My Arena

Presenting my ideas and work to the online world is wonderful in many ways. My best friendships today were formed through social media, I have relationships with a range of intelligent and talented people, my ideas and beliefs have been challenged and shaped in positive ways, and certainly the validation is appreciated (sometimes far too much by me, but that’s another post).

But anyone who has read the comments on YouTube or The Huffington Post has seen the dark side of the internet. Lobbing molotov cocktails of snark and hatred is all-to-easy when done via a computer screen. It became crucial for my mental health to find a way to wade through the sea of criticism and develop a new metric for measuring my self-worth.


“Nothing has transformed my life more than realizing that it’s a waste of time to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reaction of the people in the stands.” Brene Brown

Brene Brown is the second great woman I know of who has shared this approach (the first was Liene Stevens, of Think Splendid) but it wasn’t until I started reading Daring Greatly that I was able to fully integrate this concept into my life.

I suspect most successful and notable people utilize this mindset at some point. Which is not to say that I think I am successful or notable, but I know I won’t get there if I’m busy worrying about whether everyone likes me. But how to fully embrace this idea when confronting faceless/useless/meaningless criticism? I was spending far too much time stewing and giving credit where it wasn’t due. Dr. Brown’s book has helped me develop a mental process that I can enact each time the self-doubt rises to the surface again. Anyone who has encountered her work has probably become familiar with the Theodore Roosevelt quote that she loves.



 It is her addition, that last part at the bottom, that changed everything for me. I am the gladiator in my own arena. If I want to share parts of my fight with the public, I am going to have unwanted observers jeering at me. Those people, and their feedback, do not matter to me. The only power I have over them is to deny them any power over me. 

The feedback that does matter comes from a very select group of people. If I shared something with these individuals, something vulnerable and painful and raw, they would first pull me in for a hug. After they felt my shoulders relax they would pull away, look at me (really look at me), and tell me the honest truth that I need to hear, no matter how hard it is for them to say it and for me to hear it. Those are the people I want in my corner, and those are the people who are going to help set the guideposts that I live my life by. I don’t need the public to like the way I spend my time, or to think I am a good mother, or to agree with my beliefs and opinions.

And now, when the clouds gather and the mental stewing begins, I picture My Arena. Is the feedback I’m considering coming from the hug+honesty group? No? Then I’ll be moving right along thankyouverymuch. I’ve got a battle to fight and a life to live. There is greatness to be had.

HPJoy Palo Alto Video

HP contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in coming out to their #HPJoy event in Palo Alto to talk to a film crew about some of their products. I got up the courage to watch the video, and I look a little mad — or maybe intense? I wanted to do a good job! While being authentic! I’m going to make a carefree playlist of teeny-bop to listen to beforehand if a similar situation ever presents itself again.

I’ll tell you more about this experience soon, but for now here is the video they put together. T2 makes an appearance in it too!

**I have received two HP Chromebooks for my review and comments. One of those is to give to one of you!**

That Wife Facebook Page

I fly up to Washington early tomorrow morning! I am so glad all of the packing is over (well, my responsibilities are done, That Husband will spend the weekend finishing up) and I’m rewarding myself with a little computer break before I finish putting our luggage together for the flight.

I created a Facebook page for That Wife back in 2011, but I never did anything with it because I was blogging daily back then and I couldn’t figure out a way to generate enough content to run both the Facebook page and the blog. I’m going to change from posting on the blog daily to trying to publish higher quality content on a regular basis (3x/week ideally, though I can only keep up with 1-2x/week right now), and that means I can take all the little things that aren’t big enough or fully formed yet and post them over on my Facebook page.



Will I drop off and stop posting over there after a few weeks yet again? Maybe. I’m working on not being afraid to try new things and then admit they aren’t working for me (otherwise known as avoiding things because I’m worried about failure). For now though, I’m excited to explore this space and see if it’s a good fit for my life right now. If you’d like to join me over there I would love to have you!

Instagram Friends

I’ve had lots of meetups in the past with people I don’t know in real life. Weddingbee friends, Facebook friends, and blog reader friends. So why is it that making new friends via Instagram feels a bit strange?

It’s not strange Jenna. It’s awesome. I know this because I mentioned on one of my Instagram photos that I was itching to take pictures of someone other than my family, and a woman in the area whom I had never met before spoke up and said she would be interested in getting together so our kids could play and I could take pictures. I took her up on her offer and had a great time. And now we are meeting up at an amusement park (tomorrow) as well!

Moral of the story: Making new friends via Instagram is not weird. And I want to keep doing it.

The Shape of Things To Come

I’ve been blogging consistently for around 5 years now, and I thought that nothing would ever slow me down. I posted all the way through my first pregnancy, and started up again a few days after the birth. Bloggers come and go, but I thought I would be posting on an almost-daily basis for the rest of my life. That Wife had become an integral part of who I am. Others dropped their blogs completely, or took long month- or year-long breaks, but I assumed that would never be me.

Then I found out I was pregnant, and went back to school, and we moved across the country (in two parts) and I was so sick. Now I’m months behind in relation to things like categorizing receipts on Mint and answering emails and I haven’t photographed anything Jenna Cole related for months and I miss it so. Every day feels like a race and by the time I put T1 in bed the thought of sitting at my computer and drafting a post feels overwhelming. Instead I’ve been spending more time talking to That Husband when he gets home from work and reading (right now it’s Tomatoland, which is appalling and something you should definitely read).

All of the pictures I’ve been using for my posts lately have been on my phone because that’s just how my life is now.  I like this one because it encapsulates the things that have been keeping me so busy: T1, T2 (I’m sleeping around 9-10 hours/night on average), and the picture in the top left corner is something I finished hanging right before I took the picture. Now to tackle the rest of the home decorating, which is very slow going (though I’m not complaining, I love our hardwood floors and being out of an apartment).

Actually, Instagram has turned into a mini-blogging outlet of sorts for me. I’m user @thatwife if you want to see what we’re up to on a daily basis. Continue reading