I thoroughly enjoyed sitting down with Jen Johnson to discuss the gifts contained in mindfulness practice, her counseling services as well as her coaching work with clients all over the world, her photography and writing outlets, along with sharing pieces of her own healing journey with us. Thank you, Jen, for joining me on the podcast and shining your beautiful light of hope into the world.
“Jen Johnson, MS, MS, MFA, LPC, CRC, BCC, E-RYT is a mindfulness coach, Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, and Licensed Professional Counselor. She is also a photographer and writer. Jen teaches mindfulness for mind body healing. Her areas of specialty include women’s health and wellness (thyroid disorders, autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue, weight loss), stress reduction, healing from trauma and difficult times, creativity, and grief and loss. Jen offers a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction MBSR online 8-week course that teaches mindfulness meditation and gentle yoga for stress reduction.”
My elderly mother has been experiencing health issues over the past few months, with various hospital and rehabilitation facility stays. My oldest son, who lives five state away from me, was involved in a serious car accident. My podcast has started to explode (in a good way!) leaving me scrambling to stay on top of the interview, editing and publishing schedule. All of this is stress-inducing. But, that’s life . . . crazy and fun and chaotic and messy at times. However, it’s how we handle the chaos and resulting stress that determines whether we feel overwhelmed or calm in the moment.
Today I hit the trails at Cincinnati Nature Center for some self-care soul work. I practiced mindfulness exercises as I hiked, listening to the sounds of nature, taking in deep breaths of the forest scents, and allowing the cool morning air to embrace me. Nature is my reminder to stay grounded. As I focused on the little bee, asleep on a flower, I allowed myself peace. Right there in that moment. No decisions about nursing homes or insurance policies, no scheduling conflicts or malfunctioning recordings. Just me, a bee and a flower.
I wish you serenity in nature. Here is a little collage of some of my favorite photos I have snapped while hiking at our local nature preserve. Enjoy!
Before diving into step 1, a reminder about resilience: it is defined as the ability to overcome adverse conditions; with healthy bonding relationships, guidance, support, and compassion as the catalysts. Basically, it entails having the capacity to bounce back from stressful or overwhelming experiences.
What are some steps we can take to ensure we are building resilience in our lives?
Focus on the positives.
Seek out and nurture supportive relationships.
Utilize self-care strategies.
Take action steps to create positive change.
Work on healthy habit formation.
Find a guiding hand to hold.
Learn to become our own hero.
Be gentle with ourselves.
Today we will cover Step 1: Focus on the positives.
I love when my memories pop up on Facebook. I can glance back at my life over the past nine years, since joining that social media platform, and re-live the joys. Sure there is an occasional post where I set a gripe free, but it’s mostly happy-sunshine stuff.
However, it has not always been that way. This glitter-shitter stuff took a lot of effort. I had to completely revamp my habits in some areas. Here are eight suggestions to incorporate into your own life:
Surround yourself with positive energy: I made a concerted effort to remove toxic people from my life, or at least, how much exposure I had to their toxicity. Those energy vampires are draining. Emotionally, spiritually, even physically.
Create positive affirmations: I made mine using a Word doc, incorporating heart shapes into the doc, then filling the heart with nature photos I’ve snapped. Here is one of many I’ve created:
Practice mindfulness: This is a way to be present with all of your blessings in the present moment. Let your past worries go. Do not focus on future “what ifs”. Just be here. In this moment. With everything peaceful in the moment. I like to practice mine in nature settings as I find tranquility in that space.
Re-direct your negative thoughts: I will purposefully stop myself mid-thought and say, “Nope. Let’s think about this in a positive way, T.” Example: my eighty-two year old mom was taking F.O.R.E.V.E.R. strolling through the grocery store. My own to-do list was nagging at me and I found myself becoming impatient with her. I stopped myself right there in the condiments aisle and just looked at her little hand reaching for the hot sauce. I smiled in the moment, knowing I am blessed to still have her with me.
Smile: It sounds simple enough. But, seriously. It requires effort sometimes. I try to remind myself to connect with others through a smile. It truly is amazing how people respond. Sometimes they actually look surprised to see someone smiling at them! But, almost always, they smile back.
Look for the light in the darkness: This can seem an impossible task. Especially if you are hurting or struggling. But, I promise, you will help yourself recover your footing if you find that light, that thing, whatever it is in your dark moment. Focus on it, treasure it, remind yourself of it as often as needed. Purposefully seek out a positive force, solution, or beacon.
Share the positivity: Put your happiness out into the world. I keep a happy thoughts journal. I also share my joys on social media. I write about things that make my heart happy. I try to offer positive solutions to others. Through radiating joy, I bring more joy into my life.
Give of yourself: I ran into a teacher I used to work with while pumping gas earlier today. She made my heart smile when she said, “It’s not been the same since you left. We miss you. The kids really need you.” She was talking about the job I had as a mental health specialist working in various school settings. Helping those kiddos, offering them coping skills and a chance to talk about their struggles, sharing my positive energy, helped bring positivity into my life. I knew I was making a difference in their lives. I still do this though our therapy dog services, meeting with kids to discuss anxiety and the important role of therapy animals in healing.
Coming up next month: Step 2: Seek out and nurture supportive relationships.
I am one of those folks who pay attention to the subtle whispers of my angels. I used to tell God, “Listen, Big Guy, I need some neon signs sent my way. Big flashing arrows pointing me in the right direction, if you don’t mind. Thanks!”
It’s taken years of practice, silencing the hum of my own insecurities and quieting my own directives, but I now notice the gentle taps on the shoulder, “Hey, T, look,” turning my head to notice the heart-shaped leaf on the ground.
Ah, thanks, God.
I’ve come to realize those sweet little nudges ARE the neon God-signs I had been asking for all along.
Lady bugs crawling on my manuscript, sunbeams radiating onto a crappy day, little kid giggles interrupting my mental chanting of shopping list items, unicorn fart coffee mug gifts from a friend “just because”, cardinal songs outside my window as my dad’s memory flutters through the room. Angel whispers filling my days.
As I sent up a little prayer this morning, feeling a bit melancholy over an old loss, I received a beautiful text: “I truly think you are an amazingly beautiful person.” Tears welled in my eyes, the timing of that message impeccable, as the sunlight beaming into the room caught my attention.
I turned to see the beams radiating through the glass sign I have perched on the window sill, the words “be brave” illuminated in a joyous reminder.
I’ve been looking for inspiration for this latest blog. Waiting to be prodded by some spirit-movings. I’d say this qualifies.
5 Ways to Awaken Your Awareness of Angel Whispers and God Signs
Look for hearts.
I find them everywhere. Every day. I just walked downstairs to let the dogs back inside and laughed as I found a chewed remnant of a dog toy . . . in the shape of a neon orange heart on the stairs. Love is all around us. All we need to do is open our hearts (and our eyes) to notice. I will be posting a free downloadable e-book on my website some time in the next few weeks. It will be filled with heart pics I’ve snapped along with quotes and stories about love. Be sure to download it on my Teri Wellbrock website once it’s available. Until then, there is other free downloadable content available as a resource.
I started out using a simple 2-5 minute meditation I had found on a phone app. Learning to meditate in short intervals was a much needed boost of confidence that I could actually do it. I had always struggled with any attempts to meditate. My mind would wander repeatedly and I’d throw in the towel about thirty seconds in. Several different apps I found actually encouraged letting my mind wander, so I could practice utilizing my breath to reign it back in. I have created a few simplistic meditation videos. You can practice by listening in on my website or directly on YouTube.
I eventually worked my way up to 30-minute meditations, using apps and various YouTube guided meditation videos. I now make meditating a part of my daily routine. It has opened up my senses to everything beautiful. Including those angel messages.
This is a favorite technique that I will talk about often. Mindfulness is defined as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
It is a gift to yourself. Being aware of the space you fill in this present moment and all that surrounds you in the now can be more difficult than it sounds . . . hence the need for practice. I like to hike at Cincinnati Nature Center, reminding myself to absorb the sensations of the moment (the sounds of scurrying chipmunks, the sweet scent of honeysuckle blossoms, the tickle of the sweat bee landing on my arm). Those moments, after all, are filled with angel whispers.
Another concept I struggled with throughout most of my life was that of allowing myself the gift of relaxation, “me” time, without the weight of guilt sitting heavily upon my shoulders. I would try to kick back, but my to-do list would nag at me. All of the “shoulds” poking at me. You should be writing. You should be cleaning. You should be studying.
Once I realized the benefits of giving myself permission to relax, unwind, let go, and enjoy the moment, I quickly learned to put those to-do list bullies in their place. Now I remind myself that my angel gifts come to me in those letting-go moments. They appear within the pauses.
Be gentle with yourself.
A huge lesson learned. This was one of those Ah-ha! moments in my life. A true awaking. On so many levels. I can honestly say that learning how to accomplish this seemingly simple mindset was life-altering.
When you find yourself being self-ridiculing or slamming yourself over a mistake, stop. When you find yourself doubting your abilities, stop. When you start to question your worth, stop. When you pick on your weight or your wrinkles or your knack of crying at all things sappy, stop.
Instead . . . be gentle with yourself. Remind yourself you are trying. And you are worthy. And loved. And beautiful. Give yourself a hug. Be your own best friend. Hold your own hand. That’s when you’ll hear the angel whisper, “I believe in you.”