In with the January Music

It’s the time of year when I listen to Tegan and Sara. Do you have music you listen to at certain times of year? And I’m not talking about Christmas music. Or Halloween music – is that a thing?

Certain months require specific soundtracks. Elliott Smith = October. My Brightest Diamond = November. Blonde Redhead = April. 

One of my favorite Tegan and Sara songs is, “Are You Ten Years Ago?” Not only do I love the frenetic vibe of the song, but I’m asking myself that question lately. “Seriously Jenna, are you 31 right now?” 

Elements of life feel like déjà vu: recently out of a significant relationship, living independently with freedom to find my footing and spend my time selfishly. Even people from ten years ago are reemerging. Familiar restless energy courses through me, begging to know where we’re headed next.

Maybe we’re all on a ten-year loop of repeating patterns, hobbies and fears? I have nearly two decades of journals stacked in my closet, and pulled one from ten years ago to … Read the rest

Thing #33 – Keeping Going

I was shopping for a notebook recently. I’m very particular about notebooks and journals, and it can take weeks before I commit. Plus, now there are all these notebooks with cutesy slogans on the cover about “slaying” things or following your dreams or similarly empowering crap. I avoid notebooks with words on the cover. 

However, I stumbled upon one that made me reconsider my distaste for cover slogans. The statement is simple. It’s one I’ve always loved, but often forget about – “Remember why you started.”

It’s the kick in the pants I need to keep going. “Keeping going” is not one of my strong suits. I’ve taken enough strength assessments to know my sweet spot is dreaming ideas and imagining all the directions they can go. I love learning the best path forward and putting plans into action. But when the shine wears off, I’m eager to start the next thing. 

Is it a coincidence that I’m writing about this as I’ve passed the deadline on “My 39 Things,” and am several posts away … Read the rest

Thing #30 – Decade in Review

Around New Year’s Eve, I perform a “Year in Review” with myself. It involves me going on a wine or coffee date with my journal and evaluating various buckets of my life. Work, love, travel, creativity, health, home, learning, etc…I reflect on highs, lows, surprises and lessons in each bucket. 

While it’s nice to recap the past 12 months, it’s also an illuminating way to reveal what I want to do more or less of in the new year. Through this process, I get clarity on the person I want to be in the year ahead and how to prioritize my time. It’s not so much about setting resolutions as it is creating a pie chart for how I want to spend my time.

As I closed out my 20s and peered into my 30s, I constructed a vision for how I wished to move through my new decade. Fresh from my trip to Europe and eager to conquer the next phase in my adulthood, I created a platform. I reviewed my 20s, sifted away … Read the rest

Thing # 29 – Blue Journal

Blue Journal

If I told you one of my best friends is a journal from 2009, you might think I’m a sad, lonely hermit. I have countless journals that live in a box in the basement, but this one – my blue journal – stays in my bedside drawer. 

While I’ve intermittently kept a journal my whole life, it wasn’t until 15 years ago that I made it a consistent practice. My journal serves different purposes at different times. Sometimes it keeps secrets or helps breed new ideas, but usually it’s a safe space to store the chaos that gunks up my head. Most importantly, my journal is my companion. I’m rarely without it. It keeps me company like an old friend, and when I ask questions, it responds in its own way. 

Ten years ago, I wanted to commemorate my 30th birthday with something bold and memorable, so I traveled to Europe for a couple weeks. I went alone but never felt alone. Between the daily cast of characters that came into my life and the … Read the rest

Thing #7 – Anticipation

Hours from now I’ll freeze time. It’s an exercise I’ve refined over the past decade. Before I travel, I sit still in my anticipation and scroll through all the ways I expect my trip to be. Will the destination airport be easy? How will the city smell? What will the coffee/beer/bread be like? What do I think my favorite part will be? What am I nervous about?

I create this swirl of images, then I close my eyes to burn the mental snapshot in the front of my mind. Sometimes I jot it in my journal, sometimes not. On the way home, I revisit my pre-trip snapshot to see how it stacked up. I feel like a time traveler comparing notes with my earlier self. I compare the person I was on the plane before my trip, versus the person sitting in the plane now.

Whether it’s a two-week international adventure or a two-day work trip, this is my ritual. It keeps me super aware and prevents me from simply floating through the days. I Read the rest

Female Seeking Croissant

This past spring, I took a Sunday morning walk to Rustica to enjoy a latte and chocolate croissant. I sat near the window and took out my journal for the usual scribbling and daydreaming. Halfway through a sentence, I wrote, “Yum. I should really be documenting these.” Over the next three weeks, I sampled 10 unique chocolate croissants comparing flakiness, chocolate flavor, density, size and shape. I have notes jammed in the margins like, “very puffy, like maybe too puffy,” “top like plastic,” “not too much chocolate to be annoying.” Profound stuff.

During this time, I researched pain au chocolat (its fancy name) and studied recipes detailing the intensive rolling, chilling and waiting process involved in producing them. I learned one very important thing – I’m not interested in baking them myself. I’m simply interested in eating them, finding ones that taste great and sharing my discoveries with you.

If I were to put an ad in the personals, it would look like this:

Married 30-something female seeking a crispy-topped, structured, flaky pastry with a

Read the rest