Sometimes People Suck: Reprise

David Goehring

A few weeks ago at the coffee shop I overheard a very disturbing conversation.

One of the “ladies” from the Friday morning “Ladies Group” was talking to a friend of mine while her group met. He asked her if she wanted to join her group and she said, “No, I’m thinking about quitting this group. It’s just full of cliques.”

I was so disheartened. The Ladies Group is a circle of women in their 70’s and 80’s who have been meeting at the coffee shop for more than 10 years.

I guess I thought that, at some point, women finally got old enough and wise enough to let go of pettiness when it comes to friendships.

Then, just a couple of weeks later, I was on the receiving end of just that kind of pettiness.

Ugh.

I used to feel somewhat crushed by the meanness and unkindness of other women, but not so much anymore.

Not everyone does her “work” in life.

Not everyone chooses to grow in her own strength and talent so that she is no longer threatened by yours. (click to tweet)

Not every women loves herself enough so that she doesn’t need to perpetuate the middle school BFF phenomenon.

You know what I mean.

If you aren’t secure enough in your own truth, then you might need to tear others down.

If you aren’t secure enough in your own truth, you might need to go around to all your other friends and sully the image of those you feel threatened by.

If you aren’t secure enough in your own truth, you might choose to be silent while the sullying happens.

If you aren’t the one doing the active hurting, it might be easy to tell yourself that you aren’t involved.

But you are.

Tacit approval is approval nonetheless.

Friendship can be difficult. Loyalty can be confusing.

But ANY time you need to exclude someone else or pull someone else down is an opportunity to explore your own truth.

Have you done your work?

Can you stand tall on your own, or do you need a legion of fair-weather friends to build you up again and again and again?

Do you owe allegiance to the wrong people?

Does your circle of “friends” require you to exclude relationships with those outside the group?

It is true that people come and go in our lives, and I suppose that’s the way it’s meant to be.

But the truly strong and compassionate woman can stand in the light of her own truth and move on without tearing another asunder.
 

I am so sick and tired of racism, classism, favoritism, elitism, meanness of spirit, people with false smiles and hidden agendas.

I know it’s human. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.  Or, respond in kind, even though, at times I am certain I do.

Once again, it comes down to this – Let It Begin with Me. Let me look to myself and see where I have been wrong. Let me bring the spirit of love and forgiveness knowing that I so often need it sent my way.

Let me be a better friend. Teach me how to resolve conflict in ways that heal, if possible.

If it is time to “move on,” help me to do so in a way that doesn’t harm others.

Help me to grow along spiritual lines that I may be of better service to those who need me.

Help me to extend compassion to those who are confused, broken, and afraid. Help me to see the brokenness of others just as I see it in myself.

Help me to love better, recognizing that sometimes that means I love you from afar.

Basically, just help me.

Amen.

P.S. I’d so love hear your comments below, but REMEMBER – Life After Tampons is a sacred community of women who Thrive. We don’t need to do so at the expense of others. We aspire to combine truth with kindness. We don’t always hit our mark, but that’s what we aspire to.

photo: flickr, David Goehring

 

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When the Tears Run Dry

flickr, pink sherbet photography

My daughter, Grace, would have turned 23 tomorrow. I don’t know what I’m supposed to feel after all these many years, but this year, I feel – nothing.

My life is so complete now. In fact, I feel richly blessed in every area of my life. Nothing is missing.

Not even the only girl in a family of six sons.

From time to time I’ll feel a little wisp of longing, an echo of a sorrow long ago healed, but today, while the snow is softly falling on our forest home, I feel complete.

It’s important, from time to time, to examine how you REALLY feel about the losses you have accumulated in life. If you don’t, you’re likely to hang on to vestiges of sorrow and resentment and even bitterness that are more habit than reality.

I came from a family that didn’t acknowledge loss. You were supposed to just soldier on. When my baby died, I found that this belief system is pretty prolific in our society.

Just three weeks after the baby died, while I was still lactating for a baby that needed no nourishment, a coworker opined that she was very worried for me that I wasn’t “getting over it yet.”

A family friend’s grown daughter died about that time. When I mentioned that I knew what this other grieving parent felt, my own family member denied my sorrow, “after all, he had 35 years of memories.” In other words, his loss was “greater” than mine.

I can tell you that, had I been granted 35 years of memories rather than 32 minutes, my life would have taken an immensely different trajectory.

For one thing, I’d be giving a party tomorrow.

But even the old hurts offered up benignly by the blithe ignorance of our culture are not enough to drum up any sorrow today.

At some point, we must choose. We must decide.

We either get bitter. Or, we get better. (click to tweet)

And I have chosen “better”.

I actually chose that many many years ago.

When Grace’s three little brothers came along, I so earnestly desired to be the best possible mother to them.

And healthy mothers CHOOSE to heal.

So, instead of perpetuating sorrow on Grace’s birthday, we choose to CELEBRATE the family that remains.

We call our celebration “Family Gratitude Day.” It is always on March 6, though this year we’re taking the entire weekend.

The boys and I – just the four of us – are going to New York City for the weekend. The two eldest came home from college for the event.

If you want to practice your own Family Gratitude Day here’s a basic framework you could try:

  1. Pick your day.
  2. Spend a few minutes (no more than an hour) doing something together to remember the loved one who has moved on. When the boys were younger, we said a few words and dropped tulips into the Tidal Basin. When they were older, we took them to the Children’s Chapel at the National Cathedral. This weekend, we’re going out for birthday donuts.
  3. And then you spend the entire rest of the day partying it up.

We’re going shopping. And to Times Square, of course. We’re staying in our favorite quirky hotel. Check out the Jane Hotel – bunk beds and the most wonderful café in the lobby.

We’re having supper with friends, going to the Modern Art Museum, and spending one evening at a restaurant that has only one item on the menu – Macaroni ‘n Cheese.

I’m sure there will be lots of shopping. New clothes, treats, we’re doing it up big this year.

Other years have been simpler. A ceremony, an arcade, cheese fries, and what not.

I wasn’t sure how the boys would feel about Family Gratitude Day when they were grown. It’s a tribute to them that the two adults are missing school and their friends to hang out with their mom.

I don’t feel sad about Grace. And, looking back, what I feel is great pride – in myself, for inventing a way to teach my children how to grieve (acknowledge, but then celebrate). And I’m so proud of Grace’s brothers.

For the amazing men they are becoming. Kind. Generous, Sensitive. Caring.

And so my daughter’s birthday will come and go. Another year has passed. This year, I don’t even long to know what might have been. .I have been somehow transformed into a woman who puts gratitude at the center of her life.

I’m going to come back to this piece again and again. I’m going to use it to remind myself how I feel on this particular day.

Perhaps you will want to write your own story of love, loss, and gratitude/celebration in the comments below.

That way, on tough days, we can all come back here and remind ourselves that there are plenty of lovely days to celebrate. Quiet, otherwise anonymous days that collectively become the masterpiece of our lives.

Love, Jen

photo: Pink Sherbet Photography

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The Path to Happiness

flikr, evil erin

Have you ever spent time with someone who INSISTS at looking at the dark side of things? Aren’t they exhausting?

(Confession before we go any further – I have, on occasion, been that person.)

I had good reason to be unhappy. If you had had my life back then, you’d have been unhappy too.

Unless, of course, you weren’t. Because you had already figured out what I didn’t know.

But then, I discovered it too. It’s a secret that’s so incredibly magical, I absolutely MUST share with you.

Happiness is a CHOICE!!!

Oh my goodness, I want to scream it from the rooftops, because I think there are still a lot of people who don’t know that.

But it gets better . . . As soon as I discovered that happiness is a choice, a whole other host of truths revealed themselves to me.

Did you know, for example, you don’t have to dwell on stuff that upsets you? Yes, you do need to think about stuff long enough to respond with right action, but you don’t have to ruminate on your fears, your injuries, your sorrows, the injustices that have been done to you.

No, love, you really, really don’t.

Here’s another one — Did you know that you don’t need anyone else’s permission to make choices about how you want to live your One Beautiful Life?

Nope. You really, really don’t.

If you are unhappy right now, YOU need to change. Stop looking at the other person. They aren’t gonna change. Nope. Not one whit.

Unhappiness can only manifest with your permission. Misery needs a co-conspirator in order to thrive – you! (click to tweet)

When I found out that happiness is a CHOICE, I was all fired up to make it. But it didn’t come automatically. I progressed in fits and starts.

Oh, my library is FILLED with books on happiness. But, I didn’t need a better moral psychology.

What I needed was a PROCESS.

And, though each of the “experts” I consulted had some good ideas, NO ONE had created a PATHWAY that fit my circumstances – a woman, over 40, trying to find a new life direction while dealing with all the pressures and hormonal changes that are UNIQUE to my age.

We got the kids, we got the parents, we got the work, we got the community involvement, AND we got changing and unpredictable hormones.

So, I resolved to forge a pathway myself. It took several YEARS to figure it out, but eventually I came to understand what works and what doesn’t.

I’ve created a NEW model for women over 40 and I’d love to share it with you.

When you join Life After Tampons, I’ll send you the course — it’s called UNSTUCK, and it’s a step-by-step plan to thaw out the fear that keeps you frozen.

Register here to receive your copy, plus updates:

 

Love, Jen

P.S. Enter your email address here:

photo: flickr, evil erin

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In Praise of Crappy Beginnings

5 of 7

 

If you want to move forward with your life – but can’t because you’re afraid you’re gonna “pick wrong” and, after all, it’s not like there’s a ton of time left and we can’t really afford mistakes at this point, cause you only have so many do-overs left, and won’t you just look silly for starting and then stopping and starting stopping AGAIN . . . I say this to you:

Let’s Here if For Crappy Beginnings.

One of the false beliefs we need to overcome is that we need a fully-formed idea in order to BEGIN. We don’t.

You may not know this, but Life After Tampons was NOT my first website.

Nope. It wasn’t even my 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or even 5th idea.

Life After Tampons was my SIXTH shot at this.

That’s right, I had FIVE other Training Bra Blogs before we got to this one.

I share this with you because I want you to understand that often, CLARITY comes as a result of TRUSTING THE PROCESS.

As far as Life After Tampons goes, here is a snapshot of the process of discovery that came before:

Training Bra Blog/Idea #1:  I started with a Twitter account called, Fifty Chicks.  Since I was just 49 then, and on a personal pilgrimage to take a meaningful turn in my own life, I got an idea to interview 50 older women about turning 50.  Get it – ha, 50 women, 50 chicks. About turning 50?

Pretty silly, right?

Well, I wasn’t really into that project from the start.  I only sort of half-assed interviewed one person and I got really really bored with the idea.  I didn’t really care about anyone else’s experience.  I wanted to just create my own, sorta free style.

 

Training Bra Blog/Idea #2:  Then, I got an idea for a fusion personal/business blog called Fairy Brandmother.  My idea there was to combine my 30-years of marketing experience with some kind of mystical spiritual wise woman site.  I would be helping women find their personal brands and use those to create their own legacies.

(I still do that work, by the way, I just let go of the tacky Disney-name that didn’t suit my own brand (which is “Sassy, Soulful Strategies for High Impact Results”)  If you are curious about developing your own brand, email me at Jennifer@lifeaftertampons.com.)

About this time, I took a new COMPLETELY HORRID job.  This job was EXTREMELY AWFUL and out of alignment with both my gifts and my values. But, it gets darker before the light, and this was just about the professional bottom of my life.

One thing that was really really good about this job, though, is that I was responsible for all Social Media for this little firm.

And I had no clue what I was doing — but I did know how to get one.

I had to practice.

So every morning, before work, I showed up at the local Starbucks at 5:30 AM and worked for an hour and a half practicing.  I set up a free blog and then I learned about Facebook and Twitter and I set it all up and hooked it all together.

 

Training Bra Blog/Idea #3:  And then I started blogging.  And the name of that blog was Flourish.  And I LOVED the name of that blog.  And I LOVE that that is really what I teach at LAT.

But, it wasn’t exactly the end game I wanted.  I knew that I wanted to teach people how to flourish and thrive, but it didn’t say enough about BEAUTIFUL YOU!.

And I knew I needed that.

But, by now, I knew the basics of blogging and I needed to know that, of course.

Okay, so we’re still celebrating half-assery, but now I’m getting more strategic. Then, it occurs to me that I should call a Focus Group of my really savvy biz girlfriends and ask them what they thought I should do.

So, I made treats.  And a beautiful luncheon.  And I invited six or seven really brilliant girlfriends over to jam.  (That was an awesome afternoon, by the way.  Maybe soon I’ll teach you how to do that.)

Okay, so my friends gathered round and they all talked about me in front of me.

And one of my friends, Elaine, said, “You know, Jen, when I think of you and your life, I see all these beautiful little vignettes that don’t seem to connect at first, but do when you look deeper.  It makes me think of little sterling charms.  And charm bracelets are very “in” right now, so I’m thinking you should have something like that.”

 

Training Bra Blog/Idea #4:  And so, Plucky Charmed was formed. This was a blog where I just sort of riffed about life.  And none of it had to connect, because that was the whole point.  The tag line for that blog was “A Swarm of Boy-kin and a Smidgeon of Grace.”

Get it?

“Boykin” is my maiden name and I ended up with six sons and The Italian, which makes for a LOT of ‘boy kin.’  And, the smidgeon of Grace is a play on the idea of a spiritual undertone and my baby daughter who died, whose name was Grace.

Do you see how funky and sort of kitchsy and somewhat tacky a lot of this is?

Still half-assery.  Still throwing my stuff up on the wall.  Still not really having a good direction or plan – BUT I’M GETTING CLEARER.

I LOVED Plucky Charmed.  It just wasn’t easy to explain to others what it meant.  And, I knew that, if I was going to be successful at my entrepreneurial adventure, you needed to be clear about what I did (duh!)

 

Training Bra Blog/Idea #5:  About this time, I was thinking a lot about courage and – let no one say that making a bold move forward at midlife does not take Courage!!

I’ve also spent the last 30 years and more than a HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS on personal development stuff, and I loved the phrase “Courage to Change,” so I thought, “I wonder if a URL with that is available?”

And so I looked.

And, of course, it wasn’t.

But there were all sorts of other “courage” versions.

One of them was “courage to change (dot) u s” and that one kept sticking with me and sticking with me and sticking with me . . .

And then I thought, COURAGE TO CHANGE (dot) US – which is the only thing we CAN change.

And I loved couragetochange.us.  Sort of.  About 5 people read it regularly.  My mom.  My Aunt Susie.  My fella.

But it still wasn’t perfect.  It wasn’t cohesive.

On the one hand, it felt too – well—Massengill Disposable Douche, if you know what I mean.  It was too “hearts and flowers and costumed geese decorating the kitchen.”

On the other hand, my tag line was, “You’ll Thank Me for Kicking Your Ass,” which is ABSOLUTELY the funner way I would talk.

But the hearts and flowers coupled with the kick-ass tagline created BRAND CONFUSION – and Brand Confusion is the “death knell” for business growth.

But, I KNOW I’m getting closer.   A LOT closer.

Because now all these half-assed ideas are teaching me things!

I know that our work takes courage and I know that I want to teach people how to flourish.  And I know that my tribe is women who are spiritually and creatively open and I know that our work has something to do with identifying our core personal brand and I know that I want to work just with women.

And I know that its style will be plucky.  But it will also be “charmed,” in that it will be charming and adorable (age-appropriate style) and it will be charmed like spiritual.

Now, over on the sidebar to couragetochange.us, I had a little personal intro block.  There was a silly line drawing of a woman and  — really I didn’t know how to do anything super-professional looking – but it said, “Here at Courage to Change, we seek to answer the question of the ages, ‘Is there Life After Tampons?’”

And one night, I’m fast asleep and then I woke up with a JOLT of menopausal insomnia and this one idea kept swarming through my brain –

Life After Tampons –

Life After Tampons –

Life After Tampons . . .

Life.    After.     Tampons?

“No, It can’t be!”

And then I RUSHED to my computer absolutely TERRIFIED that someone else had already thought of it.

But the URL was there and I GRABBED it.

And the NEXT day I called all my best, smartest, truest girlfriends – and a client or two – and asked them,

“Life After Tampons – do I have the stones to name my business Life After Tampons?”

And half said “YES!” and half said “NO – that’s completely awful.”

And I sat with it.  And I got still with it.  And in my heart of hearts I KNEW I was at the center of the journey.

I KNEW that I was where I was supposed to be.

But it took a LOT of Half-Assery.

It took

  • Training Bra Blog #1: 50 Chicks, where I learned I wanted a community of women at midlife
  • Training Bra Blog #2: Fairy Brandmother, where I learned that part of my work was going to be helping my clients find their Unique Wisdom Brand
  • Training Bra Blog #3:Flourish, where I learned that that’s what I teach AND where I learned the rudiments of blogging and social media
  • Training Bra Blog #4: Plucky Charmed, where I learned the application of the business tool of Focus Groups AND I learned that my work was going to be soulful and whimsical and somewhat magical
  • Training Bra Blog #5: Courage To Change– where I learned that a big part of what I was going to teach was FEARLESSNESS and CHANGE – AND that I was going to give myself permission to “out” my own three decades journey into spiritual/personal development and recovery.

 

  • FULLY er, DEVELOPED BLOG: And finally, LIFE AFTER TAMPONS!!!

And here we are, three years later.

Today, Life After Tampons helps thousands of women each month from around the globe.

BUT I DIDN’T START THERE!

And, if I hadn’t started SOMEWHERE we likely would have nothing at all.

So, please, when it comes to your midlife reinvention, we need to abandon the idea of “all or nothing” thinking.

Simply pick a first action.

And BEGIN.

Love, Jen

P.S. Make sure you’re part of the Life After Tampons community. Sign up here and get Unstuck: our 12-part self-study course.

photo: flickr, 5of7

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