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A Timeline of My Journey, and Turning the Corner

The Cloisters, NYC

The Cloisters, NYC

There's a certain perspective that one simply doesn't have in the moment. We rarely think, Today is the day I begin a slow but tangible downward spiral. When we speak of hind-sight, part of what we are aiming at is this ability to see life events in the context of all that came both before and after.

And sometimes it takes someone from the outside telling us the view from Out There to help us even identify the shifts which have occurred. I've had these conversations lately, and I spent some time revisiting the events and milestones of the last few years.

Here's what I can see now.

I remember when I started my blog in 2005. I remember my mom being really perplexed by the idea that anyone besides herself or my grandparents would care to read it. This space has meant many different things to me since then, but more often than not it's been a quiet little corner of the internet where I could stay under the radar while still saying the things I had to say.

In July 2008, I released Don't Write, a Reluctant Journal. Near the end of that same year came a collection of audio poem/stories called Solstice: Stories of Light in the Dark. In June 2009 I released Fortunes and then in September of that same year was Take Me With You: A Journal for the Journey . That same month, I started teaching workshops about the dilemmas we face around truth-telling and its consequences and how to craft our stories. 

In 2010, I taught at six intensive events--three of them were retreats I hosted with friends and collaborators. I hadn't calculated yet how much this work costs me in soul, and on top of that 2010 was a year filled with grief and loss from beginning to end. It was too much. We lost family members and friends (there were too many funerals), and one of my primary relationships unraveled, taking part of my creative community along with it.

I cannot always tell the stories of the failures and departures and unravelings with the same vivid enthusiasm as the stories of finding our dear ones and the joy that initially follows. There are no Flickr groups for those moments. And to only be able to tell one side of that coin placed me in a major bind. I'd been struggling for some time with the relationship between my public and private worlds, and this is probably when I tucked my head down even more.

head down.jpg

I felt exposed and grief-stricken from a year that had just snowballed down the mountain and finally caught up with me. All I wanted to do was hide away in my studio, make beautiful things, and drop them into mailboxes.

And so that's what I did.

In 2011, I turned my live workshops into multimedia home study courses and manuals, and embarked on some amazing creative collaborations.  Finding Your Voice, Telling Your Story, and The Care and Keeping of Creative Souls all came out, quickly followed in early 2012 by The Iconic Self, Ritual & Rhythm: A Guide to Creative Self Care, Beauty Everywhere: A Portable Gallery and The Liz Lamoreux Collection.

at Teahouse Studio

at Teahouse Studio

I made new friends, built a new community, and dedicated myself to creating a really rich private world. I sunk in deeply and deliciously with my husband and my children, I spent time with my peers here in New York and traveled to see friends far-away. But this time I've been quiet about so many of the good things and so many of the good times, not knowing when it might all shift again in a way that ties my hands from making retractions.

Because let's be honest: how are you really going to say, Hey everyone, I'm not friends with this person anymore--just wanted you to know. Or, hey everyone, I'm not working with this other person anymore. How do you say, Your heroes are not who you think they are? There's no photo album of it all crumbling and going terribly, horribly wrong in a way that even begins to balance the vivid stories that were told of it coming together and for a moment feeling full of promise and hope. And even if there was, I wouldn't post it.

In the fall of 2011, I was taking increasing risks in my stage storytelling, and my public/private anxiety hit a climax in early 2012 when I started feeling agoraphobic. I couldn't have my web browsers open without feeling like people were 'watching me', and I was wearing brimmed hats and sunglasses to pick my kids up from school, hoping not to talk to any of my parent-friends because I simply couldn't handle talking to anyone.

Photo by Bella Cirovic, shetoldstories.com

Photo by Bella Cirovic, shetoldstories.com

I've come a long way since then, and I'm ready to stop flying under the radar. I'm ready for my work to be seen.

That looks like many things, like turning the comments back on (which I've abandoned at times when I felt too vulnerable), and learning to use Facebook, which has been one of my top anxiety triggers. (So, if you've ever had the thought: Wow, it's like Jen doesn't know what she is doing on Facebook At ALL, you've been right.)

If things are a little clunky or awkward as I transition back from the quiet, burrowing mode into something resembling the freedom and ease I felt when I thought only my five friends were reading, I hope you will extend your understanding and generosity my way.

It's hard to feel completely remedial at things I 'should be' better at, given what I do. It's hard to feel tender, it's a slow process to learn how to let the world see something true while still holding close what is sacred and private. It's hard to feel like Humpty Dumpty, climbing back up on that wall.

If this does not sound completely crazy to you, please comment and say so. Do you have any idea what I'm talking about here? What can you see about the seasons you've traveled through or the one you're currently in? Or come like my page on Facebook and tell me it's going to be okay.

*P.S. Many of the offerings mentioned here are available in the shop.