"Like a lotus flower we too have the ability to rise from the mud bloom out of the darkness and radiate into the world."
On Easter 2017 there was an abrupt ending to what I thought was my happily ever after.
I was left feeling devastated, smashed into a million pieces and I was asking the million dollar questions of: Why? What the hell just happened? Was I not good enough? What did I do wrong? This event forced me to dig deep and start soul searching to find out who truly I WANT to be. The only choice I saw was moving forward even if it was at a crawling speed. This is where my gut check, story of personal growth and a journey began.... and it is something to really be proud of.
In one year I: started practicing gratitude, self published four coloring books, started a business, graduated with my masters, learn to meditate (and love it), began practicing mindfulness (still want to slap people), did a segment on ABC 27’s Good Day PA about my coloring books, scheduled events with local businesses (St Thomas Roasters, The Vineyard and Brewery in Hershey, Embellas) created artwork for Earl David Reed's comedy set, made it through each holiday, anniversary and PSU football season, all while learning how to live and enjoy life on my “own” again. I put own in quotation marks because through this I was never on my own. My friends and family came through for me in ways I’ll never be able to adequately express gratitude.
I am a way stronger woman than I thought I was. Being sensitive is who I am and being able to work through my stuff takes courage. It does not mean I’m weak it means I’m healthy. I have learned to love alone time (which is huge for me) because you are the only person that won’t leave you or let you down. Every quote and cliché about transformation, closure, journey and finding strength that you seek on Pinterest and Instagram sums up my life this year.
I learned to say NO and stand up for myself when I feel I need to. I think I am a more authentic and real person. I’m not always trying to please everyone else and it is LIBERATING. I have learned the importance of taking care of myself first so that I can take care of others. Because I am able to practice mindfulness I’ve learned to worry A LOT less, I can even sleep through the night without an aid of any sort (sleep is something I struggled with way before this event).
As much as possible I try and stay in the present and trust the process. I may have a bad day/moment(s) but with practicing mindfulness that’s what they stay. They stay moments, instead of spiraling downward. I have learned that gratitude goes along way. I have learned that I have a lot of growing to still do but if I can do all of this in just one year, then a lifetime has endless amounts of beautiful experiences and opportunities that await me.
The biggest lesson I learned is that we are ALL in this together. Everyone experiences heartbreak and ache at some point in their lives for numerous reasons, all different and all meaningful. While the struggle of life is real and by no means do I live in lollipop land with rainbows and unicorns, I am learning to enjoy the ride or at the very least be more aware of how I am living my life.
At this point in time I am not in the place of saying I’m grateful for this experience (let’s be honest it hurt(s) like hell) but I do believe he was an assignment from the universe that I had to show up for, and I did and will continue to.
This is where my business and journey began. Cheers to the exciting future and all that it brings.
1. I was Born & Raised in Harrisburg, PA. #717
2. I Graduated from Penn State with a bachelors in Art Education. I have my Master's in Education from Wilkes University.
3. I enjoy working out at my family's gym Power Train Harrisburg, getting an awesome spray tan from my girl Kelly Lawrence and my nails done. #workhardplayhard
4. My full time job is teaching elementary art to over 600 students in the Central Dauphin School District at: North Side, South Side and Middle Paxton Elementary School. I also am a Graduate of the Central Dauphin School District.
5. My family is Penn State Football season ticket holder.
6. My nick name is "Jess The Mess" for obvious reasons.
7. Being a river rat in the summer is my absolute favorite.
8. I love to binge watch while I create my artwork.
9. Practicing mindfulness, mediation and gratitude is very important to me and my journey.
10. I have the absolute best friends and Family.