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Wendy Jennings: “Your first client will be your hardest”

It was the feeling of not wanting to sit in front of a PC all day that got me thinking about what else I could do. I had been interested in complementary therapy for a long time and was aware first hand of its benefits. First of all I qualifed as a Remedial Massage Therapist, […]

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It was the feeling of not wanting to sit in front of a PC all day that got me thinking about what else I could do. I had been interested in complementary therapy for a long time and was aware first hand of its benefits. First of all I qualifed as a Remedial Massage Therapist, which I loved. Sadly I had to give this up after a few years due to the wear and tear on my hands and wrists (I’m hypermobile), but by then I knew that Complementary Therapy and working for myself was the only way for me to go as I love to help people feel better about themselves.


Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50’s.

How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?

In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.

As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Wendy Jennings.

Wendy Jennings — The Coddiwomple Lady is a writer, author, Life Coach & Reiki Practitioner. She is the author of the book “From Cancer To Coddiwomple — A Story of Love, Loss and Daring to Dream” and is passionate about empowering others to live a joyous life.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I was born and raised in the town of Tunbridge Wells located in the beautiful UK county of Kent. I don’t have any siblings and I enjoyed a close and loving relationship with my parents. They ran their own successful trophy and engraving business.

By the time I came along Mum & Dad had fully immersed themselves into the world of motor sport. Our weekends were often spent attending local club events and I thought it was completely normal for a field to be full of cars, so much so that when I was given a toy farmyard as a child I would remove the animals and replace them with toy cars! Brands Hatch was our nearest circuit and I spent a lot of weekends there during my formative years. I became very used to mixing with people from all walks of life from a very young age.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out” by John Wooden.

I heard this quote a few months after I’d lost both my parents to cancer in 2012, five weeks apart. It resonated on a very deep level; I couldn’t change what had happened but I could choose how I moved forward from it.

You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

This is quite a hard question to answer because I just do what feels right for me!

I suppose if I had to pinpoint three qualities, the first would be Resilience. I’ve always been very good at “going with the flow” and adapting to new situations after a redundancy or when a personal relationship went wrong. I also truly believe that things have a habit of working out for the best even if it’s not how we would imagine them to be.

Secondly I would say Courage. I am able to keep moving forwards even though the path ahead looks scary. I had to dig deep into my reserves to support my parents when they were ill but forward was the only way to go. Embarking on my Big Trip of 2015–2016 to Bali and Australia was scary as I had never done anything like that by myself before. It’s also taken courage to publish my own very personal story as I’ve had to reveal more about myself than I would usually do to those who don’t know me.

I think the third thing is that I can keep my sense of humour and stay positive despite difficult circumstances. Don’t get me wrong, I take my work very seriously, but I’ve inherited a trait which enables me to always find something to smile about in difficult situations. I laughed with my parents a lot during their illnesses, which I know others might find inappropriate, but it helped us and it still helps me to this day.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?

Before 2012 I had worked in offices as a Secretary/Administrator in a variety of different industries for over 20 years. These included motor sport, print, law and finance. I have fond memories of all of them and my colleagues became good friends, but I did feel like a robot sometimes and I knew that I didn’t want to do this kind of work for the rest of my working life. I had more to offer than that and I was growing despondent with the idea of working for other people.

And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?

It was the feeling of not wanting to sit in front of a PC all day that got me thinking about what else I could do. I had been interested in complementary therapy for a long time and was aware first hand of its benefits. First of all I qualifed as a Remedial Massage Therapist, which I loved. Sadly I had to give this up after a few years due to the wear and tear on my hands and wrists (I’m hypermobile), but by then I knew that Complementary Therapy and working for myself was the only way for me to go as I love to help people feel better about themselves.

Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?

It was my parents’ illnesses and subsequently losing them that set me off on the path I’m on now. I became very aware that I had a new Purpose in life, but I didn’t know what it was, which is why I set off for Bali and Australia — I needed to take time out to find out who Wendy was as I was no longer a daughter and I’m not a sibling and at that point I wasn’t in a relationship either. It wasn’t until I came back from my Travels (my Coddiwomple) in 2016 that I realized that my new Purpose was sharing my story to help show others that it is possible to enjoy Life After Loss.

What did you do to discover that you had a new skillset inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?

I set up a blog to keep in touch with friends and family while I was travelling. I had no idea how I would gel with it or whether it would be readable as I had never done anything like it before. As time progressed and I became more confident with it, I discovered that I could write in a way that readers resonated with. My readers persuaded me to turn it into a book because they felt my story was so inspiring. I really wasn’t sure about it to start with as I’m quite a private person and if I was going to do it, it had to be for the right reasons, I needed a big Why? That answer came to me very quickly; I would use the proceeds from the book’s sales to help support the hospice that cared for us and I could also raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. Once I’d got this clear I didn’t look back and I became more determined that something positive could grow from the ashes of my loss. I then spent about two years drafting and re-drafting and eventually “From Cancer To Coddiwomple — A Story of Love, Loss and Daring to Dream” was published in 2019. The word “coddiwomple” is an old English slang verb meaning “to travel in a purposeful direction towards a vague destination” and was shown to me by a friend of mine who simply said, “Wendy, this is so you!” I’ve adopted it now and that’s why I’ve called my business “The Coddiwomple Lady”. I believe we are all coddiwomplers at heart.

How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.

It’s wonderful! I wake up every morning full of gratitude because I love what I do. It’s opened up other creative avenues inside me too as I’ve reconnected with my childhood hobby of painting and drawing. I would say the most fulfilling part of my journey so far has to be that publishing my book led me into becoming a Life Coach. This has been invaluable not only for my own self-development but also for providing me with more tools to support others who are struggling with grief or perhaps feel that they haven’t found their Purpose yet. I’ve had clients discover they love to create art and write. Others have set up their own businesses. I love to see clients’ faces light up when they have those breakthrough “light bulb moments” during a coaching session, they glow! It is such a privilege to witness that and gives me goose bumps every time.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are so many! I’m grateful to everyone who read my blogs and persuaded me to pull on my Big Girl’s Pants and write my book. Team Coddiwomple (as I called it) consisted of many supporters to get me going such as my proof readers, my copy editor, my PR consultant and my printer. They each had their parts to play and each are equally important as they spent their precious time reading my initial ramblings and cobbling them together to make the book happen.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

The whole journey has been interesting and it continues to be so. I never dreamed that I would learn about book writing and publishing for a start! I meet lots of inspiring and brave people all the time and it wouldn’t be fair to pick just one as they are all interesting.

Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?

Yes, all the time! I was never the most academic child and I often lacked confidence in my abilities or to put myself into a spotlight. Again, it is since I’ve been on this later journey that things have shifted significantly. Life Coaching has been a revelation to me and I have since featured in some UK publications as well as being interviewed on BBC radio. I think my biggest personal achievement was the first time I got up to speak about my story to a room full of people. I thought it was only going to be in front of around 20 people but when I got there I was faced with a room of around 150! I was initially terrified but once I’d taken a few deeps breaths I was fine and my talk was well received. I’d done my homework and had practiced, practiced and practiced some more and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Limiting beliefs still raise their ugly heads occasionally but I now have the coaching tools to support myself and dispel them.

In my own work I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?

I joined business networking groups so I could speak to others with experience in the areas I knew little about such as publishing, marketing and PR. I was very lucky in that the majority of my emotional support system was already there before I started, thanks to my friends and family. One of Dad’s last pieces of advice to me was “Don’t be afraid to ask to ask for help when you need it, we have good friends but seek your counsel carefully.” Wise words indeed!

Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?

I prefer to call a Comfort Zone a Stretch Zone or a Growth Zone. I set about finding the best courses with the best mentors and tutors that could help me, but when it comes down to it, the only person who was going to do this was Me. I looked at myself in a mirror one day and told myself “Wends, you just have to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and get on with it. Nobody can do that for you, you have to do that for yourself.” And that’s what I’ve done with the support of Coaching and asking for help when I need it.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

1. What is right for one person isn’t necessarily right for you! I got sucked into the “I SHOULD be doing…..because that’s what others do” routine at the beginning, which led to feelings of not being good enough and procrastination. We all shine our light in different ways.

2. You will spend a lot of time keeping up with digital skills as technology constantly changes. I especially find this to be the case with Social Media such as Instagram as they are always updating their algorithms.

3. It’s OK not to be perfect and brilliant at everything. People need to relate to me and I have discovered that people prefer raw and real. Authenticity is so important to me and I don’t beat myself up if I appear on a video one day without my hair or make-up looking picture perfect. It’s even better if you can make people laugh with you too! There is always someone else who is brilliant at something we’re not good at and it’s okay to ask them for help.

4. You will come across jealousy and resentment from unexpected sources. I remember feeling very shocked and hurt by an individual’s reaction to my plans and goals and our friendship has never really recovered, which saddens me. But sometimes we just don’t fit into someone else’s ideal image of the world, it’s as simple as that.

5. Your first client will be your hardest. I discovered this with my first massage client, my first coaching client and my first Reiki client as I was so nervous but those nerves soon disappeared.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would LOVE to start The Coddiwomple Lady Foundation! The aim of this would be to raise funds for millions of hospices all over the world by spreading joy, happiness and kindness via book sales and showing others how they too can enjoy Life After Loss or find their Purpose. Everyone deserves to have Joy in their life!

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂

The author, coach and motivational speaker Gabrielle Bernstein. She has a very down-to-earth and no nonsense way about her which I find inspiring and she never fails to make me smile!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

I can be found via:

www.thecoddiwomplelady.com

FB: https://www.facebook.com/TheCoddiwompleLady

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wendyj_thecoddiwomplelady/

Linked-In https://www.linkedin.com/in/wendy-jennings-1494a1173/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WJCoddiwomple

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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