Three Steps for Times of Stress

In the past month, I’ve launched my first two mental fitness groups (using the researched-based, acclaimed Positive Intelligence program and app that I’ve been studying for more than six months), conducted a performance of “O Canada” for a Canadian citizenship ceremony, completed an anti-anxiety program, completed a three month Enneagram group, been interviewed on a podcast, performed professionally as a member of Luminos Ensemble, written most of a book, coached childfree women (and people who aren’t raising children) on ways to create a life they love, and done writing and editing for clients. I’ve also dealt with the Hurricane Fiona aftermath, attended to a variety of personal and professional tasks, and made some time for fun fall activities, including getting together with friends.

One of the brilliant things about my work in the mental fitness realm has been realizing that I turn less and less things into stress in my life now. I’ve realized that rather than let all of the things in my busy life feel like things I “must” do, AKA things that cause me stress and need to be dealt with, I can instead focus on curiosity, on navigating my to-dos with joy or at least without the extra emotional weight I had a tendency to add to them. 

My mantra, which I developed in my first Enneagram group and continue to find exceptionally helpful, is this: “Breathe. Prioritize. Do what’s mine to do.” 

This mantra won’t work for everyone. You may in fact be one of those people who don’t take on other people’s tasks. Or you may need a mantra that’s more about doing and less about stopping and prioritizing for you personally to find balance in your life. But if my mantra strikes a chord, read on.

If you’re feeling stressed, unsure how to juggle all the responsibilities, both spoken and unspoken, in your life, try my three steps on for size. 

  1. Breathe: Realizing your breathing is getting more shallow? Starting to feel overwhelmed or anxious? As soon as you recognize it, stop that thought train. Focus on your breath. In, and out. Again. Stop the “what-if” and the “must-do” and tune into your breathing. 
  2. Prioritize: Once you’re feeling a bit calmer, whether from breathing or doing other mindfulness exercises, NOW you’re in a healthy space. You’re now using the part of your brain that’s capable of navigating challenges and getting curious about what’s possible. So it’s time to prioritize. What’s the one thing that you could get done today that would make your week, or even your year? What are the deadlines that will really screw you up if you miss them? Who is more important, and what are they expecting of you? Prioritize. 
  3. Do what’s mine to do: Now, and only now, it’s time to return to doing. Since you’ve stopped the auto-pilot and tuned into what matters, you can now do what’s truly yours to do. Most things I think are mine to do are, it turns out, actually not. I make a whole lot of responsibilities up. Sometimes I think I need to do work for other people. So don’t blindly do: make sure you do what’s YOURS to do today. And always, or at least whenever you can remember to stop, consider what matters, and then move forward. 

Keep swimming, my friends. You are wonderful just as you are, truly, right now. And I believe in you.

P.S. If you want support in how to follow these steps, that’s what I’m here for. Let’s hop on a free call where you can learn more about mental fitness and how to handle life’s challenges with more efficiency and joy.

Weird vibes

So, I’ve been honest here about my recent struggles with anxiety and overwhelm and the work I’ve been doing on myself through the Enneagram, other forms of personal development, therapy, and self-care.

I wanted these past few weeks to be me getting back into the swing of things with my business after a delightful week of fun with my mom here on Prince Edward Island.

I wanted to be focused and on top of it.

And, while I think I’ve done a decent job of meeting my obligations and haven’t (I hope) missed any deadlines, I’ve been giving off vibes.

Weird vibes.

Vibes that confuse the heck out of people.

Can you possibly relate to this, or am I alone? Am I the only person who, in a state of anxiety, finds themselves making their friends and family think they’re getting the death stare when they’re actually getting the deer in headlights/confused as all heck look by someone who’s struggling to keep up?

It’s contributed to some communication challenges recently, for sure. And it’s given me plenty of fodder for therapy sessions.

But I am grateful. I’m grateful for family and friends who’ve done the work alongside me to communicate what they’re feeling, tell me when I’m bothering them, and taking care of themselves in the process.

I’m grateful for a cat who insists on all of the snuggles when I’m in a funk.

I’m grateful for a new therapist who seems like a great fit for me.

And I’m so excited for this season of concerts and my new pilot Enneagram program.

I imagine these weird vibes have something to do with my Enneagram type (I’m a 1) and something to do with all of the stress it can be really hard to avoid putting on myself.

I may not have my anxiety completely under control yet. I may have some weird vibes ahead of me. But I’m thankful for this life I’ve crafted and that you’re a part of it too.

Take care, friends.

P.S. I’m still writing a book. Any interest in getting on my email list in exchange for some previews from it? If so, please comment or reach out.

Five Things The Enneagram Taught Me About Myself

As I coordinate schedules in hopes of getting my pilot Enneagram group going soon, I’m thinking about how much I’ve learned about the Enneagram since I began studying it about two years back.

The Enneagram is an ancient tool for learning more about yourself and how you relate to other people. Unlike astrology or Human Design, someone doesn’t tell you your type, based on particular facts about yourself, like when you were born. Instead, you study the nine types (traditionally, this is done as an oral tradition, and our group will be watching videos to learn our type), and from that study and through engaging with other people to learn more about it, you can discern which type you are. Knowing your type gives you a path to follow toward a more whole and healthy life. In my case, it’s also made a major difference in my marriage, and it’s helped me to understand my family and friends better too.

Here are the top five things the Enneagram taught me about myself!

I Get Frustrated

Okay, so maybe that seems obvious to you if you know me personally. Or maybe you’re reading this and thinking, don’t we all get frustrated sometimes? But the Enneagram taught me that most of the time, when I don’t know how to put what I’m feeling into words, or when I feel angry, or a lot of other negative emotions, what’s honestly at the root of it all is frustration. And while that frustration is often directed at other people, more often than not, at least if I dig deeper, I will find out that I’m most frustrated with myself.

I Am My Own Worst Critic

Again, this might be obvious to some of you, and to some of you, you may assume everyone is their own worst critic. But as a 1 on the Enneagram, I’ve got a fun little voice in my head that likes to spend all of its time pointing out flaws in the world, but most especially my own flaws. Recognizing and identifying that voice is the first step in some major acceptance of who I am. It’s also helped me to recognize why it is that I get so critical about little things when I am tired or under stress. It’s also given my husband more compassion for me, rather than simply feeling angry or hurt, when I default to wanting things clean or fixed or put away on my schedule (rather than on OUR schedule).

I Verbally Process Things

Before studying the Enneagram, I knew I sometimes verbally processed (thought things through out loud, in conversation). What I hadn’t realized is that verbal processing is the way I like to process everything! One of my favorite tips from podcaster, author, and Enneagram expert Suzanne Stabile has been that I should end each day verbally processing what’s happened with my husband (or a friend, roommate, or even a journal or cat might work in a pinch). It’s something that I’d generally done with my husband, but studying the Enneagram made me aware of how healthy and important this is for me and my mental health.

People Tend To be Past, Present, or Future-Oriented

Before studying the Enneagram, I knew I was very aware of the present moment. I knew that some of my clients and friends struggled with looking ahead to the future or resisted spending time talking about the past, even wanting to put up a wall and avoid revisiting tough experiences.

I now know that each of us either past, present, or future-oriented. I happen to be oriented to the present, and for me, that means I have no problem supporting someone right now, but I can get easily distracted by a present task (or email or question) and lose sight of the bigger picture ahead of me.

I’ve also learned that some people (including a very close family member) are oriented toward the past, which can help explain why it’s tough for them to create goal and find motivation toward the future. Likewise, my more future-minded family members are constantly thinking about what’s next, so much so that it can be hard for them to enjoy the present moment. Of course, there are practices to help with all of this. In our ideal worlds, we’d all find balance between all three, so we can take steps to get there.

Just knowing this is a normal distinction and pattern has really helped me to understand why other people do what they do.

You Aren’t As Special, Or As Normal, As You Think You Are

What do I mean by that, exactly? There are so many pieces of the puzzle when it comes to who we are. In addition to the circumstances I experienced growing up, I am an Enneagram 1, a highly sensitive person (HSP), and an introvert. I’m also the oldest of four children, a white cisgender woman without any children, I grew up fairly well off in the Northeastern United States….

I could go on and on, of course, but the point is, there are tons of factors that come together and make us unique.

At the same time, I can find community, finding a LOT in common, in any of those groups. I might bond with one person who grew up visiting the White Mountains of New Hampshire, find traits in common with fellow introverts or with oldest siblings, or find people who sound an AWFUL lot like me who also identify as Enneagram 1s.

Some of my “weirdest” quirks I have in common with a lot of other people. And knowing that feels vulnerable and also super cool.

If you want to figure out your own Enneagram type, or if you know it, but you’d like to learn more about it and get to know people of other types as well as your own, please reach out to me and join our pilot.

And as always, if you’re looking for support in finding out what you truly want in life, and then figuring out how to make it happen, I’m your woman!

______________________________

Supporting Our Blog

We are so thankful for your support of our blog and our careers! You can help further by doing any or all of the following:

  • Purchase one of Ross’ albums! 
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  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links. There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds can support our travels. Begin your Amazon search here.
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an intro to the enneagram

Hello! If we don’t know each other well yet, I am Jamie Feinberg, and I help women who feel like life is happening to them, or passing them by, to figure out what they truly want – whether that’s time to pursue an old dream, a new career or hobby, or to travel – and then make it a reality.

I believe that if you never do the work to discover and cultivate a life you love, then you will never find the freedom and fulfillment that comes from pursuing a life free of regret. 

So, in essence, that’s why I’ve gotten so darn obsessed with the Enneagram over the last couple of years. I’d been pursuing my own personal development for a few years prior when I discovered it. The Enneagram, if you aren’t already aware, is not a typical “personality test”, for two reasons, as I see. One reason is that unlike Myers-Briggs, astrology, Human Design, or any of the other typing systems I’ve seen or explored, you get to type yourself! 

(If you have already heard about this program and are ready to sign up and get started and join us, please email rossandjamieadventure @ gmail.com so we can work out the details!)

Despite what you’ve perhaps read online, the ancient wisdom of the Enneagram is an oral tradition, and the way that you are meant to discern your type is in conversation with mentors, friends, family, but mainly doing your own contemplation. 

The other major difference about the Enneagram from other “personality quizzes” and the like? Once you know your type, the Enneagram also gives you a road map to follow for a more healthy, integrated, fulfilled life. So it’s not “here’s your type, here’s what’s challenging for you, have a nice life”. It’s more like “here’s your type, here are your strengths and weaknesses, and if you do these practices and keep growing in your awareness, you can keep stepping into an even better version of yourself. Oh, and by the way, here are the ways you’ll want to interact with other types and even help them become their best selves!” 

Since discovering the Enneagram, I’ve become a better wife, a better friend, a better daughter, and a better sibling. My husband has frequently thanked me for the work I’ve been doing on my own personal development, because it’s made me a better wife AND helped him to learn to be a better husband too!

We can’t control the people around us, but we can lead by example, and seeing how the work of the Enneagram has had ripple effects in my life has inspired me to share it with others.

If this interests you, head here to learn more and connect with me.

Have a wonderful week. It’s been a tough one for many of us. Stand up for what you believe in. The world needs it. And take care of yourself.

______________________________

Supporting Our Blog

We are so thankful for your support of our blog and our careers! You can help further by doing any or all of the following:

  • Purchase one of Ross’ albums! 
  • Take Ross’ online ukulele course!
  • Become a patron of our work!
  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links. There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds can support our travels. Begin your Amazon search here.
  • Make other purchases using our affiliate links. Signing up with Dosh is a great way for everyone with a smartphone to support us, and we also have options for aspiring virtual assistants as well as occasional and full-time RVers to save money.
  • Subscribe to our blog, as well as perhaps InSearchOfAScoop.com, and recommend our work to your friends and family.
  • Take music or theater lessons (group or private) from us, either in person or via Skype at TinyVillageMusic.com. 

You’re Not Alone (Acknowledging Anxiety)

Three weeks back, I did something I’d been wanting to do for many months – I started seeing a therapist.

If I had my way, we’d all have affordable (for us) access to a therapist. A good one, who listens and knows the types of therapy that would be most helpful for us. Someone who gives us a safe space to work through the crap in our minds and helps us sort out our stuff.

If you’re reading this and you’re feeling like you’re in a great place right now, I am thrilled for you! I can tell you that from what I’m seeing on my social media feeds and hearing about through news outlets, it sure seems like most of the world has moved on from COVID-19 and is getting back to “normal”, or close to it. And it that’s you, I’m thrilled for you, and I truly hope you’re enjoying every minute of freedom and “normalcy”.

But honestly, even though I am sick of wearing masks, and miss seeing people’s faces, and I miss eating out at a restaurant in the winter, I’m just not there yet. It feels too soon, to me, to return to normal.

Lifting a mask mandate is all well and good (for most) when there’s a mild variant on the loose. But what if a new, more dangerous variant catches us off guard? One contagious enough to spread under the radar, when we’re least expecting it?

I’d love to say I’m embracing the now and taking it day by day and not worrying about what might come next. But that wouldn’t be accurate.

So these are the kinds of thoughts that are on my mind. I’m carrying a lot of stress and anxiety around COVID. Like a lot of us are.

Add to that the stressors of getting settled in a new country and the pressures and fears of a world at war, not to mention the anger and frustration at seeing so many people’s rights being taken away in the US (including New Hampshire, where I grew up, and Florida, our adopted home state), and I’m even more thankful to have a therapist.

I’m not sharing this for praise, or for pity.

I want you to know you aren’t alone. I want you to know that whether you wear a mask or not, and whether you’re “moving on” or not, it’s okay to experience anxiety.

And I want you to know that it’s okay to have some days, some weeks, even some months or years, where you’re not okay. Where you’re going through the motions, or phoning it in. Maybe you’ve had to take some time off, or add a nap into your routine. Maybe you’re tired of saying no to social plans out of fear.

Wherever you are, I want to encourage you.

Reach out to loved ones. They’ll probably relate, maybe even more than you realize.

Get a therapist if you can, and if not, seek out a trusted mentor or spiritual leader, or find an online support group aligned with where you are. Look for sliding scale therapy or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, or many of the other free resouces that may exist in your country, state, or city.

I’ve been digging deeper into the Enneagram for the past several months, and that means I’m doing a lot of work on getting to myself – who I am, how I became that person, and how I can become an even healthier, better version of me.

I also rely on journaling, exercising, getting outside, and all of my other existing coping mechanisms for when things get tough or feel overwhelming.

Whatever method(s) you use, and wherever you’re at, I’m wishing you all the best. You’re not alone.

And if you’re reading this, you’re here now, and I’m so glad.

Thanks for reading, and take care.

P.S. I’d like to get a group together to read The Road Back To You and do some Enneagram explorations. No previous experience required, just a copy of the book. If this journey of self-reflection (in a group setting) appeals to you, please leave a comment and let me know!

______________________________

Supporting This Blog

Thank you for your support of this blog and our work! You can help further by doing any or all of the following:

  • Purchase one of Ross’ albums! 
  • Take Ross’ online ukulele course!
  • Become a patron of our work!
  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links. There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds can support our travels. Begin your Amazon search here.
  • Make other purchases using our affiliate links. Signing up with Dosh is a great way for everyone with a smartphone to support us, and we also have options for aspiring virtual assistants as well as occasional and full-time RVers to save money.
  • Subscribe to our blog, as well as perhaps InSearchOfAScoop.com, and recommend our work to your friends and family.
  • Take music or theater lessons (group or private) from us, either in person or via Skype at TinyVillageMusic.com.