What Undefeated Looks Like


So, we are away for the weekend – at a small Air BNB with a couple of Mike’s friends I’ve never met.

It’s been more than a year since my last vacation.

And I’d forgotten what life could be like.

We are in a small Virginia town at a small Mountain Music festival called The Rockbridge Mountain Music & Dance Festival. This is the festival’s 30th year, and my first.

What an amazing experience! Last night we arrived to our tiny little house – a former hay barn or perhaps a dairy-milking outbuilding converted into a charming two-bedroom apartment.

Mike’s friends are awesome, interesting, super-kind people – the kind of people who make you feel immediately welcome — like you’ve known them forever. Mike, of course, has. I’m the one who is new to the party. But none of that has mattered, they slipped me right in as if I’d been here with them the whole time.

Last night we went to the opening night of the festival – an evening of uniquely American music with wonderful old-fashioned square dancing.

The dance floor was under a big tent peppered with fairy lights and filled with laughing friendly people – old people, young people, families, dancing children.

If you wanted a souvenir T-shirt they were off to the side.
Five bucks.
Sold unattended on the honor code.

Before the dancing we had supper under an even bigger amphitheater – Greek salads, mac n cheese, and chicken burritos catered by the very capable Mountain Mama.

We drank root beer sweetened with real cane sugar and laughed about stuff I don’t even recall and then moseyed down the hill for the music.

I’m less than 24-hours into my 48-hour vacation and you would think I left the world behind days and days ago.

I didn’t realize how hungry I was for just a simple, American, homespun experience. It’s been a weird week for me, and I guess I am more tired than I had thought.

It’s also not lost on me that I get to have this weekend because of my freedoms which are particularly important to remember this weekend of all weekends.

Fifteen years later, we are not defeated. I remember. I live my life in celebration and memory and honor of those who gave theirs. And I work to give meaning to their sacrifice.

Love, Jen

photo: Facebook page, Rockbridge Mountain Music & Dance Festival

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Alone on the Wagon










Some of you may have noticed my recent Huffington Post article where I share that, while still committed to my sobriety, I have left my program of recovery. (If not, you can find it here.)

Anyway, this is a very scary time for me. But it’s a necessary move for a whole lot of reasons that I’m not going to repeat here.

The reason I’m writing you today is to ask for your support and also to offer it — this was a transition I never thought I’d have to make.

But staying would have been a lie — a lie to myself. And leaving is a risk — cause, you know, alcoholism is a potentially fatal disease, and all.

I didn’t intend this, but after I wrote the article all this support started rolling in.

Apparently there are thousands and thousands of happy people staying sober in different ways. This feels both exciting to me and a little sacrilege. Lots of people have reached out and my Dear Ones from my former fellowship have been very kind, too, though I did lose at least one dear friend because of it.

I hate the part about change where not everyone comes forward with you.
But it is part of it.

And so now, I’m in this really uncomfortable stage where I don’t have my former support system and I haven’t yet built a tried and true one in my new life.

I’m not writing this piece to invite or encourage slams on recovery (or myself). I’ll delete any posts like that.

I’m very grateful for the journey I have made. And yes, recovery is about giving back, but I know that, after twenty-six years of sobriety I have done that in spades. And I’m committed to doing more.

I just can’t make my home there anymore.

You are my people and I am devoted to you, so I will continue to share the truth of my journey in hopes it will inspire you to do the same. Coming up is more truth about health and recovery, cause I gotta make some changes there but I don’t seem to be ready.

Thank you, in advance, for your kindness and support during this crazy, difficult, wonderful time.

With love and devotion,


photo: flickr, Christian Metzler

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What Other People Should Do

Waiting for the Word

I somehow sometimes end up spending time with people who somehow sometimes know a lot about what other people should do.

It’s not my favorite.

Even though I somehow sometimes do it myself.

Was gonna write more, but I think you get it.

Love, Jen

photo: flickr, Waiting for the Word

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Telling the Truth

flickr, Collin Baptiste

So, some years ago, I realized that my chief role in life, besides to raise those awesome boys, was to be a Truth Teller – a Verbal Champion for others who can’t, for one reason or another, speak out.

I’m from a long line of strong innovative women. We all have had our own problems, but, in our own way, we have all found a way to rise as well.

I don’t feel like it’s my job to make trouble for the sake of trouble. But, when something isn’t right in my life – and it is a significant something – I turn to the page.

I did that in a very big way this week. And, while most people have been really supportive, a few others are a little unkind.

This transition – from Mother to Crone – is an awesome, powerful time. Your whole body is changing (again.) You get both clearer and sharper at the same time that other stuff starts to wear down.

I don’t really know much about the culture of the Crone – there are many groups out there that fully embrace the Matriarchal process – I’m not part of one.

But I think truth telling is probably part of it somehow. We need to be there for the younger ones – the young women who struggle under the burden of motherhood and the even younger ones who are just coming of age.

It’s a hard and dangerous journey to be a woman, you are vulnerable for a large part of it – in different ways. Those of us interested in human rights see so many more oppressed groups than we, it can make us feel guilty to give some of that work at home with our fellow women.

But we must. We must support one another because this journey is very hard – ad difficult. I hate the idea of any woman living alone with all the responsibility.

And so, for me, I start with the truth – or at least the version of the truth that is apparent to me today. I realize that that “truth” might change over time. But knowing that can’t keep us from speaking up now.

Cause lots of women are living in this stage, and need help, a voice, a hand, a shoulder,

Let it begin with me. And, let it begin here.

Love, Jen

photo: flickr, Collin Baptiste

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