unlikely friends

The story of how Gwen came into our homes is kind of a doozy. A friend of ours couldn’t keep her cats anymore and needed someone to foster until she could find a good home for her. Hailey and I looked at each other and immediately agreed. We had been playfully discussing bringing a cat into the home but the opportunity hadn’t yet presented itself. When Cyd brought Gwen home we were a little worried about how she would fit in with the dogs. Nova and Joplin are both so high energy and playful and the trope of cats not liking dogs has been painfully true in our experience. But Cyd said that Gwen interacted with the dogs in the house just fine so we were confident that things would be okay, at least until we found her a good home.

It took Gwen less than a week to get acclimated to our home, the dogs and our house life she fit right in. Gwen came into our home as a foster pet, but after seeing how quickly she fit in with our family we couldn’t possibly let her go. She has brought a warmth into our home that everyone loves. Gwen, Joplin and Nova are three peas in a pod. They play together, sleep together and get along so well it’s crazy. It’s hard to imagine what life was like in our home without her. As I’m writing this she’s cuddled up on my wrists making typing quite difficult but I don’t even mind.

The picture above is the regular sleeping arrangement for Gwen and Nova. It’s funny how the assumption that cat’s and dogs can’t be friends kept us from bringing another awesome family member into our home for so long. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies, and the friendships and relationships that will help us the most are right in front of us. Gwen, Nova and Joplin are best friends and I am so happy that Gwen became apart of our family.

a letter to my younger self

Dear Jessica,

I almost started this letter by calling you Jess but then I remembered that you don’t go by that name yet…..weird….Anyways, I’m not really sure how to properly start a letter to yourself so I’ll just get right into it. There are a couple things that I want to tell you so try to bare with me. In my ripe old age of 22 I have grown increasingly long-winded. That shouldn’t really be a problem for you considering how many books I know you consume on a weekly basis. Anyways, here goes nothing.

I wanted to start by saying that you are so beautiful. I know how much time you spend questioning and doubting you beauty but I am here to affirm you. Sis you are GORGEOUS. Your smile is downright infectious, stop being so self conscious that it’s “too big” there is no such thing. Your body it to DIE for, I know people make you feel like you should be embarrassed or hide it but you wear whatever you want and whatever makes you happy and comfortable. You have beautiful hands, when the girls start getting manicures you won’t even need them! I know it’s hard to feel beautiful in the environment that you are in, but don’t let those white people cause you to doubt just how beautiful you are. You do not need their approval for that fact to be true. And you especially don’t need the approval of those boys. Their validation is temporary and you deserve so much better. I know, I know, I sound just like Dad. I’m sorry to tell you that he is unfortunately right about a lot more than just boys.

Next, hang out with Alyssa more. I know she’s your little sister and sometimes she’s mean to you and it’s not “cool” to be best friends with your little sister but she loves you so much and she is the best friend you are constantly looking for. Cherish her and the relationship that you guys have, it will get you though more than you can even imagine. Apologize when you hurt her feelings, that stuff can stick with a person for a long time. Having a sister as kind-hearted and funny as her is rare and you are super lucky. She’s great and way too smart for her own good.

Mom and Dad are going to be okay. I know Mom has been really sick recently, and Dad has been kind of distant and life right now is scary and uncertain at home but I promise she’s going to be okay. And call Grandma more often. I know old people are weird, and sometimes it’s annoying having to repeat yourself over and over again but she loves you so much. She’s got crazy stories and she’s seen so much and she genuinely wants to share it all with you. Every phone call makes her day and I know it makes yours too. It sucks to say, but she won’t be around forever and you’d be surprised how much you really miss her once she’s gone.

Lastly Jessica, be proud of who you are sweetie. You hide yourself from the people around you too often and you have no reason to do that. Be yourself! You are confident, intelligent, creative, passionate and more amazing that you have yet to realize. I’m still realizing how cool I really am on a day to day basis. But I want you to start now. Be you. Be loud, inquisitive, rowdy, funny, quiet, dumb. Ask those hard questions about life, your religion anything. Jessica, love who you want. I’ll say that again so you really hear me. Love who you want. Stop forcing yourself into the boxes that those around you have created, it is impossible to try to shove that dynamic personality into a tiny little cube of blah. I know it’s scary and I know you’re worried about what others think, and about loosing your friends but that doesn’t matter. The people who are meant to be in your life will love you for YOU. period.

I love you Jessica, keep being you.

PS: Stop straightening your hair I know you’ve been thinking about it. Mane Choice, Mielle and Carols Daughter are the products for you.

PPS: try some strawberries. I know the seeds being on the outside is scary but they’re really good, I promise.

international woman’s day

Happy International Woman’s day to every single woman out there. Sometimes it’s hard being a woman, but I wanted to use my platform to address any woman who may stumble upon this blog post today.

I know you’re tired sweetie. I know you’re probably overworked, and you might even feel underappreciated. But know that everything you are doing for either yourself, the people you love or people you might not even know does not go unnoticed. I’m proud of you for everything that you do. No action is to small and I acknowledge everything that you are doing to better yourself and those around you. Make sure you take some time to breath. Take some time to do something that you love, especially if you haven’t in awhile. If you’re a student, take a day off and sleep in. If you’re a working lady, take the day off and spend some quality time with yourself. I know as woman sometimes we forget to focus on us, but I’m giving you that permission to do something good for you. You’re doing amazing! And take comfort in knowing that you are not alone.

overwhelmed

A seemingly uncontrollable feeling.

It seems that no matter what you do, how much planning, or overtime, good energy you put into the universe, positivity you surround yourself with its not enough.

We’ve been stuck in this pandemic purgatory for a little less than a year now, zoom meetings and mask wearing have become our norms and I’m overwhelmed.

School is overwhelming, assignments seems arbitrary, professors seem heartless, and pre-set academic goals seem pointless.

Work is monotonous, money is fleeting, bills are pilling up and….

I’m exhausted.

I want to enjoy life but it seems like I’m stuck in a cycle I never asked to enter in the first place and there’s no way out.

Go to school

get a degree

go into debt

get a job to pay off your dept

work

work

work

die.

Give your emplyee’s a break, give your students a break, give your coworkers, friends and family memebers a break.

We’re overwhelmed.

the mirror of erised

It shows us nothing more than the deepest most desperate desires of our heart”

Albus Dumbledore

So through quarantine I have been making my way through the Harry Potter series, as of recently I had not read a single book or seen a single movie and I thought it was about time to see what they hype was about. In book one, Harry stumbles upon the Mirror Of Erised hidden deep within Hogwarts. The quote above is Dumbledore explaining to Harry what the mirror does, and Harry then understands why he saw his family. If you haven’t read the Harry Potter series let me give some back story. Harry Potter lost both of his parents and his whole family in infancy at the hand of Voldemort. Harry was thus raised by his aunt and uncle and the family situation was less than ideal. The Dudley’s treated Harry like absolute trash. He lived under the stairs, never celebrated a proper birthday, and was basically treated like a house servant until his letter of acceptance came from Hogwarts. When Harry looked in the mirror he saw his entire family, people who he had no memories of, people he had never met, but people he so desperately wanted to know. A loving family is what Harry desired more than anything, and even deeper than that he wanted his parents back.

Now my question to myself and to you dear reader is this…..what would you see in your mirror?

To answer that question personally, I would have to really peel back my personal layers and do some intentional self-reflection. At first thought however, I believe that my mirror would reveal my desire to be whole, to be 100% myself. I desire to be confident in who I am as an individual, connected with myself on a spiritual level, and living my life the way it was intended. Exploring the world and continuing to build my passions. In the mirror I am not a slave to my own insecurities or the egregious expectations of people who do not matter. I am existing completely and totally as myself, surrounded with like-minded, spiritual, emotionally mature people who challenge and support me in all my endeavors. The person in the mirror is being unapologetically herself, existing on this planet as a being fully in-touch with their soul and inner child, a being who is content with the unknowns of the universe and instead chooses to live every day to the fullest. I am not weighed down by depression, or anxiety and I am not a slave to capitalism. I spend my time painting, writing poetry, playing instruments, communing with friends and connecting with nature and the universe on a spiritual level. I am free and happy.

My challenge to you reader is to think about what you might see in your mirror. It is attainable? what can you do right now to make the deepest desires of your heart a reality? Are you on a path presently to achieving the desires of your heart? Take a minute to reflect and look in the mirror, you might be surprised at what you see.

Things that spark joy….,.

sometimes my depression and anxiety really drag me into a rut and it’s hard for me to get out. But one thing my therapist taught me was the importance of genuine gratitude and remembering the things in life that bring you joy. So enjoy my list of things that bring joy to my life on a daily basis.

  • thunderstorms
  • doggy cuddles
  • fresh flowers
  • cutting fruit
  • finishing a good book
  • a hot cup of coffee
  • a cold glass of water
  • thrifting a pair of pants that fit perfectly
  • waking up a couple minutes before your alarm
  • cooking
  • family dinners
  • making new friends
  • a new braid set
  • a good twist out
  • cartoons
  • cinnamon rolls
  • chicken tortilla soup
  • waking up and hearing the birds sing
  • walking in the snow at night
  • painting
  • wring poetry and music

wordless wednesday

I have dubbed wednesdays “wordless wednesdays” which basically means every wednesday I am going to be positing photographs that Hal and I have taken throughout the week with no context or explanation. I choose the photos based on the week that we have had and they offer a look into what I have seen on my day to do. Enjoy!

what’s in a name?

hey there….

my name is Jessica. My name toped the baby name charts as one of the top 5 babygirl names of 1999, the year I was born. Ever since I was a kid I always thought my name was remarkably unremarkable. There were always at least four other girls in my classes with the same name, and the normal form of introduction became my first name with the addition of my last initial. “Jessica R” was what I was coined and referred to through grade school. When people realized they could also use adjectives to describe me the phrase “you know, the black one” was more than popular, but that’s a different kind of post imbedded in there.

Sadly, I’ve never really felt connected to my name, a mix of disdain for its plainness and its connectedness to whiteness bread an intense desire from a young age for a name change. I would play around with nicknames in my youth, Jessie, J-Rob, Robinson even, and in recent history have settled on the name Jess. One year in elementary school I tried to get people to call me Jennifer but that didn’t really take off. It’s unfortunate that I feel such a disconnect to my birthname, given the origins and how it came about. I was named after my maternal grandmother, Jessie. A wonderful woman who I unfortunately never had the pleasure of meeting. When my parents found out they were pregnant with a girl they knew that had to honor her memory. Even as I write this, and I scan my memories of childhood I come across many instances of discomfort surrounding my name. My name is of Hebrew origin and means God Beholds, which is also rather fitting, considering my religious upbringing and rather miraculous birth. My mother was diagnosed infertile 3 years before I was born and my parents had all but lost hope of bearing children. My mothers pregnancy was celebrated by family, and church friends and once I was born during my first year, my nickname was “the miracle baby”. And what a miracle indeed. 

Upon further research, I learned my name is also found in Shakespearean literature in a play called “The Merchant of Venice” so I guess my love of literature and eventual Shakespearean obsession was predestined. ‘Jessica’s’ always seem to follow a mold. They are kind individuals who never seem to struggle to make friends and they embody femininity, sweetness and charm. And while I resonate with some of my name-sakes characteristics, the femininity is something I feel I do not always embody. My struggle with my gender identity and expression has only been amplified in recent years, and with that self discovery has come the realization that my name is just not who I am. “Jessica” might have once existed, but as I have grown, and changed, and learned more about myself I realize I am no longer her. I will continue to go by my nickname of Jess, which feels like the name of a more gender-neutral, level headed, and cool individual that I can relate to. Jess loves poetry, connecting with nature, Shakespeare and uses they/them pronouns. People all over the world and in different culture regularly change their names, choosing names with meanings that fit who they are as they grow. So let me take a moment to reintroduce myself. 

Hi. My name is Jess, it’s nice to meet you.

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