Gold with Jeanette Schneider Episode 16: Find Your Voice with Blair Badenhop

Blair Badenhop struggled to find her voice and advocate for herself until she was introduced to the world of wellness and discovered her own spiritual practice. Blair talks about stepping into her power, the importance of faith married with action and how it is imperative we trust ourself. We talk about the importance of going within and the internal navigation that we have, but don’t always honor.

Blair is the founder of Blair Badenhop, Inc., a global brand strategy and copywriting service destination for entrepreneurs in the wellness industry. She has supported 200+ health coaches, best-selling authors, spiritual teachers, and thought leaders in clarifying and creating their authentic brand identities online through careful strategy and conversational copy. She’s also the host of Brand Yourself, a top rated podcast on iTunes that gives listeners a behind-the-scenes look at what female entrepreneurs in the wellness industry have done to establish successful businesses and stand out brands. She is also the mastermind behind Your Wellness Brand, a 10-week business mentorship experience that teaches wellness coaches and entrepreneurs how to leverage their purpose and personalities to stand out online.Previously, she worked at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Dress for Success, and Harper’s Bazaar.

Blair shares her “Four C’s” for stepping into your truth – Clarity, Confidence, Creativity and Commitment. She explains the micro-moments that help you step into your confidence and why commitment is required to move your life forward. She also delves into the gift of intuition and how to know the difference between your knowingness and your fear.

Let’s dig in.

Thank you so much for joining me today.

You can find Blair on IG @blairbadenhop and her podcast Brand Yourself is a must listen.

Blair and I talk about doing deep work to uncover your messaging which is the cardinal point of my new book LORE: Harnessing Your Past to Create Your Future. Get into the work with me. LORE is available on Amazon or barnesandnoble.com.

As always, please subscribe to this podcast, leave a review and don’t forget to share with your friends. I’m always interested in content that uplifts, so if you have things you’d like to hear about, please share them with me in the comments. You can also find me on Instagram @ms.jeanetteschneider or Twitter @msjwrites

If you want some help moving toward that intentional life, join me every week on my intention journey. I’m inviting you. Totally free. From my heart to your inbox. Sign up for my love notes at jeanetteschneider.com and before you even wake up on Monday mornings there will be a huge dose of motivation waiting for you. Yes, I will wake you up on Monday morning with intention setting prompts and give you some tips as to what is setting my soul on fire. On Fridays I’m going to remind you to let go, recharge, and love yourself up with some self care prompts to get present in your down time. Intentional living is where it’s at, y’all!

Until next time – in the words of my grandma, “Love each other every day.”

In your ears, filling your heart.

Xo,

J

Gold with Jeanette Schneider Episode 13: Women and Security with CIA Counterterrorism Expert Gina Bennett

Gina Bennett takes the scare out of national security and approaches it as a woman and mother. She talks resiliency, how women experience personal security differently from men and the importance of including girls in our conversations about security. 

Gina is a member of the CIA’s Senior Analytic Service, and long-standing member of the Senior Analytic Service currently on assignment as the Senior Counterterorrism Advisor in the Directorate of Strategic Operational Planning in the National Counterterrorism Center. She is a seasoned counterterrorism specialist who authored the earliest warnings of some of today’s terrorism trends, including the 1993 report that warned of the growing danger of Osama Bin Laden and the extremist movement he was fomenting. We talk about her shift into national security and what I’m calling her sixth sense when it comes to the insightfulness of her work over decades.

Gina was featured in the 2015 Showtime documentary, Spymasters, the HBO documentary, Manhunt, and in the PBS documentary, Makers: Women Who Make America in their episode on women in war for her role as a trailblazing woman in the counterterrorism field. She has been featured in the cover story of Newsweek’s issue on “Women in CIA” in 2016 and in a previous Newsweek article for her role as a female pioneer in the targeting; and in a variety of media for her book, National Security Mom. 

Gina teaches ethics in intelligence as an adjunct faculty member at Georgetown University in the Security Studies Program of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and at the George Washington University in the International Policy and Practice program at the Elliot School of International Affairs. She is also a founding board member of Girl Security, an educational program to familiarize elementary-to-high school girls in national and international security issues. She is a single mom of five children. 

I love Gina’s advocacy for women, her argument that we cannot allow fear to change the way we behave and the importance of women’s voices in security based on our personal experiences and perspectives.

As always, please subscribe to this podcast, leave a review and don’t forget to share with your friends. I’m always interested in content that uplifts, so if you have things you’d like to hear about, please share them with me in the comments. You can also find me on Instagram @ms.jeanetteschneider or Twitter @msjwrites.

My new book LORE: Harnessing Your Past to Create Your Future. Get into the work with me. LORE is available now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com.

Living intentionally is where its at, and if you are anything like me, you get out of bed and reach for your phone. I’d love to say that I do yoga first thing, but let’s be honest, I open my eyes to news and I’m ready to counter that with my own weekly intention journey. I’m inviting you. Totally free. From my heart to your inbox. Sign up for my love notes at jeanetteschneider.com and before you even wake up on Monday mornings there will be a huge dose of motivation waiting for you. Yes, I will wake you up on Monday morning with intention setting prompts and give you some tips as to what is setting my soul on fire. On Fridays I’m going to remind you to let go, recharge, and love yourself up with some self care prompts to get present in your down time.

Until next time – in the words of my grandma, “Love each other every day.”

In your ears, filling your heart.

Xo,

J

Gold with Jeanette Schneider Episode 10: Coming Home To A Life of Purpose (or The Sidelines Are Where Your Soul Goes To Die) with Alexis Michaud

Alexis Michaud spent the better part of two decades as a tax and corporate law attorney. She most recently held the title of Deputy General Counsel for a large company she took public, and then promptly left. She went from inking deals on private jets to creating her own real estate and design practice as a newly minted entrepreneur. It was her father’s stay in the ICU for 30 days that created a shift within that snapped her from long days, long nights, working weekends, skipping vacations for nearly a decade, taking 3 days off after the birth of her daughter via section to a moment of being DONE, “If not now, then when?”

Alexis flipped her steady path and hard earned career on its head, took 6 weeks off with her family, and decided it’s never too late to design a life you love.  She’s now an entrepreneur, Realtor, community enthusiast and is not looking back.  She’s coming home and living a life of purpose, passion, and is the driver of her one wild and crazy life.  

Alexis and I talk about the scary steps between lives, what the word HOME means to us, supportive friendships, and how the sidelines are the place your soul goes to die. Alexis is soulful and determined. You are going to love her. Follow Alexis on IG at @pineappleandpinecones.

If you’d like a jump start to your new life, I welcome you to walk through the process in my book LORE: Harnessing Your Past to Create Your Future on Amazon or barnesandnoble.com.

As always, please subscribe to this podcast, leave a review and don’t forget to share with your friends. I’m always interested in content that uplifts, so if you have things you’d like to hear about, please share them with me in the comments. You can also find me on Instagram @ms.jeanetteschneider or Twitter @msjwrites. 

If you want some help moving toward that intentional life, join me every week on my intention journey. I’m inviting you. Totally free. From my heart to your inbox. Sign up for my love notes at jeanetteschneider.com and before you even wake up on Monday mornings there will be a huge dose of motivation waiting for you. Yes, I will wake you up on Monday morning with intention setting prompts and give you some tips as to what is setting my soul on fire. On Fridays I’m going to remind you to let go, recharge, and love yourself up with some self care prompts to get present in your down time. Intentional living is where it’s at, y’all!

Until next time – in the words of my grandma, “Love each other every day.”

In your ears, filling your heart.

Xo

J


Gold with Jeanette Schneider Episode 6: You Are Stronger Than Your Stick

I just returned from a life-changing trip to Tanzania where I traveled amongst lions, zebras, wildebeest. I am still unpacking all of the lessons that a fully immersive trip serves up, but was struck by two very specific moments; one on the Serengeti and again during my time on what felt like the edge of the earth wading into the Indian Ocean off the coast of Zanzibar.

You cannot leave Africa unchanged and I wanted to pop on and share the biggest lessons I am taking with me while they’re still fresh in mind (and heart). I will share stories about the beauty of the people of East Africa, a heart of service and the difference between support and dependency.

If you want some help moving toward that intentional life, join me every week on my intention journey. I’m inviting you. Totally free. From my heart to your inbox. Sign up for my love notes at jeanetteschneider.com and before you even wake up on Monday mornings there will be a huge dose of motivation waiting for you. Yes, I will wake you up on Monday morning with intention setting prompts and give you some tips as to what is setting my soul on fire. On Fridays I’m going to remind you to let go, recharge, and love yourself up with some self care prompts to get present in your down time. Intentional living is where it’s at, y’all!

As always, please subscribe to this podcast, leave a review and don’t forget to share with your friends. I’m always interested in content that uplifts, so if you have things you’d like to hear about, please share them with me in the comments. You can also find me on Instagram @ms.jeanetteschneider or Twitter @msjwrites. 

If you’d like to get deep in the work with me, pick up my book LORE: Harnessing Your Past to Create Your Future now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble . com

Until next time – in the words of my grandma, “Love each other every day.”

In your ears, filling your hearts.

Xo,

J

New Years Tears: Grieving the Old Stories While Welcoming The New

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I have New Year’s tears.

I didn’t expect them.

December 31st represented the end of my career in finance. It was the job I started when I was 18, making $7.35/hour. It was the mentors and the five year plans and the rejections and the assertions and the decisions. It was the people who told a poor girl from the violent neighborhood who had seen too much bad that she’d never get to more than customer service and shift differential. Who then congratulated her when she became a Senior Vice President and managed billions of dollars. The girl who barely made ends meet and lived off of cans of corn and potato flakes from the scratch and dent store who just facilitated the largest single gift the Girl Scouts have ever received in their history. A new camp for generations of girls to learn how to be the girl she never thought she could be, but the girl she had to become, because you can’t go back once you leave. You keep going.

I’ve been going since the day I learned what happened to the women in my neighborhood if they didn’t get out.

That girl died on December 31st.

I officially changed my title on Linked In to represent the life I am creating out of purpose as opposed to fear. I am so grateful for the company that raised me, the bosses that led me, the mentors who changed me. I am thankful to them for parenting a girl from the worst part of town who had no direction. A girl with a need to survive and never go back. A girl who turned that into a beautiful life.

A girl who is now harnessing those years of experience, drive, and success to make a difference for the ones who come next.

On her terms.

 

Unraveling: The Messy Business of Letting Go

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I am currently between lives. In the best way possible, so it stunned me when I found out that changing careers would bring about a bit of a catharsis.

There are a lot of cliches being thrown at me about endings, beginnings and letting go. I want to shake the people and say, “I may be just a number to you, a cog in the wheel, a person who took up space, but this was my LIFE.”

Or more correctly, my identity.

This process of unraveling has helped me understand that in the end, it is the person moving on who has wrapped their identity in their title, their paycheck, their perception of their own value. It was my choice to change gears, and don’t get me wrong, I am inordinately excited about what is next. But, there is the withering away, the dying of the aspiration to achieve this career that is ending, the closing up of the office you once walked into with big eyes and a sense of utter accomplishment. But you got used to coming into that office and sitting at that desk, and it lost its shine. You realized there is something bigger for you than that desk, and the chair you spun around in, and the view you had out of your window.

Then one day you pack up that office and it feels…. like a little death.

You are dying to the you that you imagined in other daydreams, other vision boards, other meditations, and visualizations. You are dying to the person you built with blood, sweat, tears and a hell of a lot of regulatory permissions and licenses. You built something, but you are dismantling it. On purpose.

And you grieve alone.

A business, an institution, does not have the ability to grieve you in the same way you grieve who you have become within their hallways and offices.

In the process of the dying is the birth of new. The renewed excitement as the seedlings take root. The realization that I may just have a style that doesn’t include lined dresses and razor-sharp high heels. The realization that I don’t have to spend so much energy figuring out how to hide the tattoo I thought was such a great idea when I was 22, but that I’ve spent my career disavowing and hiding under well-placed straps and high backs, never wearing white.

I thought that maybe I should get a new tattoo to mark my new life, which caused my boyfriend to look at me sideways, “This is a career change, not a life crisis, right?”

I suggested it only be a half sleeve of the dragon I’m becoming and then he breathed really heavy as I laughed, “Just a little word or something, something small, that means something big to me.”

I’m not married to the tattoo. It was a waxing and waning moment that reminded me I’m still a rebellious teen somewhere in there, my parents would not be surprised. What I am married to is the new. This big, beautiful new life that I am building with one word, comma, and paragraph at a time. This new platform where I get to say the things that burn within my chest to help even one girl or woman at a time to be the biggest, baddest versions of themselves.

This new life I am choosing.

It always comes down to choice.

Once upon a time, I chose a path that I explored, and God I made it something. There were castles and beautiful hills, and yes, some treacherous valleys, but I chose and then I created.

Now, I’m choosing again and I have faith in the power of my choices and my ability to co-create with that which is bigger than I am.

So, I will die the deaths and unravel. I will surrender to what is pulling me through to the other side. It will be messy and glorious much like childbirth – ugly and magical all the same.

In my unraveling is brilliance, faith, and choice and to be honest….

I can’t wait to meet the version of myself I am becoming.

 

Just Start

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It’s 2:30 on a Saturday afternoon as I write. I’m still in pajamas and wondering what the hell I’ve accomplished today.

A lot actually.

My book is coming out next month and Dear God, I had no idea what was involved in all of that promotion/marketing/distribution/weaving miracles part. I thought writing the book would be the hard part. I had no idea that figuring out how to get books from printer to people would consume so much of my time.

I had no idea that at some point in my life I would have to accept credit cards.

But, this post isn’t about me.

It is about you.

It’s about the two women who asked me to dig into my soul and give them a little advice this lovely Saturday. They are both on the verge of their new lives and in the recon stage. The part where your old life is pushing you and your new life is pulling you and you start to lean toward the new life because it smells like baby powder and star dust. It feels like warm water and bath salts, like a cool breeze and green grass under your feet. Like fields of lavender brushing against your legs and it wants you to become so bad that you can’t help but put your finger near the socket.

They are taking the steps toward their purpose. The leap toward their destiny. The leaning in that requires new people to show up in your life and take your hand, this way sister, I’ve got you.

They asked some form or variance of the same question about my path, “what did you do?”

I think most people expect me to provide a list or bullet points. As if I have the formula. I guess I do. My answer? I started.

Just start.

When I published my first LORE blog and threw a launch party I had no idea what the ever living hell I was doing. I knew my intention. Ish. It was in grays and cloudy blues, but I gave it room to take shape and form itself, to become brighter, more crystalline as it toddled and learned to eat solids. Curious eyes arrived at that launch party, wondering. I figured if I celebrated it – it had to become something.

When I announced my Love Letters project I only had a handful from women who wanted to share the things they wish they would’ve known when they were girls. I knew that if people loved them as much as I did then more would arrive. They did. Quickly.

When I started interviewing women on camera I had no idea what eyes would view their stories, but that the pure heart and soul showing up on the screen would take your breath away. I have a Letter of Intent for a show that may or may not become. I give room for it to become or to fall apart because I never set my heart on any part or storyline. I allow my project to grow into herself and I love her unconditionally.

When I wrote my book I didn’t know if it should be memoir, anthology or workbook. As the stories began to weave a pattern, a backbone, it became clear it shouldn’t be any of the above and I cannot wait for you to see it. It is beautiful. Not because it is my book, but because it is blessed with so many women’s intention and story that it is far bigger than me. It has its own energy, it’s own path and I’m simply astonished when I hold it in my hands.

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When I began sharing my project with women I had no idea it would form a #girltribe, which is feeling more like a #girlgang these days. They are warriors who want to see the stories I’ve been gifted and intention created shared with the world. I didn’t know it would result in eight speaking engagements within one month of release.

I didn’t know anything, no expectations, no certainties, but I also live and breathe comfortably in this space, this in-between. It is a beautiful place of creation. You never know what will happen, but you can’t hide behind spreadsheets and what ifs. You can’t leave the life you were meant to create drafted in pencil, hiding in daydreams, in limbo wishing to become.

You can’t mourn a life you were never brave enough to birth.

There comes a time that you have to move from self-help books, podcasts, journals and day dreams to action.

You must take action every single day.

Move it forward just a little bit, whether it is an email, a question, a research project, a book to educate you on your new (enter dream here).

Activity begets activity.

Your new life is waiting. Breathing. Wanting to root into you.

Just start.

Xo

J

**LORE: Harnessing Your Past to Create Your Future drops August 20th. If you’d like to pre-order a copy you can do so at https://lore-media.myshopify.com and it will be delivered to you the week of August 20, 2018**

You Are Precious — Letter to My Younger Self by Kim Fredrickson

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It is wonderful to hear from women who believe in using their words and stories to help others. I was recently contacted by Kim Fredrickson, a licensed marriage and family therapist, with a beautiful story and a desire to spread her message of self-compassion. Kim dug in and below you will find the newest Love Letter to grace LORE. I am delighted to include her voice.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Kim Fredrickson –

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Dear Kimmy,

You are a precious little girl. You have such a bright future ahead of you. You are likable, delightful and have a very kind heart. You are smart, hard-working and a very good friend.

You have many wonderful experiences ahead of you, enjoying life and making an impact on your world. You also have some hard times ahead, just like we all do. I’d like to encourage you to spend your time and energy on things that matter and will help you on the road ahead.

Have Fun!

Enjoy life. Do things that you enjoy, energize you and give your life. Try new things, seek out new experiences, and enjoy each day to the fullest!

Draw Close to God

God loves you and will be by your side no matter what. He created you uniquely, and He is so proud of you. Take time to get to learn about Him in the Bible, and through prayer. No matter what happens in your life, you can draw near to Him. He will help you and never leave you, no matter what.

Cultivate Your Friendships

Your friends will be a second family to you, and they will be your lifeline through thick and thin. You will have many fun and meaningful experiences with them, that will fill your heart over your lifetime. You will have struggles and misunderstandings with some friends which is normal. Do all you can to talk things through, and apologize for your part of the problem. If you feel repeatedly harmed by a friend, despite trying to work things out, you may need to say goodbye to that friendship. This is normal. Some friendships are for a season, and some for a lifetime.

Work Hard

You are very bright, and catch on quickly. Work hard at school and your future jobs. The sky is the limit for you. There will be times you will feel like a challenge is too big for you. It isn’t. Take it one piece at a time, and you will grow and succeed. The world needs what you have to offer. God has given you abilities, a compassionate heart, and a message that He wants you to share.

Work Through Your Emotions

You will go through difficult times, and have many confusing emotions. This is normal. Seek help to process your emotions, regulate them, and learn to soothe yourself when you are distressed. These skills will help you make wise decisions and stay connected to yourself. Friends, books and counselors can be great resources to help you work through the normal emotions of life. Don’t hesitate to get help when you need it.

Face into Conflict

It can be scary and difficult to deal with conflict. That’s normal. The reality is that every relationship, job and friendship will have conflicts. Learn what you think, feel and need, and share with others in ways that don’t harm you or the other person. It’s normal to feel uncomfortable during these conversations. You can work through conflict most of the time. Learn to negotiate, and stand up for yourself. You don’t deserve abuse, and can remove yourself from situations and relationships that are harming you.

Grieve Well

You may be surprised to find out that grief can be your best friend. It is God’s answer to processing loss, pain, and disappointment. You may be afraid of these intense feelings and can’t believe they are good. I know. But they are. God is an expert at grief and transitions, and He completely understands. He doesn’t expect you to have your grief processed within a certain amount of time. He is faithful to love us through difficult times.

Being able to grieve throughout your life will be a big part of getting through difficult times. Grieving difficult times will help you feel the emotions, adjust to reality, and eventually adjust to your new normal. Even with times of loss, there are still wonderful times to come.

Learn How to Forgive

Life is full of well-meaning imperfect people who will hurt you, and whom you will hurt. Work through the pain of what has happened, grieve what you are going through and seek comfort and help as needed. Learn how to forgive yourself and others. Lack of forgiveness will keep you stuck in the past and will keep you imprisoned in your pain. You’ll need to learn to forgive yourself too. It’s normal to make mistakes and hurt others and yourself in the process. You can be a good friend to yourself by forgiving yourself for being human.

Be Your Own Best Friend

The way you treat yourself has more impact on you than any other relationship in your life. Learn how to treat yourself with kindness, as you would a dear friend. Don’t allow an inner critic to be your companion. Learn how to acknowledge your mistakes without beating yourself up. Listen to your instincts and speak out about things that are important to you.

In conclusion, you are a delight! You are a precious creation with so much of life ahead of you. I know you, I know what you are made of, and I know your kind and tender heart. I hold you close to my heart, and encourage you to hold you close to yourself too.

Love Always,

Kim

Kim Fredrickson is a licensed marriage and family therapist of thirty-plus years. She loves to teach others about the power of self-compassion from a faith perspective. Kim believes that learning to advocate for yourself with kindness and compassion, just as you would for a good friend, makes living life a little easier. She is the author of Give Yourself a Break: Turning Your Inner Critic into a Compassionate Friend and Give Your Kids a Break: Parenting with Compassion for You and Your Children. She recently retired from her counseling practice when diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a terminal lung disease that developed as a rare complication from the chemotherapy and radiation she received for breast cancer.

After being diagnosed with a terminal illness, she decided to write Give Your Kids a Break as a way to have a positive influence in the lives of her adult children and their future grandchildren. Kim wanted to help them with the challenges of parenting, when the time came. She knew she wouldn’t be around to hold her grandbabies, and help her children raise them in person. Originally it was only going to be for them. As Kim wrote, she thought others might benefit as well, so decided to self-publish it.

Kim has been married to her husband, Dave for thirty-nine years and they have two grown children. Learn more and read her blog at www.kimfredrickson.com She also writes a weekly patient column for Pulmonary Fibrosis News, Just Breathe…Compassionate Help for the PF Journey. Thousands of patients and their loved ones read her column all over the world.

You can find Kim on IG @kimfredrickson, Twitter @kimfredrickson, or Facebook

All The New

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2017 was lumpy. It was a working year. A writing year. A holy hell, I’m 40 year. It was the year I was doing the ugly work that comes with manifesting the new; the details, the calls, the rewrites, the identity crisis, the growth. It was the year I saw myself in all my truth and recognized the things I do really well and the things I don’t. Yet. There may have been an existential crisis on a sailboat off the coast of South Florida over my birthday weekend. My most seasick friend held on to the mast for dear life and announced, “One day you are going to say, ‘remember when I was losing my shit on a sailboat when I turned 40? God, look at me now….'”

I almost see her, the woman my friend described. She’s in the distance, but coming into focus. She’s the woman who has wanted to write a book for as long as she can remember. She’s the one who believes her life’s purpose is to leave her words behind; to help the women and girls that come next.

This is the most vulnerable I have felt in a very long time. I’m almost there. That woman will be me in 2018. I’m still awaiting my pub date, but… it’s happening next year. No more wishing, no more dreaming, no more talking. It’s here.

I want the book done and out in the world like a pregnant woman at 39 weeks screaming, “Just get it out of me!” At the same time I remember the days after Olivia was born. She was no longer safe. I had given her over to the world. Other people would touch her, teach her, have opinions about her, and I could no longer hold her within me, keeping her safe. What feels like my life’s work is going to be outside of me soon. All the speeches I’ve given, all the workshops I’ve facilitated, all the articles and blogs and lengthy, long-winded oratory will be yours. In a book. In your hands. Out of mine.

I only hope that when you read it you will feel the love and intention from which it was created. I hope you walk away from the book feeling lighter, taller, more powerful, more… something.

I hope you welcome all the new that it offers.

Just like I will welcome this new year that I know in my heart is filled with so much joy, healing, love, blessings and a bunch of adventures I haven’t even dreamed up yet. I’m strong enough to take those wobbly steps into my new.

Will you join me?

Open hearts. Open minds. Always.

The Best Things In Life: Moving Toward Purpose

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“What is the best thing that has ever happened to you?

It is a question that continues to surface. I’ve answered it a thousand times, yet, again and again, when life seems difficult, it arises. I’ve included it in my book as a guidepost when understanding self, and offer it as same in workshops I’ve facilitated.

Yet, here I am again, ruminating on the same question.

At first, and much like most parents, I immediately answered, “My daughter,” when I thought about the best events or experiences in my life. Becoming Olivia’s mother, has been the best, albeit hardest, thing I’ve ever done. This little person made me a mother and a much better woman. I am calmer, more insightful, and conscious of the being I’m gifting to the world. When once asked what my job is, she told her teacher, “My mom is my guide and protector.”

Olivia knows I’m a banker and an author, but to her, my job is far more complex and soulful. I have written since I was thirteen years old, but becoming her mother created a focus I never had before. I always knew my words were powerful, but raising a girl in a world made for men gave them direction and clarity.

The next thing that came to mind was my faith. I was raised in a very religious family, but never once felt as if I was connected to the God of my childhood. Everything was rote, prayers were memorized, allegiances feigned. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties and someone asked, “Jeanette, you keep saying ‘I was taught to believe.’ What do you believe?” that I realized I had no foundation of faith.  I was stunned, “I’ve been told what to believe my entire life. I have no idea.”

I was connected to nothing. I was jealous of those who would kneel before alters or offer their supplications to a God I couldn’t wrap my head around. I wondered what it was like to have that feeling and to believe in something. Then, in a very quick span of time I lost three friends in death, one to the messiness of life, and my husband in divorce. I needed to hurt, to bleed my stories and be stripped down to the flesh and marrow before I was ready or able to fully open myself up to something bigger than me. I have often said, “I found my faith,” but it would be more correct to say that faith found me and has not let me go.

The third best thing that has ever happened to me was finding my voice. They say you pick your parents. If I did, I picked a mother who kept me small, quiet and frightened, so that I could rise above, squeak, warble and then sing. I had to be held tight, silenced and shushed so that I could truly understand the power behind the words that sit so deeply within my chest. She once asked me not to write about her when I’d posted about being raised in the shadow of addiction. Rather than fight, I asked her to allow me to own my story. She thought I was writing about her, not realizing that she gifted me this story as it was the framework of my childhood. I’d received three messages from women who were also raised by alcoholics and addicts just that day, thanking me for finding the words they themselves couldn’t. I shared that with my mother, explaining that by using my voice I’d helped someone else.

My voice, it seems, is my most powerful attribute.

I have words within my veins like lace and cobwebs. They were put there by something bigger than me and they want desperately to be seen and heard. It has been through my daughter, my faith and my voice that they have found their way out of me and onto the page, the stage and into the hearts of others.

The best things that ever happened to me brought me to my purpose.

Now tell me, what is the best thing that ever happened to you?

Xo,

J