On Reclaiming Jenny....

Deadbeat was not part of the description I had for my life back in the day.

Facebook is fantastic in the way that it helps you connect with people you knew way back when. But, it's also helped me to connect back with parts of myself that I miss. Yep. Something is missing from my life nowadays. I don't know how I got here. But, I want me back! I miss the Jenny I once was.

Since when did I become the aunt, cousin or friend no one could count on hearing from or seeing? That has to change.

It's time for me to reconnect. I smell a move in my near future, and I want these people to know how much I love them...not just by what I say, but what I do.

I have a bad habit of making one thing my life. In essence, of hiding from certain parts of my life. And, that, my friends, is what is stifling me now. Not any one person or event. But hiding is doing it. And, the letting in of anything others throw my way as well. Just accepting what's around is, well, unacceptable!

I still love teaching, and I almost let people and the situations around me take that away from me. I love the start of the school year. I love feeling ready to meet my new class. I love getting to know them and their parents. I love teaching them and telling them about all of the fun things we'll be doing throughout the school year together.

But there are other things I want to do with my life besides teach. It was never my intention to stay stuck in education. It was always to be the backup to whatever I had happening at the forefront. So, my plan has gotten some revising in the last week...to match my true passions and to match the new addition to my life--Alyssa.

Things I Have to Reclaim:
1) Integrity - doing the things I say I will. Sticking by my decisions, the ones that are really mine.

2) Truth - being committed to what the truth of a situation is; stop rationalizing what I want to see, do or have happen.

3) Fun/spirit - i want to reclaim the fun side of me. do the things that feed my spirit, even if it's just a little bit every day

4) My own dreams for myself - some of these i've killed off because of one thing or another that i've let someone say or do to me. i've given others (certain others too much control). time to take it back.

Things to Let Go:
1) Doubt/Fear - of everything and anything that is keeping me from living the life I truly deserve.

2) Anger - especially about things, people and situations I cannot control. this is a big one, and I'll need to pray for guidance and meditate extensively about this one.

3) Other people's expectations of me - I have to do what will initially make me happy, even if others don't understand or approve. I have spent lots of time doing what others think is the best for me, but not what I truly want and my spirit needs. That's why my spirit is suffering the way it is right now.

4) Negativity - this sometimes ends up feeling like ALWAYS taking the moral high ground, but it's more. I used to really stand up for the things I believed in, and in some ways I don't do that any more. I retreated to a corner with some mere scraps of my scruples, like a wounded animal, ready to pounce on anyone trying to take what's left of me.

I also need to learn to let go. No, that's wrong. I know how to let go. I need to pry open my fingers (all of them) and do it, no matter how scary it might seem.


The Art of Doing

Hello blogheads! It's been ages as usual. The following post is one I dug up recently as I was updating my teaching portfolio. It's interesting that many of the things I wrote about then are just as relevant 7 years later.

It's one of the cornerstones of why I teach....enjoy!

Losing the Art of Doing
Has our fast-food/microwave society robbed us of the steps to gratefulness?
Written May 27, 2002
By Jenny Kinscy

No one knows how to do anything anymore. Heaven forbid we have a technology meltdown, what will we do then??? Who will survive?

Make no mistake: technology is an important component to many aspects of our lives. The advances in technology have replaced the need for many of the processes that would take us time to complete. We can talk to people through our computers instead of writing letters. We can buy our clothes, food and entertainment ready-made without the fuss of doing anything ourselves. Some of us can even hire other people to do the “tedious work” like laundry, cleaning, tending to our children to avoid doing it ourselves. This, I believe is bringing us to lopsided lives, in which we are no longer really involved. We don’t bring anything to our lives anymore. Many of us sit and wait for life to come to us as a result. We as a society have worked to obliterate the processes that involve us in life. We have wiped out the steps we follow to do things to make life more expedient. But in doing so, we lose a great deal of purpose and appreciation for what we obtain. Our lives are imbalanced.

Today most people want everything “right now,” without putting any work into getting the things they want. If there is an easier shortcut to doing something or attaining something, most people will take it.

As a result—and as with many things-- our children are following our lead. Pop culture is churning out fame at an instantaneous speed. Celebrities, advertisements, images of public figures and stories we hear all associate fast with good, while dangerously sloughing over taking any steps to get to that fame. So, our society is producing people, adults and children, who are more focused on the destination than the journey in getting there.

My father and I sat in his living room one night, digging out old family relics from the storage room. He and I reminisced over pictures of aunts, grandma, and other relatives. We laughed and refreshed each others memories while dusting off my old grade school report cards, awards, and even some third grade art work.

After more searching through our storage bins, I found an old JC Penney catalog, from 1976. Amazed that we still had it, I began thumbing through the catalog. I flipped past so many pages filled with dress patterns, young girls knitting, and other craft supplies. For a moment I thought about how different the contents were compared to the catalogs we get now. As my father and I talked, I realized that kids today are not focused on these kinds of crafts or the skills they help build.

But my ideal is about more than learning a trade or hobby. The “Art of Doing” is in direct relation to the “Art of Truly Being” in my opinion. Are we just sitting here, following some script of things we’re supposed to do before we die? How boring! There has to be more to life than that. How many of us can or do really look at ourselves outside of our roles in life to see what's there? Is there anything? Shouldn't there be? We as miraculous creations of a Higher Power owe it to ourselves to explore what that something else is. And I believe that we can find that, just in the simple art of doing...of completing a process.

The World Trade Center disaster was a major indicator for many that time waits for no one. Our days are not promised to us. I know we've all experienced a newfound gratefulness, but what are we really doing with our lives? It is my hope that as I have, you are examining this very idea, questioning the true value of the things in your life.

Have you ever heard of assembly line workers or data entry operators who love what they do and wondered how in the world could they? That, to me, is the Art of Doing at work. The act of doing something that has steps to follow can be very freeing. Our personalities, our own individual humanness is the variable that shines when observed against the structure of a process.

My dad enjoys gardening. He told me the other day "You know I love this. It relaxes me so." I have no doubt about that. His home is draped in sprays of living greenery on every floor and in every room. Every now and then I catch glimpses of my father, happily tending to each plant, digging his hands into moist soil to plant new seeds, and watering his "babies," a term of endearment for his plants. I sense wholeness in him, one which I doubt he could get from having someone else tend the garden for him.

Easy Come, Easy Go
When the process of doing things yourself is eliminated, we miss out on being grateful for the end product. In a way it feels as though we haven't done anything to get to our goals. So why then, should we expect to appreciate it fully and strive or fight to keep it?

I've heard it said that successful living lies not within arriving at our destinations, but the experiences, good and bad, along the way.

Many of us dismiss and forget those experiences, running at breakneck speed towards our goals. That is a mistake. Life and destiny implore us again and again to stop and take notice, meditate and think deeply about our paths, how we got here, where we are, what we are doing and who we experience as we strive to get there. It is the decisions we make and the reactions we choose to enact along the way that define us.

We all need to become people of character and not material possession. This doesn't mean, sell all your belongings and wander through the thick of the woods or desert. Things come and go, and anyone can attain those baubles and trinkets that temporarily tickle those you wish to impress. But your character lasts far longer in hearts and minds. Look at Jesus Christ. Look at Buddha. Look at Muhammad (PBTH). Look at Martin Luther King. Look at Malcolm X. Look at our countless other heroes. The human race holds all of these people in an esteem that is virtually iconic. But in reality, they possessed humanity just like we do. We are all capable of these great things, of being brave, of being people of character. We all affect people in ways we will always have yet to realize.

The people I have mentioned all went through some kind of process to attain what they knew was truly good. Most didn't live to even see the lasting influence of their efforts. So surely they couldn't count on just the destination as inspiration. But, as many of you know, billions of people across this planet continue to live by those defining moments in their lives, being in awe of their dedication to the art of the long, arduous, unpopular, and ultimately rewarding process.

Ask yourself: What are you doing to get “there”? When all is said and done, whose lives will be impacted by your defining moments?


it's hard...

It's hard when you realize that the things you once loved are no longer the same...that they've just changed forever....and worse yet---that you have to get rid of them, and let. them. go.

letting go is extremely hard:
when your heart has been so into it

when you did everything in your power to nuture it, and it still doesn't work

when you know that you can't overcome the wrong turns

when life--just being itself--doesn't give you the answers you were looking for

when you realize that it (whatever "it" is) is just out of your control. there is nothing you can do about what is about to happen

when you can't forget how good things once were, but at the same time, you can't ignore all of the big, glaring red flags that say that "things have changed" and "the situation is no longer good for you"

when you realize this thing you loved is no longer good for you, yet you wonder how it got to this point

letting go is just so fucking hard


big things....

well, well, well....It's the very next month...heck it's the next week! And I'm back.

just touching base:

Enjoying my pregnancy right now. Baby Barnes is the size of an avocado, and I'm approaching my 4th month. I can't knock the symptom- (and Aunt Flo) free trimester I'm in. I find that if I eat smaller meals and graze as opposed to a big sit-down meal, I can avoid morning sickness altogether.

Last night, I discovered the very foreign experience of going to an "open bar" function without indulging in any myself. Hubby was kind enough to make me some virgin pina coladas, which were dee-lish. As I sipped my smooth and thick mocktail, I learned a few things. It's fascinating to see folks ossified when you aren't. This is one of the first times I've experienced something like this en masse. People say the funniest and most truthful things when they are drunk off their asses. Sometimes it's poignant, sometimes it's...well, not. And for some, there's always that weird drunken apology assigning blame to the festivities (a la Jamie's recent song about "ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-alcohol"). For others, there is the hysterical and potentially violent puffing of the chest, to stand, albeit not steadily, by one's proclamation of truthfulness. Let's just say I heard the phrase "Yeah! I said it!" tossed around more than once or twice last night.

What a revelation to see this from the sober perspective....how funny, silly, crazy, horny, truthful and genuine we all become post-consumption. I have to wonder if this is what it's looked like all these years that I was getting my own drink on? I would cringe at the thought of some of the things I did and said. But, I guess the drink has sufficiently burned away my memory of much of my naughty deeds from my personal heyday.

So instead, I suppose I can laugh soberly about it all. Moreover, I'm getting the concept that it's my turn to look out for those who always looked out for me back in my days of saucing it up. :) That's one way to think about it....


major developments...

I haven't written on here in so long. Wow. Almost 3 months to the day....

I feel a major upheaval coming...of the spiritual variety. This is a good thing. It's been so long that I've written because my spirit has been clouded by the everyday stuff that goes on. It's too easy sometimes to get sucked into it.

It seems that everyone (myself included) wants everything to be easy, quick and agreeable all of the time. And life isn't like that. Sometimes life is just plain ugly and painful and hard to deal with....

It's like I keep telling my students during math class....it's not always the answer that I am looking for. Sometimes it's how you got there that counts.

So, that makes me think: how am I getting to where I'd like to be in my own life? You know the question we all ask at one point or another---do the ends justify the means?

I've sat by and let things and people rob my spirit. Now that my head is lifted out of it, I wonder how it happened. . . or better yet, how do I get myself out of it?

Enough wonderings for now...

Good news. I am pregnant with my first child in our little Barnes family. Baby will make three. It's true what they say: babies do help you to prioritize what is indeed important in life and what is not. A lot of BS has just fallen to the wayside, and I am sobered to realities in my life or reaffirming the positives that are here right now.

When I saw that first sonogram, I realized what a miracle it is to have a little life inside you, functioning on its own. Baby is kicking (though I can't feel it just yet), swimming, moving around. I swear to you, though, if I didn't see it on the sonogram, I wouldn't believe that it was true!

It's the kind of miracle I need to wake me out of this funk I've been in. I'm fighting it a bit, maybe because it's so new-feeling. . .doesn't even feel like a return to who I was before the last 5 years happened. It feels like I'm evolving into someone new.

To know, I am doing everything now, for two of us in this one body, makes me shake my head in amazement. I'm also watchful of what and who I let in....who I let affect me...what I say yes to, what I say no to...where I go and whose energy I am around....

Much like the wedding, the little everyday conversations I've had are just lessons in of themselves. They're insights into these people that I never really picked up on....my ears are open, and I'm hearing the most interesting things....

Creating and sustaining life is a powerful thing. I have only God to thank for it.


Okay, I took this from Facebook-- a site that is frighteningly addictive. So, I figure I'll get some mileage out of this piece and update the blog at the same time. Perhaps I'll have more to say soon. Until then though, here are:

25 Random Things About Jenny

1. I now live in Brooklyn, after bouncing back and forth from PA to Brooklyn. So far I've lived in PA twice in my lifetime.

2. As a little girl, I once got my head stuck in an iron fence on Utica Avenue here in Brooklyn...an experience that surprisingly had a more profound lesson learned (take your time and try to calm down in crisis situations)

3. I have the most vivid dreams of anyone I know and a journal where I have written most of them down (contact me sometime, I'll tell you about them).

4. I once had 5 piercings. I have since let 3 of them close up.

5. In high school, I went on a youth pilgrimage to Poland. I lived in a youth hostel, ate roadside grilled kielbasa (still the BEST I've ever tasted), and stood in the gas chambers of Auschwitz during my visit. Powerful.

6. I didn't catch the chicken pox until I was sixteen and in high school. I was supposed to star in a musical, but my poor friend had to fill in for me instead (sorry Lisa!)

7. I got to meet Mos Def at a youth rally in Brooklyn, before he became large

8. I once got booted off a stage by Ed Lover & Bill Bellamy.

9. In my next lifetime, I'd like to be a radio DJ again as "The Mackstress"

10. I absolutely love reading good books, especially science fiction and horror.

11. I once took bellydancing classes and I plan to go back for more.

12. I never learned to swim. Still need to get the whole "don't try to breath in water" part down.

13. In the past, a person I was dating showed up at my home with two of the strangest gifts: a plaster, full-color mask of his face (life-sized), and hershey's kisses with the little papers pulled out and replaced with even smaller papers which each said "Jenny" printed in frighteningly meticulous fashion. All of this in a shoe box. Dude.

14. My friends and I have walked out on a restaurant bill because there was a potato in the sangria. They never even missed us!

15. My husband and I both have aunts who were named Juanita Johnson (at some point in their lives) and who were widowed by husbands named Uncle Eddie.

16. My colleague and I have gone to the Christmas Party, slept (more like passed out) at our boss's house, and gone right back to work with the same clothes on.

17. I remember bits and pieces of my own birth. I am lucky enough to have verified the details with the only other person who was there at the time--my mother.

18. I was once a Eucharistic Minister.

19. I once played hooky in sixth grade, and my mother called the cops. Needless to say, I got it that day (old schoolers you know what's up)

20. When I was much younger, I used to sleep on my sister's back. And she let me (now that's love).

21. I miss writing terribly. Writing has taught me to choose my use of words carefully to make a powerful impact. Here are four that should only be used if you really mean it: promise (i agree Vaish), love, yes and friend.

22. Like my brother in law Steve, I love going to the movies alone.

23. I am an avid foodie and I love trying new things. Sometimes, I'll watch a movie just because I love the food they prepare in it. Yet, the series "Man vs. Food" periodically grosses me out.

24. I have had every black woman's hairstyle in existence excepting only the Jheri curl (and its greasy descendants) and the weaves that need to be sewn in.

25. I love my family, both the one I was born into, and the new fam I have gained through marriage.