Woman Wednesday: Justine

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below. 


 

Q and A with Justine, Somerset County, New Jersey

People always ask me how I can afford to travel as much as I do at this age. Something I’d like others to know is that whatever you want to do is possible if you really want to make it happen. I make traveling and seeing the world a priority. This isn’t to say that I spend an extreme amount of money on it either. I budget it into my expenses just like groceries. I need to see the world. And while I love my job, I always feel a constant urge to know that the world and my life is bigger than sitting at a desk or on a train. It’s always worth it, and it is totally possible!

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I love my job and the field I am in! I am a book publicist so basically, I get to tell people how great certain books are and then organize events and book tours for authors. I have always loved books; this is absolutely my dream! I majored in creative writing and English, did a bunch of internships, got my master’s in English literature, and was hired at the last company I interned at! Now I’m working at a company that works with a lot of books in translation that ranges in genre from thrillers to biographies and art books. I love being able to work on all different types of books and just talk about how amazing books are all day.

 

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Pictured: Justine in her element. As a book publicist, she loves reading books and helping authors.

 

Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know?

A: Sometimes you can give something everything you have and work your very hardest and fall short. It doesn’t mean that you failed. So much of adult life is about timing, working hard, and luck. At times, you can go every extra mile, outwork people around you, and still not succeed as quickly or as much as you would like. These shortcomings put things into perspective, and when you can look back on them and actually say, “I gave that everything I had,” then you know you did your very best. Just because the outcome may not be exactly in our favor, we have to take these experiences and use them to make us stronger for the next time. In short, life is not always fair, and you can’t let it break you! Learn from it, and don’t give up! 

 

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Pictured: Justine in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. 

 

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I always liked to keep super busy when I was growing up. I loved shuttling between softball, soccer, basketball, piano, gymnastics, ballet, cross country, track, and any other summer camps or art classes I could weasel my way into. Looking back, I feel so sorry for my parents who had to drive me around everywhere, but I am also so thankful and grateful for them always encouraging me to try everything and practice everything I was doing. I learned about committing to something and following through from a young age, and I also learned how to be part of a team, which is something I think absolutely translates to adult life in work and relationships. Even growing up, I was obsessed with books! I remember being in second grade and spending every free second reading to win more personal pan pizzas from Pizza Hut’s Book It program. While pizza initially stimulated my infatuation with reading, I quickly knew that I just loved books! I still very fondly remember my first author event during a first-grade assembly where a children’s book author, Dan Gutman, came to visit us and gave us each a signed copy of his book. I spent all my allowance buying all his books and thought that him coming to visit us was just about the coolest experience ever. Now I get to go to author events all the time!

 

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Pictured: Justine at the New Jersey Balloon Festival. 

 

A part of my story that I haven’t mentioned yet is my passion for traveling. I love taking vacations to countries that I haven’t been to yet and going on adventures. I do this at least twice a year. People always ask me how I can afford to do this at this age. Something I’d like others to know is that whatever you want to do is possible if you really want to make it happen. I look online on tons of different websites to find the most affordable flights and places to stay. I use my vacation days around small holidays to make the trips longer. I make traveling and seeing the world a priority. This isn’t to say that I spend an extreme amount of money on it either. I budget it into my expenses just like groceries. I need to see the world. And while I love my job, I always feel a constant urge to know that the world and my life is bigger than sitting at a desk or on a train. It’s always worth it, and it is totally possible!

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Pictured: Justine enjoying the water and beautiful views in Italia (Italy). 
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Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: To me, feminism means equality. I do not like being talked down to by men, being treated like I can’t do something as well as a man can, nor do I like being treated like I am a man’s property. However, to be honest, I’m not big on movements like the women’s march or large scale protests to assert feminism. I think that by showing the men you associate with that you are just as strong and smart(er) as they are, and asserting this belief into who you are is the best way to change the conversation. I think we need men to uplift women just as much as we need women to uplift women.

 

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Pictured: Justine and her significant other, Nick, traveling together in Iceland. 

 

I really think that the conversation about feminism needs to include men. I feel like there are two types of men: men who repress women and men who uplift women. The men who uplift women are able to do this because they are associated with strong women who are their equals. In my opinion, a great example of this is Barack and Michelle Obama. This may not be a popular opinion, but as much as I am rooting for women and “feminism,” I do think there is a lot of hypocrisy. I think that if a woman claims to be a “feminist,” she shouldn’t depend on her dad or her partner to do things like dealing with her car issues or squashing bugs. Once you get to this point, you can’t ignore other things that have become gender norms like men proposing to women, because we all still want our dream proposal and diamond ring. So, it’s not black and white for sure.

 

As a side note, I also believe that “feminism” is the cop-out men have been waiting for, and in 10 years, I believe “stay at home dads” will be the norm. So it’s a conflicting subject, to say the least, and this is a very loaded question. I could go on and on!


I think that this quote from the book,
“How to be Parisian,” sums up how I feel about feminism: “Of course you can open a bottle of wine by yourself. But let him do it. That’s equality too.”

 

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Pictured: Justine taking a stroll in Reykjavik, Iceland. 

 

 

 

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Woman Wednesday: Sam

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.


 

Q and A with Sam, Sunshine Fields, New Jersey 

“There’s such a disconnect now with the way we ‘should’ live our lives and the way we want to live our lives. I graduated college, received a degree, got a good job in a good city, and I’m sure to many that would be a total success story, but it wasn’t the end of mine.”

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: My largest passion is people- helping people and working with people. I think that’s partially why I wanted to start up my own businesses (so I could do that all of the time).

 

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My two current businesses are Forest & Farm and Sunshine Fields NJ (both I’m working on with my other half and partner of 4 years, who totally also deserves credit)! His name is Matt.

 

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Forest & Farm is our woodworking and home decor business. It basically started by us building all of the furniture for our first apartment together. Matt is an engineer, and I’m an artist. Together, we figured we’d DIY our way through everything (coffee tables, shelves, dinner tables, dressers…), and eventually, everything in our home became handmade! We wanted to share that with others, so we started wholesaling, retailing, and opened up our own Etsy shop. We are constantly doing custom made projects for people.

 

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Sunshine Fields is a 115+ acre family flower farm (Matt’s parents primarily grow wholesale flowers there, but we decided to open up to the public for the first time ever this year!) The two of us planted pumpkins together, cut a 5+ acre corn maze together, and crafted all of the games and activities for this two-month long fall festival. Again, we wanted to share this with others. This farm is such a peaceful place, filled with beautiful flowers and family, and we felt it was so worth opening to the public.

 

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Q: What were your younger years like?

A: As a young kid, I heavily enjoyed four (…well, five) things: art, animals, music, being outdoors 100% of the time, and being a tomboy. I had fears, but generally, I always identified myself as a strong girl capable of learning anything (from learning how to play guitar in middle school to learning how to skate in college.) There’s never really a limit to what you can do.

 

When I was 14 years old, I ended up entering a beauty pageant (pretty unlike my tomboy self) for Filipino-Americans in the US (I’m half Filipino, half Irish), and I ended up winning that thing. I’ve always felt sensitive talking about it, mostly because I never wanted to feel any sort of entitlement or be different than anyone else. I really only wanted to win to break this negative facade of pageants and complete the charity work. I think it was a huge pivotal moment in my teen years and in becoming who I am. I had this opportunity to actually do something. When you’re that young, and you fly to the Philippines, and you live out this dream of helping others and donating yourself and your heart to others, it’s a little wild. I’ve always had that in the back of my heart (this feeling of a desire to be a part of something greater than myself).

 

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Fast-forward to me sitting at a desk in an office in the corporate world. It just couldn’t cut it for me. I had multiple internships and jobs in New York City. I left those for smaller non-profits, and I tried out a whole bunch of career opportunities. As cool as the experiences were, there was just something that never really felt right. I couldn’t shake this feeling that I could really do something and really start something, so I left those jobs to try to figure it all out. It’s still a little crazy to say that [laughs], but I figured it’d be worth a shot.

 

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Q:What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know?

A: There’s such a disconnect now with the way we ‘should’ live our lives and the way we want to live our lives. I graduated college, received a degree, got a good job in a good city, and I’m sure to many that would be a total success story, but it wasn’t the end of mine.

 

If I had gone to college and if someone would have told me that starting up two businesses at 23 years old would be difficult and impractical, maybe it would have made me want to do it more (…maybe)! I mean, just to know that the thought would even possible at all would have been pretty cool. We should feel more empowered to do this. I think I’ve been going through this process of both losing and finding myself throughout the things that I’ve done. It’s really (really) hard to put yourself out there and chase an idea, or a dream, in a vulnerable state. It takes courage, and it’s underrated.

 

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Q: What would you like others to learn from your story?

A: Take the plunge, and do what you like to do. You have nothing to lose. Trust me, literal blood, sweat, and tears and every penny I have has gone into everything I’ve done. Im still terrified. Its still really dang hard, but there is still nothing to lose (…& I should really take my own advice)! There is nothing more rewarding than doing it.

 

Check out Sam’s shop!

ETSY: www.etsy.com/shop/forestnfarm

 

Sam’s Instagram Profiles to Follow: 

@sunshinefieldsnj & @forestnfarmco

 

 

 

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Woman Wednesday: Brittany

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.


 

Q and A with Brittany, Mercer County, New Jersey 

 

“Life is short, and you should do anything and everything you want to/love. Whether you are miserable at your job, doing things that don’t serve you, or you want to do things that seem out of reach, whatever that is…work toward your goals, do the things you love, and don’t stop loving your life.”

@BlissfullyBritt_

 

Q: What are you passionate about? 

A: My passion is practicing yoga and bringing it to others. I came to yoga after being interested in it for a long time and never having the time to pursue it. For a long time my sole focus was on school, and then college and then finding a 9-5 job. I started to feel like I was losing myself and didn’t have any hobbies or things just for me. I eventually became so miserable with the lifestyle I was living, left my job and threw myself into all of my interests, yoga being one of them.

After continuously practicing yoga for a couple of months, I felt like a new person and realized just how much I was neglecting myself.  I enrolled in a yoga teacher training program and graduated this past June. My new focus is bringing yoga to others. I truly believe there is something in it for everyone- whether it’s the exercise through holding poses, learning how to breath, or the spiritual aspects to it. I think the general skills you learn in a yoga class can help any individual be more present and mindful in every day life. I’m working on brainstorming how exactly I want to do this while teaching/subbing occasionally at the studio I trained at!

 

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Q: What were your younger years like?

A: In my younger years, my mom got me involved in lots of extra-curricular activities. At the time I hated it and always felt busy.  Later in life, when I was looking for a hobby for myself, I appreciated that I had some exposure to different things to try out. One of my favorites was gymnastics, and I believe my childhood love for this is what drew me to yoga and made me start this path toward a career in yoga! I also used to play the piano and guitar, was very artistic and liked to paint/draw. Exploring different extra-circular activities led me to finding my passion.

 

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Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know?

A: Life is short, and you should do anything and everything you want to/love. Whether you are miserable at your job, doing things that don’t serve you, or you want to do things that seem out of reach, whatever that is…work toward your goals, do the things you love and don’t stop loving your life. This realization smacked me right in the face when I left my job that I only have one life and I realized how I was getting caught up in all the wrong things, trying to live in this box that society teaches you to live in, and I wasn’t truly enjoying life. Smile, be happy, travel (if that’s your thing), love, do, create! Just find whatever it is you love to do and do it, and get rid of/leave behind anything that does not serve you. Listen to your heart and not other’s people’s opinions if they bring you down.

 

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Q: What would you like others to learn from your story?

A: I would like others to know that you can start over at any time. The things you want are within reach if you visualize and work toward them. Be patient and work in baby steps.

 

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Q: What does feminism mean to you?

A: Feminism is important to me. I think a lot of people can take feminism as a negative thing, but I see it as being proud of being a woman, or (if you are not a woman) recognizing all of the positive and beautiful things that women bring to the table.

 

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Q: Why should more women take roles in business?

A: It has taken a few decades, but there are more and more women in business now than ever before! We are equal inhabitants of this Earth and should be involved in all of the things we’ve created as a society.

 

You can reach Brittany via email at: Brittthatcher314@gmail.com   or  on her instagram @BlissfullyBritt_. She is trained in Aerial Yoga and floor yoga and is available for one-on-one sessions or group sessions! Feel free to contact her about questions, inquiries, or to just say hello! 🙂

Professional photos: Credit to Dennis Pike Photography

 

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