living simply

In another lifetime, (at least it feels like another lifetime) I lived in a tiny studio apartment in historic Henderson, KY. It was a little green house, and my friend and I lived in the upstairs unit.

our little green house

We lived on a quiet little street that lead you directly to the river and the downtown area. We had 2 kitties, Lily and Harry. We shopped at the world’s tiniest farmer’s market, where we were able to only buy cucumbers, various forms of squash, tomatoes and the occasional red pepper. Strangers smiled, waved and inquired after your well-being. We biked or walked all over our little town. We had a very small shared living space that consisted of a kitchen table, 2 big fluffy chairs, a radio and just enough space to lay down our yoga mats. Our apartment was so small, our clothes closets were actually in the shared living space. We didn’t even have a TV. Most days, if there was sound coming from our wide open apartment windows, it was NPR over the radio. It was so quiet. So peaceful. So simple.

Why am I taking you on a tour of an apartment I lived in 3 years ago?

Admittedly, I am feeling incredibly nostalgic lately. I’m realizing that there is a big part of me that misses my Old Kentucky Home (if you’re from KY, you’ll get that reference). I miss the southern hospitality. But above all, I miss the simplicity of the way my roommate and I lived. It’s not that life was simple, it’s just that whenever we returned to our apartment, it welcomed us with simplicity. It was as though the apartment itself was saying, “Shhhh. You’re home now. Relax. Everything is okay.”

Before I get in over my head, let’s all agree that I’m having an existential crisis right now. Many days in a row I have been asking myself “Who am I, really?” Am I Kentucky Jenny? Am I Connecticut Jenny? Is there a Constant Jenny that links the two together? How does a person know when they are being their Authentic Self compared to when they are being the Adapted Self?

I know right?! I overwhelm myself sometimes.

After much meditation, lots of yoga, lots of looking inward, and a tear or three or four, I feel like I might finally be getting somewhere. I’m getting to a little green house in Henderson, KY. I’m getting to a place that welcomes me Home and says, “Be simple. Live simply.”

I can’t actually go back to Henderson. I can’t go back to that apartment. I can’t go back to the life I had there. But I can let simple be the essence of Constant Jenny.

This is probably an anticlimactic post because I don’t have a game plan. I can’t say to you, “These are the changes I am implementing.” I could say, “I haven’t watched TV in 3 days.” But that’s not the point. This is the kind of thing that happens organically and isn’t exactly tangible. What I can say is that this morning, for the first time since I moved to Connecticut, I feel like Me, capital M-me. It’s a feeling that words can’t do justice.

It feels simple. It feels good. It feels like home beyond geographical restraints.

Do you do anything that helps you remember who you really are? Meditate, pray, journal, etc?
Have you ever asked yourself these questions? Ā 
What are your thoughts on living authentically?

I realize I’m not asking simple questions today, swagsters. But I invite you to explore this with me. We look outside of ourselves for answers more often than not, when sometimes, the answer is within us all along, if we’re just willing to go inside and listen.

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5 thoughts on “living simply

  1. My God, you’re such a good writer, Jenny. This post makes my heart sing with joy for you!!! Seriously. ā¤ When did you have this little revelation? …because I had a similar one this morning. We're so much alike it is seriously insane, girl. I love you so much.

    • oh my gosh, heather. that means so much to me to hear that from you! i felt a little awkward posting this blog. in fact, i was THISCLOSE to texting you and asking if i even should! i think this feeling has been inside of me for a while. when i left the program last fall, i remember wrestling with questions about my identity, and recently it came alive again for me, particularly in the past few days. last night i was laying in bed reading when the urge to do a yoga practice came over me. it was probably one of the most spiritual practices i’ve ever done. and when i was finished, i just cried. not because i was sad, but because i was open and my questions were finally starting to reveal answers and i felt like i was being welcomed back to a place i’d convinced myself i’d never be allowed again. and i was happy to see that all this time, the person i knew couldn’t have just been Me-of-My-Past, is the person that i truly am, in my heart. above it all, i was so overwhelmed with joy that i had finally re-discovered the place in me that loves life abundantly as it is, not just when it’s simple, easy or perfect. it was this morning when it finally settled in me and i couldn’t NOT write about it.

      i love that you shared this same thought with me this morning. i really do feel like you and i are connected, and i believe that the reason i thought of texting YOU this morning for approval, is probably because we were on the same energetic wavelength. šŸ™‚ you and me, we’re riding the same wave of unconditional love and i seriously can’t think of a better partner. šŸ™‚ i love you so much right back. ā¤

  2. I almost forgot about that apartment! That was geographically the most neighborly we ever were, wasn’t it? Aside from college, of course. I’m pretty sure I saw your roommate somewhere a few months back.

    I am no stranger to these questions. I think you may have been living in your tiny apartment — how else can I explain the memory of eating with you at a restaurant in Henderson? — when I was having one of my own many career crises. At the time I was exploring the idea of becoming a librarian because I felt teaching required me to spent so much of my time being someone I wasn’t. It just wasn’t Me.

    Since then, I’ve continued teaching. Not because it’s Me, but because I had to support myself while I figured it out. (Isn’t “figuring it out” a laughable concept? As if the puzzle can be solved by looking harder at the pieces…) I have learned a little bit about how to teach and be Me at the same time. I realized being a librarian, though nice, wouldn’t be any more Me than being a teacher.

    I discovered that I can remember who I am when I write. Really, I have known that for a long time, but I’m just now learning to take myself seriously. I am fortunate to be able to explore this aspect of myself through a master’s program that will also allow me to keep my certification to teach. This summer I began an MFA program in creative writing. My focus is creative nonfiction.

    It’s exciting and terrifying when I realize the work I am doing is so closely entwined with who I am. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make a “career” out of it. On the surface, that’s a scary thought, but deep down, I don’t really care.

    I certainly did not mean to write a full-length essay in your comments, but your timing was just right to strike a chord in me. It’s a wonderful thing to experience home within yourself. It makes me happy to hear that you can. Now if only I could get you to come back to Henderson…

    With neighborly love.

    • cass! i’m so happy to hear from you!

      i do, indeed, remember our conversation at that mexican restaurant. i was thinking just now that it’s very interesting the way we try and define ourselves: “am i a teacher or a librarian?” “am i a southern girl or a new englander?” we look at things that we do and forget that we are not what we do, we are that which witnesses what we do and experience. it’s taken a lot of struggle and fair amount of suffering for me to start to realize I (capital I) don’t actually change, even though my surroundings might. it’s so empowering and gives me a great feeling of safety, to have this constant to hold onto inside of myself. this place that doesn’t waver, that allows every decision and action to feel completely authentic.

      i have been so happy and proud to watch you take so many brave steps in your recent life. you’ve just sort of charged past your comfort zone and suddenly here you are, so many new journeys to be proud of and so much love that has come in.

      THANK YOU for writing an essay, it means so much to me! as for going back to henderson, i was awfully close to waking markus up this morning and letting him know where we’d need to move next. šŸ˜‰
      in my heart, we are always neighbors. ā¤ love you!

  3. It makes me so happy to see the loooong feedback you are getting on this amazing, reflective post because I know it’s encouraging you and showing you that you were right to put your feelings out there. I can tell from speaking with you and getting to know you that you have been struggling with being Jenny in CT and I’m really beyond happy to hear that you are feeling like your #AmazingMe self! That is huge. To be happy and content with ourselves is the first step in the giant journey that we call life and it’s something you know that I’m working on too. I felt that feeling of contentment and hope when I was in Baltimore last weekend. I felt like I belonged there, like it was a Caitlin place. I was able to take that feeling and live my life while away and not miss out on a damn thing. Being content and being you is just so very powerful and I couldn’t be happier that you are there!

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