My life has been touched by some uber amazing women whose passion for life and the way they choose to live it have really inspired me. Some are bloggers, some are not, their lives are all different and they are all special. I feel honoured and privileged that they are sharing their stories and sprinkling a little bit of their awesome right here. May you be wom-inspired!
Meet Jenny Orenstein.
Thyroid cancer and Instagram brought Jenny and I together. She has the most beautiful soul and the biggest heart and her commitment to living wholeheartedly and helping others is just so inspiring. Although young in age, Jenny is an old soul in experience and I’m so pleased she’s part of this series because Jenny is an incredible human.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Jenny, a 31 year old, the youngest of 3 siblings and an aunty to two adorable boys and a beautiful new niece. I live in the inner west of Sydney and spend my time between being a life coach, kinesiologist and counsellor and working in a family business. From the youngest of ages I remember being super sensitive. My mum has told me that even at the age of 3 I would go up to random strangers and know that something wasn’t quite right and say to them ‘don’t worry be happy’.
My heart has always felt so much, both the deep suffering of the world and also the pure potential for joy. It would become apparent that I would very much know in my own world what this encompassed.
Tell us 3 things you are and 3 things you’re not.
I’m a deep thinker (one might say I think too much!),
I’m stubborn at times!
I’m not an extrovert,
I’m not airy-fairy
I’m not one who likes to be told what to do!
Complete this sentence, ____________________ changed my life. How and why?
For as long as I can remember I have always been my harshest critic.
Having battled Anorexia for nearly half of my life, I often felt as though there was a monkey sitting on my shoulder talking, judging, comparing and critiquing me and my life.
When I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer I couldn’t shut out that voice in my head any longer. It all became too much and I remember distinctly the moment I turned against my body. I became so angry that it had failed me and instead of responding to what had happened with love and compassion and holding the sadness and uncertainty about the future with tenderness, the anger towards life and my body grew at a hundred miles an hour. Not long after, I had a full blown relapse of Anorexia Nervosa.
I remember hearing about this concept of self compassion at a conference in Sydney some years before my life took a radical change and thinking to myself what an amazing ‘concept’ it was. However, in my mind it stayed just as that…a concept! It was in treatment in the USA for Anorexia when this concept turned into much more than that and would slowly become the catalyst for deep transformation in my life.
It was in becoming my own parent and building a relationship with myself based on self compassion and love that instead of seeing anxiety, depression, heart ache, vulnerability or sadness as something to be afraid of and banish far away, I learnt to hold it like a tender baby.
To nurture it, soothe it and to respond with what it was asking of me.
After returning to Sydney in 2013 the ‘concept’ of self-compassion was solidified even further as I became divorced and had to build my life from the ground up.
I learnt to become my own best friend and embrace all of life wholeheartedly.
What has been life’s greatest lesson?
There have been so many lessons in my life – where do I even start! To name a few that have deeply changed and impacted my life beyond what I could imagine are –
To always live as my authentic self.
To speak my truth without judgment.
To surrender control.
Always listen to my intuition.
To keep my ‘soul cup’ full!
What is your biggest achievement?
I’d have to say bouncing back and rebuilding my life!
What has been your toughest obstacle and how have you overcome it?
At the age of 15 I was diagnosed with depression and Anorexia Nervosa. After spending many months in hospital and surviving a suicide attempt I knew there was a reason I was still alive. I hit rock bottom and began the journey back to health. Eventually after many years of treatment and walking the recovery path I felt well enough to pursue my true passions. I trained in kinesiology, reiki healing and counseling. I loved my work and the ability to draw on my strength and the wisdom that I had gained at such a young age.
Unfortunately just as everything was going so well, including having a thriving business at the age of 24, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and thyroid cancer.
My whole world came crashing down.
I relapsed with Anorexia and was in the worst state I ever have been. In and out of hospital in Sydney, my body could not take any further stress or illness and I reached the lowest of lows.
Despite physically being in the worst state possible I knew deep in my heart this was not the end of my life. I had to do something drastic and I had to follow my intuition.
I went to the USA for a year to embark on the most intensive treatments ever which saved my life. It was here that I began to build a compassionate relationship with my authentic soul self. As recovery was going strong I also became divorced and came back to Australia to rebuild my life.
As I overcame each of the challenges of my life, I made a pact to build a wholehearted life that had a foundation of self-compassion intact! It became a priority to fill my life with all things that nurtured my soul, lifted me up and supported my health, wellbeing and growth and most of all a deep desire within to one day give back to all those that had helped me on my own healing journey.
The fire within had being lit and it was time now to deeply know the joy that living could entail.
Viktor Frankl says “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.” Everyone needs a purpose, what’s yours?
To be my authentic self and to bring love and light to this world where there is darkness.
What are your words to live by?
The most important relationship that you will ever have is the one with yourself. Build the foundation of your life on self-compassion and respond to your pain like that of a precious baby. Speak your truth without judgment, let go of control, trust that you are being guided and in every moment know that you are doing the best that you can.
If you could have any mentor, alive or dead, who would you choose and why?
I adore Brene Brown. I remember hearing her TEDx talk for the first time when I was in residential treatment in the USA. I was in awe. Her work has deeply influenced my own recovery, finding my authentic self and purpose in this world. Reading Brene’s books is like reading my own words. They fill my soul and urge me to play big in this world. Most of all, they give me strength and courage to continue to open my heart and speak my whole truth.
If you could play hookie for a day what would be on your list to do?
If I could play hookie for a day I would gather all my close girlfriends, watch the sunrise, have a yummy breakfast and coffee by the beach, go to a day spa with amazing delicious food, and perhaps a glass of wine here and there! From there we would dance the night away laughing and enjoying this adventure called life!
You give so much to others, what do you do to take care of yourself?
Self care is such a priority in my life now. I love yoga and meditation and creating rituals in my life that nurture my heart and soul. I have a list of things that fill me up and I make sure that every day I do one of these things. I know that in order to give to the world I have to keep my own energy tank full and most of all listen to my body. After the illness that I have experienced in my life my body has taken its toll, so listening to my body’s signals and helping it back to full health with what it needs has been paramount. For me this includes nourishing food and drink, Chinese herbs, acupuncture and energy healing. I also have a daily gratitude practice that allows me to focus on the things that fill me up and nurture my soul.
Thank you for sharing, Jenny.
Let Jenny inspire you a little bit more…
on the blog
and on twitter