January Reading Review

Reading

As I stated in my New Years goal blog, I am aiming to read 52 books this year. In order to reach this goal, I need to read at least one book every week. I’ve started the year off on a great foot! I read FIVE books this month. I’ll give a quick summary of the books and my opinion on if they’re worth reading.


“Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” 

Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

I started the year off by finally reading a book my therapist recommended to me years ago, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. I have tried reading this book on numerous occasions and never really made it past the first chapter because I would find a different “more exciting” book to read. So, I told myself that no matter how long it took, I was going to read the entire book before I started anything else and let me tell you what, I wish I would have sucked it up and read it sooner. I totally get why my therapist told me to read this book, there were so many great passages about letting go of what people think of you and about learning how to properly love yourself. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who struggles with perfectionism and negative self-talk.

The next book I read has been a favorite of mine ever since I read it back in high school (thank you Mrs. Johnson and APLAC,) Truman Copte’s In Cold Blood captured me back in 10th grade for its raw sense of adventure and crime. I wanted to reread the book without the stress of it being “homework” to see if I  was able to gather different feelings for it. I’m still amazed at how even though I know the characters were awful humans, I couldn’t help but connect with them and at times feeling sympathetic for them. If you like true crime novels, this book is a MUST read!

I decided my next book should be on the lighter side of things to help keep my reading pallet balanced, so I decided to finally read The Memory Keeper’s Daugther by Kim Edwards. I had tried reading this book multiple times over the past year but always set it aside for some other book that I thought was more interesting. It didn’t help that the story started off slow, but once it got going I couldn’t put it down. I’m not sure how to summarize the story without giving too much away, so I encourage you to check it out for yourself. It’s a feel-good story that makes you angry and sad and happy all at once. If you are looking for a light read that doesn’t challenge your mind too much, this is the book for you.

If you haven’t heard of Educated by Tara Westover, you are truly missing out. Educated has made it on many of the top reading lists, including President Obama’s. I have been dying to read this book since it came out, but like all things, I kept pushing it aside and life got in the way. The book is about Westover’s family and the struggles she faced to educate herself. This book left me feeling empowered and reminded me that if I really put my mind to it, nothing and no one can stop me from reaching my dreams and living my life to it’s fullest. 10 for 10 recommend you add this book to the top of your list!

I decided to get an early start on my Black History Month reading list and finished this month off with Incident in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs. Jacobs recounted the horrors of her life as a slave, and her never-ending mission to earn her and her children’s “freedom.” Like any story from this time period, it’s not really a happy one, but the strength of slave women is always inspiring. I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in African American History.

Well, I was able to reach my goal of reading five books this month! My goal for February is to read at least four books, all of which will have some tie to African American history. As always, if you have any recommendations on books you think I should read, please leave them in the comment section and I will add them to my never-ending reading list!

Entering A New Season

Mental Health

Over the past year, I have taken a serious step back and reflected on my life, whether that be the people I associate with, the food I consume, or the ways in which I spend my free time. I have taken a moment to sit back and really reflect on what is important to me and how things affect my mental and physical health. Since being diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety and Perfectionism disorders, I have really focused on my environment and what my triggers are along with what makes me feel good.

A lot of my stress this past year came from graduating college and then the ever daunting “next step.” During the month and a half after graduation, I stayed in Conway and was determined to find a job in Little Rock. Moving home was not an option. While I was looking for a job, I continued working at the daycare and basically had a full-time job there. I applied for jobs, I went on interviews, I did the things I was “supposed” to do after graduating.

Then, one day I snapped. I realized that I was miserable living in Conway. I had been on many interviews with no callbacks and the opportunities in Central Arkansas seemed to be fading from sight. As much as I loved seeing the kids at the daycare, I knew that I had bigger goals and dreams I wanted to achieve, and as much as I hated to admit it, I needed to move home. So, within the next two weeks, I began saying my goodbyes to my “babies” at the daycare, I packed my apartment up and said goodbye to the friends I had made in my four years down there.

From the moment I made the call to my mom telling her I wanted to move back home, a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I felt like I was finally moving in the right direction. Once I got home things just kept getting better, family friends kept telling me about connections they had and thousands of emails were sent out. I had a lunch meeting with my old boss, turned mentor, Allyson, and she straight up told me that I looked like I had lost my spark. She gave me a pep talk about not getting discouraged and reminded me about how badass I was and within I think 2-3 weeks of that conversation, I landed a job.

I am now a Client Engagement Representative for Hugg & Hall Equipment Company. I help manage the digital marketing efforts of the company along with my team. It’s been a great stepping stone into the real world, and I can’t wait to share more with you guys!

What season of life are you in? I’d love to hear how you all have handled moving into new seasons and the challenges and blessings that came with it. Feel free to leave a comment under this post, or reach out through my contact page!JJ - Imperfection

The Awkward Life of Jasmine (As Told by Me…Jasmine)

My Journey

If you know me personally, you are very much aware of the goofy/clumsy/awkward moments that make up my life. I can’t help it (trust me I’ve tried) it’s just who I am and I’ve learned to own it like a boss.

My clumsy moments include simple things like tripping over air, running into doors/walls, to more complex matters like accidentally burning myself with a lighter (multiple times on different occasions,) or catching a blender on fire…yes I caught a blender on fire. We won’t dwell too long on all the clumsy moments I have encountered in my life because there are far too many to recount, but I know that I would not be the awesome person I am today without them.

Now my awkwardness, on the other hand, is semi situational and can occasionally be masked by me acting goofy, but just know that 95% of my life is spent feeling very awkward in a lot of situations. Thankfully I don’t let my awkwardness compromise my confidence….most of the time. While in professional settings I can push my awkwardness aside and kill an interview or presentation, when it comes time for me to talk to someone new, particularly a cute boy, I become a blob of awkward energy.

My awkwardness is paired perfectly with my goofy personality. Now not everyone gets to experience me in my truest form because I’m shy and it can take me awhile to warm up and feel comfortable around people, but the ones that do, boy I bet they wish I’d go back to being shy sometimes. Most of the time I don’t even mean to make my friends laugh, it just happens. I’m not sure if it’s the mix of my sarcasm and uncoordinated movements, or what but people always tell me I’m goofy, and I own it.

The combination of awkward, goofy and clumsy tendencies that live inside of me can be remarkable at times. I’ve learned to laugh through the moments and to not take myself so seriously because I mean we’re all human and anyone who acts like they haven’t passed gas and blamed it on someone else (usually a small child) to save themselves from embarrassment is lying. Needless to say, I’m not perfect, you’re not perfect, so why act like we never have moments of embarrassment.

I know I can’t be the only person who lives most of their life being clumsy, goofy, and/or awkward, so if you’re like me and your life seems like a series of unfortunate (yet funny) events please share some of your best moments in the comment section! I’d love to hear from you all.

Turning Over a New Leaf

My Journey

As I look back over the past year of my life I have grown tremendously. I have accomplished things I never thought possible, I have overcome various obstacles and hardships. I have made friends and lost friends, I have laughed and cried. Through all of this though, I have found that I haven’t fully been living for me.

Yeah all of my accomplishments have been about something I wanted and something I went after to achieve, but I haven’t been living in the moment. I’ve been chasing after some far fetched perfect reality, and have been caught up in living in a daydream land about various hypothetical situations that I lost a sense of what my true reality is.

I’m a naturally stubborn person, and sometimes I ignore what people tell me because it doesn’t fit into the reality I can have in my head. I am very much aware that this is a dangerous place to be, and because of it I have caused myself pain and heartache that could’ve been avoided, but alas it wasn’t. Even through the pain, I have learned a lot about myself, and I’m amazed each day at how strong and resilient I am.

So right now, on this day I have taken a pledge, I am going to turn over a new leaf. I am going to practice living in the now and work on not taking myself as serious. I am going to continue to dream, but I am also going to accept the reality in front of me. I am going to look for happiness within myself before I look to others to make me happy.

I am going to practice going with the flow and let go of the need to plan out and control every aspect of my life. I am going to work on not shutting down and feeling rejected when plans change.

But for right now, I’m taking a break from the outside world. I’m disconnecting myself from all social media. I am going to take time out of each day to meditate and reflect on myself. The people I communicate with during this time are the ones who are close enough to me to have my phone number. I am going to focus on cultivating relationships with the people who genuinely care about me.

During this time I am going to take chances and try and break out of my comfort zone. I’m going to face my fears (except mascots, mascots will always be scary) and do things I wouldn’t normally do. I’m going to do these things for myself too, I’m not going to try and find an “insta-worthy” moment that would generate hundreds of likes. I’m going to explore and experience the world around me and look at the unfiltered, not cropped beauty of the world.

So, as always, even though I am not on social media right now, you can follow me on my journey through this crazy thing we call life.

 

My Anxiety and Me

Mental Health

For the longest time I have thought that anxiety was this big scary thing and if you truly had it then there was something very wrong with you. But hey, guess what, anxiety is not that. In most cases, anxiety and stress are normal (almost) everyday things humans interact with, but in other cases, it can pose a problem.

I’m here today to tell you my story. It’s not some fantastical exciting story, this post is just going to be the raw, real truth.

College is stressful, there is no denying that, and anyone who tries to tell you differently did not do college right. But at what point does normal college stress become something a little more serious? For me, it began during my sophomore year, I had an interesting set of roommates, and I was dealing with some other personal issues. Every day I woke up, it felt like I was walking on eggshells. I was so terrified of saying or doing something wrong that I honestly became a hermit kind of. I went to school, I did my homework, I worked out occasionally, but other than that, I stayed to myself mostly because that’s where I felt safe.

For those of you, that know me well it might surprise you when I say that I am a very shy person. I’m usually that person hugging the wall at a party, but it doesn’t take much for me to get out of my shell. My sophomore year pushed me further into my shell, however.

I started losing hair, I was having a really hard time sleeping, and it just felt like my mind never stopped thinking. I was always deep in my thoughts processing and planning my next move.

It wasn’t until the middle of my junior year that I decided to seek help. I came to this decision fairly easy. I had a few breakdowns and panic attacks and after talking with my mom and a few other family members, the idea of therapy sounded really promising.

I began therapy about two months ago… I think, but that doesn’t matter, what matters is that it’s helped! I never expected to see the results come so fast. My therapist is amazing and makes me feel really comfortable whenever I come in. She has helped me realize that the things I struggle with are normal, but the way I was handling them was not.

She has helped me find healthy coping mechanisms and if one ends up not working for me, she always has another idea to help me reach the other side. I can confidently say that since I’ve started going to therapy I have seen a dramatic improvement in my overall mental health. I’m happier, I’m not nearly as scared of approaching certain situations, and I feel like I’m back in my natural element.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this. Since May is Mental Health Awareness month I decided I would take the time and use my platform to share my story. I also want to encourage you all to not be afraid to seek help if you need it!

21 Lessons Learned

My Journey

My 21st birthday is finally here! This Saturday, Feb 4, I will officially be able to drink…legally. So I thought a great way to celebrate my day of birth with you all would be to share 21 lessons I have learned so far.

  1. Nothing in life comes easy
  2. Friends come and go, and that’s ok
  3. High school was nothing like High School Musical
  4. College is much harder than they make it seem on TV, but it is still loads of fun
  5. Classic Disney songs never get old
  6. Don’t stress the small stuff
  7. If you want to try something new, do it, YOLO
  8. Just keep swimming
  9. Hakuna Matata
  10. Do what makes you happy
  11. Mac and cheese is always the answer
  12. Don’t put goldfish in warm water… They’ll die
  13. It’s better to go with your gut… it’s usually always right
  14. Workout because you want to, not because society tells you to
  15. Your vibe attracts your tribe
  16. This world was made for right-handed people
  17. Don’t go chasing waterfalls
  18. 90’s music is truly the best
  19. Books are the best way to escape reality
  20. Sometimes life hands you major Ls and you have to deal with that
  21. There is no such thing as “too many shoes”

So that’s my list, some of them are funny, some of them are serious, but they have all helped me get to where I am today.

Mixed-Girl Monday Spotlight

Mixed Girl Monday, Race

Hello, all! It has been awhile since I have posted something new for Mixed-Girl Monday. I have been super busy moving back into college and getting everything set up. As promised from my last post this one is going to be all about a mixed girl that inspires me daily.

*Drum roll* It’s Alicia Keys!Alicia Keys

When I was younger and trying to understand what it meant to be biracial, my mom told me about Alicia Keys and how she was biracial. I had heard her music before but it felt nice knowing someone that famous and successful was biracial like me.

To this day Alicia Keys inspires me to be the best and truest me possible. I am not going to get into a super long biography about who she is and where she came from, but I do want to highlight a few of her most recent projects that have inspired me.

A new hashtag as been trending throughout social media, and I am all for it. #nomakeup is a campaign that prominent female celebrities like Alicia Keys have taken hold of to fight against the contour movement the Kardashians have started. It is all about feeling strong and being beautiful in your own skin.

In an interview, Keys said that she has vowed to stop covering up, “not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing.”  It is very refreshing to see someone of her status take a stand on an issue that has been overtaking young girls across the world.

Another movement that Keys has been a part of is taking a stand against gun violence and police brutality. Along with other celebrities, she shared a video telling of 23 ways you could be killed for being black. To me, this is very important because she is biracial and she is taking a stand with other black celebrities and no one is judging her for doing so.

Here’s to a Mixed-Girl that is rocking the world and making a difference!

 

I Have a Kid?

Family

In my first post, I told you all how I am the oldest of 7, and that the other 6 are all boys (yikes)! Today I thought I would share a story/experience that happens more often than I would like.IMG_6479

My brother Marcus is 16 years and 3 days younger than me, we have such a close bond and it’s always amazing to me when I run into people who have that large of an age gap between their siblings.

With that age gap though comes some very interesting problems. The most common of which is that he is mistaken as my child! I have honestly lost count of how many instances I have been in when people ask/assume that he is my son.

The most recent incident was this past weekend when I was out at dinner with my aunt, cousin, Grandma, and Marcus. Since there is a 16-year gap between us I occasionally have to get on to Marcus and make sure he is behaving, especially if my mom or Willie aren’t around. Anyways, Marcus was not eating his food so I was trying to get him to take a bite. The waiter convenientlyIMG_5590.JPG came at the same time as I was telling Marcus (who was refusing) to take a bite. In a sweet voice, the waiter said: “come on take a bite from Mommy.” My aunt looked over at me and tried to hold in a laugh. I just pretended not to notice.

This is a very common situation, though, it has become a joke within the family, and my brother Noah and I joke that people probably think him and I are a couple and Marcus is our kid whenever we take him out places alone. I mean we all look similar enough for it to make sense, and since there is such an age gap I understand how people can make the mistake. It’s just always awkward for both parties whenever it happens.

I know I am not alone in this experience, there are probably thousands if not millions of people around the world who have a younger sibling or cousin that gets mistaken as their child. I am just writing this because it’s funny, and to also let them know that they are not alone!

Sometimes I want to just wear t-shirts that say “He’s my Lil bro” and “She’s my big sis” so that people don’t have to even wonder or assume.

Have you ever had an experience similar to this? If so share your story in the comments below!