Q&A with Cristen J.

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I have known Cristen as a mutual friend for over a decade, but it wasn’t until this year that the two of us connected personally, rather than waiting for the next random occurrence. I’m so glad we did! Cristen is the absolute opposite of me. Adventure-seeking, patient, loves to be outside…yet I find we have so much in common. She’s a pleasure to get to know and I hope you enjoy a peek into what makes her MOVE.

Name: Cristen Jester

Current City: Nixa, MO

What did you want to be when you grew up?   A vet.  And Indiana Jane.

What are you now? Well, I did spend time working as a biologist, but now I’m a Mom-Writer-Adventurer :)

How did you get to this point?  Oh boy.  I moved quite a bit, first to follow a degree, then a new adventure in a new place.  I became a wandering nomad for a little while, traveling in a van around the country before #vanlife was really out there.  Ha!  That trip changed my perspective about how I wanted to live and work, and I was never quite the same.  Which, I think is a good thing.  Now I perch politely on that edge between happy-at-home and family-travel-fanatic.  The balance between the two lifestyles is the challenge and we’re looking for a way to integrate both into one lifestyle that fits our family best.  

Are you paid doing what you love?  Hahahaha….. I’m working on that!!  In the mean time, my fiancé, Matt, has a lawn care company that is growing and retaining lots of happy clients (shameless plug).  

Current Project(s):  –  

  • Fiction Self-Help novel (there are several ideas and outlines for books, but this is the big one right now that keeps me typing away)  
  • Training as a member of the Adventure Mamas Expedition team (high alpine mountaineering trip in Colorado with 10 other outdoor adventure moms from July 8-15, purpose is to discuss how modern moms are redefining motherhood)
  • Creating a short personal film about a solo bike journey I did recently (to team up with nature, honor my local ancestors, let go of built-up grief, and celebrate life/change/and challenges by doing all that together with a physical and mental journey).  Matt is a BIG part of helping me make this one happen!

What are you Reading?  Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon

Watching?  Well, now that Big Bang Theory has wrapped up for the season, I’m watching the next round of Grace and Frankie.  And lots of Sesame Street.

Listening to?  The Putumayo albums have been amazing!  I find the yoga compilations are best for driving during rush hour for a Zen commute.  Haha!  My son, Eric, and I listen to a lot of oldies in the car.  I’m a mood music listener, though, and am all over the board, so don’t be surprised to hear anything from The Allman Brothers to Ben Harper, Rob Zombie to Bassnectar.

Making?  I love to bake.  Good, old fashioned chocolate chip cookies are easy to do with Eric.  Matt and I have been slowly building a “she shed” for my workspace, which I’m really excited for!  Imagine, a work space that’s not spread out on the kitchen table; a place to write, organize, leave notes, and it can stay there for DAYS.  Yessss….

How do you express yourself creatively?  Writing for sure, but also through music and movement.  Singing tends to be a part of the day and I believe a song exists for nearly everything, so it’s fun to reinvent words.  If it really needs to bubble out, expect to hear something cranked up over the speakers and me flailing it out in the living room.  But if you show up at the door, I’m going to act like nothing was happening.

Have you ever written a fan letter?  Yes!  To Morgan Freeman.  He’s the man, on screen and off!

Drink of choice?  Tough one.  Water normally, coffee or lattes while writing, Mexican Coca Cola when it’s been a long day and (darn-it) I deserve it, cold local beer on the river, creative margaritas when people get together, and tea at night to wind down.  Wow.  I’m realizing how compartmentalized this seems.  I do branch out, I swear!

What or who inspires you, and why?  Nature inspires me for so many reasons.  I’m not very religious yet quite spiritual, but into nature is where I go to be with a Higher Power, to be in God’s creation and see all that beautiful handiwork.  It seems like the natural beauty and systems answer so many questions when we look closely and listen deeply.  Jane Goodall and Maya Angelou, Albert Schweitzer, Henry David Thoreau and John Muir:  these incredibly thoughtful people who took risks and kept going because they had a bigger vision are definitely inspirations.  They also seem/seemed to be able to see and express life and the world around them in ways that changed how we perceive it, but inspired us to also be of service to that world.  And my son and fiancé.  Never have I wanted to see my own visions and projects come to fruition more than when the two of them became parts of my life.  

Favorite tool to stay productive (a certain set of watercolors, a planner, an exercise program, for example)?  A notebook and pen (I’m a list maker).  At night before I go to bed, I have to think about what the next day will hold and what it’s going to look like, even make a list.  There will always be three main things that “must” be done during the day to feel accomplished, with plenty of leeway with the other “to do’s” because sometimes unexpected stuff comes up.  Ahhh life.  Without some kind of task list, I’m like a hummingbird in a  friggin’ English garden.  A son (because there’s a schedule in the day around him) and a fiancé (because he knows my goals/projects, where I begin to wander, and how to gently nudge me back into focus when necessary, even if it makes me a bit pissy at first).

Something you have learned this year:  It’s a repeat lesson: life really is too short to worry about what we’re “supposed” to be doing, so do more of what makes your heart happy.  Also, everything is divine and in its right time :)

What can people do to make the world a better place?   Reach down into those billowy depths, find, and use every bit of kindness and patience you pull out.  It goes a long way, sticks to others, and spreads like glitter (parents, teachers, and crafters will know what I mean by that).

How can people find you?  I have a website!  www.cristenjester.com

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