Discover more from Jenni's Substack
September heralds the start of something new in my book, and so I’ve started this new thing with Substack. If you find this in your inbox, it’s because you previously signed up to my newsletter, hopefully you’re still interested even after a short hiatus. If not though, just hit the unsubscribe button and all will be well!
Starting Something New
Community building takes time, and cannot be rushed or manufactured. I hope that you will feel right at home in this space, that you’ll find these posts interesting and useful. Community takes a bit of two-way communication, so I’m hoping to hear from you.
I don’t know about you but I get rather cheesed off when someone says ‘get in touch and let me know what you think’ and then doesn’t respond, or you get an automatic reply ‘I’m away from my desk and will reply when I return’ I mean, it’s not the auto reply itself that’s the problem, it’s the invitation to start a conversation that goes nowhere. So, you can reply to any of my messages and I promise to read and respond - perhaps not immediately, for reasons that will become clearer as you do get to know me!
This is not a sales funnel - although I will tell you about my work and how you can get involved or support me. You have signed up to a community, a newly-minted, hot-off-the-press, how-does-this-work-again community building experiment! So a very big
THANK YOU from me for doing so!
Getting to know you (& me!)
(Does anyone else hear singing in their heads at this point?)
So you’ll want to know more about me in all my slightly bonkers, wearing of too many hats-ness. In time honoured youth worker tradition let’s play two truths and a lie:
Statement #1 I was born in Glasgow
Statement #2 I have sung in a gospel choir
Statement #3 I used to play table tennis at county level
As I said in my previous message - reply and I will respond I promise! Let me know which one you’d guess is the lie and you could even give me 3 statements about you to guess from :-)
Now, what else is there? I’m a wearer of too many hats:
Wife (married 21 years this year - eek! Here’s a photo of that, in which, ironically, my husband wears a hat and I do not)
Parent (17yo & 14yo boys - we’re in the sloth years - teenagers really don’t like have their photo taken so here’s one from when they were super cute)
I am also a daughter, best friend, youth worker, practice supervisor, author, trainer, church goer, mentor, friend, cancer & stroke survivor, and I live with two additional long term chronic health conditions which make life challenging at times. Hence why I may not be able to respond to your replies immediately. Oh, and as if that wasn’t enough, I recently discovered that I have ADHD!
Talking of which, I think it might be caused by the ADHD, but I often have snippets of songs rolling through my head and writing the subject line for this email brought this one to mind
I have always wrestled with not feeling like I fitted in well, this led to a hive of activity in which I was trying to show that I did fit! It wasn’t good for me and I’m learning more about how to balance life and work and life and more life better now. Having worked with young people or with those who support young people through most of my working life, I want to take those experiences, along with the lived experience of burnout and exhaustion and use it to support those who work with young people now. I’m so pleased you’ve joined me on this journey!
Wellbeing and Balance
I know, it really does feel like we ought to have cracked this by now! And I know that many people who have a faith might say that they have. The answer is ‘simply’ a faith in Jesus or to follow this or that path. The trouble is that even believers in Jesus regularly burnout, or breakdown, or suffer from short or long term health problems that have a big impact on their ability to cope with life.
This one is hard to write because there’s a myth out there that there is the ‘perfect’ way to be a human being. That we can have the perfect balance of doing and being, that it is possible to reach a state that Buddhists call nirvana in which we are not aware of suffering or desire. Christians might call it finding true peace in Jesus.
And maybe, just maybe, these things are possible if you have faith. But for the vast majority of us, whether we hold to one faith or another, we’re all just muddling along trying to figure out how to fit another hour into the day that’s already full of life and work, and life and work.
The myth holds though, especially if we’re always looking for the solution: if I just lose 10lbs things will be easier; if I just get this promotion; if I just had a bigger budget for this youth group; if I could just find more volunteers; if I had more time/money/energy. We all fall into these traps from time to time and I know for myself, it gets worse the busier I get.
So, before we get to rock bottom here, what is the answer? How do we live life without crashing and burning? I should confess here that I’m no expert! I have a lot of lived experience, 48 years and counting, many of those years spent as a member of a local church and doing Christian youth work. But I’m definitely still learning about how to be a human being. There are 3 things which really have changed the way I look at life that are doable by everyone:
Thankfulness - a daily practice of writing down 3 good things from that day will change your life. I promise! It won’t take long before you begin to think in 3’s, and you’ll be searching for those 3 good things all through the day. Share them on social media, tell your friends about it and see if they’ll join in.
Positive Thinking - so many of us have inner critics, voices that pipe up, unwanted and often vicious thoughts. Begin to question them ‘is this what I really think?’, or tell them off gently ‘that’s not actually true because…’ and slowly replace those thoughts with positive statements. This is not forced positivity that overrides what you are actually thinking or feeling, but trying to change or at least challenge that inner voice which can have such an impact on our self esteem.
Knowing Yourself - this one we often need some help with, often because of that inner critic we have a negative view of ourselves. Someone else can help us see what is good in ourselves, they can encourage us to trust our instincts and ability in work and life in general. Learning about our strengths and what we do well can make a huge improvement to our wellbeing and this is what I do. Practice Supervision for youth workers or those supporting young people or children, in order to help you know yourself better.
It’s not the perfect answer, but it’s a starting point. It is the thing that gets me out of bed in the mornings, apart from my alarm, the radio and the habit of getting up to prise the teenage sons from their beds, not an easy task, as you might imagine! If you’re interested in finding out more about how I can help you then click HERE to book a FREE chat with me.
One of the MOST essential things about being a human is that we work best when we are surrounded by others who understand us.
How does this community thing work anyway?
(This is going to be interesting…)
You want the truth? I have no idea. No idea how this community thing is going to work. But I do know I want to try, because I believe that as human beings we thrive when we feel part of something bigger. I also know that many of you working with young people are working on your own with a lot of responsibility resting on your shoulders and often those you report to are not as passionate about young people as you are.
I want to build a community that will help you feel supported and part of something bigger!
There are a variety of ways to do this:
Reply to this email to begin a conversation with me about any of the above. Share this newsletter with your team or other people working with young people who you know.
Become a practice supervision client of mine
Join the Big Questions Book Club, we meet for about an hour each month to discuss the latest chapter or section of the book we’re reading together. The next season of this is starting soon, with Brian Zahnd’s Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God.
Join me on social media: whichever platform you use most often, make sure you like and comment on the posts as they go up so that the algorithm knows you want to see this content more often.
This is Jenni’s Substack.