Today I interview Jen Rozenbaum. We talk about what it means to be shamelessly feminine, and how overcoming fear comes down to putting things into perspective while practicing presence over perfection.
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About Jen Rozenbaum
Jen Rozenbaum embraces her femininity while allowing women to embrace their own. By daring her clients to shed their clothes, they begin to shed their inhibitions. In the last nine years, Jen has found a burgeoning audience in the intimate photography market and is now sharing her shamelessly feminine movement with women worldwide. She proves that you can own your world if you live fearlessly, think audaciously and act spontaneously.
Connect with Jen Rozenbaum
Transcript: Shamelessly Feminine with Jen Rozenbaum
Hello, and welcome to the Third Paddle Podcast. I’m your host, Jen McFarland. On this week’s show, we continue our women series. We talk about the big C, fear, anxiety, our perception of control, what it means to be showing the presence of perfection, and of course, what it is to be shamelessly feminine. All that and more, here on the Third Paddle.
Welcome to the Third Paddle Podcast recorded at the [Vandal?] lounge in beautiful southeast Portland Oregon. Why the third paddle? Because even the most badass entrepreneurs get stuck up in business shit creek. Management consultant Jennifer McFarland is your third paddle helping you get unstuck.
Welcome back to the show. Today my guest is Jen Rozenbaum. Jen embraces her femininity while allowing women to embrace their own. By daring her clients to shed their clothes, they begin to shed their inhibitions. In the last nine years, Jen has found a growing audience in the intimate photography market and is now sharing her shamelessly feminine movement with women worldwide. She proves that you can own your world if you live fearlessly, think audaciously, and act spontaneously. Let’s hear what she has to say. So Jen, how do you define fear?
Oh man, I think fear is such an amazing thing. How do I define it? I don’t know how I define it, but I can tell you that it took on a new meaning for me this last year and a half with being diagnosed with breast cancer. You think you know what fear is in life until you’re diagnosed with cancer, and then it’s like, “Oh, just kidding. That wasn’t really fear. This is fear.” So I have conversations with myself about fear. I really tend to take a moment if I’m fearful of something and say, “What am I scared off here? What am I actually scared off? And is this fear real?” Because I think fear is a reflex. It served us in the days and times when we were cavemen, and we didn’t want to get eaten by lions. Great. It serves you when you walk down the street, and you don’t want to get hit by a bus. Fear is great. You should have fear in those situations. And then you say to yourself, “Okay. Thank you fear. Thank you for protecting me.” But fear tries to protect you in moments that you don’t need it. So yeah, I have very honest conversations with myself and with my fear about– okay. I talk to myself a lot, by the way, so don’t think I’m weird. It’s just what I do. But I say to myself, “Okay. Is this real? Is this legit, or is this excitement?” Because I think we confuse excitement and nerves with fear sometimes. So you really just try to get real about the feeling and ask myself if it’s serving me right now and if it’s protecting me. And if it’s not, I say, “Thank you for trying to protect me, but I don’t need you right now.”
Gosh. I think that that’s really beautiful and helpful, right? If you can get grounded and really understand what the feelings are, maybe what we identify as fear isn’t actually fear.
Yeah. And I think that when you get diagnosed with the sickness, I think you really start learning about living one day at a time. And fear is based so much on nervousness about the future. And you know what? You nor I nor anybody else can control the future. As much as you think you can, it’s just a perceived control. Yes, we can plan. We can save money for retirement. We can invest in our work. We can do whatever we do, but the truth of the matter is at the end of the day, we have no control over what happens tomorrow or in the next three minutes. So the fear is just not necessary because you don’t have control. It’s a bad cycle that we think we can control everything.
Yeah. I mean, because you had no idea that you were going to have cancer, so how do you think that you can control everything else?
I mean, yeah. And this is one of the things when you get cancer and you beat it, which I did, thankfully, and then you say, “Well, what if it comes back? What if comes back. And I say to myself, “You know what? What if it comes back?” I’ll deal with it when it comes back. And if it doesn’t come back, I’m not going to spend my whole life worrying that it does. And the truth of the matter is that anybody can die today. It’s not always about cancer. I mean, God forbid, but the truth is we don’t know. And so to freak out about that control, it’s such a waste of time.
Absolutely. And I love this perception shift. I think that when you go through a big life change, it really puts everything in perspective for you. And so if you don’t mind, I’d like to talk about cancer for just a minute?
What did having cancer teach you about being a woman?
Everything [laughter]. So it’s interesting, I went through periods of my life where I’ve learned a lot about being a woman. First, infertility issues. Second, being a mom. And then breast cancer. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was 41 years old, and I was actually in fairly good shape. I was in a period of my life where my kids are a little older, I got more gym time, and I was taking care of myself, and I was feeling pretty good. And I was just early in my 40s and everybody says, “Your 40s is amazing.” So I was like, “Yey, 40. Let’s embrace that.” And then when I was diagnosed and I found out that two weeks later, I had to have a mastectomy, it was really jarring because it made me really reevaluate how much stock I put into my body as a woman versus my soul, my brain, my– everything else that makes me a woman too. And it’s also, you talk about perspective shifts. It had to really shift my perspective in what does being a woman look like to me and what does it feel like to me. And I have to be honest, this may sound really conceited, but I had great breasts. It was one of the things about me that I loved. And I don’t think women say that about themselves enough, but I love showing a little cleavage. I just love them. They were very powerful for me. I love nursing my children. I loved just holding my kids and having them nuzzle in my chest. I love the way my husband used to touch me. There’s so many things about them that were so wonderful. So not only do I have to deal with the shock of cancer and surgery but now I’m really like, “Well, who the hell I am as a woman because the one thing I probably love most about my body is gone? And how do I do this now?” I found my femininity in other ways over the last year and a half in a lot of great ways and it has nothing to do with my body at all. It really has to do with attitude and confidence and– yeah. I still struggle sometimes. I don’t always love the way clothes look on me or I’ll scroll through my photos and I’ll catch an old picture of me and I have that little moment of, “Oh, I really miss that.” But I realized I’m more of a woman now than I ever have been because of what I’ve been through.
Wow. And I think you just have a terrific attitude. I was sitting here as you were talking thinking about– because I think as women, we all have our favorite qualities about ourselves whether they’re physical or personality, emotional-type things about what it means to be ourselves and to have that taken away, I can’t imagine what that would feel like. But then I just want to acknowledge you for having such a great mindset about everything. So what do you do to help your mindset during these dark times?
There’s a lot of– so the mind and the way I see it is really a muscle. It’s just like everything else. You’re going to go to the gym some days and you’re going to rock it and you’re going to kick butt and you’re going to be like, “This is awesome.” And other days, you’re going to be like, “I had bricks on my feet today. I don’t know what is wrong wrong with me. I just can’t get into it. So for me, I allowed myself to have those dark moments because I think that they’re part of the process, but I never allowed myself to spiral down into them. So I would be able to catch myself and say, “Okay, this is a spiraling moment, what is happening right now? What can I do to distract myself?” So I’ve done things like– I’m a photographer by profession, but I’m also very artistic. And so I started taking up painting and I started writing, and I started doing other things that distracted my mind. I think that there’s something easy and comforting about falling into those dark pitiful times where you feel bad for yourself, and you want people to feel bad for you and you know. But it’s dangerous. It’s a tunnel that I never really wanted to go down. I did. There were two or three times in this journey that were very dark for me. I can peg two or three moments where there were a couple of days, or a week, that were very dark for me. And some of it was medication induced. So there were times where I would feel these certain feelings and my brain would be like, “Are you out of your mind? Knock it off. What are you doing right now? Get your butt out of bed? This isn’t who we are. Get up. This is just the medicine.” And when that happened, I would go, “Oh, you’re right, it’s just the medicine it’s not me.” And it helped me. But in the other dark moments where I knew it was very difficult, I found a lot of art therapy in my life through my photography, through drawing, through writing, and through other things that made me feel girly. Silly things, wearing red lipstick and getting a lace shirt and buying a new pair of underwear or whatever it might be, a new pair of shoes. It made me feel feminine and girly. And embracing myself in the moment was helpful for me.
Wow. That’s really awesome. And I think that part of it too is when you are down in the dark times, to realize what you are getting out of it. Sometimes people wallow there, right.
Yes. And here’s the hard thing about being a cancer survivor, people make you feel bad about it. So if you’re like, “Oh, I’m upset. ” Or I’m having a tough day,” they go, “Well, you should just be happy you’re alive.” Okay, first of all, no. Second of all, there’s a huge difference between being alive and feeling alive. And there is a period of time, if you have surgeries and chemotherapy and all the things that you’re doing, you just don’t feel alive. You know you are alive, and you know that there’s a level of gratitude for it, where you’re like, “I’m glad I’m going to beat this, and I’m glad cancers not going to win, but what the hell happened to my life? What happened to my body? What happened to my life? I’m living in a place I’m not familiar with and it’s not comfortable.” So I think when people say, “Oh, you should just be happy– just be happy you’re alive.” What does that mean? If I came and I stole your body and I stole your home and I stole your relationships and your perspective and everything you knew to be this truth and said to you, “Well, just be happy you’re still here.” No, you wouldn’t be so happy all the time. So it’s a work in progress. And so when people say things to you when you have cancer that are just the dumbest things, they say it out of love. And what they really mean to say is, “Well, I’m just happy you’re alive [laughter].” But what they’re saying is, “Well, you should just be happy. I would be happy. I would have gratitude if I was in your shoes.” But you’re not. And you don’t know what it’s like until you are in somebodies shoes. And I’m full of gratitude for being alive, but I really had to change my life to feel alive not just be alive.
Yeah. Absolutely. And I’ve had the misfortune of having several women, business owners, and friends who have had cancer. Thankfully I never have. But the thing that I always am so astounded by is how strong they are, and that most of the time they continued with their business during the time that they’re going through cancer treatments.
Yeah. Which I did as well. You have to. You have to. You have to have some sort of normalcy you have to have a baseline. I would get chemotherapy treatments and I’d go to the gym the next day. And I could barely move and barely do anything. And people would say, “What are you doing here?” I’m like, “I just want to be here. I just want to smell the gym. I just want to lift a two-pound weight, if there’s a two-pound weight. I don’t care. I need some freaking normal [inaudible] life. I need to try to just pretend I’m a real person, in the real world.” Because that’s robbed from you, and it’s really hard.
Yeah. I can imagine. But it does seem like the normalcy is part of what helps you maintain that mindset and keeps you getting out of bed every day if you have a place to go and a thing to do.
Yeah. The day after I was diagnosed with cancer, I had a photo shoot. I had a client that day. Who coincidently just came back for another shoot, which was a lot more fun. But the first time she came to me, my makeup artist was just crying. My hairdresser was crying. And my poor client was like, “What is going on here?” And I was like, “Listen, I’m going to tell you what’s going on. I was diagnosed with breast cancer yesterday. But I’m going to be fine. It’s all going to be good. Don’t worry. We’re going to have a great day today.” And there is definitely a part of me that’s like, “Okay.” I was in shock, which was helpful, but what was I going to do? I could either cancel the session, have her be upset that I canceled it, have me stay at home and be miserable, there was nothing I could do at that point, right? At that point, it’s just a waiting game to see doctors. There was nothing I could do. So I’m going to go out and do what I love.
I mean, if, God forbid, it’s a life-ending thing, I want to spend my last days doing what I love to do. So I went and I photographed that woman. And it was a great distraction for me. And it’s just a matter of how you see things. I think that perspective and– you can’t positive-think yourself out of everything, but you have to positive-think yourself out of the things thought you can.
I love that. Absolutely. And you kind of touched a little bit on how having cancer taught you a little bit more about what it meant to be a woman or feminine. But you have this podcast called Shamelessly Feminine, and you have this movement called Shamelessly Feminine. So what is the Shamelessly Feminine movement?
Yeah. Isn’t it funny? The world works in funny ways, doesn’t it [laughter]? By profession, 10 years ago, I started a boudoir photography business, which, if you’re not familiar, it’s mostly women in lingerie. It’s an empowerment type of photography, at least from my perspective. Some people’s not the same. But from my perspective, it was really about embracing your bodies and embracing who you are as a woman. And so my tagline for my business was helping women celebrate their unique femininity shamelessly because I think that women carry so much shame for everything we do, right? If you want to wear combat boots and leather jackets, you’re not girly enough. If you wear pencil skirts and button downs, you’re too sexy. You shouldn’t be wearing that. And everything in between.
If you’re a stay-at-home mom, you get shamed. If you’re a working mom, you get shamed. Whatever it is. If you want kids, you don’t want kids. You want kids, you don’t want enough kids. It’s everything. And truthfully, we shame each other and we shame ourselves. And I was just like, “I am so sick of living with this shame. I want to create a safe space for women to come in and be more of who they are than they’ve ever been. And so when they come to me, they don’t have to wear lingerie. They can wear a T-shirt and Converse sneakers. Or they can wear jeans and a leather jacket. Or they can wear nothing. Whatever it is. It’s not this place where they come and dress up. It’s a place where they come and I say, “Shed your clothes. Shed your inhibitions. Be who you really, really are.”
So out of that slogan, other people started using the hashtag Shamelessly Feminine after I was shooting them or I was teaching because I do a lot of teaching for other photographers. They would say, “Oh, I just spent a day with Jen Rozenbaum. #shamelesslyfeminine.” And I’m like, “Wow. This is popping up everywhere. This must be a thing. There’s something here.” And so what I’ve really decided is I’ve embraced it. I called the podcast Shamelessly Feminine because really it’s for kickass women who need a kick in the ass. Which is essentially what I do with my camera, right? I’m taking women that are total badasses, I hope that it’s okay that I’m saying this, but total badasses, but they don’t really know it. They need a little push, right? They’re a little rebellious. They know that they’re awesome. But they’re trying to navigate the world and like, “How do I fit in in this world if I want to own myself?” And so now I do it with my camera and through the podcast and the movement. I have a book coming out early in 2019 called Shamelessly Feminine. I’m helping women, through my experiences in life and with my clients, that need that little push but I’m doing it without my camera. Because let’s face it. Not everybody wants to take off their clothes and take pictures, which is fine. But the message and the empowerment and the purpose behind it is exactly the same. I’ve
No. I absolutely love it. And what I love about it the most is what you said about all of the shame and how we shame each other and how we get these images in our mind of what it means to be a woman and what it means to be feminine. I remember when I started my company and I was looking up women entrepreneurs, it was all pink and princessy and I was like, “Whoa, whoa, I didn’t sign up for this. I’ve never been pink and princessy. I can’t have branding that looks like that because it wouldn’t be authentic. And yet, I had pressure. I felt pressure, like, “Oh, I have to fit this mold.” And then I was like, “Yeah, fuck that. It’s not happening [laughter].” So–
And here’s the thing, as we talk about fear and, how I said, fear serves a purpose for us sometimes, try to think of a moment that shame has ever served a purpose for you. It doesn’t. Ever. Never. Shame does not serve a purpose. So putting yourself down, feeling bad, mommy guilt, all these things that we do, they don’t serve us at all. It’s just a waste to the point of shaming each other. I think that when we tell each other what we should be doing or what we should be grateful for, I think that’s another form of shame as well.
It is. Not only on the others but on ourselves, right? Because, typically, what bothers us in another person is typically what bothers us in ourselves. We just can’t see it.
Absolutely. And as women, I just feel like we need to help each other and bring each other up. One of the reasons why I asked you to join me on the show is I do the same thing. I want to help badass women be more badass and be more themselves. I think that we do have a lot of pressure on us to fit some idea or ideal, typically what we were raised with or the people we’re around, and the more we can support each other instead of shame each other, I feel the better off we are.
Yeah. It’s so true. There is an untapped potential in the power of women that, even though this is an amazing time to be women, we have yet to see it. If we could just band together and support each other, it would be incredible.
Oh, yeah. So you spoke a little to how the photography moved into shamelessly feminine. Is there anything else you’d like to add about your photography and how that empowers women and how it led to where you are today?
Well, I think that it’s changing. It changes as I change, which is so interesting because now that I’m a breast cancer survivor, I actually shoot a lot more survivors and women that tell stories with their bodies. So I’m very into scars and stories and people that are unconventionally beautiful. Like I shot a woman with vitiligo, which is the skin condition where they start losing pigment in their skin. And she was so interesting looking, and when we spoke she said to me, “People stare at me. It’s so horrid. I try to cover it up.” And my answer to her was, “Well, I think people stare at you, actually, because you’re so uniquely beautiful that it’s hard not to. You’re so gorgeous.” And she was like, “I never really thought of it that way. I thought that they were always looking at me like I was a freak.” And I’m like, “No. It’s the opposite.”
I’m very into seeing the unconventional beauty of women and, just yesterday, my mother-in-law said to me, “I have these terrible bags under my eyes, and I really am thinking about getting surgery on them.” And I was like, “I have to be honest with you, I had never seen your bags under your eyes, ever. That’s not what I see when I look at you.” And she said, “Really?” I said, “No.” I’m not going to say though, that she doesn’t have bags under her eyes. She does, but I’ve never seen them before. Because when we love somebody and we respect somebody, we’re not looking at the bags under their eyes, and the wrinkles on their forehead, and the zit on their nose, we are seeing the beauty in them and that’s really what I’m trying to do with my camera, is to show women, “Look, you are– yeah. You’re not perfect. I’m not perfect. Nobody is. But what is so wrong with being imperfect? It actually makes you unique.” So I, my whole life, grew up very self-conscious of my nose. I have a big nose. And when I say that to people that know me, they go, “No, you don’t. What are you talking about? I never see your nose,” which is interesting. But I have a friend who’s a headshot photographer and I asked him once like, “How can you make my nose look smaller? Can you take a headshot of me that makes my nose look smaller?” And he turned to me and he goes, “Do me a favor. Don’t be one of those bitches that gets a nose job and takes all the personality out of her face [laughter].” Like, “You know? you’re right. This is who I am. And it’s not perfect but it’s kind of unique to me and maybe I should own that a little bit more.” And when you start doing that, it’s so powerful. So powerful. So what happens is when people come to me for a photo session they feel like that, hopefully, and then they leave and then they go, “You know what, stupid boyfriend? I’m done with you. I’m going to dump you. And you know what, stupid job? I’m done I’m going to get a new job. You know that trip I always wanted to take? But I held myself back because I weighed 15 pounds more than I want to weigh. I’m going to go take that trip. So that’s the empowerment that happened. It’s not just, “Oh, I love myself.” It’s, “What am I going to do with this way that I feel right now?”
Absolutely. And I love that you hit on– well, I don’t love that we have to hit on the fact that people hold themselves back. But I love that you’re acknowledging that because I do think that all of these little things, they add up and then we don’t take the action that we need to take.
Yeah. I mean have you ever really been super attracted to somebody that holds themselves back? Like think about it, right? We want to be successful. We want to be magnetic. We want to have friends. We want to be– especially if you’re an entrepreneur, you want to have a successful business. Nobody was ever like, “I can’t wait to support this woman who shrivels up and hates herself and talks bad about herself all the time.” We’re attracted to people that are not narcissists or egotists, but believe in what they’re doing and believe in the power that they have. When you know you have that power and that you can do something with it, magic happens.
Yeah, it does. And I think what you’re doing is so important because you’re at that core level of like, “Look at yourself. Look at how beautiful you are.” And sometimes that’s the first step for people to be like, “Yeah, you’re right. I’m going to go kick ass now. I’m good.”
Right. And I always say it’s presence over perfection. I deal with a lot of business owners and these women will say, “Well, I don’t want to do Facebook lives because I don’t think I’m pretty.” Or “I don’t want to do Facebook live because I weigh 15 pounds more than I should.” First of all, by whose standards? Second of all, what you have to say is so much more important than what the heck you look like. If you have a message, if you’re trying to change the world, if you’re trying to make this a better place, nobody is looking at whether or not you have 15 pounds on you or not. They want to hear your message. And I’m not going to say I haven’t done it. I’ve had moments of like, “I can’t believe I have to get on stage, and my jeans are tight.” But then I go, “Really? Who cares.” If someone’s judging you because your jeans are tight, they suck. You don’t want them in your life anyway.
They’re not your people.
[laughter] So I love all of this. And to me, what you’re talking about is how I define modern feminism. But I’m curious what you think modern feminism looks like.
Man, I love this question. This is what modern feminism looks like to me. I believe it is time that we put the feminine back in feminist. And what do I mean by that? I think people will hear that and go, “Oh, so what does that mean? I have to wear lipstick and high heels every day?” No. Definitely not. What I think it means is this. I want equal pay. I want equal rights. I want equal all of that stuff to men. However, I do not want you to treat me like a man. I want you to treat me like a woman. And what that means is I want you to hire me because I’m more emotional than a man. I want you to hire me because I can do five things at one time more than a man because I was a mom or I am a mom, and I had to wear a lot of different hats. I want you to see me as uniquely feminine because that’s what I am. This has nothing to do, by the way, boobs, butts, lipstick, high heels, anything else. It has to do with who we are as people, as a people. These things that we’ve been shut down for all these years, our emotional side and all of that, is baloney. It’s enough already. The world needs more of this. So I want you to say to me, “Okay. You know what? You’re qualified for the job because you are more emotional than somebody else.” Or, “A man is more fit for this job because he’s less emotional, and we need somebody less emotional for this job.” Whatever it might be. I want equal pay. I want equal rights. But I don’t want to have to be a man to get them.
Absolutely and as someone who came from Tech and has really worked hard to reclaim my own femininity, I found that a lot of the reasons why I was like, “Why do I feel so uncomfortable?” is this transformation I went through becoming more masculine just to try and get things done.
Yes, yes and to fit– and we were taught– we’re taught somewhere if you want people to take you seriously, you can’t be dressed all pretty. And if you want somebody to take you seriously, you can’t do this, you can’t do that, you can’t be this way. We have been hearing you can’t, you shouldn’t be, our whole lives. It’s time to stop doing that and it’s time for us to raise men differently too, get them to see– I have a daughter and a son so I’m working hard on this on both angles. But my son will cry and I see sometimes people will say, “What are you crying for? You sound like a girl. You’re like a baby.” First of all, that expression “like a girl” is banned from our house. So anytime somebody goes to say, “Like a,” I go, “Like a what?” And they’re like, “Oh, sorry, no, never mind.” But I have to tell you it works the other way too. I was at a softball practice once with my daughter and the coach from the other team was doing hitting practice with one of the girls and said to her, “Come on, hit it like a man.” And it really hit me that I was like, “Wow, that’s a compliment.” That’s like a bar, hit it like a man. But you cry like a girl is like putting somebody down. And it’s just like– when that happened, it became abundantly clear to me that this society is so messed up. But yeah, raising my son to say, “Yeah, you can cry. You have an emotion, let it out. You’re entitled to that emotion. You don’t have to be tough just because somebody calls you a name at school. Cry. Do it. Let’s embrace it, and then let’s move on.” To have him appreciate the fact that there’s differences between women and men, but yet we’re equal. I’m working hard on that. Like I said, as a parent, I think that parents need to really do that. And I think especially dads. I hate to point the finger, but I see it even in my own household. My husband grew up with brothers, and he’s like, “I don’t know what to do with a girl.” But it’s important for dads to really see their daughters as the future and to treat their sons in a way that maybe they weren’t treated. I think our generation– I’m assuming we’re similar in age, I think our generation is really a pivotal turning point for that, where our husbands and partners have not been raised that way necessarily but need to start raising their offspring that way. So it’s very difficult for them.
Yeah. I do think it’s a turning point of where we don’t like the way we were raised. And I’m seeing it among all of my friends who are parents and I’m even seeing it in in the media a little bit too where, when people are different, they’re not necessarily punished for it. It’s embraced. What are your top three tips for reclaiming the love of your body?
That is such a good one. I really hate when people are like, “Well, you should stand in the mirror naked and tell yourself you love yourself five times every morning.” That just doesn’t work. So I will tell you that what I have been working on recently is something I call fierce self-love. And it’s not just self-love, it’s fierce self-love. And I’ve really been investigating with myself what does fierce self-love look like? Because listen, I told my husband yesterday, we went to an affair and I had to put on a dress and I was like, “Oh, I feel like a sausage in this dress. I need to lose weight.” We all have those moments. But here’s the thing. I can want to lose weight and still fiercely love myself. And in fact, I would argue that you need to fiercely love yourself in order to do that because with fierce self-love, comes self-care, comes having a voice and comes clarity, I would say. So for me, I don’t know if that’s– I’m giving you three things. I don’t know if those are my top three tips. But really, it’s about fierce self-love, and it’s about checking in every day every day before I go to bed, when I wake up, I go, “Okay. What do I need today to be the best me that I can be?” And some days that’s spending time with my family and some days that’s leaving my family to go get some work done. And some days it’s like, “You know what? I’m good today. I just need a nice hot shower, and I’m going to go food shopping and do all my responsibilities and whatever might be.” But the fierce self-love, and this is something women are not good at because we think self-love is, like I said, standing in the mirror and saying I love you and it’s not about that at all. It’s really about knowing you, knowing what you need. And for me, it’s also about finding a voice. Putting up boundaries with people. This is something I really learned after cancer about– certain people were treating me like a doormat but I can’t blame them, I can only blame myself, right? I let them do that and I won’t let them do that anymore. There’s so much power in that, standing up for yourself. And usually, people go like, “Oh, okay.” You think they’re going to be so [inaudible]. It’s usually just like, “Okay. I get it.”
Doing more of what I love to do, listening to my body. Taking naps, by the way, which, as an entrepreneur, is a bad word. But my body is different now. It talks to me and it says to me, “We need to slow down. We can’t be doing all of this stuff.” And I have to listen to it. So coming from that place of fierce self-love and putting yourself first is not something women are good at, but it is absolutely 100% vital if anything’s going to work in your life. And it’s not egotistical, by the way. I think that’s the– people think, “Oh, I’m just going to take care of myself and it’s egotistical.” No, it’s not egotistical to say, “I need five minutes of quiet time.” Or, “I’m going to put up boundaries.” I even do with my kids now. My 13-year-old would be so fresh and obnoxious with me and I would just say to her, “We’re not having a conversation if that’s how you’re going to speak to me. I know you’re 13, but I’m not a doormat.” And I will say that to her again and again and she will still treat me like a doormat. But the truth that matter is one day she’s going to grow up and say to somebody, “I’m not a doormat,” and I’m going to love that moment. I’m going to be like, “Yes. That’s right, sister. You’re not a doormat.” So really acting in the way that we want to act and show our children what we’re doing and teach people how to love us also.
Yeah. I think that that’s great. And I think that, to your point, the more that we have fierce self-love for ourselves the better we are for others.
Yeah. I mean, I could go on forever about this topic because it’s something that I really just– it’s crazy to me that I could love myself now than I ever have, after all these surgeries and chemotherapy and all the things that I’ve been through in my life. I’m so lucky. I have these scars on my chest, right? And I lost my nipples. My boobs are fake. They don’t look anything like real boobs or whatever. But anytime I’m going through a mammogram, this is really hard. All I have to do is look down and go, “You’ve done harder.” Put it in perspective. You’ve done harder. You’ve done the hardest thing that somebody could possibly do, probably. One of the hardest things. So you can do this too. And I’m really lucky to have that. So for me, I go, “I love this body right now.” I don’t always like it, but I love it. Does that make sense? You don’t have to like it every minute, but you have to love on it.
It’s the only body you got.
It’s the one with you to the end. So you have a choice. You can either make yourself miserable or [love?] yourself a little bit.
When you get diagnosed with cancer, you realize that there’s a separation of body and soul, right? Because you’re like, “Okay, body. What are you doing to me? The soul’s not done yet. We’ve a lot of work to do, and I need you for the ride [laughter]. I can’t do it without you.” So in that moment, you go, “Whoa, wait a minute.” All those years that I spoke poorly about my body and I hated myself, it was really– I mean, it’s the carrier of my soul. It’s the only thing that allows me to do everything I want to do. And I really realize that the heartbreak of, I think, a terminal cancer situation, especially when somebody’s young is, “But I’m not done yet. But my body is.” And when you’re not in alignment like that, it’s heartbreaking.
Yeah. Wow. Thank you so much for sharing so much of your story and for putting the idea of self-love and seeing yourself for the beauty of who we all are. Do you have anything to offer our listeners?
Yeah. Well, if they go to shamelesslyfeminine.com– I’m not exactly sure when it’s going to be up, but they’ll be able to get an advanced copy of the book. If it’s not up as you’re listening to this, stay tuned, it will be [laughter]. I’m just putting the finishing touches on that. So hopefully, by February, March that will be out. They can also check out the podcast there. And they can also find me on Instagram. My photography is at @jenrozenbaum, with a Z, so they don’t get confused. And at Shamelessly Feminine as well.
That’s totally awesome, and we’ll put all of the links in the show notes. And, Jen, thank you so much for being with us.
Thank you so much for having me.
[music] Thank you for listening to the Third Paddle Podcast. Be sure to catch every episode by subscribing on iTunes. To learn more, check out our website at www.thirdpaddle.com. The Third Paddle Podcast is sponsored by Foster Growth LLC, online at www.fostergrowth.tech. [music]
Hi! I’m Jen! I have over 25 years of training, teaching, and executive experience in leadership, strategic project planning, and digital marketing. Today, I am the founder of Women Conquer Business, a boutique consulting firm dedicated to helping women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community build sustainable businesses. I’m a frequent guest speaker and trainer. Get access to my free business growth accelerator and hang out with me on my weekly women in business podcast, Women Conquer Business.