My Deepest Regret

flickr, TRF_Mr_Hyde


What would you think of a woman who spent the last 20 years of her life feeling like a complete fraud?

That’s what I felt like for the 20 years before I met you.

I know that “fraud” is a pretty strong word, but, to me, it doesn’t really overstate the deep shame and angst I felt because I knew, in my heart of hearts, that I was supposed to be using my gifts to serve others, but FEAR held me back.

For twenty long years – since a year after my daughter, Grace, died – I knew that my “job” in life was to help other women overcome difficulties, get clear about what they REALLY wanted, and show them exactly how to do that.

I was supposed to help other women rise.

But I was afraid.

When I tell you the story, you’re going to think I was nuts, because the truth is that every time I put the least little effort into my “Big Dream,” HUGE blessings came to me AND the women I worked with.

Those blessings scared me to death.

Example:  The year after Grace died, I realized that lots of other people needed to know what I knew about how to harness the transformational power of loss and suffering.  I knew that they needed it, because it didn’t exist.

When my baby died, there was no clearly outlined method to show people who suffer how to Triumph Over Adversity.

And so I created one.

And then, I started to teach it.

And, within months, I was being flown across the country to unbelievable places staying in gorgeous hotels and sharing the platform with really, really cool people.

And then I got scared.  It got too big too quick.  So, I made some excuses about not wanting to be away from the kids . . . and I quit.

1993:  I shut the door on possibility.

A few years later, I regretted that choice to quit, but I still wouldn’t let myself have the full dream.  So, of course, I went back to school.

I’ve since learned that many women mask their fear of failure (success?) by deciding they need additional credentials before they begin.  And so, instead of building their dream, they go learn about how others do it.

But, as they say, no learning is lost.  And, now I DO have a Masters Degree (with highest honors, of course) in the academic study of “What Makes People Thrive.”

For the nerds among you, it was an interdisciplinary examination of why some people triumph, and how to instill those traits in other people.

In other words, I know my stuff.

Anyway, at school, my graduate writing professor — who won the Pulitzer Prize, by the way — was one of those professors who was very VERY stingy with praise.

At the first day of class, he glared at us and said most of us were really going to stink at being writers and then he bemoaned about how we would suffer through our final projects, but then allowed that, nevertheless, every once in while something good came across his desk and, if by some freakish event, it happened to be our work, he would send it along to his friends at The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Then he told us not to get our hopes up – it had only happened three times in the 40+ years he had been a teacher.

Mine was the 4th.

In fact, on the last day of class, he pulled me aside and said to me, “You are the most gifted student I have ever taught.”

This from a writer who won the PULITZER PRIZE!

And so, of course, I did what any rational person would have done when they heard that kind of compliment from one of the greatest in her craft.

I quit.

Yep.  I put down my pen . . .  and I did not write again for TEN LONG YEARS.

2000:  I shut the door on possibility.

Eleven years later, that regret just kept building and building.  Finally, I just couldn’t stand being mad at myself anymore.

And you all know the rest.

That was the weekend I ran away from home to find myself.  And that was the weekend I resolved to get over my bad self and have my actual and complete shitz together by my 50th birthday.

And, that is how we got Life After Tampons.

I waited so long to get past my fear and get on with my dream that I had to AGE UP the women I serve by a whole generation!

And that’s why you are reading Life After Tampons instead of “Mothers Who Want Other Shit, Too.”

I’m so very sorry.  I should have been here for you sooner.

But, enough with regrets!  We live in the solution here and, for us, here is what the solution looks like in just eighteen short months:

Life After Tampons now helps women in 147 different countries.  My book, which is ironically titled, Breakthrough:  How to Get On with It When You Can’t Get Over It, has created a breakthrough for more than 5000 women in just a few short months!

Here’s the point – we each have a story.  We each have a Cinderella Dream that seems impossible when we’re sweeping the cinders of our day-to-day obligations.

But, if you want, all of that is about to change.

Please join us.  Everything you see at Life After Tampons is designed to help women who want to make a bigger difference with their lives show up with the clarity and tools to do so.

You don’t NEED a twenty-year beginning.  In fact, I’ve dedicated the rest of my professional life to giving any woman who wants to change her life the tools, support, community, and teaching to do so.

Here’s what to do next:

1.  If you haven’t already done so, please sign up here to join our community (and get insider access to all the tools I’m creating for Beautiful You.

2. Consider if you’re ready to get there quicker.  If so, here is information about I could help you custom-make your own midlife reinvention vision.

Welcome to Your Midlife Insurrection(TM)!

Love, Jen

photo: TRF_Mr_Hyde

17 Responses to My Deepest Regret

  1. Liz Maskin says:

    Loved reading this – you have given me the gift of hindsight!

    • Jennifer says:

      Indeed. What mitigates it, though, is when I can help another woman get off the fence and get involved in her own life again.

  2. Pingback: What’s Your Excuse Today? | Life After Tampons

  3. Lyn Preston says:

    Dear Jennifer,
    I lost my teenage son in 1992 and it still amazes me how much more depth that tragedy has added to my life.

  4. Tameka says:

    You are awesome!!! I met you yesterday at the Sterling event and I absolutely LOVE you. Thank you for your work and your writing is absolutely engaging. Thanks!

  5. Kristen says:

    So excited to have been led to your site. It is great to hear your story and your strong encouraging voice. I am ready to share my talents with the wider world, I know I have crucial information that people are looking for, I know the time is now and I’ve begun creating the content but I am so scared to raise my hand and step forward as an expert. I too only regret the things I didn’t do because fear held me back. Can’t wait to dive in with community and kick myself into gear.

  6. Marie Palluotto says:

    I did what you did Jen. And I shot myself in the foot.. Repeatedly. I would strive to be the best I possibly could. And when the reward was offered. I quit. I hid. I went underground. And I sold out my gifts by belittling them. I have learned to say, “thank you.” It has taken a very long time. Twenty eight years in fact..

  7. Jan says:

    I just joined your community and so far, I’m loving everything that I’m reading. It is inspirational and makes me uncomfortable, all at the same time. I have gifts – I know this – but other people see them better than I. When I get a glimpse for myself, historically, I’ve run the other way as fast as I can. Today I (we – my DH and I) are struggling more than we should be. Part of it is him – and I can’t change that. But the part that is me I can change. I keep coming back to what I do, what I am, who I am, and I’m hopeful that I will succeed and be happy and help everyone I want to help. Thanks for this – I’m hopeful that this will help me and help me make my way every day.

  8. Jennie says:

    Jen, I coulda written your words mySELF. This hit the bullseye…

  9. Dear Jen,
    Thank you. I turned 40 late last year, and I have been suffering with ongoing vertigo for 2 years, which has changed my life completely. Work hasn’t been a realistic option as it usually is thought of. I had been predominantly working for myself as a music tutor and then yoga teacher at the same time, since before my children (now 19 and nearly 15). A life, too, of caring for young people in care settings. Partly because I know how important it is. Partly, because I was afraid of the ‘more’ I knew I wanted to do. I kept to the ‘safe’ (and not well paid) options.
    What you have written in your post resonates so deeply with my own experience. Feeling fraudulent. Knowing there’s SOMETHING I can help others with (still working out what and how) in real and direct ways. Feeling so afraid. My physical condition amplifies that A LOT. It’s so good to know I’m not alone in my experience, and I’m ready to embrace the next stage of what I have to offer the world. I’m terrified, but ready to be a more true version of myself, within a more true calling. Thank you for what you have chosen to do. So grateful xx
    PS This illness has allowed me time to really explore my sense of identity, particularly through the medium of painting. I have been able to study Shiloh Sophia McCloud’s Color of Woman method of painting, which has been deeply healing, and has brought me toward my life long desire to live life as an artist AND help people through this wonderful technology. Sorry if this writing is disjointed- the vertigo affects my thought process and my ability to read/write easily on computer screens!

  10. I’m late to the party but enormously grateful to be invited.
    Wonder where we women absorbed the behaviour of sabotaging our own forward movement and happiness?

  11. Amanda Doss says:

    I love your posts, and you. These are wonderful words of wisdom to women. Keep going!

  12. Trish says:

    I have honestly forgotten this story but I probably resonated with it so much that I have ended up looking to you for business coaching! Thanks for the honesty and integrity in your story.

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