Life lately, Fall edition

November 17, 2017 |  Category:   life

Seemed like we kept waiting for Fall to happen here in New York. An endless string of 70 degree days, well into deep October, and the trees hadn’t gotten the memo to change colors. Then one day it did and it got cold overnight, and we pulled out our boots and scarves and wondered if that was it. I know it’s technically still Fall, but the darkness that settles amid the late afternoon shadows around 4:30 makes it feel like it’s already winter. It never got cold enough when it counted for the leaves to give us their usual show of colors and for that reason it feels like we got ripped off of our favorite season.

This Fall has been interesting, that is for certain. I am always grateful to have freelance work, but this Fall has been unexpected. I pretty much threw out any attempt at having some balance between work, life, and creative endeavors and decided that if this rather insane work schedule was happening, then I was just going to make the money and be fine with it. I mostly am. I look back to May when I had more time and was able to do things like draw everyday and dream about being some kind of artist, but at this point, that day seems far away. Maybe I was waiting for something big to happen. It never came.

The business is chugging along, but for the first time in 7 years, I don’t have a calendar for sale. We’re heading into the holiday season and I wonder what December will bring. Another year flying by, right in front of our eyes.

I don’t feel like much of a business woman these days. My growing disinterest in social media isn’t really helping matters either. I think we’ll always have that nagging voice questioning whether we are making the right choices, but we have to remind ourselves that our definition of success might be different from other entrepreneurs anyway. I flip back and forth between thinking that we aren’t doing enough, to breathing a sigh of relief that we’re not in debt and doing just fine––not super great or where we want to be––but fine. It isn’t always easy to accept “just fine” when you’re ambitious and competitive, and I know I say this a lot, but it’s because it’s still something I struggle with. So I try not to question too much and be grateful for all the good things in our lives, of which there are many. Mostly, though, I try not to show the girls that deep down, for me, being fine isn’t really good enough.

Right now, however, aside from juggling too much work, I am mostly a parent. I don’t think I’ve parented this much in all of the years that I’ve been one. Helping kids with homework and emotional growth as they travel through middle school is no joke. 8th graders in NYC also have the immense task of applying to high schools, and along with it come months of test prep, audition practice, essay writing and school tours. I’ve mentioned it before here, but we’re in the thick of it now. I might write about it again, maybe later after applications are in or when the kid gets her results in March, but right now it’s consuming our lives (hence the lack of a calendar this year––something had to give). The upside is that I’ve learned a lot about my kid. It’s also made me examine quite a few things about myself and question priorities. I can’t help but think that my generation was the last generation to experience truly innocent childhoods. The world is a different place––a more confusing place––and I wonder what future our kids will have as they grow into adulthood. As it is, 8th grade feels like the last year where kids get to be kids.

Life feels particularly uncertain these days. Even the usual rhythm of seasons was off. But Fall did come eventually, as it always does. On last weekend’s trip to the Botanical Gardens up in the Bronx, the girls played in the forests like kids, role playing and setting up imaginary houses, and I searched for leaves and other interesting treasures. Once home, I stuck the leaves in a big heavy book that I’ll probably forget about. I’ve opened up books and have had leaves tumbling out of pages––a nice surprise. I won’t remember when I placed them there. Maybe that too is a reminder that these days and struggles that we’re living in now, will someday just be a small bump in our lives.

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  • Lakshmi November 17, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    Yes, it does seem like an overwhelming, confusing world, and I often wonder how my friends explain it to their kids.

    Good luck, Jenna. I always love reading your posts.

    • Jenna November 19, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      Thanks Lakshmi,
      Always appreciate when you leave a comment. Hope all is well!

  • unha November 17, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    i feel like once i hit 40s, what felt like already speedy time feels even FASTER.
    good luck with the high school stuff. J is in the 7th and we are sllloooowwwwly dipping into getting some info here and there.

    • Jenna November 19, 2017 at 1:04 pm

      Just don’t get caught up in the crazy! Which is easier said than done. I get to do this all over again in 2 years, argh.

  • Delma Clark November 18, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    Just really enjoy your blog, the pictures are so real and emotional to me, I especially like to see the sidewalks and the brownstones and the holiday pictures of the neighborhoods you take, so lovely. Someday I will go to NY and see the X-mas trees in the snow.

    • Jenna November 19, 2017 at 1:05 pm

      Thank you Delma! I haven’t been taking as much walks in the neighborhood these days 🙁
      Yes, come visit NYC sometime.

  • Hilary November 19, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    Always love your thoughts even though I hardly ever comment. Re childhoods have you read _All Joy, No Fun_? It’s a fascinating look at modern parenting. I think you’d really like it.

  • Lauren November 22, 2017 at 2:15 am

    I think there’s a BIG difference in childhood experience dependent on where you live. I’m in Richmond, VA, and in a working class neighborhood (by choice, not by economic constraint). Kids and teens here get on their bikes and take their fishing poles to the nearby park (there’s a stocked pond and creek). They run around aimlessly in summer. The kids here go to their local high school or Magnet school (e.g. I.B., Arts, Math and Science, Mass Comm., etc.). They can even dual enroll with the local community college, and finish high school with an associate’s. There are also plenty of technical schools that will send you on your way with a diploma and a certificate in your chosen field.

    There are some very high-end private schools, but there are enough great public ones that that is a choice, not a necessity.

  • Jen November 26, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    I too struggle with “fine is good enough.” I’ve never thought of myself as a competitive person, because I’m not much interested in “winning,” per se. But I am the type who wants everything I am involved with to be the best it can possibly be, and I judge that by comparison to what other people are doing or where they are at in life. So I am competitive. The insight I had while reading this post is that I am indiscriminate when it comes to wanting things to be the best. I apply that to everything. Which leaves me spread too thin, so then nothing ends up being the best. Huh. Something to work on in 2018, I guess.

  • Caddy November 30, 2017 at 10:19 am

    Jenna, can I just say, as a LONG time reader it has been great to come back to your blog and still see it updated. I enjoy reading your thoughts and musings on life. They’re much appreciated. I started reading your blog when I was still in school and now that I’m older and working full time I really appreciate your thoughts and musings on work life balance and struggles with perfection/mediocrity. Thank you.

  • Linda February 3, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    I totally feel you on the disinterest with social media. Which is why I’m taking a break from IG. I was getting the same feeling I got with FB where I was scrolling through feeds mindlessly and not getting any substantial enjoyment out of and there goes 30-60 mins out of day. But I am trying to find my voice again with online blogging again…or so I hope.