How You (Likely) Got into This Mess


You know what’s cool about writing?
You can say anything – as long as you don’t care what your reader thinks.

You know what’s also cool about writing?
Being read.

So, as you can see, there is a conflict there.

Every time I write something for Beautiful You, I try and be as genuinely myself as possible. The problem with that is that, sometimes, some of you aren’t going to dig what I’m saying.

And I know that in advance.

I know the parts that are going to make some of you cringe, or balk, or hit that “unsubscribe” button with a vengeance.

And, I’m going to miss you, cause I gotta say what I gotta say.

But here’s the thing: writing is a lot like life in that, to attract and retain the “right” tribe around you, you need to be a little – okay very – brave.

When you are inauthentic, especially if you’re a pretty good actor, you are going to attract friends and jobs and partners that dig the “you” you are presenting. The you that isn’t you.

Then, you are trapped.

You have to keep pretending to be the inauthentic version of you you’ve presented, or else you might be alone.

When you were behaving inauthentically with people, you were actually making a deal with them – a sort of social contract.

You were saying, “Here I am. This is who I am. Let’s be friends, lovers, coworkers and hang out.”

See what happened here? Beautiful You was the one who kinda sorta completely lied – even if you didn’t know you were doing it at the time.

But now, time is growing short.

Many of us want a New Deal.

So, what to do?

Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about next.

Stay tuned.


photo: flickr, Joker

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When Different Dreams Came True

avery, reading at coffee shop

So, I’m at West Virginia University to see my son awarded an English scholarship for all his hard work.

I’m so proud.
AND it’s pushing all my buttons.

You see, thirty-three years ago I was here, too. Graduated at the top of my class. Thought I was gonna rule the world.


So I’m struggling with such mixed emotions – pride for my son, sorrow that things turned out differently for me than I thought they would.

I don’t know what I think I coulda shoulda done better. At the very least, I raised three amazing boys.

But, I’m divorced, and often tired, discouraged.

I have you beautiful people, and, right now, that is the one consistently bright spot in my life. Life After Tampons has been a complete victory for me, though it didn’t become the “empire” that I’d hoped it might.

It’s just that being here, in the place where life began for me is so emotional. I watch my son working HARD. He’s got a job and is carrying a shit-ton of credits. He’s got a lovely girlfriend and is working with other kids to start new arts initiatives in the area. He’s a DJ for the school radio station.

Here’s what my college resume looked like: up to 23 credit hours a semester, music scholarship, first chair in the orchestra, first in my marketing class, 5 honor societies, the Board of Student Government.

And yet, where is the career hoopla?
It probably didn’t help that I entered and left the job market a couple of times – to make and raise babies, to start Life After Tampons.

One of the tricky parts of this age is the Coming to Terms with so much of what hasn’t happened and what did . . .

. . . with broken marriages
. . . with work as it really is
. . . with long-forgotten dreams

But there is so much beauty, too . . .

. . . in the legacies we have created
. . . in the memories we have made
. . . in the love that we have shared

It’s a very complex and complicated time.

And so I graduated at the top of my class – right here in West by-God Virginia. And the empire I thought I would create didn’t happen. But I’ve come back to see my son work toward the top of his own world.

And the beat goes on.


photo: mine

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So, I Made a Mistake with My Hair

flickr, John Haslam

So, I made a mistake with my hair.

You know how you know you made a mistake with your hair?
Nobody says a word.

Okay, a couple of people said something, but they were both the young spritely elfin beauties at the coffee shop – they’re always kind.

Sometimes I resent it.

You know what I mean.

So, I made a mistake with my hair. It’s darker, now.
I like the cut, sort of shorter in the back to a longer front thing. That’s pretty classic.

But I think the real problem with my hair is that I’m not thin yet.

You know what I mean.

Now I think the real problem with not being thin yet, is that I’m getting (have already passed?) that stage where I’m kinda sorta invisible to the world.

Which may be why nobody noticed my hair.
Or, it might be because I made a mistake with it.

Anyway, the real problem with being invisible is that it happened so suddenly. (That might be the weight, which also happened suddenly.)

Or, it might just be that I’m 54 now and that’s the way of the way of the world.

There sure is a shit-ton of acceptance that has to happen at this age.


photo: flickr, John Haslam

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When People Want You to Be Different


sprout creative

Lordy, does this one get old!

When you’re going through the “go throughs,” a whole of stuff is in play at the same time. Something in your life is painful, you can’t find the edge of the thing, so you can’t see your way around it, time marches on, you get impatient, that adds to your pain, and then, other people get impatient with you.

They want you to “be better.”
They want you to “do better.”

But you can’t, cause you’re going through the “go throughs.”

You can’t lose weight any faster than science will allow.
You can’t force your beautiful heart to heal any faster than what time will allow (although you CAN slow things down a bit.)

The way you slow things down for yourself is to continue fighting against your own process. Life wants you to keep moving. Fighting gets you stuck in place.

But anyway, back to those darned people who want you to be different. What should we do about that?

Well, nothing, of course, since you can’t change other people and most of the time you can’t even change yourself.

It’s helpful, though annoying, to try and see things from their perspective. They care about you. They believe they “hurt” for you, though this is really the side of love that edges on codependence.

Nevertheless, codependent or not, it hurts to see the people you love hurt.
But, you’ve already got enough going on, you can’t take their hurt on as well.

So, what to do?

Talk to them. Yep. Stay in conversation. Tell them that you love them, and that you love that they love you. But let them know that you are in the middle of some “thing” and you are doing your best.

If you can, think of ways they can support you. What do you need? You may not know. If this is the case, tell them that, and assure them that you’ll let them know just as soon as you figure it out.

The point is, when you’re going through the go throughs, you need to do whatever you need to do to love and support yourself.

(And by the way, sometimes one tool you can use is to take the focus off of yourself for a while and look for people to help.)

Yep, service is a terrific balm for the self-centeredness that inevitably seeps in when those go throughs show up in your life.

Cause you need a break from yourself, love.

So, when you can, if you can, as much as you can, ask for support and seek to serve.

And go gently.
Because you are a child of the Universe.

You have holy work to do, even when you are not wholly yourself.
Maybe even especially then.

Love, Jen


photo: flickr, Sprout Creative

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