Archive for the ‘Dear Jane Podcasts’ Category

5 Ways to Kick Start Your Life After a Breakup

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007
 
icon for podpress  .: Play Now | Play in Popup | Downloads 873

Dear Jane,
I just broke up with my long-time boyfriend and can’t seem to find any energy for life. How long will it take before I can look forward to enjoying life again?

No matter what the reason for a breakup—the relationship was stale; you outgrew it; it was abusive in some way; you were left—you have to grieve fully, pick up the pieces, discover who you are NOW without that other person, and learn how to look forward to life again. So here are 5 keys to kick start your life and begin to thrive.

1. Have a pity party.

When you lose a relationship, you have a right to grieve. Unpopular as grieving is, it is necessary to experience. The more you beat yourself up about grieving, the slower the healing process. Practice compassion for yourself. You have lost something. You may feel like there’s a gigantic hole where your heart used to be. These feelings are hard enough without shaming yourself for them. So have a party—a pity party. Invite your closest, most trusted friends.
Give them these ground rules:

a. They are to allow you one hour to whine, cry, complain, berate your ex, make fun of him, call him names, talk about why it would never have worked anyway, why it was the best/most perfect relationship you’ll ever have. Your friends are there to support you getting it all off your chest.

b. They listen only; they do not participate in the berating, namecalling, etc. Why? Because you may end up feeling embarrassed or angry with them for having never said the truth to you before. And what happens if you get back with the guy? You’ll have to exclude your closest friends, knowing what they really think.

c. After the hour is up, your friends tell you one by one all the great things about you that they love, admire, and even envy. One person acts as scribe, writing it all down for you. Keep this list close by!

d. After you have been replenished with reminders that who you are has nothing to do with who you just broke up with, you ceremoniously burn a picture (or all pictures if you’re ready) of your ex while all your friends watch.

e. As the photo’s edges singe and it curls up into eventual nothingness, say the affirmation, “I release that relationship for my own good. Someone better awaits me when I’m ready.” Your friends say “Amen,” or “Right on,” or “So be it,” depending on your style.

2.Recognize that rejection is a myth.

Most of us have experienced feeling rejected. If we haven’t, we’ve been way too protective of our hearts. But really, can anyone reject you without your permission? Think about this: If you believe you’re smart and someone calls you “stupid,” what happens to you? Not much, right? You probably wonder what’s wrong with that person and might even assume that it’s their own self-judgment misplaced onto you. If you’re not judging yourself, someone else’s judgment won’t stick to you.

So if you feel rejected, you must be rejecting yourself in some way. If a guy breaks up with you, then maybe you weren’t right for each other. But if you pile on self-criticism such as telling yourself you’re ugly, unlovable, too fat, not smart enough, or too old, you are not only inflicting cruelty on yourself, you are lying to yourself about why the relationship ended. Relationships don’t end over any of our self-judgments in particular. They may end because we are self-judgmental, making it hard for someone to love us when we aren’t loving ourselves.

Whether you’re in a relationship or single, stop rejecting yourself, stop coming up with reasons why someone shouldn’t love you. It’s a waste of time and saps the love out of relationships with even the most potential.

3.Give yourself the love you want to get.

Once you stop rejecting yourself with self-judgments, start loving yourself actively. Do more of what you enjoy. Challenge yourself intellectually, emotionally, physically, spiritually. Take risks that will build your self-esteem. Notice whom you admire and realize that “if you spot it, you got it.” You couldn’t see this in someone else if it weren’t already within you. Nurture that part of yourself. Become your most extraordinary self and it is guaranteed that others will want to bask in your radiant glow.

4.Release your Resentments

Underlying every resentment you hold towards an ex is a regret you are holding against yourself. The wife who resented her husband for buying a new car without asking her was actually regretful that she didn’t have enough self-worth to let him know that she deserved to be a part of such decisions. The woman who resented her ex for cheating on her really regretted not confronting him sooner when her intuition told her something was amiss.

So uncover your regret because you can do something about it: You can give yourself compassion for having been too afraid to stand up for yourself. Then make a commitment to being more authentic and more courageous now and in the next relationship. The icing on this cake is that, by being more authentic yourself, you will invite more authentic people into your life.

5. (Re)Inspire Yourself

A lot of us wait for “that special someone” to make us happy. When we’re fortunate enough to meet someone who opens our heart, we may inadvertently give our power away by confusing the feeling of happiness with the object of our happiness. The longer we’re in a partnership, the more we may rely on our partner for our happiness and wind up losing our skills at creating our own joy.

Forgetting how to make ourselves happy not only will dull even a once-vibrant relationship; it also makes a breakup harder because we mistakenly believe that our source of happiness is gone. It’s not! Inspiration cannot be bestowed upon us by others, not even by Mr. Right, which means that no one can take away our inspiration either. Ultimately, it is our responsibility (responsibility = ability to respond) to listen to our spirit, the source of our inspiration and happiness.

Even if you aren’t happy about a breakup, you can re-inspire yourself. What did you like doing before you met your last partner? What interests did you develop during the relationship? What environments—physical, intellectual, emotional—buoy your spirits generally? If you like island breezes, then maybe it’s time to plan that trip to the Bahamas. If you like the challenge of climbing snow-covered peaks, find ecstasy in riding your bike through tulip fields, or feel most alive strapping on a snowboard, don’t deprive yourself. If sharing your time or resources as a volunteer does your heart a world of good, don’t just do it; do it now!

Remember that every day, single or partnered, grieving or celebrating, alone or not, we have the right to choose an extraordinary life for ourselves. All that is required is our willingness.

Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, www.stopenduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.

She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, www.grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes. Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

Are You Surviving or Thriving?

Friday, December 7th, 2007
 
icon for podpress  .: Play Now | Play in Popup | Downloads 862

Dear Jane,
Everyone talks about thriving. How do I know if I’m thriving? What’s the difference between surviving and thriving?

In both surviving and thriving, we may struggle at times, feel fear of failure or rejection, or worry that we are not worthy of what we long for. So the distinction between surviving and thriving can easily get blurred.

But surviving will lead us to a dead end whereas thriving, although it may take us down a long and meandering path, offers up surprises, serendipity, and synchronicity.

Surviving can be identified by our endurance symptoms—anxiety, boredom, self-criticism, addiction, low energy, avoidance, depression, lethargy—to name just a few that I discuss in Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life.

When we habitually wake up in the morning dreading that today will be a repeat of yesterday and the day before and the day before that, we are enduring, not thriving. The bad news is that endurance sneaks up on us. We don’t know we’re in endurance until we’re pretty miserable. The good news is that, once we recognize the sources of our endurance, we can say “Enough is enough!” and begin leading a more fulfilling life.

We endure because we’re fearful, self-judging, or believing a limiting thought. Often, these sources of endurance overlap such that we are experiencing two or even three of them. We may be fearful because of a limiting belief. For example, if I believe that I am not good enough in some way, I may be quite fearful of putting myself in situations that will likely trigger this belief.

The problem with latching onto our fears, self-judgments, and limiting beliefs is that they constrict us. How can I have new experiences that debunk my limiting belief about being unworthy if I avoid situations that have the potential of making me realize I was wrong? Instead, in endurance, I will get to be right…and miserable.

Thriving isn’t necessarily any less challenging than endurance, but it does lead someplace new and different. Instead of being right and miserable, we get to be surprised and excited about life.

So what is thriving? It is our willingness to commit to our spirit’s longings no matter what! No matter what fears, self-judgments, and limiting beliefs pop up to distract us or try to protect us from humiliation. It involves perseverance: committing no matter what others say the odds against our achieving our goals are. No matter what we have told ourselves about being too old, too young, too uneducated, too busy, or too poor. Thriving is choosing to pay attention to our spirit rather than to all the chatter that has stopped us from living our extraordinary life.

Thriving is like buying a car. When we purchase a new vehicle, we suddenly see the same car in greater numbers on the road. This isn’t because more people bought the same car on the same day we did, is it? It’s because our attention is now focused differently from where it was before. Wherever we focus our attention dictates what we see and experience. If we focus on our fears, self-judgments, and limiting beliefs, it’s like putting blinders on. These are all we will see and experience. On the other hand, if we focus on listening and attending to our spirit’s callings, we will see and experience extraordinary new people, events, feelings, and thoughts.

As soon as we shift from surviving to thriving, we allow surprise, serendipity, and synchronicity to help our spirit along. We are now saying “yes” to the Universe, which expands our peripheral vision and gives us a new view of potentials and possibilities. Thriving requires three things: a willingness to listen to ourselves; a willingness to be wrong about our prior fears, self-judgments, and limiting beliefs; and the courage to be explorers.

The first two requirements must come from within. The third one—courage—we can allow others to support us in. Find people who listen to their own spirits, who have beaten odds, live joyfully, and find compassion for themselves and those around them. These are your mentors and your heroes and heroines.

Many of us wait to listen to our spirit until tragedy or illness strikes. My wake-up call came in the form of a brain tumor. But we don’t need to wait to allow ourselves to be inspired. Let today—your child’s smile, your urge to paint, the sun warming your skin, a desire to help someone in need—be enough.

Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, www.stopenduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.

She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, www.grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes. Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

The Key to Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

Saturday, December 1st, 2007
 
icon for podpress  .: Play Now | Play in Popup | Downloads 792

To read my English usage blogs, visit Grammarbook.com.

Dear Jane,
I want to make some New Year’s resolutions but I don’t want to set myself up for failure, which I’ve done in the past. How can I make sure that I succeed this time?

Most of us use New Year’s resolutions as a way to try to boost our self-esteem. We think that if we lose weight, exercise, or pay off our credit card debt, we’ll feel better about ourselves. This seems logical but it’s actually backwards thinking. Why?

Most of us don’t believe that we are worthy of treating ourselves better. That’s why we start and then drop so many of our resolutions. After all, if we believed we were truly worthy, we’d already be doing these things on our list, right? If this rings true for you, then your first step is to practice affirming your worthiness on a daily basis.

If you like freshly roasted coffee, treat yourself. If you have socks with holes in them, throw them out. Clean out your closet of clothes that no longer fit or that don’t make you feel attractive. Wash your car if that makes you feel better about yourself. Eat foods that are both healthy and delicious. If you don’t like the picture on your driver’s license, go to the DMV looking just the way you’d like and get a new picture taken. You don’t have to wait until your license is expiring. Don’t start the New Year depriving yourself. Let go of anything and everything that doesn’t bolster your worthiness. In my book, Enough Is Enough!, I write that changing, even tweaking, behaviors is a great way to change your mind and begin thriving.

When you feel better about yourself because you’ve been treating yourself with more respect and compassion, you’re ready (and more trustworthy) to make a list of New Year’s resolutions. My recommendation is to start with only one resolution at a time and focus on that. Here’s why: In Enough Is Enough!, I write about choosing to live in Classroom Earth vs. Courtroom Earth. In Courtroom Earth, we are our own judge, jury, and executioner. We are our own worst adversary, finding ourselves guilty for every infraction of our self-imposed laws. Courtroom Earth doesn’t affirm your worthiness. So get out of the courtroom and walk into Classroom Earth. Here is where you get to learn, practice, make mistakes, and try again, reinforcing, not undermining, your self-esteem and worthiness.

When you’ve committed to one new activity or behavior long enough, it will become a habit. You will be able to stick to an exercise regimen, lose weight, learn that foreign language, pay off your credit card debt, or keep any New Year’s resolution by treating yourself as the worthy being you are.

And speaking of worthiness, our neighbors in New Orleans, still suffering from the aftermath of Katrina and from governmental neglect, are grateful for everything we, as individuals, do for them. My visit there to help, which was just as much a gift to me, gave me some ideas and contacts:

*Kim Nance at James Weldon Johnson Elementary School could use the support of mental health professionals and health professionals: (504) 861-7718. The children, many of them living with strangers, neighbors, or distant relatives are suffering from post-traumatic stress and depression as are their caregivers. Also, the school could really use textbooks.

*Acupuncturists, chiropractors, dentists, massage therapists—just show up. The word will spread quickly that you’re there and are offering services.

*Ask one of your local schools to become a “sister school.”

*Buy your holiday gifts from local merchants. Many of them have Web sites. Janet’s jewelry store is Mon Coeur: www.moncoeurneworleans.com. Janet gives a tremendous amount to the community through her business, so your support helps many others get back on their feet. Besides, her jewelry is beautiful.

*Support Habitat for Humanity, which is helping to build a lovely enclave for displaced musicians.

*Bring your children there so they have an opportunity to pitch in.

*Regardless of your religious beliefs, support the church organizations still handing out food and providing shelter.

*Send this blog to everyone on your e-mail list. There is such power in numbers.

Our politics and opinions about the city’s future don’t matter. What matters is the care of each other’s hearts and spirits and that is easier to provide than what we have been taught to believe. This was my lesson from New Orleans. I’m going back. Care to join me?

ANNOUNCEMENT

Jane on TV January 10, 2008
I will be interviewed on NBC 11’s The Bay Area Today on January 10. I will be talking about New Year’s resolutions. Expect a fresh take on the subject. More details to follow.

About Jane
Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, StopEnduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

Helping New Orleans Recover

Sunday, November 25th, 2007
 
icon for podpress  .: Play Now | Play in Popup | Downloads 760

This is one of those times that I wish I were a poet—even just a decent one—because New Orleans deserves to be described with more powerful imagery than I can offer.

I took the six-day trip not knowing what to expect. I had never been to the city or even to the south. Whenever I mentioned that I would be going, people who had been there before Katrina would get a gleam in their eyes and an instant smile would spread across their faces. So I knew that New Orleans was special. What I didn’t know was that it would steal my heart.

I arrived in New Orleans at midnight on a balmy evening. Sequestered a number of miles from the city in a motel close to the airport, I had no hint of what I would soon witness. I could have been anywhere in the U.S. I thought, This isn’t so bad. Maybe the recovery work is finally in full swing.

Janet Bruno-Small, my contact (and now friend) who lured me to New Orleans, picked me up the next morning and drove me to her lovely jewelry store on Magazine Street, part of what is known as “The Sliver on the River” because it is above sea level. Everything looked fine to my untrained eye. “Just wait until we tour later. You’ll see,” Janet warned amicably. “Katrina did a lot of damage here but the levee breaks didn’t affect us.”

She had to work for a while so I decided to stroll down Magazine Street, with its beautiful architecture and upscale, cute shops that reminded me of Carmel, a picturesque, pricey seaside town in California. I took my video camera just in case I saw “something.” As I left the store, Janet said, “Close the door behind you and be careful out there.” I was struck by both parts of that statement because it was a sunny Friday at noon. But I simply shrugged my shoulders and closed the door as requested, hearing the lock click shut behind me.

I walked next door to a rug gallery and introduced myself as Janet’s friend to Michael, a longtime employee and native of New Orleans. I asked him to tell me about his experience of Katrina as I recorded him with my video camera. He told me that his house was damaged but livable; however, his relatives didn’t fare as well. For months, there were fourteen people living in his home. It was crowded, not just physically but emotionally. The fallout was that he and his sister were now estranged and his wife was refusing to spend Thanksgiving (just days away) with her. He didn’t know what he was going to do. He kept a brave smile as he told me about his hardships, but just underneath, his sadness was all too apparent.

After leaving the rug shop, I turned the corner and was struck by the contrast of what I saw: houses boarded up with black, spray-painted X’s, symbols or numbers in each quadrant. On one house was painted a date in one quadrant and the words dead dog in another. I continued to walk, noticing very few cars and no other pedestrians. The road was uneven with potholes. Anywhere else, these serious dips and cracks would have been surrounded with gates and flagged with warnings for motorists to go around.

When I returned to Janet’s store, I had to knock on the door to be buzzed in. “How do you get customers this way?” I asked naively. Janet stopped her work and looked up at me. “We don’t. Tourists don’t come here anymore. They don’t want to know how bad things are, how dangerous it is here, so they hang out in the French Quarter where the doors to shops stay open and private security patrols the area. We’ve had to pay for private security too.” Janet’s face was getting paler as she educated me. She also looked embarrassed somehow, not for herself I realized, but for the city she loves. The lawlessness and violence that permeate the city—a result of unchecked poverty, lack of resources, and sheer and utter governmental neglect—reminds one that our civility is only as deep as our failsafe mechanisms that are in place before disaster strikes.

Janet took me to a nearby colorful and eccentric café called Winnie’s. It looked well loved but had a For Sale sign on the door, a sad reminder of the economic hardship still driving the middle class out of New Orleans. After ordering what turned out to be the best Portobello mushroom and cheese sandwich I’ve ever tasted, I turned on my video camera and started asking questions. Winnie, a flamboyant native perhaps in his late forties, was ready to talk. He gave a steady stream of examples of hardship, frustration, and graft: It took him three days to get the fire department to shut off a leaking hydrant across the street. When he called his local fire station, he heard a recording that the number was now private. A private number for a local station? “What if you had an emergency?” He laughed bitterly, “You’re on your own, darlin’!”

Winnie spoke into the camera about the financial burdens: He and his partner David had to clean up their restaurant alone after Katrina, including dragging their refrigerator and freezer onto the street and dumping all their food. The storm water had gotten inside, causing maggot growth and a stench that was unbearable. This was the same story for hundreds of thousands of citizens. At one point, New Orleans had 400,000 refrigerators and freezers littering the streets, waiting to be hauled off by authorities, who would drain the Freon and then send them to the dump. Lined up end to end, the appliances would have stretched from New Orleans to Chicago (so I’m told).

David, who had been too shy to be filmed earlier, now chimed in about needing to get a new roof, like everyone else in the city. “It would have cost $2500 before Katrina. Now the contractors wanted $12,000. Why? Because they could! And just how could we pay for that with no customers, no business, and no water for three months? And now the utility company wants us to make up for its losses. Our electric bill is so high we can’t keep our doors open.”

I asked them both, still recording their responses, “What can people outside of New Orleans do to help? What should we know?” They both just shook their heads, just as Michael in the rug shop had. I asked these same questions of more than a dozen people and got the same blank stare. After a few more days in New Orleans, I came to understand that look. All of them, to a great extent, felt ignored, forgotten, and invisible. Many had been abandoned by their own families. All of them were abandoned by the government. “We’re on our own here,” was a common refrain. The question they all ask themselves is, “Am I a fool for staying?”

Until I toured the city later that day and the next, including the infamous Ninth Ward, I didn’t understand how bad things still were. The media don’t keep New Orleans in the headlines so our attention goes elsewhere. It shouldn’t.

That afternoon and the next day, I traveled for hours through neighborhoods and saw mile after mile of boarded-up buildings, cement slabs, weeds, broken levees, piles of debris, and an occasional front step where a house once stood. No cars, no kids playing, no life. I could hear the wind where I should have heard voices and other signs of life. New Orleans looks like a war zone. Today. Still.

Katrina was an equal opportunity disaster but the aftermath is not. The ones who had insurance could afford to leave or rebuild. The middle class are left struggling to salvage their livelihoods and homes. The poor are camped out in front of City Hall, or in FEMA trailers, or in homes with no running water or electricity—to this day. Some have received money for low-income housing. But there is no low-income housing in New Orleans. There are no city services, no infrastructure. One can drive for miles without seeing an open grocery store, gas station, hospital, or fire station.

Real estate prices have escalated as a result of low supply and high demand, forcing a continuing exodus, which hurts the remaining shopkeepers and tax base. The mayor of New Orleans, while pleading for people to return, has moved his own family to Atlanta.

As with a war, the hardest hit are the children, particularly poor children. The new vice principal of a local elementary school called me after I returned from my trip. She had heard that I was offering to donate 150 copies of my Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation and she was hoping they were still available. “You don’t know what it’s like for these kids, Jane,” Vice Principal Kim started. “They’re just starting now to talk about what happened. Most of them were at the Superdome. Many of them don’t live with either parent anymore. They’re living with neighbors, cousins, grandparents. And the adults in their lives are depressed. We’re all depressed. The kids are too. I want to help them. But how? No one is coming here to tell us what to do for them and their families. We’ve got to do something. I wanted your books because maybe it would help them to write about their trauma. Do you think that’s a good idea?” Before I could answer, Kim apologized with, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be talking your ear off.” “Yes, yes, you should,” I said quickly, trying to reassure her as I felt my own helplessness creep up. “It sounds like you need mental health professionals. Maybe I can help get some folks to you.” Kim sighed with momentary relief at just the idea. “That would be great. That would be wonderful.”

Kim’s appreciation for any small act of kindness was typical of my experience while there. I counseled individuals anywhere I was asked to go: garages, cafes, houses, city parks. Everyone I sat with was shocked and honored that I had shown up just to help them. I kept telling them that I was the one who was honored to be of service. I confessed that I had thought for two years about helping somehow and had felt immobilized. I had considered Habitat for Humanity but was useless with a hammer.

It wasn’t until I met up with Janet through a mutual friend in September that I realized that my counseling and seminar skills might be beneficial. I think I was hooked when she told me that after she evacuated, she was watching the news and saw that patients were stuck in one of the local hospitals. Janet took it upon herself to hire a private helicopter to rescue those people from certain death. By the way, Janet has multiple sclerosis and uses a walker. If Janet could take responsibility to rescue strangers at her own expense, certainly I could do something.

After listening to people’s stories, I came to understand that Katrina didn’t cause all their problems, but she did manage to bring to the surface every underlying issue that had lain dormant. I learned that they had the same needs and opportunities for healing and personal growth as we all do. So during my weekend in New Orleans, I held my Enough Is Enough! seminar for some of Janet’s friends and acquaintances at the downtown W Hotel. The participants were so grateful that I did this with them. But as much as they appreciated the work, I suspect that the real highlight of their day was this: In mid-afternoon while they were on a break, I ordered a couple of trays of cookies and chocolate truffles. When they walked back in the room and saw the treats, a couple of them burst into tears, taking my hands, whispering their thanks.

So what can you do to help? Anything. Just show up. Bring cookies. Bring an open heart and an open mind. Be a good listener. Share whatever skills you possess. Someone will use them. You’ll be scooped up quickly by outstretched, loving arms. In New Orleans, there is great hardship but there is also an abundance of hospitality.

Here are just a few ideas:

*Call a public school and ask what they need. Kim Nance at James Weldon Johnson Elementary School is waiting to hear from mental health professionals and health professionals: (504) 861-7718.

*Acupuncturists, chiropractors, dentists, massage therapists—the word will spread quickly that you’re on your way.

*If you can’t go, send textbooks.

*Get one of your local schools to become a “sister school.”

*Buy your holiday gifts from local merchants. Many of them have Web sites. Janet’s jewelry store is Mon Coeur: www.moncoeurneworleans.com. Janet gives a tremendous amount to the community through her business, so your support helps many others get back on their feet. Besides, her jewelry is beautiful.

*Support Habitat for Humanity, which is helping to build a lovely enclave for displaced musicians.

*Bring your children there for Spring Break so they have an opportunity to pitch in.

*Regardless of your religious beliefs, support the church organizations still handing out food and providing shelter.

*Send this blog to everyone on your e-mail list. There is such power in numbers.

Our politics and opinions about the city’s future don’t matter. What matters is the care of each other’s hearts and spirits and that is easier to provide than what we have been taught to believe. This was my lesson from New Orleans. I’m going back. Care to join me?

ANNOUNCEMENT

Jane on TV January 10, 2008
I will be interviewed on NBC 11’s The Bay Area Today on January 10. I will be talking about New Year’s resolutions. Expect a fresh take on the subject. More details to follow.

About Jane
Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, StopEnduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

If Your Child Is “A Quitter”

Thursday, November 15th, 2007
 
icon for podpress  .: Play Now | Play in Popup | Downloads 779

Dear Jane,
My teenaged son started playing Lacrosse last year but quit mid-season. This year he took up diving but wants to quit that too. I’m afraid he’s going to fail in life if he doesn’t follow through on his commitments. My wife says my son’s self-esteem is suffering because I’m too hard on him. I think we have to ride him harder and tell him he has to stay with diving until the end of the school year. All I know is that I’m at the end of my rope, we’re all arguing, and nothing’s getting better.

As hard as it is for us parents to watch sometimes, it is the job of teenagers to find out who they are in the world, where they fit in, and where their talents lie. This requires trying on lots of roles. What kids find, if they’re courageous enough to test enough waters, is that not every role fits them. But this process teaches them discernment and, painful as it may be for them to fail or for us to see them quit, saying yes and then no to new things is a rite of passage into adulthood.

In addition, children often act as mirrors for our own fears, self-judgments, and limiting beliefs. If we can embrace this concept, we can learn so much about ourselves through them. So rather than focus on fixing your son, which is obviously not working, how about if we focus on what his behavior stirs in you.

What are your self-judgments about failure or quitting in your own life? Do you have any regrets from your past around quitting something too soon before you gave it enough of a chance? What are your own fears about failure? Be truthful with your answers and then forgive yourself for your past mistakes. This will help you see more clearly what your son needs from you and stop the vicious cycle you’re in with both your son and your wife.

Perhaps he could use your help with criteria for deciding when to persevere and when to let go. Your own experience, even if embarrassing, could prove enlightening for him. And if he does suffer from low self-esteem, maybe sports are not the answer to build him up. Perhaps you could help him find another activity that boosts his morale and his belief in his competence, individuality, and ability to succeed.

If you are looking for a way to approach him differently so that you get different results, remember to ask open-ended questions such as, “How do you feel about having quit Lacrosse? What about diving don’t you like? What about it do you like? What other activity would you want to pursue if you did quit diving?” Make sure you don’t argue with his answers or try to use this as a lecture opportunity. Just listen. It’s the one thing that teenagers say they need most from parents and yet receive the least. Teenagers, like the rest of us, feel loved by being heard without being judged. I bet that you will learn something you didn’t know about your son and will feel closer.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Enough Is Enough! Seminar in New Orleans
I’m in New Orleans, about to give my Enough Is Enough! Seminar for Katrina survivors. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you in next week’s newsletter.

I was also invited to be interviewed on a radio program while I’m here on the topic of “The Miseducation of Professional Women.” As soon as I have the link for you to listen, I will let you know.

Jane on TV January 10, 2008
I will be interviewed on NBC 11’s The Bay Area Today on January 10. I will be talking about New Year’s resolutions. Expect a fresh take on the subject. More details to follow.

About Jane
Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, StopEnduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

Feeling Ignored?

Saturday, November 10th, 2007
 
icon for podpress  .: Play Now | Play in Popup | Downloads 437

Dear Jane,
I get lost in a crowd, like I’m invisible. I pretend not to care and I know I make things worse by dressing in drab clothes. But I feel like I don’t matter to anyone. What can I do short of screaming, “Here I am! Pay attention to me!”

Being ignored—not feeling special or valued—is one of the most hurtful experiences to endure. Unless we’re so Britney Spears-like famous that we lose all privacy, I think all of us have felt invisible and ignored.

Given that the way you dress reinforces your pain, it’s likely that you have an old belief that you are unimportant. As I point out in my book, Enough Is Enough, our most consistently painful thoughts come from childhood. So here are some ways to change this thought so your suffering abates now.

Step 1: Recall a specific incident where, as a child, you had the thought that you were unimportant. Maybe some kids excluded you at lunch or when picking sides for team sports. Maybe a teacher didn’t notice your skills. Perhaps you grew up in a crowded home with a lot of siblings demanding the limited attention of your parent(s). Maybe you had a sibling who was the smart one or the pretty one or the athletic one—the one who got noticed.

Step 2: Give your inner child reassurance that being ignored had nothing to do with him and that he matters even now to you.

Step 3: There’s a saying: It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. Start treating yourself the way you wish you had been treated. That means paying attention to your wants and needs, your likes and dislikes, and doing what makes you happy. Make your first question in the morning be, “What would make me happy today?” Maybe it’s buying new, brighter clothes that attract attention. Maybe it involves participating more in your community. Maybe it is asking for a promotion or joining a club. Whatever it is, commit to following through so that your inner child isn’t subjected to more of that invisibility. The gift of being truthful about your pain is that you can now do something for yourself to alleviate it. You deserve to feel special and to know that you matter.

This blog and my accompanying podcast, which you can download from my Web site, StopEnduring.com or from iTunes, were inspired by a poem dedicated to me by Hemdan in Egypt, who wrote The Greatest Pain in Life in Arabic and translated it into English.

The Greatest Pain in Life
???? ??? ?? ??????

The greatest pain in life is not to die, but to be ignored

???? ??? ?? ?????? ??? ?? ????,
???? ??? ??????? ???????

To lose the person you love so much to another who doesn’t care at all

??? ???? ?????? ???? ???? ????? ??? ?? ????? ?? ????

The greatest pain in life, is not to die, but to be forgotten

???? ??? ?? ?????? ??? ??? ????, ??? ??? ?????

When you show someone your innermost thoughts and he laughs in your face

????? ???? ????? ??? ???? ?????? ?? ???? ?????? ?? ????

For friends to always be too busy to console you when you need someone to lift your spirits
????? ???? ??????? ??????? ???? ?? ??????? ????? ????? ???? ?? ???? ?? ????????

When it seems like the only person who cares about you, is you

????? ???? ?? ?? ????? ?????? ???? ???? ????? ?? ???
Life is full of pain, but does it ever get better?

?????? ????? ?????? , ??? ?? ????? ????? ??????

Will people ever care about each other, and make time for those who are in need?

?? ?????? ????? ???? ????? ?????
? ?????? ????? ?????? ????? ??????? ?????????

Each of us has a part to play in this great play we call life

??? ???? ??? ??? ???? ?? ?????
?? ??? ???????? ???? ?????? ??????

Each of us has a duty to mankind to tell our friends we love them

??? ?? ???? ??? ???? ?????????
??? ?? ???? ???????? ????? ?????

If you do not care about your friends you will not be punished
??? ??? ?? ???? ???? ???????, ??? ?????? ???

You will simply be ignored… forgotten… as you have done to others
??? ?????????? ? ?????? ??? ?????
????? ??? ???? ????????

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Enough Is Enough! Seminar in New Orleans
I have been invited to New Orleans to give a workshop on November 18, 2007 for some folks whose lives were impacted by Katrina. During my stay, I will keep a video diary, which I will upload to my Web site, StopEnduring.com. If you live in New Orleans, you are invited to attend this free workshop. Contact me at Jane@janestraus.com.

Donation of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation to New Orleans Schools
I am donating 120 copies of the Eighth Edition of her bestselling reference guide and workbook, The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation. If you know of a school in the New Orleans area that could use the book, contact Jane at Jane@janestraus.com.

Jane on TV January 10, 2008
I will be interviewed on NBC 11’s The Bay Area Today on January 10. I will be talking about New Year’s resolutions. Expect a fresh take on the subject. More details to follow.

Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, StopEnduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

Anger and Decision Making

Friday, October 26th, 2007
 
icon for podpress  .: Play Now | Play in Popup | Downloads 769

Dear Jane,
I was numb in my marriage for over ten years before starting therapy. Now I recognize that I have been angry and resentful towards my wife and want a divorce. I was ready to tell her this the other night after dinner. But we were watching Dr. Phil and he told a woman who was in the same situation that she wasn’t ready for a divorce until she’d worked through all her anger and was clear headed. With a lot of conviction, he said that as long as she could get riled up at her husband’s behavior, she wasn’t ready to leave. Needless to say, that shut me up. Do you agree with Dr. Phil? Am I not ready yet? Do I have to wait until I’ve released all my anger? How will I know that I’m not just going numb again?

Dr. Phil’s advice is based on the premise that most of us don’t know how to work with our anger consciously enough to make good decisions while in the throes of it. However, as I write about in Enough Is Enough!, anger can give us important information if we learn how to listen to its meaning.

Anger is a secondary emotion. In other words, we may feel anger first, but underneath anger are resentment, hurt, fear, and/or sadness. If we want to make good decisions, we need to get beneath the anger to our more vulnerable feelings.

Hearing about your anger and prior numbness, I imagine that underneath it you feel resentment towards your wife. But underneath every resentment is a personal regret. What do you regret about your own behavior? Do you regret being numb for so long? Do you regret wasting precious years of your life without experiencing intimacy with a partner? Do you regret being too afraid to look at your marriage honestly before now?

Once you are honest with yourself about your regrets, the next step is to give yourself compassion and forgive yourself. Take whatever time you require to do this until you are no longer in self-blame. Then you will be clear enough to choose whether to stay or to go. Even though you may not be done with feeling all your anger, every time it emerges, you will know how to work with it to get to your deeper truth. As you become competent with your anger, it will no longer run you; it will serve to give you the valuable information you need to make self-loving decisions.

Announcements

Enough Is Enough! Seminar in New Orleans
I have been invited to New Orleans to give a workshop on November 18, 2007 for some folks whose lives were impacted by Katrina. During my stay, I will keep a video diary, which I will upload to my Web site, StopEnduring.com. If you live in New Orleans, you are invited to attend this free workshop. Contact me at Jane@janestraus.com.

Donation of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation to New Orleans Schools
I am donating 120 copies of the Eighth Edition of her bestselling reference guide and workbook, The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation. If you know of a school in the New Orleans area that could use the book, contact Jane at Jane@janestraus.com.

Jane on TV January 10, 2008
I will be interviewed on NBC 11’s The Bay Area Today on January 10. I will be talking about New Year’s resolutions. Expect a fresh take on the subject. More details to follow.

Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, StopEnduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

Being Blamed for a Divorce

Monday, October 22nd, 2007
 
icon for podpress  .: Play Now | Play in Popup | Downloads 777

Dear Jane,
My ex-husband and I divorced after sixteen years of marriage. It wasn’t an awful marriage but I never really loved him. He knew this although we never really talked about it. When he started to drink a few years after our daughter was born, I really felt even more distant from him. We divorced six years ago without much discussion, like distant strangers.
Now I’ve met a wonderful man whom I love deeply. It seems that my ex suddenly can’t stand that I’m happy. (He heard about it from our daughter; I wouldn’t have rubbed his nose in it.) He started calling me telling me every few days, haranguing me that it’s my fault that he drank, that I ruined his self-esteem, and that he wasted the best years of his life on me. I want to know what I should feel guilty about. What should I apologize for?

While we bring all our hopes and dreams into marriage, we also bring all our limiting beliefs, self-judgments, and fears, most of which surface only after the routine of daily life sets in. When your ex-husband agreed to marry you knowing you didn’t really love him, he unconsciously used you to reinforce a prior belief that he wasn’t lovable. (Perhaps you had the same unconscious limiting belief or why would you have chosen him?) This baggage of feeling unworthy of love is what drove him to drink, not you. All you provided was a mirror of a belief he already held. That’s what people do: they mirror back what we already believe about ourselves.
Now, once again, he’s using your current happiness to mirror his belief that he’s unworthy. It’s not your intention to hurt him. He’s hurting himself and he’s the only one who can stop hurting himself by healing his thoughts about his worthiness instead of wasting any more time resenting you. The most harmful thing you could do is to reinforce his unworthiness belief by taking on inappropriate guilt. If you say, “You’re right to resent me. It’s all my fault that you’re miserable and alcoholic,” you are encouraging him to stay blind to what your relationship mirrored within him. If you don’t want to reinforce the belief that he is a “broken cookie” who is unlovable and unworthy, don’t apologize for his unconscious beliefs. Clearly, that won’t help him.
As I write about in Enough Is Enough!, underneath every resentment we hold is an underlying personal regret. Deep down, doesn’t your ex probably really regret not loving himself enough to have created a loving relationship with a partner or even with himself?
So what can you do? Tell him that you hope that he heals the thought that he’s unworthy so that he can have the love he deserves. Tell him that you hope he gets underneath his resentment to his real regret: that he let himself waste time feeling unloved and drowning his feelings in alcohol. Tell him that you are willing to forgive yourself for wasting time similarly.
What you can apologize for is participating in reinforcing his limiting beliefs in any way that you did while you were married. If you were unloving in word or deed, if you ignored him, if you were less than compassionate, apologize for all of that now. Forgive yourself for what your part was given whatever baggage you brought to the relationship. Then encourage him to forgive himself. After that, see him as a whole, deserving, empowered, and healed being. This is the most loving and compassionate thing you can do for both of you.

Announcements

Recovery from the Inside Out

Jane has been invited to New Orleans to give a workshop on November 18, 2007 for folks whose lives have been forever changed by Katrina. During my stay, I will keep a video diary, which I will upload to my Web site, StopEnduring.com. If you live in New Orleans, you are invited to attend this free workshop. My gratitude to my dear friend, Patte McDowell, for donating her air miles.
Also, I will be donating 120 copies of my book, The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Eighth Edition, to New Orleans schools. If you know of a school needing these invaluable books, contact me at Jane@janestraus.com.

Jane on TV January 10, 2008
Jane will be interviewed on NBC 11’s The Bay Area Today on January 10. She will be talking about New Year’s resolutions. Expect a fresh take on the subject. More details to follow.

NEW! Dear Jane Podcasts
Listen to and download Dear Jane Podcasts. Also available for free downloading from iTunes.

Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, StopEnduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

Friday, October 12th, 2007
 
icon for podpress  .: Play Now | Play in Popup | Downloads 769

Dear Jane,
Although I am a loyal, caring person in relationship, I can hardly find a bird of the same feathers to flock with. What can I do besides pray?

Sometimes we choose our relationships for reasons we’re not aware of consciously. For example, do you find that you have chosen a partner who is in some way like one of your parents? This can be great if you felt loved and nurtured. But if you didn’t always feel that growing up, you may still pick someone who unconsciously reminds you of that parent, not because you are masochistic, but because your spirit is trying to find someone now to help heal your past.

So maybe your mind wants a loyal, caring love, but you have been unknowingly seeking something else to try to heal past suffering. What can you do about this?

1. Home in on the lessons you have been learning from your less-than-loyal relationship. Whom does your last relationship (or relationships) remind you of? How did you handle the hurt you felt as a child? How have you handled the hurt as an adult? If you could “do over” your last relationship, what would you do differently?
2. Don’t take other people’s behaviors personally. They’re doing what they do from their own past programming, including their self-judgments, fears, and limiting beliefs. (Just like you.) If a partner betrays your confidence, for example, it is something in him/her that would allow for that. The less you personalize, the less you will feel victimized.
3. Don’t ignore signs and indicators. If you meet someone who tells you that they’ve cheated on a relationship and you think it will be different with you, it may be that you have an unconscious need to learn some painful lessons. If you want a conscious relationship, you have to work to be conscious yourself. Ask more questions. Check inside if you really feel trusting. Pay attention to your intuition.
4. Check inside to see if you’re looking to be right about how relationships are untrustworthy or not good enough. We often try to be right to protect ourselves from future hurt at the expense of current happiness. Being right can come at the expense of intimacy.
5. Make sure you are like the person you want to attract. If you have ever been uncaring or disloyal, don’t pretend to be “holier than thou.” Admit your trespasses to yourself and make amends to anyone you have hurt or betrayed. This clearing of your slate will invite a new, higher-level relationship.

Announcements

Recovery from the Inside Out

Jane has been invited to New Orleans to give a workshop on November 18, 2007 for folks whose lives have been forever changed by Katrina. During my stay, I will keep a video diary, which I will upload to my Web site, www.StopEnduring.com. If you live in New Orleans, you are invited to attend this free workshop. Contact me at Jane@janestraus.com. My gratitude to my dear friend, Patte McDowell, for donating her air miles.

Jane on TV January 10, 2008
Jane will be interviewed on NBC 11’s The Bay Area Today on January 10. She will be talking about New Year’s resolutions. Expect a fresh take on the subject. More details to follow.

Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, StopEnduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

Guilt Over a Suicide

Saturday, October 6th, 2007
 
icon for podpress  .: Play Now | Play in Popup | Downloads 762

Dear Jane,
How can I forgive myself and my husband’s family when our faults contributed to the death of my son (to suicide)? I was fearful that my son would commit suicide. Because of this, in your view, did I get what I thought? (I guess I already know the answer, which is yes, but in a roundabout way – through not speaking my mind because I was afraid of being rejected/abandoned.) I am angry and resentful at family members for growing marijuana for profit/greed. (They are not poor). My son started out with marijuana. I forgive them intellectually but cannot as yet emotionally. Do you suggest discussing my feelings with them or let it be. I have had advice both ways.

First, I want to give you my heartfelt condolences and help you by addressing your question about your thoughts causing your son’s suicide:
I don’t subscribe to the belief that thoughts lead to particular inevitable results. If they did, we’d all have to take blame or credit for everything. To believe that our thoughts are the sole cause of someone else’s behaviors doesn’t take into account others’ free will. You don’t know if recognizing more clearly that your son was at great risk and speaking up to your husband’s family would have kept him alive. None of us are so powerful that we can control others’ thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Secondly, you have already paid the highest price a mother can pay for having had a fear run you. In your son’s honor, do two things:
1. Do whatever it takes to say “no” to further fear of rejection/abandonment. If this means expressing your feelings to your husband’s family, then do so. Most importantly, make a pact with yourself that you will recognize your symptoms of fear and not let them rule you in the future.
2. Offer yourself compassion. Take time every day to practice compassion for your loss, for having been afraid, and for making choices you wish had been different. Trust that your son would not want to add to your suffering, so don’t withhold forgiving yourself.

Announcements

Recovery from the Inside Out
Jane has been invited to New Orleans to give a workshop on November 18, 2007 for folks whose lives have been forever changed by Katrina. During my stay, I will keep a video diary, which I will upload to my Web site, www.StopEnduring.com. If you live in New Orleans, you are invited to attend this free workshop. Contact me at Jane@janestraus.com. My gratitude to my dear friend, Patte McDowell, for donating her air miles.

Jane on TV January 10, 2008
Jane will be interviewed on NBC 11’s The Bay Area Today on January 10. She will be talking about New Year’s resolutions. Expect a fresh take on the subject. More details to follow.

Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, StopEnduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.