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  • Writer's pictureJennifer

Where'd you go, Jennifer?

self-portrait—inspired by Where'd you go, Bernadette?

With the rolling waves of testing COVID positive just before Christmas; followed by excruciating long-haul headaches that lasted into the new year, and the trials and tribulations of attempting to joyfully visit with family a bit afar—but not too, just a 5-hour drive to New York City—2022 started with at least a carry-on of emotional baggage.

To stay focused: I continued to adhere to a schedule of getting outdoors—cold water dipping is my jam, and the communities I found through the pandemic, to share this effervescent wonder with have been miracle pillars for my mental and physical well-being. My cold water swimming/dipping started back in my twenties when I lived in Head of the Harbor, a village in Suffolk County, NY, where the Long Island Sound feeds into the bay there. My landlord at the time thought it would help with my college jitters and overall mental health to get into the frigid water. She was right, and if Katherine Hepburn was making it a daily practice over in Connecticut, which my landlord had eagerly pointed out, it was worth investigating. It is a mental health practice I've loved ever since, even if it took a back seat as a regular routine when I lived in Brooklyn. Being back by the water and having found like-minded souls, I was left with no excuses not to dip; and with so much more to that story—it deserves a dedicated post.

But back to where did Jennifer go and my commitment to writing on this site? The start of 2022 was that quintessential slippery slope if you know the movie this post pays homage to—even with cold Atlantic water dips as a wake-up ritual. As mentioned in a previous post, I was recovering from exhaustion through the fall of 2021 when COVID struck my cranium in December. After coming home from my New York/Brooklyn post-holiday stay—all that battling took a toll on my mental health. The tipping point was the gripping sadness of saying goodbye to my daughter after our visit. Like so many families, being apart or worrying about traveling and a COVID resurgence had become the disappointing routine. The pandemic and the many other social upheavals were curveballs that no amount of preparation or historical precaution could keep at bay. At any rate, remember the many mom moments in Where'd You Go, Bernadette, where Cate Blanchett plays a woman who's a bit lost without her maternal role and work? Well, I can so relate. Applying, and more applying to potential career opportunities—managing the rejection and knowing this chapter in my life is so much about my life, not my children—just caught up to me. I slid down the slippery slope. February was not a love month, and March and April took all my fortitude and discipline. January through May—I kept putting one foot in front of the other. And although I was refusing to give in to the shadows of insecurity and uncertainty, I was feeling pretty dark. So, after a visit with my doctor, a prescription for depression, and getting my creative juices flowing, I slowly found my way back to this site, gave it a name, and am ready to boldly write.

I think the big push to return came after a weekend workshop on writing with Cheryl Strayed through the Kripula Center (the online price was only $99—yeah), and the other motivation was a new project I've started called Senior Stories: A Black and White Narrative, which I am very excited about. I am also so very grateful for what has kept me going: friends, family, the ability to take care of myself as I pursue my next endeavor, and that I know to look for inspiration through my creativity.

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