In with the Fictional Federal Agents

I think about Jack Bauer often. Like a lot. Lately the world feels like a place where he would thrive.

It’s been nearly seven years since “24” went off the air, and he still pops into my head almost weekly. And don’t try to sell me on that “Designated Survivor” crap. I sat around waiting for him to torture and kidnap people and grew more disappointed as each episode passed. I don’t like my Kiefer level-headed and diplomatic.

When the world gets Jack-Bauer-level weird…like it has the past couple weeks (or months or years), I try to remind myself of the things we can control. Things like the simple actions we take as we move around the world. Things like kindness.

When I say “kindness,” you have a definition that pops into your head. A vision of what it looks like and how it feels to receive kindness. While you and I may have adjacent definitions, I guarantee they’re different. Each of us has a different vision, and I love that about us.

Kindness can mean … Read the rest

In with the Eyeball Books

I generally hate reading. I love the idea of reading a book, and have a tower of them next to my bed, but am not compelled to open and consume them. Audiobooks – very yes. Eyeball books – very egh. 

In my college Comparative Literature class, a fellow student/pal was giving me a hard time and announced to everyone, “Jenna is a book hater! She hates books!” It’s been like 20 years and I still remember the scene. I can hear his words and see my TA’s face melt into disappointment as she wrinkled her forehead and said, ‘Jenna…why?” The hurt on her face would make it seem like I killed a member of her family.

Fast forward a couple decades…My bestie has made a tradition of giving me books on birthdays and holidays. You might think, “Wow, what a terrible friend to give you books when she knows you hate reading.” On the contrary. She knows how much I hate reading and gives me books in spite of this. She knows exactly when I … Read the rest

In with the Bold

As part of my winter solstice ceremony, I wrote four pages of things I wanted to release from 2020. Disappointments, bad memories, behaviors that no longer lined up with the person I’m becoming.

After two hours of sun salutations, meditation and writing, I ripped the four pages from my notebook, took them outside and flicked my lighter onto their bottom edges. The flame started small and brightened quickly. I threw the flaming pile onto the ground and watched it disappear. I stared as the embers twinkled and faded. When the very last ember burnt out, my chest deflated in relief. Two seconds later, one of the embers re-lit itself. 

You know that feeling when you’re walking away from someone after a hard goodbye and you turn around to look at them one last time? That’s what my flaming pile did to me. That last ember of 2020 turned its head, gave me a half smile with sincere, regretful eyes and walked away.

The things I gripped too tightly, the closure I never received from … Read the rest

Embrace the dark

I hold my tongue when it’s time to set the clocks back. Everyone gets so angry about daylight savings. It screws up their baby. It confuses their dog. It makes it too dark too early. I stay quiet and celebrate. Bring on the dark. Bring on the early bedtime. Bring on the blankets. The lonely, dark cocoon of winter is my sweet companion and always arrives at the perfect time. Finally, an external backdrop to match my internal one.

Listen. It’s not that I’m in a constant state of dour, depressed reflection. In fact, people have chided me for being TOO upbeat and positive. During the fall, I start to turn inward and peek into my dusty corners that need attention. By the time winter comes, I’m firmly planted inward and ready to deep clean. 

I like the darkness. Growing up in the woods of northern Wisconsin, I made a hobby of stargazing. I’d regularly walk barefoot through the backyard and into our field. No flashlight. Just the muscle memory of the land. I trusted … Read the rest

Thing #39 – Conveyor Belt

Sissy and I were at the conveyor-belt sushi place…for the second time in two days. It was convenient and delicious. Plus we knew how to easily navigate getting what we wanted, which was half the battle in Tokyo.

We had two options. The first was to control our sushi destiny by selecting things from the menu – a tablet that made it dangerously easy to add items to our cart before pressing the “order” button. The second, and more fun, option was to grab the little plates that traveled down the conveyor belt. With this option, there was no telling what would come next. They were often things we never considered trying. 

Each spot at the sushi bar had a number so the server knew how to find you. I chuckled to myself when I noticed we were seated at spot 39. I stared at the little plates choo-chooing down the track, passing number 39 on our countertop. The plates kept coming. Some food was recognizable, some wasn’t. Some were happy surprises (fried shrimp!), … Read the rest

Thing #38 – Junk Drawer

Pure joy. I want more of this.

I’m getting ready to pound the final nail in the house of My 39 Things. Is it six months past deadline? Yes. Does anyone other than me really care that I missed this arbitrary deadline? No. Ok, there are a couple of you who are kinda be dicks about it…but I know you’re only trying to keep me motivated. 

I set out on this project as a way to hold myself accountable to a consistent writing practice. As with most creative ventures, my consistency ebbed and flowed.

My inspiration shifted depending on what was happening in my life. Sometimes the ideas would come so fast, I had to split my “thing” into three (Hallmark!) Sometimes I struggled so hard to find something to write about that I wrote about not having anything to write about

This project gave me the gift of helping me process my internal world by making connections in the world around me. It forced me to pay attention on … Read the rest