Tuesday, July 10, 2012

losing arrows

I haven't written much these past few days because I have been dog-paddling with this idea of turning thirty. It surprised me how much it is affecting me, and not in the ways I thought it would. I am not bothered by the number itself. I was always a 42-year-old with a library card in an antique center. It's not vain. What is bothering me is the milestone looking back. Over what has happened since I turned twenty, how much can change in just a decade. How much you can gain, and lose, in such a short time.

I accomplished a lot in my twenties, at least on paper. I wrote books, bought a farm, quit my day job and chased the American Dream into a corner until I smote it with my Stubbornness. I'm proud of this and of everything Cold Antler has become. But you need to realize that what I share here is such a small part of my story, and keep in mind the words of Stephen Levine: "Every person I meet with their shit together is usually standing in it."

Keep that in mind.

My twenties were the vehicle that brought me to where I currently stand, shit and all. I am grateful for them, grateful for all of this. But when I look back at where I was twenty, sitting in a dorm room with a Jetta parked outside in the student lot, reading issues of Comm Arts while trying to memorize serif fonts for a TYpography test to...well, my thirtieth Birthday? Today I'm going to bring a rare breed British dream pony to my own farm in upstate New York. The lines of connection between there and here involve five states, three jobs, and two broken hearts.

I woke up this morning, started a pot of coffee, and wrote a thousand words for my current manuscript between chores and dog walks. I spent time outside feeding baby turkeys, watching a chick follow her mother to the feeder, held a 6-week-old bunny in my hands, milked a happy goat, and then sank into my hammock with a bottle to feed Monday. I felt the chill morning wind on my bare legs and unshod feet. I was swaying in a plaid sun dress, a baby in my arms...

That is exactly what happened this morning and to many of us that sounds like paradise, but this farm is just one piece of the story. I fell asleep the night before crying. These past three years have been the hardest of my life, and not because of bucking hay bales. They've been hard because I spent most of my twenties, and all of my years writing this blog, dealing with anxiety, body issues, fear, and guilt. I lost people I thought I would never lose. I aimed too high, shot too far, and lost some arrows. It happens. I hope it happens less as I get older.

I think my story is no different than anyone else's. Our twenties are about becoming the adult we want to be. They are about finding your footing, getting established, taking risks and falling in love. We make mistakes, learn from them, and hopefully figure out the important distance between guilt and regret.

For my birthday I am giving myself the best gift I can, and it isn't a pony. I'm allowing myself to let go of that decade's ghosts and just be happy. I have all the ingredients, all the abilities to do this. I really believe it's a choice you have to make every single day. To wake up, accept yourself and your life, and choose to be a positive, grateful, useful, and kind part of the world instead of a detractor from others. I want to surround myself with encouragement instead of competition. I want to protect myself from anyone else's fear, guilt, or anger. I want to learn to heal up broken pieces of myself with the long, black, mane of a good horse and my arms around a good dog, and maybe, just maybe, if I let enough light in, a good man.

As for those things that keep me up at night? Well, I'm sure they still will, at least for a while. But as time and good things come to pass you forget middle names and dates of import and you focus on what is in your own hands instead. You focus on good work, and creativity, and make it your goal everyday to make someone else smile, make their life a little easier, and tell people you love them that you do. Tell them over and over because no one can hear that too many times. No one.

In my thirties I want aim true, shoot the proper distances, and lose less arrows in the tall grass. I want to love myself, and others, and find out what it is like to live in this world without looking over your shoulder at the things I can't change. It will take time, but I think the effort will be worth it. I hope you stick around to see it all happen, keep reading, keep encouraging, and I will do the same. Much to come folks, much.

Fireflies, thunderstorms, and crows in pairs,



Blogger Sylvia said...

Jenna, Jenna, Jenna,
You are so very hard on yourself. As someone approaching 50 next year, I can swear to you, that it *does* get better. Things that mattered so much to me at 25 are practically useless at 48.
You already live a truer life than most of us. You are brave, stubborn and focused on your goals. These are major accomplishments for anyone, regardless of age.
Have a nice birthday. Eat cake, love on your dogs and your friends and be gracious unto yourself.
Thanks for all you share, thanks for all you do.

July 10, 2012 at 7:19 AM  
Blogger Kristen said...

Happpy birthday, Jenna. Thanks for sharing your life with us.

July 10, 2012 at 7:21 AM  
Anonymous Patti said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Jenna !!!! I saw 2 pairsof crows at 5:00am today, I think they were celebrating your birthday.... they had"untied" my tomatoes and were playing with the fancy gold twine/ribbon I recycled to tie tomatoes, it looked like pure joy. Here's hoping your day is filled with plenty of pure JOY !

July 10, 2012 at 7:23 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Happy Birthday to such an inspiring soul! Enjoy not only your day, but your year and your choice of being happy-because you are right it IS a choice!

July 10, 2012 at 7:28 AM  
Anonymous TaosJohn said...

Forgodssake, yer doin' great! I'm more than twice as old as you. Most 30-year-old today haven't done squat. Just keep on going.

I just took a motorcycle riding course at age 66 and will be climbing on a new bike for the first time in over 60 years. It never ends, and we're never finished. Keep that in mind.

July 10, 2012 at 7:34 AM  
Anonymous Colleen Vanderlinden said...

Happy birthday, Jenna!

Our twenties are for making mistakes, defining who we are and what we want. Take it from this 34 (35 next week) year old -- your thirties will be much better than your twenties. I wouldn't be a twenty-something again if you paid me! :-)

Have a great day, and a great year!

July 10, 2012 at 7:39 AM  
Blogger Megan, Rudy's mom said...

Happy Birthday!!
Last year I went through the same thing. Just months before I met one of my best friends who was also turning 30 that year. Now we have an adventure every year for our birthdays. Last year it was camping, rafting, and zip lining. This year pottery class at a local museum. Turning 30 was great it's much easier to understand life lessons now.
I'm so glad you got pony on such a milestone birthday!

July 10, 2012 at 7:42 AM  
Blogger farmwifetwo said...

Psst...40 was the hard one. As you said the number didn't bother me as much as the "twenty years ago I was..." OMG it's been how long???

That feeling. I don't remember being bothered turning 30. I had a toddler and one on the way so I was busy and spent the following 10yrs immersed in "autism-land".

I'm trying to savour the 40's but they just won't slow down :)

Have a great birthday. They go by too fast.

July 10, 2012 at 7:44 AM  
Blogger seagoddess said...

Happy Birthday!! My 30s were very, very fun! Enjoy!!

July 10, 2012 at 7:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoy your blog and read it regularly. I grew up very much like you are living right now and I really miss it. I was just reading over some your older posts (from when you were just finishing up your first year in Vermont) and as I was reading, I thought to myself, I hope that Jenna takes a few minutes at the beginning of this new decade to look back and see how very far she has come. Things that you were just dreaming about and saying maybe someday are now your real life. I think that you should be proud of yourself and your accomplishments. We all lose arrows, it is part of the learning process, I personally wrote off a good portion of my twenties, full of false starts, wrong turns and bad decisions.
Look at your successes and as long as the less successful moments are learning experiences, they are never wasted.
happy birthday from Montreal,

July 10, 2012 at 7:54 AM  
Blogger Erica said...

happy birthday, jenna! i turned thirty this year, too, and this post was exactly what i needed to read today. thank you!

July 10, 2012 at 8:21 AM  
Blogger Erica said...

happy birthday, jenna! i turned thirty this year, too, and this post was exactly what i needed to read today. thank you!

July 10, 2012 at 8:22 AM  
Blogger Peacemom said...

Jenna, I spent a lot of my 20's figuring out that looks are not the most important thing, to let go of past hurts, to figure out a direction and what I didn't want in my life. But most importantly to me, I learned to forgive. Life situations forced me to learn or explode, so I learned. You're wise beyond your years in many ways, and in some you are just as you should be. I'm 44 now and looking back 14 years to my 30th birthday, I'm grateful for the trials and tribulations of my 20's and beyond. They made me strong and capable and able to handle the many, many hardships that have come since, for myself but more importantly for my family. A strong woman is never to be underestimated.

For my 30th birthday, I went camping by myself, wrote down all the negative things I wanted to let go of and forgive and built a great campfire. For each person or grievance or regret, I burned the page that I had written the emotion or feeling on and said a prayer of release while I watched it all go up in flames and smoke. It was a very cathartic thing to do, and really did bring me to a place of peace to begin my 30's with a lighter slate. My 20's were ripe with strife, so it was a wonderful feeling to see it tangibly released.

For your 30th birthday, I wish for you to enter this decade with a lighter slate in whatever way works for you. You already live in gratitude, something many don't discover at all. So release and forgive and move forward. Slower pace of life in your 30's is not a bad thing, either, it's a decade to strengthen your goals and do things at a less frantic pace. Happy Birthday to you Jenna, I wish you peace. ~Vonnie

July 10, 2012 at 8:25 AM  
Blogger daisy said...

Jenna, my tag line is "I had to be there, to get here." You've done fine in your second decade of life. Thank you so much for sharing the ride with us. Continued blessings...

July 10, 2012 at 8:27 AM  
Anonymous Sloane said...

You are so very brave to chase your dream and share your heart with everyone who reads this blog. Life really does get better after 30. Enjoy every day of it. Wishing you the happiest of birthdays!!!

July 10, 2012 at 8:37 AM  
Blogger greendria said...

Happy Birthday! Today is also my son's birthday, he turned 8 (wow - think back to when we were 8 years old!).

I am glad you have taken pause and stock as you enter your new decade. I am also glad you are the kind of person who can do that, introspect, mull, try to make sense, make improvements. That's the only life worth living.

July 10, 2012 at 8:38 AM  
Blogger greendria said...

"chased the American Dream into a corner until I smote it with my Stubbornness. "

HILARIOUS! Brilliant

July 10, 2012 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger rabbit said...

Happy birthday Jenna! A pony on such a big birthday is lovely-but I think your reflection on your last ten years was even more beautiful. As someone who will be thirty next March (Riley turned this past February)-and two souls who have been together for almost eight years-we have very long winded conversations much like this more and more lately. And are finding that they are easier to accept and finish talking about (for the moment usually) by feeling so very thankful and proud for what has come out of those years-much like I think you're doing. As a fairly long time follower I have to let you know how amazing you're doing (and have done), you have inspired countless people, and fired up an equal number-but regardless you've help people figure out what they do or do not love just by doing the same-and choosing to share it. You've definitely inspired us-total number of heartbeats on our homestead is growing daily-some will only make it to their 7th week-but it's the journey that makes life worth savouring. The following is something I often remind my yoga class of, but I think it's pretty transferable to life in general: "Our bodies represent our past-they carry the physical experiences we've had right out in the open, where we can not only see them but even feel them-reminding us of our personal history. Our mind is our future-it's constantly ahead of the game, creating an infinite multitude of possibilities-and no one can tell what it really holds. Our breath is the present-it grounds us, focuses us, reminds us of the moment (whether good or bad) and ultimately heals us. That's why with yoga our breath is so important-it connects our past to our future in a very immediate, real way. Just breathe....". Happiest of birthdays Jenna-to the next decade!

July 10, 2012 at 8:41 AM  
Blogger Jess said...

Thank you for all that you share, and have a wonderful birthday!

July 10, 2012 at 8:44 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Happy Birthday Jenna. It is my birthday today too. However, I am 20 years older then you. Be proud of yourself. You have accomplished more then I have in your 30 years while I still sit behind a desk.

July 10, 2012 at 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jenna- the best is yet to come=now that i'm in my mid 70's i believe this- i still have a bucket list i'm working on-want to learn to fly is one item. Love my little farm also-just five acres and a Kubota, Life is good and the challenges great- we're all very proud of you and all you do; I read you everyday and cheer you on. You go girl-------happy birthday

July 10, 2012 at 9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You are where I wanted to be at 30, but it didn't happen and I've thought it too late at 50. Then I read two of your books, Made From Scratch and Barnheart. In 3 years, at the age of 55, all my debts are going to be paid off -- and because of you I'm going to make sure at 55 I have my little farm with the sheep I always wanted, the pony, chickens, and the collie dog to herd the sheep!

Life is never easy, but I've learned never to look back and to always move forward.

Have a great birthday!


July 10, 2012 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

You will, oh, you will. The twenties for us college-graduate white chicks is a really difficult decade, because it's when we struggle to figure ourselves out. That's why I said earlier that my thirties were my best decade yet.

You've had a strong, honest struggle to get onto that launching pad you're standing on. The next decade is indeed about dropping the guilt and the second-guessing and just getting on with life.

Or, in your case, getting on that pony. Happy Birthday!

July 10, 2012 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Happy Birthday, Jenna! You seriously are an inspiration and, in reading your post this morning, I'm really grateful for your honesty.

Sometimes I just give up on reading blogs for awhile, because I get so discouraged that everybody else is farther along the path than I am.

I'm a writer, too. And I want to be more self-sufficient and own a farm. But I haven't published anything and all I have are a couple raised beds.

But I have other blessings, too. There's a pretty decent balance between the things I've become and what I hope to achieve.

You're doing something really great: living this life you've made for yourself and detailing it for us.

Because, even though you go into the nitty-gritty about all the hard work, your words take away some of the intimidation around it.

Your ability to make my dream seem doable is priceless (I'm usually hard to convince).

Keep being a pillar in the farm revolution.

I hope you have the best birthday!

July 10, 2012 at 9:03 AM  
Anonymous Kasey said...

You may have just turned 30, but you are a very old soul. So much wisdom in one so young. If you can leave all the heavy stuff behind, even for a little while each day, you have accomplished more than most will in their entire lifes. Bless you on your birthday. You keep reminding me that it's all good. And it gets better!

July 10, 2012 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

Happy happy birthday, Jenna!!!! I am hoping that today will be the beginning of a great and prosperous and healthy decade full of love and happiness for you. So have a fun day and go get the pony home!

July 10, 2012 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Jenna, that was beautiful! The things that mattered to me in my 20s are no longer important in my 30s. My life has taken a completely different path from what I ever dreamed it would be. Happy Birthday!!!!

July 10, 2012 at 9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Jenna & Welcome Home, Merlin!

Thank YOU for the gift of this blog - you've built a wonderful life for yourself - celebrate!

Kathleen : )

July 10, 2012 at 9:11 AM  
Blogger Plant City Homestead said...

Jenna, you did not loose those arrows. Each one of them shaped who you are today, even the ones that went straight through your heart. Appreciate each one of them, and don't just throw them away. I am nearly 60 and did some things as a young woman that, with the wisdom that I have aquired through the years, I have accepted as part of my history. Those things that should bring regret, have always been used to help someone else. Life is a learning process, and you have learned much in your 30 years.

Set your goals for the next few years and work toward them. I know you want a family, don't put it on the back burner. Make it a priority. Did you ever go to that single farmer's group? Meet as many people outside of your regular group of friends as you can. Now that you work from home it is going to take WORK. Do it. The one thing I would do over if I could would be to get married and have children. I don't want you to miss that too.

Now, go celebrate your life. It may have a few bumpy roads, but it is good. Don't let yourself get stuck in a pothole.

July 10, 2012 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger Karen Rickers said...

Very profound post.

The letting go and just enjoying is something I'm still working on, having already passed two decades beyond you, and it's always a work in progress.

Happy Birthday, Jenna! Give beautiful Merlin a hug for me.

July 10, 2012 at 9:20 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

Lost arrows from my twenties:
- Teaching certification...gone
- Four years of grad school to prepare for a career I will never follow... gone
- Accompanying student loan from grad school... not gone yet, still paying
- One stupid, hurtful, awful relationship... gone (and good riddance)
- One broken heart... healed
- Most of my friends from college... drifted away, gone
- Most of my friends from grad school... the same
- Guilt over not trying hard enough to stay friends... still lingering
- Limber, uninjured, skinny body from ten years ago... gone

But I love daisy's line. "I had to be there, to get here." That's what it comes down to, doesn't it?

Be strong, have faith, stay the course. Know that there is love here.

July 10, 2012 at 9:24 AM  
Anonymous cowgirl said...

Those are pretty wise words from a woman of the world (how's that for alliteration?). I don't think you are too hard on yourself as someone said; many people do not analyze their own lives and just keep sliding through life. I'm just glad I stumbled upon your blog...And I especially like the Stephen Levine quote. !

Now I'm off to feed an orphan calf and whiffle at my big bay. I'll think of you and Merlin lots today.

July 10, 2012 at 9:27 AM  
Blogger The Cruise and Travel Expert said...

Well said, happy birthday

July 10, 2012 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Happy birthday, Jenna!

I spent yesterday catching up on what you've been up to the last two months (I had a baby early May so most nonessential activities were put on the back burner). I wanted to take a moment to tell you what an inspiration you are to me. Not just the farming stuff. It's great, but what I really love about you is how you never, ever give up. I am in awe of your determination. It definitely helps keep me going when I have my own homesteading mishaps. And a very belated congratulations on quitting your desk job. May it turn out better for you than you could ever have dreamed of.

P.S. I love the Milk Pail Diaries. I got my first milk goat last fall, so I like hearing about you and Bonita.

July 10, 2012 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger Lelainia N. Lloyd said...

Jenna, from where I sit, your 30's are for figuring out who you really are. In your 40's you stop apologising for it.

And the part you said about losing arrows and such? Well that's the ebb and flow of life. I've lost lot of arrows over the years-some by choice, some not. The people who matter, stay. Life has a way of sifting the chaff from the grain, to put it in farming terms.

And as for the rest of it, when you feel drawn to worrying about what everyone else is thinking, saying, doing, just remind yourself "Eyes on your own paper, Janna."

As Jann Arden puts it "Feet on ground, heart in hand, facing foreward, just be yourself."

Happy Birthday!

July 10, 2012 at 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Victoria said...

Happy birthday to you, Jenna. I'll be thirty in December (and won't have either a pony or a book published yet), and I, too, am looking forward to the years to come -- and some of that is due to finding your writing so inspiring. Thank you, and enjoy your day with Merlin!

July 10, 2012 at 10:04 AM  
Blogger Tora Consolo said...

Sylvia is right, Jenna. It's gets much easier. I'll be 66 this Oct. I've lived longer than my mother. And although I still feel 30, I'm so very thankfulthat I Don't have the baggage of a 30 year old. I have the confidence to speak my mind (without offense) and the wisdom to know when and where.

You seem to have that already, and that's half the battle. Celebrate your birthday in style and know that you're doing exactly what you're meant to do!


July 10, 2012 at 10:05 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Happiest of birthdays, Jenna. I can hardly wait to meet you IRL at the soap and candle workshop! My 20s were problematic, though I too accomplished some really cool things (like becoming a Navy helicopter pilot). My 30s were about a failing marriage and the arrival of four children, whom I'm raising solo (and glad of it, on all counts). My 40s have thus far been about cutting myself a break, rejoicing in my children, and celebrating joy, every day. It's all a marvelous journey, if we just pay attention, and in that regard, you're way ahead of the pack!

July 10, 2012 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger Jimmie said...

Hi Jenna,

This is such a thought provoking post...and so brave of you to bear your inner most thoughts. Some folks don't have the courage you have.

No doubt today is a monumental day, but only because society has made it so...something about being over the hill blah...blah...blah. Don't you believe a word of it. I'm sixty-six years old and am braver, smarter, funnier, and more daring than I ever was at thirty. That coming from someone who celebrated her thirtieth birthday by throwing a pie in her husband's face. I always wanted to throw a pie in someone's face and I must say, it was devilishly delightful.

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be, so on any given day you have the choice to be happy or not, no matter what your circumstances. My birthday wish for you is that you continue to make up your mind to be happy more days than not.

Love from Diane in North Carolina

July 10, 2012 at 10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenna I went through the very same "crisis" turning 30 no one could understand. I looked back on my twenties felt I hadn't accomplished what I thought I should have. I had two little children and a husband but no career and I was the generation of women (left High School in the early 70s) that was suppose to accomplish everything our mothers didn't. I am know turning 59 and it seems so funny to worry about what others thought I was suppose to do and not what I did. Someone wrote to the effect that this is not the road I was suppose to travel but apparently I ended up where I was suppose to be. You young lady have accomplished so much and probably always in "control" now you have to learn to let go abit and let life take you where it wants you to go. Don't be afraid of easing up on the control and instead EAT SOME CAKE! It is what it is! ENJOY LIFE so that you don't wake up some morning turning 60 or 70 or 80 and look back to say I didn't enjoy my life. HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY!! Deborah in Atlanta

July 10, 2012 at 10:21 AM  
Blogger bellananda said...

i think that's an excellent birthday gift for yourself, m'dear! happy, happy birthday -- and welcome to your 30's!


July 10, 2012 at 10:34 AM  
Blogger seagrrlz said...

Happy Birthday! Awesome post today. Full of wisdom and soul baring. Life is hard and no one gets out alive. Hope today is wonders-full!

July 10, 2012 at 10:43 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Happy birthday Jenna! I turn 40 in about a week, and it's not the turning 40 that's got me thinking... it's the milestone. I do understand where you are coming from.

To symbolize this next part, I'm getting a tattoo. A Vesvigir from Iceland.... a runic compass to help me find my way home, even when I don't know where that is. It seems fitting.

May all good things come you way, Jenna. This year and all the years to be. You are an amazing woman, and I thank you for being you.

July 10, 2012 at 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Casie said...

My 20's were a hot mess. Turning 30 was very scary but also very exciting. I've kept this quote from one of those page-a-day calendars that says, "You'll make many mistakes but try to get most of them out of the way by the time you're thirty". I've had that page saved for over 10 years now and still see how true it was.

July 10, 2012 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger els said...

Jenna, this is another great blog entry! Happy 30th! keep writing.

July 10, 2012 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger Deb Naydan said...

Good Morning, Jenna: Wishing you a very Happy Birthday! Have a great day and new year ahead. Thank you for sharing your journey with us, it is greatly appreciated.

July 10, 2012 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Happy Birthday to our little Whirling Dervish! May you find all that you wish and more...thank you for all you bring us every day!

psssst: 30's are awesome... Really.

July 10, 2012 at 10:54 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Happy Birthday
read this post,I think you will enjoy

July 10, 2012 at 11:01 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

check out this link
Happy Birthday!

July 10, 2012 at 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Jenna!

Thank you for sharing your honest feelings with us your readers once again. I am currently 43 years old and in my 20's I made many mistakes and some regrets. You do learn to let go of them and move forward. I am now happily married for 20 years and I can tell you your 30's can be the decade of real change if you let it. Hang in there, keep your head up, and keep doing what you do.

Grace and Peace,


July 10, 2012 at 11:02 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Happy Birthday Jenna
check out this link

July 10, 2012 at 11:04 AM  
Anonymous Carol said...

I ditto everything Sylvia said. My personal mantra lately is this: Life is just Life. Each day is different, embrace the good and the bad and learn what you can. By living yours to each day's fullest you are experiencing more than you realize. Happy Birthday!

July 10, 2012 at 11:16 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

I'm looking at 40 in a few months. You are right - looking back at how quickly the last decade went by is what gets to you.
My 30s?:: took up running, tap dancing, gained a new best friend, new career, fell in love, got my heart broken bad, fell in love again, married, had 2 kids, another new career (WAHM),.... Ai yai yai!
Brace yourself...I'm sure it will be a wild ride!!
Happiest of birthdays to you :)

July 10, 2012 at 11:38 AM  
Blogger Kelly McMichael said...

Happy Birthday. I'm 43 and still working on all these things. It's a daily process. You'll slip and you'll run to catch back up. But the catching up does get easier. You do learn to be kinder to yourself. To feel your own skin more comfortably. It all begins with self-love. Sometimes that's the hardest thing of all.

July 10, 2012 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger KirstenJL said...

As someone staring 50 in the face (and HOW did that happen?!), the thing I wish I knew back in my 20's is that it would all work out OK. The few things I knew about myself and what I wanted then(solitude, time to read, a science job, a house in the country, chickens, no kids) flew in the face of everything in my life then, but they were all I needed to know to get me to the next step.
One thing I've noticed about your generation is that everyone is in a tearing rush "to get there." (Wherever there may be). It seems to me your structure is set and you have a keen vision of what you want and who you are. You can let some things come to you in their own good time.....

July 10, 2012 at 11:53 AM  
Blogger Mare said...

Dear Jenna,
Happy Happy Birthday. Your story sounds so much like mine that it made me cry and laugh all at the same time. You are right-Happiness is a choice, and things do get better as time goes by. I really struggled so hard in my teens and 20's. I wouldn't go back there for anything. But i can tell you my 30's and 40's were MUCH better. And my 50's are not without some struggle, but i like this time in my life better than ever. I come and visit with you thru your blog every day and i am amazed at your courage, strength and honesty. You are such a good, kind person. Keep being you, and only good things can come. I loved the quote by S. Levine. I had heard a similar one. "People who have their shit together usually have a big old pile of it!" Have a great day honey...Love, mare

July 10, 2012 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger Mist said...

Congratulations on another turn around the sun, Jenna. While I know no one's life is perfect, I hope that you realize how much joy and inspiration you've brought to my life and the lives of so many of your readers. Truly, you are amazing!

And at least you let those arrows fly, even if you lost them on the way.

July 10, 2012 at 12:22 PM  
Blogger Melanie J. said...

Happy birthday, Jenna! Thank you so much for all you give to us!

July 10, 2012 at 12:33 PM  
Blogger Marcheta said...

Happy Birthday from an Ohio fan. :)

Know what? The kindness and joy that you've given others over the years by sharing your life's ups and downs will come back to you tenfold. Through your writing and workshops you've made the planet a bit better. That's saying a lot!


July 10, 2012 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

What a beautiful and graceful post. Wishing you a magical day, full of laughter and smiles. Happy Birthday :)

July 10, 2012 at 12:54 PM  
Blogger Chrissy (The New Me) said...

Such a gorgeous post. I'm also approaching 30, and feeling mostly happy about it, even though I wish I had figured sooner how to do what I want, considering I always knew what I wanted. For what it's worth, I think you're doing great, crying jags and all. Happy birthday, and here's to many more years of inspiring others and making beautiful words.

July 10, 2012 at 12:57 PM  
Blogger Brenda London said...

Happy Birthday! Don't forget to eat cake,lots and lots of cake. As a 60 yr old farmer(just one of many hats; teacher, RN, mother, wife, etc etc..) I can reassure you that the angst of the 20's was just that, it gets better. Although pain and sorrow can never lessen in their impact, it just gets easier to be more patient and understanding and accepting of yourself and that makes everything better. Be careful to take care of your physical self as the years pass, farming is just plain hard on us. At age 60 I still have many many plans but have to juggle now what I want to do with what my body will allow me to do. Thankfully my horses are quite content to walk the trails instead of trotting. Now pamper yourself a bit, and eat cake. and don't forget to ask for help from us old farts if and when you need it. (selfishly thinking that we still like to be needed!).

July 10, 2012 at 1:00 PM  
Blogger Katie Swanberg said...

Happy Birthday! You said it so eloquently, and always do. I too have had a rough few years (divorce, near death illness, broken heart, big move) and it's been difficult to not forsake my 20s completely, but instead make peace with them as learning years - like training wheels. 30 and 31 have been amazing and things just keep getting better. :)

I had goosebumps at your last post about getting a pony for your birthday. Big smile.

I remember thinking people in their 30s were old, but I don't have my shit together and still feel like a kid! And I embrace that now instead of hating myself for it.

July 10, 2012 at 1:09 PM  
Blogger Brenda London said...

I have a baby grand piano here and I suck at playing, truly. But when I get hard on myself I sit down and play "Let It Be" and after awhile everything feels better. I am hoping that in addition to eating cake you have a few minutes to play some music. or at least sing to your animals. (Mine seem to prefer old Scot ballads). Now, enough tritterings from this old lady. I am sure you know what makes you happy, so enjoy your day honey.

July 10, 2012 at 1:10 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

Honey the BEST is yet to come..

Big hugs from a wet ( thank G-D!)TN

July 10, 2012 at 1:28 PM  
Blogger polly said...

what a beautiful post - one of your top 10 i think. you nailed it.

happy birthday and i hope you really feel the gift you plan to give yourself.

thank you.

July 10, 2012 at 1:30 PM  
Anonymous Wendy said...

If you think 20-30 went fast, hang on. 30-40 goes by in the blink of an eye. That being said, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! You have already accomplished more than some people do in the ENTIRE lives and for that you should be proud!

Even though you're a tad bit younger than me, ok, a lot younger....you will continue to be an inspiration.

July 10, 2012 at 1:32 PM  
Blogger julochka said...

i mostly lurk here, as i feel a bit not part of those who are your crew. and yet far away in little denmark, we've made a move to do something similar - a place in the country, slowing building up animals and knowledge and slowly letting go of "real" jobs.

i'm quite a lot older than you are, but i get what you're saying here about the demons and letting go of the past. you're right to seek solace in a horse. they are always true and you can't fool them.

happy, happy birthday. don't be so hard on yourself, you've accomplished much more than most at your age. and you will get there as far as someone to share it all with. and it will all be worth it. even the waiting part.

hang in there and have a happy birthday. and enjoy that pony!

July 10, 2012 at 1:34 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Happy Birthday, Jenna!
Unlike most people, part of me was always anxious to get older because I thought there must be a magic age at which you have everything figured out and stop the never-ending search to be whatever you think you are supposed to be. I made it a point to ask every older person I came across what age that was and you know what? ALL of them, every single one, even those in their nineties said that you never figure out life you just know where you fit in it. I like the thought that you just know who you are better and better as time goes on. From your writing, I think you already know this, too. Have a wonderfully special day!

July 10, 2012 at 1:38 PM  
Anonymous Mike Cranston said...

Oh my Gosh Jenna.
My son will be 29 this year and I can hear it in his voice he is really starting to struggle with the whole turning 30 thing. I was too busy with 2 little kids to worry about it. The whole next decade was a blur too...I think with what I have read on here you have what it takes to do whatever you want. Dont worry about lost arrows either. I am way older than you and I still lose them. You have a great life ahead of you. Congrats on the milestone.

July 10, 2012 at 2:00 PM  
OpenID meatbagz said...

happy birthday, jenna-as a 35 year old, i can honestly say my 30's have been even better than my 20's...and my 20's were pretty damn fine. every moment you've lived has brought you to this one, and every breath leads to the next. 30 isn't scary-the idea of NOT turning 30 is. i hope your day is fantastic.

July 10, 2012 at 2:14 PM  
Blogger The Village Queen said...

Yea those decade numbers really can smack you. For me it was about not being where I thought I "should" be by then. But youve learned and lived a lession Im still working on at 52, following your joy and desire and not letting others disaproval stop you. That was a big block for me, and I admire your just doing it. Having your Merlin is a wonderful thing, stick your nose in his and breathe... best smell in the world. Youre incredabley lucky, but youve made that luck. A thing someone said to me recently that is pretty wise... 'dont let yesterday use up too much of today'.
Happy Birthday and I hope the next ten is full of growth and healing and joy and if its the right thing, a partner to help tote those bales. And dont forget the cake!

July 10, 2012 at 2:23 PM  
Blogger redbird said...

Felt similarly about my 20’s…ran and jumped into 30 with gratitude—sounds like I’m not alone in that at all here…appreciate that quote as well. Good to have “milestones” to analyze and categorize things a little more than usual, refocus life a little—and then move on and keep living! Love the gifts… acceptance, surrounding yourself with encouragement instead of competition…. Surely much to come. Best wishes.

July 10, 2012 at 3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenna, a hero is someone who refuses to give up. Who gets back up repeatedly when life/events knocks her down. A hero is someone who looks life right in the eye and keeps on going - no matter what. A hero acknowledges her fears and keeps fighting, keeps making her way toward her dream. A hero never puts on a mask because she is brave enough to show the world who she really is. Someone who never stops striving. You are my (and many others) hero. Keep going Jenna. Where you've been got you to where you are. Every day is a gift and you are living it to its fullest.

July 10, 2012 at 3:51 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

Happy Happy Birthday Jenna, may all your dreams come true!

July 10, 2012 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger TwoBlueHeelers said...

Hi, Jenna!
I turned 44 this spring, and the party's just getting started. I think every age has so much to offer us... as long as I keep learning and growing, that's what matters the most to me. There are no deadlines, no ringing bell, and no need to live according to someone else's expectations. Breathe deeply and know that whatever comes, you can handle it. Have a super birthday!

July 10, 2012 at 4:39 PM  
Anonymous Linda said...

Happy Birthday, Jenna!!!!

July 10, 2012 at 4:45 PM  
Blogger jenomnibus said...

The happiest of birthdays Jenna!

July 10, 2012 at 5:10 PM  
OpenID chickadeeworkshop said...

Happy, happy birthday, Jenna. Love the post, but honey, if someone isn't losing a few arrows, then they aren't shooting any. You don't hesitate to take your best shot at things and sometimes you miss. Everybody misses. You'll get better with more life experience. I wish you lots of chances to keep shooting those arrows and a keen eye on the target, kiddo!

July 10, 2012 at 5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday!!!!
Who cares about the rest ;-)

July 10, 2012 at 7:09 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Ease up on yourself a little - I know, easier said than done.

I love all the music you've shared here, I wanted to share one of my favorites I thought you might appreciate now:


July 10, 2012 at 8:10 PM  
Blogger Stacey said...

Happy birthday, Jenna!

July 10, 2012 at 8:11 PM  
Blogger bookkm said...

The 30s will surprise you and delight you and you will spend nights crying. Just keep writing about it, sweetheart, because you do it so very well. And if you find yourself sobbing, remind yourself of the day you bought Merlin, the pony barn and Monday - not of the past, really - but of the promise of more and more joy. If I could see into the future, I will would see great happiness for you. Happy birthday.

July 10, 2012 at 8:15 PM  
Blogger RamblinHome said...

Enjoy your 30th, chick! Your life has incredible meaning and the older you get, the more it makes sense. It wasn't 30 that hit me, it was 35. So many things that were important just aren't now. You've already made so many important decisions that many of us only dream of! Celebrate what you've already accomplished and all the good that's to come. Happy Birthday!

July 10, 2012 at 8:36 PM  
Blogger vita said...

Happy Birthday!! Have your cake and eat it too!! This was such a serendipitous post, it reflected on the way I've been feeling having just turned 30 myself. You've encapsulated a lot of the feelings I had but in you're own voice which is one of the reasons I've loved your blog for years. We all seem to share this mindset of what our life should and shouldn't be at any particular moment in time, but life takes on a form of it's own, we just need to be present for it. As my nan would say "the best laid plans of mice and men are bound to go astray." Being Irish, she had a limerick for every occasion. Thank you for being such an inspiration Jenna! I've got a fiddle on the way (a birthday gift to myself) because of you. Keep on sharing your voice and I'll keep on reading.
Much aloha from Hawaii.

July 10, 2012 at 8:39 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Such an honest post. Thank you! I needed to read this today. And again - happy birthday.

July 10, 2012 at 8:41 PM  
Blogger Trish said...

Happy Happy Birthday Jenna! I know you believe in Karma. Send your wishes without expectation into the universe. They will be answered. You are such a special person; there is a man out there for you. Open your heart and learn to love yourself first. Your wishes, your dreams will come true. You KNOW this. <3

July 10, 2012 at 8:58 PM  
Blogger karen said...

Happy Birthday Jenna- all those before me are correct-30's are way better in so many ways than your 20's.No one tells you how hard 20 can be and even if they did we would not listen! Hope you had a terrific day and had a HUGE piece of cake. Thanks for sharing all that you do with us. Karen from CT

July 10, 2012 at 9:29 PM  
Blogger Knit Picky Knitter said...

Happy Birthday Jenna!

A Birthday Prayer for you:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.

Excerpt from The Serenity Prayer (Reinhold Niebuhr)

You already live this prayer I think.

All the best birthday wishes to you from Chicago!

July 10, 2012 at 9:47 PM  
OpenID cathmiller said...

Happy Birthday Jenna and thank you for all you have written and shared. Just remember if it is for ye, it will no' go by ye

July 10, 2012 at 9:47 PM  
Blogger Ngo Family Farm said...

Happy birthday, beautiful Jenna! You are going to adore your thirties - when you follow your heart life just gets better. xo.

July 10, 2012 at 9:57 PM  
Anonymous Amanda Moffitt said...

I wish you the best Jenna in the years to come! Everyone told me that the 30's were great and I didn't believe them. You know, they were right. This is the time you find who you are and forget about what everyone else is trying to tell you you ought to be. I wouldn't go back to my 20's for anything. Enjoy what you've been given and what you have worked hard for. You are doing the important things in life. Keep hugging those dogs and holding those bunnies! God bless! Amanda M.

July 10, 2012 at 10:06 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

I don't know if you analyze your life too much or I don't do it enough (at all?). I'm one year shy of 50 and the only advice I would give is slow down and enjoy the years. They come and go whether you like it or not.

July 10, 2012 at 10:45 PM  
Anonymous Inner pickle said...

Happy birthday, inspirational woman.

July 10, 2012 at 11:08 PM  
Blogger Jenny Glen said...

In my thirties I met my husband. I'm not happy about being over 40 now but I'm happy with my life. Turning 30 was very hard because I didn't think I was where I should be in life yet. You are more than halfway to where you want to be. The man will come when you don't expect it. (really, "they" were right about that) I think, your 30s will be a very good decade.

July 11, 2012 at 1:16 AM  
Blogger Crit said...

I was just thinking the other day that you really don't start living until you're in your 40s!

Growing older is a GOOD thing! Life is meant to be LIVED and lived fully. You are living your dream and that is SOOOOOOO admirable! Sometimes you just have to LIVE and quit THINKING about it so much! (that's me preaching to myself there...)

Happy Birthday to you! Enjoy :)

July 11, 2012 at 1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jenna, Happy Birthday. I hope your next decade is full of many, many joyful moments. Its funny, i spent my 20s changing diapers, and by he time i was your age, id been married 11 years. At 36, i feel my 30s have been one of my best decades, and i look forward to my 40s.

July 11, 2012 at 8:45 PM  
OpenID kindsofhoney said...

Thanks for this, Jenna. I just turned 30 a month and a half ago and wanted to write something about leaving the turbulent twenties behind, and just couldn't get myself to stop and reflect myself into a cohesive written piece. But you've said a lot along the lines of my turning-thirty-thinking, and that's great to share.

July 11, 2012 at 10:43 PM  
Blogger Kirsten said...

Life really does get more settled after 30, imho. You know yourself better, know what you're capable of and have learned that you're not invincible and don't have all the answers. You'll still screw up, hurt others by mistake, get hurt yourself, but you can make peace with it more easily. And of course then there'll be your 40s and beyond...

happy birthday, and enjoy...

July 14, 2012 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

Happy Birthday! And i for one can't wait for the much more you have in store for us. You are turning 30! That's an important milestone indeed. Your 30s will be wonderful in many ways. Not every arrow you shoot will be straight. You'll still lose a few, but you'll shoot with more confidence and wisdom. I'll be 49 in less than two weeks, and i love my age. I loved my twenties and my thirties.. for different reasons. But my forties have been my best decade yet! I love myself now. Not in an arrogant way. But in an assertive, yet effortless way. I don't have to try to like myself. I just am. Foibles and all. Cheers to you and your life on the important occasion of your thirtieth birthday.. :)


July 14, 2012 at 8:02 PM  
Anonymous Westfarm Goat Mom said...

Sorry I'm a little slow catching up with you. But hope you had a Happy Birthday! My 30s were the best decade. You mostly have figured out what you want to do with your life and you have the strength to do it. After 40 and 50 it gets harder to work all day on the farm then get up and do it again the next day.

July 16, 2012 at 8:21 AM  

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