5 Amazing Books for Encouraging Change

I’m sure you can imagine my library of books that have made a profound impact on my journey of living Simple Clean and Whole! On a typical day, I have between three and five books on my bedside table, and they’re filled with tags, dog-eared pages, and highlighted messages that speak loud and clear to me.

In fact, I’ve made it a ritual to buy all of my educational books in the traditional format – printed and bound – and I buy all of them from my local bookstore. When I used my Kindle, I missed out on the tagging, dog-earing, and highlighting! It’s just not the same experience for me.

With that said, I want to share my five favorite books for encouraging change with you. I highly recommend adding some or all of these to your own bedside table!

1. The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams

Recently, a dear friend visited me and gave me this book. It’s the type of book that infuses you with exactly what the title promises – The Book of Joy! I read about 5-10 pages each night to fill me with words, thoughts, and a view that are nonjudgmental, unassuming, and purely magical.

Together, the Dalai Lama, who I was honored to see at the Beacon Theater in New York City two years ago, and Desmond Tutu, the Archbishop, have all of the ingredients to produce the most beautiful recipe to infuse joy into your everyday life.

2. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

I’ve mentioned The Four Agreements before when I shared my 10 lessons learned while living Simple Clean and Whole. It’s basically my Bible when it comes to living Simple Clean and Whole. It’s also the first book that I invite my clients to read.

This is a very short book, so it’s really easy to read – even for the novice. It’s also really relatable! Here’s a taste: Imagine your life following these four agreements:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t take things personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

Of course, Ruiz elaborates on each of these four principles in his book. What I love most is that this is a lifestyle practice that leads to self-awareness. Remember, your thoughts lead to your feelings and your feelings lead to your behaviors. Most importantly, your behaviors lead you to discover your belief systems. The four agreements taught in this book will give you the opportunity to fine-tune your belief systems.

3. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

Brene Brown has an amazing story that most men, women, and young adults can relate to. Imagine accepting being vulnerable. Imagine working through life peeling away your mask of toughness, weight, addiction, and expectations to live a life a truth!

Brene will take you on that journey in her book. Think of the word “courage” as you read.

4. The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer

The Untethered Soul begins by walking you through your relationship with your thoughts and emotions and helping you uncover the source and fluctuations of your inner energy. Next, it delves into what you can do to free yourself from the habitual thoughts, emotions, and energy patterns that limit your consciousness.

In a nutshell, this book opens you to deep realizations of the habits and patterns in life that have kept you stuck. I’ve written before about rewriting your manual to get unstuck, and this book is a great resource to help you gain freedom from those old patterns.

5.  The Languages of Love by Gary Chapman

I read this book years ago when my husband, Drew, and I began walking and visiting our life together as a couple and parents. It gave us verification that not everyone is “in love” in the same way. It was at this time when I really began to understand that we all have a very specific way of showing love – whether it’s by affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, or physical touch.

This book is a must have in your collection, especially if you’re co-habitating! Read it and you just might begin to accept and honor your partner or loved ones as you begin to understand their unique love languages. I know I did!

More of Jen’s Favorites

As we move from cold to somewhat warmer weather, I feel like it’s time to SHIFT up our thoughts, patterns, habits, and overall behavior. These books are a great way to start and to support your own SHIFT. After all, taking the time to indulge in self-discovery is the best gift you can give yourself!

Stay tuned for my next blog post, which will include links to my favorite Ted Talks and podcasts!

In the meantime, if you’re like me and information about food, nutrition, recipes, and lifestyle feeds your soul, you can purchase my ebook full of delicious breakfast recipes here. Want to go even further? Let’s work together!

5 Must-Try Secrets to Build Your Immune System

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been experiencing some crazy cold and flu symptoms this winter season! My kids, clients, and a long list of other people—everyone seems to be feeling so run down. And forget about the flu shot! So many people that I’ve talked to say this year’s flu shot isn’t covering the flu that’s going around.

How do you protect yourself? With my must-try secrets to build your immune system of course!

As most of you know, I’m all about exploring, experimenting, and experiencing different supplements and products that are out on the market. I’d say I’m the queen of the supplement drawer in my house! As you can imagine, I’ve been hell bent on researching the best (well, what I think are the best) alternative products out there to combat all of the germs in our atmosphere this winter!

Keep in mind, these products aren’t going to cure you, but they will support your immune system during the cold, flu, and belly bug season. And whose immune system couldn’t use a bit of help, right?

Support is the pivotal word here. As a practitioner, my belief is not to support yourself in only one part of your life. Whether it’s nutrition, supplements, exercise, mental health, or spiritual health, you need to support the varied parts of your life. Why? Because you are a WHOLE. You have many parts that you might view as separate, but my practice for myself and my clients is to marry those parts of you to gain balance, perspective, and a sense of wholeness.

With that said, the products I recommend in this article offer support for your health in so many ways because when you feel healthy, you have the opportunity to look deeper into those other areas of your life. You have a chance to find your balance and wellbeing for yourself as a whole, not just a bunch of disparate parts. Amen!

Now, it’s time to share some of my must-try secrets to build your immune system and protect yourself, not just from those pesky winter germs but also to support your whole self.

1. Vitamin D3

The problem for most of us is that we’re simply not getting enough vitamin D to allow our bodies to work optimally at performing all of the functions that vitamin D supports. Did you know that an estimated one billion people (that’s about one-seventh of the global population) have inadequate vitamin D supplies in their bodies? It’s very probable that you’re one of those people!

Vitamin D deficiency can actually be quite serious. Low vitamin D levels are linked to increased risks of cardiovascular disease, neurological disease, cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders. If you’re feeling tired, sluggish, overworked, moody, or below the midline, or if you’re craving CRAP, don’t wait to get your vitamin D levels checked. It’s a simple blood test.

To support your vitamin D levels, I can’t say enough about Vitamin D3. I believe that every practitioner out there should be measuring their patient’s D3 levels yearly. Depending on where you live, if you’re not getting enough outdoor time or sun, there could be a significant drop in your vitamin D3!

2. Tea Tree Oil

Did you know that using any of the mass-marketed hand sanitizers actually strips away good bacteria from your skin over time? That’s why your hands get so dry!

I know that I’ve been guilty of being the hand sanitizer crazy woman for myself and family in the past, but this year, I began to make my own hand sanitizer after learning that most of the ingredients in those hand sanitizers you buy may contribute to resistant strains of bacteria.

My go-to homemade hand sanitizer recipe is very easy to make, cost effective, and so good for your skin! Just mix 1/4 cup of Aloe Vera gel with 1 tablespoon of filtered water, 20 drops of tea tree essential oil, and 10 drops of lavender essential oil. Not only does this keep your hands moisturized, but it also kills bacteria at the same time without the effects of stripping good bacteria.

Any drug store or health food store sells small, reusable bottles that you can use to hold your homemade hand sanitizer. If you don’t think you have enough time to make your own, I’d suggest purchasing an essential oil hand sanitizer from a certified aromatherapist, so you know you’re getting quality ingredients in a safe product.

Of course, always work directly with a certified aromatherapist whose certification is recognized by the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists and the Alliance of International Aromatherapists, and check with your doctor or health care provider before using essential oils, especially on children or if you have a medical condition.

3. Immuno-Shield All Season Wellness

Ahah! These are honestly my favorite go-to green pills! My functional medicine doctor turned me on to these supplements last winter season after I had the wicked 2016 flu. This supplement is from Irwin Naturals and helps to support your body’s natural defense mechanisms. It includes vitamins, minerals, herbs, and antioxidants all in one!

I take this supplement throughout the winter season. In fact, during the winter months, I substitute this for my daily multivitamin, and if I feel something coming on, I take double the dose indicated on the bottle.

4. Extra Vitamin C

I believe that your body can heal itself. I also believe that we need extra support, including extra vitamin C during the winter months. Common winter ailments are usually caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies, but during the winter months, fruits and vegetables that are full of vitamin C aren’t always readily available. Why not take a vitamin C supplement?

A 2013 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that vitamin C reduces cold and flu symptoms by 85%. Of course, participants in the study were given megadoses of vitamin C, so your results might not be comparable. However, the point is that vitamin C truly does work! Just be sure to check with your doctor or health care provider before using vitamin C, especially for children or if you have a medical condition.

5. Epsom Salt Baths

I’ve introduced all of my private clients to the benefits of Epsom Salt baths! Most people only think of taking Epsom Salt baths when they need to relieve sore muscles, but there are so many more benefits.

Remember how I spoke about support earlier in this article? Well, Epsom Salt baths support your entire immune system. Epsom salt baths have a way of releasing your mind and body from daily stress. Where do you think the slogan, “Calgon, take me away,” came from?

When you add one cup of Epsom Salt and 10-20 drops of your favorite essential oil to your bath, it becomes a detox bath! I love peppermint essential oil as it is very invigorating, and I like lavender to relax my tired body. When I’m experiencing cold and flu symptoms, I use eucalyptus oil.

Epsom Salt is magnesium, which many people tend to be deficient in. In fact, studies show that taking Epsom Salt baths can increase your magnesium without even taking any supplements. How cool is that? Be sure to support your whole system with a daily bath or a bath a few times a week!

Ready to Boost Your Immune System?

Remember, these are ideas to support your immune system, and where would you be without your immune system? Prioritize your self-care and start taking care of your immune system. Trust me, you’ll feel so much better!


If you want to learn more about enhancing your immune system, let’s work together!

Looking for more aromatherapy products to boost your immune system? Check out my go-to certified aromatherapist, Susan Gunelius’, products available through her company online store, Aromassist. She offers a wonderful Immune-Stimulating Aromastick that you can keep in your purse or pocket to use on the go as well as an Immune-Stimulating Blend that you can use in

How to Get Unstuck by Moving from Contemplation to Action

I just completed a great new 4-week SHIFT program with Summit Bar Method, and the experience gave me new insights about how the six tools of living Simple Clean and Whole have such an effect on keeping it CLEAN!

These are the six tools of living Simple Clean and Whole, which are explained in detail in my free Back to Basics Guide:

  1. Water
  2. Breath
  3. Sleep
  4. Movement
  5. Nutrition
  6. Self Care (Self Soothe)

I have witnessed over 100 clients who have made Back to Basics the root system of the tools that sustain them during times of obstacles. They are so simple. Although, sometimes the simpler things or actions are, the harder it is for a person to make them happen.

The Difference between Making a Change and a Transformation

To truly transform, you first need to start practicing the tools to make a SHIFT. Once you start to SHIFT, it becomes a practice — a practice of the six Back to Basics tools of living Simple Clean and Whole.

When people say they’re changing, you need to understand that change happens every minute of every day. It’s the SHIFT that moves you to transformation. It’s a process of practice. Just like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, it takes time to transform.

As I said, change happens constantly, but making the SHIFT that moves you to transformation can be a lot more difficult.

Where Most People Get Stuck – Contemplation

Where I see most of my clients getting stuck is in the contemplation stage. This is the stage that we know all too well.

Contemplation is where you want to make a SHIFT and know what you need to do. You know you need the right support. You’re just tired and wellness weighs heavily on your mind and body. It’s when you feel crappy putting on your clothes!

In the Contemplation stage, you’re aware that you’re fighting an uphill battle ALONE. It’s when you actually need some kind of guidance and support. It’s also when you tell yourself, “I know I have to take care of myself, but I have to:

  • Travel for work
  • Wait until my kids start school
  • Wait until after the holidays
  • Wait until Monday
  • Wait until the season changes
  • Wait until I get home from vacation
  • Wait, wait, wait, wait…”

Do you see the common theme that’s keeping you stuck in the Contemplation stage? It’s excuse after excuse so you don’t have to take the action to make the SHIFT. Instead, most of us wait for that magical, mystical moment to SHIFT.

It goes Back to Basics and the six tools of living Simple Clean and Whole. You need to practice these tools — water, breath, sleep, movement, nutrition, and self care — or you won’t be able to make the SHIFT that moves you to transformation.

It’s about self care! We tend to put things, places, people, and more in front of ourselves. You can’t make a SHIFT if you’re not practicing the tools to move you forward. Instead, you’ll remain stuck in the Contemplation phase!

Real Transformations

I want to share some feedback from my clients with you, so you can see that SHIFTing and transforming really are possible. You can do it!

I want to thank you for your knowledge, encouragement, and support over the last four weeks. I am at a point in my life where I spend a lot of time caring for grandchildren, who bring me so much joy, as well as an ill sister and elderly parents. In order to do this, I have to take care of myself. You have given me the tools to move forward in a simple, clean and whole way. This program has helped improve my physical as well as emotional being. I will continue to be very much aware of how to nourish my body so that I can feel my best. Thank you, thank you!!!

– Nancy


“Working with Jen was transformational. I already eat well, but I was missing key ingredients like healthy fat. Including fat in my diet makes me feel so much better. But more importantly, the emotional nutrition and self-care Jen guided me through has helped me love myself and others around me so much more. I am in grateful for her coaching.”

– Robin Schepper,


“Awakening, really listening to myself, and taking initiative to show up for the only “home” I will ever live in lead me to Shift 21. That home is my spirit, my mind, and my body. I spent a lifetime becoming the me that I am; it was time to unveil the me I’d never met. Jen’s Shift 21 experience, guiding hand, and warrior heart allowed me to expand into more than just the shell of myself that I had been living in. Choosing this opportunity with Jen’s guidance to explore further than the surface allowed me to see where I was unbalanced in my life.


“The experiment of diving deeper into the inquiry of Self was full of valleys, plateaus, and mountain tops. At times, these were challenging, but now I acknowledge them as integral parts of my growth. Shift 21 skillfully guided me through places and aspects of my life uncovering “aha” moments of why I was unbalanced whether it was in my diet, relationships, physical self, spiritually, or emotionally. Holistically, I sense I am more balanced in all areas after exploring for the 21+ days. I am living in a whole and completed body, mind, and spirit.


“This journey for me was far more than a “program.” It is a lifestyle. For me, Shift 21 was easy to dive into and cultivate as it is laid out methodically for each step. While I was maneuvering through, it offered an abundance of support, easy planned meals, one-on-one encouraging conversations, a breakthrough where I didn’t know I needed a break through, Jen’s recordings full of convictions, challenges, fun, meditation, did I mention support, and so much more.


“As Jen would say, ‘It is not about the destination, it’s about the journey.’ I choose to fluidly and gracefully continue to be in the experiment of life while trusting the process and will continue to journey through my days with Shift 21 knowledge as the key to my home.


“With sincere gratitude, thank you Jen for sharing your zone of genius. I am forever changed for knowing you.”

– Mandy

If these clients can get to this point, so can you! The next step is to tack ACTION – scary right? I feel you! I’ve been there!

My new SHIFT Program will launch during the four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so stay tuned. You don’t want to miss it!

If you’re ready to take action and want more information now, put your name here (in the comments below), and I’ll let you know when the wait is over so you can take ACTION!


Are You Being Too Negotiable with Yourself?

After teaching a fabulous workshop at Lululemon East Hampton, I felt the need to write a blog post about the six pillars of living Simple Clean and Whole. During the workshop, I spoke a lot about negotiable and non-negotiable rituals. What I’m going to share with you in this article is just a taste of my non-negotiable rituals. You can find the complete ebook, Back to Basics, here.

The Domino Effect of Being Negotiable with Yourself

When I started my journey on Simple Clean and Whole, I practiced many new rituals that became habits — thus, Back to Basics. Once I began my practice, I noticed that when I became negotiable with my rituals, then everything else that keeps me healthy became negotiable as well.

If I was negotiable with working out, then I became negotiable on my water intake. If I was negotiable on my water intake, I began to crave crap! Once I began to crave crap, my sleep was thrown way off. Once my sleep was off, I was stressed. And once I was stressed, my whole emotional being was shot! And I mean shot!

So how do you stop the inevitable domino effect when you become negotiable with yourself? It’s about going Back to Basics!

Going Back to Basics and Finding Your Truth

Most people think that when I coach, I’m coaching people on how to lose weight. The truth is that, yes, I coach on foods that nourish you with a side effect of losing weight. However, the real nugget is getting to your truth:

  • What makes you tick?
  • What makes you healthy?
  • What makes you strong, alive, and present?

Once you lay the foundation, the true work begins. Then, you can move into selecting the right essential tools that you need to lead a healthy lifestyle.

6 Pillars of Living Simple Clean and Whole to Become Non-Negotiable with Yourself

Ready to review the six pillars of living Simple Clean and Whole that will help you stop that negotiable domino effect? Here we go:

1. Emotions

Emotions represent a connection to yourself and self-love. Judgement, comparison, and self-doubt are all emotions that cause us to live below the midline in life. It’s these emotions that cause the symptoms of eating.

Think about it. A symptom like instant gratification is short-lived. It keeps you satiated for about a minute. Food and shopping are both symptoms of the bigger emotional story.

Challenge: My challenge to you is to start your “to do” list with a “to be” list instead. How do you want to be when you are doing?

2. Water

If you’re not getting enough water, you’ll feel dry, constipated, tired, and sluggish. You might experience bad breath and swelling. Most of my clients tell me they don’t have time to drink water. But we have time to overeat?

To be fully hydrated, you should drink half your body weight in water daily. Many of my clients tell me they don’t like the taste of water or simply want something more flavorful to drink every day. In my Whenever Cleanse, I offer a bunch of delicious flavor combinations that you can make using herbs and fresh fruit to change how your water tastes. A favorite for many of my clients is my all citrus recipe:

Citrus Fruit Infused Water Recipe

  • Slice one orange, one lime, and one lemon into rounds.
  • Cut the rounds in half.
  • Add the fruit to a 2-quart pitcher or jar with a lid and press and twist with a muddler or handle of a wooden spoon to release the flavor.
  • Fill the jar with ice cubes and add water.
  • Cover and refrigerate for up to three days.

Challenge: Fill a 32-ounce water bottle up and drink it. Refill the bottle and drink the water three times throughout the day.

3. Breathe

Slow down! Make a practice of taking a breath before you eat, before you deliver a communication, while driving, and while looking at social media. Walk slower. Touch and hear softer. Trust me, it will change your breathing.

Practice your breathing throughout the day by concentrating on and becoming aware of your inhales and exhales. This is how to start a habit to relax.

Challenge: Practice breathing. Inhale for a count of four, hold at the top for a count of four, and release for a count of four. It’s easy and truly mind-altering.

4. Sleep

Get your zzzz’s! Hop into bed before 10:00 p.m. every night. It’s essential that you get eight hours of sleep. The first four hours of sleep (from 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.) are when your body goes into its fullest repair. From 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m., your body is undergoing emotional repair.

Think about new moms who are up with their infants during the second four hours when they should be sleeping. They’re missing the essential emotional repair hours of their sleep. No wonder there is post-partum depression!

Challenge: Turn off your electronics by 10:00 p.m.

5. Nutrition

Nutrition is so important, but it can be a hard battle to win. Remember, the Standardized American Diet is SAD with lots of CRAP (carbohydrates, refined sugars, additives, and preservatives).

You don’t have to deprive yourself of delicious but unhealthy foods as long as you’re making the decision to eat those foods on occasion rather than as a habit.

Challenge: 80% of the time, eat foods that grow from good soil, sunlight, and rain.

6. Movement

Movement is a mindset. Your body gets used to the same movement, just like it gets used to the same food. When you do the same activity over and over, your body won’t want to shift for you. That’s why you have to switch it up!

But remember, your mind and body must be aligned with the movement you choose or you won’t stick with it. You need to find the movement that truly nourishes your mind, body, and soul.

Challenge: Experiment with a new class, new teacher, or new exercise!

Developing Your Own Non-negotiable Habits

I’m happy to say that my non-negotiable habits are on track as I practice mindfulness, and I’m not alone with seeing the positive results of developing non-negotiable habits. Recently, my wonderful client, Samantha, sent me an email message describing her own transformation since we began working together. I’d like to share her story with you because I think it’s so inspirational!

“Throughout my life, I have struggled to find a healthy relationship with food. A month ago, desperate to find and live a healthier lifestyle, I reached out to Jen. Just 5-6 days later, believe it or not, I felt a shift. This shift was not a ton of weight loss or a magically toned body. It was ME — but with a less bloated belly, clearer skin, more energy, and a newfound confidence.

“Throughout college and the past two years, I found myself choosing erratic and extreme diets to lose weight. Nothing ever stuck. I found myself quickly falling back into old habits, because I felt deprived of tasty and satiating food. Now, I love the food I eat. Yes, sometimes I miss pizza, but I do not miss the way I used to feel.

“I now am determined to give my body the healthy food and fuel it needs. Jen has guided me through this process with patience, understanding, balance, and passion. With an abundance of health issues, Jen has helped me find the foods that help me feel my best.

“I truly feel this is only the beginning of my journey. I am dedicated to finding my best self over the next six months and creating a lifestyle with fewer ups and downs. Just like everything else, relationships take time and work. My healthy relationship with food and my body has just begun. I understand that there may be temptations and hiccups, but I refuse to fail. I promise myself, I will live my life, enjoy my life, and find a lifestyle that makes me happy and healthy.

“Jen is incredible! She is my cheerleader, and I am her biggest fan!”

— Samantha

When you make living a Simple Clean and Whole lifestyle non-negotiable, you’ll feel healthier and happier, just like Samantha. It’s a process that starts with practice. Over time, that practice becomes a ritual. The ritual becomes a discipline, and finally, the discipline becomes your truth!

How to Get Unstuck from Your Labels

As a follow up to my last post about the 3 ways labels keep you stuck in life and the profound lesson my English Bulldog, Bubba, taught me about taking our labels off, I want to share some steps you can take to shed your own labels.

First, I want to remind you that labels are forced on us by other people, our environment, and our histories. Remember Bubba’s story? He doesn’t know what his labels are, so they don’t matter to him. He has no idea that he’s been labeled as a fat, lazy, tired, and slow dog. And guess what? Not knowing or caring what the labels are that society has given to him means Bubba can do something that we can’t. He can be who he really is.

That’s the lesson that Bubba taught me as I struggled to force him to break free of the labels he cares nothing about. When you can take your labels off and practice being naked in who you really are, that’s the place where life happens.

Bubba’s label is not what people think—that he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer. He’s actually the sharpest for me, and that’s what he taught me. Humans push ourselves to the edge, and when we push ourselves to the edge, our bodies break down. Why? Because we’re not using our innate abilities to listen to the signs that our bodies are telling us.

This is something Bubba is very in tune with in his own body. When he wants to take a rest during our walks, he does. He doesn’t worry about the fat, tired, and lazy labels. He listens to his body. How often do you do the same?

Question Your Labels

While it would be nice if we could all think like Bubba and completely ignore the labels we’ve been given and that we give ourselves, I know it’s not easy. Instead, get unstuck from your labels by starting to ask yourself questions. The goal is to put those labels into question and train yourself to understand that’s all they are—labels. With practice, you can control how they affect you.

Think of it this way. When we sit down for dinner, most of us eat fast. What happens when you eat fast? The food you’re ingesting is actually not digesting because you’re keeping up with life and all of the to-dos rather than keeping up with what feels good in the present moment.

What if you actually decided to listen to what your body really wants and needs instead of using the distractions of other people’s expectations of you or the expectations that you put on yourself? What if you erased those expectations? What would be left?

Do you have the ability to practice a life where you actually take your labels off and begin to practice naked in who you really are? That’s the place where life happens!

Learn from Bubba

Think about the labels that you put on yourself that keep you stuck in life. What labels and expectations do others put on you that you feel you need to live up to?

Learn from Bubba just like I did. You don’t need to let those labels define you. To truly be happy, you need to get in tune with your body, listen to it, and live the life you want, not the life labels tell you that you should be living.

3 Ways Labels Keep You Stuck in Life

3 Ways Labels Keep You Stuck in Life

Society gives us labels, and those labels can hold you back. They can keep you from living your own truth, and they can keep you from being healthy and happy. Even our pets have labels!

Meet Bubba and His Labels

While I’ve been transitioning from a full-time mother to an empty-nester, I decided I needed a third man in my life. Enter Bubba. Some of you have been following me on Facebook and Instagram and have already met Bubba. You can see his beautiful face in the nearby picture. Pretty cute, huh?

I’m not just a doting mamma to Bubba. I’m also his student. I want to share a profound lesson that I’ve learned from this funny-looking 45 pound prince of mine.

For years, I’ve been sharing with my followers the benefits of living in the present and not pushing too far into the future or even looking over your shoulder into the past. After my transition into becoming an empty-nester and moving out of the comfort of the home where I raised my children, I can honestly share that I’m not so sure I was walking that talk of living in the present as truthfully as I am in the progress or practice of being in the present.

This is where Bubba comes in.

Bubba is an English Bulldog, and English Bulldogs come with a long list of labels like lazy, fat, out of shape, always tired, slow, and kind of ugly. People tell me, “Oh, he’s so cute, he’s ugly!” And the list goes on – short lifespan, really heavy breather, a snorer, and fast eater. People even say English Bulldogs aren’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. Poor Bubba has a lot of labels!

Stop and Think of Your Labels

I want to hit the pause button on my Bubba story and ask you to think about what your labels are. What labels have you put on yourself or have others put on you in your life? Keep that in the forefront of your mind, because I’m going to come back to it later in this article.

Now, back to Bubba’s story…

Putting Bubba’s Labels to the Test

I was aware of Bubba’s labels, and I felt it was my job to bust this myth about bulldogs. Bubba became part of the Meister family, which is a very active family. Bubba’s “labels” just wouldn’t do.

Step one in my plan to bust the bulldog myth: walking. Here I have Bubba, this funny-faced dog, and I decide that I want him to be part of this family that is always on the move. We move fast, exercise, and take care of ourselves. Part of taking care of myself is taking walks. I’m known to walk really fast, so here I get Bubba and put this noose around his neck. I think this dog is going to walk next to me and follow me because I don’t want him to have this crazy label of being lazy, fat, or out of shape.

I figured, he’s young. I can get him to do what I want. He has this noose around his neck and I start walking down the block. And what do you think happens to Bubba? He braces himself with all four feet and pulls back. He refuses to walk. Now, no one had told me that bulldogs have another label – stubborn.

I’m coaxing him, “Come on, Bubba. Let’s go.” He’s pulling one way. I’m pulling the other way, and I think to myself, “This dog is not doing what I want!” I give in and say, “Okay, this is done. We’ll try tomorrow because we’re going to practice this, Bubba.”

The next day arrives and I put a noose around Bubba’s neck again. I pull him as hard as I can, and he pulls back as hard as he can. He wins again.

3 Ways Labels Keep You Stuck in Life

Bubba taught me some important lessons from our “walks” that I want to share with you. Bubba isn’t aware of the labels human beings have put on him. Labels are irrelevant to him and his behavior proves that. As humans, we are aware of the labels society puts on us and they matter to us. But those labels are holding you back. Here are three ways labels are negatively affecting you:

1. Expectations

I learned that Bubba has the ability to do anything when he’s not pushed. I was putting my pressure, the way I think, and my expectations of how I thought Bubba should behave on him. He has no idea that there are labels on him that he should want to break. He’s content.

Labels come with expectations. One cannot live without the other. Whether the labels were created by you or by others and whether the expectations are yours or other people’s, they’re holding you back. Imagine what you could accomplish if you broke free of those labels and the expectations that come with them.

2. Resistance

I was pulling and pulling Bubba and he was resisting against what I wanted him to do. Slowly, I was able to get Bubba as a practice to move with me, but what Bubba taught me is that he has his own way. He’ll walk, but he walks slowly. He’ll walk, and when he sees friends, he’ll stop to say, “Hello.” He’ll walk, and when he breathes too heavily, he’ll take a breath – a long, deep breath.

Our natural reaction to labels and the expectations that come with them is to resist because we feel like we’re being pushed. Like Bubba, if we’re not pushed, we can do anything. Until you can break free of labels, you’ll constantly be resisting and you’ll be stuck in life.

3. Living Others’ Stories

Every one of us is born with a clean slate, but in time, we take on the habits and patterns from our families, from our jobs, our spouses, children, and the outside world. We begin to live other people’s stories based on the labels that we put on ourselves and that others put on us throughout our lives. We’re never that clean slate again.

We’re not living our own stories because our truth is there and our brilliance is underneath all of the labels we’ve collected over the years. We’re stuck and our own selves can’t come out. Until you shed your labels and stop living others’ stories, you’ll experience negatives effects on your physical and emotional wellbeing.

Your Lesson and Next Steps

Things didn’t work out exactly how I thought they would with Bubba, but he taught me something profound in my life. When you can actually take your labels off and begin to practice being naked in who you really are, that’s the place where life happens.

Stay tuned for my next blog post where I’ll teach you how to get unstuck from the labels once and for all!