Hi! I’m Jen, a writer person living in Los Angeles. I’ve been a busy bee all my life, but it was only once I had a breakdown in 2008 from years of being stretched too thin that my priorities fell into place.
In 2009, I moved to a tiny farming village in Japan, right in the middle of Fukushima prefecture. I taught English to junior high and elementary school students, and I loved every minute of it! Even the parts where I had to adjust to a slower pace of life that I wasn’t used to.
My tiny apartment didn’t even have central heating (or sufficient insulation – and man, those winters were c-o-l-d). My little dryer never worked properly, so I hung my clothes out to dry on a line in the sunshine…or, in the winter, inside the apartment on a strange plastic apparatus, with the space heater blowing heat in their direction to prevent them from freezing before they dried. (Yes, I said FREEZING.) To match the slow pace of this new life I was living, I opted out of buying a car, which meant taking regular walks to run all the errands I needed to, and only bringing home what I could carry.
My town was a very small town, and virtually everyone learned my name. Among my walks past rice fields and during the lessons with my students each day, I more importantly learned the lesson of living a smaller, slower life. I have vivid memories of walking home with grocery bags on each arm and stopping to look up at the falling snow. I never knew how many different ways snow can fall from the sky. You know those moments when life is so beautiful that it stops you in your tracks? Well, yeah. I had moments like that all.the.time in Japan.
I returned to Los Angeles in 2011 after living through the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear aftermath. That was NOT how I planned my experience in Japan to end, and I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t totally devastated. It didn’t help matters that I felt like a brand new person, while my loved ones back in the States seemed so stressed and overloaded. Once I went back to the regular workforce, I found that I quickly became stressed and overloaded right along with them.
“How did this happen?” I asked myself. “This was my worst fear.”
It took months of feeling edgy and some deep reflection, but I ended up quitting the well-paying, high-stress American job and opting for a smaller life. It occurred to me after many sleepless nights that I’d been happier in Japan — not because of the specific circumstances, but because I’d been living a little, yet deeply fulfilling life there. As I made moves to re-calibrate my life in Los Angeles, I became passionate about spreading the idea that a smaller, slower life is the key to a gentle happiness.
These days, I’m a writer + I work for lululemon. I’ve been writing as long as I can remember, and graduated from UC Berkeley as an English major. I can’t think of doing work that makes me happier.
In 2014, I married “C,” the love of my life. In 2012, we actually had a bad breakup and that’s the reason this blog pops up on Google sometimes — I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post called “How I Got My Ex Back” which now gets comments every single day…I get so overwhelmed with them that I
can barely can’t answer them anymore! I started the blog to talk about slowing down, but you may find that I talk a lot about grief, healing, and eventual reconciliation. (In short: If you want your ex back, or ANYTHING back for that matter, let go. Completely. All the way.)
On my days off, you’ll find me reading fiction (click here to be friends with me on Goodreads!), playing Animal Crossing, or making something in the kitchen with my daughters. My husband is a personal trainer so thankfully he keeps me healthy (otherwise I might live solely on Sour Patch Kids).
Do I always succeed in living a small and slow life? Nope. I get caught up in the big life, fast life sometimes. But I believe that our bodies are powerful communicators and will send strong signals when something is wrong. So when I fill my weeks too full and there’s too much on my plate, I can now pretty quickly do a gut check and feel anxiety dressed up as neck pain, sleeplessness, moodiness or just that nagging feeling that something is off. When I feel that, I simplify. It’s become second nature now. I know we all can do this, and that’s why I write about it in this little corner of the internet. 🙂
I have a bow-legged Bengal cat named Rolo, and we’d love to hear from you anytime!
A “gentle happiness”–that’s nice. I enjoyed your story.
Hi Jen, your blog inspired me – thank you. If you have time, would you please drop me an email. I am going through a breakup at age 32 and would appreciate your advice on how to think positively, how to get back to my true, fulfilled self. Thank you! If you had any time I would appreciate your advice.
Of course! Just sent you an email. 🙂
I also need to write to you, your article has been of great help…dunno how to thank you,
Kindly email me so that i reply
Jen… can you email me at [user content protected]. i need your advice…
Hi Jennifer I came across your blog and was wondering can I please send you an email? I would love to talk to you about something I’m going through and I’ve recently discovered the LOA… Been through a breakup… Im sure you get many messages. I just really truly need your help. Please email me I will be forever thankful x
Hi Jennifer, I write you from the north of Germany. I’m always happy about every one, who shared the same values as I – all over the world. My own blog named http://www.slowlife-now.com is unfortunately not at all translate in english – but I still work at that. So good luck furthermore for your lovely blog…
I’ve recently broken up with my girlfriend and to say it’s been difficult is an understatement. My girlfriend and I have both said several times to each other that we thought we’d be together again and even get married but for right now, she has decided she wants to be apart to discover things about herself. I’m not going to put my life on hold but I definitely feel deep inside that our story isn’t finished. That being said, I’ve noticed most comments here are from a girls perspective but I’m wondering if you think the advice changes for a man as far as moving on and I hope, reuniting with my ex again someday.
Oh yes — women come back to men too! All the time! In fact, in my twenties I was the queen of breaking up with someone and then wanting him back. I wish you good luck! ❤
I have been reading your blog for sometime now and I just want to tell you that you have no idea how much you are contributing to people’s lives, their healing and overall well being of this world in general. I stumbled upon your blog in really bad times post a break up that I never saw coming, challenged me existentially and changed me forever. After days, months and weeks of looking for consolation and hope I finally found your corner in the internet and have parked myself here ever since. I have been thinking of writing to you just to say ‘thank you’ and that you are an amazing person who deserves all that’s good in this world. May you continue to spread goodness!
Thank you! This was so sweet to receive upon waking up. ❤
I've been where you are and I too wished for some comforting words to get me through the lonely, desolate times. I am so glad this little corner on the internet was able to help, even if it was only a little bit.
I promise that sunshine-y days are around the corner. Sorrow is always cleaning house, making more room for joy.
I will write to you when the ‘sunshine-y days’ come :). Congratulations on your little one! Never stop writing.