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When Your “Perfect” World is Turned Upside Down: How to Navigate an Inner Earthquake 

An Interview with Jenny Calcoen, by Erin Thomas

The year was 2000. She was living in Spain, managing a corporate event. Alone in her hotel room, she heard her doctor’s voice: “It’s cancer.”

In that instant, she knew two things:  I will survive this illness, and I’m leaving my fine-but-not-great marriage.

Within a year, Jenny Calcoen was healthy, living in a different country, working a new job, and dating a man who would become her husband. This is why she is so passionate about supporting women through their own “inner earthquakes.”

It is our birthright to live a life that we love …. and that loves us back.”

Calcoen’s story is not unique. Many high-achieving women face a tapestry of unspoken struggles – divorce, career shifts, empty nests, the physical changes of menopause – that can collide into a powerful seismic shift, forcing a reassessment of self and their desires.

The Pressure to Maintain the Facade

Women, especially high-achieving, high-net-worth ones, can face impossible standards. They’re expected to be philanthropists, CEOs, and community pillars. The pressure to be perfect is palpable. Yet, beneath the polished exteriors, a quiet discontent can fester.

“The world assumes you have everything, so you bury your struggles, fearing judgment or appearing ungrateful,” says Sarah, Calcoen’s client.  

Calcoen, who mentors women through major life transitions, understands the pressure to maintain the facade. These fears keep many women, especially affluent women, isolated. Contrary to what many believe, high success often correlates with increased loneliness. 

“It’s a strange kind of loneliness,” confides another client, Emily. “You’re surrounded by people, yet you feel like no one understands.” The internal conflict intensifies, fueled by the unspoken question: “Is this really all there is?

The Hum of Mediocrity and the Breaking Point

Years of living on autopilot, driven by societal expectations rather than personal desires, can lead to emotional numbness.

“You might not even be aware of the ‘low hum of mediocrity’ at first – assuming this is normal – but it’s always there, a nagging feeling that things could be better,’ explains Calcoen. They could be ‘vibrant and joyful.’ YOU could be vibrant and joyful.”

Then, a major event throws everything into stark relief. A divorce or children leaving home can trigger a reevaluation of identity, a career shift can expose a lack of passion, and illness or aging can make the body feel foreign. These events become the catalysts – the tremors – that finally result in a full-blown inner earthquake, forcing a reckoning with the unsatisfying reality that’s been beneath the surface.

Walking Through the Earthquake with a Guide

The journey through an inner earthquake can be overwhelming. Fear, confusion, and a sense of loss are common emotions. This is where Jenny Calcoen steps in. Her approach is one of empathetic guidance, providing a safe and confidential space, walking alongside women as they learn to trust themselves after a pivotal moment in life.

Focusing on the Present Moment

A cornerstone of Calcoen’s work is cultivating present-moment awareness. This involves learning to “be” rather than “do,” empowering women to reconnect with their emotions and body sensations. “Many of my clients spend their lives in a constant state of doing,” she says. “They haven’t learned to be present and fully experience their lives. If they have, they often find it too scary or painful, so they avoid it.”

Calcoen uses a bespoke approach for each client, incorporating mindfulness, self-reflection, and other presence practices to support women as they learn to identify and observe their emotions without judgment, allowing them to navigate difficult feelings and make choices based on their authentic selves, not societal expectations. After all, emotions are not states of being; they are temporary guides.

Establishing – and Enforcing – Healthy Boundaries

Another crucial aspect of Calcoen’s method involves setting and enforcing healthy boundaries. “Boundaries are about self-respect,” Calcoen emphasizes. “By establishing and enforcing clear boundaries, you teach others how to treat you.” This empowers women to reclaim their time and energy, resources often depleted by the relentless demands of their lives.

For example, a client struggling in a demanding role might establish boundaries by requesting that her team include her only in high-level meetings. Another client overwhelmed with social obligations might decline invitations that drain her energy, no explanation needed.

Moving Beyond Time Management

Women tend to be time management experts. However, Calcoen argues that true empowerment comes from managing their energy, not just their time. “It’s about recognizing what drains your energy and what replenishes it,” she explains. This allows women to prioritize activities that nourish their well-being, fostering a more sustainable and fulfilling life.

Reclaiming Confidence and Identity

The pervasive feeling of “imposter syndrome” is a hot topic these days, but one that Calcoen rejects. “It’s not an affliction or a psychiatric condition. ‘Imposter Syndrome’ simply describes the feelings that often come from fear. And contrary to what many believe, they are feelings that affect high-achieving people just like everyone else,” she said. “It is healthy to feel fear when taking on new adventures – it means you’re leaving your comfort zone, where no innovation happens.”

Learning to use fear as useful information is essential in building the deepest layers of self-confidence and stepping into one’s authentic power – no matter what happens in life.

The key to understanding and moving beyond fear? Cultivating unshakeable self-confidence. Women learn to identify their strengths, quiet their inner critics, celebrate their unique journeys and let go of perfectionism. This newfound – or rediscovered – self-belief empowers them to pursue their passions and step outside their comfort zones.

The Inner Earthquake Method: A Tailored Path to Transformation

Calcoen’s signature method, aptly named The Inner Earthquake Method is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s a journey tailored to each woman’s unique needs and challenges. The experience dives into areas like managing energy, establishing healthy boundaries, aligning with personal values, cultivating a magnetic presence, and achieving whole-being transformation – all in addition to profound mindset shifts.

Through individual coaching sessions, group workshops, and proven, results-driven exercises, women explore their inner landscapes and develop a roadmap for a more fulfilling life.

Taking the First Step: The Inner Earthquake Quiz

Calcoen offers an insightful free resource – The Inner Earthquake Quiz – to help them assess their current state and identify areas for growth by exploring themes like self-awareness, boundaries, energy management, and life purpose.

The results provide a starting point for further exploration and self-discovery. More importantly, the quiz shows them that they are not alone on this journey. To take advantage of this powerful resource, simply go to

A Life Rebuilt, from the Inside Out

There’s no quick fix for the challenges women face during their inner earthquakes. Rather than having our confidence come from outside validation based on what we do or what we have, self-confidence is built from the inside out, when we stop listening to societal expectations and we don’t negotiate who we are. The journey towards transformation requires courage, self-compassion, and a willingness to embrace change. However, with the right guidance and support, women can emerge from this experience stronger, more resilient, and more vibrantly alive than ever before – no matter what life throws at them.

Internationally-recognized mentor, speaker, and author, Jenny Calcoen, is the CEO and Founder of Inner Earthquake, a boutique consulting and coaching practice dedicated to empowering women. After a successful 26-year corporate career in senior leadership, Calcoen now mentors, coaches, and teaches women philanthropists, executives, and entrepreneurs to step into a bigger version of themselves. She can be reached directly at for questions and interviews.

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