Hi! I’m Jen, a thirtyish 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 athletica. 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 daughter. 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!