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!

New Year, Better Me

My Journey



“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” —George Eliot

Well, it’s the new year, so I’m sure your social media feeds are full of everyone talking about their resolutions and “new year, new me,” and all that other mumbo jumbo. Well, I’m here to kind of do the same thing. This year I’m going to really start working on making my dreams a reality. So, with that being said, here is what you can expect to see from me in 2019:

Books:

One of my goals this year is to read at least 52 books, so that means I should hopefully read a book a week. Reading has always been one of my favorite hobbies, and during 2018 it served as a way for me to relax and escape from the everyday stressors of life. I am always looking for book suggestions and would love for you all to send me suggestions!

At the end of every month, I will post a summary of the books I’ve read along with my personal review of the book and any other fun information I learned from the books over the month.

Health/Fitness:

Another goal of mine is to increase my physical health, I plan to do this by working out at least four days a week. I currently work out at the most amazing studio, with the most badass trainer, Debbie Olivas. Through the course of the year, I will share any and all milestones I reach along with different tips and tricks.

I am also making a commitment to live a nondairy lifestyle due to my “lactose intolerance” and “possible dairy allergy” uggghh. So again, if you have any recommendations on snacks, brands, recipes, etc, please send them my way! I have been a lover of all things cheese and ice cream so you can imagine the struggle it’s been to give up that part of my life.

Mental Health:

In 2018 I dedicated a lot of my time and energy into bettering my mental health and learning how to love myself, so I am going to continue this journey in 2019 because it is a never-ending journey, and there is still so much left for me to work on. If you’ve been following along with my journey, you know that I have been very transparent in the journey to understand my anxiety and perfection disorder, and I want to continue that level of transparency in 2019.

My Brand:

Finally, my biggest goal this year is to start my company, Conley Communications. My vision is for Conley Communications to be a place where people can come and receive marketing, PR, and graphic design services. So, if you are in the need of any of those, please don’t hesitate to reach out and learn more about all that I offer!

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

It’s Okay to be Selfish Sometimes

Family, Mental Health

I have come to the realization that now is the perfect, and possibly only time in my life for me to be 100% selfish. Now I don’t mean selfish in the way of not sharing or withholding things from other people, I’m talking about being selfish with my time, with what I choose to do and who I choose to do it with.

Our twenties are the most confusing and challenging decade of our life because for the first time in our lives we have complete control over what we do. For the most part, we aren’t tied down with kids and family life, we have the liberty of finding a job where ever in the world we so choose, and we don’t have to answer to our parents anymore. (I’m not saying be disrespectful, but we don’t have to live by the “house rules” anymore.)

So I am taking this time to be selfish, I have a lot that I want to accomplish in this next decade, and I’m not going to let anything or anyone hold me back. My dream is to work in a PR or Ad agency in Chicago, and I plan on making that dream a reality in the next two years. But first, I need to graduate.

I’m also being selfish with the people I choose to let into my life. Just because you’ve known someone for a long time, or even if that person is a family member, doesn’t mean you have to let them be a big part of your life. Always be respectful, but the sun doesn’t need to rise and set on what they think about you.

I heard a great sermon at church a few weeks ago, and one thing that stuck with me from the message was a simple question; “what happens when helping you is hurting me?”

People are most likely going to get mad at you for taking care of yourself instead of taking care of them, you might get called names and you might lose some friends. But the truth is if they can’t see that you’re being selfish in order to better your self and regain control over your life, then they weren’t the kind of friends you needed in the first place.

I’m taking an oath to work on being selfish with my time and energy. I am too young to be stressing out about things that I have no control over. I don’t need to worry about what people think about the choices I make, as long as I’m being smart and the choice makes me happy, that’s all that should really matter.

I encourage all of you reading this to do the same, even if you aren’t in your twenties, find an area of your life that needs a little TLC and become selfish with it. Take time out of the crazy, hectic day for you. Your mental health is far too precious to be taken for granted.

If you have any helpful self-help/mental health practices that you try to work into your daily routine, I would love to hear about them in the comment section below!

Alive and Well

My Journey

Well, I’ve made it a week without social media, and guess what, I’m still alive. I haven’t broken out in hives or had thousands of mental breakdowns, my life hasn’t blown up in a ball of fiery failure and destruction. That may seem drastic, but let’s be real… we all think that’s what will happen if we totally disconnect from social media.

In fact, my life has improved. I don’t feel this constant pressure to post something perfect that captures only a small percentage of my actual life. I am not bogged down with the feeling of my life not being adequate. I feel liberated in some ways because for the first time since I joined the social media world, I am living my life for me and not for the likes, retweets, or comments from people I hardly know.

Don’t get me wrong, I do miss social media, I miss being connected in the talk around campus, I miss getting updates on current events (both political and pop culture.) But other than that, I don’t miss it that much. I think we (millennials) can get so caught up in feeling like our lives will end the moment we get off social media, but the reality is, our lives don’t begin until we do.

We are at such a formative point in our lives, we are shaping our futures, and creating our lifestyles. We deal with enough pressure from trying to get through college with the least amount of debt as possible and searching for the perfect job that will help us pay off that debt while not making us miserable.  The last thing we need to be stressed about is how our social media lives compared to those of our followers and “friends.”

We are in our twenties, we don’t have a lot going for us, we are all confused and lost, and just trying to figure out how to fully live on our own. And I don’t care how pretty your Instagram feed looks, at the end of the day, we are all riding the same struggle bus, so let’s get off the high horse and accept that it’s ok for our lives to be a mess.

I’m preaching to myself just as much as I’m preaching to whoever decided to read this post. I was trapped in the same endless cycle of refreshing newsfeeds and opening and closing different social media apps, feeling like my life wasn’t fabulous enough or that I was a failure for not having my shit together. But I decided to cut myself from the cycle, I’ve taken a step back, I’m focusing on learning about myself and what I want to accomplish in my life. I’m reconnecting with my true self, and I encourage everyone reading this to do the same.

This break from social media is amazing, I have so much more time to dedicate myself to my school work and other hobbies that I usually ignore. So I still have a few more weeks of this break from the social world, but as of now, I’m not dying, my vitals are fine, and I feel a lot freer.

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!