Monthly Archives: September 2017


I love the city. I love being in it. The noise, smells, people, shops lined in a row so I can go in every single one and look at things. I love the loudness of it and the idea that I can get bread, coffee and a new jacket all on the same block. God it’s so cool. You can walk everywhere and its electric and eclectic and full of life. I always thought I’d want to live in the middle of a city once my kids were grown. And when I dreamed that it seemed a million years away. Now….not so much.
My daughter will be 18 years old next summer. And then she goes to college the next Fall. I always thought my dreams were FAR AWAY and I had a long time to plan it all out. I woke up one day and I was looking at a 45 year old woman about to be an empty nester in 2 years. Holy shit. My dreams have evolved over the years. As probably everyone’s have. I think I used to want a pool and a big closet and a thousand pair of shoes and a Porsche. That was a good dream. For the girl I was. I am not her anymore. I don’t want a thousand pair of shoes. Or a big closet. Or a pool. But I’d damn sure take an old classic Porsche convertible.
Moving to Colorado was something that changed everything in my life. Including what I dreamed about. I realized I love being outside WAY more than I like being inside. I like dirt trails more than streets. I like mountain views more than skyscrapers. I like quiet. And space. And a big huge beautiful open blue sky. I prefer to wear hiking shoes most of the time to heels. I wear less makeup now than when I was 35. So very weird. I never would have guessed. I still love the city. Visiting it. Shopping. On occasion. I still love being around people. Coffee in a shop on a patio. The noise. The electricity.
But my heart and soul just belong in the mountains. I find so much peace there. I am calm, have no anxiety, less worry, I feel at home and at ease and un judged on a mountain. On a trail. I feel no guilt. No shame. No need to please. No desire to check social media. No pull to be the most successful or the richest or the favorite or the top producing anything while up there.
So my dream isn’t 10 years away anymore. Yours isn’t either. Mine is around the corner. And I plan to make it happen. 45 years flew by. In the blink of an eye. I wont wake up at 55 years old and still be “planning” for the future. My Dad didn’t get to be 55. A lot of people don’t. We woke up one day and said “let’s move to Colorado”….so we did. Period. I want that house in the mountains. So I will make it happen. Thats all there is to that. Dreams are only dreams unless you make them happen. There is no reason and no excuse and no dilemma and no obstacle too big to stop you from doing what you want to do. You can be scared. You can be broke. You can have responsibilities. You can have a job, kids, older parents, bills, whatever. Its all an excuse. I had all of those things when I left Texas. I can’t imagine if I’d let any of that stop me.
You live and learn man. You learn life is short. VERY short. Too short for huge closets and dealing with 1,000 pair of shoes. Too short to be unhappy. Too short to work your ass off for someone else. Too short to not MAKE your dreams come true. Many pregnancy losses changed me. My Dad’s death changed me. Brain rot changed me. Moving changed me. Colorado changed me. Getting older changed me. Divorce changed me. And though most of it was so incredibly painful, so hard to go through, so lonely, so devastating, so hurtful….Im truly not sure anymore that I would change any of it. It makes me cry writing that. Because I wouldn’t wish a motorcycle accident, a brain disease, or a divorce on ANYONE. Being human means you get afflicted with a heart, and feelings, and the ability to love. It means you get hurt, you get sad, you get disappointed, you get devastated.  It also means- you GET to be happy, you GET to experience sadness and devastation and love and all of the butterflies and all of the good and all of the beautiful. And I wouldn’t trade the good things to avoid the bad.
I’ve seen parts of the world I never dreamed I would. Ive met amazing friends. Ive been to late night secret concerts. Ive climbed rocks and mountains. Ive delivered 2 humans. Ive been married and loved and called Mom. Ive felt pride and joy and accomplishment. Ive seen a total solar eclipse. I understand loss. I empathize better. I am all that I am, because of my experiences. And I wouldn’t change a thing.
I see more mountains, less traffic, more dirt and a tiny house in my future.
“…It turned my whole world around, and I kinda like it..”
        Not Ready To Make Nice, The Dixie Chicks


45 years. Almost half a century. Damn. I remember adults saying “time flies” when I was in my teens but it is so very true. TIME FLIES. I was 16 and got my license and had no wrinkles and no cellulite and I could see well and hear well and move fast. I could flip in circles, upside down, jump, and climb to the top of pyramids at cheer. I was 27 and carried a human being in my uterus. I gave birth. I nursed those babies. From my own body. I was 42 and climbed Pikes Peak. It hurt. It was hard. But I did it.

I turn 45 years old tomorrow. And it is absolutely amazing. All of it. 2017 has been a year. A crazy, sad, tragic, happy, wonderful year. My grandmother died this year. My cheer team went to Nationals this year. And did VERY well. I went to the Dominican Republic this year. I rocked New Orleans this year. My marriage ended this year. I moved to a new home this year. I met a dude this year. I learned to climb really scary, high rocks and mountains this year. I slept in a tent in the middle of Wyoming this year. I slept in a Nebraska field and saw the total solar eclipse this year. I learned how to fly fish this year. I stood front row at a Zac Brown concert this year. I got my 4th tattoo this year. I found me this year.
One of the strange things about turning 45 is that my Dad died when he was 53. And its weird. Its weird to be so close to the age we lost him. Its very very weird.
Im scheduling an oil change for my Jeep. For tomorrow. For my birthday. I know its silly but Ive never done that. My Dad changed my oil when I was younger. My husband always got it done when I was married. So at 45 years old Im taking my car to get an oil change for the first time in my life. Part of me feels ridiculous about that. I can climb mountains. I can move myself to a new house. I can do anything. But this stupid oil change thing has me a little flustered. And I get that its not about the oil change. I never liked change before. I hated it in fact. I liked my little circle of comfort I lived in. I liked things staying the same. I don’t anymore. I like change. It means Im breathing. It means Im living. It means Im growing. And every single thing in my life changed this year. All of it. And it was sad and weird and surreal and scary and absolutely awesome.
Funny- the older I get the more I know that I don’t know crap. Kind of ironic because when I was 22 I knew it all. I don’t know what Im doing. I don’t know where Im going. I don’t know how Ill get there. I don’t know where I’ll be in 2 years. Truly. I don’t know. And I love it. I love not knowing.
What I DO know for sure at 45 is that 45 is better than 25. Or 35. That I love my kids more than I ever thought I could love anything. That I love myself. That LOVE always wins. That aluminum foil can’t go in the microwave. That working out is freaking awesome. That climbing a mountain is my church. That God loves me JUST the way I am. That good friends are priceless. That music is life. That real men are amazing. AMAZING ;). That cookies are always ALWAYS a good idea. That football is Heaven. That divorce isn’t always and doesn’t have to be ugly. That Im a tough broad. That RULES are stupid after you’re an adult. That I don’t like average. And that Im happy. HAPPY. Very very happy.
Now Im going to get an oil change. By myself. And it might be the best damn birthday present ever.


Can I leave my kids for a few days to go to a concert? Can I miss work one day because Im sick? Is it ok to end a marriage? Can I tell someone “no” just because I don’t want to do it? Can I drive up a mountain alone to hike when I should be working? Can I NOT donate to the jar at the grocery store for this week’s charity? Can I wear blue shoes with black pants? Can I forgive myself?
YES. Yes I damn sure can. Because Im a grown ass woman and the power is mine. My life is MY life. It doesn’t belong to my kids or my ex husband or my Mom or the church or my cheer team or the guy Im dating. My tomorrow doesn’t always get decided by external forces. It gets decided by ME. And I will not “go to some hell” or rot away or have bad Karma or answer to someone who doesn’t like my decisions. I wont. You wont. You can stop believing you will. Its the absolute hardest fucking lesson Ive ever learned in my life……that I’M ALLOWED TO.
I spent 30 years worried about what everyone else thought. That each decision I made was being judged. That people would think bad things of me. And guess what….they did. And they do. And you know what happens when others have opinions of you, when others judge you, when others don’t agree with the decisions you make? ABSO FUCKING LUTELY NOTHING! Nothing.
There’s things that will HAPPEN in your life that you can’t control. Deaths, losses, tragedies, disappointments, things. There’s so very much you CANNOT control. But you know what? Theres a few wonderful things YOU get to decide. So YOU decide them. Wear the crazy shoes to work, change your middle name to “Badass”, climb a mountain on a Tuesday, quit that shit job, travel more, sleep outside, let your kids skip a day of school just cuz, rent a convertible, stay up all night long giggling uncontrollably with friends ;).
Thank you Donna for the most unbelievable weekend. Front row at a live concert is fucking cool. Whataburger at midnight is awesome. Staying up all night with my friends laughing about inappropriate things is super cool. 5 am flight however….not so awesome….. LOL.
YOU are allowed to. I am allowed to. Quit asking permission in your head. Quit worrying what everyone thinks. Quit obsessing over your hair, your cellulite, your outfit matching, how clean your damn house is (no one who loves you cares). I turn 45 years old this Thursday. Ive never felt happier honestly. And its hard not to believe thats truly because Im free of the need to be approved of. I love my kids, my friends, my job, my wrinkles, my age spots and my life. And Im allowed to!!!!


In High School there were so many “Jennifers” that I don’t think anyone really ever called me that. All of my friends, and I mean all of them, called me “Ellis.” Except Lauren. She’s always called me “Jen”. I like that. Even the boyfriends I had called me “Ellis”. I liked it. I loved it. I love that name. My sister named her first born “Ellis”. Its a good name. Simple. But with a lot of history. There are no more Ellis’. My brother was the last. He doesn’t plan to have children so that last name (at least in our family) will end.
In 1997 I went in to do my paperwork after I got married. I got a new social security card and they gave me the opportunity to choose my name. I chose to drop my birth name of “Jennifer Renee Ellis” and legally change my name to “Jennifer Ellis Nugent”. I wanted to take my husband’s name but my heart could not let go of “Ellis.”
And tomorrow I have to make another decision about my name. Legal papers have to be signed. I have to decide what my name will be. Legally. And its eating up my insides. For 20+ years I’ve been Jennifer Nugent. For almost as long as I was Jennifer Ellis, Ive been Jennifer Nugent.  Its my kids’ last name. It has a history. It means a lot to me. 20 years of idiots asking me “are you related to Ted?” Twenty years of identity. Twenty years of seeing it in writing, of practicing writing it before we married, twenty years of seeing it, being it, being her, being 1 of 2. Then 1 of 4. And you can see pictures on social media and my happiness and my smile now….but KNOW that the mourning and the grief are real. And hurt. And I hurt.
And its “just a name”. And most women keep the married name for the kids. And as I need to decide in less that 24 hours….I sit here completely unsure of what I’ll do. My heart is broken. It may not look like it. But rest assured it is. For what might’ve been. For who I was. For who I lost. For a name, that if I choose not to write, is suddenly gone. Can it be THAT simple?
I have a tattoo on my wrist of an “E” written in my Dad’s handwriting. Its for “Ellis”. I got it few years after he died. To remember. But I didn’t need a tattoo to remember him. Or who I was. Or who I am. Or what being an Ellis means. And I know I don’t need a legal piece of paper to tell me who I am. I don’t need a name to define me. But the symbolism of it all is real. And whatever I decide tomorrow I will remember my second Mom, Lynda’s words: “You make the right decision in the moment for who and what you are right then. Dont regret the decisions you make. You do the best you can in the moment you are in.”
I am Jenny. I am Jennifer. I am Jen. I am Jennifer Renee Ellis. I am Ellis. I am Jennifer Ellis Nugent. And nothing will ever change any of that. Ever. I am all of her. And always will be.
Here’s to grace and forgiveness in decisions.


I’ve certainly acclimated to living at just under 8,000 feet. The altitude really never bothers me at all unless I try to run. And I don’t run. Ever. If I do…there’s a bear or a cop and things are about to get bad. Something happens to me, however, when I get to about 10,200 feet. Every single time. Its like that particular elevation is my breaking point. My lungs start to hurt a little and its hard to breathe and it feels like an elephant is standing on my chest and I gasp with urgency a bit. Slightly anxious I’ll not be able to breathe. And I can’t move as fast above 10,200 feet. So my breath is racing and my heart is going a million miles an hour but I physically can’t move as fast as I can below that altitude.


I feel like I have been living above 10,200 feet for many years now. Full of urgency and anxiety. Trying to move fast to keep up. And I just can’t.  I just can’t.

I grew up in the suburbs. With two married parents and two sets of married grandparents just miles away. Sundays we all went to church and had lunch at my Nanny & Pawpas. I went to a great suburban High School. Had great friends. Had a wonderful childhood and no complaints about any of it. It was pretty perfect. And I assumed I would do all of the same. The kids, the suburbs, the lunches on Sundays with MY parents. Its what I wanted. Its what I got. And it was beautiful. All of it. Until it wasn’t. And that’s the part nobody wants to hear I guess. That it’s not always beautiful.
I’ve met a handful of people who’ve been in amazing marriages. And boy are they lucky and blessed and work hard at it and all the planets aligned and life or God or fate or whatever you believe in melded two people together perfectly. But MOST of the marriages Ive seen have not been perfect. Some last. Some don’t. Some last waaaaay beyond the time that they should have in my opinion. Some end badly. Some end amicably. Some fizzle. Some blow up. Marriage is not easy. And the funny thing about it is that every single solitary person that is married has a different definition of what marriage is to them. To some its religious. To some its just a legal contract. To some its an equal partnership. To some they believe one partner should have more “power” in the relationship. My marriage was something totally different to me than anyone else’s is to them. And I don’t have any right to judge YOUR marriage or beliefs anymore than others have a right to judge mine. But we do. We do.

I posted some pictures on Facebook yesterday of my adventure in Wyoming with Dave. I got QUITE a few private messages immediately. Most had the best of intentions. The ones that made me laugh a little asked “hey…I see you cuddled up with some dude…is everything good with your husband?” And the asshole in me wanted to say “well of course- we are great- I just vacation with other men.” But I know people mean well. I know some of it is just curiosity. I live a life OUT LOUD and have been “reprimanded” on several occasions for things Ive said, done, posted. People judge. Its what they do. And people ask. And its ok.
People mean well also when they “warn” you to be careful. Or say “maybe you’re moving too fast”. Or “have you even thought of your children?” The meanest thing anyone has said to me recently was “have you thought about your kids?” Seriously? No. Not at all. It took years of miscarriages and trying so damn hard to have these kids that I adore and would die for that I just momentarily forgot about them while making some life decisions that would affect them forever. OOOOPS. Crap. I forgot about those 2 people that leave dirty dishes everywhere, fuss at me, slam doors, ask for money constantly, hug me without warning, tell me its all ok, encourage me, KNOW me. They are ALL I consider when making decisions. And they know that.
I think when a relationship or marriage comes to an end publicly its such a shock to everyone around that they don’t realize it is FAR from a shock to those living in it. Issues have been going on for YEARS sometimes. YEARS. There is no judgment, guilt, shame that anyone could bestow upon me that would ever, EVER compare to the guilt and shame and judgement Ive placed on myself over the past few years. What happens within the walls of a home are most often not known to others. As it should be. I feel extremely lucky to have had the man that is the father of my children, who was my husband for 20 years, my friend, the man who got me through my Dad’s death. He is a pretty fucking amazing person. And Dad.
I also feel extremely lucky to have found me over the past few years. Alone. Who I am. What I need and want and what makes ME happy. And far too many people stay in situations that they are unhappy in because they think its the right thing to do. And maybe it is…FOR THEM. No judgement. None. I love marriage. I love love. I don’t see the end of a 20 year marriage as a failure. I never will. Those two people eating cheese on my couch are the two greatest successes WE ever created and without that marriage I wouldn’t have them. Id do it all again. All of it. The good, bad, sad, happy, joyous, painful, beautiful…all of it. I refuse to live with regret. I also refuse to live paralyzed and unable to breathe and gasping for breath and anxious and full of a feeling of urgency to keep up with the Joneses and be someone Im not.
And that may not sit well with some. Thats ok. I don’t aim to be liked by everyone. Ill be 45 years old in a few weeks. And I feel more me than I have in a very very very very long time. When my Dad died on that highway 11 years ago I think my marriage died. I think my dreams died. I think part of me died. And admitting that has been the hardest thing Ive ever done in my life next to burying him. It took a decade but I have new dreams now. Grief is a funny thing. It sure doesn’t care how long its been or what other shit is going on in your life. It doesn’t care. Just like the mountain doesn’t care. You climb to 11,000 feet and its one giant “FUCK YOU”. She doesn’t give two shits about whether you can breath. Just like life. When I hit the 10,500 foot point on the mountain in Wyoming this past Sunday I just squatted and bawled. Hysterically and uncontrollably cried. The beauty was overwhelming. Divorce is overwhelming. Being a Mom is overwhelming. Owning a business is overwhelming. Life can be fucking overwhelming. But I didn’t have to stay at 10,500 feet. I didn’t have to. So I didn’t.