Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

The Flu: My Blessing in Disguise

Photo by Andres Rueda

Unemployed. Moved back home. Job search. Grandfather ill. Worked odd jobs. Job search. Debt .Calls to the doctor. Job Search. Grandfather Cancer. My back pain. Lawsuit. Job search. Job search. Frustration from hell. Grandfather Cancer. Therapy. Hours in the ER. Back and forth to the hospital. Back and forth to the store. Back and forth. Back and forth. HIRED. Work. Grandfather’s Surgery. Hospital visits. Business travel. I’m Tired. No Rest. Cancer. Back and forth. Work. Hospital visits. No peace. No quiet. Holidays. Missing my friends. Work. Exhausted. Life on hold. Insomnia. Cancer. Draining. Dizzy spells. Death looming. Work. Back and forth. Cancer is winning. Bracing myself. He’s Gone. Funeral planning. Funeral. Work. Processing loss. Anxiety. Wow, he’s really gone. Work. No peace. No quiet. Another death. Sad. Business Travel. Conferences. Award. R&R. Another death. Shock. Sorrow. Sorority Event. Holidays. BlogHer. Moving. Some Peace. Unpacking. Some Quiet. New Year. Work. Inauguration! DC. Cross Country Flight. Home. FLU

What you read has been the last two years of my life. I was exhausted. I craved rest. I was so tired that I was angry. Angry, because all I wanted was for my brain to slow down and a few nights of good sleep. Now I know why little kids get cranky when they’re tired. I kept putting off rest. I’ll rest after the holidays.  I’ll rest after I move. I’ll rest after my trip to DC and the international conference my job is hosting.  Well I didn’t make it to the conference because I came down with the flu. I was coughing the whole way back from DC to San Francisco.  Funny thing is, I hardly ever get the flu. But the 101-degree fever, chills and body aches knocked me out. My body hurt when I showered. I was so disappointed because I really wanted to be at my job’s conference. I had to rest. What I had been putting off for two years finally happened. Life, God, the Universe slowed me down because I wouldn’t.

I was sick for nearly a week. All I did was take medication, eat a little and just let my body fight the bug. I slept a lot. I was too consumed with trying to get well to stress over things or think a lot. My brain got a break.

After my body temperature returned to normal and I could breathe out of my nose again, I felt weak. My body needed to recuperate from fighting the flu. During my weakness I mainly slept, ate and watched a little Hulu (which is how I got hooked on The Carrie Diaries). 

As I began to regain my strength, I felt better. It was the best I felt in two years. Because I take herbs and vitamins, I had a mild strain of the flu. I’m grateful for it because it slowed me down. I’m thankful it didn’t kill me, but it gave me myself back.

The stress from long-term unemployment and losing my grandfather changed my body. I gained weight from bad eating habits. Patches of discoloration formed on parts of my skin (doc said I’m okay). I had dizzy spells and I couldn’t sleep. My mind felt like a VHS tape on high-speed fast-forward. It was awful! Most of the things I listed were happening to me for the first time.  It’s amazing how your body will tell you it’s stressed the hell out.

I’m sharing this with you because let’s face it, stress can kill you. During the ordeal I visited a therapist and went to meditations. That helped me tremendously. Or I said no and let someone else run an errand. But there were many times I didn’t take care of myself. I know as women we often put ourselves last. When we don’t take care of ourselves, it only makes things worse for us. I’m lucky that I learned my lesson from the flu, because I could have easily learned it from a stroke.

So take care of yourselves ladies. Take a vacation, meditate, turn of the computer, whatever you need to do. Just take care of yourselves. And it’s okay to put yourself first. It’s okay to say, “No.” It’s okay to say, “Damn I need a break.” Just make sure you take it.


  1. Amen! Honestly, we dnt have an emphasis on mental health enough... stress is just as dangerous as any other bad habit/addiction (i.e drinking or acting reckless). Sometimes we need to slow down and realize that and put ourselves first.

  2. Hi Josie,
    I agree that our society does need to focus on mental health. And not just discuss mental health after a senseless mass shooting. But that's another topic.

    Stress can be dangerous and deadly. But it's also a sign that whatever is going on in your life needs to stop our you need to get away from it. Thanks for your comment!


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