Many who struggle with trauma are being held back from creating the life they love. To rise and thrive from trauma, you need connect with someone who has life-changing information and healing methods and can enlighten you on a path to transform your lives. In this episode, Jennifer Kauffman, Director and Producer of There’s Got to be More to Life, shares her journey on how she faced her trauma through a natural way of healing to overcome it. She realizes along the path, no matter how difficult it is to accept. Trauma can be a gift to help break us open and rise. This inspiring episode will encourage and empower us to thrive and live our best life. Tune in now!
Our guest is Jennifer Kauffman. She is inspiring impossible transformations. Jennifer is the Director and Producer of a transformational movie called There’s Got to Be More to Life. It is based on a true story of Jennifer’s journey rising up from terrorism and a childhood trauma where she went from barely surviving to thriving.
She’s an Executive Producer of two Emmy and Telly Award-winning films, A New Leash on Life: The K9’s for Warriors Story, and Freedom Isn’t Free: The Folds of Honor Story. She’s an inspirational speaker, bestselling author, award-winning results coach, and the Founder of the Rise & Thrive Movement. Through transformational movies, programs, and retreats, Jennifer is on a mission to inspire, encourage, and empower people to rise, thrive, and live their best life. Please welcome my guest, Jennifer Kauffman.
Jennifer, I’m so excited for our members to meet you. It is good to see you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for everything that you’re up to. Share with our community who you serve and what your magic is.
First and foremost, thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to be with you. Thanks for having me on your show. What’s my magic? The magic is going out and sharing a message of what you do when life throws you a bomb. In my case, it was literal. How do you rise up from that experience and then go from barely surviving to getting to a place where you’re thriving in life? That’s what I’m all about. It is sharing my story of how I lost everything. I’ve been on this journey for the last couple of years of rising up from that. The amazing people that I’ve met and the amazing opportunities I’ve had to pay forward to help other people that have struggled from trauma.
Talk about that. You dropped that little bomb. When you say literal bomb, you mean bomb. Tell everybody what you mean when life throws you a bomb. Metaphorically, we all experienced that, but you had a real one. Let’s talk about that story and how it shaped you into who you are.
In terms of the bomb, I was standing 15 feet from the first of 2 explosions at the Boston Marathon back in 2013. I’m a Bostonian. I was born and raised outside of Boston. I went to school and worked in Boston, and yet, I had never been to the marathon. In 2013, it was different. A close friend of mine, her son was running. I wanted to support them by cheering them on. I want to say here that it’s not about a physical bomb. The bomb could be losing your job. It could be an illness, the loss of a loved one, or anything. For me, it was a literal bomb, and I didn’t expect it. Life was good, and then in a matter of a nanosecond, my world was shattered.
What did that look like when your world was shattered? What happened physically to you? Give us that story.
I was about 15 feet from the bomb and about 25 feet from the finish line itself. I was thrown into the cement barricade. I was wearing a camera with a big lens on it. I had a lot of internal injuries, but they call invisible injuries. I had internal swelling of the organs. I ended up having spinal injuries. I had a mild form of traumatic brain injury.
Think about the impact of being so close to an explosive device. It shattered my energy field. I didn’t know what that meant at that time, but I had this feeling of completely being shattered. I say that literally and figuratively. I was together physically, but I didn’t feel that way. My breathing was out of sync with my heartbeat. All of that stuff was happening in my internal body. I couldn’t walk normally for the first five months.
I want to pause for a second because, at the moment that happened, I found myself on the ground and heard nothing but chaos. I heard screams from people. When I picked myself up, I looked at my friend and I wasn’t aware I was injured at that time. I was aware I had pain in my body. I was present in the situation and what was happening.
We walked for 45 minutes to get to safety when I realized something was wrong and was admitted to the ER. That was my journey. In the ER, my experience was also traumatic. It’s not because the doctors and nurses weren’t amazing because they were, but there was a whole host of things that were happening at that moment.
At one point in time, I heard this internal voice saying that I needed to learn how to heal naturally, which was super confusing to me because I had no knowledge of that. Here I am, terrified, wondering if I’m going to make it to see my family and friends another day. I lost my phone, so I had no way to contact people. I felt isolated and alone in a place where I don’t know what to do. I was 42 years old.
Was your friend hurt in this ordeal?
She wasn’t. She was in front of me, so I shielded her from the blast. She was not physically hurt.
What a good friend. You think, “What a blessing.” You were her armor bearer. I love that.
I would do it again.
Talk about how you walked for 45 minutes. When the bomb happened, it was chaos and pandemonium. My daughter was in it as well. She was upstairs in her office. We heard it on the news. I was calling her because I knew it was about around her office. It was the same thing. We couldn’t get through. How did you know? Nobody came to pick you up. You got up. I love that. That’s beast mode. That’s how we are as women. We’re like, “Get up, brush yourself off, and let’s get the heck out of here.” Nobody knew if there was a second one. Nobody knew what was happening. What was your first indication that you were not okay?
To break it down, imagine the whole crowd was electrified. There was music, announcers, and everything. What I remember was there was this gust of wind. It was that eerily gust of wind. I said to my friend, “That was this bone-chilling wind. I can’t wait until your son passes so we can go get a cup of tea.” The next thing you know, there’s this loud explosion.
At that moment, my first instinct was it was a gas explosion. I thought it came from outside of the building I was standing in front of, but that’s not what happened. I didn’t know that at that time. It was later that I realized it was the bomb that we were standing there. There was sheer pandemonium and complete confusion. You’re like, “Am I dreaming this? What is happening at that moment?” I saw things that no human being should ever see.
It’s like war. It was a war zone.
There were twelve seconds from the first explosion to the second. If you had asked if I didn’t know that fact, I would’ve said there were minutes in between. When the second bomb went off, I realized, “There’s something else going on. We’ve got to get out of here.” I grabbed my friend who was in shock. She was waiting for her son who we were monitoring. He was only half a mile out. She was frozen and she was like, “I’m not leaving anywhere without my son.”
You asked me a pivotal question. How did I know to get out of there? I’m going to credit my mom. My mom spent a lot of time in emergency management on a local, state, and federal level. We lived about 20 or 25 miles from a nuclear power plant. My mom worked for the local town. She was working with all the administrative officials on how to get out. For years, my mom would say, “God forbid something happens, here is what you need to do.” I would roll my eyes and say, “That’s never going to happen. I don’t need to know this.”
My mom seeded that for years that I made fun of. I’m like, “We’re never going to need this. This is ridiculous.” At that moment of all of that, I was like, “I’ve got to assess the situation and get out.” I went into pure instincts mode. I was like, “We’ve got to get out of this situation.” My friend didn’t want to leave. I was grabbing her. I looked her in the eyes and said, “I promise I will reunite you with your son, but we must go now.”
I dragged her out not knowing I lost my phone in that ordeal. It was sheer pandemonium. People were running every which way. Imagine everything is barricaded. We are sandwiched between two bombs and there was only one way to go. We were running. We got a few blocks away when I realized I don’t have my phone. I was like, “Now what?”
I asked to borrow my friend’s phone. I was doing my best to keep my composure. I look at the phone and I don’t remember anyone’s number. I had to call information to get ahold of my mom, and I couldn’t even get ahold of her. It was pure adrenaline and a desire to seek safety in a situation that was beyond what anyone could even imagine. Your daughter can imagine because she was there.
She can imagine, but she wasn’t in it like you were in it. They felt the building rumble. They thought it was the building that had the bomb threat. They were all running because they didn’t know. It was still stressful. They were still anxious. They were still like, “This can’t be happening here.” God bless your mother. I’m sure you thanked her 1,000 times. You were like, “Thank you.” That saved you. People got trampled by other people because people were in panic.
You said something profound. I’m going to call it God. You heard this voice. I’ve been in situations very similar where the voice said, “Heal naturally.” Talk about that. What were the steps that you did? There is a lesson in there when you listen to the whisper. Sometimes, we’re so busy and we have so much noise going on. There was pandemonium all around you. You heard this voice, so then what did you do?
Imagine I’m in the ER. They know that I’m a survivor of the bombing. Nurses and doctors came rushing into the ER room. I’m being flooded not with just one, but a whole bunch of them. I was complaining of severe abdominal pain, but they were talking to each other as if I wasn’t there. They thought I was going to have a heart attack because my heart rate was through the roof along with my stats and stuff.
The next thing you know, they’re wheeling in machines. They’re doing all these tests. I had to go to make sure that I wasn’t bleeding internally. At this point, I’m alone only with the technician who says to me, “I need to inject you with the dye that’s going to make you feel all these awful things.” She didn’t say awful. Those are my words. I begged not to have that. I was already feeling horrific. I didn’t want anymore. She’s like, “We must do the test. You must get this injection of this contrast.” I’m in there going, “What do I do? Do I do it and make myself feel worse?”
Long story short, I ended up taking the contrast. I felt everything that she said I would feel on top of how I already felt. I am in tears as they wheel me back into my ER room. At this point, most of the doctors and nurses had left my room to go check on my test. There was a little bit of quietness. It was not entirely, but a little bit. That’s when that soft whisper voice came in. It is God. I believe in God too. This sounded and felt different. It was soft and had this loving tone like a parent would say to you. The words were, “You must learn how to heal naturally.” I’m like, “What does that mean?”
I went to business school. I worked in the financial industry. I did not have any background in health, wellness, or the medical field. I was like, “What does it mean to learn how to heal naturally?” Here’s what happened. I battled with panic disorder, anxiety, and depression in my younger years because of the trauma I had as a child. I used anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills to deal with that. Over time, I realized breathwork and meditation were more impactful ways for me to heal.
I had this experience. I’m remembering, “I got myself off of medication because of other things that I had in my younger years.” I was like, “I now have a choice. I can admit myself because the doctors and nurses wanted to admit me in the hospital and go down that path or I had to trust myself over everyone else’s opinion that I should stay including my mom and my aunt.”
For the first time in probably my 42 years of existence on the planet at that point, I listened to what my higher self and God was asking me to do. I discharged myself from the hospital and the care of my aunt not knowing what was going to happen next. That was a pivotal moment. No matter what the situation is, when you slow down enough to listen to that soft voice, we all have it. If we listen to that internal guidance and follow that, life becomes a magic carpet ride. I’m not saying there isn’t ups and downs and twist and turns because there are. That’s life.
I used to believe, “Why is this stuff happening to me?” I used to think of it like, “This is happening to me rather than for me.” I learned the for me part during my healing post-bombings. In my 42nd or 43rd year, I started to go, “I’ve had enough traumatic experiences in my life. Why does this continue to happen? I’m the common denominator. I don’t want this stuff to happen.” That’s why I started to understand more about energy, energy medicine, and how we are living vibrational beings.
I read the book The Body Keeps the Score. When we don’t deal with trauma, it stays stuck in our cellular memories. We are walking around like a ticking time bomb waiting for the next accident to happen, the illness, or whatever. We’re not conscious of this. This is what I started to understand. I started to delve deeper into this perspective of, “What if this is happening for me?”
This took several years for me to get to this level of wisdom, but I realized, “What if trauma is a gift?” Of all people, that is not an easy thing to say, but I like it like this. When you plant a seed, whether it’s a flower, plant, or crop, what is it mostly? It’s in soil, crap, or manure. What if the trauma in our life is like the manure? It is meant to break us open. It is meant to raise us up. It’s meant to fuel us into our next level of evolution, whatever that looks like.
[bctt tweet=”What if the trauma in our life is like the manure, and it’s meant to break us open? It’s meant to raise us, to fuel us into our next level of evolution.” via=”no”]
We always say it’s the gift that’s wrapped in sandpaper. Nobody wants that gift. I think back to when I was a child. My mom abandoned us when we were five. My whole childhood, I wanted a mom. I wanted someone to love me. I met her again when I was 30. I realized her leaving was the best gift she could give me. When we were with her, it was abusive. She had dated abusive men, abandoned us, and never talked to us again. I learned how to be an amazing mom because she was such a shitty mom. I did a lot of therapy and work on myself to go, “This was a blessing.”
My sisters were still mad at me because I went and saw her. It was so healing to forgive her and go, “My life, as dysfunctional or whatever I thought it was at that time, is so much better now because she did leave.” It is a gift that’s wrapped in sandpaper. Nobody wants to be blown up by a bomb and have that effect, but sometimes, you need the cosmic boot to stop you. Life has thrown me that so many times. It’s like, “I don’t want to have to go through that again. What do I need to learn?” In these moments, I always say, “What’s the lesson I need to learn?”
I’m hearing several different lessons from you. One is listening to my intuition, my natural knowing, my God, and my higher power. We can rise and thrive. We can overcome some of the most horrific things in life from abuse, childhood trauma, neglect, or incest. All the things that I went through, I am the woman I am because of that. It takes a lot of work to get there to realize, “How do I fuel this?” The trauma, if you sit inside of it, you start using other vices to cope versus healthy vices to cope like breathing and meditation. What would you say was the biggest lesson? You were launching a business when all this started or you started a business when this started.
I was in my fifth year of business. I had come off my best year in business, but I was looking to pivot my business. I was looking to get into the speaking world. I was going to write my first book and I had signed a publishing deal with Balboa Press a month before. I was starting to take my business beyond just me as a solopreneur. I wanted to be able to create a greater impact in the world and give back. I was in the early stages of that, and then this happened.
Fortunately, I was in a good financial position when the bombings happened, but I didn’t work for almost two years. I exhausted every penny that I had in my savings including my retirement savings. I would do it again to learn what I learned. I agree with you. That experience was the most horrific experience I’ve had to date in my life and it has been the greatest gift of my life. They’re both true statements. It has helped me to take what I knew before the bombings and then take what I’ve learned post-bombings. It has helped me start to re-emerge newly and to create a life for myself that I am passionate about that’s calling me forth where I’m thriving in who I am.
Here’s the irony. The irony is it took the bomb at a marathon to get me to stop running from me. I was the overachiever. I had a lot of corporate success before I started my own company and did a lot of great things. I became executive level management by the time I was 24. I was managing a $16 billion high net-worth account. I had all of this, and that stemmed from my childhood trauma. I used that to fuel me to this success. What would happen is I reach all these amazing goals and I’d be happy and fulfilled for a moment. I’m like, “Is this it?” I’d go pick another goal and then I’d be like, “Maybe on the next goal bigger goal, I’ll get there.” This is what I did over and over again.
Eventually, I burnt myself out of the corporate world. I left that going, “There’s got to be a better way to live. I’m going to start my own company.” I’m going to go help small and mid-sized companies. I’ll take what I learned and help them. I started that in October 2007 not knowing that in 2008, we were going to have an economic recession.
Statistically, about half of my clients should have gone out of business and none of them did. Some of them barely got through that time because they were already scraping by. We did something different. They hired me as their coach. I worked with them and their team. I then brought all of my clients together and we started meeting as a group. I’d meet with them individually, but then every 90 days, we’d meet as a group. We helped each other. We shared strategies and ideas on how we could make it through that challenging financial time.
People said to me, “Why are you doing that?” They’re competitors in some cases. I’m like, “We’re human beings that are here to help each other.” There are lessons in all of this. What if we shift out of this competitive nature into this collaborative nature and place of abundance where there’s more than enough to go around for everyone?
[bctt tweet=”What if we shift from this competitive nature into this collaborative nature and this place of abundance where there’s more than enough to go around for everyone?” via=”no”]
Since it was such a pivotal life lesson, how are you using it in your daily life?
Here’s the thing. I still have overachiever syndrome that I’m working through. I still get excited and passionate about things. The next thing you know, I’ve put myself in too much and I’m like, “There we go. I did it again.” Here’s what I’ve been working on and implementing on a more consistent basis. It is practicing the pause. It’s easy for me to say no when I don’t have a feeling or resonance, but there are so many different things that I have amazing opportunities that are presented to me that is it easy for me to say yes. It is practicing the pause so that I can stay in alignment with my heart song.
Jim Collins talks about this in his book, Good to Great. Sometimes, you have to say no to the good to keep space for the great. I’ve made some mistakes in the last couple of years because I’ve overdone them. For me, it’s truly slowing down and practicing the pause. When there are a few things out there, it is getting into that place of quiet and going, “Which one’s calling me forth more so than the other?” It is listening to that inner guidance.
I love you did the impossible. You went from entrepreneurship, but then became a producer and a director of a movie. It was not just any movie. You won two Emmys and a Telly Award. Talk about that. That came out of the ashes of the bomb. Your mom was preparing you. That’s a God thing. She’s like, “I don’t know why you need to know this, but you need to know this.” You’re going, “Blah, blah.” 30 years later, there you are going, “Mom saved my life. She got me out of there and my sanity.” Talk about what you did because that’s pretty amazing. There are so many people that want to do it and you went, “I’m going to do it.”
Let me give you a little bit of backstory and I’ll fully answer that. This is powerful. When I started my business, I was big into goal-setting, tension, and bucket list stuff. For five years, I had a picture of the Miraval Resort on my refrigerator. In December 2012, my accountant said, “You’ve earned too much money. If you don’t spend down some of your cash, you’re going to end up spending more in taxes.”
At that moment, I became aware that Cheryl Richardson and Louise Hay, the two women who I follow closely, were having a retreat at Miraval Resort. I’ve been on their distribution list for quite some time. I didn’t see this email previously in this particular time period I had. Long story short, I ended up booking that. It was the first time I invested that much money in myself.
That retreat was in February 2013. It was two months before the bombings. I meet a woman who’s going to become my new business/spiritual coach. I didn’t know there was such a thing. I met this woman. She became my new coach and she said to me, “Someday, you’re going to work with veterans.” Everything else she said was spot on and resonated for me, but with this veteran thing, I’m like, “I don’t know how I would serve them. I don’t know how I could help them.”
Fast forward three and a half years after the bombings took place, I got an opportunity to be featured in one of Jack Canfield’s books. That opened up a door for me to produce my first film called A New Leash on Life: The K9s for Warrior Story. That was to showcase three veterans who were on the verge of committing suicide. They had post-traumatic stress and TBIs or Traumatic Brain Injury.
I was sitting in Hollywood receiving an award that we had for the book I was in with Jack Canfield. In that ceremony, Nick Nanton presented, “I am looking for a small group of people to help me produce my next film. It is to help veterans and to showcase how these men and women can rise up from PTSD.” I’m in the back of the room sobbing in tears. I understand that was another God moment. That got me into producing films. I produced films that won Emmys and Telly Awards. I then went to produce a Broadway show with Rudy Ruettiger. This all these amazing experiences.
On July 2019, I heard the whisper of God speak again during my meditation. It said, “You now need to share your story. You need to put your story to film.” I was like, “No. I wasn’t ready for that.” I resisted that for a little bit. I was too busy with my consulting work at that time and I put it aside. Long story short, I had my consulting work, and I was getting ready to do a fifteen-city speaking tour starting in March of 2020 when COVID started. All of that went away because of COVID. I was left with, “Now what?” The, “Now what?” was to produce and direct my film. I wanted to direct it because it’s my story. I wanted to speak about what my journey has been like so that other people can understand it’s a process.
The film is different. The film is meant to be an introspection into life. What if certain things happened? What if you were able to cultivate and take the time to understand the wisdom that happened from your own traumatic experiences? That is what I did. We released it at the end of 2021 and here we are. We’re working on the next series of them. I want to share this with your audience. I have no film background other than produced films. I fully intended to hire a production company, but then, as we interviewed them, nothing was working. The next thing I hear is, “Start your own production company.” It’s listening to that and you know this in your own story.
I love it. How do you help people? You help not just veterans, but also help women. Talk about what you do and how we can play with you.
We’re creating a series of different programs. One is we’ve got a year-long program on Thrive NOW! We look at four different aspects of life. One is health and well-being. The other is financial. We look at love, relationships, and also success. It’s all about how to rise and thrive through adversity and trauma in life. We have a special thing for your audience. We wanted to give people a gift. People are seeking higher information and higher intelligence. Not everybody has gotten to the place that we have, but everybody has the ability to get there.
[bctt tweet=”People seek higher information and intelligence, and not everybody you know has gotten to that place. But everybody can get there.” via=”no”]
Some of the producers from my film and some of the people in my community wanted to gift people with a 30-minute free Oracle card reading to help them with whatever their question is on their journey. That’s how you can get engaged with us. We have a community called RiseThrive.life that we’re starting. That is to create this community space where people feel safe to share their stories. More importantly, they can share how they’ve been able to rise up and how they’ve used their traumatic experience to fuel them to become a greater person.
Share for those of us that don’t know what Oracle card reading is. What is that?
An Oracle card reading, to put it simply, is let’s say you have a burning question about whether to make a change in your career or where you want to live. It could be something like that. You come to the table with a question, and the person that’s doing the reading will pull a few different cards from a deck of cards. That will give you insight and wisdom from the spirit plane about your specific question. We don’t ask the question in advance. You come to the 30-minute free session with whatever question is a burning question of yours, and then we will share whatever wisdom comes through the card reading itself.
I love that. That is delicious. Thank you.
It’s only for your audience. They’ve got to come to watch the film and then put in the code, SUSIECARDER30, which we gave to you. That gives you a 30-minute complimentary session. It’s free. There’s no obligation from that. We invite people to come on this journey and share their insights and wisdom like we will with them.
Jennifer, thank you for your profound story. Thank you for being a gracious listener to your higher being. I love when you can take horrific life challenges and turn them into something that’s meaningful for the world. Truly, the lessons that you learned, you didn’t keep them to yourself. I appreciate that. It’s inspiring to hear and see. You always show up and show out whenever I see you. I appreciate you. I appreciate the journey that got you here on this platform. Thank you.
Thank you for your insight, wisdom, and more importantly, your love and compassion. When I first met you, I had no idea that your daughter went through that. You can’t make this stuff up. The synchronicity is here. Thank you for the amazing work that you do in the world and for the opportunity to be with you and your audience.
Jennifer Kauffman – Inspiring Impossible TransformationJennifer is the Director and Producer of the transformational movie, theresgottobemoretolife.com, based on a true story of Jen’s journey of rising up from terrorism and childhood traumas where she went from barely surviving to thriving. She’s an Executive Producer of 2 Emmy and Telly award winning films, A New Leash on Life: The K9’s for Warriors Story and Freedom Isn’t Free: The Folds of Honor Story. She’s an inspirational speaker, best-selling author, award-winning results coach and founder of The Rise & Thrive Movement.Through Transformational Movies, Programs and Retreats, Jennifer is on a mission to inspire, encourage and empower people to rise, thrive and live their best life!