Browsing Tag

support

Grief, Guest Posts, storytelling

The Widow Next Door

February 20, 2017
neighbor

By Shawna Kenney

We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.
-Herman Melville

Where I grew up in Southern Maryland, our nearest neighbors were sometimes miles away. Still, I rode my bike through the woods and drove my first car around town confident in the fact that if there were ever an emergency, help wasn’t so far away. Neighbors kept an eye on us kids when my mom went back to work and my dad was away on duty with the Navy. They towed my prom date’s car out of the ditch while he and I stood by, helpless in our 80s couture. They also snitched on my sister and I when we were in high school and threw a big party while my parents were out of town. Since my dad’s death a few years ago, neighbors still plow my mother’s driveway after every snowstorm, unasked. When I later moved to Queens, NY in my twenties, the grey-haired woman next door welcomed me with kugel. In grad school in North Carolina, we shared blueberries with our neighbors’ granddaughter and he would periodically cut back our weeds when he was out chopping his own.

Now I live in Los Angeles, where I’ve left apartments due to bad neighbors—3 a.m. high-heeled stompers, incessant complainers, violent rage-aholics… but even in a city as vast as this, where things get downright Darwinian when it comes to parking spaces or freeway merging, I have mostly lived next to nice people. It’s good to know the mailman and it makes me happy to find familiar faces in a county of 10 million. Deep in my psyche, Sesame Street always looms as the ideal. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, healing, Manifestation Retreats, Retreats/Workshops

The Aleksander Scholarship Fund.

October 17, 2016

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I just got back from leading a retreat in Tuscany and it was as magical as you would imagine. But what made it even more so was that Julia Anderson was in attendance. Thank to you guys!

Let me back up. Julia is a reader of my site and follows me on social media. She had taken my yoga classes in Santa Monica years ago and then fell in love and moved to Norway but continued to follow me online. She posted on my Facebook in August that she needed to reach out to me desperately. Luckily my mom (God bless her) saw the message and told me, so I reached out to Julia. I didn’t know who she was. But I reached out despite having my screaming brand new baby in my arms.

And am I ever glad I did. You know how you have those Sliding Doors moments in life? Remember that movie? Where you realize things could’ve gone another way if you chose this door instead of that door. I mean, it’s always like that in life, but sometimes we are so keenly aware of a parallel life if we had chosen differently.

She was writing to me from the hospital in Norway. I started to read her email and called my husband over to take my baby Charlie.

She was writing from the hospital because she was 40 weeks pregnant and 6 days and was to be induced the next day. But her baby’s heart had stopped beating. I continued reading through my tears. Of course I was in shock that I was receiving this email since I didn’t remember her from my class. She told me that we were the same age, that in fact, we shared a birthday. She said she had met a Norwegian man and fallen in love. She said she was desperate and needed to know if I had any resources for her. She had been following my Facebook page for years and knew what kind of safe environment I had created and she had remembered seeing posts about one of my best friends, Emily Rapp Black, whose baby Ronan died from Tay Sachs a few years back. She remembered that and emailed me, before anyone else, from the hospital.

Standing there with my arms still warm from holding my son, I felt guilty and angry and devastated and I yearned for my boy back and I wanted to fly to Norway and I wanted to build a time machine to go back in time and induce her baby earlier and I panicked and I felt an ache like I had never felt before, an ache so profound that I felt like I was dying. I kept reading her words and wondered why some of us have to experience such pain in this life? I felt like I was slipping out of my body.

Hi Jen!
Thanks for getting back to me so fast. I have been following your posts for a few years. I know about your loss in the past, about Emily’s tradegy, and you write about loss sometimes. I lost my second baby at 40+6 today, less than 24 hours before induction tomorrow. His heart just stopped beating this afternoon. I feel so lost. if you have any advice for me on where to turn, what to read or anything I can do to find peace please let me know..

Continue Reading…

anti-bullying, Beating Fear with a Stick, Eating Disorders/Healing

The Love Campaign

November 23, 2013

I got this letter from an eighteen-year-old girl after she read my piece on called “Lessons from Middle School We Keep Forgetting,” which I had shared again on my Facebook page.

Hi Jennifer, 
I am so happy that I found your page. I have been silently reading your posts and the responses from your “tribe” for a long time, and when you posted about “the populars” and middle school, I finally had to participate. 

You are very inspiring. What you write is so honest, and I think it is going to help a lot of people. I have dealt with relentless bullying for my entire school life. I am still finishing school; I just started my senior year. When I started school, I was at a very small country school, and there were only about seven girls in my class, and they all just decided they hated me from day one. Everyday, they told me how fat and ugly I was. Whenever my mom came in to tell the teachers about it, they all said how nice and lovely the other students were, and they suggested she get me some help. I got to a point when I was so sick from this, like physically sick. My body just manifested everything that was happening to it on the outside, and I was sick all the time. Finally, when I started middle school, I thought it would be better, and it kind of was because I made a friend, but I was still horribly bullied, and, this time, it was by older kids. 

Finally, when I started high school, I found an amazing group of friends that I am still friends with, and we take care of each other. Of course, there is still so much bullying, but at least I have people who have my back now. I also struggle with what I think is becoming a full-fledged eating disorder because of all this bullying and because of how much like shit I feel all of the time because of what I’ve been told about my body and myself for so long.

I really have to just thank you for sharing your heart and your experiences. Reading your page is making me stronger, I feel. I really hope to keep reading and getting lifted up by them everyday as I finish this school experience and try to move on to better things. I find it amazing that women are fighting so long and hard for equality and rights and a voice, when everyday, really, it is women who are taking away these things for other women. We treat each other like shit, and it is so nice to come to a place on the web where none of that happens, and it is all about helping each other and being loving to one another.

Please just tell me it gets better after high school. 

Thank you, A.

It does get better. My friend Gina Frangello said,

I think there needs to be some kind of campaign like the fabulous It Gets Better one for gay teens; this time focusing on the very real fact that so many kids who are terribly bullied end up being the movers and shakers of the adult world and how adulthood offers those who didn’t ‘fit in’ to narrow childhoods or limiting towns/neighborhoods a chance to allow themselves to shine. So many young women, who at A’s age turn against their own bodies, end up being the most confident and generous women whose lives impact others—like yours, Jen (and other women we know). It’s so vital to hang in and wait for the day when you can write the script to your own life…”

I agree.

I am not sure what the campaign is yet, but it will start here. With you guys, my Positively Positive family. Post a note to A if you like, as she will read this as well. I love that I have high school kids that read me and follow me on social media.

Any of you other kids reading this, yes, yes, yes, it gets wildly better!

Let’s start the campaign right now. Please let A know any experiences you have had with bullying or any sage wisdom or love you can offer. Let’s move from a fear-based world to a love-based world. Right now.

xo jen

poster by Simplereminders.com as usual ;)

poster by Simplereminders.com as usual 😉