Jennifer Gilbert is a marketing manager at Booktrope, a Seattle based indie publisher. I met her at Jennifer Hote’s (previous Tales of Transformation guest) book launching party. She has a cheery, enthusiastic presence and a four year old boy, so we were fast friends. We got to chatting and she immediately told me how excited she was to have her dream job. She had previously worked eleven years in channel marketing for technology companies, but after being a victim of a brutal dog attack, resulting in over a year of recovery, she’d lost her job. Once she recovered sufficiently from her injuries she was ready to get back to work. She asked her self a simple question. “What do I love?” The answer was books. She re-launched her career bringing her valuable marketing skills to publishing. Her cup half-full attitude is an inspiration. Although she sometimes has “why me?” thoughts she remains grounded and forward facing knowing that this experience has helped her become the person she was meant to be. In this interview Jennifer shares with us
- How a near death experience will rip off all blinders and force you to choose who you will become.
- How a positive attitude and strong community can help you survive the bleakest moments.
- Letting go of attachment and holding things lightly creates space for a life you could never even imagine.
- Experiencing the dark night of your soul releases you to become who you’re meant to be.
- The incredible connection between physical strength and mental clarity.
How are you becoming your truest self?
There is nothing like a potential life-threatening deep vein thrombosis to make you look at your life without blinders and decide to be the best mom, wife, and friend you know how to be. I’ve been interested in personal growth for years, but the test really came when things were hard and I thought the physical pain would never end. I’ve surrounded myself with quality friends who want my highest good, and it has made such a difference in the hard and the easy times.
Was there a turning point that brought on your transformation?
I tried to keep my attitude positive from the moment I knew both of my legs were injured, because the alternative was simply too bleak. I have an incredible community around me and it really took a village to support our family through this. I felt so loved and blessed as people brought us food, helped with the care of our son who was 2 at the time, flew across the county to provide medical relief to my caretakers, or called to read out loud to me because I was unable to focus on words on a page. Since I could not run around the lake anymore, my dad and my husband took turns pushing me around the lake in my wheelchair. My in-laws helped take me to physical therapy so my parents could have a break since they suddenly had a grandson and an injured daughter they were caring for while my husband worked. I cannot imagine going through such a terrible accident without the encouragement and unwavering support of those around me.
How do you get in your own way?
I have fears I never had before that can be debilitating at times. I have a dog and love dogs, but because a large dog caused my injuries, I have challenges around dogs and places where I think there may be dogs. This isn’t how I want to live. I want to take my son to the park and not check for dogs first. I know it is in my head and isn’t completely rational. But I have a whole new level of compassion for people who struggle from what I thought before were irrational fears. Our mind is a powerful instrument, whether it is working for or against us.
What sets you free?
My freedom comes from letting go of attachment to the outcome, which has been so hard for me. When I hold things lightly, it creates space for things to happen I never imagined.
What have you had to let go of to make room for the new?
I have had to let go of wanting my leg to go back to before the attack capabilities. This is my new normal and I am alive and healthy and making the most of what I have. I won’t lie and say there aren’t moments where I have why me thoughts run through my mind. But I have learned so much from this experience and have become the person I think I was meant to be. I worked in a marketing job I was not passionate about before. I now market books which I adore and I would never have gone down this path without going through the dark night of my soul first.
What would you like your legacy to be?
I would like to inspire other people who have a debilitating injury that there is a light on the other side of the tunnel, and while I may never run another marathon or ski another mountain, I can play with my son and do physical activity with modification I had a hard time envisioning from the seat of my wheelchair. My upper body has never been fitter. And I know the incredible connection between physical strength and mental clarity. And it does not hurt that I have an incredibly strong husband who has thrown me over his shoulder (just last week in fact) and carried me places I could not get to on my own. I struggle with physical pain on a daily basis, but I will not let it get the best of me. I am still out there doing what I can with the body I have now.
Jennifer is a book marketing manager, fitness lover, and mommy to a most wonderful 4 year old boy. After eleven years in channel marketing for technology companies, she changed careers after recovering sufficiently from her injuries to market a product she is passionate about–books. While she is no longer able to do many of the physical activities she did before, she is learning to modify her fitness goals and trying out new sports and activities. In her free time, she mountain bikes with her hubby, is part of a women’s group with her mom and several friends, and plays the flute for her son. Family has never been more important. And life has never been sweeter.