Wear what you love & dont care what they say!

Meet Jenn

Jenn

Hello & welcome to my fashion & lifestyle blog, Style My Mind! Here I post weekly about affordable fashion trends, but ya know, like real affordable! My favorite products, beauty routines & lifestyle experiences! I'm a girls-girl who loves the outdoors, white tee shirts & Disney World. Join me on my journey!

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When Olivia called me and said "Hey I need a plus one to a wedding in Asheville next weekend… do you want to come?"... My immediate response was, "YAAAAS girl!!" I did not know much about Asheville, just that it was mountainous with gorgeous weather. And I certainly had not heard about The Biltmore. When I told people I was going their first question was, "Are you going to The Biltmore?" Well that was where the wedding was and where we were staying. Everyone raved about it so I got extremely excited and started doing some research on it.

#LIVELIKEAVANDERBILT


When Olivia called me and said "Hey I need a plus one to a wedding in Asheville next weekend… do you want to come?"... My immediate response was, "YAAAAS girl!!" I did not know much about Asheville, just that it was mountainous with gorgeous weather. And I certainly had not heard about The Biltmore. When I told people I was going their first question was, "Are you going to The Biltmore?" Well that was where the wedding was and where we were staying. Everyone raved about it so I got extremely excited and started doing some research on it.

It looked like a castle and I automatically thought, "I want to live here." We arrived to our hotel, Village Hotel at the Biltmore and it was so cute and tucked away in the valley of the mountains. Our room was adorable, we loved the wine area with a built-in cedar holders topped off with a Kuerig and mini-fridge. The decor was very barnyard chic with roosters and country themed bedding. We were tired but decided to rally. We made coffees, touched up our airplane makeup and hit the town. We stopped at our hotel restaurant, Village Social, to grab a bite and some of their homegrown Sauvignon Blanc.

After we had some food and booze in us, we were off to Antler Hill Village. It was something out of a Hallmark Christmas movie. This sweet little town deep in the valley filled with restaurants, music and smothered in history. We took a walk around and learned about the historical fields and homes located on the property. We saw the animals on property, and all the old farming machinery they used to use. The barn was adorable and super educating on how things were done in the 1800s.




If you aren't familiar with The Vanderbilt family here is some info.

The Vanderbilt family is an American family of Dutch origin who gained prominence during the Gilded Age. Their success began with the shipping and railroad empires of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the family expanded into various other areas of industry and philanthropy. Cornelius Vanderbilt's descendants went on to build grand mansions on Fifth Avenue in New York City, luxurious "summer cottages" in Newport, Rhode Island, the palatial Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina, and various other opulent homes.

The Vanderbilts were once the wealthiest family in America. Cornelius Vanderbilt was the richest American until his death in 1877. After that, his son William acquired his father's fortune, and was the richest American until his death in 1885. The Vanderbilts' prominence lasted until the mid-20th century, when the family's 10 great Fifth Avenue mansions were torn down, and most other Vanderbilt houses were sold or turned into museums in what has been referred to as the "Fall of the House of Vanderbilt".[2][3]

Branches of the family are found on the United States East Coast. Contemporary descendants include fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt, her youngest son, journalist Anderson Cooper, actor Timothy Olyphant, musician John P. Hammond and screenwriter James Vanderbilt. Wikipedia

After we ventured the village, we toured the winery and of course went to the complimentary wine tasting which was divine. We tried 7 different wines and landed on a few we really loved. My favorite is the Malbec.  We ordered 3 bottles each of some wine to have shipped home, it was so tasty!

After the wine tasting we were feeling pretty good :) We really needed to get more food in our bellies and just wanted to veg out after a long day of travel so we headed back to Antler Village and ending up at Cedric's Tavern to listen to some music, grab some dinner and have a few more glasses of the Malbec.



Saturday evening was the wedding so we did not want to get into too much during the day, especially because with two bloggers it took us a few hours to get out the door and on the move. We decided to take a walk up the mountain to check out the vineyards and have lunch at The Inn, which was INCREDIBLE!!!! We had a beautiful spot outside we were sat on rocking chairs overlooking the mountains and vineyard. Three hours later we were still there enjoying some rose and the blissfully peaceful landscaping.

We wanted to get one more touristy event in before the wedding so we were off to the Estate Gardens. It was beautiful. The flowers were breathtaking and the property was astounding. It's incredible to think this is how people lived. People just don't have this kind of money or detail in their architecture. The greenhouse was probably a mile long filled floor to ceiling with different plants and flowers. Nature is just gorgeous and I loved being in the moment.


We headed back to the hotel and got ready for the wedding which was on The Estate property overlooking mountains and trees. It was quaint but very elegant. We had such a great time. Of course the wine was flowing and we were invited downtown but my consumption led me to believe one more glass and I was done. We headed back to our hotel bar for a night cap.


Sunday we toured The Estate. It was so interesting. There are 250 rooms and we probably only saw a quarter of them. There is literally a room for everything from indoor swimming pool, to gym, to stables and a cooks area. The fashion was unreal, so much detail and so much class. The history was so interesting and seeing real photos from the inside of the house in the 1800s was amazing. Just makes you wonder how our world will look to those in 200 years. It incredible to be able to visit these types of places and I am thankful that they preserved them for us to do so.

I highly recommend if you ever get a chance to visit The Biltmore that you do, it's a time in history captured for us to enjoy, take advantage!

XO, Cheers!
Jenn

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In 2015 I went to Paris, London and Dublin with my sister and BFF Amanda. My dad bought my sister and me our flights for our birthdays; I was turning 30 and my sister 25. I used to get really bad packing anxiety and going somewhere for two weeks in the "winter" (it was March but still boot weather there) freaked me out. How was I going to fit all my boots? All my clothes? I needed an umbrella and a jacket, scarves, gloves etc. So I decided I needed to do some research, I went right to Pinterest and searched "how to pack for Europe."





Outfit: BP. Nordstrom
Bag: Crooked Smile Creations
Photos: Christina Jones Photo

In 2015 I went to Paris, London and Dublin with my sister and BFF Amanda. My dad bought my sister and me our flights for our birthdays; I was turning 30 and my sister 25. I used to get really bad packing anxiety and going somewhere for two weeks in the "winter" (it was March but still boot weather there) freaked me out. How was I going to fit all my boots? All my clothes? I needed an umbrella and a jacket, scarves, gloves etc. So I decided I needed to do some research, I went right to Pinterest and searched "how to pack for Europe."

I started two weeks ahead of time and I watched multiple videos and blogs. I decided to plan out each and every single outfit with accessories included; I tried them all on and then laid them all out. I also take photos in each look to remember what I planned so make it easier to select an outfit each day. I learned to pack undies and socks inside of your boots and then lay the boots long-ways at the bottom of your suitcase.

The Art of Clothes Rolling

The art of rolling your clothes is a miraculous discovery in my opinion. Have you done it? It really is a space saver and keeps everything nice and neat. Take the long sleeve shirts and lay them on top of each other, then the short sleeve tops inside those and tanks inside those. Fold them all in half together and then roll tightly! Do that with jeans and shorts, then dresses and skirts. I packed a lot of versatile outfits so that I could re-wear some of them again like jeans, plain shirts etc.

This year, me, Dan and some of our friends are heading to Amsterdam, Berlin and Prague. I have never been to any of these cities and I am so excited, especially for Prague. I already warned Dan about my crazy packing skills and how I start weeks in advance. I have already started buying outfits and been mentally dressing myself. The stress is really on this time because now I am a fashion blogger. In 2015 I had not started my blog yet. Anyway, I always check the average temperature for the time of year. We are going in May this year which apparently is still spring there, 60-70 degrees. When I went the last time I brought a lot of boots because it was freezing. This time I am bringing some platform sandals as well as boots. I linked some of the shoes I am wearing on my shopstyle app here.

Where to stay & What to see

Ok, so the first time we went to Europe we went to a travel agent, this time, I am the travel agent. We decided to go with AirBNB because we have 7 people going and we needed more space plus it was a lot cheaper. Let me put it to you this way, I got a quote with an agent for $2,500 per person. I booked the flight and AirBNBs for $1600 per person. It took a lot of time and research though. Dan's friend suggested booking the flights through www.skyscanner.com and we did. The layovers are a little longer but the flights were $621 per person round trip! It's cool though because we stop in Copenhagen on the way back for like 7 hours so we can go explore a little which will be fun.

If you do book your own trip, be sure to google or ask around for the best areas to stay, especially if you haven't been there. FYI if you have life insurance a lot of times they have travel assist and they can help you plan for a trip i.e. where to stay, what shots you may need. Little bit of my insurance knowledge ;) So I actually googled it and asked my fabulous IG followers for assistance. I looked at all the AirBNBs and what we needed. The hart part was the bathrooms. A lot of places there only have 1-1.5 baths which stinks for 7 people and 3 of them being women. But we did get 3-4 bedrooms and it costed $650 per person for 8 days; the hotel would have been way more and a lot less space.

Next thing to do is start planning what to see and do. We did a lot of planning before our last trip but we did have one day where we just went with it and it was an awesome day. It was the day we discovered hot wine. This time I want to plan a little but also do a lot of random exploration. I heard the castle that Cinderella's castle is based off of is about an hour south of Berlin, and we will damn well be going. Prague has a lot of really affordable shopping so I am very excited for that. Berlin has that grapefruit German beer, I hope ? If you are going to Europe make sure you get the outlet adapters and plan to use a credit card because it's more difficult for them to rip you off that way.

Lastly, find the best selfie-spots!!!

XO, Cheers!
Bon Voyage!
Jenn

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Happy 34th birthday to me! WOW, I am just not sure about that. It's bittersweet. 33 was a good year for me because even though there were a ton of struggles I think I finally learned myself, who I am, and what I will and won't settle for! I have learned the value of a dollar… sorta! Haha, a little better :) and realized that there is more to life and my purpose, than marriage and children. I am happy where I am.


Happy 34th birthday to me! WOW, I am just not sure about that. It's bittersweet. 33 was a good year for me because even though there were a ton of struggles I think I finally learned myself, who I am, and what I will and won't settle for! I have learned the value of a dollar… sorta! Haha, a little better :) and realized that there is more to life and my purpose, than marriage and children. I am happy where I am. My family is doing well and everyone is healthy. I have a great job and I love being a blogger. I love where I live and I have a great guy to go on adventures in life with. When I say I honestly feel completely at peace this year and turning 34, it's true. But THANK GOD FOR THE BOTOX!!


But I do have some goals for myself this year in 2019

Go to fashion week in September

Learn and love a workout routine that I actually like and stick to it

Branch out in movie genres

Read my Bible EVERY SINGLE DAY (I really do try!)

Declutter & organize my closet (UGH)

Visit 3 places in the Tampa Bay area I have never been yet

Host another charity event

Reach 2M+ in premium add issue for work (insiders will get this)

Personal financial goals


I think goals are always good to have because crossing them off when you achieve them feels so damn good. But I think one of the bitter parts of goals is feeling disappointed if you don't achieve them. So, I also want to change my mindset to be more positive. I definitely have a more "whatever happens, happens, God's will" mindset now but I want to look at the glass half full instead of empty; I mean I would rather have a glass half full of wine than a glass half empty of wine DUH! My mom is one of those people who believe in envisioning what you want and I am a little skeptical but what's the harm? When she was here a few weeks ago it was calling for flat out rain and clouds in the low 60s and I was like there is NO WAY we are getting on the beach. She swore up and down it was happening, we were getting on the beach that day. Low and behold the sun came out and we were on the beach for a little over an hour. So maybe there is something to the power of positive thinking huh?


What kind of goals do you set for yourself? Do you add more when you achieve them? How do you feel when you haven't gotten to check them all off? Curious to know! Leave comments below or on my IG!

Photos by Christina Jones Photo
Shop my look HERE!


XO, Cheers!

Jenn

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I met Courtney again after that and she gifted me some of the products. She is such a doll. I used them for a few more weeks and decided I was ready, I wanted to be healthier and more cautious of what I am putting in and on my body. I have lost so many close people to cancer and every little bit of "safer" helps! I told Courtney I was in, sign me up.




When I first started blogging I used to take collaborations and partnerships with any and everyone. I just wanted to get my blog out there and didn't care how I did it. That is definitely one of the lessons I learned NOT to do. Now I am super selective with my time and who I partner with. I am not looking just to get free products or make money, I am looking to build long-lasting relationships with businesses and brands that I actually love and believe in.

Courtney slipped into my DMs a little over a month ago, she also followed up with an email. I always appreciate when businesses reach out via email it seems more genuine. Now I have been with a direct sales business before and it's not like I did not like it but a lot was expected from me and I did not have that kind of time to dedicate in order to be successful.



Photos by Christina Jones Photo

I met with Courtney being very skeptical thinking "I am not doing this again but she seems cool so I will meet with her." I really liked her when we met, as a person. We got to know each other a little before she went into showing me the products. I left the first meeting without any intentions of joining but possibly helping promote their platform. I liked the idea of "cleaner products" but felt like it was not something I ever pushed before so wasn't sure it was for me or my brand. She gave me some samples and I took them home and tried them. I did like what she gave me but felt like I needed more and more time to be convinced so she let me borrow some of her products for a shoot.

I fell in love with the makeup and especially the charcoal mask. I told her I wanted to use them a little longer and start introducing them on my story to see what kind of response I would get. I got messages right away and learned more from some of my followers that had been using the products. One of my friends who is finishing up her nursing degree educated me a little more about the chemicals in some of the products we are using and how harmful they are. She told me she switched majority of her skincare and makeup over to Beautycounter and have been an avid user for over a year. This really intrigued me.

One year ago, I started using Beautycounter and have since switched over my entire beauty routine to their safer products. As a soon to be nurse practitioner who works in preventative medicine, I feel passionate about eliminating harmful and toxic ingredients anyway we can.  Our skin is our largest organ and I truly believe that what we put on our bodies effects how we our bodies function. I recommend cleaner products to my patients to help reduce allergic and inflammatory symptoms. For me personally, Beautycounter has helped clear up acne and reduce redness and dryness in my late 20's. I highly recommend these products for everyone looking to make a safer choice! -Kirsten Nelson, Beautycounter User

I met Courtney again after that and she gifted me some of the products. She is such a doll. I used them for a few more weeks and decided I was ready, I wanted to be healthier and more cautious of what I am putting in and on my body. I have lost so many close people to cancer and every little bit of "safer" helps! I told Courtney I was in, sign me up.

I ordered a bunch of products and had my sister try them when she was here. She was sold as well. She ordered the "best of" kit and has fallen in love with the mask, cleansing balm and facial oil now! She is also one looking into being more natural because she wants to get pregnant next year and these products we use on the regular are not good for us let alone a baby!

My favorite product is definitely the charcoal mask.
 

Ten minutes to a purified complexion.

This nutrient-rich kaolin clay mask deep-cleans and balances, absorbing excess oil and drawing out impurities. Activated charcoal minimizes the appearance of pores, giving skin a smooth, refined appearance, while salicylic acid stimulates exfoliation. Perfect for those concerned with congestion and oily skin.

Consumer Panel Test Results:

In an independent consumer study, after two weeks of use*:

97% said mask refined and smoothed skin.

94% said mask absorbed excess oil.

87% said mask detoxified pores and purified skin.

84% said mask made skin look clearer and more even-toned.


Right now Beautycounter is having a 15% off site-wide SALE. These sales do not come around often so if you are interested in anything grab it now!

Beautycounter products used in photos:
Tint Skin Hydrating Foundation

Brilliant Brow Gel

Velvet Eyeshadow Palette

Nectar Satin Powder Blush
 

XO, Cheers!
Jenn

 

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If you did not know, I am obsessed with toothbrushes. It's one of my "tell me something people don't know about you" items. I cannot tell you when this obsession took over or why honestly but I believe because teeth are the first thing I notice on a person and my girlfriends can attest to that, we are all on the same page. It is so important to take care of your teeth because poor dental hygiene can lead to other medical issues. Brushing and flossing is so simple to prevent teeth conditions or more.

If you did not know, I am obsessed with toothbrushes. It's one of my "tell me something people don't know about you" items. I cannot tell you when this obsession took over or why honestly but I believe because teeth are the first thing I notice on a person and my girlfriends can attest to that, we are all on the same page. It is so important to take care of your teeth because poor dental hygiene can lead to other medical issues. Brushing and flossing is so simple to prevent teeth conditions or more.

I started using cariPRO™ ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH a few months ago and it has not failed me. Here is what I love about it:

The five settings and personally, the "whitening" one. I have never seen that before so I am loving it. I also love the "Gum care" and "Sensitive" as well. I bleached my teeth for a little too long a few weeks ago and had to use the "Sensitive" setting for a few days, it worked great.


The small, easy charging dock. It's easy to take it on vacation with you if you want. I always say when I go away how I hate using a regular toothbrush because they just don't feel as clean no matter how long you brush and I hate that sweater feeling on the back of my teeth.
 

It charges quickly and stays charged for a while. I can easily take it with me on a long weekend with no issues of having to recharge.

I love the sleek slate and blue color. I am a fashion-gal of course I need to look at the style of the toothbrush haha!
 

Lastly, it's SUPER quiet. I did not think this was something I would even think about until I switched from my old electric toothbrush to this one! It's like riding in a luxury car over a Hyundai.


Photos by Christina Jones Photo

I have also used SmileBrilliant's whitening kit. It's awesome. They send you the mold, you mold your teeth and send it back. Then they send you personal trays with the whitening gel as well as the desensitizing gel. You leave on for 30-60 min and do a few times a week. I will link their website below.

SmileBrilliant

I am also giving one lucky winner a chance to win one of these beauties. You can enter below.

cariPRO Giveaway

I am also offering all my followers 20% with code stylemymind20

Like I have been discussing taking care of yourself, watching what you put in and on your body is super important. Cancer can take up residence anywhere on or in your body so be preventative in all ways possible, including your teeth!

XO, Cheers!
Jenn


electric toothbrush

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Helloooo!! So, today is the 3 year anniversary of Style My Mind. I have to be honest, there was a point in December when I thought I may quit and shut it all down because I had no idea where I wanted to go with my blog. Instead, I sat back and remembered my "why". Why was the reason I started my blog? Because I love writing, I love fashion and I love sharing my life experiences to help motivate others. That is when "Faith in Fear" started. We always share the happy stories but sometimes we need to be vulnerable enough to share the truth.



Shop my bag at Crooked Smile Creations

Helloooo!! So since it's my 3rd year of blogging I have to be honest, there was a point in December when I thought I may quit and shut it all down because I had no idea where I wanted to go with my blog. Instead, I sat back and remembered my "why". Why was the reason I started my blog? Because I love writing, I love fashion and I love sharing my life experiences to help motivate others. That is when "Faith in Fear" started. We always share the happy stories but sometimes we need to be vulnerable enough to share the truth.

That is what today's blog is about. Why it's better to be truthful and honest than sugar coat things. Granted I realize there is a time and place for all things but I have gotten a lot of feedback and majority of my friends love that I am straight forward and say it like it is. But, I expect it back too.

I am the friend who will always tell you when something doesn't fit right. I will always tell you when you're an idiot to keep running back to the same loser over and over again. I am honest about my life, about my faults. If I like you, you'll know it. If I don't you will definitely know it.

I don't play pretend friends with people I don't like or respect. I also don't let anyone disrespect me. If you say something insulting or rude I will let you know it. If you are the best friend ever, I will tell you and show you.

I am as loyal as they come and I won't ever make promises I don't intend to keep. I talk a lot, a lot! But lately I do try to sit back and respond instead of react because here is what I found out. A reaction can sometimes be plain out nasty, "OMG that shirt is hideous". Now I know I can say this with some of my friends, but not all. So if it's someone who's a little more sensitive I may say, "I think you would look really awesome in something like this," and show an example.

I used to be unintentionally hurtful with my brutal honesty so I have tried to spruce it up a little bit. My reactions can be strong and I learned maybe not to say everything that comes to my mind, but instead think about the appropriate way to say it.

Funny story, I met my friend Alyssa in 2005ish at Clancy's Pub where I worked for about 6 years. She had just started and I had to train her. I told my manager time and again that I am not a good trainer, I am rude and don't pay attention. I still got the newbies. Anyway, Alyssa was 5 years younger than me and a little sheltered. Like never saw a clam, or a crab cake. Of course this was something I made fun of her for. (She is allergic to seafood so she gets a pass). But I used to snap at her "ALYSSA", tell her to get my drinks and would say "Me and my friends are going outback to smoke, you can come or not come I don't care." And she of course never came with. TBH I have no idea when it was that Alyssa and I became such good friends. She was so quiet but so hilarious. I told her what to do and she laughed it off. She never took offense to it but looking back, what a bitch I was. She loved it. 11 years later, I was in her wedding, helped get her a big girl job, and am now dating her husband's best friend! How about that?!

Photos by Christina Jones Photo
Shop my look HERE!

Most people appreciate the honesty but the point is, know your audience. Tracy for instance I can say anything to her however I want to say it about anyone in any form and she will die laughing. She never takes offense and knows I have a great big heart I just have a strong, Jersey girl opinion with a loud Italian mouth. Gianna, same thing! Marissa, ditto! All my girls know me, they know I don't say things to be hurtful or rude… it's who I am.

Sunshine mixed with a little bit of hurricane!

XO, Cheers!
Jenn

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Well, well another year has come and gone for my baby blog and as per usual, I have learned a ton. Firstly, we aren't really "bloggers" anymore are we? Or are we "influencers"? I am just not sure so I'll be both. Also, has the IG algorithm gotten straightened out yet? No? Ok, let's shoot for year 4.




Well, well another year has come and gone for my baby blog and as per usual, I have learned a ton. Firstly, we aren't really "bloggers" anymore are we? Or are we "influencers"? I am just not sure so I'll be both. Also, has the IG algorithm gotten straightened out yet? No? Ok, let's shoot for year 4. Since everyone loves numbers here we go:

ONE

Do not conform to the blogger/Like To Know It world. I didn't and I am glad I didn't. I see a lot of these bloggers probably do really, really well with it but that's just not my real life.  I don't run out and buy the newest things that hit the racks just to wear and post on my IG to sell you something you don't need. I have had more luck working with brands and building my brand that way. I am going to be transparent: I do not make a lot of money from the brand collaborations. I definitely have some income there and I do charge per post sometimes, really depending on the collab. But I really look at the importance being on the relationship and building your contact list.  There are a few things I learned working with brands and brings me to point 2.

TWO

Do not take every single collab that comes your way just because they are going to pay you. You will get burnt out, and if it doesn't go with your brand or something you would use, why would you promote it? I did that a lot last year and got really overwhelmed. So I took some time to think about it and decided that if it doesn't fit my brand: fashion, faith or beauty I am not going to join it. If I don't believe in the product I will not try to sell you on it just because it makes me a couple bucks.

THREE

Don't forget your why. Don't forget where you started and why you started. I began my blog because I love to write and I love fashion. In the beginning my blog focused mostly on fashion and what I discovered is that you run out of content that has substance writing about clothing over and over again. I took a step back and took off from my blog for two months and decided I wanted to focus more on lifestyle blogging with a side of fashion and beauty. That is what people seem to relate to more and really want to read about.


FOUR

If you have to make a business change to better your business, do it. I changed photographers and not because I did not love my photographer but I needed someone who could travel more and was a little more of a partner in my scheduled shooting like Christina Jones Photo; who specializes in branding and bloggers. I know how to style myself, I know how to pose. I needed someone who would scout locations and travel to fashion week or Disney etc. Because of changing to a lifestyle blogger I needed someone that fit more with my lifestyle.

FIVE

Collab with the locals. No one wants to see constant photos of just you. People want to see you're a real person so show that on your feed and in your stories via blog and IG stories. I love working with local companies and up-and-comers to help lift each other up. I started working with a local bag company because I absolutely love her handmade leather crossbody bags, they are gorgeous and I want to help promote her brand (shop Crooked Smile Creations here).

FINAL THOUGHTS...

Listen to Julie Solomon's "The Influencer PodCast". This really taught me about what to do and what not to do with my blog and helped me regain focus. I have long car rides and this is my go-to PodCast to help better my knowledge on this ever-changing business.

XO, Cheers!
Jenn

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2019 has not started out the way I hoped. I am having trouble holding onto my faith right now and I am mad at myself for it. I do believe as a Christian, there are times we struggle to understand especially us with anxiety and an urge to control everything. Death is one of those things we have zero control over.



Shop my JUST FAB look HERE

2019 has not started out the way I hoped. I am having trouble holding onto my faith right now and I am mad at myself for it. I do believe as a Christian, there are times we struggle to understand especially us with anxiety and an urge to control everything. Death is one of those things we have zero control over. Within a matter of the first two weeks of 2019 a tragic car accident took a family friend as well as two others due to a selfish, troubled young man trying to take his own life. He took three other lives instead.

Photos by Christina Jones Photo

January 15th God called my good friend Holly home to heaven and I have been numb ever since. It's January 21 as I write this, I stare at my laptop still in shock that I am writing it. It was not a shock that Holly passed because she did have stage 4 cancer, but why God took her is shocking to me. Holly's step-son passed in 2015 also from cancer, and now her. To say I am a little angry and bitter is an understatement. I am trying so hard not to feel this way but my inability to understand God's plan is eating me alive. I sit here and analyze why? Even after all these stories I have written, knowing that something great comes out of tragedy and heartache, I am still questioning it.

"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." -Isaiah 40:31



I met Holly when her step-son passed and remained friends with her ever since. She helped me through heartbreak, through troubled times, and helped strengthen my health after a terrible stomach infection. Holly was that person who was always smiling, always laughing. I don't think I ever saw her without a smile. I can hear her laugh still so crisp in my mind and smell her scent so freshly surrounding me. I guess maybe this is why I am numb, I feel like she is still here. I have felt calm because she was the most devoted Christian I have ever met so the only thing I am not doubting is that her and Ricky are united and happy together with Jesus.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths right." -Prov 3:5-6

I just keep thinking and praying for understanding and for hope of the future. I know that people die, and it doesn't matter if it's suddenly or over time it all hurts the same. What I took from Denny and Holly's passing is this:

Do what you love. Don't do things that don't bring you joy. If you're happy, don't explain yourself. Eat the cake. Drink the wine. Surround yourself only by people who bring out the best in you. Invest in yourself. Enjoy life, but do it responsibly. Travel. Eat good food. Stare at the stars. Read good books and drink good tea. Snuggle your animals everyday. Tell the people you love that you love them. Hug people longer. Value the time we have here together. Work hard. And never, ever settle!

XO, Cheers!
Jenn

 

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"She is clothed in strength and dignity, and laughs without fear of the future." -Prov 31:25 After mending my broken heart for 8 months, I started to find myself again. There were some really dark days of endless tears, curled up on the bathroom floor in fetal position sobbing my hydration away. I distanced myself from people who brought out the worst in me and filled my days with hot tea and cardio. Work started to get better as I devoted a lot more time into advancing my knowledge on our system and processes.




(this knee scar -- AGH! Was a drunken fall sadly!!)

After mending my broken heart for 8 months, I started to find myself again. There were some really dark days of endless tears, curled up on the bathroom floor in fetal position sobbing my hydration away. I distanced myself from people who brought out the worst in me and filled my days with hot tea and cardio. Work started to get better as I devoted a lot more time into advancing my knowledge on our system and processes.

I moved into a beautiful place with a water view and it truly is tranquil. I never expected to be able to afford a place like this but God works in ways you never expect. Also, in these months He brought someone very special back into my life. Dan and I have been friends for 5 years. We both have dated other people (who weren't good for us) and we always stayed platonic… until we didn't. Now, he's in my life in a different way, a better way, a way I never expected. The fact is, I never saw Dan for who really was and how good of a match we really are because my brain was always focused on the people who weren't good for me. He was always there to pick me up when I was in those dark places, and mentally I wasn't able to see him in the way I do now. He is kind, generous, hysterical, and a person I love being around. It's easy with him and I don't know where it's going to go but for once I don't care. I am taking everything one day at a time because we never know what can happen, everyday has a story of it's own. We just always have to hope for the best. All I know is, I am happier than I have been in a long time. It may be him or it may just be the fact that I found myself, and even though I have this other person in my life (in a different way), I am still me and I am worth so much just as that. I still do the things I love, and put my work and dreams first at this point.

How adorable is this card holder? I live by mine, I never use a real wallet, always a card holder. Shop this one at Crooked Smile Creations!

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Photos by Christina Jones Photo

Beauty always seems to come from pain. Dan and his girlfriend broke up, I can't say how because that is not my story to tell, but I know he was disappointed. But with every ending comes a new beginning. What the new beginning is, well right now we are supportive of each other, like each other's company and like going on adventures together. Say what you will, but sometimes bad things have to happen for something beautiful to come out of it.

"She is clothed in strength and dignity, and laughs without fear of the future."
-Prov 31:25

However, I feel like one of the problems with society is that everyone wants everything to be so black and white. Sometimes, things are grey… and right now we are in a grey area but darn it I am happy there so mind ya business. Why do I need to do everything that everyone else does? I am not sure if I want kids, why would someone call that selfish of me? I think me saying I am not sure I want them, or I really need to think about it before doing it is better than getting pregnant and not wanting to care for the child. Everyone has a purpose in this world, and I think there is more for me than marriage and children, so why should anyone else care?

Beauty comes in all different forms, don't shrug your shoulders and roll your eyes because my dreams aren't the same as yours. Live your life for God and His plans for you alone.

XO, Cheers!
Jenn

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Fast forward to 2018, I moved to Tampa in June 2014 from Jacksonville to be closer to my family. I moved around a lot, like moving into my 6th apartment this year. Haha. What can I say, I like change? Anyway, the last 4 years of "relationships" if you can call them that have been a struggle but it was in those times that I really learned a lot about myself and what I really want and what I am not willing to settle for.





Photos by Christina Jones Photo
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Good morning, happy Monday! I moved to Tampa in June 2014 from Jacksonville to be closer to my family. I moved around a lot, like moving into my 6th apartment this year a lot. Haha. What can I say, I like change? Anyway, the last 4 years of "relationships" if you can call them that have been a struggle but it was in those times that I really learned a lot about myself and what I really want and what I am not willing to settle for.

The end of 2014 I met a man who was unavailable, emotionally and physically. He was unhappy, so being the "fixer" that I am, I tried to make it better for him, I wanted to save him, which in turn led me down a really dark, painful rabbit hole. I became a sounding board for him; he would call me and complain about his relationship meanwhile making me feel like I couldn't live my life without him, even though I didn't really have him to begin with. He didn't know what he was doing... at least that's what I told myself. He didn't know that everyday he took a little piece of my heart and soul from me. But I was getting attention from him which I guess I needed at the time, or thought I did, and this went on for almost two years because I let it. I thought if I was mean and nasty to him that he would go away, he didn't. Day after day I would pray and cry that he would leave his toxic relationship and we would be together ... it never happened, it still hasn't happened four years later. When I finally ended the "friendship" in March 2016, I took one month, I had ONE FREAKING MONTH to be completely unattached to that mess and then someone else quite in the same situation fell into my lap.

This guy was closer to being available physically but definitely not emotionally. I don't want to tell his story for him but he was in a bad marriage and it wasn't really his fault. I mean there are three sides to every story but overall, not him. Enter the "fixer". Yup here I come, "I will make it better, I will put eveything I want aside and give you everything that YOU want to make YOU feel better".

At first I told him I was just getting out of a similar situation and I just wanted to be his friend, that did not last. Two months later we were "dating" I guess you could call it, but it ended after three months when he was going to give his marriage one more shot. "Ok go ahead, I know that's not gonna work but maybe 3rd times the charm." It was not the charm and he filed for divorce a month later. Without getting into too many details, he and I were back and forth three times in two years. We lived long distance, we worked together, he was going through a divorce and had two kids; well he still has two adorable kids! I mean any other person would run from it, and I ran TO it. Everytime I would try to walk away something would bring me back to him. He was easy to talk to and we had a lot of fun together unlike I had with anyone else. I didn't mind the long distance because I am independent so it worked for me. Again, I let someone make me feel like I didn't deserve more than what he could give me. I began to realize this wasn't his fault, it was mine.

The storms of emotion rumled in after every time we ended. It was the same story, he was not emotionally ready for anything more than whatever we were (basically a relationship without the title) and I guess he wanted to be single after 14 years of marriage, I did understand, I did. But in my twisted mind I went right to "I'm not good enough, how come he doesn't love me enough to fight for this?" all the anxiety-ridden thoughts that someone thinks poured into my brain day after day. I was back in the dark hole and the last time we ended, April 2018 I stayed in the hole for a while. This time, I was the one who ended it because I knew I wanted more and deserved more. However, I still didn't want him to date and when he told me he was "dating" on some stupid site, I claimed crazy-girl status and lost my shit. You know the whole "I don't want you but I don't want anyone else to have you," middle school mind-set. I remember the day, I broke down, I cried, I couldn't breathe. The thought of him with someone else killed me, but I still knew I didn't want to go back to that. I started therapy immediately because I knew this was deeper than him.

I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears -Psalm 34:4

I ended all communication with him and blocked his number about 3 weeks after that. I was seeing a new therapist and within the first 20 minutes she was able to diagnose me with anxiety and panic disorder. UGH. I mean I always knew I had these tendencies, and my sister has been diagnosed for years but hearing it from someone else just made me sick. I cried. And then I dealt with it. But it got worse and worse over the next few weeks. Even though he was out of my life and I was working on bettering myself I felt really alone. My mind would lead me to those dark places and panic would take over, usually when I was lying in bed. It started affecting my work and day to day life and I knew I had to figure out a way to manage this. The final straw was a Sunday with Marissa, we were drinking and having fun at the pool and I got really depressed, went back to my house alone and cried in the bathroom. I kept thinking I am 33 and alone, the guy was gone, I had my friends and if Marissa found someone I would truly be ALONE. It was a bad, bad place. I was being lied to by the devil, I knew what I had to do. I turned to my Bible.

I felt detached for a while from God and knew I needed to rebuild that relationship first, in order to mend the breaks in my soul.

Be anxious in nothing, but in everything by prayer -Philippians 4:6

I prayed and prayed to get better and I was slowly filling the cracks with the words of the Lord but I was still out of whack. So I saw a doctor who put me on Lexapro. I was really against medicine for this but sometimes we just need it. Sometimes it's a chemical imbalance and it is hereditary, which makes a lot of sense. I don't get the up's and down's anymore. I am balanced. For a while I was having difficulty staying by myself or enjoying alone time because my mind would just race. Now it's different.

November 2018 (when I wrote this), I am a total homebody, I read the bible daily, I am legit just friends with that man from my past and I am focusing on me. In these times I learned so much about myself and my worth. I don't believe that a relationship does or should define you. I let people in my life make me feel like I wasn't anyone because I didn't have someone and that was a LIE. I didn't value myself for so long and I realized it was because  I am a perfectionist and so I would just focus on why I was not good enough instead of the factual truth which was God is holding out something better for me.

It's so hard to see and believe that in those times of hurt and pain and utter blackness, but looking back at my life I realize the truth to that statement. I never expected to be living in Florida on the water, doing what I love with the people I have. That was God's plan not mine. And when you stop trying to control the storm and you just sit still, He will equip you with the tools you need to get through the terror and fear for you to come out alive on the other side of the flood. We weren't meant to do this life alone, we were meant to do it with Him and we often times forget that and try to control so much.

You are where you are supposed to be at this very moment so live each day feeling blessed and thankful for what you have. Have faith in God's plan for you and remember you are enough, you are worth it; hold out for God's intentions they are far better than any dream you could imagine.

I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future -Jeremiah 29:11

XO, Cheers!
Jenn

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