Life, Lately: June 2014


I’m starting to feel like a real, traveling gypsy. Give me a tambourine and a pet goat and I will officially fit the bill.

I’ve been ping-ponging between College Station, Tishomingo and OKC for the last few weeks. Cory is traveling all over for safety trainings while I am taking the time to see friends and continuing to juggle freelance meetings, deadlines and design projects. I’m living out of a duffle bag and kind of all over the place but it’s fun and exciting and breath a fresh air. I get to live a little, write a little, design a little and learn a lot in the process.

The blog, thereby, has fallen to the wayside a little. And, man, I hate that. I want to spill my guts to you guys about all the “big life things” that are in the works for us right now, but I’ve learned over the years that really great things – like sunrises and sunsets and all the miracles – have to unfold quietly and in their own time. And  I only need to be still and watch the magic happen…not everything in this world is dependent on my actions or interventions. In fact, hardly anything is.

So, in the meantime, I’m taking stock of what I’m up and what’s on my mind.




Making: Oatmeal, topped with brown sugar, blueberries & raisins

Cooking: Does oatmeal count as cooking?

Drinking: Beer – the perfect beverage for summer activities

Reading: The One and Only by Emily Giffin

Wanting: Another sunny afternoon by the pool

Looking: Through design books. My favorite is the Letterhead & Logo Design series

Playing: Golf

Deciding: What book to read next

Wishing: I owned all the Warby sunnies

Enjoying: Honestly, just taking the time to create and learn new things and starting my summer masters courses

Waiting: For news…

Liking: Khloe Kardashian’s indian headdress at Kidchella

Wondering: How Iggy Azalea has such a tiny waist and bumpin’ booty. Some girls are just lucky, I guess

Loving: Seeing and unexpectedly running in to old friends

Pondering: Grabbing some watercolors and giving a shot at digitizing some illustrations

Considering: Starting Orange Is The New Black on Netflix. I’m behind, I know.

Watching: Netflix. Always Netflix.

Hoping: To get out of life limbo, the sooner the better

Marvelling: At how tolerable the summer temps have been. I remember much hotter days.

Needing: Caffeine. Always caffeine.

Smelling: Honeysuckle, my favorite summer scent

Wearing: Second-hand, ripped up jeans and a SOSU shirt circa ‘78

Following: This Instagram account. WANTING ALL THE THINGS.

Noticing: When people demonstrate patience

Knowing: Better things are coming

Thinking: About taglines, call to actions, etc. Designer-y things. Oh, and feature story intros, transitions. Writer-y things.

Feeling: Optimistic

Admiring: The people who never change – in that really great, deep-down-in-the-soul kinda way.

Sorting: Clothes into piles for packing up or giving away.

Buying: Typefaces and lipstick

Getting: What I need, and luckily, what I want most days

Bookmarking: New blogs and type foundry sites

Disliking: Impatient people…Take a deep breath, chill out and wait your turn, yo.

Opening: Thank you notes

Giggling: Over texts from Cory


Comfortably Uncomfortable

So if you know me IRL you’ll hear me talk a lot about my dad. He travels for work, and often times during a work trip will go eat at a restaurant alone. For a long time I thought this was crazy/weird/sad. Who would eat alone? Now, I do it all the time. I love it. Being alone in my apartment, or eating alone in a crowded restaurant, doesn’t bother me a bit. After some practice, I started to be able to stomach it and then, eventually, enjoy it.

It’s the art of being comfortably uncomfortable. And if it’s not something you’re willing to attempt and eventually master, chances are life is going to be mega hard for you.

We all have to learn how to be comfortably uncomfortable. Doing the uncomfortable thing, or being in an uncomfortable situation, is no one’s default or first choice. You probably felt it at some point in grade school or middle school, when you didn’t want to be a tattler but knew you should say something. Or in high school, when you got paired up in biology lab with the meanest mean girl of 10th grade and you had no choice but to work together.

The thing about college, though, and all those years afterward is that we are calling all the shots in our own lives. And more often times than not, that means choosing the comfortable option because no one is calling us on the carpet for it. No one is responsible for us but us…not our parents or teachers or coaches or mentors or whoever. We set our alarms, we set our calendars, and we either run through discomfort or away from it.

We usually choose to run away from it by eating with the friend who really just rambles about herself in lieu of eating (peacefully) alone. Or moving in with a so-so boyfriend because of this illusionary momentum and because you’re uncomfortable having a conversation about your future, or lack thereof, together. Skipping the work out. Going out with your friends because you’re uncomfortable verbalizing that, this week, your savings is more important than your bar tab. Letting your friend become your roommate when you know it’s just a bad move. Choosing to immediately enter grad school because the real world is too hard, unpredictable, too…uncomfortable…to face.

We all do it, but being aware when you’re making the comfortable decision just because it’s comfortable is a good place to start changing your choices for the better. With that awareness, you can begin making steps toward (and not away from) the uncomfortable choices…like making that cold call to your dream company, or breaking up, or moving in or moving away or moving on.

Now, I’m not saying go against your gut. Your gut is always right. But I am saying listen to your own mind when it’s trying to reason it’s way out of something that your gut and heart know is the right move. Then tell your mind to shut up. You can do it, whatever it is, even if it is uncomfortable.

It’s an art, and one we can all master.



The Defining Decade

A friend and former classmate called me to talk about her latest job interview and how it went. It was for a job she really wanted, the first job she would hold fresh out of graduation with her master’s degree.

“I think what will hold me back more than anything, even more than lacking experience, is my age,” she said. I took a deep sigh because, man, I’ve been there. Graduating college early (because you busted your ass) isn’t always the gold star you hoped it would be.

As millennials, we are constantly bombarded with labels and definitions for our generation. We are the “I” Generation, self-absorbed and entitled. Or, equally as often, I hear that I am “just a baby!” (doting older women love to say this, usually with a wave of their manicured hands) and I have “all the time in the world” to do anything I want to do. The message is that twentysomethings can’t do anything or – equally discouraging and debilitating – that twentysomethings can do anything and everything and have all the time in the world to do it. 

The hard bottom line is that neither message is true. I can explore and try out new things and take some chances. I cannot, however, afford to piss away my twenties in the name of fun and expect fully to wake up on my thirtieth birthday with a loving partner, a viable pregnancy, a spacious home which I own and the career of my choice. And neither can you.

If we (twentysomethings) want those things in our thirties, or before thirty, I have to take small and intentional steps today to get there.

If you are a twenty something going through the quarter life crisis, you’ll love “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now” by Dr. Meg Jay. Dr. Jay specializes in the twentysomething years, and throughout the book addresses the major topics so many of her counseling clients struggle with: career, dating, money and fertility. These seem like big things, way off in the distance, things we don’t need to bother with now. But…We can’t get there tomorrow, or many tomorrows from now, without doing small things today.

“Twentysomethings are like airplanes, planes just leaving New York City bound for somewhere west. Right after takeoff, a slight change in course is the difference between landing in either Seattle or San Diego. But once a plane is nearly in San Diego, only a big detour will redirect it to the northwest.”

What we do now determines whether or not our path to our final destination is a smooth one, or if we come barrel-rolling and crash landing at the last minute into those things we really want for ourselves: like romance, career, financial independance and a family.

It’s easy to put off thoughts of marriage or partnership, or a baby, or a career, or a retirement…it’s heavy stuff and we are forced to make big decisions at the most unstable time. How can we focus on what we want in a family (marriage? kids? no kids? roth IRA?!) when we are preoccupied with inconsiderate roommates and b-rate jobs we have to have in order to afford school. Which, by the way, we really need to study for.

Yes, it’s easy to justify this or that, or talk around the big things. But statistically, we don’t have that kind of time. Our twenties – all of it, from the stroke of midnight on our 20th birthday till the final minute of our 29th year – matter. Because, as Dr. Jay points out:

“Eighty percent of life’s most defining moments take place by age thirty-five. Two-thirds of lifetime wage growth happens in the first ten years of a career. More than half of us are married, or dating, or living with our future partner, by age thirty. Personality changes more during our twenties than at any time before or after. The brain caps off its last growth spurt in the twenties. Female fertility peaks at age twenty-eight.”

Those are the scientific facts, things all doctors and psychologists and sociologists know to be true. Intially, that really scared me. Everything about this book scared me, and it will probably scare you. But it also allowed me to reexamine where this jet is headed, and also take a moment to appreciate and celebrate the great things about being a twentysomething: the excitement, the challenge, the opportunity of creating the life I want to live and love. This book, and this blog post, is a call to all twentysomthings: we matter. These years matter… Probably more so than any other decade of our lives.

If you feel stagnant, or unsure, or like your generally about to lose your cool because you’re so overwhelmed with decisions…Pick up this book. It’s probably going to make you sad, and angry, or even a little disappointed in yourself in certain areas. But you’re also bound to feel proud, too. And excited, and ready to pull out your map and throw some darts, to stake claims on the things you want in this life. And you’ll feel empowered to go out and get ’em.



PS – If you want to dive deeper into this topic, check out Dr. Jay’s TED Talk.  Share it with your friends, or parents, or kids…It’s a hard subject but, in my opinion, the most important conversation we can engage in as educators, parents, partners and a workforce.


photo credit for second image: martinteschner via photopin cc, text overlay by me.

Baby Vibes

Major confession: lately, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of a baby.

Not actually raising a child, per se, but pregnancy & birth itself. I watched the Business of Being Born on Netflix, I announced my desire to birth a baby at home to pretty much everyone (to the horror of my Safety Professional of a husband), I ferociously combed through these preggo posts, I nearly cried over this photo project and I went mega crazy pinning all things baby on my Wee Willingham Pinterest board.

A couple weeks ago, I had an internal come-to-Jesus conversation with myself about this freakish obsession. What the eff is wrong with me?  I drank seven vodka & monsters at the bar last weekend…I can’t nurse a hangover and a baby. Plus, Mack shits in the floor at least once a month because I’m too lazy/forgetful to let him out. I sleep until 2:30 IN THE AFTERNOON on Saturdays. I am, in no way, shape, or form, ready to have a kid.


After much contemplation, it hit me: I am now the same age my mother was when she became pregnant with me, her first child.


I think it’s some sort of cosmic energy force field that just comes over women when we hit the age our mothers were when they became pregnant with us. Maybe it’s instincts, encoded into our subconscious. Maybe it’s just this sleeping thing inside us that wakes up when that layer of life has finally come full circle. Whatever it is, recognizing it helped me feel a lot less weirded out.

So you guys can stop texting me now. I don’t want a baby. At all.

I do, however, want a kitten. But that’s another story.

Anyway, my ferocious journey into all things baby has been interesting. I’ve asked lots of questions, even the awkward ones, and moms everywhere have been gracious enough to share with me. After realizing where all this interest & energy was coming from, I embraced the “obsession” as research: I’m taking time to soak up and process TONS of information way prior to being pregnant. I hope that translates to well made decisions that I can be confident of and take comfort in.






If I’m being honest, I’m thankful for these boots. I am living in them this season.

The weird thing about getting older is experiencing the changes in holidays. As a kid, if your childhood was anything like mine, the holidays were a constant: you had the same rituals, the same meals, the same people around the table. But eventually you grow up and out out baking cookies for Santa. People move away, people die, new babies  and jobs and stories fill the empty spaces. Before you know it, the holidays look nothing like they used to. It’s sad, but also encouraging: our lives are changing and we are growing and we are (hopefully) getting better as the years pass.

As I tend to do on Thanksgiving, I take stock of all the year’s changes & the things, new & old, that I am thankful for. Here’s my list for 2013:

  1. I am so, so thankful for my marriage. I love being married. I love coming home to Cory. He drives me crazy sometimes, and we have a lot to work on, but we are happy. I am thankful for such a kind & sweet man to do life with. We got married young, and it was a leap of faith. But one I’m so glad I took. IMG_6557cory_jess1
  2. I am thankful (we both are) for the decision we made to move away from home. All we can say is, if you are a newlywed: do it. It’s scary, it’s brave, and it’s the best thing you’ll ever do for each other.
  3. I am thankful for the cozy little apartment we share.
  4. I am thankful for our jobs. We are financially blessed, and blessed with kind co-workers and thoughtful bosses. I pray, often, that we continue to be wise with our finances by saving and giving.
  5. I am thankful for God’s gift to me – my writing. I think God gives us all something, and I am so thankful this is my thing. I am equally thankful for the mentors he has sent my way, including my boss at the Noble Foundation. To have someone support, teach, edit, believe in me and push me to be better at my craft is priceless.
  6. I am thankful for my health, and the health of my family. 
  7. I am thankful for my readers. Your encouragement, comments, tweets & conversation about these posts keeps me writing and keeps me authentic, honest and real. Thank you for sharing this space with me.
  8. I am thankful for my friends, especially of the female variety. I’ve done some breaking up this year, but I’ve done some incredible bonding as well. Shout out to the kickass ladies in my life…JCC, Tish ladies, my book club girls, Devon, Morgan, Brentney, Stacy, Mom, Abbey, Sherry, Char Baby, Haley, Lindsey (seriously, like the big sis I never had), Britt, Alesha…All of you, near and far, mean so much to me. I love, respect and enjoy each of you. IMG_5306MOMfIMG_2796
  9. I am thankful for the babies in my life…My nieces. I am thankful they are safe & happy & beautiful and know that Aunt Jessica & Uncle Cory love them. When Hialeah hugs me, I melt in her skinny little arms. IMG_6599
  10. I am thankful for my faith. It’s not something I write about often in this space, because I get it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But for me, my faith in Christ and my daily spiritual practices, like praying and reading his word, keeps me grounded. I am hopeful, whole and joyful because I know my life is in His hands. I am scared of nothing. He gives me that, and because of Him I can do anything.

I hope you, dear readers, have the warmest & happiest of Thanksgivings.


12 Months, 12 Answers


We get constant questions about what marriage is really like. Below, we answer some of the most common ones we get, and look back on our first year.

What has surprised you the most?

C: How easy marriage can be.

J: I second that. If someone is telling you marriage is hard, they probably mean their marriage is hard.

What’s the worst part about living together?

C: Sometimes Jessica watches Teen Mom on the only TV we have.

J: Cory is a control freak about dishes. He washes dishes before putting them in the dish washer. Don’t get me wrong, I completely appreciate him doing housework. But he’s a dishes Nazi. I use paper plates and utensils just to avoid his wrath.

What’s the best part about being married? 

C: Having my best friend with me 24/7

J: Agreed. We do everything together. Workout, shower, eat, talk a walk, study, TV, everything. It never gets old.

Is marriage really as tough as everyone makes it out to seem?

C: It can be if you let it. They key is to never stop having fun.

J: In short, no. If you’re making humor and honesty a daily practice, marriage is cake. It’s when you neglect those things that you become resentful of one another, which is the root of all marital evil, I think.

So who cooks?

C: The lady at Panda Express (I’m not sure what her name is)

J: Pizza Hut.

Does marriage make you fat?

C: It hasn’t yet!

J: Marriage looks better on Cory than bachin’ did. He drinks a lot less beer these days. Plus I’m always hounding him about his blood pressure.

What’s the biggest difference in dating vs. marriage?

C: If you have an issue, you have to resolve it. You can’t just hide your problems.

J: Logistics. When you’re dating it’s all about the romance, but when you’re married it’s also about who left the wet laundry in the washer, taking out the trash and how much money you put in savings last paycheck.

What expectations did you enter marriage with?
C: I expected it to be a lot harder than it is.

J: I expected to get overwhelmed by being together all the time. We’ve never lived in the same zip code, and all of a sudden we were in a one bedroom apartment together.

Were those expectations fulfilled?

C: Not at all.

J: No. The transition was seamless.

What’s your favorite memory from the first year?

C: All the trips we’ve taken together. (Frio, CO, Austin, etc.)

J: Making breakfast for dinner. Cory wanted to impress me and would flip a pancake in the air but it fell on the floor…twice. We haven’t made breakfast for dinner since but the memory still makes me laugh.

How has marriage changed your relationship?

C: We’ve gotten a lot closer for sure. We’ve dated for 6 years now but I’ve learned more about her in the last year than the previous 5.

J: We depend on each other more, versus depending on our parents. Emotionally, that’s huge. We’ve emotionally cut the umbilical cord.

What is the hardest part about marriage?

C: Learning that it’s not just about you anymore. Financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually, etc.

J: For me, surprisingly, it has been cutting that cord with my parents. When something happened at work I would call my Dad instead of calling Cory, then I would later tell Cory he just didn’t understand or know what was going on. He said, “Jess, that’s because you don’t let me understand or give me the chance to find out.”  So that was a big learning experience: that Cory & I can always rise to the occasion and the only people stopping us is us. It’s just about taking that responsibility.


25 in 5

Every Sunday morning, I wake up around 11 a.m. & thank God I don’t have kids.

Yet, anyway.

Cory & I love livin’ our DINK (double income, no kids) life. We go where we want, when we want, take naps, drink wine, order pizza, watch TV unsuitable for children & spend our money almost completely on ourselves. It’s pretty self-serving. But it’s also pretty awesome, and I would argue, a necessary season of life.

Driving home to Texas late one night, we started up a common conversation: Will we ever have kids? Cory argues yes: one day we will wake up & feel a burning desire to have a child. I argue the opposite: we will never wake up at 11 a.m. on a Sunday & NOT be thrilled to be well-rested & completely free of obligations. Besides, let’s say Cory is right…What if by the time that burning desire happens, the eggs factory is winding down for good. Then what.

So in lieu of continuing this merry-go-round & around discussion, we decided to make a list of all the things we want to do before we have a child. With any list, you need a deadline for accomplishment. We decided to call the list “25 in 5”, as in: the 25 things we will do before we really, seriously, are-we-going-to-do-this consider having children (so, let’s say, five years from this day).

Stipulations of the list: both of us have to participate or engage in each activity, even if it wasn’t at an individuals own suggestion. i.e. shark diving. Personally, I think this is a terrible f%cking idea. One day Cory told me, upon his death, that he wanted me to throw him in the sea to be with the sharks. I say, “Oh, like have you cremated & throw your ashes into the ocean?” He says,” No, just throw my carcass out there & let the sharks eat it. You can get Shark Week to film the whole thing!”

Whatever, freak.

So, here it is. Our 25 in 5 bucket list:

    1. Ride a Greyhound bus
    2. Visit both coasts
    3. Shark dive
    4. Christmas in New York City
    5. Visit Yosemite
    6. Volunteer together
    7. Take a boxing class
    8. Take a pottery class (a la Ghost, anyone?)ghost
    9. Salsa dance
    10. Participate in an open mic night
    11. Skydive
    12. Do real camping
    13. Attend the Olympics
    14. Smithsonian in DC
    15. Go on an organized ‘Squatch huntorigin_2186704726 copy
    16. Go on a safari
    17. Assist in carrying out someone’s final wish
    18. Buy something at an auction
    19. Own a classic car
    20. Do a police ride-a-long
    21. Jess cuts Cory’s hair
    22. Attend a broadway show
    23. Join an adult softball league
    24. Help build a Habitat for Humanity house
    25. Be an extra in a movie

photo credit: TheeErin via photopin cc