Welcome to The Ch’i of Jen. “Why Ch’i” you ask? A very good question that deserves a good answer but as you will learn to discover if you stick around, I rarely give a concise answer to anything. I can’t help it – I love a good story.

So here’s my story:

I was recently on a Spring Break trip with my husband, our three young boys and our extended family. Needless to say, there isn’t a ton of time for quiet self-reflection in that setting. Yet I found myself staring down the wrong end of a rapidly approaching deadline for a guest column I write in the local paper. I had a bad case of writer’s block and no focus.

But I did have a beach, so I snuck away. For me, there is nothing better than a walk near the ocean for finding some inner peace. It has the ability to simultaneously soothe and inspire me. I started thinking about what else I draw comfort and inspiration from and made what I consider a mind-blowing discovery.

I raced back (okay, maybe I meandered-it’s a gorgeous beach) for some Google-Wikipedia confirmation and voilà – the “Ch’i of Jen” was born.

Ch’i (or Qi) is the Chinese word/symbol for one’s life force. My light bulb moment on the beach came as I started listing all the things that make me “ME.” I deduced that, incredibly, my life force appears to derive from all things ‘CH’ – the beach, my children, chocolate, champagne, chatting, Chicago (the city and the musical), charity, cheesy poofs, Channing Tatum… incidentally, this list is not necessarily in order.

Now, “The Ch’i of Jen” is still not yet fully fleshed-out - as with any evolving theory, there are exceptions to the rule. For example, I hold firmly to my beliefs that “The Princess Bride” is the best story every written, “The Wire” is the best television show ever produced, Dave Grohl is the bomb and Brad Pitt is the most underappreciated actor of his generation – none of which seem to involve ‘ch.’ Another interesting note – I can’t come up with a single fitness regimen that includes a ‘ch’ – which explains a lot.

The important part, though, is the journey. After 39-ish years, I realize that finding and embracing what defines “me” is a constantly shifting, challenging and often frustrating, but essential journey. There are approximately 187,534,901 more quotes I could insert here for inspiration (all from Abe Lincoln or Morgan Freeman, if you’re on Facebook – I counted) but the journey is an individual one. Welcome to my journey – I hope you enjoy your stay.

And then, dear readers, I hope you go forth and find your own Ch’i – if there’s cheese of any kind involved, you’ll probably find I’m already there and very happy to see you!