123. Midlife Emergence with Jen Berlingo

Many of us go through life wondering if we’re really living our authentic lives.

Are you doing what you really want to do?

Are you being who you really want to be?

Even if you’ve created a great life, been fortunate, and haven’t had what you consider an existential crisis, is something just not quite right?

Jen Berlingo had what seemed to be a great childhood. As she would discover later, she thought she was happy because early on she embraced being a good girl, a people pleaser, and as a result got a lot of praise from her parents, relatives, and everyone else around her.

There was something under the surface though. Growing up in the south in the 80s and 90s, she was exposed to homophobia, racism, a tight grip on monogamy, pseudo-Christianity, and other harmful sentiments coming from the same people whose love brought her happiness. This caused her to deny something she knew to be true.

Jen went through what one might call a normal amount of teenage rebellion, became an adult, started a career, got married, and had a child. She had a happy life, and everything seemed fine.

But Fine is a 4-Letter Word.

As she approached middle age, she achieved a new level of consciousness about herself that led her to ask “Wait. What is my core self? Where’s my authentic self?” She started peeling back the layers of familial, cultural, and social conditioning that had allowed – maybe even required – her to adapt to her environment.

See, throughout all of this, Jen knew she was queer.

While this proved not to be as devastating to her domestic situation as she anticipated, it did end her marriage. And although she continues to have a great friendship with her ex-husband, this acknowledgement did bring on a lot of changes.

As part of these changes, Jen took a deep dive into what are known as introjects – the beliefs and values one unconsciously absorbs from the people they love and the society they’re raised in.

Are your beliefs and values, especially the ones you’ve never questioned, actually a defense mechanism that has shielded you from the risk of being your authentic self?

In a moment, when you meet Jen, you will learn a lot more about her journey and why she redefines the idea of a “midlife crisis” as Midlife Emergence. Is this the message you need to hear today?

Jen’s hype song is “Apeshit” by the Carters.

Resources:

See Yvonne Marchese’s episode, “Flip The Script” at https://zenrabbit.com/podcast/flip-the-script-yvonne-marchese/

Invitation from Lori:

Like Jen, it’s possible you’re rationalizing your life by telling yourself no one gets everything they want but you can still feel fine with what you have.

That shouldn’t stop you – and that’s why I created the 5 Easy Ways to Start Living The Sabbatical Life guide.

Once you read it, you’ll

✅ Discover a counter-intuitive approach to making intentional changes in mindset and lifestyle.

✅ Learn how to overcome the fear of being seen as a lazy slacker.

✅ Find out how to face fears, step out of your comfort zone, and rewire your beliefs.

It’s only 7 pages, so it won’t take you long to get through. The five tactics are simple, but once you follow even ONE of them, you’ll find yourself feeling more peaceful and even courageous.

When you’re ready to say F*ck Being Fine, then this guide is the place to start. It’s time to blaze a new trail and chart a new course!

Go to https://zenrabbit.com right now to download it for free.

Now, let’s go meet Jen. Believe me what I say, you won’t regret it!

Transcript

Lori Saitz: Hello, and welcome to "Fine is a 4-Letter Word". My guest today is Jen Berlingo. Welcome to the show, Jen.

Jen Berlingo: Hi. How are you, Lori?

Lori Saitz: I'm doing well. We were introduced through Yvonne Marchese. And I said it right. Yes, I win.

Jen Berlingo: Yeah, she's great.

Lori Saitz: She is. Yvonne was a recent guest on my show, and I've been a guest on her show as well. And so I am grateful just for her to have made this introduction.

Jen, let's start with the question that I love asking all of my guests, which is: what were the beliefs and values that you were raised with as a child, and how did they affect you as you were growing into an adult?

Jen Berlingo: That's a big question.

Lori Saitz: Yes.

Jen Berlingo: I was born in 1975 in southeastern Virginia. So in the south during that time, there were, I guess in my family and in my surroundings, really just a conservative sort of nature. You know, homophobia, racism, a tight grip on monogamy and pseudo-Christianity sort of mixed in there. And I guess I was raised in a family that was very loving, very hyper vigilantly so, I would say. I had a really, on paper, beautiful childhood. And the climate, I think, during that time and in my home, it was really about being a good girl, being a people pleaser. I guess even when I was little—and I talk about this in my book a bit—being an easy baby was prized, and I realized that very early on.

So it was like, there's this quote by Bethany Webster about having to choose between being empowered and being loved. It's sort of the dilemma of a female child growing up in this time. And I think I really felt that in the sense of not being able to express my needs. Or when I did express needs, it was like, "Oh, you're okay," or, "Oh, you're being too sensitive." That sort of thing.

Lori Saitz: Like they were dismissed.

Jen Berlingo: Yeah, somewhat. Or appeased. Sort of that pat on the back like, "Oh, there, there. It's fine." And then just to be the happy, smiling, performing daughter. I was quite a perfectionist as a kid. I got straight A's. I did all the right things. When I didn't do the right things, I was very good at hiding them in terms of some of the rebellious teenage stuff.

Lori Saitz: Right.

Jen Berlingo: Early experimentation—sex, drugs, types of things. But I didn't get caught in that. It was like I was very much the good girl in a lot of ways and had a really good relationship with my family.

Lori Saitz: Yeah. It's surprising to me that, 1975, I was already like—that wasn't that long ago, and to still have those values be so strong is, I don't know, it's just surprising to me. I mean, obviously, I was a child then, too.

Jen Berlingo: Yeah.

Lori Saitz: But it seems like when we talk about the racism and the sexism, it's almost like, well, wait a second. Wasn't that, like, in the 1940s? But—

Jen Berlingo: Right.

Lori Saitz: —it was actually in our—

Jen Berlingo: I know it's hard to believe.

Lori Saitz: —it's still in our lifetime and still going on today in some parts.

Jen Berlingo: Very much so. Yeah, very much so. I mean, there's been a lot of progress.

Lori Saitz: Even in our country, which we consider ourselves such a developed country. And yet—

Jen Berlingo: Yeah, we still have a long way to go even though we have made a lot of progress. I'm hopeful, especially looking at the generation coming up. I have an almost 17-year-old, and I really feel like their generation has, I don't know, more values that reflect my own. So I feel hopeful that it's changing. But it's slow change, and I think it's regional, too, in a lot of ways in our country. So, yeah, I have a lot of thoughts about it. I can go on for a long time about the politics of it all.

But, yeah, I think growing up, I really wanted to be accepted. I wanted to be loved. And I knew to do that, I needed to play by the rules, not rock the boat, make sure my caregivers were comfortable and appeased. And I feel like I had somewhat of a consciousness about that as a kid. I talk about the messages that you get when you're a child and how they shape you, how they shape when you're forming your own adult life.

And they're called introjects in psychology. Speak the messages that kind of become internalized, and we start to hear them in our own voice, eventually. So it's like my dad's voice as a perfectionist and my mom's voice as a caregiver and soother. All of that becomes my own inner dialogue, which definitely was formative for me. And I find that in most of my clients who are also recovering good girls and recovering people pleasers in midlife.

Lori Saitz: Yeah. That is so interesting because a lot of times, I talk in my programs and we talk on the show about the beliefs that had been wired into you since, even before birth. Those beliefs. So in psychology, they're called—what did you say they were? Intercepts?

Jen Berlingo: Introjects.

Lori Saitz: Introjects. Geez.

Jen Berlingo: Introjects. Yeah.

Lori Saitz: Okay. Introjects.

Lori Saitz: That's the other term. Right. And what you just said about them becoming your own voice.

Jen Berlingo: Yeah.

Lori Saitz: That's what I think a lot of us don't—like, we think it's our own. We came up with it. It's our voice because—

Jen Berlingo: Right.

Lori Saitz: —it's been so ingrained for so long that it does become our voice, but it didn't start out as our voice.

Jen Berlingo: Right, yeah. I think it carves those neuro pathways where it's like, this is just the way things are, and this is how my self-talk becomes—the parent talk becomes the self-talk.

And we can't really discern that, especially as children, that that's even happening. And I think we can become conscious of it later in life. We can start to say, "Wait. What is my core self?

Where's my authentic self" and try to peel back the layers of familial, cultural, social conditioning that have been put on top of us to allow us to adapt to an environment where we had to survive.

Lori Saitz: Yeah.

Jen Berlingo: I mean, it's a really brilliant survival mechanism, and when we had to use it as such. But in adulthood, especially midlife and beyond, it's like, "Oh, wait. That doesn't actually need to protect me anymore. I don't have to be the people pleaser or try to make everyone else comfortable at my own expense." That really isn't going to serve. But it may have served up until now, and that's perfectly okay and healthy, and sometimes needs to be shaken up later in life.

Lori Saitz: Absolutely. Yeah, which is why so many people go through what has commonly in the past been referred to as a midlife crisis. I'm not a fan of that term.

Jen Berlingo: Me neither, as you know.

Lori Saitz: Yes. But how does somebody recognize that, one, those beliefs aren't serving them; or, two, that they can be changed?

Jen Berlingo: Yeah. I think it's a process, a slow process, sometimes, of just really turning an ear inward and listening to your inner call and your inner voice and really just seeing. I think what I find with the clients that I've worked with the last couple decades, it's like they come in, and it's much like the title of your podcast. "Everything's fine." On the surface, it's fine. I have the life that I prepared for and that I worked really hard to get. And I should be happy, and I should be satisfied. Yet, there's something in them that's, like, quaking this dissatisfaction.

And then a second arrow of guilt or shame about not being satisfied with an absolutely beautiful existence or life. And then saying, "Well, what is it? What needs to change? And how can I even do that? And it's really, really hard because the stakes are pretty high at midlife when we're settled into careers and mortgages and marriages and children or taking care of elderly parents with all of the things that happen in midlife. Right? And we don't have a lot of roadmaps or cheerleaders that are really wanting us to unfurl into our more aligned ways of being in the world.

So that's really what I try to do because I went through that myself. I really felt like, "Oh, is this all there is?" And when I started out in my 40s—which, midlife spans 40 to 65 in developmental psychology, but people can self-determine when midlife is.

Lori Saitz: Sure.

Jen Berlingo: And it can be a few years before or a few years after. But usually, the decade of the 40s, coming into it, is sort of this turning point that shakes up whatever hasn't been exposed. Whatever has been previously concealed becomes seen or is asked to become conscious and seen, which is why I call my work and my book "Midlife Emergence" instead of "crisis" because emergence is the process of coming into view after being previously concealed.

Lori Saitz: I love that. And when you just said it, it reminds me of a butterfly.

Jen Berlingo: Yes, very much so.

Lori Saitz: Like we've been in this cocoon, and now we're emerging out. And there's a fight to do that in a butterfly. They have to fight to get out of the cocoon, and it's hard, and it's challenging.

Jen Berlingo: Yeah. You're the caterpillar for a really long time. Right? I mean, if we apply it to a human lifespan.

Lori Saitz: Right.

Jen Berlingo: And then you go into the cocoon, and the caterpillar becomes absolute and complete goo. They decompose entirely, which I feel like is what the midlife emergence crisis—

Lori Saitz: Right.

Jen Berlingo: —feels like. It's like, "Oh, I don't have any structure anymore." It's not even like the caterpillar body is the center of the butterfly. It's just, like, total goo. And then you remake yourself new. And it might be some form that surprises those around you who have known you, loved you, expect you to be a certain way. And then you emerge as the butterfly, and you can't actually pull a butterfly out of its cocoon. Like you were saying, they have to fight for it. They have to actually get the strength of the wings, themselves, to do it.

Lori Saitz: Right, because if you—

Jen Berlingo: So it's the perfect metaphor.

Lori Saitz: —if you help a butterfly out of its cocoon, it will die because its wings won't be strong enough for it to fly.

Jen Berlingo: Right.

Lori Saitz: Yeah, exactly, which is something that a lot of people—everybody who wants to be helpful wants to help you. Like, "Let me cut you out and help you," but it actually hurts.

So, anyway, sorry. Go on with your story there.

Jen Berlingo: No, sorry. I just took a sip of water.

Lori Saitz: No choking.

Jen Berlingo: Yeah. I guess I feel like the 40s are that liminal space between the first and second act of life where we have the opportunity to really consciously architect the way we want to live into our second half. And for me, that just looked like realizing a lot of things that I knew about myself that I had pushed down in order to have this beautiful life where I was married to a man who is still my best friend, who is amazing. And we had been together since we were 23. And we now, like I said, have an almost 17-year-old. And I had a private practice going. I was living in the Bay Area. I have great friends. All of this, on paper, great.

But then something stirring inside of me. And for me, a big piece of it had to do with my sexuality, having known my whole life that I was queer but not living a visibly queer life and feeling quite invisible in that way, and knowing that that was actually feeling really toxic for me—the invisibility of my queerness and my true self—because I'm always assumed to be heterosexual when I was out in the world with him. Right? And he knew that, too. It wasn't, like, a secret or anything.

But wanting to really have that part of myself come forward more fully and having those yearnings. And I realized that that would potentially destroy the life that I had worked really carefully to have. So it takes a lot of courage, I think, to really go beyond what we've been taught is okay and to turn toward the parts of ourselves that might be more subversive and perhaps not as accepted.

There were other changes and pieces for me in terms of location and career shifts. So all sorts of things that happened in that decade, which my clients experience as well. I think it's pretty common to re-evaluate. And it's an opportunity more than a crisis, I think, if we frame it that way.

Lori Saitz: Yeah, I completely agree. I completely agree with you as far as it being an opportunity. And I think—I mean, you say you knew from an early age who you really were, but you were afraid to express and live into that person.

Jen Berlingo: Right.

Lori Saitz: And I find a lot of people I talk to, we know. Because it's who we are at our soul, and yet it's about the—I don't know. I'm working right now on the whole thing around confidence versus courage. And it's not "versus," but is it we need more confidence, or is it we need more courage? Or is it the combination of the two? They're very tightly woven together, but they're different.

Jen Berlingo: They really are, yeah.

Lori Saitz: And as we get older, as we're into our 40s and 50s, I think we find more self-confidence, which gives us more courage to step into who we really are instead of going on with what society tells us we should be or how we should be.

Jen Berlingo: Yeah.

Lori Saitz: Do you think that's—

Jen Berlingo: Yeah, I love your –

Lori Saitz: —contributing to what you were doing, too, as far as having more self-confidence to stand in who you were?

Jen Berlingo: I think so. I feel like the courage maybe had to come first for me. And I wonder that with people. Which is first?

Lori Saitz: Right.

Jen Berlingo: I did it afraid. I don't know that I felt completely ready or confident, but I did know that there wasn't a choice to make. It was like I didn't have a choice but to be myself and to bring all of myself forward. And that required, well, maybe courage and confidence. But I think courage, really, to first voice it to my then-husband to let him know what was happening on the inside first. And then we did all sorts of therapy and reading and thinking about: how are we going to do this? Do we want to open our marriage? What's going to happen?

And that, I did it scared. I think that sometimes we have to just do it scared. And that doesn't mean we're not courageous. I mean, I think sometimes that's a lot of what courage is, is doing things afraid. And confidence, in some way. You know?

Lori Saitz: Absolutely.

Jen Berlingo: Yeah.

Lori Saitz: Yeah, I'm glad you mentioned that because I was going to say it if you didn't. That having courage doesn't mean you're not scared.

Jen Berlingo: Right. Yeah. I think even voicing that you're scared is courageous—

Lori Saitz: Yes.

Jen Berlingo: —because that's also something that's not socially accepted, necessarily.

Lori Saitz: Right.

Jen Berlingo: It's like, "Oh, you're so brave because you did the thing." It's like, "Oh, you're so scared, and you said you were scared," or, "You listened to your inner instincts and not do the thing." That's also courageous because you're listening to your inner voice. So I think that, really, it just has to do with following our authentic impulses and, I guess, in the way of not holding back from disappointing others when the alternative is to disappoint ourselves.

And that is a really challenging thing for someone who's been conditioned as a people pleaser or a good girl to actually disappoint the people that we love the most and people who might expect us to stay in a certain box or in a certain way. But life is long, and sometimes we have lots of lives to lead. Sometimes we have to be the butterfly.

Lori Saitz: Yes, yes. So in your book, which—remind my listeners. Or not remind them. Tell them in the first place. What's the name of your book?

Jen Berlingo: Sure. My book is called "Midlife Emergence: Free Your Inner Fire," and it's a teaching memoir, which is part memoir and part personal growth. So it's really my story of emergence in the decade of my 40s and facing a lot of these things. But I identify, like, 13 different common midlife themes. And at the end of each chapter, I invite the reader into their own self-inquiry work around that theme through journaling, through art, through personal ritual and ceremony. Different ways of contacting what that inner voice is saying to you. So everyone's story is different.

It's not necessarily a book for people coming out later in life, although a lot of people I work with or who are drawn to the book have that story. But a lot don't. A lot of them are just contemplating maybe a career shift or something in their relationship or in their friendships. Or whatever it might be for you, it's applicable there in the prompts. But it goes through the story of my own midlife.

Lori Saitz: Yeah. And I've been reading through it, and it is. The exercises are great. The story. I mean, people are always interested in other people's stories and—

Jen Berlingo: Yeah. I do think memoir is naturally instructive. In some way, you don't need the prompts part, but I wanted to add that because I feel like with my background as a therapist and coach and art therapist, that it really helps to invite the reader into their own work.

Lori Saitz: It does. And when somebody's reading, they're seeing like, "Oh, okay. Jen did this. Jen did that. But how? How did she do it?" Like, if I wanted to do it, how did you do it? And that's often a question I ask my guests. Like, okay, so you went through this experience where things were fine, but they weren't fine. And then all of a sudden, now you're over here on this other path, but there's a disconnect. What happened in between there? So by providing those exercises, you give people the tools to move themselves from one place to another.

I wanted to go back to, though, in your book, you talk about—we were just talking about the disappointing others and how that was something that was—

Jen Berlingo: Yeah.

Lori Saitz: And you mentioned it in the beginning, too, about being conditioned to not disappoint others and being raised that that self-sacrifice was the whole point of life, basically.

Jen Berlingo: Yeah, in some ways. I mean, I come from a long line of martyrs in a way. Just women who were giving of themselves and really prized for it. Like, "Oh, she's so great. She does everything for everyone else and always baked casseroles for people who were sick." Like, all of the giving, giving, giving until they're empty. And I know that that's a virtue in my family and probably many others around that generation.

Yeah. So it does feel—there's just a phrase sometimes in my head, when I hear people say, "It must be nice," it's something I love to hate because it feels like that energy, sort of, when I, in my late 20s, went back to graduate school to become a therapist. And it was like I was doing a lot of personal growth work, and I was in therapy myself as a requirement of the program and a requirement for me as a human because I feel like I love therapy. I get so much out of it.

And anytime I would talk about any sort of self-care type of thing, the feeling that I would get, and it maybe wasn't in those words, was like, "Oh, it must be nice that you were able to do all of that." And it's like, oh, no. It's not a selfish thing. It's a way of becoming responsible for my own life. And it's not a language that my family spoke, necessarily, or speaks.

And I think to disappoint others and really to try to come to terms with satisfying yourself, the ground drops out, in a way, of the safety and security that we've developed and that we've tried to maintain in relationships. We're risking that, and so it can be pretty scary.

But there's another—well, Erik Erikson is a psychologist from the 50s, and he talks about the struggle in midlife. Every developmental stage of life has this challenge, and the challenge of midlife, he says, is stagnation versus generativity, which is really where we're reevaluating to make sure we're making the type of impact we want to make. And so sometimes we can feel stagnant when we're clinging to the habits that have helped us feel safe and secure and stable. And that familiarity feels super nice to our nervous system. You know?

Lori Saitz: Yes, yes.

Jen Berlingo: But when I was researching my book and I interviewed over 100 women about this, we talked about how there was more seduction into the mystery and the yearning for something more and something more generative and something that would be growth producing and help them evolve than there was the clinging toward what was safe and secure. So there seems to be more of a urge toward that generativity, or a natural progression into wanting to continue to expand and grow. And so that risk is worth it a lot of times.

And it doesn't mean it has to be this huge volcanic eruption blowing up your whole beautiful life. But it can be small, one-degree turns toward what feels more authentic and what feels more growth-producing.

Lori Saitz: Yeah. Thank you for saying that. It doesn't have to be a seismic shift. It could be. It might be. But it doesn't have to be even that one degree. I've heard—I'm not a pilot—but planes that are even one degree off from flying on their path are going to end up somewhere completely different than where they're supposed to be—

Jen Berlingo: Totally.

Lori Saitz: —from just one degree. And so that same thing could happen. Just a small shift could make a major impact on someone's life.

Jen Berlingo: Exactly. Yeah, that's a great metaphor for that.

Lori Saitz: You mentioned, too, that calling. I believe that is your soul crying out for, like, "Hey, you're here to live bigger than this, or differently." More differently? More differently than this. You're here to do bigger than what you have done so far. Right? And pay attention to this. Pay attention to this. I think, though, a lot of times people, like you said, they were afraid because it's uncomfortable and it's different.

And what's that saying? Nobody likes change, other than a baby with a wet diaper. Yeah. They're the only ones who like change.

Jen Berlingo: That’s really uncomfortable. Right?

Lori Saitz: Yeah. At the same time—

Jen Berlingo: Change is really uncomfortable, and it's all we have.

Lori Saitz: Right, exactly. Life is change. And it's more uncomfortable, in the end, to not change because—

Jen Berlingo: Right. That's true.

Lori Saitz: So one of the things I thought about when I was making some major changes, and have been, still—I still I'm out here living nomad life. So it's a big change.

Jen Berlingo: Yeah, that's awesome. But asking yourself the question, "When I'm 80 or when I'm on my deathbed, or whatever, will I regret not having done this thing? And what is the cost of not doing it?"

Jen Berlingo: I fully live that way. I feel like there's an urgency sometimes around this point of life because we realize our mortality more so than we did, whether it's health issues or caring for aging parents, or whatever that is. Just looking at, okay, what is my life about? And I have to do that now. This is what life I get to live and remember, and I want to wring it dry of all of the juiciness that it has to offer. And how am I not doing that?

And I felt that burning so hot, and I still do. It's not like that goes away, but I feel like there are waves of it, and it came up really strongly for me in my early 40s of, "What am I not doing? What am I not living that I really would have wanted to? What paths have I not taken that I may have regretted not taking or that I would regret not taking going forward?"

And I feel like some of those things, when we identify them, can be a way to listen to the inner voice. Like when we hear that in ourselves. And another thing that I think helps us know it's a soul calling—and this seems weird at first—but envy. I feel like when we feel envy when we're watching someone else's life play out in a way, or we hear something great about someone like, oh, that person got some award or got some job, or whatever it might be—or got married—that feeling of envy that comes up. It's not like a jealousy that you don't want them to have it. But, like, "I want that for myself," and so there's a bitter taste to that.

I feel like that is such a gift because it really points us toward true desire. It's like there's something about that that I would like to have in this life for myself. And, yeah, I feel like those things can be compasses, really easy kind of compasses for those who may not be as, I don't know, used to really listening internally, or they're like, "What does that even mean?" I think that some of those ways are easy to grasp.

Lori Saitz: Yes, that's so good. That is such a good point because we're often taught, again, envy is a "bad thing." And I love how it could be a signpost for you to pay attention to. It's like being aware of feelings or things that come up for you that don't come up for everybody. Like, what you are envious of, I might not be.

Jen Berlingo: Right.

Lori Saitz: But we don't realize that. We're like, "Well, wouldn't everybody be envious of that?" Of course? But, no.

Jen Berlingo: Right. But, no.

Lori Saitz: That's a unique thing to you. Yeah.

Jen Berlingo: It is. It's really personal, and it's really—

Lori Saitz: And paying attention to it like, "Okay."

Jen Berlingo: Yeah. And I think it can really point us toward who we truly want to be or who we're becoming. And in the last chapter of my book, I have an invitation and a link to an audio. If you have the audiobook, it's actually in there. But in the other versions, you can link to it. There is a future-self visualization exercise where it's yourself projected 20 years into the future talking to you now. And it's just a brief meditation, basically, and then some writing prompts after it.

And I feel like I've done that repeatedly over the last decade or so. I guess it's been about a decade now that I've been doing that exercise in different ways. And it is such a way—for me, it's like my future self is sort of this muse who I am living into. I look to the visual of that person and think each day when I'm making even little decisions, like, "Would she wear this? Where would she want to go to eat?"

It's sort of like courting that one of you who is to be in, like, the most ideal—or not necessarily ideal, but the version that you really hope for. And it really makes it tangible. And I feel like that also helps with that thing we were just talking about of the regrets—or not regret. Like, how will you become her? So I think that that's also a really great exercise to do.

Lori Saitz: Yeah, absolutely. I love that you're talking about future self because I think—wow, we could go down a whole different rabbit hole on this conversation about people—

Jen Berlingo: We could.

Lori Saitz: —taking care of themselves today so that their future self—to benefit their future self. And so many people don't even think about that. They think about, "What can I do today that will bring me immediate joy, immediate satisfaction? Screw future me. She'll deal with herself when she gets there."

Jen Berlingo: Figure that out.

Lori Saitz: Right?

Jen Berlingo: Yeah.

Lori Saitz: But it could be as simple as making your bed so that future you, tonight, can get into a nicely made bed with clean sheets. It doesn't have to be 10 years down the road because that's too far to think sometimes.

Jen Berlingo: Right, exactly. And doing kind things for that one of you to come. Yeah.

Lori Saitz: Yeah, absolutely. Cool. So where are we going with this now? I was going to mention the thing about regrets because you mentioned the regrets. And I was looking away as I was talking because I wanted to look up the name of the guy who wrote the book about regrets that I love.

Do you know who I'm talking about? He was—

Jen Berlingo: I don't, I don't think.

Lori Saitz: All right, hang on. I'm going to look him up. It's not "Top Five Regrets of the Dying." It's "The Power of Regret." Dan Pink. Love Dan Pink. Are you familiar?

Jen Berlingo: I'm not, no.

Lori Saitz: Oh, he's written a whole bunch of books, but I think it's his newest. It came out a couple of years ago, called "The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward." And he talked in that book about how having regrets is not necessarily a bad thing. People think, "I want to live without regrets." Well, regrets, like what you were talking about earlier, help point you in the direction that you would like to go. Like, if you regret not doing something in the past, and you have the opportunity to do it now. Or you take actions based on regrets you had in the past so that, moving forward, future you doesn't have a regret.

Jen Berlingo: Absolutely, yes. I think about that a lot with paths not taken and then how we have the opportunity, maybe, to take them now. And I write about this in my book, and it's kind of silly. I don't know if you remember that movie "Sliding Doors" from the '90s.

Lori Saitz: I was just going to say that. I was just going to bring that up because I remember reading that in the book. And I'm like, "Oh, my God. I talk about that movie all the time." I love that movie.

Jen Berlingo: Yeah, me too. I don't know how it was so impactful, but it was like I'm watching it.

Lori Saitz: And it was suck a kind of random time.

Jen Berlingo: It was.

Lori Saitz: It wasn't a very popular movie. I don't think a lot of people knew about it or saw it.

Jen Berlingo: Yeah. It had Gwyneth Paltrow, but early in her career. And it was like, yeah, I watched it as I was—well, it kind of prompted, in a small way, a breakup that I was about to go through after college. So it was like I watched it and saw ...

In the movie, basically, you see her life play out in one way when she catches her partner cheating. And then she kind of empowers herself and becomes this—like she does a whole lot of things like in her career and everything. And then the other where she just remains blind to the fact that there was infidelity and lives a more meek life where she has a lot of doubts and isn't able to make these sort of major moves in the rest of the areas of her life.

And so I remember watching that and, yeah, just feeling like it was cool to see the parallel lives and how they would play out and wondering about my own—if I were to stay in this relationship or not, or these sorts of things. Yeah, I think about it a lot. I think about that concept of: what's me in a parallel universe doing, and do I want to be doing that?

Lori Saitz: Right, right, right. Because, again, we could go on for a whole other conversation about parallel universes, because I actually believe that there are parallel universes that we in a different life choice or life path are living somewhere else.

Jen Berlingo: Yeah. And we can call that in, like if it is something where you think, "Oh, gosh. I'm in a parallel universe." Like I always thought, "Oh, I'm a queer woman who's—oh, okay. Actually, I want that." Like, this is something that I haven't been living or hadn't been living. Yeah. It kind of hones in on the regret, like you were saying, like using it as a tool for future planning or manifesting.

Lori Saitz: Yeah, inspiration.

Jen Berlingo: Yeah, inspiration. That's a better word than "manifesting," for sure.

Lori Saitz: Well, they go hand in hand.

Jen Berlingo: Yeah.

Lori Saitz: Yeah, awesome. All right. So, one, I highly recommend that if you're listening to this episode, that you hop over to—where, Jen? Where does somebody go to get your book? Because they definitely are going to want to hear the rest of your story.

Jen Berlingo: Thank you. My book is available anywhere you buy books online—Amazon and elsewhere. You can ask your independent bookstores to order it as well. It's available that way. But, yeah, it's in paperback, e-book, and audiobook. And you can find out more about my book and my offerings. Everything is on my website, which is just my name, jenberlingo.com, J-E-N-B-E-R-L-I-N-G-O.com.

And you can find me all over the place, too. I write weekly on Substack. I have a Substack called Prism where, if you want more up-to-date writing or you read my book and you want more on these sorts of topics, I'm on Substack there. And I offer one-to-one midlife coaching, and I offer a lot of guided and self-paced online programs. And I have applications open for a 12-week "Midlife Emergence" group guidance program that I've run annually for the last few years. And it's going to happen once it's full, sometime in 2024. So applications are open for that as well. And I'm all over social media. Instagram is my favorite. It's just my name, jenberlingo.

Lori Saitz: Okay, cool. I will put links to all of that in the show notes. And as you were talking, I was like, oh, but wait. We didn't cover one other thing, which is also why people are going to need to go get your book. The thing about the astrology and the north nodes and the south nodes.

Jen Berlingo: Oh, yeah.

Lori Saitz: And I just found that really fascinating. We're not going to go into it all, but I'm semi into astrology. I don't know a lot about it, but I'm fascinated by it. And I had never heard of this whole thing of north nodes and south nodes and how they also can point you in the direction that maybe makes sense for your life at this point in time.

Jen Berlingo: Yeah. I'm not an astrologer either, but I consult with one annually on my birthday. And I have consulted with the same one, and I write about him in my book. He's great. But he's taught me quite a bit, and I've studied on my own bits and pieces since I was, like, 11.

Lori Saitz: Yeah.

Jen Berlingo: But I don't do astrology. But, yeah, it's really great. Astrologers actually call the midlife crisis the Uranus Opposition. And so there is like a planetary thing around age 42. And so if you're into that sort of thing, I talk about that a little bit in my book. I have one chapter that's dedicated to some of this and some of the activities. And it has to do with the lunar nodes that you're talking about, the north and south node, your karmic past, and then your highest vision would be your north node of what you are capable of growing into. But there's free will, of course, in doing that.

Lori Saitz: Yeah.

Jen Berlingo: So, yeah, check out that part, too.

Lori Saitz: It was fascinating because I went and did—like you talk about, you mention how to find out what they are.

Jen Berlingo: Yeah.

Lori Saitz: And so I went and did it, and I was like, "What? This makes sense."

Jen Berlingo: Totally. Right?

Lori Saitz: This is so cool.

Jen Berlingo: It does for me, too. Yeah. He did that with me, and I was like, "Oh, this explains a whole lot.

Lori Saitz: Right, right. Exactly.

Jen Berlingo: I hadn't known that.

Lori Saitz: Yeah.

Jen Berlingo: Yeah, I love doing that with clients as well, too.

Lori Saitz: It's so cool. All right.

Jen Berlingo: That's a fun part.

Lori Saitz: Before we go, I've got to ask you the last question that everybody gets. And that is, what's your hype song when you need an extra boost of energy?

Jen Berlingo: When you told me that you were going to ask this, and I've heard your podcast before, I'm like, "Oh, no. I have an entire playlist for this."

Lori Saitz: Yes, I know. So do I.

Jen Berlingo: So it was very hard to narrow it down. But, yeah, the one that I'll say today is "Apeshit" by the Carters. The Carters are Beyoncé and Jay-Z because that's their last name. It's on the album that they did together. And, yeah, it has a four-letter word in it as well but—

Lori Saitz: Well, I don't—

Jen Berlingo: —it's a great pump-up song.

Lori Saitz: Now, I have to go listen to it. I feel like I've probably heard it, but maybe didn't know the name of it.

Jen Berlingo: Yeah. It's called "Apeshit."

Lori Saitz: Yeah, all right. "Apeshit." I've got to go look that up right now—

Jen Berlingo: It's awesome.

Lori Saitz: —and have a listen. Jen, thank you so much for being my guest on "Fine is a 4-Letter Word".

Jen Berlingo: Yeah, thank you so much for having me, Lori. This has been fun.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *