Jane Enright on positivity, inspiration, and landing ‘Butter Side Up’

Jane Enright, author of 'Butter Side Up'. (Courtesy of Kristi Hughes)

Jane Enright, author of Butter Side Up, says that though her journey was extremely difficult at times, she managed to stay positive, which is why she wanted to write a book to help give others the tools they need to ‘land butter side up.’ 

“Even though we cannot make sense of it sometimes,” she shares, “I believe that everything happens for a reason.” 

As Enright sat down to write Butter Side Up, she expressed how she’d anticipated it to be a difficult task as it required her to relive challenging life events. 

Since it is a true story about Enright’s life and her ability to navigate life-altering challenges that came her way in the span of 12 months, she knew it would be a challenge. But it was one she was determined to see through.

“When I sat down to write the first chapter, I cried for a good 45 minutes, then I just wrote.” Through that persistence, Butter Side Up was born. It was much like carrying a child,” she says.

Enright says she had found small bits of encouragement along the way as she dealt with serious and life-altering events in her own life. “I was an ordinary person,” she says. “I have also been through, and survived, three extraordinary life-altering events in the span of 12 months and come out the other end better than I was before. Along the way, I experienced and witnessed a lot of sudden traumatic and dramatic changes in my own life, as well as other’s lives.” 

Positivity is one major factor that allowed her to come through life’s challenges better than she was when she began.

“Mastering the art of positive thinking when you don’t know what the next five minutes might bring can be challenging.” says Enright. “Throw in some catastrophic change like a pandemic and we are naturally all waiting for the other shoe to drop.” 

Much of what she speaks to in her book can be applied to our current situation. She explains that it’s not realistic to expect yourself to be positive all the time, but striving to be as positive as you can be can give you an advantage during times of extreme stress. 

Positive thinking “helps us respond to the ups and downs of life, rather than react to them. It supports us to move forward, not backward, while change plays out. The first step towards positivity and successfully navigating change of any kind, especially rapid unplanned change, is acceptance.” 

Acceptance is tricky, for many of us, because we believe that it somehow means we are okay with what is going on around us. However, that isn’t exactly the case.

“This does not mean you have to be happy about a situation like a pandemic,” Enright says. “Rather, it means to move forward, not backward. One has to try and accept that change has occurred, not resist or deny it. Regardless of the magnitude of the event, acceptance helps us reduce the emotions of the situation (fear, anxiety, sadness), and encourages our minds to shift to the more positive end of the spectrum. When this happens, we become more flexible and open to change and are better equipped to find clarity of thought and solutions when we need them.”

Looking at the lighter side of life — humour and humility — keeps her grounded during difficult times and is how she finds inspiration within extreme circumstances. 

“Stuff-with-four-letters-ending-in-T happens to everyone — it’s how you handle it that matters.” She adds how vital it is that we treat others with kindness and respect at all times in life, and to “believe good deeds always come back to you.”

Though Enright admired writers and authors, she didn’t always want to become one of them. “Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I could, or would write a book — especially after a life-altering head injury,” she says. Yet, nine months after she started writing, she had Butter Side Up. A book that at its core has shown the author’s determination and persistence.

According to Enright, the two tenets to maintaining an optimistic viewpoint are mindfulness and gratitude.

“Mindfulness is a tool that can help support us during stressful times. Taking things one day at a time and staying in the present can help reduce depression about the past and anxiety about the future,” Enright says. “Begin each day with intention and gratitude. There is always something to be thankful for, even if it is as simple as the sun is shining, you have food to eat, and you are healthy.”

While we may have regrets regarding moments in our lives that we wished we handled differently, Enright explains that she believes there are no mistakes in life — just lessons.

About the Author

By Kaila Gallacher

Arts Editor

arts@excal.on.ca

Kaila is a poet and writer in her fourth year at York, studying Creative Writing and the Humanities. As well as being the Arts Editor, she is Editor-in-Chief of the Artichoke, a student-run magazine out of Winter’s College. She is passionate about highlighting the arts community here at York and in Toronto as a whole. She is particularly interested in how art can be a mode of expression and how it can inspire personal, social, and political change. When Kaila's not reading, writing, or editing she is an avid hiker and photographer.

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