Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday Meditation: Start Before You're Ready!

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I love this quote and philosophy. It scares the crap out of me, but I love it. I think that's the exact point... we build up these fears, hurdles, or timelines in our head about the way life is supposed to unfold. "As soon as I start saving money then I can do this, or once my schedule lightens up I can commit to working out, as soon as I hit this milestone in my bank account/relationship/career/education/fitness plan, etc. I will be able to start my journey towards XYZ goal." Sound familiar? Ahhh, I totally admit I am guilty of this! Why? Because we love to think we have control over everything. It's very intimidating to let go, put ourselves out there and take risks without a guarantee of success. But...
its about what you do
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Now, I am not encouraging you to push yourself to your maximum capacity or disregard the consequences of your actions or start a plan to please someone else's expectations--but what I am encouraging you to reflect on is how and where you can step outside your comfort zone in your life to take one step closer toward your life goals? What actions can you begin to take "before you're ready" or how can you have faith in yourself and the world that everything will work out when you decide to take the leap?

Just have to drum up that courage....make it happen!
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It begins by traveling in the direction of our fears, not away from them! Completely counter-intuitive and entirely necessary! In order to challenge ourselves and grow, we have to step outside our comfort zone to make space to grow. We have to take the risk and start before we're ready, without knowing the definitive outcome, but TRUSTING in it and our own strength. Realize this:
you are confined only by the walls you build yourself
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So what areas of your life can you "start before you're ready?" How can you make space for expansion by stepping out of your comfort zone and into the face of fear and achieve your dreams? What small step can you take TODAY, even if you think you're not quite ready?

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Get your JAM on today :)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Orchid Mania at the Cleveland Botanical Garden

This past weekend, I went to the Cleveland Botanical Garden for their 10th annual Orchid Mania exhibit. It was stunningly magnificent! I've always loved orchids, but was totally unaware of the countless varieties and hybrids that were out there!!! The handiwork of these spectacular orchids is show-stopping and awe-inducing with their natural beauty!
Bring on the color!
The Cleveland Botanical Garden is a gem in our city, and this brightly colored and sweet smelling exhibit is a guarantee pick me up on a gray wintry day! The Orchid Mania exhibit is on now through March 10, and with adult tickets for only $9.50, this exotic orchid show is easy on the eyes, and on the pocketbook!

These lovely markings are real life, all natural artwork!
Loved the suspended orchid wall display!
Chocolate smelling orchids...I was in heaven!

"Queen of the Orchids"
This gigantic beauty reminded me a bit of an Iris with its shape

Orchid Mania!
Another successful Cleveland adventure!
So if you're looking for a fun Cleveland adventure that will surely brighten your mood and spirit, take in this captivating orchid exhibit and "escape to a world of tropical delights at the Cleveland Botanical Garden!" Hurry, the exhibit runs for just a few more weeks, just the boost you need to get you through the home stretch of a Cleveland winter!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: 6 Silly Pics to Make You Smile!

It's Hump Day! Almost to the weekend! I've been down for the count with a nasty flu bug for the past week. So now that I'm making a bit of a recovery and we're halfway to the freakin' about 6 silly pics to make you smile :) Enjoy!

 1) Hungry for a ride? Doh!
Homer Escalator
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 2) Hahaha...thanks, G! #littlesisterproblems

Haha love you, G!
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3) Chill...

I actually laughed out loud with this one...
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4) Boss lady at any age!
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5) Me too, kid, me too...
me too kid, me too
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6) Almost there!
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Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday Meditation: Give Your Soul Some Love and Be Your Self!

"Who you naturally are is FAR more inspiring than who you pretend to be. This is the fact. And what ELSE is cool is when we stop pretending to be someone and just start being ourselves, we are no longer BSing ourselves and so we actually take our power back, instead of giving it away by pretending to be perfect. And as we start to respect ourselves more, we take more action and as we take more action grounded in self-respect, really cool things start to happen and a positive cycle of momentum is created." -Mastin Kipp via The Daily Love

Ego vs. Soul
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I love this quote AND this visual. It really helps show the parallels and implications of choosing to listen to our EGO or our SOUL. When we are struggling or going through a period of growth it can be easy to listen to the ego: I'm not strong enough, brave enough, cool enough, beautiful enough. STOP. You ARE enough! The ego is that dark side buried in your sub-conscious that tries to convince you of negativity or self-doubt. 

I had a conversation with a girlfriend this weekend about the importance of  loving ALL aspects of yourself--the good, the bad, and the order to give any part of yourself to another. Ah-ha!
raise your self-worth, raise your net-worth. may cause miracles
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I struggled with this a few years ago as I suffered with severe anxiety. (I know, the social butterfly, wow!) I was going through a period of tremendous loss, change, and growth and was trying to manage my silly ego:
  • I can handle this on my own, chin up, keep smiling
  • People will think I am nuts if I explain what's going on
  • I wish I could change what happened in the past
  •  I am misunderstood/alone
  •  Ego, ego, ego! 
fear is natural
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Everyone has their own battles, fears, or issues. It may not be anxiety or grief, but certainly everyone can relate to trying to silence a nagging ego, or trying to fit in, or denying some facet of ourselves that we wish wasn't there. But the more you resist, the more it persists!!!
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When I finally began to listen to my soul/inner JAM/true Self, my whole world began to open up!

The experience and challenge significantly changed me... for the better! It's all about what you choose to make of it, yes, make something of it! I hope by me sharing my experience will help some readers be themselves and give their souls some love and embrace the challenges they are facing!

Am I more forgiving of others now? Yes, everyone's facing a battle you may not know about! Did I learn to be grateful for each moment and appreciate my support system? Certainly, I am incredibly blessed! Do I still hear my ego? Sure, but it doesn't win when I simply listen to my authentic Self and stay present and positive!
Do you choose the light or dark side?
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But most importantly I learned:
  • Build on the positive and be productive
  • Be true to my Self and not judge my Self so critically
  • Be open and vulnerable around those I love and trust; I don't have to give everyone an explanation
  • Surround my Self with those who lift me higher
  • My family loves me unconditionally
  • Everyone deals with loss and grief differently
  • Getting help shows strength and humility!
  • Be passionate about life...YOLO! I can only live in the Now
  • Don't just talk about it, BE about it!
  • I love ALL aspects of my Self!

How are you workin' your self-love muscle today?
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  • How can you let go of your past?
  • How can you be more gentle to your Self?
  • Are you trying to impress others or are you being honest with your Self?
  • How can you respect your body more?
  • Are you listening to your ego or your authentic soul?
  • Are you surrounding your Self with people who love, accept, and encourage you to be your Self?
  • Are you being proactive and growing?
  • Did you tell your Self today that you're awesome!

I say, give your soul some love and meditate on being your Self!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ohio Blogging Association Meetup: Chocolate & Wine Divine Time at Whole Foods!

This week, I attended my first Ohio Blogging Association event at Whole Foods Cedar Center and it was spectacular!! After blogging for just over a year, it was time for me to spread my wings and venture out to meet more bloggers in the the great land of CLE.

Solid lineup!

Here are the top 5 reasons why it was fab and I DEFINITELY will attend more OBA events!

1) Chocolate. Okay, I should just stop here. Tell me there's chocolate, and I'm in! As I've said in previous posts (JAMinCLE Goes to SEA & Surround Yourself Only With Those Who Lift You Higher), chocolate is totally the way to a lady's heart. And this meetup was a chocoholic's dream! All the delicious treats were provided by one of my favorite chocolate shops in CLE, Sweet Designs!
Chocolate covered goodness!

2) Learned something new. As a curious cat and life-long learner, I am always excited to hear peoples' stories, see new perspectives, gain new insights, and learn new tips and tricks. We were lucky to have Ines Rehner, owner of Sweet Designs, there to spread her chocolate knowledge!

Ines Rehner, owner of Sweet Designs, teaching us all about CHOCOLATE :)
She really helped explain the different processes and the care that goes into hand-crafting superb chocolate. The best part was when we got to try these heavenly chocolate covered strawberries and she taught us the most critical chocolate covered strawberry life saving tip...cut it in half! Yes, have you ever bit into a chocolate covered strawberry only to have the tasty shell break and fall off, onto your lap? Doh! Don't worry, you're not alone. I tried her recommendation, and sure shell slippage! Just sweet, strawberry, chocolate goodness with each bite!
That's what I'm talkin bout!
3) Wine. And yes, I certainly like to indulge in a glass of good vino (or two..) But this was no ordinary wine....
Oh my!! Enough said...
4) Prizes & giveaways. There were so many fun prizes and giveaways. I scored some awesome Robot Valentines (don't be surprised if you get some robotic love this year...) My favorite was a complimentary parting gift... a gift certificate for a half pound of chocolate, courtesty of Sweet Designs...woowee thank you!

WhyCLE, Our Journey, me, SmittenInCLE
5) Making new friends. I was so happy to meet and make new friends at the event-- young professionals who are engaged with Cleveland's culture, events and activities and actually have a positive message to share about our city and lives here! People can often be quick to give CLE a bad rap, but these lovely ladies (and all the other bloggers I met there) choose to look on the bright side and bring out the positive in kinda gals :) I was so grateful to be invited to join the Ohio Blogging Association event and look forward to going to more, hanging with new friends... and a few pounds of chocolate over some wine never hurt either! Cheers to chocolate! And keep JAMmin!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Tranformer Station in Ohio City, YOLO & Super Bowl Sunday, Baby!

Have you heard? The Transformer Station in Ohio City is now OFFICIALLY open! Woohoo! As an art-lover and Cleveland history nerd, I was thrilled to learn that the Cleveland Museum of Art would be opening a "satellite" branch, so to speak, on the west side.
"The Transformer Station is owned and operated by the Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Foundation in order to share work from the Bidwell collection and to inspire creativity and innovation in our community. The Bidwell Foundation has agreed to loan the facility for six months of every year to the Cleveland Museum of Art which will develop original contemporary art exhibitions as an extension of its programming in its home on University Circle." 

The opening exhibit, "Bridging Cleveland" by Vaughn Wascovich was the perfect choice of beautiful artwork to "bridge" the rugged industrial history of Cleveland to modern day art housed in a restored industrial facility. Rust belt chic! "The Transformer Station was built in 1924, and is one of sixteen substations built by Cleveland’s one-time private transit provider, the Cleveland Railway Company. The substation converted power for the Detroit Avenue Streetcar Line, which carried 19 million riders annually at its peak"(source).

Innerbelt Bridge

See what I mean?  Eerily stunning. Raw beauty. Cleveland captured. Bridging our past to the present day.

my favorite!

CLE love!

You should totally check out the Transformer Station in Ohio City, if you haven't already. It's a treat to have such a reputable arts organization now on the west side! Appreciate CLE beauty and art, both past and present!

After checking out the exhibit I headed over to Battery Park Wine Bar for some dinner and a glass of vino with my Mom! I'll tell you what, a girls night with your mom as an adult is! I'm lucky she's awesome, and hilarious!

cotton candy winter sky!
 As we made our menu choices, my Mom noticed the catchy pop culture company menu tagline. YOLO. Of course, she wanted to know what it stood for. "You Only Live Once," I told her. She loved it. She then dropped the best knowledge bomb dating advice a mother could possibly offer and it went like this, "Jessie, you're mature for your age. Don't date anyone under age 30, because they're all just a bunch of pant-peers. YOLO."

I nearly fell out of my chair laughing. Man, I love her. Yes, crybabies, please keep it moving!

Battery Park Wine Bar
Grape, camembert cheese, pesto, & balsamic reduction pizza...YUM!

Our delicious menu choices! 

Battery Park Wine Bar
Stuffed grape leaves...always a big fan

We had a wonderfully good time and I was home and in bed by 9pm. Sometimes, those are the best weekend nights!!!

Pancakes, baby, yeah!!!
I started off my Sunday early and grabbed brunch with my besties and nieces. Seriously, I can't get over how quickly they grow after each week that I see them. They always bring me back down to earth, and really remind me of that "YOLO" theme. The world is their oyster! (...or  chocolate chip pancake for that matter!)

Open wide!
Sharing is caring! And these little love bugs always brighten up my day! They are officially becoming big girls and even using fancy utensils. Haha.

Get it, Chloe!!
Got the sassy smile down, sister :)

Post-brunch with the babes... I headed out to my sister's for her annual Super Bowl Party. Everyone brought their favorite Pinterest recipes (yes, finally made something we pinned!) I meant to take a picture of all the pinned party apps...but let's be honest, I hoovered that stuff down! Gina's Slow Cooked Pulled Chicken Sliders were a HUGE hit. Get the recipe here! And follow her BeautyFoodie finds on Pinterest.

Funny Super Bowl Sunday Ecard: I spent two hours making your favorite Super Bowl snacks, and you threw them at the tv!

As we chowed down, cracked jokes, soaked in the creative advertising during the commercials, and (semi)-watched the game, all of us girls were anxiously awaiting Beyonce's stellar redemption half-time performance. And seriously she worked it. <so much she blew out the stadium power, flipped the "off switch" from all those Bootylicious moves, insert the endless punchlines you read on social media during the power outage> As the guys all yelled at the TV because of the game delays, compared stats and checked their squares...we cheered... GO TEAM BEYONCE!

Left to right: Kayla, Gina, Jenna, me, Gizelle and Donna (Julie, pictured in spirit)
Go Team Beyonce!!!

Did you dig the Beyonce/Destiny's Child performance? I wish I could rock a Super Bowl dance routine/performance post-baby like that. YOLO, right? Work it, girl!

 And in case you live under a rock...catch the 2013 Super Bowl Halftime Performance here! How did you spend your Super Bowl Sunday? Have you been to any of Cleveland's awesome new art exhibits? Share your thoughts! And keep JAMmin!