a little clarity, literally and figuratively

January 16, 2010 |  Category:   friends life

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I’ve been trying to write this post for a day, but have deleted, rewritten and deleted whole sections again. Sometimes words roll off the fingertips. Sometimes it’s a struggle to put a cohesive sentence down at all. But I feel in a space of 36 hours, much has happened. It’s been an interesting few days. I spent the middle of the week feeling sick and finally surrendered to the fact that this cough wasn’t going to get better on its own after 4 weeks, so I went to the doctor. Along with a prescription for antibiotics, I also came away with a realization and a load off my chest. I think I finally get it now. I don’t know why I’m having “low-grade” depression (as I’ve been calling it) but that is why it’s hard to shake off. There is nothing tangible that I can place it on. But the pursuit of happiness isn’t so elusive if you understand that it’s takes effort, motivation and a willingness to spend time to prioritize the things that can help you feel better. Like the cough, it doesn’t just go away on it’s own and the busyness of life and work is really just a distraction from dealing with it. It’s so obvious, right? And yet, when you’re feeling down, it’s those very simple things like sleep, exercise and reaching out to other people that are hard to muster energy for.

But I’m working on many of these things. I’m ready to chase away insecurity, lack of self confidence and feeling like I’m faking my way through certain things in life despite what I’ve accomplished and what others say and perceive (do you ever feel that way?). I did an interview over on the ModernEmotive blog and one of the things that I said was that you need to hustle and work hard when you are self employed, but you also need to trust. And I realized that I don’t trust enough – myself, my family, my talents, my network, my life, my confidence.

I had a pretty extraordinary day this week. I had quite a few opportunities that sprung up on the same day and quite unexpectedly. Things that are scary and fun and potentially exciting. There were meetings, phone calls and social get togethers and potential projects that made me reassess the things that I had planned for the beginning of this year. I have been going out at night a little more too which had been a rarity in the past and the city is such a different world when the sky is dark and the lights are out. I’m not used to it. But now that the kids are a little older I’m starting to feel like I’m having a life that is separate from the kids. So much of my social circle for the past 6 years have revolved around them. It’s refreshing to talk to people about business, blogging, and entrepreneurship, and not about sleep schedules, potty training or tantrums.

People who don’t get it sometimes laugh when I say that I have this social online life or that I’m going to meet some people that I’ve met online. But the truth is, all of those worlds are converging and I no longer make that distinction between virtual friends and real life friends. To me they are one in the same, and through effort we are meeting one another (to quote Claudine’s favorite phrase right now “for real life”) and even making summer travel plans.

I recently sat with other women in the most amazing glass penthouse downtown with the city lights and the East River as the backdrop. Some of us were writers, others were designers or editors, some had day jobs, some were entrepreneurs, some were married, some not, some had children. But we were all bloggers who met through twitter and among lots of things, we talked about why we blog. I think we all agreed that although it is scary sometimes to put yourself out there, we are also getting something back, which is why we do it. So true. I know there are many of you who have said that our story of starting this business and the struggles of work/home balance has been inspiring. I’m glad to share, but I’m also getting back from so many of you as well. It’s obvious that this business has changed our life, but not necessarily in the way that I had thought. At the end of the day, work is work, but it’s the opportunities and relationships that have developed through this blog and the business that has been a most pleasant and life changing surprise. These are connections that I’m cherishing right now.

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  • stacey January 16, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    i’ve been reading your blog for a few months now, and i have to say while i love it (obviously, it keeps me coming back every day), you pretty much nailed it with this post as to why i DO keep coming back. i find “real life” inspiration in the accomplishments and struggles you share with us every day. your path has helped me with my own confidence and trust where my personal ambitions (and fears) are concerned. and how freaking awesome is that? so thank you. very much.

  • ABC Dragoo January 16, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Well said ~ very well said, indeed.

    There is a huge difference between being employed by the man with a regular paycheck, and going it on your own, moving from one creative project to the next, and making it work as you go.

    Anyone who choses the creative life outside of commercial (advertising/magazines, etc) opens themselves up to whirls of emotion, life experiences and uncertainty that can really toy with ones spirit.

    It takes a lot of guts to be a creative entrepreneur.
    You’ve done well and will continue to.
    ABCD

    P.S. I think it’s great you’re getting out and having a life outside motherhood. As a matter of fact – it’s good for them to see that you’re something other than just “Mom!”

  • G January 16, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    I know the feeling of hanging on by a single string to the world, commitments, family, work, etc. I don’t think the insecurity and the depression ever goes away. I used to think that if I were happier and more confidant, suddenly grass would be greener, the sky bluer, I would look like one of those happy celebrities skipping down the street with a smoothie.
    I’ve learned that insecurity, depression and discontent are a part of who I am. They inform a lot of how I see the world, how I think of things, etc. I’ve come to accept these parts of my character and accept that they will be there for the rest of my life. The trick to living with them is to remind yourself that you wouldn’t be “rather be somewhere else” and that you will always be an independent, single person even if you have a husband, kids, work, whatever. It is important not to give 100% of yourself to your kids. Give them 75%. keep a good 25% for yourself – not to your work, your creative outlets, your husband, just yourself.
    It’s helped me a lot to accept that I don’t have to add to the conversation, so to speak. I can wander off and take a breather and not berate myself for it.
    I hope you’re well.

  • Clouds January 16, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    For what it’s worth. I think your life is pretty inspiring. You have such an amazing and supportive husband, beautiful girls and a growing business that involves bring joy to other people’s lives.

    Oh, and you’re awfully pretty too! Thought I should just mention that. 😉

    All the best…

  • Beth from Maryland January 16, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    Beautiful post! I think people keep on reading your blog because you are a multi-faceted person. I started reading your blog after my daughter was born. I found support online that I could quietly connect with after she went to bed. You give the mothers, partners, wives, and workers in all of us a little breather when we sit down to read your posts each night. Thank you for that. It is a great part of my day.

  • Lecia/A Day That is Dessert January 16, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    I hope you’re able to find ways to feel better – just having written about it may help. So glad you’re getting out more…and the blog meet-up sounds like it was fantastic (who has the amazing penthouse??) – wish I could’ve come. I feel the same way about my blogging connections; as a ‘stay at home’ parent I would be somewhat isolated without them. Even if I wasn’t, it’s hard to find like-minded people. The internet makes the world smaller.

  • penlilypabi January 16, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    jenna-
    love your blog-
    so real and so pretty- i totally get so much of what you say-
    kelly

  • Christy January 16, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    Oh, Jenna, once again you’ve addressed my concerns, and it’s let me know that I’m not the only one with trust issues. I don’t trust people easily, not even my mother, it seems, when I remember all those times in my childhood when I’d stubbornly trail behind her instead of walking in front of her so she could watch where I’m going, just so I can actually keep her in my sight. I hope you’re not as bad as I am.

    And I’m with you with feeling that I’m faking it, despite what everyone else says. Though the difference is that, you’ve actually accomplished things in life, while I’m still trying to get there. I think that’s why I keep coming back to your blog—for inspiration, support and a little bit of self-help.

    But you know what, even with the ups and downs and the unpredictability and insecurities that come from working for yourself, I don’t think that I can hack a 9-5 desk job. I’m sure you feel the same way 😉

  • wendy January 17, 2010 at 1:35 am

    thanks for sharing your thoughts so honestly here jenna – it’s not easy putting yourself out there. i really enjoy your posts, and a lot of what you say resonates with me. and.. i think you’re insanely talanted 🙂

  • sally January 17, 2010 at 3:04 am

    love this post. you really articulated some of the things i feel as well…i no longer differentiate between my online + offline life + friends. i am continually amazed by how many wonderful + generous + talented people i have met online. i can’t wait to meet in august!! =)

  • Jackie January 17, 2010 at 9:36 am

    I love this post. I love what blogging can do, and I cherish the connections and things I learn from doing it. Last year I had this goal to blog every single day, and by the end of the year I’d kind of lost sight of why I’d started a blog in the first place. This year I’ve eased up on the expectations, and I’m really falling in love with the whole process again. And one of my goals is to make more connections with the bloggers out there that I enjoy reading, commenting more, reaching out more. No matter what the subject of a blog is, and how different they are, there is so much to be gained from everyone’s point of view. So I love that you put yourself out here, it’s really inspiring to me as I try redefining why I blog this year. Great!

  • smama January 17, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Hi Jenna,

    Thank you for your post!
    It really got me thinking about a lot of stuff that’s going on in my life right now.

    I don’t know if you’ve seen this or not but I think every creative being should. It’s a talk given by Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) at the TED convention.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/453

    Enjoy!

  • pandora January 17, 2010 at 10:31 am

    I just wanted to say thank you.

  • Krysten January 17, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Just found your blog today and I really love it – this entry is so well written and you just seem like an inspiring person. Can’t wait to read more!

  • Nina January 17, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    A lot of people I know are sick. I have been sick too nad had to take care of the rest of the family at the same time. Feel better soon!

  • Cinthia January 17, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Jenna
    My brother showed me “Sweet fine day” last month because its photos have really amazed him. I would say, however, that such courage to share your thoughts so honestely is the soul of your blog. Despite language barrier (English is not my mother tongue), this post has touched me. Bravo!

  • julie y, January 17, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    baby butts…haha i just died out laughing. kids are so honest, and that is so refreshing! Regardless, I love the “hearts” for v-day! Great gifts for sweet friends!!

  • willow January 17, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    hi jenna. I have been reading your blog for a few months. I tried to explain the other night to a friend why I read your blog so regularly, and couldn’t really put my finger on it. I live on the other side of the world, I am not a mother, nor am I a wife, I am not a designer, and I don’t take beautiful photos – as much as I wish I did. This post made me realise that it is not always what you say, but the eloquence and honesty with which you say it that brings me back each day.

    that, and your two amazingly cute daughters.

    anyway, just wanted to un-lurk myself, or whatever the term actually is, and also to thank you for sharing.

  • quyen huynh January 18, 2010 at 2:58 am

    Gosh, so well said! I’ve been going through the same emotions and though, could it be that my postpartum drepression still lingering? You really nailed it on this post! Thanks for sharing Jenna.

  • Kym maxwell January 18, 2010 at 3:05 am

    Hey Jenna

    I’ve been reading your blog for only a couple of months, and it is a relief to see that your so freak’n honest, right on human, noisy, confused, happy, elated, inspired and very very friendly. As I try to frame my own blog life and define what it is for/about/whose involved why/whether it’s professional/private/revenue generating or a diary for my kids, I look at your blog and get closer to my own answers. I would have loved to be at the meeting talking blogs at the back of beautiful scenery. THats why I stick in it, I reckon there’s some of that for me here, somehow. Just wish I could get a good quality camera like your own, this would change my frame a little also.

    I may have started it for one reason and now do it for another, nevertheless it is blogs like yours that inspire me. Fantastic Jenna

    Warm Regards

    Kym Maxwell
    La La Hi Prism
    lalahiprism.blogspot.com

    PS: you’ve gotta get out, extends your world view and your frontiers healthy for all.

  • blissgypsy January 18, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Jenna this time of year is hard on me too. Seasonal Affective Disorder is real and I suspect more common with those who already have underlying depression. Light therapy works. I chose artificial tanning once or twice a week with sunscreen. Really helps me!

  • nichole Robertson January 18, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Thank you for saying out loud what SO many of us want to say.

    I am so glad to count you among one of my twitter friends turned “real” friends.

    But you’re right … does it even matter anymore?

  • Emily January 19, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Thank you for sharing. I am in early stages of putting my own work out into the world and have been blogging for some time now, but have reached a point where I am questioning why I continue to do it…my friends and family don’t necessarily share my interest in it and sometimes it can get lonely and frustrating to keep working on something that no one really understands, but you know is something you need to do. It is reassuring to see so many others struggling with questioning where they are with things and why they continue to push forward.
    thanks and good luck with all the changes that are happening.

    emily

  • mercie ghimire January 19, 2010 at 11:14 am

    i love this post and can relate to every. last. part. of. it. thank you for sharing and reassuring me that i am not the only one who struggles with these things.

  • emeline January 19, 2010 at 11:31 am

    best post ever? I think I say that every time. Thanks for being real and for putting into words what i have a hard time doing! You just pushed me back to my own blog, that has been torturing me and making me feel guilty since before Christmas!
    It’s nice when the kiddos are a bit more grown up, eh? Movies, drinks, chats… it’s like you feel normal again. .
    hugs
    e

  • lesley January 27, 2010 at 12:30 am

    that is a lovely and heartfelt post. you’ve given me so much to think about! i hope you find the clarity you’re looking for, and that feeling physically healthier can help your mind rise above and find your space. best of luck.

  • Danita Luna June 9, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Here is a speech by Nelson Mandela that says what I wish to say when I read what you say.

    The Healing Light Institute of Spirituality

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    The above speech by Nelson Mandela was orignally written by Marianne Williamson who is the author of other similar material.”

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