Elizabeth Jane – Free and First: Unlocking Your Ultimate Life

Independently published, Australia, 2023
Cover image by the author, painting entitled Into the Light

The shock of a relationship breakdown after many years of marriage was the catalyst for Elizabeth Jane’s quest to find the things that gave her joy and allowed her to discover the new and more fulfilled self she could be.

Barbie talks to Elizabeth Jane about Free and First: Unlocking Your Ultimate Life

She candidly takes us through her process of discovery, detailing the things that didn’t work (vodka) and those that did (writing, reflection, meditation, painting, making time for self).

The book is structured like a manual and indeed its purpose is both a self-help guide for the reader and a form of catharsis for the author.

Having spent decades devoted to family life and the nurture of children, when things suddenly changed Elizabeth Jane wondered for a while who she really was. She found that she had lost the person she could have been.

Her process was like stepping through the traditionally accepted stages of grief. She clearly sets out the steps she followed and allows the reader to decide if this might be appropriate for his or her own circumstances.

She discusses the setting of boundaries, the taking of opportunities for newness, the value of making ‘me-time’, the benefits of yoga and meditation both as a formal practice and more organically incorporated into the everyday. Communication with trusted friends and simple enjoyment are also discussed.

The book includes reading references, a list of crisis support services and appendices with simple and manageable suggestions for doing things oneself in order to gradually find happiness and a sense of self-love. There’s also a nod to gratitude for one’s blessings.

Throughout the text the author has included her poems and paintings as a way of introducing the various sections. This personalises the work, moving it beyond a guide and into a reflective memoir. We are ever conscious that Elizabeth Jane writes from the heart and from the depths of her own experience.

Elizabeth Jane has been motivated by her desire to help others. She has drawn on her life challenges as an exemplar for action rather than merely an account.

She writes with clarity and honesty, without blame or rancour, offering her readers a warm but logically laid out doctrine, each chapter summarised at its end with a practical to-do list.

Number 30 on her list of self-love practices is to laugh out loud for no reason at all. Why not indeed?

Thank you to Elizabeth Jane for my review copy and for speaking with me about your inspiration and motivation for writing, and the process for finding your ultimate life.