Reblogged: A letter to you

I woke up this morning feeling heavy, unmotivated, and just blah. And then I read this post. And I realized that by simply waking up today, by simply getting out of bed and showing up, I am enough. Every single day that we have the courage to show up, we have already made a difference. And when we have the courage to take small actions every day–go to work, feed our family, or create something–it’s a minor miracle. Thank you, Sapphire Life Writer! 🌟

Sapphire Life Writer

Photo credit: Pixabay Photo credit: Pixabay

You are doing an amazing job. Yes, you. Right where you are.

You are getting up each morning to feed your children.
You are getting up each morning to go to work.
You are getting up each morning to create.
You are getting up each morning to speak kind words.
You are getting up each morning to spread kindness.
You are getting up each morning to show up.
You are getting up each morning even when you don’t want to.
You are getting up each morning even when it’s hard.
You are getting up each morning even when the rain falls.
You are getting up each morning even when it’s dark.
You are getting up each morning, a shining light in the world.

Yes, you. Right where you are. You are doing an amazing job.

You are making a difference with every lunch you make.
You are…

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What Is Authenticity, Anyway?

"Just Be" drawn in sandAuthenticity is the buzzword these days. But what does it even mean? Many people believe authenticity is empowering, as in “be true to yourself.” But others argue that authenticity is negative, similar to “letting it all hang out.” These contradicting definitions help explain today’s mental health stigma. I want to explore the debate, as well as offer my own definition of authenticity.

Some Definitions for Your Consideration

You may remember researcher Brené Brown’s viral TED talk in 2011. She has written entire books on authenticity and hesitates to summarize it in one sentence—however, she boils it down to this:

“The core of authenticity is the courage to be imperfect, vulnerable, and to set boundaries.”

Another role model of mine is Iyanla Vanzant, healer and truth teller extraordinaire. She says authenticity is related to your inner authority:

“Your inner authority is the producer and director of your authentic identity.”

Your inner authority is what you know deep down is right for you. To follow your inner authority sometimes means to go against what others think is best. Iyanla says we must:

“Replace external referencing with inner authority.”

External referencing is when we constantly compare ourselves to others, and act according to how we think others want us to act. If you do this all the time, it leads to feelings of powerlessness and resentment. Trust me, I’ve been there. Over time, I’ve learned to trust my inner authority, and I’m healthier for it.

But where’s the line between acting in our own self-interest and neglecting the interests of others? Adam Grant, psychology researcher, sparked an internet debate when he defined authenticity as “erasing the gap between what you firmly believe inside and what you reveal to the outside world.” He uses the examples of an author sexually harassing his editor and his nanny, as well as someone telling their in-laws that their conversation was boring. So to Grant, authenticity means having no boundaries.

Brené Brown didn’t agree with Grant. In her brilliant rebuttal, she states that:

“Authenticity requires almost constant vigilance about the connections between our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.”

So by her terms (and mine), sexual harassment is not authenticity. A lack of respect for your in-laws is also not authenticity. How do we reconcile these two very different definitions?

My definition of authenticity: serving core values & human needs

In short, here’s my proposed definition:

Authenticity = Sharing those thoughts and feelings that align with your core values and human needs.

Here are some examples of core values:

  • Love
  • Respect
  • Justice
  • Peace
  • Freedom

And here are some examples of human needs:

When it comes to mental health and authenticity, here’s where the wheel touches the ground. Mental health stigma currently dictates that we remain silent about our illness. This silence feeds into gender stereotypes, workplace discrimination, and a number of unpleasant things besides. When we come forward about our mental illness, we are serving our core values and our human needs. But I have a feeling that people in Grant’s camp would stigmatize us, and say, as he says, that “nobody wants to see your true self.”

This stigma is unacceptable. Self-advocacy is healthy, noble, and necessary. True self-advocacy is:

  • Respectful, so it would not involve insulting or abusing others.
  • Loving, and involves loving both oneself and others.
  • Fair, serving the good of society as a whole.

So when it comes to authenticity and mental health, let’s set the record straight. We won’t stand for stigma. And contrary to popular belief, our authenticity is the best interest of society as a whole.

Source: Vanzant, Iyanla. “Act Like You Know The Truth.” Hay House Audio, 2008. Audio CD.

See links for additional sources.

Image Credit: just-be-being-sand-words by davidrabone0, CC0 Public Domain

Anxiety & Depression On A Good Day

night and day sky blended

A Good Day is when I wake up with self-defeating thoughts,
And I make my coffee anyway.

A Good Day is when my brain feels like mush,
But I do my best anyway.

A Good Day is when my best doesn’t look like much,
But I’m proud of myself anyway.

A Good Day is when instead of being brave, I hide,
And I forgive myself anyway.

A Good Day is when my mind is a battlefield,
And I march onward anyway.

A Good Day is when I feel disgusting,
But I maintain my self care anyway.

A Good Day is when I feel like a big ball of fear,
And I go to the event anyway.

A Good Day is when I’m afraid of what they’ll think,
And I answer honestly anyway.

A Good Day is when I feel like a sorry loner,
And I reach out to a friend anyway.

A Good Day is when I want to curl in a ball on the couch,
And I make myself go for a walk anyway.

A Good Day is when other people make me shrink in fear,
But I get the errands done anyway.

A Good Day is when my heart is pounding for no reason,
But I remember to breathe anyway.

A Good Day is when I imagine near-death scenarios,
But I believe they’ll come home anyway.

A Good Day is when I think I’m a terrible person,
But I choose to be kind to myself anyway.

A Good Day is when I’m ashamed of myself,
But I write about my feelings anyway.

A Good Day is when my thoughts terrify me,
And I remember my thoughts are separate from me anyway.

A Good Day is when I’m different than everyone else,
But I choose to love myself anyway.

A Good Day is when reality is ugly,
But I choose to accept it anyway.

A Good Day is when I stay home sick,
And I work on a project anyway.

A Good Day is when I feel weak and confused,
But I find something healthy to do anyway.

A Good Day is when there’s a change of plans,
And I go with the flow anyway.

A Good Day is when I know I could have done better,
But I am kind to myself anyway.

A Good Day is when I think I’ve failed before I’ve even begun,
And I decide to start anyway.

What would you add to this list? What does a Good Day look like for you? Share in the comments…

Wishing you a good day! 🌟


Inspired by Mother Teresa’s “Anyway” poem

Image Credit: sky-moon-skyscape-sunshine-sun by ChadoNihi, CC0 Public Domain

Healing with Self-Love



Heartache happens to everyone. But when I’m in the throes of anxiety and depression, heartache goes to another level. Anxiety gives me sharp pangs in my chest, and depression makes my heart feel like a heavy stone. In the past, relief came slowly. But the other day, I discovered a meditation that goes straight to the source and relieves it. It’s a Tibetan Buddhist meditation called “The Diamond in the Rose,” and I wrote a full description here. This meditation introduces one of heartache’s most potent antidotes: self-love.

Self-love is entirely different from narcissism or self-centeredness. Narcissism invents an ideal image of the self and demands that everyone reflect it back. When this image is not reflected back, anger arises. Self-love holds no image of the self. It simply notices the thoughts and feelings that make up the self, and loves them as they are.

At the root of much of my anxiety and depression is a lack of self-love. When I journal about the thoughts that are haunting me, I find many harsh and even cruel thoughts about myself. Like narcissism, this is also creating a self that isn’t there. When we experience ourselves just as we are without judging, but simply noticing, self-love naturally arises.

Most important of all is that we are kind to our aching hearts. When we experience heartache, it may hurt so bad that we want to tear our hearts right out! But concentrating on loving our hearts–and loving ourselves–is ultimately what will heal.

How do you soothe your heart when it aches? Perhaps you journal, create art, or do a meditation of your own? Share in the comments. 

Wishing you a dose of self-love ❤️🌟,


P.S. For more artsy mental wellness quotes, follow me on Instagram @wishingwellblogger 🙂

A Meditation for Heartache

candles-1645551_1920The word “heartache” isn’t just a figurative term. When our emotions are in turmoil, our hearts literally hurt. Take me, for example. When I’m depressed, my chest feels like a sack of heavy stones. When I’m anxious, my heart races and even squeezes painfully. I even had to wear a heart monitor for a month, only to find out that my chest pains weren’t harmful–they were from intense anxiety. Why do our hearts hurt, and what can we do to ease the ache?

Of course, there are many answers. I’m sure there are scientific explanations for why negative emotion triggers chest pain.  But I don’t know them. Instead, I want to tell you about a theory that comes from ancient Tibet, as well as a meditation designed to free the heart from pain.

“The Diamond in the Rose”: Tibetan Heart Yoga

The Yogis of ancient Tibet believed in a network of light that spans our whole body. They called this network the Inner Winds. And the place where the Inner Winds are most likely to become blocked is—you guessed it—the heart.

“The most serious tie-up point of all lies in our central channel at the level of our heart…which is exactly why your chest might start to hurt after a few especially stressful days at work, or with your family.”
-The Tibetan Book of Yoga by Geshe Michael Roach

They developed a meditation to loosen the Inner Winds and ease the pain in your heart.
For the purposes of this meditation, whether you believe in the Inner Winds or not doesn’t matter. The exercise works either way.


What The Exercise Does

A few days ago, I was so anxious that I was not functioning. As usual, the anxiety triggered both physical and emotional pain. Despite my best efforts, I had to accept that my anxiety was not going away. As a last-ditch effort, I picked up The Tibetan Book of Yoga by Geshe Michael Roach, and decided to give this short meditation a try.

As I sat doing this exercise, I felt a space open up in my mind and my chest. The chant gave me a break from “observing” my thoughts. Instead, all I had room for in my head was the chant. I had Snatam Kaur playing in the background, and I even sang the chant to the tune of the song! It didn’t stop the anxiety completely, but it freed me enough that I was able to get on with my day.

I know, I know, this sounds a little “out there.” But I think this exercise can be modified to suit even the most skeptical. If you prefer, you can chant anything at all, as long as you find it loving and peaceful. Affirmations are a good place to start.

What is “the diamond in the rose”? The rose represents something that “thrives under difficult circumstances.” And the diamond represents the pure love that you will feel “on the day that the knot in your heart opens up completely.” Picturing a diamond at the center of a rose gives your mind an extra task to encourage a gap in your thinking.

I’m no Buddha yet–there are still some knots in my heart to work out. But if I keep my intention focused, for a moment perhaps my heart can be free.

What do you think of this exercise? Have you tried meditation of any kind, and has it helped you? Share in the comments…

Wishing you peace in your heart…🌟☮❤️


Source: Roach, Geshe Michael. The Tibetan Book of Yoga. New York: Doubleday, 2003. Print.

Image Credits: candles-heart-flame-love by klimkin, and red-rose-morning by AliceKeyStudio, CC0 Public Domain

Infographic created on Piktochart

Seek Not Success, But Peace


"seek not success, but peace" against path and sunset

This week, I’ve been meditating on success. As I wrote in my last post, success, particularly regarding employment, hasn’t been easy to find. My insight arrived while I was meditating: “Seek not success, but peace.” It may seem simple and even cliche, but for me, it’s profound. I hereby choose inner peace over a culturally defined, rigid definition of “success”!

It is possible to be at peace no matter your role in life. It doesn’t matter what job you do or don’t have. We are all equally able to achieve peace. And peace, I believe, will lead us to true success.

Wishing you well and a peaceful weekend,

Jenna 🌟

P.S. Follow me on Instagram @wishingwellblogger🙂

Mental Health & My Job Prospects

frog holding stack of books and papersI’ve reached a point with my mental and physical health where I just can’t fake it anymore. Especially when it comes to work. I’ve worked a number of jobs before, and when I’m well, my job performance is good. But I have a sensitive body and brain. Sometimes I’m thankful for my sensitivity, sometimes (a lot of times, actually) I’d give anything to be less sensitive. I’ve cycled through job after job, always leaving due to some mental or physical breakdown.

To clarify: I do not consider myself a precious snowflake who is above working. This is not about work ethic. When I’m well, I work my butt off. But I go through times when I’m unwell. And during these times, my ability to maintain the performance crumbles.

Every day, I find myself wishing that I could be like other people. That I could just suck it up and put in my forty plus hours like everybody else. I’ve watched my family work all their lives. I watch my friends do it. I know the sacrifices they make. I know their self discipline, their dedication, their grueling schedules and loss of sleep. I’d give anything for a shred of the dignity they earn. 

But thus far, I simply have not succeeded.

So imagine my reaction last week when a former colleague texts me out of the blue. I knew her intentions were probably good, but still, I was terrified the minute I saw her name on my screen. But out of respect, I read her message.

Hey Jenna, there’s a full time position open here that would be perfect for you, give me a call when you get a chance.

Immediately, I put my head in my hands. Not again. Not another job that I’d “be perfect for,” only to find my mental and physical health failing me. Not another few months, half a year maybe, of faking it, feeling like I’m running an uphill marathon, until I crash and burn and have to leave. Not another opportunity to humiliate myself. Not another opportunity to fail.

I don’t think I can take another failure. But out of respect, I had to call her back. What was I going to say?

In the end, I decided to be honest. Faking it thus far has only resulted in disaster. Faking it means dialing the extrovert meter up to full power for an exhausting interview and convincing them that I’m that perky all the time. Faking it means “performing.” It means wearing this face: “Hi I’m Jenna, and no, I don’t feel like a wad of scorched nerves.” I can keep up this role for a few months, longer if it’s a part time gig. But eventually, the truth comes out. My mask peels off. My sensitivity betrays me. Suddenly, I’m not the employee they thought they hired, but a shell of her.

The toothpaste is out of the tube. At this point, honesty is my only option.

I called back. I said I’d love to apply, but I’ve experienced ongoing medical problems that have limited my energy levels. I couldn’t bring myself to say “mental health problems.” We are so far away from a culture in which that is acceptable. I said I’ve had the most success when I can work part time or from home. Is there any possibility that that would work?

“Maybe…it’s not a ‘No’…our HR director isn’t so keen on it…but our CEO has been saying lately that she understands employees have needs…I think there’s someone in our office who works partly from home…”

So who knows how it will turn out. But I was honest, dammit. And it took a lot of courage.

Do you deal with mental or physical limitations in the workplace? How have you handled them? Share in the comments…

Wishing you well…🌟


Image Credit: frog-fig-files by Alexas_Fotos, CC0 Public Domain