Growing up my mom would often take my brother, sister, and I to the mall (90s Towne East homies holla!) to “window-shop.” The lecture she gave before exiting the car was always the same “Now, we’re headed in to the mall to window-shop only, kids. We’re not buying anything – just looking around, eating dinner, and having a good time.” I used to think that was soooooo lame. What’s the point of even going to the mall if you’re not going to buy something? I mean, besides deliciously unauthentic sweet and sour chicken at the food court.
These days I try to never find myself at the mall – money to burn or not – but dammit if all those years of mall walking and window-shopping isn’t serving a serious purpose in my life now. Yes, mother. You win. Again.
As of late, I’ve been window-shopping my beautiful bootie off. Thank you match.com for opening up an entire store front just for Jenny. To be completely honest (with myself and the world), I’ve not saved enough money in my ‘dating bank’ to even consider making a purchase any time soon – but in the meantime I might as well meander, take a peek around, eat dinner, and have a good time checking out future purchase possibilities, right?
While out shopping I’ve spotted a plethora of new things – some curious, some ridiculous, some tragic, some hilarious. However, I’ve noticed that as I’m standing there peering through the shiny match.com browser window the one thing that I can’t help but see glaring back at me is…myself.
Oh. So this isn’t about the men after all. It’s once again about…Jenny.
It’s about recognizing that I have choices.
It’s about finding out that everyone is damaged in some way.
It’s about owning my option to say “no.”
It’s about discovering that he is *just* as nervous as you are.
It’s about radiating earnest self-love from the deep, dark, formerly hidden depths of my soul.
It’s about authenticity and being 100% JV. Always.
It’s about unearthing and honoring my utmost needs and desires.
It’s about harnessing my confidence, courage, and fearlessness.
Most genuinely, it’s about the deep knowing that I am definitely interested and willing to invest in another man one day…when the time is right. Although this time I’m committed to making the purchase from my ‘soul savings’ rather than my ‘ego account.’
A lil’ bit of JV bravery and celebration in honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness week. 2 years later my eating disorder and recovery is still my life’s greatest challenge and Gift. #NEDAwareness #capturehope #wheniwassick
“The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.” - Neil Gaiman
I hate the way you talk to me, and the way you cut your hair.
I hate the way you drive my car,
I hate it when you stare.
I hate your big dumb combat boots, and the way you read my mind.
I hate you so much it makes me sick, it even makes me rhyme.
I hate the way you’re always right, I hate it when you lie,
I hate it when you make me laugh, even worse when you make me cry.
I hate it when you’re not around and the fact that you didn’t call
but mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you not even close,
not even a little bit, not even at all.
Ten Things I Hate About You
My divorce has been been final for a year and a half, yet I’m finally sitting in enough stillness to start grieving and process the trauma (and drama) that is the ending of a marriage.
It only took a few weeks and a grand total of $75 for us to sort through nine years of material goods. The emotional goods however are a completely different story. Sorting through those could take what feels like an entire lifetime. And it’s cost? Well, it’s way to high to even discuss.
My marriage ended between the height of my eating disorder and the beginning of my path to recovery. During that time my physical and mental health in relation to food took priority. In that moment it had to – it meant life or death. Focusing on my divorce seemed so irrelevant back then. Just another hoop that I needed to jump through in order to move onward and upward. Until now.
17th months, thousands of thoughts, and handfuls of nightmares later I was led to the book Spiritual Divorce. I had been resting in openess knowing that I would begin my post-divorce healing process whenever that time was meant to be – which is apparently…Now. Hold on tight honeys because here we go. Debbie Ford has not only swung open my spiritual divorce door but she flipped on the light while she was at it.
Who is this woman and how in the name of God does she have me basking in Love rather than Hate for my ex? I’ve spent months working hard to hate him! Remembering specific events and statements so that I could turn him into a really, really bad guy. And it was finally working until she flipped that darn light on. The light of Love. The light that has made me realize that I absolutely don’t hate my MarkeyPoo, not even a little bit, not even at all.
So here I am. Sorting through my emotional goods and receiving the Gift of my divorce in the light of Love rather than the darkness of Hate. Who in the heck saw that one coming?
It was 2 degrees when I woke up this morning. Yup. 2.
Unronically, I thought of 2 things as my eyes opened – 1. 2 degrees? Seriously? Is this entire living in Kansas thing a big joke? Am I really still stuck in Wyoming and failed to realize it? 2. I really don’t feel compelled to make the trek through arctic Wichita (It’s only like 3 blocks away but still…) to get to my studio.
I had another in-my-sleep ‘studio’ night last night. I woke up around 3am brainstorming, problem solving, and creating. I often experience both extreme breakthroughs and/or severe frustration during these times – last night was no exception.
On the extreme breakthrough front I was able to hammer out a new perspective on my #dearbodylove project. Heck.to.tha.yes. However I drifted back to sleep severely frustrated with a few bits of writing that I’ve been working on lately. They’re just not taking off and it’s stings. I get it – the Universe just isn’t ready for them yet and that’s OK. I’ve learned the art of acceptance and trust me…I’m working’ it.
Before I got out of bed I asked myself why I really didn’t want to go to the studio. I easily unearthed the truth because I already knew it. I’m stuck. And it’s sticky. The creativity and writing hasn’t just been flowing through me like warm bee’s milk (aka honey – thank you Halen McClure, age 4) ripe from pollination like I LOVE it too.
Then I remembered what my mentor, James Victore says - “Just show up. No matter what, you have to show up.” Then I heard my ex-husband – yes, I’ve been hearing him a lot lately (working on that) – “You can’t win if you don’t enter.” Then I heard myself “Jenny, you can’t receive Life’s gifts if you don’t show up to the party!”
So I got up, threw my party pants on (Denim, of the AE persuasion) and brought my bumbly butt to the studio.
I’m here! I’m present! I’m partying! Now, let’s see what sweet gifts of life-affirming nectar present themselves.
Hey! It’s 9 degrees now. Things are already looking up.
As I was packing for my big move from Wyoming last summer, my dear friend, Soul-Sister, and Anam Cara, Leah was packing for a monthlong trek to India and Thailand. As we said our “see-ya-real-soons” and shared our last ‘Leah hug’ in WYO – officially one of the hardest good-byes of my life – I slipped her some cash and asked her to please share some love and stir-up a bit of social change in India for me. When she asked if I had any special requests I said “Nope, just where it needs to be spent in order to leave India Better.” I knew that Leah would know exactly when and where it should be spent. Because that’s Leah – she just KNOWS.
Several months down the road I’d completely forgotten about my request. Until Leah dropped these pictures in my lap a few days ago. As I meditate on them now I’m left in awe contemplating A. How deeply connected we all really are as beings of the Universe. B. How easy it is to create meaningful change. C. That the love of music and animals knows no borders. and D. To always do what you can, where you can, when you can do it – leaving our world deeply steeped in Love and Better.
I was recently asked by a former student – one of my best and brightest – for information on mindfulness in hopes to relieve an anxious and worrying mind. Boy did they land at the wellspring! I feel like the last two years of my life have been all-consumed in the most beautiful way with mindfulness. This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked this question and I’m certain it won’t be the last so I feel compelled to share the beautiful Universal gift that is the present moment in hopes that it changes someone else’s life for the better as much as it has mine. Here goes:
I was introduced to mindfulness practice during my treatment at the Eating Disorder Center of Denver. Cheese balls and all: it was one of the greatest – if not THE greatest gifts ever given to me. I have struggled with anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember. I’ve worried myself through most of my life – even as a young child. Some of this was inherited, some instilled later through certain life situations and events. My mind truly was – and still is – the wild, untamed forest elephant that Buddha speaks of – constantly running, trampling crops, doing damage and injuring those around it.
When I discovered – or was gifted – mindfulness I felt like I had just been invited in to some type of secret society that I had never heard anyone talk about. It seemed like this beautiful, magical, and serene world full of beautiful landscapes, rainbows, butterflies, waterfalls and glitter – yes, there must *always* be glitter. In fact, after I started practicing it’s as if the entire Universe opened up and I realized that THIS was what all of these people were doing that I looked up to and wanted to be like ‘when I grew up’ – former professors, my design mentor, a Goddess named Leah who took me to my first Sanga, famous poets, musicians, and artists whose work I cherished and was deeply inspired by. Goodness me – when I found the present moment it was the first (and only) moment of the rest of my life.
So what is mindfulness? Ask 108 different people and get 108 different answers. It could also take me 108 years to fully explain what it is – so here’s the wham bam thank you ma’am version:
From my perspective, mindfulness simply means being present in the current moment. Your mind isn’t reflecting, remembering or lingering in the past and it isn’t worrying about or contemplating the future.
And how do you do it? Simply notice your experience. Don’t get caught in it or react to it – just notice. Have a ‘teflon mind’ and let experiences, feelings and thoughts come into your mind and slip right back out. Control your attention – don’t push or cling to any thoughts or feelings. Be a guard on duty – alert to every thought, feeling, and action that enters through your mind’s gate. Step inside yourself and watch your thoughts coming and going like clouds in the sky. I often picture my thoughts as leaves floating down a stream. Deeply notice what comes through your senses – your eyes, ears, nose, skin, tongue – stop and smell the roses.
An easy and helpful way to incorporate this into your day is to put words to things that you are doing or experiencing. “I am ______ right now.” or “A thought of ______ has come into my mind.” Call a thought just a thought and a feeling just a feeling. Most importantly don’t judge anything. It’s not a good thought or bad thought – just a thought. It’s not a positive or negative feeling – just a feeling.
Here’s the thing though – this isn’t easy. In the beginning you’ll continually catch that wild elephant of yours trampling crop, after crop, after crop. Just like learning to use any new tool you must practice. The good news? You can practice little but practice often. Every time you catch your mind wondering in the past or future just bring yourself right back to the present moment – notice your breath – in and out, in and out Eventually you’ll find that mindfulness becomes your resting state – which seems completely foreign and not even friggin’ possible given that most human beings live nearly their entire life in anything but the present.
When I first started practicing mindfulness I was REALLY good at it. I was so stoked and proud – until I learned about ego anyway. Regardless, it just seemed to flow and come totally naturally for me – then one day it got really hard! I eventually realized that mindfulness is something you continually work at. It does get easier but you’ll have days and experiences in which you are SO in the NOW and some days you’re finding your mind all over Hells Half Acre as my grandma would say. But as my Om,girl Pema Chodron says “just keep coming back home” to the present moment.
So what’s the point? Why do all this? In my opinion and through my experience it’s quite simple. You’ll find yourself a happier, far less anxious or depressed, go-with-the-flow, not-freaking-out-if-things-don’t-go-the-way-you-planned, able to deal with any situation calmly as it happens, content-with-wherever-you-are-when-you-are-there, peaceful and compassionate person. You’ll find what some call a state of bliss or awakeness. You’ll be living life fully and appreciating the present that it is.
I could go on and on forever but part of the beauty of mindfulness for me is the process of discovering and unearthing the secret society and magical lands of waterfalls and glitter through reading. Here’s a list of my personal favs on the topic – in somewhat but no particular order. Enjoy the juicy goodness.