Side Hustle is the New Black

These days it seems like everyone has a side hustle of some kind, my DM's are full of ladies trying to share their products. I never thought I would ever join a direct sales company, let alone two! Read on to find out what happened when I decided to take another chance.

You may or may not know this about me, I did a very short stint as a coach for a health and wellness company. While I do not regret that choice, looking back on it, I was never passionate about either of those things. I get way more excited about a new shade of lipstick, than a new workout program. However, at that time in my life, I was not in a great place and I was looking something more to help me pull myself out of my funk!

Surprise, surprise I didn't have much financial success in that company, what that experience did for me in that season, was bring incredible women into my life and taught me about sisterhood. These women truly helped support me to not only lose weight and focus on my health, but also held me up when my mom was losing her battle with cancer. Some of those ladies have become my closest friends and those who are still coaching are absolutely killing it in that industry!

After that experience, in the depths of grief and exhaustion, I convinced myself that direct sales was not for me. Have you ever done this? Stumbled over something or compared yourself to someone else's success and decided, I can’t do what she does, that's it, it's not for me, moving on! Funny how you can be so sure about something and the universe puts you on a completely different path!

I became a customer of LimeLife about 18 months ago, when a dear friend reach out to me and asked if I wanted to check out some of her products. She was sweet enough to bring everything to me and I became OBSESSED! I spent enough on my first order to make a car payment and I've been wearing it ever since. Little did I know that one on one in my living room would have such an impact on my life.

That same friend asked a few times if I had any interest in joining her as a business partner. I said no. A LOT. I gave her excuse after excuse, of why. I didn't think it was for me, I had zero interest in joining another direct sales company and my personal favorite "I don't have time". To her credit, she was never pushy or annoying about it, she just saw potential in me that I didn't at the time. I've come to learn, that's part of the culture of this company, women seeing potential for other women and helping them to see it for themselves.

I finally said yes to her this year for my birthday, I decided that a brand new business would be one of the coolest gifts I have ever received! So I finally took a leap and OH MY GOODNESS, I had no idea how much I would love this. I had no idea how focused the CEO is on helping us all get paid our worth, I had no idea I would find my home and be surrounded by true sisters who want success for me as much as I want it for myself.

As I am finishing this blog, I'm sitting on a plane coming back from our annual convention and girl, I will tell you this, my plate has been full for years, way too full actually, but my cup, not so much. I have spent the last three days soaking up the energy and love from the most amazing women on the planet, and my cup is overflowing. I have more creative energy and enthusiasm for my business and my life in general. I have new friends that I'm so connected to, and people I know I'll have as friends for life, regardless of where this business takes me.

Truth is, this isn't a side hustle for me, this is a passion, this is a place where I can grow, this is a place where I am limitless, this is a place where I have so many sisters praying for my success. I know direct sales may not be for everyone, I get it, I truly do. But, if you're even a little curious on what it's like or the potential for growth and income, please consider this company. I'm a firm believer in divine timing, but I wish I wouldn't have waited this long to find this family. I am truly home.

P.S. If any of my Limelife sisters are reading this, I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude for how you opened your arms and welcomed me into this family. No matter where your name is on the leader board, everyone treated me like I mattered and was valued. Each of you are so dynamic and incredible and it's a privilege to support and stand with you in this business. Thank you for everything you are and everything you do! Keep spreading that light my gorgeous friends 💕

The Struggle of Slowing Down

I was walking around the house anxiously looking for something to do, Germain takes one look at me and asks "what's wrong". I respond with "I don't know, I feel anxious" he asked me to explain further, and my response was "I feel like I'm not doing enough". He looks at me with a puzzled look, and says "how could you be possibly doing more, Jess, you do more than most people before 6 a.m." He's right, of course. He always is, but that didn't take away the feeling, so I decided to sit down and write about it.

I have always been one to take on all the things, I have no concept of what it's like to take things easy, take things slow, take things one at a time. In case you don't know what I mean, let me break it down for you, I have a full time and then some job where I lead a team of people, I also have a side hustle, I write a blog, I have an active social life (and social media), I have a passion for photography and a marriage and dog I am crazy about that also needs my attention. Literally ALL. THE. THINGS. I was starting to beat myself up because I had not got a blog up in a couple weeks. I have several half written blog beginnings, but nothing polished and finished and ready to post. Even though my schedule is so busy, I barely have time to breathe, I am giving myself a hard time for not doing more.

Well as you can imagine, that process of making myself feel bad for not being super human is not really working. It's creating more anxiety, instead of allowing more space for things I enjoy, like writing. So I had to slow down and reassess. Truthfully, this is the hard part for me, I am completely comfortable going a million miles an hour, and doing all the things, but relaxing, slowing down, and keeping things calm is a struggle. As hard as it is, I am realizing that it's necessary,

I am so guilty of trying to do everything and keeping myself at the bottom of my priority list, in hiding in being "so busy" that I don't take time to recharge, going a million miles an hour and still feeling like it's not enough, and saying I am okay, when I am not! I tend to consume content of people I admire, people I think are really killing it, but what I see them posting is may not be how they are actually feeling. It's so easy to get caught up in the highlight reels of everyone else. Social media has made impostor syndrome an epidemic. Keeping up with the Jones's has gone to the next level, watching your friends and families highlight reel everyday can have you feeling like your life is not enough, like you are not enough.

Who made the rule that I had to post blogs within a certain time? Oh that's right, it was me! No one (literally no one) else is sitting around thinking about how they haven't seen a blog in a few weeks, or about anything else I am doing, and spoiler alert, no one is sitting around thinking about your every move either. I'm the only one putting that stress on myself. Truthfully, as busy as I have been, I am quite sure the quality of the content I would have posted would not have been something I would've been proud of, so taking a few weeks off to recharge is just fine. I mean I am the CEO of this brand, I can decide to take a vacay whenever I want. Since I am in decision making mode, let's also scrap this fixation on doing things, repeat after me, it is ok to relax and recharge!

So, hey girl, in case you need to hear this today like I did, you deserve self care, even if it feels selfish. You are allowed to make time for whatever brings you joy (even if it is as simple as getting the perfect photo of your hubby's homemade pop tarts!), you can let someone else support you when you need a breather, and no matter what, you are more than enough, ALWAYS.

If you also feel the overwhelm of always needing to do something leave me a comment so I know I am not the only one and I can help support you too!

Journey to #HappyJess

A dear friend recently referred to me as per own person Rachel Hollis, and I don't think I have ever been more proud. Being in the same arena with Rach, would be a dream come true, and yes, I call her Rach, because eventually we will be friends. The compliment got me thinking about the progress in my own self development journey.

Confession: I am a self development junkie! If you and I have never spoken personally about the subject, let me warn you in the beginning, I am insanely passionate about this and have a tendency to get a little bit on a soapbox, I will try to keep it in check, but if what I say makes you upset, you might want to explore why. Things that upset you are a great starting point. Below are some insights into my own journey so far.

Journey to "Happy Jess"
If you have been following me for a little while, you know I always use the hashtag, #HappyJess, self development gave birth to that. About 5 years ago, I was in a bad place, unhappy in my job, unhappy in my marriage, unhappy in my life in general. I got to a breaking point where I got tired of being "that girl", you know the one I mean. The one who is always complaining about EVERY. DAMN. THING. Everyone knows that girl and I woke up one day and decided I was not going to be that girl anymore, I was determined to find a happy Jess. I started surrounding myself with positive people, messages, thoughts and dove head first into self development. I consumed everything I could, I was, and still am voracious when it comes to consuming self development. Books, podcasts, YouTube videos, it's free and it's available everywhere you look. I truly believe this decision changed my life. My marriage wouldn't be as strong, my promotions at work would have never happened and if not for some serious inner strength and incredibly supportive friends and family, losing my mother would have been an even more painful experience.

Self Awareness for the Win
Are you ready for the secret my loves, it's so simple, it will blow your mind.
Boom! Bet you weren't expecting that to be it, huh? It's is so easy to blame everyone and everything else for the bad things that happen to you. Let me say, there are some horrific things that happen to people that are not their faults. Those are not the scenarios I am referring to. I am talking about the fight you had with your husband and when you call your best friend to dissect the situation, you have made him out to be the devil without one time taking any responsibility for your part in it. That's the kind of thing I am talking about. Now maybe he did do something terrible, but I am betting you didn't handle the situation well either. If you're anything like how I was, you were yelling, addressing the situation with nothing but emotion and generally being unkind. About a year and half ago, Germain and i took a class on how to better communicate in our relationship. It was phenomenal and I recommend everyone in a relationship do this! One of the best lessons I have learned during that class, is that when a situation happens, it's best to start looking for your part in it, especially before you go all in on the other person. You will never have control over another person's actions or words, you can only control yourself. Focus on being someone you can be proud of and watch how it can change the people around you without you even trying. The reason why this class was so successful for us is that I started really looking at my own behavior, when I changed, everything changed.

Choosing Happy
While discovering you are the issue may not happen right away, this one you can put into practice right now, you can start to choose what to focus on. Whenever you buy a new car, you start to see that car everywhere, it's not because you're a trendsetter, it's because your type of car is now in your subconscious as something to notice. This same principle can cause you to find happy. Starting (and/or ending) your day with writing down what your grateful for will cause you to move into this easily. When you know you need to write down what you are grateful for, your mind will start looking for examples of this. It doesn't need to be paragraphs of gratitude or big profound things. I typically write 5 things in the morning that I am grateful for and they have been as simple as my insanely comfortable bed, the fresh flowers on my desk or the full 8 hours of sleep. Even if it seems too small, if it is bringing you joy, it counts. Your thoughts control way more than you think and if you start choosing to see the happy, it will change things in your life. My friend Rach, always says your energy is up to you. When you start living from a place of gratitude, watch how your whole demeanor changes.

Her Success is not your Failure
Ahhh, I will be completely transparent and say this one is hard and something I still struggle with. Have you ever heard "comparison is the thief of joy", yea well they were not lying on that one. With our social media centered world, it is hard not to get caught up in feeling inadequate to other people's success. Someone gets a promotion and you've been passed over, someone gets engaged and you're still single, someone buys a brand new house or their dream car and you're trying to figure out how to pay rent and still have money for dinner until payday. Girl, I have been there, truthfully, I am still there, there are other people out there right now hitting my goals. Remember, their success is not your failure, it is proof it can be done, it is inspiration for your next right step. The most powerful thing for you to do in those moments is work on feeling happiness for them and break down what they did to get there and incorporate that into your own life. I was honest with you, this is not easy, but girl, this is a game changer.

It's Going to Suck, Do it Anyway
Somewhere along the line, we've been tricked into thinking that things just happen. Maybe it was the growing popularity of manifestation, what you may not be hearing or focusing on is the massive action needed behind that manifestation before those desires become a reality. Have you ever heard "dream don't work, unless you do". That is the 100% truth. If you have been reading this blog for the beginning, you may remember, I wanted to start this blog for 3 years before it became a reality. The reason it took that long was because I didn't want to do the work, I convinced myself no one would want to read it and I didn't know anything about how to start a blog. It wasn't until I sat down, and started researching how to build a website, how to start a blog, etc, that this came together. In the beginning it was hard, trying to understand the intricacies of building a website and getting up at 5am so I have time to write my blogs before I go to work, it took some serious effort on my part to make it happen. That's what dream take, hard freaking work and figuring out things you didn't know. You're never going to build a company, start your podcast, lose 50 pounds, or any other dream you might have without working your tail off, so embrace it may not be fun in the beginning and just start.

I am barely scratching the surface of all the ways that personal development changed my life. If this struck a nerve with you or you are resonating with this, I would love to hear from you! I am working on a project to help others move through these issues at a much faster pace than I did! If you have any interest in being a part of my passion project, please holler at your girl by sending me a message or leave a comment below and I would love to help you change your life too! XO Jess

I've decided to change my life

I know what you’re thinking, it can’t be that easy.  Yes girl, it is just that easy! If you have been reading my blog, you know I wrote a letter to myself for New Years and since we're about half way through the year I could use a little reminder on a few things. The last couple months have been difficult, with work stress and health issues, it has been hard to keep up the happy Jess I usually am. But, I am resilient and strong, and I can do this!.

  • I am the girl who loves the hell out of everything! Everything includes me, I will remember that I deserve rest and care and sometimes I will need to force myself to relax and rest. You cannot pour from an empty cup and I am going to keep mine overflowing!

  • I am going to keep chasing fearlessness without giving any F&%$S if people see me fail. Fear of failure, especially in public has held me back from chasing too many things in my life. But girl, have you ever seen truly successful people hating on someone for trying something new? Nope, and you never will. Go for it!

  • I am saying BYE GIRL, to my lifelong frenemies, control and perfection! Neither of them are serving my higher purpose and I am way to smart to be the only one standing in my way.

  • I am the girl who uses my words, writing, social media and life in general to lift other people up, especially other women. I see so much negativity and hating online and in real life and I am not here for it! I have a talent for building women up, seriously, if you need a reminder of the bad ass woman you are, reach out to me, I got you girl!

  • I am going to demand that others treat me with the respect I give myself or they can go. I am working everyday to be an incredible human and you will give me respect I deserve, I have spent too many years of my life making excuses for other people’s bad behavior, not anymore!

  • I am going to be proud of the things I love, even if you think they are dumb, because being true to myself is more important than your opinion about it.

  • I am going to treat my body like it's something I love, I will make time to eat well and exercise, I will get enough sleep and down time, I will do things that bring me joy.

  • I am going to give myself grace when I make mistakes, I and miss goals. I will remember this is a part of chasing big dreams and excellence, there will be missteps and that just makes me human. No one is expecting perfection, except for me. I am thriving every day!

  • I am going to stay calm when things don't go according to plan. I will remember that chaos doesn’t bring out the best in me or bring more resolutions. Everything is figureoutable, like my girl Marie Forleo says. One step at a time, I got this!

  • I am going to build my family, my team, and my empire. I have big, crazy, amazing goals and dreams and I deserve for every single one of them to become a reality. That only happens when you are brave enough to chase them down, let's do the damn thing, girl!

    Hope this fires you up and inspires you to make your own list! I believe you can change your life, if you change what you think about and what you tell yourself.

    XO Jess

Self Care Redefined

The part of self care that has become really clear for me this year has been evaluating what self care is for me. Most people may not put happy hour in the category of self care, for me, the connection I have with people when we grab a drink and discuss life brings me undeniable joy. Don't underestimate the power of a cocktail and a good friend. Reading a book, playing with makeup, taking photos of my breakfast in perfect lighting. All of these things bring me joy. Those may not work for you, and that is perfectly okay, I highly encourage you to sit down and write out a list of activities that bring you joy and calm, even if they are not what you think they should be.

Rest .... Yes, you have to
Confession-- I struggle with rest. Blame my busy work schedule, packed social calendar, general inability to sit still, or my type A perfectionist heart. I recently listened to Rachel Hollis's podcast about health and she spoke about resting at a higher level. It was illuminating. If you have read this blog at all previously, you know Rach is my Oprah, I love her advice. She was specific to say, you need to rest everyday. Don't wait for the weekend or when "self care" is penciled in on your calendar, you need rest daily. That hit me like a ton of bricks, I have a tendency to save up my rest for Sundays as if I can only have it once a week. She mentioned creating space so that you are prepared to rest. Cut the caffeine, put your screens away, grab a book, have a cup of tea, whatever you need to wind down and here was the shocking part, she suggested to do this 2 HOURS before you want to be asleep. 2 hours? That’s crazy, but you know what, she has a point, I mean who do you know who can calm down on command? Here is more motivation for resting, in case you need it, you cannot create energy without rest. If you are like me and trying to do ALL THE THINGS, you need to rest in order to perform at the level you're reaching for.

Alone Time... No thanks
Time for another confession. I do not really enjoy being alone. Yes it is nice from time to time to have some space, but being alone is not something I prefer. I like to be around other people and energy, especially Germain and my sweet Abby Roo. We haven't been blessed with a little human yet, so maybe I don't truly value the alone time like I will in the future. For now, it gives me anxiety, but I have been trying to embrace it. It's a common known fact that quieting your mind can decrease anxiety and help your overall health, so it's worth powering through some discomfort on my part. So, I keep trying. Meditation is a well known cure for anxiety. Being alone and being still are both difficult for me, so you can imagine how meditation goes, however if I can be disciplined enough to work through it, I do feel a very big difference in my stress and anxiety. I tried something recently that I found interesting, when I am driving alone in the car, I turn off the music or book, or whatever I am listening to. You will immediately become more aware of the other cars around you. Without the lyrics in my head I was able to notice things and be present in the moment. I am not driving around town in pure silence, but if you’re looking for an easy exercise in being more present in the moment, I recommend it.

Stop voting on your emotions
In evaluating self care over the last year, I have been having an internal conversation of what is self care and what isn't. I know what brings me joy and yet, I am voting on whether or not that counts. One of my favorite humans (who happens to be a life coach) taught me not to vote on my emotions. How many times have you said (or heard someone say), I shouldn't feel this way. Just typing it brings tears to my eyes, because I have done this so recently. If you are anything like me, you are holding yourself to a level that is unattainable, and then of course beating yourself up when you don't reach it. Sound familiar? What I am striving for now is to change my self talk, to how I would speak to a friend. I would NEVER beat up a friend for not hitting a goal, especially if I thought it was too high to begin with, my guess is that you wouldn't either. Try being your own best friend in these scenarios, and if you want some help, call me or someone you know who can build you back up!

Adios, comfort zone
2019 practically just started, but my biggest takeaway so far is when you step outside your comfort zone, amazing things can happen. My theme for this year was fearless and I am trying to live up to that promise to myself. Another part of my own unique self care is learning something new. Germain and I recently took a cooking class for his birthday and it was so much fun, we even booked another one next week! I started taking writing workshops, which scares me to death, because despite all the kind words and support for my blog, I am not confident in my writing skills yet, but I am taking some action to get there. I signed up for two different online seminars on blogging and writing, Oh and this past week, I went live on social media for the first time, thank you baby Jesus I had some moral support, but terrified doesn't even begin to cover it! Turns out, it wasn't near as bad as I was making it out to be, I actually had fun. My point is, try something new, or learn something new, jump out of that box you put yourself in and live a little!

I am sure I am not the only one trying to put my self care into a pretty little box! Please leave me a comment and tell me:
What is your unique self care?
Do you struggle with rest or being alone?
Are you voting on your emotions?
What is the last thing you did to get out of your comfort zone?

Who wants a #BreakfastShowdown Recipe?

It never fails, when I post a #BreakfastShowdown pic, I get responses asking about the recipe. I also get responses of "I'll be right over" or "can you adopt me", but the recipe request is a little easier to handle via blog post. The recipe I am sharing below is by far one of my favorite dishes we have ever had! Also, maybe one of the easier dishes we have made too! You can google this and find a bunch of different versions of the recipe.

If we're friends in real life, you know how competitive I can be, but I have to admit, this is probably the best thing that we've had since we started the breakfast showdown! And all the credit goes to Germain on this one! In case you want another fun fact, Germain consistently tells me he is not competing with me, and somehow he wins most of the time. Seriously, scroll back in my Instagram feed and find the Churro Waffles! I am salivating just thinking about them, also his handy work!

A croque madame, in case you have never heard of it (because I had not when Germain made this). Basically, it is a french style sandwich, (we did ours open faced) with ham, cheese and béchamel sauce... how can you go wrong right? When you add in the delicious Serrano ham and asparagus, it tastes like breakfast with the Easter bunny.

**Side note, for the bechamel sauce, you can absolutely make your own or you can get a package that you add milk to from Publix. We often choose option 2 for time reasons. No one wants to wait for breakfast on Sunday morning around our house so sometimes we take shortcuts. If you want to make it from scratch, you do you! Just google that recipe**

Croque Madame

4-6 Slices of your favorite bread (we like wholegrain from the Publix Deli)
4-6 thin slices of your favorite ham (we like Serrano)
1 bunch of asparagus (cut those ends off)
1 cup of Gruyere cheese (grated or shredded will work)
4-6 eggs
Bechamel sauce-- see notes above

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Oven roast the asparagus with a little olive oil to however done you like them
Pop that bread in the toaster or in the oven to toast it up
Place the toast on a cookie sheet
Spread your bechamel on your toast
Lay the ham down, sprinkle a little cheese, add your asparagus, more cheese
Bake or broil until the cheese is brown and bubbling
While that is baking, fry up some eggs for the top of the sandwich, place on top of the sandwich once out of the oven
Serve it up to your very happy friends or family

Hope you love this sneak peek into our favorite Sunday tradition! If you have a favorite recipe we have made or something you want to see us make, leave me a comment below!

What a Baking Show taught me about Friendship

I love cooking competition shows. Whether it is a baking show or those genius chefs on Chopped that can make a whole meal from a can of tuna and cherry gummy candies. Seriously, how do they do that?

Flipping channels one night, I ran across a kid version of my favorite baking competition show. It has the same premise of the grown up version, they give them a flavor profile, a type of baked good and a very short window of time. These kids were in the range of 8-12, which is crazy enough, because I am pretty sure I wasn't even turning on the oven when I was 8, let alone whipping up a wedding cake in my spare time after school.

These kids are incredible, they have these intricate dessert recipes memorized and they come up with crazy delicious treats. One kid even recreated the Mona Lisa on a cookie puzzle. He is 12! I wouldn't even know where to begin to create that! At the end of every one of these shows, someone gets cut, until there is just one winner. Sometimes, the contestant knows it is coming because they screwed up a dish, sometimes they leave in tears because they were so close. Here is where these kiddos got me thinking.

Every time one of the kids get eliminated, ALL of the other kids, literally ALL OF THEM surround the eliminated child with a huge group hug and tell them how awesome they are. Regardless of the fact they are all in competition with each other, they consistently support each other and build each other up. I have never seen the adults on these shows do this. I literally teared up as I watched it. My immediate first thought was, what if adults did this for each other when we have failures?

What if we gave each other all a hug when we're struggling?
What if we all told each other how awesome we are, even when we fail?
What if we felt like the other person always had our back, even in competition?
What if made it a priority to find that kind of support?

"You are the 5 people you surround yourself with" is a saying I have hear ad nauseam. If you have read or even looked into anything self development, you likely have heard this too. Pretty sure this originated from Tony Robbins, who is the king of self development, but I digress. This baking show was the first time I saw a real life portrayal of what this truly means.

As an adult, it can be difficult to find your tribe. We spend so much time trying to be good enough for others, trying not to be judged, trying to fit in. It can be exhausting and heart breaking. There is an old joke about how you're never meeting the real person, you are meeting their representative. I think there is some truth to that, you can know someone for years and all of a sudden they become someone you can't recognize.

My goal for this week is to work on my ability to support and encourage people, even when we are in competition. To try and be that little kid who always gives someone a hug when they are struggling and tells them how awesome they are.

Do you watch cooking shows too? Leave me a comment and tell me your favorite one!

This week:

  • Reading: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont

  • Song on repeat: Better by Kahlid

  • Podcast of the week: Ed Mylett—A Hero’s Promise (watch the You Tube version, SO GOOD)

  • Quote I love: “Reading is a democratic craft. Writing is considered a fine art”

Dear Momma,

It's been two years since you left. Some days it's feels like hours, your absence is palpable enough to take the breath out of my lungs. I keep trying to think of what you would say on those days when I am struggling, I try to hear your encouragement in your voice, that southern twang that makes me smile just thinking about it. While I am sure you are keeping an eye on things, I wanted to tell you about a few things that happened this year.

We sold our childhood home, we worked on fixing it up first and all I kept thinking was how much you would have loved to see it when we were done. I thought it might have been what it looked like when you first saw it, but I know how much work you and Dad did to make it our own. I knew I could never handle living there full time, I mean, how did you survive with all those people and one bathroom? Knowing it was not mine to keep, selling it felt like putting a piece of my heart on the market. Walking through that house in the days before the final paperwork was signed, my memories flooded through and brought tears to my eyes. Driving by the house one last time broke my heart, just knowing I can never hang out in that backyard again. But let's be honest, it hasn't been the same since you and your sweet tea aren't there.

Your wish came true, Momma. I became a voracious reader. I read more than anyone else I know. You told me for years I would be, it was a birth right and turns out, you were right, again! Well guess what, Ma, I took it one step further, I became a writer. While we were cleaning out the house, I found journals with your poetry and it brought me to tears. Those books sat on a shelf in our hallway for decades and I never knew. I wondered why you never told me about it, but I guess you needed something for yourself. Raising three kids and working full time, I am not sure how you fit it in, but I love being able to pick them up and read your thoughts when I want to now. I wish you could read my writing too, I am sure you would be correcting my grammar and telling me how proud you are.

Just a few weeks ago, Will got married, to a gorgeous woman I know we both adore. You and I talked about Will getting married so many times over the years and I don't think either of us thought it would ever happen, turns out he was waiting for the perfect girl and he finally found her. The wedding was absolutely beautiful, and Will looked so happy. I spent a good part of that night holding back tears, because you and Dad weren't there with us. I would have loved to see Dad dancing or you walking Will down the aisle. These moments of joy without you are the hardest, when I can't stop thinking about how unfair it is you were taken so soon. It breaks my heart you couldn't be there with us, but I know you are both such a big part of Will and I. You both would be so proud of how incredible of a man Will has turned out to be.

This year has been beautiful and difficult and as more time goes on I am constantly reminded how much I wish I still had you here with me to help me get through it. What I wouldn't do to pick up a phone and get your advice, get your tough love, breathe in your particular brand of bad ass until I feel it in my veins or get a big hug from you. Momma, I hope you’re proud of the way I kept moving forward and using the strength you gave me to persevere. And I hope you continue to be my inner voice and watch over me. I have got big plans for this future of mine, so stay with me Ma.

I will forever be grateful for the great fortune of being your daughter
Miss you more than you can imagine
Hope you keep watching over me

Love, your baby girl xo

How not to fight with your husband

#RelationshipGoals is how a friend referred to us recently. Germain is actively rolling his eyes with that previous sentence. Annoyance with social media terms aside, I have never considered our marriage as something to envy. To me, we are normal, we argue, we laugh, we buy each other Christmas gifts, we spoil our dog, we're ordinary.

Nevertheless, I often find myself pulling from personal experience to help a friend with a relationship issue. Our relationship is nowhere near perfect, and I am not claiming to be any kind of expert on this. However, more than a decade in and A LOT of hard work, I do have a couple of things I have noted that help us in the day to day.

Quit Trying to be Right
Talk about a life lesson I keep having to learn, and learn again! This applies to every relationship you have in your life, personal or professional and it is so difficult to do. If you are anything like me, being right is a badge of honor. While "winning" the argument might feel like a victory in the moment, you know what it's not giving you? Connection! You do not build trust and love with someone by constantly trying to prove the other person wrong.

You can end an argument real quick if you let go of the win. I'm not talking about being passive aggressive or being the martyr. Ladies, you know what I mean. That sarcastic "Fine. forget about it". Yea, that is not letting go of the win. While we’re at it, let's quit saying we're fine, when we're not, okay? This behavior is just confusing to everyone and it's not making things better. Try pausing in the moment to see if this "win" really is worth the argument you are in.

Take a Breather
Before you go into the battle, take some time to figure out how you want to approach it. Tell me if this sounds familiar, your partner does something that really irritates you and you go from 0 to 60 and you are ready to go to blows. Yep, I feel you girl. You don't need to rush to them to tell them the 100 ways they suck, you need a breather. Find the thing(s) that bring you back down to center, mine are writing, music and my sweet Abby Roo.

After you calm down, you will be able to address the particular issue without losing your cool. I cannot tell you how many times I would completely freak out when the dishwasher was loaded wrong (yep, I am that level of OCD) or dishes are left in the sink. UGH, it's a serious pet peeve of mine. Want to know a secret? The way I was able to get Germain to stop leaving dishes in the sink was to calmly tell him that I really appreciate coming into the kitchen first thing in the morning or when I come home from work and not seeing a mess. The house being clean and organized makes me feel calmer. Spoiler alert, Germain likes me calm, so if it's as easy as putting dishes away, it's a no-brainer for him.

If you get into this situation, whether the argument hasn't started yet or you are in the middle of it, decide to take a breather. The break is critical when things get heated, but don't forget the second part, come back and resolve it. How many times have you taken a break, never to discuss the issue again because you don't feel like going back at it. This was my mode of operation for years, don't do this! You will not solve anything if you keep letting things pile up under that rug. You have to go back to the issue with calm voices and from a place of resolution and compromise. If you can do this you will build a stronger foundation for your relationship and avoid fighting about something months or years later because you never resolved it.

"There was a tone"
Ooooh how many arguments start due to a tone of voice? Everyone knows, it is never what you say, it's how you say it. We have all read a text or email and been upset about the tone. Even though that tone is in your head, because you can't hear the tone from the other person. Side note, I sincerely hope that someone is working on a sarcasm font.

The paragraph above regarding taking a breather helps immensely with this! If you don't immediately react when you're upset, you will change your tone. You will start a discussion, not an argument. That is an important distinction, when you get into an argument, it's human to go into defense mode immediately. Do you think resolution comes from two people in defense mode? Of course you don't. You need two people ready to find a way, not one or both of you looking for the win, or blaming everything on the other person. "You can battle, or you can collaborate. Collaboration is a lot more rewarding."

Sometimes it’s you
I read this incredible quote the other day, "You need to be mature enough to understand that you have toxic traits too, it is not always the other person". Man, that is good! Self awareness will come in super handy in your relationships, actually, life in general. Turning into the victim every time you get into an argument with someone is super easy, you know what is difficult? Looking at the situation and finding where you need to apologize for your actions.

Think back to your most recent argument with your partner, a friend, a co-worker, or someone you care about. Really break down the situation and see if you have some fault. Were you mean when you didn’t need to be? Did you start yelling instead of speaking to them calmly and kindly? I bet you can find something you might not be super proud of. Being honest with yourself and the other person can bring you closer together. We all know someone who plays the victim in every situation and no one wants to be in any kind of relationship with someone who won’t take accountability and apologize when they should.

Team Us
At the end of the day, Germain is my ride or die. I would do anything for him and he would do anything for me. Our relationship is my priority, and it is for him too. It's easy to get caught up in the perfect couple selfies and vacation photos you see on social media. Truth behind a lot of those "perfect" scenes are people who are miserable. Even when I am angry at him, I still know in my gut that he is my person, he is never intentionally trying to make me sad or angry. Intention is the secret sauce my friends, if you can get to a place where you trust the other person's intentions, it will change the game! You will begin to recognize effort and little actions that the other person is doing to make your life better.

No one is perfect, but if you are in it together, you can always find a way. It's not you against them, it's you and them against the problem. Try using that as your mantra and see how things change. Pretty sure by this point, I am getting some serious eye rolls thrown my way. Let me put this caveat on this, you BOTH have to be in it. It is impossible to build a strong relationship trying to show up for both of you.

In case, you are under some crazy impression that Germain and I are unicorns and never had a problem, let me put your mind at ease right now. We were not always like this, we had hard YEARS, yep you read that right, years. Not days, not weeks, not months, we had hard years. We have been through some seriously difficult life landmines. There were times I didn't think we would make it ( I am sure he had the same thought), but now I could not be more proud of the effort we both put towards our relationship and the place we are in now. The truth is, those life issues will be back in the future, life doesn’t stop coming at you, but I feel like we're in a better place now to handle those things as a team.

If you cannot tell already, I am super passionate about this topic. Connection is so important to every human and relationships can be torn apart so quickly. If anything I said above resonated with you I would love if you left me a comment below. And if you have any other great ways you improve your relationships I would love to hear them! At the end of the day., if two people love each other, nothing is impossible, except figuring out what to have for dinner … seriously, I know we’re not the only having that issue

6 Ways to Bust out of your Bad Mood

I truly believe all humans go through seasons, I am willing to bet that I am one of the happiest people you know. That does not mean I am always happy, I go through hard times and heart break just like everyone else. However, I have learned that for one, that it's okay to struggle. It is a human emotion and yet I have found myself beating myself up for being human, anyone else resonate with that?

Here are a few of the ways to bust out of that bad mood and get back to the happy! Tell me yours too so I can add to my list!

Turn up the volume
Music can change your mood in an instant. If I am happy, sad, angry or feeling sassy I have a playlist for that. If you have a library of music or stream your music, you can make this work for you! Find whatever lights you up and play it loud until you feel better! Want to really expedite the results? Get up and dance while you listen, bam new mood on demand!

Get off social media
Oh friends, this one is SO important. More people get super triggered by social media than they would like to admit. Other people's highlight real is sometimes hard to take, especially if you are having a rough day. Do yourself a favor, if today is your not your day, do NOT go compare your life to everyone else carefully edited best life! Close Instagram and open Spotify (see above). Bonus points if you unfollow some accounts that really trigger you to feel bad about the amazing badass you are!

Get silent & meditate
Let's get real with this one, shall we? I still struggle with this one, it is extremely difficult for me to sit, and be silent and still. Sometimes when I do this, my brain starts rolling through the Rolodex of my internal thoughts. (Side note, do people even know what a Rolodex is anymore?) That inner voice gets super chatty when I finally stop. It's annoying and often times I get frustrated and quit. If you can push through all that, you will get to such a peaceful place. If the thought of silence gives you heart palpitations, try finding a scenario that brings on the calm. I love the app Headspace because it offers guided meditations on every subject you can imagine. I also love sitting on my back porch and listening to reggae, I know it's odd, but hey it works for me, don't judge. You can still be still, even if you can't deal with the silence yet.

Phone a friend
Calling one of your people, can change everything. Having someone who truly cares about you hear you out, can be extremely cathartic. Here is the catch, don't just make it a bitch session. Venting is important, but it can go on and on and on. If you want to vent, put a time limit on it, tell that sweet friend that you need 20 minutes to vent and then move on to a happier subject! If they are truly on your team, they will be able to handle it, and if you have a real, true friend, they may even give you feedback that doesn't line up with your line of thinking. If you have a friend like this, hang on to them for dear life, they are truly hard to come by! Super bonus points if they can make you laugh your face off by the end of the convo. To the babes who fill this spot in my life, I freaking adore you!

Passion projects for the win
Find your creative outlet! Maybe your job allows you to be super creative, or maybe, you're like me, and you deal more with reports, numbers and analytical problem solving for a living. Either way, if your current job is not your passion project, you need to figure yours out ASAP! Take some time and find out what lights you up! What can you do for hours and not even notice that you haven't moved or eaten anything. THAT is your thing! For me, that is writing, photography and books. For you, maybe it's baking or gardening or art. Find that thing and watch how it can change your whole life!

Hug your dog
This is listed last, but it's my go to when times get rough! NOTHING in my life fills me with more joy than my sweet Abby Roo! The worst day can be made 100% better by my little ray of sunshine. If you don't have a pet, I would highly recommend one. If you are in my area, you can come squeeze her too! I swear she can make you smile!

7 Best Podcasts for Truth Bombs & Tough Love

I am the biggest book nerd you know, I read A LOT. Sadly, I cannot always have my nose buried in a book, when I am doing other activities but still want to feed my brain I turn to podcasts! Whether you are a podcast lover or have never listened to one, this is the list for you! I am breaking down my top 7 podcasts and a few honorable mentions! Send me your favorite so I can add to my list!

Rise & Rise Together by Rachel Hollis & Dave Hollis
Who is surprised that Rachel Hollis is at the top of my list? Yea, I didn't think so and if one wasn't enough my girl Rach has two podcasts! Talk about doing all the things! Rise is Rachel’s solo show where she is speaking to other girl bosses (mostly) and occasionally a key note of hers. This is hands down my favorite one, I love everything she does and since I cannot be at all the conferences she speaks at, I can still soak up all that goodness for free in my yoga pants! Rach, you’re my girl!
Rachel and Dave also do a couples podcast called Rise Together and if you are a fan of their morning show every weekday morning on social media you will love this one too! In case you don’t know that reference, go to IG or Facebook and search Rachel’s page, it’s hilarious. They go over all things relationship and #marriage, and they have incredible guests as well, this one is so great if you are looking for real life advice on how to do all the things!

The School or Greatness by Lewis Howes
This is one of the first podcasts I started listening to so this is part of my OG crew. Lewis has a really cool story of starting as an athlete, ending up leaving due to an injury, and lived on his sisters couch and being broke to where he is now. He has really cool guests from all kinds of backgrounds, but more than that he is a great storyteller and gets raw and real with the good and bad which I truly love. He has been so open and honest about some of the most painful experiences in his past and he exudes pure love and joy, he is worth a listen!

Ed Mylett Show by Ed Mylett
Who loves some tough love, yep me too girl, you will love Ed Mylett! He is an entrepreneur, author, public speaker, and performance expert. He has a wide variety of guests who are making an impact in the world. I devour these episodes every time they come out! Every single time I listen I find a mic drop moment. I also really appreciate how he connects with his fans on social media, I posted one of his recent episodes on my IG stories and he sent me a personalized response that was so kind! That is a true leader and someone every one should listen to! Seriously, go subscribe, I will wait.

The Growth Tribe -- Ellyn Schinke
The Growth Tribe is one of the newest podcasts I have found and quickly becoming one of my favorites! Where are my fellow perfectionist at!? Yes girl, this one is for you! Ellyn is talking about burn out, false beliefs, and fear of failure, all the tough stuff! She has a cool story about completely changing course after dropping out of her PHD program to pursue a life she loves. She gets raw and real and has some incredible guests who are insanely successful giving you the truth behind all the pretty pics on social media.

Empower Her by Kacia Fitgerald
This saucy lady is becoming one of my favorites, she has the most energy I have ever heard in another human, seriously I wish she would bottle it and sell it! I have followed her on Instagram for a while and she recently started a podcast a few months ago and it’s quickly growing. The podcast is really inspiring and she brings some serious truth bombs!! She has some really cool guests on the podcast and she goes solo, and I cannot decide which ones I like best! Plus she has the cutest pup ever named Lizzie who is basically Abby Roo's blonde twin so please check out her IG for that sweet extra!!

Real Talk with Rachel Luna
Truth bombs for the win! Anyone else realizing there is a theme of truth bombs and tough love in all the podcasts I listen to? Any how, I digress, this amazing queen is all about the real reel! She is an author, coach, mom, wife, woman of faith, all the things! She has a fantastic mix of mindset and business show topics. She also has an amazing Instagram and she also always responds and somehow she even remembers everyone she interacts with! That is a talent I need in my life! Take it from me, and become a loyal lunatic today!

The Joy Junkie Show-- Amy E. Smith
This is my OG podcast, the very first one I started listening to when I opened the podcast app and it changed the game for me! I have had the absolute pleasure of meeting the host, Amy in real life— hugging her, laughing with her and being coached by her! She is a firecracker, and gives you real life, tangible tools and tricks to help with all things mindset! She has the best kind of tough love backed up by a coaching certification, basically my friends she is the real deal! As the intro states she is a an all around badass! She has shifted how I see my whole life, changed the way I process difficult times, honed awareness as my super power and revolutionized the way I communicate with Germain. Amy, if you happen to read this, I freakin love you lady, thank you for making my life better!

A few more honorable mentions because I have a long lists of favorites:
The Tim Ferris Show by Tim Ferris-- Tim is also part of my OG crew and holy moly if you have not read any of his books, put him on your list! He asks amazing questions on his podcasts and the Tools of Titans and Tribe of Mentors have got to be two of my favorite books!
Super Soul by Oprah--I mean come on, it's Oprah! If you are a fan of Super Soul Sunday, you will love this one!
Art of Charm by AJ Harbinger & Johnny Dzubak-- these gentlemen are great and I stumbled upon them when I was searching for something else. They have themed episodes for a month and such great guests! I learn something new every time I listen.

Surrender & Sick Days

As I am writing this I am struggling with a cold, and this is extra annoying because I rarely get sick, the last sick day I took was over a year ago, that’s how seldom this occurs. Germain was travelling for work last week and brought home a monster cold that took him down for a week straight and he was so kind to share it with me. Thanks babe. *insert eye roll*

Being completely transparent, I am NOT a good patient, if you read any of my story before you know I am a *recovering* type A, perfectionist, people pleaser so getting sick really doesn't play well with those other traits. As I lay in bed, unable to breathe through both nostrils at the same time, unable to stop coughing, begging this fever to go away, I am thinking about the work piling up, the emails going unread and filling up my inbox and all the things I had planned to get done this week moving farther down the list because I cannot do them.

Does this sound familiar to anyone else? I am literally sick in bed and all I can think about are the items not getting checked off my to do list, instead of resting and healing. Finally went to see the doctor and while she wanted me to take the rest of the week off, rest and not spread germs to the whole office, I negotiated with her to let me work from home instead of taking the time completely off. Seriously, I have issues, please send Germain good vibes trying to take care of me and keep me resting for the remainder of this week.

This experience started me thinking about rest and how I really struggle to take it. On weekends when I have downtime or nothing to do, I will find something, anything to keep me busy. I will do laundry, fold towels, dust my bookshelves, straighten up the house, fluff couch pillows, literally anything to keep from sitting still. I desperately want to be one of those people who can truly rest and relax but if I am being honest it's a struggle for me. Our culture celebrates busy-ness and exhaustion, you see empowering quotes everywhere about hustling, grinding, late nights, and early mornings, even this blog was born due to getting up at 5am during the busiest month of my whole year at work. A fact that I am quite proud of, for accomplishing a dream and being bigger than my excuses. But where is the line from hustle to fatigue?

While I know this cold came from all the airplane germs that Germain dragged home with him, I wonder if my immune system was just waiting for something like this to come along.To force my body to rest and heal, to take the choice away from me and my subconscious default to keep pushing myself long after I should. I am the person that will just keep pushing, never raise my hand for help, never let anyone see me struggling. But when you're sick, it's hard to keep that facade going, hard to hold that line when you can't breathe and a fever is keeping you glued to your mattress.

So I surrender, I am letting my body call the shots and if it needs rest, that is what I will give it. Make no mistake, this is the more difficult choice for me, I would rather push through and clear that inbox. However today I am taking my own advice, I often tell my team you need to rest and take care of yourself so you can be 100% when you are in the office. Right now, I am probably at 20% and I would do no one any good so you win body. Rest, fluids, Abby Roo snuggles and maybe a hot toddy just because I can.

Please send your good vibes for a speed recovery and at home remedies if you have them because I cannot wait to be back to 100%.

I am not good enough...

This could be my autobiography title for the last few years, I know I am not alone. Most women, even the most successful women you know spend time thinking, or worse, saying out loud, that they are not good enough. Not smart enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, successful enough, the list goes on and on.

Let me break this down for you, in case you are the unicorn woman that never struggles with this issue. I am insanely good at my job, that probably sounds cocky or arrogant, but I promise you it's not. It's due to working my tail off to get there. It's building on my skills and working hours and hours on mastering my craft and my mindset. I am nowhere near perfect, but I am damn good. Even knowing that in my bones, I leave my job after working 12+ hours and think, "I didn't do enough". I drive home on the verge of tears or all out sobbing because it wasn't enough, I am not enough. Seems crazy, right? I agree, but nevertheless, this is a real thing, that has happened more times than I can count. Getting to a place of acceptance and pride is a journey, not a destination, you are never going to get to a place where you don't struggle from time to time, the below are practices I like to remember when things start to unravel.

Failure is the worst F word
I can think of no worse feeling for me (recovering perfectionist and people-pleaser) than the thought of failing or letting people down. Just the thought of it could bring tears to my eyes or make me nauseous. I frequently come home and express to Germain that I am so worried about failing, failing at my job, failing my team who depends on me, failing at being a good wife, etc. He does this magical thing anytime I am in this tail spin, he let's me vent (and some times this goes on for longer than it should) and then he asks "what does the failure you are talking about look like". Side note, if you want to be an amazing partner or friend, ask this question and let someone unpack their biggest fear. I respond and tell him what failure in the situation looks like in my mind, and then he says "ok, is all or any of that likely to happen"? Spoiler alert, the answer is almost always no, because of course, I prepare for those contingencies in advance and in some cases I am just being very dramatic. It is crazy what you can create in your mind as the worst possible scenario that will never actually occur.

How’s this for irony, do you know what the world's greatest teacher is? Failure! You will learn so much more and gain far more experience if you try things that do not work out. If I really slow down, take a breath, and think about how I got to where I am now, it was from failing forward for the last few years and getting back up. Knowing all of this, it is still something I fear, when you break that all down, I realize, I shouldn't be avoiding fear or hiding it, I should be all out chasing it and proudly showing the world what I messed up and what I am trying next. Failure is proof you are trying and it's truly only failure if you don't learn how to do it better.

Gratitude and grace
Two things that can help more than anything else are gratitude and grace. (having a crazy supportive spouse is a seriously close third) You cannot be angry or fearful when you are in gratitude. Seriously, try this next time you get mad, annoyed or scared (also works like a champ if you cannot sleep) start going through the alphabet with what you are grateful for, doesn't have to be elaborate, for example A is always Abby Roo for me, B is for Blogging, you get the idea. I always begin my day with writing down what I am grateful for as well and it's a great way to set the tone for your day. This practice has also taught me to intentionally look for things I am grateful for during my day. You can find almost anything to be grateful for, even the smallest things if you try. Let me give you a real life example, if you follow me on social media (and if you don't, please click the links and follow me!) you know I am mildly obsessed with photography, one of the things I found when I was looking for gratitude is the light in our living room in the middle of the afternoon. Seriously, this is something I am grateful for. I love to take photos, especially of my husbands amazing cooking and this light is life changing for taking photos in my favorite place, our home!

Ahh and grace, this is the more difficult of the two, at least for me, but man is this one powerful. Giving yourself some space to make mistakes, spoiler alert friends, I struggle with this, BIG TIME. Generally, I give myself zero room for mistakes, I expect perfection all the time from myself. I have learned to give others grace, and when I am asked for advice or my girls vent to me I can give a phenomenal pep talk, I can build you up like no one else, but for myself, not so much. Allow yourself to make a mistake, allow yourself to feel sad or mad, allow yourself to be a human. I read recently about a great practice of speaking to yourself like you are your own best friend. If your best friend came to you with the problem you are currently facing, would you tear her down and speak all that hate you're speaking to yourself? Of course not, you would remind her that she is an incredible, amazing, bad ass and she can do anything or have anything she wants. That she's so deserving and you will do anything you can to support her while she chases her dreams. Where is all that love and kindness for yourself? As cliche as it sounds, I think it's about time we all start being our own best friends and see how that changes things.

Feeling like I belong here
It is easy for me to fall into impostor syndrome, before I started this blog, I had a million reasons why I shouldn't and one of the biggest was, who am I to write? I am not a writer, why would anyone want to read what I write? I have no clue what it means or how to be a blogger. Guess what friends, all of those things are still a little bit true in my mind. As we have learned from the above, try breaking these down. Do you know what makes you a writer? WRITING! That's it, just writing, which I do all the time and have done for years and years before anyone was reading it! I had it in my mind, that unless you are a well known author with books on every shelf, everywhere, you are not a writer, and I have come to realize that is just a story I made up. I still don't know how to be a blogger, but I am learning new things everyday, seemed easy at the time I was just talking about it and now I see the work that goes into it, the funny thing about passion projects is that you can "work" on it for hours and not feel like you are working! Why would anyone want to read what I write? this is something I think about, and yet people keep reading every time I post. The truth is, I am writing about my real life, this topic you are reading is not easy to put out there, but I know in my soul that I am not the only woman I know struggling with failure and not feeling good enough. Truthfully when I get responses from other women and I get that feeling of "girl, me too" that is so damn powerful to me, that is true community, knowing you are not the only one, can change a persons life. The feeling of being seen and heard and feeling like we belong is something we all have in common. If I can start one conversation or be the reason one woman doesn't feel like she is alone in the world, this will all be worth it..

Being completely transparent with you, this is a daily learning experience, but I am actively seeking ways to be fail forward, have gratitude and give myself more grace. I am learning to be my own best friend and help other women do the same. Leave me a comment and let me know what you’re struggling with, chances are I can respond and tell you “Girl, me too!”

Dear Jess

New Year’s is by far my favorite holiday! Don’t get me wrong, I love Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I am a girl who loves a fresh start! New Year’s is like a clean slate to get anything want! Do you take time and reflect on how far you’ve come and where you want to go? Full disclosure, I have not always been good at this. This year I am determined to be better. If you aim for nothing, you will hit it every time. So today my friends, I am starting a plan. Before we get to that, I wanted to take a little time to reflect and see how far I have come (another practice, I am not so great at). So here is the letter to myself for 2018. I hope you take the time to reflect and plan, let me know what your biggest takeaway from 2018 was and what you plan to focus on in 2019! Happy New Years to everyone who reads this, as this blog was a goal for 3 YEARS and it finally became a reality this year!

Dear Jess,

Hey there love! I know you've been struggling, you've been under a mountain of pressure that you have been building for years. An expectation of perfection that no one can obtain. Trying every day to figure out how to make miracles happen and make it look flawless while you do it. Never letting anyone in on the secret, holding it together in public and completely falling apart in private. It took a while, but you finally figured out this is not the way. Progress is wayyyyy better than perfection. Being real is relatable and is truly the foundation of amazing relationships

You want to be the perfect wife-- no such thing and Germain doesn’t want perfect, he wants you!
You want to be the perfect boss-- doesn't exist, but truly caring about your team is powerful and attainable!
You want everything to be done the "right way"-- nope, try again girl. There isn’t one right way, stay open!
You want the perfect house-- Ha, girl you are funny! You have a gorgeous home that is truly lived in and that’s way better than perfect, it’s warm and happy!

This year was all about learning, you learned you are worth more, you know you can do hard things, and come out stronger! Even with how amazing things are, you deserve more and you are finally okay with that. You know that it’s okay to desire more, and still be grateful for everything you have.

You deserve a big life
You deserve an exceptional marriage
You deserve a work environment that celebrates who you are
You deserve people around you who see how amazing you are
You deserve a life that makes you feel whole and worthy as you are
You deserve to take a break and just breathe when you need to

2017 absolutely shattered you, losing your mother was the most painful thing you have gone through in a long time, you lost who you were in your grief. You stopped taking care of yourself and buried yourself in work, your social life and anything that would mask the pain or help you avoid it. I know it’s hard to hear that, but just know that you needed to go through that to grow in the way you did.

2018 rebuilt you, you learned more this year than ever before about yourself, about leadership, about community, about marriage, about life. You learned how to really support yourself and what you need. You were intentional about improving your life, about being present, about inspiring others and staying positive through all of it. You got promoted after years of working your tail off to get it. You launched your blog and started building a community and really sharing your heart in a vulnerable way. Looking back, it’s kind of incredible how far you have come in just 12 short months.

The last two years for you have been the most difficult and beautiful of your life so far. You have survived (and thrived) through unimaginable loss, and stayed humble while smashing goals. The highs and lows have been massive. As if that wasn’t enough, today you have a brand new year to keep growing and reaching from the strength you gained from all that life experience! I am so excited to see what you can do in 2019, you have unlimited potential and you can have everything you want. Take some time to breathe, and really reflect on how much progress you have made, remember your lessons, celebrate your successes and get ready to take on a brand new year!

You got this, girl! Do it FEARLESSLY!
Love you to the moon and back babe
xo, Jess

Along came an Abby…


If you know anything about me, you know I have a slight obsession with my sweet puppy, Abby. Alright, alright slight is a lie, I am all out crazy dog Momma for this babe! Below are some of the ways she teaches me how to be a better version of me. It's truly an honor to be her Momma, and my fellow dog mom's will really enjoy this one!

Who saved who?
If you don't know the story, let me give you the cliffs notes of how Abby came to be a part of our family! I had my previous dog, Roxy for almost 15 years, she was my absolute everything, I went through some of the hardest years of my life with that sweet angel by my side. I even had her before I met Germain and of course he quickly fell in love her too (Germain is like Dr. Doolittle, all the dogs love him!). When we lost Roxy, we were both gutted, it was as if all the sunlight was pulled out of our home. Germain was ready before I was to get a new dog, but I refused, over and over again. I didn't want to replace her, and if I was really being honest I was so heartbroken that I wasn't sure I wanted to put myself through it again. But we are dog people, if you have ever met any, so I let him practically drag me to an adoption event swearing we were not getting a dog that day! While waiting, Abby's foster mom walked by me with Abby sleeping on her shoulder and friends, I was a goner. I walked straight to her pen, didn't even look at another dog (and there were hundreds!) and she was ours in 15 minutes! She is the wildest and sweetest little babe you can have ever met (kinda like her Momma!) and she completely changed my life for the better.


Chase your goals... and squirrels
Abby is OBSESSED with squirrels, to my relief, she has yet to catch one but she spends hours in our backyard running around and watching the squirrels jump from tree to tree, and sprinting along the fence line. Abby has laser focus on these squirrels, it doesn't matter what else is going on. If there is food, other dogs, absolutely anything else, doesn't matter, she cannot be distracted from this mission! On the mornings she is up before the sun and whining to go outside to see them, I don't find this trait adorable, but when I think of it outside of that context I am amazed. She is such a great example of staying focused and chasing something you really want, even if it always seems outside of your reach! Her perseverance is something I plan to replicate in my own life in the new year! Scratch that, I am starting now! Who needs a new year for better habits!?


Zero F#$KS Given
Abby has no shame, that's probably true of most dogs but hey we're focusing on my baby today! Abby inspires me because she literally does not care what anyone thinks of her, even her parents. She obsesses over the squirrels, sleeps on our pillows, spits out the cookies she doesn't like because she knows we will give her the ones that are her favorites. (Side note, this is a a real thing and she ends up eating all of them, but she wants them given to her in a certain order, DIVA! ). She literally prances around the house like she owns the place, because let's get serious, she does! It's her world, we just live in it. Anytime I find myself getting caught up in what others think, I am going to ask myself what would Abby do? She would spit out the cookie and keep chasing the squirrels!

Take your rest days
Abby is the most energetic being I have ever been around, she seems to have endless energy that starts super early in the morning! While it seems like she is non stop, I noticed recently that when she rests, she is O.U.T. This dog let's nothing get in the way of her rest. She can find a quiet spot anywhere, she curls up into a tiny ball and snoozes for an hour or two. Germain and I refer to it as "reloading", because when she gets up, she is right back to the wild Abs we know and love! She also has a pretty strict schedule, Abby is asleep by 8-9pm every night, we literally have to wake her to take her out at the end of the night. If I think about it, she gets up so early because she is getting about 9-10 hours a sleep a night and even naps in the day! Hello, can I please have her life? Rest is important and if you are anything like me, you completely ignore that last statement most of the time. I make all kinds of excuses not to rest and even when I do take a day to "rest", I end up and finding things to do pretty much immediately. Just imagine what I could do if I actually gave myself permission to really rest and recharge. Abby is a good reminder, that if I allow myself to rest, I can also go at 100 when I am moving through the day! So next time you feel guilty for your day in bed with Netflix, remember you need to reload too!


Be the light
One of the best and most important things that Abby has taught me over the last couple years is to bring the joy to my everyday life. I credit her for helping to pull me out of the deep grief I was in when I lost my previous dog, and if once wasn't enough, she performed that miracle again when I lost my mom about 6 months after we adopted Abby. Being in her presence changes my whole mood, even just talking about her puts me in a better mood. Full disclosure, one of my closest co-workers and friends uses Abby as a reference when I am really irritated about something and it works like a charm every time! Abby is never in a bad mood, ever, she always runs to greet me with her huge smile and she is so excited to see me. She is pure sunshine and it is my goal to be that for the people in my life. There is so much negativity and stress in life, who's life could you change just being the light?


To my sweet Abby Roo, thank you for challenging me, unconditionally loving me, keeping me on my toes and being the brightest light in my life! I am so damn lucky to be your Mom, the starts aligned when the universe put you and I together my sweet love! Momma loves you to the moon and back and I am looking forward to many more wild and happy years with you my darling girl xo

P.S. Adopt, don't shop!

Gratitude & Getting up early

I have been reading about morning routines for about 3 years.  Every personal development book I have ever read mentions this practice, and most of the wealthiest people in the world swear by their morning routines.  When I first heard of this idea, the elaborate mornings of some people would never ever ever fit into my schedule. I procrastinated from ever starting one because I thought it wasn’t something that was available for me.  But guess what? It doesn’t have to be complicated or take a lot of time. Turns out, it can literally be whatever you want it to be.

Early Bird

Let’s start with the elephant in the room, shall we? This is the part of building a morning routine that makes everyone hesitant. First thought, man do I have to get up at 5am? For me, that answer was yep.  For you it may not be the same. I truly believe to make this something successful that sticks, it has to be your own. For me, it starts at 5am, for you it may start at 9. And I will pretend that starting at 9 that doesn’t make a tiny bit jealous, by 9, I have already been at work for 90 minutes by then. When I wanted to start a morning routine, I knew part of it would be getting up even earlier than I was because of the hours I work in my day job. As you can imagine, this thought was not exciting to me, but I thought if you want to really give it a shot, you are going to have to make a change. I started slow, first 6:30 am then 6am and now I am at 5am. Let’s talk about the benefits of 5am! Most people are not up at that hour, you are not getting texts, calls, emails, err distractions. Full disclosure, Germain and I do not have children yet, so it’s beyond silent in our home at that hour as well.  The hubby is sleeping, the puppy is sleeping. It’s just me, my gratitude and wifi. My advice is find a time that works for you, if it’s 5am or 2pm, gratitude works at all times of the day!

Keep calm and stay hydrated

I’m talking about H20, girl! Before I get any mean messages, take a breath y'all, I love coffee as much as the next girl.  But hear me out on this one. I used to drag myself out of bed after hitting the snooze button multiple times like it was my part time job.  Exhausted and with my eyes barely open I would make a cup of coffee. If that’s you, I feel you girl. Now, I don’t hit snooze, get up fairly easily and I will either drink hot lemon water or a really large ice water.  I like both equally, depends on what I wake up craving. Drinking water first thing in the morning has a lot of health benefits. If you are not already aware of the health benefits, here are a few, a serving of vitamin C (from the lemon), flushing of toxins, helps with digestion and even helps fight a cold.  All that is amazing, but none of those are why I like it. Personally, drinking water first thing, feels like hitting a reset button. I know it’s not really undoing any damage (thank you Sauvignon Blanc), but that’s what it feels like and I love it. If you are skeptical, try it out and let me know your thoughts.

Gratitude is always the right decision

It’s tough to be angry, frustrated or sad when you are thinking about what your grateful for.  There is something about writing out multiple things you are grateful for every morning that changes the whole trajectory of your day.  Sounds crazy, right? It’s too simple, I know, but give it a shot. I use two journals, one is the 5 Minute Journal and I cannot say enough good things about it It is laid out with simple questions as journal prompts to help you think about what you are grateful for and it seriously only takes 5 minutes and if you are as a busy as I am, you know how important those time pockets of time can be (I have linked it below if you want to purchase one!). The other one is the Start Today Journal by the Hollis Co, it is another simple layout design and takes minutes, but is so powerful, and let’s be real I love everything that Rachel Hollis does! See the book recommendation for her book!

You never know who you are inspiring

While I didn't invent the morning routine or claim that mine is the best there is, I have seen how coming up with my own plan has inspired friends and those who follow me on social media to try out their own. I read about morning routines for years before I even thought I could actually have one that was mine all mine. I have shared these details with a few people who have now created their own version and it’s working for them! More people are watching you than you think, when you start a positive habit, others will do it, even after watching you. If you have a morning routine you love or this has inspired you start one, leave me a comment below and tell me all about it!

Here’s what my current routine looks like:

  • Use keurig to make hot lemon water or just drink it iced -

  • Complete my 5 Minute Journal—

  • Read daily page from The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman-- highly recommend—

  • Total time: 7 minutes

  • *Sometimes an additional 2 minutes for IG worthy photo of above

Lessons from Momma

There are no words for the experience of losing a parent. There is no manual, or guidebook, or coach to help you figure out how to move forward in life without the people who raise you.  With the holidays in full effect now, I took some time to reflect on everything I have learned and realized after losing the most important woman in my life. The words below are some of the life lessons I have collected since I lost my Momma about a year and a half ago.

The dead parents society

There’s a club and you’re now a member — oh and by the way, you never wanted to join it. On the plus side, the other people in the club, understand you on a cellular level that cannot be articulated in words. You will listen to the others explain their heartbreak and you will think “me too” and you will be able to mean it. It’s not a nice sentiment, it’s a bond. You will think about the club members at the holidays and when you see the remembrance or birthday posts on social media of how old they would’ve been. Even if you don’t speak at all, you will send them love and strength, because you know that feeling of loss better than anyone else

Southern girl style

I’ve always liked entertaining, from the moment I had my first apartment I wanted my house to be the house everyone wanted to be at. My home now is practically a shrine to the legacy of my Momma and Mamaw. Fierce, independent, southern women who had that magic touch of hospitality that only true southern woman possess. Being in their homes made you feel like family, whether you were blood or not. Filing my dining room table with plates of food and surrounding my friends and family with love (and carbs) gives me a better high than any drug. That trait was absolutely ingrained in me by my mother, no one could host a holiday like her. The food was always delicious, the presentation was always perfect and she always made you feel like family even when you weren’t. She was the master, I am still learning from her, even after losing her.

Book nerd in training

Momma was an avid reader, she had a tiny room in her house she referred to as “the library”. It was a running joke for years in our family, as that “library” was just a back bedroom with a bunch of IKEA bookshelves that were so full the shelves were all warped in the middle. Nevertheless, I know it made her proud to say it, and she read everything. All genres and authors, and boy did she know facts about everything. Watching Jeopardy with her was brutal because she knew the answer before Alex even got the question out. I was never a reader as a child, but as an adult I cannot consume books fast enough. She always told me one day I would understand and I would become a reader too, once again Momma was right! If you want to see me light up like a Christmas tree, just ask me for a book recommendation.

Taking for granted how much I consulted with her on everything  

How to deal with stress at work or how long to cook a hard boiled egg, she knew everything. Momma was my personal google. My momma was my touchstone, my confidant, my role model and my biggest cheerleader. She had a fascinating life, but it certainly wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows. She had perseverance and strength that was unparalleled. I watched her raise three kids, work full time, cook dinner every night, make magic every holiday, lose her own mother and father and the love of her life (my father) and manage to always keep her head held high. She was more than a woman, wife and mom, she was a force to be reckoned with. There are so many women I know terrified of turning into their mothers, I hope I turn out exactly like mine.

Grief comes in waves

It knocks you down in ways you won’t see coming. The smallest moments will send you over the edge and you won’t know how to climb out. The smell of her perfume, a song from your childhood, a Mother’s Day commercial, even nothing at all will have you crying your eyes out. Anytime I think I have the grief under control (pause for ridiculous statement, grief is not something you can control) I am reminded that you never get over losing your Mom. I am sad to say I have lost both parents and losing my Dad was the most brutal pain and I miss him more than words can express, but losing my Mom changed me in a different way. In death, we often turn people into icons, forgetting their faults. I haven’t forgot where my mom fell short, but I do see now how she lived in her truth and inspired the woman I am today. This quote sums it up better than I can, “There is something about losing your mother that is permanent and inexpressible-- a wound that will never heal” Susan Wiggs

This post was not meant to bring you down, make you feel sad or sympathy for me.  This was a reminder that sometimes you do not get to keep people as long as you want to. I hope that you are inspired to call your mom, or better yet go visit her and give her a big hug.  I would do anything to hug mine.


I’ve been keeping a secret....

For like 3 years...maybe longer. As I am typing this I am scared AF! This secret is getting closer and closer to being out in the world.  In fact, if you’re reading this, the secret is out. Perhaps you think I am being dramatic, maybe you’re right. For me, thinking about my journal entries (or things I couldn’t even write before) suddenly becoming public to all of the internet, I get a little nervous. But let’s take a leap and see what happens.

For a while I told NOBODY, not even Germain (that’s my husband, for those of you who don’t know.) Then I let it slip out as a “joke” after a few cocktails with my girlfriends, they would always respond with something in the realm of “OMG you should totally do that”.  Recently, I told a group of incredibly supportive women, it was received so well and they were beyond kind in their feedback. But let’s be honest, I had no accountability to them, it was a safe place to speak it and not have to take any action.

Fast forward to me sending this secret to some of my trusted friends asking for help (shout out to creating my very own mastermind). The feedback brought me to tears (of happiness). Sometimes you just don’t see how others view you until you ask. (Side note, if you need a boost to your self confidence, ask people who absolutely adore you to tell you how they would describe you).  I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all the people who leaped onto Team Jess without hesitation. Even with all the love and support the universe is throwing my way, it’s still a scary thing to take all of your inner monologue and give the internet a front row seat. As we begin, I sincerely hope you will join me, here are a few of my thoughts on the process of getting this started.

Permission to suck

This is my first topic because I struggled with it for so dang long, full disclosure, this is still a HUGE issue for me.  For those of you who do not know me well, I am a type A perfectionist (in recovery!). This means I do not want to do anything in life that is not seen as absolutely amazing… aka perfect.  If there is even an inkling that I may not completely rock something, I am more than likely not going to even try it. Sound familiar to anyone? Yep, you are my people, welcome babe!

There are a lot of benefits to this trait, we’re typically high performers and achievers, when we do throw ourselves at anything, we usually knock it out of the park.  We are busy working like hell to make it look effortless, heaven forbid we let someone see us struggle, or be the newbie and figure things out. And ask for help? Not a chance! So why do we chase some things at full speed and completely avoid others if this is the case? I believe that it’s because we do not give ourselves full out permission to suck at something.  So this is my official permission to myself to suck at this.

Haters gonna hate

Someone (maybe more than one someone) will not like you. OUCH! Ooh did I forget to mention I have a side of people pleasing with that perfectionism, yep it’s full plate people. You will always have haters (ALWAYS), there will always be someone one who doesn’t like you, doesn’t like something you did, doesn’t like how you handled something, the list goes on endlessly.  

If you have people pleasing tendencies, this is like a knife to the heart, but girl, it’s so dang true. And do you know what you can do about it? Not a dang thing! Feel better? Yea, I know, me neither.  Now that we have accepted that, let’s move on to the part I choose to focus on. While you will have some people hating on everything you do, my theory is that those people have nothing of their own that they are creating so they have a ton of free time to criticize you.  Ever met a hater doing better than you? Yea girl, me neither so don’t let them dictate how you grow. Just keep shining your crazy bright light, even if there are people who don’t like the light being in their eyes.

Stay in your lane

Did you know there are 152 million blogs in the world… 152 MILLION.  SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! Type A Jess’s head just exploded. Whenever I start something new, I look around to see who else is doing it and doing it well.  A couple clicks on Google and you will find out there are 152 million blogs, and you will need to find your niche, find a way to stand out, create the most incredible photos and the prettiest blog there ever was, no pressure, right?

I bet you forgot after you read that crazy number (like I did) that I already got permission to suck two paragraphs above. Putting that all the pressure up on a shelf, I am choosing to stay in my own lane.  Put my blinders on, speak my truth and keep it moving. There a ton of people who also do my day job career and does that make me any less amazing? Nope, it sure doesn’t! There are a ton of incredible blogs out there, but do you know what they don’t have? A #HappyJess!

Maybe it will be amazing

Moving on from what scares the crap out of me, lets at least mention the fact that this might actually be an unimaginable experience. I have an incredibly demanding career that I love and I wanted to do this to give myself a creative outlet that also allows me to find my people.  I know I am not the only one who is a corporate hustler by day, fierce dog momma, proud southern girl, whiskey enthusiast, amateur photographer, wifey, sister, boss lady, and loyal friend…. I am multi passionate and I know there are others out there. So, if this resonates with you, come along with me. I’ll bring the sassy comments and open heart, you bring the snacks, and maybe a cocktail.

“Even if you go for it and it doesn’t work out, you still win. You had the guts to head straight into something that scared you. That type of bravery will take you places”

Here we go….

xo Jess