50 Over 50 Project for 2020


Jennifer Borelli

Age: 51


"Do the soul work necessary to be you! Knowing and trusting yourself will eliminate the need to people-please and offer space to focus on what truly brings you peace."

Age: 51
Profession: Business Owner/Bookkeeper.

What is the best thing about being your age?
I am finally comfortable in my own skin, with who I am.

What hardships have you endured that you feel have made you stronger?
I grew up in extreme poverty and neglect. I always felt like I was disposable and no one expected much would come of me.

When I was 19, my best friend and I went to go work at a ski lodge. When the season ended we had nothing to go home to, so we travelled across the country for a year, sleeping in our car and in churches. My friend wanted to go to college, which had never even crossed my mind before, so we ended up in Santa Cruz, before the earthquake of '89. I wound-up putting myself through college, which no one believed I could do. I spent 7 years going to night school at Cabrillo while working a 40-hour work-week in order to get my AA degree in accounting.

I didn't always have a belief in myself, but I did believe I could do and have more. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other until I got to where I wanted to be. I didn't have a grand plan, I just kept moving forward. Somehow, I found the inner strength to formulate a life for myself. Eventually I went on to get my degree in finance at San Jose State.

It was difficult breaking through the patterns of my abused childhood to get to the other side of it and just start living. The turning point for me was wanting to be a mom myself. I wanted to be a healthy person in order to have children of my own. I have made big changes – breaking the chains of addiction, abuse, and neglect from my past. Today, I have a loving relationship, a successful business, and a healthy home. Somehow, some way, I found the strength to pull myself out of the past and create the amazing life I have today. The fact that I was able to create all that is still amazing to me. I don't often step back to look at how far I have come, I just keep paddling. Anyone can move forward, no matter what your life circumstances are – just put one foot in front of the other.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
That I finished college and started my own business. I was an undiagnosed dyslectic until I was 17. I was never expected to do anything with my life. Even my 5th grade teacher told my mom that I would never amount to much – that I was just dumb – don't expect anything from her. But, I expected more for myself. I was determined to prove them wrong.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Right here, right now. Snuggled up with my husband and son on a chilly holiday morning drinking coffee with the fireplace on.

What is your most treasured possession?
My son. I gave birth when I was 42 years old, and went to great medical lengths to have him. Having him has fulfilled something in me, which I was scared to do. I'm completely committed to him and to the processes of raising an amazing human being. Now, my son is 9 years old and he is the light of my life. Just the other day he said to me, "I'm so glad you're my mom."

What's your favorite thing you have checked off your bucket list?
I have never created a bucket list, but if I did I would like to go to the Amalfi coast.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I'd like to feel more comfortable in social situations. Sometimes I have social anxiety - I love to be included, but then I don't want to go out from fear of not fitting in.

What is a trait you are most proud of?
My willingness to learn and grow – the knowledge that I can overcome obstacles.

What do you most value in your friends?
Honesty, loyalty, and lots of laughter.

What is your greatest extravagance?
An annual Hawaiian vacation with my family in Waikoloa Village.

What advice would you give your younger self?
It will all be ok. When I was a child, I wish someone had told me that it would all be ok.

What is your favorite motto or quote?
Acceptance is the answer to all of my problems today.

Additional thoughts for younger women...
Do the soul work necessary to be you! Authenticity is ageless, it will allow you to be comfortable in your own skin no matter what you look like on the outside. Knowing and trusting yourself will eliminate the need to people-please and offer space to focus on what truly brings you peace.

In my 40s I spent a lot of time trying to fit what others thought I should be. Instead of spending the time learning about myself. I could have spent that time learning about what makes me happy. I wish I would have known that sooner. Once you know yourself, you are doing what is true for you and that's never wrong.