Summer Break

I know I’m not original in saying this but I absolutely love the summertime. As a teacher, I get the benefit of having the summer months of June, July and some of August off from work. This gives me time to travel, rest, relax, read and write, or whatever else tickles my fancy.

I’ve noticed something about myself though: I struggle to give myself the time to really just rest and relax (to truly and completely do nothing). Even during my lazy summertime months, I put a lot of pressure on myself to get stuff done. Granted, I do focus on the things that I struggle to make time for when I’m working full time. I make to do lists that focus on my passion projects like growing my blog, reading, writing, and scrapbooking. This summer I also have some extra special projects running around in the background, which has in all actuality having me feel more stressed out than relaxed.

And this is a conflict that I run into quite frequently when I’m faced with time off. As a type A ambitious creative person I can’t help but feel like all time should be utilized as an opportunity to create and produce. I hate thinking that I have wasted time or missed out on an opportunity. But recently reflections have shown me that this mentality is slowly but surely leading me to burn out. The bottom line is that I need to take a break. I need to give myself permission to turn off and recharge.

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My social media detox has been hugely successful. I honestly don’t even really feel like I miss instagram or Facebook as much as I thought I would. There are moments where I’ll reach for my phone and wonder why because as I scroll through my apps I realize that those apps aren’t there. But this has shown me that I can benefit from distancing myself. I’m not missing out on anything life altering. I’m recharging.

So I’m also going to be taking some time away from the blog. I don’t want to spend my summer recharge time worrying about posting and publishing. I want to explore writing and creating for myself for a while. I also want to give myself the space and time to really prepare for my wedding and marriage.

After the wedding I’ll be changing my name and with that name change I saw an opportunity for a new canvas. I will be taking the next month or so off to regroup, get married, plan, travel, and write. When I return I’ll be blogging under a new name and a new URL: Jennifer Rose Kaufman at www.jenniferrosekaufman.com

I sincerely hope that if you’ve ever followed me as Jennifer Lesnick on Justice Jennifer that you consider checking out my new material on Jennifer Rose Kaufman. My plan is to continue blogging about different areas of living a good life. My writing will be much more specific, focused, and project based as I’ll also be launching some collaboration and consulting opportunities to compliment my writing and lifestyle experimentation.

As always, everything that I do will be purpose driven with my dharma code, core desired feelings, and one little word in mind. I’m super excited for what the future holds and I can’t wait to spend more time reveling in the natural wonder of an unbalanced life that still has so much to offer in all of its glorious imperfections.

A Case for Meditation

I’m working on creating a consistent meditation practice. I’ve actually been trying to cultivate this particular practice for quite some time.

When I first really experienced meditation, I didn’t like it. I felt uncomfortable. I struggled to sit still which was really just a symptom of my mind racing around. I still struggle at times to follow the narrative and directions of the meditation guide. When I meditate without a guide, I struggle even more. I have a very active mind and a lot of times that tendency to over think things prevents me from being fully present in my life. This is made even more clear when I practice yoga.

And one common theme I uncovered in my yoga studies is that I need to follow and investigate the sources of my resistances. The fact that I have been so resistant to meditation is just another sign that I need more of it in my life.

I’m currently on a two day streak with meditation. I’ve decided to schedule it as part of my morning routine. I bought myself a subscription to headspace to help guide me. I’m hoping to supplement this with some of the meditations I learned in my training but right now I want to just get more comfortable with the general practice of carving out 10 -20 minutes early in the morning so I can start my day with a clearer, calmer mind.

This compliments my goal for the year to be more present in my life. Even more, I’m nourishing a calmer mind so that I can shine as the divinely feminine creative force that I am. To get to my goals, I had to be more realistic about meditation.

I’m not going to be able to jump into a robust practice like what my teacher or my teacher’s teacher does. My life, my current constitution just won’t support that and I’m not really interested in setting myself up for failure. I’m going for small successes to build up to a practice that will truly and completely provide me with what I need to be my best self, to fulfill my dharma code: My creative and untamed feminine power unabashedly savor the victory and praise I deserve. I nourish my mind, body, and soul by following my curiosity to completion.

After a two day streak, I’m far from magically transformed. I still struggle to sit still for ten minutes straight. My mind still wanders. And yet, I never regret carving out those ten minutes I get to explore and train my mind. I enjoy the process of checking in with my body, with my mind, with my breath. I enjoy creating a space for myself where there isn’t any judgment. I can be quiet and still or I can watch my mind wander without needing to focus on any one particular thing. Meditation never seems hurried or goal-oriented. I get to just explore. And then I start my day on my terms. And that mood, that outlook, is something worth curating. I know I’m just scratching the surface of what is an incredibly diverse practice. There are meditations that require more focus or visualization techniques and I look forward to delving into some of those in my meditation journey. This is just a beginning and I look forward to sharing updates about my journey as I encounter new observations and discoveries.

Do you have a meditation practice? What benefits do you see in the practice? If you don’t have a meditation practice, would you be interested in starting one?

I’m Getting Married!

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So I got engaged back in November. I remember mentioning it on here and then reflecting on my excitement in many of my December Reflections.

But I haven’t really talked a whole lot about the fact that I’m planning a wedding. Brian and I are getting married on July 4th, 2015 and planning the wedding has been this mostly seamless process for us. Perhaps the lack of drama comes from the fact that we are pretty easy going about the whole thing. We want the day to be a celebration of our love where our guests can have a good time (very manageable expectations). We are planning for the event to be small with a lot of our personalities in the small details.

Getting ready for marriage is about a lot more than just a wedding though. Sure, the big day is filled with lots of the symbolic and iconic stuff, but the day really culminates in the beginning of a major change for the the couple: they are now tied together in a very unique and serious way.

Originally, I though this post would be about what I learned about planning a wedding (it’s expensive, you have to let go of goals of perfection, you must make compromises, ask for help, etc) but as I write this I’m actually more interested in the relationship aspect of preparing for a wedding. I guess I feel compelled to share a little bit of my relationship and all the joy its brought me so far.

Brian and I have been dating for eight years; we met in high school. We decided a few years ago that we wanted to spend our lives together. We started making the plans and then the waiting game started. And when he actually got down on one knee to propose, I just thought “it’s finally happening.” There hasn’t really been a whole lot of doubt for me. Brian is my person implicitly.

But let me tell you something important: we aren’t perfect. We fight. We disagree. We have very different interests and personalities. And yet, we are fantastic partners. And we are in love. And we choose time and time again to let that love be what guides us.

I haven’t written my vows yet but I know that when I do I will promise to change as little as possible in our relationship. I am so in love with the life that we are living now. It isn’t perfect and there will undoubtedly be changes in the years to come, but I love the way we co-exist. I love the way we make big decisions. I love the way we have fun. I love our dog and the way we’ve raised him and trained him together. I love the weird ways we make one another laugh. I love that even though Brian is a man of few words, he understands how to communicate with me. I can’t wait to go on adventures with him. I can’t wait to grow a family with him.

Our wedding isn’t a major change; it’s a continuation of something that we started eight years ago.  And in those eight years we’ve learned a lot about how to communicate with one another, how to make big decisions together, how to support one another, and how to make priorities within our relationship.  I know that we will have plenty of trials and tribulations ahead of us but I feel confident that we’ve built a very stable foundation for our marriage.  Even more, we are consciously talking about and working on ways to make our relationship stronger.  We are newbies at this whole marriage thing and yet we are eagerly trying to pave the road toward success.

Any wedding or marriage advice for the happy couple? I promise I’ll share with Brian!

Enough

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I’m a week into my social media cleanse. I’d love to say that I’ve filled the void with productivity and creative exploits but that wouldn’t be entirely true. I actually began my fast by delving into a 24 binge. Yes, catching up on the exploits of Jack Bauer has allowed me to continue to avoid my work. At first I just replaced one vice with another. But I kept feeling guilty. I know I deserve time off but sitting in bed watching episode after episode wasn’t making me feel energized or accomplished. It wasn’t even all that rejuvenating or relaxing; most episodes are actually super suspenseful and probably made me more tense than relaxed! The truth is that after realizing how many hours I’d let idly pass by, I actually started feeling pretty awful.

And then over the weekend I hit pause on the television. And when I did that I also took the time to do some listening and reflecting on the world around me. Here’s what I noticed: now that I’ve identified my driving desire and the pitfalls that have prevented me from taking access toward achieving it, the universe has been sending me messages, reminders, that I need to take direct action in response to my epiphany.

Giving up social media and limiting my television consumption are vital steps toward my success. I didn’t realize this at first, but they have to go hand in hand. The reason why is really what I want to talk about today. Outlets like social media and television operate by making consumers feel like they are less than enough. As we consume we get stuck in the comparison trap. But all the people in TV or on Facebook or Instagram (even me when I was obsessively posting on there) are curated. We choose what to post and in making those choices we only show our best selves. And so when I’m checking my feed I’m seeing the glitz and glamour of another person at her best. The comparison that ensues is already stacked against me. This has been happening for so long that no matter what, I find myself stuck in a feeling that no matter what I do I’m lacking something.

And to constantly be telling myself that I’m not good enough is toxic. I’ve been essentially poisoning myself with this narrative for close to ten years now. But I’m here to say that I don’t want to fall prey to the comparison trap any longer. I’m here to begin the detoxification process and retrain myself. And that starts with a simple mantra I’ve been repeating to myself: I am enough. I hope that you feel encouraged and inspired to try it out yourself because you are enough too!

The truth is that we don’t need to look around the world or the Internet for gratification to become what we want to be. We already are what we are meant to be. We already have all the tools at our disposal to take the action that will lead us to what we are meant to do and be. Comparing myself to others has led to years of breaking down any semblance of self confidence I ever had. In the long run, it led me to be essentially paralyzed by an inferiority complex. But slowly and surely I’m making a recovery. I’m taking action to combat and recover my less than healthy relationship with social media. The detox is not permanent because social media is not inherently evil (that is not my message). The truth is that I went astray with social media. I lost perspective on its purpose and the ultimate role I let it have in my life.

What is your relationship with social media? Do you fall into the comparison trap? Do you limit your use of social media? How so? Have you ever done a social media detox? How do you combat feeling like you aren’t enough?

The Four Desires

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Where have I been lately?  The simple answer is I’ve been stuck in my head.  i’ve been doing the very thing I’ve been trying to avoid.  I’ve been processing instead of honoring my intuition and daring to enter the space of insecurity.  The fact is that writing my truth is painful.  The fear of rejection, of not being good enough, is incredibly difficult to face and overcome.  But my soul continually guides me back to this place: the tipping point of facing my fear and writing.

And last weekend, I got a glimpse into why.  I attended a Four Desires Workshop hosted by Rod Stryker (my teacher’s teacher).  The three day weekend workshop was intense as it tried to condense a very in depth process into three days.  And yet, I do feel so incredibly impacted by what I uncovered throughout the weekend.

I’m still deconstructing how all of this is going to manifest in my every day life but I want to share some highlights:

  • My vikulpa (a false truth / misplaced desire that has been guiding my decision making process): I want to believe I don’t deserve praise or recognition so I overwork myself and self sabotage my efforts to finish work of true meaning or value.
  • My dharma code (a summation of my soul’s grand purpose): My creative and untamed feminine power unabashedly savor the victory and praise I deserve.  I nourish my mind, body, and soul by following my curiosity to completion.
  • My sankulpa (a concrete resolution that will help me live out my dharma code): I spend an hour by my self three times a week doing whatever brings me joy.
  • My departure point (a concrete action that will help ground me in living this in the real world): social media (facebook and instagram), which I haven’t been on since Monday!
A lot of work went into coming up with these four tools for lasting change.  I had to let go of my very astute analytic mind.  I tend to try to think my way into understanding myself instead of just letting my soul speak to me.  I had to let go and allow myself to be very vulnerable.  Many of the writing activities that laid a foundation for uncovering these deeper truths were painful.  I had to really consider the pains of the trajectory that I’m currently on.  I had to face the fact that I’m actually causing myself more pain than I’m protecting myself from.

And that’s why my departure point is so vital.  Social media has become a horrible addiction for me.  I honestly see my use of social media as so much more destructive than just wasting precious time: social media creates a negative feedback loop that has me feeling bad about myself as I compare myself to others.  I worry too much about how others see me and I fail to tap in to where I am and what I really want.  So for the next 40 days I’m detoxing from Facebook and Instagram.  I’ll be blogging 5x a week and focusing on activities and projects that are more in line with my dharma code and sankulpa.  I’m veer away from the habit that has fed my vikulpa into preventing me from doing work of meaning.

So each day I show up to write my truth no matter how unrefined it might be, I’m stepping closer to being in line with my dharma code.

If you are interested in The Four Desires, you should check out the book by Rod Stryker.  You don’t need to go to a workshop to get the benefits; he outlines the whole process quite brilliantly in the book.  But you need to follow the activities in the book and don’t skip anything.  I’d actually recommend doing some of the meditations multiple times.

How does social media affect you?  Have you ever done any sort of social media detox?  How did that work for you?  Any benefits?  Any drawbacks?