Inner Easter

Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all! If you are not in celebration of either right now, there is an aspect of these very signiFarewell.2013ficant and meaningful periods that we can incorporate in our lives.

For each of these cultural and religious seasons, people take the time to reconsider and reaffirm the impact of struggle, progress, rededication, rebirth, liberty and renewal. Regardless of our religious and/or spiritual affiliation, this is a good time to do the same.

With any season of development and opportunity, there is a process of freedom and resurrection that can occur. Choosing to courageously follow our hearts to do what we love gives us freedom from what has not brought us joy. Being open to a new love or relationship after fear of commitment can resurrect intimacy and partnership. Deciding we are worth a new and better experience can give us the gift of both.

As we approach this season – whether categorized as a new spring, a new quarter, or a new you, take the chance to allow yourself to be renewed and reborn into the circumstances, people, and opportunities that recreate those things that are preparation for growth.  You are worthy of reinvention, so liberate the opportunity for your own Passover, and resurrect your joy through an inner Easter. Celebrate the newness of you!.

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Spring Cleaning!

Spring is the time of year for renewal and positive change! Christians practice Lent, families shed old or unused items during spring cleaning, and many retail stores perform inventory to check retention, assess theft, and prepare space for the new season.  It’s time for us to do the same.  Lenten season can be a time to give up something for 40 days that may be uncomfortable for us, but remind us of our capacity to sacrifice on behalf of our greater good.  Can you take it a step farther, anSpring.2d incorporate something in your life that’s in your best interest?  Maybe journaling or reading an inspiring book – even one page per day can truly adjust your perspective on the world.  The great thing about journaling is it can be an interesting read many weeks down the line to assess where you were then and where you are now.  I remember as a child having to give away clothes that no longer fit to make room in the closet for a new spring wardrobe.  We can certainly apply that to present lives.  What suits are you wearing that no longer fit you?  Is it a relationship or a job that’s too small?  Is it taking up space in the closet of your life? If it is, there’s no room for the things that truly fit.  A store inventory assists retailers in taking a very specific and detailed count of what should be on the shelves vs. what is on the shelves.  This information helps them order accordingly for the next season, and if needed, understand how to protect their assets in a different way.  You are the most valuable asset you have.  Are you protecting you?  Assess your personal inventory.  Are there people, jobs, or situations that are taking more than they give? Are they stealing your space, joy, or energy?  Is it time to assess their shrinkage on your personal inventory?  Take a count of the pieces that work, those that don’t work, and adjust accordingly.  Your productivity depends on it!

Planting Conditions

Recently, I have been in a bit of a transitional space.  I came back to Chicago in December in order to celebrate the Christmas holidays with my family.  I had been on the west coast working on possible plans to adapt my book into a play or one woman show. I was in a small town with a multitude of galleries, diversity of people, and neighbors that would walk into a major retail store with a German Shepherd, a Golden Retriever, a wolf, and a damn goat!  Needless to say, the weirdo in me that needed this peaceful change in environment, weather, and experience was in love.  As an entrepreneur with no kids in tow, I decided about a year ago to work where I live, not live where I work.  I didn’t wH.F.Phoenix.Treeant to be limited to any one place in the world, especially when I didn’t have to.  I go where the opportunities are, and give myself the permission to change when needed.  I no longer wanted to stay in a place where I felt I wasn’t joyful and fruitful, so I shifted – I’m not a tree, so I figured why not!

When I came back to Chicago, I was immediately offered a lecture and workshop opportunity for a 10 week contract.  I humbly and happily said yes! About 2 weeks in, I was offered a 10 week extension that will keep me here until June.  I happily obliged, because that’s why I do what I do!  I am extremely grateful for the work and credit it with assisting me in growing my capacity to do more speaking, coaching and consulting work. The challenge is this – I felt like I was dying on the inside.

Chicago is a great place. Many people aspire to come here to live.  Great universities, great summers, great architecture, and the greatest of food (yep…I said it!).  In spite of these great things, I have wondered why I am more introverted here.  I am more frightened here. I am more insulated here. I am not as good to myself here.  I gain weight here!  I thought it was just the food and the weather, but it is not.  The truth is that the space I received from leaving here for several months last year assisted me in a revelation.  Many of the scarring things that have happened to me in my life happened here. I was assaulted here. I was lied to here.  I was cheated on here. I was abused here. There are ghosts for me here that I have resurrected through fear more than permanently buried through my healing. My accelerated growth spurts seem to take place when I am further away from the scene of the crime. That may not be the case for everyone, but it definitely is for me.

I will continue to thrive, grow, and learn while I’m here, even if the surroundings are not ideal. We all are amazing seeds that thrive in the right environment, but can grow wherever we are planted.  If you need to replant the powerful tree that is you, do. The roots are connected to you, not the ground. The capacity to expand is connected to you, not the soil. Fertilize where you are and have no guilt leaning towards the sunlight – wherever that may be for you. Feed your spirit, and reap a bigger harvest.

Pat Your Own Back!

As a Martini.Splash.1business owner, sometimes I work well into the night, because I am required and inspired.  When the product of my hard work is good, I used to feel that this was exactly what I expected of me.  The reality is that even if good work is a requirement, it doesn’t make it any less inspiring.  Since positive reinforcement is the foundation of healthy development, are you only patting yourself on the back when others are around?  Do you only expect recognition to come from the outside?  Let the celebration start from within!  Celebrate the small wins, so that you can savor the big ones.  Are you criticizing yourself for missing the gym last Tuesday?  Were you there Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday?  Honestly, that’s four more days than most people went and 80% of the days you were scheduled to go – a passing grade in anyone’s book.  The joy of accomplishment is much more productive than the negativity of disapproval, so have a toast for one!  Even when no one else is around, pat your own back – and let others join the celebration.

Conversations of the Heart

Love questionSometimes we can be so inundated with the everyday challenges of the world that they can start to rub off on not just our emotions, but our identities.  The labels and opinions of the outside world can reduce us, conflict our beliefs, and change our minds.  When we have truly reached our limit, and don’t recognize the person that is looking back at us in the mirror, it is time to have a conversation of the heart.  A conversation of the heart directs us back to the core of who we really are, and who we are aspiring to be.  It removes the perceptions of the outside world, and gives us the chance to truly reflect in a clear and loving space.  When was the last time you allowed yourself a conversation of the heart?  Are you still aware that it is acceptable to speak to yourself from a position of love, and not of judgment?  If you have never done it or have forgotten the process, now is the time to open the loving lines of communication with yourself.  The way you speak to yourself is foundational in the way you perceive the world.  It also sets the boundaries of how the world deals with you.  Change your inner conversation to one of support, affirmation, and power.  The positive words we speak to ourselves are the spiritual armor that we wear in the world.  It deflects the negative and reinforces the positive.  It invites the people and experiences that grow our spirit and deflects those that negatively challenge our identity.  Be candid and loving to yourself!  Look forward to the good things that you say internally, because they lift you up and reinforce your life experiences.  Take an active and loving interest in the discussion of you, because there is no better conversation to have with the one you love.

Under Construction

WhenConstruction we think of total renovation, it is usually planned, budgeted, and prepared to simplify, enhance, and beautify our physical surroundings. That is a common renovation, but sometimes a total internal renovation of ourselves is also in order.  It can be involuntary albeit necessary, and mandated by a higher calling.  The process for both is the same.  On any construction site, there are steps to successful development.  First, the land or foundation must be prepared.  The old buildings and unstable foundation is broken down and carried away by equipment capable of the task.  The foundation is then leveled and reinforced to support the weight of the new structure.  As the building is erected, it is done one floor at a time, so the prior construction assists in strengthening each new level.  We are no different.  Sometimes, we decide that it is time to go in a new and better direction.  In preparation, we may need to be taken down to our core – our foundation – whether it is our decision or that of the Universe.  It is a gift, since it prepares us for the new project that is ourselves.  After our foundation is developed through self-awareness and honesty, the structure of renewal develops.  It is our personal skyscraper that is built on courage, forgiveness, life lessons, humility, and wisdom.  The struggle of the construction of you can be uncomfortable, however it is highly educational.  The best part is it leads the way to the creation of a new existence.  How long and how high you need to build is up to you, so enjoy being the general contractor for the construction of your new life.

You. Are. Enough!

I posted this on Facebook today, and thought I would share. Please feel free to connect or contact! Love and light… -Jen
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Today made me sad. I was asked to sit in on a few convos on FB in primarily singles groups, and I am discouraged by what I read. I won’t share the whole experience, but let me say a few things to reinforce and uplift.
Beautiful women: yes, if you’re a woman, I am, in fact, talking to you!
You. Are. Enough.
Your value is not contingent on the hair you choose to wear, cut, color, or buy. Your shape right now is not just tolerated but desired by many. You have options, so don’t accept being optional. Your words have power, so don’t use them against yourself. You do the work that makes you better, not use the words that make you or someone else feel worse. There is infinite supply that goes as far as your beliefs. Do not, for anyone, fight to be the ribbon when you are already the gift!
Glorious men – You matter. Your goals don’t have to be dependent on others judgements, fears, or opinions of you. You are needed, even if others have not yet had the benefit of recognizing your necessity. Vulnerability is not emasculating, it is opportune. Perfection should not be demanded until achieved, and that goes for us all. Focusing on what you don’t want will get you just that. What we all think about, we bring about.
Many of these are interchangeable, so in love, I will say today that what is more important than changing your suit, your hair, your car, or your size is changing your mind.
Amen, and good night…..

Regular, Unleaded, or Frustrated?

 

 

It is almost the endfuel.14 of the year! This is the season for holiday fun, family frustrations, gifting madness, resolutions, and an internal inventory for the new year. I typically make it a habit to not have a hard list of new year’s resolutions, but more of a continuation of a working bucket list for the upcoming year. I pick 2-4 things off of my master list, and get more specific about how I can contribute to getting those things to come to fruition in the next 12 months. Since no one is an island, some of my “how dialogue” includes the assistance of others – mentors, peers, partners, and the like. As a bit of an introvert, (insert shock here!) I try to do as much as I can on my own, but the more wise I become, the more I know that is not possible. I acknowledge my limitations, forgive myself for the source of them, and I move forward.

This morning, this end of the year conversation took me to a deeper thought process than I usually have about this. I was shocked that I didn’t really discuss it before, and I knew it needed to be covered. Disappointments and frustrations that I have either created or acknowleged as my own I no longer have a challege identifying and accepting.  My new question is what do I do with the frustrations and disappointments that come from others?

Whatever your lists look like, I suggest a few things.. have a “to do” list, but you should have a “cut that out” list as well.  Some people call it my add/remove, and I’m ok with that too!  Whatever you call it, have a list of things, people, or behaviors that must go, because the presence of it or them is stifling the development of the things you can accomplish.  The tough reality is sometimes difficult things and people are on that list, including former versions of ourselves!  It’s time to face that in our growth there may be an earlier you that just won’t do!

I can remember a few years back when I was dating a guy who shall remain nameless.  Smart, funny, educated, and handsome.  Those are all traits that can hangout on my add list, but he did not respect me.  At all.  I remember him telling me on our 1st anniversary after my VERY difficult work day that he wasn’t attracted to me, and he didn’t know why. Ouch.  That hurt, but what hurt more is that I stayed.  I stayed long enough for him to continue to prove his statement to me through his absence, lack of support, and bringing me to events where he couldn’t so be bothered to introduce me to anyone. I stuck around hoping that he would prove himself wrong.  That was never an initiative of his….it was a hope of mine.   The issue is not really his…the responsibility to clear that space of the negative bookmark and energy that he was putting on my life was my own.  It colored my thoughts and goals in a way that was not beneficial to my own positive opinion of myself and subsequent courage for a better future.  As long as I let him stay, I restricted the mentor, fan, and cheerleader that could have been in his space. His words should not have inspired me to fight for him, but to fight for me.

Are there disappointments in your life that need an adjustment?  Don’t ignore them or be diminished by them.  Allow the disappointments to fuel you!  Fill up on better intentions, different practices, and the changes that yield better results on your behalf. Do you love someone or something that is not able to love you in the same way?  Take inventory of the real circumsatnces of the connection, and be fueled to change or remove it for the better.  Feel rejected in your professional life? Be fueled to work smarter and not harder!  Are you tearing yourself down in a way that requires an external pick me up?  Be fueled to retire that version of yourself.  It doesn’t attract the goodness you need to go higher, and it gives an extended invitation to circumstances that limit you. The approval that we seek should be within, so that the situations on the outside that don’t feel us, heal us, or support us can be done without.

Disappointments and frustrations happen.  They are a regular part of life, and they stretch our wisdom, endurance, and resolve.  The good news story is that we always have the opportunity to change our perceptions on the situations that need to stay, and change our courage for the ones that need to go.  Every tough day, hard challenge, or difficult person is a teacher. Our goal is to decide which situations are educational requirements, and which ones are electives. Choose well, love better, and fuel up for the amazing journey of you.

 

Thanksgiving Gratitude

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Thankful for shelter, though none of my own
Thankful for a smile, when circumstances justify a frown.
Thankful for hope, in the face of confusion
Thankful for dreams, not written off as illusion
Thankful for purpose, when the account seems bare
Thankful for hope, for what’s hidden, but there.
Thankful for success that is now being predicted
Thankful that fear is almost evicted
Thankful I know, through all this to pray
Thankful to be here to say Happy Thanksgiving Day!
Enjoy your day, everyone! 🙂
– Jennifer Bridgeforth  (c) 2014
IG/Twitter : @AskJenniferB

Why Not You?

Meme.background.1Are you dreaming big enough? Are you asking for just enough to get by, or for what you desire, plus some? Sometimes we get into spaces of fear or desperation, and pray to get through the month, or pay this one bill, or win this one contest or job. Stretch your expectations, so you can stretch your results! The reality is that there are hard working, less talented people who may not have a bigger skill, but they have a bigger faith. Someone gets the brass ring, so why do you think it shouldn’t be you? Whatever the idea or dream you have was given to you for a reason. If the skill wasn’t limited, why limit it on your own? Have you ever watched something on television and thought to yourself – “How is this on TV, better yet, why is this on TV?!” Maybe you read something, and felt you could write just as well, or would like to aspire to that level of success. You heard a singer, and felt you have talent to do what they do. No one knows your worth until you share it with the world! You don’t have to be the most popular singer on your block when you can be the most popular singer in the country. You don’t have to top the list of recommended authors at your school, when you could be on the New York Times’ best seller list! The worst that can happen is you learn from the experience, and take it into the next big dream. It is always better to aim high and miss than to aim low and hit! If you desire to achieve greatness, the first person you need to convince is you! Someone will always achieve great success, so why not you?