Scaling Back From a Sprint

January 14, 2015 By: Jenna Category: Personal

portra 800 contax 645

After a 10-pound weight-gain over Christmas break I’ve been forced to accept that the day I turn thirty is not going to be a day where I present myself to the world as the together, svelte, balanced person I thought I could mold myself into over my 29th year. Why does this arbitrary number hold so much power over me? I’m going to blame Jennifer Garner and her many repetitions of “Thirty, Flirty, and Thriving” in 13 Going on 30*.

There will be no transformation by thirty. I can accept that. Now to make a few adjustments in my life, mainly in relation to my diet and exercise program. I had been approaching things as a sprint, feeling like it was possible for me to finish by the magical 30th if i just pushed a little harder each day, and the past few weeks have been about accepting that isn’t going to happen. I need to scale back to something that feels sustainable for the long term. Read more →

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Another Day of Cleaning Up

January 12, 2015 By: Jenna Category: Musing

I spent most of today making last-minute arrangements, attempting to fill in the gap I created with an error in judgement last month. I was doing the best I could with the information I had at the time, but it’s hard for me to watch the dollar signs accumulate as we (married couple) work to find the right solution.

trash can kihei maui palm trees portra 800

 Mamiya 645 1000s, Portra 800 

Here is a picture I took in Hawaii during our Christmas trip. I don’t usually take pictures of garbage receptacles, and since each film image costs me around $2 I’m certainly not going to fire off a shot on just any trash can. But this one was a nice color, and I wondered what the story was behind that bag of chips on the ground. Did it blow out overnight? Or did someone not care enough to place it all the way in the can? Do people in pretty places put more effort into keeping litter off the ground? There’s a part of me that feels that way, though I think it isn’t right (meaning, I should feel just as motivated in paradise as I do next door to a junk yard.)

The picture above looks like a mistake, with the focus somewhere behind the trash can instead of right on it. The camera I was using is broken in a way that means the focus is unpredictable, but I decided to take a chance on the trash can and see what would come of it. Or maybe it was all my fault and I chose the wrong focus point. I love that camera even with all its imperfections and it’s helped me to appreciate a softness in my images that I wasn’t able to embrace before.

This week I learned that the camera I used for the photo above is best for landscape shots of pretty places. I’ll share some images later that really sing. This week I’m also paying, literally, for a crucial miscalculation. I took a chance when making some plans and now I’m accepting that I misjudged the situation entirely. In these cases I often act as my own castigator, mentally flogging myself for my shortcomings and dwelling on them past the point of doing any good.

If you’re wondering, I picked up the empty chip bag and stuffed it down deep into the garbage after I took the photo so it wouldn’t blow out again. Today I’m going to push past this mistake and move on and learn from it so I’m not experiencing this sort of blowback from my next set of grand plans.

When is the last time you dwelt on something you needed to accept and move past? Tweet with me, @jennacole, or leave your thoughts on the That Wife Facebook page.

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Thinking on 2015

December 29, 2014 By: Jenna Category: Goals

Disconnecting from my regular routine right before the New Year has given me the time and space I needed to think about shifts I want to make to my daily life and my thinking throughout the next year. Depression and anxiety have become companions of mine, and it takes a lot of mental energy to keep them at a respectable distance so I can fulfill my responsibilities.

I felt rejuvenated like this twice before in 2014, each time when I went to Utah for photography workshops. What was it about those trips that meant so much to me? I think those are the things I need to focus on bringing into my life more often after the New Year in order to avoid the depressive bouts I’ve been dealing with.

1. Less time in front of the computer. I need to work more efficiently, and set firmer boundaries for when I stop working. Send more emails saying “I didn’t get to this today. I’ll try again tomorrow.” I’m shooting film more for this reason, because it slows me down and means less images to process.

Read more →

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Amazement: Mom

November 25, 2014 By: Jenna Category: Personal

Day 25 of NaBloPoMo: Married to Amazement

I never could have fully appreciated my own mother and her sacrifices for me unless I had children of my own. I’ve always loved my mom in the way that children love the person who gave them life, but now as a mother I love her as a compatriot. She is a retired general, and I am an infrantrywoman. The battle is for the future of our genetics and our legacy. I take that responsibility seriously, following the code of morals that her parents were taught when they were small.

I can see now that much of my mom’s life was devoted to trying to help me find happiness, often at the expense of her own. It probably wasn’t enjoyable to live in a trailer at the county fair for a week, with careless kids dragging remnants of the pig barn in and out of the tiny space each time they mounted the stairs. I loved those weeks; the snuggling with the clean pigs in their pen, competing after months of practice, the night when she let me run wild with my friends at the carnival. That is one tiny example of many which illustrate what a great childhood I had because of my mother.

I struggle with this, the self-sacrifice for children. She is close enough to me to be able to step in and remind me what it’s all about. And every so often she gives me the gift of a week off, time I deeply, deeply, wholeheartedly appreciate. I come back from those periods with a well of strength that allows me to dig a little deeper, to be a little bit more like the mother I had as a child.

Amazement: Dad

November 24, 2014 By: Jenna Category: Personal

Day 24 of NaBloPoMo: Married to Amazement

When I got married and realized how much TH was gone from home, or working from home, I was confused. This wasn’t the happily ever after story I imagined for myself growing up. Weren’t we supposed to cook all our dinners together and snuggle in for brunch-in-bed every Saturday and Sunday? When I brought this up with my mom she pointed out that her spouse had worked a lot too. In fact, in my childhood community it was standard for the men to work long hours while the wives held down the homefront.

Now that I have children I reflect a lot more on what it was like to have a childhood where my dad worked a lot. Whatever I felt back then, I now hold no hard or sad feelings about the experience. I understand just enough about the world my dad was operating in to see how hard he pushed himself to establish something from very little. He didn’t just work hard physically, he  explored new frontiers that expanded his knowledgebase. He took chances and survived the bad years (this is what farming is all about), saw the potential for a new farming method and built up a business with multiple locations, was ahead of the curve in relation to medium/large-scale organic farming, has developed products and gone through the patent application process, is respected in his work community and sits on at least one influential board (maybe more?), is currently exploring the world of produce packing, and has a reach expansive enough that I can buy his organic onions at my local Whole Foods. He would never tell you any of this because he is the epitome of the hardworking humble farmer. I respect him so much for everything he has done and reference his dedication often as I’m thinking about how to live my own life.

My leap from Mormonism was hard for my dad, still is every day. He’s not so into my blogging either. I get that, and we are navigating the transition from adult to child relationship the way all parents and offspring must do. What has been constant through the tumult though, is my knowledge that my dad loves me for me, no matter what. I need that, and it is a gift he has always very generously provided. 

      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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