Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday Meditation: Keep Stretching 2012 a Year in Review

"One of my aims in life is to constantly feel the S T R E T C H. Not to get too comfortable. To feel a little uneasy, not as punishment, but as growth. It is the dedication to learning, the dedication to growth and the dedication to living slightly uncomfortably that brings the magic in life. This is how it is for anyone who achieves at the highest level. Keep stretching!" -Mastin Kipp

I posted this awesome quote on my Facebook last week, and I feel like it sums up my 2012 pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good! I started off 2012 comfortably without a clue how things would shake up or shake out in the 12 months to come. To be honest, I didn't really have ANY of these changes planned--but this year has surely been an adventure! Here's how the big changes stacked up:
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Hold on tight! It's going to be an adventure!!!
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  • 25 years I celebrated life (I can now say I am a quarter century old, how fancy)
  • 3 homes/moves (life throws you curveballs, but I am happy to be a West Sider again!)
  • 2 trips to the West Coast (San Fran and Seattle)
  • 1 trip to the East Coast (DC with Marie!)
  • 1 year of blogging! (oh the friends and adventures I've had along the way!)
  • 1 major career move (looooove my new job!)
  • 1 new car (finally laid Percy to rest! And purchased my first car)

Whew those are some major big girl changes! When I look back and reflect on the year, I can't believe how many unexpected events and experiences cropped up--but that's exactly it, someone with a Greater Plan decided to shake things up for me. Did I have to step outside of my comfort zone in ways I never imagined? You bet! Did I grow and become a better and stronger woman for it? ABSOLUTELY! I stretched, and overcame, and put myself out there. and created a more beautiful life by choosing to focus on the positives!
Your journey is unfoulding exactly as it should be!

Professional S T R E T C H
I left my first job I had from right out of college, only to be greeted by a tremendous team of supportive, hard-working, women who have grown to be an extension of family. Making a career move is certainly new, uneasy, and different--but it's often in that stretch that we grow exponentially! I am grateful for the opportunities I had during my first 3 years as a working professional and the lovely people who helped me along the way. In my new position, I have met so many wonderful people while networking and have such awesome mentors and encouraging women who want me to succeed in my career. 2013 I will begin my SEO training (*marketing nerd out moment*) and could just squeal I am so excited to take on that challenge! I am one lucky lady to have landed with my company and team of great people!

My office all decked out by my co-workers on my 25th birthday :)
Travel S T R E T C H
I was extremely fortunate to be able to travel so much this year. I ventured out to the West Coast twice to visit my favorite cousins, once in San Fran (read my recap here) and once in Seattle (I am halfway through the recap post, I got distracted during the holidays, but stay posted it IS coming!)
Gnarly shot I took of the Golden Gate Bridge!
from "CLE Kids in San Franny" Post

Both trips were amazing, for different reasons, but I certainly dig the Northern Cal and Pacific Northwest relaxed vibe--smart people, fresh organic food, good wine and brew pubs, gorgeous natural beauty, and progressive thinking.

Marie and I in DC!
from "10 Things I Learned in DC" Post
Marie's niece, Stella, giving me a big DC welcome!!! What a cutie pie!!!
I also hit up DC over Labor Day weekend for a reunion with my college gal pal, Marie. She showed me her new city (always a CLE girl at heart though!) and the sites and her family welcomed me with open arms. We had a blast and Marie ALWAYS knows how to make a girl laugh :)

My 2013 travel plans? ABROAD! It's my New Year's Resolution, and my thoughtful sister gave me a  jump start with my Christmas gift and gave me the passport application and adorable passport cover booklet to remind me of my goals. Turkey here I come!

Creative S T R E T C H
my favorite e.e.cummings quote, "It takes courage to grow up, and become who you really are."
from "Screw Factory Artist Open House in Lakewood" Post
I really came into my own this year through my blogging efforts. I got back into the habit of writing and my mind and creativity are swirling with juices--NO MORE BRAIN DRAIN! Through this commitment to writing, and sharing my stories and experiences, and positive outlook on CLE, my entire world has opened up. Was it scary to put myself out there? At times, certainly! Was it a little uncomfortable at first to go to events by myself? Of course. But the experiences I had and people I have met through blogging have been incredible. By stretching and putting myself in new circumstances and going to events on my own, the rewards and happiness only sky-rocketed! I am eternally grateful to my CLE Believers who have stuck with me over the past year and taken the positive journey with me through my JAMinCLE blogging adventure! You guys ROCK!!!!

Personal S T R E T C H
I never came right out and wrote about it, but I am sure my dedicated readers and friends have put 2 and 2 together and figured out I had a lot of personal changes this year too. After 3 1/2 years of being with my boyfriend and 1 1/2 of living together, I decided to move back home with my parents in August. Living back at home with the roomies at 25 is certainly something I never anticipated after being on my own since 20. But, that's what family is for, to help you grow and stretch and love you through any change. Sure, everyone wants to give you their unsolicited 2 cents while going through a breakup--but thankfully my family and friends have supported all of my decisions and encouraged me along every step. I stretched, and grew, focused on myself, and took better care of myself rather than always trying to take care of someone else.
Work it out, girl!!!

Sara and I jammin out on Just Dance
 from "Surround Yourself With Those Who Lift You Higher" Post
I saved up money while living at home, and made my first car purchase too...wo0o0o0o0oho0o0o0! I said goodbye to my faithful Kia, Percy, and said helllllo to my new Nissan Rogue (name is still pending...)

The most important thing I learned from stepping into the uneasy and making these "big girl decisions"--was how incredibly resilient I am! That dedication to growth, and learning, and development is where the magic really happens!
Remember your roots, and keep on growing!!!
From "Monday Meditation: Remember Your Roots" Post

So my lovely CLE Believers, I look forward to kissing 2012 goodbye and stretching into 2013! May your year be productive, adventurous, positive, and happy! Embrace the change, and keep S T R E T C H I N G! Life is too short not to JAM! xoxo
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Happy 2013!!!!!
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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

5 Simple Steps to Crafting a Wine Cork Wreath!

Christmas may be right around the corner, and you may be stressed ...but don't worry you can get a jump start by saving for your Christmas crafts... for next year :) That's what I did last Christmas!
I began saving all of my wine corks (we all know JAM has an affinity for the vino!) from special occasions, to girl's nights, birthdays, after long work days, I saved all the corks up by simply tossing them in a nice large glass hurricane for a pretty display. Even my Mom and Grandma began saving up for me too--family affair. I created a whole board on Pinterest of "Put a Cork In It" ideas, so follow me on Pinterest for crazy crafts and other ideas too!! And yes, you guessed it... I got the idea for a wine cork wreath on Pinterest last year, and finally had enough saved up to make this AWESOME wine cork wreath for the holidays this year...andddd I'm pretty jazzed about it. It was simple, easy to do, and a great unique collection of fun memories over 2012.

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Original Wine Cork Wreath idea via Pinterest
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Five simple steps is all it takes!!!!

1) Have fun with your family, friends and loved ones over a bottle of vino.

2) Save all the corks in a dry (and preferably pretty display) area.

3) Buy a small styrofoam wreath from your local craft store (Michael's, Pat Catan's, etc.)

4) Take a walk down memory lane when you pour out all of your collected corks and recount the lovely times you shared.

5) Take toothpicks and stab one end into the cork and the other end into the styrofoam. Arrange to your liking, hang and enjoy!!!

Wine Cork Wreath!
Since I love red wine, I chose to flip some of the red-stained corks over to add some extra holiday swag color. Love it!

My finished wine cork wreath! Happy and hung! Success!
Enjoy your festive libations this year, and start saving for your easy-to-do wine cork wreath for the holidays next year!


Saturday, December 15, 2012

A JAM Blog-a-versary!!!!

Last December 15, I started my blogging venture and, whew--I could have never imagined what a wonderful journey it would be!
Make the ride bright!
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My very first post, I promised to spread that CLE JAM love all over the interwebs!

Spread that JAM!

My love and curiosity for my homeland of Cleveland has grown and evolved tremendously over 95 posts and countless escapades and new friends along the way. I finally kicked the post-grad 'brain drain' I had been experiencing and picked up the keyboard, drawing me back to my two favorite loves--writing and Cleveland!

CLE LOVE! Skyline via Lakewood Park
Photo by JAMinCLE
It took me awhile to find my "voice" on my blog and I think once I began to get the rhythm (we are JAMmin here right?!) became more authentic and open...and you, my CLE Believers, stuck by me every step of the way!
Big or small, step by step! via Edgewater Park
Photo by JAMinCLE
The first time I had a single post of mine hit 100 "views" was back in August, 8 months of working on my craft to get a rewarding response. And that's what I've learned--that blogging is truly a craft, commitment, and calculated art. The more I opened up my world, view, heart and adventures in CLE, the more the world and my readers opened up to me.
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Monday Meditations have proven to be an important weekly post for both my own personal growth and for the CLE Believers. It became such a great opportunity to pause, reflect, and begin the week on a positive note. And that's just it--we can either focus on the negative or the positive. And my take is--life is too short not to be positive!
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Along the way I've heard all sorts of feedback, encouragement and criticism. Some of my favorite hater lines and questions over the past year were:

-Why would anyone read a blog about Cleveland?
-What if nobody reads or cares what you have to say?
-Where does your blog live? (one of my personal favorites)
-Cleveland sucks
-Oh, you're a blogger (eye roll)

All valid questions and concerns I've faced and struggled with. So what did I do? I kept on writing! Yes, yes, I  AM a blogger! People may not always agree with my outlook, or love my positive take on life, or heck, they may not love Cleveland...but I do. And I just keep on writing. One post at a time. The positive experiences, people, stories, and  encouragement have far outweighed any of the criticisms! I've had the pleasure of making new friends who follow my blog and meet in real life, bringing talented young people and their products and films to the community, and stepping outside my comfort zone by attending events by myself, trying new places and having fun along the way. It's been real.
LOVE my city! Wo0o0
I choose to build and focus on the POSITIVE--events, restaurants, people, entrepreneurs, and hidden gems in life and in CLEVELAND. So thank you, thank you my CLE Believers...for venturing with me over the course of the year and for many posts to come. And remember, keep JAMmin!!!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: A Christmas Party For a Cause!

Christmas Ales
Photo by JAMinCLE

Christmas cookies
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Your best ugly Christmas sweater, seriously, does this come in my size???
Prize will be awarded for "best" dressed!! So bring your game!
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A Christmas Party for a cause!

Join myself and other Cleveland Foodbank: YP Pantry members to indulge in some holiday  festivities, meet other young professionals, learn about the YP Pantry mission & support a great cause!
Monday, December 17
6pm-9pm at Bier Markt
15% of your bill will be donated back to the Cleveland Foodbank
Register now for the event by clicking here and get all the event details
 Hope to see you there and share in the holiday cheer!
**Full disclosure, I am a Council Member of the YP Pantry, all opinions expressed are 100% my own**

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Meditation: Never Stop Wondering. Never Stop Wandering

Why hello der! I've been on hiatus from blogging this past week while I ventured out to Seattle for an awesome trip!

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An epic recap of Seattle will be coming at you later this week. And in the meantime... chew on this Monday Meditation quote:

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Isn't it strange how it often takes a trip away from home to reframe your perspective? When we open ourselves up to new adventures, travels, experiences, cities and ways of life we begin to ask new questions and find answers to old ones. The incite of wonder provokes us to wander into new territory...reflective soul territory. I like to call my inner JAM. "Dwell in possibility," as my homegirl Emily Dickinson says.

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So, I encourage you to reflect on the combined power of wonder/wander. Go out and explore, see the world with fresh eyes, create new beginnings and make new endings. Whether you wander down your street, an unexplored neighborhood, a different state, another coast, or a foreign country--open yourself to new wonders. Get lost in the everyday magic of your life and adventure!
Make a wish, let the wind blow, and never stop wondering and wandering!
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Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday Meditation: Resistance

"What you resist persists." -Carl Jung

This quote has really resonated with me recently. As a young adult, we sometimes get caught up in a sense of image or deny our authentic self. However, the more we deny/ignore/resist a certain aspect of ourselves because it is uncomfortable/scary/deep--the more it persists and manifests in other aspects of our life. It's kind of like that smashing game you played as a kid, as soon as you think you bopped that creature on the head and pushed him back in...sure enough, he sneaks back out and pops up in another place!

90s kids game shoutout...cmon you know you and all your friends played it at Chuck E Cheese! I sure did!
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I see this happening so often amongst my friends, young people, Clevelanders, Americans, and society in general. I've even found myself in the place at times too. The trick to the ego-game is to not let your flaws define you, and to simply acknowledge it, embrace it, and accept it. We are so focused on resisting a facet of ourselves we do not accept, that in "ignoring" it, it actually persists, permeates, and pepetuates into many seeping aspects of our lives...
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Yes, Jess, yes--BTW I LOVVVVVE "New Girl" another awesomely quirky Jess to add to the list!
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 So my Monday Meditation is to EMBRACE IT!

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Give yourself a big ole hug!!!
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Love your flaws, quirks. neuroses, immune health, diagnoses, fat belly, empty pockets, low scores, loud voice, high emotion, off-key notes, and whatever else you are afraid to admit to yourself. Accept it in order to finally let it go, because the more you resist, the more it persists. It's just one small aspect of yourself--that you are allowing to take over by ignoring it. Ever try to go to sleep with a mosquito in your room? That lil guy can turn into a huge problem-- try to ignore it, and those itchy bloodsucking bites will be there when you wake up, letting its presence be known!

So my CLE Believers, how can you let go today? What areas of your life are persistently challenging? How can you love all aspects of yourself--flaws and all? How are you overcoming your obstacles and hang-ups in order to thrive?

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Don't resist it, let it all out!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Girl on Fire!!!

Wordless Wednesday! Girl On Fire

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I just scooped up the brand new Alicia Keys Girl On Fire CD. Totally obsessed. Always have been a HUGE fan of her because she's an incredibly talented artist, gorgeous style icon, independent woman, and social activist. You go girl! So check out her new hit below that I've been JAMmin to all around C-Town... cuz this girl is on fi-yaaaah!

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I love love the lyrics to this song, the happy video, her soulful voice, and sassy style! Totally making her new song my CLE woman anthem!

"Got both feet on the ground,
and she's burning it down,
she got her head in the clouds,
and she's not backing down...
this girl is on fire!"
-Alicia Keys

What do you think of the song and video? Share your thoughts!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Holiday Weekend Recap & That Warm Fuzzy Feeling in CLE!

I felt hopeful about the adventures the holiday would bring in CLE!

Lily and Julie at Girls Night/ Friendsgiving
Like that cozy seasonal haze that envelops our city over the holidaze...

View of Downtown Cleveland from Lakewood Park
Thanksgiving Day 2012

I felt bright...
Winterfest 2012
Lighting of Public Square

 and merry about my future and fun times with friends in CLE!
Bright lights, big city!
Winter, Wine & Ale Fest 2012
Holiday cheer!
Winter, Wine & Ale Fest 2012

and luckier than a horseshoe and Santa in a window..... (watch out Rudolph..there's a new player in town!)
All sorts of magical display in Horseshoe Casino's windows (aka Old Higbee's Building)
Then, we united forces, friends, and football teams...

Willing to overcome loyalty to the Browns or Steelers for the sake of FRIENDSHIP
*cough, Browns did win, cough*

And it all reminded me of this great land I LOVE,,,


Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday Meditation: Top 5 Thankful Thoughts

"My old dream was self-centered; my new dream is service oriented. And the baseline of this sounds cheesy, but it is gratitude. That's right. Simple gratitude. When I find that I focus on what I'm grateful for, the things I already have, the glorious and healthy body in which I reside, life opens."
In light of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, I want to focus on GRATITUDE. This quote from Mastin Kipp (if you haven't already signed up to receive his Daily Digest...what are you waiting for?!) is awesome and he always keeps it real. Recently, I was keepin it real with one of my gal pals, T.A. about things we were grateful for...whenever anyone asks you this question of thankfulness, gratitude, counting blessings (especially around the holidays) everyone seems to give the same standard answers which probably look something along the lines of this:
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But these are GIVENS! These are the wonderful foundations we often take for granted. So, we are all grateful for these standards, let's dig deeper! Why are we grateful for family? What makes them so special? How has good health truly impacted your life? Take a moment today to slow down and quantify and glorify these gifts into the daily encounters they are. The little things that I REAAAALLY appreciate, actually add up to the BIG things, called LIFE!

So here are my top 5 specific things I am grateful for today, and that continue to open up my life everyday.

1) Hula hooping. Yeah, betcha didn't see that one coming! My mom recently introduced me to the workout of hula hooping, believe me, I laughed, just as you probably are right now. It's completely ridiculous and an activity most of us haven't attempted since we were little rugrats. You feel awkward, silly, and over the top....and it's totally awesome, plus a FABULOUS core work out!!! Definitely recommend getting back in touch with your health and fitness in a fun and light way. It will make you appreciate the fact that working out doesn't always have to suck, you can slim down your belly and hips as you swivel to some jams, and help release your pent up frustrations after a stressful work day! Check out Gabby Bernstein's book: Add More ~ing to Your Life for other suggestions of how to add more action and happiness to your life (Thanks for the recommendation, Allison!)
Proof, hooping makes you laugh and your body feel good
2) My sister's phenomenal cooking skills. Seriously, this girl has NEVER cooked up a bad meal before...even at 2am after a night of festivities...she's the only person I know that will not only insist you eat a good "snack" before bed...but she turns it into a gourmet creation... she's not gonna zap something in the microwave for you. No, she goes all out to make a tasty surprise--like the fresh thick toasted sandwich with mortadella, cheddar and spinach she just popped in the broiler for me during the wee hours of Sunday morning. She serves up dishes, snacks, sammies--you name it, straight from the heart. Her thoughtfulness to serve a good meal to her loved ones at any time of the day or night fills me up, but also nourishes the spirit. Best.Sister/Cook.EVER.
3) Being included in friends' big life events. Okay, we already know we're all thankful for our friends. But what about pulling off the surprise of a lifetime...and witness the shock and elation on your gal pal's face as she walks in after accepting a surprise proposal from the man of her dreams, to be greeted by her friends & family waiting for her. Yes! This weekend my good friends Julie & Ryan got engaged, and we were all so thrilled to be included as part of the special occasion. All those nights of hanging out with them and witnessing the sparks lead to what we had all been rooting for--a spectacular engagement between two hilarious and genuinely great human beings! So thankful I got to share in part of this new chapter of your lives!

Congrats Ryan & Julie!!

"Bling bling!"
Supppper jazzed for Julie! Congrats lady!!!

4) Sweet finds at Marshall's that make you stop and say, "Wow, Marshall's, sh*t just got real. Thank you." I discovered this gem while recently perusing the aisles of Marshall's. It pretty much jumped off the shelf and smacked me upside the head. I needed it--figuratively and literally. The past few months have certainly been shaken up and very challenging in some aspects of my life. And yet, simultaneuously--it's terrific, and life is opening up in ways I never imagined either. Even when things don't go according to the original plan, there is always a much BETTER and BIGGER plan that's unfolding and gently guiding you without you even knowing it! As Mastin put it "my old dream was self-centered; my new dream is service oriented." Life suddenly becomes way more rich when you come to the realization that "Your journey is unfolding exactly as it should be!"

5) Meeting new great people in Cleveland at events that benefit our city and its residents. This past weekend, I participated in our YP Pantry "Give Thanks" event at a local church. We distributed a hot meal, canned food, to-go food, fresh produce, and some well wishes to people who've fallen down on their luck. My job was to help make 70+ bagged peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We then helped serve nearly a 100 people hot meals. The pastor of the church informed us that despite distributing food 4 times a month for the past 18 years, they only had the opportunity to SERVE meals to guests twice, the other times people had to stand in line and wait for a plate. People were so thankful and appreciative to have someone serve them at a table setting. It was a truly humbling experience, not only was I thankful that I've never experienced the burden of worrying about where my next hot meal is coming from, but also because it validated the fact that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Everyone! 
Peanut butter jelly tiiiiime!
Photo source: YP Pantry Facebook Page
Not only was it incredible to be able to give back and help others in need, but I also met & chatted with some great new friends from YP Pantry too. Win, win! Be sure to check out our next YP Pantry event in which a portion of your bill is donated directly back to the Cleveland Foodbank. Join in the festivities and true holiday spirit by contributing to a worthy cause while enjoying Christmas Ale, cookies, and ugly Christmas sweaters. A lot of great things to give THANKS for here in CLE!
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So, what are your top 5 thankful thoughts for today? Daily acts of service, faith, inclusion, health and fitness contribute to our overall well-being. Break down the clichés, get to the nitty-gritty things that help you grind through the day, and take time this week to say THANK YOU for all the little things that really make a BIG difference in our lives!
Here's a final sendoff...of JESSICA'S daily affirmations. LOVE it! (Thanks, T.A. for getting me hip to the other thankful Jessica!)