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I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag: A Memoir of a Life Through Events-the Ones You Plan and the Ones You Don’t


By Jennifer Gilbert


What would you do if you were brutally assaulted? How would you deal with the aftermath and pick up the pieces of your life without constantly looking over your shoulder? These are not the kind of questions anyone wants to think about, but is exactly what Jennifer Gilbert had to face when at 22 she was viciously attacked.


Jennifer takes us on her incredible journey beginning at 22, with the crime that change her world forever to 29 when she won Entrepreneur of the Year, to expanding her business nationally, only to have it derailed by 9/11, to finding and losing love then finding it again, to trying/failing and trying again to have children, to dealing with one child’s illness to all the struggles that motherhood will present. You will get caught up in her emotional roller coaster with many heartbreaking and hilarious events along the way. And while she experiences life’s ups and downs on a grand scale, she triumphs in the end – facing and fighting her demons head on. She conquers her fears and learns to accept that someone can love her, flaws, scars (internal and external) and all, and most importantly, she learns to accept and lover herself. 


Some take aways:

After the attack

  • I felt stuck in a life with no God, no sunshine, no light

  • Even though my heart was beating my soul was dead

  • My thoughts were spinning and spinning with no place to rest

First realization

  • If I was going to be afraid to live then that man might as well have killed me

  • I woke up for good that day and made a choice to stop hiding

  • I stopped looking back and realized, you can’t move forward if you’re staring in the rearview mirror

Burying the pain

  • The more I kept moving the less I had to think

  • Because my scars were hidden, the disconnect continued between how I appeared and what i felt

  • I was gregarious yet lonely, I was a fearless fearful person

Moving forward

  • It was useless to ask, “why me”

  • I couldn’t keep spinning like a top, afraid if it stopped I’d topple over

  • The decision to admit that I needed help changed my life

New realizations

  • Life’s not about presents but your presence

  • Sometimes the only difference between being in a hole and getting out is just one footstep

  • It was time to stop hoping things would change and to make the decision to change what I could

And finally

  • Sometimes the darkness and the light go hand in hand

  • The power comes from the surrender, not the fight

  • You can’t control what may happen, but you can control who you want to be after it happens

  • Goodie bags have become a metaphor for life. Its fine to hope for a happy ending but it’s when we expect a specific outcome tht we get into trouble.  Life is not about what you will be receiving later, or ‘some day’, its what you put into it NOW that counts.

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