A candid conversation with a Jen that hits you right in the heart.
It’s not just about a photoshoot; it’s about a journey, a tale of resilience and rebirth. When Jen shared these poignant words, “My hope is that your lens will remind me that I’m still here,” it felt like a whisper from her soul. Life, with all its bumps and bruises, often feels like a relentless storm, but these words are a testament to a spirit that refuses to be extinguished.
Jen truly was a woman who poured her soul into her portraits. We created some kick ass portraits for her and experienced loads of joy.
Q&A’s with Jen
Who are you as an individual?
I am a natural creative. I move from one thing to another. My methods vary as I began making and creating as an “Outsider Artist”, one who is untrained. I obtained my degree but still tend to prefer folk and non-traditional arts rather than formal approaches. I’m a “rule-breaker”. Once you know the rules, you know best how to break them “they” those who know the rules, “they say”, know how to break them the best? I just know that I make things and I dance. Movement is in my soul. When music is on, I move. There is tempo and rhythm in my mind and body. I’m kinesthetic and synesthetic. I’ve always been politically inspired, love to traveler, and learn about culture and people. I’m drawn to advocacy and can get feisty on behalf of others but am usually otherwise fairly quiet unless loud music is playing. I love loud music. I tend to be a hopeful person but can find myself circling the proverbial drain when it comes to matters of the wounded heart. My words above all are: resilient & Kintsugi. I’m forced to be resilient because life just keeps rolling even when you think you can’t keep going. Kintsugi is the term I think best describes how you can handle yourself when you’ve been shattered. You can choose to remain in pieces, or you can pick yourself up and patch it all back together with silver or gold, perhaps even platinum and show the world your flaws with some panache. Why not just put it out there? Yep. I’m wounded. Are t we all? But my scars and battered pieces might as well have some bitchin’ appeal. They don’t serve myself or anyone else as sharp edges lying on the floor.
How did you life change after turning 40?
Personally, 40 didn’t seem like a massive adjustment for me. I feel like 40 is the new 30. It’s my do-over for a decade spent in the trenches on an island away from home. I’m still trying to start the do-over. I feel like my thirties were a joke up-hill on my bike without a granny-wheel. My forties should be a cruise downhill with my hands thrown in the air to coast with wild abandonment with the wind in my hair. I want to feel the successes of hard work. Not the crushing bruises of flying over my handle bars. I don’t want road rash or the pain of picking small rocks out of my knees. But I want the feeling. I’ll embrace that because I’m ready for it. Age is irrelevant to me. Iris Apfel is a goddess and I celebrate everything she stands for.
If you could tell your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t decline that tour in China and the teaching position in Cuba. You’ve closed many doors in your career before it even started. You’ll watch as your contemporaries build exciting and adventurous, fulfilling and rewarding opportunities for themselves while you work on your passions and dedicate yourself for 17 years but you’ll find yourself in a gap of over-qualification and also outdated skill set. It’ll suck. Go to China. Go to Cuba.
What advice would you give to other women about life?
Know your rights and follow your heart. Know that sometimes happy accidents take you exactly where you are supposed to be. You can’t plan everything but you can absolutely change your course if it isn’t working out. It won’t be easy, but nothing that’s worth it ever is. If something is toxic for you, let it go. Let yourself be free of it. You will grow when you do.