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My Journal

March 8, 2018

Reflections On Beauty: Reach & Raise 2018

On Sunday, February, 25 we kicked off Reach & Raise in the Eagles locker room. 150 of us enjoyed the adventure. To register for Reach & Raise 2018, May 20th on the Philadelphia Art Museum Steps, click here and register with Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

Below is the poem and reflections shared during the class.

“In your light I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest,
Where no one sees you,
but sometimes I do,
and that sight becomes this art.”
– Rumi

4 Reflections on Beauty:

Take a moment to pause: Lay on the ground or find a comfy chair. Take a few conscious breaths. Do that now. Please do it. You’ll feel better.

The word “transform” means to go with your form, go with your beauty and light. Here are four simple things to reflect on:

1. Beauty is you trusting yourself, your gut feelings. You know your beauty is inside you. You have beauty. You don’t have to go find it. Your beauty is your brilliance, your consciousness, your inklings of ideas, seeds you have planted. You have greatness in you. Rest there. Beauty move from inside.

2. Beauty is your sacred quest. You are sacred, one of a kind. The quest opens inward. Know yourself intimately. Embrace your inner beauty. Dare to love your self or do what’s necessary to love yourself.

3. Beauty is knowing there are no accidents, that everything and everyone is a teacher. Appreciate with awe, how things are unfolding. Appreciate through your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, all your senses what you are learning. Release judgment. Grieve when needed. Learn what beauty there is to learn today.

4. Beauty is the appreciation of your fullest self. Your fullness your challenges, struggles, depression, joy and successes. Bring all of your self under the light of your appreciation. Appreciate where you are today and praise yourself. You are beautiful.

(Copyright Jennifer Schelter)


January 2, 2018

Meditate For A Moment On The Year Ahead

Screenshot 2015-03-18 15.17.48

A student emailed me, “…I feel okay but a bit untethered. I need to do some intentions – how are they different from resolutions? What do you suggest?”

Here’s my response: Resolutions don’t work because you’re stating the negative and the negative begets the negative. I prefer to study the past year, seeking the positives as clues to create the year ahead. By writing your New Year’s intentions you’ll have 90% more chance of being true to yourself.

Here’s my process. It will take about an hour. Don’t over think it. Have fun. Be open to what you find. Get comfy with a cup of coffee or tea. You’ll need at least 5 pages of your journal or notebook.

Here’s the process:

1. Draw a line down the middle of a page. Titled:2017. Write Positive on one side and Negative on the other. Or Highlights and Lowlights.

2. Review your 2017 calendar. Scroll through each week. Write the positive, highlights – things, people, places or activities and the negative, or low lights. Take stock of each week of your entire year.

3. On a new sheet of paper, write a “Do Not Do” list for 2018 (I learned this from author, Tim Ferris). Read over the negatives from 2017. What no longer serves you? What are you no longer willing to be, do or have?

4. Now review your positive list, note who, what or where is best for you and schedule those people, places and things into your 2018 calendar as soon as possible.

5. On a new sheet of paper, list the top 6 things you are proud of achieving in 2017.

6. Now you’re ready to create your focus for 2018.
Complete this sentence: What I’m taking with me into 2018 is:_____________________________. (Example: What I’m taking with me is courage.)
What no longer serves me is:__________________________.
(Example: What no longer serves me is self-doubt.)

Yeah. You did it.

7. Now take closer inventory. Write a list: Friendship, family, finances, career, love, health, spirituality, beauty, sex, philanthropy, quality of life, alignment with Self/body/mind – consider areas that matter to you. Rate them between a 1-10; 1 being the least, 10 being the best experience. Write about why they are as they are; uninhibited, total honesty, without judgement. With this data and information, don’t should your self. Just note what is. How would you like it to be? Why? What do you want to call forth in yourself this year to allow that change to happen?

8. Imagine your life in two year. Pause. Really try. Consider these questions:
Who do I want to become? What are my relationships like? My health? Finances? Family? Friendships? Who do I want to be around? How do I want to spend my time? What does my perfect day look like? What conversations do I want to be in?

9. Now zoom into 2018. What do you want to choose to accomplish? Choose 3 areas of your life to focus on. How will your life be different if you do care for those areas, like a plant or child? Will you be more free? Or happy? What do you need to do on a regular basis? What must you let go of or face to move in the direction of your desires?

10. On a new page: Create 3 Games to play: What’s the title? “I am taking great care of myself”, “Relationships are wonderful”, “I have all the resources I need”, “My work is fulfilling”. Relating to your year like a game is like being a kid again, playing at making up what works for you. A child keeps the game going because it’s fun. You can keep playing and creating your year as you go.

I hope this inspires you to play some fun games this year. Let me know. I’d love to here from you.

As my friend Lu Ann Cahn says, I dare you.

Inspiration in action is the best feeling in the world.

May 2018 be your best yet,

Jennifer

PS. If you get stuck or need help with this process. Let me know. I’m happy to schedule a private session with you.


November 2, 2017

A Grove of Aspen

IMG_6717A Grove of Aspen
By Jennifer Schelter

I never expected to be hiking in the Rockies near Parshall, Colorado with Cheri Helmicki, a real cowgirl and owner of the Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch, with my mother and sisters, when she pointed to a grove of Aspen and said, “Aspen are the largest living organisms on the planet. They share one interconnected root system, and that.”

“Wow. I didn’t know that,” I said, imagining the root ball the size of several city blocks or a football field.

She took a step towards the trunk and pointed to dark slash marks.

“You see those?”

I nodded.

“That’s from deer or moose rubbing the velvet off their antlers, and that.”

To me the marks looked like Zen calligraphy, and healing wounds. I repeated, “And that” to myself memorizing her speech pattern and mouthing it to my sister-in-law, Julia, who smiled and mouthed “and that”. Cheri said “And that” at the end of almost every sentence and I loved it.

As we hiked up the trail, I got thinking about how big the Aspen root ball must be and how Aspen were like my family and the perfect metaphor for humanity.

I thought about my mid-life and how things felt gangly, untethered, uncertain and often dark. I thought about my struggles to re-define my self and career, my parents struggles with hips or knees, my sisters and sister-in-law’s struggles working full time, raising children, caring for dogs, homes, husbands, and careers, my nieces and nephews struggles with becoming teenagers and being kids. As I walked I wanted to reframe these “struggles” not as politically correct language such as “challenges” or “opportunities” but as the gift of our shared humanity, interconnected learning and collaboration.

On the surface, I thought, we looked like “A Lovely Happy” Privileged American Family yet underground we were all working our hardest, suffering at times, all in need of support, compassion and luck. I heard the Aspen leaves in the breeze, like light rain, a rustling flutter. I closed my eyes for a few steps and visualized a root ball, like telephone lines underground, zigzag connecting my extended family from Arizona, to Colorado, to Rochester, Florida, England, France, Iraq, California, Oregon, Boston, Cape Cod, Maine, NYC, and Philadelphia. Roots that included my extended family and friends adopted as family. Especially those friends who had moved away or for whatever reason hadn’t returned my phone calls or notes. I longed to reconnect. Wish them well. Let them know I missed them. Thank them for the times we’ve shared. The root ball would be the size of the earth.

Two days later, Cheri’s husband, Gerry, led an alpine trail ride up the same mountain.
An hour or so up he said, “Time to bushwack off the trail. I think you’ll like this. Watch your knees on the trunks. Push them aside if your horse brushes too close.”
He rode his horse off the gravel trail, through a gully and into the shade of Aspen. We followed. I saw the long grasses, thistle flowers, and tiny pink and purple Aster. We rode in a line. I listened to the Aspen leaves, the snapping of sticks under hoof, horses exhaling and each rider’s gentle reminder to the rider behind to beware of swish back branches. I saw the rubbed, wounded trees. I held my hand out to push trunks away, until the trail opened upon a spacious grove of Aspen. We all entered, like an open room and stopped. I looked at the canopy of leaves shifting in the breeze, dappling light and shadow against the sky. Gerry’s wire frame glasses reflected light, and he said, “Pretty nice, huh? ” We all nodded, Yes. Incredible. “I thought you’d enjoy this,” he said.

I let go the reins. My horse, Dakota, ate. We rested on horseback, looking around. The space reminded me of a Quaker meetinghouse. Our faces and heads reminded me of meerkats; wide eyed, heads turning, observing the wonder. The air was cooler. I heard the sound of wind meet leaves, horses breathing and eating. I said a prayer:
May all beings be well and at peace.
May quiet prevail.
May natural beauty prevail.
And may Ben, my college sweetheart, fighting cancer, prevail.
I’m so very grateful to be here with my family.
May I return here with my boyfriend one day.

My prayers are not religious. They are more like benevolent longings of gratitude for being part of the infinite, whatever the infinite is. Stardust, space and baby sea turtles scampering to the sea. My words and body and mind come together as a triptych of appreciation for an infinite forever thank you for intimacy, sentient beings and precious time on earth.

Once back in Pennsylvania, I texted Ben: Thinking of you. Sending you positive healing vibes. You’re in my thoughts.

He taught me how to sail a Sunfish, ride a mountain bike in the California desert and be a life long friend.

I was in the kitchen deciding what to make for dinner, when he texted: How did you know? Great intuition. Perfect timing. It came back. Had a second treatment.

He included a picture of himself, his two daughters and wife. He’d lost his hair and was thinner. I held onto the edge of the stove and looked closer. He looked like his father; that time he waved goodbye from the Nantucket wharf. I remembered Ben’s thick brown hair in college, when it grew so fast he’d called it “chia pet”.

I texted: Can you speak on the phone?

He called and said he was at Scripps getting more tests.

I said, “I love you Ben. What can I do to help? You’re very important to me. You’re part of my life and family. What can I do?”

He said he was sorry to upset me and was watching the sunset over the Pacific.

I told him that he was one of the finest people I’d ever met. One of the kindest. That his father would be so proud of him.

“I look like my Dad, eh?”

“Yeah, you do.”

“It’s all good, it’s all good. We’re just starting Jenniker (his nickname for me). It’s all positive, all good. We’re so lucky. I’m positive I’m going to beat this. And you’re a huge part of my story, you know. You mean so much to me.”

I closed and wiped my eyes and said the same of him.

He said, “Give my love to your family. I love your family.”

I promised I would and hung up. I sat, and breathed: Aspen grove in. Aspen grove out.

A week later, I emailed my family about Ben. I asked them: please remember what joy he brought to their life and to consider writing him. Yes, of course, said my father. I love Ben, said my mother. He’s a good egg, said my sister. Don’t forget his rollerblading, said my other sister.

Interconnected is how the beautiful Aspen grow.


May 28, 2016

Lily of the Valley

Lily of the Valley

Dear Month of May,

You are rainy but I love to walk with you.

Especially at night.

I walked round the corner, passed the house that has all the kid toys,

to the Lily of The Valley by the curb, under the sappy pine tree.

I bent down, took a deep breath and smelled the sweetest spring
air, the way my mother smelled when she went out to parties when I was a kid.

Pear, ylang-ylang, and Tuber Rose.

Only this is Lily of the Valley. The deepest spring greens and bells of white blossoms.

If I knew your addresses, I’d send a bunch.

Here they are in watercolor. No bigger than a Stoned Wheat Cracker.

Tonight is the last Saturday in May.

It’s time to eat popcorn under the weeping cherry and watch the sunset over the neighbors roof.

Lavender and peonies blooming.

I love you May.

xo

Jennifer


May 28, 2016

Joy-tagious On The Steps – Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s Reach & Raise

IMG_0819Things I want to remember while leading 2,200 people in yoga on the Art Museum Steps for Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s Reach & Raise:

1. Joy is contagious. I’m inventing a new word: JOYtagious.

2. Doing yoga in a Patagonia jacket, with 15 knot winds, on a 50 degree day in May is fun.

3. 15 years goes by fast! What are you most proud of accomplishing? Live your dreams. Now.

5. Standing below Yvette Om singing,”I give my love to you…” I thought, That sums it up.

6. Long lines of arm-in-arm tree pose and chanting, “I am living my dreams.”

7. Mothers, daughters and soul sisters together like pandas in happy baby pose.

7. The sun coming through and waving to Lu Ann Cahn, Jean Sachs, Sandra Martin, Kevin Giordano, Yvette’s family, Jonathan, students and friends = meaning and beauty.

8. Knowing that everything I set as an intention did come true.

9. The Philadelphia sky line has changed, and so has my face and body.

10 My dream: To write a book about beauty and aging and illustrate it with watercolors.

After class, an assistant yoga instructor said to me, “The woman I partnered with said her dream was to be alive in five years. She has rare cancer. I told her to keep going.”

I want to believe you can do anything you set your mind to.

So I will say, You can do anything you set your mind to.

Keep going.

Peonies, lavender and wild onions blooming.

xo

Jennifer


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