How Do You Define Success?
I was sitting on the couch with my husband a few nights ago and I looked over at him and asked him: Did you have any idea, when we started dating, that I’d be this successful?
My hand quickly shot over my mouth.
For so many reasons.
1) Dare I say out loud that I was successful? Let alone ‘this’ successful?
2) Was I even successful? I had never said that out loud. Or really, thought it, for that matter.
3) How can I be successful if I don’t have a lot of money?
I knew a blog post was being born.
He looked over at me and said: I knew you had potential.
He was being facetious. And yet, he wasn’t.
I was waitressing at The Newsroom Cafe, and had been for 13 years and suffering from depression and miserable when we started dating. Truly not the Jen I am today. She was in there, somewhere, buried under the layers of black aprons, but it was deep under the dust of restaurant smells.
Here’s our story in a nutshell because, well, it isn’t the point. So I will abbreviate it.
We met 15 years ago.
My first love had just dumped me and I had a nervous breakdown, or close to it, while I was living in New York City. I relived my father dying like a big fat cliche and felt abandoned and scared and so I moved to California where my mom and sister had just moved a year prior. (By the way, we had moved there once before after my dad died when I was in the 4th grade and then moved back to NJ again when I was in 8th grade. In that time we lived in California, I made friends for life, starting acting and was even on Punky Brewster.) Moving back to NJ felt like a cruel joke to me at age 13 and 8th grade was borderline suicidal for me. Not a joke.
I got over it and fell in love.
Cutting back to the New York years: first love dumps me and I move back to California (mom and sister had moved back the year before for reasons I still do not know and I followed suit.) We were like the crazy Jewish traveling gypsy women who only traveled between LA and South Jersey.
My mom had this studio on Robertson Blvd in West Hollywood which she rented out to actors and acting teachers and movie makers and other Hollywood types. She called me and said she had a writer she’d wanted me to meet him and, that, oh yea, she was dating Neil Diamond.
Yes, Neil effing Diamond.
(I still have the Harley Davidson leather jacket he gave me for Hannukah that year.)
We met at Newsroom Cafe on Robertson near her studio. (Yes, the Newsroom I would go on to work at for 13 years.) We met and I looked older than I do now because I was so anorexic and pale, and Robert, the writer my mom wanted me to meet looked: nice.
He was nice. Which, for me, at 21, meant one thing: boring.
I started working at The Newsroom Cafe. He sent me roses.
I didn’t know they were from him because I thought him far too shy and too nice to do such a bold thing so I was stumped as to who “the Robert” was who sent me roses to work.
He called and asked if I got said flowers.
Eeek! Yes I did get flowers and I just want to be friends, I said like the 21 year old I was.
(Did I really say that?)
For brevity sake I will cut to years later. About ten years.
I am still working at Newsroom. He comes in. I recognize him straight away. (I have a photographic memory. People would come in to the cafe to eat in 1999 and in 2005 I’d wait on them again and ask if they wanted the chicken pot pie again?)
He looks cute, I remember thinking, I’ll go over.
He says he remembers me but cannot remember my name.
I think he is lying about not remembering my name. ( I still think he was. He still denies. Although now, being married I see he has a horrible memory and he probably was NOT lying.)
Long story short, we went out for dinner, and after dinner, sitting in his car, I knew I was going to marry him.
Yes. Very true.
I married him.
He tells me now that he waited for me all those years.
So yes, he saw potential.
But all those years I was stuck and depressed and we would have never made it. I had to go through what I went through and meet him again to fully blossom.
So here we are on our couch. In our apartment. Where we live. I have my hand over my mouth in shock because I actually said out loud that I am successful.
We are taught to not say that. Or that we are beautiful.
Aren’t we taught that? Even subconsciously?
What does success even mean?
I no longer wait tables. I am happy. I have fun. I am sitting on the sofa next to the man I love watching Modern Family. I get paid to do what I love.
I have only been teaching yoga and doing what I do for 3 years. Barely 3 years.
And here I am.
You are reading my blog.
Am I successful?
I am to me.
Is my nephew who has Prader Willi Syndrome and Autism successful even though his ‘milestones’ are different than other kids his age? (Answer: yes.)
Is my friend who does play after play successful even though she still has to have two waitressing jobs? (Answer: yes.)
Who or what measures success?
Does success mean money? (Answer: no.)
Are we supposed to acknowledge our own success? (Answer: Sure, why not.)
You see, my husband always believed in me. He did! From the moment he met me, when I was 21 and anorexic and lost and scared to now. He may not have remembered my name all those years later but he most certainly remembered who I was.
Even though I had forgotten.
He had an unwavering faith in me when I had no faith in myself. It took years to come back to him because I was not ready.
I am ready now.
I am ready for success.
And let me explain what I mean when I say success.
I mean love.
I am ready for love.
In the comment section below write down how you define success. Also feel free to add what you are ready for in your own life. Finish the sentence: To me success is ____________.
Been reading your blog post all the way in Bangkok. Its brilliant. I can feel your positives vibes through your writing and experience. This post especially got me to write to you finally … Its exhilarating to be able accept oneself and allow to express ourselves.
Its uncanny but true that many times your posts relate to my life circumstances… and I soak loads of inspiration from them and keep moving forward.:)
Wow!!! I cannot even begin to tell you how blown away I am that you wrote me. Thailand? Holy cow.
I bow to you….
Glad we connected xoox
I wish much love and continued success to you both! I adore this post, Jen, and I adore you! Love, LCH
Thank you so much. I adore you as you well know.
Haha Jen you are so funny and so happy and yes successful. Love you
Thank you. Love you 😉
You Are Love… the manifestation is in progress…. I’m Blessed to be experiencing the full blossom and then the flower…. and it gets better with time… I’m enjoying observing your growth and stability within yourself.. I Love You So Much!! Jo ellen
You are my role model.
And an inspiration for sure! Yes shout it from the rooftops, Jen. You ARE successful and by my definition, success is pure and unadulterated bliss. So I am going to join you and declare: I AM SUCCESSFUL!
Love you madly.
I love your definition! Love you too xo
what a great story…keep manifesting! much love to you.
I just love that. Success is a powerfl word that cannot be measured in money alone. Why the hell not say Hell Yes I am successful and beautiful! I am also ready to love and foung the most amazing man and the funny thing is we met 15 years ago and lost contact. A failed marriage and two kids later(for him) lots of bad relationships and broken hearts (for me) we met again. So yes I am successful as well.
Thank you so much Leigh Ann!
I really appreciate this blog post, and in fact, I was about to write about “success” over on my blog, too! I often have to remind myself of the definition of success, if only so that I can have something to say to my mom every time she tries to convince me to get a job as a high school teacher, put my money in savings, buy a house in a boring city, have a baby, etc. (My mom is a wonderful sweetheart, but she has this idea of what success looks like, and it is very limited.)
So based on my definition, which I use as ammunition to fend off that horrendous sounding potential future path, you are VERY successful, Jen! You are happy and healthy, and your work is something you enjoy that allows you to continue being happy and healthy. Not to mention, you are married to an awesome guy, you get to travel to great places each year, and you inspire tons of people every day! I would pretty much say you are my hero! And if this is only year three in your journey, imagine what years 10, 20, and 30 are going to look like… 🙂
So go ahead and shout it from the rooftops!
I adore you. Thank you.
Earlier this week, after reading your “Challenge: Finish The Sentence” post, I shared it with a friend as it related to a conversation. I decided that, “I am: successful” and began looking forward to saying it aloud and performing the exercise with my friend (to happen when I see him in 2 weeks).
The next day, I wrote the word, “success” on my coffee cup (I work in a coffee shop) and began manifesting it that day and used it to inspire everyone around me. I kept the cup all week and added new inspirations.
(Btw, I also enjoyed the “Sense of Self via the coffee counter?” this week.)
To read your experience today summonded magic for me. Funny thing – it wasnt until I read the word, success, typed in bold at the very bottom of your post that I was smacked at the back of my head – waking me up to my own word-manifestation for this week.
Your honesty has inspired a special mark in my journey! Congratulations for all the beautiful work you are doing!
Love (oh and THANKS for reminding us that ‘we are love’, been working on that one too) to you and yours,
You make me smile Tara. Seriously. Humbled.
OH… love your story – thanks for sharing!
Thank you again for yet another beautiful blog.. I definitely agree, it is hard to know that I am smart.. for so long, I only felt that I had my appearance to give people and my kindness but as I continue to write academically, I am realizing I have so much to give the world.