A Message to My Fellow Prisoners

“Scattered thunderstorms predicted throughout the day”. I roll my eyes as I close the weather app on my phone. “Always a chance of storms,” I mutter as I head to the closet to pull out my running shoes. I undo the double knots, resisting the urge to jam my heel into them while they’re still tied. Once I’m all laced up, I open the door. I see the clouds, blackest at the edges and try to gauge their direction. “Uhggggh,” I say as I set off down the street, desperate to see some light.

It was 12 years ago when I injured my back, and there have been very few pain-free runs since then. Machines have documented every jacked up bone in my body. Smile, spine! You’re on camera. Doctors have poked and prodded my every vertebrae, Does it hurt when I do THIS? Physical therapists have twisted me Cirque du Soleil style, Step right up folks, see a real-life Gumby!And despite all of this, I run anyway.

And as I run, my eyes inventory the world around me. The woman pulling weeds from cracked concrete — knees resting on the Welcome mat. The man with the sweaty blue work shirt — checking his watch as he flings his briefcase into the backseat. The young girl with her backpack on one shoulder — standing several feet from the cluster of other kids at the bus stop. Each of us carrying aches and pains that hail from different sources.Each of us serving time in our own ways. We all know about life on the inside. We’ve all been contained.

Some of us? Prisoners to our parents — the adults who could have coddled our sense of magic and creativity but instead seemed hell-bent on scrubbing it out of us. Some of us, prisoners to an internal well of loneliness that we attempted to fill with food, alcohol, sex, drugs — anything but self-love. And some of us prisoners to a misguided sense of success that led us closer to filling our mansions and our jewelry boxes but further from filling our hearts.

Universally, though, it was these vacancies-these empty spaces- that landed us here in our cells. We share the one smudgy mirror. They cover it in thick plastic to protect us, but it distorts the reflection to the point that we’re indistinguishable. Business attire long since replaced by orange jumpsuits. Hair, once Clairolcolored and smoothed just right — now a tuft of gray frazzled roots. Formerly contoured cheeks, flesh-fattened— stuffed daily with potatoes and macaroni served from ice cream scoops.

And when you serve time, you lose things. Possessions, friendships, marriages, self-worth. And at some point your heart gets so hardened-so black, that feeling nothing becomes the norm. There’s a safety in the monotony. A cadence to the humming florescent lights. A comfort in eating from the same trough everyday.

And after years of wrapping ourselves in these blankets made of ice, we realize we have two choices. We either stay in the confines of our cells or we escape. The answer seems so obvious. “Escape, of course”, says our heart. “It’s so blank in here”.

“You’re better off staying put,” says that other voice — the one that’s gotten much louder since the the day of our sentencing. “You’re safe here. You have a routine. You have a roof over your head and 3 meals a day. It’s not the Ritz, but it’s a helluva lot better than what’s out there.”

This dialogue goes on for hours, days, months, years. And for some — until coffin lids close and darkness bathes us. Others of us, though, still feel our mouth corners turn up at the mention of sun. Some of us want out. We’re an elite group of plotting escapees, whispering through floor vents, collecting tools beneath our mattresses. Co-conspirators in a den of lemmings.

The moment arrives. The day we’ve all waited for. The guards backs are turned. The door that leads to the gate is cracked. We look back at the cells one last time. A landscape so memorized, so soul-etched that we’ll see it in our sleep for years. And then, we look at each other. It’s go time.

One by one we shuffle out the door. All gripping the various tools we’ve collected along the way. All desperate to feel the rays beat down on our sun-hungry skin. But it’s overcast. We see the clouds, blackest at the edges. A chance of storms in all directions. Shoes laced, hearts braced — we run anyway.

Originally published on Medium.com





My long-buried bones

emit dusty gasps as she works

her chipping hammer around my


Shale bits slough

off creek bed’s bank, gathering

on her denim knees. A paint

brush tickles my

groggy fins, posed

gracefully for their wake.

Parts wrapped and


stacked in muddied

egg crates, forced from

the safe hug of


Bright lab lights

shine on busy picks and

chisels, as carefully

she reassembles me.

Perched exhibit high

and stripped of once

thick flesh and liquid

shield, I wait.

Crowds gasp and

whisper — reverence paid

as, naked, I resume

my reign.

* Piece originally published on Medium.com

I Am Water



Those summers on the Georgia coast replaced my parts from the inside out.  My blood is not red but a light brown. The brackish water of the intracoastal. Wring me out like a washcloth and then lick your hand.  It will taste like salt.  Tear the skin off my leg and you’ll find no bones.  Just razor clams and joints of cockle shells.  Run a brush through my hair.  It’s tangled spanish moss and full of wild things. Try to catch them.  You can’t.  They’ll hide in the knuckles of the old oak trees, nestled in the dark spaces between my secrets.

To arrive at my house, you’ll travel a dirt road that dips and turns through forest shadows.  There will be pockets of “once lived heres” along the way.  A trailer swallowed by kudzu.  A dumpster rusted, with daisies dancing in the cracks.  And just when you think the road leads nowhere–just when you’re certain that all four tires are sighing out their air, you’ll see the edge of it.

As you pull up, the house will speak to you only in whispers.  The words will pass your ears like mosquitoes.  Taunting you with tidbits of the history that pushed you into the world with a moan.  A clearing where the old barn and maid’s quarters used to be. A small white john boat now painted by storms and the paws of muddy bobcats.  A crumbling stone fireplace that baked Red fish and Snapper in it’s fiery belly.

You walk up the stairs, concrete and moss-stained, to tug at the flimsy screen door. There are smells that live only here.  Close your eyes and you’ll know the room.  Sulfur water dripping from the faucet in the kitchen sink, gliding down the stained porcelain into the pipes that speak at night.  Must from the winter-sealed dresser drawers and mildewed mattresses.  Four to a room. Wind gusts of low-tide muck from the exposed riverbeds outside the front porch.

Walls wooden.  Storied with the arches of darkened grain and mismatched frames.  Faces, black and white in bathing caps.  Peeping heads over dock’s edge.  Shirtless, gangly boys with rows of squirrel fish pinned to leather straps that crisscross their chest bones, ammunition-like.


You look closer at the picture of her.  Your mother’s mother. A beautiful she you never knew.  Long arms that never rocked you.  Fingers that never ran through your mossy hair.  You trace your finger along her face.  You run it across her full lips and up to her eyes.  She’s younger than you here, but sadder.  You step back a bit and see your sweaty reflection in the glass.   You move to another room.

A skeleton key, shifting this way and that to open the closet door.  Shelves of hats and battered boots that no one wears and no one throws away.  Metal boxes packed with rusty tools and old fish hooks.  Broken bits from the rods and reels that came home with glory stories of the ones that got away.  

And then down the dusty path to the dock.  Raised roots so familiar you lift your feet without ever looking down.  The bluff–a painting.  Trees arched just so as the branches beards let in the right amount of light behind them.  Sun bathing the marsh in yellows and light greens. A heron wading in the muddy shallows, watching you with it’s dinosaur eye.  Boards splintered, you run your calloused hand along the rail.  And then you stop.

Because it’s right now.  This very moment when you realize you aren’t just visiting. You are rooted here.  Your organs are doing things they can’t in concrete spaces.  Your lungs are full.  The two chambers of your heart are pumping the Atlantic into every single corner.  You slide your hand down and feel the rope tied tightly around your waist.  You realize it’s been chafing at your sides while you’ve been away-stained in light brown.  

You follow the rope down the ramp to the floating dock and rock in a familiar way–feeling your eyes grow heavy.  You inch your hand down further as the rope leads into the water.  Your lay on your stomach with one ear against the wood.  The slaps and gurgles beneath you pair with the music of the fiddler crabs in your periphery.  

You don’t tug at the rope.  You know what’s at the end.  An anchor so heavy that it could snap your shelled spine into two.  So you stay there.  Flesh pressed against the weathered wood. Rocking with the rhythm of this place you’re forever tethered to. Humming along as the fiddler’s compose their symphony.

*See more pieces like this on  Jen’s Medium Page



Pants around my ankles, I squatted over the fossilized dinosaur footprint — a goofy grin spreading across my face. It’s one of those memories that I carry like a tattoo. It’s skin etched. Maybe it’s because I’ve told it so many times, each recount darkening the ink at the edges. Or perhaps it’s what it captured. An entire childhood in one simple snapshot.

The image of six-year old me, bare-bottomed in the wide open Oklahoma panhandle, pissing in an Apatosaurus print screams, “Here you go! This was my big, fat exotic childhood.” My dad was a museum man — of the Natural History variety. Half desk job, half field work with a family tagging along for the latter.

We were a breed of our own, my sister and I. Barely batting an eye when dad brought home shrunken heads and Megalodon teeth to discuss at our 6pm sharp family dinners. Fuck bounce houses. We had corn snakes and baby gators in wading pools for our parties. Airport souvenirs? Ha! Blowguns smuggled from the Amazon jungle and clay figurines from the base shops of Machu Picchu seasoned our bookshelves.

We were tethered to my father by bungee cords. Head lamps were adjusted at the entrances of caves. Snorkeling fins were forced over wet heels as we waded in waist deep near the reefs. Mother dutifully stood vigil on the sidelines — never failing to see us off or to listen to our breathless recounts when we emerged on the other side.

We know what we know as kids. My family constellation was drawn in private planetarium shows and the muddy knees of fossil digs. This was my norm. Only now, with certain memories curling up at the edges, do I long to piece together the whole. To see it projected sky high in the darkened dome above my chair.


First, you’ll only see the stars — some twinkling more brightly than others. Then, a shape emerges and you begin to connect the dots. That line that gave us form is my mother — the thread that anchored us to the sky. But to look at the constellation of my youth from any distance undermines the details. So today I zoom in — on the star that’s dusty from the great Black Mesa. Where the corners of Colorado, Oklahoma, and New Mexico meet.

The bit where, upon close enough examination, you see me squatting over a footprint that preceded me by 165 million years. A footprint stamped by a giant — his legs, pillar-like. His neck serpentine. I’m an ant in a canyon.

Dad was mixing business with pleasure. With our pop-up camper back at the park, we’d driven out to the site of the prints, tasked with taking some photos for the exhibit back home. The casts had already been taken — soon to be staged and served up to the oooohs and ahhhhhs of young visitors.

But the photographs weren’t panning out. The dry sediment was camouflaging it’s own Jurassic past. “It’s working!” I screamed, watching the print darken between my skinny legs as the yellow waterfall splashed my ankles. A prehistoric watering hole. “Great. Move out of the shot,” Dad commanded, eager to get some photos before my efforts evaporated. My sister had been keeping time, marking her own turf just a footprint away.

With one eye, we briefly surveyed mother. Forever the conductor of this mad symphony, she was always attuned. Today, she laughed. It was hard not to. This prehistoric pissing contest rivaled all former roadside squats and emergency tree pullovers. This was one for the family scrapbooks.

So what begins as a story about a road trip out West, becomes a story about footprints. The tattered maps and fossil tracks are now boxed neatly in Dad’s garage — a retired past, yellowing. Someday, my father will go out like the Sauropods. With a Big Bang — leaving footprints I can sit in.

And then there will be the smaller, softer tracks in my periphery (the ones my mother’s been leaving) that remind me what I’m anchored to —and why I’m brave enough to walk with dinosaurs.

The Only Drum


Should I be familiar with blasons?  Perhaps I missed that day of English Major class.  Well-regardless, I’m fascinated.  In The True Secret of Writing, Natalie Goldberg describes them as an entire 16th century poetry genre.  One that was used to praise women via anatomical analogy.  She cites several examples, including a famous one by Shakespeare that could easily be coined the anti-blazon.  It mocks all of the cliches we’ve come to associate with beauty.  It made smile.  

So I’ve been toying with these things.  Writing blasons about my husband and my son.  I’ve attempted it “Goldberg” style–that is, without overthinking the metaphors and just rolling with the images that float into my brain.  My own strange tributes have resulted.  

Blason One — Day Husband

His Legs are all of him. Hips for ears.

His fingers knobby with knuckles like bulbs, for planting.

His eyes, muddy puddles. No fun until you jump in them.

The splashing makes them twinkle in a subtle North Star way.

His feet, long straws. Perfect, thin, and light. Tattooed with

neon racing stripes. They carry him through miles of

trials. His heart, the only one I’d like in my morning

coffee cup. Steady — pumping the day’s rhythm. But

always ready for a stir.

Blason Two — Night Husband

Your giraffe limbs — awkward shapes and sharp edges

make for a horrid bedfellow. Spooning with you is a fork

to my lumbar. Yet — as you tangle and gangle — leaving no

nook for my more padded frame — our insides pair

quite nicely. Organs in sync. Your mind rests in mine. The curve

of a sea turtle’s belly against the warm sand. You heart, a metronome.

Bringing my more erratic beats to pace. Our breath, blending then

swirling upward like smoke in a tube. We fit in the important ways

my ill-proportioned love. So draw the curtains of your eyes as sleep

seeps in. Do it peacefully. Do it, knowing that all will be well if you

keep to your side of the bed.

Blason Three — Son

Your lips are pillows for my cheeks. Soft bows,

curved perfectly. Your rectangle frame lengthening

faster than the measuring tape in my hands. Thinning out.

That baby face finding it’s angles, giving hints of the man

underneath. That mind, a grasshopper — uncageable. Your legs

— pillars of jello. You stumble over yourself

with mother’s net to fall in. Your voice is butter on warm

cinnamon bread and your hands are clams, muddied from digging.

Your china skin and starfish grip hold parts of me once

unknown. Your “mommy” is silk tickling my ear. And your

heart is the only drum I hope to hear

when my body is soil. When I’m earth

for you to dance on.

Originally published  in Poets Unlimited on Medium.com 

Momm-ing It, Mindfully.


Yesterday, I reached down to pick my iPhone off the asphalt parking lot. It was face down which never bodes well. And, sure enough, I turned it over to discover a glass spiderweb. My 3 1/2 year old looked up at me, gauging my face like a tiny therapist. Is it broken? he asked. I nodded yes while taking one of those exasperated breaths that diffuses the tear ducts.

I knew what was coming next, because when something breaks or goes missing in our house, we invoke a line from my son’s beloved Pete the Catseries — modifying the words only slightly. In unison, we recited —

Do we cry? Goodness no! Cell phones come. And cell phones go. We keep on singin’.

Somehow, when it’s the leg of my son’s plastic dinosaur that snaps off, the mantra is magical. My cell phone shattering? A gut punch that even Pete couldn’t soften.

The following morning, we made our way to the Apple store. Despite an early start, we were soon shoulder to shoulder with other customers, frantic to reconnect with their screens. As we waited for help, I rubbed my index finger along the painful cut I’d been dealt by my own continued screen use.

Finally, it was our turn. I watched the “Genius” examine my phone, waiting for her diagnosis. This was no hairline fracture — it was serious. She estimated the length of the necessary surgery and I frantically responded,But how will I know when it’s noon? She eye-balled me as I continued, It’s my clock, you know. Should I text my husband to fill him in before you take it back there?

I watched her walk back to the operating room before I glanced down at my toddler. What should we do while we wait? I asked. Play! he responded without hesitation. And, indeed, the early morning chill had made way for a crisp, sunny day.

In the short walk to the nearby play area, I instinctively reached for my phone no less than three times. Once, to take a picture of my son walking. Again to check if it was late enough to spring for lunch. And finally, to refresh my email in anticipation of some work-related feedback. I felt limbless.

Dejected, I plunked down on a cement stool to watch my son play. Play withme, he beckoned. This kid is no fool. He embraced his new only child status like an ant in a picnic basket. His urgency served as a much-needed slap.

For the last year and a half, I’ve been immersed in a complete life redesign — mindfulness serving as the epicenter. But my phone has yet to receive that memo. It battles me out of the present on a daily basis. My last connection to virtual importance.

So I snapped out of my funk and, for the next hour, really played. We battled evil trolls on a bridge, mastered the Olympic balance beam, and picnicked on an enormous, buttery pretzel by a turtle pond.

I watched as my son picked off the individual grains of salt, examined them, and then counted the crunches between his teeth. This three year old — a model of presence and simplicity.Noting this, I felt relief that the moment wouldn’t be managed by a screen. No forced smiles, or “candid” reenactments. Just us — taking life with a grain of salt.

Eventually, we made our way back to the Apple store — a brand that has, for better or for worse, redefined human connection. A deaf customer was Face-Timing with her daughter while she waited. Well, that’s nice, I thought to myself, registering how life-changing the dawn of texts and live chats must have been for the hearing impaired community.

They brought out my phone and allowed me to examine her smooth new face. Looks perfect, I said — sensing a bittersweet tug in my voice. Accepting the reunion stoically, my son took my hand to pull me toward the exit. Wait, I muttered, stuffing the phone into my backpack and zipping it away.

As we approached our car, I made one of those half-hearted promises to myself — less digital Face Time, more real face time. On the drive home, my mind drifted to the future. A future that would inevitably be marked by more drops and shatters.

Slowly, I’m discovering that life’s accidents are rarely within my control. It’s how I approach the repairs that matters. The refrain repeated in my head the whole ride home —

Do we cry? Goodness no! Things come & things go.

We keep on singin’…

Originally published on Medium.com

Jen on The Rocks — How A Booze-Free 2016 Will Change Your Life


Booze enthusiast. Raging lush. Happy hour mom. Functional alcoholic.Regardless of the labels I adhere to the me of years past, I’m ready to show you the “after” picture.

It’s not so much the sobriety itself that’s been miraculous, but the stuff I’ve accomplished as a result of it. For so long, I held on desperately to the fact that I didn’t fit the “mold” for a drunk. What I’ve discovered in my 15 months of sobriety is that diagnostics don’t matter. I was worn down by my nightly wine-fests and something had to change.

The impact of the drinking reached far beyond numbed evenings and hazy mornings. At some point, I’d exited the driver’s seat in my own life and handed the wheel over to a really shitty passenger.

My first few months back at the controls were challenging to say the least. Both physical and emotional labor was required and I had to rally in ways I’d never rallied before. But as a result of the necessary tune-ups (er-overhaul), 2015 has been totally boss. And I’m here to tell you why:

  1. I’ve Raised Four Chickens — We’re banking on the first eggs any day now. But these chickens represent far more than a future of yard-to-table breakfasts. They represent me waking up at 5:30 every morning and slipping on my bad-ass urban homesteader rubber boots. They represent me feeling capable of caring for four more living creatures. They represent my commitment to teaching my son about where his food comes from. Old me wouldn’t have made it to the chicken permitting seminar. It was at 7 pm and after 5:00 — I was booked solid.
  2.  I’ve Gotten Paid to Write — Passions slide to the back burner when your free time involves cork popping and staining your teeth a variety of reds. Without fail, I’ve written every single day of 2015. And at some point, it occurred to me that the only thing standing between me and a freelance gig was my lack of clients. One day of pitches later and I was a paid writer. I get monthly checks in the mail for doing what I love. Holy shit.
  3. I’ve Found My Look  You know those insanely satisfying makeover shows with the jaw-dropping before and afters? Yeah-well-I’m not sure that the new me merits mouth-breathing, but as my skin and weight and sparkle bounced back, I found the look to match it. Until 2015, I always felt like something was “off”. Perhaps it was my lack of attention to self-care or my fluctuating pant size or -oh-i dunno the fact that I didn’t like myself. Regardless, I now know how to dress me and I’ve got the pixie cut and peter pan collars to prove it.
  4. I’ve Nailed a Mindfulness Routine — Jen of days yore was dismissive of “new-agey” lifestyles. Jen of days yore was also a dumbass. Embedding meditation, daily journaling, long-walks and solitary adventures into my everyday routine has been life-changing. At some point, my entire outlook shifted from one of anxiety and skepticism to one of presence, authenticity, and hope. Yes-that last sentence would make old me gag.
  5. I’ve Made Real Adult Friends — Living more authentically allowed me to approach friendships in a completely different way. My history of “sizing people up” with a first-impression was so limiting. And by experimenting with reaching out more wholly, really listening, and seeing friendships as an opportunity to learn rather than to grasp for validation — I’ve made some genuine connections. Not the “oh-my-god-you-look-so-skinny-in-that-dress-bitch” connections. Real ones.
New Me Flanked by The Mes of Days Yore


6. I’ve Gone Grocery Shopping at Night — What the hell?!? The grocery store is basically empty at 8 pm. And it’s glorious. But like the chickens, this is about way more than free-reign in the egg section. It’s about being able to hop in the car at times when I was formerly anchored to my couch. My days of social partying had long-since devolved into reality tv zone outs. Being able to accomplish real stuff at night is so freaking awesome.

7. I’ve Become the Mom I Want to Be — Transitioning from knowing what I wanted for my son to living a life that embodied my moral, spiritual, and physical principles has proven priceless. Apparently, the whole do as I say but not as I do thing didn’t gel with my psyche because it led to perpetual guilt. When you like who you are — when you feel like you’re present-and-accounted-for in your own life — negative self-talk vanishes. Stripping my lifestyle of the hypocrisy and white lies has felt like the end of a really long prison sentence.

8. I’ve Listened to My BodyWhile I’m not signing up for marathons or nomming on kale chips, I’m no longer neglecting myself. My former wine money has been applied to the likes of monthly massages, facial products that trump splashes of tap water, and a physical therapist for the chronic back pain I’d previously numbed. Hangover fueled grease-fests are no more. I eat clean(er) and actually look forward to my evening tea and dark chocolate squares. My bedtime teeth-grinding is now blocked by a super sexy mouth guard, and I have a person who cuts my hair for me.

9. I’ve Started Dating Again  Who are these lucky suitors, you ask? Well, there’s just one and he’s my very own husband of 8 years. I’ve rediscovered the excitement of hidden love notes, off-the-wall date nights, and “just because” hand-holding. Our courting sank to the bottom of my wine glass and required some overdue attention. Evenings of robotic channel-surfing and staying up too late have been replaced by real conversations beside our fire-pit, a reliable babysitter, and a commitment to navigating the new “us” we’ve become.

10. I’m More Equipped to Help OthersHave I mentioned that I’m a licensed therapist? Like the matchmaker who couldn’t find love, I was the therapist who couldn’t ask for help. While I’m hesitant to discredit the years of hard work I put into my clients, what it boils down to is this — the past sixteen months has armed me with tools that I was previously lacking. I believe that lives can be reclaimed and that balance is achievable not only because of what I learned in grad school, but because of who I’ve become.

I’m standing on a stage behind the giant backdrop, waiting for my big reveal. The audience is holding it’s breath as a series of “before” pictures project onto the screen. I turn towards a mirror as the entourage tousles my hair and brushes the final coat of powder onto my face. I look into my own eyes and for the first time in years, I really see me. She stares back to size me up and I wait. It isn’t long before her mouth spreads into a smile —

and her eyes tell me that all is forgiven.

*Originally published at Medium.com in the Better Humans collection

Is Your Inner-Creative Dead?


Does your typical day involve mouse-clicks, coffee sips, and about five zillion screens? Do you march through your weekday routine on autopilot, checking off the internal to-do list like a robot? It wasn’t always this way, you know.

There were those of us that cartwheeled through childhood, our imaginations limited only by the hours in the day. There were the elaborately staged backyard productions, poems written in sidewalk chalk, and impromptu masterpieces painted on refrigerator boxes. The possibilities around us were intoxicating.

But at some point during the transition from Crayolas to MacBooks we tucked our creativity into it’s snug little bed for a very, very long nap. And the longer she slept, the more distant of a memory she became.

Did she die? we wonder sadly. And then suddenly, our insides hint at her survival.

But at some point during the transition from Crayolas to MacBooks we tucked our creativity into it’s snug little bed for a very, very long nap.

Perhaps it happens when you’re buying school supplies for your son, “Buyme some fucking supplies,” she hollers while pounding her fists on your chest.

Or maybe it’s when your colleague is waxing on about his self-published sci-fi novel in the break room that you hear her say, “If dip-shit Devon can write a novel, then you certainly can!”.

It may even happen when you’re sitting by your husband for your fourth viewing of PBS’s Lord of the Dance. “Remember when I used to tapdance myway to the dinner table every night and insist that the entire family applaud as I curtsied?” she nags. “Where are those standing ovations now?”.

Bottom line — your inner-creative is not dead. She is, in fact, highly revive-able. And the benefits of following the steps below will reach far beyond the confines of your cubicle. Reuniting with your creative spirit will send a welcomed shock-wave through the parts of you that completely suck.

I’m not just blowing smoke here. I’m walking the walk. After stifling my own creative screams for nearly a decade, I’ve opened the floodgates. And in turn, life has opened back up to me. The possibilities are intoxicating.

1. Have A Chat with Your Second-Grade Self

Sit down at your desk with a pencil and paper. Not a laptop or a smartphone. I’m talking old school. Write her a letter. Tell her what you miss. Reflect on the moments that were brightest for you. Let her know you remember what she wanted to be when she grew up. Warn her about possible missteps.

If approached gently and vulnerably, you will leave this process with a really strong sense of her wants and needs. End the letter with a promise of what you can give back to her.

2. Find An Entourage

Review your current list of supporting characters. If your posse is void of creative types (writers, artists, musicians, dancers, craftsman, bookworms, and general weirdos) it’s time to “date” around. You know your niche and you know how to use the internet. Start searching.

Whether it’s a Meetup, a catalog for continuing ed, or a commitment to frequenting haunts that attract like-minded talents, you have to take the plunge. After years off the right-brained bandwagon, I found this step quite terrifying. But guess what? I found my entourage.

3. Crown Your Creative Outlet a Habit

If you can commit to clipping your nails every Sunday and cooking tacos every Tuesday, why not view your creative time in equally non-negotiable terms? Habit formation is all about repetition. It’s about creating anchors.

Ain’t nobody gonna mess with me between 6 and 7 am. That’s when I journal, dammit. That’s my sacred time. I’ve anchored myself to that routine by creating a quiet writing space, finding the pen and the notebook, and documenting my daily commitment on a goal-tracking app. My year plus “streak” is my digital gold.

4. Maintain Momentum

Once you provide your inner-creative with a bit of leeway, she won’t shut up. Everyday demands will tempt you to sedate her. And at times, it will seem easier to snuff out her nagging than to nurture her wholeheartedly. This is why you need reinforcements.

Call in your entourage. Message your life coach. Pull out your oil paints or new guitar strings or favorite book. It’s not the second grader in your belly that’s crapping out. It’s you. She’s ready. She’s jazzed. She is always desperate to play.

I adjust the yellow curtain on the opening of the cardboard box as my son excitedly crouches with a pink-snouted sock puppet on his right arm. My husband dutifully sits on the grass, facing the makeshift theater as my inner-second grader musters up her best announcer voice: “We proudly present the Talented Tap-Dancing Bovine Duo. . .”

And scene.

All Up In My Womb

MineProposed Responses to Your Commentary on My Reproductive System

At some point, it became okay for you to ask me about my sex life. You and your southern cronies have fine-tuned the questions to the point that they don’t even seem overtly offensive anymore. Below, you will find my working responses to your inquiries as they pertain to my pre, mid, and post child-bearing body.


How many kids are ya’ll gonna have?

We were totally gonna go all Duggar — but then we met your brood. I’m back on the pill.

You’ve been married for six months, Hon. When you gonna start a family?

I’m actually ovulating right now. I’ve asked the Mister to come home at lunch to pound away at me with no condom on, after which, I intend to lay on my back with my legs in the air for a minimum of ten minutes. So — fingers crossed!


Congratulations! Ya’ll were tryin’ forever, weren’t you?

Actually, we only had unprotected sex twice before we conceived. I’m left to assume you’re alluding to the first four blissful, childless years of our marriage. Those were on purpose. See — we are totally in love and saw no need to start spilling out babies to fill in the unspoken voids. But, jeepers, if we did have trouble conceiving, it makes me feel really good to know that you have opinions about that.

Look at you, Guuurl! You’re havin’ that baby any minute, right?

Not for three more months you bitch. But thanks for pointing out that I’m a fat-ass. I’ll just keep that one for a rainy day — in the pocket underneath my elastic waistband.


Motherhood is such a blessin’. It just flies by! Are you savorin’ every minute?

Abso-fucking-lutely. Like, last night, when it was my husband’s turn to rock the baby and instead he put the pillow over his head and fell back to sleep? That was too perfect for words. I didn’t even imagine pressing it around his head with my three am super-fury and holding it there until he stopped breathing. Cuz’ I was too busy thinking how uh-mazing motherhood is.

When ya’ll gonna have another?

The thought of putting our entire lives on hold for another few years is almost too good to be true. But more importantly, we can’t wait to subscribe to the social formula that dictates ‘where there’s one, there must be two’.

Yesterday, girl. We want another one yesterday!

*Originally published in the Human Parts collection on Medium

Find Your Inner Storyteller!

I’m excited for the official launch of my 30-day Get Your Ink On writing challenge!  The following is the announcement as it was shared on the Coach.me blog:

Writing about yourself is fun. It’s also good for your mental health: studies have found that journaling about your experiences and emotions makes you happier and less stressed. But it can be hard to know where to start or what to write about. It’s also scary to open up and be vulnerable to criticism from others and from yourself.

We’ve invited Coach Jen Anderson to guide you through the intimidating process of learning to write about yourself. She specializes in no-nonsense, bold, and beautiful writing as a contributor to Medium’s top personal storytelling collection, Human Parts. She writes with raw honesty and vulnerability about her life experiences from falling in love to facing addiction.

Jen will be your personal guide as you find your voice and learn to tell your own stories. This plan will build up your confidence in your writing, stretch your creativity, and warm you up to a daily writing habit in just 10 minutes a day. You’ll also access community discussions where you can share your writing and learn from your peers.

Think of this plan as your own creative writing group, right at your fingertips.

Get the 30-Day writing plan for $6.99 if you sign up in the next 24 hours. It’ll be $14.99 after that.


We look forward to seeing you Get Your Ink On!

xoxo, Jen