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

 

 

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.

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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

Soothing the Soul – Sullivan’s Island, SC

I’ve lived in Charleston for 8 weeks, and never made it to the beach. Unfortunately, I am about a 35 minute drive. But, I have to remind myself, it’s a lot closer than the 13 hour drive I used to have! Today, I spend a couple of hours strolling the beach on Sullivan’s Island. This is probably my favorite beach in the Charleston area because it’s not a large tourist attraction, there are small, charming restaurants and shops, and the people on the beach are mostly locals walking their dogs and kids. Here are moments from a beautiful September evening.

XO J

Why Hurricanes Are Better Than Snow

Growing up in Buffalo, every year while standing in 3 feet of snow and battling white-out road conditions, someone was mumbling “at least we don’t have hurricanes!” Well, that line is just something that north-easterners say to make themselves feel better!

In October 2010, Buffalo, NY was riddled by the chaos of an October snow storm. While the snow wasn’t anything Buffalo couldn’t handle, the trees still had leaves on them, which caused trees to fall, knocking down power lines and leaving 40,000 people without power for days, and even weeks. People were literally freezing to death in their homes, no one could shower, and once the snow melted, there was no way to keep food cold.

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In November 2014, I left a girls weekend in Charleston, SC and arrived back home just as a few snowflakes started to fall. Within 24 hours, we had approximately 7 feet of snow and homes began to cave in around the south towns. Literally, snow came crashing through windows and roofs of homes and cars.Thirteen people lost their lives during that storm and many homes suffered damaged to roofs, gutters, windows, and basements. ccc2e677633afe571c4873d8419d1433--funniest-memes-funny-memes.jpg

These are just two examples of the multiple storms I experienced throughout my 29 years in Buffalo, NY. In addition to these storms, New Yorkers deal with countless smaller storms, roof, gutter, basement, driveway damage, and salt damage to their cars from October – May every year! Not to mention, having to purchase new boots every year because the road salt will destroy any decent pair of shoes you wear in public. While hurricanes can cause far more extensive damage (such as what the Hart Family experienced in Florida in 2017) than any snowstorm, the chances of those storms devastating places like Charleston, S.C. are minimal.

A 2015 study found that an average of 923 people are killed as a result of snowy weather in the United States per year That figure includes automobile and plane crash deaths due attributed to snow.

In my lifetime, Charleston, S.C. has experienced one hurricane which caused “immense destruction” to the city of Charleston and surrounding counties. Since then, there have been many hurricanes which have brushed the coast and caused wind and flood damage to coastal homes. Such as, my first personal hurricane experience, hurricane Irma in 2017. While Irma was the direct cause of the third highest flood levels in Charleston history, most people made in through the storm unscratched. Evacuation was not mandatory, and most people (myself included) got a 5 day week in anticipation of what might happen.

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Again, I am not trying to downplay the significant devastation and destruction  hurricanes have caused. But coming from a girl who moved from Buffalo, N.Y. to Charleston, S.C., I would prefer the hurricane threats and gorgeous weather here over the year-round snowy nonsense up there any day!

XO J

 

 

 

If Only I Could Shave my Legs While Driving

As I have written in my past few blog posts, moving to a new city has been an exciting and difficult transition. One week in, I started a new job, bought a house, and started teaching group fitness at a local gym. One month in, I have made new friends, got a promotion at the new job, and can finally make my way around without relying on my GPS.

There are things I am growing to LOVE about the new city. I am originally from Buffalo, NY which houses the best food in the world. So I am quit to judge when it comes what constitutes as good food. Well, the food in Charleston is VERY different, but very good! I have grow to love okra, which I had never had until I moved here and still can’t believe I can eat fresh produce year-round.

The people here are incredibly nice! Everyone acknowledges you on the streets, in elevators, and in groceries stores. People will talk to you about anything and everything as if they’re an old friend, and people are always willing to jump in and help if you need it. It’s a very big cultural difference compared to NY where everyone makes a point to ignore most other living creatures.

The weather is GORGEOUS! It was dreadfully hot and humid in July and August, but the days that weren’t too hot were absolutely perfect. Being about to go outside without a jacket is a drastic change from the 57 degree weather I would see in August in Buffalo! I can wear different clothes, sandals, not worry about bringing extra layers for after sundown. However, I do have to make sure my legs are shaved daily, whereas in NY, I wouldn’t shave most months out of the year!

All round, I am loving the transition and my one major complaint is the traffic. I was so used to my quick 20-30 minute commute in little traffic. Now, I drive the same distance, but the commute takes about an hour to an hour and a half EACH WAY when you’re crawling at 5 MPH in traffic. Sitting in that traffic is just a waste of time for me and it’s a very difficult thing to get used to. I treasure my precious time after work. Now, if only I could shave my legs while driving and put that time to good use.

Yes. Growth is Uncomfortable.

My close family and friends know that I have gone on the absolute best adventures of my life when I was practically dragged into the car and to the airport kicking and screaming. The truth is, sometimes when you are doing something really incredible, it can be scary. That fear doesn’t always go away and sometimes you have to doing things while feeling afraid.

What social media doesn’t know (well, until now), is that I wake up every single day afraid. Will I chicken out and run home? Did I make the right choice? Will my boyfriend and I make it? Will my dog hate me for moving her? What if I am never happy in my career? How will I handle missing family events and watching my nephews grow up? All the unknown answers are what makes the journey terrifying.

But today, with the help of one of my best friends, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone a little further. Since moving away from home, I have tried to challenge myself each day. How did I do that today?

  1. I went to return items at Target and went grocery shopping without using my GPS. I was shockingly successful, by the way!
  2. I walked/jogged the Arthur Ravenel bridge after being on a fitness hiatus for a full month.
  3. I jogged the public bridge in my sports bra. Something I NEVER would have been caught doing in New York.
  4. I pushed myself to be active outside even though it was in the mid 90’s with a heat index over 100, and 85% humidity.
  5. I put my phone in my pocket, enjoyed the scenery, and felt grateful for having the opportunity to live in such a gorgeous place!
  6. I grew a little bit more into a better version of myself

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Yes. Growth is uncomfortable. 

I truly hate the heat. But, I am trying to embrace it. Every day I miss my dog and boyfriend so much it physically hurts and sometimes it’s hard to drag myself out of bed. I am living with my friend and her boyfriend and while I couldn’t have been more blessed for such wonderful people opening up their home to me, it’s uncomfortable not having my own stuff and my own space (and my own dog). But, I know I need to be here to challenge myself and so when I do move into my own house, I will appreciate it that much more.

I LOVE living in Charleston. But since I have moved, I have struggled more and cried more than people realize. It’s HARD. Very hard. But it’s the kind of hard that makes me grow into a better, stronger, more grateful person. It’s the hard of hard that makes me feel proud for how much I have been able to accomplish on my own. Stepping out of my comfort zone is not easy for me. But, now that I have learned how to do that, I am going to continue to challenge myself each and every day. One day, I hope to overcome the challenges and use this blog as the only remaining evidence of the uncomfortable feelings I faced each day to achieve my dreams.

XO – J

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Cheektowaga? We’re from Kenmore!

No matter where I go in the world, I meet people from upstate, New York. Literally, I traveled throughout most of Scotland and England and in one trip, met three people from Buffalo. So it was only a matter of time on my journey down to Charleston, SC that I met people from my side of the Cheerios factory. My last blog post was written from the road. Right before we hit the flash floods in West Virginia and hunkered down for the night. We found a very nice hotel in Summersville, WV and crawled to the check-in desk around midnight. When we pulled in, we saw one other moving truck in the parking lot and decided we’d park our haul near theirs. Peach (aka my boyfriend, Patrick), parked the truck while I checked in. The woman asked to verify my address when suddenly, I realized… I was actually homeless and did not have a current address! But of course, I gave her the address of the house I own in New York. When I verified the town, I hear two woman behind me yell,

“Cheektowaga? We’re from Kenmore!” 

Turns out, the women were the owners of the other moving truck and they were on their way to Charlotte, NC. Like us, they were stuck in the storm and waiting it out. Until this point, I was tired, hangry, wet, scared, anxious, and wanted to turn around and go home. But these women reminded me that people just like me do things like this ALL the time! Plenty of people move all over the world that had the same upbringing as me. Guess what? Most of the do perfectly fine! At that point in the trip I knew the universe (or God, a higher being, insert your chosen word here) sent those women to remind me that while the trip is difficult, it’s an adventure that I need to embrace. I was reminded that home will always be there and I am not the only person turning my life upside down in pursuit of my dreams.

Two days later, the moving truck was returned, my stuff was in storage and Peach and I decided to embrace the Charleston brunch and shopping culture. We had an incredible brunch at Poogan’s Porch where I fell in love with the place not because of the biscuits and gravy, but because it’s named after a dead dog.

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Then we went to the Charleston City Market so Peach could get his sweet tea fix and we could embrace the artistic culture. We stopped by a stand with homemade jams and I decided to buy a few flavors that we do not typically see in New York. The cashier made pleasant conversation and when he asked where we were from, Peach explained that we moved to Charleston from Buffalo the day before. The gentleman immediately turned off his southern accent and said,

“Oh really?! I am from Elmira, NY!” 

Right then and there we had another small reminder that it’s okay to leave home, follow your dreams, and things may actually turn out okay.

When I thought about moving, I thought of what would be hard. I thought of all the things I would miss. Like, Peach, Misia, my family, Tim Hortons, Fall, Apple Cider, cool weather, Buffalo sports, Snow, and my family’s cottage. What I never expected was how hard everything else was going to be. Such as, constantly being lost and using a GPS, not knowing where things are in the grocery store, getting into bidding wars to try and buy a house, finding terrifying looking bugs and skinks in and around the house, having to find another route home from work because roads are flooded during high tide, and accepting the fact that I am probably just days about from my first “ya’ll.” The things I expected to be hard are hard, and the things I never thought about are harder. I have been to Charleston more times than I can count, but moving here has given me a whole new perspective. It’s comforting to run into people every few days who know where I am from and let me know that I will be okay.

XO J

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