Blog: BECOMING YOU--Your authentic self

Blossom like the winter rose
This entry was posted by Gail Kauranen Jones on Monday, January 15th, 2018

“The desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and signing.”

-Isaiah 35:1-2

Winter represents two different experiences for me.

When I lived on the East Coast, the colder, often snowy season was a time for inner reflection. No permission was needed to seclude oneself, regroup from the holidays and hibernate, like animals intuitively know to do during the winter months.

In the desert of Arizona where I now live, winter takes on a different meaning. Sitting inside on a sunny, 70-degree day feels wrong, like I am cheating myself from the glory of being outside in nature. After walking or hiking, I grab my laptop and run to an outdoor café to write or market my recently launched book, Cancer as a Love Story.

Yet, I’ve faced a unique internal winter of solitude here, when I spent many, many months over the past three years unraveling all of who I knew myself to be. The excitement of starting over was coupled with long stretches of feeling like nothing was happening, that I was stalled. There were many times of terror, chaos and excruciating loneliness.

Change is not smooth sailing from point A to point B; transformation is a lot wobblier than that, including missteps, wrong connections, hard work, and a lot of experimentation.

The journey of healing from cancer, or any other life curveball one may be thrown, requires a letting go of the past and claiming a new more vibrant future. Such courageous work of creating a new mindset can rarely be done alone. We all need others to champion us.

Even after making a five-year dream come true—and publishing my book in November to rave reviews from a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, an award-winning brain expert, doctors, healers, patients and a bestselling author—a period of stillness followed. I met another author this morning who published his book at the same time. He, too, was surprised by the quiet that followed.

I now understand that the initial adrenaline rush is for the writer, not the reader. Readers will continue to come forth, at their own pace, not at the desired timeframe of the excited author. It is another unfolding of a dream that takes time and effort.

Yet, the delays—or spending time in the void of a desert experience (which emotionally feels like a dry time in life, when life feels like a long drought)—are necessary. The gap time of the unknown between the past and future is the time to:

  • strengthen the core beliefs in yourself.
  • set intentions (which are vastly different than “resolutions”).
  • embrace solitude daily to allow for new dreams and whispers of guidance to come forth.
  • take actions out of your comfort zone by doing something new and different every day.

As a result of my stretches of inward time, I now feel like the winter rose in Arizona, just about to bloom, with new opportunities appearing daily. Each time a new possibility pops up, I listen to my strong intuition and ask if the next step is in alignment with my core essence and current needs.

Waiting for the big YES, the one that may require I take a major leap forward, is a little scary. I may be asked to place myself in situations I have never before encountered, coaching or teaching on my feet, in a roomful of people without a script instead of behind a computer screen or a cell phone. Or, I may be required to surround myself with others more technically savvy than me to expand my marketing and writing skill set.

I feel the joy of an upgrade, life expanding in new ways. Settling for the old, the familiar ways that now feel a little too boring and safe, no longer works.

My soul has grown from the time I nurtured it in the void of the unknown. A new sense of peace and aliveness has emerged. I want to scream, “Bring it on, all of the ways you want me to grow, share, laugh and love in this next phase of life.” I stand open-armed and open-hearted.

If you are in a desert experience of your life, feeling stuck or stalled, consider it a gift, a time to find what is inside you wanting to blossom.  Use the waiting period to instill new beliefs and intentions that will sustain and expand you over the long-term.

To learn more about my unique “Creating a new mindset for living” coaching programs, or to hire me to speak, email gailjones@supportmatters.com.

Sign up for my coaching by the end of the month and receive a $200 discount on my six-session package. To read testimonials of my leading-edge work using the latest in neuroscience, check out www.cancerasalovestory.com and www.supportmatters.com.

Join me in choosing 2018 to be the year to FLOURISH!

In great courage,

Gail

 

 

Talented horse trainer, cowgirl, blacksmith and artist friend Jess Ann Cullen (pictured left) captured the above photo of a winter rose on her ranch in Cave Creek, Arizona. Jess’ deep spiritual insights, along with her eye for beauty, have added such depth and joy to my life here in the desert as I continue to reinvent myself and guide others in profound ways. 

 

 

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A gift for life
This entry was posted by Gail Kauranen Jones on Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”– Mary Oliver

Sometimes the gifts we need the most do not come wrapped in the packages we think they should.

Looking at the cactus pictured to the left, decorated with Christmas stockings, does not quite put me in the holiday spirit in the same way as I felt in earlier years.  Back then, when I lived on the East Coast and my children were young, we used to cut down a fresh tree.

The smell of fresh pine permeated the house when we brought the tree home, and the anticipation of decorating later as a family was an event that brought great contentment. Those are all fond memories of a different life stage, one that tugs at my heart each holiday season.

Yet, this cactus is representative of my new life here in the desert, after becoming an empty nester. The cactus stands on the patio of the Grotto Café in Cave Creek, Arizona, where I just completed my book Cancer as a Love Story: Developing the Mindset for Living.

My book is one of those packages that is not quite wrapped in the ways one might expect. Take the title, Cancer as A Love Story, for example. Cancer is a scary word to many, causing some to run from such a book. Yet, because most of us know someone whose life has been touched by cancer, it was important to include the name of the disease in the title.

Yet, if you delve inside, you will discover only the beginning parts relate directly to a cancer diagnosis. The majority of the book is geared towards helping anyone create a new mindset for living a life of optimal health, vibrancy, fulfillment, joy and unlimited possibilities.

I intentionally introduced the book last month, prior to Christmas (against the advice of many who did not think the holiday season was an ideal time to launch a new book). I did so because I see Cancer as a Love Story as a gift of love and hope, a perfect holiday present that lasts far beyond the Christmas season.  It is a TOOL FOR LIFE.

Here are a just a few snippets of feedback from early readers:

  • “A real page-turner I could not put down.”
  • “So much more than a personal memoir; it is a wisdom companion.”
  • An amazing gift to any reader, hungry for wholeness, to receive. Gail gracefully balanced the slippery tensions of stability and change with wit and heart.”

For cancer patients specifically, the book helps them gain the mindset to extend longevity. That mindset is critical as attitude contributes more to health than genetics or treatments, according to a study shared at The Mind Body Program for Cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital, which I attended for three months.

The intimate, five-year journey shared within also contains other gems of insights I gained from my wake-up call after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. These include:

  • Forgive everyone, including yourself (as resentment and other toxic emotions held within contribute to disease).
  • Pause (do not make rush decisions; give space for a new beginning to be created).
  • Seize the day and take the risks that allow you to SAY YES TO LIFE!
  • Find your happy place. Environments matter.
  • Feed your soul and body nutrients. Words matter. What kind of thoughts do you give your mind to ponder? And, what kinds of food do you give your body to replenish and thrive?

Some of the best-liked parts of the book have been the many sidebars of “tips,” from diet and exercise suggestions to resources for creating optimal health and emotional states of well-being.

Book endorsements from doctors, healers, spiritual leaders, award-winning authors, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee and patients can also be found on Amazon and www.cancerasalovestory.com.

If you are looking for a unique gift to purchase, one that can impact a life long-term, please consider ordering a signed copy of my book. Email me today at gailjones@supportmatters.com for details and I can send your book out in time for the holidays. Quantity discounts are available for orders of 10 or more books. I also tuck inside the back of the book a handout on tips for extending longevity.

Thank you for your support. I wish you and yours many gifts of love and hope this holiday season.

Stay open to the way your presents are packaged, or how your life may be rerouted. A cactus decorated with Santa hats was never in my life plan.

Yet, relocating to Arizona brought me many of the resources that added extra depth to my book, and gave me a new canvas of perspective from which to create my own new mindset for living.

With joy, gratitude, and a heart filled of warmth for all of you,

Gail

 

 

 

 

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It takes a village
This entry was posted by Gail Kauranen Jones on Sunday, November 5th, 2017

 

 

“No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit.”

–Andrew Carnegie

Hillary Clinton was so right in articulating that “It takes a village” to raise a child as she wrote in her corresponding book by the same name.

It takes a village to do a lot of other things as well, from winning a team sport to launching a dream. Sometimes, if you’re like me lately, you may reach the point of exhaustion before calling in support from others or delegating responsibilities.

Yet, the more we reach out, and accept the expertise of others, the more we can each grow as a person. We all have strengths and weaknesses; leaning on others when it expands or refuels us is healthy.

Right now, I am about to launch my book Cancer as a Love Story: Developing the Mindset for Living. The past few months I pulled several “all nighters” with last-minutes edits, often jumping out of bed to jot down one more crucial thought to include. Then, I worked extra part-time jobs to finance the book. Truth be told, I am running on empty these days, and I am making sure I take time to rest. A few massages have been scheduled!

In two weeks, my official book launch, I will be hosting my first author signing in Cave Creek, Arizona. There will be a team to support me, from the musician who will play music following the signing, to a friend who will help set up the books-for-sale table.

I know for sure, that this calling that came to me in the middle of the night five years ago, could not have reached fruition without the help of many, many others. I am so grateful for all the friends and loved ones who stood by throughout this intense journey of reinventing myself from the inside out. Several healers also provided generous acts of care that enabled me to share leading-edge resources with my readers. I have acknowledged them all in my book.

Right now, I also am grateful for my editing, technical and marketing teams, who upgraded the content and image of my book and its presence on Amazon in ways far greater than I imagined. Thank you Demi Stevens of The Year of the Book, Rose Russo of Pathways Graphic Design, Foster Coburn III of Graphics Unleashed, Jarred Stanley of Newburyport IT, and Nancy Wolff Leary of Online Amplify. Your commitment to excellence is carrying me to the finish line and beyond. I would love to think we are all part of a bestseller in the making!

For my dear clients and Support Matter blog readers, I also am grateful to you for all the years you have stood by, and listened to my counsel, or responded to my words.

One of the key words that drives me now is reciprocity, the give-and-take in healthy relationships. I am blessed to have grown so many of those types of relationships in the past few years. Thank you for being part of my healing journey.

My new book shares an in-depth look of that journey. It is divided into three parts: the first third helps those newly diagnosed with cancer, and the other two-thirds of the book offer lots of tools and techniques for helping anyone through various types of change (career, relationship, loss, or lifestyle) create a new mindset for living in optimal ways.

If you would like to pre-order a signed copy of Cancer as a Love Story, email gailjones@supportmatters.com. As a bonus, I will send you “The 8 Characteristics of Long-Term Cancer Survivors.” These tips, which I gleaned from my three-month participation in The Mind Body Program for Cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital, can apply to anyone seeking to increase their longevity.

Bless you all…and may my book, with your help, reach the millions who need it.

With gratitude,

Gail

 

I took the above photo by a village market in Ogunquit, Maine, during my recent trip there to view fall foliage.

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For Julia Dreyfus and the other 1 out of 8 women…
This entry was posted by Gail Kauranen Jones on Sunday, October 1st, 2017

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Julia Dreyfus’ courageous announcement of her diagnosis, I share insights from my five-year healing journey.  Please pass on to anyone you know whose life has been touched by cancer:

5 Tips Upon Hearing A Cancer Diagnosis

…and the one missing piece of dealing with “the news”

May you be inspired to find “a path of hope” through this photograph that my friend Catherine Russell shot in Newburyport, MA.

Once you hear the dreaded “C-word,” and move beyond the shock and terror of a scary health diagnosis, there is another reality to face: your psyche has been forever changed. For many, a loss of innocence occurs, where you discover life as you knew it will never be the same.

Few people, even those closest to you, can fully comprehend the significance of this life-altering moment, and the psychological impact of facing mortality, perhaps for the first time.

“No one wants to hear about your cancer healing journey,” a loved one once said to me. “Start writing about happy things.”

Many people, fearing they could “catch” what you just “got” stay away, if not physically then emotionally. It takes a lot of stamina, courage and compassion to listen to someone wobble their way through a life-threatening disease.

A good friend who I met at the Mind Body Program for Cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital five years ago when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer told her grandchildren this: “I’m not contagious, I’m courageous.” I later asked, and was granted, her permission to share those brilliant words and insightful commentary.

Still, it’s been estimated that upwards of 96 percent of cancer survivors fear recurrence. Trusting your body to stay healthy requires a certain type of vigilance and continual reframe of thoughts, after you have been thrown such a huge curveball.

Sure, I am happy to be alive, and I no longer accept that gift lightly. I take risks to live in the moment, seize the day, and shake up my life in ways I may never have done before getting diagnosed.

I downsized to a small seaside community to experiment with my bucket list item of living in the city, as I had never done that before. I loved renting my condo in walking distance of bookstores, the ocean and local shops and boutiques. Then, I packed up again to move cross-country in an adventure of the heart—a choice I would have never made before cancer.

Simplicity and living from authenticity became my new priorities. As a result, I claimed myself as a creative person, temporarily living a Bohemian lifestyle, versus holding onto the picture perfect-looking, but outdated image of a suburban housewife raising two kids, singularly, post-divorce.

At the same time, I also committed to an extra level of care about all I think and do, what I eat, who I associate with, what types of environments I place myself in and the types of thoughts and beliefs I allow to enter my mind.

Some days, it has felt like a second full-time job taking responsibility for maintaining and improving my health. Yoga, hiking, participating in energy healing circles, learning to grocery shop and cook in new ways, meditating daily, and journaling are extra activities that make up my life now.

For all the effort, I have gained a new vibrancy for life. In some ways, it is sad cancer was my wake-up call to live from a greater sense of gratitude, love, and worthiness and do things I may have never done before my health was challenged. I wish I learned to step it up to a higher vibration of living an easier way. However, the courage and resiliency I acquired as a result of facing my health challenge head-on can never be taken away from me.

Yes, my psyche has been forever changed. On the plus side, I tolerate less trauma and drama and choose life every day. I still have moments of doubt about my longevity, for I’ve learned through being caught off-guard by a cancer diagnosis that there is so little control we have over our lives.

My positive actions of self-care continue to matter. Yet, there is a plan far greater than I can imagine or manage. A deepened faith has become my daily companion.

My health is my responsibility; my mortality is not. I surrender. That is the biggest leap of trust ever!

5 tips upon hearing a cancer diagnosis:

  1. Pause, retreat and ground yourself before making any decisions. Turn off your cell phone, stop discussing treatment options with others, and go within to ask for guidance. Center in love versus fear.
  2. Trust in your body’s innate ability to heal and align with others who hold that possibility for you.
  3. Focus on the end result of how you want to be living your life three, five, ten and twenty years from now.
  4. Start meditating daily, at least 20 minutes.
  5. Begin a spiritual practice whether it is going to church, praying, or reading the BibleThe Course in Miracles, or other consciousness-raising literature or philosophy.

For additional support in developing a mindset for LIVING, I invite you to check out my latest book in development, “Cancer as a Love Story” to be published this fall.

To reserve a signed copy of my book, be placed on the ANNOUNCEMENT LIST when the book is published, or to receive a handout of “The 8 characteristics of long-term cancer survivors,” email me at gailjones@supportmatters.com.  

Please put the words “hope and support beyond cancer” in the subject line of the email.  I consistently will be sharing more about the latest in neuroscience, to help you learn leading-edge ways to train your mind to calm and heal your body.  

With love and hope,

Gail

May this second photograph below, of the butterfly in the garden, also taken by my friend Catherine Russell in Newburyport, MA, help you find light in the darkness of a diagnosis.

This blog of mine has been published previously nationally at Arianna Huffington’s new company, Thrive Global, and also at The Wellness Universe.
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The days after someone dies….
This entry was posted by Gail Kauranen Jones on Friday, August 25th, 2017

“When the heart weeps for what it has lost, the soul laughs for what it has found.”

An old Sufi aphorism

 

NOTE: This post is an excerpt from my book, Cancer as a love story: Developing the mindset for living, slated to be released this fall:

 

My friend’s death hit me harder than expected, bringing me to some raw places of my soul that I thought I healed.  Initially, there were the “life-in-review” moments:  “Did I do enough to help or show I care?”

Then, there was the survivor guilt. “How come cancer took her life and I am alive?”

Moving through day three of grief, I realized I would never see my friend, Joan, again.  The finality of her passing flooded me with emotions, from sadness over the loss to joy at remembering fun moments together.

Her death also reminded me of my own mortality, triggering me back to that stressful day more than five years ago when I first got diagnosed with breast cancer. All sorts of new doubts began creeping in:  “Will my wellness routine work?”  “Have I done enough to keep my body cancer-free?”

Upon first getting diagnosed with cancer, I took life by the reins and chose to live as fully and healthily as possible.  Yet, I have not always been able to stay on track, even though I probably live healthier than 90 percent of the population.  “Will that 10 percent of imperfection impact my longevity?” I wondered.

 

 

After wallowing in sorrow, fear and low vibration energies for a few days, I regrouped by reminding myself what I did in handling the grief of Joan was healthy. I believe in staying positive and practicing the popular “Law of Attraction” principles, which maintain our thoughts and feelings create our lives.

Still, I know personally, and as a transformational coach, that we don’t jump through grief (or other negative emotions, particularly those hardwired into us from earlier conditioning) to higher levels of gratitude and joy in an instant.  We must feel our negative emotions in order to release them (as verified by Dr. David Hawkins in his superb book, Letting Go:  The Pathway to Surrender, which I continually reference in my book).

With Joan’s death, I did not do what at first might have appeared easier, and distract myself from feeling my feelings by emerging in work or other activities.  No, I let the hurt and sadness flow through me and honestly articulated what I was feeling.  Some people could not handle the less-than-positive side of me and disappeared.  Other friends were lovingly supportive and non-judgmental.

I moved slowly and pampered myself as I was releasing these heavier emotions.  At the end of the day yesterday, I swam for an hour, taking breaks to sit by the edge of the pool and just float in silence.  The rippling water from the movement of my body, as I gently swayed my legs in front, gave me a sense of being hugged and rocked like a baby.

I returned home from the pool and meditated for an hour, before drifting off into one of the best night’s sleep in a long while.

This morning, when I got up and walked, I felt at peace, grateful for a new day, and expanded in and re-committed to my life purpose.

Dr. Hawkins is right:  When we take the time to feel our negative emotions as they occur, and release them, we open to the higher feel-good energies like compassion, joy and love.

What better gift to give those who pass on but a deepening of our own love so we can better serve those who are alive?

In honor and respect,

Gail

If you would like to be placed on the announcement list of my book’s release, please email me at gailjones@supportmatters.com.  

(Please note also that my blog posts will continue to appear sporadically, rather than on a regular schedule, through the final editing stages of my book.)

 

My friend, Catherine Russell, captured the above photo of the white hydrangea in downtown Newburyport, MA. The image represents to me the sacredness of the grieving process.

 

 

 

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Ever been called ‘too sensitive’?
This entry was posted by Gail Kauranen Jones on Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

“Often empaths don’t feel like they belong in this world and that’s because they have come here to create a better one.”

–Judith Orloff, MD, at a recent book signing in Tempe, AZ

I remember as a young girl, unable to tolerate the loud noise of fireworks at a neighbor’s July 4th party, I cried hysterically. My older brother was asked to escort me back home.

A few years later, my dad, who worked in construction, came home from work one day and shared that a son fell off a ladder and died at his father’s feet on a job site. I sobbed. I had never met the son or the father so my response surprised my dad.

No one knew then, what I have since discovered: I am an empath. Loud noises, crowds, driving on freeways, and others’ joys and sadness impact me greatly. I thrive better in quiet, serene places, being in nature, surrounded by beauty and engaging in mutually reciprocal relationships.

That I feel deeply has often been misunderstood, even though I have toughened up over the years. Others sometimes have thought me rude because I cannot stay until the end of a party if I feel over stimulated.

My sensitivity has been both a blessing to those I love, care about and coach and a curse to me in moments when I have not set appropriate boundaries of self-care and protection.

One out of five people are highly sensitive, according to research conducted by Dr. Judith Orloff for her newly released book, The Empath’s Survival Guide…Life Strategies for Sensitive People.

Empaths, however, have an extra level of sensitivity, Orloff shares in the front cover of her book, where she explains the difference between having empathy and being an empath versus being highly sensitive:

“Empathy means our heart goes out to another person in joy or pain,” writes Orloff. “But empaths actually feel others’ emotions and physical symptoms in their own bodies, without the usual defenses most people have.”

Often, as empaths, we are told that we are “too emotional” or too thin-skinned. Through our caring and vulnerable natures, we also become magnets to narcissists, who are the worst relationship partners for us, Orloff maintains. Some warning signs a person–who may first appear as charming, intelligent and caring–may be a narcissist, according to Orloff, are that he or she:

  • becomes cold and withholding if you disagree with him or her.
  • acts as if life revolves around him or her.
  • downplays others’ feelings or interests.
  • craves admirations and attention; needs constantly to be complimented.
  • always brings the conversation back to themselves.
  • has a grandiose sense of self-importance and entitlement.
  • lacks empathy.

Empaths tend to be more gullible, so we have to be careful not to be easily manipulated or be made “wrong” by others who cannot take responsibility for their actions.

Recently, in prelude to a healing service I was attending, the man introducing the spiritual teacher that was going to lead the chapel sermon that day, said this:

“Hurting people hurt others.”

Learning to set boundaries and step aside from attacks of others’ misdirected anger has been one of my toughest lessons as an empath. It is my nature to want to send love, compassion and nurturance when someone is hurting.

“The goal for all empaths is to lead more comfortable lives by learning how to stop soaking up negative energy,” Orloff writes in her book. “We may instinctively want to take away another’s pain, but that’s not healthy for us.”

BE AROUND PEOPLE WHO CAN CELEBRATE YOU

Orloff suggests empaths look for relationships where we can be celebrated and honored for our sensitivities, which allow us to love deeply as aware and vulnerable beings.

Other gifts of empaths can include our ability to perceive the big picture on a deep level and experience exquisite passion, joy, and beauty.

We are often considerate, tolerant, generous, devoted, kind and take good care of each other, Orloff noted at her book signing a few months ago in Tempe, AZ.

“You need to have loved ones who care and know about your feelings, and who can respect your need for alone time,” she said.

Empaths also are most comfortable with heart-centered energy and consistency, which fosters trust and acceptance, she noted later in the evening.

When empaths heals past wounds of abuse, neglect and addiction from relatives, we have the ability to change ourselves, our families (including generations of negativity) and the world, Orloff stated in her book.

In fact, she believes empaths can become the most effective agents of change, representing a new model of leadership, which this world so desperately needs. As she says in her book:

 “The earth is not an enlightened plant. It is filled with tremendous suffering as well as tremendous joy. Our role as empaths is to use our sensitivities for the greater good and to tip the balance toward the light. Empaths must become warriors of light. Don’t let the dark scare you. Trust the power of compassion. We need you to raise the vibration of the world. Children and adults change for the better when they are around others with strong, loving and sensitive energy. You can embody that. The only obstacle that keeps you from shining is fear. As empaths, it is our job to gradually heal our fears so that they don’t block our way to the light. As you do so, remember that you are not alone. You have angels and protection around you.”

In honoring the calling to serve with light,

Gail

To serendipity: My friend, Tracy McCormick, owner of LightFinder Public Relations, (and another empath—no surprise the name of her company should reflect “light”) as she develops a creative pursuit in photography took the above photo a few days before I wrote this blog post. The message appeared on the car belonging to the owners in front of their restaurant, Local Johnny’s, Cave Creek, AZ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The chaos of reinvention
This entry was posted by Gail Kauranen Jones on Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

“Healing yourself, whether from heartbreak, illness, addiction, family struggles, or professional disappointment, is not for the faint of heart.  

It takes serious courage—Olympic courage—to do what it takes to transform pain into gold.”— Lissa Rankin, MD.

 

Like many of us at midlife, I have reinvented myself a few times over.

I’ve changed careers from PR executive to life coach, relationship status from married to single, and my mothering role from full-time caregiver to empty nester with a huge void in my heart to fill.

Nothing has been more painful, terrifying, exhilarating, and growth inspiring than choosing to move cross country 30 months ago to start over again. Initially, I took the risk of relocating to fulfill a promise I made to myself post cancer: Say yes to life, and live with no regret.

My body and soul needed a fresh start, and sunshine and outdoor living to continue staying healthy.

What began as an adventure of the heart–moving from Newburyport, Mass. to Scottsdale, Ariz.–became a Phoenix-rising-from-ashes experience, where I was humbled into a faith journey so deep and life-altering that it has become my third book in the works.

Dr. Lissa Rankin describes it best in the above quote when she describes this type of transformation as requiring “Olympic courage.”

I share this glimpse into my next book with you now because in my 20-plus years of coaching adults through transition, I have noticed how often others define themselves by the external change: the new home, new baby, new job, or new boyfriend. Yet, it is the inner transformation that happens as the result of the external event where growth and lives of increased vibrancy and fulfillment can occur.

The initiation into a new life

And often, that inner work entails a lot of chaos. Chaos is not a bad thing. When we let go of one way of being to become something greater or more expansive, we are honoring our soul’s prompting for growth.

In my continued training with Dr. Joe Dispenza, a leading neuroscientist whose methodologies helped train my mind to heal my body, he refers to this chaos as an initiation into a new life. He says:

“And, as things begin to break down and things don’t go your way or people betray you, things are stolen, or your bank account goes south, or whatever that is, you have to understand that it is a breaking down of the old, and you should never see it as a state of victimization because the moment you see it from a state of victimization, then you’re not 100 percent responsible for your life. And being an abundant person is taking 100 percent responsibility.”

Committing to living a life of joy, purpose and meaning, which is my goal, entails the angst of stepping out of the comfort zone of the familiar.

We are not meant to stay the same throughout our lives:

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.

If we fix on the old, we get stuck. When we hang onto any form, we are in danger of putrefaction.

Hell is life drying up.”

–Excerpt from A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living

Feeling wobbly, vulnerable and scared is part of the journey for it takes time for the new to integrate and become solid within ourselves.

Here are five tips to move through the process for creating anew:

  1. Retreat and find time for solitude is essential. Spend as much time in nature and meditating as possible. At least 20 minutes of quiet is necessary, to allow space in your mind and heart for a new level of consciousness to evolve.
  2. Find like-minded and courageous others in transition (or who have been through a similar one as yours) who treat you with compassion, care and respect versus judgment or condemnation. You will be creating a new tribe that reflects your emerging self.
  3. Feel your feelings, and accept some days may feel like a roller coaster of emotions. Know that it is perfectly normal to fluctuate from grieving the old life you are leaving behind to embracing the joy and exhilaration of a new beginning.
  4. All growth involves risk, and not knowing what is next. You cannot create anew from the familiar. The more time you can spend lingering in the unfamiliar, the more expansive your life can become. Know new possibilities will continue to present themselves. Get out of your head more often and listen carefully with your heart which options feel most aligned with your truest, most authentic version of your self.
  5. Make time for play! The inner work of transforming a life can be grueling. Take breaks, find diversions, and experiment with new ways of being (and be forgiving of yourself when you make mistakes!).

 

Like an artist with a new paintbrush, keep dabbling in new expressions of life.

To learn more, please email me at gailjones@supportmatters.com to be placed on the notification list for when my related book is published.

In continued courage and expansive joy,

Gail

 

My talented photographer friend, Margaret Armstrong, took this picture of Gerber daises in her backyard.  She then transformed the photo, using a reverse negative process, to portray the potential vibrancy of living that comes though the natural chaos of transition. 

 

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Saying it with…wisdom this Mother’s Day
This entry was posted by Gail Kauranen Jones on Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

 

“I believe the choice to become a mother is the choice to become one of the greatest spiritual teachers there is.” – Oprah

 

 

Early in my coaching career, decades ago, I taught classes for new mothers. My goal was to help these moms absorb the enormity of their transition into a new parenting role and life-changing identity, and hopefully bond with each other.

Now, some of those moms have stayed my friends throughout the years of childrearing and beyond.   I’ve also picked up many other mother friends along the way.

With Mother’s Day approaching, it occurred to me that, together, these moms have such a beautiful depth of collective wisdom to offer. Many have approached the sacred role of mothering wearing many different roles.

One friend was widowed five months before her son was born. Others lost children along the way, and had to endure the tough challenge of becoming a “bereaved parent.” Two of my friends adopted children, one as a single mother, and another when she was in her mid-forties still married. A couple of my friends raised their stepchildren or grandchildren as their own.

So, wanting to share their unique insights, I polled my diverse group of mother friends and asked them ONE question:

What’s the one lesson of mothering that you would like to share?  

Here, in the order they were received, are their responses (and keep in mind, being multi-tasking and multi-dimensional as many women are, some, including me, couldn’t come up with just one gem of wisdom):

From mothers:

  • “Encourage, insist, and support your child in finding his or her passion and pursuing it, no matter what.”

        –Kim Harty, mother, West Palm Beach, FL

* * *

  • “No daughter wants to turn out like her mother. Sons are more forgiving. It’s the greatest job in the world. No qualifications are required, and the benefits are incalculable!”

         –Carol (who chose to keep her last name anonymous), Hingham, MA

* * *

  • “Remember to keep motherhood a judgment-free zone. You never know what’s going on beyond closed doors and just because it’s not the way YOU would mother, it doesn’t make it wrong. We all need to support each other, especially these days…P.S.: I wish I had followed my own advice when my boys were younger! I guess it comes with maturity, but tolerance is a beautiful thing!”

         –Sally Sherman, mother of 3 boys 24, 22 and 17, Topsfield, MA

* * * 

  •  The most important lesson I have learned in being a mother, is though I will always be THE MOTHER, I helped them shape their ‘wings.’ I’ve had to let them ‘fly’ on their own to be the person each needed and wanted to be, not what I want or expect them to be. Aside from the pain of labor, letting go is probably the hardest part, however the most rewarding, in my experience.”

    –Joyce McDonough, mother, Phoenix, AZ 

      * * * 

  • Don’t blink – These childhood days will go by faster than you can imagine. Try to live in the moment even if it is hard. Keep a journal and take pictures – you will want to remember these times. Don’t tolerate whining and tell them you love them everyday!”

         –Meg Moran, mother, Georgetown, MA

 * * *

  • “When my children were 12, 8, and 4 our family went through a divorce. Their father moved back East and sold our house in Scottsdale, AZ before I had an opportunity to purchase it. I brought the kids back before the closing so they might have an opportunity to say good-bye to their rooms and home. I held their small hands out front, and with a few tears, I shared that our family motto would now be, ‘Nothing is permanent except change’ which is my revision of Heraclitus wisdom of the ages. I feel that I’ve modeled that to them as much as possible. My oldest daughter wrote to me on my last birthday and thanked me for teaching them all ‘better ways to live.’ Motherhood is a great blessing. “

         –Tracy McCormick, mother, Carefree, AZ

 * * *

From a grandmother-to-be:

  • “Now that I’m about to become a grandmother, I’ve been thinking about this to share with my daughter-in-law as she becomes a mom. There are so many lessons that I wish my 30-year-old self knew. Perhaps most important is remembering to nurture myself. There were so many days when I felt depleted and knew that not only was I suffering as a result, but my whole family was as well. ‘Filling my tank’ with things like exercise, a walk with a friend, quiet time to ‘just be’, made me a better Mom. And it is NOT selfish to take that time. It’s a MUST!”

        –Lisa Kramer, mother and grandmother-to-be,  Philadelphia, PA 

 

From mothers /grandmothers:

  • “Always be fair, humble and real!  Never set your kids up for perfection by living double standards! Admit when you’re wrong and ask for forgiveness of them!  Treat them with respect! Model what you want to see in them! Have fun and laugh with them! Really listen!” 

         –Barbara Jean Gordon, mother and grandmother, Scottsdale, AZ

 * * *

  • “Know, in your heart, that each child is unique and nurture that uniqueness. Encourage them to follow their own paths, free to explore the many faceted layers of their personalities. Try not to judge or give too much advice but rather sit back and watch them become just who they were meant to be. I’ve always called our house a ‘RHAT’ house, which stands for a house of respect, honesty, accountability and trust.  Instill these traits in your children by example and they will do you proud as they grow.”

           —Diane Polley, mother and grandmother, Essex, MA

* * *

  • “Too often we hear the words unconditional love in parenting. Yet, sometimes that word is misunderstood. As a mother of two adult children in their 40s, I’ve learned through the years that it takes a great deal of discernment when to be engaged, honest and diplomatic with your children, and when you need to let them go and let them be responsible for their own lives and consequences.  A mother’s love can be unconditional while she can also question or disagree with them. Authenticity and requiring respect is vital to a healthy relationship.”

         —Flo Gaia, mother and grandmother, Durango, CO

 * * *

  • “My children and grandchildren are among God’s greatest gifts to me. My greatest gift to them is ‘binding’ (i.e. speaking or declaring) God’s perfect will and purposes to them (in prayer). No greater joy for a mother/grandmother than this!”

          –Emily Gardner Foppe, Scottsdale, AZ

 * * *

  • “One of the most helpful things I learned from my “Real Love” studies was to not expect anything from my children.  My job is to love them unconditionally, and that is the greatest gift I can give them, and me! I am so much happier when I have minimal expectations.”

          — Karla Birkholz, mother and grandmother, Phoenix, AZ

* * * 

  • “‘SHOOT FOR THE MOON AND YOU ARE SURE TO LAND AMONGST THE STARS’! Like so many parents, my husband and I had sons with polar opposite personalities yet we applied the same common theme to both: Dream, Believe and Achieve what you set out to do. With our basic foundation of teaching self-respect, self-esteem, confidence and courage, the possibilities were endless! The Stars were right there at their fingertips! Now, as Grammy, I learned to gently pass along hints of advice and we hope and pray that with their own precious ‘miracle’ just maybe some lessons and traditions will be carried on. Most of all, in our fast-paced society, I encourage them to slow down, listen and be present…because Everything Else Can Wait!”

         –-Lisa Franklin, mother and grandmother, Topsfield, MA

 * * *

  • Mothers: We wear our hearts on our sleeves when we have children and are reminded of God’s unwavering love for all of us. Through every joy and sorrow, how deep is that Love!  Being a mother is both rewarding and challenging! Remember that each child is an individual, and the way you parent one may not be the same as your second child. They say that the child dictates the way you parent them, and in some sense that is true. Always be consistent and remind your child that you, more than anyone, has their best interest at heart.”    

         –Gloria Hawk, mother and grandmother, Atlanta, GA

 * * *

  • “Ahhhh…the journey of being a mother…and mothering!  Part of me wishes I knew then what I know now and another part of me deeply appreciates the ups and downs as a purposeful learning experience for me and for my children.  As a mother and now a grandmother, my advice would be to appreciate, integrate and consciously express the full beauty of who we are and to encourage our children to do the same.  Do the inner work to reveal and heal the parts and pieces that got lost or disowned through life’s challenges and welcome them home.  From this place, love the children and help them find the way to love themselves.”

         –Beth Scanzani, mother and grandmother, Rockport, MA

 

From a great grandmother:

  • MOTHERHOOD is miraculous…GRAND MOTHERHOOD is magical. This is where you CAN have your cake and eat it, too! They call me ‘Grandie”…and I give them cake by the ocean for breakfast. You have fun without the responsibility. When I have had three of them at the same time and they started to ‘act up’ I would say, ‘We need to regroup, three OMs with three deep breaths.’ It was funny but it relieved the tension. Now as teenagers, they roll their eyes but they still do it!  Great grandchildren: It’s difficult to believe when you become a great grandparent but even more difficult to believe when your CHILD then becomes a GRANDPARENT! And, life  continues to give you babies to smell and love. The gift that keeps giving!”

         –Ann Marie Salmon, mother, grandmother, great grandmother,        Salisbury,  MA

 

From a bereaved mother:

  • “Remember not to sweat the small stuff… pick your battles.  Kids have to win some too… and you don’t want regrets over silly things, if something ever happens — though I hope you never find out. Cherish and be grateful for every day with your children, no matter the age or the challenge.”  

        –Barbara J Hopkinson, Newburyport, MA (Founder, A Butterfly’s Journey To  A New Normal)

 

From an adoptive mother:

  • “I adopted a five-week-old son at the age of 45. The most profound lesson I learned was how much I could love him even though he did not grow inside of me.  He was always told he was adopted, and I would share with him that he grew inside my heart, not my womb. Telling him ‘I loved him’ was a routine expression.  At the age of three, he would respond, ‘Mom I love you very so much!” He is now 19-years-old and never hesitates to tell others he was adopted and to say, I LOVE YOU! Proud to be an Adoptive Mother!”

          –Sharon Saba Hildebrandt, Scottsdale, AZ

 

From a stepmother:

  • Be available to listen, advise and support your adult children as they raise their own children. Remember how hard it is to be a parent. Then enjoy being a grandparent!”

         –Susan Young, stepmother and grandmother, Beverly, MA

 

I wish I had all the wisdom of my friends above when I was a younger mother. The one lesson I learned in motherhood is to build community, particularly if you don’t have extended family nearby. Raising young children can feel so isolating.

Also, children need your presence more than your presents! Pause, a lot! Turn off the cell phones. Watch your kids play. Or better yet, play with them. You cannot go back and give your kids your missing time. With two young adult children of my own now, and my first grandchild on the way, I never believed my kids’ childhoods would go by so fast!

Happy Mother’s Day! Now, moms, let someone pamper YOU this week for all the years of care and sacrifice.

Thanks for your help collectively spreading the hard-earned and loving wisdom of your parenting years!

Hugs and blessings,

 

Gail

 

And I offer a special Mother’s Day thanks to my photographer friend Margaret Armstrong, who took the above photo of the zebras in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, Africa.  Here are her own thoughts on motherhood:  “Being a mother is a special bond, a heart string from mother to child to grandchild and now to my new great grandchild who I am so looking forward to meeting in October.”

 

 

 

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Oh no, the rabbit hole
This entry was posted by Gail Kauranen Jones on Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”—William Shakespeare

Lying in bed sick with a bad cold, I could easily start spiraling down that “rabbit hole” of negative thinking. Some say we only have ten seconds to change our mindset when the less-than-desirable thoughts pop up.

An active lifestyle is my preference; laying low for extended periods of time is not. Yet, I’m using this downtime to catch up on life, meditate, read emails or listen to audios of other inspiring thought leaders.

I’ve learned over the years to imagine a big red stop sign in my mind when I feel despair or anxiety creeping up. “No” that scary or limiting thought is not allowed in, I tell myself. I intentionally choose a more positive thought, or call a friend to help lift my mood to a more positive outlook. Sometimes outside perspective helps refresh our memories of our strengths and goodness when we hit a moment of feeling low.

One of the quickest ways of sinking into the rabbit hole is by comparing ourselves to others. When we start making up stories about the grander lives others appear to have, we set ourselves up as victims. Victim thinking stops us from taking full responsibility to create the lives we want.

Two quick ways out of the rabbit hole are to pick up a pen and start writing down five things you are grateful for, then go out and help someone else.

It’s okay to have “off” days. Sometimes, we need to face some negativity to clear old conditioning from early years of life.

Why coaching helps when you hit “a rabbit hole”:

 “Almost universally, the experiences that cause people to feel stuck have roots in what are considered negative beliefs created early in life. And it’s precisely because they are subconscious that it’s often difficult for us to see them in ourselves…Ninety percent or more of our daily actions are responses that come from the reservoir of information we accumulated during the first seven years of life…The reality is that most of us learned our subconscious habits in an environment that was a mixed bag.” 

–Gregg Braden, The Spontaneous Healing of Belief.

Using my nearly 20 years of expertise in helping clients identify and shift those subconscious beliefs, I have witnessed many people dramatically and consistently change their lives for the better.

This month, through June, I am offering a specially discounted 6-session coaching package to help you live from a stronger set of beliefs that can defy or greatly shorten those rabbit hole experiences.

If you’d like to learn more, email me at gailjones@supportmatters.com and we can set up a free 15-minute consult. I also would be glad to send you recent testimonials of my work that incorporates the latest in neuroscience, where new breakthroughs in ways of changing a person’s mindset are occurring at a rapid pace.

Upward we go,

 Gail

The beautiful “hole”-in-the-tree photo above was captured by my friend Chris Young at the gorgeous Long Hill gardens in Beverly, Mass. Chris has a passion for photography and beauty (and he is also a great cook!).

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The one shift that can change your life
This entry was posted by Gail Kauranen Jones on Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

 

“Choosing compassion over judgment expands our lives and hearts.”—Gail Kauranen Jones, Coach, Author and Wellness Pioneer

 

Many of us, knowingly or unknowingly, judge others upon meeting them. Often those judgments are based on past conditioning and have nothing to do with present reality.

For example, have you ever not liked somebody and were not sure why? Then, hours later, you remember he or she reminded you of someone from the past who may have hurt you or been unkind in some way? Hence, your judgment was only a projection of an old belief and not truly representative of the new person placed before you.

Consistently, I have become aware that each time I let go of judgment, I find a new gift. Sometimes, I go the extra mile and silently bless those who seem harsh or unkind. Other times, the people who I thought were most unlike me have become my friends. The diversity expanded my life, rather than shrunk it.

We grow by experiencing another’s worldview of life. By taking the time to be present, just listening and remaining in a state of wonder, we can receive incredibly inspiring insights from others.

Each of us has a story, or a wound from the past, that can get triggered by new connections we meet. If you find yourself racing to judgment, try pausing, centering in yourself, and sending compassion to those placed in front of you.

If you feel hurt by another, you may try what I do: I get down on my knees and pray to forgive those who attacked, criticized, ignored, dismissed or misjudged me. I also pray to be forgiven for the times I have done the same to others.

And don’t forget to give that same compassion to yourself that you extend to others. Sometimes the voices inside our heads are more critical than any external comments we hear. One of the most powerful books for increasing our sense of love and worth, which I referenced before in my blogs, is Self-Compassion…The Proven Power of Being Kind To Yourself.

Together–for ourselves, others and this world we share–can we approach each other with more kindness and gentleness and less harsh judgment? Discernment is important, but so is love.

When in doubt, ask: What would love do here? See how your world changes!

With compassion,

 Gail

I recently purchased the canvas photo of the magenta tulips pictured above, drawn to both the color and the flowers reaching up, which represents to me expansive joy. I later learned that magenta is a color of universal love, a perfect message to go with this blog post. I am placing the canvas on the walls of my new writer’s home for the summer by Cave Creek/Carefree, AZ.

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