👹 Monsters

I have monsters. I have eery one-eyed, black-faced, sometimes green-eyed monsters lurking in my closet. Seldom do my monsters comingle, nor are they allowed to casually roam outside their confines. There are times, though when an escape feels imminent, leaving me on the brink of monster mayhem.

Usually, I can keep my monsters at bay with niceties and platitudes offered like sweetbread smeared with the butter of sunshine and rainbows. Other times, it's the lure of mindful meditation or some other woo-woo coercion that keeps them in the closet. Today isn't one of those days.

My closet is the farthest reaches of my mind, the crevices where bad memories collect dust and where my monsters live. Over the years, I've become a master at lulling them away, or so I thought.

Seemingly dormant monsters aren't sleeping at all; they lurk awaiting opportunities to act a fool. In the right conditions, poor sleep or diet, anxiety, or a disillusioned belief that you can rework the past can unlock and leave ajar the door to your monster closet.

Today triggered the locking mechanism open, and now the black-faced monster, the worst of them all, Mr. Black Face has broken through my emotional and mental defenses. The little bastard is out of the closet, running loose in my brain, barking behind my eyes, hell-bent on choking out happiness and serenity.

Mr. Black Face, the monster who relishes on fear, rage, and regret has muscled his way past sanity, out from the shadows of my closet and into the light of consciousness.

Have you ever had food poisoning or stomach flu? You feel lightheaded and nauseous, saliva pools at the back of your gills, and you know that if you just allow yourself to throw up, to clear the nastiness out of your system that you'll feel better.

I thought if Mr. Black Face had his little tantrum that this would effectively extricate him from my frontal lobe.

Me: "Go ahead, you short-sighted freak of nature, yell, scream and thrash about inside my head. Get it out of your system then leave me the hell alone!"

I figured that if allowed to run amok for a spell within the confines of say, the left side of my brain, that he'd tucker himself out and go back to sleep.

Maybe Mr. Black Face needs to see the light of day from time to time. Perhaps, his visits serve a purpose that I can't understand until after the smoke clears and the shreds of reason fall back into place. I tell myself that I'll figure it out after he's crawled back into the shadows of my closet.

The lies we tell ourselves give monsters ammo and the more times we fail to face the truth and root of our feelings, the stockpile grows until the monsters team up to mount a full-scale attack.

Anger, sadness, envy, and regret are monsters of the same fold. They are birthed from moments we try to hide away but can't or don't know how to express for fear of judgment or disappointment. Or hell, sometimes it feels easier and safer to pacify ourselves into believing that if we ignore them, our monsters will slink away or stay hidden in the closet forever; more lies.

I thought I was in control of this shit show of a day. Mounting lies. I'm not alone in this, right? We all believe in the illusion of order and control. We believe that we are in charge of the monsters that live just beyond self-restraint, peace, and contentment. Ha!

I believed on this day, Mr. Black Face could be handled, I was wrong. Mr. Black Face proved himself impervious to soothing or force; instead, he was lured out by bigotry, prejudice, and racial intolerance, the ignorant theme song that rallies my menacing monster.

With a salacious grin, Mr. Black Face whispers to me, "My dear, you are fucked. I cannot be controlled, I cannot be swept away. You don't have the power to banish me.”

He continues, “Behold! I've found the keys to your closet, I can hear my anthem. I'm coming for you, and I will bleed your conscience dry.”

(**insert sinister laugh for effect**)

I should have come prepared for Mr. Black Face's vengeance because I've traveled back to where he originated. As I sit with his creator, the man who pushes my buttons, the man I can't escape, Mr. Black Face feels empowered and unstoppable.

You'd think that in the battle against hatred and injustice that allowing Mr. Black Face to run free would be welcomed but putting the tyrannical genie back in the bottle is a mental joust I prefer to avoid. How do you slay the dragon who knows your battle moves?

Today, Mr. Black Face has set his sights on annihilation. He's committed to joining forces with the other monsters to tear down the closet door. They are growing stronger together. The closet door is my first line of defense, without it, sanity is lost. And I will lose my shit.

My heart is pounding, my armpits are sweaty, and honestly, I'm scared. I'm afraid of what will happen when Mr. Black Face is free to spew repressed venom, but I'm also tired of fighting to keep my monsters in the closet.

How did you like today’s essay? Would you like to read more, to learn what comes next? Let me know. Reply to this email or send a note to holla@jaehermann.com.

Want to catch up on past #RealTalk posts? You can browse them here.

Family matters.

#WhatMattersWed 09.11.19 - We're all connected.

This is a special edition post in honor and remembrance of 9/11.

Family - any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family unit consisting of blood relatives.

I wasn’t directly affected by the tragedy of September 11, meaning I didn’t lose a loved one in the towers or resulting devastation. But like so many, I did feel the effects of loss and humility of what happened.

Since that day I've not given homage to the anniversary, in fact, I'm sure I've never written or spoken about it at all. If you can believe it, I've never even seen the footage from that day. How can that be, right?

On September 11, 2001, I was out walking my dog near my home in NC. There wasn't anything particular of note on that morning, the sun was shining, birds chirped, as usual, nothing was out of the ordinary. It wasn't until we reached Oak Street, about a mile from home that the air changed. I'll never forget my experience on the corner of Oak Street.

As we turned the corner, everything went silent, the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck stood up, and my dog stopped dead in his tracks. I wasn't near a television, I wasn't carrying a cell phone, and there wasn't anyone else on the street and yet, I knew. I knew with every fiber of my being that something awful had happened, I didn't know what, but I knew.

I felt what I can only describe as a collective gut punch, it was a giant tidal wave of grief and pain and darkness that hit me to my core. It was only after returning home did I learn what had happened in New York.

Yes, I know that bad things happen all over the world. However, 9/11 was the first time something so traumatic and with such magnitude had ever happened on US soil.

That moment, keeled over with nausea on the corner of Oak Street, I felt the whole world or maybe just my slice of it.

I grew up in NJ, and I still have family there. At that time, my Dad worked in NY, so I went into a panic when I couldn't reach him on the phone. He was close enough to witness one of the planes veer, but he was spared from watching it crash.

While waiting to hear from my Dad, I had visions of my family. In my mind's eye, I saw them and extended family, friends, and loved ones. I saw my mailman, my grocer, neighbors, and other folks who have come and gone in my life, seemingly unimportant to me. But now, I know better. I know that I felt all of those people because we are all connected.

My heart bleeds for those who died on 9/11, and I am so sorry if you personally lost someone. Tragically, it took an unimaginable event to show us that we are wound together in a cosmic tapestry, there are no strangers.

Every person in your life, those connected to you by blood or by choice, and even people you've yet to meet are a part of you.

We belong to each other, a global family. At least that's how it should be, right?

Each Wednesday, I share a motivational/inspirational prompt in the GAWWLOP Facebook group. Please consider joining to get more #WhatMattersWednesday posts.

Don't force the funk.

#RealTalk vol 5

Have you ever found yourself feeling stuck in a funk? So stuck that you feel paralyzed to make decisions? I'm not talking about deciding which bagel to eat for breakfast; I'm talking about big life stuff, like should I take that new job or move to another country big.

My go-to for making big life decisions is to commit to making a change and then do whatever speaks loudest to my heart. In practice, trying to pull yourself out of a funk so that you can focus isn't that easy, I know because I'm in a funk right now. 

Feeling funky takes the creative juice out of me, which in turn makes me feel stuck, which then leaves me feeling like I'm failing.

I'm trying a change in perspective. Rather than judge downtime as good or bad, I'm going to take the pause and focus on being present. What do you think about allowing solutions to come to you rather than continually worrying and chasing answers? 

Right now, I'm vacationing in FL; actually, I've gone home again to decide how my next chapter will unfold. So forgive me that this letter is brief. I hope to come back to you next time around with insights and clarity. 

If you're feeling stuck at an impasse, take a beat. Don't force the funk. Know that feeling stuck doesn't define you. You're not at the end credits, it’s just another chapter in your life.  

🏡 Housekeeping

Real Talk vol. 4

Hey there.

It’s been a hot minute since I made the decision to move all of my writing to one blog, so now is an excellent time to review and recap how it’s all come together.

For a while, I’ve been figuring out my shit, which upon reflection, looked a hot mess. This process was necessary to get here. I’m FINALLY at peace with how, where, why, and to whom I write. 

I felt a hefty responsibility to get my mind and heart on the same page, and I couldn’t do that while feeling like an impostor. I had to find my voice, and my writing style, plus I had to be damn sure that sharing wasn’t entirely about my ego. Let’s face it, who doesn’t like accolades? I’m not immune to chasing claps and kudos, but I also want to help, motivate, and inspire.

So, here we are. My old posts at BecomingJae.com are still live. Those past posts are my evolution. This blog is where I’m coming into my own.

At times, I share post links in a few Facebook groups, and I’ve gotten some push-back about using Substack for my blog and newsletter, namely from subscribers on the free plan who can't leave comments on posts. I recognize that this might be an impediment for some but not all so, I won't be going back to a traditional website and blog anytime soon.   

I chose Substack to house and publish my blog for several reasons:

  1. Simplicity. There are no distractions with sidebars or ads. I think of websites like a house; the bigger the house, the more “stuff” gets crammed into it, more pages, more trinkets. I don’t want to house unnecessary stuff, and Substack makes it easy to showcase my stories upfront without distractions. Hopefully, you appreciate the clean layout too.

  2. More simplicity. With a traditional website and blog, I’d have to maintain the infrastructure and then export the RSS feed to MailChimp, ConvertKit or Mailerlite to publish a newsletter or e-blast. With Substack, I have all of my content under one roof. I don’t have to worry about anything more than writing and publishing. 

  3. Paid subscriptions. I’m a creative entrepreneur, and I share valuable content. I’d like to receive compensation for my work, I’m not a charity. Too many of my creative friends feel unworthy to ask for money. I don’t have that luxury. Freelance work is my only income, and I need to make money. Substack makes it easy for me to offer paid content. If you’re on the free plan and want to upgrade, click [here].

Speaking of getting paid, I’ll gladly take a coffee in exchange for a one-month subscription 😉

Now that you understand how and why I got here, the following is what you can expect:

My midlife musings - Free essays (my reflections and personal stories) sent to your inbox 1-2 times per month.

#RealTalk - Free newsletter-like personal “letters” sent to your inbox twice a month. (You’re reading one now 😊)

  • Brief insights about life and living

  • Links of interest from the www

  • Blog post recaps

GAWWLOP members-only posts - paid subscribers receive posts, podcasts, and downloads via email twice a month.

  • Bad-ass gals community

  • Freelance, entrepreneur, and other career bits

  • Motivation and inspiration; how to #LiveOnPurpose

I feel good about this direction, and I hope it feels good to you too. I’m still a work in progress so if there’s content you want to see more (or less) of, just let me know. I’m open to suggestions and recommendations.

As always, thank you for your love, support, and encouragement. I appreciate you. 💛

Until next time,


P.S. If you're reading this in your inbox, feel free to hit reply, I'd love to chat with you anytime.

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