Daisy Mae and Powder Blue

flickr, libertygrace0Note: This piece is about my struggle with my own poverty mentality. In a way, what you are about to read is truly a prosperity problem. I haven’t unknotted the whole thing yet; so, bear with me as I allow myself to be a work in progress.

So, I recently had a mini-midlife crisis.  Or, actually, maybe I just felt like having a whole lot of brand new treats at the same time.

Unfortunately, I had my checkbook with me.

So, I got a puppy. And a cute car to match her.

First, the dog. Her name is Daisy Mae and she is a Bichon Frise. She’s teeny tiny and absolutely sweet and just a love.

Now, the car.

It’s a VW bug convertible. Powder Blue.

Now, here’s the breakthrough on that: for as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted a convertible – ever since Aunt Susie got her super-cool ride back when I was a little kid.

But, I never got a convertible. Or a fun little sports car.

I always bought “sensible.” And, most of the time, used.

Bought the station wagon for the first baby. She died, and I had to drive around that “family car” for a whole year without a family in it until, finally, my first son was born.

After that, more kids, and a minivan.  I hated that minivan. But, it was practical and I could lug stuff.  And, if you know anything about me, you know I LOVE to lug people and their stuff.

Um, completely not!

But, I had responsibilities and my car matched them.  I ran that minivan into the ground.  And then I got a little SUV that was cooler, but still not what I wanted. It wasn’t the color I wanted. It wasn’t the brand I wanted. It wasn’t cool. Or hip. Or fresh.

But, it was PRACTICAL. (See where I’m going here.)

Last weekend, I got sick of it. That car, and all the others before it became an unbearable symbol of all the ways that I’ve forsaken what I WANTED to do for what I was SUPPOSED to do. (And, truth be told, what I felt I had to do.)

I have felt financially choice-less for such a long time. A lot of it was based in reality. There have been so many frighteningly lean years. The problem is, even when things eased up, I’ve still lived in financial crisis mode.

I’ve made countless other choices like that:

  • I lived in a town I hated for two decades so the kids could keep their good school.
  • I lived in a house I couldn’t afford, for the same time for the same reason.
  • Because of that, I couldn’t have the things I needed for a basic life. Neither could the boys.  But they did have that school system that none of them cared about.
  • I did “mom things” because I was supposed to.
  • This left little time for the thing I WAS supposed to do – speak, teach, and write about adversity and triumph. (I know. Ironic, right?)

I know you know what I mean. And, thank you for that.

Anyway, back to the car.

It was not a “practical” time to get the car. We are still paying two college tuitions. Also, HS Senior doesn’t even leave until August. So, we can’t all fit into that little bug convertible (Someone say “Amen.”)

When I told my mom, she reminded me that convertibles aren’t safe. When I was younger, they weren’t safe because random scary guys could grab me. Now, they’re not safe because of the snow on the road.

Oh – as an aside – have you ever NOT bought the car you wanted because of the 7-10 days a year there is snow on the road? This is the perfect example of the kind of screwy thinking that keeps us tethered to a joy-less life.

We don’t get the thing we really want, because 2% of the time, it won’t be practical. (Click to Tweet)

My husband wondered if I should wait until after the next one leaves in the Fall. But you know as well as I do, that then there would be some other reason not to do the thing I wanted to do.

So, all my life, I’ve wanted a convertible, but I haven’t allowed myself to have it because it was:

Too small

Too expensive

The “bad man” might get me

My family won’t fit in it

Or, if they will, their stuff won’t

It won’t be great during the three snowstorms we have each year.

The canvas roof looks tired after a bit

It’s not a “mom car.”

It’s gonna snow 2% of the year.

Last weekend, as I was hanging out with a girlfriend, it became clear to me how completely nuts this whole line of thinking was.

When will I be free of all the responsibilities I have in order to do some of the things I want?

NEVER.

In fact, it’s not even supposed to work that way.

I’m not supposed to be free of my responsibilities. If I were, that would mean I love no one, I create nothing, I am indifferent of my impact on the world. I was completely disinterested in my legacy.

And that would mean I lived completely alone and apart in this world.

The challenge seems to be, how do you live Shakespeare’s suggestion, “to thine own self be true,” while also living in community with others?

It’s a continuum of choices spread over a lifetime.

This last weekend, I chose the car.

And the pup.

You?

Love, Jen

P.S. Please join our LAT community. We’ll send you your very own Comeback QuickStart to help you have a fresh beginning.

Photo: libertygrace0

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In Memorium: My Daughter, Grace

flickr, pink sherbet photographyEvery year, on this day, I write a tribute piece in memory of my daughter, Grace.  Grace, born a preemie, died a short time later on March 6, 1992.

Understandably, I was devastated.  In fact, I was pretty well crushed for a long, long time. And then, for years afterwards I was still vulnerable to a sudden rush of sadness that could be triggered in the most unusual ways.

This year, however, when I sat down to write this tribute piece to my daughter, I gotta confess —  I got nothing.

I sat there . . .

. . . and sat there

. . . and sat there.

And I got nothing.

It’s not that her absence on her birthday saddens me.

It’s that it doesn’t.

Grace’s death no longer stings. I can’t remember the last time I was overcome with a significant wave of grief. How can this be?

I’m not avoiding it. I don’t feel empty. I don’t feel numb. I don’t feel weepy, sad, or jealous of other mothers who got to have daughters (well, maybe I do still have a bit of that.)

What I feel is WIZENED.

When Grace died, I DETERMINED that her life would NOT be meaningless. I INSISTED on that. I just didn’t know what that meant or how that would happen.

I certainly didn’t imagine that I would someday launch a business and website called “Life After Tampons” that’s primary aim was to help other women live more fully and with greater joy.

These days, I am able to put the death of my child in perspective of my whole life. I think I am able to do this because I allowed her death to be not just a story of sorrow, but a story of triumph.

When tough times come, you either get bitter. Or, you get better. (click to tweet)

I resolved long ago, that my children would have a healthy, fully functioning mother. And, healthy, fully functioning mothers CHOOSE TO HEAL.

They choose to LAUGH.

They choose to SERVE.

They choose to SHOW UP.

They choose HOPE.

They CHOOSE TO TRIUMPH!

Because I made the decision to triumph, I knew that my bereavement process would have to end with strength.

So, I resolved to find gratitude alongside my sorrow.  Looking back, I see so many gifts of Grace. Here are some of the gifts that could only come to me because Grace lived – and died.

  • I found my roar.
  • Because I found my roar, I no longer allowed others to hurt me, use me, walk all over me.
  • I lost my fear of authority figures. Completely. I think if God him(her)self walked in this office right now, I’d just say hello and ask about his day.
  • Because I lost my fear of authority figures, I learned how to ask for help from people who previously intimidated me.
  • Because I learned how to ask for help from people who previously intimidated me, I’ve been able to grow in my craft.
  • And, because of this, I am able to show up for Beautiful You.

The list goes on and on.  There are gifts that came to my boys. For one thing, the eldest wouldn’t even be here if Grace had not been born too early to survive. I found true friends, I learned a ton about a ton, and then, ultimately, I began this work for you and us.

In fact, if you have been helped, even one little bit, by my work here at Life After Tampons, you have been helped because Grace Boykin Williamson lived for 32 minutes on March 6, 1992.

Truly, I could not have brought you any of this without the wisdom that came from that terrible tragedy in  my life.

That means that someone who lived for less time than your last lunch break was able to make a real and lasting difference for THOUSANDS of women all over the world.

Imagine that?

And then, think of Beautiful You.  Imagine what you could create if you learned how to transform your life adversities into wisdom, triumph, and hope so that you could leave a lasting impact on this world.

Okay, even as I’m writing this, I just got a crazy-ass idea.  Would you like me to show you exactly how I was able to move through this loss and find the wisdom underneath? Is that too cheesy? Anyway, the idea just came to me. I haven’t created such a program yet, but I certainly would if enough of you thought it would be helpful.

If that idea resonates with you, go here and leave your contact information. And let me know what you would most need.

(Well, that was awkward. I certainly didn’t mean to turn Grace’s tribute piece into a workshop idea. )

But, maybe my own fear is getting in the way here. Maybe the next right part of Grace’s legacy is to show up and serve in this way. Maybe a BUNCH of you are kinda limping along carrying your unhealed wounds into today, tomorrow, and the next.

Maybe I just need to get out of my head (where I’m worrying about what you think of Beautiful Me) and into my heart (where I KNOW who I am and what I’m made of).

Moving on.

For today, though, I suppose the main thing is that I’m a mother of a daughter who I only got to know for a very short time but who also changed my world in countless beautiful ways.

Today, I don’t feel mournful. I feel like celebrating.  Will you help?

 

How We’re Using Our Wisdom Circle Comments Today 

Way #1: If you’re game, I’d love it if you helped me celebrate. I’d love to hear your stories of adversity and triumph in the comments section.

Way #2: Also, if you would like me to create a special program for you around the idea of adversity and triumph, let me know in the comments below what you most need. And join the advance team here.

 

Finally, I leave you with these words: A very wise man shared this with me shortly after Grace’s death.   I was so upset that Grace’s life wouldn’t matter, that there was no one to even remember that she lived.

Anyway, when I told my friend Don about my worry, he said this to me:

Jennifer, don’t you understand?  Grace’s eternity is that YOU are changed forever.  And, from this moment forward, every thing you do and every life you touch will be DIFFERENT because your life was touched by Grace.

Grace lives on, Jennifer, through you.

And so it is.

Namaste, Jennifer

P.S. Here is the link to get advance notice about a possible program about loss, legacy, and triumph.

photo: flickr, pink sherbet photography

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This Is Still So Very Painful!

flickr, procsilas

One freedom that I have not yet attained is freedom from jealousy.  Today, I’m stung by professional jealousy, but I often get flare ups of the personal kind as well. (That’s me up there with the green hair on the left. Sometimes I’m the other girl. But today, I’m DEFINITELY the one with the green hair.)

Looking at this problem semi-objectively, I find that I have the following thought patterns that contribute to my downward emotional spiral:

1. hum de dum de dum.  I’m going about my life, doing my thing, when

2. someone else gets something.  It’s usually something I didn’t even know was gettable, but there you have it.  They’ve achieved some professional accolade or invitation AND I DIDN’T!

3. I feel less than. I wonder what’s wrong with MY work. I wonder what’s wrong with ME. (Why does so and so who bestowed this honor prefer that person to me?)

4. then, I get a modicum of sense. I intellectually understand that the other person’s work is different from mine and is simply a better fit than mine in this case.

5. and I remind myself of my own wins

6. but none of those matter. In fact the sum total of my LIFETIME accomplishments pale in comparison to this one thing.

7. and I feel bad. I feel bad because I care about the other parties. I feel bad for myself. I feel bad because I make myself feel worse by silently accusing myself of laziness.

8. and, of course, I’m fat. Lately a LOT of stuff is coming back to that.

Somewhere along this lightening slide to the bottom, a spiritual entreaty or two comes to mind. It occurs to me that I have more productive options.

I could pray, for example . . . nahhhhhh!

I could call someone, but I’m so sick of having this same needy conversation over and over again.

I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I turn my mind and my attention to better things.  I make a gratitude list. I start looking for others I can help.

I get busy.

Before too long, I feel better.  But, in truth, it’s not a “better” that I know will stick. I know that I’m gonna get slammed again. I’m in a highly visible profession and my colleagues are doing some really cool stuff. I get to do cool stuff, too.

I suppose, at its essence, my feelings of jealousy and envy come from an unquenchable desire for MORE.

And OTHER.

Lordy, lordy free me from the bondage of that two-headed hydra known as MORE and OTHER.

And, even as I write that last line, I realize that the quest for MORE and OTHER have brought me many gifts in life, too.

MORE and OTHER have freed me of painful relationships.

MORE and OTHER helped pay for my education, an investment that benefits me every day of my life.

MORE and OTHER helped me survive alcoholism, the death of a child, and a predisposition to depression.

MORE and OTHER are why we have Life After Tampons.

MORE and OTHER are why I’ve been able to create some work that has really helped a lot of people.

It seems I need my MORE and OTHER. It seems that others benefit from the gifts of my MORE and OTHER.

But, every now and then, (well, actually, quite regularly), MORE and OTHER turn on me and bite down – HARD.

This morning was one of those occasions, and today, I’m asking for your Beautiful support.  Will you help me out of my self-centered fear today?

Will you please list one struggle that you have been able to overcome since you’ve been part of our LAT community? Then, will you please list one area where you still need help?

I’ll collect all of those and try to create some new magic on your behalf.

Love, Jen

photo: flickr, procsilas

P.S. In answer to last week’s post, the phrase I use when dealing with difficult people who seek to silence all opposition is this: “I see it differently.” Give it a shot.

Posted in Uncategorized | 58 Comments

The Cost of Peace at Any Cost

flickr, What's on My Mind

This piece is about the fear of confrontation.

When you fear confrontation, you let people hurt you, but you say nothing.

You figure “they’re having a bad day,” or something like that.

You let it slide.

Then, you get hurt again.

But you smile, you gloss over it, you let it go.

Except you really don’t.

You try, but then it happens again, and all those other times rush back to remind you.

That you are the victim, the picked on one, etc.

People think you are nice, though.

Cause you don’t make waves.

Or, at least you think people think that.

They may also be thinking that it’s hard to be friends with you because they can never really tell where you stand on things.

It’s tricky to be in relation with people who won’t contribute.

You think you’re contributing, though.

Or, maybe you don’t think about contribution at all.

Maybe what you’re really thinking is that you are afraid.

Or, maybe you don’t know that you are afraid.

But, if you avoid contribution, it’s likely because you’re afraid.

Now here’s the thing: if you avoid confrontation long enough, it becomes really really painful to live in your own skin. (click to tweet)

Cause you’re pissed.

But you smile, so maybe we don’t know you’re pissed.

And then, one day, something happens – something that seems minor to the person who’s done it to you – and you completely lose your shit.

And, all the other shit you’ve been stuffing for all the years when you lived by the “peace at any cost” belief system comes out, too.

Ironically, when you lose your shit, you may also lose the person you’re close to who set you off.

This is ironic because when you believe in “peace at any cost” it’s because you’re afraid of losing people, of being alone.

And sometimes you may even think this, “If you really knew who I was, then you wouldn’t want to love me, work with me, etc.”

So, you have lived by peace at any cost cause you don’t want to lose people, but then you allow stuff to build up until you lose your stuffing and that pushes people away.

Weird, right?

If you can relate to any of this, never fear.  Next time we chat, I’m going to share with you the way out of this one.

Until then, do something nice for yourself.

 

Love, Jen

P.S.  If you want to be part of the ongoing conversation, sign up here:

Photo: Flickr, What’s on My Mind

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