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,
Jennifer

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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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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