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

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

The Las Vegas Massacre… I’m Not Okay.

My heart hurts so badly for everyone impacted by the horrific tragedy that occurred in Las Vegas last night. I can’t even begin to imagine what the victims and their families are going through. I am very blessed to not be directly impacted. So if I am not directly impacted… why am I writing this?

To be honest, I am not sure why this is hurting me so badly. I just need to get it out. Unfortunately, we see this fairly often. My first memory of a mass shooting was when I was in 5th grade and the Columbine High School Shooting occurred. I was in my freshman year of college when the Virginia Tech Shooting occurred and I was leaving an amazingly fun event for HIV Prevention when the Orlando Pulse Night Club massacre happened. All of those events happened when I was in a place that I could say “holy cow, that could have happened to me today.”

But this event did not directly impact me in any way and for some reason, I am more upset than I ever have been by news like this. I saw the news by 6 am and my heart immediately fell into my stomach. It was hard to get ready for work and drive knowing what those people were still going through. I got to work and most people hadn’t heard yet. I wasn’t going to tell them. I didn’t want to talk about it. I couldn’t without breaking down.

Everyone kept saying to go home and hug your loved ones. Well, I just moved to a new city. Away from my family and my boyfriend who I lived with. I don’t have many people here and the only “person” I was going home to was my dog. Losing my family or my boyfriend in a tragedy like that is literally my greatest fear. I wish I still lived in NY and I wish I was still going home to him. I wish I could hug him and cry and tell him how much I love him. I wish I could bury my head in his chest and thank God he’s okay and with me. But I can’t do that. I feel more alone than I ever have in my life. Again, I am blessed. I am so blessed my family and friends weren’t there. I am so blessed that even though they’re 800 miles away, they’re alive. I am blessed that I can talk to them.

But my heart still hurts. My heart hurts for the people who lost their lives and the ones who lived and had to leave the event without the people they went with. My heart hurts in fear of the world we live in. The older I get, the more these events scare me. I have so many emotions and on days like today, they’re hard to sort out.

Whether directly affects or just sad and scared like me, my sincerest condolences. If you’re hurt, angry, sad, and like me, just need to get it out. Email me. Comment below. Write your own post and share it with me. I am here to listen. Thank you for listening to me.

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

How I Got a Promotion my First Month with a New Company

Like many millennials, I was stuck in an entry-level position making $35,000/year struggling to get by. I worked my ass off, had a master’s degree, and all my money went to paying for living expenses and paying off school debt. By 29, I knew I could never afford to get married, I couldn’t even dream of affording to have children, had never taken an actual vacation, and felt guilty for purchasing the occasional Starbucks beverage.

I know so many of you feel me right now. 

While I was working towards my master’s degree, I promised myself this crap would stop. I was GREAT at what I did, but couldn’t move up in my career due to every excuse under the sun.

  • I didn’t have a master’s degree
  • So-and-so has been with the company longer
  • Unfortunately the field isn’t lucrative
  • Budget cuts
  • No work experience outside of one field
  • Not enough experience in my field
  • The hiring manager hired their friend’s niece’s roommate’s sister
  • The company hired internally

So how did I get around these barriers?

I looked up to mentors and relied on their advice. I leaned on my professors, my supervisors, my previous supervisors, and older colleagues. I talked with everyone about how they got to where they were and asked for constructive feedback of how I could do the same. I actively sought out ways to improve my skills AND create strong, meaningful professional connections.

2. I choose a few companies I wanted to work for and focused in on them. Rather than wasting time throwing hundreds of random application to the wall in hopes one would stick, I figured out what I really wanted. For me, I decided to move to another city and focused on two main companies I wanted to work for. I learned as much as I could about the company, their culture, their mission and values, and the other people that worked there.

3. Then I stalked the crap out of people on LinkedIn. I randomly reached out to people at those companies and asked for their advice about how they do to where they were and if they had any advice for me. I ended up making some incredible friends and connecting with my current supervisor. I made sure people knew my name so when my application came across their office, the name would at least ring a bell.

4. I followed my applications with emails expressing interest. Whenever I applied to a position, I would look for the hiring manager (or senior manager in the department) and reach out to them. Almost every time I found their contact information on LinkedIn or on the company website. I would send them an email explaining that although I applied online, I wanted to personally express my interest. I also attached my cv and cover letter and thanked them for their time. Many times, I would send an email and soon after, I’d see they were checking out my LinkedIn profile.

5. I made my intentions known BEFORE accepting a position. When I was offered a position that was less than what I desired, I contacted the hiring manager and let them know that while I was grateful for the offer, I was also highly interested in professional development opportunities and growth. This was scary because they could have rescinded the offer, knowing the position wasn’t the best fit for me. However, having that transparent conversation made me the front runner for a promotion when the next position opened.

6. I worked my ass off. Knowing I was looking to move up quickly, I learned my job responsibilities as quickly as possible and then started volunteering to help in other ways. If I saw someone else who was falling behind, I would ask how I could help. Sometimes, I was given tasks as simple as data entry to help make their job easier. However, assisting with the other tasks gave me the talking points needed for my next interview.

7. I asked permission to apply for another position. I spoke with both my supervisor and the HR manager BEFORE I even put my application in for another position. I did not have to do this, but speaking with them first assured me I was qualified for the position and opened up the conversation about why I wanted to move up and how I was prepared for the extra responsibilities.

8. I treated the interview as if I didn’t know my boss. I was interviewed in my office, during work hours, 5 feet from my own desk. But, when I walked in, I treated the interview as if I was meeting my boss and colleague for the first time. I didn’t talk to much about what I currently do, but I highlighted how my skills could be used in the new position. I also followed up with a thank you email to the hiring committee.

9. I never talked about the position at work. I didn’t tell my coworkers I was interviewing, I didn’t talk about the position as if I was going to get it, and I didn’t treat my current position as if I was leaving it. I remained as professional as possible.

10. I communicated with my supervisor from both a hiring manager prospective and from an employee-supervisor prospective. During the interview, I told her I wanted the position. But, on our bi-weekly one-on-ones, I told her about my desire to grow and how I felt my current position wasn’t the best fit, and why. We talked about my professional growth so she could see my value in the new role and didn’t see me as money hungry.

In the past, I had gone into new positions and kept my mouth shut. I learned quickly that being a push over and saying “I understand” when turned down for promotions wasn’t getting me anywhere. I professionally voice my concerns in my new environment and took a completely different stand when it came to my career goals and how I would achieve them. When it comes to achieving any goals, you can’t just “wait your turn.” You have to KNOW what you want and go out there and grab it!

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.

7 Things I didn’t Expect when I Moved 850 Miles from Home

For 29 years, I lived in the same town. I spent my entire life in the same neighborhood and when I decided to move away from home, I knew it would be hard. I left my fun job, my family, my friends, my serious live-in, handsome boyfriend, the first house I bought, and my 8 year old dog who I adopted as a puppy. I knew I would miss just about everything about home and I knew I would feel lonely in a new city. I tried to prepare for that the best I could. However, in the first two weeks in my new city of Charleston, SC, the hardest parts of the transition weren’t necessarily the ones I expected and the most exciting parts weren’t the reasons I moved.

1. The most frustrating thing I have ever experienced is constantly being lost and trying to follow a GPS. I knew I would rely on my GPS a lot, but I didn’t think about how I have fallen into a routine over the past 29 years and now, I can’t even get a damn cup of coffee to help me through the morning commute. I have to GPS my way to a Starbucks, only to accidentally pass it and not be able to turn around because I am on a one-way street.

2. Suburban Crime is a Culture Shock. Where I grew up, we occasionally had the freak suburban crime, but for the most part, the really bad crime was confined to certain areas of the city. Here, you have murders two blocks about from half million dollar homes. That is a common theme throughout the city and the suburbs, which made house hunting an added challenge.

3. I don’t know where things are in the grocery store. As if finding the grocery stores and farmer’s markets haven’t been frustrating enough, I don’t know where a damn thing is! Grocery shopping becomes an all day affair when you have no idea how to find what you need. Luckily, the gorgeous Summerville, SC Aldi came to my rescue!

4. My fitness routine has gone down the drain. I imagined moving to Charleston and jogging outside year round, paddle boarding in the marsh, and driving up to NC to hike and bike. But, what I completely neglected to remember is that it’s freaking HOT in August and there is no way I can get a decent run in without collapsing from the heat index, I don’t have a gym (yet), I sold my kayak and have no idea where to get a paddle board, and my bike is thrown on top of my couch in my storage unit. It’ll take more than 2 weeks to get back into the grove.

5. Dating to find friends is harder than dating to find a boyfriend. Since I only have one friend in Charleston, I have been making an extra large effort to try and meet new people around the city. It’s EXHAUSTING. When dating to meet a man, I would type in my criteria online as if I was shopping for shoes, and my preferred selections came up on dating sites. With friends, I have forced myself to stay out too late, drinking too much beer, and conversing with people I didn’t even necessarily like in order to try and build up a social circle. I had 5 “dates” in two weeks and met some pretty amazing people and some people I don’t care to see again.

6. For everything I miss about NY, there is something to love about SC. From weather, to restaurants, to shops and boutiques. As soon as I start to miss something from home, I discover something else that is new and exciting that I can’t get in NY.

7. I don’t want to go back. I was venting to a new friend about some struggles I was facing and I was having a really hard time being away from my boyfriend and dog. He caught me off guard when he said “If you could go home tomorrow, would you?” My immediate response was “No.” Sitting on fun bar patio, listening to live music on a Saturday night, in 85 degree weather, I felt happy. Yes, I am sad, and frustrated, and sometimes even very depressed. But overall, I am happy with my decision to have moved. I am LOVING the warm weather, and I can’t wait to get into a routine and keep exploring!

XO J

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