Are You Happy?


I have a confession.

For the past 2 months, I haven’t wanted to write a thing. I haven’t wanted to reach out, to go deep, to be Vulnerable, to open up. At least, not in a public forum such as this.

My heart has been hurting these past few weeks, and as I expressed earlier this year, I’m going through some exhaustion, adrenal fatigue and other early warning signs of a word that scares me- burnout.

There, I said it. Finally. Out loud. Phew- what a relief!

So these past few months a part of me wanted to be selfish for a while- to take care of me, and only me as much as I could in the moments when I wasn’t working. To allow my body to rest from it’s fatigue while at the same time savoring all of my moments of freedom and bliss of taking time off. And not share it with anyone. But as I was reminded last week in a session with a long time client- doing this was selfish, because what I have been going through could have helped so many of you as you have been going through similar situations.

And so here I am, opening up about what has happened.

7 weeks ago, on Sunday February 17th, I received a text message from my mom saying my grandmother was close to death, and could I speak with her. So I called, and we talked. It was a complicated relationship between my grandmother and I. We were never close, and I often felt she didn’t like me, or anyone for that matter. As a child I never understood and thought she was just mean, but as an adult, I came to realize she just wasn’t happy, like something was left unsatisfied in her and she didn’t have an outlet to express it, or follow it, or do what she needed to do with it.

I realized just how lucky we all are to live in a time where diving into questions of happiness, following our bliss, healing and other such journeys are widely accepted.

So when I got on the phone that morning, I quite frankly didn’t think much would happen. But in that 5 minutes, my world began to shift. At one point, she said ‘I Love you’ which caught me off guard- this was not a sentiment expressed between us often. But then she asked me, innocently enough, “Are you happy” and my response threw me. All I could say was “Sure, I guess so?”

Sure, I guess so? {With a question mark!}

Where did that come from? I was so utterly shocked, that afterwards I went in the shower and began to cry. Cry for her impending death, cry for what turned out to be my last words with her, cry for the answer I gave that surprised the hell out of me. In the ensuing hours and days, various things began to pop up that could only have been messages from the Universe to force me to examine this question- ‘Are you happy?’- fights with loved ones over major life issues, hearing from long lost friends, teachers and exes. Trips up the coast to visit family in Mendocino that touched my soul in many ways. Meeting strangers at coffee shops who had lessons to teach me. Meeting 16 AMAZING women in NYC as a part of my Mastermind group who shifted my world perspective.

All of these forced upon me the task at hand: examine where my life is now, and find and correct those things that are not in alignment with my wants, needs and desires. Find out what it is I NEED in order to have an emphatic answer of ‘Hell Yes!!” to the question of ‘Are you happy?’ and to know that I am truly Playing Big in my own life in every way I can.

One of my favorite authors, Lissa Rankin, posted something to this effect this week that hit to the core of this question I have been asking of myself:

When I practiced medicine in Marin County, I was baffled because my patients were the proverbial choir. They drank their green juice every day, they had personal trainers, they slept eight hours a night, they took 20 supplements, and they spent a fortune on their health care. They did everything “right,” but they were sicker than ever, often with chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, gastrointestinal disorders, or autoimmune diseases.

So I started asking my patients “What does your body need in order to heal?”

At first, I thought they’d give me treatment intuition, things like, “I’ll try the 5-HTP instead of the Prozac”- and sometimes that’s what they’d say. But more often than not, they answered me with their own Prescription for what the body needed in order to heal:

I need to leave my husband.
I need to quit my job.
I need to move to Santa Fe.
I need to go to art school.
I need to forgive my father.

Those who listened to their intuition and had the guts to follow through on what they prescribed for themselves sometimes experienced spontaneous remissions from seemingly incurable diseases. I was baffled. These patients weren’t responding to medical treatment, but by asking themselves what their bodies needed in order to heal- and then mustering up the courage to follow through on their self-prescription, they were experiencing miraculous spontaneous remissions I couldn’t explain.

So I ask you now…what does your body need in order to heal?

Or to phrase it in a different way, what do each of YOU (and me) need in order to be truly happy? What needs to take place, what needs to change, in order to heal? Because in my view, healing really isn’t necessarily about being ‘cured’ of what ails you- it’s about being happy with what you have, where you are in life (even if you are sick or injured), and shifting things when you aren’t to get closer to that feeling of happiness. It’s ever shifting and changing, and so when our body starts to show signs of something ‘wrong’ it’s time to ask what it needs.

My body has so obviously been trying to tell me something is off, and so, I’ve had to spend quite some time really diving into these questions- asking my body what it needs to be happy and make some changes to be in alignment with the answers.

I’m going to share a few of them with you now:

I’m cutting back my hours in my private practice to explore my creative pursuits. I had to finally admit to myself that I’ve been bordering on burnout, and thus haven’t been providing the quality of work I want to uphold. Most of you probably haven’t even realized this, but I have, and I want to be working from integrity, always. I’m still working out the details, but by May, I will have a different schedule- most likely being open 4 days a week vs the current 5, and reduced Saturday hours, to make this a reality. I Truly LOVE what I do working with all of you, which is what makes it so easy to book in so many of you every week, but I need to make sure I can keep doing it for as long as I can and not tire myself out in the process.

My creative pursuits mean more to me than I realized, and so I’m developing a mentorship, coaching and training program to begin taking my work to deeper levels for those who are serious about learning and working intimately with me. Retreats, books, more blogging & trainings are all a part of my creativity, and I am ready to take my work to this level- and I need to dedicate time to do it.

I’ve finally said good-bye to some relationships- with food, people, places- that I was holding on to that were exhausting me energetically.

I’ve made Sisterhood a priority, and in addition to reconnecting with some old friends, I have let into my heart a tribe of sisters who have been an incredible support so far, and a mentor who I am learning so much from already. She, and all of these women, truly ROCK. It scares me to no end to allow such close friendships, when so many women have abandoned me in the past, but I know I need this form of friendship to truly thrive in my life.

Hardest of all, I ended a 3.5 year relationship with a man I love deeply, knowing that no matter how much I love him and how special our time has been, I have lost much of ME in dedicating myself so fully to my business and relationship. It’s time for me to find ME again, and he knows it as much as I do (and is being fully supportive)- so we are taking a break- it could be a month, it could be forever, we just don’t know yet. If you see me, I’m mending a bit of a broken heart, so all I ask is speak softly and be a little more gentle than normal. And hugs are always welcome!

And finally, I’ve become crystal clear on my message to the world through this exploration of exhaustion and question of needs:

The common belief amongst the movers & shakers of the world is that a body in motion stays in motion. But the problem with this is that when we stay in constant motion, we end up sick, exhausted and run down. The truth is that a body in Stillness creates vitality and infinite possibilities for setting the world ablaze

And my grandmother- well she passed away 10 days later. 10 days longer than they thought she would. She held on- I like to think it was to work out a few of her own final needs in this lifetime before moving on to what comes next. And she gave me such a gift in our last interaction that I will always be grateful.

It’s all been a roller coaster, let me tell you. So many changes, so much heart break.  A lot of expansion, and a bit of contraction. But that’s the beautiful ride we call life, and I for one was needing a bit of adventure on the ride.

I was too scared to share it with all of you. It all felt too Vulnerable, too soon. And maybe even too weak in some ways, like I had failed in my business and relationship because I wasn’t as happy in them as I thought I should have been (and we all know where the ‘shoulds’ get us…..).

But last week, when speaking with my client, I saw just how selfish I had been by NOT being Vulnerable. By not sharing where I was in the process. By not being fully human in front of all of you, admitting that sometimes… I fall apart too.

And so, here I am, heart raw and ready to be seen again.

And so, it’s your turn- Follow these steps, if you dare, and see what arises:

1) Sit down in a quiet space, maybe light a candle or put on soothing music. Create a space where you feel safe and open, and have a pen and journal handy.

2) Once there, write Are YOU happy? at the top of the page. Close your eyes, take 3 deep breaths, and begin to write, whatever arises from your stream of consciousness. See where your pen takes you.

3) Now, write at the top of the next page- What is your BODY saying you need in order to heal/ be happy? Take 3 deep breaths again, and begin to write. The answers might not make sense, but write it anyway. Anything that comes up.

4) Now, on the 3rd page, write: What do you NEED, WANT and DESIRE in your life? Repeat the stream of consciousness writing.

5) Look at your answers from each question. Notice any patterns, or discrepancies? What do you need? And if you aren’t getting them, what is standing in your way of living the life you truly love? What are yours fears, what might you have to let go of, in order to feel happy in your own life?

6) Repeat as necessary- sometimes it takes a few times to get clarity, and sometimes it’s a daily practice. Sometimes the answers make no sense, or are downright scary. It’s my daily practice right now, and everyday the answers change, and clarity feels more possible. Keep going, keep inquiring, keep diving deep to see what you need in your life right now to be truly happy.

I’d love to hear your answers at the blog or respond directly to me to know you have been heard- Saying these things to someone else can be truly transformative! I really want to know, and I want to help each of you to get there- to answer with a ‘Hell Yes, I am happy’.

How great would that be if we all could do that? I know that’s the kind of world I want to live in- don’t you?

Jennifer Blackstock