So, As It Turns Out, My Mom is Going to Die

Bonnie Hippie

I know, it takes my breath away, too!

Mom got sick just after Thanksgiving – breathing problems – and a few days later we learned that she has late stage lung disease.

Not to be too irreverent, and, because I know my mom will laugh when she reads this next part, but she’s got some pretty shitty timing.

Thoughtless, almost.

You see, I have a business to run.

And this was “supposed to be” by BREAKOUT year. This was supposed to be my year to SHINE. This was gonna be the year my modest little company, Life After Tampons, transitioned into a GLOBAL MOVEMENT.

As I say, pretty damn inconvenient.

Of course, nobody knows how anything is going to work out, but I feel pretty certain that this is STILL going to be my year to shine.

This is the year that I SHINE as a caring, devoted, and loving daughter. This is the year – if we even get a year – which I devote myself to making memories as well as building my business.

This is the year that I teach my children, who are relatively inexperienced with loss, how to live comfortably knowing that loss is on its way. This is the year we practice BEING HERE. This is the year we really celebrate every moment, every gathering. This is the year we INSIST on happiness.

The future, when it comes, will take care of itself.

As for me, I personally know WAY too much about loss and bereavement. My alcoholic father died when I was just 11 and my own daughter when I was 30.

If I wanted to, I could create a whole life story around death and loss and why I can never succeed in life because people are always leaving me and blah, and blah, and blah, and blah.

But what I KNOW to be true is that I get to create my own story about my life and everything in it. It’s no accident that the tag line over at my site is “Quit Your Bitching. Change Your Life.” (It used to be “You’ll Thank Me for Kicking Your Ass,” but I got bored with that one. Plus, I figure you can kick your own ass anyway.)

Not that that’s a very strategic long-term plan for happiness.

You see, one of the things my mother definitely modeled for me is that We Are Women Who Rise. All these years later, it turns out that that is the connecting thread that weaves together all of the women in our Life After Tampons community, too.

So, my mother is facing a terminal disease. And I am a woman who rises.

I also run a business. And this year, more than any other, I’m going to have a lot less control over my time. (What we’re really talking about here is control over my “free” time, cause a lot of it is still dedicated to my husband and children – just like you, probably.)

Now, here is where I must include the “mother’s disclaimer statement” and aver that, of course, my husband and kids are part of my dream.

But the reality is that women give the first two or three decades of their lives to the dreams of others, and, for most of us, it is only at midlife, that we at long last get a modicum of time, money, and energy to build something just for ourselves.

Except that stuff keeps happening.

And we keep getting pulled away.

And, if you let it, a sense of hopelessness will descend upon you and you will convince yourself that there is no point in wanting your very own thing.

Cause life is just taunting you, right? It gives you just a wee little taste of what might be possible and then reality RIPS IT ALL AWAY.

You can have that version of your story if you want it — I’m through with it so it’s up for grabs.

The thing is, my mom is going to die, but for now she is in really really great shape, all things considering. And, as she says, NONE of us knows what the future holds.

So we keep on living. We keep on trying. We keep on keeping on because the alternative is a living death. We may still be here, but we allow our dreams to die.

And we allow ourselves to lose our enchantment with life.

I will soldier on because she taught me (and expects me) to do just that. And cause she’s doing it and she’s the one who’s sick, after all.

My mom is a Realist. I am too, but I’ve always been the Realist with a Dream.

You can be one, too.


Here’s how it’s gonna be:

We’re all going to look out for my mom, and we’re gonna snap and gripe and bitch at each other on occasion. We’ll probably talk about each other behind our backs. But we’ll also laugh a whole lot until we kinda sorta pee a little bit in our pants.

Blame that on the babies.

Eventually, my mom’s disease will catch up with her, and she will die. (So will I, by the way. And, you know what, love? Your turn is just around the corner, too.)

My ego wants to be famous. My Higher Power wants me to be generous.

And so I will lead and serve and serve and lead. I will do everything I can to love up the people I love, and that includes my community at Life After Tampons as well as my wonderful family.

This may or may not be our “breakout year.” But one thing is for sure, my Life After Tampons community “gets it.” I know that I have built a community of generous, loving, funny women, and you will show me the way.

If you are serious about taking that turn in your own life, if you are serious about building your own personal Revolution, you’re just gonna have to set all your excuses aside and build the damn thing.

And then have the humility to accept the pace of growth that your personal life circumstances will allow.

There is enough. YOU are enough. This day is enough.

Embrace it.

Love, Bonnie’s Daughter, Jen

Photo: Mom, at Swann’s in Piney Point, MD.  Isn’t she beautiful and fun?

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The Thing I Don’t Want You to Know about Beautiful Me

flickr, Sara Williamson

It’s official. I’m a Mall Walker.

Somehow (probably somewhat related to overeating and under-moving), I put on a bunch of weight these last five years.

I can point to lots of reasons, of course.

  • Menopause?
  • Stress?
  • Depression?
  • Medication?

All of these, none of these, plus — to be a wee bit honest — there was also that overeating/under-moving thing.

Maybe that was more of a problem than I thought.

At any rate, all of that is changing.

It’s a process, to be sure. And I’m directing all of the LAT Tools that I have developed over the past few years of working with thousands of you to this new project of mine.

If you’re curious about this process, here’s a good description: The Live Your Song™ Coaching Curriculum

A little while back, I asked you all what you wanted help with and like a ZILLION of you talked about wanting to feel good in your body again. I thought maybe we could do it together.

If you want a partner in your own process, let me know. If enough of you are game, I’ll put together an easy way for us to help each other. To be clear, this would be a workshop for BEGINNERS, or others (like me) who once were pretty fit, but lost their way.

Sign up below for the “Get Fit with Jen” interest list.


Yours in Health,


P.S. If you want to invite a friend or two along on the journey with us, send them to this link: Get Fit with Jen 

photo: Flickr, Sara Williamson

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What Love Looks Like

flickr, Geraint Rowland

This month, in our Reclaim the Sass Challenge, our theme has been “All That Glitters.” A few days into the challenge, my mom got sick. Hospital kind of sick.

Obviously, that doesn’t glitter.

The week before, my son was in the same hospital.

That didn’t glitter, either.

But here I sit at my coffee shop, listening to Judy Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and choking out some words for Beautiful You about my current life situation, how that makes me think of you, and what story I’m going to choose to believe about all of it.

A couple of things:

First, my mom is a rock, a lion among lions. So, even though you know lions get sick, it’s still kind of stunning.

Second, if you want beauty and joy in your life, you’re gonna have to INSIST on it. Cause, girlfriend, there is ALWAYS something going on to convince you otherwise.

There is beauty in the contrasts of life. In fact, there is a handshaking relationship between adversity and grace.

Poet Kahlil Gibran writes,

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;

And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.

And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.

I love how he says that our pain is equal in wonder to our joy if we can keep our heart in wonderment at the daily miracles of life. That has been so very true for me.

Last night I returned from the hospital and had supper with Mr. Delicious and the last of our six boys. We had grilled cheese and soup.

Simple. Elegant. Enough.

Then we changed clothes and headed over to the middle school for our son’s Holiday Band Concert. I was a chaperone and sat there as the young people cavorted and flirted with one another as they waited for their turn to take the stage.

Again, simple. Joyful. Poignant.

This was my LAST middle school holiday concert. I’ve been going to them for nine years. I was very aware of that entire little arc in my life as the kids played their little hearts out.

Completion. Memories. Gratitude.

Afterwards, our little group went out for a scoop of ice cream. Other band families had already gathered there and I relished in the homey rituals of small towns everywhere

Community. Warmth. Peace.

I also thought about our freedoms and sent a prayer for those who have dedicated their lives to keeping the peace for my beautiful people.

Bravery. Principled. Constancy.

And that made me think about all the mothers everywhere who don’t have the same security as I do. And so I said a prayer for them as well

Compassion. Reverence. Deep appreciation.

Interspersed with all these small reflections was the laughter of my son and his friends. Mr. Delicious looked especially fine is his long black coat. I said prayers for him too, because, like my mother, I have always been the “strong one,” and I am so grateful that I have a man in my life who matches me in strength.

Love. Trust. Reliance.

It’s not always an easy dynamic, but we are making our way.

In fact, this Christmas Eve will be our fifth wedding anniversary. This morning, I asked him if he thought five years of marriage is the same thing as five years of sobriety. (It is said that anybody who makes it to five years of continuous sobriety has a 95% chance of surviving alcoholism.)

But he intentionally misunderstood me and says, “Do you mean that marriage is like sobriety in that you intentionally deny yourself all the things you want most?”



“Or, do you mean that, for every 100 days of marriage, you’ll be okay with 95 of them, but the other five you’re gonna want to run like hell the other way?”

We decided to go with that comparison.

Today is one of the 95 good days. Today, I don’t want to run like hell the other way.

From any of it.

In sickness.

In health.

In good times.

And bad.

Through all of it, the difficulties define the grace, the dark reveals the light.

Merry Christmas, dearest Beautiful You.

From my heart to yours.

Love, Jen

photo: Geraint Rowland




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We’re Throwing a Forgiveness Party!

flickr, Chotiwat Lattapanit

My friend, Bill Rickard, says that forgiveness is “relinquishing the right to retaliate.” With that spirit in mind, I’d like to suggest we all work as a community today to acquire the spirit of forgiveness.

In the comments below, share one thing you’d like have forgiven and one offer of forgiveness you can make.

Now here’s the thing – we never improve our lot in life by confessing the harms of others. We are NOT looking for a way to shame or “call out” any other human being.

I think you know what an over-share is – we’re going to try and avoid that. Instead, let’s try and do this exercise with the spirit of generosity and anonymity.

I think we can do it.

Note: Remember that you can forgive yourself, too. That’s always a good place to start.

I’ll go first,

Love, Jen

P.S. If you aren’t a member of the Life After Tampons community, we’d love to welcome you. Enter your contact info below so we can stay in touch with updates and such.

Photo: flickr, Chotiwat Lattapanit

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