Sunday, January 2, 2011

the most peculiar thing

So I'm at my kitchen sink. I'm doing dishes from my evening meal and listening to a Michael Pollan lecture at Google on Youtube. The leftovers have been packed up into the fridge for lunch. The coffee pot is loaded for 4:45 AM, and resting on the burner that just moments before held a pot of brown rice. The dogs are mumbling and shuffling about in the living room, going about dog business of the highest order. And I, I am scrubbing a small cast iron skillet I had scrambled a single Tamari-soaked egg in. There's a freshly baked pie aside me while I'm doing this, all this dishwashing and Michael Pollan listening, and it smells amazing. I made it that afternoon in case some guests stopped by that told me they'd try and show up. For some reason they didn't. So my tomorrow my coworkers will get some charitable pie to start their week with. Everything is perfectly mundane, could not be a more normal Sunday night.

And then I am hit with this wave of happiness. That is the only way I can describe it. I have to stop racking the rinsed dishes, put down my scrubber, and just kinda hold on to the edge of the sink. It's not like it was some mental orgasm or epileptic fit, just a simple lack of complaint. I couldn't stop myself from smiling. From feeling warm. And a few moments into it I realized it wasn't happiness exactly I was feeling, but gratitude. I was washing dishes and for whatever reason this bright fog of gratitude scooped me up. The weird part was it wasn't a feeling of thankfulness for tonight, but for the nights ahead. What I was experiencing was this deep, earth-shaking thankfulness for my big dreams. For lambs, for the farm life, for the books I haven't written, the man I haven't met, the meals I hadn't shared, the family I had yet to start. I was, for some reason, grateful for a life I didn't even know yet. It was the most peculiar thing.

I don't know what brought it on, but it was an amazing feeling. I wish I had better adjectives to describe it. It taught me this much though: I don't think it is possible to be truly happy unless you are deeply grateful. You need to meet every day on your knees in thanks for what you already have, and when you start a day feeling that way you can't possibly not find more things to be thankful for. Some how, this practice found a way to mutate inside me on it's own. It welled out of me, at this banal moment, as something so profound I can only call it grace.

I am not writing this as a girl living out a dream life, trying to tell a bunch of strangers about how happy she was doing her housework in her kitchen. My life is far from ideal, despite all the things you see on the web here, it is still a human life. There are things I would never share, or write about, or want to repeat and like all people tasked with a certain level of self-awareness—I am also haunted by mistakes and regrets, pain and heartbreak, sorrow and anxiety.

But why the hell should I focus on that?

What happened tonight, what just happened, what made me run and type here like this at my desk: it was a need to share this idea of gratefulness. I think it's the best feeling in the world. It's why I miss you is so much stronger than I love you. Gratitude is old and forever. It's the constant soil from which anything and everything we desire to make us happy comes from. Without it, all those things we pray for: money, relationships, farms, chicken coops: are fleeting highs of adrenal. But if you see the world with eyes with that soil in your crow's feet, the simplest things make you buckle from drive by grace. Sometimes when you least expect it.

Life is messy. So is farming. And I think the combination is the world's perfect fertilizer to grow a Jenna in.

Thank you for reading this.


Blogger Dawn said...

Wow! What a powerful experience to have over the kitchen sink! I have had many of these epiphanies,too, but mine tend to be while mucking out some sort of animal poop. Talk about fertilizer! Thanks for a great post.

January 2, 2011 at 6:40 PM  
Blogger Trista Hill said...

I so understand what you mean. It does hit out of nowhere and completely overtakes you, and I'm so grateful when it does. Thank you for sharing yours!

January 2, 2011 at 6:49 PM  
Blogger Dawn Dutton said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing it. Sometimes we all take things for granted and we need to be grateful just for one more day to be alive and enjoy God's creation...
Bless you Jenna in all your future and present endeavors....

January 2, 2011 at 6:54 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Thank you for sharing your world with us.

January 2, 2011 at 7:01 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...


Couldn't have put it any better.

January 2, 2011 at 7:29 PM  
Blogger Chestnut Farm said...

I TOO feel exactly the same way~ There is no describing it....just let it be...

January 2, 2011 at 7:33 PM  
Blogger Rosie said...

I have shared similar feelings thank you so much for putting it into words. It just helps to validate when others can attest to the same epiphanies.
Thank you!

January 2, 2011 at 7:33 PM  
Blogger daisy said...

You deserve nothing less. Enjoy the moment!

January 2, 2011 at 7:37 PM  
Blogger Kitchen Mama said...

You expressed beautifully what I often feel--especially when elbow deep in dishes or laundry or chicken poop. There is nothing better than an overwhelming, persistent feeling of gratitude. Thank you so much for sharing your "drive-by grace".

January 2, 2011 at 8:05 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Awesome! We are finally so close to getting our house and our farm. We've been having kids and going to school for so long, and life seems to be almost ready to get us out of this apartment. Things happen the way that they do for a reason, but we feel like we've been waiting forever! We want that feeling you had tonight, and we're entering this year full of hope and excitement for our farm and breathing room and hard work in fresh air! Thanks for sharing your experiences and keeping us enthusiastic!

January 2, 2011 at 8:18 PM  
Blogger Wild Plum Cottage said...

Yes. Perfect and beautifully said.

January 2, 2011 at 8:48 PM  
Blogger Carol G said...

I think that is wonderful. I remember sitting on a plane last spring thinking the same thing. I just couldn't get the smile off my face. I'm glad you experienced it too. God is good.

January 2, 2011 at 8:51 PM  
Blogger lemontreelane said...

you're welcome for reading this. just keep writing so we can keep reading!

January 2, 2011 at 8:51 PM  
OpenID chickadeeworkshop said...

I didn't get very far into this post without breaking down in tears from your words. I am so much happier when I live my life in gratitude. I am married to a cranky curmudgeon and I am a life-long pessimist of a lesser degree, but when I focus on gratitude for what I have, it energizes me and gives me "bliss," which is, I think, the momentary feeling that you experienced at your sink.

Bliss does come from gratitude and the realization that we DO live in grace. And to express that,gratitude (as you have done, thanks) just multiplies those feelings and gives bliss to others. You are soooo amazing, Jenna!

January 2, 2011 at 9:03 PM  
Blogger Mud Mama said...

Jenna I feel kinda awkward saying this, as we're really strangers...but I love you! You are such a wonderful genuine messy real woman. I wish we lived closer. I know so many young eligible farmers too!

Thank you for sharing all you do...

in gratitude...


January 2, 2011 at 9:12 PM  
Blogger SouthernHeart said...

Words are power, Jenna...and you did, indeed, find just the right adjectives. Since you mentioned it, I will pray for a strong handsome young man for you (somewhere down the road in your near future) with a heart that can listen and truly hear those words of yours and and a desire to share this amazing life with you.

God bless you in 2011, Jenna...


January 2, 2011 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

I understand completely. It happens to me now and then when I'm out doing the evening barn chores. Or the morning chores. Or knitting on the couch next to the woodstove with sleeping cats all around. And I think, "did I die? Is this Heaven? Sure feels like it!"

January 2, 2011 at 9:20 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

I think that I know what you mean, Jenna, because I've been hit with unspeakable joy at an odd moment, a mundane moment. And I think you are right that it manifests under a spirit of gratitude.

I am going to curry gratitude so that I can feel joy more often.

January 2, 2011 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger Beka said...


January 2, 2011 at 9:41 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

You hit the nail on the head. The best part for me about those moments is being grateful for how wonderful gratitude feels and then the whole sublimely silly cycle starts again. My dear husband then starts laughing at me and the adorable crinkles start around his eyes and it really is just wonderful the world can be so good. "All's right with the world" always runs through my head at that moment (even if it's just in my little corner of it).

January 2, 2011 at 10:10 PM  
Blogger Blueberry Farmer said...

Nice post. Like you I'm building a farm more or less from scratch. This requires a LOT of brush burning mostly at night. So also like you I was overcome with a feeling of gratefulness. I looked up into a starry sky picked one and gave God thanks for all he's given me and the star blinked! God laughed it was a satellite! Anyway we're all happy.

January 2, 2011 at 10:14 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

I get it. Once you do, you live there and everything else sort of makes you more grateful.
Big things. Big things.

January 2, 2011 at 10:25 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

I have felt that feeling before and relive it when you tell about yours. Thanks.

January 2, 2011 at 10:33 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

we just got in from 2 long days on the road, and I thought I would see if you posted anything new before heading off for bed. Your post lifted my tired spirits.

January 2, 2011 at 10:45 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

we just got in from 2 long days on the road, and I thought I would see if you posted anything new before heading off for bed. Your post lifted my tired spirits.

January 2, 2011 at 10:45 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Something that turns the wheel of my curiousity is coming across brilliant pieces of writing, whether it be a sentence or a book. You described a wave of happiness as a "...simple lack of complaint." How simply beautiful and brilliant that is.
Then to hook and slip into the mind gratitude for the most powerful yet simple of beauty - lambs, unshared meals, a man - and through that recognition manifesting the unwritten books, thoughts and sentences birthing the beginnings of dreams realized; what an exciting read...thank you.
And I further appreciated the eternal circle of gratefulness and happiness, a soup always brewing, its essence brings you alive, all you gotta do is breathe it in and realize it.
Your writing stroked my mind, your thoughts hugged my being...thanks for the adventure...

January 2, 2011 at 11:54 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

You knock my socks off!!!

January 2, 2011 at 11:55 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Beautiful, humbling words. Thanks for writing--I'll keep reading.

January 3, 2011 at 12:14 AM  
Blogger KimT said...

i love this post. Thanks for sharing!

January 3, 2011 at 12:31 AM  
Blogger Odd Ducks Farm said...

Kitchen sink moments can be the best. Reading back over the trials of the last year, losing the cabin, finding the farm, all of it, and I find myself so happy to hear that you are where you are and doing what you are doing.

Enjoy the moments to come, Jenna. Cheers.

January 3, 2011 at 12:56 AM  
Blogger Monique said...

Thank you for sharing that.

January 3, 2011 at 1:07 AM  
Blogger Misha said...

Thanks so much for the reality check! So often we take what we have for granted. I know I do.

New Year. New perspective. 'Nuf said.

January 3, 2011 at 1:33 AM  
Blogger Lee Ann Start said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 3, 2011 at 3:39 AM  
Blogger Kalee said...

Gratitude is happiness. It's something I'm learning lately.

Thank you, Jenna, for sharing stories of your life with us. More than once you've cheered me up immensely.

January 3, 2011 at 3:41 AM  
Blogger Lee Ann said...

So beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing with us. Blessed be.

January 3, 2011 at 3:43 AM  
Blogger Peacemom said...

So much of the divine is in the seemingly, on the surface anyway, mundane. I've had the same experience myself and have felt the true grace and gifts of this life I have been given. It's never easy, often frustrating, but always amazing to me. Good for you, thankful is a wonderful way to feel and experiencing that grace is no small miracle. ~Vonnie, NH

January 3, 2011 at 5:31 AM  
Blogger T.C. said...

Amen to that, Sister!

January 3, 2011 at 6:02 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

That just rocked.

January 3, 2011 at 6:42 AM  
Blogger My Edible Yard said...

Fabulous post, Jenna. Well written. Well thought out. Describes the feeling perfectly.


January 3, 2011 at 7:17 AM  
Blogger Aranea said...

"He who binds himself to joy doth the winged life destroy but he who kisses the joy as it flies lives in eternity's sunrise" - William Blake

January 3, 2011 at 8:07 AM  
Blogger Tracy said...

Jenna, I owe you an apology. I know you don't know me, but I have felt really bad about my comment on your pig's name. It was sarcastic and rude, and I am sorry. I read your blog every day, sometimes 2-3 times a day, and I really enjoy all that you share with us. Please forgive me for being such a sore loser, and such a dolt!! Keep up the great work!

January 3, 2011 at 8:31 AM  
Blogger Duck said...


This is deep.

And I love it that way.

January 3, 2011 at 8:56 AM  
Blogger Tara said...


January 3, 2011 at 9:40 AM  
Blogger Stargazer 2 said...


January 3, 2011 at 9:58 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

This is the United States, folks, you can be anything you want to be.

As Larry the Cable Guy says, Git'er done.

January 3, 2011 at 10:10 AM  
Blogger BlueGate said...

I call that feeling my "overwhelming sense of well-being."
Glad to know that I'm not the only nut out here feeling it! Do you suppose it is one of the symptoms of Barnheart?

January 3, 2011 at 10:18 AM  
Blogger Jacqueline said...

great share

January 3, 2011 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

I would say God Bless you, but I think He already has.

January 3, 2011 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Odie Langley said...

That was awesome Jenna & I really enjoyed reading about this wonderful experience.

January 3, 2011 at 11:23 AM  
Blogger Kira said...

This is a comment unrelated to your post but have your seen this video?
Think you might enjoy it!

January 3, 2011 at 11:33 AM  
Blogger Dayle said...

Well said, Jenna!!!! I just finished the book "The Ultimate Gift" and gratitude is talked about like you are saying. It's a great book and a short read. By Jim Stovall. What a great feeling. I'm happy for you!!!!

January 3, 2011 at 11:43 AM  
Blogger Tora Consolo said...

I love reading your blog Jenna, you never disapoint. I'm thrilled at the aspect of looking back 15 years from now and seeing how very far you've come. I look at my little watercolor rooster I purchased from you last year and somehow I'm part of all your living.

Thanks Jenna!

January 3, 2011 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger Erin Leigh said...

Hey, Jenna, I'm so happy to see a single woman enjoying the "now," instead of pining for the "I-want-it-now", that hasn't come yet.
I was that woman, and though I had self-awareness in the midst of it, and tried to pull myself out of my single-funk and enjoy my life (and did lots of awesome, amazing things during that time), I was never truly happy.
Now, married with 2 children (all in the space of 2.5 years!!!), I wish I had enjoyed that time, for there were beautiful gifts to be had that I'm sure I missed out on. Hindsight is 20-20, of course.
You are blessed. Even if the single years stretch out farther than you thought they would, don't lose that joy. I didn't get married 'til 35, and still, all my longed for desires have come to pass. They will for you, too. :) Erin

January 3, 2011 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger Pat Woginrich said...

Sunday was the day that Jenna's Grandmother died 12 years ago and it was also her birthday. She always said that she wished she could see how things turned out for Jenna and her brother and sister. Maybe this was her way of saying that she did and that she approves.

January 3, 2011 at 4:33 PM  
Blogger Mimi's Tapawingo said...

I think we all get these feelings - when out of the blue we stand there and tears are streaming down our cheeks from pure happiness - they are called "tears of joy" - a gift from GOD to let us know that He is always there beside us.

January 3, 2011 at 6:28 PM  
Blogger me said...

Wonderful post - totally agree w/ you on gratitude. You expressed the feelings so beautifully.

January 3, 2011 at 11:14 PM  
Blogger Wendy P said...

Lovely. Especially the I miss you bit. I am right there with you. I feel like the life I lead now is my second act, and I am so grateful for the now and thankful for the things yet to come.

Beautiful post. Thank you.

January 3, 2011 at 11:56 PM  
Blogger Blue Dragon Arts said...

I don't have those feelings as often as I would like, but they are powerful when they come. Thank you for sharing!

January 4, 2011 at 8:57 AM  
Blogger Cheezbunny said...

Great post!

January 4, 2011 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger LJ said...

These are the beautiful moments in life. I read this post and for two days have had one thought on my mind, and please don't find me shallow or missing the whole point, but I'm terribly food focused! HOW do you make a scrambled tamari soaked egg? :)

January 4, 2011 at 11:28 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...


I put a little butter in a cast-iron skillet and crack an egg into it when the pan is hot and butter has spread out. Then I quickly scramble it up with a fork and splash on Tamari, while scrambling it into tiny pieces. Amazing with brown rice and steamed veggies. It's a quick healthy meal, a kind of stir fry with just a little fat, some egg protien, and good veggies and grains.

January 5, 2011 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger LJ said...

Yummy! Thanks for the recipe! :)

January 5, 2011 at 12:03 PM  
Blogger natalie said...

what a lovely post! to greet every day on our knees....very eloquantly written!

January 9, 2011 at 2:26 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home