All posts by jessicamcnamara@sbcglobal.net

Can I Love Myself If I Never Achieve Another Thing?

I always seem to get exactly what I need from yoga class. Today was no different. It’s a beautiful day, and I felt peace and gratitude as I walked into the studio. My favorite teacher was at the front desk, and signed me in without asking my name. But as I started my practice in Child’s Pose, something in me shifted into darkness. I had a sense of coming home into myself, and what I saw there today wasn’t pretty. Like a cloud obscuring the sun, my shadow side was coming forth to teach me something important, and it wasn’t moving aside.

As I took the poses cued by my instructor, I started judging myself harshly. I’ve been practicing yoga regularly for over three years now, and my poses look nothing like hers! From there, my mind darted to the brilliant achievements of people from my past, including an old friend from college who is in a TV series, and now has voiced a character in a huge movie about to hit theaters. I’m so happy for and in awe of her, as well as my other friends who run their own successful businesses, including a yoga studio, clothing stores, and spa businesses. All of a sudden, I was in a swirl of comparison, judging myself for never having achieved something of that scale. All at once, I was having a pity party.

Since I was a young girl, I felt I was destined to do something “great.” I vowed to be a famous actress by the age of 20. But my childhood ended too soon, and throughout my teens and 20s, I lost my true self. I acted out, seeking love and approval in self-destructive ways. I couldn’t see what was happening because I was right in the center of the chaos. And no one could stop me. Most never even tried.

By Divine intervention, I’ve been successful in healing myself, gradually over the past few years. I’m connected to myself and my Divine, as I’ve never been in my life. But that fact couldn’t stop the tears that streamed down my face today at yoga class. I’ve had setback after setback in my professional life: a brief acting career, that I joke made me an excellent food server; a failed music festival business; a career in the legal field, which does not allow me to use my gifts, and holds no opportunity for growth. I’ve invented a brilliant new product, and I’m facing an uphill battle every step of the way, as I work to get it made. It’s hard for me to view the many successes that have accompanied these “failures.”

I know that these setbacks and disasters have taught me lessons that I need to learn. But today as I practiced pose after pose, my tears fell heavy onto my mat. I cried over the disappointments and the broken hearts I’ve experienced along the way. I asked myself, “Can I let go now of everything I’m working to achieve?” If this product doesn’t come to fruition, if this job I’m interviewing for doesn’t pan out, if I don’t become a successful health expert and entrepreneur, am I still worthy of love? If I never achieve another thing in my life, can I still love myself? The answer right now is I don’t know. But I do know that this is the question that I need to look at, at this juncture in my life, because maybe the key to my “greatness” is finally being okay with being ordinary. Maybe it is from that solid foundation that my greatness can finally be achieved.

As I walked out of the yoga studio today, I felt lighter, as if I had begun to let go of something big. This was heavy baggage that I wasn’t aware that I was carrying. While I didn’t get the joyful, graceful yoga practice I was anticipating, I got exactly what I needed. I’ve discovered the next step in my self-awareness journey.

Alignment of Purpose

stone-pathway

I’m experiencing so much peace and joy in my heart because there is an alignment of purpose appearing  in my everyday life.  I used to believe that ‘the 9 to 5’ was a necessary means to sustain myself, and the rest of the hours were for joy and rest. Now I know that living in my joy and purpose from 9 to 5 is not only possible, it’s the way it is meant to be.

Inspired by my courses at IIN, I’m developing and conducting a 6-week health coaching series for professional women in the corporate environment.  As I develop the curriculum and tell my story, my vision is becoming clearer about what I am here to share with the world.  I am here to facilitate healing by revealing my path, with compassion, fun and laughter.

As I experience the excitement of the connection of purpose in my everyday life, I am allowing my authentic light to shine in all of my interactions.  Shining my light gives permission to the women I work with to do the same.  The key is to look within, trust that I’m being divinely guided, and boldly take action despite the presence of fear.

With Love,

Jessica

 

 

On Flowering

As the flower blooms, its layers of beauty unfold until its magnificent full expression is revealed. The blossom does not judge its asymmetrical petal or resist being stepped on by a passerby. It simply accepts, exposes, and reaches back up to the light if it can. At the point of full expression, having given all it can, the flower withers, dies, and returns to the Mother.

Humans have a similar, though much more complicated job to do. The natural task of revelation of our true essence gets slowed down by our minds through suffering, closing, masking and fear. Slowly, as we release all judgment and gain clarity about who we truly are, the artificial layers are peeled back one by one to uncover the root of our being.

The flowering heart reaches its full expression of openness, no longer hidden by fear and shame; exquisite, generous, vulnerable, compassionate, and accepting of all things.

Living as the true essence, having nothing left to reveal or to achieve, the transformation is complete and we are released again to the Mother. There, as pure and perfect consciousness, we are one with everything.

Protecting and nurturing my roots

Lately, I’ve been undergoing a transformational process that’s been occurring over the last two years.  Brene Brown would call it my “mid-life unraveling.”

Brene Brown (love her!) wrote:

Midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:

It’s time. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go. Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy and lovable, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever. Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. The time has come to let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are.

http://brenebrown.com/2009/08/12/2009812the-midlife-journey-an-excerpt-from-wholehearted-html/

Through a lot of self-reflection, meditation, writing, and forgiveness, I’ve become receptive to my inner voice, which I’ve ignored and buried for decades. She is the real, authentic me, and is finally coming out to see the light of day! I find myself performing less, and connecting more with others. I’m feeling present and more able to experience and enjoy the moment. Many things are simply falling into place with synchronicity. Other things I accept as journeys and sometimes obstacles from which to learn.  And I trust and know that I’m always being fully supported by my Divine (call it what you will!), my Higher Self, my friends and family.

Today, I experience more joy than I ever have in my life, and I have freed myself from my habitual numbing practices, including alcohol and watching WAY too much t.v.  Listening to my inner voice, and doing as I’m prompted to do are my life now, and it feels so good. Yes, fear and doubt pop up for me almost daily, but I’m learning to acknowledge that, and take the action steps anyway.  That’s the only way that I can become truly successful in my life.

Through inner work and focus, I’m protecting and nurturing my roots as a human being, and beginning to connect with and feel what my purpose is in this world. From the outside, my life looks much the same as it was, but on the inside, I’m a completely different person. And I like this real me very much!

The serious problem(s) with Pesticides

One of the greatest benefits of growing your own food is that you can control-and even eliminate altogether-pesticide use.  Even the American Academy of Pediatrics is now onboard with those who have been sounding the alarm about the dangers of pesticide use.

A policy statement released in the Fall of 2012 by the American Academy of Pediatrics addressed acute and chronic exposure and approaches to exposure prevention, and recommended government regulation to help reduce pesticide exposure in school settings.

“Beyond acute poisoning, the influences of low-level exposures on child health are of increasing concern,” the statement says. “Epidemiologic evidence demonstrates associations between early life exposure to pesticides and pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems.”

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/6/e1757

These are serious issues that have a very simple solution: grow your own organic garden!  Or if that’s not an option, get to know your local farmers at the farmer’s market, or join a CSA.  Don’t be afraid to ask them about pesticide use.  The more we as consumers ask the questions, the more farmers will be motivated to practice organic, sustainable farming techniques.

Organic Heirloom Harvest
Organic Heirloom Harvest

Over the past several years, I’ve been following the “Dirty Dozen” list while shopping at the store.  Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases its list of the most pesticide-contaminated produce, and once again apples top the Dirty Dozen.

Highlights of Dirty Dozen™ 2014

EWG’s Dirty Dozen™ list of produce includes apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes. Each of these foods contained a number of different pesticide residues and showed high concentrations of pesticides relative to other produce items.

In particular:

  • Every sample of imported nectarines and 99 percent of apple samples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
  • The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other food.
  • A single grape sample contained 15 pesticides. Single samples of celery, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and strawberries showed 13 different pesticides apiece.

The Clean Fifteen™

EWG’s Clean Fifteen™ for 2014 – the produce least likely to hold pesticide residues – are avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes. Relatively few pesticides were detected on these foods, and tests found low total concentrations of pesticides.

Notable findings:

  • Avocados were the cleanest: only 1 percent of avocado samples showed any detectable pesticides.
  • Some 89 percent of pineapples, 82 percent of kiwi, 80 percent of papayas, 88 percent of mango and 61 percent of cantaloupe had no residues.
  • No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen™ tested positive for more than 4 types of pesticides.
  • Detecting multiple pesticide residues is extremely rare on Clean Fifteen™ vegetables. Only 5.5 percent of Clean Fifteen samples had two or more pesticides.

http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php

At the very least, consumers should follow the Dirty Dozen list, and if at all possible, buy strictly organic produce at the store.  The cost is slightly higher, but when thought of in terms of the negative health consequences of consuming pesticides, it makes more economical sense in the long run.  I’ve switched to buying organic produce whenever possible, because each time I do, I’m casting my vote for sustainable farming methods and a cleaner environment. And the more the demand increases for these safer foods, the more the cost will come down, making the best food available for all.

Thanks so much for reading, and I’ll see you again soon!

Jessica

 

 

 

 

 

The Benefits of Organic Gardening

My daughter Vivian loves to eat fresh tomatoes out of the garden, but  I didn’t like them until I was in my 20s.  I wonder if that’s because we didn’t have fresh, ripened-on-the-vine, heirloom varieties in my backyard.  Since we started our own organic vegetable garden in 2011, my family has eaten a wide variety of tasty produce while cutting down significantly on the money we spend buying organic at the store!

Michigan 2012 plus 679

A brief bit of history: In the old days, most people grew their own edible gardens, but as commercial agriculture developed more efficient methods to grow large amounts of food cheaply, fewer and fewer people chose to grow their own vegetables.

But then in WWII, Americans (and British) were encouraged to grow as much of their own food as possible to help the war effort.

When the war ended, US chemical factories that had been making nitrogen for bombs started touting nitrogen as a fertilizer for farms. This was the start of chemical farming and vegetable gardening, and also the environmental degradation that went along with it.

Today, there is a renewed interest in growing our own organic, sustainable, local food, and my family is a small part of this movement.

Thanks for reading!

Jessica