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. 

.

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

Counting the Tweets I Never Sent

.

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)



***

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.

***

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