Peace out 2013. You’re done.

Well, it’s New Years Eve and I’m sitting at work doing absolutely nothing because all of my clients have today off.

This time of year brings mixed emotions with it. Whether we want to or not, we all look back on the past year and see what we accomplished, what we didn’t, and what we want to change in the coming year.  A lot has gone on in my life this year, it’s been like a freakin roller coaster. I started the year out all sorts of down and depressed because I was turning 30 and felt like I had nothing to show for it. I was nowhere near where I wanted to be by that point in my life and I felt like a complete failure. The majority of my days from November 2012 to the end of January 2013 were spent either crying or fighting back the tears. In case anyone was wondering, crying while washing your face is a BAD IDEA! Pull it together or you’ll be tasting face wash til morning!

I threw myself a flippin awesome birthday party though – live music, a photobooth, 50+ people, black and white themed, semi-formal – it was like a wedding reception but with no groom. Just me. Don’t let that last part fool you, we had fun. If you’re friends with me on facebook you can see the photobooth pictures here. Side note: If you’re looking to do something like this check out Tusia Photography. Dave is an incredible photographer.

But then, as it always does, life started to pick up again. I’m noticing a cycle. Not only is winter cold and dreary for me (I’m a snow-hater) but I’m rarely happy. Gotta break that…

Anyway, In March I was a part of my first Shoreline Night of Worship which was held at my old church. This was HUGE for me. Not gonna lie, I almost threw up on my way to the first practice. I knew I was different, but would they? How was I supposed to act? Could I really be just me? The answer was yes. So much healing and restoration happened that night in my heart it was unbelievable. Think about it, I was asked to lead worship in a place that 4 years prior I had been asked not to. Simply amazing. I have grown and changed SO MUCH from that original girl, and the best part is that I didn’t need to prove it or rub it in anyone’s face. David Wagner (who is one of my favorite people on the planet btw) said “Your anointing will announce you” and I saw that first hand.

In April I got to see Sara Bareilles on her solo tour at Toads Place! For those of you who don’t know me that well, I LOOOOVVEEEEE her! I want to be her best friend. She’s real, she writes from the heart, she doesn’t sugarcoat anything, she makes you feel like you’re a part of something when you’re at her shows and not like you’re watching someone behind glass, she’s a friggin phenomenal singer; and most importantly, because of all these things, she inspires me to write and sing. And if you’ve heard some of my songs that would be blaringly obvious to you.

In May I got to visit one of my DIVE sisters, Faith, in New Orleans. THAT was an experience haha. Bourbon Street is an entirely different world people, and it’s delightful…as long as you’re not easily offended. Faith is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met and I was so blessed to spend a week with her and her family.

The spring also brought me a new relationship that completely took me by surprise. I forgot how much I liked being part of a team. How good it felt to know someone out there cared about me and actually did something about it. What it was like when someone wasn’t just using me and ready to drop me like a fly at will with no explanation. I was on cloud 9 and convinced I finally found the man that was made for me. But just as quickly and unexpectedly as it started, it also ended, for reasons I still don’t fully understand and doubt I ever will. And I’m ok with that…well…I’m trying to be ok with that haha. He’s still a part of my life, we’re friends, we just need to figure out what that looks like. And if things change, so be it, but I can’t hold on to that hope. It’s not fair to my heart.

The fall. That’s when things started to fall apart in almost every aspect of my life (work, friendships, relationships, etc.) and I didn’t understand any of it. I would tell people that the only thing that made any sense in my world was worship so I was clinging to that with every last bit of strength I had. Some of them probably thought I was kidding or exaggerating, but I was dead serious, and still am to a certain extent. I won’t bore you with the questions that no one can answer, I’ve already (for the most part) come to terms with the fact that these will become unsolved mysteries in my story. We’ll just add them to the pile. But that’s part of life right? Just know that I’m actively trying to move past them and on to the next chapter in this chick flick that is my life.

In a lot of ways I feel like I’m ending 2013 the same way I ended 2012 – with the same list of wants, desires and needs. But that’s only part of what makes me me. If I look at who Jess was as a whole one year ago I have definitely come a long way. I’ve learned to love more, I’ve learned to open up and not have as many walls up, I have more freedom in worship and I’m more confident in my ability to sing  just to name a few.

As for 2014? I plan on making this my year. I’m going to do more things for me. I’m going to travel more. I’m going to do more things that scare the crap out of me. I’m going to become a runner. I say this all the time, but this time I mean it. I plan on doing the Run or Dye 5K race in Hartford in July and the Warrior Dash in Madison in September and who knows, maybe I’ll find others! I want to get my own place. I want to release my first CD. Maybe I’ll make Marie Hackley’s dream come true and finally audition for The Voice hahaha. I want to go back to eating healthy and actually use my gym membership that I’m now paying for. I want to keep up with this blog and turn it into something more than just a place for me to vent and babble but a place where people can get encouragement and know they’re not alone. But most importantly, I want to be ok with the fact that some of these things may not happen next year. 2014 is going to rock my socks off, I’ve already decided, now I just need to sit back and watch it happen.

Weekend Update

…like SNL’s Weekend Update, but with less humor and more of what happened in my life and not so much around the world. It’s ok, it won’t be too hard for you to imagine, after all, Tina Fey is my doppelgänger:

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See? Just like twins!

Anyway, Saturday I made the trek up to Uncasville to a friend’s house for a post-Christmas Christmas party. It was pretty low key, nothing too crazy. Unless you consider adults joining the kids in Just Dance to be “crazy”. Not gonna lie, that was pretty fun, especially when I told Max to “shake what his mama gave him” and let me tell you, he did NOT disappoint hahaha! Esther made some delicious lasagna, including a gluten free one for me! Half of it is in my freezer right now and I’m pretty pumped about that. We also played one of my favorite games ever: CatchPhrase. If you haven’t played this, do yourself a favor and get on that. So. Much. Fun. I also got to spend some quality time with my godkids, which is always a plus! Here’s a picture of me with my goddaughters, Julia and Leila and their bff Emma:

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The picture quality isn’t the best, but the people quality is off the charts! I love these girls!

My fun was cut short there to head over to my first Shoreline Night of Worship practice. I’m so excited for this new endeavor, you have no idea! Leading worship is my passion, it’s what makes my heart come alive and I’m pretty sure that’s obvious to anyone who witnesses it. I feel so fortunate to have found what I was put on this earth to do and even more so that I get to do it! Our first night of worship is February 1st at 7pm at Cornerstone Church in Clinton. Come one come all!

Sunday morning I woke up at 6am and couldn’t figure out if I was excited or nervous. Does that ever happen to you? Well, it happens to me. To go along with my previous post, I decided to go with the positive and be “excited” for the day. It wasn’t the BEST day of my life, but it definitely did not disappoint. I got to lead worship (see my previous paragraph for how I feel about that) and then got some tea and aimlessly drove around with a friend I haven’t had quality time with since October. It was cut short, but beggars can’t be choosers and I’m thankful for the time that I got with him. Quality time is HUGE in my book, definitely one of my love languages (along with giving gifts, physical touch and chocolate).

I finished Sunday with one of my favorite things ever: family dinner. Now, this isn’t family I was put into, this is family I chose, and they’re the best thing that’s happened to me in the last 5 years. I cherish each and every one of them and can honestly say I don’t know where I’d be without them in my life. Anyway, this dinner consisted of breakfast and football. Pretty delightful, no?

ImagePomegranate Chia Seed Pancakes (my creation)

ImageThe great bacon fight of 2013

Bethany supplied the fresh OJ (side note: I kinda want a juicer now. And my birthday is next Wednesday…just saying). Gabriel made eggs and bacon with help from Christi, Bethany, Sergio and Michelle. Why so many people to make bacon? Have you ever burned it in the oven? That’s why. And Patrick? Well, he just partook of our efforts. But that’s ok, because in the summer he grills for us, so it all evens out.

All in all, I’d say it was a pretty good weekend 🙂

Positive Thinking

In this day and age it’s so easy to dwell on the bad things that happen in life and define ourselves by them. Everything around us is a constant reminder that we’re too thin or too fat or all alone or not doing anything with our lives or a bad parent or not eating right or… The list goes on, you get it. Nothing is ever good enough for society. But the reality is that everyone’s lives are completely different, and while someone may be excelling in an area you struggle with, that doesn’t mean they’re not drowning somewhere else.

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I have no idea who Steve Furtick is (thanks Pinterest) but he’s right. We really do need to be careful with comparing ourselves to other people and with how we rate our own success.

Last night I went out to dinner with some friends that I haven’t seen in at least a year, if not more. So when they said “What’s new? What’s going on in your world?” I had to be ready with something happy and positive. And I’m sad to say that was difficult for me. I could have told them exactly how I’m feeling lately, about the all crap that’s going on and how nothing really makes any sense and how I cried myself to sleep the other night, but I was all set with being the Debbie Downer of the table. It took me a bit, but I did come up with a few good things that are happening in my life: I have a steady job with the best coworkers and management anyone could ever ask for (seriously, you should be jealous), I lead worship on a regular basis at my church and am a part of SNOW (Shoreline Night Of Worship) which is my passion and what makes me come alive, I’m debt free (wooo!!!) and am planning a trip to Cyprus to visit some friends who I miss like a kid would miss cake at fat camp. Generally speaking, they seem to always be the same things, but hey, at least I can count on them for a steady foundation to my happiness, right?

It’s ok to be sad and upset about things, please don’t get me wrong. But we shouldn’t dwell on them. We shouldn’t define ourselves by them.

We are so much more than the crap that gets flung at us on a daily basis!

So go ahead and get upset. But then go for a run, cry it out, do kickboxing, do yoga, have a wine and cheese and crackers night in sweats with your bestie, heck do jujitsu for all I care! Just make sure that you move on (and that the person you’re fighting is ready for what’s coming at them haha).

I’ll leave you with a picture of us from last night, these people really are great and I wish we lived closer than 900 miles, but that makes these moments even more special.

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And if you want to leave a comment on the great stuff happening with you, I’d love to read it!

Gotta give the people what they want!

 

 

 

 

I’ve toyed with the idea of starting a blog for at least a year now but I never did, for plenty of reasons. Ok, let’s be honest: I was too lazy. But then I had this revelation:

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and I figured, if over 100 people follow my stream-of-consciousness on twitter, why wouldn’t people read a blog? So here we are, almost a month later, and it begins. 

There are a few things I’d like to address in my first post: 

 

1. Everyone is always saying that I should write more. I mean, I’m trying to be (ok I AM – yeah that’s still weird) a songwriter and all writers should do one thing: write, write, write, write. I can’t tell you how many journals I have sitting in my room that have a few pages written on and that’s it. I try, I really do, but it’s just not high on my priority list. So I figure, if I have people to be held accountable to maybe I’ll actually do it. Ha! We’ll see how that goes. If I know people are reading it I’m hoping I’ll make more of an effort. 

 

2. This blog probably won’t have a theme. Unless live-journaling is a theme. It’ll be my ramblings (like twitter but with more than 140 characters). An organized chaos if you will.

 

3. I would like to formally apologize now if I offend or upset anyone. I feel like that’s bound to happen at some point.

 

4. I wanted to give a little shout out to the 4 people on twitter who were all-for this new endeavor. 

First: Wayne LaFlamme. Gonna be honest, I don’t really know him all that well but he has two adorable children, one of which I got to make an Avenger’s themed birthday cake for and a beautiful wife who I seem to have a ton in common with. I feel like if I actually hung out with them instead of just stalking their adorable children online we’d be pretty good friends. 

Second, Denise Cote. This woman is one of the few who I will actually follow back on social media. She has a great sense of humor with witty comebacks. According to twitter she’s a “Former feminist-agnostic-libertarian-intellectual snob turned social and fiscal conservative lover of Jesus.” and because of this I feel like she doesn’t get offended as easily as other people. 

Third, Tim Bolton. Ok, I’m pretty sure I used to babysit this kid. If not, I definitely was at his grandmother’s while she watched all of us growing up. It’s crazy to think about how long you’ve known someone sometimes, especially when you met as kids. Seeing how he’s grown into such an amazing, well, man (weird!) is just incredible. I love the fact that he came back into my life!

And finally, Jessica Latshaw. This girl probably has absolutely no idea how much she’s encouraged and influenced me over the last 15 years. I first “met” her when I went to a youth conference and she was playing piano and singing on the worship team. Noticing any similarities? Yeah. Then listening to the songs that she would write and actually meeting her and her family when I went to a Leadership Training School that her brother’s (among others) put on, I was done. If this girl could do that, and be a normal person in the process, then so could I! Granted it’s been 12 years and I’m still working on it, but whatever. We were never close by any stretch of the means, but I liked her. They all just kinda fell off my grid for a while, until almost 2 years ago when this went viral and I had a Buddy The Elf moment at work: OMG! I KNOW HER! So now I stalk her on pretty much everything. It’s pretty great. 

 

So there ya have it folks, my first blog post. We’ll see what happens from here.