Working Through the Struggle - Find Reasons to Smile

Jennifer S. - Find Reasons to Smile Everyday

We have all been there. Those moments when everything feels like a struggle. It is during those times where you might find yourself wondering why you bother. Those times when everything feels like it is going wrong and the light at the end of the tunnel appears to be very far away.

Perhaps, I am being overzealous when I say that we all have been there. It is entirely possible that I am in the rare minority of people that have bad days and find it challenging to be the best version of ourselves that we can be. If you are not in this minority I thank you for reading anyway and encourage you to pass this information along to someone that may benefit from it.

The reason why I opted to write this piece is because I have been asked (not infrequently) how it is that I manage to be in a good mood and smiling all the time. This question makes me chuckle because it causes me to reflect back to when no one would have made that comment to me. Yet, here I am, the person who is always smiling and always seems to be having a good day.

There is a reason for this. I call it shifting my perception. I am sure there is a more technical term but for sake of brevity we will just call it shifting perception. Let me clarify what I mean by this. OK, so let's say that my alarm went off but since the night before I turned down the ringer so I can watch a movie I don't hear it. Of course, I wake up late and now find myself frantically trying to perform the same morning routine that would normally take me 40 minutes in 10. It sounds impossible I know but it can be done, it is just very difficult.

I get my daughter into the car, drop her off at school (thankfully just before the school bell rings) and race to the office. No coffee. Ouch. I manage to get there in one piece, and, without losing my sanity (from that one driver who thought that cutting me off at the last minute so he didn't have to be forced to turn right was a good idea.) I park in the parking lot at my building (noticeably further away than normal) and sit there for a moment.

My emotions are running high. I can feel the tears beginning to form in the lower part of my eyelids. I wonder if the makeup that I frantically put on will smear. I pull down the vizier and stare at myself for a moment. I know I should race into the office, I can't be late but I stop myself. I sit down and I focus on my breathing. As I calm my breathe my mind begins to calm as well. I start thinking about how fortunate I was to wake up with enough time to get dressed and get my daughter to school before the bell. Now, she won't have to have a bad day because of me.

I think about how awesome I was at narrowly avoiding a car accident thanks to cut-em-off guy. Lastly, I thought about how fortunate I was to be sitting in the parking lot at work. Knowing that I have a job that I love brings me comfort. As I am pondering these things I break a small smile. Sure, the smile is small and probably won't carry much weight throughout the day. However, it is also possible that this small smile will grow throughout the day and I see other people smile at me in return.

When you shift your perception you shift your mood and you shift the way that you respond to the challenges that you are facing. It's not always going to be easy. There may be some days when it feels impossible. Maybe you did have that accident but think about this, the fact that you are reading this means that you survived and that is a good thing. 

Bottom line, when working through the struggle be kind to yourself. Focus on the things that you did right. Focus on your small achievements rather than your big mess-ups because it is in those small achievements that you will find that perspective and there is where you will find that joy.

Hope you have a great day and keep smiling. 

You Will Never Be Forgotten, Memorial Day Dedication

Dog Doesn't Recognize his Owner

Happy Mother's Day!

Jennifer S. - Happy Mother's Day - Flowers
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Don't Always Listen to People's Advice

Can You See Me Now?

Easter Weekend

Jennifer S. - Happy Easter Weekend

Happy Easter Weekend. Easter means a lot of different things for different people. This particular Easter has been a challenge for me. My lungs getting infected meant coughing up an unpleasant amount of blood and grave difficulties breathing at just the lightest amount of exhaustion. I had this overwhelming feeling that I was letting down my family. Easter though, represents hope and with the strong love of those closest to me we have been able to do almost all the things I wanted to do. Unfortunately, I couldn't participate as I would have liked. Yet, I'm here. I'm alive and I'm loved and at the end of the day isn't that what matters most. The song I wrote about loss is nearly complete. This piece is so dear to my heart :heart:. It is my hope that you will find comfort when you listen to it. For now, enjoy the rest of this Easter weekend. Hold onto your values, your beliefs, and your loved ones. I cherish you.

Birthday Reflections

Tomorrow is my birthday. I have always loved my birthday because it served as a reminder that I was here. As I get older, I have more people tell me that it is time to stop winding the clock. I have always hated that thought because it felt like there was something wrong with growing old. For me, growing old represented being on this planet long enough to make it that far. Not everyone is so fortunate.

I will admit though, there is a fear. The fear that as my body fails me those that I love will no longer see my value and I'll be discarded. It can be challenging sometimes to look past the fear and see the joy in the experience. 

The other day I was watching stories about people who started living in their 70's. Imagine that? I've included a video of one of these incredible stories for you to view. We always preach about it is never too late but deep down I don't think we believe it. At least, I didn't completely believe it. I am a believer now. 

When I stop and think about those incredible folks I cannot help but feel a warmth in my own heart. This reminder that even though I haven't "found myself" yet that there is still time. The journey, the experience, and the relationships that have been built along the way are what define us. 

It isn't a race. One day, I'd like to look back at my life and know that I lived it well. Tomorrow is my birthday, but today I say goodbye to the old me and welcome the newer, slightly wiser version of myself. That's pretty comforting. Thank you for being a part of this journey with me.

 

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Just Having a Little April Fools Day Fun...

Jennifer S. - April Fools Day
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In the Studio...

Breaking My Soul (Lyric Video)

A little something to hold you over...new music coming soon!

 

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New Music, Coming Soon...

Jennifer S. - Becoming Undone
Jennifer S. - Tropical Snow

Wake Up and Chase That Dream...

Chase That Dream

I woke up this morning, my body in pain, and wondering if I was making good choices with my life. It is weird when you don’t know who you are going to be from one minute to the next.

One minute I am strong Jennifer, capable of conquering the world and achieving everything that I set my sights on. The next I am withering Jennifer, who can barely get out of bed because of the pain. How do you become both and yet neither at the same time? The reality that I am not this invisible person nor am I this weak person is sometimes a hard pill to swallow because I feel both so deeply and profoundly that it terrifies me. I’m told that I share too much and yet, I’m told that I don’t share enough. What a world we live in where what is too much for one man is not enough for another.

The new song that I am working on called “I Miss You” is a tribute to my cousin who was just 2 years older than me when he passed away. When I think about him I recall how he used to lead us and how he inspired me to chase after my dreams. He was always so brave and strong and I didn’t see myself that way but through his influence I began to find that person. I became who I am today in part because of his influence and while I firmly believe that each person that you meet in your life impacts you there are some that impact you more than others. While I will never get to see him again (or the others that I have lost along the way) I will always remember the impact that he had on my life.

I will always be grateful. I will always be reminded of who I am meant to become and I will never stop chasing after that dream.

Bad Days make the Good Days Even Better

baddaysgooddays

I’ve been kinda quiet lately. This is mostly because I have not been in the place spiritually where I have had good news to share. There has been a darkness looming over me and that has practically brought me to my knees. It can only be described as a sorrow. A deep and unyielding sorrow. So I asked myself how could I come forward and share the good news with you if I was covered in pain and sadness that I couldn’t find my own way.


It was at that moment that I understood something that is hard to understand. I was expecting to be perfect. I thought I needed to be more than what I could be. I thought I needed to be a hero who never had bad days and who never struggled. The reality is, that’s just not me. I have bad days but I also have good days. It is the good days that pull me from the bad and remind me that everything is going to be alright. 


I am thankful to have a family that loves me so deeply and without compromise. They understand that I won’t always be at my best and they love me anyway. It was hard for me to write this post. In fact, I thought about not posting at all. After a while though I realized that I needed to share this with you. You, my fans, who joined me on this journey because you believed in what I was trying to do.


You believed in my music but most importantly, you believed in the message. The message is simple. It is about finding a way to navigate through a crazy world without letting the world define you. It is about making a decision that you will fight for your happiness because it is worth it. It is about realizing that happiness is not a matter of how much money you have in your bank account but rather how good the relationships are in your life that you do have. 


If you are fortunate enough to receive financial abundance it is about having the spirit of giving so that you are in a position to receive. The world tells you that you will always be poor unless you make the decision to walk over others. I believe that you will always be poor if you believe that wealth is about pain and abuse. Wealth, in its essence is having an abundance and when you use what you have to better not just your life but those around you as well, that is a truly incredible thing. That is when you are able to say that you are living the life of abundance. 


I haven’t achieved the financial freedom that I seek yet but I have an abundant life and I give back on a daily basis because I believe that it is when you care about the world that you are able to change it. Will I always have days where I feel like sharing my story? Nope, I sure won’t. Yet, it is that very story that defines who I am as a person and it is the platform that I build my future.

Thank you for being a part of this journey with me. I value you. 

Habits of Empathetic People

Walking the Line

Walking the line Sometimes, there are days that feel like they are spiraling out of control. You feel like falling (or at least I do) and hope that by some miracle you can manage to make it through. For most of us, we make it through. By the end of the day, you wipe your brow and let out the breath that you have been holding on all day. Maybe you are like me and your mind is gone. All thoughts brought down to their most basic elements and subjected to the oversight of basic instincts.

Can I breathe? Check.

Can I still make it to my bathroom to take a bath/shower? Check.

Will I be able to make dinner tonight? Check.

As I go through this list of basic needs it calms me and reminds me that everything is going to be ok. I am going to be able to tuck my children in and I am going to be able to snuggle up next to my husband for a movie. Things are good.

Walking the line for me is a continuous reminder that life comes with its own set of challenges but it is how you choose to embrace those challenges that defines the way that you will perceive your day or the way that you will walk that line. The line is invisible. It is a reflection of the expectation that you have set for yourself and the expectation that the world has set for you. It encompasses all that you fear as well as all that you hold to be true. This invisible line that manages to move even though you thought for sure you understood where it was supposed to be. It is an ever changing, ever evolving concept that calls you to be the best version of yourself that you can be. When you find yourself walking this invisible line you are most likely challenging your beliefs or the beliefs of others and you are experiencing conflict.

The line between what you believe to be right and what you want to do may not always be clear. The line sometimes is hard to see until you have already crossed it yet it is always there. It is ever present. It is ever visible and it is always calling you to mind it. Mind the line. Stay on one side of the line. Don’t cross the line. Walking the line is tempting fate or flirting with disaster.

Don’t walk the line.

I walk the line. Every day that I make the decision that I am not going to be what my condition tells me that I should be. Instead, I am going to be who I see myself as. I walk the line. I walk the line when I get angry about the way that things work but I don’t allow that anger to define my actions. I walk the line when I refuse to conform to norms that don’t align with my own moral compass. Did he really say that? I don’t care. He’s not here to defend himself. I walk the line. 

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You were Born to Succeed!

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"Close My Eyes"

Sometimes I close my eyes and I see nothing.

It’s dark there.

I become afraid.

Other times I close my eyes and I see all of the possibilities.

It’s colorful there.

I become reinvigorated.

 

- Jennifer S. Benson

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Perception

Perception

What does it mean? The same action yet such completely different results and yet…nothing has changed. Same person, same action, yet a different result. A completely different shift in the very perception of reality. I often wondered how that could be possible. It perplexed me because it would seem that given all things equal the results should be the same. How then are they so different?

I write a lot about mindset and thinking. Not all of my work is here on this blog but I do write a lot about the subject. Mostly, because it has had such a profound impact on my life and I feel like I owe it to myself to share it with you.

Perception.

The way that you choose to see the world. It is the way that you choose to see the world. Recently, I have been learning about habits and while my studies are just beginning I am discovering a lot of interesting things on the subject. There is a level of ownership that gets taken away with the idea of habits. That frustrates me because I like to believe that I am 100% in control of my decisions. However, the science is proven. It is a fact, that we as a people are influenced mainly by the habits that we have developed over the years.

These habits are often formed by a repetition we don’t even know is happening. It is similar to what we know as conditioning. We are trained to behave and act a certain way and sometimes that habit or behavior goes against the person that we want to be and so, when we close our eyes we may see the darkness or we may see the colors. We may become afraid or we may become reinvigorated. Don’t get me wrong I am not saying that your life is hopeless and you will never break free from these habits.

What I am saying is that once you have an awareness of what is happening you become empowered to make a change. Let me share with you a story about my dog. My dog is a large breed dog. He is a chewer and he loves to chew everything and get into everything. It was for this reason that we decided while no one was at home we were going to crate him. For a time that worked out. Someone would come home, take him out and he would freely roam the house.

What we didn’t realize is that he had grown tired of the kennel and made a decision (somewhere along the way) that he wasn’t going to stay in the kennel anymore. He was going to break that habit. We brought him to the kennel, he walked in and we left after saying our goodbyes. When we got back he

was out and about as happy as could be after having gotten into his fill of things. Stunned, we thought to ourselves that we must have not latched it properly and the next morning took extra care to fix our mistake. Again, we came home to our happy dog roaming freely. Out of curiosity we brought him to the kennel and put him inside. Within a couple of minutes he was walking out of the kennel. We had been watching from a close distance.

Imagine our shock as he pressed his nose against the latch and worked it right out of the hinge. Once it was loose he just pushed the door open and walked right out.

That was eye-opening on so many levels. My dog wasn’t going to let us decide when he would be in his kennel. He would go in on his own terms and he would leave on his own terms. I have to admit my respect for him grew ten-fold. I was so impressed because I realized that there are so people who spend their entire lives locked in an invisible cage. They make excuses as to why things can’t change. It never occurs to them to slide the latch.

 

Are you ready to slide the latch?

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For the Love of Music

Jennifer S. - For the Love of Music

Recently, I have had people ask me why I don't try out for the Voice. In the past it was "Why don't you try out for American Idol." What they didn't know is that I had tried out for both of those places and both times my stage fright got the better of me. Some people find it hard to believe that I could have stage fright. They tell me that I should have more confidence, they tell me that I am selfish for not sharing my gift with the world.

I politely try to explain to them that I have been working on this fear for years and that the solution I found was to create music (as you have seen) and put it out that way. When I am in the studio I work with one producer. He doesn't involve me in some of the process because he understands my phobia and the only time others are allowed to come in is after I have done recording my vocals.

I suppose, there may never be a time when I will be able to say that I have overcome this fear. Perhaps I will. Either way I am OK with whatever comes my way and with whatever destiny may have in store for me. I am OK with it because I love music. I love creating it and I love being a part of it. It doesn't matter to me if I never get on a stage because I know deep down in my heart that I am sharing my gift with the world. I am sharing my gift with you.

I put my music out on the radio to be listened to for free. Would I like for you to buy a copy? Sure, of course I would. Yet, that doesn't stop me from making the music or from putting it out there for you to enjoy because music is a part of me. It is a part of who I am and when I create music I it for the love of music and for the love for you.

We are in this together so are you with me?