“Awareness is the beginning of transformation”
My name is Jennifer. I am a British woman. I live in the far north of England, by the seaside, not far from the border with Scotland. I am the daughter of a lighthouse keeper and granddaughter of a coal miner.
For the last 20+ years it seems I have been living two lives. In one of these lives I am Corporate Jen, a senior leader in a large social purpose organisation. I am what is sometimes called an A type personality – chronic perfectionist, self-critical with a ‘try hard’ psychological driver, prone to stress, hyper accountable and diligent, workaholic, never good enough. In the other I am Magical Jen, also known as the Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter – playful, whimsical, wildly intuitive wonder junky, prone to outbursts of manic creativity … and have even been known to gallop Monty-Python style on a magical horse accompanied by my best friend.
By late 2015 (age 44) I was finding it harder and harder to straddle these two lives. The effort was draining my energy and making me miserable. I was growing tired of being schizophrenic. But Corporate Jen, who tends to run the show, simply doubled down and tried even harder to prevent the schism from opening too wide; taking on more, doing longer hours, trying even harder. You’ve gotta admire her tenacity I suppose!
Finally, Magical Jen fought back one day and banged a huge white staff into the ground that knocked my husband off his feet and catapulted me into a nervous breakdown.
I sought sanctuary on a tiny, sacred island, on the west coast of Scotland, where I made peace with my much maligned Magical Self, begged her forgiveness and made my holy vows to creativity.
Whilst still in this state of mind, I went to London to see Elizabeth Gilbert speak as part of her Big Magic tour to promote her new book, subtitled Creative Living Beyond Fear. During the questions-from-the-audience-session, a woman sitting near the front asked Liz for advice about how to develop a screen play she was struggling with. “Maybe …” Gilbert said “… your idea doesn’t want to be a screen play? Maybe, it wants to be something else”.
And with that seemingly innocuous reply I knew something had switched on inside me, like a great beam of light had swept across my mind and illuminated the seed of an idea.
You see, for thirteen years I had been trying (and failing) to write a book inspired by my dad’s life. It had always seemed to me that writing this book would somehow unlock a doorway that would lead me to the treasure of my existence. The problem is that trying to write the book was like chasing clouds and Corporate Jen kept taking over, project planning it to death. So each time, the venture ended in crushing defeat, under the weight of my ego telling me I was not this, that, or the other enough.
But in that moment, listening to Liz Gilbert, I made a decision …. I would create a blog as The Lighthouse Keepers Daughter as the starting point for my own experiment, in the hope that writing posts might somehow help me uncover my path.
Of course, Corporate Jen fought back and the blog only lasted a few months before it ran aground in early 2016. This is, of course, an inevitable part of the heroine’s journey.
Then finally, the big guns arrived … the wise crone of menopause came along to finish the job. She kicked Corporate Jen’s ass and finally broke her balls, and I have been sitting in the midst of her brokenness since late 2017. I’d love to say I’ve done this graciously, poised and Buddha-esque, like that Rumi quote when he talks about “sitting in your patience” but I haven’t. Its been a slow, messy period of integration.
But it’s also been thrilling. And I am planning to tell you all about it.
I think maybe it’s time to let our big, bright, brilliant beams of radiant light shine!
Love LHKD xxx