In the year leading up to her 50th birthday, Jennifer found herself divorced, an empty nester, let go from her career, and bed-ridden with a stress-related illness. In the space of a year, all of her identities were stripped away from her and, most days, she couldn’t even get out of bed. That led to wondering what was wrong with her and why her life had crumbled when everyone else looked like they had it all together. She wondered, ‘if I’m not a wife, if I’m not a mother, if I’m not a corporate executive, then who am I?’ 

Guest Bio 

Jennifer Arthurton is the founder and creator of Old Chicks Know Sh*t, a community and a podcast designed to inspire and support midlife women in chasing their dreams and creating their kick ass next chapter.  Jennifer is a former Fortune 500 marketing executive turned midlife mentor, podcast host, writer and speaker. Having survived her own midlife crisis and subsequent course correction, she has a passion for helping other women uncover the inherent power and wisdom of a time of  life when they often feel overlooked and doubt themselves most. 

Turning 40 and Shedding Old Identities

In this episode of the Forty Drinks Podcast, Stephanie interviews Jennifer Arhturon, who went through a transformative midlife crisis at the age of 50. Jennifer shares her journey of self-discovery and how she navigated the challenges of divorce, empty nest syndrome, and a stress-related illness that left her bedridden. She discusses the importance of listening to your inner voice and honoring your desires and dreams. Jennifer also talks about the mission behind her podcast, Old Chicks Know Shit, which aims to empower women in their 40s and beyond to embrace their wisdom and live fulfilling lives. This episode is a reminder that it’s never too late to reinvent yourself and find happiness in the next chapter of life.

Highlights from the episode:

  • Jennifer’s realization that she was living a life based on external validation and the need to prove her worth. 
  • The wake-up call she received when her life fell apart at the age of 50, leading to a period of self-reflection and discovery.
  • The importance of paying attention to the whispers and nudges of dissatisfaction, rather than ignoring them and having to deal with burnout and break down.
  • Jennifer’s journey of getting to know herself and uncovering her true desires and passions.
  • The power of meditation and stillness in finding clarity and connecting with one’s inner voice.
  • Embracing creativity as a means of self-expression and fulfillment.
  • The mission of Old Chicks Know Shit to remind women that they are more than their external appearances and to empower them to embrace their wisdom and share their gifts with the world.

If you enjoyed this episode, don’t forget to rate, follow, and review the Forty Drinks Podcast.

Guest Resources

Jennifer’s Special Offer for Forty Drinks Listeners: How to get unstuck and create your best next chapter

Old Chicks Know Shit Podcast

Old Chicks Know Shit on Facebook 

Old Chicks Know Shit on Instagram

Do you have the Midlife Ick? 

Download Stephanie’s guide to the Ick to diagnose whether you or someone you love is suffering from this insidious midlife malaise. www.fortydrinks.com/ick

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Sponsor

The Forty Drinks Podcast is produced and presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications

Transcript

Jennifer: Hey, Jen. Thanks so much for joining me today.

Thanks so much for having me.

Stephanie: You know, you and I first met when I was on your podcast and it's funny because I don't, first of all, you don't look it and I certainly don't want to call you it, but you call yourself an old chick. Yeah,

Jennifer: at 57, the world will call me an old chick. I do not feel like an old chick. But it's really just like a tongue in cheek expression.

Stephanie: yeah, and the title of your podcast I absolutely love because it's Old Chicks, Know Shit. And those of us who have hit a mark somewhere above 40 know that, and even somewhere above 50 know that it's true.

Jennifer: Right.

Stephanie: A lot of it we come to, naturally with time and age and a lot of it we earn with the the scars and the stripes and everything else.

Jennifer: Exactly. Exactly. It's that valuable life experience that cannot be replaced with anything else.

Stephanie: No, even people telling you,

Jennifer: Oh, no, no, no, no.

St ephanie: Well, it isn't that interesting though, because that's exactly the reason that you and I both do our podcasts is to try to share some of that experience some of those stories. And maybe not so people don't have to go through it themselves, but in my case, I know I do it. So they don't feel as alone as you know, as they do, one of the things I've realized in doing this podcast is that it's, it is no longer common cultural knowledge that we go through a transition sometime around age 40 plus or minus, right? We don't know, you know, 20, 30 years ago, there was the stereotypical midlife crisis. And at least it was part of the vernacular. If you started feeling things or you started feeling that discomfort or that dis, dis ease, that unease, you at least could say, well, it's not, you know , what that guy's doing, but maybe it's in the, in the same, you know, ballpark.

And, and I don't think we have that anymore.

Jennifer: I often refer to my own experience as a midlife crisis, but the reality is it's not so much as a crisis as it is an awakening and, you know, we can avoid the crisis. If we pay attention to the awakening. Me, I did not obviously, quite obviously, pay attention.

Stephanie: You and me both.

Jennifer: And ended up in the place where it became a crisis, but the crisis is fully to get us to pay attention to the awakening. Right. So, you know, that, that saying, you know, first you get a whisper, then you get a nudge, then you get a gentle push. And then if you're still not listening, you get the brick in the head.

Yeah, that's me.

Stephanie: Yeah, yeah. The way I say that same exact thing is the universe will send you the same lesson over and over again until you learn it.

And if you're not paying attention, the lessons are going to get harder and harder and more painful and more challenging. Yeah.

Yeah,

So, for you, your transition came a little bit later than a lot of the people I've talked to previously. Yours came at 50.

And I'm so really interested and curious to hear how you got there because it sounds like you were doing a lot of what I have done a lot through my life, which is not paying attention, you know, head in the sand, playing ostrich. Why don't we start by give me a sense of what were the forces that made you, what were the experiences? Who were you by the time you got to your mid forties?

Jennifer: yeah. So I was a wife, a mother had had a very successful corporate career, spent 30 years in corporate marketing in the finance industry. You know, I was very well paid in my job. I had lots of amazing perks. And, you know, my job title was very much my identity. In fact, all of my titles were my identity.

So, you know, as a corporate executive who, you know, drove soccer carpool on the weekends, you know, lived in the perfect little house in the suburbs, you know, I had it looked on the outside. It was the perfect life

Stephanie: Yeah.

Jennifer: and, you know, it's interesting that you say, you know, like, I didn't have my, my transition until I was 50.

If I'm really honest with myself, it started happening in my 40s, probably early in my 40s. Right? But, like, to the point that we were just making, I was trying very, very hard not to pay attention. So I would find myself at work, you know, in a boardroom, half listening to what was going on in the meeting.

And thinking to myself, is this it? Is this really what I wanted for my life? Is like, is this is this what I've worked so hard for? And there was this like nagging little feeling of dissatisfaction and it would pop up every once in a while and I would squash it down quickly, like really quickly. I'd be like, okay, get back to work. Start focusing. And the reason why I did that is because. I didn't know what to do with it. Right? Like, if I listened and paid attention, that would mean I would have to make some changes. And I was like, oh, God, I have no idea what's possible for me. What would I change? And I would tell myself all the time, you should be grateful.

Like, people would kill to be in your position.

Stephanie: Right? Right? What would you change because everything was, air quotes, perfect?

Jennifer: Right, by all measures of anything outside of myself, I was living the perfect life. Like, I got to go to Olympic events, I was standing on stage with Lady Gaga. I was like, you know what I mean? Like, exactly. Like I had these incredible experiences. I was really well paid.

And there was still this like little niggling inside me that I would shut it down and I shut it down over and over and over again. Until I really had no choice. And what happened was in the year leading up to my 50th birthday. So, starting from age 49,

Stephanie: hmm.

Jennifer: I found myself in very quick succession of events. So, all in within under a year, I found myself divorced, an empty nester. My kid moved 3 hours away to go to school. I was let go from my career and I was bedridden with a stress related illness.

Stephanie: Oh, God. Well, the universe had your attention.

Jennifer: Oh, boy, did it ever. And. It was as though, all of my identities who I thought I was in the world was literally stripped away from me in a very short space of time. And I found myself, like, most days, I couldn't get out of bed. Going grocery shopping was a feat that would require, like, a 3 hour nap before I could actually put the groceries away.

I was, mentally, physically, and emotionally completely spent and I would lie in my bed and like, first of all, throwing myself a big old pity party. Like, what's wrong with me? Everybody else has got their shit together. Why is my life crumbling? And then what I realized was what, like, if I'm not a wife, if I'm not a mother, if I'm not a corporate executive, then who am I?

Right? Like, who am I? That question just kept coming up over and over and over again. And then the other part was. I had no idea what I wanted for my life. if I wasn't consumed with all of these things. Then what was I going to do with the rest of my life? And I truly, at that point, believed that this was the beginning of the end for me.

Right? Like, I'm 50. Nobody starts over at 50. I'm supposed to be riding off into the retirement sunset on the arm of a handsome man with a pot of gold, you know, like, that's the narrative that was shown to me at every turn, right? Like I'm supposed to, you know, sit around waiting for my grandkids to visit.

Like my life is consumed with, meal replacement shakes and bladder leakage protection. Like that's what our culture was telling me about what it meant to be beyond 50. So I was like, okay, well, this is the beginning of the end. I'm just going to coast into the finish line from here. And then I realized one day I was like, okay, wait a minute.

I have a 30 year chapter ahead of me, like, God willing, you know, maybe even longer, maybe it's 35 or 40 years. And am I really just going to coast into the finish line for e 30 years? Like, that seems a little absurd to me.

Stephanie: right,

Jennifer: Yeah.

Stephanie: right. Because 30 years, if you look backwards, is like from 20, imagine all the things you did between 20 and 50, and now you're saying all that time you're just gonna give up.

Jennifer: Exactly. Right. And if you think about it, like of all the phases of a woman's life, to think that this chapter, this long chapter has been completely discounted and erased from the social scene or from our culture.

Again, I was like, wow, this is absurd. So there's nothing like an injustice to get me a little fired up.

Stephanie: all

those, those fire me too. Yeah. Well, and the, the other interesting thing is the people that I've talked to, the women that I've talked to who are beyond 50 and beyond 60, they will tell you that this not only is this one of the longest phases, but it's also one of the most potent because now, you know, shit.

Jennifer: And this is the thing. I mean, this is why I do the work that I do is because as women, you know, we are taught to see our value in what we do for other people the shape of our body. Is it pleasing to somebody outside of us? And our ability to have kids? Right? So when your body's changing, you know what I mean?

Your kids need you less and you know, you're, you're no longer reproducing. You start to question your value in the world, right? Like, we've been conditioned this way since we were born. Right? To see our value. So all of a sudden you start questioning your value. And what happens is, is we downplay or we ignore all of the life experience and wisdom and knowledge that we have collected up to this point. It just like evaporates. It's not worth anything. And I'm like, this is where Old Chicks, Know Shit comes from is because we are not our faces, our bodies, our gray hair, extra pounds, wrinkles, any of that stuff. What we are is the culmination of all of that knowledge and wisdom and life experience, which is so incredibly valuable. Right. And the only question is, is like, what are we going to do with it? Like, what are we going to use it for?

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. How are we going to put it to work? Yeah.

Jennifer: Yeah, exactly. I no longer had those identities as wife, mother, corporate executive, I had to start to think about like, who was I right. And to get to know the woman underneath it, which now I see as an amazing gift, I couldn't see it before because I was so immersed in all the doing, and all the doing of all the things and the roles and responsibilities that I had. And yeah, getting to know, it really was a journey of getting to know myself.

Yeah.

Stephanie: I'm going to pause there and go backwards alittle bit. So talk to me a little bit about your 40s. You started to get the little glimmers that you ignored. So, which I did as well, because for exactly the same reason you did, what do you do with them?

As a matter of fact, I think I, I drank most of mine away.

I drowned most of mine. Not that I was an alcoholic. I was a fun party drinker, but still I drank a lot. But it was also probably to keep a lot of that stuff quiet. So you found yourself that year of 49, everything happened very quickly. But what about the years leading to it? Was your marriage okay through your forties or was that, yeah, breaking down over time? Or was that a very fast thing? Because I mean, the thing about your son, you know, I was like, well, we know what age he is. We know when he's going to leave. Right. So you could sort of see that part on the horizon. But I'm guessing the divorce was a little bit more surprising.

Jennifer: Yeah. I mean, you know, it seemingly happened overnight, but obviously, there was a lot leading up to that. Your way of coping was, you know, drinking. Mine was do more. Right. So I was like huge into physical fitness. I had a really demanding corporate job. I was traveling all the time and it was always like this strive to be more, do more, have more, right? Like that was my thing. And so I spent most of my forties focused on like accomplishment.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Jennifer: Achieving, which now I, you know, nothing wrong with achieving, I'm all for everybody being their highest and best, but the motivation and the underlying energy behind achievement matters.

And for me, it was about proving, right? Like proving that I'm okay, proving that I'm worthy, you know, and that was, that was my forties. It's like. I remember actually on the morning of my 40th birthday, I was one of those people who used to go to the gym at 5 30 in the morning before I would head to the office.

And I remember being in the gym. It's like, nobody's there except me and maybe just one other dude in the gym. And I'm on the treadmill and I'm thinking to myself like, wow, this is 40. Like I got to get my shit together. I've got to do more. I've got to accomplish more. You know, like it was like double down on everything.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Jennifer: But that allowed me to not pay attention to A, my own inner voice, B to the things that were happening outside of myself. I mean, my husband, my ex husband and I are great friends now, and we have amazing conversations. He said to me several times. There was no space. There was just no space. Right I mean, had we had a conversation while we were still married, it probably might have turned out differently,

Stephanie: Right. Right. Right. So all of the achieving, all of the, effort and attention and energy you put into achieving, the things that you were achieving, why did you choose those? What did they mean to you?

Jennifer: So for me and this is, you know, one of the things, like, when you start to get to know yourself, and you have to come face to face with yourself, you have to see the good, the bad and the ugly. Right? And one of the things that became very apparent to me is for most of my entire life. I was trying to prove my own enoughness.

Right. If I had a certain job title, I was successful. If I had a certain salary or a certain type of house, or I drove a certain type of car that was like, Hey world, look. Look how good I am.

Stephanie: yes,

Jennifer: Right. But you can't, no matter how many band aids you put on top of the not enoughness wound, you will never, ever, ever feel enough. In fact, you have to keep going. It's like the addiction. You have to keep going to keep fueling it. Right.

Stephanie: yes,

yes,

Jennifer: And so that, that was my addiction of choice and it was celebrated like culturally it's celebrated. So I was like, yeah, of course, I'm doing all the right things.

Stephanie: yeah.

Yeah and at that point, I'm not sure, and I'm sort of thinking for you here. Did you give any thought to the things you were achieving, whether they were what you wanted or whether they were making you happy?

Jennifer: So that was one of my, the probably the greatest realization for me you know, when I was in my bed, unable to get out forced into a place of stillness that I had never, ever in my entire life, We are given the rule book, especially as women, we are given the playbook early on. Right?

It's like, go to school, get good grades, get a good job, work your way up the corporate ranks, you know, somewhere in there, get married, have a kid check, check, check, check, check, check. I was checking all of the boxes. I was like the good girl, right? Like the good student.

Stephanie: Yep.

Jennifer: And I realized that nowhere along the way, had I ever stopped to check in to see if it was what I wanted, like what made me happy, like what fulfilled me.

So I kept going like, okay, I'm going to achieve more, achieve more, but the more was never satisfying because I was more of the wrong thing. Like, you know, they say you put the ladder against the wall and you climb the ladder when you realize, oh my God, I'm on the wrong wall.

Stephanie: Oh, okay.

Jennifer: Right. You get to the top and you're like, oh shit, that wasn't the wall. I'm supposed to be on a different wall. And that was exactly it. And. I see this all the time with the women in my community, right? Like we're operating from a place of unconsciousness because we are so disconnected from ourselves, from our wants, right? Again, because all of validation comes from outside of us, right?

Like, are we good moms? Are we good sisters? Are we good wives? Are we good corporate employees, right? And we ignore ourselves for so long that we become so completely disconnected. And that was literally my story. My forties was the period of disconnection.

Stephanie: Yep.

Jennifer: right? And then when I got to 50 and everything fell apart, I was like, wow, I have no idea who I am. I have no idea what I want for my life.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. I've, I've said a couple of times and one of my girlfriends and I talk about this. We cope with capability.

Jennifer: Mmmmm.

Stephanie: We cope by taking care of business. We cope by getting things done and doing things and checking off the list.

if you don't mind me asking what kind of illness stopped you in your tracks?

Jennifer: So it was a stress related illness that had to do with my adrenals and, you know, just general burnout. I stopped sleeping for like, I don't know, months for months and months and months, probably close to a year. I was like getting maybe 2 or 3, or max 4 hours of sleep a night and I would wake up and be like, okay, I feel fine. I feel good. And then you know, a few months of this, I was like, this is not good. Like, I'm not sleeping and I wake up, I'm like, I'm ready to go. I'm ready to go. But on the flip side of it. You know, I would find myself at work in the bathroom, crying over the smallest things, right?

I was in the gym working out. I was getting injured every other week, right? There were so many signs and signals along the way that I would, again, I wasn't paying attention to because I was so driven by that need to achieve. have you ever heard the term? Like, you know, if you're trying to hold a beach ball underwater, like, how much energy have you ever tried to do that? Like, take a beach ball, push it under the water and hold it there. The amount of energy it takes to keep that beach ball underwater. Right? Is intense and it's eventually going to come up, it's going to like squirt out sideways one way or the other. And that's literally what I was doing. Like, I was expending so much mental, physical and emotional energy in this, trying to prove that I was enough that that literally physically depleted me.

Stephanie: Yeah, you rain your tank more than dry,

Jennifer: More than dry, way more than dry. And I remember, you know, there was various points in my career. I'd be like, oh, you know, I should really try and meditate because that's what everybody does. The most successful people meditate. Oh, I would try this meditation and I know I had determined it an abject failure because I'm like, this is just not the way I'm built. I can't meditate.

Then one day I'm on a business trip. I'm in New York and I had heard about this meditation class at my local yoga studio. And I was like, I don't know why, but I feel like so compelled to go to this class. Like completely compelled it again. I have no idea why. And I ended up taking a standby flight home to get to this class on time. Again, I'm like going, why, what am I, what am I doing? But okay. We're going along with it. I get in the class. I sit down on the mat. There's like 6 of us in the class. It's this dim candlelit room. it's a guided meditation. The instructor starts, you know, the, the meditation. And 5 minutes in, I feel this like well of emotion

Stephanie: How long until you were sobbing

Jennifer: Well, literally, you know, and I'm saying to myself, Jennifer, get your shit together. Like, What's happening?

Stephanie: We're in public. Don't

Jennifer: Yeah, you're like, like, get it together, girl, get it together. But I can't stop it. And it literally comes up. And I'm not talking about like, I'm crying with like, there's a tear or two rolling down my face.

No, no, I am ugly sobbing at this point. Right. And the instructor looks at me and she just like slides a box of Kleenex onto my mat. And, you know, just like, nods and I spent the whole class. I mean, the people must have loved me. I'm like crying and blowing my nose and I have no idea what's happening. Like, I feel like, okay, I am losing it now.

And as I leave, you know, I've got like, mascara running down my face. I've got 2 handfuls of snotty Kleenex and the instructor looks at me and she says, I'm starting an 8 week session. If you'd like to join. And before I knew what was doing, I signed up for that 8 week session and I all the way home and going. Well, okay, I'm canceling. Like what the hell I'm not doing that, but I didn't. And I went. And it was probably four or five of those eight weeks I spent on the mat crying with no idea why I was crying. But at some point I was like, okay, well, quite frankly, quite obviously I can't stop this. So I'm just going to let it happen and see where this goes.

And that was the beginning of like releasing so much stuff, right, that I had been so busy pushing down, pushing down, pushing down, which is exactly what led to my burnout.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I can see it easily. You had finally given yourself a moment of space, peace, quiet, stop, rest. It was like you'd struck oil in Texas.

Jennifer: Yeah. It was like a tidal wave. Just like, Yeah.

Intermission

Stephanie: So were you ever able to take up the habit of meditation after that

Jennifer: Oh, meditation is a huge part of my life.

Stephanie: Really? That's interesting. I also have had a, challenging time making it a part of my everyday existence Oh, people say it's so important. And you know, all the most successful people doing it. Right? and I, I have some guided meditations that I'll do, but doing it on my own, I, I find myself challenged.

Jennifer: Meditation means different things to me at different times. And honestly, I, I am now at the place where I honor what feels right to me at that time. So sometimes it means sitting still by myself and just seeing what's happening with my thoughts. Other times is listening to a guided meditation. Other times it's a walk in nature. I'll go into the forest. Like by myself. And as long as we're incorporating, silence, stillness, and solitude in some form or combination of two of those three things, that is meditation. Because it's just calming you long enough to be able to hear what's going on inside you, to create that awareness.

Stephanie: Yeah. Wow. Okay, so now you are flat on your back, in bed, can't get out and trying to figure out who the heck you even are. Tell me about that process of uncovering who the heck you even are.

Jennifer: Yeah. I mean, I was starting at the beginning, like, like you're presented with a stranger, and that's literally who I was. I was a stranger to myself. And so I started, and this was, I was a little bit forced to, because I was forced into this place of stillness. It was like, okay, I'm just going to sit with myself in stillness and see what comes up.

And so, you know, like what thoughts am I thinking? Right, like, how do I feel like I was asking myself these, like, really, really basic questions and the more that I spent time with myself and started listening to myself, like, listening to that inner voice, right? Like, what is she saying to me? And paying attention. Like, sometimes it might be today I'd like to eat an orange, right? Or, you know. A lot of times it would be she would be asking me to go into nature and I was so burnt out that like, walking, I couldn't walk very far or very long. So I would go across the street. To the park, like, that was across from my house, and I would sit under a tree. And just sit there and just

Stephanie: Mm.

Jennifer: see what came up. Right. And then after a process of doing this over time, started to understand things about myself. It was like, you know, things would come up about, like, oh, you should write. I was like, well, I'm not a writer, right? Then I'd be, I'd be like, okay, I'm going to try it.

And, you know, that actually led to the blog, which started Old Chicks Know Shit. Because I started writing about my experience and how I was feeling it. And, you know, the thing was, I thought I was alone in all of this. Like, I thought I was broken. Like, there's something wrong with me, with my life. After I started sharing little bits of this, people started saying, Oh my goodness, that's me. I'm there too. And then I was like, wow, there's all of us. Like, it's just like you said, in this period of transition thinking like, I must be crazy. I must be broken. I must be wrong.

Stephanie: Yeah,

Jennifer: And that's not true. We're all in it together and nobody's talking about it.

Stephanie: And that's the thing, right? It's, it's so crazy because all these pictures of what success looks like that we all cling to. It turns out it's truly only the minority that are truly happy with that. Going off in your own direction and making up a life that, that suits you perfectly is actually what most people want.

Jennifer: Exactly.

Stephanie: We just, a lot of times don't know how. And for a lot of us, like you, and others that I've spoken to, it entails blowing up what looks like a perfectly lovely life.

Jennifer: Yeah. And, like you said, I mean, it's a perfectly lovely life for somebody because that's their journey. That's their purpose. Right. And I mean, this transition for us. It's especially like, you know, in our forties and fifties is literally about coming back to the truth, like our truth, the truth of who we are.

We've been given the playbook from day one and we're all following along and we are supposed to be questioning at this time. Like, if you find yourself asking, is this it? What's next? I always say, congratulations, you are exactly where you should be.

Stephanie: Right. Right. And congratulations for being awake.

Jennifer: Yeah.

Stephanie: Awake enough to ask the question.

Jennifer: Well, exactly. Right. We were never meant to be the same person from the beginning to the end of our lives. Like, I don't know who sold us that bill of goods, but that's every chapter of your life demands a different version of you. Right and so allowing ourselves and this is the thing, right?

Like, we get stuck because we are hanging on to what we think is the right thing or the thing that we should be doing, or the thing that's expected of us. And we hang on to that thing because that's our validation, right? That's our like, checkmark that we're doing the right things

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Jennifer: when, we are supposed to evolve and, discover different aspects of who we are and like, everything is always changing. it's like trees, right? Like, we never stop growing and changing and being able to let go and acknowledge the new parts of you that are coming up. mean, it takes courage.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. And a big part of this transition is, and you've said, you just said a couple of the words. So for a lot of our early adulthood, we are driven by the word should. Right and whoever fed us that it was somebody external to us who told us and by and large, listen, those external people want us to be happy, healthy, safe, successful.

Right?

And so they tell us this is the career you should get in. It'll get you all the trappings of success. You'll be secure. You'll be safe, right? He'd be a great dad. You should marry him, right? All of these things. And, and so the, our early adulthood is really marked by checking the boxes. that have been presented to us as the playbook as, as the right thing to do. And this transition is really when we. Start trusting ourselves and our own and our own heart and our own experience more than those external authorities, no matter how, well intentioned they are.

Jennifer: Absolutely. This, that is the hallmark of this chapter of our lives. It's about moving from, you know, being guided by what's outside of us to being guided by what's inside of us. Because we all have gifts. We all have an intuition. We all have purpose, right? You know, getting to understand those things about ourselves is what's going to guide us into what I call, you know, your kick ass next chapter where it feels truly fulfilling.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. And all those things that bubble up inside of you that feel crazy or out there or scary or ridiculous. Those are the things you really need to do because those those are your true self calling through.

Jennifer: Exactly. I always say your dreams and your desires are not random. they're a part of you wanting to be expressed. Right? And so when you honor those things, no matter how crazy they seem, you're literally discovering, you know, parts of yourself, like parts of your higher self. Right. That part of you, your higher self, that part of you that can see beyond the fear and the doubt and the conditioning who knows the truth of who you are and what you are capable of.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Yeah. Yeah.

Jennifer: Yeah.

Stephanie: So, as you went through this period of repair and recovery, what was it that you learned about who you were? Who you are.

Jennifer: Beautiful question. You know, one of the biggest realizations for me was that I am inherently a very creative person and that I need to have a creative outlet. Had you asked me, you know, 10, 15 years ago, I'd be like, yeah, no, I'm not creative. Right. Like I do strategy for a living. That's what I do. And you know, the more I, I play, the more I give myself permission to create,

Stephanie: mm hmm.

Jennifer: the more me, I feel. And this is still, let me just, me just put this in context. This is still a work in progress because every day it's about discovering different parts of myself and different parts of my creativity and how it's asking to be expressed.

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Jennifer: Right? Even understanding, you know, different ways about how I learn and create. Right? Like, movement for me is one of the key things. Like, while I'm moving, things fall into place that I, if I sat in a chair for 3 hours, I couldn't figure out. But if I go for a walk, all the pieces will fall into place. Or, you know if I'm chopping vegetables for dinner. Right? And so, you one of the things I, you know, I think I'm a bit, and I know everybody's being diagnosed with ADD these days, but I sometimes feel like I'm a little, and I believe everybody's kind of on a spectrum of it, but I used to always make myself wrong for never wanting to sit still. Right? Like, I was always kind of doing something and giving myself permission to be like. Oh, like that need for movement, like trying to tie myself to my computer and write the thing, right. I can't, I can't do it. I need to start and then I'll go off and do something. And while I'm doing something else, the pieces of like, I can come back and write that thing in 20 minutes.

So giving myself permission to work out of the box. And like, every time I do that, I discover some different aspect that feels really natural for me.

Stephanie: Yeah. I've done something similar in the last handful of years. Now I've been managing a chronic illness for almost seven years now. And one of the things that I've really stepped into during this period is, you know what folks? I am not a morning person and I don't care if you are, and I don't care if businesses open at eight 30 or nine o'clock.

I, I don't care. There actually was a short period in time while I was in college that I, I did 5:45, aerobics classes somewhere and believe, but, you know, we can do anything in our twenties really.

But Now, you know, I know for a fact that I am I'm, I'm not a morning person. , my parents, when I was two, three, could not get me to go to bed at night. I always wanted to be up. If there were people, I was like, what's going on? I want to see, I want to be a part. Right. And then they'd have to drag me out of bed in the morning. So I am. innately at a cellular level, a night owl. So you know what, don't look for me before 11am, but you know what, on a good day, when I'm feeling good and strong, I'll finish my day, but sometime between seven and eight. Because those hours of like 2 to 3 to like, you know, 5, 6, 7, those are my crank hours.

Jennifer: Yeah.

Stephanie: And I know that there are plenty of people who get the like, Oh, from like, you know, 5 to 7 AM, I like, I write, I, you know, it's like. You know what? Mine are, 3 to 7 p. m.

Jennifer: Yeah. Perfect.

Stephanie: And I'm just gonna build my life around that because that will make me successful. That will give me ease in my life. I now do not feel guilty if it takes me an hour to wake up because that's what I have to deal with, you know, these health issues I manage. And, and I'm not letting anybody down.

Jennifer: Yeah. But that is, I mean, that's so beautiful in just in terms of honoring where you're at. And at some point that maybe that would change and even then it's like being willing to change with it. But just honoring who we are, without making ourselves wrong, because again, like we're taught in school, like you have to fit into this box.

Right. And if you fall outside of this box, then you're like a special learner or something like that. So we all try and squeeze ourselves into this box that we, like, from some of us, we were never, ever meant to be in, or for some of us, the box is triangular. Other people, it's circular. Some people it's small, other people it's big, but we were never meant to fit into a box.

And being able to expand into the fullness of who we are means honoring all of the parts of ourselves without making them wrong.

Stephanie: Yes. I love that. Without making them wrong. They're not wrong. They're just you.

Jennifer: exactly. And we need people of all. In fact, I was listening to a podcast a while ago and they were talking about morning people versus night people and this whole fallacy that, you know, the 5 a. m. club and. And people literally like their circadian rhythms are built differently because when we were packs and tribes on the Savannah, you needed people who were going to stay up late. And then you needed people who were going to get up in the morning. you needed all of those different, you know, things to be able to, for the survival of the tribe, right?

Because if everybody went to sleep at the same time and everybody's, you know what I mean? Then the lions are going to eat us all.

Stephanie: Right. Right. And the fire's gonna go out and you know, other things aren't gonna get done. Absolutely. You needed to cover all of the hours.

Yeah.

Jennifer: Exactly. So it's, it's meant to be that way. And, you know, so beautiful that you are allowing yourself, giving yourself permission to being able to honor who exactly you are at this moment.

Stephanie: Yeah, yeah. Well,

Jennifer: is amazing.

Stephanie: for me, the illness has done a lot of the same things it did for you, right? It, it, it slowed me down.

It it made me stop. It made me reckon with a lot of things. And, you know, fortunately, unfortunately, however, you know, I always, I tend to look at it. Unfortunately, it's taking a long time to, to find the resolution and work towards the resolution.

But. You know, I definitely have gone through the process of, the acceptance and the living within, and like the, I don't hate it. it just is. And that's, that's who I am in this period of life.

But, but I had a thought much like yours, just literally just within the last two or three weeks, maybe even more recently. I turned 52 this summer and I realized that my my grandmother, my father's mother lived till she was 92 and my, my mother's mother was killed by a drunk driver, so we didn't get to see her natural end, but her sister lived until she was 99 and a half.

Jennifer: Wow.

Stephanie: And so I realized that at 52, I have 40 years left.

40!

Jennifer: Right.

Stephanie: 40 years! And so, you know what? I can take whatever time it, I need to take to make it through this. This phase, this chapter, this illness chapter until I get on the other side.

And then, like you said, change with that. And what will mornings look like? And what will movement look like? And what will things look like?

Jennifer: Right. Well, and you know, I love that you said that because it took me probably three years to really like heal myself.

Stephanie: Yeah,

Jennifer: And honestly, you know, looking back on it, I'm like, it had to take that amount of time for me to not revert back to

Stephanie: right,

Jennifer: the way that I used to operate, because even now, right? Like, having the experience that I've had, like, sometimes I'll get a little too far off track and then I'll start to feel the, you know. The, the, the symptom, and then I'll be like, Oh, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Come back on over here. Right. But it literally is a guidepost, but had I cured that in six months, I probably would never have gotten on the right track.

But now I know there's a way that I have to operate in a way that I have to show up and that illness showed me that path. Had I not had that illness, it would have been a lot longer. Maybe I would have got there anyway, but it would have been a lot longer of a journey.

Stephanie: Yeah. Isn't it funny that it, it, and I, this is just crystallizing for me as you're talking about it and thinking about myself as well. Isn't it funny that it takes an illness to teach us how to live in a healthy way?

Jennifer: Listen, the law of polarity, right? Like literally the law of polarity. When you're sick, there is health available to you and you're being asked to find your way to that. Right.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah.

Oh God. So, so who are you now? Who are you today?

Jennifer: I am a woman on a mission is what I am.

Stephanie: What's your mission?

Jennifer: My mission is really, I mean, Old Chicks, Know Shit. The mission of Old Chicks Know Shit is to remind women that we are so much more than we give ourselves credit for then, you know, like I said at the beginning that we are not our faces. We are not our bodies. We are not wrinkles. We are not gray hair. We are powerful women with knowledge and wisdom and experience and so many gifts. So much to offer the world, and the only thing standing between us and our gifts and offerings to the world is our belief in ourselves. And, you know, believing that we are powerful in a society that wants to tell us we're less valuable, less relevant, you know. Is is an active rebellion

Stephanie: Yeah.

Jennifer: It is an act of rebellion. And the more of us that see ourselves as powerful, the more of us that, step into our greatness, the more of us that follow our passions and honor who we are, we are paving the way, not only for the other women of our generation, but for the generations of women coming behind us.

Right. And that's the mission to be like, no, this 30 year chapter is not irrelevant. It's not just like this thing where you just fade into the background and wait for the credits to roll. No, no, you are given an opportunity. Like to, you know, become the highest and best version of yourself so that you can serve humanity, right?

Like, uh, female orca whales, killer whales are the only other mammals to go through menopause. And when they go through menopause, they then become the leaders of the pods. So they, you know, take care of the babies. They lead the pods to food, right? In Chinese medicine, there's what's called your chi energy, which during your reproductive years flows downwards through your body towards your reproductive organs. When you reach menopause, it actually reverses and comes up through the body and out through the eyes so that a woman can share her gifts with the world.

Stephanie: I did not know that. That's beautiful.

Jennifer: Isn't it? I, every time I say it, I get goosebumps because that, and that is the truth of this chapter of our lives. Yeah, that's my mission.

Stephanie: I love it. I love it. And it's funny. Our missions are so aligned. I'm just at I'm just at the junction before you pick up the mantle and shepherd people into the crone period.

Jennifer: Yeah.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Jennifer: I hate that term by the way, crone to

Stephanie: you do?

Jennifer: says like, well, so it's interesting. So if you look at the typical, you know, archetypes of a women's life, right. There's maiden, self explanatory. Mother.

Stephanie: Mm hmm. Mm

Jennifer: And then there's Crone. And I'm like, to me, whenever I think of Crone, I think of this, like, wizened old woman sitting on a mountaintop spouting wisdom before she departs the planet.

And I'm like, wait a minute. What about the time between, like, when my kid leaves home and I become this, like, wise old woman on the mountaintop? Like, what about that? So I actually have termed those the Maven years, because the dictionary definition of the word Maven is an expert with knowledge and wisdom to share.

And the beautiful part about the Maven years is that we are old enough to be able to have the experience, but we're also young enough to be able to see the effects that we have, right? So it's not like we're spouting wisdom and then leaving the planet. It's no, we're actually changing the planet during our own lifetime.

Like we are impacting things and we get to see the impacts of the things that we are doing.

Stephanie: I like that. I like how you've inserted that into the, the series there. I guess I have a, a different picture of Krone

Jennifer: Yeah, everybody does.

Stephanie: For me, it's a much more impish, kind of mischievous, you know, older lady. Because, you know, once you become invisible as women sometimes do in their older years. You can get away with so much if you're mischievous and you're impish and you're, you know, a little a little calculating. So, so I, I, I totally see your version of it and why it would not appeal to you. And I think that my version of it is a lot more aligned with your Maven

Jennifer: Yeah. Yes. Yes. Exactly. Yeah. Terminology.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Right. Right.

And the pictures we create in our heads of the, of the language that we hear.

Jennifer: Right.

Stephanie: Yeah. Oh, God. Well, Jen, I just want to thank you so much for joining me today. This has been wonderful. You've been exceptionally generous with your story and and I, I love everything you've brought here. For anybody who's listening, who is interested in the next phase, tell people where they can find you.

Jennifer: Yeah. So first of all, there is the Old Chicks Know Shit podcast which will feature Stephanie in the next coming weeks. And that can be found wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. And then Old Chicks Know Shit is on Instagram, and Facebook. There's also a free Facebook group all of the same name, Old Chicks K N O W S H I T.

Stephanie: Excellent. All right. Thanks, Jen. I really appreciate you being with me today.

Jennifer: Thanks. I loved our conversation.

Stephanie: Me too.

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