Shedding, and a Future that Exhilarates and Terrifies


My winter hermitage was even more severe than usual. I struggled to leave the apartment even to pick up the girls from school. I was leaving in the afternoon with big dark glasses and brimmed hats, hoping I could avoid even that easy chit-chat with the other parents before the school bell rings or the bus pulls up. My sister said, "You aren't quite to the glasses with the fake nose and moustache yet, but it's getting kinda close."

I called one of my most long-time advisors--one of the people who make up my personal safety net. "I'm supposed to perform at The Moth GrandSLAM show in less than a week, and I'm having trouble even leaving my house." As we talked I started spilling about some unsettling conversations I'd had in the fall, and the last show I'd been in, which for some reason just didn't feel like a safe container for me. I didn't even know until they tumbled out in our conversation that these were still such tender places for me.

She said, "You know Jen, whenever you start feeling agoraphobic and confused, it's a sign that you're trying to live through someone else's perspective." And as soon as she said that, I could see how I'd done just that. How so often when I meet a mold I do not fit, my automatic response is to think there's something wrong with me, something I then can devote months to trying to "fix", instead of just saying, "That's not how I roll."

Since then I've been deeply engaged in a process of . . . well, shedding, for lack of a better term, so many extraneous things. Perspectives and expectations I've adopted or internalized somewhere along the way, but which are not native to me and are not my legacy to carry on. I've been learning in a deeper way than ever before how to disarm my inner taskmistress and replace her whips with a hundred kindnesses instead.

It's been a very big corner to turn in my development this last year, and I think it's hard to write about because I still feel so very much still in the throes of it. But I'm gaining confidence in my own limitations and a certain graciousness about them. And I'm so thankful for my friends, who hold me in all my highs and lows. Like Maya, who traveled to NYC for that GrandSLAM I mentioned earlier, who saw me take the stage and tie to win the night. And who sat with me last week in Dean and Deluca, when I was feeling so vulnerable and honestly scared before buying the last bits of gear for my new project at B&H

I'm going to be traveling for awhile. While I'm away, I'll begin shooting a new short documentary project to which I'll be devoted for many of the months to come. This is one of the edges I'm working at, and it takes so much courage and faith that it's all I can do just to keep demystifying the process and take one step and then the next. So things may be a little quiet over here, as I need to put the Retrospective Podcast on hiatus until September and take a break from many of my usual online activities to create the space I need to rest in these final summer days and to keep grounding myself in the company of my loved ones. (That is, in all the moments in which I'm not leaping into a future that both exhilarates and terrifies me.)

I'll share some of the things that are inspiring me these days--a little August Inspiration--and when many of them are film-related, now you'll understand why.