Life keeps changing. Always.

February 25, 2015 |  Category:   life

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So I want to tell you that almost every night I sit here staring at WordPress with either an empty or a half written post. I stare at the screen; open new tabs on my browser; get distracted (which is really just another word for procrastination). I have a half dozen unfinished posts in draft. I write and then delete whole paragraphs. Where is this block coming from? This reluctance to write is something I’ve been trying to figure out. I’ve seen my words used against me recently so maybe I don’t want to invite judgment or misinterpretation when I’ve been in a vulnerable state the last year, but this isn’t necessarily new. It’s par the course when you’re putting your words and ideas out there. So what’s changed?

 

Maybe it’s just winter. It’s starting to feel like the movie GroundHog Day as far as the weather is concerned, what with all the snow and cold. I feel like we’re just holding our breath until Spring breaks through. How many photos of snowy New York can I post? How many times can we complain about the weather? But damn, that first snowfall is always so pretty – even if we’re deathly sick of it.
 
But maybe it’s also having a job. When I get home after a hectic rush hour commute – and lately, delays because of the unusually cold weather – I don’t want to do a thing. But of course there’s homework to help with, sometimes a freelance project to work on, and the business to run. After everyone’s gone to bed, I come here and the focus just isn’t there. Could it be that I’ve finally decided that sleeping is better than writing blog posts from 12-2am which is when I used to do the majority of my writing?
 
Overall life is moving along, but it’s hard keeping it together some days, if only for appearances, when there’s still so much to process and deal with. It’s also an adjustment being around people for 8-10 hours at a time in an office after having worked solo at home for so many years. Because I’ve always been hypersensitive to the moods of people around me, I’m conscious about the energy that I put out there and this isn’t something that I’ve had to think about or control in a long time. Office dynamics can be a delicate balance, but it’s paramount to the success of an early startup (or any company at any stage, for that matter). This will sound like a total tech startup cliche, but I’m also the only woman in a team of guys and 1 of only 2 team members (and the only employee) who is a parent. This doesn’t always have to be an issue – and it’s not for the most part – but it is an inherently different dynamic from the project teams I’ve been a part of in the recent past. Gender and age is suddenly “a thing” in my career now.
 
All of these adjustments, both big and small in the past year have added up to some big changes. I’ve ruminated enough in the past on feeling stuck (and in some areas of our lives, we are still “stuck”), so these changes are good. But I’m also ready to admit that I’m feeling overwhelmed and I can’t accomplish everything that I want. For anyone who is a lifetime overachiever, this admission can be hard to accept and it’s easy to think of it as failure. However, if any life lesson can be learned from this past year, I’d know that is a dangerous path to go down. I’m working on avoiding that path, every day.

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  • Shea February 25, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    Hi Jenna,

    I discovered your site a couple of years ago, but have not commented before. I’m sorry.

    I just wanted to send a note of appreciation and encouragement to you. I have not been an avid follower of your writings (I can barely keep up with my own to-do list!) but from your last few posts, it sounds like things have been changing in your offline life, and may perhaps feel a little daunting at times.

    Even if you choose to not write very much on this blog, or to only disclose small amounts out of self protection, the words you have shared have been deeply appreciated. Your willingness to share that you are grappling with bumps or challenges is hugely valuable in itself. Life is just a messy thing. It’s nice to get to see some of that mess when others share it. It makes us all feel a little better about the things that cause us worry, confusion, stress, etc. Thank you.

    Anyway, sending you lots of good energy, as well as encouragement to write (or not write) in whatever way feels good to you. A million photos of snowy New York are still gorgeous and engaging, with or without words. Your photos are beautiful.

    All the best to you,
    Shea

    • Jenna February 25, 2015 at 9:31 pm

      Thank you Shea. Itโ€™s always touching to see a comment from someone who hasnโ€™t before. I know comments on blogs are kind of a dying thing, so I thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful and encouraging one today. Best to you too.

  • Jane February 25, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    Life is hard. It’s beautiful and wonderful and precious, but it’s hard. When we’re young we always think that once we “grow up” we’ll have it all figured out. But the reality is that we never finish growing up, and most of us never figure it all out – we’re just trying to muddle through somehow and hope no one realizes that we don’t have a clue what we’re doing. Most of us feel at times that we’re barely keeping our heads above water, but no one wants to admit it, so we end up worrying that we’re the only ones who feel this way, when in reality we’re all in this together. You’ve written a very thoughtful post, and it’s better to write one post you’re satisfied with than a handful of posts you’re only writing because you think you ought to, right?

    • Jenna February 26, 2015 at 9:10 pm

      Jane, life IS hard. You put it beautifully. And no, we are never the only ones who feel this way.

  • Brenda Bergen February 25, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    Just a little hello and a hug. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed too, which is hard when the weather is cold and not very sunny (I’m in Chicago). I recently hired someone wonderful to help with my business. I told her everything I’m overwhelmed with, both work and personal. She told me about something her 5 year old’s teacher does for them in school. She explained that each person has a bucket. Happy things like being nice and hugs fill each other’s buckets up. So, here’ a hug…for your bucket.

    xo
    B

    • Jenna February 26, 2015 at 9:11 pm

      Brenda, sorry to hear you are also feeling overwhelmed and I’m so glad you got help. Thank you for my bucket…and my hug! xo

      • Brenda February 27, 2015 at 8:58 pm

        Jenna, we MUST meet in person one day so that I can deliver my hugs to you for real !

        • Jenna February 28, 2015 at 9:00 am

          We will, for sure!

  • sandra February 26, 2015 at 4:50 am

    I’m not good in writing in English, but I can say that I love to read your words and they stay in mind during a long time. I love your truth, you emotions that you share here. Sometimes blogs are boring because all you see is a perfect family with perfect activities, but I love to read human blogs, with failures and expectations. Sometimes I try to see the little things that I have done for me or my family, in my working day, even if I wanted to do so much more….

    • Jenna February 26, 2015 at 9:12 pm

      thank you so much for typing this out in English! (your english is wonderful, by the way)

  • Roos February 26, 2015 at 5:12 am

    Yes, yes and yes (especially the part about staring at your screen and deleting your writing material).
    Life isn’t easy and will never be easy – and keeping up appearances is so unnecessary (and yet, we all play along, why???). Thank you for hitting publish this time and sharing your feelings with the world. It’s very much appreciated: at least you’ve made one stranger across the world feeling a little bit less alone.

    xoxo
    Roos

    • Jenna February 26, 2015 at 9:13 pm

      Thank you Roos, for reading and getting in touch. It’s always nice to hear from you. I hope that you are your family are doing well these days. I know you have been through a lot too.

  • Jillian February 26, 2015 at 9:05 am

    Yes and yes! I completely hear that. I adore your pictures (even the many snow ones!) and love reading your blog, so thank you for sharing.

    • Jenna February 26, 2015 at 9:14 pm

      ๐Ÿ™‚ These are just a small fraction of all the snowy photos I’ve been taking. so much snow!

  • Christina February 26, 2015 at 9:52 am

    Thank you Jenna, for taking the time to write these words, even if it was a struggle. I think we can all relate or have been in your place at one time or another, and lately I have been feeling the same.

    As others have said (and Shea put my thoughts into words so perfectly), I appreciate the time you dedicate to this blog, but if you choose to write nothing at all, I hope you do not feel pressure from us readers, because I feel the same; sometimes you just want to do nothing at all.

    I hope I’m making sense and I’m sending some encouragement to get through this bleak, cold winter.

    • Jenna February 26, 2015 at 9:17 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement. I do sometimes think about the readers (the ones who are left). It isn’t exactly pressure that I feel to keep up with this blog, but it’s more of a reluctance to leave behind this community of readers that’s been built over the years. These comments have meant so much to me.

  • Britta February 26, 2015 at 10:48 am

    While it might be redundant with instagram, if all you share is your photos, I’m still grateful. They’re bigger and more striking here on the blog (on my big computer screen) than on my phone. I really enjoy your perspective – both your words and the photos.

    Share what you are comfortable with, what brings you energy. While I know you said several people “left” after you stopped talking about the girls, the rest of us stayed and will probably continue to stay and check in.

    • Jenna February 26, 2015 at 9:20 pm

      Thanks Britta, for your words. Yes, I suppose it’s adjusting to a new comfort and figuring out where that is exactly.

  • mudslide cookie February 26, 2015 at 11:10 am

    I hear ya! I agree with Britta, the instagram photos you take are so beautiful, that I think many of your readers will always be reminded why they keep coming back to your blog…we appreciate your expressions…no matter the platform.

    • Jenna February 26, 2015 at 9:24 pm

      Thank you!

  • Ines February 26, 2015 at 11:10 am

    Beautiful pictures and words. Thank you, Jenna.

    • Jenna February 26, 2015 at 9:24 pm

      Thank you, Ines

  • Claudia February 26, 2015 at 11:49 am

    I’ve been reading your blog since it started all those years ago, and I have never before left a comment. We seem to be the same age (44-45) and with children around the same ages. I too am a native New Yorker and a professional woman trying to juggle a million things. We probably hung out at the Meadow in the 80s.

    I sense that you may be wrapping up the blog some time soon, so
    I’m writing because I wanted you to know that I appreciate your willingness to be emotionally truthful. Other blogs are all about styling and self-promotion, but I genuinely value your candor about aging, race, family, child-rearing, and the general difficulties of life. I recognize and relate to so much of what you write about. Thanks for all of it. I wish you and your family all good things.

    • Jenna February 26, 2015 at 9:28 pm

      wow, if you hung out in the meadows in the 80s, then yes…we were probably there at the same time! It’s true, sometimes I do think about shutting the blog down. Sometimes I wonder if I’m dragging out the inevitable and that it’s time to cut the cord. I just don’t know. I don’t think I’d want to do it though, unless I’m absolutely sure. And so here we are…

  • courtney February 26, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    That first shot is amazing.

    • Jenna February 26, 2015 at 9:28 pm

      Big fat fluffy snowflakes are always amazing!

  • Marlena February 26, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    I always appreciate your words. And I think we could also use a little glimpse of spring.

    • Jenna February 26, 2015 at 9:29 pm

      I hope Spring comes soon. It wouldn’t make our problems and struggles go away, but it sure would be nice.

  • Linda February 26, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    It’s so hard to force words onto blog posts if they have no desire to come out. I can definitely relate. But I think that’s what makes certain blogs feel more genuine and authentic than others, ya know?

    Keep chugging along. I think sometimes it’s good to have writer’s block because it forces you to put it aside and focus on something different and come back with new energy and better diction.

    • Jenna February 26, 2015 at 9:29 pm

      That’s a nice spin on writer’s block, Linda. I like that.

  • Renita February 26, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    Always look forward to your posts. I hear you about energies and the moods of people around you, about age and gender – just wait after years of being at this job and how the energy will morph.

    Having a job, aging and growing experiences changes perspective and how you approach your balance … but YOU GOT THIS …. stamina, discipline, and a beautiful & authentic view that I think too many people are losing in this fast paced world.

    I hope to be able to view your blog for years to come …..

    • Jenna February 26, 2015 at 9:30 pm

      I always love seeing a comment from you Renita. Thank you SO MUCH for the these encouraging words.

  • Sally February 26, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    Hi, I’ve been reading your blog for a very long time and this is my first comment. I’m not sure why I haven’t commented before and I’m sorry for that. I realise that comments are the feedback of a blog and given they have been dwindling for many writers out there it must add to the pointlessness you all must be feeling about blogging in general. I so value and appreciate your honesty and courage to talk what is going on in your life. I would love for you to continue but understand why you wouldn’t. I recently lost my mother and I just want to say that I felt like the grief took over my body, like a virus. It sapped my energy, my intelligence, my happiness, my peace. I had never lost anyone that close to me before, so I felt completely unprepared, like setting out on a voyage with no map, no food, no boat! I was so shocked at how it took over my life, all the while, no one else could see it or respect that maybe I wasn’t really present, you know? It has been two years now and I feel like the ‘virus’ has lifted. I miss her everyday and I still feel sad, but I thankfully and finally feel like myself again. I know we all deal with grief differently, and I hope I”m not out of line, I just know I wished someone had said to me that the feeling of being out at sea would eventually pass. Not your love for the person, or how much you miss them. But that you, a different you but you all the same, would return. (I have been sitting here thinking about deleting this – I hope this makes sense and in no way offends.)

    • Jenna February 26, 2015 at 9:39 pm

      Please don’t apologize for never commenting! And yes, commenting on blogs is sort of disappearing because there are so many other ways to engage with people nowadays. Sometimes that can translate into feeling like the community that was built around readership is gone. Sometimes it can even feel like you’re typing into a void. I do appreciate you sharing with me how you felt after your mother’s death. That is so right on to what it feels like. Zapped of energy, feeling lost. It’s indescribable sometimes as well, and it changes and fluctuates. Thank you for not deleting this comment.

  • Anne February 26, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    Well I am going to jump on this train and comment. I’ve been reading your blog regularly for years and I think I have commented once. I have always enjoyed reading your blog due to your honesty. You speak about the truth of life without coming off as complaining. I am not sure how you do this- it takes skill. I have to admit as a mental health therapist, blogging drives me crazy at times. Life is not always full of sunshine and perfection. The on-line world sets unrealistic expectations. I am thankful for the food for thought you write about.

    Sending good vibes and the hope of sunshine from Detroit.

    • Jenna February 26, 2015 at 9:48 pm

      Anne, years ago during the first year that I started this blog, I got my first critical comment. Someone said that they were sick of my complaining. Now, I don’t *think* I was complaining in that post, but I suppose something that I wrote came across as complaining to this person. It stuck with me obviously, and I’m very conscious of that.

  • Jill February 26, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    I love your perspective, Jenna. It’s so rich and thoughtful. I hear you 100% about being hyper-aware of the energy that you’re putting out into your work environment, and I think it really can diminish what you are able to give every night at home to your personal efforts. I really want to be present at work and attuned to those around me right now. Maybe it won’t always be that way, but in a similarly fast-paced tech start-up environment, I feel the same way. I think before the last year or so I was starting to let myself get jaded or cynical and I made a very conscious decision to put forth more light into the universe. Sounds like some hippie shit, but it’s really turned my whole approach around. Something about seeing my own intent realized, yada yada.

    And oh, man, do I hear you about the sleep situation. I’ve come to realize that I need way more sleep than I was giving myself staying up late and half-finishing a thousand projects. Being sleep deprived wasn’t being kind to myself, nor does it help me put forth that light. And neither does it help when I get all jittery from three or four cups of coffee! When I started prioritizing my sleep last year, it really helped all of the things. I find way more energy for the gym, yoga, creative projects, etc etc. Positivity all around.

    Though last year I didn’t even come close to going through something as hard as you did, I felt really stuck in a lot of ways. I’ve been thinking a ton about this lately. I didn’t know why, but I felt really unfocused and creatively tired, and didn’t really have a clear plan to get better. I honestly don’t know what happened, but in the last few months I’ve been feeling way more unstuck and I’ve gained a lot more clarity in understanding what are the important projects that I work on or relationships I need to work on or simple next steps I need to take to achieve something. Maybe it’s nothing I consciously did? Maybe it’s just a byproduct of treating myself better and self-care?

    I guess all this to say I don’t really have any answers, but maybe a shred of hope and a big measure of encouragement. You’re such an inspiration to me – and clearly to others who have commented. Rather than avoiding a path, I feel like it’s just a matter of time before your next path reveals itself to you and I’d love to help encourage you in any way I can! xoxo

    • Jenna February 26, 2015 at 11:59 pm

      Jill, happy to hear your gaining your creativity back. I’m less confused in a lot of ways about my next path. I’m on a path now, with this job – not sure where that will lead, but that’s start up life for you. Even the path of the business is clearer. I finally made that transition out of design and some anxiety around that has been lifted I think. Now, the problem is that I feel split between 2 roles more than ever, if that’s is even possible!

  • ltg February 26, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    Jenna,

    I read your post and all the comments, and I felt I have to comment to let you know that you have another faithful reader -who commented here maybe once before.

    I have a list of blogs in my reader, which is getting shorter and shorter mostly because of commercialization and excessive posting. I have been reading your posts for years (I think Miss C was about 3 years old when I started). At one point -I had time- I went ahead and read everything up to the beginning. It was better than binge-watching Netflix! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I savor your posts. Your words have a certain music, like ocean waves. Calm but strong, and although seem similar, not at all the same. I always find them both thoughtful and surprising in a way. I congratulate you for keeping this high standard in your writing over the years.

    I love your photographs as much as your words. I follow you on instagram too, but I should say I will be very, very sad if you decide not to write here anymore.

    All the best!

    • ltg February 26, 2015 at 11:47 pm

      Ooops, I hope you don’t get me wrong. That Netflix sentence: I don’t mean at all that your blog is a spectacle. I wanted to explain the happy feeling. I’m afraid I’m not good with words:(

      • Jenna February 26, 2015 at 11:52 pm

        ha! No worries! That part actually made me smile. And thank you for your other kind words. Maybe I needed to read these today.

  • Helle February 27, 2015 at 7:11 am

    I’m sitting here pondering whether to write a comment or not. There isn’t anything I can say that hasn’t already been said, and said better than I can say it. Like ltg I also read your blog back to front soon after I found it several years ago. It has changed a lot, but it’s still one of my favourites, one of the few I regularly check for new posts. I’d miss it if you stopped.
    Here is has snowed all morning and I have had enough, just a liiiittle bit of sun would be nice ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jenna February 28, 2015 at 9:01 am

      I’m glad to hear from you, so thank you Helle.

  • Lakshmi February 27, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    “Turn! Turn! Turn!”

    To everything – turn, turn, turn
    There is a season – turn, turn, turn
    And a time to every purpose under heaven

    A time to be born, a time to die
    A time to plant, a time to reap
    A time to kill, a time to heal
    A time to laugh, a time to weep

    To everything – turn, turn, turn
    There is a season – turn, turn, turn
    And a time to every purpose under heaven

    A time to build up, a time to break down
    A time to dance, a time to mourn
    A time to cast away stones
    A time to gather stones together

    To everything – turn, turn, turn
    There is a season – turn, turn, turn
    And a time to every purpose under heaven

    A time of love, a time of hate
    A time of war, a time of peace
    A time you may embrace
    A time to refrain from embracing

    To everything – turn, turn, turn
    There is a season – turn, turn, turn
    And a time to every purpose under heaven

    A time to gain, a time to lose
    A time to rend, a time to sew
    A time for love, a time for hate
    A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late!

  • A reader March 1, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    We do not often take a chance to look deep within ourselves every day to question the road we are on or to think about our priorities or to understand deeply ingrained, unspoken wishes in our lives the way we sometimes could when we read the stories of others. I find your blog somehow self reflective in ways that no other blogs have provided for me. I have often struggled with a profound need for solitary intellectual / emotional activity and my need for a sense of belonging whether in a familial sense or professionally. I regularly work over 80 hours per week (married with no children) and when I donโ€™t achieve the right balance between alone time and work life I find myself turning into an intolerable being which is unfortunately too often. I come to your blog to see how you grapple with similar challenges in life, to get out of my own head space, read about the city I once lived, and to experience life as it sometimes plays out inside ourselves, hidden from the surface but no less authentic. I find joy in your success and in your new discoveries about yourself, others, and the world around you. So I thank you for sharing your story, and for your honest, vulnerable and courageous writing. For the reasons mentioned, I hope you continue to share your stories โ€“ as selfish as it sounds โ€“ which I enjoy tremendously. As someone said, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And this is a beautiful blog. I look forward to your next post.

    • Jenna March 1, 2015 at 5:34 pm

      This is a beautiful comment, and I have to thank you for taking the time to write it. It’s comments like these and all of the above that encourages me to keep writing. So thank you.

  • nanne March 2, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    life is not only hard, it can be freakin’, stupid overwhelming at times!

    i am just a few years older than you, my children much older than yours-senior in high school, one in law school. but, i so remember how hard and exhausting and soul sucking trying to make everything work was.

    but, funnily, the further removed i become from those times, the fun, little things are what i remember most.

    anyway…i, like most of your readers come here, not b/c you are posting peppy, happy, perfect life pics and stories from your beautiful life. but, b/c of your unique writing voice and your honesty and willingness to share. this should just be a place when you write when you want to, your back burner creative space.. if you don’t feel inspired to write here, don’t! as a long time reader of your blog, i do not expect any kind of posting schedule from you. just always enjoy your pieces whenever you have time to write them.

    excited for your new adventure!

    • Jenna March 6, 2015 at 1:56 am

      Thanks Nanne. I know that the years I have left with the girls will go by quickly! Yes, if I’m being honest with myself I am probably putting too much pressure to write – which should never be a motivation to write.

  • Jen March 3, 2015 at 11:50 am

    Jenna, it’s so nice to read a blog like yours for quality rather than quantity. Your blog provides a sense, I think, of solidarity among people just trying to live life as best as we can. Thank you for taking the time to share your photos and words.

    • Jenna March 6, 2015 at 1:41 am

      Thank YOU for reading, Jen

  • Annie March 3, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    I love your honesty. Its been quite the winter… but like everything else: nothing is permanent. Things will change and get better.
    Try to take a break. It helps.
    XOXO

    • Jenna March 6, 2015 at 1:41 am

      Hope you and your family are well, Annie

  • Dee March 8, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    As always Jenna,

    I enjoy your writing so much. I appreciate everything that you choose to share with us. I do know how it feels to open up to people, be vulnerable, and then have someone use what you’ve shared against you. I have no idea why some people are that way. And yes, it makes you hesitant to want to open up again. I think you can tell by the many responses you’ve received that we support you and hope all is well with you and your family. Write when you can or when you feel like it. Either way, I’ll be reading. I also love your photographs. I’m a photographer as well, but have not been shooting many projects for several years now since having my son. I’ll get back into it one day. I miss it. In the mean time, I really enjoy the images you shoot. They’re beautiful and tell such rich stories. Sorry for the lame explanation, but I hope you get what I mean. Anyway, take care.

    Deanna

  • D March 19, 2015 at 4:25 am

    Similar to other readers, I discovered your blog a couple of years ago–I stumbled upon it from reading other blogs and somehow ended up here after following various links (as one does on the internet). Even though I am a college student on the opposite coast (in my mid-twenties without any children!), I find your blog incredibly relatable. Your introspective writing is so refreshing, and I look forward to checking in every couple of months. I always seem to find some words of wisdom in your thoughts. I wanted to let you know that I appreciate what you share with your readers–discussions about your relationship with your brother, your family, your children, and your career have made me reflect deeper on my own relationships with my brother, my parents, and my academic career. The beautiful photography doesn’t hurt either! If only for selfish reasons, I hope you continue writing. I very much enjoy your work. ๐Ÿ™‚

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