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January 9, 2024 34 mins

It's Season 6 of LOVE SOMEONE! My first guest is New York Times bestselling author, Jennifer A. Nielsen, joining me to share her hard-earned insight and advice on how to make your dreams a reality.

Her book, "Once Upon A Climb - 5 Steps Every Dreamer Should Know" is going to help us lay the groundwork to get wherever we're headed. She's warm and kind and oh-so-encouraging, as well as an experienced pro at overcoming obstacles and reaching the mountaintop. Step right up and join this conversation!

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:04):
Happy New Year, my friends. Have you recovered from the
holidays yet? No me either. We had a big family
birthday party this weekend and it definitely extended our festive moods.
There's still bits and pieces of Christmas strown about my house,
as well as leftover party supplies and the flotsam and

jetsam of a busy family. But this is the first
full week we're back to our regular routine, back to school,
back to work, back to life, so I suppose we'll
settle into this new year soon enough. Did you make
a bunch of New Year's resolutions, and if so, how
many of you already broken? I gave up that nonsense

years and years ago, too much pressure, too much kicking
myself when I failed in my resolve. Instead, as I've
shared with you on social media and in my newsletter,
I like to set some sweet intentions, be more present,
react less, to love more. Inevitably, However, there will be

things I need to accomplish in the coming year. Maybe
it's something to do with work, or family or my farm.
But there are always things to do, and I'm going
to get some help this year from a little book
I found and chose as my January Book Club Pick.
It's called Once Upon a Climb, Five Steps Every Dreamer

Should Know, by New York Times bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen.
Jennifer has been writing books for a long long time,
but once believed she wasn't very bright. She was even
told she would never succeed as a writer. Well, she
is very bright, and now she's published over twenty three
books that include several series, the Ascendant Series, many historical novels,

a bunch of other works. Jenn has won multiple awards,
including the Sidney Taylor Notable Book Award, multiple State Book Awards.
She's been the keynote speaker at writing and publishing conferences,
inspiring countless readers and attendees. She's compiled her hard earned
life lessons, her advice, her insights for achieving success into

five simple steps, all for dreamers who want to reach
their own personal summits. And she accepted my invitation to
join me today on our first episode of Love Someone
with Delilah season six, is that even possible will get
caught up with Jin and hear what advice she's sharing

with others about her own climbing experiences. Just as soon
as we shine some light on one of our podcast
sponsors that are helping to bring these wonderful, insightful conversations
your way. As we welcome in the new year, I
hope you plan on spending much of it connecting with
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Welcome to Love Someone Today, twenty twenty four, Jennifer Nielsen.
Welcome aboard. You are our first guest, Jennifer on this
new season. What is the season six?

Speaker 2 (04:27):
Sure? Well, wow, what an honor to be here. And
happy New Year to everybody.

Speaker 1 (04:32):
Happy New Year. So, Jennifer, you have written several books
and you are known as a motivator, as a life coach,
as a speaker, kind of like a cheerleader, Like you
cheer people on. You help them to reach their goals.
You help them to reach the goal line.

Speaker 2 (04:47):
Well, I mean, why else are we here but to
move forward the best we can and then to bring
other people with us. And so yeah, of.

Speaker 1 (04:58):
Course, So my question was when you we're in junior
high or high school, did you did you have the
pomp poms?

Speaker 2 (05:04):
No? No, I was the kid who, particularly early junior high,
who I could walk down a hallway and not have
anybody say hello to me. I could be missed entirely.
And that was it. And then by ninth grade, I
sort of got it figured out. And I wasn't the

pomp pom person, but I at least started to understand
that there was a path forward for me, and so
at least I started to figure me out by then.

Speaker 1 (05:37):
By ninth grade, I had nothing, nothing figured out by
ninth grade except that Wesley Henshaw was the cutest boy
you know in my class. That's what I had figured
out by ninth grade.

Speaker 2 (05:49):
Oh, I had that figured out. But I also, you know,
I started too, not Wesley, right who I'm sure was adorable,
but no, I just started to figure out that there
were things I was good at and that there was
something I could do in my life with the things
I was good at. And I also realized there were
things I was abysmal at.

Speaker 1 (06:11):
Stop right there, Confession session. Got to share what, Jennifer,
are you most abysmal at? Like, what is something that
used to bother you that you couldn't do and now
that you've embraced it, you can own it and say
I don't care. I don't care that I can't fill
in the blank.

Speaker 2 (06:29):
You know, it's interesting. I do care, but not for
the reasons that a person might think. And this this
is the reality of it. I am abysmal with math,
really really bad at it. And here's my illustration of it.
In my junior year of high school, first term, I
flunked math F and I've been a good student. And

I got an F in math. And not because I
missed assignments or because I was bowing out.

Speaker 1 (06:58):
Or because you were out of the with Wesley Hinshaw.

Speaker 2 (07:01):
No, none of that, and I would have gone. But no,
it's I earned an F. My best efforts scored me
an F grade. And so in second semester, I thought,
I'm going to pick it up right. I can't. This
is not acceptable, and I worked harder at it, and
in my second term I earned a D minus. No,

I shouldn't say that I didn't earn a D minus.
I earned another F. The teacher gave me a D
minus so that I could have credit for the class,
and that was a charity give. And a third term
I dropped it and I didn't take another math class
for the rest of my junior year. I didn't take
math in my senior year. I chose a college based

on my major so that I didn't have to take math.
My college is because they accepted my minimal Act score
as you don't have to take the required math class
with my minimal Act score. I have never had a
math class since then, and I walked out of that
first semester of my junior year in math convinced I

was stupid because how could you be a smart person
and earn an F How could you ever do that?
And I was convinced I was not very smart until
college when I heard this philosophy about intelligence and I
thought it was brilliant. It's the idea is that every
one of us is really great at some things and

not great at other things, and so there's multiple intelligences.
It's not a number, it's not an IQ. It is
here's where I'm a genius, and here's where I'm abysmal.
And that's okay. You can be brilliant. Your life is
not a IQ number. And that revolutionized my life.

Speaker 1 (08:51):
Isn't that a beautiful thing to know? When I accepted
that about myself because you and I are very much alike.
It sounds like I was able to parent my children better.

Speaker 2 (09:03):

Speaker 1 (09:04):
Yeah, because once I accepted about myself and embrace the
fact that there are some things I am genius at
but most stuff, I'm not not only am I not genius.
I earn an F in many areas of my life
and that's okay, that's okay. And once I could embrace
that about myself, I went, oh, oh.

Speaker 2 (09:25):
Well, and that's the problem, right when we judge our
ability to achieve anything based on what happens to get
measured in school, and that's never fair. We're never fair
to ourselves when we do that, or.

Speaker 1 (09:37):
Gets valued by our parents. If our caregivers are people
that raise us or whatever, have a value system that
values math, or values reading above all else, or values
a college education or whatever, we can feel like a
complete failure.

Speaker 2 (09:57):
Right, And that's why I think for me that I
idea of multiple intelligences was so revolutionary because it gave
me permission to be me and that I wasn't measured
by the worst of myself nor the best of myself.

Speaker 1 (10:12):
I'm just me And that seems to be working out
pretty well.

Speaker 2 (10:17):
Some days better than others.

Speaker 1 (10:18):
Right. So it's a new year. Share with us, how
on this climb we can make it to the top
and see that vista.

Speaker 2 (10:28):
Well, I think that's just it, right, is talking about
what it is to make it to the top. So
I do live in an area with mountains, and the
thing is, you see what you believe is the summit, right,
and you put your eyes on it, and you're like,
that's where I'm trying to get to. That's your whatever,
your resolution, your dream, your goal, and you put your
eye on that summit. And the thing is when you

reach that summit and you're like, now I have done it,
what you realize is that's not the actual summit of
the mountain. That there's something higher still, but you couldn't
see it because your eye was on the lower summit.
And so the idea is that every one of us,
every one of us in life, we are climbing, and

that's how it should be. We should never get to
a point where we say now I've arrived and nothing
more is required of me, because that's when our muscles atrophy,
that's when we lose that hunger and passion. And so
the idea of for twenty twenty four, it's not about
having some resolution of like, Okay, now I'm going to
reach this summit. You were climbing last year, and you're

going to be climbing again this year and next year
you will continue to climb. And it doesn't matter where
you are at on the mountain. All that matters is
that you say, if I can do nothing else today,
I will hold the ground I have, and if it's
a good day, I'll take a step up. And if
it's a great day, I will discover an amazing view

right where I stand. And that's okay. That's okay even
if all you do is hold the ground you have.

Speaker 1 (12:04):
So you live in the mountains, do you actually climb
the mountains? Like do you are?

Speaker 2 (12:09):

Speaker 1 (12:09):

Speaker 2 (12:10):
Yeah? But I absolutely am in the mountains as often
as I can be there.

Speaker 1 (12:15):
So Jennifer, tell me how we can share with our
listeners some steps they can take to find that pure
joy in their life, in their marriage, in their relationships
and their parenting in the new year. Kind of leave
some of the negativity behind. Get some simple steps. I
like simple.

Speaker 2 (12:36):
I think you look at who your team is. So
I was in a writing conference once and it was
just this huge conference. You know, you're sitting in a
room of seven hundred other people, all of them trying
to get published. And I overheard this woman once and
she had come with all of her big dreams and

hopes and excitement, and then she sat in a room
with six hundred and ninety nine other writers and she
said why me, Like, why would I ever presume that
I could have my dream? Because six hundred and ninety
nine people in this one room are trying for the
same thing I am. And she just thought, there is

no way I could ever get to where I want
to go in life. And I heard her, and I
thought that was so heartbreaking because she was walking away
from something she had entered that writing conference passionate about,
and she was checking out so quickly, and so I
wanted to do something that spoke to her and to

say that somebody else's success will not cause your failure,
and that there is room for everybody on the mountain
because we're not all headed to the same spot. And
so how do we find success? I mean, number one,
we stopped comparing right that it if somebody is a
little further along the trail than we are, well that's

not keeping us behind on the trail. It means they
are where they are. And what we hope is that
if you are higher on the trail than somebody else,
you have a responsibility to reach behind you and say, hey,
I don't know if you saw this rock in the trail,
but I stumbled over it, and I want you to
notice it because I don't want you to stumble there too.

I think that's our obligation. And I think if we're
a little bit behind on the trail, it's our obligation
to reach ahead and say, I'm struggling here, can you
take my hand and just pull me for a little bit,
And that we each have those obligations to each other
in life, and that's how we all continue to climb.
And so if you are listening as a parent, it

is okay to reach out and say, look, I need
a hand up, I am exhausted, or I don't know
what to do, because I guarantee there is somebody. Whatever
you're facing, somebody is ahead of you on the trail
and they can help answer your questions, or they can
just sit with you and enjoy the view where you
are and let you catch your breath. If you're aspiring

to a certain dream, then stay on the trail and
keep your eye fixed on the summit that you are
headed to. And if you don't know what you want
in life, well then at least get on the mountain.
Because sometimes we think if we're busy that that means
we're making progress, and sometimes all we're doing is walking

in circles. So get on the mountain and move uphill.

Speaker 1 (15:43):
I was talking with a young lady who's a part
of my extended family yesterday and she's twenty and she said,
I just I don't even know where to start, Like
I don't even know what I'm supposed to do.

Speaker 2 (15:56):
Yeah. Well, and sometimes we change a lot, right where
things priorities to us when we're eighteen years old. We
might have different priorities at twenty five, and so then
we're like, well, did I waste that time? And of
course not, there's there's no waste of anything we do
that you know has personal growth. So it's like she'll
figure it out. But in the meantime, do things for you.

And if you get to school and it's the wrong
school for you, change schools. And if you get into
a major and it's the wrong major for you, you're not
locked into that even if it's like your postgraduate work. Fine.
You know, we all know people in this life who
hit a reset button and said, you know, the path
I was walking, it wasn't taking me in the direction
I wanted to go. Fine, So one of the things

I talk about in this book is about your climbing
team and who you choose for your climbing team. And
so I had published, like I was on book number four,
and somebody really close to me in my life at
book number four said, so, so are you actually serious
about this writing thing? And I'm like, well, I mean,

I have spent now nearly fifteen years of my life
pursuing this so and I was so frustrated, and I thought,
how could she say that she loves me and not
understand this is one of the top priorities in my life.
How could she really love me? And it was really
frustrating for a while. And then one day I realized

she does. She does love me, she does care about me.
But she's not on my climbing team. She is not
that person. And it doesn't make her evil. It just
means she's not on that team that I'm taking. You know,
I do need cheerleaders, I do need guides, I do
need people, you know, porters to help me carry the weight.
And there's a place for her in my life, but

just not on my climbing team. And so if you
decide to shift gears entirely, and you're like, you know what,
this is actually the direction I want to go. Of course,
there will be people who are not going to get it,
and they love you, they care about you, and they
want what's best for you, but they just may not
be on your climbing team. And that's okay. Just listen
to the voices who say I will walk this with you,

and they are out there.

Speaker 1 (18:13):
Do you have any clues for young people who need
to switch out members of their climbing team and need
to distance themselves, Like, how do you gracefully say you
know what?

Speaker 2 (18:26):

Speaker 1 (18:27):
You stay here or head back down to the bottom.
I'll catch up with you, but I need somebody who's
gonna be helping, not pulling me down.

Speaker 2 (18:38):
There will always be those people, right, And usually the
people who pull you down are the people who tried
and failed, or the people who never tried because they're
convinced they will fail. And I heard that once somebody
just say, I never listen to the failures. In other words,
and it's not like a life failure. But if somebody,

for example, is like, hey, you know what, I want
to be a dancer. You know I want to be
a professional ballerina. And so then they talk to people
who tried to become a professional ballerina and they didn't
make it, and they're going to say, oh, you'll never
make it, and they can be your friend. You just
know they are not the ones you're going to turn

to for tips for success. But also, I firmly believe
that we whatever our passion is or our interest is,
wherever we find joy, that the reason we find it
is because we've already been given all of the tools
to succeed. We might need to refine them, we might
need to work on them, but to understand that you

are given everything you need to succeed in the thing
you want to do, if only you will use what
you already have. And then to be content with the
idea that as you are, you are already enough. You
don't have to prove yourself. You don't have to do
anything other than to say, as I am, I a

good enough for this world.

Speaker 1 (20:06):
Right there, right there, somebody needs to make a T
shirt with that on it. Great market, It isn't that beautiful?
Because it's the truth. It's the truth. And for me,
because I'm a person that believes in a higher power.
I'm not a cosmic accident, you know. I'm not just
a bunch of cells that happen to come together accidentally.

I'm an on purpose, and I believe everybody I meet
is an on purpose. They're here on purpose.

Speaker 2 (20:34):
I think that's beautiful. I agree with it.

Speaker 1 (20:37):
So, if you're an on purpose and you come to
the realization that you're enough, you're smart enough, you are
capable enough, you have enough gifts and talents that are
uniquely you to do that thing that you were meant
to do, why do we waste time and energy worrying
or fussing or feeling insecure or like we're not enough?

Speaker 2 (21:00):
I you know, because we're listening to the wrong sources.
And very often I feel like we are. We are
our own worst critic. We stare in the mirror and
we criticize, and we disparage, and we say things to
ourselves we'd never say to anybody else in the universe ever.
You know that one woman out of a group of

seven hundred in a room would never say to another writer,
you could never make it because of everybody else in here.
That would never enter her mindset. But she was perfectly
willing to discredit herself in a way she never would
not for another six hundred and ninety nine people. And
I think we have to be so careful about the

script that we write for ourselves, because if the script
is I will never make it to the summit, then
you'll never make it, and not because you can't, but
because why would you bother doing all of the client
if you're telling yourself there is no summit for you.
So I think the biggest thing is to say yes,
of course, and I might stumble, and I might go

downhill as often as I go uphill, I might fall
and land in a very dark place. But then to say,
at the end of the day, I will I will
continue climbing.

Speaker 1 (22:15):
How many books have you published now?

Speaker 2 (22:17):
I think I'm at twenty three.

Speaker 1 (22:21):
Perhaps, Wow Wow, Okay, so you said choose our climbing team.
We got there. You've got a few more points. And
I think that the next two, especially especially number four
on the list of notes across the crevass and choose
your root. I think these are kind of important for
somebody who their resolution or their decision this year is

to stop being my worst enemy, stop being my worst critic,
and start pursuing that thing with passion that I've always
wanted to do. They're assembling their climbing team.

Speaker 2 (22:55):
What next after we assemble our climbing team, choosing our route,
understanding that there are a lot of different ways to
get to any specific point. And I think this speaks
to this young woman you are speaking to over the holidays,
that everybody in her life says, well, this is the
route you have to go, This is the one acceptable route,

and to acknowledge there are a lot of different routes
to the place we want to get to. And yet
at the same time, you will always get this beckoning
to accept a lower summit than what you really want
and to say is that good enough? And so you
look at the job you have, Is that the job
you want? Is that the thing that lights up your
imagination and you just know you are where you landed?

Or are you just doing the thing that brings in
a few dollars? And what that means is, maybe did
you accept a lower summit than where you deserve to be?
And we don't have to do that. And so you
choose your route and understanding that for very big dreams,
often it is a bumpy route filled with a lot

of places where you can fall and fall hard. And
by choosing that summit, you've accepted the likelihood of you falling,
even the guarantee of you falling. But if that's your summit,
then you just know that's going to be your route.

Speaker 1 (24:22):
All right. Now the next one, which I think is
so precious and so priceless, especially for young people.

Speaker 2 (24:32):
It's about so if you are climbing any high altitude,
if you're climbing Everest, you will encounter the crevasse. And
some of them are small enough you can step over
them and it's no big deal. Some of them are
so wide and so deep that you cannot see the
bottom of them. And the way that they cross it
on high altitude mountains is they'll take a ladder or

strap two ladders together. In some instances they'll put one
end of the ladder on good solid ground and lower
the other ladder on the other end of the ground.
And it is your job as a climber when you've
got those crampons that you talk about, those spikes on
the bottom of the boot, when you are walking across
that ladder stretched out horizontally, you've got to put your

boot down in the exact right place, because you mess
it up just a little bit, and that spike is
going to land on a wrung of a ladder. It's
going to send you tilting over the edge. And so
you've got to put your feet down exactly when you
cross that ladder. There are no walls around you, there's
nothing to keep you from falling. There is nobody holding

your hand. You have a rope, and you put that
crampon down in the wrong place, you will go over
the edge and you will fall. And sometimes we fall hard,
and it's called a failure. Right you're trying. And in
real life it would never if we're climbing that mountain
and we fall, we would never think, well, I tried
to climb this mountain and it failed. Therefore I will

live out the rest of my life life down in
this crevass. You would never do that. That's why you
have the rope. It is meant to get you out.
But in real life we do it all the time.
In real life, we fall into that crevass and we say, well,
this is my life now.

Speaker 1 (26:15):
This divorce has wrecked me. I will never be anything more.
Losing this job has wrecked me. Closing my business has
wrecked me. I'm never going to overcome this.

Speaker 2 (26:27):
And we live in the crevass. And if you think
about and if you recognize, are you doing that in
your life? Now you've got to look for the rope
and somebody will pull you out, or you will climb out,
or most likely it's a bit of both. But we
do not stay in our failure ever, because that is
not where we are meant to be. I can fail

a thousand times in each direction every day. That's fine.
I know how to do it, because I've had to
climb out of that hole hundreds of times. I know
how to do that. I find a way to get better,
and then I try again. And if I fall, that
is fine. I will find a way to get better
and try again. The only reason I ever became published,

the only reason I ever hit New York Times or
whatever success I've obtained, is not because I have natural talent.
I don't. It is because every time I failed, I
got stronger and climbed out again and again and again.
That's all we'd have to do, just get that rope.

But we don't live in our failure because it doesn't
wreck us when we fall. It wrecks us when we
live in the crevass. That's when we atrophy and it's
not where we're meant to be.

Speaker 1 (27:44):
We're spending time with best selling author Jennifer A. Nielsen today,
who's going to help us get some big task accomplished,
maybe something you've been putting off, or maybe a new
opportunity that's coming your way, or maybe just a dream
in your heart. Unif he's got some great advice, we'll
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Speaker 2 (29:36):
And let's not forget there are realities of life, right
There are things that there are challenges that some people
have to overcome that I would not wish on any
enemy that I may ever have. There's mental illness and
struggles like that. There are a thousand different challenges that
I've never had to face in my life. So I

don't want to come from this place of superiority as
if to say that you know, nobody is facing something
harder than I've ever faced. That's simply not true. For
some people. It is a very deep and very dark crevasse.
All I am saying is find the rope. There is

a rope. You've got to find it. You've got to
get out. You are not meant to be where you
are now. And number five, oh, your summit, Your summit,
it's where you're meant to be. It's where you're meant
to be. Every gift, every action of your life is
for you to stand on top of the summit. And

in real life, when you know, we cannot drop somebody
on a summit of Everest, right, you can't just helicopter
them there and they just parachute down. You would die
on Everest if you did that, because your body has
not acclimated all of these things that we go through,
all of the hardship, all of the struggle, all of
the failure. You think, think you're just wasting time, you

think you're going nowhere, But you are changing, and you
change literally to do a climb, and we change figuratively.
It is the climb that makes us worthy to stand
on top of that summit and breathe in the air
and live. That is where you are meant to be,
And there is no bypassing that summit climb. It's the

climb is how we get there. But the view is
worth it. And when you are there, start looking around
and figuring out where am I going next, because even
greater things are yet ahead.

Speaker 1 (31:39):
Jennifer Nielsen, Once Upon a Climb? Where can folks find?
Where you're speaking? Where can folks find this book and
all your other wonderful little tidbits on how to have
a better future, a better present, not even future, but
a better present.

Speaker 2 (31:58):
Yeah, just yeah, life that we live. It's twenty twenty four.
We have a new fresh start. You can find Once
upon a Climb at any of your online favorite resources.
Please support your local indie booksellers. If they don't have it,
ask them to order it in for you, and support
local wherever you can. If you want to know more

about me or about any of my other books, my
website is jen Nielsen dot com j E N N
I E L S e N dot com, which should
give my schedule and anywhere that I might happen to be.

Speaker 1 (32:35):
Thank you, Thank you. It has been delightful talking to you,
learning from you, and hopefully especially young people will we'll
grab Once upon a Climb and drink it in and
start setting their goals, choosing their path, choosing their climbing
partners and go in for it.

Speaker 2 (32:55):
Absolutely, this is going to be a great and wonderful year.
Thank you for having me on your show.

Speaker 1 (33:01):
Jennifer A. Nielsen set out originally to write a book
to inspire other writers to keep writing, to keep doing
all the things necessary to reach the summit and become
a published author. She soon realized that her advice worked
for many achievable goals. Once Upon a Climb Five Steps
Every Dreamer Should Know is a slim, hardback volume with

realistic and relatable advice. She will demonstrate how to set
yourself up for success, how to surround yourself with those
who will support your vision, how to map out your assent,
what to do when you face obstacles, and the importance
of keeping your eye on the prize. The book jacket says,

it's like having a heart to heart talk with a
life coach, and after hearing our conversation, you know that's true.
She's genuine and caring and here to cheer you on
to your personal mountaintop. She's going to help me and
you turn our to do list into tada list. You
can catch up with Jennifer on our website jen Nielsen

dot com. J E n n I E l s
E N j E N n I E l s
E n dot com. You can find Once Upon a Climb,
published by Shadow Mountain Books, it's your favorite bookseller. I
don't know what twenty twenty four holds for us. My
hope is that it contains some laughter, more laughter than tears,

and that we spend much of our time with those
we hold dear. It's January, so that means I'm currently
plotting and planning and dreaming about my gardens this year.
One thing is for certain. This year there will be
lots of flowers.
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