Following Intuition

The thought first awakened me in the middle of the night, 4:20 am to be exact.  I was annoyed because if there’s one thing you should know about me it’s that I love and cherish my sleep.  The thought was annoying not only because it was disturbing my sleep but because the thought itself was going to take me a bit outside of my comfort zone.  I like my comfort zone.  Don’t we all like our comfort zones though?  Comfortable usually equals safe and like comfort, I like to be safe.  With a loud sigh I rolled over and went back to sleep, while the thought played in the back of mind like an annoying song on repeat.  It plagued me for two weeks until I at last I sat down and promised that I would listen.
Listening was the easy part but what it was asking of me was terrifying, frighteningly so.  I had made a promise to myself that I would honor my inner voice but I sat there petrified questioning the voice–what if it was wrong?  Yet I knew that if I let the thought linger any longer without acting on it, I would regret not acting upon it.  I would have to do this, I have to try this.
So I’m taking a leap of faith, I’m following my intuition.  Today, with a lot of excitement (and trepidation) I announce my new blog Hearts Split Open.  A nitty-gritty inspiration blog, where people can submit their stories and show whatever inspires them.
I’m scared that it might fail, that people won’t be interested, that my intuition might have gotten this one wrong; but I’m trusting that for whatever reason, be it even one person, I’m doing the right thing.
Stroked to Life will still have the occasional post, from myself or one of the fabulous contributors, but the majority of my time will now be spent over at Hearts Split Open.  Please check it out and if so compelled feel free to submit a story.
Always follow your heart.


8 Things 2014 Taught Me

I’m not one who has a long list of New Year’s resolutions or goals because, for me, they add a lot of pressure to an already hectic life.  Yet at the end of this year I’ve found myself thinking about some of the lessons I’ve learned, some of which are lessons that I have to remind myself on a near constant basis.

1 and 2) It’s okay to make a mistake and The idea that we all have to be perfect is a lie:  When I make a mistake I beat myself over the head with said mistake and when my head can’t take it anymore I start in on my heart.  Making a mistake doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person, it doesn’t mean that you’re less of a person, all it means is that you’re a person.  Welcome to the human experience-we all make mistakes, we all do things that we wish we could have done a little better or differently.  There’s an idea out there that we have to be “perfect” or that things have to be done a certain way-it’s a lie.  Every person has their own idea of perfection.  Your way isn’t the only way and that is one of the most beautiful things about life.

3) It’s okay to say “no”, in fact, sometimes it’s recommended:  Know your limits.  I have a tendency to just say, “Oh yeah, no problem” A LOT.  Ignoring the signs that my body is sending me is a big no-no, it’s not just bad for my physical health but for my emotional health as well.  There are all things that we all need to say “no” to because the truth is we can’t do everything.

4)  Let go:  Let go of fear, anger, friends, etc. whatever it is that’s holding you back from being your best self- LET GO.  Like a balloon, just take your hand away from the string and let go of whatever it is.
I’ve wanted to be a full-fledged writer but despite my declarations of being a writer something has held me back:  FEAR.  After realizing that fear could no longer rule my life I’ve embraced writing, made a writing room, started a book nook, and now I’m wearing the title of writer like a proud gold medal.

5)  You’re stronger than you think you are:  This year I’ve watched people I love go through hard, soul crushing situations.  We’ve shed tears in our separate habitats somehow able to talk on the phone or send a text message days later.  All of us watch people go through things and we think, “I could never handle that,” but the truth of the matter is that you could.  You absolutely could.  Because you have the strength.  Somehow we all the strength to get through the situations that are given to us.  At the end of this year the strength of my loved ones amidst their difficulties serves as my daily inspiration.

6)  There is still good in the world:  Some days it seems like there is nothing but negativity encompassing the world.  You wonder where all the good people are but they’re still here; dropping surprises off at the door, smiling at you when you need it most, shoveling driveways.  Goodness is all around us and its here to stay.

7)  People will hurt you but you should still keep your heart open:  I’ve known this for a long time but it’s something that I’ve tried to actually carry out in my life.  I have a tendency to shut myself away and when I say shut myself away I mean encapsulate myself in a layer of emotional granite.  I’ve lived this way for years, much to my detriment.
Mark Nepo explains it best, “Each time I tried to close up what had been opened.  It was a reflex, natural enough.  But the lesson was, of course, the other way.  The lesson was in never closing again.”

8)  Listen and trust the voice within:  The last half of 2014 I decided it was time to start listening to my inner voice and to actually trust it for a change.  At first it didn’t seem like my life was any different but it was because I was only occasionally listening and shutting it down the rest of the time.  It took a lot of meditation and prayer but I finally promised myself that I would completely listen and trust and my life changed.
I thought my inner voice was going to tell me some crazy stuff, hence the trust issues, but really what my inner voice told me was how to make the world a better place.  It told me when I needed to slow it down, it told me when I needed to listen to God’s voice and send someone flowers, it told me what my talents are.  Through experience I’m learning that often the answers we’re searching for are already inside of us.

These are but 8 of the lessons that I’ve learned in 2014 and I’m reminding myself to keep my heart open so I can learn the lessons that 2015 has to teach me.  Maybe 2015 will just remind me of the lessons already learned and for the first time I’m okay with that.


View More:’m Stroked to Life aka Kendra.  After suffering a cerebral venous thrombosis at 25 I have found myself trying to drink in life, knowing that life is a gift and truly but a moment.  (For my entire stroke story you can click here and here) I’m a mother, a writer, an art lover, a design appreciator, and in my spare time I love to curl up with a book.  I want people to know that even after the worst of experiences there is life after the ickiness and it can filled with as much beauty as you choose.  If you can’t find me here you can reach me at or on Instagram @strokedtolife.

Little Did You Know

Last night you had an SUV full of kids, waiting in line at the drive-thru. I really didn’t pay you any attention at first but the line was long and you had some interesting logos on the back window. Your Mia Love sticker caught my eye because I think she is pretty great. My son was impressed when the manager came out and started chatting with you as his employee loaded a car with boxes of waffles. You seemed like a very nice person as you shook the manager’s hand through the window and made him smile. With nothing else to do and bored from waiting, you might have caught me staring.

Finally we made our way around to the pick up window. I had come for only one peppermint shake and the wait had me regretting my decision. The employee smiled as I tried to hand her my money and she said, “The car in front of you has paid for your order.” I smiled at her and then smiled at you as you were driving away. I hope all those kids were looking back when I lifted my shake in appreciation.

The small gesture make me chuckle through my damp eyes. I love the tradition of paying for the person behind you in a drive-thru. I’ve done it myself a few times. It’s such a fun little surprise to receive something for free that you fully expected to pay for.

I didn’t expect you to pay for my shake. I didn’t expect those words to come out of the employee’s mouth. And I certainly didn’t expect my heart to crack open over three dollars and fifty-four cents.

Sir, little did you know that after staying up with my teenagers and friends until 2am that morning, my son and I had a really difficult conversation before finally going to bed. Little did you know that I only had three hours of sleep. Little did you know that my youngest was home sick with a terrible fever. Little did you know that a dear friend of our son’s was really struggling and we had spent our afternoon creating the perfect gift for her to let her know he cared. Little did you know that I had NO intention of shopping on the last Saturday before Christmas, but feeling a little blue, my mom wanted to get out of the house and asked me to take her to a few stores. Little did you know how much the crowds were driving me nuts. Little did you know that I would be consoling my devastated ten year that evening when we drove past a neighbor’s home and he identified the family cars of his three best friends at a party to which we had not been invited. Little did you know that the fever would get worse and I would be up again that night worrying over a sick little boy that couldn’t breathe. Little did you know how the last few months have worn me down. Little did you know that I was losing my faith in the benevolence of others.

To me that’s the beauty of kindness from a stranger. You just don’t know. You don’t know a thing about the unfamiliar person you are serving when you share a smile, or allow them to skip ahead of you in a line, or give up your parking spot, or any other random act of kindness. Little do you know the huge impact of such a simple action.

Kind sir, you will never know what you did for me yesterday. Just like the Grinch, my tired heart started to swell in my chest. I was reminded that there is goodness in the world. I never would have guessed at the power of three dollars and fifty-four cents on the Saturday before Christmas. Thank you dear stranger. Little did you know that you gave me my most cherished gift of all this Christmas season.


Hi, I’m Jen. I’m a mother to four amazing sons and wife to the perfect man for me. I am so blessed to have some pretty awesome responsibilities in my life that give me fulfillment and allow me to connect with people who inspire me to be better. I’m passionate about family, education, organization, photography and people. I believe that when we do what is right, we will be happy.

Filling Life

It’s funny how you think you really understand something about yourself–until you have to articulate it.
Tuesday evening I was sitting in therapy, saying an idea that I’ve said before, “I want to live life to the fullest,” and my therapist is sitting there nodding her head, notepad and pen in hand.  “Yes, that’s something you’ve expressed before.”
And it dawns on me–I’ve been saying this entirely wrong for the last 4 1/2 years. “Let me say it like this,” I began, “For people to know or read that I almost died is one thing but to live it is something else entirely.  To have doctors tell you that you’re a miracle, to say that you shouldn’t be alive or walking or talking or able to do the things that I do. . . . to have nurses say to you, ‘I’m not a spiritual person but there’s something special about you.  You’re alive for a reason.’  I know I’m alive for a reason.  And I might spend the rest of my life trying to figure out what the exact reason is.  But every day, no matter how awful I feel or how sad I am, knowing that I’m alive for a reason is always at the back of my head.  I never forget it and I’ll be damned before I do.  Every day people die from strokes or can’t function like me.  I cannot afford to blow the 2nd chance I’ve been given because I might not get a 3rd.
Some people almost die and they’re skydiving or trying to climb Everest just because they’re alive but those aren’t things they actually care about.  I want to fill my life with people and things that I care about, that make my life full.  I cannot afford to expend energy on things that aren’t fulfilling.  I do not want to be 50 and look back at my life and see that I filled it with things that aren’t actually meaningful.
So I know it might sound extreme to other people but this is my 2nd chance at life and I will not risk squandering it.  If you’re not a person who’s helping me fill my life, if you can’t accept me where I’m at then you have to go.  I honestly don’t mean that rudely but I just cannot and will not do it.”
There’s a way that truth hangs in the air, a way that once spoken you know the words can never be erased from the history of your soul, you’ll wear them like a proud tattoo all of your days.
“This is something you really feel.  It seems like it kind of guides everything you do.”
“It does, it has to.”
I left the office feeling lighter because I understand better this now spoken principle that guides my life.  Later that night I repeat it to Jen, one of my people who consistently helps me fill my life, and as I’m summarizing tears fill her eyes, “That’s beautiful.”
And I’m surprised because she gets it.  The more I think about it I realize that the people who fill our lives, the people who get down in the trenches with us and hold your hand while the two of you crawl out together, are the people who just get you.  And if they don’t get you they’re willing to accept you as you are, wherever you’re at.  No one can be a life filler to everyone and that’s okay, I don’t think that’s how life is supposed to be.
I’m filling my life, my 2nd chance, as fully as I possibly can because there won’t be a 3rd chance.  How are you filling the chance you’ve been given?

View More:’m Stroked to Life aka Kendra.  After suffering a cerebral venous thrombosis at 25 I have found myself trying to drink in life, knowing that life is a gift and truly but a moment.  (For my entire stroke story you can click here and here) I’m a mother, a writer, an art lover, a design appreciator, and in my spare time I love to curl up with a book.
I want people to know that even after the worst of experiences there is life after the ickiness and it can filled with as much beauty as you choose.
If you can’t find me here you can reach me at or on Instagram @strokedtolife.

Happy Places

A melancholy path

The last little while I’ve been in a state of melancholy.  I could list all the supposed reasons for said melancholy, most of which are probably valid. . . .actually they’re all completely valid but seeing the list wouldn’t help me feel any better.
Sunday night Patrice and the Red Knight were out of the house and I was left to my own devices.  There were several things that I could have done but I found myself being called to write.
I haven’t written at length for weeks, snatches here or there but nothing fluently.  So that night I sat down and attempted to write, I stuttered at first.  I listened to the music playing and forced the pen to paper and reminded myself that the goal wasn’t perfection but just the act of writing.
I kept at it for an hour, surprised at how the time moved so quickly and wished that there were more hours in a day.  Nearing the second hour I realized that the melancholy had lifted and-
I’d found my happy place.
We spend hours, days, months, years, searching for happiness-usually in the form of a thing or in the arms of another person.
True happiness comes from within us.  It’s when we’re listening to and honoring our inner voice, when we shut out all the voices that are clamoring for attention around us.  Happiness is when we use the gifts and talents that we’ve been given and we allow them to flow through us to carve our happy places.
Finding your happy place doesn’t mean that once found melancholy will pass you by, that times won’t be difficult and heartbreaking but those moments should propel us into returning once again to our happy place.
What is your happy place?
Do and be what makes you truly happy.
“Happiness depends upon ourselves.”–Aristotle

View More:’m Stroked to Life aka Kendra.  After suffering a cerebral venous thrombosis at 25 I have found myself trying to drink in life, knowing that life is a gift and truly but a moment.  (For my entire stroke story you can click here and here)
I’m a mother, a writer, an art lover, a design appreciator, and in my spare time I love to curl up with a book.
I want people to know that even after the worst of experiences there is life after the ickiness and it can filled with as much beauty as you choose.
If you can’t find me here you can reach me at or on Instagram @strokedtolife.



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