Reinvention: The search for purpose and meaning in bathroom tile and suburban sunsets

by jennifer


For the last several weeks I’ve been searching around to find myself.

I’m soaking up suburban sunsets, driving for miles to acquire wood type and studying tile patterns under my feet with an intensity usually reserved for more complex things. All the while I’m wondering if any of it’s a sign that will direct me to what’s next.

What does all of my time and experience add up to? And how can I use it to give the world something no one else can in quite the same way? Should I collaborate or is it best to create in solitude? Should I focus on trying to accomplish the things I’ve dreamed of doing for so many years, or will I play to my proven strengths and push and promote others toward their dreams? Can I do both? And will I ever have another opportunity to make a living wage doing a job I love? And how selfish is it to want time to create and explore and document without interruptions from those who demand so much on their own climb to the top.


These are the questions that have been rolling around in my head for days. I’m sharing this because I seem to draw unexplained strength from raw, unedited vulnerability.

I spent the last five days in New York City with my journalism students. During the conference we attended, I learned that a surprising number of people find it socially acceptable to drop f-bombs during formal presentations in an attempt to appeal to young people. I’d like to think that young people are smarter than that and not impressed by these unprofessional overtures. But then again, I’ve never been a fan of extreme vulgarity.

As I sat through presentation after presentation, I felt like a journalism outsider for the first time in my life. And that was so very strange. I’m still getting emails and letters about my newspaper column ending. Unfortunately, some readers think I quit and they are upset with me about that. As if getting cut from the team didn’t stink enough.

So here I am, sitting in the green glider chair parked by the window in my messy office, sporting the oversized, old man flannel jacket I used to ward off drunk frat boys during my college years. Sunlight is falling on the keyboard and I’m trying to figure out my next move.


My strategy for coping with any disappointment in life has always been the same: keep moving. Momentum is key. So, that’s what I will do for now. I’m just going to keep writing about this process of reinvention. I know this isn’t very inspiring reading right now, but it’s my hope that when I get past this rough patch I will have learned some things that I can share.

My first immediate goal is to get rid of all the stuff I don’t need or want. I have too many clothes, craft supplies and miscellaneous nonsense and must commence a massive purge to create the home studio environment of my dreams. After that, I’ll be able to focus on getting down to business.

P.S. In case you’re worried that I’ve lost my sense of humor, fear not. I’ve been recording podcasts clips with random strangers on planes (no joke) and I’m knitting some funny stuff that I’ll be unveiling soon. There are still an infinite number of reasons to crack up and for that I’m very grateful.

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