My Biggest Secret

 

Good Friday to you beautiful people!
After about 10,000 upload fails, I was SO close to just giving up on this video.

But alas, I was DETERMINED!

This was one of the tougher things for me to admit.

I just wanted to be real and up front with you guys about myself. Especially because I find myself preaching messages of self love and acceptance and I thought it was necessary to be honest about my past. I also wanted to share this because I also know it’s something a lot of people consider.

So with that said, I got a nosejob. And this is what I have to say about it.

Love and blessings always,

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An Interview With The Most Beautiful Person I Know

Helllloooooo Chicago!

Except, I’m not in Chicago. I’m in North Carolina. But hey whatever.

As I have mentioned before, I am on a journey of SELF DISCOVERY, muahaha! As I go on this journey, I want to learn as much as I can about the world around me, perspectives of other people, and whatever else! This journey could take me across the world or across the street – but I am so eager to see what I will find. To begin, I took a little trip this past weekend to North Carolina to visit my aunt Kathy.

In this video, you’ll get a peek at what a bit of  what my family life looks like. And let me just tell you, my aunt Kathy is literally the most beautiful person I know inside and out! So I want to share her with you all!

Even if you disagree with her perspective or beliefs, certainly she will put a smile on your face. However, smack in the middle of my trip my camera broke! Soooo, I got what I can and recorded the interview on my computer. It’s still a good video. I think. Maybe. If not, next time gadget. Just give it a try!

Hope you love her as much as I do!

Blessings always,

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How I Write Summer (2017) Goals

Well howdy hey there! It’s video day! Yayyyyyy! Wahooooooooo! (I’m probably way more excited about it than you are.)

We are halfway through May! WHICH MEANS – summer is getting closer and closer. I can’t even believe it. Where the heck did the time go?

Anyways, for me, the arrival of summer is super exciting but also kinda scary because this year was my first year back in school. Which also means this is my first summer in a long time that I’m on “summer break”.  Because I took some time off school in the past,  I know how easy it is to lose momentum during breaks.

Sooooo one thing I like to THINK I’m good at these days is setting goals and accomplishing them. I may have kinda an interesting method. But heck, it works for me!

If you’re looking for a solid way to keep yourself motivated but STILL enjoy the freedom of your break – here is how I’m writing my summer goals to help me stay focused (even when I don’t feel like it.)

Hope this helps someone today!

Blessings and love always,

 

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How I Stopped Being The Girl Who Hates Other Girls

“I’m not like those other girls,” I always told people.

I was for sure a tom-boy.  I played every sport under the sun, watched WWF, and played my older brother’s NHL on Nintendo 64.  I thought girls who were not sporty like me were superficial and “girly”.  I was pretty led to believe that being a “girl” was not cool ( and unfortunately society still makes many girls feel this way) even though I secretly did like things that were “girly”.

When I got into my teens, I was confused. I wanted to explore both my sporty and girly side. I was in choir and musicals and played soccer and volleyball. Internally I was at war.  Who I showed on the outside was not always reflective of who I was on the inside. Was I girly? Was that allowed? Didn’t I have to choose one over the other? Ahhhh! My mom passing away definitely added to that as well (view previous article). 

I had girl friends, I had girl teammates and   girl acquaintances. But it did not fix the internal battle I was still feeling. I still disliked girls who were prettier than me, more liked than me, or girlier than me. I came up with even more reasons not to like them.

At the time, I called it honesty.  But, when I finally started getting real with myself is when I knew the problem had little to do with them, and everything to do with me.

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Maybe for you, your situation is flip-flopped. Or, maybe you’re not very sporty and maybe you’re not very “girly”.  Yet somehow, some way, you still feel these feelings.

Regardless of how you got there,  you’re there.

Slowly but surely, I’ve been figuring it out. & Just a little disclaimer- this was not an overnight flip of the switch. No no, this has taken years of self reflection and work- and is something I work on a day to day basis.

So here we go:

1. I Accepted I Was Insecure

My dislike toward other girls stemmed from my own insecurity. Deep down, I think I knew that. I just never truly loved myself enough to admit it to anyone- let alone myself. As usual, other people were able to see my insecurity before I could because it truly made for some really terrible decision making and very attention seeking years.

At first, getting real with myself was hard because it required laying down my ego. And to some extent, downright embarrassing. But once I was honest about my insecurities, it opened up a whole new world of possibilities and people I could talk to and relate to.

2. I Spent/ Spend Time With Other Women

Two of the most powerful words in the dictionary? “Me. too”.

Actively seeking out a supportive female community is one of the best things I’ve ever done – and am constantly doing. A great way to get past a dislike of other women is to spend time with them. I don’t just mean like a hey hello hi here and there. I mean realllll time. Sit down with a glass of wine… or six.. and pour your F*cking heart out to a group of women.  It took me a long time to peel the blinders off my eyes and realize that even those whose lives are seemingly “perfect” on the outside are not so perfect on the inside. Community makes that fact known. We are ALL fighting or have fought some sort of battle. You have more in common than you think.

3.  I Stopped Competing

In our society, it can be easy to believe we’re in competition with other women. But let me tell you- that’s just not true at all. It’s not true for a job,  it’s not true for being the “best” or the “prettiest,” and it’s most definitely not true when it comes to men.

If I’m being honest, I struggle with remembering this sometimes especially being in media. But, I remind myself that another woman’s success doesn’t make me less successful. A woman who is pretty doesn’t make me less pretty. There’s room for everyone to succeed.

I have my own trials. I have own story. So it only makes sense that I am going to follow  my own life path.  

When it comes to guys-  it is not healthy, productive, or worth it to compete for a guy. 

Looking into my past relationships, I felt like I had to compete with others to earn love or attention. I realize now that I don’t want to be with someone whose interest in me wavers by the gust of the wind anyways. 

 I promise you, you don’t want to be in that kind of relationship. You deserve more than that. There’s plenty of men out there. The right person will love us exactly for who we are and their feelings won’t keep us wondering on a day to day basis.

4.  I Drain The Poison

If you haven’t figured this out yet already – jealousy is a poison. It can steal your joy and keep you focusing on all the things you think you aren’t.

Something I’ve started doing is when I feel a jealous or competitive spirit creeping in is compliment that woman on something to start a conversation. It can be as simple as complimenting their shoes, to how awesome they are doing their job. I find something I genuinely like about them and  call out that toxicity by name and break the spell.

 5. There Is No “Right” Way To Be A Girl

Like I said before, I was pretty convinced that being ONE type of girl was better than another.

Contrary to what I believed before, the word “girly” is something we made up.  Pink = Girl and Blue = Boy are stigmas we for some reason just ASSIGNED. Truthfully, it doesn’t make any sense at all. Wearing a lot of pink doesn’t make me any more or less of a girl just like being into sports doesn’t make me more of a dude.  Two different lifestyles, maybe. But not two different genders. You can paint yourself blue or you can sleep hanging upside down from a tree every Tuesday.  The point is, a woman is a woman is a woman and she can be that woman any way she chooses.

In fact, now I wear my bright pink Nike shirt to the gym, I openly wear bell sleeves, I admit that I adore flowers and have my nails done every couple of weeks. And I freakin’ LOVE IT.  

At the end of the day, nobody is going to get some sort of medal for being the “right type of girl.” And in case you’ve forgotten, you are smart. You are beautiful. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. No matter how you “girl”.


 

Even if I completely missed the mark with you in the above points, at the end of the day,  it boils down to learning to love and accept yourself. I know I know, easier said than done, but it’s true.  And it takes time.

Most of those things happen away from the mirror. For me, it happens in kindness, compassion, humility,  and female community. The more I love other women- the more I love myself- and the more I love myself- the more I love other women. It’s a perfectly poetic cycle.

It’s not to say I LOVE everyone. There are definitely some girls I wouldn’t want to hang out with. I’m human. I still find things annoying. Lol. But now, I can say it’s  because of my growth as a person, not because of  insecurity.  Does that make sense?

Learning to ourselves is a journey.  There is so much tearing down of women in society- and women shouldn’t be one of the contributors. Let’s hold each other up. We have the power to change the conversation about how we choose to show up in the world.

 

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How I’m (trying) To Slow Down My Crazy Busy Life

Friends! Hey, hello, hi! Glad you made it back here so I can enchant you with my sweet sweet words. (kidding)… kinda.

So, if you know me – you would know that generally speaking-  I’m too busy for my own good. YUP. For sure.  Which is exactly why I don’t answer half of the text messages I receive. (Btw, I am so sorry do not take that personally lol. I am just a mess.)

From the outside, I can fool people into thinking I have my life together. But the truth is, my life moves WAY too quickly. I hate to admit it, but it’s true. I have this terrible habit of wanting to do it all. And by it all I mean literally everything I can possibly squeeze into 24 hours. This “I can handle it” attitude, and “extreme go-getter” spirit is the life and death of me. I like to think I’m some sort of SUPER WOMAN and can balance everything life throws at me – even when I know I have way too much going on already. Not that I’m not super…  or a  woman.. or woman that of which is super. However, I indeed can not fit 50 hours of activities into 24 hours without having a mental breakdown out of pure exhaustion. Unfortunately for me, that is my life pretty much every single day.

You see, this “busy” quality can be a good thing sometimes. At work, I know I can be counted on. In my personal life, my friends and family know I have their back when they need help. There is just something internally satisfying and honorable about feeling like people can rely on me.

That is… until I exhaust myself and end up drowning in Saturday’s problems when it’s only a Monday.

Here’s the thing though, friends: Self LOVE and self ISH are two completely different things and I’m almost pissed I’m only just now figuring this out. With that said, I’m learning that life is NOT meant to be lived playing “catch-up”.
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If you find yourself to be like me – the go getter- the super man or woman- here are some things I’m doing to help slow down my life. I’m not sure if they will apply to you or not but it seems to be working for me so far.
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First and most importantly —-> 

Saying “No” To Things: 

This one is the toughest for me. If i’m being honest, I am still not very good at it.  Like I said before-  I like to prize myself as the “girl who can do it all”.  I like to think I can take on every single task, show up at all the social gatherings, annnnnd wrestle a shark and write a new scientific theory all in the same few days. Okay, that might be an over exaggeration. But, you get the point.

I think I do this because I think I have to prove myself. A part of me feels like I am letting people down if I don’t take that one extra work shift or show up at that event.  You know what? I probably am letting people down.

But what I’m learning is to accept that I am going to disappoint people sometimes and I will let someone down – and that is okay (I think ). My life isn’t meant to be lived trying to people please and make sure THEY know I’m great. As long as I know I’m doing my best within my own limits that’s what really matters.  It’s not worth sacrificing my own internal peace to make sure others feel peace about me.  My time is just important as theirs and vice versa. Not to mention, people aren’t thinking about me as much as I THINK they’re thinking about me anyways. Most of the time, we’re all thinking of ourselves. Jah feel?

So, what’s my favorite word I’m learning?  “No”.  No, I can’t come to that party. No, I can’t babysit that day.  No, I can’t take that extra shift. Nah  I don’t feel like going out. I’m sorry, but I actually can’t do you that favor today.

It’s funny because what I mistook for selfish for a long time is actually self-love.
Trust me – there’s a difference. 

Reading Books That Help: 

Oh lord don’t even get me started on this. Okay, okay you twisted my arm, I’ll get started anyways.

Little known fact: I am a terrible reader. Not in the sense that I don’t have the skills to do so. It’s straight up just not having the patience to because I know I could be doing something else. In theory, I like to read for the information. In reality, I would rather be doing literally anything else. So, for me,  reading a book right now serves two purposes. 1. It forces me to slow down and RELAX. 2. I’m reading a book that actually tailors exactly to my situation.

For anyone interested, the book is called  Having a Mary Spirit by Joanna Weaver
Another one I would suggest is – Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequiest

Both of these books give me insight to help me focus on my inward qualities and give me tools to change them.

Practicing The Pause:

Most days, I have to plan out to the minute. “Okay, if I finish this project at 10:00am, I have 15 minutes to finish my paper so I can drive 10 minutes home, squeeze in a 30 minute nap, eat lunch and make it to class  by 12:00pm, make it out by 2:00pm, work on homework for 2 hours, so I can workout at 4:00pm, and …. etc etc etc.” On really intense days, I’ll even have to plan time to plan time for the next day. 

Not kidding. Not an over exaggeration. That is my regular internal dialogue.

Let me tell you — I’m tired A.F all the time. It’s not a life I can keep up with right now.

SO. Instead of rushing around all the time and worrying about the future-   I’m trying to pause and  take moments to notice little things. From smelling the flowers to feeling the sun on my face – it makes a difference. Just the other day I decided to close my laptop while sitting outside of @southerngroundsco when I overheard a conversation about the Higgs Boson (super science). My inner nerd got way too excited and chimed in to the conversation because I was like I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT. SCIENCE AHHH. When I turned around it was 3 folks in their mid sixties chattin’ it up. Long story short, they loved that I was excited about it and invited me and my roommate to their book club where they were discussing it! Guess what, we freakin went! My point is, that only happened because I took the time to relax and notice what was going on around me.

The art of practicing the pause. The “shhhhhh” world quiet down. It’s special and it’s something we all need to do more often.

It will be okay. You will figure it out. Enjoy right now.

Resting:

We live in a world that preaches hustle on a daily basis. And I 120% fall victim if you haven’t figured that out by now. Lolz. In fact, I have the itch to hustle so badly that I sometimes actually get mad at myself when I rest.  My thoughts will scream at me “YOU’RE NOT A SUCCESS YET WHY ARE YOU SLEEPING.”  That’s how I feel. Ridiculous, I know. Welp!

Other than some super awesome couple’s mattress commercials, we don’t really hear about rest too often considering how fast paced of a world it is.  I’m not saying working your ass off is a bad thing.  It’s gotten me this far and I am very proud of that. However, I am saying  I need to learn how to rest.  Not quit.

In my case, I’m choosing to treat myself with a little more love. Giving myself all the love I’ve deserved for a long time. I’ll buy myself flowers. I’ll cook myself a nice dinner. I’ll speak to myself the way I speak to a friend. I’ll sit down and enjoy my favorite show or watch a movie or read a book despite my itch to constantly grind. Or maybe something as simple as taking that extra 10 minutes to stretch really well during my workout.

We need rest because it’s in the calm where we find ourselves.  It’s where we process our day. It’s the quiet space where we can form our own opinions and let our bodies heal.

If we never take that time, we may even lose ourselves in the process.

I’m better for it. You’re better for it. It’s a win- win.


 

I don’t want to miss all the scenery in my life by going so fast that forget where I was even going. Truly, I do not.

Slowing down my life is something I am doing for my own personal health and growth. I’m choosing to love myself over loving the idea of other people loving me. I’m choosing to say  “no” to the confetti and saying “yes” to the experience.

So hey, YOU. If you choose not carry 10 things at once – that doesn’t you don’t have the ability to do so. Nah brah. You know your strengths.  Instead,  you’re holding fewer things to give yourself a little room to wiggle and dance. Besides, we’re not going to lose what’s meant to be ours. Giving our lives space will either give us room to grow or a place to go.

 

 

  A little wiser. A little slower. One day at a time.

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Hello, hello everyone! Happy (almost) weekend!

Since I have SO many different places I am posting be it for work or my personal life,  I think it’s good idea to channel it into one place.

With that said, my goal is to post on here regularly! I have recently begun to make vlog-styled videos that give you a peek into my thoughts, views, and personal life.

Very excited to share in this with everyone!

 

Have a blessed day! Love,

 

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What Losing My Mom At A Young Age Has Taught Me So Far

Dedicated to my mom – Patty Ann Cooper.

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We were walking from the parking lot into Kroger grocery store when my mom had to stop because she was out of breath. She grabbed her inhaler out of her purse, and said “Ugh, this darn asthma!” with exasperation.  “Mom, this doesn’t seem like asthma” I said back to her.

Shortly after that, my mom got a biopsy done on her lungs.

I will never forget the day she got her results back.  I was upstairs “in bed”, but I always slept with my door wide open.  So naturally, I eavesdropped on my parents conversation. All I managed to hear was a sorrow “Well, we’re just going to have to spend as much time with you as we can.” come from my dad’s mouth.

I didn’t know what I had just heard exactly. My heart dropped. I was mortified. I wanted to run down the stairs and ask but I was terrified of what I was going to hear. Instead, I stayed upstairs and convinced myself that everything was okay.

The next day I felt paralyzed. I couldn’t focus during class. I couldn’t eat. My body was shaking. However, it happened to be a “show and tell” day in my freshman english class. When it was my turn,  I nervously stood in front of my class and held out a Bible. I fought back tears and said “I think my family just got some very bad news and I guess this is all I have.” I proceeded to break down in front of my entire class and cried in my seat as they all stared at me.

Later that evening, my mom sat down with me on the front porch and talked to me about what was happening. She told me she had 5 years to live. Surprisingly,  I was okay with that news. I was pretty elated, actually. I had time. I could handle 5 years.  “She can see me graduate high school.” I thought.

Little did I know, it was going to be only a few short months.

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I remember the day she died vividly.  Just that morning, I helped feed her and prayed a rosary next to her with my dad.

After we prayed,  the doctor pulled my dad just outside of the hospital room. I sat in the room with my mom as I listened to my dad beg for the doctor to keep her on the lung transplant list. ” Call your closest family and friends, today is probably her last day.”  The doctor said to my dad.
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Phone call by phone call, we had to tell everyone to get to the hospital as quickly as they could.

When my brother Jason arrived at the hospital, we were lucky enough that we got to say our goodbyes.  We walked into my mom’s room together. “Hi mom” Jason said softly. I remember sarcastically teasing her about how I got my stellar math abilities from her. We vowed to make her proud and told her how much we loved her.

After we walked out of the room, Jason and I agreed that we were ready for God to take her. We would rather lose her than see her in any more pain.

My mom was good friends with Father Mike, a priest she worked with at Church. He came to the hospital and performed a Catholic sacrament called the “Healing Of The Sick” on my mom. It is the final sacrament in the Catholic church.  After the sacrament, my dad walked Father Mike back down to his car.

I drifted into a short daze after my dad walked out of the building. I specifically remember staring out of the hallway window of the UofM Hospital at the crisp blue sky. When suddenly, my dad barged through the door with his phone up to one ear ” Come on!” He yelled “What’s going on!?” I said back frantically. “She’s dying.” We sprinted down the hospital hallway and bursted through the ICU doors and into my mom’s room. My family was surrounding my mom hand in hand around her hospital bed. I was told to grab onto her hand. 

It was suddenly all happening so fast. One moment I was in a daze staring out a window. The next moment I was watching the woman who raised me – die.  Her heart rate monitor went up and down, up and down. “Breathe , mom!” I begged.  “Jessica, let her go” my brother said painfully.  “Patty, breathe!” my dad yelled. But each breath got a little smaller. Little by little – the heart rate monitor flatlined. “Is she dead?” I asked.

Just like that, she was gone.  She died holding my hand.
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The doctors so quickly began to unplug her as if she was a completed science experiment. Although they were just doing their job, my dad anxiously asked them to stop. We just lost a mother, a wife, a friend. For goodness sake, we just needed a moment to fathom this.

I couldn’t bear seeing her like that. A dead, sick body of someone of you care about is one of the hardest things you could ever witness. I’ve tried to erase that image in my mind many times. I often wish I could un-see it.

I left the room numb and dazed as I walked down the large, white, ICU hallway to where the rest of our family and close friends were.

I was about 50 feet away from the waiting room when I made eye contact with my cousins. One glance and I fell to my knees into a sob.  My cousins came rushing over to me and cried with me right there in the middle of the hallway. 


My mom was the music minister of a very large Catholic church. Ironically,  the day she died was also the day the fundraiser to raise money for her lung transplant was being held at our church.

My family and I  gathered our bearings and attended the fundraiser. I couldn’t believe what I saw. There was about a thousand people and a line going out of the door. All of these people were there for us? It was the most humbling feeling in the entire world.
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Although there was so much uncertainty. I knew that from that day on-  this was to be my life.  I knew I had to accept it. Things were about to change. Big time.

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The older I get, the more questions I seem to have.  It’s been nine years. Nine years– and the void only feels bigger. What was her favorite thing to cook? Did she laugh at her own jokes? Are my mannerisms like hers? Did she have weird talents? Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to develop skills that make me feel a sense of identity with her. My young adult self wants to know more about my mom than my teen self ever did. I feel like I’m  chasing a rainbow- the more ground I gain, the further away she seems to be.

My conquest has led me to questions that lead to answers that only seem to lead to more questions.

Each passing year is new lessons learned.


 

Here are a few things losing my mom has taught me so far:

To have a heart of gratitude.

The way I care about the people in my life has changed partly because my priorities change as I age, but mostly because I know life can be snatched away at any moment. Mortality became so real after my mom’s passing. Sometimes, I feel like my life is moving a million miles a minute. My time has so much more value and I wish I could slow everything down and squeeze every possible second out of every day.  Many people ask me while I smile so often. It’s not because my life is perfect. No, no, no. It’s because I choose to have a grateful heart.

To love my shortcomings. 

It used to upset me when people mistook my lack of guidance for incompetence. Things that are basics to some young women- were not basics for me. Just put it this way… I didn’t know how to properly cut vegetables until I was 18. I’ve even had problems with previous roommates because of it. I’m a 3-star housecleaner and sometimes my decor choices are goofy. My mom was not much of a homemaker in the first place, nor was she a great housekeeper. So in addition to my mom’s mediocre housewife skills (other than being a fabulous cook)- I had none of it at ALL after she passed. Any skill I have now- I’ve had to develop on my own.

& you know what, that’s okay. Instead of letting it upset me- I now allow it to challenge me. In fact, I don’t see them as short comings at all anymore.  Just learning opportunities. When there’s something I want to change or learn, I try to ask others “How can I do that?”  or “Can you teach me?” Once I realized I could learn things on my own and saw results – it pushed me to think “If I can do that on my own, what else can I do?” There’s something very empowering about being “self built.”

To be a woman of good character.

Losing my mom forced me to look inward early on. It taught me that people never forget how you treated them. When someone passes away- a majority of what’s talked about is who they were as a person.  Not so much their occupation or status.

 Just looking at this thread this morning in regards to my mom inspires me.
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My path has not been perfect.  In a world of competition and ego- it’s easy to live selfishly. I often get caught up in the hustle and even love it most of the time. There are things I wish I could go back and change. I’ve done things I am not proud of. I wasn’t always kind. I wasn’t always thoughtful. Surprise, I’m human!

However, with each passing year I understand a little more that enriching the lives of others inadvertently enriches my own. When competition or despair begins to close in around me, I try to redirect those thoughts to others who are struggling elsewhere. In turn, I am better for it, too.

My mom’s legacy and example has helped me not to strive for perfection, but to be the best human I can be: honest, kind, and loving. At the end of the day-  “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Not to tally keep.

Not even kidding,  I used to keep track of the things that went wrong in my life.  I somehow developed this idea that the world owed me something good.  Eventually, I realized that when I started keeping tabs on what was going wrong-  I was ignoring the 10,000 other things that were going right.

 My mom passing away wasn’t a one and done type of deal. I had a plethora of other things go un- according to my plans. But, I’ve learned the hard way that life does not stop for me. Things will happen the way they happen and who am I to feel entitled against God’s plans?

Once I gave up the idea that the world owed me my desires and embraced what it gave me-  did I realize that I am not the center. I could enjoy life for what it gave me instead of judging the packaging, or dwell on what it did not give me.

Besides, losing my mom better equip me for tough things that later came about.

The quest for identity is ongoing.

Truthfully, my identity suffers on a regular basis.  It’s something I am constantly at war with within myself.  When I find something I like, I tend to commit my whole self to all of it.  One moment I think I am a surfer, the next I think I’m a full fledged musician lol. I don’t 100% know why I do it. I think it has something to do with trying to fill a part of me that feels incomplete. My attempt at feeling whole.

Sometimes it can be super embarrassing. I’m sure there are plenty of people who make fun of my phases. What I’ve learned is that it’s okay to be many things. It’s not really anybody else’s business as to how I figure ME out. I’ve taken 6 month long hiatus’s to 6 month busy streaks.  I’ve accepted it’s simply something that I do in order to piece together this puzzle that is Jessica Rose Cooper. I feel like this identity journey holds true no matter what your story is.

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So, yeah.

I know there are things I will never have. Well, not in the traditional way at least.  I know my mom will not be at my wedding. Mother’s day will never be spent with my real mother (I often joke with myself about how I hoard mother figures. I’ll meet a woman that inspires me and instantly I’m like… LET’S BE FRIENDS I NEED YOU. lol) . Sometimes I spontaneously cry when I see girls on mother- daughter dates because I can only imagine what that’s like.

I recognize now that I’m most definitely developmentally different than many young women who grew up having a mother during some very influential years.

Slowly but surely I’m realizing and accepting that it’s not a bad thing. With each passing year, I only love her more. I love my family more. I love our story more.

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Whoever you are- a grieving young woman- a friend reading this for another friend – or somebody that’s just creeping on my life (hah). Own your process and be proud of it.
You didn’t come this far to only come this far.

Here’s to nine years. Nine beautiful, crazy, emotional roller-coaster years. Although incredibly painful, losing my mom was the biggest blessing. And I am loving the woman that’s growing from the rain that poured down.

I have learned so much in nine years…

and I have a feeling I am just getting started.

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                                                                                                jesssignatureblack2

Top 3 Motivational Messages You Need To Start Your Day With

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She believes she can – so she is. 

It’s easy to forget how strong the power of the mind really is.

Especially, ESPECIALLY  the power of self belief and affirmations.  For a long time, I felt pretty inadequate when it came to a lot of things. Reflecting on my childhood, I can think of countless teachers, peers, and even my own parents telling me “You’re not good at X,Y, or Z.” So I believed those things for myself and settled. I thought I had to accept certain situations and that was that. “You’re not good at math.” “You’re an english person.” ” You’re more of a…background singer.” 

I couldn’t help but feel like these situations had to be wrong. These people had to be wrong. But, what did I know?

After my mom died when I was 14, I had to start figuring things out on my own. I was forced into uncomfortable situations and had to learn SO much. I was teaching myself to cook, how to do this or that. I took jobs that I never thought I would do. Heck, I even moved across the country and started a new life for myself.

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I don’t know why it took 7 years. But suddenly, around 22 years old- it clicked.  If I was able to figure ALL OF THAT out- what else can I do? Hollllld the phone. Stop EVERYTHING. All of the negative things I believed about myself from my childhood- I realized was a lie.

It wasn’t my actual skills that were holding me back. It was my belief about my skills. So what did I do?  I began to apply that knowledge to other things. Work, school, working out, you name it.

I’m learning that the mind is like a farm. You can plant whatever you want in the farm. If you plant seeds of negativity- it will grow. If you plant seeds of positivity- it will also grow.  Your mind doesn’t give a flying patoot about what goes into it, it just GROWS.  So you need to be careful and intentional about what you plant. The good news is –  we are in control!

So me? Another 20-something motivational speaker? Lol. I know I know.  I have a LONG way to go. In fact, I’m just getting started.  But, at least I believe I can and that’s huge.

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One of the most crucial parts of my daily routine is what I feed my mind.

With that said- below are my top three speeches to listen to on my drives, while I put on my makeup, at the gym, you name it!

 

 

 

 

One of my FAVORITE things to do is repeat the words to myself.  “Don’t cry to give up! Cry to keep going!” “You’re standing up for peace of mind, you’re standing up for health! Take FULL responsibility for your life!” ” It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday, it doesn’t matter what happens to you. What matters is- what are you gonna do about it?” “I CAN, I CAN.”

Start with these, and start to explore what motivates you. I am telling you, if you actually listen to what they are saying and live by the words-  it will work.  If you’re putting in things in your mind  that grow you and push you,- it will reap positive results if you believe them and take action. I know it works because I live by it.  Do I sound a little crazy? Yeah, probably!  But, I’m fighting to become the person I want to be- and so should you.

I always push myself to do one more. To exceed my own expectations. To try something new. To take an odd job. To try that math problem. Because now I know there is no limit. The limit is us. So, let’s go.

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Gettin’ Jaggy wit it

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This week was my second time working alongside Jags Illustrated. Once again, it was a great experience for me. Buttt a rough loss for the Jags. I had the opportunity to sit in on the post-game press conference where Head Coach Gus Bradley and Quarterback Blake Bortles were hammered with questions. I wrote down as much as I could for those who want a little bit of an inside look at what went on. Here is what I gathered:

 

 

 

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The game ended with a score of 33-16 Raiders. This game in particular was a emotional game considering defensive tackle Malik Jackson was ejected from the game in the fourth quarter after being penalized twice for unsportsmanlike conduct. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey was also ejected from the game late in the fourth quarter after getting into a fight with Oakland receiver Johnny Holton, who was also ejected. Gus Bradley and Blake Bortles showed zero hesitation touching on the emotional part of the game.

Gus Bradley when asked about the result:

“Some things took place on the field and we gotta keep our poise, gotta keep our composure. We lost our poise and it affected us. We didn’t move the ball like we had hoped.  We were backed up in a situation multiple times. Time and possession were going to be a big deal today and they won that. We missed our opportunities and they made theirs. And that’s the outcome. And that’s it. It doesn’t matter what happens or what came about. A good team can’t do that.”

Blake Bortles missed multiple throws yesterday. When Gus was asked “What’s wrong with Blake” Gus made his way around the question and proceeded with  “We just gotta make good decisions. As a whole, offensively. We didn’t capture it in the red zone.”

Another man shouted in reference to the previous question “He doesn’t look like the same QB!” and Gus responded with “Offensively as a whole we aren’t as good as we were. We need to get more movement up front. We would like to have more accuracy. I believe this is a talented squad. We need to show up more offensively. We got caught up in the emotional part of the game. I mean, it is an emotional game. But, we can’t let that happen. It’s game we will look back at.”

One of the final questions I managed to write down for Gus’s portion was  “What is your message to fans who see you struggle at home?  Gus said in response ” We’re trying to do everything we can to play as well as we can. And today we didn’t play up to our capabilities.”

Up next in the press conference was Quarterback Black Bortles: 

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Bortles was preparing to get a lot of flack considering yesterday was his 13th career game with multiple interceptions. According to ESPN Stats & Info, this is the most in the NFL since his rookie season of 2014 + he is the worst in the league in other areas as well.

Bortles began by piggybacking off his coach in regards to the emotional part of the game by saying “It’s frustrating every time you lose. Win or lose, some days, I mean for myself, that emotion kind of takes over. If you win, you’re happy, if you lose, you’re upset. And then you have to move on because it does you no good to be upset.” ” We have a short week which is an extremely good thing for us.”

When asked about his skills and performance, Bortles responded with “I am not playing good. I wish I knew how to fix it, or I would. There’s emotions involved in this game. It’s passionate. Guys get fired up. There’s definitely a fine line between playing passionately and keeping your poise. And we’re still trying to figure that out. When guys get out of line it’s up to the rest of the team to put them in place.”

Similar questions were fired towards Blake and he continued:

“Uh, I missed some throws. It happens every Sunday. It’s a part of playing football. I mean obviously you don’t want to do that. You want to make every throw. But, sometimes you miss them. So kind of a continuous work in progress. You can aways get better.””Any time you get beat it sucks especially when you don’t play well from a personal standpoint and an offense as a whole. But there’s still a lot of football to be played.”

One of the final questions Bortles was asked about was about his personal belief in his skills. Blake ended on a solid note by saying  “My confidence never wavers.  I believe in myself 100 percent and I think that’s how you have to play the game. I think any doubt you have within yourself I think will prohibit you from things you can possibly do, so I’ll always have 100-percent confidence in myself.”


 

So. That’s what I’ve gathered. Jags fans, you put the pieces together. What do you think the future holds for the rest of the season? Do we sit Bortles? Is this the end for Gus Bradley?

In words of the man himself… “It’s time to make changes. Not doing so would be, as Bradley said, insanity.”

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