Friday, May 6, 2016


When I was a child I was loud, I was confident, and I had enough energy to power my own country.  I no doubt drove my parents insane beyond belief.  Which explains the moment when my mom took me to audition for a MCT (Missoula Children's Theatre) play at age eight.  I had to be channeled, and they had the hunch theatre could do that.

Sure enough, it did.

22 years later, theatre still remains a large part of who I am.  I grew up on the stage.  I relished the spotlight.  I learned to direct.  I attended MCT Performing Art Camp and made life-long theatre friends.  By the time I was 18 I had performed in around 35 different productions, not including the small skits and pieces I would write with friends and perform in any chance we got.  This was my life.  The life lessons, skills and passions I learned in theatre helped create exactly who I am today.  

I learned self-reliance.  I learned teamwork.  I learned perserverance and bravery and patience and hope and denial and pure exhaustion.  

Snow White in sneakers.  It must be an MCT play.

Then we moved to Oregon.  And for five years I had no theatre.

As soon as we moved back to the island I knew I had to get back into the theatre life.  The community I live in is full of arts passion, and theatre has always been a huge part of being an islander here.  I couldn't wait.

Not even one year after being back, my stepmom saw a posting for the school district.  It was for the Drama Director position.  Within an hour of her texting me that I had to apply, two of my other friends did the same thing.  I decided:  Why not?

This had to have been one of the most nerve-racking auditions of my life.  Er...I mean interview... If you haven't learned yet, I am not the strongest in the self-confidence front.  But I can act.  So I put on the brave face, interviewed, and waited.

Then I found out: I got the job.

I was given the key to the exact same drama room I rehearsed in for seven years during my school days.  I inhereted the collections and history I was already a part of.  And I took it upon myself to reform our drama program back into what it once was years go.

I just finished my second season as the drama director.

In 24 months, I have:

- Directed two high school productions (The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes and The Neverending Story)
- Directed two middle school productions (A Walk in the Woods and Sally Cotter and the Censored Stone)
- Assistant directed one children's theatre summer camp production (Disney's The Little Mermaid)
- Performed in a children's theatre show with my son (I was a zombie.  Who did the Thriller...and the Time Warp.  Be jealous.)
- Chartered our high school into the International Thespian Society
- Joined in as a tech member for the town spring musical (The Addams Family)
- Started in on prep for this summer's children's theatre camp production (Disney's Aladdin)
- Started in on prep for next year's combined 7-12th grade MUSICAL (I am being daring here...)
- etc etc etc

If you have ever done theatre, you might have an inkling how much time it takes to make one production.  For instance:  The high school play this school year auditioned in September.  We rehearsed nearly daily expect during school breaks.  Not to mention set design and building, costume creation, etc.  We performed in January.  BEFORE we even opened, I held auditions for the middle school show which then performed in April.  The hours that go into each production cannot even be numbered.  It becomes my life. 

I disappear from my family.  From my friends.  And obviously for my writing.

This is a balancing act I am still figuring out.

I am LOVING my theatre job and cannot wait to see where I go with it next.  I have great plans and dreams for my program, along with hoping I can begin to act again myself.  I have found that piece of myself that was missing, and I am loving every moment of it.

Worry not, I am balancing things.  I am discovering when to take a break from thinking about my current production to write or play with my family or maybe even sleep.  Life is a balancing act.  If there is one thing I have for sure learned in recent years, it is that.  I am in a constant state of learning.  I flounder and mess up and get lost.  But in the end I am a great actress who can improv and carry on until the play is back on track.  All the world's a stage...

And the show must go on.

Sally Cotter and the Censored Stone.  Harry Potter parody, anybody?

Almost a year later...

I just realized it has been nearly a year since I wrote a post.
Yes, I JUST noticed.

THAT is how crazy my year has been.

This is about as long as this post will be.  But I am already working on finishing my RID list posts, then will most likely write yet another post negating everything I said in my RID posts.  As is life.

For now, here is a photo of me.  Actually working.  Go me.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Some time has passed since my last RID Post.  For those of you who follow me on my Facebook page, you saw my update about how I had disappeared into the KonMari decluttering method.  But that is no excuse to disappear from here.  So here I am, with RID Post #3:

(Netflix, Facebook, and Pinterest.  You evil yet awesome creations.)

Ah yes.  I am one of "those" people.  And from the sounds of it, I am not the only one.
You know what I mean.

The person who sits down with the intentions to write or edit.  But first they have to check Facebook, which goes from five minutes to ten to "How long have I been on Facebook?  Oh, who cares."  After that it is all business.  But they need some inspiration first so off to Pinterest they go.

It starts with something related to the actual WIP.  Then it bleeds onto something book related.  Then geek related.  Then before they know it they are perusing DIY hacks on how to make homemade zit cream or decor for the third living room they will never have.

From there the writing buzz has been killed, so they decide to watch some Netflix/Hulu/HBO to relax and wait for the word urge to return.  Two seasons of binge watching's bedtime.  After one final check of Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr of course.

Sound familiar?

Well, that's the pit that I fell into.
And boy is it hard to climb out of.

The internet is for sure a blessing.  Facebook, Netflix, Pinterest...all those sites are a Godsend.  Whether they are being used for research, publicity, or good old down time, all the distractions on the internet are definitely needed.

In moderation.

That right there is the key.
Even as I write this right now. I have Pinterest AND Facebook open on other tabs.  And Netflix playing yet another show I have been binge watching playing on my second screen.  I find it funny that I am writing about how I need to RID this addiction in my life while I still have everything open.

It's true.  It's an addiction.
So how do I approach it?

I cannot just cut it out.  I do need it for all the reasons stated.
I cannot just unplug.  If you write, you know at any moment you need some random research or, in my case, non-stop music blaring.  (Thank you, Pandora!)
I cannot decrease on my connections.  All are needed.

So how am I going to rid this RID?


We all have our addictions in life.  Whether it is food or drinking, drugs or sex, shopping or coffee.  You can honestly become addicted to anything.  It starts out small then before you know it, your entire life is dictated by that addiction.  Sometimes people never realize they have the addiction.  Sometimes people do see it, but don't care to fix it.  Some people try and fail.  And some try and succeed.

Welcome to life.

I am addicted to the internet.  To all the wonderful distractions it is full of.  I spend too much time on Facebook.  I watch too many shows on Netflix.  I spend the majority of my day, when not being mommy or working, sitting and getting lost on the internet.  And where has it gotten me?

Right here, writing about how I need to change it so I can do what I love doing again.  Writing books, for you to read.  And the first step is to regain some self-control.

My game plan?

1.  Set up a certain writing time.
2.  Turn off EVERYTHING on my computer except for Word and Pandora.
4.  After the writing time is said and done, reward myself with a LIMITED internet perusal time.  Rewards are good.
5.  And lastly: Save Netflix for nighttime when I am snuggling with my honey.  Or better yet: Read a book.

It's simple, I know.
But sometimes simple is the best.

I want to write.  I want to share all these stories that are in my head (or in various states of WIP status on my computer...)  This is what I want.  Not to be able to brag that I watched the entire series of FRIENDS in one month (sad but true story) or created yet another board on Pinterest that I rarely look at.

I want to brag that I write.

So here I am today.  Writing.  Rebalancing my life.  And taking yet another step closer to the author I know I want to be.

How about you?

This looks familiar...

No matter your addiction, I encourage you today to recognize and make the first step, no matter how simple, towards where you truly want to be.  Simple is better than nothing.  You can do it.

Monday, May 18, 2015


I have written and rewritten this post at least five times.  Then I got sick with one of those evil little stomach bugs and haven't been able to think about anything except sleep for the last four days.  Now here I am, reading what I last wrote and realizing I need to rewrite it.  Again.

I guess this is a harder post for me.
Ready for RID Post #2?


When I made my first post announcing this crazy RID List, I had labeled this category as "Motherhood."  A few different tongue-in-cheek friends asked me if I was planning on getting rid of my kids (you know, because I am "ridding" myself of these things...)  I just replied with a good chuckle, then sat back and thought.

No.  I did not think about actually getting rid of my kids.
But I did realize this post was about more than just motherhood.

I am a mom.  In fact, my main job is being a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom.)  I always knew that once I had kids, this would be my career.  And boy is it a career.  I cherish every moment and never want it to stop, but at the end of each day I usually find myself happy that that day is over.

When you are a SAHM, your life revolves around it.  You are a teacher.  A chauffer.  A school volunteer.  A chef.  A maid.  A doctor. A tutor.  A coach.  An artist.  A historian.  An alarm clock.  A displinarian.  A friend.

You clean more than you sit.  And just when you are done cleaning you have to clean again.
You never stop.  Ever.  Ever ever ever.
This sure does test you.

The idea of "me time" disappears as soon as you first hold their little hands and kiss those chubby cheeks.  You sacrifice so much, but it is so worth it.

Like I said, I love this job and wouldn't trade it for anything.  But the total sacrifice of yourself does something to you.  And for someone like me, it can really take its toll.

I don't talk about it much, because I don't feel like it needs to be flaunted.  I don't try to get pity or special treatment.  I know I am not the only one.  I am not going to dive into it too much, because this is the internet and the exact details of this battle are personal.  But it is something that really does control my day to day life and does need to be acknowledged. 


I know, I know.  An author who suffers from depression?  Such a cliché.

I have been battling issues with depression since middle school.  I have never been into an actual doctor to get the "real" diagnosis.  And I cannot bring myself to turn to medication to "fix" this.  It has just become a part of my life.  A dark, scary, all consuming monster that randomly flares up and tries to take me with it.  

I cannot drive myself, I cannot get off the couch, I cannot think of happy things.  I just cannot.
Sadly, this word has also become a stigma.  Something people roll their eyes at or freak out about or just plain don't understand.  Because of that, I don't want to acknowledge it.  I don't let myself see that it is there.  It isn't really there.

So I let routine take over.  I am Super SAHM and that is all.  My kids need me, so I give them everything I have.  Then I lay in bed at night and lose myself.

That's what happened.  That's the reason I disappeared.  I let the craziness of motherhood, the darkness of depression, the busy ways of life overwhelm me.  And with that, I stopped writing.

I don't have the time.  I don't have the drive.  I am tired.  I would rather veg with a binge watch than sit and write because come on, I'm not that good at it anyway so why should I waste the time?

Yes, that's where my mind goes.
And I hate it.

I have learned something though.  Yes, depression is a part of me.  But it is not who I am.
I daily have come into the habit of reminding myself of this.  (Along with trying to live a healthier, more active lifestyle and totally diving into the doTERRA oil craze.)

Depression isn't my truth.  These are my truths:

1.  My life is great.  Yes, I am a stay-at-home mom.  I chose this path.  So I cannot let it get me down.  I have two amazing sons.  A husband I love more than anything.  A home we adore, friends that are just right for me, family all around.  I am lucky.  My kids test me, my clean home falls apart.  But life is good and I cannot let my thoughts sway that truth.

2.  My writing is great.  It is normal to doubt yourself.  Especially when in the depths of editing or accidentally stumbled upon a rather nasty review.  But at the end of each day, as long as I wrote something, my writing is great.

3.  I am great.  I am worth it.  I am worth everything.  I am not nothing.

I cannot just rid myself of my depression.  But I can stop letting it control my life.

When I write, I feel free.  I feel the weight lift off my shoulder.  And I need to stop stopping myself from that therapy.  I need to write.  It is my way of life.  It is so awesome seeing so many other authors out there saying the same thing, feeling the same thing, escaping and healing the exact same way.  We are a strange breed.  But here we are.

I am writing.  And it sure does feel good.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


It's about time to dive into this RID List of mine.  (For those of you wondering, here is the explanation of The Reasons I Disappeared List.)  I figured I might as well go in the order I had listed these reasons.  Meaning today is focused on RID #1:


When I was in elementary school my dad introduced me to photography.  I started with disposable cameras and snapped away rather haphazardly.  Come middle school he noticed my obsession and got me a simple little camera that took click in film.  And I snapped more than ever.

Dad, I don't know how much money you spent on developing film for me.  But thanks.

Towards the end of high school my dad got a digital camera.  I played with it when I could and found I was insanely jealous of the fact that he owned it and I didn't.  (It didn't help that my best friend showed up one day with a digital of her own.)  I drooled over these non-film wonders.  So of course the excitement that overwhelmed me when my dad gave me my own dinky little digital camera was beyond words.

I filled my computer with useless shots.

Honestly though, I didn't think of doing photography as more than a hobby until after I had my first kid.  I took way too many photos of him.  (That's a lie.  I didn't take enough.)  Soon friends were asking me to take photos for them.  I had started to fiddle with editing, and it wasn't too shabby.

Before long, I found myself investing in a DSLR camera, creating a Facebook page, and taking on clients that weren't just family members and good friends.

Somehow I had created a name for myself.
And I loved it.

Little did I know that it would take over my entire life.

Photography isn't just happily clicking a trigger and seeing the wonder that is.  You need to take the time to learn your camera, learn proper settings for the image you want to capture, learn the proper way to edit them to produce the best product...

That is just the start.

You set up the Facebook page.  The website.  Create the logo and watermark and business cards.  You reach out to people to spread the word.  Host contests.  Advertise.

Then you book the sessions.  You spend 60-90 minutes taking the photos.  This is the part I love.  You spend time with these people, some you know and some you are only just meeting.  You make them smile.  Get some tears.  Become a small part of their lives for that moment in time and capture the memories.  It is honestly magical.  And exhausting.

Then you go home with a filled memory card.  Sift through all the photos you just took.  Shrink the list down.  THIS alone takes time.

THEN (do you like all the "thens" that are happening?) you start in on the editing.  You create just the right preset for that session.  Apply it.  Tweak it.  Correct things.  Beautify the work.  Depending on the session, this can take hours...or days.  Weeks if it happens to be a wedding.  (Oh, don't get me started on weddings.) 

And most of the time, I had a few sessions in a row.  Meaning the backlog was getting worse and worse.  I still needed to burn DVD copies, upload to the private galleries, create sneak peeks, breathe...

I loved it.  I did.  But with each additional session, I found my time for writing was disappearing fast. I was swallowed up in the the all consuming photography world, and leaving the writing world  behind.

I had to make a decision.
Did I want to mainly be a photographer...or an author.

This was a huge decision.  These were two passions that I loved.  That gave me joy.  That I couldn't just leave behind.  So how would I decide?

I tried the classic "Pros vs Cons" list.  
I had been writing since I was three.  I got out and about and met people with photography.  I have so many stories still to share.  I made actual money snapping photos.  My writing was solely about me.  My photography was about giving memories to others.  The list never ended...This wasn't helping.

I had to figure something else out.  Because I could no longer do both to this extent.
It really came down to:
Which one would it break my heart to leave behind?  Where was my joy?

And without thinking, without weighing options and pondering, I knew the answer.
I tried to fight it.
I tried to rationalize.
I tried to change my mind even.
But my heart was stuck on one thing, always going back to one thing, missing one thing.


So 2015 hit and I made my decision.
I am a photographer.  I always will be and will never deny it.
But my heart decided something for me and I couldn't fight it any longer.  I stopped taking on new clients, stopped advertising, stopped seeking sessions.  I thought it would be hard and the withdrawals would kill me.  But know what?  They didn't.

I guess this is my round about way of announcing that Jenni Merritt Photography is closed.  Not completely.  Not forever.  But as of today, I will only be shooting for family/friends and return clients.  And even that will be with extreme discretion.

TO ALL MY CLIENTS: YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. The moments and memories you have given me are all so priceless.  I loved being given the chance to photograph you.  I loved that you trusted me with this job.  I STILL love photography.  Who knows what the future brings.  But at least I know that those moments of the past that you gave me are forever captured in my art.  Never doubt your beauty.

I have just learned that life is short, and you need to do what you truly love.  I love photography.  I love writing more.  I cannot sacrifice my writing time any longer. 

So here I am, sad but smiling.  Regretful but complete.  And excited for tomorrow.  This is a hard post to write.  But this is a good decision.  A good RID to rid.  Now, go after your own dreams no matter how hard they are to follow. 

And remember...Just smile.

Curious and want to see more of my work for the fun of it? GO HERE

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Public Announcement That I Do, In Fact, Exist

Hello.  My name is Jenni.  I used to actively post on this blog three days a week.  I would host giveaways, interview fellow writers, review books, share thoughts and tips.  Even talk about myself at times.  It was a magical time.

Then I disappeared.

I honestly think I let myself forget that this blog existed.  A lot of things fell on the wayside as life got a hold of me.  And now it has come to the point that I either need to discard this entire thing, or come back to it full force.

If you know me, you know I am not a quitter.

So...Hello world!  Jenni here!

Man, this actually feels fantastic.  I missed my blog.  We have gone through a lot together and I cannot wait to see where we go next.  I think the best next step for me would be to clear my head about the things that kept me away.  I will be doing it in a series of posts, just so I can keep them "short" (nobody wants to spend their entire day reading one post, right?)

To give you an idea of what is coming, here are the reasons I disappeared.  Or, since I am oh so very clever, The RID List (Because, you know, I am ridding myself of these reasons.  I know.  I am awesome):

1.  Photography.  Say cheese.

2.  Depression. Yes, I said that word.

3.  The Internet (Netflix, Facebook, and Pinterest, you evil yet awesome creations)

4.  Theatre.  You read that right.  Curtains, costumes and all.

5.  Lady Justice.  Yes, that book I wrote that is long past due for publication.

Intrigued?  I am too.  I still have to write the posts, which means I still have to have the epiphany about each subject.  But after lots of thinking, I have realized those 5 reasons are the biggest.  So here we go.  This may be interesting.  The first post will be up in the next day or two, depending on when RID #2, 3, and 4 let me sit to write.

As for tonight, I am going to sign out for now and let RID #3 win.
(I know.  I am weak.  If you agree to not judge me, here is a photo of my cat smiling in her sleep.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Catastrophe Theory: A Progressive Story

Remember back in school, when you would write a sentence then pass it to your friend and they would add on?  You would take turns until some crazy, odd-ball story was created then you would giggle as you read the insanity of said story?

Well, we authors still do that.

The Hunt For Tomorrow was the digital scavenger hunt that led readers through 23 author stops and ended with an immense grand prize.  Part of that prize pack was letting the winner choose certain facts that we authors would then create into a progressive story.  

And we are doing it.

Each day, a new author posts a new chapter to the story, solely based off what has been written before.  There has honestly been no brainstorming, no planning.  Just a little bit of banter and the facts given to us by the Hunt winner.  We read the new chapter, then the next author has 24 hours to create the next installment.  That's it.   

It is insane.  We have no idea where this is going.  And we are loving it.

Today is Chapter 7.  And it is my turn.  
If you have already been following along, read away.  If you are just getting started, go to Chapter 1 and enjoy!  


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