Seeing Death Clearly

From Addiction to Empowerment: Jen Henry's Journey of Lifestyle Recovery

February 18, 2024 Jill McClennen
From Addiction to Empowerment: Jen Henry's Journey of Lifestyle Recovery
Seeing Death Clearly
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Seeing Death Clearly
From Addiction to Empowerment: Jen Henry's Journey of Lifestyle Recovery
Feb 18, 2024
Jill McClennen

Jen Henry was born and raised in Riverside, California, where she still resides. Her mission, which she refers to as lifestyle recovery, stems from her upbringing as an only child, where everything was handed to her without understanding the value of need or want. Despite having both parents, she felt disconnected and misunderstood, with her emotional intensity often overwhelming those around her.

Tragedy struck early in Jen's life with the loss of numerous family members and friends, leading her to question the purpose of life and indulge in reckless behaviors, including drug use. Despite her intelligence and early academic prowess, she found herself bored and disconnected in school, eventually succumbing to substance abuse by her teenage years.

Jen's descent into addiction led to a cycle of arrests and incarcerations, which she initially saw as a form of salvation but ultimately realized worsened her situation. Despite attempts at rehabilitation through programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, she struggled with codependency and a lack of self-identity, leading to relapses and further turmoil.

Over the past 13 years, Jen has navigated the challenges of choosing life over addiction, grappling with existential questions and shifting her perspective on death. She acknowledges the support of her ancestors and believes in their continued presence, guiding her through life's struggles.

Despite skepticism from others, Jen's beliefs have propelled her to success, including financial stability, entrepreneurial ventures, and recognition as a bestselling author and motivational speaker. She urges others to focus on what they can control in life, rather than dwelling on external factors beyond their influence.

Support the Show.

Support the show financially by doing a paid monthly subscription, any amount large or small help to keep the podcast advertisement free.

Subscribe to Seeing Death Clearly and leave a 5-star review if you are enjoying the podcast.

I appreciate the support and it helps get the word out to more people that could benefit from hearing the podcast.

Don’t forget to check out my free workbook Living a Better Life.

You can connect with me on my website, as well as all major social media platforms.

Facebook group End of Life Clarity Circle

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Show Notes Transcript

Jen Henry was born and raised in Riverside, California, where she still resides. Her mission, which she refers to as lifestyle recovery, stems from her upbringing as an only child, where everything was handed to her without understanding the value of need or want. Despite having both parents, she felt disconnected and misunderstood, with her emotional intensity often overwhelming those around her.

Tragedy struck early in Jen's life with the loss of numerous family members and friends, leading her to question the purpose of life and indulge in reckless behaviors, including drug use. Despite her intelligence and early academic prowess, she found herself bored and disconnected in school, eventually succumbing to substance abuse by her teenage years.

Jen's descent into addiction led to a cycle of arrests and incarcerations, which she initially saw as a form of salvation but ultimately realized worsened her situation. Despite attempts at rehabilitation through programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, she struggled with codependency and a lack of self-identity, leading to relapses and further turmoil.

Over the past 13 years, Jen has navigated the challenges of choosing life over addiction, grappling with existential questions and shifting her perspective on death. She acknowledges the support of her ancestors and believes in their continued presence, guiding her through life's struggles.

Despite skepticism from others, Jen's beliefs have propelled her to success, including financial stability, entrepreneurial ventures, and recognition as a bestselling author and motivational speaker. She urges others to focus on what they can control in life, rather than dwelling on external factors beyond their influence.

Support the Show.

Support the show financially by doing a paid monthly subscription, any amount large or small help to keep the podcast advertisement free.

Subscribe to Seeing Death Clearly and leave a 5-star review if you are enjoying the podcast.

I appreciate the support and it helps get the word out to more people that could benefit from hearing the podcast.

Don’t forget to check out my free workbook Living a Better Life.

You can connect with me on my website, as well as all major social media platforms.

Facebook group End of Life Clarity Circle

[00:00:00] Jennifer: There were other women in this group and they'd say, Oh, I want my family back together. I want a house that I can call my own. I want a nice, reliable car. I want money in the bank. And none of that mattered to me. I had had that. I didn't appreciate any of it when I had it because that's not what makes us happy.

[00:00:14] It may make us feel safe and secure in a world that relies on those things, but really I wanted to be okay in my own skin. 

[00:00:20] Jill: Welcome back to seeing death clearly. I'm your host, Jill McClennen, a death doula and end-of-life coach here on my show. I have conversations with guests. that explore the topics of death, dying, grief, and life itself.

[00:00:34] My goal is to create a space where you can challenge the ideas you might already have about these subjects. I want to encourage you to open your mind and consider perspectives beyond what you may currently believe to be true. My guest this week is Jen Henry. She shares her inspiring journey from addiction to recovery and a life of purpose.

[00:00:54] Jen found solace in substance abuse from a young age, but her determination led her to seek a holistic approach to recovery, eventually leading her to transforming her entire life. Before we get into Jen's story, I want to put in a trigger warning. Throughout our conversation, we touch upon sensitive topics such as IV drug use.

[00:01:13] sexual assault, and violence. They are not described in detail, but I understand their potential to be triggering for some listeners. Please consider this as you decide whether to tune in to this episode. I encourage you to join us as we explore Jen's journey and discover the lessons she has learned along the way.

[00:01:31] Thank you for joining us for this conversation. Welcome to the podcast, Jen. I'm really excited to have this conversation. I know a little bit about your story because we connected on Facebook, which I have to say, I have a love hate relationship with Facebook, but this is one of the things that I love so much about it is I'm able to meet people that have really amazing stories.

[00:01:51] That they're sharing with the world and I get to have a conversation with you about it. So thank you for coming on. And if you just want to start us off, tell us about yourself, where you're from, if you want to share how old you are, whatever you want to share with us so we get to know who you are as a 

[00:02:06] Jennifer: person.

[00:02:06] Yeah, absolutely. My name is Jen Henry. I was born and raised and still reside in Riverside, California. I am an author, I'm a speaker, I'm a coach, and I am 38. I will be 39 next week. So I'll be celebrating the last year of my 30s with as much style as possible. So I'm looking forward to an amazing year.

[00:02:27] Definitely. Wonderful. Well, 

[00:02:29] Jill: happy early birthday. And so you grew up in California. I love California. I lived out there for a couple years with my husband. And so tell us about your book, what your story is that 

[00:02:40] Jennifer: you're sharing with the world. Absolutely. So my mission is and my movement is what I call lifestyle recovery.

[00:02:47] I was an only child. I had everything handed to me. I didn't know what it was to need, let alone want or want, let alone need, I guess you would say. And I didn't really appreciate anything. I had no idea who I was, no idea what I wanted, no direction. I was completely disconnected. I was too emotional, too empathetic, was always just too much for everybody around me, including my mom.

[00:03:10] And so that made it really difficult when I had a mom who really struggled with me because I really, in the end, I scared her. I was too much for her. She was very meek, very mild, very. See it be seen and not heard kind of person growing up. I was a very loud, very, I don't want to say obnoxious, but that's the word that comes to mind, right?

[00:03:29] Very all the why questions in everything all the time. And it made it really difficult to have a good connection with her, even though I had both parents in the household and my dad was a very alpha male cowboy used car salesman, right? He grew up with horses on a ranch. There was responsibility, but. It was imposed on me.

[00:03:46] I wasn't excited about horses. I loved horses. It was just part of who I was, right? But it was just kind of handed to me. It was just all landed on my plate. And I didn't have any appreciation for what went into creating that life. I just had no appreciation for it. And I'd much rather be hanging out at the mall than shoveling horseshit.

[00:04:02] My dad's sister, my aunt Dorothy, she was one of the few adults in my life that just saw me for who I was, that didn't think I was too much, that didn't expect me to be anything other than I was. She and I really had an amazing connection. And that's not in the book, I digress. But what ended up happening was I started losing people in my life at a very early age.

[00:04:20] All of my grandparents had passed away by the time I was 13. My aunt Dorothy then passed away from cancer, my uncle and another aunt passed away. I ended up losing four of my aunts and an uncle and all of my grandparents and a friend and a cousin to all of these things. And I lost so many people in such a short period of time.

[00:04:38] Again, that's not in the book, but that is the reality of what happened. And it's appropriate for this show. And so I really just kept thinking like, what is the point? Like there's no point. You're just going to die. Right? We live miserable and then we die. And what's the point of anything in between might as well just enjoy ourselves and do whatever the hell we want.

[00:04:54] And so I did. I was a really smart young kid and I was in private school in elementary school, shuffled into public school in seventh grade and I was bored out of my mind. Because I was ahead of everybody I was in class with, the education that was in place in that school was not necessarily top notch.

[00:05:10] Maybe it was for the public school system, but I was testing post high school in fifth grade. And so by seventh grade, I was bored out of my mind, hanging out in the bathrooms. And the other kids that were hanging out in the bathrooms were bored too, but for different reasons. And what they did teach me was the art of the escape.

[00:05:24] And numbing and disconnecting and they were really good at it. And I learned eventually to be really good at it. And so that's how I spent my youth was completely disconnected, running from reality, not okay in my own skin. And really anything that you needed me to be. So that I would fit in. And so by 16 years old, I had already messed with cocaine, ecstasy, acid.

[00:05:47] And by 16 years old, I had a needle in my arm and I was injecting methamphetamines. And so I was a hype. I was an IV drug user for the next few years. I was on what we call suicide on the installment plan. Because I was, didn't want to live, but I was too scared to kill myself. And so it was just a matter of being reckless and not caring and not putting any value in my life, on my life whatsoever.

[00:06:08] And at 18, I was arrested and it saved my life. I was clean and sober for four years working a program and Alcoholics Anonymous. And as much as I commend the group for what it does and how many lives it has saved for me, I needed more. And I wasn't getting what I actually needed from that program. And for me, I was so codependent and so reliant on everybody else to value me and to need me in order to feel value or worth that when I was in the program, it was parrot all these things, read all this literature, be this person, be of service.

[00:06:40] And it just fed my codependency to a really unfortunate point where when it came down to it and I needed to rely on me, I wasn't there. I didn't know me yet. I wasn't connected to me yet. I didn't know who I was, what I liked, what I wanted, where I wanted to go in life. I just knew how to follow direction and that helps a lot of people.

[00:06:58] But for me, I needed to know who I was and I didn't yet. And so I ended up going back out. I was engaged to be married and my boyfriend at the time of four years, he got some adults pregnant. And as much as I would think that is what would take me out, it was really the fact that I was disconnected now from his son who I had also helped raise.

[00:07:15] And so his whole life was upended, my whole life was upended, and not having a relationship with that boy anymore, really, that, and not having any control over that really sent me off the deep end, and, cause I can't have kids, and so, that was really something that's, I ended up going back out, from 22 to 25, I was back out there, on the Robbing people, hustling with a needle in my arm.

[00:07:37] And when I was 25, I was arrested. I was arrested multiple times out on bail, arrested again, out on bail, arrested again, and then I was finally sent to prison for my first time. And I spent eight months and 20 days in Chowchilla, which is up north in California. And when I got out, I was worse. And when I went in, I was out a couple months, still had no coping skills, still had no way of doing life in a responsible manner.

[00:08:02] I was still uncomfortable in my own skin, still had no clue who I was or what the point of life was. And so I was back in jail within under around two months. It was like 67 days or something ridiculous. But this time I knew that I had already been to prison and it didn't work. It didn't help me. It made me worse.

[00:08:19] And so during my court case, I fought tooth and nail because at the time there were no programs that were available to wards of the state, and I fought to get into a six month residential treatment program. And so when I was released from prison the second time, I was directly escorted to that rehabilitation center.

[00:08:36] It was a treatment center for women reintegrating into society. And so there was 60 women in this house. And I had to learn as an only child, how to get along with others and how to set boundaries and how to find my own balance and how to identify who I was and what I wanted. And that was the beginning of my journey of lifestyle recovery.

[00:08:55] And throughout the last 13 years now, it has been a journey of choosing life. And I have a very interesting relationship or personal view around death because up until very recently, and honestly, sometimes still recently, I, it's almost a jealousy thing. It's almost a, how come you get to go and I have to stay here?

[00:09:15] It's not a grief or a loss or a sadness because they're gone. I'm glad they don't have to deal with this life anymore because it's, Kind of sucks sometimes, right? But after everything I had been through on the street, and that's what I do touch on in the book, is the trauma that I experienced on the streets versus the trauma, the, the experience I had while I was in prison versus to now, today, the last 13 years, what have I done different?

[00:09:36] Why is my experience different now? Why have I been able to shift dimensions? Why have I been able to create a new reality when so many people that I knew were dying, were OD ing, were going back to prison, were having these traumatic experiences? The, the, like the result of what most of us end up with is jails, institutions, or death.

[00:09:54] And so I'm just so grateful that I was able to put a piece of work out because when I was getting my life together, you know, they say, if there's a book that you want to read and you can't find it, you need to write it. And that's what happened is I was a bookworm. I've always been a bookworm. Even when I was out running the streets, books have always been my kind of a piece of that escape, a piece of that disconnection.

[00:10:13] And when I started turning that into a way to grow a way to connect a way to identify with a new way of being, I started to look for what I needed from this industry, I guess you could say, and I couldn't find it. Everybody was asking us to create a vision first. And I was so messed. My perspective was so skewed on what actually living life could look like for me or what that experience could be like for me, that I just had to create my own path.

[00:10:40] I had to create my own program. I had to create my own signature system throughout the years. I thought for a while there that that was going to be as a personal trainer. I thought that was going to be as a nutritionist, but the truth was, is yeah, great. Working out is great for you. Eating clean is great for you, but who you're being, who you're being is being daily, every moment.

[00:10:59] is what matters. And unless we can connect to that, like life does feel pointless because we're not on our soul's journey. We're on the journey that the world has set in place for us. And so there has been so many times that I have wished that I could reach for a reference that now I've created, you know, and so I'm just so grateful to be able to share that with the world really and make as big of an impact as possible to let people know, like, it's okay.

[00:11:24] to choose life, even when you're surrounded by death. That's beautiful. And there's 

[00:11:28] Jill: so much in even what you've said already that I'm like, Oh, man, because I'm an only child as well. And there was definitely a few times when I got very close to that line of really Just, I don't know, going in a different direction.

[00:11:46] But my grandmother was still alive. And my grandmother really was, I think, the only thing that sometimes saved me from tipping over to that other side. Because I think we have so much judgment in our culture. I mean, we have a lot of judgment about everything, right? But especially when we look at people that we view as drug addicts or thieves or like all these labels that we want to put on them.

[00:12:12] And if we could get really honest with ourselves, any of us could have gone down that path. It's not, there's something wrong with them. It's not that they're dumb or they're weak or whatever else we want to assume. They're bad people. All of us could have taken that path. We just, we don't always realize it.

[00:12:30] And I think we're so afraid to look at that reality. Like we're afraid to look at a lot of realities, right? Like we don't want to talk about death and dying. We shy away from it because. I don't know it scares us partially because I think we've tried to not talk about it for so long. So I am so glad that you wrote the book that you needed because I know that there's a lot of people, I mean the career path that I'm coming out of.

[00:12:56] I worked with a lot of people that were coming out of the prison system, were homeless, they had been addicted to drugs. And the struggle that people go through is real. I mean, it's not just like you get out of prison, okay, go get a job, you know, be quote unquote normal now, like go out and function like the rest of the world.

[00:13:15] It's not that easy. And people don't understand that they need more help. And so many people that I've talked to. that have struggled with drug addiction over a period of time have said, like, these programs don't work. They, they aren't really getting to the root of the problem of why people ever turned towards drugs in the first place.

[00:13:37] It sounds like in your case, you didn't have any major trauma, but so often if you talk to people, it was to numb. the feelings that they had after suffering trauma. So why are we not working on that? Why are we just saying, well, just don't use the drug. Just stay away from it. Just say no. Okay. Yeah. Cause if it was that easy, don't you think a lot of people would.

[00:13:58] So I'm really glad that you have this resource now and that you're talking about it because a lot of people do feel that shame because of unfortunately the judgment that society has. So it feels safer to just you know, hide and be like, no, that was my past. I'm going to forget that that even happens.

[00:14:18] And when you were talking to about some of the different paths you considered, one of the first things I thought about when you said like maybe a fitness coach, how many of us use other things to numb, right? We break our addiction to drugs or alcohol or whatever it is. And then we just find something else that seems healthier.

[00:14:38] But if we're still just numbing, whether it's exercise, whether it's religion, whether it's things that, like, again, people look at it like, oh, that's healthier. Not necessarily. If you're just using it to take the place to numb you from actually feeling what it is that's going on within you, it's still not healthy.

[00:14:57] It's still not good for you. It maybe won't, like, kill you quite as easily as some of the drugs and the alcohol will, but it still is not a good way of working with. Whatever it is that's going on inside you that you need to heal. And it sounds like for you, maybe it wasn't a major trauma, but not having that connection with your mother.

[00:15:15] That's a lot of the work that I've done as a daughter and as a mother. I have a daughter and I have my mother and there's definitely some like real wounding that goes on between women in our culture. And it shows up for me. with women as far as friendships, but it really showed up when I had my daughter.

[00:15:36] And then I was like, Oh, if 

[00:15:39] Jennifer: I don't fix this, if I don't fix this 

[00:15:41] Jill: in me, I'm not going to be a great mother. And then I'm just going to essentially push all my stuff, maybe in a different way. It'll show up for her, but I'm going to push all my stuff onto her. And it wasn't a conscious decision. There was definitely confusion.

[00:15:58] Sometimes I don't even now understand her. We're very different personality wise. Sometimes I'm like, I don't know. I don't know what's going on here, but we're going to work on it together. Like I'm here for you. And that was the biggest thing that I had to realize is that she doesn't have to be like me.

[00:16:13] I don't even have to understand her. I just need to be there for her to support her. as best as I can, and then we'll work through it together. But that's a really difficult thing, because then you have to really look at yourself and you have to really find those spots within you where again, I was essentially self medicating in my own ways, right?

[00:16:34] Drugs and alcohol, not hard drugs, but marijuana, plenty of alcohol, sex, like all the other things to numb the feelings that I had about. What was I worth? What was I worth without my career? Because I also am an over her worker. Like there's so many things I had to face it in order to be the best mother that I can be.

[00:16:54] And it was partially too, because I had this deep fear of her turning to drugs. And I didn't want that for her. And it doesn't mean that we can prevent anybody from doing anything. We're still our own people. But I really wanted to do the best I could to set her up for the happiest and healthiest life that 

[00:17:12] Jennifer: she could have.

[00:17:13] It really is about recognizing what your beliefs are, right? The work that I do with my clients is around belief and identity, and all the parts work. Okay, because there were beliefs that your mom instilled into you or that you developed as a result of the relationship that you had with your mom. I'm not worthy because my mom doesn't hold space for me.

[00:17:30] And so you never learned how to hold space for yourself. And so you believe that you're not worthy of holding space for yourself. And then so instead you expect others to hold space for you or you simply hold space for others instead of you. And that's really a big piece of especially as entrepreneurs or as mothers or as people in the service industries or caregiving industries, like caregivers or nurses or teachers.

[00:17:51] We have a tendency to, especially coaches, counselors, therapists, right? Generally, they have a better idea of where to set some boundaries. But the truth is that unless we learn how to hold space for ourselves, we're never going to be able to hold space for someone else and what they believe to be true, right?

[00:18:06] Because we are going to be so affected by what their beliefs are because we don't have our own space. Right. And so in my arms reach right in this area, this bubble that I keep around me, right, I used it as a defense for years. But what I've realized is that that is my safe space. My arms reach means I get to believe whatever I want to believe is true about the world.

[00:18:28] And I get to identify however I choose to identify in that world. But if I don't recognize What I believe is true that's making these decisions, right? The different parts of me that believe different things. The 16 year old part of me that believes it's not safe to do this or the 22 year old that believes it's better if I choose this way, right?

[00:18:45] They're all contributing and we call it like self sabotage, right? We think like all of a sudden. We're going off the deep end, and we're not doing what we said we were going to be doing, but it's because one of your parts is trying to keep you safe. And until we can like really be introspective and really look at like, what is it?

[00:19:01] Where's this coming from? Like, is this what I believe is true? Or is it what somebody else has impressed upon me to believe is true? And you spoke on something I wanted to touch on the fact that it's like, I mean, that really covers it. But It's really about, we have a tendency to become I. I had a tendency to become whatever someone else needed me to be, so that I was valuable to them.

[00:19:22] And that is where I found my worth. And that is the most hardcore, co dependent thing ever, right? And until we learn what our likes are, what our beliefs are, that it's okay. That we believe something different than someone else and we can still accept them for their beliefs. There's no way that we really have to get connected to self first before we can truly connect to anyone else.

[00:19:41] Yeah, and 

[00:19:42] Jill: it's hard because so much of our life we are taught to look to other people, to not turn to ourselves, whether it's our parents or teachers or whatever religion we're part of. There's usually some leader in the religion and you're supposed to look to them for things. So rarely are we taught to look within when we're young, that teenage years, cause I'm thinking you were so young when you started using IV drugs.

[00:20:08] That's so young. You don't know who you are. But like, I still sometimes barely know who I am, but at 16, I really didn't know who I was. And that is like numbing all the parts of you to ever really find yourself. Because that's like, that's really in your system when you're doing it that way, and Well, 

[00:20:27] Jennifer: and that's the thing is it's always, it always is.

[00:20:29] I mean, people have all these different ways of disconnecting, right? And that's why it's about lifestyle recovery. It was never, ever about the drugs. And I knew that because when I was sitting in jail, and I had smuggled in my drugs and my needle. Okay, and the drugs ran out. I was still using that needle to try and pull blood and get anything I could out of that syringe and pushing it back in and I realized that it wasn't about the drugs at all.

[00:20:53] It was about the escape and I had developed this beautiful art of escape and it wasn't until I learned how to like be okay in my own skin, which was uncomfortable. And that was through I got out of prison. I got into this rehab. They had me on all kinds of medications for anxiety, depression, mood stabilizers, anti, you know, you know, anti seizure medication, even though the seizures were caused from the drug use and from the detoxing from the drug use, even though the bipolar was really I had no emotional regulation and was never held accountable to my emotions or asked or referred to them in any way other than calm down, calm down.

[00:21:27] Right. And so when it came down to it, and I had to start And I was in this rehab and they're asking me, you know, identify my feelings. I'm like, you do understand that I haven't identified a feeling since I was like 12, right? And I'm 25 now. And now you're asking me to identify my feelings. You're asking me where I see myself in a year.

[00:21:43] Do you know what I just went through and what I put myself through? Like, I didn't expect to make it to 30. I didn't plan to make it to 30. And you're asking who I think I'll be when I'm 30. And I'm thinking I'll be six feet under when I'm 30, if I'm lucky. And so I really had to take a step back and start to ask myself the questions and search for my own answers and get really curious instead of judgmental, right?

[00:22:03] I had to let go of all of these people's opinions about what it should look like when I live a clean life or a healthy life and decide what did that look like for me? There were other kids and. Kids, people, adults, grown ass women in the, in this group, in this rehab that they'd ask him and they'd say, Oh, I want my family back together.

[00:22:20] I want a house that I can call my own. I want a nice, reliable car. I want money in the bank. And none of that mattered to me. I had had that. I didn't appreciate any of it when I had it because that's not what makes us happy. It may make us feel safe and secure in a world that relies on those things. But really, I wanted to be okay in my own skin.

[00:22:36] I wanted to know who I was. I wanted to know what I liked. I wanted to know who I was showing up as in the world. And maybe I might be able to have like some kind of opinion on that. Right. And I started really trusting myself and very much in contrast to the four years that I was clean and sober and working a program and being of service and doing everything they told me, because if I didn't, they told me I would die.

[00:22:56] Instead, I was like, I am already dying with or without the drugs. I am already dying. I am already not living anyway. And so what if I didn't do what they told me to do, and what if I tuned in instead? And so, as I was getting off my meds, I was coming out of my skin, because obviously, being medicated for years, whether it was through, through the government, or through the state, or through whatever, right?

[00:23:18] Versus self medication. And when I started to actually have these like actual feelings, I couldn't differ between resentment or guilt or anger or sadness. And I just knew that I was feeling too much. And there was all this like pent up energy, right? And I may not have had trauma when I started, but I definitely had fricking trauma when I was living on the streets as a 16 year old white girl, ignorant, naive.

[00:23:40] As all get out white girl on the streets of downtown Riverside and East LA. And so there was definitely trauma to deal with in the end of it all. And when I look back, there's absolutely no reason I should still be living other than the fact there's obviously a bigger purpose. There's obviously a reason that I'm here, right?

[00:23:56] And so that was what I held on to was there's obviously a reason I'm here. What is it? And I started using that to get curious. So when I was in that rehab, they had this old treadmill in the rec room. And this rec room is where everybody goes after programming all day or working all day or schooling all day.

[00:24:09] And they want to relax and talk on the phone and they want to watch their shows and play cards and write letters. And then there's this old treadmill. And I don't know if you've ever been on an old treadmill or heard one or smelled one, but the smell of burnt rubber smells like cat piss. And it sounds like someone's literally like screaming, like it's annoying as all get out.

[00:24:27] Right. And it's loud and you can barely hear yourself over it. But I did not care. I knew instinctively. And now I know, obviously, through studying functional medicine that I needed to move my body. I needed to get the energy and the blood flowing, and I needed to get that bad energy out so that I could have room for better energy.

[00:24:43] And I had no idea what I was doing at the time. I was literally just grasping for life and choosing life, and I didn't know what that actually looked like. Everyone else was 50, pounds overweight. Everyone else was stuffing their face. Everyone else was still disconnecting in certain ways and I didn't think of it at the time, but that was really the first piece that totally changed everything for me.

[00:25:04] And when I got out, I started running and then I started learning about weightlifting and I started doing resistance training and weightlifting. And then I started paying attention to the fact that I needed more energy and fuel for those workouts. So I started really paying attention to the food that I was eating and slowly, but surely I realized a year in my people are falling like flies around me, going back to prison, overdosing, hitting the again.

[00:25:26] And yet here I was still moving forward. Why? And I thought for a while that it was because of just the fitness and the nutrition. And I thought that was the way that I was going to save people. And so for seven years, I competed on stage and in fitness competitions. And I worked with clients in the gym.

[00:25:42] I had a bootcamp that I ran six or seven years and I was doing personal training and writing meal plans and all of these things. And then one day I'm standing on stage and I'm competing for first place with a woman who's easily 20 years older than me and her. Skin was slack and she was all sucked up and gone because years and years of dieting down and bulking up and dieting down and bulking up.

[00:26:02] And I could see scars in her hips from performance enhancing drug injections. Right. And I thought, what the heck am I doing? Like what is really going on? This is not it. And as I reflect on that, I was at seven or 8 percent body fat. All the time. I hadn't had a period in three years. My kidneys were shutting down from too much protein that I couldn't break down.

[00:26:21] And I was miserable. I had gotten into fitness to save my life. I had gotten into fitness to be okay mentally and emotionally and spiritually. And yes, physically, but it had nothing to do with the way I looked. Now, all of a sudden, Eight years later, I'm standing on stage and it's only about the way that I look.

[00:26:37] I'm scrolling Instagram to see who might be at the show to see who I might be up against. And I was constantly in compare and despair. I was constantly not good enough. Nothing I did was good enough. I was a giraffe comparing myself to zebras, right? And there was nothing I was ever going to do unless I started injecting and using needles again in my life to become a zebra.

[00:26:55] And even when I did, I was never going to be a zebra, right? Because that is not what's meant for me. And so when I stopped and I started reflecting and getting curious again, because what had happened, I had disconnected. I had developed another addiction. And I became completely obsessed with weighing my food and measuring my meals and measuring my waist and measuring my body fat percentage and the way I looked.

[00:27:15] And when I stopped and got curious again, this wasn't it either. Right. And I really needed to start getting curious around what was it that I really wanted because this wasn't it. And so that's when I got into health coaching and I went and I took a 6, 000 six month certification course and then they went on and took their life coaching course, went on and took their master transformation course, went on and took the nutritional functional nutrition nine month course.

[00:27:37] That should have been a two year course because that thing was ridiculous. But I started really diving into. Working with myself first around who I was showing up as what were my intentions behind my actions? Who was I being who was my being being right? And what was the purpose behind each action? I was taking and being mindful.

[00:27:56] And when I started doing that, I started realizing I didn't want to work with my clients in the gym anymore because I wanted to know who they were being the other 23 hours of the day. I wanted to know who they were when their kid interrupted him on a phone call, or when someone cut him off in the car, or when they didn't get enough sleep last night, or, you know what I mean?

[00:28:10] Who are you still showing up as? Because we have a tendency to look outside. And this is something I wanted to comment earlier. You were talking about different religions and leaders, and it's like, yes, absolutely get direction and get insight from them. But the truth is, if you're looking to pray to a God, start with the God inside yourself.

[00:28:26] Start with the energy inside yourself, the highest conscious version of yourself, because that is who is directed. That is who you are meant to be. That is who is really meant to direct your life. That is really where we're supposed to look to find out what it is that we're supposed to be doing in this life.

[00:28:39] Because if we're looking outside for that, we're never going to find it. Correct. We will never find 

[00:28:44] Jill: it. And that's when other people can really take control of our lives because we turn to them for it. And I certainly did that more so when I was younger. Um, Getting better now, right? Like with everything I'm working constantly 

[00:29:00] Jennifer: on getting better.

[00:29:01] It's a 

[00:29:01] Jill: journey. It's so a journey. And for the most part, I'm enjoying the journey. But that actually made me think of something that you had said earlier about almost like this feeling of jealousy when somebody else dies, right? And There was a significant portion of my life when I was not suicidal, but I also was kind of like, but if I died today, I'd kind of be okay with it.

[00:29:25] Cause honestly, this is just not doing it for me. When it seems so weird to say that as somebody that from the outside, people look at me and they think I have everything. And I do, I'm very blessed. I'm very grateful for what I have. But if you don't have that peace within you, if you don't have that sense of, I don't know, it's not even necessarily self love, but it definitely was partially like I didn't love myself.

[00:29:51] I didn't love who I was. I didn't love the way people viewed me and the way that people treated me. And so there was sometimes part of me where I was like, well, if I died tomorrow, that actually might not be such a bad thing. And it's a weird place to be. 

[00:30:05] Jennifer: Well, I got to be honest with you. I don't know. I'm not necessarily a practicing Christian.

[00:30:09] Like I have faith in the universe. It's working its magic and showing up in the way that we need it to show up in the times that we need to show up as long as we're connected. And so even with everything that I had gone through, especially with everything that I had gone through, I really don't feel like that piece has shifted and I don't feel like that's a bad thing.

[00:30:29] I am 100 percent okay with who I show up as on a daily basis in this life. And if that ends tomorrow, I am okay with it. I absolutely have no regrets. I absolutely give what I can every single day. Sometimes it's more, sometimes it's not very much, but I still give what I have. I feel like as long as we are getting up in the morning and most of our parts are on board with creating the life that we want.

[00:30:52] There are no regrets. And yes, there are people in my life that somewhat rely on me, right? And that would be absolutely devastated if I was gone. But they will survive. They will find a way. They will continue to life will continue to go on for them. And eventually we'll maybe meet again, right? Maybe in this life, maybe in another life, whatever the case, I don't know what you believe in.

[00:31:11] I believe God is energy. And I believe that when we are no longer with our body, we are still energy. Right? It cannot be created. It cannot be destroyed. It can only be displaced and concentrated. Right? And so right now there's a full concentration of Jen Henry in this body. And when it's not there anymore, it will be somewhere else.

[00:31:27] So I'm not worried about that. And the truth is during the lockdown and stuff, I was, you know, I do hair. I've been doing hair for 20 years. I still do it two days a week because I love it. But so I was sitting with one of my clients doing his hair and he's a longtime friend of mine. And I said, if after everything that I've gone through, I get taken out with a cold virus, so be it.

[00:31:45] I am not worried about it. Like I tried haphazardly for years to vacate this existence. And if it happens because of a cold virus, let's go. And he's like, Oh, do you, do you need to talk to someone? Are you okay? And I'm like, I am more than okay. Obviously, like I've been to prison. So this lockdown was a joke to me.

[00:32:03] I was so excited about being able to drive like this actual. limit and not go half the speed limit because of traffic. I was so excited. My heels weren't getting run into by shopping carts anymore at the grocery store because people actually kept their distance and my business tripled. I was not mad about the situation.

[00:32:17] I was devastated. I lost family members. Don't get me wrong, but everybody that I know that I lost had some kind of chronic issue way before COVID came around. I do feel devastated that we lost an opportunity to really focus on creating an anti inflammatory life. Because it was an inflammatory disease.

[00:32:32] It is an inflammatory disease. And so those people that are suffering from inflammatory issues are going to absolutely be more susceptible to heavier risks from this virus. But when it comes down to it, like, I wasn't scared because I do what I need to do to take care of myself. I move my body on a regular basis.

[00:32:47] Percent of the time I'm eating clean whole sustainably sourced foods, right? Like I do what I can. And if that's not enough, I don't know what to tell you. And that is kind of my mindset in this life is I do the best I can and that's enough for me. It has to be enough for me because what am I expected to do better than my best?

[00:33:03] Seriously? So I show up in the best way that I can in the moment. Sometimes it's better than others. But it's without judgment and it's just with curiosity. And when I apply that to myself, it makes it so much easier to apply it to others and to not hold them to some unrealistic expectation. Like who am I to decide what someone else is meant to learn from their experiences in this life?

[00:33:26] And so I let them experience it. And if they're doing their best, awesome. If they're not, that's their problem. I don't know what to tell you. Your regrets, not mine. I do the work. I get my results. I have to just be okay with that. And so I decide because it's always a decision. You can choose to blame everybody else, blame the situation.

[00:33:44] Well, good luck with that. Let me know how it works out for you. Because I'm here to tell you it's miserable. And it's a miserable existence playing the victim all the time. And so when I finally learned how to hold myself accountable, when I finally learned how to set boundaries and to be authentic with those boundaries, regardless of how you felt about them, I feel like that's when I really started choosing life.

[00:34:03] My life. Oh my 

[00:34:04] Jill: gosh, I love that. You were saying about the victim mentality. The only thing we can do is change ourselves and the way that we react to the other people. And we just get so caught up in cycles of interacting with the same type of people. How often do you talk to people and they'll say, Oh, well, all my partners are this way.

[00:34:22] And all the people are this way. Well, yeah, you're doing that to yourself to a certain extent. And it's not trying to like victim blame somebody. But there's part of you that's searching that out because it's comfortable. It's normal, 

[00:34:34] Jennifer: whatever. Well, your vibe, your vibe attracts your tribe, right? And I'm sure that's not PC anymore, but I mean, that's the truth.

[00:34:40] Like energy attracts like energy. Frequencies only are compatible with the same frequency. And so if you're in a negative vibe, if you're in a low frequency energy and you're walking around like that, you're literally magnetizing low frequency people to you until you start to up your vibe. And so you start to raise your frequency with the foods that you eat.

[00:35:00] The way you move your body, the thoughts that you think, the things that you believe to be true about yourself and about the world around you, you're going to continue to attract those same people. I 

[00:35:08] Jill: think you and I are very similar in the sense of like, I try to eat really well. I move my body every day.

[00:35:12] I take as best care of my body as I can, but it's that I want to feel really good. I want to be in my eighties if I live that long and still feel good in my body. So it's not about keeping a slender body. Because of what it looks like, it's because of what it feels like. But the reality is, is I could still get diagnosed with an illness tomorrow and die in six months, no matter how well I eat, no matter how well I exercise and I avoid the chemicals, I can still do all of those things and still die tomorrow from something totally random.

[00:35:45] And that's, what's so interesting sometimes for me is to talk to people. That they've done everything quote unquote right to take care of their bodies, but in the long run, we're all still going to die. And I still sometimes have to process that, that no matter what I do, I'm still going to die and I don't know what it's going to be from.

[00:36:06] And so I just try to do the best that I can do while also not trying to have expectations that this is going to keep me. healthy and safe and whatever else for however long in my head, I imagined myself living. And the whole thing with movement, like you've mentioned it a couple of times, like that's something really big that I talk to people about.

[00:36:27] When I found yoga in my 20s, like that's what really saved me. And the more that I do the work that I do. It's not even necessarily why I thought it was when I was younger. I think in some ways it was just I needed to move my body to move this energy out that I had no other way of getting out unless I physically exploded on people like.

[00:36:49] Fighting people in fistfights, screaming, yelling, it would all bottle up in me until eventually it could come out. And then once I learned to move my body, I could move that energy out in a way that was safe for me and safe for other people. And I talked to people that are dealing with death anxieties. I talked to people that are dealing with grief.

[00:37:09] And I'm like, you need to feel these things. We can't just hold it in. We can't shove it down. But there's ways that you can feel it and move it through your body, especially with movement. And it doesn't have to be yoga. It could be running. It could be working out at the gym or whatever it is that you like, but it's that movement that like gets the energy out of you.

[00:37:29] So it's not just storing up because traditional Chinese medicine, a lot of like shamanic healing type stuff. It's that energy like sticking in your body. That's what can cause these diseases. Is there science to back that up? I don't know. I think we're getting there. Exactly. We're starting to get there now where things that we couldn't explain in the past, they're starting to be able to say there is a connection there.

[00:37:51] And again, traditional Chinese medicine has been around for thousands of years, way longer than Western medicine. And so. There's gotta be something there. If I'm really in my body and I'm really quiet and I silence my mind a little bit, if I'm feeling a feeling, I could say to myself, I'm feeling anxious.

[00:38:09] I'm feeling stressed. I'm feeling this. I'm feeling that, but I'm also feeling it. Like there's parts of my body. I might have a really bad pain in my shoulder and in my neck. I might have a stomach ache. My knees might hurt. Like there's somewhere in my body. That I'm physically feeling that as well. But we've been taught to not connect those things.

[00:38:28] So what do we do? I medicate. I put the patches on my shoulder. I pop my ibuprofen. Like rather than feeling and releasing. But it's a process to retrain ourselves to think that there's other ways that we can work through these emotions and work through these feelings in ways that we weren't taught to when we 

[00:38:49] Jennifer: were younger, especially.

[00:38:50] Especially when people are so against like anything woo, right? They've come from a very religious household. It's all about what God wants for you. It's all about trusting the medical system and America. A lot of people really. We still trust the medical system in America and it's just so sad because we don't have a medical care system or preventative system.

[00:39:07] We have a medical management system, right? And so we're taught to just band aid the situation when in all reality there's a reason why there's inflammation in our body and we have to get to the root of that before we're ever going to be able to shift anything or make the pain actually stop. And have you ever read the body keep score?

[00:39:24] Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. So you know, it talks about the fact that even if you are moving your body, there are certain times that you actually have to do manual manipulation or some kind of massage therapy or something around certain areas because to work that out because it stores in like the deepest crevices of our body, especially deep trauma or deep wounding and childhood trauma and things like that.

[00:39:42] So it's just so interesting to me because I mean, it can be as simple as sitting down on the floor and just stretching sometimes to move some of that energy through, but it is such a big deal. It's the way that we talk to ourselves. It really comes down to like when I say who is your being being like those voices like those parts of you that have an opinion on something regardless of where they came from you really have to check in on according to whom is that belief still serving me and if not what do I need to believe is true instead.

[00:40:09] I used to believe the hype around you're a convict. Right? You're an ex convict. You're an ex drug addict. You're just a druggy loser. You're never going to be able to get a job. Well, that's amazing because I don't want a job. I've been working for myself since I was 18 years old. So I don't need to listen to all that nonsense, right?

[00:40:26] I could have easily sat there and told myself, I'm just a piece of shit. I just have to like, take what I can get in this life. And I'm lucky to get what I get. Like it's such. Bullshit. I just invite anybody that's listening, if there is a belief that you have and it's no longer serving you, scratch it, toss it, throw it out.

[00:40:43] Jill: What do you need to believe is 

[00:40:44] Jennifer: true instead? Because the truth is, is that I believe that you're capable of anything you put your mind to. I believe that you know how to be a different kind of strong. I believe that it's not just about building muscle. It's about recognizing that something might be somewhat difficult, but that it's worth the challenge.

[00:40:59] Right. And it's who you become in that process that creates the experience you're going to have in this life. Right. And so I'm so grateful. And I almost wear the fact that I don't have a high school diploma. I don't have a college degree. I have seven felonies on my record. I've been to prison twice. I've been in and out of mental hospitals.

[00:41:15] I was diagnosed with all kinds of fun diagnoses, right? Like not her schizoaffective, or bipolar, you know, ADHD, all this different stuff. Right. And it's like, okay, I can either use that to identify. with the world around me in that way. Or I can look at it as, okay, great. Like I've got some work to do around some emotional regulation, or I've got some work to do around being okay in my own skin, or I've got some work to do around, is that really someone talking?

[00:41:43] Or is it just a thought in my head? Did I really see that? Or is it just a passing shadow? And even if it is there, Do I need to acknowledge it? Because I still have episodes where I'm super exhausted, and I have a little bit of a schizophrenic episode, a psychosis, right? And so I get to pay attention to those moments.

[00:42:02] I get to be grateful for my awareness in those moments, and I get to decide what is true for me that serves me. Right. There may be things I still hear. There may be still things that I see that maybe other people don't see or hear. And I have to decide, was that in my mind's eye or was that in real life?

[00:42:17] Do I want to make this my reality or not? And so when you can take someone who's been diagnosed schizophrenic to someone who's a best selling author, award winning speaker, multiple business owner, pushing multiple six figures this next year from someone who lived on the street. Yeah. was completely out of her mind, couldn't put a sentence together, couldn't distinguish reality from the insanity.

[00:42:37] How, how, right? And it's because I had to believe that it was possible for me. I had to believe that I was here for a purpose. I had to believe that even if I didn't know what it was, that it was worth moving forward towards. And I had to believe that at some point I was going to be okay. Because I wasn't for years, but I had to believe that it was going to be possible for me to be okay.

[00:42:56] And it works the same in any simple thing. Like I believe that I'm worth leaving this job and starting my own business. I believe that I'm capable of those things, but then you have to actually start doing the things, but you're never going to start doing the things, taking the steps, making that progress in that direction, unless you believe it's possible.

[00:43:12] It's like starting a new diet or something, right? Like people want to get on this diet. I believe that it's going to take me to where I want to be. The truth is what you are actually. Putting in your body is going to shift what you experience, right? So like if I know that when I put cream in my coffee, I'm going to have the runs and yet I like the cream in my coffee.

[00:43:30] I can see obviously there's something going on with my body that my body doesn't like. I'm putting something in that it doesn't like. I can either ignore it because I like the taste of cream in my coffee or I could switch to black coffee and start having solid bowel movements again. Right. And it's literally that simple.

[00:43:43] It seems simple, but it's a hard thing to start to recognize until you start paying attention. Right. And so it's these little things that it's not about the diet. It's about what you're choosing to ingest in your life, whether it's food, whether it's TV, whether it's social media, whether it's some Netflix shows, like what are you actually watching and taking in because it's going to affect you.

[00:44:04] 100 percent people are so disconnected that they watch whatever they watch all the true crime they watch all the murder shows they watch all these things and then they watch all the news all day long and then they wonder why they're stressed out anxious and fearful for what's going to happen in life like how about you focus on what you actually can control Right?

[00:44:21] And let the universe handle the rest. And I'm so tired of hearing people complain about the problem. Like, it's one thing to address the problem, and then decide what you're gonna do about it in your own life, and it's a whole nother thing to just complain about it, and, Oh God, this is going on over here, and this is going on over here, and the president this, and the president that.

[00:44:38] I'm like, hold on. Do you even know who your local council members are? Yeah. If you don't, then shut up about the president. He's not affecting you right now. The people that are in your city, in that government, that little small government, if you're not there Shut up. 

[00:44:51] Jill: If you're not connecting with that and trying to make 

[00:44:53] Jennifer: a difference there, stop talking.

[00:44:54] Your little post on social media is not going to affect anybody. It's just causing you distress. It's making you focus on things that are out of your control. And it's really about paying attention. And same thing, bringing it back to death. It's like when we have loss in our life. We absolutely find it hard to move forward because we don't know who we are without those people in our lives.

[00:45:13] But they're still with us, energetically, 

[00:45:16] Jill: they are still there. And I 

[00:45:18] Jennifer: have no doubt that my ancestors, my aunts, my uncles, my grandparents were right there in the wings with me, on the streets, while I had a needle in my arm, while I was getting raped, while I was getting hostage, while I was getting jumped by hookers because I was walking 

[00:45:31] Jill: on their street at 3 o'clock in the morning.

[00:45:32] Jennifer: And it's like, I know that they were there because I'm still here. And so I know they're still here. And now I get to show them and I get to have them on my support team. And they're really the reason why I can continue to move forward is because I have all of this energy behind me, supporting me, loving me, cheering me on.

[00:45:48] And that's just my belief, right? People can think, Oh, this girl's off a rocker. That's fine. That's your belief. Let me know how your beliefs are working for you. Cause mine are making me on multiple six figures. Mine are helping me run four businesses. Mine are helping me write a bestselling book. Mine are helping me win awards on stages and speak to tens of thousands of people.

[00:46:04] If not more, I'm okay with my beliefs. It comes down to what do you believe is true? That's wonderful. I 

[00:46:10] Jill: love it. I love all of it. Why don't you finish this off? Tell us the name of your book, where people can find you. I'll put all the links in so that it's easy, but just give us a little bit of information about how they could reach you if somebody wants to find you.

[00:46:22] Jennifer: Yeah, absolutely. So we started a new website for the book. It's called unleashing resilience. com and the book's called resilience, a different kind of strong. by Jen Henry. And so you can find it anywhere online. The books are sold Barnes and Noble, Target, Walmart, obviously Amazon is the main go to. And anytime we have any challenges or anything, it's on the Unleashing Resilience website under the book portal tab.

[00:46:47] And so the book does have a book portal. And what that means is there's multiple QR codes. prompts throughout the book. And when you scan the QR code, it takes you to fill in your information for the book portal. It gives you free access to the course slash membership. And you have all of the pause and reflect sections from the book in fillable PDFs.

[00:47:06] It has videos. We're slowly adding more and more videos as we go. different videos on breathing, stretching. We have a mirror work in there. We're working on tapping and on journaling and on grounding and different pieces of different tools that my readers can utilize because I didn't want this just to be a book that you read and were like, Oh, that was great.

[00:47:24] That was really insightful. I wanted it to be. applicable to your life. I wanted to be a tool that my clients, my friends, my family, my readers could use to actually apply the work that I've been doing in my life and my clients have been doing in their life for the last decade, but it's literally changed everything for them.

[00:47:40] And so really excited to have as big of an impact around this as possible. I made the chapter super short, like a couple pages. I wanted it to be bite sized. It is something you can read and Probably two to three hours just sitting, but until you go back and you really dive into the work in the book, obviously it can take some time.

[00:47:59] So I wanted to be able to support my readers through that and so that's what we're doing and it's been going really well. I love that you have 

[00:48:04] Jill: the QR codes to go in and get more. Just more, right? The videos is such a great idea and I love all those things. Tapping, grounding, mirror work. I love all of those tools.

[00:48:16] They've helped me, and that's partially why I love them, and I know that they can really help so many people that are dealing with all types of things. So that's amazing. I'm really so happy that we connected. I really enjoyed this conversation. And I will put links to everything in the show notes so people can easily just go and look for it and click on the link and find everything.

[00:48:37] But thank you so much, Jen, for taking your time today. 

[00:48:40] Jennifer: Thank you, Jill. And thanks for the work that you're doing because honestly, we really do need more people doing this more people giving support around the end of life and death and what that really means and what that looks like. I think that it's such important work.

[00:48:54] So thank you for that. Thank you. Thank you for 

[00:48:57] Jill: listening to this episode of seeing death clearly and next week's episode. I talk with Isabel Knight, also known as The Death Designer. Isabel shares her expertise in human centered design and how she applies it to the death care industry. We talk about her work advocating for more inclusive end of life practices, sustainable alternatives to traditional burial and cremation, and the importance of celebrating individual lives.

[00:49:23] Join us next week to hear more about Isabelle's work. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with a friend or family member who might find it interesting. Your support in spreading the podcast is greatly appreciated. Please consider subscribing on your favorite podcast platform and leaving a five star review.

[00:49:39] Your positive feedback helps recommend the podcast to others. The podcast also offers a paid subscription feature that allows you to financially support the show. Your contribution will help keep the podcast advertisement free. Whether your donation is large or small, every amount is valuable. I sincerely appreciate all of you for listening to the show and supporting me in any way you can.

[00:50:00] You can find a link in the show notes.

[00:50:08] Thank you and I look forward to seeing you in next week's episode of seeing death clearly.