F**k Disney World...Campowerment is the Happiest Place on Earth!

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(UPDATED: On this day where we give thanks, I'm posting an oldie but a favorite to show the immense level of gratitude I have for everything Campowerment-the movement, the founders, the experts, the rangers, the women, the lessons learned, the playtime had-just everything I am so fortunate to be part of. This third camp was different for me (and all camps are different because I am different at every camp), as I took a lot of time to just look around, observe, and take it all in rather than do every single activity offered. And yes as I turned 35 on the first day of camp, I was celebrated in a big way, but what I found to be most rewarding was to watch other incredibly beautiful and strong women experience their own transformations on that hilltop in Malibu. I want to bottle that feeling and take it with me wherever I go, since I can't live at camp 365 days a year! Oh and being named color war captain and winning didn't hurt either! So again, F**ck Disney World...Campowerment is the Happiest Place on Earth!)  I'm moving to camp. You heard me...camp! A magical place where women of all ages and from all different walks of life come together to be each other's cheerleaders. A place where women support women no matter what. A place where no one gives a shit about what you do for a living, what clothes you wear, how much you weigh, how much money you make, how many children you have, if you are married, single, divorced, etc. Trust me...makeup doesn't matter at camp. Sometimes showers don't even matter at camp.

A place where there is no bullshit, no noise (except the cheers of your fellow campers while you take on the Leap of Faith at the ropes course as in the above photos--yes that's me being all brave and badass), and you can be who you are. You can do you and just be. Doesn't camp sound amazing? That's because it is. Where else can you go and find yourself and your tribe made up of all women? And we women need each other. I always say to my close female friends that I don't understand mom-shaming or women-shaming for that matter. Life is hard enough. Women need to support women and whatever choices they make. Well, they do at camp!

I've convinced you too, haven't I? You know this is not easy to find in the real world, not while we are all busy running around working, wifing, and raising tiny humans. But this should be the real world. I bet you want to move to camp now too, don't you?! And if you have no idea what you're looking for or who you are or want to be, when you go to Campowerment, you will figure it out.

Since I'm all about the truth here, let me be honest about this post. It's taken me a while to finish it. I returned home from camp over two weeks ago and I'm still basking in all the love and that post-camp glow, but I can't seem to make this post perfect, or at least sound the way I want it to. I think it's because it's so hard to articulate the impact Campowerment and its founders, experts, and all the women who attended had on me. The best possible way to understand is to sign up and experience it all for yourself. So here is where I tell you how I learned about the happiest place on Earth that is Campowerment and attempt to explain it in more serious detail:

Last July, a mom friend sent me a Facebook message about something her aunt created called Campowerment. I was intrigued. What was this mysterious place that combined camp, something I love, and empowerment, something I desperately needed more of in my life? So I immediately typed in "Campowerment" to Google and OMG...Campowerment is sleepaway camp for adult woman! Seriously? This really exists? Where has this been all my life? Why didn't I know about this? Where and when can I sign up? I didn't even need to read past the website's home page. I was in. I was going. This was happening!

I told my husband about camp and his practical, conservative self answered, "Okay, we can discuss it." I replied, "No, you misunderstand me. I'm going. I already signed up. The credit card has been charged." Later, when I returned home from camp, he would admit Campowerment was worth every penny. I didn't say I told you so. I didn't have to!

I have to take a minute here to thank Tammi Leader for creating Campowerment so women could have the chance to put their needs and themselves first, something that is all too rare. I know she would respond to this by saying she just built the door--that we all walked through it and did the work. But Tammi, you need to receive this credit...because you, camp, and your family have inspired me and given me a much needed new outlook on my life! It was you and your words that reassured me I would be okay returning home as I hugged you and sobbed that I was terrified to leave the bubble of camp, where I could so authentically be myself. And you were right. I can be that person at home too. I am that woman, even now as I write this.

I said before that the women at camp come from all different backgrounds--survivors of cancer, divorce, break-ups, depression, great loss. Single women, married women, women who lost themselves along the way, women like me in search of their passion and identity. Women who just need a break from life to reconnect with themselves. These women are warriors and meeting them and learning their stories has been life-changing. I'm honored to call these women my friends and be part of their tribe. I won't say anymore here because I really can't. I am never one to be at a loss for words, but words are not enough to describe the mark these women have left on me. For that, I can only say thank you and continue to be your champion as you have been mine.

Do you want to know what I know after going to camp? Here is just a glimpse of the wisdom shared by some of Campowerment's tremendously talented experts--experts who create the space for you to really get in touch with yourself, ask the tough questions, really examine your life and choices, say the things you are most afraid of, embrace and love who you are, give you a new perspective on your relationships, and provide you with tools so you can leave as your best self. If you want to learn more about these amazing empowerers of women, go here.

Look in the mirror everyday and repeat the following affirmation: I am an irresistible force of nature. Because you are exactly that, an irresistible force of nature.

Live in gratitude, not in guilt.

When you're present in the moment, there are no thoughts, only the experience. If it's a thought, it's already in the past.

Women are the CEO's of their romantic relationships. We really are the authors of the whole thing. If you know what you need, fucking say it! We are not allowed to sit back, watch, and think our men are the assholes. That makes us the assholes. Ask for what you want!

Don't hand your dream to someone else to fulfill. It's yours!

Women need to receive so they can create.

Campowerment changed me...or maybe it just encouraged me to be me. The open, honest woman, wife, and mom who doesn't believe in pretending or sugar-coating. A fierce rockstar of a woman who puts it out there and never apologizes. When so many women praise you for your spunk, honesty, and voice, you know you are doing something right. You walk away knowing you have started to live your truth. Nothing is more empowering.

I left camp with a new perspective on myself, my relationships, and my life. I found a deeper appreciation for all that I have and all that I still want to accomplish. I gained more self-confidence and the support of over 75 women who have now become my tribe and my friends--women who celebrate my voice, my purpose, and my writing.

Yes there will be breakdowns and breakthroughs at camp, but it's not all serious all the time. We have crazy fun too! I'm talking color war, happy hours, sunrise dance parties, lip synch battles, workouts where you bang shit with drumsticks, sex toy parties, and more.

Run, don't walk to this special place and give yourself the gift of camp. Every woman needs a breather, time for herself to recharge, re-ignite, and just be. Whatever it is you might need or are looking for--even if you don't know what that is yet--you will find it at camp. You can thank me later. And if you have a spouse and/or children, they will thank me too!

And maybe one day life will be like camp. I know that is Tammi's vision. Until then, I'm moving there. I just need to let my husband and son know. I'm sure we can arrange visitation!

Q&A with Tammi Leader Fuller, Founder & CEO of Campowerment

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Meet Tammi Leader Fuller, Founder and CEO (Chief Empowerment Officer) of Campowerment, and the woman, who, I swear, changed my life in just 72 hours. She would argue that she just built the (Campowerment) door and I walked through it, but even when I walked out the door back to my everyday reality, she still had and continues to have my back. I just got back from my second Campowerment retreat and I am going back for more in November. What can I say...I'm addicted. Trust me when I say you will be too! Read on as Tammi talks Campowerment, starting over, and why every woman needs this magical weekend in their lives. Pre-Campowerment Tammi A guilt-ridden, stressed out single mom, wondering when and why I signed up for this insane web of a life I had spun for myself.

The Beginnings of Campowerment I am who I am today because of summer camp, my happy place. In my twenties, after I outgrew childhood camp, I became a Club Med counselor (a G.O.) for grown ups, probably because I am obsessed with the concept of playtime and the joy it brings to life. I think I became a TV Producer because I was a spirited camp girl (truth: I majored in Journalism cuz there was no school on Fridays!), and meeting interesting people and telling their stories was a very cool way to make a living.

In 2005, Harper Collins published a book I co-wrote with five other overworked professional women about how having it all is not having it all, at all. We called ourselves The Miami Bombshells because of all the bombshells we dropped when we first came together as strangers over wine and chocolate, struggling to juggle all that life was throwing at us. When we launched our book on national TV (what a party that was, as all our friends gathered outside in the rain, holding giant signs of our book cover!), it resonated because we were strangers with no past, coming together, without judgement or any history, to support and elevate each other. Together, we came to understand that we’re all the same, carrying those proverbial rocks in our backpacks. We learned, together, that burdens just aren’t as heavy when friends help you lift. After appearing on some TV shows, our website crashed from all the requests from women who wanted to connect with their own tribes of women, just as we did. 

And Camp Was Born That’s how our first, very primitive camp was born. 17 Camp Bombshells later, The Today Show called it one of America’s best girlfriend getaways, but after a few years, we shut it down because BOTH my sisters and one of my Bombshell sisters got breast cancer. Everyone got better (knock wood) and then, the Producers of Menopause the Musical wrote a fabulously relate-able original play based on our book, that we were sure was going to Broadway (LOL). It closed in 2009 after 6 weeks at a regional theater in Miami, and it was time to go back to TV so my kids could eat. I took a big job in L.A. to help create a TV show about changing your life, and began to notice how many fabulous experts I had collected in all my years in TV. Doctors, therapists, trailblazers, authors, and thought leaders with the power to help people shift and let go of all that was holding them back. And that’s when I knew, deep in my soul, it was time to marry this camp idea with the empowering of women who had impressed and inspired me over my 34-year career. 

Pulling It Off In 2012, I went to the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert to figure out how I was gonna pull that off and voila! In my head, Campowerment was born. I wasn’t sure how I was gonna pull it off, but I just did what I knew how to do, treated it as a live TV production, and was blown away by the response. I didn’t realize how badly women need a place to unplug, out in nature, and now,17 camps and more than 3000 happy campers later, we’re off and running, helping women reignite their lives in a hilariously fun, empowering kinda way. At camp. Go figure.

The C.E.O. (Chief Empowerment Officer) It means I run the company as its CEO-but the other side of my job is to help empower others to recognize their own gifts, figure out what they’re supposed to be doing with this life and to leap without a net into the future they’re dreaming about right now. When that clicks for people, magic happens.

A Family Business No better people to work with than those with my blood running through them. Building this from scratch was way more fun with my mom and daughters by my side, and every single day, we’re learning something new about ourselves and each other, and what women really want and need. We all bring a different kind of talent to the table, but the best thing we can do some days is try and stay out of each other’s lanes. We have 52 years between us from top to bottom but I am amazed by how easily we communicate and relate to each other. Because we’re in this for the right reasons, to pay it forward, I think that’s why it’s working.

Why Camp Why not?  When I went looking for a camp to go to with my girlfriends, it didn’t exist. That’s all I had to hear…

Why Women Why not? We are the ones who are struggling to juggle all that life throws at us today. It’s all coming at us so fast, and our needs seem to always get pushed to the bottom of our to do lists. In the TV world, I had a lot of women in my ear complaining about not being all that happy with the choices they’ve made that landed them there. And so many of them seemed to be searching for their life purpose. So it was only natural to start with women only. We do run co-ed corporate and group custom programs, and we do have a lot of men asking when they get to go to camp. Men often write us in despair, asking for tools to help them deal with newly empowered partners! Patience, we tell them. It’s on the drawing board.

The Typical Camper They are 21 to 80 years old, and they come from all over the globe. We don’t know what they do for a living because they’re not allowed to share that for the first 24 hours. After the first day, no one really cares anyway. You’ve got to be a pretty cool chick to come to Campowerment and take a complete leap of faith, because we don’t leak the schedule to anyone until just before the bugle blows. This is a challenge for those alpha women who are used to being in control all the time, but they quickly learn that it’s only by making themselves uncomfortable that growth happens. And so they have no choice but to trust us and let go. And that’s when their journey begins.

What Women Come Looking For Sometimes they come looking for the lighthearted little girl they used to know. Sometimes they come just to laugh, play, bond and disconnect to reconnect with themselves and a sisterhood of women in the same boat, paddling upstream. Sometimes they come to get over or learn how to release something that’s been holding them back. Sometimes they come to bring in a new perspective that had not been available to them before. We like to say you don’t get what you want at Campowerment, you get what you need, though I think it’s fair to say that most of us have no idea what that is when we get to camp!

What They Leave With Their rightfully earned spot in a very cool tribe of fabulous women. Their mojo. Their confidence. A deep connection to themselves. A plan. And some forever friends.

Choosing the Experts Every expert has been hand-picked by me. She has to be someone who I’ve learned from—with some kind of a pedigree—someone whose insight blew me away and helped me change something in my life that wasn’t working. We have nearly 100 experts in our arsenal, and a huge waiting list of other gifted professionals who want in. I’m always meeting with new experts, changing up the program. No two camps are ever the same.

When People Think You’re Crazy Camp is not for everyone. We sleep in cabins together and that can get a little uncomfortable. But that’s when growth happens. It makes me sad to hear women say they won’t come because they don’t want to “rough it” or dig up what they’ve so perfectly covered up in their own lives. Knowledge is power, and our program doesn’t tear people down. It builds them up and gives them tools to help them make their lives better, not worse. When people say they are not camp people, I show them our video. If they still don’t get it, I drop it. They’re just not our people.

On Women Making Excuses Bottom line? Women don’t believe they deserve this. They don’t want to spend the money on themselves (funny, by the second day, so many tell us we’re not charging enough for the experience) or they think their families or their jobs or their partners won’t be able to manage without them for 3.5 days. The week before camp, we always have a record number of requests from campers who want to cancel for whatever reason they can come up with. That’s why we had to put our strict cancellation policy in place. If we allowed it, most women would likely surrender to the needs of others before putting their own first.

A Wonderful Mom and a Successful Entrepreneur Thank you!  I am finally drinking my own Kool Aid and think I may have finally figured out this work-life balance thing. By making time for me every single day, in between the demands of family and work, I am a better mom and boss. I have a crazy ridiculous amount of energy, which I think you need if you’re gonna blow up your life to follow your dream in your mid-fifties. But make no mistake here. I’m living the dream and count my blessings every single day. For real.  Even as my college friends are retiring and I’m working way too many hours a day, every day, to help women like me get happy again.

On The Future of Campowerment If I told you I’d have to pulverize you!

We All Need a Campowerment Weekend Campowerment is the only place I have ever been to, where everyone is FOR each other. It’s mind boggling actually. There is not a woman on this planet who wouldn’t benefit from a weekend like this. Every one of us knows someone who needs this. Please, please, please pay it forward and share our video on your social media platforms. The more women we can get to come play with us and re-ignite their lives, the happier we will all be.

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAWxH14rw6Y

 

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BIO: Tammi Leader Fuller is an Emmy-Award winning TV Producer who walked out of the Control Room and into the woods, to help people disconnect to reconnect, find their purpose, and their Tribe.  Tammi’s the CEO of Campowerment: sleepaway camp for grown ups, and the power behind a movement that’s equipping women to transform their own lives through the power of play, blended with insight from America’s top Experts. Tammi spent three decades covering network news for NBC News and the Today Show, CBS News, EXTRA, PBS and America’s Most Wanted. In 2005, Tammi partnered with five accomplished South Florida business women — known together as the “Miami Bombshells” — to co-author “Dish and Tell” (Harper Collins), a book of anecdotes to help women understand they are not alone in their struggle to juggle all life throws their way. Tammi’s now running Campowerment with her 80 year old College Writing professor mom and her 28 year old Marketing Exec daughter by her side, giving women of all ages an intergenerational platform to grow and learn and share some of life’s universal lessons, through hilarious laughter and coaching and a roadmap to help them elevate their lives.Three years, 16 weekend retreats and 3000 happy campers later, Campowerment’s getting shout outs from Oprah, MORE, Forbes and Parade Magazines, the TODAY Show, The Hollywood Reporter, LA Times, Miami Herald, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, as the place where adults go to learn how to live better, and figure out what they’re supposed to be doing with their lives.

Campowerment - Round Two - Also Known As: GET YOUR ASS TO CAMP!

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I wasn’t going to write about my weekend at Campowerment this time around. Not because I didn’t have another magical, transformative weekend with the most unbelievable women, but because I want you to hear about the Campowerment movement and why every woman needs some camp in her life, from the founder herself. On Friday I will be posting a Q&A with the rockstar behind camp, Tammi Leader Fuller. You do not want to miss it! But I have to write about something that happened to me on the last day of camp, just minutes before I got in the van and headed to Newark airport to return home to my real life. We rarely ever know what kind of impact we make on another person and it’s not something we tend to think about. Of course we think about how others touched our lives, but what if you could take a moment to hear from others about the effect you had on them? At the end of camp, you are given this opportunity, but I won’t spoil the details of how, in case you decide to go experience it for yourself. And you should definitely go experience it for yourself.

During my moment, another camper, a woman who I swear is my soul sister and someone I have known my whole life (I’ve literally now known her for less than a week) told me that I make her want to be a mom, something she really hasn’t felt strongly about ever. Cue tears and all the feels. Let me repeat that. I make her want to be a mom. This woman right here—this mommy—your medicated mommy wants to make someone else be a mom. I consider myself to be a pretty confident woman (thank you Campowerment-the first time around), but me? Make someone else want to be a mom? Really? Why?

And do you know why I make her want to be a mom? Because my honesty and attitude and fearlessness gives her the courage to be herself. Because I’m too busy being me, the mom that I am, postpartum depression survivor, medicated and all, to get caught up in the crazy bullshit that has become today's culture of motherhood. I found myself in all kinds of ways this past weekend. I rediscovered my purpose. I made lifelong friends. I listened and learned from so many beautiful, strong women. I danced my ass off, sang karaoke, showed off my killer hula hoop skills, and found my inner teenager. But at the end of camp, in less than one minute, my new best friend left this writer at a loss for words and turned the impact I had on her right back around on me. The only way I know how to pay this forward and show my eternal gratitude for finding and joining this tribe of women is to now share it with all of you and hope that you will give yourself this amazing gift of camp.

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So let me ask you:

Do you miss that playful girl you used to be?

Is she in there somewhere but you don’t know how to find her?

Can you even remember the last time you saw her?

Did you get lost somewhere along the way via the path of marriage, motherhood, career, and responsibilities?

Do you need to let go?

Do you want to experience what it’s like to live in a judgement and drama-free zone? You know, the way the world should be?

Do you want to feel what it's like to live in a place where women only build each other up?

Do you want to be accepted for who you really are, not what you do? 

Do you want to feed your soul, enrich your life, and learn some new cool shit?

Do you need to rediscover your purpose?

Do you have no idea what your purpose is?

Do you put everyone’s needs before your own?

Are you dying to put yourself first, but worried what others will think?

Do you want to be your authentic self and not give a fuck if others don’t get you?

Do you want to learn how to give even less fucks about that?

Do you want to find your inner strength and beauty (because I promise you it’s in there!)?

Do you want to realize that making it all about you is the only way to make it in this life?

Do you just need a little more of the positive and a little less of the negative?

Are you looking for your people? For connection?

Do you just need to have more fun? 

Are you happy and fulfilled in your life but you want to be even happier and more fulfilled?

If you answered yes to even just one of these questions, you need to get your ass to Campowerment. Get empowered. Be inspired. Come play. Do something for yourself. IT’S MORE THAN OKAY TO DO SOMETHING FOR YOURSELF. Yes, this is me telling you to put yourself first in shouty caps! It doesn’t make you selfish. It makes you brave. It makes you strong. It makes you vulnerable and beautiful. For all the people who say otherwise, fuck them! And when you return home from your first Campowerment weekend, you will be able to say exactly that.

Affirmations in Beyonce Lyrics

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I find Beyonce incredibly empowering. She is fierce, fabulous, and not afraid to speak her truth or be vulnerable. I wish I could bottle that shit up. When I'm in one of my funks, I might ask myself (don't laugh), what would Beyonce say right now? I'm leaving for Campowerment tomorrow. I'm unbelievably excited to return to the place that changed my life only 6 months ago. I can't wait to see what camp has in store for me this time!

So in honor of my upcoming trip to Campowerment this week, today's post takes the form of affirmations in Beyonce Lyrics...because let's face it...Beyonce and Campowerment? Both bad-ass!

Because I realized I got  Me myself and I That's all I got in the end That's what I found out  And it ain't no need to cry I took a vow that from now on I'm gonna be my own best friend

I see it, I want it, I stunt, yellow-bone it I dream it, I work hard, I grind 'til I own it I twirl on them haters... Sometimes I go off, I go hard Get what's mine (take what's mine), I'm a star Cause I slay

Sorry, I ain't sorry Sorry, I ain't sorry I ain't sorry No no hell nah

My persuasion can build a nation Endless power With our love we can devour You'll do anything for me Who are we? What we run? We run the world Who run the world? Girls

I woke up like this I woke up like this We flawless, ladies tell 'em I woke up like this I woke up like this We flawless, ladies tell 'em Say I look so good tonight

Freedom! Freedom! I can't move Freedom, cut me loose! Freedom! Freedom! Where are you? Cause I need freedom too! I break chains all by myself Won't let my freedom rot in hell Hey! I'ma keep running Cause a winner don't quit on themselves

Forward Best foot first just in case When we made our way 'til now It's time to listen, it's time to fight

Runnin', runnin', runnin', runnin' Runnin', runnin', runnin' Ain't runnin' from myself no more Together we'll win it all I ain't runnin', runnin', runnin', runnin' Runnin', runnin', runnin' Ain't runnin' from myself no more I'm ready to face it all If I lose myself, I lose it all

A Letter to Myself...

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A little over two months ago, I wrote myself a letter. I sat in the dining hall at Campowerment and wrote myself a letter as a reminder of how I felt, what I learned and experienced, who I met and connected with, why I started writing my truth, and who I became during that transformative, empowering, and all-around amazing weekend. This week, Grandy mailed me my letter with her uplifting response. Tonight I read my letter and hers, cried and decided to post it right here for everyone to read. And after I finish this post, I'm taping it to my bathroom mirror so I can read it every morning.

Dear Jen,

This letter is to remind you about the life-changing, magical experience at Campowerment. You transformed into the woman and mom you have known that you are since you kicked postpartum depression's ass. You found your people, your tribe, women who get you, women you learned from and grew with, laughed with, and shared with. You connected with women you might never have met or approached outside of camp. And you received that validation that way you say, do, and believe are true. Women who only knew you for 72 hours told you that you are going to do big things, that you are spunky, loving, powerful brave, honest, open, and a wonderful mother. That Mason is so lucky to have you. I don't know if you really knew or believed any of that before this weekend, especially the mother part. 

I charge you with living up to those words and compliments that those amazing women bestowed upon you. You better keep believing all those things. Be you, speak and WRITE your truth, and screw the haters, the noise, and the people not evolved enough to understand. Have gratitude everyday for the experience of camp and all the blessings you have in your life. When you think something is difficult or hard, remember the cancer survivors, the mother of two sets of twins going through a divorce, the mother whose son barely speaks to her, and all the other brave women who shared their stories. Those things were hard. Giving up carbs and losing 20 lbs isn't hard. Getting your ass to the park with Mason or to a yoga class every other day isn't hard. Don't lose touch with who you are and who you connected with at camp. You are fierce. You are a Goddess. You are a fucking rockstar. 

Love, Your transformed self Jen (Schwartzie)

Thank You Grandy: An Honest Piece of My Time at Campowerment

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Let's talk about Grandy, Tammi's momma, the creative writing/journaling savant, and all around life of the Campowerment party. Grandy the fabulous, fierce, sassy, adopted mother to all us campers. Yes, that is her in the above photo, wearing her crown and basking in all the birthday love bestowed upon her at camp. She is my woman! The brilliant, compassionate, and kind woman who brings light and joy to everyone she meets. I told her I would be sharing this on my blog so here it goes... One of camp's signature circles is Journaling with Grandy. During this session, Grandy gives a prompt and you write whatever comes to mind for a set number of minutes. When time is up, you put your pen down, no matter where you are in your writing. No prepping, no outlining, no editing, just the raw thoughts inside your head being put to paper. The results are powerful. The women who write and choose to share or not share and just listen are brave. No-one judges ever. It's a safe space with Grandy as the leader and protector of our words. We all group hug at the end because after sharing such personal truths, hugs are needed. We leave the circle sharing a new closeness with each other and feeling freed by the words we didn't realize needed to come out.

The prompt given by Grandy in my circle dealt with being able to go back to any part of your life with a blank canvas. How would you fill that canvas? What would that painting look like? I'm sorry Grandy--I'm botching the prompt a bit as I didn't write it down. I apologize but you all get the idea.

Here is my response. I'm sharing it with all of you, directly off the pages of my Campowerment journal. I haven't changed or edited it in any way. I chose to paint my canvas in the present.

My life is filled with many words. Nouns sometimes preceded by adjectives. Wonderful mother. Wife. Loyal friend. Postpartum depression survivor. Daughter. Older sister. I am all these things but I am more than all these things. My canvas has an empty white spot where the more should be. What woulds should fill the emptiness? Identity? Passion? I'm searching for them. It's the beginning of my search. One word slowly appears in the blank space as a sketch. It's the outline to something more. Writer. I want to write, to share my stories and fill up the rest of my canvas with them. I want to paint a picture for others that wasn't painted for me. How I survived postpartum depression. How it made me stronger, self-aware, and led me to this place of wanting more. How it taught me it's okay to be okay with who I am and not worry about who I thought I was supposed to be as a mom or wife, or a woman. I wouldn't paint over that. I hope my canvas will help other women paint theirs.

If Campowerment Were the Oscars...I Would Like to Thank My Husband

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When I first launched my blog back in January, I made an agreement with my husband.  He knew I was writing but he wouldn’t try to find my blog or read any posts until I told him I was ready. I had always planned to talk to him about everything right before I decided to go public. He fully supported this. He wasn’t concerned. He didn’t ask questions. My close friends and sister? Not so much. If you know me, you know that there is no bullshit. No sugar-coating. Just open, honest truth. I’m not afraid to share, tell you how I feel, and I own my shit and who I am.  I always planned to bring this to my blog. As I started writing my truth about motherhood, marriage, and sex, in came the frantic text messages and phone calls from various friends and family members.

Does my husband know what I’m writing about? Does he know how I feel about our sex life? Do I talk to him about what I write for the world to read? Jen, are you okay? Jen, are you going to do something impulsive like have an affair or run away? Jen, should we be concerned? Jen, do we need to come down to the South for an intervention?

This is what I love about my friends and sister . They are real. They call me out on my stuff and they make me talk to them even if I don’t want to hear what they have to say because they are probably right. I’ve said it before—real friends talk shit to your face and say the good stuff behind your back.

And to answer those questions, no, my husband didn’t know what I was writing about, not at first. I am okay—great in fact, which I attribute to having this space to write my truth and express who I am with no apologies.  And I’m not going to have an affair or run away. I love my husband and our life even if I’m not in love with where we live.

But the fact still remained, I needed to come clean to my husband about the name of my blog, the meaning behind it, and that there were and would be posts that discussed private aspects of our relationship and lives.  And after almost two months of writing, I did talk to him and it was a relief.

The fact is, writing about all of this helps me, which in turn helps our relationship because I can make sense of my feelings in writing before I articulate them in conversation. Most times I talk to him about what these posts. Sometimes I don’t. He is allowed to read the blog anytime he wants to. It’s his choice and a decision we are both comfortable with.

And I’m pretty sure it helps others—because I know I’m not the only wife who sometimes wants to throat punch her husband after he does something stupid.  I'm not the only wife who has a different definition of foreplay than her husband. And I’m definitely not the only mom who has a love-hate relationship with being a mom or misses her life before children.  I just have the balls to say it. And I'm saying it because I want you to know you are perfectly normal and not alone.

Marriage is hard work. It’s not always perfect and needs to be nurtured and cared for. There will be dry spells, some days you’ll want rip your husband’s pants off and other days you’ll want to punch him in the face. If you tell me you are madly in love with your spouse all day every day and life is always perfect, well then I’m just going to say it---you are lying and full of shit. The same goes for motherhood. And it's okay!

I know my husband get this. He supports me and believes in my writing and I love him for it. I’m sure the lack of privacy makes him slightly uncomfortable, but I know he is looking the other way on it for me—because he sees what writing has done for my mind, body, and spirit. Writing is helping me forge my identity, which I have been so desperately in search of. And most importantly, he supports my desire to honestly put myself and my shit out there to help others who might not have the courage to, even if it’s at the expense of a little bit of privacy.

I did not start this blog to bash my husband. Will he annoy me and piss me off sometimes? Of course. Will I write about it? Hell yeah! But while I might complain about the dumb shit he does as a man, he is still an incredible husband and father.  It’s important for me to make that distinction here. We might need to spice up our sex life, but I know my husband would lay the world at my feet if he could.

I love and appreciate my husband, the man who had no issues with me leaving him for five days to go back to sleepaway camp. The man who wanted to discuss me signing up for camp, but didn’t get angry or upset when I informed him there would be no discussion—the credit card was charged and flights were booked! The man who already knew without me telling him that I would be going back to Campowerment this September and probably every time after that.

The man who when I texted from camp to tell him that I won color war and my apache relay activity was bug juice flip cup, he responded by saying, “I expect no less.”  The man who put me up in a luxury hotel after camp so I could reflect and decompress and unpack all my emotions before returning to reality as a mom and wife. The man who I know will do whatever he can to help me be me, the person I revealed myself to be this past weekend at camp. The man who loves our son, cared for him and held down the fort while I was away. The man I can’t wait to share with all I learned, and did, and became while I away at camp.

So husband, I can’t say thank you enough—for your love and support and belief in me. And for letting me do what I need to do to be my best self—as they called me at camp—a  ROCKSTAR!

And just as an added bonus, there will be a large box of goodies from Freda’s Campowerment Passion Party waiting for you when you get home from your business trip. As for what’s inside? I will leave that to all of your imaginations. And if you’re really lucky, maybe there will be a toy review on the blog in the near future. I’ll need some liquid courage before I post that one!

Make sure you check back in the next couple of days for my upcoming post about the magic that is Campowerment and why you should run, not walk to this incredible, life-changing place.

Radio Silence...

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There won't be any new posts or updates for the next week because this mommy is taking a much needed and well deserved break! For the next four days I will be going to camp. You heard me...camp! As in Campowerment, "the sleepaway-camp-inspired experience for grown-up women." If you want to learn more about what I know will be an amazing time, check out their website here. I am tuning out, shutting down, avoiding any and all things technology and social media, and focusing inward. If I'm going to recharge my life, I'm going to do it right.

I will resurface sometime next week with a very detailed post about my trip and everything I did and learned while away at camp. I'm so excited to be able to share this experience on my blog. I hope you will check back and keep reading!

XO