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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

 

 

Featured

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

 

 

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

Totally Addictive Homemade Granola

Store bought Granola is NOT “healthy!”

Well, not always anyway! Many times, granola (or granola bars) you buy from a package are LOADED with added sugars. I mean LOADED. They add sugar to the fruit, sugar to the oats, and I am sure sugar to the freaking sugar. In 2017, I started making my own granola. It’s a little guilty pleasure I enjoy my yogurt with granola or let’s be honest, to just snack on by the handfuls!

I make my own granola for two reasons:

#1 – It’s cheaper to make a large batch that lasts awhile than to buy it in a package or from the bulk section.

#2 – I can control what goes in it and ensure there are no added sugars.

Warning! Even though I do not ADD extra sugar, there is still a large amount of natural sugar in all of these ingredients. Plus, a lot of carbs and fat. Therefore, granola is always better in moderation. I was only half kidding about eating it by the handfuls. Seriously, try to limit doing that! We need natural sugars, carbohydrates, and healthy fats in our diet, but again, all in balance.

Each time I make a batch, I play around with the recipe and add things I like based on what I am in the mood for. Here is a simple DIY recipe for amazing, totally additive, healthier granola:

INGREDIENTS:

2 1/2 cups of quinoa flakes, old fashioned rolled oats, or gluten free old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup sliced raw almonds (or nuts of choice)

1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts (or nuts of choice)

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened dried coconut

1/4 cup chopped unsweetened dried apricots, cherries, or blueberries

1/3 cup unsweetened dried cranberries

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp sea salt (or Himalayan salt)

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

3 tbsp extra-virgin organic coconut oil

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 300° and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Combine all the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl and mix well. Or toss it in a bowl with a lid and shake the hell out of it! It’s more fun that way.

Make sure your coconut oil is melted and mix it with the maple syrup and applesauce. You can do this in a bowl if you feel like stirring like crazy, or quickly heat them all up in a small saucepan to really get them friendly with each other. Just make sure the oil is completely melted.

Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and shake the hell our of them again until everything is coated well.

Dump it all onto the cookie sheet in a thin layer.

Bake the granola mixture for 40 to 45 minutes, stirring it around about every 15 minutes so it cooks evenly. Make it until it’s a golden brown and crisp.

Allow to cool, or risk burning off all your taste buds in anticipation of pure heavenly granola joy.

Store in an air-tight container.

A serving size is 2 TABLESPOONS.

PORTION CONTROL, PEOPLE! You can do it!

Comment below and let me know how yours turns out or if you came up with any other creative ingredients!

‘HOW TO STOP FEELING LIKE SH*T’ REVIEW – WEEK 3

If you haven’t been following along, last month, I announced that I would be reviewing Andrea Owen’s latest book, How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: 14 Habits that Are Holding You Back from Happiness.

Along with her book, Andrea offered a 4-week long study group for people who are reading the book. This review isn’t just on the book, but my experience reading the follow and following along in the study group. To catch up, click the links below:

Week 1 Review

Week 2 Review

BABES. I COMPLETELY FELL OFF THE PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT TRAIN.

Funny enough, on Wednesday, Andrea posted in the study group “We have reached ‘The Dip!'” Haha which apparently is halfway through the class where people lose momentum, get sidetracked, get overwhelmed, and have a hard time hopping back on the horse. So personal victory – it’s not just me! Apparently, it’s totally normal to lose momentum and fall off the train. She asked us to add a GIF in the comments to show how we’re feeling. This was the gem I chose:

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Okay, maybe that was a little dramatic, but in this week, I started a new job (which I will talk about later), my boyfriend was visiting me from out of town, and I am trying to bust my butt at the gym in anticipation of two tropical vacations coming up. So with that being said, here’s what I was able to gather from the next 4 chapters.

Chapter 8 – Perfectionism

This is another chapter I wanted to avoid. I find myself doing that with the chapters I need to read the most. But this chapter hits a trigger for me because, throughout most of my life, one person in my life has always pointed out my “need to be perfect,” but in a very insulting way that makes me feel like I am being put down for my hard work. I don’t think I have ever worked towards being perfect, but subconsciously, I know there are things I have avoided doing in my life in fear of not being perfect. For example, I played volleyball on intermediate bar leagues for years in my early-mid 20’s. After the sudden passing of one of my teammates and best friends, I completely stopped playing. I went to grad school and had other obligations at the time so it wasn’t just his passing that turned me off to the sport. But now, I am in a new city and one of my friends always asks me to play volleyball with her. But I don’t because I am afraid I am no longer good enough. I didn’t realize that until reading this chapter, so thank you, Andrea, for pointing that out!

But what Andrea talks about in this chapter is that it’s not a bad thing to want to do things well. But what is not good is when you avoid them altogether because you’re afraid you won’t do it well enough. When I play volleyball with her, am I going to be as good as I used to be? Hell no. Will I be embarrassed? Yes. But instead of avoiding it, maybe I can ask her to practice on the beach with me before hitting the court. I can use this example to look at places in my life where I make mistakes and learn from them, rather than avoiding them and criticizing myself for not being perfect.

Chapter 9 – Being Strong: The Illusive Tough Exterior

“Stay strong!” MY GOODNESS, IF I HEAR THIS PHRASE ONE MORE TIME, I MIGHT SNAP. Yes, friends, family, boyfriend, LISTEN UP!

If you don’t know me well, then you don’t know I am in a long-distance relationship with my long-time boyfriend. We planned to move to our dream city together, but unfortunately, I got a job first and together we made the decision for me to come here first. It’s been HARD. Especially throughout the holidays. Almost every day someone says “Stay strong!” Although it’s meant to be a positive pep talk, really, someones I need to feel my feelings, breakdown, cry, and talk about how freaking hard it actually is. It’s like being “strong” has been coded as a badge of honor you can wear for not letting people know you cry and are human. Andrea points out, we often say “stay strong” as if the alternative, falling apart, is wrong. Is it? While being strong isn’t always a bad thing, why do we make it seem bad for us to cry when we are truly in pain? My favorite quote from this chapter is, “We like happiness and positivity. So, instead of risking discomfort and vulnerability, we ask people to stay strong.” 

What if it’s okay to fall apart sometimes and face our feelings?

I am just going to leave that right there. Clearly, this chapter triggered some strong feelings in me!

Chapter 10 – Let Me Do It: Start Letting Go of Control

Seriously, did she write the second half of this book for me? With being strong, comes being overly independent. When you are independent and do things yourself, you get used to having that control. This is common because as humans, we like certainty and it can be scary when you put faith in someone else and you are uncertain of what the outcome will be. Andrea discusses the fine line between being efficient and crossing the self-control line into “Crazytown.” This can show up in the order in which we like our house, trying to force others to stick to a schedule or itinerary, or maybe micromanaging your children (if you are a parent).

“People who struggle with control are living in fear.”

Boom. People who try to control and trying to avoid pain and uncertainty in their own lives. The best part about this chapter is Andrea tells you how to fix it. I am going to leave that answer up to you to order the book and discover. This chapter was pretty much skipped over in the study group, but of the 4 chapters this week, I think the other 3 struck bigger cords with most people (myself included).

Chapter 11 – The Sky Is Falling: Bracing Yourself for Catastrophe.

This is something I know many of my friends do and I have done myself. One of my best friends and I actually talk about this often and until reading this book, I didn’t know there was a word for it!

Catastrophizing.

When everything in your life, relationship, job, family, pregnancy, etc. is going perfect and you think “this can’t possibly last.” All good things come to an end, right? We start to brace ourselves for the end of an era and wonder when it’s going to hit us. Apparently, people are uncomfortable feeling joy. Did you know that? I didn’t. I thought there were all kinds of people skipping through fields in joy. But I guess it makes sense that when we’re used to feeling disappointed, it’s strange to feel joy. Feeling joy can make us feel unsafe and vulnerable. Like we can’t get our guard down, otherwise, the upcoming pain will be unbearable. Andrea explains that when we let go of catastrophizing, we let us of our safety net.

This was a huge topic of discussion in the study group. In Andrea’s live video on Thursday, someone asked the question “How do I experience pure joy?” Someones we need to pause in the moment and think THIS IS SO FUN! How many of us do that? We often look back on days and think “wow, that was a fun night.” But it’s important to practice living in the moment to feel joy. In the study group, there was a much longer conversation on this topic and that’s what makes the study group so valuable.

I am quickly nearing the end of the book and my last review will be next week. If there is something I haven’t covered that you’d like to know, drop a note in the comments. Until next week!

 

XO – J

 

‘How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t’ Review – Week 2

If you have read 52 Ways to Live a Kick-Ass Life: BS-Free Wisdom to Ignite Your Inner Badass and Live the Life You Deserve, then you are familiar with the work of Andrea Owen.  If you’re not maybe you’re reading this review because the title caught your eye and you’re interested in how to stop feeling like sh*t. I am right there with ya, babe!

Last week I kicked off my review of Andrea Owen’s latest book, How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: 14 Habits that Are Holding You Back from Happiness.

In this book, Andrea explores the 14 most common habits her clients struggle with and offered a free study group for people who wanted a little extra support while reading through the chapters. Read my review of Chapters 1-4 by clicking here.

On Monday, we kicked off week 2 and Andrea greeted us with an email promising even more fun in the upcoming days. So far, there is one thing I am struggling with. I have an extremely busy week this week and I feel like I am rushing through the chapters to keep pace with the study group. Normally, reading a book in 4 weeks isn’t an issue for me. But, when you are learning tools to implement, it takes a lot more work than just breezing through the text. So I’ll be honest, I am half-assing my way through the tools and plowing through the book. However, I am starting by working on improving my issues with the comparison from chapter 4 (turtle steps, remember?). I can’t change 30 years of bad habits in 4 weeks, so hang with me while I get through the book and I foresee a follow-up blog in the future to catch you up on my progress.

This week, I am going to focus more on the study group vs. each specific chapter. But, these are the chapters that we covered:

CHAPTER 5 –  The Demolition Derby of Your Life: Self-Sabotage

CHAPTER 6 –  Feeling Like a Fraud: The Imposter Complex

CHAPTER 7 –  The Dog and Pony Show: People Pleasing and Approval Seeking

So as I mentioned last week, Andrea is using two platforms to host the study group; Teachable and Facebook. The content in Teachable is the same content that is in her book and in the workbook she provided. So, I have tossed that aside as I cannot actually see a purpose to logging into Teachable. So this week, I made sure to focus on the content she was posting on Facebook.

At the end of Week 1, Andrea posted:

“Saturday night gratitude!!! 🙌🏻 🙏🏻 
I’m sitting here reading through all your posts with such gratitude in my heart for all of YOU! ❤️

My only morning ritual that I believe truly saves my sanity is writing down 3 things I’m grateful for as well as 3 goals. So tell me, what are you grateful for this weekend? (I talk about gratitude in the catastrophizing chapter). 🤓”

I loved that she did this! She actually had a podcast episode that I found about a year ago that talked about starting a gratitude journal. I immediately picked up the perfect little white journal with a gold pineapple and started my own gratitude journal! Every day I write down 3 things I am grateful for and it has dramatically changed my outlook on my life; especially on the hardest days. It was so inspiring reading everyone’s’ comments on what they are grateful for!

Monday morning, she posted the discussion post, where people can comment on questions they have. This is a huge part of the study group and Andrea really put a lot of time and effort into answering questions that people have about the book.

Facebook being Facebook, people comment all kinds of crazy things, memes, random questions, and rants. So Tuesday, her assistant Emily created a post instructing people where to go if they have questions about the group and kindly asking people to back off on the random memes and quotes. Praise you, Emily! In my opinion, this was an excellent way for them to take control of the study group and maintain its purpose.

On Thursday (like last week), Andrea jumped on Facebook live to answer questions from people who posted in the group throughout the week. I gotta tell you, she puts a lot of thought and effort into answering those questions! Of course, she cannot answer them all, so she picks a handful and really focuses on them. So far, both live videos have been over a half hour long, with the option of watching a reply if you cannot view it live.

This week, the questions Andrea answered from readers are: 

:: How do I stand up for myself w/ family? 
:: How do you know when you are receiving valid criticism vs stuff you shouldn’t take personally?
:: Is it normal to get a bit depressed feeling when working so hard on all of this?
:: Where I’m stumped is question 3 in the self-sabotage chapter: what is it that you want? The feelings and experiences you think you’ll get from them?
:: How do I know what’s the imposter complex and what’s actually valid?

When you go through this book, you will learn that you most likely do not need to focus on all 14 of the bad habits. So, there have been some chapters I have skipped and others that I found myself re-reading. My favorite part about the questions that Andrea chooses to answer is that they cover many different topics and chapters to apply to as many readers as possible. She may very well have 50 questions about self-sabotage and only  3 about the imposter complex, but she still answers questions about each chapter.

In her responses, she is very in depth. So even though she cannot answer every single question, her answers are as thorough as they would be if she was doing an entire podcast on the topic.

She also read and responded to questions that readers were asking during the live video. For the sake of the privacy of the study group, I am not going to get into what those specific questions/answers were, but my point is, this format seems to be very well received by the participants and this is a very huge “freebie,” that Andrea offered, simply by purchasing her book!

So if you’re reading this and starting to kick yourself for not joining the study group, just know that Andrea offers FREE and inexpensive tools like this all the time! Listen to her free podcast and follow her on social media for all the scoop; seriously, you won’t regret it!

As for the chapters we focused on this week, Chapter 5 – The Demolition Derby of Your Life: Self Sabbatage and Chapter 7 – The Dog and Pony Show: People Pleasing and Approval Seeking are the two I have resonated with the most. I did a blog post, a few months ago about people pleasing (which was also featured in Thought Catalog), and I was able to learn a lot about my own recovery process through this book. In the next few months, I plan to write more about this topic as I feel it’s something many people struggle with, but they do not even realize that it’s something they struggle with! In terms of self-sabotage, I am usually pretty aware when I am sabotaging my own life (and why). But then, Andrea graciously pointed out that we can unconsciously self-sabotage as well (WHAT!?). So just when I think I have begun to make progress in an area I want to improve, I learn that there is still more work to do!

Since I didn’t completely focus on the content of the book in this week’s post, comment below and let me know if there is something specific you were hoping I would cover. I will gladly answer any questions I can and I would like to hear your thoughts/experiences if you are also participating in Andrea’s study group or reading the book.

Until next week, babe!

XO – J

‘How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t’ Review – Week 1

Last week, I told you that I am going to read and review Andrea Owen’s latest book HTSFLS. But the kickass thing about this review is, Andrea is running a free book club to teach readers how to utilize the information in the book, How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: 14 Habits that Are Holding You Back from Happiness,

The study group (kind of like a book club) began on January 22, 2018. So on Monday I got up and downloaded the PDF workbook at goes along with the group…

All 46 pages.

Yikes! I thought, “she is really going to make us out in some work, huh?” Well, I guess that’s the difference between going through this book vs. another personal development book I’ve read that didn’t “work.” So I downloaded the workbook and jumped in.

Chapter 1 – Being an Asshole to Yourself. 

Chapter 1 was revolutionary. Seriously, hear me out here. How many books, podcasts, memos. Instagram posts and Pinterest quotes tell you to just say positive things and you’ll be happy? You know EXACTLY what I am talking about.

Do those work? Absolutely not. Andrea points out that these do not work because you can’t just tell yourself you’re awesome and trick your mind into believing it. It doesn’t work that way! Instead, you have to meet yourself on some middle ground. For example, if you screw up at work, you might automatically start calling yourself every ugly name in the book. Reverting that negative habit by saying something like “you are better than unicorns and sparkles combined” isn’t going to help because you don’t actually believe it. Instead, you have to meet yourself half way. Say something like “Yes, Carol, you made a mistake. It sucks. But everyone makes mistakes. Literally everyone. Next time, you will be more careful and show your boss you can do this work efficiently.”

See the difference?!? Sorry, Instagram and Pinterest quote, but many of you aren’t actually helping.

Chapter 2 – Go Away and Leave Me Alone: Isolating and Hiding Out Isn’t Protecting You. 

In the free study group, this is the chapter most people seemed to resonate with. At times, most of us hide in our houses with Netflix and snacks when we’re depressed, right? But do you know WHY you do that? I didn’t. What I learned is that I isolate because one time 3 years ago, I tried to confide in a friend, let’s call her Kat, and she told me that I was negative, depressing, and people had it worse than me so I needed to get over myself.

She told me that I was negative, depressing, and people had it worse than me so I needed to get over myself.

Okay, so maybe there was some truth in her statement. Maybe it was difficult for her to listen to my negativity and she wasn’t sure how to help me. But what did I do? I put what Kat said in my back pocket and used it as motivation to never talk to anyone about my problems again. Well, for awhile anyway. What I learned in this chapter is that it’s important for us to have a “compassionate witness.” Essentially someone who you can talk to when you need them and they are there to listen without judging or trying to offer a solution to your problems. Since that experience, I have luckily found my compassionate witness. However, it’s sure as hell, not Kat. Does that make Kat a bad friend? No. But it does not make her my compassionate witness either and she is no longer a person I turn to for certain needs.

Do you have at least one compassionate witness in your life? If not, is there someone who can be your compassionate witness? Maybe if I were to have told Kat what I need from her, she could have become my compassionate witness. So if you are sitting here thinking “I don’t have ANY compassionate witnesses! I am going to be alone forever and never have anyone to talk to!” Try to think of someone you can ask to be your compassionate witness. Tell them what you need. Tell them you just need someone to hold your hand and listen. You might be surprised at who will be capable of that job. Sometimes people do not help us because we never actually tell them for what we need.

Chapter 3 – Checking Out: Are Your Numbing Mechanisms Still Working For You?

Until I read this chapter, I didn’t think I numbed out. I thought I was pretty darn good at feeling my feelings. Until Andrea explained that we numb out in different ways. Some turn to alcohol, sex, drugs, and obvious unhealthy behaviors to avoid their feelings. Me? I mindlessly scroll on social media or spend HOURS scouring websites for the perfect chair for my living room or the perfect bikini for vacation. Does that sound like you? Are you mindlessly scrolling on social media for a reason? Or because it takes your mind of another stressor in your life? Mind blown!

Chapter 4 – Compare and Despair: The Never-Ending Mind F*ck

This chapter I didn’t even want to read because I know it’s my biggest hurdle. I have been focusing on my negative self-talk, now I know when I am numbing out, and I have my compassionate witness. But, I did NOT want to face my issues with the constant comparison. But, I did learn that I do not have to STOP comparing myself to others, I simply have to manage it. For me, this looks like learning to take pride in the stuff I have accomplished and really owning the fact that I accomplished things and didn’t just “get lucky.” For example, I got promoted because I am good at my job and I deserved the promotion. Not because no one else was up for the job. My long-distance relationship is successful because of the work I put into it. Not because I got “lucky” and found a good guy. It’s going to take some time, I am going to use this chapter to own my sh*t and try to stop believing that everyone else’s successes are “better” than mine.

The Study Group

Now that you have a brief overview of each chapter and my take on the information, as promised, I’ll tell you about how the study group helps dive implement these tools. After week 1, I am not entirely impressed with the study group, however, it’s “free” (with the purchase of her book) so I guess I can’t complain too much. The study group works in 2 parts. The first being an online portal that you log into. The second, being a private facebook group. What bums me out about the portal is that Andrea provided the workbook and nicely broke it out into each chapter within the portal. The bummer, the questions int he workbook are the same questions that are in her book… The workbook is an AWESOME tool to write down all of the answers to your questions. But, I don’t see a huge benefit to having the workbook in the portal. She could have just emailed the link to the workbook to everyone who purchased the book. Maybe I am missing something, but I don’t see a benefit to having the workbook in that place because you cannot even type in it. You still have to download and print it.

Moving on.

The facebook group is more helpful. People are able to interact with one another and share experiences. Each week, Andrea does a live video for a Q&A. Week one, someone asked a brilliant question that seemed to help a lot of people. The person’s question basically asked how to implement ALL of the tools when she couldn’t even master one. In the live video, Andrea explained that you can take “turtle steps,” which are even smaller than baby steps. She explained that it’s okay to focus on the chapters you need to and the areas you need to one at a time, rather than taking on the whole load. The way she has written the book, you can jump around from chapter to chapter without missing crucial information. She also tells you in each section stuff like “(see Chapter 9)” for more information and if I click that link on my Kindle, it’ll take me to Chapter 9! So that is an AWESOME feature because I truly go through the book feeling like I can skip around to sections I want to focus on.

So overall, I am loving the book, I am learning a lot about how to change my habits, and Andrea making herself available to answer reader questions on Facebook Live is a very helpful way to answer questions I didn’t even realize I had. I am hoping she switching things up a little from week to week in the facebook group, I’ll let you know what week 2 has in store.

If there is something specific you want to know about the book or her study group, please comment below and I will be sure to answer any questions I can. Also, I would LOVE your feedback on your experience with her book or the study group as well! Comment below or email me: jemejak@gmail.com.

Thanks for following along and I hope to chat with you some more!

Until next week,

XO – J

‘How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t’ Review- Prelude

Disclaimer – This post features affiliated links

Raise your hand if you have read a personal development (aka self-help) book and it didn’t “work.”

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I am right there with you, babe! In fact, the first personal development (I prefer that phrase) book that I picked up in 2015 was 52 Ways to Live a Kick-Ass Life: BS-Free Wisdom to Ignite Your Inner Badass and Live the Life You Deserve also by Andrea Owen. 52 ways to live a kick-ass life. Guess how many of those I remember? Not one. Honestly, I am not even sure I finished the book! Does that mean Andrea did a crappy job of writing the book? Not at all! Does that mean I am lazy and wasted my money? Nope. I didn’t use the tools in that book for 2 reasons:

  1. I didn’t know I had to do anything other than reading the book.
  2. I didn’t know how to do anything with the information in it.

Since then, I have read, completed, re-read, and listened to multiple other personal development books, which I will share with you later. But still, I find myself feeling like shit! Why?!

I do yoga, I drink healthy shakes and tea, I diffuse essential oils, and I have learned to recognize when I am talking bad about myself to myself. So why do I still feel like nothing is changing?

Because it’s not enough. It’s not enough to read a handful of books and reverse nearly 30 years of bad habits. FINALLY, someone who is an expert in the field has recognized this! When Andrea Owen announced her second book, How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: 14 Habits that Are Holding You Back from Happiness, I was excited just based on the title alone. I can stop feeling like shit in 2018? Sign me up! But then, Andrea offered a free book club to go through the book and actually implement what you read!

So my review of her new book will be very unique because it’s not based on me reading the book and telling you what I think. It is going to be a review of me reading the book, going through it with Andrea in her free book club, and telling you how I feel about the book after I actually learn how to implement the content. Starting next week, I will post four reviews (one per week) as I move through the book club and sections of the book. I want this review to highlight the difference between my experience just reading a personal development book and learning how to implement it in my daily life. The book club starts this Monday and I have already begun the first part of the book. My first thoughts? You can definitely tell a difference between her first book and her second. Andrea has absolutely developed as an author and a life coach and it shows. So if you were not a fan of the first book (like me), do not be afraid to pick up this one! Although I am not very far in, I can tell you I am already excited to keep reading and learn how to change the habits in my life.

Also, let me just say I do NOT personally know Andrea and I am NOT getting paid for this review in any way. This is simply for fun and for me to help other women (and men) learn how to USE personal development books vs. just reading them. 

If you are interested in joining me on this journey, there is still time to join her book club! I would love to read it with you and chat about our experiences. The only catch, in order to join her free book club, you have to actually purchase her book! You can do so below!

Wish me luck!

XO – J

Click the image below to get your copy!

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