Tag: Podcast

whenare you really your true self

When Are You Really Your True Self?

Posted on November 20, 2017 by

When are you really your true self?

Flying to St. Louis last week, I finally had a quiet moment to finish listening to Ali MacGraw’s interview on the Super Soul podcast. Plane travel isn’t always pleasant for me – my anxiety kicks in and the only way I can balance my wanderlust and my irrational fears of heights and closed spaces is to distract my mind with whatever means possible. And when I am lucky enough to have a window seat…well, that is a curse and a blessing.

I have huge gratitude for podcasts and books in those moments…

when are you really your true self

I suppose it isn’t too coincidental that I’m thinking about my true self while the demons of plane crashes and motion sickness are dueling it out in my monkey mind. Looking out the window over the Rocky mountains, knowing down below are thousands of souls just like me, moving through their work days and trying to do the best they can, without the benefit of being isolated inside a metal tube with the thought-provoking words of Ali McGraw soothing my worries helped me breathe deeply. Settling into my seat, I allowed myself to be truly present. I allowed myself to look out the tiny oval window and know that all would be well, that the raindrops on the outside were reminders that I am here, now, exactly where I should be.

Travel offers the opportunity to be our true selves. Away from home, anonymous in our human package, we may carry out authenticity. Travel strips us of our comfort zone, our ability to fall back into the shadows and hide in our places of control. Travel reminds us that we are real, just one tiny piece in the massive yet minute conglomeration of humanity. We look around airports and hotel lobbies and fantasize If we could just have that life… maybe then ____________ (fill in the blank with hopes and dreams).

Seriously – why not? I’m just real person trying to figure myself out. I’m just a white woman, traveling alone, knowing there’s a high likelihood I will arrive at my destination and life will be just fine.

But the monkey mind jumps in as I shiver and remember I’m thousands of miles up in the clouds, at the mercy of a pilot (whom I noticed with great glee was female) – and think Jen, when are you out of your mind joyful? When are you really your true self – when you’re back IRL, in your home and your classroom in your small hometown surrounded every day by people who know you, from childhood to adulthood, when are you really settling back into that seat and breathing deeply? Is your true self shining through the clouds right at this moment? Are you a model of what a woman could or would or should be?


Motherhood was never a goal for me. I never thought much about it until I was worried it would never happen. I established some arbitrary goal of being 30 and pregnant and now looking back, with that child I bore in that third decade living so far away, I wonder if that was my true-self speaking or perhaps the idea of what I thought I should be or maybe, most likely, the Universe whispering to me that she was ready to join us.

Whatever magical, powerful force brought her to me, I know that she is what brings me unconscious focus and pure joy. I know when I’m in the present moment because I feel all the grounding of the spirits that came before me, all the safety and soundness and rightness that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.

I know I’m really my true self when I’m in the kitchen and watching my beautiful almost-grown boy cook and chatter about his goals or progress in school or why he’s so excited to move away to college or start his next phase- what he feels school has really prepared him for.

I’m really my true self when I’m aware I’m avoiding wishing it were another time, or that we were back snuggling on the couch on Friday nights, sleeping bags all around and pillows stacked to the ceiling. I’m not wishing we were biking together to school or holding hands when we cross the street or sitting on the kitchen counter beside me while we beat cookie batter…

I am my true self right now, and it’s ok. In fact, it’s awesome. Those memory-moments wind together to help remind me that yes, I am here and I am human and I have made choices that right or wrong, sideways or upsidedown, have led me to this instant of sitting alone on a plane, traveling to a place I’ve never been but which is covered with the footprints of those who came before me. I am my true self right now and in that space, may I keep making a difference in this moment. Slowly, often unwittingly, I’m unpeeling the secret to inner peace, looking for gratitude in every corner. I’m enjoying the small moments and trying to focus on what is in front of me while resting in the comfort of having experienced all the joys and sorrows of life that has come before. I’m learning that the richness of life comes from beyond what we are experiencing right now, and rests in the journey we have survived.

I used to think my legacy was built on the quest to be better, to find perfection and then I could relax. I know now that perfection paralyzes, and when I sit back, breathe, and find joy in the moment I am really my true self – and I like her. I’m proud of her, too.

As the podcast concludes, I rush to jot down Ali’s response to reflecting on her life’s journey, and where she sees her legacy. I smile, rewind, and know that if I’m lucky and say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ at the right times, I  might be lucky enough to be known as “the crazy lady in a black dress with a bunch of silver bracelets and 439 stray dogs” too.

Touch down. I’ve landed.


Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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happiness hacks 2017 books

Happiness Hacks: July 2017 To Bring More Gratitude Into Your Life

Posted on July 25, 2017 by

Do you have to intentionally make yourself happier? Some people, like me, need ‘happiness hacks’ to remind themselves every day of what a blessing it is to be alive each day – what great fortune we have to be living for one more extraordinary, ordinary moment.

Years ago I started a gratitude journal – just a daily addition to my morning pages that documented the ordinary things that I was grateful for – simple things that made me happy.

During this time I read Gretchen Rubin‘s book, The Happiness Project – Gretchen’s writing and podcasts inspired me to create what I hope are monthly lists of ‘happiness hacks’ – small, simple acts or moments in life that bring me happiness and maybe they’ll rub off on you, too. You can read my essay inspired by Gretchen’s other book, Happier At Home here. 
Cover of "The Happiness Project: Or, Why ...

Cover via Amazon


In June I started with my first set of ‘happiness hacks’, and loved the responses I received on the post and on social media. Turns out, you do things to make yourselves happy, too – especially when it comes to listening to podcasts to get inspired!  My Inner Chick says she wants to start listening to podcasts to make her happy, too. Tren says she loves her gratitude journal and recommends the podcast from The Simply Luxurious Life website – I’m loving it now, too! Thanks to both of you for the awesome happiness hacks!

You can read my first “happiness hacks” post here:

Happiness Hacks: June 2017

And now, my Happiness Hacks for July 2017!

Happiness Hack #1:  Google Keep

Have you tried Google Keep yet? It’s my new obsession app on my phone – and it’s available for your desktop, too. Google Keep is a way to keep track of everything – you can make lists, copy links, save photos, just about anything you can think of that you want to quickly and easily keep handy for future reference!

I’ve written before about how I love podcasts and use walking for meditation time…well, I also use walking and podcasts for getting ideas to write about. My struggle has been that while I was walking I’d come up with these connections I wanted to explore, but couldn’t stop and write anything down. I’m super visual, so I have a hard time remembering things I hear and would have to rush home and replay the podcast while I was at the computer. I tried using notes but it wasn’t the same. Now with Google Keep, I just start a note with the topic as a title, and I can either type my ideas or voice record them right into the app. I can set reminders, archive, and even add photos right to it that I want to use in my blog posts. Google Keep will save right into a Google Doc, too. I even used it in the mountains of Nicaragua when I was inspired to tears by a speech I was listening to in Spanish…stay tuned for an upcoming post inspired by that one! A secret: I started a ‘happiness hacks’ note on Google keep and write ideas down as I’m doing the things that make me happy! Double dip win-win! Check it out at keep.google.com, or you can watch this video to get even more inspired!

Happiness Hack #2: Making the bed

You know those things that your mother told you that run through your head as a grown person despite how much you try to stop them?

One of those ‘mom-isms’ that repeats on a daily basis is ‘You always have enough time to make your bed’.

I guess on some level I’ve gotten used to that little voice telling me to take two minutes and straighten the covers and fluff the pillows because just last week my husband sweetly commented that one thing he really loves about me is that I always make the bed every single day.I brought this up to one of my friends recently, and

Not sure if that’s the secret to our 32-year romance, but it couldn’t hurt…I brought this up to one of my friends recently, and she laughed a little and said she NEVER makes her bed – she doesn’t see the point. I understand that perspective, but for me, taking the time to smooth the sheets, to pull up my red paisley spread and adjust the throw blanket on the edge just gives me a little lift. By no means am I a compulsive home decorator, but just that little ordinary ritual of straightening up before I start the day just makes me smile.

Do you make your bed every day?

happiness hacks 2017 bed

Happiness hack #2: a made up bed and a doggie to cuddle!

Happiness Hack #3: Used books.

As a writer, I probably shouldn’t admit my obsession with buying used books. I DO spend money on buying new titles by my favorite writers, but more often I find myself searching out new books in second-hand stores. I read a lot, but my mom reads even more, so whenever I see a title that looks interesting I grab it, check the ratings on Goodreads, and take it home. To assuage my guilt I try to tweet and blog about the titles that really grab me, and I’ve met the most interesting writers that way! When I wrote about Susan Perabo’s title The Fall of Lisa Bellow recently, she connected with me on Twitter and offered to answer questions about my book if any of my students read it next year! How awesome is that? One unhappy issue my used book obsession is causing me is my lack of space – I have certain ways I make my ‘shelfies’ to indicate which books are ‘to read’, which are my ‘read and want to share’, and which books I just want to keep forever. You can imagine the chaos…and to my rescue comes my friend and blogger Jennifer Lyn King, with her own happiness hack post “How to build a built in bookcase without any carpentry skills”. What a badass! I’m definitely doing this as soon as my last child vacates the house next year… You can check out her post here: http://www.jenniferlynking.com/2017/07/12/how-to-build-a-built-in-bookcase-without-any-carpentry-skills/ – and be sure to follow her blog. She’s an amazing writer, photographer, and carpenter!

Where do you get your books most often?

happiness hacks 2017 books

Happiness hack #3: used books!

Happiness Hack #4: Silence

When I was reviewing my Google Keep notes for this post, the word ‘silence’ came up FOUR times! I’ll take that as a reminder that I need at least one – sometimes multiple – daily moments of silence to keep me happy.

It’s not easy to find those moments – during the school year I have to intentionally lock myself into my classroom alone at lunch sometimes, or stay late in the evening after everyone has gone home, just to find those precious moments of quiet. At home, my garden and my upstairs writing room are my best silent spaces – in fact, my husband has to find creative ways to interrupt my quiet time without me being startled into a heart attack. This summer he has been most successful putting his hand in front of the fan to stop the air flow, or texting me from the next room that he’ll be entering my space.

He’s a good guy.

Where do you find your silence in a busy life?

happiness hacks 2017 silence

Happiness hack #4: silence, view from my writing room into the garden.

So there you have my four happiness hacks for July 2017. I sure hope these gave you some ideas – and please, let me know if you try them – or better yet, what your favorite happiness hacks are! I’d love to include them in my August Happiness Hacks post!

Until next time, be good to yourself and spread some happiness into the world – we need it now more than ever.

happiness hack 2017

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

More Posts - Website

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