Category Archives: Life Reflections

Reflections on life

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!

 

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!

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.

 

Car Pool Karaoke with Paul McCartney – Thanks James

Car Pool Karaoke with Paul McCartney – Thanks James

ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT!

WHEN JAMES CORDEN STARTED CAR POLL KARAOKE WHO COULD HAVE KNOWN IT WOULD LEAD TO A RIDE WITH PAUL McCARTNEY .

THIS INTERVIEW WAS PROBABLY ONE OF THE BEST INTERVIEWS I HAVE SEEN WITH McCARTNEY BECAUSE NOT ONLY WAS HE ABLE TO SHARE HIS INCREDIBLE STORIES – AND WALK LITERALLY DOWN PENNY LANE – BUT HE ALSO APPEARED TO HAVE A REALLY GOOD TIME WITH IT ALL. TO SEE JAMES EXPERIENCE HIS OWN EMOTIONAL MOMENTS WAS SO TOUCHING TOO.

I STILL CAN’T STOP SMILING. THE ICING ON THE CAKE CAME TOWARDS THE END AND WOW!… WISH I’D BEEN THERE.

I HOPE THEY BOTH KNOW HOW MUCH JOY THEY JUST SPREAD AROUND THE WORLD.

The Face of Suicide

The Face of Suicide

With the death of Kate Spade, a highly recognized fashion designer, the topics of suicide and mental illness come to the forefront of media yet again. For those that do not suffer from mental illness, committing suicide seems like an extreme act. But, for some people who have considered taking their own life it’s not extreme at all, it’s just an option.

In honest conversations with people who struggle with severe depression I have learned that suicide can be considered a relief – a way out of their discomfort. They see themselves as sparing self,  family and friends from all the problems that exist with their condition. Others say, they are trying desperately to suppress such thoughts and urges but find it difficult at times to control the voices in their head. Embarrassed by it all, they try to keep the talking about it to a minimum.

It’s tough to know what will act as the catalyst for ending life, the one thing or day that will make such a thought become an executed decision. Outside of those that make their suicide a public spectacle, it is quite likely a very lonely way to go. Somewhere – while drowning in the torture of one’ s mind – comes the drive to go through with it. It is so very sad.

I may be taking some liberty in assigning the word lonely to such an experience as we never will know what each person feels in the moments before death.  If notes were left, like allegedly in Ms. Spade’s case, there is some answered questions and feelings described to others but ultimately the last seconds are personal.

We have multiple therapies, medications and groups that endeavour to help sufferers of mental illness. Through such support they are heard, validated and given reasons to continue life. However, all our knowledge and compassion unfortunately can’t save everyone.

There is no face of suicide. It is found in the stories of all people, all ethnicities and age groups, regardless of economic status or gender.

I have witnessed people recover from suicide attempts who go on to lead their best life. I think it’s important not to judge what “a best or normal life” is but to support whatever that looks like for them.  We should continue to try to offer support, call suicide prevention hotlines for guidance, or contact professionals on behalf of someone in distress.

All is not lost,  hope can rise again and what seems insurmountable can be challenged. One more day might make a big difference.

Resource:

Suicide Prevention Canada

Thinking About Suicide?

In Memory of Dame Daphne Sheldrick

In Memory of Dame Daphne Sheldrick

A I write this I’m fighting back tears. Today, I learned that a woman I greatly admire has passed away – her name was Dame Daphne Sheldrick. She was the founder of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust which has been rescuing and protecting wild Elephants and Rhinos since 1977. Her passion for wildlife conservation was nurtured alongside her husband David Sheldrick and after his death she remained committed to supporting wildlife in Kenya.

I wish I could find the perfect words to honor this woman but I’m afraid that will not be the case. I can’t capture the feelings fast enough in order to eloquently speak about her impact on my life.

My awareness about the plight of elephants came through an interview she did many years ago. After I finished watching her speak I was moved to find out more about DSWT and from that introduction I became committed to its success. Since that time I have continuously supported the charity and proudly sponsor two elephants.

A point of fact: When Dame Daphne Sheldrick began rescuing orphaned baby elephants it was difficult to keep them alive without their mother’s milk and loving guidance. It is through pure dedication that Dame Daphne Sheldrick managed to develop the right formula in which to feed baby elephants and developed a program in which a person would be assigned to each orphan. With this type of personal care and companionship these elephants thrived. Within Tsavo East National Park, and beyond, there are generations of healthy adult elephants who live because DSWT cared.

Now the tears stream down my face….

Dame Daphne Sheldrick had gentle hands caring for elephants and rhinos but a determined voice as their advocate. She knew that a world without these majestic, incredibly intelligent souls would not be right. She brushed up against their bodies and listened to the beating of their hearts. She looked into the eyes of an orphan and knew she couldn’t take away their tragic memories of loss but could lessen their grief with an introduction to a new family. Dame Sheldrick and her team knew all souls would not be saved but accepted this as their reality. She was incredibly brave to fight this battle and her final battle with breast cancer.

In 2009, one of my earliest blog posts was a two-part interview with Wendi Wendt – who’s picture you see on this post with a baby elephant – she was the Vice President of The US Friends of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. I was thrilled to speak with her. Wendi and I spoke about our first encounters with this project at more length than what’s written in my blog. I know I share with many people today a tremendous amount of sadness and a renewed sense of purpose to keep Dame Sheldrick’s vision alive. Please feel free to read US Friends of the David Seldrick Wildlife Trust Interview Part 1 and Interview Part 2.

I offer my condolences to her family, friends and dedicated colleagues.

Please help support their cause – For the Love of a Baby Elephant or Rhino. Donate

 

If Needles Could Talk

If Needles Could Talk

The needles lay scattered across the concrete, the only reminder that pain stood here. It came through the experiences of a human being and it lingers because up to this point Pain has nowhere else to go. A back alley, bathroom, locked bedroom or random space is all that is needed to accommodate self-medication and annihilation.

Dignity has long since disappeared and so to have the values that were once held close – no foundation exists. Uncomfortably aroused by traumatic memories it is difficult to escape and so today darkness takes over.

I was a compassionate Teacher, brilliant Lawyer, safe Truck Driver, respected Business Owner, top Sales Person. My role as a Husband, Father, Uncle, Brother, Son, Mother, Sister, Wife, Daughter, Aunt, wasn’t enough to keep me from falling.

When something triggers me I don’t know how to cope. I know you wish I could learn to manage myself better, and handle life like “other people do”, but my pain is too great. The grief, loss, trauma, voices, all the memories flood over me and I can’t keep my head above, I’m drowning. I haven’t shared all of this with you because….

I had good parents. I had screwed up parents. I grew up in Foster care. I’m University educated. I was on the honor roll but barely graduated. I hated school so I dropped out in grade 10. I live across from you. I work with you. We play on the same sports team. We’ve been at the same parties.  We vacationed together. We were introduced by a mutual friend.

It was one incident. I suffered from an undiagnosed mental health condition. I’ve survived multiple traumatic/abusive situations. I had an injury and was put on prescription drugs but then they stopped treatment. That sent me over the edge and though I’ve often considered entering rehab the needle exchange support is more accessible than a bed.

There are times when I float above to see me and that damn needle both lying on the ground. Its empty of what I thought would save me. My story is laced on its tip but discarded so easily.

I know you don’t want me in your neighbourhood but I’m here.

 

Ironing out the Wrinkles

Ironing out the Wrinkles

I looked down at my hands,  Wow! That’s a lot of wrinkles, I thought. The hands are a dead giveaway that we are aging. We can plump lips, dye hair, nip here and tuck there. We can strap in and flatten out, shape eyebrows and pluck unwanted hairs. Clothes can make us appear younger or distract the viewers from challenging areas but hands, well they keep it real.

It was while I was ironing that I had this moment of self-reflection. I hate ironing. I let shirts and pants pile up in the to be ironed zone until I can no longer classify it as a new decorating style or art installation. If my stupid iron had the capacity to iron out body wrinkles then maybe I would show it more love.

My mother used to have a home in Palm Springs, California. Every year during the winter months I would fly down for a week or so just to bask in the sun and shop for new clothes. We would hit all our favourite stores and I would chat it up with the ladies who ran those businesses. These women were impeccably dressed and looked exactly the same way as they did the year before. Everlasting beauty was clearly something to strive for.

Palm Springs educated me about the quest to defy aging and remain youthful. There were women (and men) with faces so baby smooth and radiant I wondered if one more sanding might be the last. Their lips were perpetually in pre-kiss mode, which I’m sure could certainly be construed as an invitation and laugh lines… what are those? I could never figure out why in such heat there was a need to wear blouses or turtlenecks done up to their chin but to each her own.

It was my dear Mum who said one day, “You know hands are the one thing they can’t change, just look at the hands.”

It was a fair observation and comment. These were beautiful people who have the right to do what they like but all the exfoliation, surgery or injections in the world wasn’t going to iron out hand wrinkles. I best get used to that.

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