that after tidying up you may just see Esteem Rising ® with a fresh new look and a renewed sense of purpose!

Continued success is wholeheartedly wished for you all!

 

Changes

Changes

My mother says, “Everything changes.” She makes this statement not in a positive way, but instead uses it to point out that something is different and therefore bad. She has always been fearful of change and to be quite honest I may have inherited some of that fear myself. There have been many times when I’ve resisted change in both my personal and work life, but this year I will put that to the test.

We are moving from a home we have lived in for many years and instead of owning we are renting. It has been a long time since we had rented a place to live and in the past, I thought the idea was crazy, but not anymore. I have embraced the change from home ownership to renting for various reasons and here are some good reasons to make that shift:

  1. The timeline for finding another house wasn’t realistic and we didn’t want the pressure to buy.
  2. Somebody else is responsible for maintenance and taxes etc.
  3. We are debt free. If we choose to buy again we can assess exactly what makes sense for our budget and needs.

The next change centers around my work. Though my focus has been on career development I increasingly delved further into Life Management Skills for women who have experienced abuse. It has long been where my heart lies – to support women who’ve survived violence – and now I feel even more drawn to pursue avenues leading in that direction.

Though I can do this in conjunction with career development services where I will do that is about to change. As a contract facilitator and consultant I have worked in various employment service centres. Recently, the government has shaken all that up like a snow globe and now as a picture emerges many of the centres I have known will be closing. This means change as to where and who I will work with. One of the sad parts of all of this is that I will have to say, “Goodbye” to some people I’ve known a long time.

Yet, with all this change I don’t feel the same kind of fear of the unknown that I used to experience. I have done a lot of soul searching as I watched and listened to my mother over the last year. I’ve been drawn to the conclusion that fear of change is debilitating and I’m not willing to let these precious years on earth be tainted by the fact I can’t control the future.

So, I say, Bring it on! With all the support that surrounds me I have a feeling I will be OK.

Turn and face the strange. Ch-ch-changes. ~ David Bowie

What are you doing with your life?

What are you doing with your life?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

I wrote this quote by Mary Oliver on the board for my workshop participants to read and it made us all think a little deeper. I’m not sure any of us felt in that moment that life turned out the way we planned but it sure has been a wild ride!

The fact is, most of the time it feels like life is happening to us rather than that we are the architects of our future. The combination of life happening, mixed with our own designs, is what makes life complex and precious at that same time.

After pondering the quote further it appeared to give us more resolve to look at life as deserving of more attention in order to truly live better. I asked the class, “What do you fear?” and one young woman said, “Not living up to my potential.” We all nodded in agreement and a very powerful discussion followed.

Life gives us opportunity to understand its precious notes through birth and death. Its unpredictable movements keeps us on our toes and can be both exhilarating and exhausting. The randomness of events and people who become apart of our story can be utterly confusing – until we choose to attach meaning.

My hope is, that as we move through this year and into the next we remember that this is our one wild and precious life so let’s be ready for more adventure. Let’s say, “Yes” often to experience more joy and to push beyond our fear of the unknown. Make our “No” non-negotiable when it needs to be. Let’s keep the plans and dreams alive so as to show life we were made for it.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Workshop for Women

Workshop for Women

Awesome! Empowering! Inspiring! These are just a few words that participants share after attending our Survivors of Violence Workshop Series.

If you have experienced abuse, bullying, or violence in a personal or professional relationship then I encourage you to come learn how to build up your confidence AND not let the past negatively define you anymore.

Problem Solving, Communication, Managing Triggers, Self-Compassion and so many more topics are explored.

Testimonials will support that this is a fascinating journey towards self and helps to redefine life, work and relationships.

I’m not kidding when I say, women’s voices and their body language are visibly changing as we move through each day.

A decision can be made to emerge from dark places and sit in the light again. I feel so privileged to witness those transformations.

We can’t change what happened but we can certainly understand how to move beyond it.

If you want more information please contact me directly or for the Richmond, BC area call Manjit at 778.732.0290. Manjit is great! She can help you determine whether this workshop fits your needs.

It will be our sincere pleasure to share this amazing workshop with you!

 

The Beauty of the Fall Season

The Beauty of the Fall Season

One thing that is great about living in British Columbia is the change of seasons. I am so fortunate to live in such an exquisitely diverse province where flora and fauna, oceans and rivers, mountains and farms, city and rural living weave their way across this landscape. The crisp air mixed in with this sunny day tells me Fall really is around the corner.

 

Should Kids Have A Say In Home Buying?

Should Kids Have A Say In Home Buying?

“You’ve got to be joking!” I exclaimed in utter disbelief. It was the hottest summer day and I had spent it cleaning my house and primping up the garden. Dust bunnies gone, floors mopped and smelling fresh, carpets meticulously vacuumed and every glass surface was clear of any prints. Multiple areas were ready for further inspection.

Outdoor pathways were swept and plants given a lovely drink to perk them up. A welcoming entrance and deck said, “Come on in and stay awhile.” or  “Buy this house.”   Either way it was dressed to impress. We are trying to sell our home and luckily there was a request for a second showing.

Our agent said that the people are an older couple who have toured the house before and they really liked it! They’re returning with their son so that he can look at it. Now, I thought mature couple, mature son. I had visions of their adult son coming and doing a more solid assessment of the house and maybe if he had some trades background his opinion would be quite helpful.

No, that was not the case. Instead it was a boy around 10 or 11 years old! WHAT THE….?

My agent passed along the following: He liked the place but was disappointed it didn’t have a basement. He likes to have more space for his activities, gaming etc. He apparently was brainstorming how to use another room for himself and he really liked the flat of Coke my husband had in the utility room. My agent said, “Well if your parents buy the home I’m sure we can throw that in the deal.”

I was driving in my car when I got the news and well, I will not write what I was screaming in my car. I could not believe I sweated all day for a child to give the final say on buying a home. So, I contacted my husband to share the news and I ranted for a good 20 minutes about the situation and the unbelievable state of parenting today.

There isn’t one person that I have talked to about this who’s jaw didn’t drop in disbelief. In fact, its making the rounds in our social circle for topics such as Signs of Child Entitlement and Parenting Gone Horribly Wrong.

My parents would have never had us kids decide about a home to buy, it’s not our investment.  After they buy it, we would have say in decorating our room but outside of that, home buying fell under adult decision making. Across the board nobody could recall their parents taking them to a house and asking for their opinion.

As a kid I was focused on other real world decisions and problems to solve. Should I play with Sara or Rebecca? Do I enter into the long distance run or short track run?  Was there a way to get out of piano lessons. How much scalloped potatoes can my dog eat so I don’t have to. Plus, one crucial decision: To take the long way to school instead of taking the shortcut path – thus avoiding stupid bullies.

If this kid has that kind of power at 10 years old I can’t imagine what he’ll be like a few years from now or maybe I can. He might expect other people to be equally indulgent. He’ll be the kind of kid who spends the next 20 years in his basement gaming while his parents keep supporting him. He’ll scoff at having a job because he’s entitled to everything anyway so why work. AND He won’t like it when others fail to embrace his opinion or suggestions.

And don’t think the above commentary isn’t a reality because I have seen it with my own eyes at our Employment Service Centres. Twenty-something’s finally forced to get a job or Thirty year old men who have been in and out of work because they feel under-appreciated. They know it all and people just don’t get it! And If they aren’t able to get days off for Comic-Con then, See Ya! (That’s for another blog)

If I sound still miffed about this, I am. I’m sure you’ve guessed the outcome by now…No House Sale.

 

We can’t look away from bad news

We can’t look away from bad news

She watched one news story after another, disgusted by each one but didn’t turn the channel. Stories about animal abuse, fires destroying homes, a man killing his wife, a woman’s tirade in a store, gang wars, suicides, hurricanes and volcanic eruptions, AND the political poop show that dominates everything!

Her analysis of the world, “It’s all terrible!” Later today she’ll watch the news again for more of the same coverage.

The truth is humans have difficulty turning away from tragedy. People can be drawn towards drama, excited by debauchery and even envious of the person who stepped over the line and publicly lost their cool. We can be mesmerized by stories of misconduct and horrified but curious about mayhem.

Maybe we are hard-wired to watch what happens to others in order to protect ourselves from falling victim. It could be that we learn lessons from people’s behaviour and mistakes or, more realistically, the spectacle that surrounds us everyday has become entertainment.

Knowing our unwavering need to explore the darkest of human behaviour more news and TV programs cater to that taste. One local news story about a fire leads to a cluster of fire stories across the world. The gratuitous depictions of anger, sex, and a million ways to kill or die becomes normalized. We pay to watch these things.

Dressed up, news and other programs want us to believe we are informed. Instead, we remain largely ignorant but we do establish our place in a like-minded tribe.

Dressed down, or exposed for all it’s worth, the constant viewing of negative programs can erode our health, deep thinking and personal discernment.

Still we keep looking.

Are You Listening?

Are You Listening?

Over the course of a few months I began to assess my immediate and extended family, my spouse and my own abilities to listen. A social experiment of sorts, which focused on self-awareness and active listening skills. I would venture to guess that most people would label themselves as good listeners. Myself included.

First question:

How strong are my listening skills?

I noticed my own tendency to drift in thought or to interject in conversations. That happened mostly in my personal life but professionally I tended to stay on point with active listening. A distinction that needs work so as not to discriminate between who gets attention and where.

For the most part I enjoy different perspectives on life, relationships and world issues. I’m genuinely interested in knowing people better. However, certain family members are particularly good at hitting sensitive nerves so then ears can close and defensive shields go up. Still working on those trigger responses.

Overall, I would describe myself as a good listener with room for improvement.

Second question:

 Was my assumption that I was not being heard realistic?

I came to realize others were not offering the same degree of listening time, presence and genuine interest as I gave them. So, I began to conduct random post analysis of natural conversations.

When opportunities arose for my family and spouse to talk freely about a topic I would listen carefully. I’m pretty sure that my verbal and non-verbal cues demonstrated interest. (Absent of any triggering episodes)

Curiously, when I began to share my thoughts I noticed a distinct difference in most people’s capabilities to listen. It was as if a switch went off and all the energy that propelled them forward to talk about their topics had been expended and there was nothing left for listening.

Here’s what I experienced:

No eye contact

Quick to acknowledge  other people, things and/or pets,  without apology, while I was speaking

Interrupted to passionately impose their own opinion and raised voice to be heard

Completely ignored topic(s) and deflected to what they wanted to talk about (“That’s like me….”)

Picked up phones in the middle of a conversation to scan Twitter, or check incoming email

Got up to leave or go do something else ( Their excuse: ” Oh, I thought you were finished talking” or “I just needed to….)

Silent: Asked no questions to better understand points, nor used words like, “Really?” or “Uh, huh.”

Body language showed disinterest and they lacked empathy

To counteract their apparent disinterest I stopped mid-sentence just to see what would happen. Some people were oblivious to the odd stop and other’s were jarred out of their mind fog enough to offer a faint bit of interest….and then it was gone again.

I also experimented with what I’ll call, “Goldfish Attention Span” talking. I kept speech short with simple words. Still no signs of life or interest. I tried being more animated in tone and body to command the stage, as it were. That worked a bit but I still wasn’t getting active listening beyond that point.

After observing their inability to be attentive I would transition back to something I know they like to talk about and miraculously they were engaged again.

Maybe I’m too boring. Maybe I talk too much. Maybe what I’m talking about is over their heads. Maybe listening is easier when it’s catchy comments or profanity laced dialogue. Maybe they are self-centered or rude. Maybe WE struggle with being present.

OR

Maybe listening skills need to be developed and consistently improved upon in order to be effectively applied to our personal and business relationships.

Check out these Tips on Active Listening:

MindTools Article and Video

Active Listening Hear What People Are Really Saying

Plus:

Dr John Gottman’s Top 10 Skills for Active Listening

  1. Focus on being interested, not interesting
  2. Start by asking questions
  3. Look for commonalities
  4. Tune in with all your attention
  5. Communicate that you are listening with a nod/sound
  6. Paraphrase what the speaker says
  7. Validate the speakers emotions
  8. Maintain eye contact
  9. Let go of your agenda
  10. Turn off the TV or anything else that is distracting

 

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