Friday, May 23, 2014

messages over land and sea



I'm in the Catskills now--it's fully spring, heavy with greens and peeps and early wildflowers. The waters are rushing with snowmelt and I feel a wonderful vibrancy everywhere--the air filled with excitement and expectation, dreams of canoes and campfires, picnics and swimming holes.


These days when I go to the studio I usually paint, but I also make mixed media pieces now and then--I love pulling together disparate objects and creating something from them. Something strange is going on in my life--it's like I'm back where I was before I had children. In those days I wrote poetry  and painted. But slowly I gave that up--I didn't haven't what I think you need to be an artist and that is intent. I can't think of a better word for it.

So, I had kids, went to law school, worked for years in the trenches in the intersecting worlds of child abuse, homelessness, addiction, poverty and mental illness. I've quit that world, except for some pro bono work; my kids are more or less grown, and now I have what I didn't have when I was young, and that is creative intent. So I'm writing and painting again; it feels good, it feels right, and like something I can do for the rest of my life.

Recently Orion Magazine, which I love, hosted a poetry exchange, and my friend Kate and I participated. We did three exchanges and enjoyed it so much, we're continuing on our own. You can see two of each of our poems here on the Orion Tumblr Page. (Scroll down to Kate Reddy and Jennifer Jefferson.)


I'm telling you this because…this blog, and you who read and comment regularly, have become an important part of my life. We edit our lives as presented on our blogs, and I suppose I want to try doing a little less editing. Also, I'm trying to become more confident, less shy. In real life, I never tell people that I write or paint (or blog). In real life, I have all kinds of problems. I'm trying to integrate the disparate pieces of me, and oddly enough, this seems like a good place to do it. (I say oddly because it's so public. But it feels so private.)

Anyway, I hope this doesn't freak you out. I promise there will still be an endless stream of cat and flower pictures. Just maybe a little bit other now and then.

Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know. 
Perhaps it is everywhere - on water and land.


-Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass

xo, Jen

29 comments:

  1. Beautiful. Finally, the truest Jen. Greetings from Inverness.

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    1. Thank you, my secret twin lawyer, writer, nature lover. Let me know if you see Jamie.

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  2. It is such a reward , when we find ourselves again Jen.
    I too had the same experience.. I started to paint. I am no poet.
    This post is heartwarming Jen. We are out there, yet for me, I feel that I am getting to know my blogging friends and that is such a comfort. I am happy for you Jen.
    Follow your dreams, life is short.
    All the pieces , will slowly but surely fit together.
    wishing you a happy weekend. Enjoy your painting.
    best wishes.. val xxx
    Thank you for your comments and coming over to see me.

    Thank you for sharing Jen.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Val. Isn't it amazing how blogging opens the world to us?

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  3. It's not easy, the journey of reclaiming the self, and not for the faint of heart, but you have what it takes. I look forward to seeing that Jen emerge!

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    1. Thanks so much, Ashling, who has the job I always wanted. (I should have gone to library school!) Happy Catskill spring!

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  4. I'm glad you have found your creative inner self Jen.XX Have a wonderful weekend in the beautiful Catskills.

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  5. I liked your poem interaction at Orion very much. And your paintings are wonderful. I too know the feeling of returning to what you are, that younger self who wrote and painted. Since retiring from working for many years as a welfare caseworker, I've returned to writing. And being published for the first time, online and in print journals. The true self has re-emerged, isn't it wonderful?
    Mary

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    1. I always felt like there were two true selves of me, but I couldn't be both at the same time. I'm delighted to hear about your writing joy and success.

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  6. The older I get, the more comfortable I am with letting the true me emerge again. When we're done being who are jobs and other obligations make us and start feeling comfortable exploring the other, the quiet pieces of ourselves...I think that's contentment.

    I look forward to reading your less edited words. I've become very picky on the blogs I read lately, and only choose now the ones where I feel a true connection, whatever that may be. I'd rather read a post from the heart any day. and I love poetry, so we're a good match. ♥

    Have a wonderful weekend!

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    1. Thank you, Sarah. I'm so glad I found you--your thoughtful words and beautiful pictures are such a pleasure, and I know exactly what you mean about true connections.

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  7. Jen,
    they say life comes full circle, it seems now you are where you need to be to full fill your inner being. Enjoy your creativity and do what makes you happy!
    Rebecca

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    1. Thanks, so much Rebecca. Funny how I am associating my blogger friends with colors. Now I am thinking about that beautiful orange from Kate's wedding. And cowboy boots!

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  8. Hello Jen, I find that I usually don't lose interests, but rather they become submerged, and later can reemerge under the right conditions.

    Knowing you as a friend through your blog, we can appreciate seeing the development of the creative process as well as the final works that you display here.
    --Jim

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    1. "Submerged." That's a wonderful word, and I love the way you use it here. One of my favorite books of the past year is called "Submergence."

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  9. I'm so happy to hear (read) that your heading into a new (old) direction. I'm with you on the editing less, on the importance of intent and on this strange private public mix that is blogging. happy weekend xoxo

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  10. I would have never pictured you as a lawyer. I guess I know the other side of you, the one that's come full circle. It took me a long time to tell any of my friends that I blog, guess I was embarrassed they may find it stupid. I finally did tell a couple and was pleased and surprised at their reaction. I've been writing forever but have always kept it to myself. We are our own toughest critics. I really enjoyed your poem and your friends', they compliment each other nicely. I also LOVE your bear collage. Enjoy a Catskill Spring.

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    1. Amelia, it doesn't surprise me that you write--your posts about your Cuban heritage and family, your Miami childhood are so evocative. I always want more.

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    2. You are very kind. I am very happy to have met you.

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    3. Amelia, just to say I agree with Jen. I was very moved by your recent post about your career in advertising and your wonderful new position. I tried several times to post to you but just could not get past the security barrier. Lo siento. Best regards, Diane in Denver

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    4. Thank you Diane,that is very nice. I didn't know I had a security barrier of any kind, I'll have to check into that. Sorry you ran into a problem.

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  11. A lawyer who writes poetry and paints? I'd hire you in a second!

    Whenever I'm invited to read a friend's poetry or look at their paintings, I always feel a little dread. I'm such a snob about poetry and I know very little about painting. I loved reading your poems - so tender and sincere.

    I'd love to read more. xxoo

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    1. Be careful what you wish for. Seriously, thank you. xo

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  12. Hi Jen,A bold & quite brave post. Brava! Sending you a new haiku about it -- and you.
    Cheers as always and I love that painting above.
    Diane in
    (soggy today) Denver

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    1. Diane--I look forward to the haiku!

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  13. Jen...sometimes it takes years to find our intention in life. There are so many layers...even to our truest self...that the piling on and peeling away is a lifelong process. Thanks for sharing your art and the words of your heart...we are here..listening. Susan

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    1. Thank you for your heartwarming words, dear Susan.

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