6 life lessons learned from writing a book

12 Oct

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It’s on most people’s bucket lists—everyone has a book inside them, waiting to be written.

It’s such a big task though, where do we start? That’s why so many great books just stay inside people’s heads, unwritten.

I loved writing poetry as a kid, but these days, my writing skills are utilized more in the form of reports, emails and letters to staff. I was just about to quit my corporate job because I was unhappy, but I wasn’t sure what else I was going to do. I decided to take a year off to fix a life that had recently fallen apart and rebuild it into something that vaguely resembled happiness.

I set off around the world to live my dreams, to do all the things that made my heart sing and discover my passion. I trained to be a yoga teacher, visited many countries and experienced different cultures. I studied mindfulness and meditation and I volunteered, teaching English to Buddhist monks. I learned a lot about life and so much about myself and what it takes to create our own happiness.

Along the way I wrote—more for my own needs than anything else. I loved what I was learning and took notes as I went. This newly found wisdom, plus my own personal transformation, became a powerful message I wanted to share with others—and by the end of that year I was a blogger.

But a full-fledged author? That was another step—maybe one too far. I’d never really thought about it before, but as the notes piled up, I almost felt like there could be a book there. For a few months, I wrote in secret, before I was comfortable telling people about my dream. I’d never considered myself an author before, but here it was an actual book that I had written.

I overhauled my life and learned so much in the transformation, I wanted to share my story. What started off as my own personal writing therapy became something that now inspires others on similar journeys of self discovery. But as I wrote a book to share lessons I’d learned, the process itself taught me a host of other lessons too.

Advice for life and how to make the best of it from a writer.  Read the full post here

Mindfulness for Change

26 Aug

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Recently I attended a Mindfulness retreat, this is not unusual I have been to many but this was different. It was a Hui set up by Mindfulness for Change to bring together those in the Mindfulness community and discuss how we might work together to create change. I was excited but also a little apprehensive and not sure what to expect. Torn between the relaxed anticipation of a retreat and the less relaxed prospect of having to do some work and contribute something intelligent!

We arrived at Riverslea Retreat in Otaki in darkness after the Friday night traffic from Wellington and the end of a long week. Immediately I noticed how many people there were, so many strangers I’d not met yet and the introvert within my groaned. At the same time I was torn between wanting to get to know these like-minded souls, learn from them and connect with them but not overjoyed at the prospect of having to make an effort to interact and socialise with so many strangers. Usually I’m perfectly content to retreat into my shell, meditate in solitude and appreciate the natural environment I found myself in on a rare trip out of the city. In fact it’s one of the things I love about retreats!

The set up was interesting; 40 people crammed together inside as the rain beat down around us, only 2 showers to share and bunk rooms shared with 8 others. I reflected with a new friend that this would usually be the recipe for a social disaster on the scale of the Big Brother house as all human emotions, frustrations and personalities clash with dramatic effect. But not here. Surrounded by so many compassionate, considerate individuals the kindness was evident. People held doors open, smiled, hugged one another on greeting, queued patiently for food and offered up their seats. Trust and respect was evident but we didn’t even know one another. Is this a recipe for how a new society could be born, I thought?

The room seemed full of such happy people who believe there is hope and that people are good and the world can work, despite being acutely aware that it’s currently a bit broken. It’s not that these people had privileged lives or a life without problems. In fact each shared moving stories of their own challenges, grief and difficulties in life. From struggling to belong and fit it, losing loved ones, battles with health and lives turned upside down yet each had emerged with a compassionate heart, a love for human kind and a wish to do good in the world.

What amazed me most was the mix of ages, gender, backgrounds and the impact this had on our collective ideas and conversations. A room where doctors sat alongside yoga teachers, psychologists alongside students. We were all so different yet uniquely the same as well. The combination of youthful hope and excitement with the experience and wisdom of others was inspiring. I was humbled by the gratitude everyone showed for the presence of others and the acknowledgement that everybody present brought something to the table.

I had always put Mindfulness down to changing my life as if it made me a different person. But what I now know is that, the person was there all along and is in all of us. Life was like this all along I’m just seeing through new eyes, like a fog has lifted. I feel aware, awake and alive and incidentally that’s Mindfulness in a nutshell.

It turns out I loved the combination of stimulating discussion with silent reflection time. The ability to connect with others but also to go inwards and connect with ourselves. I learned more about Mindfulness but also about myself. In fact the self-awareness and reflection was just as important as the acquired wisdom from the conversations and experience.

I also learned something new about how we connect with others. By the time the weekend was up I had formed such strong bonds with people I’d barely spoken to. This connection to people was beyond speaking, a deep connection in a short space of time united by common goals and similar values. An environment of trust where some shared things even their friends did not know. It touched my heart to witness such an outpouring of emotion but a groundswell of support made possible by the environment of non-judgement and compassion.

When it was time to leave and many hugs had been exchanged with new special friends and plans for action and future progress were written up on the walls. Back in the outside world I feel oddly calm and centred as if something has shifted. Excited about the future and full of hope that there are good people in the world. As I walked back through the city towards my apartment I saw an argument and a road rage incident and wondered why can’t all people be like this? And then I realise they are. Compassion is within us all it’s just buried a bit deeper in some. Mindfulness is how we set about uncovering that in each other and reconnecting with what matters.

Mindfulness for Change is for people who want to contribute to a mindful, compassionate, flourishing society so that together we can help co-create true social and environmental change.
Interested in getting involved; check out the facebook page

Happiness Life Hacks

12 May

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Life seems complicated these days.  We’re all busy pursuing happiness, yet how many of us ever reach that goal?

Success, money, and busyness are top of our priority list, yet deep in our hearts we’d prefer time, love, and security.

It’s the age of making a living, but perhaps at the cost of making a life.  What really makes us happy, and how do we find it?

Read the full article; here and watch the video blog here

Success: reach your potential

29 Mar

Click here to see the newsletter in full; Newsletter April 2016

We’re capable of more than we think

I hope you’ve been able to enjoy some rest over the Easter break. Life always seems so busy and we achieve so much yet so often we under estimate our abilities and this stops us reaching our potential.

We feel we might just be too ordinary to achieve great things yet those who succeed begin as ordinary people, the difference is they realise their potential, the potential that is within all of us because nobody is really just ordinary

I was stuck in a life I needed to change but frozen by fear; of the unknown, of failure. What if I’m just not good enough to realise these crazy dreams that live inside my head? But by taking small steps towards my goals and changing my life to revolve around my passions and authenticity, I discovered extra ordinary things I’d never thought I was capable of.

Never stop dreaming and don’t put limits on what we can achieve. “Inside every ordinary person there is extraordinary potential”

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Recent Inspiration

Unleash your hero within [click to view] 

No-body is just an ordinary person, realise your potential [read now]

5 ways to tap into your inner wisdom [read now]

When it gets tough, how not to give up on your dreams [read now] 

Disconnecting to reconnect [click to view] 

How to stay sane in a crazy world [read now]

 

Be in with a chance to win a free e-copy of my book to gift to a friend by leaving a review on Amazon http://amzn.com/1504343816

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How to stay sane in a crazy world

17 Mar

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“You can’t calm the storm so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself and the storm will pass.” ~Timber Hawkeye

After another driver pulled out in front of me and narrowly missed a collision, I put on my brakes and waited for the car to stop. As the other driver sailed off ahead of me, my hysterical passenger screamed, “What an idiot! Didn’t you see him? Why didn’t you blast the horn? These people shouldn’t be on the road!”

I realized my reaction, or lack of reaction, was out of the ordinary, and I also noticed that despite the circumstance I had remained equanimous—I hadn’t let it disturb my peace of mind.

I wasn’t angry with the driver, my blood pressure hadn’t increased, and no damage had been done. I was at peace.

It hadn’t always been this way. I inherited a short fuse from my dad (at least, that’s the excuse I used for years).

Imagine a day where very little upsets you and in the face of annoyances you just sail through, calm, peaceful, and happy? It may seem like an impossibility, but when I look at where I was and where I am now, I can assure you it’s not.

It’s a long journey, it doesn’t happen overnight, and like with everything it takes practice.

Before I could do anything about controlling them, the first step was just to notice them. I spent a long time at this point prior to progressing! But with awareness comes progress and just noticing the emotions arise is a huge step in the right direction. 

I used to think it was an unattainable goal. I’d look at monks and nuns being zen and think, Well surely it’s easy to be zen if you live on a mountain top away from the world. But as one old monk (who looked very young) told me, while they may not have the outside pressures like traffic jams, shopping, and emails to test their equanimity, they still have human internal pressures.

He explained to me about his separation from his mother when he was a young child, living through a war, the death of his brother, and his overcoming cancer. There’s enough there to make any human mind an unpeaceful place!

Our minds are so precious and powerful it makes sense we should keep them as peaceful as possible. Not only does it impact on our mood, our relationships, and our effectiveness, but also our health.

Imagine how different life could be if the ups and downs and little annoyances didn’t affect us anymore, if our brains were trained to not react, not suppressing anger but not having the to need to supress it.

Imagine what a different place the world would be if we could all learn equanimity. Well, be the change you want to see and start today! Bringing stillness to our mind also brings peace, and when we are at peace nothing disturbs our equanimity.

Watch the video blog here and read the article in full at Tiny Buddha

Uncover your inner wisdom & live a life that feels great

13 Mar

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5 ways to hear what your heart’s saying

For a long time I never even knew my heart had a voice. I’d make logical ‘head’ decisions but was always wondering why I never felt fulfilled. I would pursue promotions up the corporate ladder even though my true passion was in health and wellness. I thought earning more money would make up for the lack of life I was able to lead. I chose to work late in stead of go to the gym, I slept in at weekends in stead of spending time with my partner and I worried about what people would think if for one minute I doubted that this norm was in fact anything but!

I was too busy to spend time in stillness and life was too noisy for me to be able to hear and if I could hear I was sure I’d have listened. I preferred distracts, entertainment and anything really that kept me from being alone with my thoughts. The way my thoughts would haunt me when I paid them any attention made me think this was not a nice place to be, so for a long time I avoided it.

It’s only since a regular meditation practice and many retreats later that I’ve adjusted to stillness, silence and being alone with myself and it’s now I can see the benefits this has brought. In the stillness I began to hear things, either I was going mad or I’d found my inner voice!

I guess it’d been there the whole time, probably saying the same stuff, it’s just that I’d never given myself the opportunity to hear it, much less listen to its wisdom. Our inner voice, our intuition, it knows stuff. Decisions that come from the heart and the very core of who you are and what you want rather than the logic and expectation that can preside in our heads; what will people think, what if it’s wrong, what if I can’t do it? All those lenses that we so often put across our thoughts suddenly are replaced with an inner knowing, beyond thought, beyond logic. It feels so right it can’t be wrong and if it’s in sync with our deepest desires and comes from our hearts then generally it’s not wrong.

Read the rest of the article and the top 5 tips here

How life feels is more important than how it looks

I’d built a life around what success should look like and I’d got my house by the beach, the promotion and settled down with my partner but whilst life looked great from the outside inside was a different story. I wanted more from life so I let go of everything that didn’t make me happy and went in search of what would.

It takes courage to make sweeping changes and transform our life and often it’s not until things get too bad to bare that we’re forced into the required transformational steps. Whilst I’d put myself on the right track, it wasn’t all a bed of roses. Sometimes it has to get worse before it can get better.

Within a year I was single, jobless and homeless at 32, life couldn’t have been more different but for the first time it felt good. It probably looked like a complete disaster from the outside though! Queuing up at the job centre, cleaning toilets in an ashram, house sitting because I couldn’t afford rent. But at the same time teaching yoga, spending time with family, taking walks on the beach, writing a book and getting to do what I loved everyday.

I thought once you followed your calling the universe had it covered, wasn’t this supposed to be easy. I was doing what I loved but it felt like such hard work. I didn’t get much support because most people thought I was crazy, I sometimes wondered myself! Some days I’d be consumed by fear and self doubt, this was new territory, the unknown and I wasn’t sure if I was really up to it.

Then came by biggest lesson; it’s not about how life looks, it about how it feels. Everything happens for our greater good and where we are is where we’re meant to be, the tough times were my lessons. Without failure I could never have learned what I needed to know for success. I learned a lot of lessons from that time.

So often in todays society our focus is on how life looks. What car we drive, what street we live in, our job title, if we can get a promotion, sending our kids to the right school or just simply the clothes we wear and the supermarket we shop at. And this is further fuelled by comparison to what other people’s lives look like, when we try and keep up with the Joneses. It’s too easy to get carried away living a life according to what looks good, but what use is this unless it also feels good. If we are working more hours so that we can take five star holidays and shop at the designers stores but we’d rather be finishing work early to spend time with our kids aren’t we missing the point?

Read the full article here

And for when times do get tough, how do we continue to strive and not give up on our dreams?  Read the latest blog the answers that here

A Rough Guide to a Smooth Life

22 Dec

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As we approach the end of the year the last 12 months I’ve spent trying to get my book published finally pays off and it is now available to buy!

You can click on the link to view the official trailer.  Full details are here; www.inspireyourlife.org/book

A practical self improvement guide on surviving modern life. Rediscover the art of happiness, find meaning and purpose and create a life you love. 

Jess uncovers the key to creating a happier life and leads by example. Her perspective shines a bright light at a much needed time. Let her guide you this book will help.  Shannon Kaiser, Coach & Best Selling Author of Find your Happy & Adventures for your Soul

For those who read the book, please leave a review on amazon and I’d love to hear your thoughts.  You can use the hashtag #RoughGuideSmoothLife when posting about the book.

To see how you can get involved and help support the launch click the link; How you can help or click here to support the launch through thunderclap

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Don’t forget to check out the new resources section on the website for free stuff I’ve posted for you.

Keep an eye out for events and give aways as I launch the book officially in the New Year.

All the best for 2016

Jess 🙂

Finding joy in every day; video blog

12 Oct

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“Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect, it means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections”

It’s the question we’re all trying to find the answer to; what is happiness and how do we get it? We fill our lives with the business of searching for happiness in many things yet it is possible that the very pursuit is taking us further away from the goal.

Check out this short video clip on my YouTube channel for tips on how to bring joy into everyday. https://youtu.be/4aLu7ZMRCcA

 

Octobers Newsletter, New Blogs & Forthcoming Events

5 Oct

See this months newsletter for details of forthcoming events and new material.  Including; video blog on creating a life you love and new blogs

Newsletter October

New blog out today: Taking the rough with the smooth; sh*t sandwiches!

When someone stands in front of us and speaks of inspiration or has written a book, we tend to think they’ve got it all sussed out and their life must be idyllic. This is certainty true of my thoughts about those I look up to. But there is a human element in us all, no-one has a perfect life. Tough times come to everyone and often those who inspire us have had to overcome their own struggles to get there and if they can, so can we.  Read the full blog here:

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/10/shit-sandwiches-the-rough-smooth-of-life/

I was also fortunate to speak to the group Action for Happiness recently about Creating a Life you Love.  For those who missed it I blogged on the key points on my You Tube channel; [click here to watch the video]

 

Don’t wait for Happiness & other new posts

13 Sep

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Do you ever feel like life is just passing us by? Do you sometimes feel like life is happening whilst we’re busy making plans?  Life’s too short to postpone happiness until conditions are right; maybe when we retire, win lotto, meet Mr Right.  Read the latest article I’ve published on elephant journal; Happiness – Why Wait?

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/09/happiness-why-wait/

Other articles of mine recently published include:

How to be at Peace with Uncertainty, published on havingtime.com

http://www.havingtime.com/how-to-be-at-peace-with-uncertainty/

The Art of Self Care published on personalgrowth.com

https://www.personalgrowth.com/the-art-of-self-care/