nominated by Girls on the Run
By: Star Staubach
As a first-born child, Jenny O’Donnell was a natural leader. With that innate sense of leadership came a sense of responsibility to better everything that she possibly could. She describes herself as a “Fire Starter”, the active, creative force behind building projects.
“I spent my 20s and 30s leading almost EVERYTHING that I was involved with. I found myself constantly trying to change the world. I worked HARD to change the world.”
As Jenny grew out of her 30s, she started to question why she felt such an overwhelming responsibility to change everything. “If there was something that I could personally do to create world Peace, I would have done everything possible until it was accomplished.”
In her 40s, Jenny’s husband accepted a job transfer to Paris, France. She went from leading everything to having NO one to lead, except herself. She felt the absence of her community. Feeling isolated and alone, Jenny went to work at finding her tribe.
She adopted a motto, “It takes a village to BE a village.” She explains, “No one exists in a vacuum. It takes a village to be successful in any endeavor. I see the power of the village in political movements, grassroots organizing to effect change, as groups of people work toward a common goal. I see everything as woven together, literally as a tapestry. Everything I do is another thread in the tapestry of life, and the blanket gets STRONGER when you weave in another thread. It is ALL of those threads being woven together that creates an amazing, strong fabric!”
Jenny’s strong fabric is made up of the powerful women who supported her. It was the threads woven in by her mother, who returned to college in her 40s to become a lawyer and later a judge. Her tapestry contains the fabric of her “Grams”, a practical, hard-working woman who experienced great challenges in life and left young Jenny hearing the messages, “Be smart. Work hard. Get what you need. Take care of those around you. It is HARD to be a woman.” Grams’ message of harsh reality was counterbalanced by Jenny’s paternal grandmother, who had everything in life come easier to her. Jenny integrated these powerful women and their lives of contrast by entertaining the Optimist while honoring the Realist, appreciating the work involved in the real world.
Jenny chooses her village carefully. “I surround myself with people who are involved in the crazy projects that are part of my life. I have found my tribe, and they are PASSIONATE, purposeful, supportive, and positive.”
Explaining what she wants for the world, Jenny says, “I want everyone to come from a place of KINDNESS first, instead of from judgement, comparison, and competition. When you come from kindness, it’s easier to see the other person’s perspective and you can come to a compromise.”
As a Forensic Psychologist, Jenny says, “I HAVE to come from a place of non-judgement to be able to hear and see the person for who they are and how they got to where they are.” The woven tapestry in her own life has helped her to understand the stories of others and ultimately why and how their lives are where they are.
If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?
“ I would have EVERYONE come from a place of kindness FIRST. Kindness instead of judgement, comparison, competition. You can see the other person’s perspective much easier. When you can do that, you can come to a compromise.”
What is the most important piece of advice you would share with a young woman growing up today?
“Open your mind to your dreams. Pay attention to your dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. Don’t believe that you can’t. Believe that you can. Make a plan and just do it! FIND YOUR TRIBE.”
What’s your favorite quote(s)?
“Sometimes you need to be the storm and sometimes the calm. I hope I have the wisdom to know which to be.” ~Jenny O’Donnell
Pink Ribbon Girls
Pink Ribbon Girls is a 501(c)3 grassroots nonprofit organization created by women with breast cancer to support and empower other women to courageously fight breast and women’s reproductive cancers. Our mission is to balance the fear and uncertainty that breast and other women’s reproductive cancers bring to individuals and families by providing direct services, education and support.
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