Going through a Midlife Awakening with Jen Nichols
By: Maria Vandenburg
Jennifer Nichols joined us for the 7 Days of Decluttering challenge back in March and continues to inspire us on a daily basis. We wanted to take some time to get to know her a bit better and share some of her wisdom, depth, and beauty with all of you. You can connect with her on our brand new platform here:
Can you tell us a little bit about you? What life looked like before you connected with us here?
I’ve been married for 28 years with two kids and two grandkids, but I’ve felt like the majority of my life I’ve put a lot of time and energy into everybody else. I’ve had a pretty difficult relationship with my mother that left me feeling lost and unworthy, it was actually my mother in law who modeled unconditional love.
I had childhood trauma and always felt like something was missing within myself but I never knew how to go about how to find it. Initially, I turned to alcohol, and then I threw myself into work, but it was at the expense of my family. I was trying so hard to find something to fulfill me but it was very detrimental to my family.
And what changed?
I work in healthcare and I realize that people’s lives can be taken at any time. I kept asking myself, what have I done? What’s my legacy going to be? But at that point I had given too much, I was completely mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. I wasn’t living.
Something happened again with my mother and I put myself on the back burner again. The situation brought me back to my childhood wounds. I didn’t understand why I had given her so much power over me. I decided I wasn’t going to allow it anymore. I realized that something wasn’t right with her, but it doesn’t mean something is wrong with me. Now, I see that I am the one that has control, and I’m the one that can make the shift and I’m willing to do the work. I wanted to change to truly be present for myself and for my family.
How did you find Intention Inspired?
I actually found Intention Inspired a few years ago with 30 Days of Brave, however, I don’t think I was ready at the time, but the idea was always there. Then, fast forward a few years later and I found you again through 7 days of Decluttering. Being involved in the group really held me accountable and it was comforting to know that other people were going through it too.
And that lead to 30 days of Love.
What was your experience like with 30 Days of Love?
I honestly don’t think I have ever dug in so deep, everyone within the community has always inspired me and it’s always felt like a really safe environment.
In the beginning, I knew I wanted to make a change, but I didn’t know-how. I didn’t know how to go about it. Throughout the whole process, it made me think from a different perspective, it helped me to understand some of the reasons why I made the decisions that I did throughout my life. I saw that I was self-sabotaging in a way because I never felt like I was worth loving. I didn’t really love myself so how could I expect anyone else to love me, I also saw I didn’t really know how to accept. The whole course kind of opened my eyes, it showed me that everyone has their own reality and it’s different but it’s not wrong, I learned to accept myself, to realize that I’m enough and I’m not broken. I never talked nice to myself, I was actually quite a bully to myself. I don’t treat other people that way, so why was I so hard on myself? 30 Days of Love allowed me to accept me for who I am and to be right here in this moment and broadened my horizon. I also learned to set boundaries and put myself first.
And the Community?
The community has also been wonderful, the more you are involved and interact the more you gain from it. It re-iterates everything you are realizing, you see that you aren’t alone. It allows you to have these soul-level epiphanies. I’ve just felt really connected to everyone.
What are you looking forward to next?
What I have been focusing on this month is just being present, for maybe the first time in my life. Not dwelling on the past, and not looking so far into the future because that’s ever-changing and it’s never what we expect it to be. I’m working on accepting things for what they are.
For example, now when I go on a walk with a dog, I notice things. I’ve walked down the same road for years, and now I notice things like “oh, those terraces when the wind blows, it almost ripples and looks like the ocean.” I like saying I’m not having a mid-life crisis, I’m having a mid-life awakening.
I’m looking forward to 30 days of Mindfulness. I was thinking this morning, I’m trying to be in the moment, but I have so much going through my mind all the time, so I'm hoping with mindfulness I can learn how to shut that down a little bit. All of these things come into my head that really don’t pertain to right now, and I personally really would like to learn how to quiet that, but I don’t really know-how.
What would you say to someone who doesn’t feel ready to do the work to dive in and what do you think prevented you from starting when you first found us?
If I could go back to myself or to anyone that’s on the fence, I would say “just do it.”
I think I had fear of what was going to come up, but we all need to put ourselves first, not in a selfish way, but in a necessary way. If you give and give to everyone else, there is nothing left for you, you’re just exhausted. So if I could go back I would say “You are worth investing time in because not only does it benefit you it benefits everyone around you, because if you are the best version of yourself then you can give your best self to other people.” I feel like I would have had a lot less heartache if I would have said yes to myself instead of everybody else.
I’m also really hard on myself, I’ve always had really high expectations on myself and when I don’t fulfill them, I beat myself up. So I think part of it was being a perfectionist and not wanting to start because in the back of my mind I was telling myself I would fail, so why do it at all? Our decluttering course was a perfect analogy of this, some areas of my house are so overwhelming that I don’t even look at it. I just shut the door. But that doesn’t really solve the problem, because when I open the door it’s all there. That’s how I feel my mind is too, but I realized life is short and I want to enjoy it. I don’t want to wait until it’s too late. I want to make the most of it.
Any final thoughts?
I’m in the best headspace that I have ever been in and I’ve had a lot of joyous things throughout my life, but I don’t know that I was fully aware or appreciative of those moments during that time. I was observing my grandson the other day and he was picking up pebbles, and it made me think about that, at his sense of wonder, at what point do we stop seeing the magic that he does? Intention Inspired has made me a lot more curious about everything in the world.
We have been so grateful for your loving and beautiful presence Jen, thank you for being you and continuing to show up and share yourself with us each and every day. It’s been so powerful to witness your growth, change, expansion, and transformation. We remain excited about what’s to come!
You can connect with Jennifer and the team on our brand new platform here: