Beginnings: The Secret of Bags

The Secret of Bags

My mom wore big purses everywhere she went. In them, she stuffed tissues, wipes, a notepad, a myriad of pens, lipstick and lipgloss, a large tube of body lotion: for cracked hands, and ashy knees, and crusty faces, paperwork, old envelopes, a coal stick shaped like lipstick but was for covering grey hair, a pad or two, and anything else thrown in throughout the day. 

It took two hands to carry, ten minutes to search, and all my strength to hold on my lap while she drove. It held secrets, and pain, and god’s will. I always thought when it came time for me to carry a bag, that I’d go as small as possible. 

Something cross body, big enough for a sidekick, a small sleeve for cards and cash, and a chapstick. 

I didn’t realize that we become our parents, in one way or another. As the years grew on, my indoctrination into the purse carrying world solidified my need for totes, heavy one strappers, and small suitcase sized accessories. I slung them over my shoulder with the gusto of a woman with places to go, things to do, and dangers to avert. One day, it will be my savior. The only way I can glean from the world outside the religious box I called home. 

The bigger the bag, the more pockets it had. 

On trips to the library, one that was close enough for me to walk to, I’d get the books I was allowed to read. Books about christian girls ‘just saying no’ and boys who held your hand lightly, lightly enough for you to pull away, and didn’t pressure you into sex. I borrowed Francine Rivers, Robin Jones Gunn, and “Left Behind”. 

My mom took these into her hands, inspecting each with the keen eye of a pastor. Searching each spine and cover. They were all the same. With Christy at the fire pit, Christy at summer camp, Christy in front of school. Or girls in long dresses, knee-length shorts, and shirts that covered blossoming breasts. The titles were all the same too. Never-ending blanket of whiteness. 

But deep in my bag, beneath the smooth insert that kept it up right, I hid the real stuff. Books on vampires in love, historicals about women marrying “the Villainous Viscount” or worlds where magic lived… 

Book Review: Meant to be Immortal by Lynsay Sands

Mac Argeneau knows all too well: immortals can be killed. Not with holy water or silver crosses, but by decapitation or being set on fire. So when Mac’s house bursts into flames—with him inside—he’s sure it was no accident. But who would want to kill a scientist specializing in hematology? There is a silver lining: a blonde investigator appears on the scene and sparks feelings in him that have been dormant for centuries.

CJ Cummings is in town on a special investigation, but she’s been waylaid by the local police to deal with this arson case. The biggest mystery is how this sexy scientist with silvery blue eyes has emerged from a blazing inferno without a burn mark on him. He’s clearly hiding something. Sure, she’d love to see him without his lab coat, but she’s got a job to do—despite his insistence that he needs a bodyguard and…he wants her.

But when a second attempt on their lives puts CJ in harm’s way, it’s Mac who will do anything to safeguard the woman who’s destined to be his life mate.

Meant to be Immortal by Lynsay Sands

I’ve been reading this series since I was a freshman in high school and sometimes the many storylines blend together. So many characters, so many plot lines, so many family connections. It can be a lot.

But this return to the world of the Argeneau family made me happy. I love how there wasn’t the instant need to turn the mortal, as there are in so many other books. Due to that, you really got to see the characters interact with each other outside of bumping uglies constantly – instead of feeling like it is out of their control or that they had no choice. I also believed this made the characters stronger.

However, I didn’t like how he seemed incapable of doing anything on his own. He can’t get her to like him, he can’t take care of himself, he can’t figure out how to stick by her side, and he couldn’t figure out ways to win her over without the help of the others. Several times, while reading, I thought ‘where is the depth?’ and ‘is he just a pretty face? Why would she even want to be with him?’ I was waiting for him to take the reins but there were so many other characters moving in to take care of things for him that he never got the chance.

So, while I really enjoyed the book, I thought that the romance part could be stronger. If you’ve read this series, you’ll know that the stories heavily rely on life mate sex, chemistry, and danger. And on all counts, this book lacked the usual ‘oomph that her books normally do. The danger felt flippant and at one point, and this won’t ruin it, I thought ‘why doesn’t he just control him!’

One of the oddest things, and I’m not sure if it’s just me, that comes to mind is if there’s a ghostwriter for this series now.

It’s 34 books in. Maybe she’s bored? Maybe she’s ready to move on? I mean, I know this series is a cash cow but 34 books is a LOT. And while she’s been working on her highlander books (unrelated), I do often wonder if these last few books have been “phoned in”. I also feel the same way about “Mile High With A Vampire” (the next book in the series), but you’ll hear more about that when I write its review.

That being said, I’m glad that I have this novel. I’ll continue to read the series until it ends, and I still would love to meet the author one day. She’s inspired me as a writer ever since I was a teeny weeny baby author. I’ve daydreamed about being a paranormal romance writer and while these last few books have missed the mark, I still look up to her.

Good Readdance,
Jade

Did You Get Enough to Eat?

I slide my finger between bone and gristle. Moving it back and forth until I catch a thick piece of white meat and pull it from its hiding place. It shreds as I remove it, one part willing, one part fighting to get away. 

She’s happy, my daughter. Sitting strapped into the straight jacket that is her high chair, her feet kicking endlessly. Thwack, thwack, thwack, until I’m afraid there will be a bruise on the back of her heels. Happy pain. Joyous pain? 

I barely get enough meat on my own plate but I’m transferring, bit by bit, until she has a small white mound on her green plastic tray. Slivers of chicken, slivers of fat, slivers of nail grit that she laps up like a puppy, sucking on her finger tips and looking at me with those big brown eyes. 

I repeat the process with the rice, white but tinted yellow from the melted bliss of sugar and butter. Two large heaps, she likes rice. She pounds on it with her tiny fingers, smushing it down until it’s no longer plump and round. Flat little wafers, scattered.

Sometimes she throws it, white tufts raining down onto the stain streaked carpet that used to be cream-colored, long before she was alive.

I used to get angry. Stop that, stop that right now. We don’t throw rice. We eat rice. It reminds me of all those boisterous kids back when I worked at Pei Wei. How they would file into the booths and grind rice and Pad Thai into the cushions with grubby hands sticky from soy sauce.

Her daddy still does. Get angry, I mean. Stop giving her rice, she’s just going to throw it. But we shouldn’t shy away from things we love just because they are difficult.

Next is broccoli. Tiny little trees, I tell her. Meant to make you strong. Bow your head and thank them. Thank you for your nourishment, I say. Because I’m no longer religious, but gratitude is needed, required, in my house. Sometimes I’ll catch her whispering to her food, and I wonder.

Green is everywhere. On the tray, on her hands, captured on the ends of her curls because she’s piled broccoli leaves onto the crown of her head. I think, wow, she’s beautiful. I also think she’s going to hate me when I wash that out later. 

My own tray is only sparsely so, green having diminished with every transfer. Just enough bought to feed the three of us, just enough bought to balance the budget. It fluctuates, both. Going from here to there. I tell myself that I’m creating a better foodship. That I’m happiest when my stomach isn’t stuffed so full I can barely breathe. When that ache in my chest is gone. When I’m not sitting in front of the toilet, or on the toilet, praying for death. 

She crushes a broccoli head into a mound of previously smashed rice. It blends, whacked once, twice, three times between fingers modeled after her daddy’s hands. I meet her eyes and there it is. That look. That big, brown-eyed look of joy.

I know where she got it from. This…excitability. This innate pleasure for odd things. That toothy grin broken up by a cheek full of chowed meat. Me. I’m that way. Despite the ache in the joint of my thumb, still trying to wiggle loose the last bits of chicken meat. Still trying to feed my daughter all of me. 

I grin back, how can I not? When she’s giving me black girl joy. I raise my hand, the last shred of white at the tips of my fingers, dripping juice down onto her tray, wetting the dried rice. Her mouth is full but in she shoves it, finding space for chicken, and love, and determination, and growth, and gratitude. 

Finally….Degree Acquired!

Here we are, my college graduation. A day I’ve looked forward to my entire life. 

As a kid, I dreamed of a life spent in libraries and bookstores. I hoped to become a writer and a professor and a lawyer. That last one is thanks to John Grisham. I didn’t know the major detour my life would take:

Only applying to two schools because I was afraid I wouldn’t get in anywhere else. 

My parents convincing me to study architecture because “writers don’t make any money”.

Having to withdraw from the University of Kansas because I didn’t have enough money to pay tuition.

Moving across the country.

Meeting my guy only months after arriving in the new state.

Discovering Valencia College, and its cheaper tuition, and the direct connect program to the University of Central Florida.

Attending UCF and falling in love with the campus and enjoying my professors.

Having a baby with my guy.

Getting accepted at USF for graduate school to further my focus on creative nonfiction writing. 

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There are so many factors that go into the success of a goal. Short term goals can turn into long term goals overnight. My six year goal to graduate from university with my Masters in Architecture turned into a ten year goal to study English and Creative Writing.

A part of me laughs now. Thinking back to those nights I spent writing when I was supposed to be doing homework for architecture. How I would tell my on campus writing group how I wanted to become an author and they would say “why are you studying this, then?” How I told my story to a girl at a cafe and she said “omg, like…you could write a book about this”. 

I also think about the late nights. The hours spent writing essays while taking care of the baby, and making journals for my shop. The arguments about money; the tears about money. The imposter syndrome (which is a term I hate). The professors who sent me emails saying they believed in me. The day I gave birth to Naomi and took exams while still in the hospital (something I will always brag about). The ups and downs of Covid and virtual school. The people I’ve met and the connections I’ve made. 

So many things have happened since I began this journey, and my heart is full now. I have a long while to go before I finish my schooling. Three years in my masters program and possibly five to seven years with my PhD but I’m excited about it. When I was a kid, I often told people that I’d go to school forever if I could. That’s still true.

I’ve always loved school, loved learning new things, and loved reading. That has never gone away and I hope it never will. Most people are discouraging and somber when I tell them what I want to do after I finish but it’s alright. It’s not just about the end goal. It’s about the journal. Spending my entire life on scholarship and writing has always been my dream. My success is measured by a lifetime of progression. 

In other words, I am already successful. And isn’t that beautiful.

See ya,
Jade

The Importance of Journaling: Caterpillar. Cocoon. Butterfly.

The Importance of Journaling: Caterpillar. Cocoon. Butterfly.

I want to matter. 

While trying to discover your future career, most people will give the same advice. They say ‘find out what you’re good at’ and ‘discover the reason why you want to do _x_ and see how you can do that.’

Upon years of reflection and many nights of self-exploration, I know that the reason I want to do most of my dreams is that I simply want to matter. To myself. To others. To the world. To the universe. 

I want to have an impact and truly mean something to others. My entire life I’ve been told that it was just ‘so hard to love’ and made to feel like I am a burden. No one ever told me just how much these things become internalized over the years. How you start to treat yourself as such. How you begin to apologize to others for simple things because you’re afraid they will leave or dislike you because you are in the way or ‘too much to handle’. 

As I get older, I am working on unlearning these things. 

I recognize them and then I throw them away. Into the trash they go, with the rest of the pointless negative opinions people force on me. I am not a burden. I matter. I am a beautiful soul. I am honest and caring and can be really sweet. I stand up for others and I don’t let people/coworkers/fellow students/family members put others down. I am indecisive because I have issues with perfectionism that’s also combined with imposter syndrome (gosh, how I hate this term). I’m strong and I’ve endured a lot but I am no longer a victim to the pain and fear of my past. 

That being said, I still want to matter. I want to give others things that I haven’t had. Freedom to be themselves. Creativity nurtured. Soul healed. 

How in the hell do I do this? 

I will become a professor. That’s the first part. Teaching creative writing and creative nonfiction to writers. I also want to publish. Creative nonfiction via essays and memoirs. Fiction in several genres: romance, speculative fiction, and literary fiction. I feel like my literary voice needs to be heard, and not just because EVERY SINGLE PERSON tells you this when you say you want to be a writer. 

Outside of that, I also want to teach foster kids and angel moms and dads (parents who have experienced pregnancy loss and infant loss) like me how to use writing as a coping mechanism. I want to foster emotional intelligence and introspection. I kept journals my entire life, and still have most of them (and plan to use them for a future nonfiction project), but I did it in hopes that my descendants would want to read them. 

Quite arrogant for a young kid, huh?

If someone had told me that all those journals could’ve helped me through the really rough times, I would’ve jumped on it. Instead, I just used them to chronicle the worst and best happenings in my life. In my journals, I wrote about the abuse, the fear, the anger, the frustration, the excitement, the happiness, the overwhelming need to end my life, and the weight ‘being a burden’ had on me.

I wrote about the boy from my high school that forced me to jerk him off or he would leave me on the side of the highway with no way home. I wrote about that time I finally fought my brother back and it felt like I regained my power. I wrote about the racism I endured at the hands of Midwestern white folk. I wrote about the adoptive sister that sexually molested me and the pain I felt after an object was left inside my vagina. I also wrote about my desire to go away, go far far away, and never return to the home that held so much pain for me. I wrote about the boy who was murdered that told me he loved me, and kissed my forehead, and made me feel innocent. I wrote about the only thing I ever cared about: Books. 

The journaling and writing didn’t end there. I continued it as I got older. When I left for college, I wrote about how my roommate was a slut (her words, not mine) and how she moved out of my room and told everyone lies about me. I wrote about how one of the boys in our friend group tried to rape me, holding me down in my dorm room and grinding his hips into mine while I was frozen from shock. 

I wrote about how my mother said “you don’t have to be a part of this family if you don’t want to,” when I didn’t call every day, unknowing that my life was falling apart but her zealotry didn’t allow me to break my silence to her. I wrote about withdrawing from classes – because I’ve known since I was 7 that my adoptive parents “aren’t paying for college, so you better figure something out”. I wrote about how I slept in my studio while studying architecture, knowing I really wanted to be a writer. I wrote about how, when they told me I had to pay two thousand dollars before I could enroll in classes again, I cried for a week and then shrugged; I said I can’t afford that and no one cares about me enough to help me. 

I wrote about the army guy I dated, and the one I dated after him who really took my heart. I wrote about how he was married and she was a cheater and so he returned the favor. I wrote about how he told me he loved me and I wanted a baby, anything to keep him with me and he said yes and we tried (but it wouldn’t be until 10 years later that I discover my body is not a friend to pregnancy). I wrote about that day of the threesome when his new thing yelled at him because he seemed to know my body “a little too well”. I wrote about the time after that, learning to be single and not minding the loneliness. I wrote about the guy I knew from high school I almost drunkenly sexed before I shoved him off and kicked him out because…ew. 

There was a break, after that time, where I didn’t write at all. Not fiction. Not journaling. Not even nonfiction. I wrote nothing. Nada. Zilch. For years. 

I had moved away from my hometown, and that’s when the real healing through journaling was introduced. 

I wrote about rooming with my ex, meeting my guy (being stalked by that same ex because I met my guy), cutting to regain control, and my first pregnancy loss. Then my second loss, and almost dying in childbirth, and then my third pregnancy loss. I wrote about my fourth pregnancy, being on bed rest, and almost losing future baby Naomi to an incompetent cervix. I wrote about my mother’s neglect, my father’s disappearance, my friends slowly fading into the background.

Now, I write about how sometimes I felt like a complete shit of a girlfriend because all I know is trauma and pain and fear and scars, and how other times I feel like an amazing woman because out of that, all I know is rejuvenation, resurrection, healing, light, and hope. I feel here but not here, and I write about the journey to not only discover me but the future me. 

That’s what I want to help others do.

Regurgitate fear and anger onto the page, breathe in healing and strength. Write out their poison until the cancer is gone and the pessimism and the frustration and the voice-that’s-unheard is heard. I want to show people there is a way to release your demons without losing your self or sense of self. And how if you did, would that really be a bad thing? Phoenix rising from the ashes and all of that. 

Caterpillar. Cacoon. Butterfly.

Anyway, so that’s why I write. That’s why I share my story of loss with others. That’s why I make journals and notebooks. That’s why I want to teach. That’s why I want to help others heal.

I just want to matter. 

Thank you,
Jade

Counting the Tweets I Never Sent

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One of the mindful practices that I just started doing is what I like to call “Contributing Positively”. It basically means to make sure that what I post is beneficial during a certain time. Beneficial to me or to others. It can be in small or big ways. Just beneficial. 

I know that I’m talkative. My mouth runs faster than my feet, and old track mates will tell you my feet are pretty fast. I’ve been writing “practice silence” on my to-do lists, as well as “be a better listener”. Mostly because I want to remind myself that my words matter. However, that does not mean that every single thing that comes out of my head needs to be shared with other people.

All of the things that I think of saying or tweeting or posting on Facebook or photographing for Instagram are things that are less important than I think that they are. Mental regurgitation. The first cool idea or thought I have for a tweet, I write and hit send. Yeah, not anymore. So, I’ve started this odd thing: counting the tweets I never sent.

I got this from that idea the practice of habit tracking. For example, you use a food journal to keep track of all the bad foods that you eat or you would use a rubber band to snap yourself every time you want the cigarette, etc. I’ve been blocking out times of the day where I don’t tweet (initiating only, replying to others messages or tweets to me doesn’t count). This helps me focus during a specific time so I can make myself aware of the issue and the emotions I experience during that time, not just try to eradicate it. So for today, I didn’t tweet between 9am and 5pm. This actually extended further because I haven’t tweeted yet and it’s 7pm. 

Funny how that worked. 

During these breaks, any time I get the urge to grab my phone and make a tweet I do two things. One, I say the number of the unsent tweet. Then I say the thought out loud as if I’m tweeting it (or in my head if I’m in public and don’t want to look crazy). This helps remind me that I’m taking a break from my Twitter addiction and makes me feel like my thought made it…somewhere. It also allows me to hear the type of nonsense I’m thinking of posting. Sometimes, I crack myself up. Other times, I’m like ‘girl, get it together’.

As I said in one of my previous posts, I believe I talk a lot because I don’t want to feel unheard or be forgotten about. And, well, who can forget about the girl who posts all day? EVERYONE, Jade, EVERYONE. So, it goes in a full circle and then I keep doing it. Craving the need to feel heard, not being heard, craving the attention of others, not getting the attention. You understand. It’s tiring.

Well, this CP thing has actually been working. Sort of. The odd thing is that I tend to tweet more after the ‘break’ time is over (It’s as if my brain is trying to dump everything out that I didn’t say before. I’m working on this). However, I’m not sure if I can say the quality of the tweets has gone up or down. You’ll have to ask my followers about that or stalk my profile a bit. Anyway, I’m trying. Isn’t that all any of us are doing? Trying. 

So, if you see me mention ‘contributing positively’ this is what I mean. And if you see me tweeting a ton, mind ya business. Or…just realize that the flesh is weak. But I’m freaking trying. 

Adios!

Jade

Unsent Tweets From 4/11:

  • I’ve lived in Florida for almost 6 years now and today is the first day I’ve ever bought a parka/raincoat. 
  • Last night’s quinoa turned out dreadful. No matter what they tell you. Don’t try to put it in a rice cooker. No it doesn’t just work the same…
  • Happy Sunday! I hope y’all have a great day. Don’t forget to dance and eat bacon! 
  • Counting all the tweets I didn’t send – wait, why am I thinking of tweeting about how I’m counting all the tweets I don’t send?
  • My guy bought us steak!!! Going to cook them tomorrow, so excited!
  • I know no one cares, but I’ll be staying away from Twitter from 9am-5pm today.
  • That moment when you get an idea from a movie or book and then you want to write right NOW but then you just…don’t. So you’re left wondering whether it’s a trash idea or if you’re just lazy.
  • I’m not fat, just fluffy. And when I lose this weight, I’m still going to look fluffy because…thunder thighs.
  • It’s going to be a long night because Naomi still isn’t feeling well (but her fever is down, thank the universe!) and she has been so fussy. I’m not sure what’s wrong but I’m trying everything I can to make sure she’s comfy.
  • Going to make shrimp and alfredo tonight with mushrooms, and egg noodles!
  • Fever is down! Baby still fussy. 
  • I love Liam Neeson! This movie is amazing. I wonder who would want to mess with this guy in real life?
  • I can’t wait to start grad school because then I’ll feel like I’ve truly accomplished something worth bragging over.
  • I wonder if Liam Neeson is really a softie on the inside but he just looks like a badass so then he got type casted. 

And so many other useless, random thoughts

Being Myself…with Grace

Heya,

Today I took a ‘rest day’ from working out. Part of it is because I woke up late and part is because I don’t feel good. Just nauseous and hot flashes, boy don’t we love being women? 

But I also feel good about it. When I first decided to take a rest day, I thought oh no, this is how the quitting starts. Then I reminded myself to allow space for grace. I don’t feel well and I need to work more on my health and less on my goals. They go hand in hand and neither could happen without the other. So it’s a mental health day. 

Mind you, part of it might be due to the fact that I stayed up late, and then I went to Walmart at 8 am to buy chili fixings. I spent a hefty amount of time cooking and the only time I really got to take a nap was when Naomi threatened to ruin the apartment. 

The chili was really good. Check out my Instagram story to see the fix! (@JadeBethJ)



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Something great happened the other day. I posted on social media about how I was so excited about Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour. I also said that I didn’t have the money to buy it right now. I’ve been on EVERY waiting list possible for a while. Then a woman reached out to me and said that she sees my posts in the book groups and appreciates how I’m always positive and helpful. She said that I have great vibes and she’d like to buy the book for me. 

Wow, right!? 

We chatted for a little bit and she ended up emailing me an Amazon gift card to buy Black Buck (as well as a little extra for other books I might want in the future). Not only did it make me happy to get a book I’ve been dreaming about, but it made me realize that the way we move on social media is seen by so many. 

It’s an obvious thought, but I never really care who’s watching because I am who I am. In-person I am just as awkward, nerdy, overly excited, and overly talkative as I am online. It’s wild because I can definitely be too much for people but they just aren’t my people! Not everyone is going to like me and it’s taken me a long time to discover that it has nothing to do with me. I’m a drama queen who loves books, crying at mushy things, and turning the channel the moment I get second-hand embarrassment. Now, people who watch me without interaction don’t really KNOW me, know me, but they get pretty darn close. 

So I got a book for simply being myself. My heart is happy. 

Good Readdance,

Jade

Easy Sundays! Also…Trying Out a Parenting Tip

Heya, 

Today was much easier than I thought it would be. I woke up quite late but only because my guy, Naomi, and I stayed up until 3 am last night (this morning?) playing around, watching videos, and eating fajitas. Then I stayed up until 7am reading a book because…I couldn’t stop reading. It was just so good.

Sunday is my favorite day of the week. Even as a kid whose adoptive parents were pastors that spent all day in church, I loved Sundays. It’s a great start to the week. A day to relax and do yoga. Not have a care in the world. Obviously, that hardly ever happens, but at least it feels like that’s what it should be. 

After we hung around in bed watching TikToks (and add a little hanky panky), my guy went to work. Naomi and I started our new routine. I sat her down and we talked about what we wanted to do for the day. I listed everything out for her, pausing for her baby gibberish input. She loves to feel heard. Then I cooked, we ate, and I did a little work while Naomi sat in her high chair munching on cucumbers. I wrote down what we ate in my food journal and wished for some gummy sugary things. Oh yeah, and completed a few easy homework assignments.

I knew that I planned to work out as my new habit and so I did! I propped up my Ipad to distract my mind with HGTV’s Design Network Star while I lifted my singular 15lbs weight, stretched through yoga poses, and finished with an ab workout. I then spent a hefty amount of time giggling with Naomi on the floor. 

She’s down for her nap now. Isn’t it odd how you miss those baby giggles after they’ve gone to sleep but boy, oh, boy are you tired and glad for a break? Yeah, I know how that feels. So I figured I’d sit down and get some work down as well as write this blog post.

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I’m trying out this new parenting “tip” I found on TikTok (who says you don’t learn on social media). 

I definitely want to try a gentler style of parenting because I know I can get irritated quite quickly and am also quick to freak out. That’s not the type of high-strung parent I want to be. So usually, when I look over and see Naomi trying to scale her stroller, I jump up and say “no climbing! No climbing!” It’s mostly out of fear. See, Naomi is my rainbow baby and I know that I have this intense fear that something will happen to her. A part of me still can’t believe she’s mine and that she’s healthy. So, anytime I see her in danger I’m all over her. 

Anyway, back to the TikTok tip. Try to be more positive or uplifting when trying to get the baby to listen or stop doing something. 

For example, say Naomi is hitting someone or slapping something. Instead of saying “hey, stop hitting” (insert angry mama face here — because those baby hits DO hurt), try saying “keep your hands to yourself, please”. Another example might be: Naomi is climbing on the stroller and I run over saying “No! No climbing”. Instead, maybe I can try “feet on the floor! Feet on the floor” Not only will this help me keep my cool, but it will teach her more words and give her something else to do. (also see “don’t touch that!” and exchange it for “that’s hot, play with this instead”). Now I know this is probably just one tip in the many parenting tips you might hear, but this is one I’m excited to implement.

One way I used it today: Naomi was pulling her diapers out of the storage box we keep them in. Normally, I would say ‘Naomi, stop pulling those diapers out! — *goes over to baby* — now help mommy clean up the diapers, please.’ You might not see anything wrong with this, and maybe ‘wrong’ is too strong of a word, but today I said “Naomi, those diapers go in the box. They are not toys. Now help mommy clean up the diapers, please”. 

I always say please (and thank you) to my daughter, not just to teach her manners but because it’s my thing? I guess. So, I feel that I have this more positive approach in my repertoire already, I just need to hone it. Learn how to use my words as my FIRST instinct and not immediately scream or yell at her out of frustration or fear. This mom thing is a learning curve for her but also for ME. I’m trying my best and know I must learn from others as well. 

Words Naomi might learn from those examples: Feet, Play, Floor, Hands, Hot, Toys, Please, Diapers, Mommy, Help

Thank you,
Jade

Recreating my Relationship with Food…Foodship

Heya,

Weight loss since having the baby has not been easy for me. I want to be one of those aggressive achievers and just say “I just didn’t want it bad enough” but that’s not true. I want it bad, so bad I’d cry in the shower, but it wasn’t until I read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg that I realized the reasons why I haven’t been able to make headway. 

I won’t go far into the book right now, because I plan to review it, but it changed the way I saw my life. Far beyond weight loss. It changed how I saw my buying habits, my daily routines, and even my issues with relationships and boundaries. The book talks about why we do the things we do and why it’s so hard for us to STOP doing them. 

The book uses real-life examples for how we’re led by our choices, how small habits we start now rule the rest of our lives, and how marketing creates needs in us that we wouldn’t normally have. I feel that this came at a perfect time as I’m trying to declutter, minimize, and track my spending. 

So with the tools from the book in mind, I noticed that many of the reasons I haven’t lost weight were combinations of childhood traumas, bad memories, and insecurities.

  1. I eat too much. 

One of the reasons that I eat too much is because I eat to be full. Oftentimes, I eat until my stomach feels sick or because I have food still left on my plate. I don’t know about you but I grew up with my adoptive mom constantly saying “the kids in Africa are starving and look at you wasting food.” This was exacerbated by her trip to Ghana, Africa on a mission trip when I was nine. So, not only does my lack of portion control affect how much I eat but my inability to stop eating until my plate is full makes it worse.

Another reason is because in my formative years, when I was creating a relationship with food, I didn’t get enough to eat. As you saw in my creative nonfiction essay “Levels of Acceptance” my brother and I were sometimes treated like animals while in the foster care system. We were expected to eat on the floor, in a locked room, or in a closet on a paper plate while the foster families we stayed with enjoyed dinner at the table. 

My adoptive mom told me – after reading the essay a few years back – that she would’ve approached food and mealtime differently if she had known I’d been starved at other foster homes. What she doesn’t know, and what I still don’t have the heart to tell her, is that some of the places we went (for respite) while living with her did the same thing to us. Also, her putting locks on the fridge didn’t help. We often joked how I had such a huge appetite when in reality I was merely trying to eat a ton of food because I didn’t know when I’d have it again, especially when there were so many foster kids. 

If you haven’t seen the movie The Platform on Netflix, you should watch it. Today.

  1. I’d rather just…not.

When I was a sophomore in high school I got a job just so I could buy food for myself. My mom got so angry at me once because I wasn’t buying cool clothes or other necessities. She said, “you work so much but you have nothing to show for it”. My response was “FOOD. I spend all of my money on FOOD”. 

One of the greatest things about having a naturally stocky and athletic build was that it didn’t take much work to lose weight when I was a teen. I had a high metabolism, an active life, and walked everywhere. Especially to the library. I ran track from late middle school until my senior year of high school. I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. My motto was to eat as I pleased and work out just enough to maintain my weight – 116lbs at the time (and 5’1).

This does not compute with a woman who just had a baby and is nearing 30. This year I will be 29 and had the same mindset although I’m 176lbs. I still thought that if I just worked out a little bit I could offset the five strips of bacon I had for breakfast (on top of the two eggs, one piece of toast, and the smattering of tomatoes and mushrooms – see, I eat healthy most of the time. I just eat too much). This is just not true. To make this work, I needed to create a fitness habit, a healthy lifestyle, and change my relationship with food overall. But I don’t want to. I love food. I love eating. And I love bacon. 

I even have a bacon tattoo.

  1. Fear

As I talked about in my recent post, I have this fear of failure and fear of success. Although I’ve done major work this year to love myself and feel more confident, I still don’t know how beautiful I’ll feel (said with starry eyes and overdramatic jazz hands). A part of me is afraid that I’ll lose weight and I still won’t be beautiful. Or that I’ll start a new lifestyle that is health-forward, but I’ll still be fat. And back rolls, side fat, chafing thighs, and looking like I’m 6 months pregnant every time I eat is not my jam. This is counterproductive because the fear stops me from working out which means I’ll never get rid of those things. It’s a vicious emotional circle. 

I’m ready to move on though. Thanks to the universe for my growing emotional intelligence.

  1. I try too hard too fast

To cut this short, and not unload all of my personal trauma on you at once, I’ll say the last part is 

“the hard try”. I’m the type of person that wants to get started TODAY once I make a decision. I fall in love with hobbies and want to buy all the accessories or take all the classes or join all the Facebook groups. So when I say I want to lose weight, and I hate the fact that I can’t wear an outfit I like, I’m ready to go. RET TA GO. This is not a healthy approach. I go hard for the first few days, I burn myself out or stress my muscles out and then I quit. Then I cry about how nothing is working or how ‘I just can’t do it’. 

Girl Bye.

Plan:

This time I’m trying a One-One Method. I’m adding One Habit and One Nutritional change. For the habit, when my guy leaves for work (or after lunch on days he’s off), I’m going to work out, or walk (with the baby), or do a yoga session, etc. This introduces an excersize to my life every day. It doesn’t have to be hard-hitting or a long session. It can be a few stretches or a two-mile run. SOMETHING.

To help with a healthier foodship (get it? haha), I’m going with the Eat More, Weigh Less method. This usually entails eating more fruits and vegetables and carbs than meat as well as other things. Obviously, your interpretation may be different than mine, and that’s ok. This week, I’m starting with paying more attention to my portions for every meal. 

— I’m also continuing my food journal and have added Naomi’s meals as well.

To help create this habit without burning myself out, I’m doing this for one week and will reevaluate next Saturday. I’m not rushing myself or looking too far into the future or being afraid of what the outcome will be. I’m staying present. Oh, and I’m not telling my guy. This is on me and I can’t use him as a crutch anymore.    

So, if you’d like to hear more about me, or what’s going on, or if you just want to be nosey subscribe and stick around for more posts. Or follow me on Instagram (@JadeBethJ) to see my story progress.

I took these photos today. I’ve gained back the weight and I’m back at 176lbs exactly. How wild.

Honesty and Owning a Small Business

Heya,



One of the hardest things about being a small business owner is honesty.

Being honest with yourself about how much work you’re willing to put in (and how much you have already put in), whether you’re ready to start or if you’re just dreaming, and whether the idea you have is truly a good idea. On occasion, I find myself asking if this was the right move. I love books, I love to write, and I love bookbinding. However, being a small business owner was something I just fell into. I made a few journals for myself when I was pregnant, with my now 2-year-old, and then others asked me to make one for them. 

Even at that time, when I said ‘hey! Let me start an etsy shop!’ (and created The Elyzabeth Collection) I still had no idea what I was getting myself into. I’d go out on a limb and say that I’m still not an expert on it, although it’s been two years. The honest part is that I did not put in any ‘hard work’ until this year (2021). I was so busy with school and being a new mom, and health issues, that I just filled orders as they came. I didn’t focus on marketing, copywriting for product descriptions, or creating profiles on social media accounts. I didn’t get branded materials or focus on discounts for returning customers. 

There were a lot of things I didn’t do and I’ve been honest with myself about that. 

This year, there are many things that I would like to do with the shop. I know that my life is about to be uprooted – as I’m going to graduate school in the fall – but I do want to make sure that the shop is a priority for me. It never was before. I want it to succeed, if for anything but for the fact that I want others to embrace journaling and writing. I want to share what I have with others and hope to create a community of writers. I know that some people will look at my shop and say ‘but where do you show that passion on your site’ and I agree with you. 

I keep most of my deep deep passions inside me. Mostly because I’m afraid of what they can be and what they can’t be. However, that’s part of the reason the shop isn’t as successful as I would like. I’ve kept it in a box and prayed others would see the light shining through. I hope to rectify this with new products, a cleaner website, and better branding. I want to show more of myself and not be a mirror of shops I see on Instagram and studio youtube videos. 

Thank you for listening,
Jade

Shop for handmade journals and notebooks at The Elyzabeth Collection