Episode 32: Trusting Myself

Join me this week as I share a personal episode about what’s been happening in my life the past few months, and how I’m handling stressful life things differently than I did in the past. 

I’m sharing:

  • BTS on our house renovation 
  • My top thing I do for my health since having cancer
  • The life strategy that I follow: What happens in my life if I follow what I feel called to do?

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Let’s become a generation of creative women who are examples for the people in our lives of what it looks like to prioritize our work (AND recognize our impact).

x, Jen

Full episode transcript below:

Welcome to today's episode, Trusting Myself. I'm gonna share a bit of a personal episode today, giving you a peek behind the curtain, so to speak. I hear from people that I work with and people in my life in general, that they're often surprised that I experience self-doubt, keep a million to-do lists, go through periods inner turmoil in my personal life. And I'm just like every other human. I deal with all of those things and more.    

   The past few months for me have been really challenging in my personal life, just projects that I've had going on and things I've been dealing with, and I'm getting over being sick and I wanna share how I am working with it differently than I have in the past. And the thing that I am taking away from it, which is my life's work, which is trusting myself more and more. And tuning in and listening to myself faster every time. 

   So this year, since the beginning of this year, it just feels like one thing after another has been an obstacle and a challenge. And I have been reflecting and you know, I've definitely been through personal challenges before. Like if you have been around for a while, you know, I've had cancer and  traumatic childhood, like I've been through a lot of things, but this year, since the beginning of this year has felt just like one thing after another. Like a lot of personal blocks and obstacles that have been really difficult to navigate. And them piling on top of each other like they have, has really stretched me, and I'm not ready to share all the details yet.

But you know, I don't wanna beat around the bush too much. There's been some criminal stuff that happened with our house renovation and it's been really, really challenging to figure out what happened, to try to figure out where things stand so that we could complete the renovation. And as of this recording  it's still not done.

We're living in a construction zone. Things aren't done that need to get done, and we're just in this holding pattern. It's really challenging for me, and it's been really challenging for us. It's been challenging to live, just live with it daily. You know, the, the medium grade frustration, it's been challenging to deal with the obstacles when they come up, all around.  We've had a lot of extensions on this project. Like I, I've shared that this was supposed to be done at the end of December, so we're in the middle of March and it's still not done.

 At this point, we are hopeful of when we think it will be done. But you know, we've learned not to set hard deadlines because they just cause a lot of stress.  And I wanna say I wouldn't wish this experience for myself, I would never have chosen this for myself,  but because of my past and because of, I guess my wiring, I'm always looking for the lessons. And that's what I wanna share more about today. 

 So two weeks ago I was like, ugh, we're definitely at rock bottom. We need to move back into our house because the rental that the second rental that we were in was expiring and then I got sick.   My body was just depleted and the only thing I could like summon the energy to do was lay horizontally and watch, not just watch, binge watch Below Deck Mediterranean, which is a great show if you need something to binge watch.

I'll save all the details, but it turns out that I had covid for the second time, which triggered a really significant asthma flare for me. Same thing happened the first time I had it.  The infection part was milder, but my asthma has been really not well managed, and that's really challenging for me to live with.

Um, it's an acute thing that I've had my whole life and it's generally well managed. I've had asthma since I  can remember I was two years old when I was diagnosed with it, so I don't know anything else. But struggling to breathe is very humbling and it's always a reminder when our bodies aren't well, that our health is everything. 

I'm sharing this because I really have to manage my mind around my asthma. Um, I resent it. I wish I didn't have it. Like I wish I didn't have to deal with it. I hate taking medication for it, and I think the most challenging part is probably the vulnerability that comes along with having it. , but I have options.

And  I tell myself, thankfully, I'm alive today and I can take medication to manage it, and I have options to treat it when it does get inflamed. It's a moment to moment thing. And sometimes we go through experiences in life where we do need to stay with ourselves moment to moment like this, and, stay with yourself, talk yourself down when you're starting to feel stress or panic or anxiety or whatever, and just stay with the experience and to live in the discomfort until it's ready to shift.

Because no matter what we do, sometimes things don't shift when we want them to. And we get in these in between spaces that we need to learn how to live with. Um, the analogy I always think of- you've swam too far away from one shore, but you're not quite at the next like island yet. So you're just in the middle and you're too far to go back, but you're not close enough to see where you're going yet. 

Like that uncomfortable feeling, that is so quintessentially human to experience that. And part of what I was reminded of over the past few weeks is how important it is to to stay with myself when I'm in an in between space, when I'm struggling, when I'm in a liminal space and I don't quite see where things are going at.

I'm talking about this like with my physical symptoms, but for sure this is analogous to our creative practice, our work, the work that we wanna put in the world, everything, the way that we wanna be in the world, the way we wanna exist, the impact we wanna have. All of that.  It's a process to put that into the world, and you definitely are gonna go through periods of discomfort as you do that.

 And why am I sharing these personal symptoms? I'm sharing them because had I listened to myself from the outset  and affirmed for myself that I had covid, which I believed that I did have at the very beginning,  before I was tested, I likely would've managed my symptoms differently, and it took me a few days to manage them appropriately.

And so the takeaway here for me is to trust myself, and to trust my body. I don't need anyone to affirm what I believe is true in my body, like I'm the ultimate authority in that.

And next time, what I learned is I want to take care of myself earlier, and seek treatment earlier, to hopefully avoid my symptoms getting as bad as they did. And just as a side note, this is something that I live by after going through my cancer journey 12 years ago.

And I should do an episode on this sometime because it was like the most batshit crazy experience to live through. . But long story short, I was told so many times that nothing was wrong with me. And I kept going back to a former doctor, even though she was very dismissive,  because I knew that something was wrong. I knew it in my bones and I kept going back and I followed that and  it saved my life.

And so that is what I've learned, even if we're not getting external validation, or external reflection, of something that we know is true for us.   I'm talking about this around my health, but it's, it's everything in our lives. Everything that we feel called to do. Every transition we may feel called to have what we may feel called to do next, and we don't quite understand why yet.

Our work is to learn how to tune in and hear that for ourselves, to follow it, and to value it above any authority above what anyone else has to say about it.  To be true to ourselves, and to be brave enough to be true to ourselves, and to hear ourselves first, and then do the inner work to be able to show up for or take action on our own behalf.

 Okay, so now I'm gonna switch gears and talk about our house. And this house renovation has been beyond challenging. Today, the day recording, this is literally five months to the day since we started actual construction. . And what's crazy is that we were quoted that the project would take 10 weeks in total. It was supposed to be finished at the very end of December. So, and we're in mid-March. 

I have been gathering my renovation learnings, takeaways and what I will do differently next time, and what I know now that I didn't know then and I couldn't have known then. And I am planning on sharing that somehow.

I haven't figured out how yet, but  I want to share what I've learned to hopefully save other people the stress, and grief, and heartache and just difficulty that we've been through. So just a note, if you have any questions or if you're about to undergo a renovation and you're questioning some things or you're not sure, send me a DM on Instagram with your questions so that I can address it and I would add it to my notes too. 

So we're dealing with the house challenges and it, I just can't emphasize enough. I know I keep repeating myself, it has been extraordinarily challenging, and I keep questioning, you know, why are we being challenged like this? And also I keep asking myself like, is this rock bottom yet?  Uh, just for one more thing to go wrong.

And I am always looking for meaning and the lessons. And so part of, I've shared that part of my cancer journey was seeking meaning in what happens to us. And this is no different. I'm looking for not why this happened to us, but what wisdom am I learning? What characteristics in me are being emphasized?  And where am I being called or even forced to grow? What might this be developing me for?

I believe that we can't control what happens to us, but that we do get to control what we make it mean about ourselves, and also whether we look for growth and wisdom and what growth edges that we explore, through what happens to us. That's where I place my focus. Because it feels very disempowering for me to focus on things that are out of my control, that I can't directly influence, that I can't make other people do certain things, I can't change the decisions other people have made.

And so instead I look for what is going on inside of me? What is being developed in me?  What is being called for me in this situation? How am I being called to step up and expand my capacity for, in this case, for a lot of discomfort and frustration and tolerance with just like  that medium grade frustration.  Those are the things that I'm looking for, rather than putting my attention on why did this happen to us? Why did certain people make certain decisions that caused this to happen, et cetera.

  And I'm not gonna lie here, this has been extremely challenging. I know I keep saying that. Matt, my husband and I are both struggling a lot individually, and this is put in enormous strain on our partnership. We're being forced to work together, like nothing has ever caused us to.  and we both have our low moments wondering what else can go wrong.

But I've held onto my deep belief that this shouldn't have happened. It's not fair. And how do I wanna process it? How do I wanna show up? What kind of person do I wanna be throughout this incredibly challenging process? What do I wanna make this mean about me?  As a person, about my decision making abilities, et cetera.

 I refuse to let someone else's actions define me as a person, and me as a sound decision maker. And I know I'm being vague here, but  there's some details that I can't share yet that have gone on. So I just wanna acknowledge that. I know I'm being vague, but I'm trying to speak to it as much as I can.  

I don't need to let someone else's choices and the experience that that has created break me and my belief in myself and my willingness to be on my side. I choose to see this as I'm being called to grow my capacity for deep frustration, for tolerating the unknowns, for showing up as who I wanna be, no matter what someone else does. For trusting that I can navigate anything that happens to me.

And I choose to see this experience as it's preparing us for this next level of growth that we each individually and our partnership is looking to take on.

 I tell creative women that I work with often that shedding old skins hurts like a bitch. Snakes have to work hard to shed their old, too small skins. They don't fit anymore. That's why they're shedding them, and they have to wiggle and work those old skins off. They don't just like slip out of them and move on to this next version of themselves with ease. 

Growth, birth, rebirth, it's all deeply uncomfortable and it always involves a squeeze.  It calls for a level of surrender that our human brains are deeply uncomfortable with.  And  you can fight the change that's calling you, that you feel like you can't not do, but resisting it is actually a lot more painful. That's one of my big life lessons.

Being alive as a human means living with a lot of mystery. We don't know why we're here, or even how this earth is made for human life. None of this makes any sense, and we live with that every day. But on a micro level, when shit goes wrong in our lives, we tend to shrink back or try to control and resist change.

Even though as humans we want to evolve and we often can't avoid our growth, or like I said, avoiding that growth feels way worse. So what I'm thinking about is, can we look at the micro things,  I'm gonna use some examples here of people that I've worked with- why you feel called to upend your life by ending a relationship or leaving a profitable business or position behind for what's next, or in my case, changing my whole life after a cancer diagnosis. Who knows why we feel called to do those things. They don't make any sense, and it really doesn't matter why. What matters is showing up for what life is offering you today. Learning what you're meant to learn, gaining that wisdom, listening to yourself and doing what you feel called to do. Even when it makes no sense, logically or rationally or to other people.

And I wanna encourage you to keep going even when, or especially when I should say, you're in the messy middle and you feel like you might die from the fear, pressure, unknown terror, questioning WTF you're doing this again? It doesn't matter why it's happening to you,  and who knows what this might lead you to next. Your job is to stay open to what life is offering you right now, to do what you know, and then to stay open for the next step.

If you had told me back in October of 2022 when we started our house renovation, that we'd be here today - we've been in our house for almost two weeks, we're living in a construction zone, but we were in rentals for the four and a half months preceding that. Three different rentals, we were in and out of hotels. Our house progress is moving at, I think everyone would agree with me, a snails pace, and then when we thought it couldn't get worse, I got really sick for a few weeks.

If I had known all of that back in October, I wouldn't have agreed to any of this. I would not have taken this on, no sane person would. But I know today that I can figure anything out because I've figured it out so far and I'm capable of even more than I thought I was. And I say that as someone who's always felt pretty capable, so for me to keep expanding my belief and my capability,  when shit hits the fan, and knowing that we figure anything out one step at a time, whether we take big moonshots or whether we are just, you know, advancing our next piece on the board game, whichever you're doing.

What I just shared has been the biggest change I've experienced over the past few years.  I'm willing to aim at crazy things, and they seem to just be getting crazier, because I trust myself to figure it out one shaky step at a time. I don't want, or feel like I need, to understand how I'll do something to commit to doing it.

You can aim at crazy things, or you can take a shorter aim at things that feel safer to you, and life will still throw you curveballs.

You get to choose- more discomfort for bigger payoff or shorter aims for more safety, maybe less payoff. There's no right answer here, and you always have a choice. It just depends on what you're feeling called to do, and what feels aligned for you. 

Okay, that was this week's rambling road of an episode.  I felt called to share this in real time. Maybe you needed this message today. I definitely feel like I'm in a messy middle right now. Uncertain about a lot of things. Uncertain about why, where this might be leading, et cetera, and that's okay. That's part of being alive. 

Having all the answers sounds nice, but it's kind of boring, I would say.  If we want all the answers and we want safety and security and we wanna know everything and exactly how, my question is, how small do we need to shrink our life so that it's predictable and controllable and we know exactly where it's going.

I personally am less and less interested in that, and much more interested in - what happens in my life if I follow what I feel called to do? That's been my life strategy for a few years now. 

I don't seek certainty or understanding. I seek following my inner callings, surrendering to how life is showing up, pursuing a full expression, a full human expression, what that looks like for me, and seeing life as a path, not a destination. 

I'm so glad that you are here and that we get to walk our paths together. See you next time. Same time, same place. Bye for now.




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