All posts by J. Emm

Judging without Judging

Life live to the fullest!

The title, it doesn’t sound quite right. Judging without judging others, how is that possible, is that even possible? Sounds almost like an oxymoron.

Over the past few weeks I had been trying to figure out how to deal with a very powerful peer who happens to be a highly judgmental, self-serving, vindictive, and bitter person (this description sounds judgmental, doesn’t it?). It has gotten to the point where a conversation couldn’t be had without her tearing down other women who work in our industry. It was an earful of listening to nasty comments about how these other women dress, what their husbands look like, silly gossip, and fantasies of taking her opponents down in the cruelest manner.

If this was a friend rather than an industry peer, keeping my distance would be easy. Speaking to her about the behaviour described earlier is out of the question. I have seen firsthand what has happened to those who have dared to do so; it wasn’t pretty. Unfortunately, I live in a mid-sized city and it is difficult to entirely avoid people who are in the same career field as you. Everyone knows somebody who knows someone. In the end I decided to forfeit having her as part of my career sphere of influence.

The Lessons

What I have been learning is that when you are close to a peer(s) and you distance yourself from these people who are emotionally toxic yet powerful and well connected, it makes more labour for you in terms of networking, getting connected with just the right people, learning the ropes, and having your work known by others; but in the end it is worth it.

Not having that powerful and seasoned professional by your side to give you the ins and outs of a cutthroat industry makes the struggle even harder, but I was alright with this, my personal values were more important.

If your career-based circle of associates requires that you cut others down, eliminate your competition with dishonest words or actions; and your emerging business plan includes a social media smear campaign against people you (or they) don’t like; take a pass, this is necessary. Your mentors and those who are part of your career circle heavily influence your behaviour, values, and personal work ethic.

Ask yourself, “what part of who I am as a person is being sacrificed in order to stay within this career based inner circle”?

Is the sacrifice and trade-off your…?

  • personal values
  • unnecessary time away from your family
  • money that you don’t have to spare
  • integrity and honesty
  • healthy character traits
  • long-time friendships (healthy ones)
  • your faith/religion
  • keeping up shallow and superficial appearances
  • constant emotional and mental fatigue that isn’t directly related to the production of your work
  • abandoning your own dreams or personal goals in order to people-please
  • decrease in quality of your own work

Count the costs, not just short-term, but long term as well. It can be difficult to set boundaries with people who have direct influence on your work, reputation, and income, but I encourage you to find a way to create a healthy distance between yourself and industry peers who have a spirit of spitefulness, revenge, pettiness, and exclusion. The slower path to career fulfillment will leave you with a clearer conscience knowing your achievements were obtained without having to sabotage peers, belittle the work of others, or step all over people.

When you take the more laborious and often longer path, do so because the other option was not a part of who you are as a person, nor who you aspire to become. Recognize that people who thrive from their toxic behviour are often personally scared and insecure, and might even have developed such ways of living due to past trauma. But remember, it is not your problem to deal with. Be willing to operate in a different way without seeing yourself as better than anyone else or allowing bitterness and self-doubt to permeate your mind and your work. This is how you “judge without judging”.




Reading… Self-care in a Book

Read Something… 2019

Do people still read books?

Why do we have libraries, nobody reads books anymore?

Reading is a waste of time. I could be doing something instead of sitting around?

I kid you not, these are things I have heard people say about reading. I don’t read as much as I used to, but I honestly can’t imagine a life without reading. And when people say they don’t have time to read, I don’t believe them. If you enjoy reading, you’ll find time for it. There are plenty of things we don’t have time for, brushing our teeth, showering, putting on makeup, but we somehow find time for them.

What I noticed about people who tell me they don’t like reading, is they had unpleasant experiences with reading in junior high and high school. I remember the days of having to read novels that I had no interest in, and worse, we were required to write essays about these novels and even debate some of the topics and themes from these books. I usually did well in English Language Arts, as it was called back then, but I know it was not an activity that I always enjoyed. As a result, I made full use of my public library card. I wanted to read books I was actually interested in. It didn’t matter to me that they weren’t literary classics; what mattered was how much I was engaged in the plot, characters and setting.

Now, if you’re wondering how reading counts as self-care, here it is. Reading is a relaxing way to feed your mind, spirit, and creativity.

Open-Minded: Reading different types of fiction, memoirs, and biographies can help you become more open-minded. Reading exposes you to new and different ideas, other cultures, the life stories of people you otherwise wouldn’t encounter, and fictional worlds you wouldn’t have thought to create; the accumulation of knowledge is boundless.

Your critical and analytical skills are also engaged when you discuss the book with others in person or online. Book clubs are fun, but if it’s not your thing or you can’t get to one, you can often find others online or in person who enjoy informally discussing a book.

Cognitive Engagement: Reading helps you to concentrate. It also increases your vocabulary and thinking skills. Reading is also emotional.  I can tell you with confidence that I doubt I am the only one who has cried over a fictional character. A novel can evoke all sorts of emotion, sometimes on the same page: anger, happiness, surprise, sadness.

Reading is also an exercise in memory. 200-300 pages in you have a lot to remember, the names of characters, what happened since you last put the book down, the story line and so on.

Stress Buster: Reading can help you to de-stress. Grab a cup of something warm to drink, a throw, and make yourself comfortable somewhere. Reading suddenly becomes “me time”. We often think of self-care as something spa like, but the ability to be able to sit and read a book without being bothered is an excellent way to care for your physical and mental well being.

Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty about taking time to read, it’s a pleasure, but it is also a form of self-care, regardless of what types of books you read.

There are endless types of books available for reading. If you need some ideas or prompts, here is a short and simple guide to help you experience a diverse and rewarding way to read your way through 2019.

Reading List and Ideas

  • A new release (2019)
  • A memoir or biography
  • A Thriller or Suspense
  • A fictional or true story featuring an immigrant’s life experience in coming to Canada or the United States
  • A self-help book about something you want to address in your own life
  • A Romance
  • A book that was made into a movie you enjoyed
  • A science-fiction
  • Historical fiction from a time period that is of interest to you
  • A humorous book
  • A novel where the story takes place in a country you have always wanted to visit
  • A novel that takes place in a country that you have visited before
  • A trilogy, and be sure to read all three
  • A book you started reading months or years ago and never got around to finishing
  • A book written by a Native American
  • A book about the environment
  • A book that has been banned by public high schools
  • The biography or memoir of someone who’s life sounds quite different from your own (e.g. class/gender/sexual orientation/religion)
  • A book that takes place during World War 1, World War 2, or the Depression

Choosing One Verse for 2019

choosing one verse 2019 graphic

Last month I wrote about choosing one word to help guide your life and your year. This time I’m writing about choosing a verse or bible passage to help guide your year.

One Word was about allowing God to use that word to work through you. That chosen word helps to transform, heal, inspire, and encourage you to move through the year in alignment with God’s will for your life. This word becomes a sacred echo in your life. This echo is described by Margaret Feinberg in her interview with CBN , “..but since then I’ve grown in my prayer life and relationship with God. And I’ve been discovering that when God speaks he often speaks more as an echo than a whisper. He’ll say the same thing again and again. When I listen for the echo I walk more fully into all that He has for me. I felt like this was a message that others needed to hear and the response has been overwhelming.”

When God really wants to get your attention, He doesn’t just say something once. He echoes. The same scripture, idea, or theme will reappear until you can’t help but wonder if a greater something, or Someone, is at work (Beliefnet, 09/2008)”.
sprititual growth 2019

Yes, God is a god of repetition. He knows that humans are not likely to notice the first time or even listen for that matter.

We can only notice those sacred echoes when we slow down and intentionally take time to notice themes and patterns that appear in our daily lives. We can do this through various forms of prayer, biblical meditation, journaling, and conversations with others.

When you notice repetition in your life, stop and ask God what it is that he wants you to hear. What is happening in your life that needs your attention, your prayers, your time? Those sacred echoes don’t necessarily need to be about negative things. God also communicates pleasant messages to us. Sometimes God is simply saying, “Good Job. Great. Keep Going. I hear you. I’m here. I’m with you.” He might be drawing you to discover new interests or new people. Don’t be afraid to find out what he is communicating to you.

Along with having one word, another spiritual tool to help guide you is having a verse to focus on for the year. Choosing a verse for the year doesn’t come at the expense of not reading the rest of the bible or neglecting to engage in bible and book studies, those are important and not partaking in those activities would be hazardous for your spiritual health and growth. Instead, your verse serves a similar purpose to your one word, it is meant to become a sacred echo in your life, a way for a specific verse to speak to you throughout the year and help you grow.

Some Helpful Steps for Choosing a Verse

In choosing a yearly verse, take some time to review various events, learning experiences, areas of growth, and some of the challenges your faced in the last year.

In your review, was there certain patterns or themes that you noticed?

If so, reach for your bible and see if there are any verses that stand out to you. Make a list of these verses, pray over them, and ask God if one of those verses is one you should focus on during the year.

Maybe there is a characteristic or value that you’d like to learn about or develop on a personal level for 2019. Again, pray about it, and if that is what you’ve chosen, start searching for verses that speak to what you’d like to learn about or cultivate in your life.

The verse becomes more meaningful if you write it out and place it in various places where you will see it. If you’d like to keep the verse private, place it in your bible, your bible study book, or in your handbag/wallet. If you are not feeling up to sharing your verse with others, it’s perfectly alright to keep it between you and God, after all this your own journey and you get to chose who is privy to all that God is revealing to you.

Memorize the verse. At most, your verse will be one to four sentences long. This is easy enough to remember, unless you have problems with memory. Take your time. It also helps to find a translation that you like. Some verse sound beautifully poetic in the KJV, others make more sense coming from the NIV. The goal is to get a good understanding of the verse and allow it to positively impact your life throughout the year.

My One Word: Quiet

My One Verse:  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

I’m not yet sure what Romans 12:2 has to do with my one word, but that verse is one that kept popping up all over the place in my life within a short period of time. I thought, o.k. God, you’re trying to tell me something specific to my own life and circumstances, so Romans 12:2 it is. This was how the sacred echo lead me to Romans 12:2. I won’t pre-determine what role the one word and verse are going to play in my life or how it is going to impact me. This is the beauty of both spiritual exercises, we leave it to God to speak to us as we encounter those words and verses. We walk alongside God as he creates those sacred echoes and we heed the life changing messages that become part of our journey through 2019.





Choosing One Word To Guide You Through 2019

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Good-bye 2018! It’s time to celebrate, we all made it. For some of you reading this, the year was smooth sailings, for others it was bumpy roads. Whichever path the year took for you, don’t forget to stop and give thanks to God that you are where you’re at today. Even if you are feeling angry, scared, or hopeless, trust that you being alive means there is the opportunity to move forward knowing circumstances can change for the better. Maybe not right away, but at some point in the future.

If you had an amazing year, a good year, a great year, be thankful to God and those who helped you out. What I wrote to those who had a less than stellar year applies to you as well. Circumstances can change, so cherish the good moments, keep those you love close, take care of yourself, and be kind to those you cross paths with.

Several years ago I gave up on making new years resolutions. I made the switch to choosing one word to focus on instead of trying to remember the long list of resolutions that were created with good intentions and wishful thinking.

Choosing one word to help guide you through the year is much more manageable and meaningful than a resolution made during winter holidays when you are in a good mood, upbeat, and unrealistic.

Ray Lopez reminds us, “With the end of 2018 just days away, you want to know that your one word for next year is going to keep you focused, be transformative, and act as a compass throughout 2019. You want to know the word will work, that it will be just the thing you need to remind you of what you want your life to look like.”

Before you begin to work on choosing your one word for 2019, keep in mind what Lopez says about self-knowledge, “It’s hard to distill our goals into one word if we don’t understand ourselves… I mean really know ourselves. Self-awareness isn’t usually easy, and it can expose things about ourselves that may be difficult to embrace. But unless we have a sense of what motivates us and how past events affect present choices, it’s difficult to understand how to move forward.

Some Questions to Ask and Define Yourself

What is your name? ( Seems like a silly question, but I start with this one as a way to clearly remind people that this is about you and no one else. We aren’t here to change and develop others, only our self.)

In one sentence, who are you?

In your own life, what is worth the struggle/pain/sweat equity?

What do you avoid in life?

List some things you often take for granted?

What’s something that you used to fear, but no longer do?

What are things you look forward to?

What have you been telling yourself lately? Is this something you need to keep telling yourself or should you stop? If you stop telling yourself this, is there something else you could be telling yourself instead?

What are some of the hard things that you know you have to do in 2019? What are some hard/challenging things that would be beneficial for you to do in 2019?

Are there things or persons you are worried about as you enter the new year?

Are you intentional with you time? If not, what are some ways you can become more intentional with your time and as a result, more intentional with your life?

What are some things and persons/groups you need to say “yes” to this year? What are some things you need to say “no” to?

Do you… ?

Love yourself

Respect yourself

Take care of yourself

Put yourself first (not to be confused with being selfish)

Your One Word is something that you will be cultivating throughout 2019. You’ll grow into your word as you live it, reflect on it, and learn from it.

Write or type out a bunch of different words (writing is better and don’t worry about spelling).  These words are characteristics you might want to work on or develop, words that will help or encourage you to reach a specific goal, or a word associated with whatever God has laid on your heart and you have yet to discover why. Remember this word is going to be a part of your life for most or all of the year.

Choosing a word doesn’t need to be stressful. It may not come to you in one sitting, it might take days or weeks, there is no urgency. This exercise is meant to empower you instead of discouraging you.

Review your list and circle some of the words or themes that stood out for you. Do any of these words and themes seem connected to any current or upcoming goals, projects, circumstances, or major events in your life? Narrow down your list by focusing on these words and themes.

Reflect and pray over your list. Ask for wisdom in choosing your word based only on you and your own life. No one else gets to select your word, you are the only one living your life. This is also the reason it is important to not consult others for help in choosing your One Word; the only one you need to consult with is God, he’s got your back.


One Word Resources at Other Websites

One Word 365 Choosing Your One Word

My One Word

Elizabeth Steere on Choosing her One Word

Book Journey My One Word for 2019