Revealing Jackie Hennessey

TRP: Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a mom who appreciates the little things in life. I’ve been happily married to my high school sweetheart for 16 years and we have two great kids. I’m a native Texan with roots in both Texas and Rhode Island. Although I moved around a lot through the years, I have maintained some amazing friendships. (Friendships with women who make me laugh so hard, I have to make sure I wear a mini-pad when we get together!) As far as my career, I’m a public relations consultant, mommy blogger and author.

TRP: What is the biggest challenge that’s ever faced you as a woman?

The day I received news that my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer really hit me hard. At that moment, I realized that as a woman, a niece, a mother, a daughter, a cousin, a friend and a granddaughter, I have a responsibility. I need to be proactive about my health so I can live a long and fulfilling life. I want to live to be 95! We all need to be proactive. Thank God my aunt beat cancer. She has inspired a lot of the women in my life to think twice about our health and to not take life for granted.

I also spent the better part of my childhood struggling with something that a lot of girls face – low self-esteem. Negativity. Criticism. I think I started comparing myself to other women the moment I noticed Marsha Brady had long hair and I didn’t. (Let’s just say I had a Dorothy Hamel haircut in the second grade that made me look more like a gawky boy than an Olympic figure skater.) I’m much more confident today, and enjoy practicing self-deprecation as a humorous escape with women friends. (For example, I may not like my bat wings, but I enjoy admitting their existence and laughing about them with other women over wine and cheese.)

TRP: What are some of the issues that you think are important to explore as it relates to the female gender?

To stop comparing ourselves to other women and start celebrating each other.

Celebrate our talents. Celebrate our differences. Be nicer to each other. It’s OK to laugh at ourselves, but when we pick apart other women, it’s debilitating. There is so much we can learn from other women if we just let go and open our minds already. I’ll admit that I love to dress up and go shopping. But I don’t let superficial things take over my life. I’d rather go for a walk with my dog, bake cookies with my kids, snuggle with my husband or have lunch with girlfriends. It’s the simple things in life that make me happy. (And yes, scarves and necklaces make me smile, especially when they are on sale. But they don’t hold a candle to playing board games by the fire with my husband and kids.)

TRP: What scares you the most?

Mean girls. Mean moms. Mean women in general. Men don’t scare me. But wicked women do.

TRP: Three things about yourself you LOVE

I love that I have a sense of humor like my grandmother and laugh out loud often (especially with my husband and kids). I love that I’m not afraid to approach anyone – no matter how grouchy they may seem – and smile. I love that I’m a good friend - and I can let go and be myself around friends who honestly “get” me. That’s what life is all about.

TRP: Is there anything in particular that made you feel like being part of the Revelation Project was a good idea right now?

I was so inspired by Maureen Umehara’s experience with The Revelation Project, I thought, “This is something I have to do.” When I turned 40 in 2011, I realized there are things I’ve talked about doing my whole life, but kept putting off for a variety of reasons. (Fear of failure being one of my main road blocks.) One of my big goals was writing a gift book for moms. I wanted to be a part of TRP because I finally did it. I felt so blessed because I finally accomplished something that I had wanted to do for so long. I wrote, “How to Spread Sanity on a Cracker: Mom-to-Mom Whines, Cheese, Rants and Recipes” and also started my own blog for moms, www.ventingsessions.com. (I will be unveiling my book at The Red Tent event for women on Sunday, March 4 at The Rhodes on the Pawtuxet.)

About the shoot:

TRP: What did you think about the approach of the upcoming photo shoot (before you got there) and what were the results you were expecting?

When I first arrived at Monica’s beautiful home, I was a little nervous. I wanted to find the nearest bathroom. I wasn’t really comfortable in front of the camera and felt a little funny bringing such a big suitcase of clothes. I was thinking to myself, “What am I doing? Are they going to think I’m some kind of diva? Will my dark roots show up in the pictures?” I was excited to meet the women behind TRP. I expected it to be fun, but didn’t realize it would be so rewarding. From the moment I walked in, I felt a sense of warmth. They made me feel comfortable in front of the camera…and in my own skin. It was all about celebration and self-discovery. These talented women really put me at ease from beginning to end. They allowed me to be myself and celebrate me as well as my recent accomplishments.

TRP: How did you feel during the shoot and was there anything in particular that made you feel more or less relaxed or open to the process?

They made me feel like a relaxed rock star. I loved meditating in the beginning. It really helped set the stage for the rest of the experience. We passed around a jar of words and I chose “belly laugh”, which is so me. These women made me laugh and at the same time, helped me find inner peace. In a matter of hours, I felt like I had been on a weekend retreat. The experience was genuine. Every minute was meaningful. I had a blast!

TRP: Can you describe in three words the way you felt before we shot?

Nervous. Excited. Embarrassed.

TRP: Three words for after?

Warmth. Peace. Celebrated.

TRP: Three words for when you saw the results?

Psyched. Celebrated. Rock star.

TRP: After you left but before you saw the results - did you have any thoughts about the experience? What were some of the things you thought about on the drive home?

I was on such a natural high. I felt like I had just been on a retreat or a rock concert. I arrived not knowing these women and left feeling like we had become life-long friends.

TRP: When you saw the results can you tell me your first impression?

I was surprised. I thought to myself, “Is this really me?” I was speechless. Then I was floored. I was proud to be a part of something so special. I wanted to share my experience with all my friends and family so they could experience it too.

TRP: Can you talk about the feedback you received from those who saw your photographs? 

The comments started the night before I even saw the photos! I woke to a sea of compliments. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The feedback I received was so positive and so genuine. Like a shower for the soul. I received so many nice comments from friends, relatives and even acquaintances. I was speechless (not a common thing for me).

TRP: Were there people who did not understand or responded less than favorably?

Everyone was so positive. My husband was in awe. My grandmother said I looked beautiful, like a movie star. I was speechless!

A woman I know responded with, “oh my gawd.” And then a week later, wrote a blog post complimenting me on my photos.

TRP; What are some words you would use to describe how you were feeling throughout the shoot?

At peace, laughter, belly laughs, retreat, self-discovery, surprised, deserving, empowered, blessed, confident.

TRP: Did you learn anything new about yourself from the experience?

That I believe in myself and others believe in me too. If I just stop listening to negative noise, I can experience a sense of self-discovery and joy unlike anything I’ve ever known.

TRP: Did you feel empowered? Why? Why not?

Yes. I feel empowered. From the moment I left the shoot, I wanted to share what I experienced with the world so others could experience the same thing!

TRP: Since the shoot happened -can you talk about the lasting impact of the experience? Has it altered the way you view yourself or your surroundings?

I’ve felt more confident and deserving of the positive things I have in my life. Not cocky, not stuck up. Just more deserving, appreciative, grateful.

TRP: Do you think this was an important/valuable experience for yourself? Why?

Yes. I’ve spent way too many years internalizing negative energy. It’s debilitating. It’s toxic, quite frankly. In my late 30’s, something just clicked. I knew I needed to ignore the noise and forge ahead with what I really wanted to do in my life. TRP allowed me to express this sense of enlightenment and celebrate me. TRP is such an empowering experience. The process allows you to re-discover yourself in a whole new light.

TRP: Do you think it's relevant for other women? Why?

Yes. All women deserve to feel celebrated and empowered. They need to express their inner fears and celebrate their accomplishments, their contributions, their inner beauty.

TRP: How would you use the photos moving forward? Professionally? Personally? As gifts?

All of the above.

What is your favorite song and why?

I have too many favorites to count. I love Tiny Dancer by Elton John because it’s a beautiful song and I love singing along to it with my kids. Wild World by Cat Stevens because it always makes me smile. Imagine by John Lennon because it makes you really think. Forever by Randy Travis is a song I can imagine at my funeral. I love listening to all kinds of music because music makes me happy. My husband enjoys taking me to concerts - I light up and love to boogie. And my kids laugh when I start dancing – but I can’t help it.

TRP: If you could sum up the experience what would you say?

TRP is such an empowering experience that allows you to re-discover you. The women behind the project are so talented and genuine, they make the project what it is. I’m so honored to have been a part of something so special.

TRP: If someone were on the fence about doing it is there anything you would tell them about the experience or say to encourage them?

Go for it. You deserve it. You deserve to feel celebrated and empowered. Express your fears and celebrate your inner beauty.

TRP: Any Revelations to share?

Some of my own revelations:

  • Live life to the fullest.
  • Laugh every day.
  • Eat chocolate every day.
  • Find inner beauty in everyone you meet.
  • Live your bliss.
  • Be blessed.
  • Ignore the noise, not the music.

From others:

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. ~Eleanor Roosevelt
We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light. ~Mary Dunbar
When people believe in themselves they have the first secret of success. ~Norman Vincent Peale
Don't you dare, for one more second, surround yourself with people who are not aware of the greatness that you are. ~Jo Blackwell-Preston

For more about Jackie's new gift book, How to Spread Sanity on a Cracker: Mom-to-Mom Whines, Cheese, Rants and Recipes:  visit www.ventingsessions.com.