You’ll Never Guess Where I Am

chapters

Right now, as I’m writing this, I’m back at my college. I’m actually writing this for you from the cafeteria of my own college student union building — where I crammed for many many an exam.

Yep, 35 YEARS later, I’ve brought my son to his own Freshman Orientation at my alma mater — West Virginia University.

It’s pretty weird, honestly. For more than a year, we’ve been working together on this college application journey and I couldn’t believe it when it turned out that he was going to WVU just like his momma. (He’s majoring in Media and Journalism — yep, another storyteller in the family!)

But there’s been another weird part of all of this. Me. Looking Back!!

I’ve spent quite a bit of time comparing what I thought my life was going to look like with how it has actually turned out.

It’s not that I have regrets. I used to, but finally taking a meaningful turn in my own life (and launching Life After Tampons) took care of any lingering sorrows I had.

It was harder than it should have been though. When I finally DETERMINED that it was MY TURN, I really struggled with clarifying what that meant and then finding a pathway to make that happen.

There was simply no pathway or plan or — well, anything — that worked for me.

Believe me, I looked. If you haven’t figured it out already, I’m a complete nerd. I LOVE books, I LOVE strategic planning, I LOVE all of that. I’ve studied all of that — for years.

I’m a bright girl — kinda sorta “first in your class” kinda bright.  I looked for a path, I bought every book that looked like it would help.

But nobody had created a Comeback Method that actually WORKED for a woman at the middle of her life. Ultimately, I had to cobble together my own path from bits and pieces that I found from all of that research. My research wasn’t all that different from Dr. Frankenstein’s, now that I think about it.

I couldn’t make changes that stick because nothing I was reading was pointing me to my new reality: being bright had nothing to do with it.  I had very real problems with focus, clarity, and pressures from commitments — long-standing commitments like marriage, children, and mortgages, that took huge chunks of time from my efforts to make some headway on my own behalf.

I love all of my people. I’m grateful for all my people. But, by the time I got through with my commitments to my people, I had nothing left.

They say you never step in the same river twice. Well, that’s also true with respect to the mind of a woman at midlife. You never wake up with the same brain twice.

In fact, as it turns out, almost all of the challenges I had ultimately led back to how I THOUGHT about things. Oh my gosh, I didn’t even realize how unhelpful my thinking was.

Three years later, I’m convinced that, while strategy is super-critical, too — creating the strategies that work is only possible when you first work on your midlife mindset.

And it take a while to do that.

So you know what I did? I CREATED a path for us.

Today, I’m announcing our new CHAPTERS program – a year-long program delivered in small monthly Chapters of support. Each month, we will take a deeper focus on one area of midlife mindset.

I’ve created a special page to explain the whole thing to you but basically here’s the gist:

For less than the cost of ONE lunch out a month, you get the tools, support, and strategies you need to change your thinking and your approach to clearing out the wreckage between where you are and where you want to be.

Here’s more about the program: Chapters

My deepest hope is that everything I create for you here at Life After Tampons helps you to make the changes you want to make. It’s all well and good to read and study inspirational stuff. Oh my gosh, how I have benefited from doing just that.

But, it was really a boatload of ACTION that ultimately worked.  Let me know what you need, love.  Let’s work on this together.

Love, Jen

P.S. Here’s the info and registration link.

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Sorrow and Wisdom

flickr, shira gel

We all experience loss. Most of us experience tragedy. And yet some of us shrink from life because of our losses, while some of us seem deepened and even enriched by them.

How can this be?

If loss is a universal experience, why isn’t there a universal reaction? (click to tweet)

Well, likely because choice is involved. When death, illness, tragedy, and injustice find their way to you, you get a choice.

You either get bitter. Or, you get better.

You can’t be both.

All that’s involved is a decision — you simply decide how you want to see the world, and then you practice mindfulness around your loss. You are careful what you tell yourself about your losses, because your brain is essentially stupid and will believe what you tell it.

If you tell your brain that the world is a fearful place and that life has “done you wrong,” your brain will believe that. In fact, it will even help you further that story and it will find even more injustices for you to dwell on.

But, if you decide that your losses, while very difficult to bear, also are symbols of the great joy that you have had in life, then your brain will kick in and reward you with stories of blessings, and gifts, and gratitude everywhere you look.

It’s simple really. What’s a bit shocking is that so many people choose bitterness. I can remember the day I had to make the decision for myself. A few months after my daughter died, I had grown weary of my grief. But I feared giving it up because it felt like my grief was the only little bit of my daughter left.

If I gave that up, was I a disloyal mom?

If I gave that up, could it mean that one 32-minute life really didn’t matter?

If I gave that up, Grace would really and truly be dead – lost to this world.

But, slowly another inspiration dawned. I realized that loss could also deepen you. After loss and after your beautiful work with sorrow, you emerge wizened.

You know things about yourself and life that you could not have known before.

You know that you are strong.

You know that there is a force for good.

You know to notice love more deeply, because now you truly truly know that all love, all life, is temporal.

That knowing is no longer just a theory or story you’ve been told by the wise ones who have come before you.

That knowing is now YOURS. Now YOU are the wizened one, and as a survivor (and thriver) of loss, you take your place among the leaders of your age.

It’s the Spiritual Booby Prize to be sure — this deep and mournful knowing — but it is the essence of the love that remains.

Love transformed by loss is WISDOM. (click to tweet)

.And WISDOM, my love it what it’s about at this point in out lives.

Love, Jen

P.S.  We have a new VIP-Day coming soon especially created for those of you can’t seem to figure out What’s Next and then stick to a PLAN to make it work. If you want an advance peek, go here. 

photo: flickr, shira gel

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Friends Are Overrated?

flickr, Andrew MaloneI’m walking into the solitude cave again — it’s a journey I regularly take especially when I’m in a deep period of writing.

Anyway, when I do this, I read a short prayer and then just start tapping away, writing down my stream of consciousness. Today’s prayer was about “living in the stream of goodness,” and somehow I end up with “friends are overrated.”

Yowza!

My process in this world very much seems to be a dance between two states: connect and then RETREAT. At first, I rail against the retreat, because I fear “missing out.” Then, I LOVE the retreat — the stillness.  All my life, I’ve been a collector of ideas. I love to look at them — the shape of them — and then put them together in fresh or unusual ways. This requires an inordinate amount of solitude.  Then, the retreat starts to feel like a death and it’s time to come back to the world. But, by now, the silence has been so great that the everyday cacophony of life is abrasive and jarring.

I can tell when this cycle is about to start anew. I begin to get deeply dissatisfied with everyday life. I start to notice things that I’m pretending not to see.

 

  • an imbalance in my friendships,
  • a shift in the way my body feels,
  • a deep desire to “escape.”

Eventually, I take notice and then, I take an inventory of what is really going on in my life – I look for the things I’m pretending not to see.

And then, I sit with it.

Then, I go to my dearest spiritual advisors and talk to them about what is and isn’t going on.

Tears are usually shed, but then – mercifully, I feel a shift in the energy of my own little universe.

I face truths, I realign my energy patterns. I pull back from the things that are wearing me down, and I make an intentional retreat to the beautiful soulful solitude that restores and refreshes.

 

Cover me, God. I’m going in there.

 

photo cred: flickr, andrew malone

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In Case You Forgot to Take a Turn in Your Own Life

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This past week, my kid graduated from high school. I also launched a major new program here at Life After Tampons. (In case you missed it, it’s called the “Reclaim the Sass” 30-day Challenge. It’s free, but registration closes on Friday, June 6. Register here.)

Anyway, so my kid graduated, and I created and launched a brand new program, and my dear friend retired from the US Army and that meant I was driving back and forth to a neighboring state for multiple ceremonies and celebrations.

Did I mention that I also launched something completely new??

Yesterday, when it was all “over,” I so looked forward to some much needed “me time.” Except my kid needed a drive to and from work, and my husband wanted help in the yard (that I never got to), and the dogs both needed an unplanned bath after they went lake diving with their poppa.

We all go through crunch periods like this at times. The trouble comes when crunch period connects with crunch period and, when we are really honest with ourselves, we have to acknowledge the truth of things. This is no longer a “crunch period.” Nope. What we are really living in is a tightly controlled chaos that threatens to unravel at any moment – probably the one that would cause the greatest damage possible.

But, you see, I can’t take a break.

I’m on a roll!

And besides, I have to “make up” for last month’s under-functioning. When we get like this, we are living our lives swinging from one pseudo-crisis to another. But we may not see it that way. Instead, we may feel trapped – put upon, even. In our overtired state we may even believe that we just can’t say “no” to anything right now. Our fears tell us that everything will fall apart if we suddenly refuse to agree to honor the unceasing demands of others.

I don’t know.

Maybe things will fall apart. Maybe they won’t.

Maybe what we really need is for the whole thing to crash down a bit, especially if we’ve built what looks like success on the shaky foundation of fear and people-pleasing. (Is that how you spell “people-pleasing?”)

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

How do you know when to say “when?”

Love, Jen

P.S. Registration for our FREE 30-Day Reclaim the Sass Challenge closes this Friday, June 6. Nearly 500 women from around the world are waiting to meet Beautiful You. If you’d like to join us, register here.

Photo Cred: Flickr Edward N. Johnson

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