A Coincidence I Can’t Ignore




Why do so many women feel inadequate?

This week, in working with my brilliant coaching clients, I noticed a trend: at least half of them mentioned feeling tired all the time.

Okay, so being tired causes some complications in life.

But the concern wasn’t just that they were tired. It’s that they had made all kinds of really cutting self-judgments because they were simply tired.

“I’m so lazy.”

“I’m never going to amount to much.”

“I’m all washed up.”

After the third or fourth conversation, I started to wonder about medical research and women over 45. If studying peri- and post-menopausal women were a priority, would we find out that feeling tired was simply part of the enormous hormone changes going on right now?

In other words, if you’re tired, it’s not your fault, it’s just your body changing.

When we have negative self-talk, it’s generally not our feelings that get us into trouble.

It’s our feelings about our feelings.

In other words, it’s our judgments.

So, let’s imagine a world where a woman is taught to expect certain changes in her body and stamina as normative and that society adjusted to fit OUR reality.

What if the world shifted in its perception of women over 45? What if were seen as the vital, vibrant, capable, compassionate women we have become and the self-care choices we needed to make at this stage in our lives was simply accepted and encouraged?

What if needing a nap, or a spa day, or a weekend retreat were just assumed to be part of the midlife equation?

What is we just gave ourselves these things without self-condemnation but with the understanding that our changing chemistry required new levels of care. What if we simply tended to ourselves like we have been tending to everyone else for decades?

What if we suspended all self-judgment and just took positive actions on our own behalf?

Maybe we, as a community, could give that a shot.  Maybe we could be the wise foremothers who “get it” and simply do what is needed without all the drama.

Maybe we could be the Change Agents who started a trend toward strategic and loving self-care – without all the baggage attached.

I would really dig that.


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The Root of Anger

Kiran Foster

So my husband has been gone for nearly a month. He is on a 1200-mile bike trip through the Santa Fe Trail.

While I’m really happy for him that he is accomplishing one of his life dreams, I have to confess that, three and a half weeks in, I’m really angry that he has been gone for so long.

I’m not going to list everything that I “get” to do alone while he is gone cause I know you get it.

Now, I also want to say that I realize that I’m being kind of silly and selfish this week as I struggle with my resentment, but, because I’m just a person, my feelings are often in conflict with each other.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to discuss anger with a mentor of mine. She shared that, when she is angry, it’s because – somehow – she has caught the idea that she doesn’t matter.


I’m angry at my husband because I’m exhausted. And, even though I’m not, I feel all alone in the world, and because I feel alone, I feel like I don’t matter.

I need me some attention.

I need to feel like I matter.

Intellectually, I get that I matter. You matter because you’re here. Because you’re here you have work to do. Because you have work to do, you matter. I believe that the essential quest in life is to seek the answer to the question, “HOW am I to matter?”

My work in life is to help women who undervalue themselves. And, because of that, sometimes they allow others to do the same.

We are women on the rise. But the key to actually getting back up is not to pass the onus for understanding, compassion, and attention on to anyone else.

We bring those things to ourselves, and, when we are feeling low, we ask our true and dear friends for support.

So, for today, I’m not going to try and rise above my anger, I’m simply going to let it wash over me.

Let. It. Pass.

So I can get back to taking right action.

But first, a nap.


Love, Jen

photo: Kiran Foster, flickr



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I’m A Writer without Words – 9/11

Petr Dosek, flickr

Once again I find myself sitting at the keyboard wondering what I should say about the thing I want to say something about.

The thing is 9/11.

I thought about writing about hate, but we don’t need to give that any more energy.
I thought about writing about forgiveness, but it’s not mine to give.
I thought about writing about love, but that just feels too trite.
I thought about writing about fear, but then the bad guy wins.
I thought about writing about courage, but all you need there is “show up.”

I’m a writer longing to contribute something to the conversation, but the words elude me.

Instead, all I get are little snippets — solitary, lonely words that refuse to fashion themselves to anything other than themselves. Each word, standing alone, sounds like the peal of a deep resonant bell of remembrance:

peace . . . grace . . . faith . . . trust . . . truth . . . resolve . . .

Perhaps, if it serves you, you might close your eyes and say these few words to yourself and allow the strength of their ideals to wash over you, sustain you, heal you.

Please know that, wherever you are, you are not alone.

The words escape me but my heart stands open, ready.
Bearing witness to the suffering, the healing, the making and passing of memory.

Blessed Be.

photo: Petr Dosek, flickr

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A Word about Artistry — and, Grace


Zoltán Vörös

I started playing the flute in the 7th grade. A few months later, my father died. 

I remember, just as my mom is breaking the news to me the phone rings and it is my great-grandmother who wants to speak to me.

“Jennie Ann, your father was the love of your mother’s life. Don’t you cry and upset her.”

Who says that?

Anyways, those were my orders and, since I was the “good one,” I soldiered on and followed directions.

I didn’t cry.

I practiced.

And practiced. And practiced.

If I didn’t, the grief might catch me.

Music became my salvation. I can remember RUSHING to my room and, hands shaking, putting that flute together and having two objectives — LOUD. And, FAST.

The grief eventually did catch me. Years later, as I held my baby daughter while she died, the grief finally won.

I remember that this sound – this incredible keening sound – just forced its way from my body. I remember sort of standing beside the sound marveling that a person could even create such a thing.

And I grieved.

For my father, for my daughter, for the childhood that wasn’t.

Here’s how my childhood went:

I had my first strategic plan at the age of nine. “Be a good girl. When you are 16, borrow the car ostensibly to go to Drug Fair and buy hair spray. Instead, drive to your daddy’s house and show him what a good girl you are so he’ll take you back.”

Sad ass plan. Sad little girl.

My plan “failed” anyway. Or, at least, I had to revise it.

Cause my plan outlived my father.

I was 11. He was 34.

It was okay, though, because by now I was two things — a musician. And, a planner.

I figured the weak link in that first plan was that it included another human being. And you can’t rely on those, right?

So here is the gist of my second plan: It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God. It was that god didn’t believe in me.

Therefore I was all alone.

And so the new plan was, “Be Perfect.”

And I worked the hell out of that plan. I even had little rituals which I might share with you one day.

And the plan worked.

Until it didn’t.

It turns out that the search for perfection is not only futile. It’s exhausting.

So, the plan didn’t last, but you know what did?

The music.

The music has always been there, even when I wasn’t there for the music. Which has been quite a few years.

One of the things that happened this summer while I was on sabbatical is that I was invited to join an orchestra.

A real orchestra. With grown up musicians and everything.

Last night was our second rehearsal. Our conductor, Maestra Nancia D’Alimonte is a gift. She let me interview her a while back and I was struck by how much adversity she had to overcome to win the privilege of the platform.

So many people – nope, make that women — told her to quit. What is with women in power? We’re supposed to help each other.

But you all already know that.

First of all, there is no “top.” We’re all gonna die one day, and love, death is the great equalizer.

But, I’ve learned that the certitude of that last day can also be a gift. Finitude is the gift which extracts what is most precious in life.

But, back to music, artistry, and god.

When you work really hard at something, when you determine that you are going to master something important, something hard, you get the conviction that nothing can really defeat you again.

Because I can play the Prokofiev Sonata for Flute (well, actually violin, but whatever) – because I can play that last movement and play it well – I know I can run a business, raise a family, grieve a daughter.

The pursuit of artistry — the pursuit of True Greatness — makes you STRONG in so many other ways.

And I have lived to see the truth: All those years ago, I thought I had been abandoned by my Higher Power. I thought I had to bring the music all by myself.

But I was wrong.

God brought me music.

And music brought me god.


Love, Jen

Photo: flickr, Zoltán Vörös


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