My Boy is Leaving

photo23 days. But who’s counting?

Um. I am.

Seventeen years, eleven months, and one day ago, God gave me the most precious gift of my life – again. Oh, it feels like five minutes ago that Avery Scott Williamson, my second son, was given on loan to me for this first part of his journey.

Right away, there was a special connection. If he had spent some time in the hospital nursery, I would “feel” him needing me and be walking down the hallway just as the nurses were wheeling him to me from the other direction. After the 4th or 5th time, they would just shake their heads in wonderment.

Me, too.

He was an exhausting baby. He never slept. (Who does this sound like, mom?) She would tell me that I just had to nap whenever he mercifully decided to close his eyes for the 10 or so minutes he did a day. Of course, this always happened next to the pineapples at the Safeway.

And, oh my gosh, he is absolutely the most clever person I have ever known. Back to that not-sleeping thing: He had this habit of getting out of bed every night and needing to start the whole “go to bed” thing over and over again.

When he was THREE YEARS OLD – on the night before his 4th birthday, I said to him, “Now, Avery, tomorrow you are going to be 4-years old and that means you’re getting to be a big boy now. I think you are old enough now for the responsibility of staying in bed at night. So, since all privileges come with responsibilities, if you break your responsibility and get out of bed tonight, you need to bring me a privilege to trade.”

I talked to all of them that way. My strategy was to just keep them stupefied on “Big Words and Supper,” but, of course, that strategy only went so far. They all had amazing vocabularies by the age of 8 or 9 and were especially gifted young debaters.

Oh, well.

So, anyway, I explain the new “big boy” rules to Avery and he assured me that he understood them and that was that and off to bed he went.

Ten minutes later, Avery comes out to the living room.

“Mom, I need your help with something,” he says.
“Okay, Avery, I want to help you, but first you need to surrender your privilege because you got out of bed.”
“But mom,” he doggedly continues, “this is important. I need to know what socks to wear tomorrow.”
“Well, socks are important,” I stupidly answer, “but first you need to surrender your privilege because we made a deal and you broke it. So what privilege to do you want to surrender for getting up?”

“Um,” he pretends to think about it. “Using my bed?”

Yep, THREE YEARS OLD, and this is how crafty and funny and clever this boy was. What could I do but kiss him all over his beautiful little face?”

There was no disciplining Avery. You couldn’t really take away any privileges because Avery is decidedly unattached to anything. He can make himself happy anywhere under any conditions with absolutely nothing on hand at all.

At a family reunion when he was five, he had all the 80-year olds playing some game in the banquet hall that he invented with his favorite toy – a tiny little broom – and a ball.

I realize as I share these stories with Beautiful You, that I’m breaking my own rule just a little bit, cause here at Life After Tampons we don’t really talk about our partners and our children because we keep the focus on ourselves. Truly, where else do you go in life where you get the socially-approved permission to give yourself the gift of your own life?

But I am sharing this with you because, as my nest continues to empty, it does impact my own personal journey quite a bit. These last two weeks, I’m finding it extremely difficult to get “my” things done. I don’t want to write. I don’t want to be with people.

I don’t want to do anything but sleep, and then sleep some more.

This is always a warning sign for me because I’m not a sleeper. My good friend told me this morning that she also suspects that my inertia isn’t just because my grief that Avery is leaving, but also all the grief underneath it.

The baby that didn’t grow up. The divorce and the way that ripped all of our lives apart in a way that can never be reclaimed. That had so many repercussions – my eldest son moved in with his dad in the middle of his Junior year of high school, so he had already left before he left.


So much sadness wrapped around so much joy.

I always underestimate the complexities and subtleties of my grown-up life. I’m not really equipped for any of this. And yet, again and again, I find that I must be. There is still one son who needs me and deserves his turn. There is that delicious Italian who wants a LOT of me. There is beautiful you.

Oh, how in love I am with Beautiful You. Truly truly truly, you cannot know.

So, I soldier on. I don’t really know how to do this – this leaving thing. Every other time – losing my father when I was 11, the daughter who died, the surprise divorce, the son who left early – the change was thrust upon me.

Suddenly, someone I loved was ripped from me.

But this time, it is the longest goodbye. And I am so very very proud of this man who is my son. So very very proud.

When I started this journey with you two and a half years ago, I didn’t know where we were going. I have a much clearer idea today, and I’m going to share more about that with you next time we connect.

But what I do know is this: The only way out is through. (click to tweet)

The journey is what matters. We don’t get to see the whole plan at once. Every morning, one day at a time, we simply rise and do the best we can to point ourselves in the direction of what feels like the rising sun.

And, we stay in touch with ourselves and each other along the way. Please tell me, love, how are you doing? What do you need next? How can I support Beautiful You.

I’m gonna have some extra time on my hands in just a few weeks, and it’s all yours, love. I am all yours.

With Devotion,
Avery’s Mom

P.S. In just over a week, we start a new chapter over in the Chapters Program. Our theme for the month of August is “Insisting on Happiness” and I’m creating a “Sunshine Manifesto” for our Chapters members. I’d love it if you’d join us. Here’s where you go to register.

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Okay, It’s Gone Too Far


flickr, Guilherme Yagui

Okay, it’s gone too far.

I simply cannot go this long without solitude.  If you’re game, let’s spend the day quietly together.

Wherever you are, take a moment, take a deep breath in and then let it go. When you are ready, I would love to hear from you today about how you would use your next block of solitude.

Would you take a nap?

Read a book?

Work on a project?

In our Wisdom Circle comments below, let us know where you’re from, where you’d like to go to be alone, and what you’d do when you get there.

I’ll go first.

See you in the Circle.

Love, Jen

P.S. Our Chapters program is off and flying!!!! If you want to work on your life in a quiet, purposeful way, please join us. Info and Registration HERE.

Photo: flickr, Guilherme Yagui

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Because Punctuation is Spiritual: God, bless America.

flickr,  lotherington


God, bless America.

I added the comma and the lowercase “b” because, without them, it seems like we are making a demand of god, rather than approaching god with the humility of a people who have already received so much.

In my case, I also use the lowercase “g” because I personally honor the best of all faiths; and, because of my good fortune to be an American, it is not only my Constitutional right to believe this, but also to add voice to my belief.

Imagine that!

Now that I think of it, god, I don’t need any more blessings. (click to tweet)

I’m all set here.

Please pass by me today, and move right on to others with real needs.

I am so very grateful to both god and country for the undeserved grace I have received for no reason other than the ridiculously random place of my birth.

We are so very fortunate, my good people. It seems ridiculous that, in times of stress, it is so easy to forget that.

So, today, as we rightfully express our pride in this great nation, let us remember with humble appreciation that god has already blessed America.

And then, as individuals and as a nation, let us do what we ought with this blessing:

Pass. It. On.

photo: flickr, lotherington

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In Case You Forgot to Show Up for Yourself

flickr,  istolethetv

It’s the first day of the month. It’s the first day of the second half of the year. It’s the first day of the rest of your one beautiful life.

Are you where you want to be?

Whether you’ve thought about it or not, Today, we begin to write a new chapter in the story of our lives.

Lots of chapters have come before. Unfortunately, I missed quite a few. They flew by, and I simply forgot to remember not to forget to remember to POINT myself somewhere.

I’m afraid I was rather aimless about the whole thing — asleep at the wheel. I missed the opportunity to direct myself a little better, so that where I ended up was a little bit closer to what I really wanted out of life.

I allowed my choices and responsibilities to be in charge and kinda sorta completely run me ragged for quite some time.  In other words, I have dozens of chapters that have come before this one — but so many of those are filled with blank pages.

I didn’t know that I could live with INTENTION. I didn’t know how to show up for myself. I certainly didn’t respect the value of small, steady incremental change.

The mistake that I kept making was looking for SWEEPING change, and, even though I’m a pretty smart and hard-working cookie, I just couldn’t make any headway on my life in bursts of grandiose declarations.

Now, I’m gonna give myself a heaping dose of mercy about all of that. I now see that I grew up in an age where “BIG” was celebrated. We were trained to think of success in those terms.

Do you remember how it was back in the 70’s and 80’s? Everything was big. Big hair, big dreams.  It seemed like everything was over the top.

And along with that, was a really outsized unspoken responsibility. Yep. For those of us raised and educated in those years, we were taught that “anything was possible” as long as you were willing to work for it.

There was also an unspoken responsibility to grab for more, if for no other reason than that we had to “make up” for the lack of educational and professional opportunities for our foremothers. They laid the groundwork. We “owed” it to them to “have it all” since we were the first generation of women afforded that opportunity.

And, honestly, it was fun. It was heady. It was rush, rush, rush, from one achievement to the next. Collecting things — ribbons, accolades, mates, children.

We were the “upwardly mobile” generation.

I was swept away by it all, just like everyone else. I’m not sure when it was that things started to change for me internally. I remember thinking that I was working too hard for what I was getting. Plus, what I was getting wasn’t doing much to fill a growing “hole in the soul” that I just couldn’t ignore.

And — this is harder to confess — but I never quite got over my “outsider” view of life. It looked like you all had cracked the code on the abundance hunt and I just kept switching directions and running from one wrong choice, one false idol, to the next.

I felt like everyone else was “getting it” while I was kinda sorta completely an impostor in the game of winning at life. I realize now I compared my insides to everyone else’s outsides and, of course, I always came up short in the comparison.

And I was so tired of it all. Oh my gosh was I sick of it!

Tired of the smiling — lord, I’m so sick of smiling in groups of women. “Oh, yes, your little Johnny is just so extraordinary.” Blah, blah, blah blah. Write insipid holiday letter full of surface success but devoid of the real truth behind the smiles.

The smiles that hid the broken marriages.

The smiles that hid deep financial worries.

The smiles that hid severe family problems like addiction, affairs, and one-dimensional joy.

Yep, I’m guessing  you know what I’m talking about.

One day, though, the strangest thing happened. I had already become pretty comfortable with not caring too much what you thought of me. But I now became completely comfortable with not caring too deeply what I-I-I thought of me.

I noticed a profound self-acceptance that was completely new.

I stopped torturing myself. I stopped dwelling on my shoulda, coulda, woulda’s of life.

Oh my how I’d like to have those days back now — those years of empty blank chapters — those years I can’t even remember.

What would I write in them today? What would I have created?

Well, there’s no going back. The past is only good for two things — to learn from and enjoy.

So, if you also have some regrets, here’s what’s absolutely AWESOME about that: Your regrets POINT YOU to where you need to go next. When you look underneath of them, you can see the kernel of truth and wisdom in every regret. And now, imagining something different, you simply go and live your life as if you have overcome that loss.

You examine the regret. Then you LIVE THE OPPOSITE.

Yesterday, we finished our first 30-Day Reclaim the Sass challenge.

HUNDREDS of women from all over the world worked in a perfectly imperfect way to move their lives forward.

Here is what one Sass Challenger had to say about her experience:

The Reclaim the Sass Challenge is one of the BEST things I have done for myself in a long time. Through her daily videos and other printable materials, Jen gently woke me up to areas where I could make effective changes in my life; to live more fully and to be more authentically ME. Sometimes it was as simple as new lipstick or a fresh hairstyle, while other times I was challenged to dig deep and make some honest realizations about my life and the stories I tell myself. After only 30 days I am happy to say that I feel more alive, more in control, and more connected to my life. I definitely feel more “sassy”. By learning to focus on the positive and scavenge for joy, I am finding reasons to smile more everyday! — Sandy F.

I want to celebrate all the women (plus Sam) who gave themselves the gift of moving forward. I so look forward to meeting you again in September. In the meantime, I have created the Chapters program for women who want to lumber along with us, creating a joy-filled and joyful life one small Chapter at a time.

Chapters is a program that nearly any woman can afford. Basically, for the cost of one monthly lunch with a friend to gripe about your life situation, you could be working with an amazing group of women (plus me) to change it.

If you have made it this far in this essay, I want to thank you. Yep. Beautiful You. For your beautiful heart, for your beautiful attention and intention.

Thank you for allowing me to live my dream: to bring hope and solutions that work to any woman who feels stuck and really truly wants to find her way home to herself.

If that is Beautiful You, welcome. And know this: I will move heaven and earth to create a pathway home for you. I think the Chapters program is the best place to begin. I invite you to check it out, and, if it feels right, join us.

Much love,

P.S. Here is the link to join our next Reclaim the Sass Challenge. We start September 1. It’s free, by the way, cause you’re priceless.


Photo: flickr, v

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