Guest Post: Jen Vondenbrink

I met Jen Vondenbrink through work ten years ago. She worked in one of our regional offices and I was at the corporate headquarters. I have always been inspired by Jen’s positive attitude, her amazing facilitation skills and her dedication to delivering excellence. A few years ago she made the decision to leave the “comforts” of corporate America to begin her own consulting and business coaching practice, Life Simplified. Jen inspires me in so many ways; I was thrilled when she said she’d be willing to share her perspective on the topic of turning 40. Jen, thanks for this post, for your support and your guidance! (Check out Life Simplified to learn more about the ways Jen could help you meet your goals and dreams.)

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The Hills Are Alive With The Sound of Music…

That’s how I spent my 40th birthday.

Actually, I spent the weekend at the von Trapp Resort in Stowe Vermont.  To be honest I thought I was going to fall apart and wanted to do it privately, not in the company of my family.

Quite the opposite happened.  Instead a started what has now become a treasured tradition.

My life…our lives…are so hectic.  Spending time with my girlfriends, sister and family is great, but this tradition is about quality time for myself, by myself.  Oh yeah, and it isn’t a night off.  It’s a full 48 hours (or more)!

So what do I do with 48 hours?

I contemplate the year, do a lot of writing, eat good food and create a vision of what’s to come.  I try to spend time in nature and sometimes have conversations with relatives who have passed away.  I decorate my space with the flowers I love and never go to places I’ve already been.

All of this stimulates my senses and helps me reset my mental thermostat.  Once my head is clear, I write a letter to myself to be opened the following year.   By the end of the weekend I feel revived.  I can breathe, think and see so much clearer.

I can’t say this is the prescription for everyone, but what I know for sure is we all need our own private traditions that mark milestones in our lives especially as we get older.  Whether it’s a 40th birthday, passing of a parent, or moving to a new home, it’s important to acknowledge where we’ve been and celebrate where we’re going.

Why did I start this tradition at the von Trapp Resort in Vermont?

Believe it or not, I was there when I was about 7 with my parents and grandparents.  We got to meet the real Maria von Trapp and some of her children.  I had never been back, but exploring the grounds brought back memories I’d forgotten long ago.

So the hills were really alive for me that weekend.  An added bonus for a 40th birthday, wouldn’t you say?

Photo courtesy of Jen Vondenbrink — a photo snapped at the von Trapp Resort!

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8 Responses to Guest Post: Jen Vondenbrink

  1. Beth says:

    I love Jen’s simple recount of a timeless memory. The von Trapp Family Lodge is lovely too, and the food is amazing — I had one of the best dinners of my life there!

  2. What a wonderful story. So descriptive, I felt like I was there with you, Jen. This past week I was watching Chronicle – one of the few times I sit and watch TV. But it was about a place I knew I had been, which was really strange, because they didn’t say where it was. They wanted people to twitter or facebook where they thought it was. I was too lazy to do that, BUT – I knew the answer. It brough back such vivid memories of peace and happiness as I walked through one of the gardens almost 40 years ago. What a coincidence, huh?

  3. Tia Bach says:

    Love this idea. Life is hectic. When my kids were little, the weekends were therapeutic. Now that they are older, I need the week to recuperate from the weekends. As if that’s possible. Then when you consider the obligation to visit family, have some one-on-one time with hubby and each of my daughters . . . ARGH! But, I think the idea of getting away by myself for 48 hours is something I need to put on the top of my list. It will not just benefit me, it will benefit all the people pulling on me. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  4. Sawyer says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this. Wow, the real Maria von Trapp. I can’t tell you how long I was oblivious to the fact that this was a real familiy the movie was modeled on.
    Wonderful idea about the 48 hour getaway. Whew! Tia, I totally get you. Needing the week to recuperate from the weekend… Yup. Someone once asked me what my favorite day of the week was, and out of my mouth came like shot from a pistol: MONDAY!

  5. Thanks everyone for the wonderful feedback. I have to admit this year was a little challenging to get this tradition in but because I made it a priority it happened. Now I need to figure out how to make this happen more than once a year, right ladies! 🙂 Any thoughts would be great.

  6. Trelawney says:

    What an amazing example of self-care! Jen, I’m impressed that you make this time for yourself. I’m recently married, and while my husband is very supportive of my creative writing, I often don’t feel right about carving out time for it. I know it’s important. And, I know it’s all in my head. So, I’ll keep working on it. 🙂

  7. Trelawney – you’re right it is all in our head. It took me until I was nearly 40 to allow myself to write creatively, and now when I miss a day, I feel as though I am out of sync. We all need some way to express ourselves. Whether it’s writing, acting, doing sports, whatever. When we make that time, we become whole. When we don’t we feel like we have holes! 🙂

  8. Pingback: A Grouchy Week = New Perspective | Appetite For Life!

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