The unexpected pivot

It’s only August, but already I’m dreading the start of a new year. Why? Because every single year, I hear someone say, “This year will be better than the last!”

Will it though?

Unless you’ve had the absolute worst year of your life (so very sorry if that’s the case), every year something bad happens. 

Every year, we all go through trials and tribulations that shake us to our core and sometimes even make us want to escape and start over on January 1. But that’s life, babe.

I can’t remember the last time I had a year where nothing bad happened. Every year, someone passes away, I’ve gone through a bad breakup, been faced with a troubling financial crisis (oh hey, student loans), or in 2019’s case, got let go from a job I loved. 

I’ll be honest, getting let go from my job is probably the hardest obstacle I’d had to face. It’s stressful, heartbreaking, confusing, scary, and financially straining all at once. I’m an Aries and I do not do well with uncertainty. It freaking terrifies me. If someone were to say:

“Justine, you’re going to be fired today, but don’t worry, you’ll find a job doing XYZ withing X amount of time.”

I’d be like

“GREAT! Sucks, but thanks for informing me so I can get a plan together and anticipate my next move!”

But life doesn’t work that way so I’ve been forced to unexpectedly pivot. Did I ugly cry, wallow, and drink way too much red wine with my girlfriends? You betcha!

Then the very next day, I took myself to the beach, applied for 10 jobs, reached out to every contact I had, and secured 7 interviews for the following week. Then, forced myself to go to a Barre 3 class, showered and got dressed, and did laundry (I even freaking folded it while it was still warm from the dryer!). 

As much as I truly am terrified and want to sit on the couch and binge-watch TV, I know for the sake of my own sanity, I need to pivot my life and redirect my path. That job was not the path for me. To be honest, I looked back at my journal and remembered that while I loved my job, I was feeling unappreciated for about 4 months. So clearly, this was the universes way of forcing me to get out of my own way and pursue a career that I want with a company that appreciates me.

But that can’t happen unless I make moves. And I’ll add that every single interview is for a job that’s not in the field I was in, but in the field, I want to be in so this is all happening without much “experience.”

My point of telling you all this is because no matter what you’re grieving– the loss of a loved one, a relationship, a job, a part of your health– life is going to throw these moments at us where we’re forced to pivot the path we were on and discover something new.

It’s a time for us to really think about what we want and go for it. So if you’re in a moment where you’re forced to pivot and you’re struggling with where to start, try this:

Write down 3 things you’re grateful for. This can literally be the Cheerios you had for breakfast.

Write down 3 things you want. Don’t be afraid to reach for the stars here. If you want it, it can be yours.

Write “Wouldn’t it be awesome if __________________?” Examples:  Wouldn’t it be awesome if I met a tall, handsome man who loved and appreciated me for who I am?” “Wouldn’t it be awesome if I made $60,000 per year by the end of 2019?”

Always remember, you’re not going through this alone. We all face these moments in life and sometimes they can lead to the most beautiful places.

XOXO
– J

P.S. I’ll keep you guys posted on what actually happens to me but right now I am interviewing for my DREAM JOB at my DREAM COMPANY and I am manifesting the sh*t out of this job offer! Stay tuned! 

Fear of failing

The early stages of starting my own business.

I always knew that I would have a creative career. When I grew up, I wanted to be “an artist.” In Elementary and middle school, I couldn’t wait to get to art class and I would even do art assignments for my friends who didn’t want to do their own. I took every art class my high school and college offered, including A.P. art- which I passed.

Now, I work as a writer and Multimedia Producer for a media company which I love. But, something still seems to be missing. Every chance I get, I am painting, doing a DIY project, drawing, or creating digital media for my own blog. I absolutely love using my hands to create works of art.

I have sold crafts I have made, I have sold my writing, I have promoted my blog, and I always knew I wanted to start something, but never found the passion behind it. I was envious of women who had these businesses where they could live and breathe their brand. I always wondered, how are they so passionate about something and why am I not that passionate about any project?

My fiance has been consistently talking about starting an e-commerce business as a side hustle and has his nose buried in a business book most free hours of his day. Out of nowhere, I had this sudden urge to design apparel and have him help me with the business and shipping side.

I am not even joking, the name and brand came to me in a dream. I woke up so excited and passionate!

I never dreamed I would ever want to start an apparel company. But lately, I have been particularly homesick and I want to design tee-shirts, tank tops, + gifts (such as coffee mugs, blankets, etc.) to help me fuel my creativity and connect with the parts of home I miss. Think hyper-local casual apparel that you can wear to the beach or dress up with some jeans and heels.

While my designs are still in the very early stages and only a few people have seen them, the biggest thing holding me back isn’t the work it takes to design or mastering Adobe Creative Suite, it’s the fear of failing. 

It’s the fear of people thinking my designs or business idea is stupid.
It’s the fear of my friends and family laughing at me for starting a company while planning a wedding.
It’s the fear of financing the business side, such as inventory, shipping, and marketing.
It’s the fear of wasting money.
It’s the fear that someone who owns an etsy shop and might have a similar design comes after me for creating a similar product (and not knowing how to handle that).
It’s the fear of being successful and losing the passion or motivation to fulfill orders.
It’s the fear of spending all of my free time on a business and losing my freedom.
It’s the fear of not knowing where to start. 

Honestly, I am thinking I might start by coming up with 2-3 designs to sell online and maybe on etsy to see how it goes. But still, I don’t know where to start or when.

So if you are reading this and you think this is something I should do, please tell me! If you’re reading this and you had the same fears starting your own business, please let me know! If you are reading this and have questions about things I may not have even thought of, shoot them my way.

I am writing this to gain feedback, to give you a hint of what might be coming in 2019, and I guess to see if I am crazy or if I have support!

I can’t wait to see what you all think! I know the details are vague, but I don’t want to give too much away. 🙂

XO – J

Skinny & Cool Lemon Drop

Martini Recipe

Whenever I go out for cocktails, I so desperately want to try the cocktails on the menu, but I cringe at the thought of how much sugar is in them. Am I right? 

So when I am at home, I am always looking for ways to make my cocktails with a little more zen and a lot less sugar! 

Did you know that a traditional lemon drop martini recipe calls for 1/2 cup granulated sugar? PER MARTINI! 

F- that!

Here’s my Cool + Skinny Lemon Drop Martini recipe for you to enjoy guilt-free this summer! 

Ingredients:
1-ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1 1/2 shots Titos vodka (Okay, I use two!)
1 packet of Stevia sweetener
1/3 cup plain sparkling water

Directions:
Chill your martini glasses in the freezer for a few minutes. You want these babies to be as cold as Buffalo Bills fans in December.
Add the lemon juice, vodka, Cointreau, Stevia, and Titos to your cocktail shaker.
Add ice.
Shake it until your hands are fridged.
Pour into your chilled martini glass and top with the sparkling water.
Add a lemon garnish if you wish.

Post pics of your cocktails below or post to social media using the hashtag #cooljustine

Cheers!

XO – J

We’re engaged!

Wedding Wednesday

Although everyone close to us already knows, I am so thrilled and excited to announce to my CJ readers that Patrick and I are engaged! It’s so amazing to be entering this next phase of our lives and there is no one that I would rather have by my side than Patrick.

What most people don’t know is that Patrick and I started talking about marriage about a month after we met, so when he proposed, I was not at all surprised that it happened, but I was completely surprised when it happened!

A few questions that people started asking me right after it happened are “Did you know it was going to happen?” “Were you surprised?” “How did he do it?” “Did he know what kind of ring you wanted?” “Did he ask your parents?”

It’s so crazy because I always imaged getting engaged and wanting to stand out on a rooftop and shout it out to the world. But really, I found myself wanting to keep a lot of the details private between us and our families. So I’ll give you a sneak peak of what went down, but I’ll keep some of the special details just between us and our relationship- you understand, right?!

Leading up to the proposal 

First, I just want to say that Patrick was a complete gentleman. He took my parents out to dinner to ask their permission and told the most important people in my life (like my best friend) that his intentions were to marry me. While this might not be important to some people, it definitely meant a lot to me!

The day of the big question

My parents were in town visiting me in Charleston for the first time. At that time, Patrick was living in Buffalo, so he was not here. I took my parents down to John’s Island to see the Angel Oak Tree.  They had been to Charleston numerous times to visit my grandparents, but that was one landmark they hadn’t seen. So at the end of the week, we planned to see the tree, then grab dinner later that night.

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I brought my camera and was totally in my own world, taking photos of the massive tree (see above, haha). Then out of nowhere, Patrick emerged from behind the tree- Remember, I thought he was up in New York! 

It’s funny how the two of us can hardly remember what happened. We had to go back and watch a video my mom took to see what we even said! All I remember was being happy to see him, then seeing him holding the most beautiful ring in the world. The rest was a complete blur! I never expected to be so overcome with emotions. I was never the girl to cry when I was happy and could never understand why people cried tears of joy in movies, until that day.

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Photo by Karmen Noel Photography

Patrick got down on one knee, we both blacked for a moment, and then we were engaged!

As if the morning wasn’t magical enough, we went to dinner later that night to celebrate, where he had my family and every friend I knew in Charleston waiting to celebrate! I still cannot believe every single person I know and care about within 25 miles of where I live was there. Plus a huge shout out to my best friend in the entire world, who ran from her desk at work (where no phones are allowed) to Facetime with me as well.

I have never felt so much love as I did in that one day! The support from our family and friends have been wonderfully overwhelming we’re so thankful for each and every person who is sharing this journey with us.

I’m also excited to share some fun wedding content with you on CJ as well, so stay tuned for my Wedding Wednesday series for my fun to come!

XO – J

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Photo by Karmen Noel Photography

 

 

Shoutout to your strong friends

Someone asked me where I’ve been.

For the past few months, I have been a little off the grid (I guess). I haven’t posted on the blog, I have turned down countless social invites, and rarely even check my personal social media accounts. Personally, I’ve had a lot going on. I started a new job where I am writing and on social media, ALL day, Patrick and I transitioned into living together again, my grandfather passed away, Misia (our dog) has been having health problems in her old age, and I have been struggling to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which has left me feeling tired and cranky AF.

But, while I work on getting myself back into order, I have also been spending a lot of time thinking about others. When I moved to Charleston, I lost friendships. Friendships that took me 25 years to build. Simply because it’s difficult to maintain friendships from 900 miles away, especially in your 30’s and everyone has careers, kids, spouses, etc. In the past 2 years, I have also lost both of my grandfathers, a great aunt, and my great grandmother (all expected, because that’s what happened in life).

Then recently the media has been filled with other major losses as well. A couple of weeks ago, I got sucked into watching the second season of Thirteen Reasons Why (a show centered around a teen who takes her own life). During that binge session, the world learned about the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain to suicide and (while watching the show) I learned about the suicide-related death of a classmate of mine.

The talk of death, loss, and mental health were surrounding me. As someone who has struggled with anxiety, sometimes when things like this happen, I just can’t freaking stop thinking about it. In this case, the death of my classmate really kept me up at night (literally). While we weren’t friends, our younger brothers were, for probably the last 20 years. I spend 12 years walking the halls of the same schools as her, I followed her on social media, and we talked here and there. She was such a sweet, wonderful person and her passing really left a hole in my heart.

Now, I didn’t mean to start off my first blog post in 3 months on such a sad note, so stick with me! 

Then last week, I was talking to a friend of mine at work and she said that the same types of thoughts had been weighing on her mind, too. She went on a trip to NYC with some friends and during a spin class, the instructor paused to reflect on the issues of mental health in our society and asked that the class “check in on your strong friends.” No, not the friend who is killin’ on the bike next to you while you daydream about donuts and try not to pass out. 

But the friends who seem to have their shit together. The friends who, on social media, seem fine, happy, and content. The friends who we run to when we need help.

The friends who despite their outward appearance, may not be strong at all. So while the words aren’t mine, I think they’re powerful enough to share. And you don’t have to get all deep and creepy about it either. Just shoot them a little love note to say “Hey there! Just wanted to let you know I am thinking about you and I hope you’re doing well.”

That’s it. So whether it’s your former best friend from 3rd grade, a friend who is on the other side of the country, someone you talked to at a networking event a few times, or your friend who lives down the road that you just haven’t seen in awhile, reach out to them. Stay in touch and let them know that if they need someone, you’re there. It could mean the world to them.

So to MY friends- the friends from Northwood, East, NU, Canisius, volleyball, former jobs, my current job, The U.K., Charleston, and everywhere in between, please know I love you and I am always here.

Whether you need someone to listen or a partner to down a bottle (or two) of prosecco, just know I’ll be there.

XO – J

 

 

The Snuggle is Real

Raised in Buffalo, NY, I am no stranger to seeing record-breaking snowfall that shuts down an entire city. But, when I moved to Charleston, SC in 2017, I truly thought I was getting away from that tread.

Plot twist! Charleston, SC received 5.3″ of snow!

I’ll admit, when I saw snow in the forecast, I figured it would be a cold day and I’d probably have to scrape some ice off my car. I’ve done it here before. Then when businesses started closing, I figured the roads would be icy and it’s better to keep people home and safe.

So I danced around my living room with joy as I had a snow day! I was going to be put away the holiday decorations, clean, diffuse some EO, do some yoga, and have a great personal day! I kept the news on and sat with my boyfriend and dog glued to the TV. The meteorologists seemed overjoyed that for a change, their forecast was spot on. Snow was coming!

At first, I scooped up some snow and made a little snowball to post on social media. I wanted to make sure to get a picture before it all melted. It was kind of cute, right?

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Then, I got on with my day. I diffused those delicious smelling EO, I put away all the decorations, and I deep-cleaned the main living areas. But the snow didn’t stop coming! It quickly went from little-frozen balls of imposter-looking snow to real northeastern snow! The white, fluffy, Charlie Brown type snowflakes you can catch on your tongue!

Plus, it’s January and everyone knows January snowflakes are the best to eat.

Within 3 hours, we were looking at 6″ of snow where I live, slightly north of the city of Charleston. Of course, if I still lived in Buffalo, I would be complaining and writing a blog post about the beach. But here, this was really something to see! The best part of this storm is the lowcountry got very lucky. Some people, unfortunately, lost power, but not nearly as many as it could have been. The ice and snow could have caused an extraordinary amount of damage. But for the most part, everyone got outside to enjoy it! The newscasters were having fun as some of them have never even seen snow before. Our neighbors tied boogie boards to the backs of trucks and dogs were either overjoyed or looking it the frozen ground in confusion. Love it or hate it, you have to admit there is something really cool about being a part of history.

Unfortunately, I was wrong about the weather warming up and the snow all melting. We woke up today to the same 6″ of snow gleaming in the Charleston sun. It’ll warm up and be gone in a few days, but for today, it’s only 19 degrees and the snuggle is real!

XO – J

Why You Shouldn’t Make a New Years Resolution This Year

How many people actually know the definition of resolution? Without Googling it? Well, a resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something. I think it’s safe to say most New Years resolutions end up being soft resolutions. Soft meaning, we’ll give it a try, but we’re not going to make a firm decision to stick to it. Or we’ll stick to it for the month of January and accept disappointing ourselves when we don’t feel like working on that resolution anymore.

Sorry to tell ya sweets, but that’s not actually making a resolution. So instead of half-assing a resolution, try setting obtainable goals throughout the year. Use the months of the year as measure markers to track your progress.

Want to lose 30 lbs? Throw your weight loss resolution in the trash, alongside the Christmas cookies and set obtainable weight loss goals. Set a goal to lose 3 lbs in January. Then another goal to lose 3 lbs in February. Then another 3lbs in March. By the end of the year, not only will you have stuck to your goal, but if you’re consistent, you will actually lose more than 30 lbs if you spread the goal throughout the entire year! Now doesn’t that sound a lose easier than trying (and failing) to lose 30 lbs in January?

Want to move to a new city? Throw away your resolution to move to your dream city and set obtainable goals. Start applying for jobs in January. Start researching places to live in February. Join social networking apps and social media groups in your new city in March. Find a moving company in April. By spreading out your goal throughout the year, you will be sitting pretty on a beach come December and can be proud that you stuck to your goals at the end of 2018.

Too often we make ourselves promises and come December, we make jokes about how we made resolutions that we never stuck to. So stop disappointing yourself by misusing the word “resolution” and make obtainable goals instead. Write down your goals and cross them off as you obtain them! As cheesy as writing down your goals sounds, I promise you, darling, you will be much happier with yourself at the end of the year when you can cross items off that list than make jokes about how you gave up on them.

You can do this! Make 2018 the year you throw away your resolutions and actually make your dreams come true!

XO – J

 

6 Ways to Help Find Your Christmas Spirit This Season

Most of the time when I tell someone I am from Buffalo, their reaction is “There is so much snow there.” Which is absolutely true! Not to mention, a great way to get into the Christmas spirit! My favorite scent is when you can smell the first snowfall coming. It’s a particular change in the air that is clean, fresh and has a slight hint of evergreen. It’s literally the smell companies make candles out of and make millions marketing them to people like me.

Growing up, that smell of snow was the first thing to ignite my Christmas spirit and it usually arrived around Thanksgiving. Now that I live in a warm, more tropical climate, I have been struggling to find that Christmas spirit. It’s not just the smell of snow, but this year, I missed out on my favorite family traditions, like my family’s pierogi-making day and going to pick out a live Christmas tree. Things are… different. So I have been paying extra close attention to my surroundings and I am trying to make new Christmas memories based on what’s available in my new city.

Maybe you are a thousand miles away from home, have recently experienced a hardship, work is stressful, or you just can’t find your Christmas spirit for no reason at all. Regardless of why your Christmas spirit is lost, here are a few things you can do to let that snow smell spirit be foundPay attention to your surroundings. Even though there is no snow in Charleston, there are way more Christmas decorations than there are in Buffalo! Maybe it’s because you do not have to stand outside for hours in the freezing cold to hang them. There are decorations on all the lamp posts downtown and wreaths on most doors. Bars and restaurants are filled to the brims with garland and twinkle lights. One bar even converted into a pop-up Christmas-themed joint! Whether the lights are on evergreen trees or palm trees, take a moment to appreciate the beauty.

Listen to Christmas music. Are you done rolling your eyes? I know what you are thinking, Christmas music is SO overplayed from Halloween to New Years. I get it! But I said LISTEN to the music, don’t just hear it. Go to your favorite music streaming app and look up your favorite genre of music and find the correlating holiday songs. Listen to the uplifting, joyful words and just let the joy take over your body until you’re dancing in circles in the kitchen with your pet.

Make holiday recipes. For me, I am really disappointed that I missed out on our family pierogi-making day. We spend a whole day making them because it’s a lot of f*cking work. So, I opted to make a less complicated recipe, my grandma’s anise Christmas cookie cut outs! I handmade them from scratch and was quite impressed with the results! If you do not have a family recipe to try, go to your Pinterest board and actually try making one of the thousands of pins you have saved. Try something with peppermint, gingerbread, or cranberry to put you in the holiday mood.

Diffuse seasonal essential oils. We already talked about the snow-smelled candles and while those can absolutely help you get into the Christmas spirit, so can things you may already have around your house like essential oils! If you are an essential oil user, you most likely already have peppermint and might even have a Douglas Fir or Evergreen. Throw some in your favorite diffuser and envision candy canes, colors of red and white, and try to associate that smell with your spirit. Don’t know where to find essential oils? Try these!

Start a tradition or stick to an old one. For about the past 5 years, I have spent one night a week before Christmas watching The Holiday and wrapping gifts while drinking an entire bottle of wine. It’s just what I do. I sit next to my Christmas tree, alone, and just drink and wrap. To me, that helps me focus on the spirit of Christmas, rather than the stress of having to wrap an insane amount of gifts people probably don’t want/need. If you don’t have any traditions, start a new one! Make a day to get peppermint lattes and Christmas shop with your best friend, or host an annual party (see below)!

Host wine & cookie exchange. Hosting a holiday party always seems like a fun idea, until you’re stressed out from the already busy season and realize how much work you have to do. Hosting a party where everyone exchanges gifts takes the work off you! If you host a wine & exchange, other than providing some light snacks (like cheese and crackers) to soak up the booze, everyone else is bringing the drinks and dessert! You can enjoy an evening with your friends or family without running around preparing an enormous meal and entertaining.

Whether you are a Grinch trying to find your Christmas spirit for the first time, or someone who is feeling a little lost, know you’re not alone! I hope these tips help you get into the holiday groove. Comment below with your favorite way to get into the Christmas spirit!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

XO – J

The Girls’ Weekend that Changed My Life: Part 1 – Self-Discovery

Last week in my 10 Ways to Practice Self-Love post, I mentioned that I was participating in a yoga retreat. This was a big deal for me because I have always encouraged and coached other women to invest in themselves, however, I never made a large investment in myself. I always invested in myself through nourishing my body with nutrient-dense, delicious food. But, I was afraid of making the larger investment. Why? I am not sure why. Maybe I was afraid of investing in  myself and coming across something I did not want to face? Who knows. But, I took a leap of faith and invested more money than I’ve ever spent in one weekend on a life-changing yoga retreat lead by the beautiful, Cortney Ostrosky.

I went into the weekend with an open mind. On the first night, we participated in a sister-circle. I am not going to lie, this is the one thing I was most afraid of. I did not know what type of hippie-dippie sh*t we were going to do and I did not know what to expect. I’ll tell you more about that experience next time, but for now, I’ll just say that I went into new experiences with a completely open mind, regardless of what my pre-judgments were.

sister circle

By the end of the first day, I was in awe of how much I discovered about myself! I could not believe how fast I opened up my heart and learned to feel what was really going on. I felt  my insecurities, I felt my creativity, I felt my loneliness, and I felt how my body was reacting to all of my emotions.

In addition to the sister-circle, Cortney lead us through workshops and yoga classes to align our Chakra’s , allow our body to flow in sync with our emotions, and relax into a state of mind that was comparable to an out of body experience. Through each activity, I learned that I was shutting off my emotions. I was shutting of my creativity. I was hiding my femininity and sexuality. I was allowing my fears to take over my dreams and I was shutting people out of my life in fear of getting hurt.

I learned that I CAN dream big. Like change careers and have a job I love. I learned that I CAN have emotions. I CAN cry. I CAN dance. I CAN love other women and create incredible bonds without drama or gossip. I CAN align my body with my emotions in a healthy way through the food I eat and the yoga I practice.

By the last day, Cortney lead us through a pop yoga class. In this class, we danced to Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off and literally shook it off! We shook our arms, did high kicks, and laughed at the people down on the beach who were clearly wondering what the hell these women were doing at 9 am out on a deck! I’ve listened and danced to that song 100x and this time I seriously got very emotional! I have NEVER felt so free! For the first time in my life, I felt like myself! I mean that!

For the first time in my life!

Isn’t that terrifying?? For 29 years I have been walking around as who? A lesser version of myself? Maybe! But now I know what makes me feel alive. It’s not one thing. It’s a combination of things like delicious vegan food that nourishes my body, gorgeous, soulful sisters who encourage me to be me, the ocean and the sound of the waves reminding me of how beautiful nature is, exercise to get my blood flowing, and fun music to dance to.

I am so happy and proud of myself for trying something new and investing in my own well-being. Whenever I get caught up in the stresses of life, work, loneliness, depression, and heartache, I try to take myself back to that weekend and remember that life really is fabulous when you make it fabulous.

 

XO – J