Search & Replace S04E08: Jennifer Arthurton

Jennifer Arthurton’s unexpected journey of self-discovery began just as she approached her 50th birthday. Stripped of her familiar roles and facing the daunting task of starting anew, Jennifer questions her identity beyond the labels of wife, mother, and executive. Facing a future she never imagined, she embarks on a deep spiritual quest to redefine her life on her own terms. Tune in to Search and Replace to hear how Jennifer’s search for personal truth turned into a broader mission to redefine what it means to be a vibrant woman in her fifties, inspiring others through her podcast Old Chicks Know Sh*t and proving that it’s never too late to reclaim your life and rediscover your power. 

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[00:00:00] Announcer: Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialists at Johns & Taylor. More information follows this episode.  

[00:00:09] Joe Taylor Jr.: What if everything you’re supposed to look forward to after a milestone birthday resembles a commercial break on a daytime TV talk show. I’m Joe Taylor, Jr. This is Search and Replace. 

[00:00:27] Plenty of folks use their milestone birthdays as reasons to shake things up. Jennifer Arthurton wasn’t expecting that but found herself doing it anyway.  

[00:00:37] Jennifer Arthurton: I had an almost 30-year corporate career in marketing, and I was very successful in my career. In the year leading up to my 50th birthday, so in a kind of a very short space of time, I found myself divorced. 

[00:00:48] I was unemployed as an empty nester. My kid moved three hours away to go to school. And I was too sick to get out of bed. Like, most days I couldn’t go grocery shopping and then come home and put the groceries away without having to have a nap. That’s how burnt out I was.  

[00:01:02] And I remember lying in my bed and thinking, if I’m not a wife, if I’m not a mom anymore, like every day, if I’m not corporate executive, and at the time I was like big into fitness, and I can’t, like, can’t do anything, who am I? Like, who am I? Plus, I’m 50. It felt like I had been a little bit erased from the planet, because who’s going to take me seriously now? I’m 50 and I’m faced with the daunting prospect of, kind of, trying to start my life over. 

[00:01:30] Joe Taylor Jr.: Now, if you’ve listened to our show for a while, you know, the world’s full of people who decide to start their whole lives over. And Jennifer wondered if the window for that kind of transformation had already closed by her 50th birthday.  

[00:01:44] Jennifer Arthurton: I’m supposed to be riding off into the retirement sunset on the arm of a handsome man with a pot of gold under my arm. None of that was my reality. Everything that we see in the media and in our culture about women over 50 is meal replacement shakes, bladder leakage protection, sitting around waiting for the grandkids to visit. And I was like, okay. What? This can’t be the rest of my life.  

[00:02:08] And then I realized I had a 30-year chapter ahead of me, God willing, or maybe longer, maybe even 40 and that I can’t just sit around doing nothing for 30 years. Like, how ridiculous is that? Am I just gonna like, coast into the finish line? Like, absurd, right?  

[00:02:23] Obviously, my life was not going as I wanted it to, and I had this opportunity to reinvent my life on my terms. And I had to figure out, okay, who am I and what is it that I really want from my life. And that began a really introspective and a very deep spiritual journey to figure out, okay, who am I on this planet if I don’t have these titles. 

[00:02:42] Joe Taylor Jr.: Jennifer learned that making that choice and following through with it required two totally different sets of skills.  

[00:02:49] Jennifer Arthurton: I wish I could say that it was this lightbulb empowering moment, but it wasn’t. Let’s be honest. Like I wallowed in that for a long time. Like what’s wrong with me? How come everybody else’s life is going along great? You know, how come I can’t keep my *bleep* together? Like what’s happening? I wallowed in that for a long time.  

[00:03:06] So I really had no choice but to be still, because all of the things that kept me busy in my life were no longer available to me. And even if I could do something else, I didn’t have the energy to do it. Right? 

[00:03:18] So I was really forced into this place of stillness, which, actually, for the first time in my entire life I could begin to hear myself. Like just me. Right? Because as women, we are cultured to see our value in what we do for other people. So when that gets taken away, all of a sudden you start questioning what your value is. 

[00:03:37] That’s when I began to hear the voice inside me that was like, this little voice that would be like telling me to do things. And then I would be okay, well, I got no choice. So we’re gonna do that. And it would be things like, you know, go to the park. Like sometimes I would sit under a tree. It was start writing about my experience But what happened was I started to build a relationship with that part of me that little voice inside me, that intuition that we all have, and slowly over time I started to trust it more.  

[00:04:03] Joe Taylor Jr.: Trusting that inner voice led Jennifer to a new daily practice.  

[00:04:07] Jennifer Arthurton: I started journaling just literally to get stuff out of my head, to clear space. And I remember the very first time I wrote a post on Instagram, and I posted kind of my experience and some of my inner thoughts. I thought I was very alone on this journey and then women started responding to what I wrote and they’re like Oh, yeah, me too. I feel this way.  

[00:04:27] And then I was like, wow, okay this isn’t just a me thing This is an us thing. But it’s also an us thing that we just are not talking about anywhere. As soon as I started to share it, I realized, okay, this is so much bigger than me. And that kind of like led to the blog and it grew from there. 

[00:04:43] And I started the podcast because when I finally, kind of, got myself to a place where I’m like, okay, show me all the 50, 60, 70 year old women who have reinvented their lives and are doing incredible things in the world. Like, where are they? And then I’m looking around, I’m going crickets. And I’m like, okay, I need the inspiration. I need to know what’s possible. If I need to know it, then other people need to do it as well too.  

[00:05:04] That’s why on the podcast. I showcase women who have reclaimed themselves, reinvented their lives as a marker, as a guidepost to say that if they can do it too, so can you, so can I. We can all do it. And this is what’s possible. I think of it as the counter narrative to what we see in the mainstream media about what it means to be a 50 or 60 year old woman  

[00:05:25] Joe Taylor Jr.: With the assurance that she’s not the only one on this journey of breaking down and reinventing yourself after age 50, she’s given it a name.  

[00:05:33] Jennifer Arthurton: I call that the midlife paradox because we are more confident than we’ve ever been. We’re smarter and stronger than we’ve ever been. And yet, because of the culture that we live in, we doubt ourselves more than we ever have.  

[00:05:45] So here we are, kind of, almost like, reached this pinnacle. And right as we get there, the world says, Oh, yeah, you’re invisible. You’re no longer relevant. Be quiet. Go away. 

[00:05:55] But the only reason that we don’t see ourselves as powerful is because what’s reflected back to us from our society. So if we can block that out and just stand in our own knowledge and confidence, we are, in fact, incredibly powerful at this time of our lives. And so often we just override our own inner desires, our own thoughts, our own needs. 

[00:06:13] You don’t need to be in crisis situation like I was to start listening. Carve out time in what I call silence, stillness, and solitude. It can be spending 5 or 10 minutes with your cup of coffee before the rest of the house gets up. And just be like, ask yourself questions. How do I feel today? What do I want? What would a perfect day look like?  

[00:06:32] And the more that you do that, the more you build that connection and the stronger that connection, the more you can act on it. Just getting curious about what’s coming up from inside you is an incredible way to start because you will get the answers and you let them be your guide. That, in my mind, is true empowerment.  

[00:06:48] Joe Taylor Jr.: That’s Jennifer Arthurton, and we can’t say the name of her website on the radio, but we do link to it in our show notes and on our website at  

Today’s episode was produced by Nicole Hubbard with help from the entire Podcast Taxi team. I’m Joe Taylor Jr. 

[00:07:05] Announcer: This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production. Support for Search and Replace is provided by Johns & Taylor, user experience specialists serving media and technology companies that want their websites to work. Learn more about how top performing businesses eliminate barriers between customers and their goals at

Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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