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Life Arts    H4'ed 9/16/12

Chatting with Chicago-based Author and Emmy-winning Reporter Jenniffer Weigel

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My guest today is Chicago-based author, actor and Emmy-winning reporter, Jenniffer Weigel. Welcome to OpEdNews, Jen. Several years ago, your career path veered in a different direction. You voluntarily gave up a job with a good salary, benefits and visibility for something far more uncertain. Can you tell us about where you chose to head and what gave you the courage to take such a step?

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It does sound a little insane I know - leave a good job with benefits and go out into the unknown. Everyone tried to talk me out of it. But at the end of the day, if you're miserable doing what you're doing, nobody can talk you into staying. I was getting up at three in the morning to work on the morning news show and I'd been doing it for years. Waking up in the middle of the night was taking its toll. I begged my bosses to move me to a later shift so I wasn't so exhausted, but they refused. So I took that as a sign that I'd be happier somewhere else. 
 I then had the chance to interview bestselling author Caroline Myss. She was promoting her book Sacred Contracts and she said if you feel tired and miserable and like you don't want to get out of bed, chances are you're not fulfilling your sacred contract. I had enough money saved so that I could be unemployed for about a year, and so I decided to quit my job and try to get work on my own. It wasn't easy, but it did work out for the best. I wound up starting my own production company and got to host and executive produce a food and wine show for NBC called "Taste". It ran for 13 seasons. I was then able to write my first book with the flexible schedule. So it all worked out, but I was smart about it too. I don't think telling your boss you want to quit when you don't have any money in the bank or another job possibility lined up is smart. You have to check in with yourself and really ask yourself, " am I doing this for my heart or is this for my ego?" If something inside you wants to make a change to "prove" something to someone, or you want to "show them" or "win", that is the ego. If it's because you truly feel in your heart you are meant to be somewhere else, that is going to give you a better result. 
  Agreed. So far, you've written two books. The first, Stay Tuned , talked about your connection with your father, a Chicago sports broadcaster, both before and after he died. Were you at all worried that broaching such an out-there topic would turn readers off or damage your journalistic credibility? 

Many of my former colleagues make assumptions that I'm some "psychic friend" because of the title of my books. They literally are judging a book by its cover without reading a single page. I went into this journey feeling it was my duty as a journalist to "out" any frauds out there, because so many people who are stricken with grief spend money on psychics and mediums. I was overwhelmed with grief when my Dad died, and I thought I could help people by exposing those who were not genuine. I made it a point not to reveal my last name with mediums or psychics I interviewed so that they couldn't google me. As the book title for Stay Tuned says, I'm a skeptic. But I'm also a story teller. I told my story, as it happened. It's very different telling stories in a book and writing a piece for the newspaper or for television news. In these circumstances, I am reporting on my experiences. I am not trying to convince anyone what to believe. That's very important. I just report what happened to me, and people can draw their own conclusions. 
  So, what happened on this journey of yours? 
So much happened that I got two books of material out of it! Hard to sum up in a "sound bite" but it's safe to say that I feel that intuition is something we all have to some degree. It's like playing the piano - some just do chop stix and some can master Mozart, but anyone can take a finger and strike a key on the piano. I also know that it can be developed, like a muscle, you have to strengthen it with practice. I have met some people who blew me away with information they couldn't possibly have known. So therefore, as a skeptic and a journalist who needs her sources, I've learned that we act on the information that we have at the time. What we feel is "fact" is based on what some expert tells us is "fact". We used to think it was OK to smoke. I just watched a public service announcement made in 1949 for Camel cigarettes where they ask doctors "what cigarette do YOU smoke?" They show the doctor lighting up after a stressful day. Nuclear bomb dropping used to be a spectator sport. It took years for the research to come in that these both cause cancer. So I like to keep doing research. I keep asking questions. And I know that we never really know all the answers. We can't possibly know everything when research says we only use about 5% of our brain - and that's on a good day. What is the other 95% doing? I think, it's doing a lot that we can't quite understand. To say something is "impossible" is small-minded thinking. So, I'll keep asking questions to try and get answers. And I know now that many things can't be explained with simple answers. 
  Who is Therese and how does she fit into your story?

Therese Rowley is a CEO consultant and intuitive that I was told I should meet just after my father died. My massage therapist was raving about her and how she helped her with her relationships and gave her clarity on certain challenges she'd been facing. I made an appointment and just gave my first name so she couldn't google me. When I went to see her, I was blown away at what she told me - certain things that nobody could know about my relationship with my father. She said he was in the room. She described his wardrobe and his personality. She told me things that he thought about my professional life. At the end of the session, I wound up interviewing her and asked her when she discovered her gifts. She said that since the age of 6, she knew she had a connection to something greater than most and that she had to choose her audience wisely when discussing it as to not scare people away. She said that we are all wired differently and she encourages people to tap into their intuition. She is a very wise woman with unique gifts that I don't fully understand. I wrote about my first encounter with her in my first book Stay Tuned and I have heard from enough people who have seen her since reading my books that she has helped them get "unstuck". And not by being a phone line to the dead - because she literally will say that to people who make an appointment that she is not here to be the phone operator to the other side - but by helping them understand that we all have persistent challenges, or "soul lessons" that keep showing up in different costumes. We need to trust in our path and face our fears. And most of us have this burning desire to get our parents' approval - whether they're dead or alive - it literally drives our every move. And Therese is a practicing Catholic - she attends mass weekly, if not daily. So for those who are religious that have a judgment about someone who claims they can reach the other side, I say, you need to read the Bible a bit more thoroughly - because it's all about people talking to dead people and looking for signs. Why should that stop 2000 years later?? I ask for signs every day.   

You've written about your philosophy of being grateful for things that haven't happened yet. Can you tell us about this strategy and how it works?

I first got wind of this philosophy from Neale Donald Walsch's first book Conversations With God. He talks about how if we say "I want" or "I need", it will literally create more want and more need. It's the energy of the statement. "I want more money" the Universe will make sure that you want more money. "I need a new job" the Universe will deliver more need for that new job. But if you thank the universe in advance for all you need in every moment, as if you already have it, you will change your life. So I started small with parking spaces and started thanking the Universe in advance for the parking space right where I need it. Since then, I have gotten what I call "rock star" parking spaces whenever I need it. We're talking 9 years later. I try to do this with bigger things too - but I've also realized that sometimes our wants and our true needs are not the same. So, now I thank the Universe in advance for showing me the next steps for my highest good and the highest good of all involved. "However that shows up, help me trust it." And apparently, my "highest good" involves great parking karma! 
  Give our readers your parking space stats, please. They are rather impressive.

I have literally gotten a parking space every time I need one for the last 9 years. I couldn't even begin to give a figure - but I'm guessing it's in the 1000s. I stopped counting after about 450. And I was keeping a notebook in my car on this. As a reporter, we always have to keep track of things. I had a notebook in my glove compartment that tallied the spaces.

I'm sure your friends were amazed by this. It must make you very popular at times! What are you up to these days, Jen? 
I work full time for the Chicago Tribune. My duties range from writing my "Lessons for Life" column once a week - to finding viral videos to share with our readers online. I'm also writing my third book. I was divorced a year ago which was very difficult, but Clay and I are very good friends. We are making co-parenting our son a priority. I feel blessed that we are able to keep a friendship after our divorce. 
 I also do talks all over the Chicago area. The topics vary from "follow your bliss" to my experiences with finding my spiritual faith and getting through hard times to be able to be happy and healthy for my son. Here at the Tribune, we have an events department where we host classes for "Trib University". I have been fortunate to be able to facilitate several classes - there was one on "Embracing Forgiveness" and "Get Paid Doing What You Love." We also had "The Informed Divorce" which was so popular, we are doing that class again in October. 
 So lots of plates are spinning - but I'm happy with all of the dishes - that's for sure! 
  Lovely. There's certainly a lot going on in your life.  What's the book about? And, to backtrack a bit,  who's Nellie Bly and what's the connection?

In my second book I'm Spiritual, Dammit,  I met a woman who told me I was Nellie Bly in a past life. I didn't really know if I believed in past lives. I did some research on Nellie and found out that she was a journalist who faked insanity to study mental institutions from within. Her stories changed the way doctors treated the mentally ill. When she wasn't covering stories of merit and was put on the "society pages" beat, she was very frustrated. 
I could totally relate to her frustrations. A friend of mine put our photos next to each other and emailed it to me and our faces looked very similar. It was startling. 
 The third book is all the stuff that has happened since my second book came out. I still look for signs and am trying to be "spiritual, dammit" but I also struggled through a divorce and the landscape of my life has completely changed. So it's coping, the best way possible - with a completely different map of reality, along with interviews with gurus/authors/celebrities and a variety of encounters. 
Can't wait to read it, Jen. Thanks so much for talking with me. This was fun.

Jen's website:
Thanks to Gail for the introduction.
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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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